Cold water poured on UK's domestic carbon cut

Residential energy efficiency could be hampered by demand for extra comforts

A trend towards smaller households and a desire for greater creature comforts could outweigh the benefits of greater energy efficiency in UK homes, according to a private think-tank, Cambridge Econometrics. In its latest twice-yearly review of prospects for the UK energy sector, the organisation warns that a government plan to reduce carbon emissions from homes as part of its draft climate change strategy could be undermined as a result (ENDS Daily 16 June).

Cambridge Econometrics envisages that overall household energy demand will rise by just under 1% per year to 2010, leading to a 6% rise in carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions over this period - the largest projected increase of any sector.

The government hopes its programme to improve thermal efficiency of homes - currently the country includes some of the least well insulated homes in Europe - as well as improvements to the efficiency of household appliances will help to offset any rise in demand brought about by cheaper energy prices following the liberalisation of the gas and electricity markets. But Cambridge Econometrics forecasters say past experience suggests that poorer households, in particular, may not use less power but may opt to have warmer homes instead.

* More positive news has emerged from the UK industry ministry's energy statistics for 1999. Published last week, these showed that electricity generated from renewables inched up to 2.8% of total electricity generation in 1999, a rise of 9.5% on 1998. Cogeneration capacity also increased by 9%, bringing its electricity contribution to just under 6% of the generation total, or 4.239 megawatts.

Follow Up:
Cambridge Econometrics, tel: +44 1223 460 760 and press release; UK industry ministry, tel: +44 20 72 22 43 82; Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2000.

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