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April 7, 2022

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The UK’s new Energy Security Strategy – it’s not efficient

This week’s IPCC report estimated that up to 61% of global building emissions could be cut by 2050 – with energy efficiency policies contributing a staggering 42% to this potential.

Therefore, we were disappointed to see today’s Energy Security Strategy emphasise the need for “more energy on accelerated timescales” with nowhere near enough focus on the role of reducing our energy demand and no clear plan for mass retrofit of our homes.

This is a mistake – and a missed opportunity. It is not in line with the Government’s net zero ambitions, nor conducive to supporting the millions of UK families in the throes of devastating fuel poverty.

Our homes are some of the leakiest and coldest in Europe and responsible for approximately 20% of our emissions. Addressing energy efficiency as a priority will set us on the path towards a resilient, sustainable and fair energy future.

Scraping the (oil) barrel

It’s reassuring to see renewable targets increase, with a push for 95% of Great Britain’s electricity set to be low carbon by 2030. This includes a heat pump accelerator competition worth up to £30m.

It’s deeply concerning however to see nuclear with a central position, and hydrogen and North Sea excavation listed as priorities (as well as a new study into fracking). This is not a strategy to reduce carbon or increase energy security quickly.

There are plans for up to 8 new reactors but realistically, even with Hinkley Point C, we won’t have much additional nuclear for at least a decade due to decommissioning older stations.

Hydrogen is consistently shown to be a poor economic choice for heating homes and requires a huge amount of renewable energy to produce - or continued and increased reliance on fossil gas.  As for North Sea oil and gas… this is not a long-term option and it’s certainly not inline with our net zero ambitions.

Without deep retrofit we’ll need at least 2 Hinkley Point C’s (26 TWh) just to cover the low-carbon electricity needs of 4.4m social homes in the UK.  Or 8 Hinkleys to provide enough electricity in winter to power all our homes from non-fossil sources in 2045.

There’s an alternative…

We’re taking this opportunity to say: let’s save a couple of Hinkleys at c.£50bn cost and do some deep retrofit instead! We’re renewing our call for the government to create a clear National Retrofit Strategy and provide £250m of innovation investment over five years to unlock retrofit as a key part of the net-zero industrial revolution.

Alongside a clear target, five – seven years of innovation funding following the “commit and review” Offshore Wind Accelerator arrangement would enable the development of factories, products and processes to decrease unit cost and increase speed of deployment for deep retrofit.

This would kickstart and create a self-sustaining retrofit market to deliver our 2050 goals without expensive subsidies, in order to:

  • Deliver a thriving, innovative net-zero economy with strong business opportunities for SMEs and big corporates alike – stimulating supply chains and offering high-tech job opportunities for current and future generations.  
  • Create a cost-effective, functioning and self-financing industry that’s market led, rather than dictated by heavy policy or subsides.  
  • Insulate our country from volatile energy markets, and position ourselves as a global net-zero leader.  
  • Leverage low-cost transition with highly energy-efficient homes that are easy to supply and don’t stress the grid.  
  • Enable effective levelling up across the UK, helping all families enjoy warm, desirable homes with affordable, stable bills. 

With 84% of people rating insulation as fairly or very important to curb our reliance on Russian gas, it's clear the demand and understanding is there. Let’s be more efficient in our energy security and build a much better future at the same time.

Find out more about our 5 key policy asks for the government to unlock a functioning, self- financing retrofit market for warm, affordable, desirable homes for millions.

About Energiesprong UK

Over the last 5 years, we’ve been rolling out the Energiesprong model in the UK – a revolutionary whole house refurbishment and funding approach for achieving net-zero homes. Developed in the Netherlands, 5,000 homes have already been retrofitted to net-zero energy with 20,000 homes in the pipeline.  

It is designed to unlock:  

  • Zero carbon retrofit at scale
  • Paid for by energy and maintenance savings
  • Delivered by a new high-tech British industry
  • Guaranteed actual performance, comfort and costs long term
  • Warm, affordable, desirable homes for life.