After another Brexit heavy week in politics, the Spring Statement has been somewhat overshadowed amid further disagreements about our ties to the European Union. Amongst the growing uncertainty, Chancellor Philip Hammond had an opportunity to install real hope in the UK economy, which many fear has taken a back seat for too long. At the beginning of the year, Ecuity Partner, James Higgins was optimistic in his aspirations for the year ahead, aspiring for a series of energy developments, improved regulations to encourage sustainability and decarbonisation for our new and existing homes. With this in mind, it was encouraging to see Hammond address the need to shape a carbon neutral economy of the future, building sustainability into the heart of the UK’s economic model.
It has been interesting to evaluate industry responses to the statement since it was published on 13th March, focusing on particular projections for Clean Growth in the UK.
Future Homes Standard
A Future Homes Standard, to be introduced by 2025, future-proofing new build homes with low carbon heating and world-leading levels of energy efficiency. The new standard will build on the Prime Minister’s Industrial Strategy Grand Challenge mission to at least halve the energy use of new buildings by 2030.
Greening the Gas Grid
Accelerating the decarbonisation of our gas supplies by increasing the proportion of green gas in the grid. To meet our climate targets, we need to reduce our dependence on burning natural gas to heat our homes. The government will consult on the appropriate mechanism to deliver this commitment later this year.
Clean Growth: Spring Statement
It comes as no surprise that the Committee on Climate Change has given the Government the ‘thumbs up’ for plans to clean up the UK gas supply, having recently stressed the importance of phasing-out fossil fuels in order to future-proof our new homes. This was highlighted in their recently published report which caused some controversy between those debating the use of gas in the decarbonisation of our housing supply. Considering the Clean Growth projections this week, we’ve seen both sides of the fence take solace in the Spring Statement all the same. Manufacturer Vaillant, for example, has welcomed the statement on social media, taking light in indications that heat pumps and low carbon technologies will have an increasing presence as we strive towards decarbonisation. At the same time, those working with biomethane and hydrogen fuel have welcomed the government’s commitment to green gas taking comfort in the suggestion that low-carbon boilers will also be part of the green transition.
The Institute for Public Policy Research has criticised the statement describing projections as wholly inadequate ‘half-measures’ that will do little to address the fundamental weaknesses in the UK’s economic model. With a growing desire to address the impacts of climate change, this negative response has been mirrored across social media platforms in the wider debate.
Despite the mixed reaction to the Spring Statement this week, we reflect once more on our earlier aspirations for the year ahead and remain hopeful that this will still be a year of progress. A huge amount of groundwork will need to be undertaken to change the way in which energy is provided to businesses and homes in the future and it will be interesting to see how the Government address this need for change.
For more information please contact: Christina Thompson-Yates.