26 Nov 2019

The Labour Party manifesto pledges that in government Labour would "develop the recommendations of our ‘30 by 2030’ report (the Report) to put the UK on track for a net-zero-carbon energy system within the 2030s - and go faster if credible pathways can be found."

The report was first published on 24 October 2019  and contains 30 recommendations across four goals: reducing energy waste, decarbonising heating, decarbonising electricity and keeping the system balanced to ensure security of supply. 

The Report's Snapshot summarises the recommendations as follows:

  • begin immediate and "vast expansion of offshore wind, onshore wind and solar power"
  • implement a UK-wide programme of upgrading existing buildings to significantly reduce energy wastage and a shift to low-carbon heat
  • all new buildings to be net zero-carbon
  • significant investment in R&D for, marine energy and renewable or low-carbon hydrogen for heating and energy storage, and CCS for some heavy industries so that by the late 2020s these emerging technologies can be deployed, alongside current technologies such as nuclear, to the appropriate scale, and
  • ensure security of supply with the right updates to infrastructure and the development of whole energy-system approach.

A number of the specific recommendations to meet these goals include:

  • Retrofit almost all of the UK’s 27 million homes by 2030 to the highest energy efficiency standards feasible for each building by focusing first on highest fuel poverty and low-quality housing (recommendation 2).
  • Heat pumps and solar hot water introduced to convert all existing buildings currently using electric heating to renewable or low-carbon electric heating at the earliest possible time (recommendation 12).
  • Circa 7,000 new large-scale off-shore turbines, an estimated seven-fold increase in the offshore wind capacity by 2030, or 52GW (recommendation 21).
  • An estimated 4,500 new on-shore turbines would be needed to reach the 30GW target based on an average value of 3MW for today’s turbines (recommendation 20).

These are the "necessary next steps" the Report states and if implemented immediately, the UK can be on track to deliver a 77% reduction in energy emissions by 2030 compared to 2010 levels. Then, "if implementation goes very well by the mid 2020s, the UK could even be on track for a zero-carbon energy system sometime in the 2030s."

All the 30 recommendations are laid out in a timeline format on page 11 of the report and summarised in the subsequent pages.

Implementing the Report's recommendations would require significant updates to almost every building and national infrastructure system, changes for every person, business and institution - or the "Green Industrial Revolution" that is promised in the manifesto.

In terms of investment the manifesto promises £400bn in the form of a National Transformation Fund (overseen by a National Transformation Fund Unit within the UK Treasury Department, to be located "in the North of England") and £250bn (of the £400bn) for a Green Transformation Fund for renewable and low-carbon energy and transport, biodiversity and environmental restoration.

The manifesto claims that retrofitting the UK’s 27 million homes to the highest energy-efficiency standards would reduce "the average household energy bill by £417 per household per year by 2030", and eliminate fuel poverty.

The retrofit promise may well be one of the most expensive commitments. But it would provide additional economic benefits in terms of energy efficiency, jobs across all the regions, and health benefits for the occupants which would in turn benefit the NHS.

The promise to re-engineer the electricity sector around renewables (while maintaining current levels of nuclear output and building new nuclear needed for energy security), will also provide new jobs, including in the expansion of power storage which the manifesto promises to balance the grid.

Ian Meyer, Solicitor, said:

"The manifesto only states that in government Labour would "develop" the recommendations of the Report. It will be interesting to see if this will extend to the range of policy options and interventions that could be applied to unlock the retrofit including a proposed variable stamp duty, an option which is not contained in the manifesto itself but in the Report. 

"Alternatively, it may be worth considering if a sliding scale on council tax could be a better option, with the local authority settlement also likely to improve by this alongside housing stock efficiency."