Domestic Energy Efficiency: Gvt. Policy Failure, pt. 2

UK Government Progress Delivering Residential Energy Efficiency, Part 2

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.  

Note 1 set out that background and this second note continues with the key points arising from the CCC July 2019 report on the governments progress with meeting the 2035 target.

the figure shows the rate of homes supported with significant energy efficiency renovations in 2017/18 across the UK, as a share of the average annual rate needed to meet the 2035 target:

both the figure in Note 1 and that above, demonstrate that the current rate of renovation in the UK needs to increase by around seven times higher but with significant differences between the devolved nations — England needs to be nine times higher, compared to Scotland at only two and half times higher;

the major cause of the gap is in the insulation installation rates, which are their lowest in ten years.  As the next figure shows the rate of loft and wall insulation measures going into houses under Government schemes is 95% lower than what was delivered in 2012:

the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is the only public scheme currently delivering insulation measures into homes in England.  The target for all homes to reach EPC Band C requires over 1 million insulation installations per year in England but in 2018, only around 110,000 insulation measures were installed with ECO support, equal to an average of 2,100 insulation measures per week;

research shows that across homes in the UK there remains a cost-effective potential for around 20 million insulation measures to 2035, with 17 million in England.  Installing all of these measures would equate to billions of pounds of energy savings.  For England the 17 million measures are equivalent to around 20,000 insulation improvements being installed every week between now and 2035 — compared to the 2,100-weekly average in 2018;

the following figure compares the current weekly delivery of wall, loft and floor insulation measures – the major contributors to the EPC Band C target where the delivery gaps are the largest — to the rate that needs to be deployed across England to 2035. 

the 95% drop in insulation rates since 2012 demonstrates that progress has slowed to a walking pace, while the average annual rate at which homes undertake significant energy performance improvements in the UK needs to increase by a factor of seven;

Verdict: if the Government is serious about meeting the energy efficiency aspirations set out in the Clean Growth Strategy, it needs to rapidly shift a number of policy gears in order to achieve this rate of acceleration.

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