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Clearer by the week that UK needs to reduce energy demand

CIBSE has called for the adoption of a co-ordinated policy approach to energy use and energy supply in response to a number of recent Government consultations.

Alistair Buchanan, Ofgem's Chief Executive, has today warned again about the vulnerabilities of the UK energy supply system. With consumption levels likely to be dangerously close to maximum capacity, and UK consumers facing steadily rising prices and even interruptions of supply, the time for action to reduce demand is now. Alistair Buchanan has said about 10 per cent of Britain's generation stock will disappear as soon as next month as coal and oil-fired power stations close earlier than expected to meet environmental targets.

  • Technical Director of CIBSE, Hywel Davies says: "It is becoming clearer by the week that the UK needs to focus on reducing its demand for energy. This will help to keep bills down and the lights on."

Building performance has taken on an increased significance as it focuses on enabling efficient energy consumption within the built environment. 

  • CIBSE President, David Fisk, said: "Since our buildings use nearly half our energy, this should be a matter of national priority. The projects and products showcased in our CIBSE Building Performance Awards for example show us what can
    be achieved and raise the bar of best practice for all of us in the built environment
    ."

Fast facts:

  • Buildings consume almost 50% of our energy in the UK. It is widely recognised that around 20% of energy used in buildings is needlessly wasted.
  • Rapidly achievable measures must be a national priority, simple improvements in building performance could contribute a 10% saving in energy usage.
  • A 10% saving in energy usage could lead to a possible £11billion reduction in the £110billion allocated for investment in new generating capacity. 
    Under current plans to prevent predicted energy shortages, every household in the country from 2020 will incur an annual £100 levy to help meet this critical expenditure on new energy generation and reconfiguring the National Grid.
  • This has huge social as well as economic implications as many already struggle to choose between ‘heat or eat'.

Further detail on CIBSE's consultation responses

CIBSE has responded to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) Electricity Demand Reduction Consultation which recently closed, by offering a number of suggestions about how that might be achieved through a co-ordinated policy approach that raises levels of compliance with existing policy measures, as well as introducing new incentives for energy use.

CIBSE strongly supports policies to encourage reduced demand which will save consumers and business users money by reducing unnecessary use of energy, reduce the national bill for new generating capacity and contribute to greater energy security by reducing reliance on energy imports.

In its response, the Institution noted that Government estimates that effective demand reduction could reduce the need for new power stations by as many as 22 new units.  A significant proportion of the anticipated savings will come from the reduced energy use in buildings, and the analysis which supports the Consultation shows that much of the proposed saving is dependent on both current and proposed Building Regulations.

Drawing attention to the need to ensure compliance with the energy saving aspects of the Building Regulations, which are contained in Part L is also noted.  The CIBSE response calls for a greater emphasis on compliance with the existing requirements, alongside the additional proposed electricity reduction measures.

CIBSE has also encouraged DECC to take a broader view and seek to co-ordinate policy responses relating to energy in buildings. In responding, for example, to the European Union's DG Tax Consultation Paper: "Review of existing legislation on reduced VAT rates" which closed in January, CIBSE has argued that it is essential for VAT on energy use levied at a rate which is no less than the VAT rate for energy efficiency measures, and to incentive energy saving.

This also builds on the response to the Consultation in the UK on extending the Renewable Heat Incentive to the domestic sector. This offered proposals to increase the attractiveness of the scheme to householders thinking about installing renewable heating systems. 

In the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) Consultation, which closed in December 2012, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) sought both views on plans to extend the current non-domestic RHI scheme and proposals for a domestic RHI scheme. 

CIBSE's response outlines its support for Government renewable energy and carbon emissions reduction targets, and of measures to incentivise take-up of renewable energy and low carbon technologies.

However CIBSE, as well as addressing specific consultation questions, forwarded a number of key recommendations to DECC in a special paper relating to the domestic proposals.

CIBSE's responses to the Consultations are available at www.cibse.org/consultationresponses