Philip Hammond has unveiled his Spring Statement – but what does the energy sector think of the announcement?
Green gas needed on the grid
David Smith, Chief Executive of the Energy Networks Association, welcomed the move to help tackle the decarbonisation challenge of gas heating.
He said: “Britain’s gas networks provide the public with large quantities of energy to heat their homes at the times when they need it the most so it’s vital that we continue to decarbonise the gas we all use so we can continue to meet that need while meeting our climate change obligations.
“This is a solution that will help to reduce carbon emissions and keep energy bills down for the public and avoid more disruptive changes to heating systems.”
Need to reduce dependence on natural gas
Charlotte Morton, Chief Executive of the Anaerobic Digestion & Bioresources Association, agreed that the proportion of green gas in the grid needed to be increased in order to decarbonise the UK’s heat supply.
She noted: “As the Chancellor rightly said in his statement, we need to reduce our dependence on burning natural gas for heating our homes in order to meet our climate targets and the only way we can do this whilst making use of the existing gas grid is to increase the amount of green gas in the grid.
Mrs Morton also said the UK’s anaerobic digestion industry stands ready to produce green gas from the organic waste frequently sent to incineration or landfill but stressed the industry needs a favourable policy environment from government to help it to deliver this.
Ground source heat pumps ready to rise to the challenge
Bean Beanland, Chairman of the Ground Source Heat Pump Association, said he welcomed the plan to end fossil fuel heating in all new homes from 2025, suggesting the ground source heat pump industry is ready to meet the challenge with “a proven and efficient technology”.
He added: “We look forward to working with the government and others to make this a reality by contributing to the training and standards that will be required to ensure the strongest possible consumer confidence and protection in this growing market.”
A transformative programme is needed
Despite climate change moving up the political agenda, some of the details behind the headlines don’t match the step-change needed.
That’s the verdict from Nick Blyth, IEMA Policy & Engagement Lead, who said: “Within housing, announcements for a future homes standard by 2025, do not reverse earlier policy dismantling, such as the scrapping of the 2016 target for zero carbon homes. There appears to be no funding announcement to support public bodies to implement the welcome mandatory commitment on biodiversity net-gain.
“More generally, the environment continues to be framed as a problem to sort. Clearly it is but the economic opportunity is huge and in response, a transformative programme is needed.”
Lawrence Slade, Chief Executive of Energy UK, emphasised his organisation has long called for action to further decarbonise the economy including heating.
The energy boss praised the Chancellor’s announcement of measures to increase green gas and the new Future Homes Standard to deliver low carbon heating and greater levels of energy efficiency in all new homes in the near future.
He said: “We also welcome the publication of the Call for Evidence on the Business Energy Efficiency Scheme to help small businesses save money on their energy bills and cut carbon emissions.”