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Energy explained

Our views on the Energy White Paper

Wind farms in distance.

The Government published its Energy White Paper yesterday, which sets out plans to clean up our energy system and keep bills affordable as we transition to net zero. Find out more about the plans we’re excited about at Bulb.

Last month, the Prime Minister announced the Government is investing £12bn to help create 250,000 new green jobs as part of its plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050. The new white paper builds on this ten point plan, explaining the policies to help us get there. 

The plans put forward are estimated to save 230 million tonnes of CO2 by 2032 - equivalent to 65% of total UK emissions - whilst supporting up to 220,000 jobs a year over the next decade. You can read the full whitepaper on the GOV.UK website, but here are some of the plans we’re particularly excited about. 

Phasing out coal earlier than planned

It’s great to see the Government is considering bringing forward the UK coal closure date by one year to 2024. It will consult on this decision next year. Depending on the outcome, the Government could introduce legislation for a new end date. 

Last year, coal made up 4% of the electricity generated in the UK, producing almost 12 million tonnes of CO2 emissions. That’s about the same emissions as Cambodia produces in one year. Generating more renewable power in the UK is a crucial part of reaching net zero emissions by 2050. And as more people make the switch to renewable suppliers like Bulb, we’ll need more renewable generation to meet this demand.

Walney offshore Orsted
One of the wind farm's we work with, Burbo Bank, off the coast of Liverpool. Photo credit: Ørsted

No gas grid connections for new homes

We’re pleased the Government has proposed to end gas grid connections to new homes from 2025. This will help encourage the use of greener options, like heat pumps. 85% of UK homes are connected to the gas grid - using fossil fuel gas to heat and cook. Cutting CO2 emissions caused by the gas we use in our homes is central to reaching net zero by 2050. 

At Bulb, we supply 100% carbon neutral gas to all our members. We know we’ve got an important role to play in changing how heat is supplied in the UK. But we can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re actively calling on the Government to tax carbon emissions from heating, and take policy costs off electricity bills to make green electricity cheaper than polluting gas. We think these policies will encourage the electrification of heat, as gas becomes an increasingly small part of heating between now and 2050.

More transparency to help consumers make greener choices

The Government wants to make sure consumers have clearer information on the carbon content of the energy products they choose. It will put forward suggested changes in a consultation early next year. This is great news. And we think the changes should take every part of an energy tariff - including customer service and cost of exit fees, as well as carbon impact - into account. 

At Bulb, we think it’s really important our members understand where their energy comes from, and what the carbon impact of that is. That's why we track the collective carbon impact of our members, and showcase the renewable generators we work with. And we’ll continue to look for opportunities to build products like the carbon calculator to help more people understand how their everyday choices affect their carbon footprint.

Extending support for vulnerable people 

The white paper puts forward plans to extend the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) - the Government’s energy efficiency scheme - from 2022 to 2026. We support more energy efficiency for fuel poor homes. It’s a triple win: lowering bills, lowering emissions, and encouraging a green recovery with new jobs. At Bulb, we install energy efficiency measures in our members’ homes through ECO. So far, we’ve helped our members save around £65 million on their energy bills and 175,000 tonnes of CO2.

We need to make sure energy is green and affordable for as many as people as possible as we head to net zero. The Government has said it will publish a call for evidence next Spring to start a conversation between government, consumers and industry on how to make energy affordable and fair. We look forward to playing an active role in that conversation. 

warm home
More efficient homes mean lower bills and lower carbon emissions. It's great to see the Government extending support to make more homes energy efficient.

Considering ways to solve the loyalty tax problem

The Government will explore ways to help address the problem of energy suppliers charging higher tariffs, or a ‘loyalty tax,’ to customers who have been with them for a while. There are two ways people can be affected by a loyalty tax. First, those who switch to cheap fixed deals, but are put on much more expensive standard variable tariffs later on. Second, those who have been on a standard tariff with big suppliers for years but have never switched. We don’t think it’s right that consumers are being charged more by some suppliers for being loyal. At Bulb, our variable plans reflect the true cost of energy, and are below the price cap. Our members don’t pay more for staying with us.

We’ve been calling for the Government to take action to stop the loyalty tax. So, it’s great to see plans for that in the whitepaper. Any solution should put consumers first. We look forward to seeing more fairness in the energy market to help more people lower their bills and carbon emissions.

What do you think about the Government's plans? Let us know in the Bulb Community.