‘Labour must show they are serious about achieving net zero’ – industry reactions to the new government

As the dust settles on what felt like a landmark General Election, all eyes are now firmly on the new Labour Government to see just how it plans to deliver on its promise of ‘making Britain a clean energy superpower by 2030’.

Kier Starmer addressing parliament

There are some big and bold headline actions included in the manifesto which could potentially be transformative for the renewable energy industry – plans to create 650,000 new jobs, to invest £8.3bn in a new publicly-owned energy company, £6.6bn to upgrade homes and to offer grants and low interest loans for domestic renewables – for example.

But as always, the devil will be in the detail and everyone is waiting with bated breath to see how the new policies will impact them.

A number of key measures were included in the manifesto and it now falls to new Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, Ed Miliband, to make good on them.

The key energy pledges

Clean power by 2030

  • Double onshore wind, triple solar power and quadruple offshore wind by 2030
  • Invest in carbon capture and storage, hydrogen and marine energy
  • The lifetime of existing nuclear plants will be extended
  • A strategic reserve of gas power stations will be maintained – existing licences will not be revoked, but new ones won’t be issued

Great British Energy

  • Create a new publicly-owned company called Great British Energy
  • Invest £8.3bn to create jobs and build supply chains across the UK, including to facilitate local energy production

Energy system reform

  • Work with industry to upgrade national transmission infrastructure and rewire Britain
  • Ensure a tougher system of regulation that puts customers first

Warm Homes Plan

  • Invest an extra £6.6bn over the next parliament to upgrade five million homes to cut bills
  • Offer grants and low interest loans to support investment in insulation and improvements such as solar panels, batteries and low carbon heating
  • Work with private sector to provide further private finance to accelerate home upgrades
  • Ensure homes in private rented meet minimum energy efficiency standards by 2030

High-quality jobs

  • Invest in industries of the future through the National Wealth Fund to create 650,000 new jobs by 2030
  • Reward clean energy developers with a British Jobs Bonus, allocating up to £500m per year from 2026

Accelerating to net zero

  • Support the introduction of a carbon border adjustment mechanism
  • Make the UK the ‘green finance capital of the world’, mandating UK-regulated financial institutions to implement credible transition plans that align with the 1.5°C goal of the Paris agreement

Industry comments

Reactions have been coming thick and fast from across the industry, with people commenting on what they hope to see form part of the new government’s plans in the coming months and years.

We’ve included a snapshot of views below, but look out for the next edition of Renewable Energy Installer magazine, due out soon, for a more detailed analysis.

Ian Rippin, CEO at MCS:

Labour’s win presents a pivotal opportunity for a new government to demonstrate its commitment to accelerating the UK’s transition to cleaner and greener energy.

Labour must show they are serious about achieving Net Zero by 2050, which means not only reducing the UK’s carbon emissions to benefit the environment, but also making home-grown energy, such as solar PV and heat pumps, more accessible and affordable, ensuring a seamless transition to renewables that works for everyone.

It’s imperative that Labour drives forward the uptake of renewable technologies through policy developments, financial incentives and investment in training pathways for the design and installation of renewable technologies to develop a skilled renewable workforce fit for the future.

Chris Hewett, Chief Executive of Solar Energy UK:

We are committed to helping the new Government’s national mission to deliver clean power by 2030. Labour’s first year in power is going to be a critical period for the solar and energy storage sectors – essential for future energy security, lowering energy bills and addressing the climate emergency. We have every confidence that the new Government will demonstrate a more positive attitude towards the industry and so bolster investor confidence.

“To meet Labour’s objective of decarbonising the grid by the end of the decade, it must hit the ground running. That means embracing solar by making swift ministerial decisions on nationally significant solar projects, mandating solar on new homes and revamping the Solar Taskforce’s draft Solar Roadmap to align with the ambitious goal of 50GW of solar capacity by 2030.

Charlotte Lee, Chief Executive of the Heat Pump Association:

The transition to low-carbon heating is critical in addressing climate change, and heat pumps are a cornerstone of this transition. We urge the new government to pursue robust, clear regulatory changes and policy developments that remove unnecessary barriers to the widescale deployment of heat pumps, such as the implementation of the Future Homes Standard, Changes to Permitted Development Rights and provide clarity on the future of the Clean Heat Market mechanism.

Additionally, it will be vital to reduce the upfront and running costs of heat pumps to make the lowest carbon heat the lowest cost heat. Steps should be taken to consult on how best to rebalance electricity and gas prices with the aim of making electricity cheaper.

Furthermore, it is essential to ensure we have a skilled and competent workforce to support this transition. We call on the Government to invest in training and development programmes that will prepare our workforce for the future of low-carbon heating. These include the continuation of the Heat Training Grant, publishing the updated Mandatory Technical Competency documents and mandating low temperature heating training for all heating engineers.

