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External Wall Insulation & The UK Energy Crisis

There are several factors behind the energy crisis affecting the UK and EU. The dreadful war brought on the Ukrainian people by Putin’s Russia has affected the supply of natural gas to Europe. As a result, energy bills have risen to astronomical levels. So what has been the UK Government’s reaction? And what is in place to prevent a winter of discontent? How does external wall insulation fit into this?

Government policy

The development of policy during the leadership contest has stagnated. Under new Prime Minister Liz Truss, the Government has set out several policies to tackle both supply and pricing.

The primary solution proposed to offset the supply of natural gas is the revoking of the fracking ban. Fracking relies on recovering gas and oil from shale rock. The initial fracking ban precedes the energy crisis. The amount of gas recovered through fracking has attracted scepticism. Fracking also has several drawbacks which the campaign to ban it initially stood on. Firstly, shale gas is a fossil fuel, which poses issues for the Net Zero 2050 target Western Europe has set out. Tremors can also occur due to fracking as the high pressure water and chemical mixture fractures the shale reserves to release the gas. The transport and usage of huge amounts of water will also cost a significant amount of capital.

From an energy bill perspective, the energy crisis has been disastrous. A £400 grant will offset bills. Our own taxes will subsidise the set price cap of £2,500, not the sought after windfall tax on energy companies. Jacob Rees-Mogg, the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has pledged to set out the UK as an energy exporter by 2040.

The issues ahead

The UK is expected to feel the winter pinch more than the rest of Europe. Energy storage initiatives are a crucial part of EU policy, and have been since the start of the war in Ukraine. As a result, Germany (217TWh), Italy (162TWh), and France (122TWh) have vast stores of energy. The UK has stored a paltry 9TWh. Several reports have stated that the UK should expect a 10 hour blackout during the winter. This will serve to maintain energy reserves throughout the whole period.

Storage and transport of energy is also a consistent issue; travelling further increases the amount lost. ‘According to the UK government’s Digest of UK Energy Statistics, conversion, transmission and distribution losses from the country’s electricity system in 2019 amounted to 370 terawatt-hours – 52.7% of the total electricity flow.’ (https://www.energymonitor.ai/sectors/power/can-community-energy-save-lives-this-winter)

Fuel poverty related deaths are usually around 10,000 per year, but NHS chiefs are predicting a significant increase to this figure.

Any solutions?

Some solutions look fairly trivial and almost comical; periodically, the Eiffel Tower lights will be turned off to conserve energy. The concept of community energy is growing in popularity, particularly in Belgium. This would tackle the transport and processing losses. Local communities could also set prices themselves, crucial during this energy crisis.

The temporary move away from renewable energy for fossil fuel alternatives has prompted a review of the Net Zero initiative. During the leadership contest, both Truss and Sunak dismissed photovoltaic usage and expansion as unnecessary given that it would take away arable farmland. However, agrivoltaic farming is a sound solution.

The focus has shifted towards insulation, especially for low-income homes; Help to Heat is a new scheme designed to supply £1.5 billion to 130,00 low-income homes. The houses can expect savings of around £700. The external wall insulation systems we offer at EWI Store can bring about the same changes. Our BBA Approved EPS and Mineral Wool systems can bring the U-Value down to required levels, often achieving savings of up to £1,000. The report from the Institute for Government suggests that the energy crisis will persist past 2023 as houses in the UK are the leakiest in Europe. Research conducted by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) reveals that Government investment in home insulation could prove to be cost neutral by the end of this Parliamentary term.

More on our external wall insulation

EWI Store offers exceptional options when it comes to tackling the energy crisis with external wall insulation. Our three major insulation boards are Mineral Wool, Kingspan K5 Kooltherm, and EPS. You’ll be familiar with most of the benefits, but let us recap for you! (you can also read more here)

  • Rockwool – The premier solution, with excellent thermal performance. 110mm of Rockwool will achieve the required 0.3W/m2K. Rockwool also offers the additional benefit of total non-combustibility, acting as a firebreak. Furthermore, the dual density composition means that you gain great acoustic insulation, perfect for busy urban areas.
  • Kingspan K5 – A premier space-saving solution of phenolic construction, with the added benefits of resistance against mechanical impact. K5 also has the best thermal performance, as only 60mm is required to achieve a U-value of 0.3W/m2K.
  • EPS – The best cost-effective option for any job, with terrific thermal performance, requiring just 90mm of insulation to achieve a U-value of 0.3W/m2K. The benefits are extensive and you can read about them on our ‘EPS – 12 Reasons Why It’s So Popular‘.

We’ve also discussed our opinion on which insulation is best here! Ultimately, any thickness of insulation will make an impact on the energy efficiency of your home, so please get in touch with us about any details or pricing.

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