- Disappointment as new Net Zero measures are omitted from the ‘Levelling Up’ White Paper;
- REA had written to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, setting out how Net Zero could form the basis of the Government’s agenda;
- The renewable energy and clean technology sector could create 100,000s of new jobs and generate billions in new investment across the UK.
The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA) has expressed its disappointment after new measures which would have supported the UK’s Net Zero targets, were omitted from the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ White Paper.
Published today, the long-awaited White Paper made little specific mention of renewables or the energy transition, despite the sector standing ready to deliver hundreds of thousands of new jobs and billions in investment in every region and country across the UK. The REA states that the renewable energy and clean technology sector is already driving regeneration in areas like Humberside, and that these successes should be expanded nationwide.
The REA says that all interventions featured in the paper should be subject to a ‘Net Zero Test’, with the focus being on ‘levelling up’ through regional low carbon economies that are fit for the future, driving regional green jobs, skills and sectors – all while contributing to the delivery of the UK’s decarbonisation agenda.
Ahead of the White Paper’s publication, the REA had written to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove MP, setting out how Net Zero could form the basis of the Government’s ‘levelling up’ agenda.
As well as highlighting the potential for new jobs and investment, the letter also made a number of policy asks which would: accelerate the energy transition; expand the installation of domestic renewable energy and clean technology systems; insulate homes as quickly as possible; and deliver new housing stock fit for a Net Zero future.
Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA), said:
“I am disappointed that Net Zero didn’t play a much greater role within the Government’s ‘Levelling Up’ White Paper and feel that it is a missed opportunity, but I hope that the measures included will still be subject to a ‘Net Zero Test’, aiding the delivery of regional, low carbon economies fit for the future.
“With the right support, the renewable energy and clean technology sector could provide the catalyst to the Government’s ‘levelling up’ ambitions, creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs and generating billions in new investment across every region and country across the UK. We are already seeing the renewable energy sector driving regeneration in Humberside, but I want to see this success replicated on a much wider scale.
“But we wouldn’t have to wait to see the benefits of this approach. Amid a worsening cost of living crisis – driven in part by volatile fossil fuel prices – the need to accelerate the energy transition has never been greater. It is clear that the best way to protect households from rising energy bills is to expand the installation of domestic renewable and clean tech systems, insulate homes as quickly as possible, and deliver new housing stock which is fit for a Net Zero future.
“I hope that the Government looks to reassess its position, place Net Zero at the heart of its ‘levelling up’ agenda, and build a more equitable, more sustainable and more prosperous economy.”
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Notes to editors
The proposals put forward by the REA to the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities are as follows:
- Remove VAT on all domestic renewable energy and clean technology installations
This will deliver a catalyst for the installation of renewable energy and clean technology systems in households, mitigating the cost of living crisis, providing a boost to local businesses and supporting the energy translation.
- Instigate an immediate, widespread retrofit programme to insulate older and poorer quality housing stock
All properties must reach an EPC Band C rating or above by 2025. This will limit energy demand, as well as putting money back into the pockets of the poorest in society and help future proof our housing stock.
- All new residential developments must include on-site renewable generation and ultra high energy efficiency standards, beyond the Future Homes Standard
Upgrading planning laws will benefit consumers during the cost of living crisis, with rising energy prices and inflation, as well as supporting a long-term, sustainable, drive to Net Zero.
- New renewable developments must include a proportion of community ownership option
This would ensure more of the value created by these projects remained in the local area (without increasing costs for developers) and is a common approach in countries such as Denmark. In combination with supply chain plans, it could retain much more of the value of new energy infrastructure in local communities.
- Amend planning law to require dedicated, assessed supply chain plans for new large scale renewable projects (not just larger CfD projects)
These plans have been successful in attracting four new offshore wind supply chain factories to the UK (in Humberside and Tyneside) and could deliver similar beneifts in other sectors.
- Establish renewable energy and clean technology Enterprise Zones in target areas
This will target job creation in disadvantaged areas, with zones encompassing Business Rates relief and other tax support for green companies. These zones should be directly connected to renewables in order to lower energy costs for firms, in turn, making them more competitive.
- Fund dedicated ‘Private Wire’ renewables supplies directly connected to communities and Business Parks in target areas
This fund would insulate areas from the grid network, removing their exposure to and reliance on expensive, volatile fossil fuel prices, while creating jobs at the same time. The renewable energy supplies would be lower cost than conventional supplies. This would increase competitiveness for businesses and lower costs for residents.
For social housing this could be in the form of distributed rooftop solar installed on every rooftop with accompanying energy storage and other clean technologies. This would dramatically lower the energy bills of the poorest in society and could provide an income stream for housing associations by selling electricity not used on site. Many associations have piloted such a model already, but further support is needed to roll this out more widely.
- Introduce a new Geothermal Heat Incentive, targeted at 30 ‘shovel ready’ projects in England that could quickly deliver energy and jobs in strategic locations
The UK has an opportunity to deliver a world leading deep geothermal sector, but needs targeted Government investment. If successful, communities in the North of England, Midlands and South West could benefit from a significant increase in jobs and investment.
- Establish and fund a ‘National Recycling and Refuse Innovation Centre’ and associated research, outside the South East
There are considerable commercial opportunities as the UK moves to a circular economy. These potential benefits need to be captured by the UK and channelled to communities who need investment and could help create a recycling cluster of excellence.
- Lobby BEIS to support emerging renewable technologies
By applying minimum capacity requirements to future CfD auctions for marine energy, geothermal and ACT, it would support the development of emerging technologies, a large proportion of which will be clustered in the Midlands and the North of England.
About the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA): The Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (known as the REA) is the UK’s largest trade association for renewable energy and clean technologies with around 550 members operating across heat, transport, power and the circular economy. The REA is a not-for-profit organisation representing fourteen sectors, ranging from biogas and renewable fuels to solar and electric vehicle charging. Membership ranges from major multinationals to sole traders. For more information, visit: www.r-e-a.net