Banning gas boilers, a new nuclear power station, electric car charging stations and grants to make your home warmer and greener are among proposals outlined by Government this week to cut carbon emissions in the UK.
In its long-awaited ‘Energy White Paper’, which lays out plans to clean up the UK’s energy system and keep bills affordable, Government officials said plans to transition to a net zero economy would support up to 220,000 jobs in the next 10 years, including in major infrastructure projects for power generation.
At 170 pages long, it’s not a quick read, but it does include the details of planned schemes that could save you money on your energy bills in a number of ways.
To save you plowing through it, This is Money has done the hard work for you to outline the main things which could affect you in the future.
The energy white paper has revealed a list of promises the Government is going to enact
Cutting the cost of energy
Originally due to be released last summer, the white paper says the Government will try and keep bills affordable for consumers by making the energy retail market competitive.
It aims to do this by offering people a simple method of switching to a cheaper energy tariff and testing how reliable it would be to automatically switch consumers to fairer deals to tackle loyalty penalties.
The loyalty penalty has long been an issue that customers face with companies offering giving the best deals to new customers rather than rewarding their loyal consumers.
The move is a further step to reduce customers’ energy bills after it introduced the price cap last year, limiting the amount providers can charge households.
Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at Uswitch, said: ‘The Government has a huge and important job on its hands to move our energy system away from fossil fuels and today’s plans are another step towards that.
‘Keeping bills affordable, especially for the vulnerable, will be crucial if the plans set out are to be truly sustainable.
‘The Government is right that those of us who switch are the ones who get the better deals, so looking at ways to get more consumers to move tariffs is welcome.
‘However, consumer choice and empowerment remain key to ensure that providers are still motivated to compete on price, provide good service and continue to innovate to meet the needs of smarter greener homes.
‘Trialling and testing different approaches is sensible, as there is a long history of well-intended rule changes that have not worked in practice. It’s no good forcing everyone to switch tariffs if suppliers just whip away the better deals at the same time.’
The Government is aiming to help people save money on their energy bills by switching
However, not all experts believe the news is a good idea.
Peter Earl, head of energy at Compare the Market, added: ‘Millions of households are stuck on an energy supplier’s standard variable tariff, likely paying hundreds of pounds more than they should be.
‘We are, however, sceptical of the plans for an “opt in/opt out” system for switching tariffs with the same supplier, which might detract people from shopping around for a better deal with alternative and more competitive suppliers.
‘If these changes are not implemented properly they risk lulling people into a false sense of security that they are on the cheapest tariff, despite better offers being available elsewhere.’
New nuclear investment
One of the other main talking points in the white paper is the Government entering negotiations with energy firm EDF about the construction of a £20billion Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk.
It would be a near replica of Hinkley Point C in Somerset and could generate 3.2 gigawatts of electricity when in comes into service in the 2030s – enough for around 7 per cent of the UK’s power demand.
Although a costly move, the Government said negotiations will be subject to reaching a value for money deal before anything is finalised.
Proposals aim to install many more electric car charging points across the UK
Warm home discount and greener homes grant
A more popular decision for many, however, will be the extension of the Warm Home Discount – a one off £140 discount on electricity bills available for the most vulnerable – which will now run until 2026.
The £2billion Green Homes Grant has also been extended for a further year in a 10-point plan outlined in the paper.
Alistair Cromwell, acting chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: ‘The transition to net zero must be fair and needs to avoid the past problems in the retail energy market, which led to the introduction of the price cap.
‘Testing new ways to tackle the loyalty penalty is the right approach, and we look forward to working with government and Ofgem on helping consumers get a better deal.
‘The extra funding for the Warm Homes Discount scheme is a welcome step to support households who are struggling to afford their energy bills.
‘With the full economic effects of coronavirus still to be felt, the transition to net zero must be done fairly, with affordability a key consideration.’
Tighter carbon-cutting deadlines…
Other plans put forward by the Government include generating emission-free electricity by 2050 that will see the UK have ‘overwhelmingly’ de-carbonised power in the 2030s.
…and phasing out gas boilers
The paper also outlined how the UK would move away from fossil fuel boilers – something it has suggested before – helping to make people’s homes warmer, whilst keeping bills low.
By the mid-2030s, it is expected that all newly installed heating systems will be low-carbon or appliances that can be converted to a clean fuel supply.
Charging infrastructure for electric vehicles
Another of the more welcome suggestions from the Government is that it is planning to invest £1.3billion to speed up the rollout of charge points for electric vehicles in homes, streets and on motorways.
It is also pledging £1billion to support the electrification of cars, including for the mass-production of the batteries needed for electric vehicles.
Through this scheme, it is hoped thousands more jobs will be created, helping the economy to recover after a difficult year.
Post-Brexit carbon trading
The Government is also establishing a UK Emissions Trading Scheme from 1 January 2021 to replace the current EU ETS at the end of the Brexit transition period.
It said the ETS will ‘promote cost-effective decarbonisation and will be the world’s first net zero carbon cap and trade market’.
The paper said: ‘The scheme is more ambitious than the EU system it replaces; from day one, the cap on emissions allowed within the system will be reduced by 5 per cent and we will consult in due course on how to align with net zero.
‘This gives industry the certainty it needs to invest in low-carbon technologies.’
Could you cut your energy bills… or help the planet and go green?
Millions of people could be needlessly overpaying for their energy as they fail to switch to providers who offer cheaper deal.
They may also be missing out on the opportunity to help the planet and fight climate change, by switching to green deals that offer electricity from renewable sources and more environmentally-friendly gas.
With our partner, Compare the Market, you can compare energy tariffs and exclusive deals.
Why not find out if you could save hundreds of pounds a year on your energy or go green?
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