Focusing energy policy on buildings could save the UK £12 billion a year.

9 July 2014 — Refocusing energy policy on buildings could save the UK economy over £12 billion ($22 billion) a year, a new manifesto released by the UK’s Sustainable Energy Association this week says.

The 2015 manifesto uses the government’s own figures to demonstrate how an ambitious program involving energy efficiency measures and installing microgeneration systems on buildings could net savings to the economy averaging £12.1 billion a year from now until 2050. These energy saving measures and renewable systems on buildings were found to be cheaper than investing in large-scale power generation.

“We have known for a long time that energy measures in buildings are cheaper in the long-run,” SEA chief executive Dave Sowden said. “Now the government’s own tools and assumptions yield the same answer. There is a compelling case here to create a much stronger focus in energy policies on buildings. This will reduce waste, enhance energy security, reduce imported fossil fuels, lower people’s fuel bills and make a huge contribution to the UK economy. It is win/win all round.”

The SEA’s plan involves merging current government strategies in energy efficiency, heat, microgeneration and zero carbon homes into one overarching buildings strategy to ensure cross-departmental co-operation and shared objectives to delivering low carbon buildings.

The SEA said that those in the building industry were moving away from single measures towards a whole-of-building approach, both in retrofits and new builds, and the government should make sure its policies matched the market.

“What is missing from government policy is an overarching plan for energy solutions in buildings which stretches across Government Departments and individual policies,” the manifesto said. “Crucially, this failure to look at buildings holistically, consider their role in the wider energy system, and develop effective monitoring and feedback loops means that opportunities are being missed to cost-effectively and imaginatively deliver change to the benefit of UK consumers.”

The SEA put forward solutions including making retrofits a national infrastructure priority using innovative financing and delivery mechanisms; introducing time of use tariffs, demand side management and smart metering; and prioritising renewable, low carbon and efficient heating.

“Technology manufacturers, installers, merchants, financiers and engineers all have mobilised to identify how we can deliver an ambitious and affordable energy future for the UK,” Mr Sowden said. “This manifesto is our appeal to all the main political parties to come with us and build new consensus on energy policy, with buildings at its heart.”

The SEA says its proposal would:

  • achieve 80 per cent CO2 reduction by 2050
  • ensure energy security
  • extensively utilise many building-scale generation technologies
  • rely on less large scale generation (such as nuclear, wind and CCS) than the government pathways

Read the full manifesto.