Energy policy

The need for more carbon-efficient communities and national energy security has led to major European and UK legislation.

European directives

The Promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources directive (EU 2020 renewable energy strategy) sets a binding target for the European Union of 20 per cent renewable energy by 2020. The UK’s proportion is 15 per cent (up from around 2 per cent in 2008).

The Energy Performance of Buildings Directive set out the requirement for a national calculation methodology for energy consumption in buildings and mandatory monitoring of energy use. This has given rise to the changes in Part L of the Building Regulations and the introduction of Energy Performance Certificates and Display Energy Certificates.

Towards a low carbon economy is the European Commission's strategic energy technology plan. The vision is for a sustainable economy with leadership in clean, efficient and low carbon energy technologies as a motor for prosperity and a key contributor to growth and jobs.

National legislation

The Climate Change Act is a key legislative driver. It requires 80 per cent CO2 savings from 1990 levels by 2050 and a reduction in emissions of at least 34 per cent by 2020.

Through the Energy Act 2008 government has taken powers to provide new renewable energy incentivisation income streams such as feed-in tariff (FIT) and renewable heat incentive (RHI).

The Energy White Paper sets out the government’s strategy to address climate change and ensure security of energy supply. The strategy focuses on cutting CO2 emissions, maintaining the reliability of energy supplies, promoting competitive markets and ensuring that every home is adequately and affordably heated.

The UK Renewable Energy Strategy provides a clear steer for the development of the renewable energy sector to meet the binding UK targets under the EU 2020 Renewable Energy Strategy. The strategy seeks to increase the contribution of renewable sources in the three main energy-consuming sectors – electricity, heat and transport.

The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (formerly known as the Carbon Reduction Commitment) is the UK's mandatory carbon emissions trading scheme. It effects around 20,000 large public and private sector organisations, including local authorities.

Supplement to PPS1: Planning and Climate Change places CO2 emission reduction and the increased production and uptake of zero and low carbon energy at the heart of spatial planning and design. PPS22: renewable energy sets out national planning policy on renewable energy. A companion guide provides more detailed advice on the implementation of the policy statement.

In 2007 CLG launched Building a greener future, requiring all new housing from 2016 to be net-zero CO2 emitting for all energy used within the home over the course of a year. This was followed by a consultation on a revised zero carbon definition. The consultation proposed an approach based on high energy efficiency, a minimum level of on- or near-site carbon reduction, and allowable solutions for dealing with the remaining emissions. CLG has now established a 2016 Taskforce to identify barriers to implementation of the zero carbon 2016 target and put in place measures to overcome them.

The Code for sustainable homes pushes for progressively higher sustainability audit scores for housing, with government funded projects already required to achieve a minimum standard of ‘level 3’.

Warm homes, greener homes (the Household energy management strategy) sets out the government’s plans for meeting the target of a reduction of 29% in (non-traded) carbon emissions from the household sector.

At a local level, the Low Carbon Communities Challenge is a two year pilot project. It provides grants and advice to local community schemes to improve energy efficiency and tackle the wider issues of climate change.

CABE and Urban Practitioners
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