New legislation is being introduced to regulate UK smart charge points and cables for electric cars. This comes after the growing popularity of private electric car ownership, replacing diesel and petrol car models faster than previously anticipated.

The UK Government will oversee the implementation of new legislation designed to regulate / encourage how and when EV energy consumers use smart EV charging points at home and at work.

The increase in private ownership of electric cars has been precipitated by the Paris Agreement after COP 21. Expedited in 2022 after COP 26, where net-zero emission targets were locked into be reached by 2050. And with grants available for the adoption of electric vehicles over petrol or diesel vehicles, more people than ever before are choosing to make the switch.

As a direct result of these factors, new legislation has been drafted for enforcement in June 2022 to ensure that the national grid can keep up with the soaring demand for electricity from the surge in electric vehicle ownership.

The new legislation aims to introduce regulation that provides a more flexible and streamlined range of energy systems across the nation. These regulations are for private charge points that are sold for use in workplace or home environments.

However, the new regulations do not cover chargers sold in Nothern Ireland, chargers sold before June 30th 2022, chargers that are intended for use elsewhere outside Great Britain, or chargers intended for use as public charging points.

It is the intention that by implementing these changes for private charging points, that the national grid will be able to supply appropriate amounts of electricity to those who need it. It is also the intention of this legislation to ensure the national grid remains stable.

The regulations that are being introduced are designed to standarize device-level requirements of new smart charging points and cables sold after enforcement of the legislation has begun.

The purpose of smart functionality of charging points is to encourage charging when there’s less demand on the national grid or when more renewable energy is available.

For users of electric vehicles, this means that new smart charging equipment purchased after the enforcement date will incorporate randomised delay function and pre-set, off peak charging hours by default. All this will be pre-programmed into the smart chargers themselves during the manufacturing process.

Default pre-set, off peak charging times can be removed and or changed during or after initial setup to suit your schedule.

The randomised delay function is designed to regulate how many EVs are charging from the national grid at any one given time. This is to prevent too many people charging their electric vehicles at the same time and putting stress on the national grid during peak times.

These regulations will be rolled out and enforced across the nation on 30th June 2022. Many companies that deal in electric car parts and accessories are already prepared for these changes with compliant charger models.

SMARTCHARGING.COM

 

 

The government is investing £31 million to cut industry’s reliance on fossil fuels and make energy bills cheaper.

Up to £6.6 million of this funding will go directly into research to find alternatives to diesel, investigating the feasible use of green hydrogen and other e-fuels in transport or machinery.

More than £5.5 million will be devoted to generating fuels from biomass and waste products, as well as designing heat pumps to be used in manufacturing sites, weaning the UK off natural gas – a key reason for sky-high energy prices.

Carbon capture technology will receive £12 million funding, with the remaining investment spread around other low carbon technologies.

British Steel in Scunthorpe, Punch Flybrid in Silverstone and Ingenza in Edinburgh are three of the projects set to receive funding.

Energy Minister Greg Hands said: “As we accelerate the UK’s energy independence by boosting clean, home-grown, affordable energy, it’s crucial that our industries reduce their reliance on fossil fuels.

“This investment will help them to not only cut emissions but also save money on energy bills, on top of supporting jobs by encouraging green innovation across the UK.”

Source: Energy Live

Part of a wider Atlas Copco Group sustainability plan, committing to ambitious carbon reduction targets will allow the company to do business ‘within planetary boundaries’

 

As a market leader in mobile air compressors, Atlas Copco’s Portable Air division knows exactly what it needs to do to play its part in meeting global climate change objectives. The company, as part of a wider Atlas Copco Group initiative, is committed to ‘doing business within planetary boundaries. With that in mind it has set itself a range of ambitious emissions reduction targets that are grounded in climate science through the Science-Based Targets initiative (SBTi).

Funded by the IKEA Foundation, Amazon, the Bezos Earth Fund, the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the UPS Foundation, and many major businesses such as BMW, Nike, Daimler, and SNCF, the SBTi gives companies a clearly defined path to reduce CO2 emissions in what it calls ‘a race to the top’ in zero-carbon transition. The organization also checks that a company’s targets are in line with what the science demands regarding greenhouse gas emissions.

