New net zero department targets energy efficiency

Grant Shapps leads Department for Energy Security and Net Zero

Improved energy efficiency will be one of the six priorities for the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ), which has been set up as part of a wider Whitehall revamp.

The government announced the establishment of the new ministry, which has been split out from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) , on 7 February. It will be headed by Grant Shapps, who has been Secretary of State for BEIS since October last year.

The creation of the new department fulfils a commitment by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, when he was running for the Conservative Party leadership last summer, to set up a dedicated ministry for energy matters. According to the new department’s mission statement, the DESNZ will initially focus on cutting energy bills before moving onto longer-term goals, including pan-government coordination of net zero objectives.

A policy paper, published on the same day as the department was announced, identifies its six priority outcomes. They include: improving the energy efficiency of UK homes, businesses and public sector buildings to meet the 15% demand-reduction ambition set out in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement; and ensuring security of energy supply and that the UK is ‘on track’ to meet its legally binding net zero commitments.

In addition, it wants to ‘significantly’ speed up delivery of network infrastructure and domestic energy production, developing options for reform of the electricity market, and passing the Energy Bill to support the emerging carbon capture use and storage and hydrogen sectors.

Shapps will be joined at the new department by Graham Stuart MP and Lord Callanan. Two new junior ministerial roles have also been created for MPs Andrew Bowie and Amanda Solloway, who will double up as a government whip. The department’s permanent secretary is Jeremy Pocklington, who was director general, energy and security, at BEIS for two years until 2018, before which he was director general of the markets and infrastructure group at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. BEIS ’s energy and net zero director s will transfer to the new department, including Ben Rimmington, who oversees net zero buildings and industry.