Following the mixed response to the first official Green Deal figures, renewable energy measures have taken another hit as the frequently delayed domestic Renewable Heat Incentive hits another snag.

Last week Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne released his Comprehensive Spending Review, which featured the new budget for the RHI in the 2015-16 period. The figure is £430 million, which is only £6 million more than the 2014-15 figure.

Neil Schofield, head of government and external affairs at Worchester, Bosch Group, has suggested that this will effectively kill the measure, which is still yet to be introduced properly. After a number of delays, its proper introduction is currently scheduled for Spring 2014.

He went on to say: "The Chancellor is sending a clear message that the future is not renewable energy. The constant delays to the introduction of domestic RHI have led many in the heating industry to believe that there is no real commitment from the Coalition Government towards domestic renewables. The new policy of starving domestic RHI of vital cash effectively sounds the death knell for the scheme."

The domestic RHI is a scheme set to offer home owners significant financial rewards for installing renewable heat technologies such as biomass boilers, air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and more. These rewards come on top of the considerable fuel savings that come from switching over to renewable heat products.

Via Installer Online

The Department of Energy and Climate Change have released the first quarterly Green Deal statistics, which have been met to mixed response by leading industry professionals. These statistics show that almost 40,000 people so far have had an assessment carried out.

The key figures for up to the 16th June are:

  • 38,259 homes have had a Green Deal assessment
  • A rise in assessments every month: 7,491 in March, 9,522 in April, 12,146 in May
  • 241 customers have obtained a quote from a Green Deal Provider and have confirmed they wish to make energy efficient improvements to their home
  • Four customers have signed up to a Green Deal Plan and progress is being made to install energy efficient measures
  • 961 people have claimed cashback for a new boiler installation – 902 gas and 59 oil boilers
  • 1,254 installer organisations are accredited and qualified to work within the Green Deal.
Plumb Center's Head of Sustainability Tim Polland has praised these figures, remarking that "40,000 assessments is a significant marketplace and installers will know that represents more than a fad – I can’t imagine any installer not thinking it’s a good thing." He expressed optimism that the scheme would continue to grow past "those who are passionate about the scheme" and that stressed:"...the people at the heart of Green Deal knew it wasn’t going to produce a tsunami of demand at the start, it was going to be a scheme of longevity and the time to judge is at its end, not its beginning."

On the other side of the argument, HHIC (Heating & Hotwater Industry Council) Director Roger Webb considered the figures "very disappointing". He went on to say: "However, on a positive note, they will be a wake-up call for the government to simplify the scheme and to really engage with the small installer. It is not too late for the Green Deal as the scheme has hardly got off the ground and further action will be required to reform the scheme. The heating industry from the success of the cashback incentive want to stress that figures prove that changing a boiler is one of the key routes to gain consumer interest in the Green Deal and enabling further measures to be taken up."

Meanwhile, earlier last week it was revealed that a cross-section of industry leaders had written to all three main political parties in an attempt to persuade them to come together to ensure that the Green Deal doesn't fail. The letter was addressed to energy secretary Ed Davey (Liberal Democrat), minister Greg Barker (Conservative) and shadow energy minister Luciana Berger (Labour) can be viewed in its entirety below;

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We are taking the unusual step of writing the same letter to all three of the main political parties, setting out our major concerns with current retrofit policy and our belief that we can only address this most urgent of challenges with a greater degree of cross party consensus, and collaboration between government and industry.

Government’s own figures show that meeting our legally binding carbon targets requires a high level of retrofit across the UK’s 26 million domestic properties, at an average of one home per minute between now and 2050. Clearly this is a monumental task, but it also represents a tremendous opportunity: to reduce energy bills, improve health, provide jobs in the construction sector, and avoid additional costs of new generating capacity.

However, to have any chance of successfully tackling this, it will require government – either this one, or indeed any future one – to address the following major issues:

Green Deal interest rates: The current rate of interest for Green Deal finance is in danger of acting as a major disincentive to take up, as well as minimising the extent of the measures available in a Green Deal package. Taking inspiration from the effect of recent government intervention to support new build homes, government should explore, with stakeholders, what options are available to reduce risk associated with providing Green Deal finance – even if this means greater intervention in the market.

Long term structural incentives: Even if Green Deal was available at a much lower cost of finance, long term structural incentives would still be needed to ensure sufficient uptake. Council tax or stamp duty could be used to send a signal to consumers and the market on the direction of travel, and both could be applied in a fiscally neutral way to HMT. Regulation could also be used, in particular Consequential Improvements, which government itself has estimated would lead to an additional 2.2 million Green Deals being taken up.

