A survey by GHD, one of the world’s leading professional services companies, has found that UK consumers look set to embrace green technology at home, with the majority of respondents saying that would consider installing solar panels (63%), hydrogen boilers (57%), hydrogen batteries (53%) and ground source heat pumps (56%).
These findings come as remote working means that some people are requiring more electricity and natural gas to power and heat their homes. This increased domestic energy usage looks set to continue as, going forward, 34% of respondents expect to work from home more. 41% of Britons also expect to spend more time online than before the pandemic, at an average of 2 hours and 58 minutes more each day.
In addition, energy costs remain an issue for many, with 55% of UK consumers saying that they struggle to afford their domestic energy bills, at least on occasion. For 12% of respondents, it is a frequent or constant challenge, and there is a higher appetite here for renewable energy sources. Combined with a growing social consciousness (84% of UK respondents agree we all have a responsibility to change our habits to help the planet become more sustainable), it’s clear why momentum is building for affordable domestic green energy solutions.
In order to make this happen, the government and energy industry regulator will need to play an active role in supporting consumers to actively change their behaviours around energy consumption in order to drive transition and savings. For example, increased visibility of energy consumption will be key to the public modifying their habits to effect change. In addition, effective communication of the energy challenge and what is required from everyone is needed. The government should lead in this area and be the first to demonstrate the right behaviours if it wants the public to follow, while ensuring that the costs associated with the new infrastructure required are borne equitably in society, as this will be essential in providing the social license for the changes that need to happen.
These findings form part of an international survey conducted by GHD among over 8000 consumers in the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Singapore in order to gain insight into how changing attitudes and behaviours will shape the way we power our future, as part of its whitepaper “The World of Energy Post-COVID”. In the UK, 1,004 consumers were surveyed.
Commenting on the survey’s findings, Dr David Maunder, Technical Leader - Future Energy at GHD, said: “The amount of energy used in the home in the UK is at its highest thanks to a greater concentration of people using electricity over a wider area than before, and this is causing a re-think about baseline stability and how grids operate. Our evolving energy mix presents all sorts of issues for a network that was built for generating electricity from fossil fuels. Electricity network innovation must be a priority as British consumers shift to green technology, otherwise we risk failing to deliver on the government’s ten point plan.
“To meet our future energy needs, the way in which we generate electricity will continue to change, and energy storage will become an ever more important element in the system. This is not just about renewable electricity: while we will see much greater use of decarbonised electricity in many existing and new applications, such as in electric vehicles, we also need to decarbonise other parts of our energy system, such as our gas networks. We expect to see the rapid emergence of a low-carbon hydrogen economy here and elsewhere in the energy network: indeed, we are already seeing many successful and significant advancements being made in this area. For our part, we are currently working on a wide range of hydrogen projects around the world, associated with production, distribution and end use, across both industrial and domestic applications. One example of the latter is the work we have done providing product development engineering support for the world’s first household hydrogen energy storage system.
“However, all of this new infrastructure needs to be paid for. Consumer sensitivity to electricity and gas prices remains a key consideration, with over half of UK consumers already struggling to pay their energy bills on occasion. Within all of the initiatives associated with decarbonisation, there is an ongoing need to support consumers in improving energy efficiency and reducing their demand. Furthermore, it will also be important to ensure that the costs associated with the new infrastructure required is borne fairly in society.
“If we take a long-term view of our energy network innovation, it will not only mean we can meet our green ambitions, but also support wider economic prosperity. We must act now to disrupt the traditional norms of consumption and generation, fast forwarding the transition to a model that meets the new needs of consumers and our environment.”
GHD’s full whitepaper, entitled “The World of Energy Post-COVID: How changing attitudes and behaviours will shape the way we power our future”, can be found here.