Millions of families and businesses could be left behind as the UK transitions to clean energy, electric vehicles (EVs) and smart technology, a new study has warned.
The report by researchers at Imperial College London and E4tech, facilitated by Imperial Consultants and commissioned by Drax Group, claims a regional divide is rapidly developing with London and Scotland pulling ahead in terms of shifting towards renewable energy, while parts of the North of England and East Midlands are lagging behind.
Researchers have broken down the energy revolution into 20 categories for the power, transport and buildings sectors, to provide a barometer of national and regional progress.
According to the study, London leads the way with Scotland because its transport system is the country’s greenest.
As public transport, walking and cycling are more dominant in the capital, a Londoner’s carbon footprint from transport is up to 2.5 times less than residents in other regions.
London also receives 45 per cent of national funds for rail electrification, resulting in the country’s lowest carbon emissions from rail.
It is also cheaper, on average, to own an electric car in London than in any other part of the country. This is due to the average London driver travelling shorter distances and the exemption of EVs from London’s Congestion Charge.
And the report argues Scotland leads in the energy revolution with London due to its successful shift from fossil fuels to renewable generated electricity.
The number of EV charging points in Scotland is also high compared to the number of vehicles: despite the low population density, the average Scottish household is around 2km from a charging point, but with the lifetime cost of running an EV being the highest in Scotland and Wales, this is affecting uptake in these areas.
Residential homes in leading regions London, Scotland and the East are also more energy efficient, and more likely to score high A-C Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings, and have fewer buildings rated F and G.
“’The country is going through an energy revolution. We are creating an energy system which will power our future economy and help tackle climate change,” said report author, Dr Iain Staffell.
“But, our research reveals that Britain is at risk of creating a two-tier economy, leaving millions of families and businesses less well equipped to enjoy cheaper bills and better health outcomes. Our concern is they will not be offered the same opportunities as people living in regions which are modernising their energy infrastructure.”
The chief executive of the Drax Group, Will Gardiner, added: “Great Britain needs more secure, clean energy to compete in the future economy. There is an energy revolution underway which will deliver it – but this report uncovers worrying regional divides as we go through that transition.”