Stakeholder engagement: There needs to be a better on-going dialogue between government and those trying to deliver the Green Deal on the ground, in order to overcome obstacles, reduce unnecessary complexity, identify future issues and learn lessons. At the very least this should take place through a high level industry advisory board co-chaired by a minister and a senior industry figure. It could also involve a more operational body, or ‘hub’, which government has previously expressed support for.

Long-term certainty and political consensus: There is an increasing sense that the Green Deal, and indeed energy bills more generally, are being used as a political football, which is not good for confidence in the market. These challenges will affect any party, or parties, of government and very bold decisions will be required. We believe there needs to be a new consensus forged between the main parties around retrofit, to depoliticise what is ultimately a long-term challenge that it is in the nation’s interest to successfully address.

Yours sincerely,

  • Paul King - Chief executive, UK Green Building Council
  • James Cameron - Chairman, Climate Change Capital
  • Mark Clare - Group chief executive of Barratt Developments Plc
  • John Frankiewicz - CEO, Willmott Dixon Capital Works
  • Peter Hindle - general delegate, UK, Ireland and South Africa, Saint Gobain
  • Ian Marchant - CEO, SSE Plc
  • Gene Murtagh - CEO, Kingspan Group Plc
  • John Sinfield - Chief Executive, Knauf Insulation
  • Russell Smith - Managing director, Parity Projects & acting chairman of RetrofitWorks
  • Nigel Taylor - Chief operating officer, Services, Carillion Plc
  • Peter Walls - CEO, Gentoo

The Government are now offering a total of £19 million of funding towards coming up with new methods of energy efficiency and reducing the country's carbon footprint. And if you're an entrepreneur with some new and innovative ideas in mind, they're offering a share of that money to you!

This funding is the second phase of the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund, which since autumn 2012 has allocated £16 million toward the introduction of new products in the renewables sector. Previous examples have included energy/heat storage, tidal turbine testing, a thermally-insulating window and the "Eco power shower".

Energy secretary Edward Davey has said: "We’re on the side of innovative businesses and individuals with drive, passion, ideas and entrepreneurial spirit. This funding will get ideas off the ground and into the market, create new green jobs, and help the UK get ahead in the innovation global race.

"An ambitious and driven small business sector can steer the economic recovery in the right direction. So I want to see Britain’s brightest and best SMEs sending in their applications."

The scheme will be seeking the best ideas from both the public and private sectors, aiming to assist small and medium business enterprises. Subject to the demand and quality of applications, the DECC expects to open Calls for projects every four to six months from June 2013 until the full funding has been allocated. During the application process, applicants will be expected to demonstrate a robust evidence based case for funding, that will include but not be limited to:

 

  • the potential impact of the innovation on 2020 and/or 2050 low carbon targets or security of supply
  • the technical viability of their innovation and coherent development plan that will commercially progress the innovation; value for money
  • the size and nature of the business opportunity.
The deadline for the first call for applications is the 12th July. Interested applicants will need to register their contact details HERE before the 5th July.

 

Communities secretary Eric Pickles has announced that the Government is to increase its infrastructure investment by a massive £40 million, in the hopes that it will further attract new businesses and create thousands of local jobs.

At the time of announcement Eric Pickles said: "Enterprise zones are stimulating job creation and economic growth in different parts of the country with their special package of incentives to attractive new business ventures. The government is putting its money where its mouth is and making sure enterprise zones have the buildings and infrastructure they need to make sites ready for business to set up in."

Enterprise zones are areas which have been specifically targeted for economic growth. The polices surrounding them usually offer infrastructure incentives, tax concession and other reduced regulations in order to attract investors and private companies to them. Among the Enterprise zones shortlisted for this fund are areas in Birmingham, Tees Valley, Wirral Waters, Dover, Manchester, Sheffield and more.

Andy Rose, Chief Executive at the Homes and Communities Agency, which is administering the fund, said: "The response from the enterprise zones to this investment opportunity demonstrates just how crucial upfront infrastructure is to development. It is great news that this additional investment means more priority sites can be funded than first thought, creating more jobs in the areas that need them. We will now work with partners to refine the bids and ensure the investment is helping to maximise economic growth in local communities."

The full Government press release can be read HERE.

With more and more news concerning the Green Deal emerging every day, we thought it would be a good idea to provide a glossary of some of the terms and acronyms that pop up regularly in these articles.

