Last week’s announcements provided some much-needed clarity on key areas of uncertainty surrounding energy efficiency and the Net Zero agenda, offering valuable insight into the Government’s direction of travel and how Britain will be ‘powered up’. While we appreciate the progress made thus far, there are still unanswered questions like how the UK will retrofit its existing building stock, radically improving EPCs (Energy Performance Certificates), and integrating emerging technologies. As advocates of the need for long-term, joined-up policy, the Sustainable Energy Association (SEA) is eager to see further developments in these areas, and we look forward to the advent of policies such as the Future Homes and Buildings Standard that will give certainty of direction.
We are heartened by the positive steps taken towards promoting rooftop solar in commercial and domestic properties, and the establishment of a task force to maximise the potential of this technology. The SEA is proud to have helped take ECO+, now called the Great British Insulation Scheme, from concept into government policy and hope that this will be superseded with a comprehensive National Retrofit Strategy. We recognise that a more diverse range of technologies will be necessary to fully decarbonise heating in homes and buildings and achieve the right outcomes, and we urge the Government to consider a more technologically agnostic approach in its policy planning. By taking a fabric-first, holistic, and technology neutral approach to retrofit, the UK can accelerate its trajectory to net zero carbon, cost-effective and healthy buildings.
We are encouraged by the Government’s commitment to reducing energy demand from large businesses and its efforts to incentivise the uptake of low carbon heating systems through the Clean Heat Market Mechanism, Heat Pump Investment Accelerator Competition, commitment to address the prohibitive costs levied on electricity, and through the phase out of gas boilers from off-gas-grid properties from 2026. We believe a fossil fuel phase-out date is crucial to provide much-needed confidence to the industry and to direct investment towards more sustainable solutions. Additionally, we must prioritise the health and wellbeing of residents by ensuring that they live and work in energy-efficient and healthy buildings, and that health remains a stalwart principle when improving our building stock.
We look forward to both the Net Zero and Nature Workforce Action Plan in 2024 and Welsh Government Net Zero Skills Action Plan in 2023, which we believe will provide critical support for the growth of green industries and the creation of new jobs. The SEA recognises the importance of developing a competent workforce to be able to deliver a holistic approach to energy efficiency and sustainable energy in buildings, both new build and retrofit, to high standards and at scale in order for our Net Zero pledge to be reached.