The SEA launches their Policy Barriers and Solutions for a Technology-Agnostic Approach to Heat and Buildings report

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The Sustainable Energy Association (SEA) and Partners’ latest report details how government heat and buildings policy can shift towards delivering the most appropriate technologies for achieving the best outcomes.

The SEA and Partners strongly support and welcome the Government’s drive for delivering energy efficiency, low-carbon heating, and smart technology retrofits across the UK. As part of commitments to the Net-Zero agenda, government policy support and investment is at an all-time high for the heat and buildings sector. Around £6.6 billion has already been committed during this parliamentary term, and a further £6bn is now allocated to specific policies from 2025 to 2028—a great success.

However, it is crucial that these investments are targeted, effective and deliver the best possible outcomes in the transition to Net Zero. Creating living and working spaces fit for future generations, as is the SEA’s Vision, should also be a key deliverable through government policy for heat and buildings. The Low-Carbon Technologies (LCTs) supported through these policies for retrofitting homes and other buildings, can create a wide range of beneficial outcomes for buildings, the people that live and work within them, and the country as a whole.

The current policy landscape risks failing to deliver LCTs into new and existing buildings in a way that encompasses the best range of outcomes, and the most appropriate holistic mix of technologies, most suitable for that particular building and consumer. This is particularly true for innovations and alternative technologies, which can deliver these outcomes in a new or unfamiliar way but are ahead of policy reform that can help bring them to market.

In this new report, we have brought together views from across the collaboration to analyse the state of policy, and how it can be made more technology agnostic. There are a host of challenges with the Government’s current approach that act as a barrier to delivering in this outcome-based way. These range from industry communications and consumer advice activity, the short-term nature of policy phases and waves, to energy market arrangements and pricing, the EPC framework, labour and skills shortage for delivering these LCTs.

Solutions & Recommendations
Aspirational & Longer Term
The Government must create a long-term, joined-up approach to retrofit policies—a National Retrofit Strategy
The Government should focus on an outcomes-based approach to policies for decarbonising buildings
The Government must develop devolution arrangements that deliver place-based retrofit in a technology-agnostic way
The Government must set up independent, holistic and joined-up consumer advice—a National Education Campaign for technology-agnostic retrofit
The Government should drive the redevelopment of routes into built environment jobs and build cross-sectoral and holistic skills that deliver technology-agnostic policies
Practicable & Shorter Term
The Government must urgently reform SAP and EPCs, whist developing routes to advanced building assessments and passports, to recognise the most appropriate technologies for the best outcomes
The Government should target retrofit policies at trigger points and other key stages in a building’s lifecycle to install the best technologies at appropriate times
The Government must ensure lists of eligible measures for specific government funding schemes are broadened to recognise the most appropriate solutions for the types of buildings and scheme outcomes
The Government must widen its communications on low-carbon technologies and retrofit to include the diverse range of appropriate solutions available
The Government must urgently rebalance social and environmental policy costs levied on electricity and decouple electricity and gas prices to incentivise the transition to low-carbon technologies
The Government should improve consumer protection policies and ensure a Just Transition across all appropriate low-carbon technologies
The Government must introduce a transparent, robust, and streamlined innovation methodology for businesses to get their products certified and ready for government schemes within the built environment
The Government should ensure taxation is technology agnostic, whilst stimulating domestic manufacturing to create the right outcomes for businesses and the country

If the Government is truly driven to capitalise on the best outcomes from the transition to Net Zero and support individual choice, then policies supporting the built environment need should follow these recommendations and take a technology-agnostic approach.

Alan Brown MP, PRASEG Chair commented:

“I welcome the report and the recommendations. It is critical that there is long-term, joined-up approach to retrofit policies, backed by funding and incentives to deliver low carbon technologies and energy efficiency measures. Access to free independent advice for consumers is critical too, and the UK Government should consider this and the example of Energy Advice Scotland. It is also clear that policy costs cannot be continually added to electricity bills, and a more progressive funding model provided. I welcome the calls for the decoupling of gas and electricity prices”

Dave Sowden, interim Chief Executive of the SEA commented:

“As part of our successful ongoing collaboration, this defining report provides a rich picture of the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for transitioning heat and buildings. The wide range of recommendations made to the Government should help them to refine their policies and communications to deliver a holistic, technology-agnostic and outcomes-based approach. We hope that the Government and sector continue to engage in this work to help create living and working spaces fit for future generations.”

Russell Dean, Vice President of the SEA and Residential Products Group Director, Mitsubishi Electric said:

“Industry is working hard to deliver energy efficiency and low carbon heating technology such as heat pumps. It’s only with a collaborative approach, by bringing together the expertise and knowledge of businesses and government, will the fabric of buildings be made ready, that the right technology can be manufactured and the work force skilled to ultimately achieve the government’s net zero target.”

Steve Bratt, Group Chief Executive Officer, ECA said:

“ECA believes a technology agnostic approach is the best way to achieve the UK’s net zero requirements. Our Members ensure that interrelated technologies are installed and maintained safely to achieve maximum performance. A collaborative approach is key to delivering an energy efficient, safe and clean environment. I welcome the solutions-focused approach to reaching this goal outlined in the new report”.

Paul Morey, Chief Executive Officer, Herschel Infrared said:

“Current government policy, including EPC and SAP, and the new proposed HEM, make it extremely difficult for householders to transition away from fossil-fuel based heating to anything other than heat pumps. It is imperative that future policy offers householders a level playing field to choose whichever low-carbon heating solution is most suitable for them, and for appropriate alternative and innovative technologies, such as electric infrared heating, to be equally encouraged and promoted by the Government. We thank the SEA for its hard work with its latest report and hope that the Government will understand that focusing almost exclusively on one heating technology type is not the route to decarbonising heating”.  

Notes to editors:

  1. The Sustainable Energy Association is a member-based industry body offering innovative policy solutions that link up building-level technologies and the wider energy system. In a world of finite resources, the SEA exists to help create living and working spaces fit for future generations.
  2. To see the report in full, visit:
  3. This report has been supported by:
  • AirEx
  • Building Research Establishment (BRE)
  • Building Controls Industry Association (BCIA)
  • Daikin
  • Electrical Contractors’ Association (ECA)
  • Herschel Infrared
  • IRT Surveys
  • Mitsubishi Electric
  • Mixergy
  • Naked Energy
  • National Energy Foundation (NEF)
  • NIBE
  • Oil Firing Technical Association (OFTEC)
  • Showersave
  • Sovereign Network Group
  • The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA)
  • Thermal Storage UK (TSUK)
  • Trust Heating
  • Windhager

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