The Government is committed to managing heat demand in UK

In a major keynote speech at "The Heat Summit: How Can We Decarbonise Heating?” ran by Policy Exchange, Baroness Neville-Rolfe backed the Paris Agreement and commitment that the Government would continue its targets to 2050.

She began with the Paris Agreement and UK energy consumption:

“Globally we have seen growing momentum on the need to urgently tackle climate change. Last year this led to the landmark Paris Agreement, which as you will all know has now entered into force and has been ratified by the UK. This is an important sign of the continued commitment to climate action here and across most of the world.

Energy comes in many forms and has many uses. Providing power for industrial and domestic use and for transport are amongst the most obvious.

It is less well known that heat accounts for 45% of UK energy consumption and over 30% of carbon emissions. UK customers spend well over £30 billion a year on energy for heating. It is this important use of energy – heat for homes, factories and offices – that we are considering today.

The public cares a lot about having homes which are warm. We all like to be comfortable. More than that, a warm home provides important health benefits, especially for the most vulnerable in our society.”

In a move that indicates that there are lots of ‘low hanging fruit’ in terms of energy efficiency, all of which point towards Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) be it for existing homes, or commercial buildings. She commented:

“Of course people care about having affordable energy bills. As we know, heating typically accounts for the large proportion of the household energy bill. Around half of homes (10 million across England) could reduce this cost through relatively simple and low cost improvements in energy efficiency.”

Not forgetting commercial buildings:

“but there are also important commercial benefits for businesses in getting heat right. They can capture heat which would otherwise be wasted - from industrial processes and cooling of data centers. Heat networks can utilise this otherwise wasted energy to heat offices, schools and hospitals in the local area. Businesses can reduce the amount of heat that is lost from their operations and that saves money.”

She also suggested that Building Regulations have tightened:

“First let’s look at building and other Government Regulations. In the last Parliament we strengthened energy performance standards by over 30% for new build to require better insulation, high efficiency heating systems and so on. This has generally been a success”

Funnily enough there was no mention of scrapping the zero carbon standard that was supposed to take place this year.

The existing dwellings got a section in terms of Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) and EPCs:

“but many in the private rented sector - households and businesses - are paying more than they should to heat their houses. The new energy efficiency regulations which come into force in April 2018 will help tackle this for the worst performing premises by requiring landlords to make improvements to these properties. This is not an easy area because no one likes regulation, but it makes sense to take a long term view with the rented sector leading the way. We can also do more to encourage home owners to improve their properties when they buy or when they move.”

The speech went on to point towards, smart meters, making boilers more efficient and energy storage options, heat networks, promoting off grid solutions through RHI (specifically heat pumps).

Elmhurst has long asked for a consistent long term strategy, and Baroness Neville-Rolfe's concluded:

“It is important that we begin to do this now, so that we don’t miss the opportunity to meet our 2050 goals in the most cost-effective way. Our ambition is to be able to agree in the next few years, together, on the right long-term direction for heat policy.”

Let’s hope that it is true and clear policies for heating people’s homes and businesses are delivered. Certainly the context is there, we just need to see the policies that helps us get towards 2050 targets.

For the full speech see:

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