Whole value chain reductions

Science-based targets differ from other goals because they are absolute reduction targets; they are not related to cost of sales but targets across a company’s entire value chain. It includes emissions from energy consumed on direct operations, such as manufacturing, vehicles, and offices, emissions generated when producing materials or components used in products, and emissions from the use of those products.

Having its emissions targets monitored by an internationally recognized organization gives Atlas Copco’s a competitive edge by increasing credibility in the eyes of the customer and ensuring total transparency. More importantly, however, the targets inspire innovation and encourage positive change.

Team effort

The company now has an approved science-based target to reduce the emissions from its direct operations by 46% by 2030, compared to 2019 levels. Everyone in the company has a role to play in this. For example, by how they get to work, what products are developed, and what kind of energy is used in the factories. The plan by Atlas Copco’s Portable Air Division is to be carbon neutral in all its operations through green power in factories, optimized processes through digital technology, energy reduction, the use of fossil-free fuel, and a CO2 neutral car fleet.

While it is essential to tackle emissions from direct operations, a year-long research project from Atlas Copco’s Portable Air Division found that a bigger opportunity to make a positive environmental impact relates to how customers use its solutions. The company found that a majority of emissions comes from the lifetime use of products. That is why Atlas Copco has the target to reduce the carbon impact of its products-in-use by 28% by 2030 (compared to 2019 levels.) One route the company is adopting is driving the shift to carbon-free solutions, such as its all-electric E-Air compressor range.

Necessity is the mother of invention

By embracing innovation to provide the most efficient and sustainable solutions available, Atlas Copco’s Portable Air division intends to give customers the tools required to meet demanding applications while also helping them achieve their sustainability targets. In terms of equipment, some compressors will eliminate the need for using fossil fuels and consign exhaust gases to history, such as mobile electric compressors. Variable speed drive (VSD) compressors meanwhile, can be driven by battery or fuel cells, while their motor’s operating speed self-adjusts (or even shut down) to precisely match the user’s need for compressed air.

For larger projects, mobile compressors are likely to run on hydrogen; or on synthetic fuels made from converting unwanted gases, waste, and by-products.

By developing advanced equipment and revolutionizing its direct operations against closely monitored science-based targets, Atlas Copco’s Portable Air division is accelerating its drive towards sustainability.

CLICK HERE FOR THE ATLAS COPCO UK WEBSITE

Michelmersh has announced its successful bid to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) UK Government, Industrial Fuel Switching competition to conduct a feasibility study to replace natural gas with hydrogen in the brick making process. The programme is part of the £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP) which aims to provide funding for low-carbon technologies to decreasing the costs of decarbonisation.

The project represents a global flagship physical study to replace natural gas with hydrogen in brick manufacturing. Phase 1 of the project will demonstrate the viability of fuel switching and will see hydrogen used in the clay brick production process at Michelmersh’s Freshfield Lane site. The project aims to inspire radical change across the sector and present opportunities and evidence-based research to support manufacturers on their journey to heavily decarbonise the production processes.

As the organisation leading the BEIS ‘Deep Decarbonisation of Brick Manufacturing’ project, Michelmersh has gone a step further to promote and disseminate the progression and learning of the project through a dedicated brand; HyBrickTM. Working alongside a panel of expert partners, and after an introduction by Hydrogen Sussex, the consortium includes Limpsfield Combustion, Net Zero Associates, the University of Brighton, Greater South East Net Zero Hub, FT Pipelines, Geopura, and Safety Monitors.

Green electrolytic hydrogen will be used for this innovative study, helping to demonstrate how this technology can transform the brick manufacturing industry. All the consortium partners are thrilled to facilitate and promote the production of the world’s first 100% hydrogen-fired clay bricks, enabling a movement towards hydrogen and providing a pathway to the net-zero future that our country is aspiring towards.

This first HyBrickTM study will explore testing of specific infrastructure components to prove hydrogen firing capability and determine any impact on overall quality, brick integrity or aesthetics. Data will be collected and analysed to ascertain any effect to process temperatures or stability. The bricks will then be compared against control bricks (produced using 100% natural gas) to ensure they meet all technical, aesthetic and characteristic requirements, with independent laboratory testing to determine their durability and structural performance. Of paramount importance and conducted throughout the project are dedicated health and safety risk analyses, assessments and training, alongside air quality performance testing.

