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New hope for boiler replacement drive

Hopes have been raised that boilers could be included in the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target by the end of 2008.

Cert is the Government obligation placed on energy suppliers to cut carbon emissions in homes and combat fuel poverty.

Energy suppliers must spend £1.5 billion in phase 3 of the scheme, which runs from 2008 to 2011.

Gordon Brown recently promised to inject a further £560 million into the scheme (see article in H&V News, September 20).

Boilers have been excluded from phase 3, but Lord Rupert Redesdale, the Liberal Democrats’ energy spokesman in the House of Lords, raised hopes at last week’s Carbon Factor conference that this could be reversed.

He said: “I’ve talked to Ofgem (the Office for Gas and Electricity Markets) and by Christmas high-efficiency boilers will be back in Cert and a level of grant funding will be available.”

The boiler industry has faced two major obstacles to inclusion in Cert. Ofgem and the Government argued that boilers would be replaced anyway and were concerned grants could be mis-used to subsidise the upgrade of relatively new models as well as the target older models.

Lord Redesdale believes the industry has answered both concerns. He said: “The problem with old cast iron boilers is that they are easy to repair and will run, very inefficiently, for many years. Band G boilers need to be targeted and this is as important as the drive to insulate every home.”

Lord Redesdale added that energy performance certificates (EPCs) could be used to identify old and inefficient Band G boilers, ensuring that only their replacement would attract grant funding.

Baxi Group chief Martyn Coffey welcomed the comments by Lord Redesdale and urged the Government and Ofgem to make the level of grants meaningful. “We have been saying for some time there needs to be grant funding to specifically target band G boilers.

“Energy performance certificates are crucial in identifying older boilers but the level of grant is as important to the success of any scheme. It needs to be set at a level of at least £500.

“Certainly, this level of grants targeted at older boilers would be much more beneficial than offering £25 grants on general boiler replacement.”

Charles Hargreaves, head of energy efficiency at Ofgem, confirmed that it was in discussions to include boilers in Cert, but said that work remained to be done.

“This is something we’ve been working on for six months, but we need to think very carefully as it is a big step for us,” he said. “We are talking to the Department for Communities and Local Government about the use of energy performance certificates and energy suppliers still have to be convinced that boilers will be a cost-effective way to meet their obligations under Cert.”

Technologies currently eligible for grant funding under Cert include microgeneration and renewable products such as solar, heat pumps, biomass boilers and wood burning stoves, and weather compensation controls for boilers.

The Carbon Factor conference was organised by the Heating and Hotwater Industry Council.