The Clean Growth Strategy was billed by the government as ‘an ambitious blueprint for Britain’s low carbon future’ but in reality what does this mean?
What is the Clean Growth Strategy?
In October 2017 the government published the Clean Growth Strategy which links closely with its Industrial Strategy. The Clean Growth Strategy expands on the aspirations of the Industrial Strategy to grow the UK’s economy in a clean and sustainable manner through investing in and growing a cleaner economy which will assist the government in fulfilling its carbon reduction targets.
The strategy sets out the government’s proposed actions to decarbonise the UK economy over the next 10 years or so. The strategy explains how the UK can benefit from being part of this cleaner economy which focuses on growth as well as carbon reduction.
Some of the areas that the strategy covers are home energy efficiency, heating, vehicles, and energy generation.
How Does This Strategy Impact Homes?
The strategy sets a target for improving the energy efficiency of UK homes by increasing their Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating to band C by 2030. It proposes that this will be partially achieved through the extension of the current Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.
The ECO scheme targets low-income households with home energy efficiency improvements through delivering insulation and heating measures. The strategy sets a target of insulating over six million homes by 2028.
Rented and social housing sectors will also be targeted to increase the energy efficiency of their homes to minimum EPC standards. This element of the strategy has already started to take effect because from 1 April 2018 all new rentals and tenancy agreements will need to reach a minimum EPC band E standard before they can be rented. All rented properties will need to meet EPC band E by 1 April 2020.
All new build homes will also need to meet higher standards of energy efficiency to assist future proofing the UK housing stock.
The strategy also refers to the rollout of smart meters as a way of assisting people in understanding their energy consumption and how this can result in energy efficiency savings as people monitor their use and become more frugal.
The strategy recognises that how we heat our homes is the biggest carbon-emitting factor for UK homes, so it aims to assist the heating industry to tackle this. The strategy sets out improving the energy efficiency of new boilers by supporting manufacturers.
It will also assist those industries delivering low carbon heating such as heat networks (like district heating schemes) and heating innovation programmes including heat pumps, biomass and solar thermal. The strategy also outlines the continued support for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).
Tackling Transport Emissions
The strategy sets an ambition to assist the UK in transitioning to low carbon transport which sits alongside the ambition to stop the sale of new diesel vehicles by 2040.
The strategy states this will be achieved through encouraging the take-up of ultra-low emission vehicles (ULEV), continuing to support the rollout of vehicle charging networks, and investing in the advancement of electric battery technology which is crucial in making electric vehicles more viable.
A crucial part of the UK’s clean economy is decarbonising the energy we consume. It aims to decarbonise electricity through phasing out the coal power stations that are still operational and replacing their generation capacity with nuclear power and renewable energy. The energy generation levels from coal power stations have been declining over the last five years and now only accounts for a small proportion of the UK’s electricity mix.
The strategy will support the phasing out of coal power stations through investing in the development of nuclear power and renewable energy advancements which increases the cost-effectiveness of them. The strategy also outlines how the government will invest in supporting the advancement of energy storage solutions which will aid the increase in renewable energy generation and help create a more flexible electricity grid.
What Does This Strategy Cost?
The plans and investments proposed in this strategy seem costly and the government has flagged that the cost to UK households will be minimised. The strategy outlines the aim to balance the costs by improving the efficiency of UK homes at the same time as investing in low carbon innovation which will increase the costs of energy bills.