Industry airs its views on the green deal
A top level meeting this week provided an opportunity for industry to voice its concerns about the government's forthcoming green deal incentive. Michael Hardware reports on what was said
As the secondary legislation for the green deal was finalised, the Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy All Party Parliamentary Group (PRASEG) hosted a meeting at the House of Commons on whether the green deal will deliver. The timing of the meeting may have been perfect, but its outcome was inconclusive.
Chaired by MP Alan Whitehead, the meeting was opened by Tracy Vegro, director, green deal, at Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC). She said that: “There would soon not be a loft in the land that did not have insulation, and that solid wall insulation is going to need to be the focus going forward.”
Between CERT and green deal?
Knauf Insulation managing director John Sinfield disagreed, pointing out that DECC’s figures, from April, say that there are nine million homes without adequate loft insulation in the UK, and more than seven million homes without cavity wall insulation. He said: “The job is not yet done.” He went on to ask what happens on 1 January 2013 when the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) stops and green deal is due to start. He said: “Green deal is not ready, and from day one there will be a huge drop in loft and cavity wall insulations completed.”
This was the sentiment of many, with questions posed about what transition arrangements there were between CERT finishing and green deal being up and running properly. Neil Marshall, chief executive of the National Insulation Association, was concerned that green deal may be delayed for four to five months due to finance arrangements not being in place. He said: “What do we do from January? There need to be transitional arrangements – how do we fill the gap?”
Vegro responded by saying that there was significant investment in training so that those employed now could move into the new green deal framework.
Finance, confidence and insulation
The rumoured finance interest rate of around 7 percent came under discussion, with John Sinfield saying that “at this level, only 7 percent of consumers would be interested in green deal leaving 93 percent that would not.” David Robson, managing director of InstaGroup, agreed: “Low cost finance is the key to the success of green deal.”
Vegro said discussions were still in progress to determine investment, and that the continual talking down of the green deal by the industry was undermining those negotiations.
Consumer confidence was another key issue. Vegro said that the Office of Fair Trading’s current investigation into the insulation market will result in recommendations to ensure there is adequate consumer protection in green deal. She said: “Green deal will be transparent, with all goods and services having to be approved. The key is to build confidence with the customers and bill payers. Consumer protection for green deal will be excellent, we have learnt a lot following FITs [the feed in tariff].”
In discussions following the meeting, Dave Raval, chief executive of LoftZone, agreed with John Sinfield that there was still a big job to be done with nine million homes that did not have adequate loft insulation. He sounded a note of caution: “A key issue not covered was that 84 percent of homes also use the loft for storage, compressing the insulation either by boarding or placing items on top of it, reducing its effectiveness.
“Therefore, not only does the government need to make widespread adequate loft insulation a priority after CERT, it also needs to take steps to address insulation compression and consequent in-use efficiency reductions.”
Michael Hardware is executive vice-president of public affairs consultant Chelgate.