Despite the need to reduce reliance on gas for home heating being highlighted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) claims that ministers have made very little progress in raising the energy efficiency of UK homes.
The independent infrastructure tsars’ annual report warned that progress toward enhancing the nation’s infrastructure “stuttered further” last year despite the need for increased investment to meet the UK’s economic and climate goals.
The report criticized the government’s track record in insulating the UK’s drafty housing stock and the slow adoption of electric heat pumps to help reduce emissions from home heating, even as the UK’s reliance on gas cost the economy billions as a result of Europe’s energy crisis.
There exists “a significant gap between long-term ambition and current performance,” according to the chair of the NIC, Sir John Armitt, which involves “a change of gear in infrastructure policy.”
“This means fewer low-stakes incremental changes and instead placing some bigger strategic bets, backed by public funding where necessary—after all, the risk of delay in addressing climate change is now greater than the risk of overcorrection,” Armitt stated.
Only 55,000 heat pumps were installed in 2021, compared to 1.5 million gas boiler installations, despite the government’s goal of installing at least 600,000 heat pumps annually by 2028. The NIC criticized the lack of progress and urged the government to create a detailed plan, blaming inadequate government funding and the absence of crucial policies.
The UK remains too dependent on natural gas, which is “a high-cost, high-carbon, and insecure source of energy,” the NIC observed.
“In 2022, the sharp rise in gas prices prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine increased the cost of energy and jeopardised the security of supply. The government is now directly subsidising the energy consumption of households and businesses, setting prices for the average household at £2,500 per year between October 2022 and June 2023,” the report revealed.
The government’s attempts to decarbonize the transport sector have also failed, as per the report. Ministers anticipated that 300,000 public electric vehicle charge points would be in place by 2030, but only 37,000 have been installed, the report said.
The report identified some promising developments in the government’s gigabit broadband rollout and the UK’s rising use of renewable energy sources. It also commended its efforts to carry out additional devolution and create plans to increase the water supply.
However, in other areas, the government has failed to deliver within the stipulated time frame. Armitt stated that a “further year of prevarication risks losing momentum in critical areas like achieving the statutory net zero target. Rarely has the need for speed been more evident.”
The NIC report is released as ministers get ready to declare Thursday “energy security day.” The over-hauled net-zero strategy will be put forth from the UK’s oil and gas capital, Aberdeen, in a clear indication of the government’s determination to promote the fossil fuel industry while cutting critical green measures.
A government spokesperson conveyed that “We are committed to achieving our net-zero goals and are spending £12.6 billion this decade to cut national energy consumption by 15%. Delivering high-quality infrastructure is the foundation of our future growth, and we have maintained our total investment at record levels over the next five years.”
- Published By Team Timeswire