Associated work looking at hydrogen production solutions aims to provide opportunities for Michelmersh with resilient, clean on-site hydrogen, which could help the Michelmersh Group pave the way to a more sustainable future for the broader ceramics industry.

Sarah Le Gresley, Michelmersh’s Innovation Director, Sustainability Group Chair and Application Lead is excited to begin the world’s first trials. Sarah is incredibly passionate about demonstrating that, as well as clay brick having zero operational carbon, this also presents the opportunity to significantly reduce clay brick’s embodied carbon by over 60%. Sarah recently coined the expression ‘Shaping Genuine Sustainability’ for the Group to highlight its focus on investing in genuine carbon reduction projects over funding carbon offsets.

Sarah is working together with Michael Brophy, Group Production Director, who is also eager to demonstrate the Group’s progressive approach to sustainability. Michael is enthusiastic to push the boundaries and explore the engineering, production capabilities and requirements that will take sustainable UK manufacturing to the next level. With Michelmersh focused on leading the sector by testing and exploring efficient new technologies and production methods, including but not limited to fuel switching, it will endeavour to showcase how natural, locally made construction products can provide significant reductions to the whole life carbon of durable materials available to specifiers.

Feasibility studies began in spring, and we will see the production of the world’s most sustainable clay bricks, and the first to be produced with 100% hydrogen. To celebrate Michelmersh’s achievement and to encourage its customers to stand in unity with it on this journey to positive change, the Group will be presenting a select quantity of the HyBrickTM products to its most engaged customers and stakeholders.

Frank Hanna, Joint CEO of Michelmersh, explains: “The Group is proud to stand at the forefront of such evolution for our industry. While we have seen energy costs rise due to environmental and political factors, this incredible application of technology and innovation allows the Group to reduce its costs considerably, improve its resilience and welcome new products that take sustainability to a whole new level. While we look forward to the challenges ahead of us, we are optimistic about the change we can inspire within the manufacturing sector. With decades of experience producing high-quality products and with the aid of our industry-leading partners, the Group is well suited to lead the UK with this flagship global first.

“The Group has set ambitious 2030 Sustainability KPIs which include 100% of our electricity provided by green suppliers and renewable sources from October 2022, with other onsite renewable energy sources already on the ground at Michelmersh sites. The team understands the impact this project could have if successful, however, it also recognises there is a long journey ahead before hydrogen is fully tested throughout the multiple different production processes or is financially viable to expand to all our sites. Our Sustainability Group sees this project as just one string to its bow, while also undertaking a variety of research and feasibility projects to determine the most carbon-efficient and commercially sensible solutions to complete its ambitious sustainability roadmap.”

 

Register your interest in receiving a sample product from the innovative HyBrickTM study here:

HyBrick

New energy efficient homes on Karbon’s £12m development in Thorpe Willoughby, near Selby are speedily taking shape, thanks to the use of timber frame construction.

All 70 homes on the site are well under way, with each home taking on average three days to complete. The development marks the start of Karbon’s £131.5m strategic partnership with Homes England to develop 2,200 much-needed affordable homes across the North East and Yorkshire.

Phil Lacey, Yorkshire Development Manager at Karbon Homes, said: “We’re really pleased with how the Field Lane site is progressing and I’m really looking forward to seeing these innovative, affordable homes finished.

“We’re starting to use a lot more modern methods of construction to deliver our development programme, and the speed and quality of the work we’ve seen to date has been very encouraging. In a time where new affordable homes are in high demand, the ability to be able to deliver the same high quality homes but quicker, is a real plus for the region.”

Using timber frame, the time taken to deliver a development can be reduced by 25% or more, compared to using traditional construction methods. Through the strategic partnership, Karbon has pledged to build a quarter of new homes using modern methods of construction (MMC).

As well as the speed of build, which also reduces energy use and waste, timber frames are also non-toxic and renewable with the lowest emission levels of any building material, making it one of the most sustainable forms of construction.

