The government has published its long-awaited Energy Security Strategy, setting out its goals for Britain’s progress towards greater levels of self-sufficiency through the use of renewable energy.
The PM’s foreword criticises past behaviours, but this is not a new problem; renewable energy has been debated for decades and it is only now, in a crisis, that positive action appears to be being taken. Whatever the drive behind the proposals, better late than never.
The strategy identifies ten investment areas that government is focussing on: offshore wind, low carbon hydrogen, nuclear, zero emission vehicles, public transport, shipping, buildings, CCUS (carbon dioxide capture), the natural environment, and green finance.
Whilst the ambitions will affect everyone in different ways, as far as housebuilding goes, the key proposals will be those relating to energy efficiency. Funding will be key to delivering the proposals, and there are a range of initiatives to assist with the upgrading and improvements to existing buildings as well as providing more flexibility to house-builders to integrate renewable energy into new builds, including consulting on planning rules to strengthen policy in favour of roof and ground solar development and introducing design standards to encourage solar energy on new homes and buildings. With customers more keen than ever to incorporate the technology, developers will find that what once was a “USP” will be a necessity, even on conversions.
The government is also re-stating its support of on-shore wind as one of the cheapest forms of renewable energy. Land and property owners and developers alike could benefit from the improvements in network infrastructure being proposed. The focus appears to be on community-led projects rather than individual benefit, retaining the ability of local authorities to deny the scattering of small turbines across Britain’s countryside.
In all of this, what should not happen is the disregard of individual choice; yes, there may be increased build costs, but the industry (not just housebuilders) need to be careful not to drive either the property market or the energy market to such a point that they leave their customers struggling.