Minister calls for more innovation on energy efficiency

Policies to save energy are far too dependent upon “old, mature technologies”, according to Claire Perry, the Minister overseeing climate change policy. She is calling for “far more innovation in energy efficiency.”

Giving evidence to the House of Commons Business committee concerning her new Clean Growth Strategy, Perry emphasised her personal commitment to upgrading the building stock. She reiterated the government's ambition to ensure that every home will have been upgraded to EPC Band C by 2035. While non-specific as to how this ambitious goal might be achieved, she promised that she would  “push for the housing stock in this country to be as energy efficient as possible”.

The Minister emphasised the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency, reducing running costs for businesses and households. On several occasions, she very clearly highlighted that the energy bill benefits to consumers arising from increased energy efficiency were outstripping the costs of policy support. However, she refused to answer directly questions on whether or not she would be pushing for the re-adoption of the zero carbon standards for new construction abandoned in 2015, arguing essentially that standards for new build should not go beyond a cost-effective level of improvement.

She was caustic about the products being promoted in the residential sector. “It is very striking that the technologies that we sign off (sic), and that promote the decarbonisation of our housing stock, are quite old, mature technologies: things like cavity-wall insulation, double-glazing and condensing boilers. There is a world of innovation out there,” she claimed. “There are ways to wrap fuel-inefficient buildings, particularly in rural areas like the one I represent in Wiltshire, in different forms of material. We need a lot more innovation in that space.”

The only specific new product example she gave was “thermally efficient paint that you can apply to the outsides of buildings, which is being developed in Israel.” This seemed reminiscent of the frequent calls made by her Labour predecessor Yvette Cooper for ultra-thin “magic wallpaper” which somehow never materialised upon the UK market.

Subsequently, in the January reshuffle, Clare Perry has been promoted so that she attends all Cabinet meetings. It is to be hoped that her very overt enthusiasm for energy saving can help ensure a big recovery in that declining marketplace. This was evidenced by an interview she gave to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, where she stated that the government was looking at Stamp Duty rebates for energy-efficient homes and green mortgages.

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