Launching the strategy today, The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) claims that it will create a more sustainable and secure energy system, deliver cost effectively against the UK’s climate change goals and reduce energy imports.

DECC estimates that through socially cost-effective investment in energy efficiency the UK could be saving 196TWh in 2020, equivalent to 22 power stations.

“Final energy consumption in 2020 could be 11% lower than the business as usual baseline. This potential can be found across the UK economy and realising this could have significant benefits for businesses and households” it said.

Focusing on business, DECC said that installing energy efficiency measures often requires local labour, and this investment has the potential to boost employment and economic growth.

“The business community see this as important in the current global economic climate. There are also long-term growth benefits. For example, lower domestic energy bills can lead to higher disposable incomes that can be spent elsewhere in the economy, while businesses can see a reduction in running costs and so an increase in productivity”.

The private sector welcomed the unveiling of the strategy but some organisations in the built environment sector were disappointed that the strategy did not include a clear plan to enable them to invest.

CEO at the UK Green Building Council, Paul King, said: “We welcome the launch of the energy efficiency strategy. It has always been clear that energy efficiency offers massive opportunities to create jobs, save carbon, slash fuel bills and help get the economy moving, and we are delighted the Government has recognised this.

“However, what has been less clear is how to turn these opportunities into concerted action. It is disappointing, then, that the Strategy tells us much of what we already know about existing policies, but does not provide much new impetus to really drive investment in energy efficiency. What we need is a long term policy trajectory, together with clarity on how this will be achieved, in order to create the ‘investment grade’ policy that investors require.”

Despite this, CBI head of energy and climate change policy, Matthew Brown, hailed the strategy, saying: “Improving energy efficiency could deliver real benefits to the economy. Not only could it create new jobs, but it could also cut emissions and deliver significant savings to firms and consumers.

“The current policy landscape is too complex, particularly for companies, so this should mark the start of a more strategic approach to business energy efficiency by the Government.”

Coinciding with the launch, the Government also announced it would provide £39m of funding to UK energy efficiency research to cut carbon use.

Five new End Use Energy Demand (EUED) research centres, that will look into the complexities of energy use across society and how energy can be both saved and used more efficiently, are to receive over £26m funding from two research councils, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), and a further £13 million from industrial partners.

Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker, said: “We have now put energy efficiency at the very heart of the Government’s energy policy. Using energy more wisely is absolutely vital in a world of increased pressure on resources and rising prices. Not only can energy efficiency help save money on bills and cut emissions, it can support green jobs, innovation and enterprise”.

Leigh Stringer

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