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Business Leaders to Present Research Report to Ministers on Net-Zero Development

Business Leaders to Present Research Report to Ministers on Net-Zero Development
13 July 2020
 

A coalition of local leaders, including Conservative mayors and energy business, Siemens, have joined forces to lobby the Chancellor to pledge £5bn toward renewable energy. 

In a report on green recovery strategies published by UK100, the creation of a “Net-Zero Development Bank” is one of the main recommendations to create new jobs, unlock private sector investment and secure a path to a zero-carbon economy. 

The research report will be directly presented to the minister Kwasi Kwarteng MP, at a meeting today (13 July 2020).

The coalition believes that by unlocking private sector investment, this would net a return of £100bn to support the British economy, including potentially £40 billion for energy efficiency. This would exceed the promised target of £9.2bn in the Conservative manifesto. 

The call for investment in energy efficiency follows the Chancellor’s summer economic statement and the urgent need for a national programme of home insulation, which was a £9.2bn Conservative manifesto pledge. Only £2bn has so far been announced. 

 

"£5bn now would unlock £100bn to rescue the UK economy and deliver on the Prime Minister’s ambitions of levelling up and meeting net-zero. The Chancellor’s statement, while welcome, should have had far more front-loaded investment.”

–Polly Billington

Director, UK100

Local Decentralised Energy Systems

 

UK100 is a network of over 100 mayors and local leaders from across the country, who argue that a more “balanced energy system” is required with the right mix of local decentralised energy systems alongside large scale generation. 

Local energy projects include retrofitting homes, onshore solar and wind power, biomass, electric vehicle charging and smart grids all of which are critical to meeting the UK’s net-zero target by 2050.

The group is calling for the establishment of a Net Zero Development Bank which would bring together all government financing for the transition to net-zero and kickstart local energy schemes which are at too early a stage to be attractive to private finance. The Bank would provide a single gateway to government support, replace lost funding from the EU within a more stable regulatory regime.

The report is the outcome of an 18-month programme of five workshops held across England and expert interviews sponsored by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Siemens UK. 

Polly Billington, Director of UK100 commented: “If ministers are to meet their manifesto promise on energy efficiency in our homes, which are some of the leakiest in Europe, they need to kickstart a renewable revolution. This would help hard-pressed consumers save on their fuel bills, support hundreds of thousands of jobs and protect the environment.

"£5bn now would unlock £100bn to rescue the UK economy and deliver on the Prime Minister’s ambitions of levelling up and meeting net-zero. The Chancellor’s statement, while welcome, should have had far more front-loaded investment.”

 

What are the Proposed Benefits of UK100’s approach?

 

  • The report claims that the Net Zero Development Bank would avoid duplication and establish common rules for financing schemes ensuring value for money for the taxpayer, and efficiency of scale for businesses. Currently, there are 21 different grants available for local energy projects just via the BEIS, with more via other departments and agencies
  • Businesses such as Siemens are working with a wide range of local authorities on one-off clean energy schemes which each require bespoke contracts and financing, which the report says is wasting precious resources. For instance, Siemens has supported West Sussex County Council to develop their first solar farm on landfill site which is not ready for development, powering 2,400 homes. The coalition suggests that such an approach could have a far higher and more efficient impact on cleaning up our energy if done through a consortium of local authorities with landfill development
  • 316,387 jobs could be created in the local energy sector over the coming decade with investment in decarbonisation including 223,387 in energy efficiency (such as insulating homes and businesses), up to 81,000 in heat networks and 12,000 in smart meters, according to research compiled by The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR)
  • In terms of local energy recovery, many local authorities sit on large asset portfolios of public buildings and land, which could be invested in energy projects. At the same time, with their increasing reliance on business rates for funding, councils are keen to foster local economic growth while recognising they may need additional advice from the private sector. Councils are under pressure from concerned citizens - 90 per cent of whom live in an area where the council has declared a climate emergency
  • There could be many social and health benefits from moving to a zero-carbon economy, including lower heating bills and fewer hospital admissions. One pilot project in Portsmouth which deployed Passivhaus-standard energy efficiency upgrades to 111 flats reduced energy bills by an average of £700 per year, equivalent to over half the annual cost of a standard energy bill. Reducing the chronic health effects from fuel poverty driven by high energy bills and inefficient homes has the potential to save the NHS between £1.4 billion and £2 billion per year in England alone
  • Siemens estimates that more than £100bn of investment in local clean energy schemes could be generated through local authorities, private capital and government investment working together on a wide range of projects across the country 

Picture: A photograph of a wind farm

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 13 July 2020

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