Deep retrofit of 26 million homes is a great business opportunity. £28 billion of the UK market for housing construction is repairing and upgrading the existing stock. In the next few years that market will grow and will demand innovative energy efficiency solutions. There are similar opportunities in other countries. Recently, the IET and Nottingham Trent University published Scaling Up Retrofit 2050; a report that looked at the need for deep retrofit, the barriers and the possible solutions. There are some tricky challenges. First, over three-quarters of household energy demand is for space and water heating, mostly using gas. Could we switch to electric heating using renewables? Unfortunately, we need six times as much heat in the winter as the summer, and the winter heat demand is six times the winter electricity demand. No planned electricity grid can cope with that. The second problem is that we have an old housing stock in the UK, and turnover is low. About 80 per cent of the homes we will be occupying in 2050 already exist. So we can’t rely on decarbonising the grid, and we can’t rely on building new energy-efficient homes. We must improve the energy efficiency of the existing stock; retrofitting those 26 million homes. For most efficient use of resources we should be targeting ‘deep retrofit’; a whole-house approach to design and implementation that takes a property from its current state to near net-zero energy demand in one step. The immediate need is to increase the volume of deep retrofits to bring down cost. That will increase the accessible market, create a better proposition for home owners, and open up more opportunities for finance. The report recommends starting with the 4.7 million social homes. These are owned by groups with a long-term investment horizon and a social purpose, and there is already interest in practical solutions. Deep retrofit of the existing housing stock represents a new and growing market opportunity. It has space for many new players and needs a lot of innovation. 26 million UK homes is a domestic market worth paying attention to.
Business Green 13th Nov 2018 read more »