Spring Statement and low-carbon homes: the industry responds

Barny Evans, head of energy, waste and sustainable places, WSP: “The future of homes standard announcement, due in 2025, is welcome. It builds on the Committee on Climate Change’s report which called for all new homes to be all-electric from 2025. We have been calling for this since 2014 in our paper, Powering Ahead – Fast-Forward to the All-Electric City. We stand ready to contribute our expertise in this area, ensuring that the full benefit of the smart energy revolution is recognised and seized.  With close collaboration, WSP believes this standard could be brought in before 2025, to ensure it covers the 1 million new homes currently in the pipeline.

Charles Hardcastle, Head of Energy & Marine, Carter Jonas: “The introduction of a Future Homes Standard by 2025, so that new build homes are future-proofed with low carbon heating and energy efficiency solutions, is another positive commitment. However, additional information on how this will work in practice is required. We must ensure that the costs of covering these technologies and their deployment are not simply met by the consumer at the point of sale.

“The commitment to advance the decarbonisation of gas by increasing the proportion of green gas in the grid is imperative to help the UK meet its carbon commitment, however there was minimal context and little detail on how the Government are intending to implement this through new support mechanisms.”

Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary: “GMB calls on Parliament to reject this proposal until there is thorough public debate on the energy mix and who pays. We recognise the UK must up its game in respect of its climate change commitments under the Paris Treaty – but today’s announcement doesn’t sound well thought through. Who will pay the subsidies to investors for the low and zero carbon energy sources?

“Whilst there are some positive and very welcome announcements regarding decarbonising the gas grid  – with current government policy on new nuclear power stations and renewable energy all over the place, the  decisions on the UK’s future energy needs and mix must be properly debated. Gas will be essential to meeting UK energy demands for many years to come.

“Whilst GMB welcomes the direction of travel on greening the gas grid with ultra-low carbon gas such as hydrogen, it is fundamentally right that the UK public must be consulted first on decisions that are being made today, particularly because ultimately it is them who have to pay. This is another example of the demerger of economic and political questions and decision making. This is no longer an acceptable way of proceeding.”

Nick Molho, executive director, Aldersgate Group: “We look forward to seeing further details of the proposal to increase the proportion of green gas in the grid and the development of the Future Homes Standard. Cutting the carbon intensity of the gas grid and building new homes with low carbon heating and high energy efficiency standards are key low regret policies which will allow the government to learn by doing and avoid costly retrofits further down the line.”

Simon Daniel, chief executive,  Moixa: “The Chancellor’s proposals to tackle climate change and the launch of the Future Homes Standard are steps in the right direction. Further to this, UK leadership in electric vehicles and smart grid innovation present a fantastic opportunity to manage batteries to support more renewables.

“The end of feed-in-tariff, whilst a challenge, creates new opportunities for the Solar Export Guarantee to deliver innovative tariffs by utilities and is likely to increase the adoption of home energy storage in the coming months. We welcome additional policies to support this change.”

Bean Beanland, chair of the Ground Source Heat Pump Association: “The ground source heat pump industry is ready to meet the challenge with a proven and efficient technology that can deliver to homeowners and tenants the lowest operating cost and carbon solution. We look forward to working with the government and others to make this a reality by contributing to the training and standards that will be required to ensure the strongest possible consumer confidence and protection in this growing market.”

 

Maria Connolly, partner at law firm TLT: “With the Autumn Budget lacking concrete proposals for the clean energy sector and our efforts in tackling climate change, this Spring Statement is a positive development – especially on the back of the Offshore Wind Sector Deal earlier this month.

“The Chancellor appears to have got the message and has put forward several measures to promote clean growth.

“The introduction of a Future Homes Standard by 2025 to ensure that new build homes are future-proofed with low-carbon heating and the highest levels of energy efficiency certainly looks to be a good proposal, but we should also be looking at how we can better incentivise new housing developments to incorporate clean energy technologies such as solar PV or wind turbines, combined with storage capacity.”

Nick Blyth, Policy & Engagement Lead, IEMA: “It is noticeable that the leaders of our two main political parties have made recent (welcome) pronouncements on the environment.  School strikes and a wave of local Council’s declaring a Climate Emergency have elevated climate change up the political agenda.  However, in relation to the environment, some of the details behind the headlines don’t match the step-change needed. Within housing, announcements for a future homes standard by 2025, do not reverse earlier policy dismantling, such as the scrapping of the 2016 target for zero carbon homes. There appears to be no funding announcement to support public bodies to implement the welcome mandatory commitment on biodiversity net-gain.

“More generally, the environment continues to be framed as a problem to sort.   Clearly it is, but the economic opportunity is huge and in response, a transformative programme is needed.”

 

Ian MacFarlane, director, project finance at financial risk management consultancy JCRA: “Any direct government investment in domestic UK infrastructure, by way of a potential government sponsored Infrastructure fund, will definitely help to promote private investment for the UK. There is currently a very liquid funding market for infrastructure and anything that can encourage investment back into what should be an attractive UK pipeline, post Brexit, will be a good thing. This would go a long way to mitigate any perceived loss of the EIBs funding support.”

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