‘Building the Future’ hits the nail on the head

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

Joanne Wade

ACE today welcomed the publication of ‘Building the Future: the economic and fiscal impacts of making homes energy efficient‘.  This report, by Verco and Cambridge Econometrics for the Energy Bill Revolution, sets out clearly how making our homes more energy efficient is an infrastructure investment that delivers high Value for Money through reduced energy bills and NHS costs, increased tax revenue for the Government, higher employment, increases in company profits and carbon emissions reductions.

When the Prime Minister tried to justify the government’s decision to block a binding European energy efficiency target last week, he focused on the need to reduce carbon emissions ‘at the lowest possible cost for businesses and consumers‘ As demonstrated by the report, energy efficiency investment goes beyond the Prime Minister’s requirement and actually delivers net benefits for businesses (£15bn in cumulative, additional (discounted) profits to 2035, consumers (£8.6 billion per year) and the Government itself (£1.27 in tax revenue for every £1 invested).

Achieving the level of energy efficiency improvement modelled in the report will require policy action to invest on behalf of low income households and to support investment by able-to-pay households, and we urge Mr Cameron to honour his commitment to energy efficiency, and back up his commitment to carbon emissions reduction with the action needed to deliver it at net benefit to the UK.

EU 2030 energy efficiency target sends all the wrong signals to investors and means 56m Europeans will continue to live in cold homes

Written by Jenny Holland on . Posted in Articles and Blog, Perspective

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ACE has reacted angrily today to the news that European leaders have adopted a 27% non-binding energy efficiency target, which represents a slowing of current progress on energy efficiency and will mean 56m Europeans will continue to live in homes they cannot afford to heat.

Jenny Holland, Head of ACE’s Parliamentary Team, said:
“We have long campaigned for a 40% EU energy efficiency target, which would have been the most cost-effective way to deliver emissions reductions, greater energy security and an end to the misery of 56m Europeans who have to live in homes they can’t afford to keep warm.
“The 30% target proposed by the European Commission already represented a regrettable lack of ambition, amounting only to a continuation of current rates of energy efficiency improvement. But the 27% non-binding target agreed by Europe’s leaders last night amounts to a slowing of current progress on energy efficiency. It means that the opportunity has been squandered to lower energy bills for households and businesses by a whopping €239 billion each year by 2030.
“For the energy efficiency industry, this unambitious target sends out all the wrong signals about Europe as a place in which to invest for the longer term. With the promise of a review of the target in 2020, we will be keeping up the pressure on both the UK Government and the European institutions to put in place a much more ambitious target at the start of the new decade.”

For more information, contact: Jenny Holland, jenny@ukace.org, 07875 629781

Note for editors:
See below for a more detailed ACE commentary on the EU 2030 energy efficiency target:
“Energy efficiency is now universally regarded as the first fuel. It is the key to reducing CO2 emissions at least cost, it creates sustainable employment where and when we need it most, it saves consumers money and helps the 56 million Europeans who cannot afford to heat their homes adequately, it improves the state of public finances, enhances competitiveness and increases GDP. More pertinently than ever, it is the best way to enhance Europe’s energy security, by reducing the need to import fossil fuels from dangerous places. It is the one sanction on Putin that has real bite, and does not hurt Europe’s own economic interests.
“The European Commission recommended a binding 30% energy efficiency target for 2030. Whilst this would have represented a continuation of business as usual energy efficiency improvement, it would have at least brought up the rear, ensuring that the costs of meeting CO2 targets are reduced and the benefits increased. A binding 40% target would have ensured minimised costs and maximised benefits, alongside massively reducing dependence on Russian gas.
“While the 2030 target for reducing CO2 emissions by 40% is to be commended – particularly in the context of securing a global climate deal – and the at least EU-level binding status of the 27% renewables target is to be welcomed, the end-result of a non-binding energy efficiency target of 27% is appalling. Instead of taking its rightful place as first fuel, energy efficiency has been relegated to the position of Europe’s energy Cinderella.
“The UK Government, while an important player in securing the CO2 target, had previously been opposed to an energy efficiency target of any description, even a non-binding one. But agreeing to 27% is cold comfort. It is below the business as usual rate of energy efficiency improvement in the EU, and sends out a discouraging signal to investors. Moreover, the European Council agreed in March that energy efficiency was the top priority for energy security and boosting growth, but now:
• The CO2 target will be achieved at far less net economic benefit than it could be
• Compared to a 40% target, over three million jobs in the construction and manufacturing sectors will be foregone by 2030
• Net gas imports will be 45% higher than under a 40% target
• Energy costs to consumers will be unnecessarily high
“The status of the energy efficiency target will be up for formal review in 2020, where the Commission will consider a 30% target. Had European leaders at least agreed to make 30% binding, it would have guaranteed €2.5 trillion in savings to European consumers to 2030. We will be working hard with others to ensure that the European Parliament pushes the target back up and is made binding as well, levelling the playing field for energy efficiency, thus securing its status as an integral part of Europe’s energy infrastructure.”

New hub needed to focus on existing buildings

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

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One of the great triumphs of genuine private/public co-operation has been the work of the non-profit Zero Carbon Hub. Ever since its formation in 2008, it has proved to be the acknowledged entity to which everyone turns – companies and Ministers alike – to consider how best to progress towards ensuring that only the most energy and carbon-efficient new buildings are constructed.

But the vast majority of the buildings we shall be living and working in forty years from now have already been built. Precious few of these are even vaguely zero carbon; most waste bucketfuls of energy every day. By common consent we have one of the oldest, and certainly one of the least energy efficient, building stocks in the entire western world.

It is clear that one of the main challenges over the ensuing decades will continue to be to dramatically improve the energy performance of these buildings. This will need to happen at a rate long aspired to. But – as has been shown in the case of the flagship Green Deal Finance policy – right now falling woefully short of even its cost-effective (let alone technical) potential.

Labour conference puts energy efficiency centre stage

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

Shadow-housing-minister-Caroline-Flint

ACE welcomes Shadow Secretary for Energy and Climate, Caroline Flint’s pledge at the Labour party conference today to ‘make energy saving a national infrastructure priority’.

We also welcome the commitment to require private rented accommodation to meet a decency standard by 2027: we urge the Labour party to ensure that this standard is set high enough (EPC band C) to deliver homes that are fit for purpose in a low energy, low carbon economy.

Delivering on the infrastructure priority promise requires investment: why then are Labour confining themselves only to a level of action that can be achieved ‘without spending any more money’?

A promise to make 200,000 homes warm every year is good – but not good enough: it could leave families living in dangerously cold homes for a further 30 years. The six million low income families living in homes that are too expensive to heat need real priority to be given to this investment. Using only a very small portion of the £45 billion invested in infrastructure each year would enable the level of action to be increased enormously. We therefore urge Labour to increase the ambition of their implementation plans to match the strength of their pledge.

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.

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

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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.