The environmental benefits of these homes goes beyond the method of construction used to build them. The new homes will be off-gas and powered by air source heat pumps, a technology three times more efficient than gas boilers. The homes will also have charging points for electrical vehicles.

Using MMC, such as timber frame, is at the forefront of innovation within the housing sector and through the strategic partnership Karbon has pledged to build a quarter of new homes using MMC.

The rural status of Thorpe Willoughby also means the 70 homes contributed towards Karbon’s commitment to building 10% of the programme in rural areas.

The main contractor Countryside is delivering the construction of the timber frames on site. External and internal stud walls, floor joists and roof trusses, all constructed off site, form the super-structure, which is then clad in brick to provide both weather protection and decoration.

Chris Penn, Managing Director, Yorkshire, Countryside, said: “The housing sector has an enormous role to play when it comes to reaching net zero targets. At Countryside we have long recognised that responsibility, which is why we have invested over £30million in our MMC offer. Every home we build in Yorkshire is made off site at our factory in Warrington, with each closed panel timber home emitting over 14,000 kg CO2e less than a traditional brick-and-block house.

“It is fantastic to be working with such a great partner in Karbon Homes at Field Lane – a partner who takes their sustainability responsibilities seriously. Together we have gone the extra mile to ensure that this 100% affordable development is fit for the future, creating a truly sustainable community where people will love to live.”

Field Lane consists of a mix of two and three-bedroom homes and will be available for affordable rent, Shared Ownership and Rent to Buy, helping local people onto the housing ladder.

The homes are set to be completed in Summer 2023.

Delays and cost increases blight the development of the reactor, but could smaller relatives prove more viable

After months of speculation, EDF has finally confirmed that there will be a year-long delay and £3bn cost increase to its Hinkley Point C nuclear project.

The start date for the Unit 1 reactor at the Somerset power station will be pushed back to June 2027, with the cost now sitting at £25bn to £26bn, an increase on the previous £23bn figure.

This is due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, time needed to adapt the reactor design for UK regulations and excess costs for marine works.

Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) senior analyst Jess Ralston said that considering the delays EDF has experienced in France with its Flamanville 3 nuclear project – which uses the same European Pressurised Reactor design as the Hinkley Point C project and planned Sizewell C plant – it is “not really a surprise” to see Hinkley delayed.

But what exactly does the news mean for the UK nuclear industry and the energy supplies of the country?

UK energy supplies

Although the start of electricity generation for Unit 1 is now targeted for June 2027, EDF has said that the risk of further delay of the two units is assessed at 15 months, assuming the absence of a new pandemic wave and no additional effects of the war in Ukraine.

As such, Ralston said that in terms of energy supplies “we’ll not know really what the situation will be until closer to the time” but she does feel that the delay strengthens the case for renewables, which are “quicker, easier and cheaper” to get up and running and provide a more secure investment return.

“The case for renewables now, for me, is so overwhelming,” she said. “I can see this being a catalyst for investment into those sorts of power systems over nuclear which is just getting more unattractive by the month.”

However Ralston added that a nuclear “backbone” is still needed and the government has, for example, said it wants to build eight new plants by 2030 – but making the economic case for this may now become more challenging.

Another option could be small modular reactors (SMRs), which are potentially faster to deploy than large scale nuclear. Rolls-Royce is currently developing and designing its SMRs in conjunction with Atkins. The project received £210M backing from the UK government last year, with over £250M more coming from private sources including Qatar’s wealth fund.

Rolls-Royce submitted designs for small reactors at Wylfa and Trawsfynydd, both in Wales, in March, and is expecting to receive UK regulatory approval for its SMR by mid-2024 with a view to powering up by 2029 – two years ahead of schedule.

Existing power plants

MPs have also recently called for a decommissioning delay for UK’s ageing nuclear power stations – and Ralston said the Hinkley delay “puts that on the table a little bit more”.

“There are gaps there – they’ll have to fill them with some sort of power,” she said.

A group of cross-party MPs has released a new report, The future of the Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors, in which it has given feedback on how the changing energy landscape will effect the need for nuclear power and in turn what cost it will bring to the taxpayer.

