ACE’s Seven Energy Efficiency Asks for the 2015-2020 Parliament
On May 7, General Election day, ACE launched its seven key energy efficiency asks (#7ACEasks) for this Parliament:
The cheapest, safest and most secure form of energy is the energy we do not use. That is why energy efficiency must be allowed to compete on equal terms with new supply capacity. Energy efficiency means the construction of fewer new generating plants and reduced network infrastructure investment combined with greater resilience and lower carbon emissions. DECC estimated in 2012 that investment in socially cost-effective energy efficiency to 2020 would save energy equivalent to the output of 22 power stations. In the past, UK energy policy has focused heavily on the supply side as opposed to reducing demand for energy. We urgently need a new policy framework – possibly even a new Energy White Paper – that puts demand reduction on a level playing field with supply-side measures.
The UK’s current National Infrastructure Plan has a gaping hole at its heart: the most fundamental element of our infrastructure – the fabric of the homes we live in and the places we work – is missing. Energy efficiency in buildings should be made a top national infrastructure priority, because no other investment can achieve as much to cut costs for households and businesses, stimulate economic growth and create jobs in every constituency in the UK.
Public sector organisations, at the national and at the local level, are significant owners, lessees and occupiers of non-domestic buildings, and can therefore drive the market for energy efficiency in existing non-domestic buildings. Therefore the public sector should demand, and invest in, high levels of energy efficiency in its buildings and should clearly display the energy performance of its buildings to demonstrate to others the progress being made.
The pause in the trajectory towards zero carbon new build must not remain in force for any significant period. Not only would this mean lock-in of unnecessary energy use and emissions as Government attempts to accelerate new construction, but also we need to comply with EU Nearly Zero Energy Buildings requirements that will come into force for new public buildings in 2019 and for all other new buildings from 2021. A new trajectory is urgently needed to re-engage the supply chain in innovating to cost-effectively deliver highly efficient new buildings.
The clearest, strongest policy framework to support growth in the market for energy efficiency investments would be the introduction of more comprehensive minimum energy efficiency standards for all existing buildings. However, it is likely that this will remain a politically unacceptable option for some time. Therefore, we need to focus on expanding and strengthening existing standards, whilst at the same time learning from developments in Scotland, where there appears to be greater political will in this area.
Simple financial incentives such as grant programmes stimulate a temporary upturn in investment levels, but do not support the growth of a self-sustaining market for energy efficiency. The transient nature of such incentives also causes problems as the delivery capacity needed fluctuates significantly over relatively short time periods. Therefore we are pushing for longer-term, more systemic incentives that stimulate steady and sustained growth in investment by making energy efficiency retrofits as ‘normal’ to consumers as an office refit or a new kitchen.
Access to competitive finance for energy efficiency investments is critically important. We therefore need a concerted and sustained initiative, led by Government, to enable lenders and borrowers to understand the attractiveness of energy efficiency as an investment, and to unlock the use of personal and business loans and mortgages.
For more information, contact Jenny Holland, Head of Parliamentary Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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