The UK government is being urged to capitalise on the potential of energy efficiency technologies after analysis performed between 2010 and 15 showed significant benefits for the economy.
According to the 2016 UK Energy Productivity Audit, the productivity of the UK economy rose by £1.7 billion between 2010 and 2015 as a result of industrial, services and domestic sector energy efficiency investments.
The data compiled and published by a coalition of nine organisations, including industrial manufacturers and leading environmental groups such as Greenpeace, was released ahead of the launch of the Government’s discussion paper on its Industrial Strategy.
Led by the Association for Decentralised Energy, the Audit shows that the industrial, services and domestic sectors have saved enough energy to heat 13 million homes and improved productivity to the tune of £1.7 billion between 2010 and 2015.
The audit found that European neighbours, including Germany, the Netherlands and Austria have left the UK behind in terms of the strength of their respective energy efficiency policies.
That’s demonstrated by looking at the UK’s energy bill, which topped a staggering £140 billion in 2015, the equivalent of 7.6% of the economy – the efficiency of electricity supply has remained broadly unchanged during that ime, improving only 2 percentage points.
In addition current renewable energy and energy efficiency policies are only able to take the UK around half way towards the cost effective path to decarbonisation.
The Audit concludes that far more significant energy productivity improvements are needed to deliver our long-term climate goals with lowest ecological risk while also supporting economic growth and competition.
Commenting on the Audit ADE Director Dr Tim Rotheray said: “Like labour, energy is a vital input to the UK economy. Improving our energy productivity allows us to use the same or less energy to contribute more.
“Despite limited policy focus, the industrial, services and domestic sectors have made substantial energy efficiency gains yet over 60% of energy in the power sector is lost before it reaches homes and businesses.
“With our commitment to the Paris Agreements and Carbon Budgets, the UK is poised to create a low-carbon, competitive economy, but we must support energy productivity to meet these goals.
“The Industrial Strategy provides a key opportunity to implement the right policies that will not only support business competitiveness, but drive energy productivity in the UK economy and help us meet our carbon goals.”
Meanwhile Andrew Large, CPI Director General added to the call for greater diligence in the area, saying, “We need to be helping industrial energy users to invest in their long-term productivity, allowing them to deliver increased value for the UK economy for many years to come.”
“Instead, energy users are facing ever-increasing costs, as carbon taxes and electricity prices rise. We cannot allow more industry to move to other countries because our energy costs remain uncompetitive.”
The energy productivity agenda brought together diverse interests behind a common approach, and is supported by organisations from across the energy system. Participants included environmental advocates to large-scale industrial energy users to building service providers, all in agreement on the opportunity energy productivity provides to create jobs, reduce costs, and help the environment.
Also included in the collective are the Association for the Conservation of Energy, Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers, Confederation of Paper Industries, Energy Institute, Energy Services and Technology Association, Greenpeace and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.