ECIU head of analysis Simon Cran-McGreehan also previously told NCE that EDF was considering such options.

“Given that Hinkley’s already been delayed several times, the power industry is wise to the fact that it can’t be relied upon in the short term to turn up as expected,” he said. “I know that EDF is looking at whether it can extend the lifetime of the existing nuclear fleet to try and bridge that gap before Hinkley comes online.”

Future projects

EDF is hoping its Hinkley Point C project will provide a blueprint for the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk – so any delay to Hinkley is likely to have a knock on impact here.

Ralston explained: “The plan was to use learnings from Hinkley to make Sizewell C quicker and cheaper but if Hinkley carries on being delayed its difficult to see how Sizewell won’t be delayed because it’s the learnings that will be passed on.

“There is hope they will learn from Hinkley and be able to do things quickly and easily but with the funding model being different in future projects it puts a whole new spin on who is paying. If the public find out there are delays and cost overruns they won’t be happy.”

In addition, EDF’s plan has been for Hinkley employees to move across to work on the proposed Sizewell project, which has been described as Hinkley Units 3 and 4.

Concerns have already been raised that Hinkley workers may be lost to other projects unless Sizewell can progress without delay, and it remains to be seen if the delay to the Hinkley construction schedule would mean a shortage of workers for Sizewell.

When it comes to the proposed Wylfa Newydd power station on Anglesey, this is still in the early stages and Ralston said developers “probably time to consider their options more but with Hinkley they’ve invested so much they sort of have to see it through”.

Construction at Hinkley Point C began in October 2016, bringing the project just past the five-year mark. It was originally forecast to cost £18bn.

After the delay fears emerged earlier this year energy experts said mechanisms were in place to mitigate the potential impact, and the government’s new energy strategy envisages a significant acceleration of nuclear, with an ambition of up to 24GW by 2050 to come from this source of power.

In total, this would represent up to around 25% of the country’s projected electricity demand to reduce reliance on Russian oil and gas.

Hinkley Point C delivery director Nigel Cann has previously backed an increase in energy from nuclear power.

Source: New Civil Engineer

The UK government has set ambitious targets to double the amount of wind energy it produces by the end of the decade. By 2030 every home in the UK could be powered by turbines. The policy is aimed to cut carbon emissions, and reduce the dependence on foreign energy.

But many experts believe the new energy strategy is flawed, as cheaper onshore wind farms are not part of the plan – which relies instead on offshore developments. Because some consider wind turbines an eyesore, getting permission to build them in England is extremely difficult.

On a small patch of grassland just outside Bristol in South West England, a blue metal pipe sticks up out of the ground. It marks the beginning of the end of a process that has taken years of work. A new turbine will be built here in the summer.

It’s the brainchild of local community groups and will benefit many living nearby.

Andrew Garrad is one of those involved. A pioneer of the wind energy industry, he’s also a former President of the European Wind Energy Association. Garrad is disappointed with the government’s resistance to onshore turbines, and told CGTN “We’ve had quite a big struggle to get here.”

“It’s acknowledged, particularly in a windy place like the UK, that onshore wind is the cheapest way of producing new kilowatts, so why on earth would you discourage it? And of course it’s zero carbon,” argued Garrad.

Much of the money the turbine generates by selling energy to the national grid, will help pay the bills of those in the nearby Lawrence Weston area of Bristol. Many there are struggling with the rising cost of household fuel bills.

The project has succeeded with no financial help from the UK government, relying instead on a mix of loans and local council funding.

David Tudgey is the Development Manager for Ambition Community Energy. He told CGTN that community projects could be the way forward.

“It’s about being imaginative about how we support communities to take control of their destinies,” said Tudgey. “I think the more we empower communities and empower people through knowledge, science and resources, they will deliver these projects. And we need to do this now, it’s a climate emergency and also, it’s a fuel poverty emergency right now.”

The green energy company Ecotricity knows all about the challenges of building turbines. It built its first one back in 1996, but since then government policy has shifted to make things much harder. The presumption is now against granting planning permission for turbines.

