Green Deal on the mend?

New government figures reveal that Green Deal uptake rose by 20 per cent between March and April, but critics warn cuts to the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) leaves the energy efficiency scheme in a difficult position.
 
The figures, which were released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) last week, show that both the Green Deal and its sister scheme, ECO, have experienced a rise in uptake over the past month.
 
The ECO scheme obligates energy companies to invest in energy saving measures for properties, particularly on low-income and hard-to-treat households.
 
The new figures are welcome news for both the energy efficiency industry and the Government, which accepted in March that the Green Deal has so far been performing below expectations since its launch last year.
 
Gaining momentum
 
According to the figures, the number of households with Green Deal plans in progress has risen from 2,000 at the end of March to over 2,400 at the end of April, a rise of just over 20 per cent. The number of Green Deal assessments on properties also rose from 188,000 to 210,000 in the same time period.
 
Meanwhile, 95,000 ECO measures were installed in March, the highest monthly figures since the scheme was introduced in January 2013.
 
Greg Barker, energy and climate change minister, said: “Over 22,000 Green Deal assessments took place in April, marking the second highest number logged in any month so far. This shows the growing number of people acting to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.”
 
ECO concerns
 
However, Richard Twinn, policy and public affairs officer at the UK Green Building Council, warned that recent proposed changes to the ECO scheme are likely to damage future performance.
 
“It’s encouraging to see Green Deal growing steadily... [However] the recent spike in Green Deal assessments reflected the surge in ECO activity up until the end of March,” he said.
 
“Changes to the [ECO] policy mean this work is likely to tail off over the next few months.”
 
In April this year, the Government launched a consultation over its proposed changes to ECO following concerns over its effect on energy bills, including a 33 per cent cut to the scheme’s Carbon Emissions Reduction Obligation (CERO) subsidy. CERO measures focus on hard-to-treat properties and solid wall insulation treatments not usually financeable through the Green Deal.
 
According to DECC’s figures, 43 per cent of ECO measures installed in March came under CERO.
 
Green Deal improvements
 
To offset the cuts to ECO, the Government is introducing a number of new measures to improve the Green Deal scheme.
 
From next month, homeowners will be able to apply for new grants to cover the cost of fitting energy efficiency measures through the Green Deal, as part of the new Green Deal Home Improvement Fund.
 
The Government is also scrapping early repayment charges for people taking out Green Deal loans and has announced that it is shelving plans to pass some of the costs of the scheme onto the companies providing Green Deal assessments and energy efficiency installations.

Posted under Energy Efficiency, Environmental Regulations and Legislation, Environmental Technologies and Renewable Energy, Construction and Environmental Technologies on 27 May 2014