10 Feb 2021
As a change manager involved in strategy design, I realised I needed to get up to speed with the climate change conversation as it's now becoming integral to any future planning. The opportunity to summarise the Government’s energy white paper for the next MMC round table was a perfect starting point. Published in December, the paper builds on the Prime Minister’s 10 point plan announced in November for a Green Industrial Revolution. It’s a broad remit spanning all types of energy production, with chapter four focusing specifically on buildings.
Transition to cleaner fuels
Background: Buildings are second largest source of emissions after transport. Fossil fuels dominate, used by 90% homes for heating, cooking, hot water. 85% homes are connected to gas grid.
Future: Electricity to dominate. Government will ramp up wind farms, nuclear, test out a hydrogen village, and biomass. Will be enough wind farms to power every home in the UK. Will reinvigorate the industrial heartlands outside of London and the south east.
Background: 20% of homes currently overheat in summer.
Transition to start with least energy efficient housing stock first and prioritise those in fuel poverty. Look out for updated Fuel Poverty Strategy for England to be published in early 2021. Will set out multi-billion-pound plan to transform the poorest quality housing.
Vouchers can be spent on cavity wall and loft insulation, air-source heat pumps, draught proofing, replacing single glazing with double or triple glazing.
Retrofitting costs to be halved by 2030: Whole House Retrofit programme is a competition to drive down install costs. Retrofits improve health and well-being, via reduction of risk to summertime overheating and damp or mould growth.
Grow the market for green finance products - consulting on how mortgage lenders could support homeowners to improve energy performance.
Empowering consumers & communities
All new builds to have smart technology to enable active not passive consumers. Improved smart tarrifs, comparison tools. Government to support energy suppliers to develop strategies for consumer engagement to help people cut bills.
Government exploring ‘Smart local energy systems’ - community based initiatives that bring together a range of issues (heat, power, transport) to reduce emissions in an integrated way, while also promoting local jobs and businesses. LAs key to delivering these systems by combining energy into their wider statutory work on housing, transport, waste and planning.
Sharing of data
Drive for increased reporting so energy industry is more transparent.
Look out for new Industrial Decarbonisation strategy in 2021. Will deliver four low-carbon clusters by 2030 - centres where related industries have congregated and can benefit from using shared clean energy infrastructure.
Look out for Wider Transport Decarbonisation Plan in spring 2021, 25 year Environment Plan (air quality, biodiversity, water, resource efficiency, waste reduction).
Strategy for upskilling through ‘Green Jobs Taskforce’ and National Skills Fund to be launched in 2021.
Need more installers to retrofit existing buildings with energy efficiency and clean heat measures. In September 2020, launched Green Homes Grant Skills Training Competition - £6.9 million funding to a range of energy efficiency and low-carbon heat skills providers and support delivery of the Green Homes Grant scheme
New decommissioning market - Using UK’s experience of decommissioning, hope to become world leader in subject and export ‘decommissioning’ as a service.
New UK carbon market - (ETS) Emissions Trading Scheme - The Government will ramp up buying and selling emissions allowances.
Competitiveness Electricity prices are higher in the UK than Europe but the Government recognises this and is compensating UK business for this lack of competitiveness.
Value for money - Increasingly green power is the cheapest power. There have been rapid falls in the cost of renewables.
Agriculture and aviation are the hardest sectors to decarbonise.
There are currently no ‘green transport solutions’ for HGVs.
Although quite a long read, the paper can be dipped in and out of. There are case studies that spark ideas, extensions to funding pots, large scale investment and changes to regulations to look out for. Overall I think the paper offers an interesting challenge to the housing sector to take advantage of the decommissioning of the oil and gas industry by absorbing the work force’s transferable skills. Could this help address the current skills in the building trade? As a former front-line worker in Resident Involvement in Housing, I’d also not considered energy consumption as an opportunity to empower residents perhaps by helping individuals to cut their bills or generate an income by selling power back to the grid. The early exploration of community solutions for managing local energy supply was encouraging to see. Finally, the Government is actively asking to work with the housing sector to strengthen standards. Could this be an opportunity for the voice of MMC to be heard?