BEIS launched the Clean Growth Strategy today setting out how the Government plans on meeting future climate targets and growing the low-carbon economy. It is very much a strategy with 50 policies covering all sectors, a mixture of long term targets, a timeline of policies and measurement targets. It is accompanied by a number of specific consultations and calls for evidence (for example this one on business energy and climate reporting and building a market for energy efficiency), with the promise of more to follow.
The strategy builds on some good recent successes. In 2016, 47% of energy came from low carbon sources and the UK has more offshore wind capacity than anyone else. Domestic energy consumption is down by 17% on 1990 levels, despite the growth in electronics and the arrival of the Internet.
Below we outline some of the highlights for tech, and equally some challenges.
Fostering innovation in the low carbon economy
Government is investing over £2.5bn in low carbon innovation, which it says is the biggest increase in science and innovation spending in almost 40 years, but it’s now yet clear how much of the money in the strategy is “new”. There’s £20m for a clean tech investment fund, £162m in research and innovation in business energy, resource and process efficiency, £11.8m for a big data center for agri-tech, £17.7m on precision agriculture and commitments, £841m for low carbon transport technology and £265m for smart energy systems.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is also a significant focus on how the Government can enable private investment. Some of the enabling steps include a Green Finance Taskforce, a new BSI led suite of ‘green and sustainable finance management standards’, a £20m investment fund for clean tech and ’green mortgages’ aimed at supporting the delivery of energy efficient homes.
Making businesses more efficient
The private sector accounts for 25% of all emissions and the strategy wants to develop a package of measures to support businesses to improve their energy productivity by at least 20 per cent by 2030, with new carbon reporting rules, efficiency standards and an Industrial Energy Efficiency Scheme.
Connected homes and domestic efficiency
techUK has long been advocating how connected home technologies like IoT, smart meters and smart appliances can work together to drive energy efficiency alongside other benefits. The connected home can provide far richer data to better inform home users and can create new markets. The smart meter 2020 target is also highlighted in the strategy as an efficiency measure and £184m is cited for domestic efficiency and heating technology development.
Government outlines a vision to being a Zero Avoidable Waste economy by 2050, with a plan to eliminate all waste where it is technologically, environmentally, and economically practicable to do so. Here the government speaks of reuse, repair and remanufacturing and incentives to encourage products to be designed more smartly to increase longevity and enable recyclability. More detail is expected in a new resource and waste strategy in due course. The strategy also commits to maintaining and keeping pace with EU product policies, which have improved product efficiency and delivered energy savings for consumers. This is will be especially welcomed by techUK’s manufacturing members who have been calling for a harmonized approach here.
ULEVs and transport
Transportation is responsible for 24% of UK emissions and the headline policy of banning the sale of petrol and diesel cars by 2040 has already been published. Extended funding for ULEV purchases, more charging infrastructure and battery storage is particularly exciting as this is where there is a real opportunity for UK firms to lead the way.
Policies for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CAV) rollout can also help with decarbonisation. CAVs (which will probably be electric powered) can plug in to other technologies like smart parking, traffic flow data to optimise routes and decrease stop time.
Much of the good work in transport is underway and the strategy doesn’t articulate the decarbonisation impact of the digital rail initiative ion how it frees up capacity and gets more people off the road. This is being made possible with new telecoms infrastructure and signaling solutions.
Clean, Smart and Flexible Power
The power sector emits 21% of UK emissions and gets the bulk of the funding announced in the strategy. Policies include previously announced ones like the smart systems plan, the price cap and phasing out coal.
The tech opportunities can be found in the smart systems plan and we support the DNO to DSO transition, something that will only be possible with a wide scale deployment of new and emerging technologies.
As the Minister said in her speech there is no ‘magic bullet’ and this is just the start. The strategy did as we and others recommended by having a clear timeline and milestones through to 2032 and in the next few months we will work with members to respond to the initial consultations and work with BEIS on how and where the tech sector can step up.
Throughout next year there will also be legislation, new bodies and trials established as well as the first ‘Green Britain Week’ to showcase how the UK is going low carbon.