An Energy Saving Programme for Sheffield – nothing to lose, and a billion pounds to gain!

Why we need to save energy

We want to set out here the reasons for, and benefits of,  a massive energy-saving programme for Sheffield, to be implemented over the next 10 years. The reasons include saving around £1bn a year on energy costs, boosting the local economy with thousands of jobs, and meeting our statutory climate change targets, while greatly improving health and quality of life in our city.

Climate change results from the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, which is currently higher than for many million years. To lessen the huge risks of increased global temperatures requires urgently upgrading our infrastructure to operate with lower energy (and so less fossil fuels being burnt), otherwise we will be “locked in” through our inadequate infrastructure to 4C higher temperatures by 2100 – this is considered incompatible with human civilisation.

Action is needed at all levels – international, national, regional, local and individual – but it is clear that cities like ours have a key role to play, and that Sheffield can move forward independently to achieve the wide benefits available.

What an Energy Saving Programme for Sheffield could look like

The best documented evidence for Sheffield City Region is contained in the Mini-Stern Review, which sets out the programme needed to reduce carbon emissions by 44% over 10 years.  It concludes that if we found the investment needed to exploit all of the measures which would pay for themselves, this would generate 6,189 jobs over ten years and add £293 million per year to the local economy.

The report finds that if all realistic measures were implemented, it would require an investment of £7.8 billion, generating annual savings of £1.02 billion, paying back the investment in 7.7 years but generating annual savings for the lifetime of the measures – which are likely to total £15 – £20 billion. Given this rate of payback, Sheffield Climate Alliance consider that attracting the necessary investment, and creating a process to repay it, should be well within our capabilities.

Focusing on the cost-effective and cost-neutral measures proposed, the total investment of around £7bn is split quite evenly between 4 sectors: domestic, transport, industrial and commercial.  Investing £1.7bn in making homes energy efficient through insulation, renewable energy and efficient appliances is shown to generate over 2000 jobs per year in advice and installation, and pay for itself within 6 years, while the benefits in warmth and energy savings would continue for 20 or more years. All of the measures proposed are well-understood processes based on existing, commercially-available technologies. As well as a big opportunity for local companies to expand, upskill and employ new staff through the direct investment, there would be a knock-on effect for shops and services throughout our community as local spending increases.

What other benefits could this programme bring?

A recent report by Cambridge Econometrics sets out the benefits of investing in energy efficiency in homes – its scenario builds on the proposals outlined in the recent Citizens Advice report ‘Raising standards, cutting bills’, and the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR) report ‘Help to Heat’. It consists of a programme to upgrade all UK housing to EPC band C, financed via energy efficiency grants for low income homes, and a 0% interest rate loan for able-to-pay homes. Grants and loans would both be capped at £10k per household. Some of the economic and social benefits identified by this report include:

  • £3.20 returned through increased GDP per £1 invested by government
  • 2.27 : 1 cost benefit ratio (Value for Money), which would classify this as a “High” Value for Money infrastructure programme
  • Increased employment by up to 108,000 net jobs per annum over the period 2020-2030, mostly in the service and construction sectors.
  • For every £1 spent on reducing fuel poverty, a return of 42 pence is expected in National Health Service (NHS) savings.
  • A more resilient economy, less at risk of shock changes in gas prices, as the economy becomes less reliant on fossil fuels.

Sheffield and our region have a high proportion of homes that leak heat, contributing to high levels of fuel poverty and debt, ill-health and thousands of extra deaths. The best way to tackle these problems is to tackle the root cause by insulating homes, so that householders can afford to keep warm. The 2014 report by the Director of Public Health put forward this solution and recommended implementing a programme in Sheffield based on the mini-Stern review.

In short, there are benefits to businesses, the NHS, and residents through warmer homes, lower bills, more jobs and a healthier local economy. Sheffield can play its part in tackling climate change and reap the benefits in health, employment and quality of life.

Please add your voice to our campaign by completing our Sheffield Green Scheme survey/petition, and support national action through Energy Bill Revolution.