Combined Heat & Power (CHP): Energy generation where both heat and power is collected for use, providing a much more efficient use of resources.

Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG): The UK Government department responsible for community and local Government affairs. Their roles include overseeing policy areas related to planning and building.

Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC): The main Government body responsible for the Green Deal. They are responsible for reducing climate change by managing the country's energy consumption and carbon footprint.

Display Energy Certificate (DEC): A certificate displaying the energy usage of a building. By law, these much be on display in all public buildings across England and Wales.

Domestic Energy Assessor (DEA):  Person accredited by an EPBD Accreditation Scheme to produce an Energy Performance Certificate for domestic properties in England and Wales.

Energy Act 2011: The bill of Parliament that originally set up the framework for the Green Deal scheme.

Energy Company Obligation (ECO): A measure to ensure energy companies pay greater focus on improving energy-efficiency in lower income and vulnerable homes by providing funding. These dwellings inparticularly have not benefitted from similar measures in the past.

Feed-in Tariff (FIT): A government incentive scheme offering payments to households producing their own electricity. This could be various renewable methods, including solar panels and wind turbines. 

Green Deal Assessor Organisation (GDAO):  The organisation that manages the delivery of Green Deal assessments by qualified advisors, taking responsibility for meeting the requirements of the Green Deal Code of Practice and all related standards.

Green Deal Advisor (GDA):  An energy assessor who is qualified to undertake Green Deal assessments, if working for a Green Deal Assessor Organisation.

Green Deal Advisory Report (GDAR):  The report issued by an advisor that provides the outputs from the Green Deal assessment.

Green Deal Installer (GDI): Fully authorised installers that are able to install energy efficient improvements using the Green Deal finance mechanism and mark of approval.

Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS): A scheme developed by the DECC to ensure products meet a certain standard in cutting down Britain's carbon footprint.

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI): The Government's financial incentive relating to renewable heating methods. This includes heat pumps, solar thermal, biofuels and energy from waste.

Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP):  A Government incentive scheme that helps householders to buy renewable heating technologies such as solar thermal panels, heat pumps and biomass boilers.

The Electrical Safety Council is calling for manufacturers to face tougher penalties if they undertake inadequate or slow recalls, following growing concerns over the effectiveness of the recall system and the emergence of a number of serious incidents involving recalled products.

Manufacturers who delay or take action in a recall situation currently face fines of only £5,000.

The ESC would like to see tougher penalties based on a percentage of profits from the recalled product, with a minimum level set at £5,000. This should ensure manufacturers react quickly and effectively should a recall situation arise.

The ESC is also inviting Trading Standards to set out clear and unambiguous guidelines on exactly what a manufacturer should do if they have produced a product that is subject to a recall. The ESC’s research shows that typically only 10-20% of recalled electrical products are ever returned, exposing millions of people in the UK to the risk of fire or electrocution. Over the last six years there have been 266 recall notices for electrical items.

In addition to the proposed change to fines, the Electrical Safety Council has today outlined proposals for a new centralised product registration system, coordinated by the charity, which could help manufacturers trace their products to the consumer in a recall situation.

At the moment only 5-10% of people fill in registration cards for new items because they are concerned about their information being used for marketing purposes and because they don’t understand the purpose of the cards. Yet over half of all the people that took part in the Electrical Safety Council’s research said they would be more likely to register products with an independent organisation, if their details were used only in the event of a recall and if they were assured their details wouldn’t be used for marketing purposes.

Do you fill in and send off the produce registration card? Or do you, like many people just throw it away? It’s there for a reason – keeping you and your families safe. Next time you purchase a new product do everyone a favour – FILL IN THE CARD AND SEND IT OFF!

- Mark Jenkins

Following the ECA's warning that the Green Deal was at risk of "sleepwalking into obscurity", two new websites have been launched in an attempt to provide more information to homeowners and businesses alike on the Government's energy saving scheme.

Green Deal Directory is a database of both assessors and installers across the country, which users can search within a designated radius of their postcode or town. Meanwhile Green Deal Certified is offering a fast track approach to accreditation, providing would-be installers/assessors with a faster way of completing the necessary paperwork for official approval. By speeding up the process to offer energy saving services, this should give smaller businesses a much needed boost while also allowing more people access to these services.

Thomas Farquhar, sales manager of Green Deal Certified, said: "It was clear that the average potential supplier of Green Deal services simply found the accreditation process far too time consuming. They are busy people. Therefore, our service takes away the hassle and time problems and in effect allows these companies to take an 'express' path to accreditation."

