Energy efficiency investment will strengthen the UK economy

Written by Joanne Wade on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

Joanne Wade

WWF today published a report from Cambridge Econometrics that sets out the value that reducing carbon emissions will bring to the UK economy. The action needed to meet the UK’s 4th carbon budget, which will include significant investment in energy efficiency, will deliver 190,000 additional jobs, make households better off financially, provide new business opportunities and result in a net increase in annual Government revenue of £5.7bn by 2030.

 
Average net benefits to households will come close to offsetting the impact of increasing energy prices. These benefits will not be felt equally however, and the report notes that government needs therefore to target support at exposed or vulnerable groups. That is why we – and our allies in the End Fuel Poverty Coalition – are calling for the homes of all low income households to be improved to Energy Performance Certificate Band C by 2025. Improving homes to this standard will result in dramatic improvements to both the energy bill affordability and quality of life of their occupants.

 
The energy efficiency benefits set out in the WWF report can only be realised, however, if investors are confident in the market for energy efficiency goods and services: a government commitment to making energy efficiency a top infrastructure priority is key to this, together with long-term, rigorously enforced regulation of the energy efficiency of buildings.

Don’t let this first step become tied up in red tape

Written by Andrew Warren on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

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Back in 2011 the Government introduced legislation that Ministers promised would outlaw the letting of any F- or G-rated buildings from 2018. This month marks the conclusion of the
Government’s formal consultation detailing precisely how this potentially market-revolutionising policy will be delivered in practice.

The private rented sector is of growing importance in the residential sector. In the last 15 years the number of people renting from private landlords has increased from 10 to 18 per cent of all households.

That is a sizeable percentage. But nothing like as large as the proportion of the buildings in the non-residential sector that are rented out.

DECC: Consultations on Private Rented Sector Energy Efficiency Regulations

Written by Pedro Guertler on . Posted in Consultation Responses, Perspective

DECC

ACE has submitted written responses to The Department of Energy and Climate Change consultations on private rented sector energy efficiency regulations, for the domestic and non-domestic sectors respectively. Following a campaign by ACE and its allies, the Energy Act 2011 placed a duty on the Secretary of State to bring into force regulations to improve the energy efficiency of buildings in the domestic and non-domestic private rented sector in England and Wales.

On the domestic sector consultation, delays have caused concern and uncertainty for an energy efficiency industry gearing up to deliver improvements. We are pleased therefore that the long-awaited consultation has finally been published. However, the Government’s proposals contain a number of key flaws, which must be remedied if the minimum standard is to be enforceable by local authorities and to deliver improvements up to an Energy Performance Certificate Band E in all cases.

We have similar concerns regarding the non-domestic sector regulations. Moreover, as former ACE Director Andrew Warren wrote on September 9, what is deeply worrying is that a very large number of non-domestic buildings have not yet had an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) issued despite the leaseholder having altered (a state of affairs which is in breach of the law). Many of these are likely to be poor performers on the EPC scale. The knock-on problem is that these illegally un-certified buildings are not captured by the regulations for minimum energy performance.

Read ACE’s…:

Public or private – the displays should be the same

Written by Andrew Warren on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

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The clue is in the name. The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) is the government’s latest flagship programme, designed to stimulate every large enterprise to invest in energy efficiency measures. In essence, it mandates having a full energy survey of each outfit’s energy using activities every four years. And identifying the energy saving opportunities.

After a year’s deliberation, at the end of June details were published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change detailing just how each eligible organisation can comply. Broadly, those involved include every business and third sector organisation employing over 250 people or turning over above £50m per year: in all, involving nearly 10,000 different entities.

Mindful that there is already a plethora of other reporting mechanisms in which many may already be involved, DECC seems to be making an overt effort to enable participants in other schemes to re-use any data collected. That is true for those in sectors involved with Climate Change Agreements. Or the European emissions trading scheme. Or the Energy Efficiency Carbon Reduction Commitment. Or greenhouse gas emissions data.

ACE appoints new Director

Written by Andrew Warren on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

Joanne_Wade_small

The Association for the Conservation of Energy will have a new executive director from this September. Dr Joanne Wade will replace founder/director Andrew Warren, who retires after 33 years.

A former director of energy and environmental consultancy Impetus Consulting, she was for nine years until 2004 the research director of the Association.

As well as acting as a freelance consultant, she lectures and supervises at Imperial College London, City University and the University of Surrey. Amongst recent clients have been the UK Energy Research Centre, the European Commission, Consumer Focus, Which? and the Department of Energy & Climate Change.

She is currently a steering group member of the Centre for Innovation & Energy Demand at the University of Sussex; an honorary senior research fellow at Imperial College; and a Fellow and member of the Energy Advisory panel of the Energy Institute.

She has been chair of the board of trustees of the eaga Charitable Trust, a Commissioner of the London Sustainable Development Commission; a trustee of the Global Action Plan; and an Associate lecturer at the Open University.

Joanne will act as the interim director up until May 2015. Andrew Warren will continue in a part-time advisory capacity, again up until that date.

Build energy saving success on three crucial pillars

Written by Andrew Warren on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

andreweibi2013

It sounds a bit pejorative. But constructing an effective policy programme for energy saving is very like persuading donkeys to do what you want.

Donkeys are stubborn creatures, not that malleable. Obtaining co-operation requires three things, mostly operating together. These are carrots (to motivate) and sticks (to enforce). And most important of all, tambourines (to retain attention). Every single effective energy conservation programme incorporates one or more, preferably all three, aspects.

First, consider sticks. In other words, regulations and standards and, importantly, their effective policing. That means tougher building regulations, for existing as well as newly constructed buildings. It means outlawing the worst energy performing products, and ensuring any energy labelling is accurate.

