PM lights the (gas) burner under the green agenda

12/3/24

Rishi Sunak risks further criticism from green campaigners after throwing his weight behind the building of new gas-fired power stations, saying he will “not gamble with our energy security”. The government will on Tuesday announce a plan to increase gas power capacity by providing extra certainty to investors that plants have a long-term future, even as Britain moves away from fossil fuels. – Guardian

18/3/24

Every household must be engaged by the government in the shift to clean heating as uptake of heat pumps to replace boilers is running at less than half of expected levels, the public spending watchdog has warned. A report by the National Audit Office (NAO) described assumptions on consumer demand for heat pumps, which use electricity to draw heat from the ground, air or water for heating buildings, as “optimistic”. – Sky News

Comments:

Building gas fired power stations will be another instance of Rishi Sunak pushing back on the Green Agenda and the UK’s legal commitment to Net Zero by 2050. This follows the ill-fated and short-lived Green Deal and Green Homes Grant and the decision at the end of 2023 to abandon the proposed timetable to raise MEES (minimum energy efficiency standard) from an EPC (energy performance certificate) of E and above to a minimum of C, including a deadline on when new gas and other carbon fuelled boilers could be fitted.

iHowz welcome that a consultation was launched on an alternative energy standard but question the level of the government’s commitment to this important agenda, given the capital nature of these works and the need to schedule them, either with existing tenants in situ or requiring a vacant property for more extensive works.

Alternatives

The government seem to be relying on homeowners switching to heat pump and other electricity powered solutions.

There is an online dashboard which clearly demonstrates the live UK generation mix, including hourly demand and pricing over the last 24 hours. This provides a simple visual showing the need for the UK to invest in energy storage as well as generation.

Currently, the main green energy sources are wind and solar, with some hydro generation.

Some solar installations save the energy either using battery storage or by heating water and hydro generators use off peak low cost electricity to pump stored water to feeder reservoirs.

There is development work on other sources, such as wave and tidal generation, compressed air, green hydrogen and electrothermal storage (similar to the storage heater concept but on a much larger scale for industries which require high temperatures). Most of these are either still in development or are in the early stages of commercialisation with no clear indication of when they will be readily available at a competitive price.

Simplicity is often Best

The government previously stated that it has a fabric first approach, which would make properties better insulated and provide homes which are more resilient to excessive heat as we experience hotter summers and reduce the need for heating in the colder months.

This can be achieved by varying measures, ranging from the simple, such as draft proofing and insulating lofts and traditional floors through to changing doors and windows and insulating outside walls (internally or externally).

In addition to making the fabric more thermally efficient, more efficient heating systems reduce waste and can offer higher levels of efficiency.

These can be as simple as upgrading an existing gas system by fitting a more efficient boiler with thermostatic valves and controller or swapping out old electric heating with more efficient energy saving equivalents [LOT 20 compliant]. Alternatively, the heating system could be altered to take advantage of other systems such as infra red, heat pumps and MHVR (mechanical heat ventilation and recovery).

Solving the Implementation issues

It is disappointing that the current government have failed to take decisive, long term action either at the start of the energy crisis or when the current Chancellor announced his first fiscal statement.

With energy prices going through the roof and interest rates forcing home builders to reduce their workforce, it was an ideal opportunity for the government to show leadership by offering training to provide sufficient skilled workforce to carry out the insulation and transition works, and to provide funding grants, rather than the indiscriminate energy support to all households, which cost the country £4bn a month

In a recent interview on the Today Programme (12.03/2024) Gregg Jackson, the founder of Octopus Energy, proposed smarter use of the electricity grid which would help address some of the current bottlenecks which include wind farms waiting over 5 years to be connected and the building of homes in West London restricted due to electricity supply constraints.

His proposals included lower standing charges for rural regions providing supply and zonal charging. He also advocated that it makes little sense to

site high energy demand users, such as data centres, in urban hubs rather than near the supply source.

Will Labour Fix It?

With a general election expected to be called in the second half of 2024, it is expected that Labour will form the next government. Labour announced their £28bn spending plan in 2021, as Reeves promised to be the UK’s “first green chancellor”. She said at the time the money would be spent on battery manufacturing, hydrogen power, offshore wind, tree planting, flood defences and home insulation.

In February 2024, Kier Starmer confirmed that Labour was cutting this commitment. Starmer said: “We will not reach the £28bn – the £28bn, therefore, is stood down and we focus on the outcomes. We want to get to that place because at the moment all you are ever asked about is the size of the cheque and we want to have an argument about the outcomes, which is what matters.”

iHowz Lobby for Clear Energy Policies for Homes

Since before COP26, iHowz has lobbied government to provide clear long term policies with supporting funding. More than two years later, the proposed MEES changes have been abandoned, £4bn a month was spent on energy support and no clear solution has been provided which would address the needs of landlords and other homeowners for a clear long term plan to address the transition to net zero in our homes.

iHowz continue to lobby government and will raise our concerns with the main parties as we head towards the general election.

 

SEARCH

YOU MAY ALSO LIKE

CATEGORIES
SOCIAL
Twitter feed is not available at the moment.

0 Comments

Submit a Comment