The Heat Is On for The Green Deal
The Government's recently published Heat Strategy outlining the long term challenges and opportunities for the UK as it moves towards decarbonisation made for interesting reading.
The document looks at the immediate and long term challenges and opportunities for Britain to achieve its target of carbon-free buildings by 2050. The focus for this decade is on energy efficiency for both buildings and industry while the Government prepares the market for the uptake of renewable heat sources, building the supply chain and supporting innovation. As Energy Secretary Ed Davey put it, "Cutting emissions from the way we generate heat is essential if we are to meet our climate change and renewables targets."
As an inventor myself of an energy saving technology, the GasSaver, I am all in favour of supporting British invention. My concern lies over how the Government plans to support expensive renewable technology.
The Government's Green Deal energy efficiency loan scheme is, to my eyes, in trouble already. If I'm honest, I wouldn't be surprised if the Green Deal never happens. A lot of criticism has been laid at the 'Golden Rule' which says that loan repayments made by the homeowner must be less than, or equal to, the savings on their energy bill. This has been changed already to £10,000 over twenty-five years. There is deep concern that the savings will not equal the expense of installing the energy-saving measures and homeowners will end up out of pocket.
The Green Deal doesn't seem to have been properly thought through. I'm not alone in this opinion - even Conservative MPs are questioning how it will work. Only last week we saw a spectacular U-turn from the Government as the Prime Minister scrapped mandatory elements of the Green Deal for homeowners which would have required those undertaking home improvements to spend an additional 10% of the improvements cost on making their home more energy efficient.
This Government has a poor track record in implementing subsidies, the Feed-In tariff being a prime example. The Green Deal seems as crazy to me as the Pasty Tax. Why would homeowners tie their house to a ten year rate? Why not just remortgage it and raise the money that way?
Where the Government is right, however, is its focus on energy efficiency. What we need right now in these tough times of austerity is an affordable means of saving energy which will simultaneously cut carbon emissions. Even high efficiency condensing boilers waste energy. In the last three years, the 5million new boilers fitted in the UK have wasted over 6,000,000 Mega-Watt hours of energy. Fitting a GasSaver would save £1billion in fuel bills over the next four years, reduce carbon emissions by 1.2million tonnes and save 10m3 water per home - it's a British invention and it's here right now. It's not rocket science: if we use less energy then we reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions. In one affordable step, making statutory technology like the GasSaver would deliver the 'quality energy' the Government hopes to achieve and help the nation meet its carbon reduction targets.
Instead of thinking up new policies that are laughed out of Parliament and new subsidies that are difficult to implement, the Government would be well advised to look at what it has now - energy saving technologies that will help the planet without harming the pocket.Chris Farrell