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Why now is the time for a bold energy transition plan

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Energy transition plan

•   EST publishes vision for transforming UK energy system
•   Warm homes must be at the centre of energy policy
•   Cross party support needed to create jobs, growth and better health for households  

The overarching UK energy policy environment is in the midst of change and we set out our vision our recent paper, 'Energy efficiency: Recalibrating the debate'. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been closed and its functions moved into the new-look business department: the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Alongside this, the vote to leave the EU means that one of the primary drivers of energy and environmental policy will go. This means that energy and climate change policy will remain in a state of flux for some time to come. 

Now more than ever the government needs to provide clarity on how the UK is to proceed with its low-carbon agenda, especially in the light of the closure of the Green Deal, the reduction in scope of the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), the cut in Feed-in Tariff rates and abandonment of zero carbon homes legislation for new build. 

A chance to invigorate energy policy

Recent political changes can serve as a new start. We think that now is the perfect time to rethink how we look at energy policy and is why we’ve produced this new paper.

With changes and new opportunities ahead for UK energy there is a strong economic and social argument for a new energy policy with energy efficiency at its heart. 



What is the fifth carbon budget and what are the UK's next steps?

The future of energy efficiency in the UK: Energy Saving Trust CEO explains


The clear benefits of green homes

The benefits of energy efficiency go far beyond insulating homes, and we need a new narrative which reflects this. Health improvements, air quality and energy security, increased tax revenues, jobs and GDP, are all things that a concerted program of home retrofit work can achieve—and should be the factors driving the policy agenda. These benefits cover areas across government and policy-making should reflect that. Alongside an energy policy rethink there is a tremendous opportunity for more joined up activity across health, work and pensions, energy and business, and environment, to make the most of the opportunities of energy efficiency. 

Good examples are close to home

Germany, with its Energiewende, and more recently, France, have taken on ambitious moves towards energy transition, looking at the economy as a whole. There are also examples on these shores. Scotland has a package of policies supporting a whole range of initiatives, from large-scale renewables to district heating and community energy

To create complementary policies that are packaged with firm end goals in mind, there has to be a move beyond the partisan. Scotland also illustrates this well: there's cross-party support for energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority (as well as approving the investment to back such a priority), plus a commitment to bring homes up to Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) band C by 2030. We can learn from these examples at a UK-wide level and set about our own energy transformation. We need to start by changing the way we look at energy policy and place energy efficiency, the ‘first fuel’, on centre stage.

Share your thoughts with us - submit a comment below or tweet @EnergySvgTrust.

David Weatherall's picture
Our Head of Policy, David Weatherall, is one of the Energy Saving Trust’s most experienced spokespeople and has worked on the policy issues around energy efficiency for more than ten years. Follow David on Twitter: @Atrapalhado

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A "bold energy transition plan"?

Hey, no problem. All you had to do was ask.

Scotland Electricity Generation – my plan for 2020

"* 100% renewable power generation, even during periods of no-wind"

Modelling of wind and pumped-storage power

"Such modelling can predict how much wind power and pumped-storage energy capacity should be installed for satisfactory renewables-only generation."

World’s biggest-ever pumped-storage hydro-scheme, for Scotland?

"The maximum potential energy which could be stored by such a scheme is colossal – about 6800 Gigawatt-hours – or 283 Gigawatt-days – enough capacity to balance and back-up the intermittent renewable energy generators such as wind and solar power for the whole of Europe!"

Off-Shore Electricity from Wind, Solar and Hydrogen Power

The diagram shows how hydrogen gas can be used to store energy from renewable-energy platforms floating at sea by sending any surplus wind and solar electrical power down a sub-sea cable to power underwater high-pressure electrolysis to make compressed hydrogen to store in underwater inflatable gas-bags.

It's potentially very cheap because no super-strong pressure containment vessels are required - the ambient hydrostatic pressure which is proportional to depth serves to compress the hydrogen gas to containable densities.

Scottish Scientist
Independent Scientific Adviser for Scotland

This paper is premised on the correct outcomes including a plan for UK energy transition that includes home energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority. I would be careful on having a narrative which is based on 'investments that pay for themselves'. This is not the same as highlighting, and fully integrating, the economic and social benefits of investing in housing stock and sustainable energy sources. The 'pay for itself' narrative forgoes the large barriers or market failures stand in the way, such as split incentives or the disincentive caused by high upfront costs. I understand that you are targeting the policy makers with this narrative, however there is risk that certain decision makers will pass the 'pays for itself' narrative on to the consumer, who may not behave based on economic rationality or is spurned by a market failure. and therefore no energy efficiency improvements are made. We need the government to treat energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority, tackle the barriers preventing energy efficiency improvements and recognise the economic and social benefits by supporting efficiency with public capital.

The link to the paper isn't working, is there another link available?

Hello Amy - the link doesn't seem to be broken. Here it is again - 'Energy efficiency: Recalibrating the debate'. Alternatively, you can search for this file via our Reports. Hope this helps.

EST Team

My company is fed up of being treated unfairly by the providers and through them the energy companies. This country definitely needs a joined up energy efficiency policy.