Engaging consumers in this transition is equally important, and we seek to work with the Government to raise awareness and support for heat pump technology.

Lastly, we must support the heat pump supply chain by maintaining and updating technical standards. This will ensure that our industry can continue to innovate and provide reliable, high-quality solutions.

Dave Sowden, Interim Chief Executive of the Sustainable Energy Association:

As we enter a new era with the first Labour Government since 2010, the SEA remains committed to its vision for creating healthier, warmer, and more sustainable buildings, as part of a just transition to Net Zero. 

We hope that the new Labour Government will stay true on its manifesto commitments.

The SEA will continue to advocate for a fabric first, technology agnostic approach to deliver buildings fit for the future, and we look forward to working with government and industry to drive real change. 

Christophe Williams, CEO of Naked Energy:

Now Labour is in power, they must end the subsidies on fossil fuels. We’re being led to believe by some that we must choose between renewable energy and domestic security – that it’s impossible to have both.

This is not true. Security of supply for the UK can be secured by ending our dependence on natural gas. At the moment we’re importing liquefied natural gas from the US. This should only be a backup – it’s far too expensive to be the solution. All this makes it misleading to suggest that subsidising fossil fuels will shore up our domestic energy security and keep prices down.

Renewable energy is the only answer for long-term security. The UK has hundreds of small businesses producing innovative renewable technology that can provide our energy needs. What’s been holding them back is an inconsistent and uncertain investment environment.

A positive step Labour could take would be to re-introduce the Renewable Heat Incentive for commerce and industry, and make sure it stays in place. We should also introduce an advantage for local suppliers, much like the Inflation Reduction Act did in the US. Giving a 10% bonus on products designed or made in the UK would provide a huge boost for renewable energy.

Thomas Farquhar, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Heatio:

The election result shows people want change. High energy prices hurt the consumer while strangling the economy. Yet, we are dangerously reliant on fossil fuels, leaving us vulnerable to the whims of other countries ethically, ecologically, and economically. Low-carbon technologies like heat pumps are the future, but people need social proof. 

Labour promised to lower the cost of energy through renewables, accelerating to net zero by making Britain a clean energy superpower and upgrading our creaking National Grid. After years of climate change and energy security being used as a political football, we now need the new government to take immediate action. Promises must be put into action.

Griff Thomas, MD for GTEC & Heatly:

It will be interesting to see what the next five years bring. With a strong focus on improving home standards, including bringing rental properties up to band C, there should be plenty of opportunities for installers in the building services and energy efficiency retrofit sectors.

What’s most important is that we stick to the programme, flip flopping of environmental policy is extremely damaging and dents confidence in installers and consumers. I would like to see the plan for our path to net zero set for the next ten years.”

Mark Krull, Director for Logic4training & LCL Awards:

It’s clear that change was what the British public wanted, let’s hope it’s for the better and Labour delivers on its promises. Some of its environmental policies look particularly interesting, such as the Local Power Plan and Great British Energy, encouraging a community approach to net zero that should provide a boost to local installers; all of the policies outlined relating to our sector will call for a trained and expanded workforce.

Caroline Bragg, Association for Decentralised Energy Chief Executive:

The new government’s commitment to a massive acceleration of renewables will protect us from another energy crisis and our members have the answer to making this work in practice – by creating a smarter system that puts money in the pockets of households and businesses.

As we know, heating is one of the biggest sources of UK emissions. With the mandate now given to the new Labour Government, now is the time to move decisively towards a low cost, just path for decarbonising heat. Billions of pounds of investment are waiting to invest in zero carbon heat infrastructure across the UK’s cities and towns – all we need is certainty. With decisive action and ambitious targets, we can create hundreds of thousand jobs, drive economic growth and save the UK billions.

Mark Wilkins, Technologies and Training Director at Vaillant: 

As a UK manufacturer, there is a sizeable green opportunity that net zero presents, providing new jobs and investment to support the critical reduction in carbon emissions.  

While there is no silver bullet, heat pumps are key in heating the UK’s future housing stock. For heat pumps to continue to make an impact on net zero, we must address the fabric of buildings, look to improve the current home heating systems, upskill the workforce and increase consumer engagement. 

According to the previous government, approximately 80% of the UK housing stock is suitable for a heat pump installation, however, some of these properties could be considered as complex to decarbonise and need fabric improvements for a heat pump system to be efficient. We therefore welcome the manifesto pledge of £6.6 billion into the Warm Homes Plan, which will aim to upgrade 5 million homes and cut bills for families through insulation and other measures, including heat pump installs. We look forward to details surrounding home upgrades to be clarified in the coming weeks. 

Engaging consumers must be a priority, heat pumps are the lowest carbon heating solution and therefore, should reward homes with lower energy cost-savings.  We urge the new government to make the rebalancing of gas and electricity tariffs a priority, encouraging more consumers to upgrade to a heat pump in order to meet decarbonisation targets. 

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