Government plans to boost energy efficiency branded as insufficient 

Industry figures have been left underwhelmed by the government’s energy announcements today, amid calls for a larger scale national retrofit programme.

Energy secretary Grant Shapps unveiled the government’s net zero and energy security strategy today in a document called Powering Up Britain, although most of the individual measures had already previously been announced.

Prime minister Rishi Sunak said the strategy, which includes previously announced plans to fund carbon capture and storage schemes and the launch of a body called Great British Nuclear to run a small nuclear reactor technology competition, will help shield people from the “worst impact” of the energy price hikes following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last February.

grant shapps

Energy secretary Grant Shapps announced a series of measures this morning, most of which had been previously announced

The government also reconfirmed several measures aimed at increasing the energy efficiency of homes and other buildings.

This includes the £1bn ECO+ initiative announced in November, now rebranded as The Great British Insulation scheme, which is aimed at upgrading 300,000 homes with an energy performance certificate D or under.

It also said it is pressing ahead with a £30m heat pump investment accelerator to attract £270m for investment into the manufacture of heat pumps, while the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, which offers £5,000 grants to households to install heat pumps, will be extended by three years to 2028.

The measures have been seen by industry figures as insufficient to meet the scale of the net zero challenges in the built environment.

National Infrastructure Commission chairman Sir John Armitt said: “Today’s set of announcements includes steps forward in some areas, but in others, based on what we’ve seen so far significant questions remain as to whether the scale of interventions will be sufficient to drive change quickly enough. We need to move from setting targets to delivering on the ground, making it easier for every household to make the greener choices necessary to meet our climate commitments.”

Julie Hirigoyen, the outgoing chief executive at the UK Green Building Council, said: “Initiatives such as the ECO+ scheme and extension to heat pump support, while welcome, will only reach a fraction of the 27 million homes that need retrofitting.”

She added: “The government should be leading from the front by seizing the opportunities of a nationwide retrofit plan that would deliver £56bn to the UK’s green economy, slash energy bills to save households £8bn every year and create 500,000 skilled jobs in a decade.”

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Melanie Leech, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said the report was merely a “statement of intent” when what we need is “urgent action”.

She warned: “There must be more urgency in aligning the planning system to the net zero agenda and a national retrofit strategy that supports and incentivises green refurbishment.

“We also need clarity on minimum energy efficiency standards and regulation that establishes a clear and consistent methodology for measuring the environmental performance of a building over its full life cycle, which will guide the property sector in how to approach development and refurbishment.”

And Avinav Nigam, co-founder and chief operating officer at IMMO Capital, said: “Though welcome, today’s announcements are a drop in the ocean when it comes the scale of the challenge of renovating our housing stock, particularly within the private rented sector.

“With millions of homes across the country in need of a retrofit, and the bill to do so growing every day, relying on piecemeal government incentives will only take us some of the way.”