The sheer scale of change is breath taking

18th Sep 2023


I’ve just come back from a few days in sunny Cornwall and while driving along those country lanes and passing through villages such as Helford Passage, Gweek and Mawnan Smith I was struck by the sheer scale of banning off grid boilers in 2026.

That is still the date in place according the Heat and Building Strategy, but it looks increasingly likely that will change.

Dotted along those country lanes are properties with oil and LPG tanks for their boilers, wood stores for their log burners and what looks like a fragile electricity network. Yet that network has to cope with a major increase in demand in just over two years followed by another increase from 2030 when new cars all have to be electric.

And this observation is from just three small villages/hamlets in a tiny part of Cornwall. Multiply that across the whole of the UK and the sheer scale of change that is required is breath taking. It did not strike me that the local populace had all that much cash either to pay for this change. Cornwall might attract wealthy second-home owners but it is one of the least well-off areas of Britain.

Aside from the sheer logistical challenge of making the power network fit for its 2026 purpose (something it was not actually designed to do), I was also struck as I sat enjoying the autumn sunshine that some days last week gas was generating 60 per cent of our power needs. There was little wind, and solar is restricted by definition in what it can produce. In fact, one day last week more power was generated by coal than wind. Yet, we are expected to have 100 per cent clean power by 2030/2035 – take your pick from these political party promises.

I’m not a naysayer, I want to get to net zero but there are times when I feel that it might be asking too much of the UK. As a country we are massively in debt; households are still shaken by the cost of living crisis yet they are expected to deliver the scale of change never seen in peacetime. My Cornish trip suggested current targets are just too difficult to meet.

Mike Foster

EUA's Chief Executive


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