What the Energy White Paper means for housing associations

16 December 2020

On Monday 14 December, the government published its long-awaited Energy White Paper ‘Powering our Net Zero Future’.

The White Paper sets out a high level strategy for how we will:

  • build a green, cleaner future
  • create thousands of new green jobs
  • cut bills, protect the fuel poor and create warmer, more comfortable homes.

Decarbonising the energy system is a major focus of the White Paper. Replacing fossil fuels with clean energy technologies such as renewables, nuclear and hydrogen. Clean electricity is predicted to become the predominant form of energy, with electricity demand expected to double by 2050.

On buildings, the White Paper sets out three goals:

  • improving energy efficiency in both existing and new buildings
  • supporting the transition of heating for homes from oil and gas to clean energy sources
  • using the switch to clean energy to support up to 50,000 jobs by 2030

Specific commitments are set out below.

New Builds 

The White Paper reiterates the government’s commitment to make new homes net zero through the introduction of a Future Homes Standard. We still have no confirmation when the new Standard will be introduced, although the outcome of the 2019 consultation will be published soon.

The White Paper also confirms that the government will consult on whether to stop new builds from being connected to the gas grid from 2025.

Fuel Bills

The White Paper confirms that a Fuel Poverty Strategy for England will be published next year. The Energy Company Obligation will be extended from 2022 to 2026 and the Warm Home Discount will be expanded to around three million low income households until at least 2025/26.

Clean Heat Measures

As previously announced in the Prime Minister’s Ten Point Plan, the White Paper confirms the ambition to install 600,000 heat pumps a year by 2028. It also confirms plans to evaluate hydrogen as an option for heating homes and a possible pilot hydrogen town before the end of the decade.

The government will consult on the role of ‘hydrogen ready’ appliances in 2021. Ministers will be assessing the case for encouraging, or requiring, new gas boilers to be readily convertible to hydrogen in preparation for any future conversion of the gas network.  

Heat Networks

The White Paper confirms that £122m will be committed towards a new Heat Network Transformation Programme, and sets out ministers’ intention to legislate in this parliamentary session for the regulation of heat networks. 

Skills 

On skills, the White Paper states that the government will develop a strategy for upskilling through a Green Jobs Taskforce and a National Skills Fund, to be launched in 2021. There is explicit recognition that we need more installers to retrofit existing buildings with energy efficiency and clean heat measures.

The White Paper can found here.

Any questions please contact us.

Who to speak to

Rob Wall, Head of Policy