Government turns from maximisation to minimisation

Written by Andrew Warren on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

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In October 2010, the energy and climate change minister, Greg Barker, formally invited me to chair a new advisory Forum. It was to be one of four reporting directly to him.

Over the next two years before launch, each was concerned with the development of different aspects of the new Government’s flagship policy. Our declared overall objective was to deliver “an ambitious programme to increase the energy efficiency of the UK building stock. In particular, we expect it to contribute to a 29 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from our homes and 13 per cent from non-domestic properties by 2020.”

We were christened the Green Deal Maximisation Forum. Our job was to work with Government to come up with measures to boost uptake levels.

The Future of the ECO: a £245m windfall for energy suppliers?

Written by Pedro Guertler on . Posted in Consultation Responses, Perspective

DECC

Today, we submitted our response to DECC’s consultation on the future of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO). This is the consultation which seeks to rubber-stamp cuts to the ECO, pledged in the run-up to last year’s Autumn Statement, amounting to £30-35 off the average energy bill. We, and many others, have consistently argued that cutting Britain’s only national energy efficiency programme – designed to reduce household energy bills and carbon emissions in the long term – to achieve a modest one-off energy bill reduction is completely perverse.

But our analysis with the Energy Saving Trust, the Centre for Sustainable Energy and the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency finds that the cuts amount to more: nearly £42 per household – yet energy suppliers are only handing back around £32.50, on average, to each household. This represents an aggregate windfall to energy companies of £245 million this financial year.

The cost of this windfall if the consultation’s proposals are implemented? Virtually no homes to be improved under the Energy Company Obligation this year. A terrible deal for consumers. A kick to the supply chain while it’s down. The loss of credibility for a Government which did not stand its ground in the first place, and is now about to line the energy companies pockets. We’re certain it does not want to do that.

We’ll rehearse the arguments about why the cuts were a terrible idea in the first place – even if they had turned out not to be excessive. The result is:

  • A very modest one-year rebate to households, easily swallowed up by a future round of gas and electricity price increases…
  • …at the expense of permanent energy bill reductions for at least 264,000 households in this year alone (compared to business as usual);
  • A regressive ‘double-dividend’ for those 50% of British households who have to date received energy efficiency improvements, and higher bills for longer for everyone else;
  • A terrible precedent of announcing pre-determined chops and changes to a programme:
    • Less than one year in;
    • Just as it was beginning to settle and run smoothly;
    • Absent any comprehensive, transparent data on what it actually costs (official data suggest it was roughly as much as anticipated).
  • An ever-widening gap between the carbon savings required from the residential sector under the Climate Change Act, and the carbon savings that will be delivered:
    • We recognise that new public money is being made available over the next three years to maintain overall carbon neutrality – but with the use thereof not being consulted upon as well, this ECO consultation is effectively being conducted in the dark.
  • Rag-doll treatment of the energy efficiency supply chain, which: took heavy losses following the awful transition from CERT and CESP to ECO and Green Deal; made very difficult decisions to successfully restructure, invest in and adapt to in the new delivery landscape; only to have this painfully recovered confidence even more thoroughly undermined – with attendant negative effects on investment and employment.
  • Powerfully undermined Government credibility – some energy companies are now calling for the whole of the ECO to be scrapped. The precedent set by the Autumn Statement suggests that it is very possible they will have their way. Despite fully understanding the purpose and benefits of energy efficiency programmes, there has been no backbone and no firmness of principle on the Government’s part.

Our analysis has garnered a lot of press attention, links to which can be found below.

Utility Week
Big six ‘to get £245m windfall’ from Eco changes (15.4.14)
Building.co.uk
Government’s ECO cuts ‘£250m deeper than first thought’ (16.4.14)
ENDS Report
Investor interest in ECO collapses in April (16.4.14)
Daily Telegraph
Energy companies ‘in line for £245m windfall’ from green levies deal (17.4.14)
Business Green
Are the Big Six set for £250m windfall from ECO reforms? (17.4.14)
The Times
Let households share £250m energy windfall, Big Six told (22.4.14)
Business Green
Labour slams government over Big Six’s £250m ECO windfall (23.4.14)

It’s official. Energy consumption in the UK is on the way down

Written by Andrew Warren on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

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Here is a simple test for everybody. By how much has UK energy consumption already increased during this century? Actually, this isn’t just a question for generalists. I have been regularly trying it out on energy specialists in companies, in trade bodies. Even among the senior civil service. The answer given varies. But almost without exception, the response is that consumption has gone up. Sometimes by 5 per cent, sometimes 10 per cent, sometimes 20 per cent or more.

I then ask: how much do you think the country’s wealth has increased over the same period? And when I tell people that – even despite the recession – Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has risen by no less than 58 per cent between 2000 and 2012, I instantly get a re-evaluation of how much energy consumption has grown.

“Ah well, in that case, we are probably talking about a similarly high figure for energy usage. Not 20 per cent, but 40 per cent. Even 50 per cent.”

DCLG: Review of Property Conditions in the Private-Rented Sector

Written by Pedro Guertler on . Posted in Consultation Responses, Perspective, Private Rented Sector Campaign

Department_for_Communities_and_Local_Government

ACE and Friends of the Earth have long been concerned about the poor standards of energy efficiency (and high concentrations of fuel poor and vulnerable households) in the private rented sector (PRS). The PRS is a rapidly growing part of the housing market. Of the 22.8m households in England in 2011, 4 million were privately rented (17.5% of the housing stock). This was an increase of 1.6m in only six years – and is the highest level since the early 1990s. The Department for Communities and Local Government has issued a review of property conditions in the PRS, and invited stakeholder responses; ACE and Friends of the Earth have provided theirs together.