In a blistering attack on the government’s implementation of energy efficiency policies, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has released a report criticising the lack of indicators to monitor the energy efficiency of buildings and progress within the commercial sector.
BEIS argues that without policy interventions, the commercial sector is unlikely to invest in energy efficiency measures, even if the investments are cost-effective. In fact, research from the Clean Growth Strategy recognised that improved business energy efficiency could deliver £6 billion in cost savings in 2030.
The report warns there are insufficient policy instruments in place for the government to achieve its 2050 net-zero carbon obligations and a 20 per cent increase in business energy productivity by 2030.
The Department was particularly concerned that only 5% of companies obligated to comply with the Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) implemented their audit’s recommendations in full. BEIS comments: “The Government should improve the Energy Saving Opportunities Scheme (ESOS) so that it is more obviously geared towards driving business investment in energy efficiency. We recommend that the Government requires ESOS audits to be publicly available and to mandate that businesses in scope of ESOS demonstrate that they have acted on the energy-saving opportunities identified.”
It is currently not a legal requirement for companies to implement the recommendations in their audit report, although it is encouraged. One barrier to companies implementing energy-saving measures is because they see it as an administrative burden instead of an effective cost reduction tool - so perhaps the branding of such schemes should be examined, going forward.
There is no doubt that the report makes for embarrassing reading for the government, which has made public declarations to tackle the UK's carbon emissions. However, it could prove to be the short, sharp shock of realism that it needs if it wants to get serious about achieving its 2050 climate targets.
Article published 18th July 2019