James Talman, CEO of NFRC, calls for “focus on energy efficiency in conjunction with efforts to generate green energy, so that what we generate doesn’t go to waste”, whilst Brian Berry, Chief Executive of FMB, says the announcement “completely misses the mark in tackling energy consumption in our homes.”
The government’s recently announced British Energy Security Strategy has received a mixed response from two leading construction associations.
Announcing the British Energy Security Strategy, The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said: “We’re setting out bold plans to scale up and accelerate affordable, clean and secure energy made in Britain, for Britain – from new nuclear to offshore wind – in the decade ahead.
“This will reduce our dependence on power sources exposed to volatile international prices we cannot control, so we can enjoy greater energy self-sufficiency with cheaper bills.”
Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Hands, also stated: “Boosting our renewable energy supply is the only way for us to take control of energy prices. We are already a world leader in offshore wind, but we want to go further and faster so that clean, cheap energy becomes the norm.
“Although we don’t rely on Russian energy, accelerating our transition to renewable energy is the best thing we can do to protect the British people and to drive economic growth.”
But while the incentives to increase solar capacity and focus on generating renewable energy was welcomed, both the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) and Federation of Master Builders (FMB), feel the announcement misses the mark with regards to improving the energy efficiency of our existing housing stock and buildings, so that new energy generated isn’t wasted.
James Talman, CEO of NFRC, explained: “We are pleased to see the government’s plans to increase solar capacity across the UK, with expectations that deployment will increase fivefold by 2035. We encourage the government to capitalise on the many acres of industrial flat roof space across the country for the situation of panels, rather than using solar ‘farms’ on land that would otherwise be useful for agricultural or other purposes.”
He added: “The elephant in the room is that the strategy lacks new provision to improve energy efficiency. Reducing demand is a quick win: the first step to meet the UK’s needs should be improving the energy efficiency of our buildings through properly insulating roofs and walls. Fitting a roof with solar panels is an excellent way to provide a source of power for business premises and homes, but if the building is heated yet poorly insulated, a proportion will be lost straight away. Investing in generating more power holds less weight if a substantial proportion of it will be immediately – avoidably – wasted.”
He concluded: “The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has said that improving the energy efficiency of the entire UK building stock is a national infrastructure priority and should be recognised as such by the government. Let’s focus on energy efficiency in conjunction with efforts to generate green energy, so that what we generate doesn’t go to waste.”
The Federation of Master Builders (FMB) was more critical of the announcement, saying the Energy Security Strategy fails to deliver for builders, with no significant measures announced to improve the UK’s 29 million energy inefficient homes which would help cut bills and lower emissions.
Brian Berry, Chief Executive at the FMB, explained: “The Energy Security Strategy completely misses the mark in tackling energy consumption in our homes. After the disappointment of the Heat and Buildings Strategy this was an opportunity for Government to implement a National Retrofit Strategy, focussing on improving the energy efficiency of the UK’s draughty and leaky homes. While the strategy does deliver 0% VAT on energy efficiency improvements to properties, a welcome move that the FMB has long been campaigning for, this only helps those with the money to pay in the first place. A broader, insulation led, retrofit strategy would have been an immediate solution to reduce energy consumption, boost the economy and importantly, help save homeowners money on their bills during a cost-of-living crises.”