Analysis of the Future of Energy Polls

In the week leading up to Elmhurst’s Future of Energy Efficiency Conference, we published a number of polls on social media on different industry topics.

Given the name of our conference, we wanted to see what members thought of the UK’s net zero carbon target, the future of heating and whether COP26 was a success or failure. Needless to say in some cases the results were a little pessimistic! But despite the skepticism of the UK government achieving its climate targets, there has been a lot of passionate debate and discussion, which is crucial for progress.

We have summarized the results below.

*Notes about survey: The survey was carried out over a 24-hour period on Twitter and LinkedIn. Results have been aggregated.

Was COP26 a success?

Number of votes: 76

Comment:

COP26 took place in Glasgow this year, where world leaders gathered to try and negotiate a climate deal.

Most notably, the world’s biggest polluters, China and Russia, were not there which instantly cast doubt over the efficacy of the summit. Added to this was the last minute change of wording to the Glasgow Climate Pact insisted upon by India, from “phasing out” coal to merely “phasing down” – something that moved COP26 President Alok Sharma to tears.

Despite this, there were some who expressed optimism, as it was the first time that fossil fuels as the key driver of global warming. Whether the deal went far enough remains to be seen – clearly members didn’t think so!

Do you think the UK government will achieve its net zero target by 2050?

Number of votes: 136 responses

 

In 2019 the UK government amended the climate change act to commit the UK to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050 (up from 80%). 

The government has since introduced a slew of policies, programmes and consultations to help accomplish this goal– including, of course, an update to the Building Regulations due to come into force in June 2022.

Despite this, the Climate Change Committee has said the UK is currently not on track to meet its carbon budget targets in 2025 and 2030, so clearly more has to be done.

One respondent pointed out that “our hit rates on targets is low”, demonstrating that many remain unconvinced by government rhetoric.

 

Do you believe the government’s target of installing 600,000 heat pumps in buildings by 2028 is achievable?

Number of votes: 148

As part of Boris Johnson’s 10-point plan he pledged that the government would install 600,000 heat pumps every year by 2028.

The first hurdle to address is that heat pumps should be installed in well-insulated buildings – and the UK has frequently been described as having the oldest and least energy efficient housing in Europe. Around 19 million homes (two thirds of the total have an Energy Performance (EPC) rating of D or worse, and, after the government scrapped its short lived green homes grant scheme for privately owned properties, they’ve got their work cut out.

And then there’s the cost… Heat pumps are drastically more expensive than boilers, which might prove a barrier to many if they are not provided with adequate financial assistance.

This probably accounts for the very pessimistic outcome of the poll, with 80% of respondents saying they did not think the government’s plan was achievable.

 

Do you think the Part L 2021 regulations are a sufficient step forwards over Part L 2013?

Number of votes: 54

As part of the transition to the Future Homes Standard it was proposed to have an interim change to Part L standards for new dwellings - Part L 2021. Changes include a 31% reduction in carbon emissions, compared to current standards, and the retention of fabric energy efficiency standards (FEES) as a compliance metric, despite a previous proposal for it to be scrapped.

The result from the poll was a close call – with 44% of respondents saying they thought the Part L 2021 regulations are a sufficient step forwards over Part L 2013.

The decision to choose a 31% reduction of carbon emissions instead of 19% was a bold move by government, along with retaining Fabric Energy Efficiency Standards, which means new homes can’t be ‘greenwashed’ with Solar PV without ‘building tight and ventilating right’. Clearly this has given cause for optimism within the industry but not quite enough to move the needle over the half way point!

 

What do you think is the best improvement option for Non-Domestic Buildings?

Number of votes: 132 votes

 

As part of the development of commercial retrofitting and PAS2038, fabric first has become a viable improvement option for Non-Domestic buildings.

The poll results demonstrate the emerging importance of the fabric first approach to improve the energy performance of commercial buildings. The results also place lighting as the second best improvement option, demonstrating the importance of lighting on the building’s performance. Interestingly, it shows the contrasting opinions regarding solar panel installation and fabric first approach to improving energy performance, which could be due to solar panels not being a viable option in all scenarios.

Comment from Jason Hewins, New Build Dwellings Manager:

“The poll results show a degree of scepticism following COP 26 and the recent announcements by Government. Of course there is a lot of work to do to meet the aims of Net Zero by 2050, 600,000 heat pump installations a year etc. but at least we have some details of policies to be introduced in the next decade. The one major omission from recent policies is a national retrofit programme for our existing buildings which perhaps explains why many responses felt that we will meet our obligations on our current path.

Of course Elmhurst will always advocate that our members will play a crucial role in assessing and improving the energy efficiency of buildings and this will be vital in delivering many of the aims set out by Government.”

 


Article published: 8th December 2021

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