Following its shock decision to halve solar subsidies – a move that threatens to destroy one of the few burgeoning industries in Britain – the UK Government has allocated £200 million to kick-start its much-publicised ‘Green Deal’ initiative.
The Green Deal aims to improve the energy efficiency of homes throughout the UK, which is thought to possess one of the draughtiest housing stocks in northern Europe. Fearful of limited public interest and perhaps mindful of his government’s reputation for failing to support green initiatives, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander, announced the £200 million incentive in the hope of enticing early adopters.
A spokesperson for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “The scheme will involve time-limited offers to help the early uptake and give confidence to industry that the Government is fully behind the Green Deal scheme”.
Specific details of the Green Deal initiative were made public earlier this month, when the Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne spoke of a “golden rule” for those who avail of the scheme. Under the golden rule, repayments on energy efficiency improvements are guaranteed to be less than the energy savings generated by the improvements.
Mr Huhne explained: “We want the Green Deal to be a game changer for British consumers who’ve been buffeted by global energy prices. The earlier you ‘green deal’ your home, the quicker you’ll benefit from a warmer and cosier property as well as protect yourself from rocketing [energy] prices”.
Of course, one of the main reasons why energy prices are “rocketing” in the UK is that the move towards green, renewable energy has been passed on to consumers via energy firms that continue to report record profits year after year.
Speaking about the Green Deal, which ought to reduce consumers’ reliance on gas central heating, Richard Lloyd, the Executive Director of Which?, said: “It’s crucial that the Government gets the fundamentals of the Green Deal right. If it’s not good value for consumers overall, short-term incentives will not be enough to guarantee that this scheme will be a success”.
If the Geen Deal is anything like other Government-backed environmental projects, industry ought to venture into the territory with plenty of escape routes.