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The British Energy Security Strategy – The Experts React

The British Energy Security Strategy – The Experts React
08 April 2022
 

The government’s new energy strategy plan outlines the UK’s response to the energy crisis – but what do those working in the sector have to say about it?

The “British energy security strategy”, published on 7 April 2022 has been positioned as a response to surging global energy prices. Gov.uk describes the plan as “central to weaning Britain off expensive fossil fuels”.

Let’s take a look at what the government is proposing for greater energy security in the long-term, and what the industry reactions have been so far:

 

No Measures to Address Ageing Building Stock

 

Gillian Charlesworth, CEO of the Building Research Establishment (BRE), argues that the strategy hasn’t done enough to accelerate retrofit measures for the UK’s current building stock: 

“Whilst we welcome measures to bolster the long-term security of the UK’s energy supply, the plans outlined today do not represent a whole-hearted commitment to transitioning as quickly as possible to renewable energy and will do little to address two of the biggest challenges we currently face: tackling rising energy costs and improving the energy efficiency of our homes and buildings.”

 

"...without a clear plan and funding to upgrade the UK’s building stock, our energy security strategy cannot be driven forward effectively – and we will quickly lose momentum on the drive to net-zero.”

–Gillian Charlesworth

CEO, Building Research Establishment (BRE)

 

“The UK has one of the oldest and least energy-efficient building stocks in Europe, which unnecessarily inflates demand for natural gas. Accelerating the rollout of retrofit measures like insulation is a short-term solution that could address spiralling bills and significantly improve the energy efficiency of our housing stock, but it is disappointing to see that this has not been covered within today’s strategy.”

 

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Picture: a photograph of Gillian Charlesworth. Image Credit: BRE

 

“The need to accelerate the rollout and investment into insulation extends beyond housing. With nearly a fifth of all gas being consumed by the non-domestic sector, a lack of any retrofit strategy will result in higher costs for our businesses and public infrastructure – including schools and hospitals. This will ultimately be felt by households, who will have to bear the brunt of higher prices.”

“Aside from keeping consumers’ energy bills down and reducing their carbon footprint, retrofitting homes is a fast and cost-effective strategy to reduce demand for natural gas and will help to support the UK’s energy security. Recent announcements such as the abolition of VAT on some energy-saving materials are a welcome start. However, without a clear plan and funding to upgrade the UK’s building stock, our energy security strategy cannot be driven forward effectively – and we will quickly lose momentum on the drive to net-zero.”

 

Hydrogen Investment Welcome

 

Mike Foster, CEO of the Energy and Utilities Alliance, supports the strategy’s position on hydrogen as a way to decarbonise our lives in the near-term:

“The energy crisis has forced the government to announce this new strategy and we welcome it. The PM has made his move towards hydrogen, doubling his ambition and we say ‘well done’. He has recognised the need for a flexible, low carbon and affordable gas to heat homes and power industry. Hydrogen is that gas. And across the globe, in response to Putin’s savagery, nations are turning to hydrogen.

 

“Consumers will avoid major disruption to their lives, minimise the costs associated with achieving net zero, at the same time help save the planet from climate change, and keep Putin’s gas in the ground. That’s what I call a win.”

–Mike Foster

CEO, Energy and Utilities Alliance

 

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Picture: a photograph of Mike Foster. Image Credit: Energy and Utilities Alliance

 

“Hydrogen heating will mean people can keep their gas boilers, cookers and fires; it is just the gas that is being changed. We did the same thing in the 1960s, moving from Town Gas to natural gas, now we will move from natural gas to hydrogen. The UK will lead the way, as it did before, and that is what this government wants to see.

“Consumers will avoid major disruption to their lives, minimise the costs associated with achieving net zero, at the same time help save the planet from climate change, and keep Putin’s gas in the ground. That’s what I call a win.”

 

Image

 

Overlooking Energy Efficiency

 

Tim Holman, Head of Operations at energy auditing agency TEAM Energy, questions why the plan appears to overlook the role of energy efficiency as an option to solve the growing energy crisis:

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, here we are again with a new energy strategy from the Government that does not factor in the role of tackling waste and investing in energy efficiency as part of solving the growing energy crisis.

“The simple fact is to meet both net-zero and curtail rising costs we need to address growing energy demand.

“Energy efficiency has never been considered as sexy as new technology-based solutions that the current government seems to prefer. It does not have the same glamour, nor does it get the same press attention – but it is the answer to addressing the challenge in front of us. By identifying waste across both commercial and domestic use, and plugging those gaps, the collective savings would alleviate some of that resource pressure. As one commentator recently said, ‘you don’t turn on the taps when you have a leaky bath, you fix the leak first’.

 

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Picture: a photograph of Tim Holman. Image Credit: TEAM Energy

 

“In the commercial space, this can be achieved through implementing a carbon reduction strategy, which incorporates many aspects of traditional energy auditing, with a detailed inspection of operational consumption and emissions. Followed by an energy and carbon reduction plan, that will in turn ease budgets and work towards net zero. So it is possible to realise both.

This is where the government’s Energy Security Strategy in my opinion misses the mark. Energy efficiency should be part of the fabric of any energy policy. By not including investment in efficiency awareness and projects, the government is not helping businesses and consumers to cut their bills now, and while that continues, I fear it is critically eroding the UK’s ability to reach our legally binding net-zero target that is so important.”

 

Picture: a photograph of a nuclear plant, showing chimneys and cooling towers. Image Credit: Pexels

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 08 April 2022

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