Energy publications round-up: UK consumption, household facts, bio-energy, fuel poverty, renewables
A round-up of recent sustainable development publications highlighted by our partner, the Sustainable Development Research Network (SDRN). For more news on sustainable development research and publications, join the network and receive regular SDRN mailings.
In this round-up:
- Energy consumption in the United Kingdom (DECC report)
- GB Housing Energy Fact File 2011 (DECC report)
- Bio-energy Technologies Review (ERP report)
- Tackling fuel poverty during the transition to a low carbon economy (JRF report)
- Time to reconsider UK energy and fuel poverty policies? (JRF report)
- Positive Energy: how renewable electricity can transform the UK by 2030 (WWF report)
Read about more recent publications and research in the latest SDRN bulletin…
DECC has published the latest set of data about energy use in all sectors – transport, industry, services and housing.
The publication brings together statistics from a variety of sources, with the aim of providing a comprehensive review of energy consumption and changes in efficiency, intensity and output in the UK since the 1970s, with a particular focus on trends since 1990. Cambridge Architectural Research helped produce the housing data, which includes:
- a massive switch from coal to gas use for heating homes – 39% of housing energy came from coal in 1970, against 24% from gas (while in 2010 just 1% of housing energy came from coal, and 69% from gas);
- an increase of 54% in electricity use in homes from 1970-2010;
- total energy use per household has been surprisingly stable – apart from significantly lower energy use in 2009;
- average SAP Ratings (a measure of standardised energy efficiency) improved from 17.6 in 1970 to 53.1 in 2009;
- nearly a quarter of homes now have condensing boilers; and
- 75% of homes now have home computers, compared to 93% with microwaves and 39% with dishwashers.
Did you know the average temperature of our homes in winter rose from 12°C in 1970 to 17°C in 2008? Or that we used two-fifths more energy for heating, but less energy for cooking and water heating by 2008? Is it possible that the average CO2 emissions from each home fell by nearly half in the last four decades? Do you know if CERT (the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target) resulted in more or fewer new insulation measures than the Energy Efficiency Commitment? Or how much household energy comes from renewable sources, and which source?
These questions are explored in DECC’s recently published analysis of energy use in Britain’s homes, written by Cambridge Architectural Research.
The Energy Research Partnership (ERP) has published a review into the opportunities and challenges surrounding bio-energy technologies.
ERP’s analysis of energy scenarios to 2050 indicates bio-energy can play a significant role in transport, electricity generation and heat sectors, but the expected scale of demand is subject to substantial uncertainty.
There is a general concern amongst policy-makers that we need to improve our understanding of how sustainable bio-energy could be part of the future energy system. The ERP Bio-energy Technologies Review seeks to address this issue. The study identifies the opportunities from, and addresses the challenges to, further development of bio-energy technologies by 2050, making recommendations about UK bio-energy.
Are existing fuel poverty policies working or do we need to implement new ideas and approaches now?
Since energy prices are expected to carry on rising, this paper from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) assesses some of the options available to governments and policy-makers if they are to successfully tackle fuel poverty whilst simultaneously managing the transition to a low-carbon economy. The authors:
- claim fuel poverty can only be reduced by a focus on the energy efficiency and energy bills of those in fuel poverty, especially low-income vulnerable households;
- propose that dramatically increasing the energy efficiency of fuel-poor homes is the long-term solution to fuel poverty;
- outline potential new approaches to help ensure fuel poverty initiatives are better targeted at fuel poor households; and
- suggest these measures will have significant social and environmental benefits.
Can UK energy and fuel poverty policy contribute towards a socially just transition to a low carbon society?
While the transition to a low carbon society will have obvious environmental benefits, concerns remain over whether it can co-exist with a socially just approach that seeks to protect low-income consumers from higher energy bills. Contributing to the debate, this paper:
- sets out the key energy policies aimed at carbon reduction and fuel poverty that have direct cost implications for consumers;
- explains the nature of an energy-saving programme which is targeted at households in fuel poverty; and
- discusses the potential conflicts that must be averted to ensure a socially just transition to a low carbon society.
This report, from the WWF, indicates that renewable energy is the key to reducing carbon emissions from the UK power sector in a way that is stable, secure and affordable. It suggests renewables could feasibly deliver at least 60% of the UK’s electricity demand by 2030, enabling the UK to reduce emissions without resorting to new nuclear power.
By reducing demand for energy, the costs of new low carbon generation capacity can be reduced by around £40 billion by 2030, making it easier and cheaper to hit current climate targets. The report builds on the WWF’s global vision of a world powered entirely by renewables, as detailed in ‘The Energy Report: 100% renewable energy by 2050’
The Sustainable Development Research Network (SDRN) is an initiative funded by both Defra and the Department for Transport, and is coordinated by the Policy Studies Institute in London.
SDRN aims to facilitate and strengthen the links between providers of research and policymakers across government, in order to improve evidence-based policymaking to deliver the UK government’s objectives for sustainable development.
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