Energy Review – A Drive for Energy Efficiency

United Kingdom

The UK Government recently published the findings of its Energy Review. This Review aimed to assess the progress towards the goals set out in the 2003 Energy White Paper and to consider appropriate future action for energy supply and demand in the UK.

Driven by environment concerns over climate change and concerns regarding the security of supply, energy and related issues have appeared increasingly towards the forefront of political attention in recent years. The Energy Review covers a wide range of topics and is set out into nine sections:

1. Valuing Carbon

2. Saving Energy

3. Distributed Energy

4. Oil, Gas and Coal

5. Electricity Generation

6. Transport

7. Planning for large-scale Energy Infrastructure

8. Meeting our Goals

9. Implementation

This article considers the aspects of the Energy Review relating to energy efficiency and renewable electricity, contained largely in Chapter 2.

This chapter addresses the need to reduce energy demand through improvements in energy efficiency. It suggests that energy efficiency can be increased through (1) technological improvements and (2) behaviour / attitude change to the way in which we use energy. The major initiatives discussed are set out below:

Changing Energy Market Objectives

The Energy Review notes that the current energy market structure is not aligned with the goal of reducing energy demand, as the higher the sale of energy units, the more profit is made. The Energy Review considers that a shift of objectives of the market will be encouraged so that, rather than being rewarded for sale of units of energy, suppliers are rewarded for the provision of warmth, light and power to end users.

Energy Efficiency of Buildings

The Government recognises that the recent amendments to Part L of the Building Regulations (brought in on 4 April 2006 as part of implementation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive 2002/91/EC) go some way towards improving the energy efficiency of buildings. As buildings are estimated to account for about 40% of all energy use in the UK, a great deal of attention has been given to the ways this sector can become more energy efficient.

To this end, the Energy Review discusses the introduction of the Code for Sustainable Homes (formerly the Code for Sustainable Buildings). This Code would establish standards of energy efficiency and resource sustainability above and beyond those required under Part L of the Building Regulations. There would be five levels within the Code and the Review states that all Government funded housing would aim to meet at least level 3.

The Government has also strengthened enforcement powers regarding energy efficiency of buildings. Under the new Climate Change and Sustainability Act 2006, the time period for prosecution of breaches of energy efficiency standards has been extended.

Planning for Efficiency

The Government intends to consult on a new Planning Policy Statement on Climate Change, to make clear that the location and design of new developments should promote the reduction of carbon emissions. In addition, local planning authorities will be encouraged to continue the trend of insisting on minimum percentages of energy in new developments that must come from on-site renewables.

The Review also indicates that the Government aims to reduce the need for planning permission for the installation of microgeneration equipment (e.g. solar panels, wind turbines and photovoltaic cells) on existing houses.

Energy Using Products

The Government says that it is committed to addressing the efficiency of energy-using products. This is likely to tie in with the implementation of the Eco-Design of Energy Using Products Directive (2005/32/EC).

The Review indicates that the Government will aim to save up to 40,000 tonnes carbon per year through procurement of products that meet current best practice in energy efficiency.

To read the full text of the Energy Review, click here

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