How to combat the UK’s energy crisis


    3 March, 2023

    Five approaches municipalities can take to combat fossil fuel overdependency and soaring energy bills


    Public and consumer bills are rocketing across the UK, putting intense pressure on workplaces and households and plunging many into energy poverty. At the same time, recent geopolitical events highlight the dangers of reliance on critical resources supplied by a single nation.


    Altogether, the EU meets around 25% of its energy demands by importing Russian gas. In 2021 alone, the European Union imported 155 billion cubic meters of Russian gas, accounting for 45% of all its gas imports. Now that boycotts have been called across the continent, energy prices are soaring. The UK of course is a part of this and is also known to house some of more energy-inefficient building stock across Europe.


    Clearly, the region requires an energy revolution. Municipalities can lead the charge with an integrated approach that incorporates the following five approaches.


    1. Build financial capital


    To achieve large-scale energy transitions, municipalities require sufficient budgets. To that end, the European Commission has pledged €1 trillion in sustainable investments via the NextGenerationEU temporary recovery instrument. EU member states must invest 37% of the instrument’s €672.5 billion Recovery and Resilience Facility in support of climate objectives. In the UK there has recently been an announcement on the Energy- Efficiency taskforce that will devise a plan to reduce total UK energy demand by 15% by 2030 compared to 2021 levels across domestic and commercial buildings and industrial processes. The country is waiting to see what steps the task force will take to help the UK progress on its path to a green future.


    Making sure that climate funding flows directly to municipalities is key to swiftly and effectively implementing solutions to combat the energy crisis. Financial instruments and innovative business models, such as product-as-a-service offerings, can bring additional environmental and economic benefits forward and help tackle roadblocks due to problematic balance sheets and public debt.


    2. Strengthen decarbonisation policies


    Cities account for 70% of all CO2 emissions in the EU. The EU aims to achieve deep decarbonisation of key sectors under its 2050 long-term strategy, an ambition which is at the heart of the EU Green Deal, the union’s aggressive sustainability roadmap.


    At a minimum, decarbonisation measures should involve energy efficiency improvements, accelerated electrification efforts, and additional mechanisms to offset unavoidable emissions, including reforestation.


    3. Ratchet up renewables


    Accelerating the deployment of wind and solar is one of the ten points mentioned by the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) report on reducing Europe’s reliance on Russian gas.


    As well as utility-scale projects contributing directly to national power grids, municipalities can encourage and incentivize consumers to deploy rooftop solar photovoltaics through short-term financing mechanisms. A short-term grant program covering 20% of installation costs could double the pace of investment in solar, at a total cost of around €3 billion. Such a program could potentially increase annual output from rooftop solar PV systems by up to 15 TWh—energy that will no longer have to be generated by traditional carbon-intensive energy-producing means.


    4. Insulate homes


    Energy-efficient heating and cooling is a powerful tool to drive down emissions in the built environment, and offers UK municipalities the opportunity to secure clean energy transitions.


    Heat pumps are an energy-efficient and economically reasonable way to heat homes, replacing fossil-fuel powered boilers, but may take some time to scale up. In the short term, municipalities can roll out smart thermostats and ensure that buildings undergo annual maintenance checks of less efficient boilers.


    5. Adopt smart and connected lighting


    One of the easiest and most inexpensive steps to tacking the energy crisis is to adopt connected LED lighting systems. Managed LED lighting systems can reduce lighting-related energy costs by up to 80%, a far-reaching benefit considering that light accounts for 12% of the world’s electricity consumption.


    To give one example of the potential impact, switching to LED lighting in the professional lighting market could reduce CO2 emissions by 3.9 million tonnes in the UK&I region, the same amount of CO2 that 175 million trees could sequester in a year. Making the switch would also save 16.1 TWh of electricity, which is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of more than 4.3 million household


    Managed LED lighting retrofits have the potential to reduce the global carbon footprint by 553 million tons per year. LED and connected lighting also afford many other important benefits, including remote maintenance, occupancy sensing, and UV-C disinfection.

    In addressing the energy crisis, municipalities can really catch multiple birds with one stone by prioritizing energy efficiency. This will lower energy bills, reduce emissions on the pathway to carbon neutrality, and create good local jobs for people who renovate buildings and street lighting.”


    Harry Verhaar

    Head of Global Public & Government Affairs at Signify


    To find out more about how lighting can play its part in tackling the energy crisis, visit our Green Switch site.

    About the author:

    Jonathan Weinert

    Jonathan Weinert

    IoT and connected lighting, Signify

    For further information, please contact:

    Signify UKI PR
    Nikita Mahajan

    Tel: + 44 (0)7459751618


    For commercial enquiries:

    About Signify


    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals and consumers and lighting for the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact connected lighting systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. In 2022, we had sales of EUR 7.5 billion, approximately 35,000 employees and a presence in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We achieved carbon neutrality in our operations in 2020, have been in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index since our IPO for six consecutive years and were named Industry Leader in 2017, 2018 and 2019. News from Signify is located at the Newsroom, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors can be found on the Investor Relations page.

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