The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has launched a new inquiry examining the challenges and opportunities arising from the increasing use of electricity to power the economy of Net Zero Britain. As part of this it has issued a call for evidence.
We very much welcome this inquiry by the Environmental Audit Committee, again showing leadership in an important aspect of the transformation the UK needs to make in the face of the climate and nature emergency.
This inquiry highlights the opportunities of, and barriers to the UK’s solar power ambitions. UKGBC agrees that urgent action is required to ensure the UK can gain the optimal benefit of solar.
To make the most of these opportunities we highlight the importance of homes and buildings as a platform for solar – especially for new build where appropriate design can integrate solar as part of a clean whole house/building energy system. Such energy systems can provide the home owner with wholly renewable energy with which to run their home (for heating and power), and while the degree of energy supplied will vary by location, orientation and building type, the integration of storage technologies will allow the building to maximise the benefits of ‘its’ energy day to day and week to week.
While most buildings can deploy solar, the regulatory regime – neither the planning nor energy regulatory regimes, are aligned to smart energy capable homes and buildings as the norm. Yet the BEIS/Ofgem Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan (2021) highlights the fundamental importance of ensuring energy demand, and the infrastructures of demand, are as flexible as the variability of renewable supply. Without out the match of demand flexibility with supply variability there are significant additional costs of extra generation and network costs for the now higher peaks of demand.
Homes and buildings are the most important energy demand infrastructure, an importance that will only grow as EV numbers increase and more and more EV charging happens at home, the work place or other built environment settings. The right approach to new build and retrofit (upgrade) standards AND energy system regulation will enable home and building owners to play their part in providing a lower cost, more consumer-friendly net zero energy system.
In UKGBC’s recent Heat and Building scorecard we highlight progress against the Heat and Building Strategy and identify key measures that could speed the arrival of a net zero built environment. A major opportunity this year is to set a Standard for new build that prompts design and build of smart energy capable homes
and buildings AND facilitate greater renewable solar deployment.
You can download the full consultation response below.