Dale Vince is the company founder and told CGTN “It’s the cheapest, cleanest, fastest form of energy available to us.” Vince, who also runs Forest Green Rovers with the aim of being the greenest football club in the world, believes solar energy has similar advantages to onshore wind power but is being prioritized by the government.

“Solar is being allowed, onshore wind is not,” explained Vince. “It’s not that funding is being refused because it doesn’t need funding. That’s the amazing thing about it, it’s cost neutral. It’s being blocked through the planning system.”

The new UK energy strategy says there will be no “wholesale changes to current planning regulations” but there will be consultation on allowing more community turbines like the one in Bristol. For now, when it comes to wind energy in the UK – the future is offshore, despite the added challenges, and cost, that this brings.

Source: CGTN

The UK Government has launched a £120m fund to unlock and accelerate new nuclear technologies while encouraging new players into the market.

 

The Government says that nuclear is a key part of the UK’s energy mix, stimulating investment in nuclear as a clean energy technology of the future. It also helps reduce dependence on global gas markets, boosts UK energy independence, and protects consumers from high energy bills. BBC News reports that efforts for new nuclear plants will increase household energy costs, though only by “a few pounds a year” according to officials.

The Future Nuclear Enabling Fund is expected to help realise the Government’s ambition to approve eight new reactors by 2030, as committed in its Energy Security Strategy. It is to help mature potential nuclear projects ahead of any Government process to select new projects. The fund will provide targeted, competitively-allocated government grants to support construction projects, including for small modular reactors, and attract the private investment needed to help make them a reality.

As it announced the new funding, the Government also announced that it had appointed a new Industry Advisor that will lead and drive its proposals for a new Great British Nuclear vehicle. Government announced the new body in its Energy Security Strategy. It will be charged with helping projects through the development process and developing a resilient pipeline of new builds. The new body will also help realise the Government’s ambition of generating up to 24 GW of nuclear sourced-energy by 2050.

New Industry Advisor Simon Bowen will report jointly to the Secretary of State of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and the Prime Minister. He will develop a plan for setting up Great British Nuclear. Government said it will work with industry to scope the functions of the new entity, building on UK industrial strengths and expertise.

Through the new body, the UK expects to start a selection process in 2023 for further UK nuclear projects, aiming to enter negotiations with the most credible, potentially leading to Government support.

Kwarsi Kwarteng, Secretary of State for BEIS, said the new fund “will push forward our plan to deploy a new fleet of nuclear power stations as part of a British nuclear renaissance.

“By encouraging new companies to come forward and build in Britain, we can spur greater competition in the market to cut development costs so consumers benefit in the long-term.

“Nuclear is central to our long-term plan to bolster the UK’s energy security with cheaper, cleaner, home-grown power, while creating thousands of high-skilled jobs across our country.”

 

Source: The Chemical Engineer

Just over two years ago the United Kingdom went into its first national lockdown. Overnight, rail lost its monopoly on commuting. Journeys fell from 1.7 billion to 388 million and the industry faced an unprecedented revenue crisis which has burdened taxpayers with a £14 billion bill.

 

Despite the UK being one of the most open societies across Europe, rail journeys have not bounced back. New figures revealed by the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) show that the number of people commuting every day at peak time is just 15% of the pre-pandemic total. Most commuting now takes place Tuesday to Thursday; Mondays are 20% lower and Fridays are 50% lower than before the pandemic. And overall, commuter journeys remain at just 45% of pre-pandemic levels, with five-day peak hour commuting – Monday to Friday – standing at just 15% of the previous total.

 

In a new report, CPS Research Fellow Tony Lodge argues that customers’ use of the rail network is becoming far more flexible, with an increased focus on long-distance leisure commuting – and warns that unless UK rail is radically overhauled, and able to respond to new passenger demands for freedom and flexibility, it will be plagued by a future of decline and underinvestment that will necessitate either an extra penny raised on income tax to cover a taxpayer subsidy to the annual tune of £6bn, or cuts to railway lines on a scale not seen since the Beeching cuts in the 1960s.

 

‘Changing Track’ proposes a series of urgent measures to ensure that the modern railway retail offer focuses on passengers’ priorities. At the heart of the proposals is a simpler, fairer and more flexible cloud ticketing system which is able to respond to new and evolving passenger demands, including the abolition of sky-high peak prices.

