UK PLANS TO IMPROVE ENERGY EFFICIENCY

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is a crucial area where many efforts are underway for the past few years. Almost all countries have set targets to accomplish the goal of a sustainable environment by reducing carbon emissions.

But what matters is that how will it be managed and executed?

And the answer goes straight back to energy efficiency, which is at the core of a low-carbon economy.

Energy efficiency is doing the same task using less amount of energy.

So it has many benefits like reductions of greenhouse gases and a significant cut on the cost part for households by stabilising bills to a large extent.

The United Kingdom has done its part by planning out the energy efficiency roadmap. This article would give you insights into the same. 

We will cover the following topics in this blog post:

Energy targets of government
Energy efficiency plans in the UK
Key elements
Energy profile
Challenges
Benefits
Current action

Let’s dive into it to know more.

Energy targets of the government

The bill 2012-13 passed by the government clearly stated that many coal stations would be closed in the coming decades.

The targets are to produce 30% of electricity from the available renewable sources by 2020, cut greenhouse emissions by 50% by 2025, and 80% by 2050.

Energy efficiency plans in the UK

The frameworks are already in place and most implemented on businesses, industries and homes.

Some of the popular frameworks are:

  1. Northern Ireland contributes to the target through the Northern Ireland Sustainable Energy Programme (NISEP), delivering close to 200 GW of energy saving per year.
  2. In Scotland, Programmes like Energy Efficient Scotland Routemap and Transition Programme were launched in the year 2018. It is a 20-year programme that has the primary objective of making the buildings attain net-zero by 2040.
  3. The Welsh Government in Wales has spent close to £240 million since the year 2011. A further inflow of £ 104 million for the period of 2017-2021.

Key elements

Energy Efficiency Directive underlined the country’s 2025 targets, producing 80% less carbon dioxide.

The significant elements under the plan are Energy Company Obligation (ECO),  Climate Change committee, Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard and Energy Performance Certificate (EPC).

Energy Company Obligation

It is a scheme introduced in 2013 to reduce carbon emissions and look after fuel poverty.

Heating Cost Reduction.  Energy suppliers are also associated with the scheme in the form of commitments that were decided in terms of thresholds.

The significant obligations listed are:

  • The carbon emission reduction obligation
  • The home heating cost reduction obligation

ECO 3 started around the year 2018 that will be continued till March 2022.

Climate Change Committee Energy (CCC Energy)

Climate Change Committee is UK’s advisor on the climate change issues in the set up under the Climate Change Act 2008. It also consists of CCC Energy that helps businesses reduce their energy intake and focus on generating their energy through renewables. It provided schemes like Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme and Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard.

Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS)

It is an energy assessment scheme that helps to assess organisations after four years based on criteria. These assessments are audits of the energy amount used by buildings, industrial process and transport to look after the cost-effective energy-saving measures.

Minimum Energy Efficiency Standard (MEES)

These are minimum energy efficiency standards that the government sets for domestic private rented properties. It came in the year 2015 and was applicable from the year 2018.

Energy Performance Certificates

EPC is needed where a property is built, sold or rented. It contains information about energy use and costs. It also simultaneously suggests recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money. The performance is graded from Scale A to Scale G. It provides a rating on two standard metrics, which are:

  • A fuel cost based energy efficiency rating
  • Rating related to Carbon dioxide emissions

Energy profile

As per a study conducted in 2018, United Kingdom’s final energy consumption was close to 137 Mega Tonnes of Oil Equivalent (Mtoe), which was 15% below compared to the year 2000. The contribution has been made by sectors like industry, transport, residential, services, and agriculture.

The classification is detailed below:

Energy profile classification

Buildings: The heating energy consumption has decreased between 2002-2018 in every aspect, be it water heating, cooking, or electrical appliances.

Transport: It has been a significant contributor to the overall energy profile by having a substantial share of car, road, rail and air modes.

Industry: Almost 50% of the industry consumption is concentrated on five areas like steel, chemicals, non-ferrous metals, metallic minerals and paper. The overall figure has reduced by 35%.

Challenges

The country has set up an ambitious target of achieving net-zero by 2050. Still, unfortunately, the UK will not be able to deliver its fourth and fifth carbon budget efficiently, which is cumulatively between the period of 2023-2032.

Does this bring a question as to why we are not able to move ahead? Below mentioned points would surely help you get an answer to that:

  1. Building emissions are a constant shortfall as close to 19% of the total energy consumption comes directly from residential, commercial and public buildings.
  2. Complete decarbonisation is required in this area by 2050 to achieve the pre-specified budget.
  3. The following prominent reason is fuel poverty. It is a state where the heating costs are above the national median, and in the process of getting through those costs, the households enter the poverty phase.
  4. Energy inefficient usage has led to this situation where every one in 10 households in England is experiencing the same issue.
  5. Less than 10 per cent of poor households even live in a property with Band C or better in its energy performance certificate.
  6. The next challenge could be the rising energy price due to low-carbon technology, which will direct the poor fuel segment.

Although it has made clear that these challenges will pose a big issue, the only possible solution is energy efficiency.

Benefits

The stress taken by the government is not all vain as it is going to give a considerable amount of more comprehensive benefits in the coming future like:

  1. Saving Of energy
    By 2035, energy usage could have been cut down by 25%.
  2. Reduction In Bills
    The reduction in usage of energy would lead to a £270 saving per year for every household.
  3. Job
    Close to 80,000 jobs could be saved by focussing on the energy efficiency domain.
  4. Economic Growth
    The expected benefit that the UK can expect is an inflow of £7.5 billion after a considerable investment.
  5. Infrastructure Investment
    The entire investment in infrastructure would be reorganised as it would lead to less expensive modes of generating & transmitting energy, thereby contributing a significant amount that otherwise would have been invested in the establishments of networks.

Current action

The United Kingdom Government in December 2020; unveiled its long-awaited energy white paper underlining all the critical aspects of energy efficiency.

It outlined how the government is looking forward to approaching the energy efficiency system in the next decade. Finally, the paper specifies the country’s plan for the energy domain. The significant facts to be looked upon are :

  1. The challenge of an integrated infrastructure as the country has a separate network infrastructure running for electricity, gas & vehicles.
  2. The government would create an intelligent system plan to build a single network that helps to encourage network flexibility.
  3. The government would fund a Net-zero Innovation portfolio to bring the first more extended energy storage mechanism.
  4. The Electric Vehicle charging infrastructure would be the topmost priority.
  5. Gas that stands as a significant energy component is also focused upon because plans to integrate hydrogen into the gas supply network are taking shape. The Hydrogen Town project will make hydrogen a primary component in the coming times.
  6. By 2030; The private rented homes in England & wales are expected to get upgraded to  EPC Band C ratings on the energy efficiency certificate, while the commercial ones are to enter the category of EPC Band B.
  7. Various government grants for energy efficiency to businesses and individuals.

Covid-19 brought a significant hit to the economies globally, but nations have managed to cope with it. They are trying to move ahead towards a future where the demand for clean energy products and services will spring.

The UK already has done a lot in this respect, but it’s not enough. Specific strict measures are required to be a world-class example. It will also help the country seize various business opportunities that would come in the way of becoming energy efficient.

Transforming energy and supporting green recovery are the key measures to be looked forward. However, all these objectives would come down to how good are we at seizing the opportunities that flow in, leading to the creation of jobs and wealth.