Domestic Energy Efficiency: Gvt. Policy Failure, pt. 1

UK Government Progress Delivering Residential Energy Efficiency, Part 1

The UK government set out to deliver residential energy efficiency via the Clean Growth Strategy that set a target to upgrade as many houses to EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) Band C by 2035 where practical, cost-effective and affordable” and for all fuel poor households and as many rented homes as possible, to reach the same standard by 2030.  A full account of the progress (and lack of) to date by the government is contained in the report by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published July 2019.

Key points arising from the report on the UK governments performance to date will be presented in a series of short notes, starting with:

CCC agreed the Strategy’s targets on energy efficiency aspirations are consistent with meeting carbon budgets at least cost, so long as the conditions of “practical” and “affordable” do not substantially restrict “cost-effective” uptake;

but after 18 months setting the EPC targets the Government has neither decided on the number of houses it deems “practical”, “cost-effective” and “affordable” to upgrade, nor defined what these terms actually mean;

without any concrete, measurable ambition the Government evades accountability on whether its policy aligns with what is required to meet its statutory climate and fuel poverty obligations.

to date only around 30% of UK homes currently meet EPC Band C.  The overriding message of witnesses was that UK Government policy in its current form will fail to upgrade the remaining 70%; equating to around 19 million homes;

the UK Government is off-track to meeting the 2035 target, progress has slipped and major policy gaps remain;

the figure shows the number of homes improved with major energy efficiency measures by government support across the UK, compared to the rate at which homes need to be improved to meet the EPC Band C target:

Figure 1

the figure shows the steep decline in renovation rates over recent years, explained partly by a decrease in the availability of “low-hanging fruit” i.e. easily upgraded homes, with the remaining potential for energy efficiency interventions becoming more expensive;

however, the larger reason was the drastic cut in public funding for energy efficiency and the data shows that the government is unlikely to meet its 2035 target.

Verdict:  the government could do and must do, a lot better!

Please email cmcewg@gmail.com for a more in-depth analysis.