 

These changes should be underpinned by the Government’s new public body, Great British Railways, committing to boosting competition and driving private investment across the network – thereby boosting revenue growth and securing its future. The paper points out that open access competition on the East Coast Mainline, as advocated by the CPS, has resulted in lower fares, greater passenger satisfaction and a stronger rebound in passenger numbers – and calls for it to be rolled out on other long-distance routes, including HS1 and HS2.

 

It also calls for a greater focus on private investment, and ambitious targets to treble the volume of rail freight.

 

Not only are these reforms essential in shoring up the railway’s future, they will also help drive forwards the Government’s levelling up and Net Zero agendas.

 

The alternative is that lower passenger numbers and continued losses to the taxpayer lead to a vicious circle of decline and underinvestment.

 

Tony Lodge, report author and CPS Research Fellow, said:

 

‘The pandemic fundamentally changed the nature of rail in the UK. The Government has the opportunity – through the new Great British Railways body – to radically overhaul the current model to make sure that it is fit for purpose and able to meet modern passenger demands.

 

‘Frankly, if the Government doesn’t implement these reforms, there is no certainty that rail will have a future and taxpayers will inevitably be forced to foot the bill for its decline.’

 

Building Better, an alliance of 29 housing associations and councils, supported by the National Housing Federation, has appointed an initial six manufacturers to its new dynamic purchasing system (DPS) for MMC category 2 construction systems.

Future Built, LoCal Homes, Project Etopia, Roe Timberframe, Sigmat and Starship Homes are the first firms selected by Procurement for Housing and Building Better to provide 2D panelised systems, assembled on-site.

The DPS is worth £600m over four years and will run in parallel with Building Better’s first MMC framework which launched in July 2021 and covers category 1 volumetric 3D systems. The alliance aims to give members access to a range of different MMC solutions so they can find the right one for their site.

Building Better took the decision to create a DPS, not a fixed framework, so panelised manufacturers can join at any point during the term of the DPS. The category 2 segment of the offsite market is evolving rapidly with new products and manufacturers emerging all the time. By setting up a DPS, social housing providers can access the latest solutions and suppliers as they come to market.

Over 215,000 homes are managed by the 29 housing associations and local authorities that make up Building Better. Since the launch of its volumetric framework in 2021, alliance members have put nearly 40 schemes through it, getting costs on over 900 MMC homes. With the launch of its DPS, Building Better will help the social housing sector to produce around 5,000 MMC properties by 2026.

Manufacturers wanting to join Building Better’s DPS must first be certified by the Buildoffsite Property Assurance Scheme (BOPAS) or assessed by building warranty provider the National House Building Council (NHBC) and their products must aim to meet the Future Homes Standard.

Once they have passed an additional selection procedure, looking at their commercial, social and sustainability credentials, manufacturers can bid for opportunities via a tender call-off.

This process has been streamlined for social housing providers too, with members receiving a tender template pack and hands-on support from Procurement for Housing.

Trina Chakravarti, Project Director of Building Better said: “The emerging nature of this part of the MMC marketplace means that social housing organisations have, to date, been wary of category 2. Some told us they were anxious about committing to a panelised manufacturer; not knowing if the company or even this form of MMC would be around in four years. Because of this, we knew a different procurement approach was needed; one that would still provide high standards and ease of access like our category 1 framework, but a solution that didn’t ‘clip the wings’ of manufacturers operating in such a fluid environment.”

 

John Bellamy, Category Manager for Construction & Sustainability at Procurement for Housing (PfH) said: “A major benefit of setting up a DPS is the learning. As an alliance, we’ll be able to grow our understanding of what housing organisations actually require with category 2 and the technical solutions they gravitate to. Creating a framework now would have meant guessing the answers. But a DPS allows us to gather data and feedback on products and manufacturers, educating ourselves and helping us to normalise offsite and use it at scale across the sector.”

 

For further information about using Building Better’s MMC Category 2 DPS, click here

 

For manufacturers wanting to join Building Better’s MMC Category 2 DPS, click here