While effort is finally being made to push the Green Deal into the public eye, are these measures coming too late? Yesterday Enact Energy Renewables, one of the first Green Deal providers, announced that it is in administration. Christopher Norman of Begbies Traynor business restructuring and insolvency advisors, who have been appointed as administrator, said: "The company has retained some of its employees to assist the administrators in conducting an orderly winding down of the company’s affairs. “We will now attempt to source a purchaser for some or all of the company’s business undertaking and assets."

Enact had recently signed a deal with the Residential Landlords Association to provide Green Deal upgrade work, with the target of doing 10,000 properties over the next five years valuing the contract at £100 million.

Publicity has always been an issue when it comes to the Green Deal - how can people be expected to take advantage of it when they aren't fully aware it even exists? The Green Deal Directory "About Us" page states that "The MCS & Green Deal Directory is advertised extensively on Google, Yahoo, MSN and through green publications & blogs. The MCS Accredited Installer Directory is also advertised in leading printed publications such as Grand Designs Magazine, Real Homes, Self Build & Design Magazine and Home Building & Renovating Magazine, and at world class exhibitions such as Ecobuild." However surely the people reading these are the ones already aware of the Green Deal?

The project is off to a good start, with official figures from the DECC showing the take up reached record numbers in March with almost 8,000 assessments completed and £68.9 million worth of contracts let through the eco brokerage scheme, but there's still a long way to go to meet the Governments proposed targets. Will these new websites make that much of a difference? Only time will tell.

Full story: HVP Magazine - Plumbers feeling positive for 2013

Plumbers across the UK are expecting to see an improvement in business throughout this year, as discovered by a recent event organised by software/service provider Sage. An overwhelming 90% of attendees are expecting their business to grow by up to 15% by the end of 2013, with many revealing that in the past managing their finances and administration tasks have been their biggest difficulty.

The main focus of the event, which was held in Croydon, was to determine whether local businesses understood the recent changes to PAYE (Pay-As-You-Earn tax) reporting with the introduction of RTI (Real Time Information) reporting requirements. Overall knowledge of these changes seemed divided, with only about half being aware of the changes and what they meant. However a third of respondents planned to increase their staffing in the near future with an apprentice or full-time employee. Those intending to expand were uncertain about what the changes mean for them, whilst those that don’t cited extra red tape as the main reason for remaining a sole operator.

Neilson Watts from Sage UK said: "I’m not surprised that the research highlighted so many people struggle with their finances. No one starts a business or becomes a plumber because they love the admin side of things – it’s because they have a skill and a genuine passion for their trade, but if you don’t get it right it can come back to bite you."

 

So will 2013 be the year you strike it big as a plumber? If you're looking to change careers and move into the world of plumbing, it's important to be fully prepared. Access Training offer a fully comprehensive plumbing course, giving you all the industry standard qualifications employers look for. But as well as improving your prospects for employed work it'll also give you good grounding to set up your own self-employed plumbing business. Even when you've completed the course, Access Training will be on hand to help you as you set up the business and our tutors available to give advice whenever you may need it.

Make 2013 your year. Call 0800 345 7492 today.

In these days of high energy prices we are all looking for ways to save a few pounds on our electricity bills. I think I may have a way of achieving this saving -get your teenagers to move out of the family home!

A teenagers bedroom consumes large amounts of electricity, TV’s, games consoles, music systems, mobile phone chargers, lights, computers etc. all on at the same time and left on when not in use. Sounds familiar? Over a period of a year (multiplied by the number of teenagers in the home) equates to a large amount of energy being wasted.

We can try to educate them, but to no avail, they don’t listen or is it that they don’t understand? A friend noticed a vast difference in his energy bills once his teenager ‘flew’ the nest to go to university. He calculated that he was saving £10 a month on his electricity bill alone, that’s an annual saving of £120. It may not seem a vast amount of money but it’s a saving that has allowed him and his wife to start a new hobby together, allowing them to have ‘more’ quality time with each other.

He is also making savings on his heating costs as windows are not being left open for the heat to escape and the heating isn’t being left on when no one is in the house! Is the way to save money on energy bills as simple as getting the teenagers to move out? From where I’m sat it looks like a viable answer.

“You can’t do that!” I hear some of you scream. You could try putting timer switches on the sockets, so devices are not left on unnecessary. You could use lamps that are more energy efficient or of a small wattage. These are little things that could make a difference to your wallet at the end of each month.

- Mark Jenkins

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