The Carbon Plan was published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change on 8 March 2011.The Carbon Plan contains 13 Chapters, following an introductory Chapter each of the remaining 12 deals with a different sector. Chapter 2 covers the need for low carbon energy, Chapter 3 relates to homes and communities, and Chapter 13 briefly looks at actions in the devolved nations.
The Carbon Plan is a cross-cutting document and contains action points and policies led by several UK government departments and the three devolved nations.
Chapter 2 on Low Carbon Energy concerns the forecast for increasing demand for electricity which is set against the coming to an end of existing generating capacity. Therefore the Plan highlights a need to make a transition to low carbon energy which is clean, safe and affordable. In order to do this the Plan estimates that £110 billion of investment is likely to be necessary by 2020. At least 30% of electricity generated must be from renewable sources by 2020 in order to meet EU targets, however new nuclear is also forecast to be part of the energy mix.
The Saving Energy in Homes and Communities chapter containes two priorities:
- Increase energy efficiency – both through the move to zero carbon new build homes by 2016 and through the retrofit of existing properties. In relation to retrofit there is an emphasis on cavity wall and loft insulation as the most cost-effective measures.
- Helping people to make the choice to move to low carbon alternatives for their space and water heating – specifically ground and air source heat pumps and community-wide Combined Heat and Power where appropriate.
The Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO) are heralded as part of meeting these priorities. The ECO is specifically noted with regard to supporting take up of more expensive measures, such as solid wall insulation, as well as supporting low income vulnerable households to participate in the Green Deal.
Regarding a move to low carbon heat, the Plan signals the Renewable Heat Incentive as the primary policy driver for meeting this objective.
Smart meters are also indicated as part of the process of encouraging behaviour change and creating a market which can be more responsive and offer the consumer more choice and greater efficiencies.
The Plan separately covers the role of each of the devolved nations.In Scotland the primary targets are those in the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009 – a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 42% on 1990 levels by 2020 and by 80% on the same baseline by 2050. These are bolstered by annual targets, which are set out in the Scottish Government report, published in March 2011, Low Carbon Scotland: Meeting the Emissions Reduction Targets 2010-2022.