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Embracing the new green deal

HVCA head of sustainability David Frise says that incentives for renewables and the radical transformation of Carbon Reduction Commitment energy efficiency scheme (CRC) are “just what many in the industry have been asking for”.

The CRC is now, effectively, the carbon tax many have said was necessary to make energy a boardroom issue.

“This is one of those ‘be careful what you wish for’ moments,” says Mr Frise. “People have been pleading with the government to simplify the CRC.

A tax on consumption will push up the price of energy, creating the ultimate incentive to save it.”

He urged the industry to focus on the “big prize”, which is the boost these measures should give to the building refurbishment market. Although the CRC only affects 5,000 companies, information is being gleaned from as many as 20,000, creating an opportunity to expand the tax to these later. This could lead, he believes, to a huge potential market for energy efficiency upgrades.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has confirmed funding for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and Mr Frise says this will “shift renewable heat from a fringe industry into the mainstream”.

Feed-in tariffs for microgeneration technologies are to be trimmed in 2014-15 with £40m removed from this initiative. DECC says that in future, the tariffs will be aimed at “the most cost-effective technologies”. “Clearly, we have to wait and see what this means,” said Mr Frise.

CIPHE chief executive Blane Judd says: “We are glad to see that the Sector Skills Council will remain to ensure that educational standards meet the need of the sector. It is essential for the public to be able to gain access to properly qualified installers who have the professionalism and integrity to provide a safe environment.

“We welcome the investment in the green deal. The registered professional plumbing and heating engineer will be the front line adviser to the consumer on how to embrace green technologies.”

OFTEC director Jeremy Hawksley (pictured, top) said: “We have yet to learn the full details of the RHI, but we are pleased to learn that a levy will not be imposed upon oil or other existing heating fuels in order to fund the RHI.

“The original draft RHI contained incentives for a new generation of blended bio-liquids for heating (B30k) which could replace 100 per cent kerosene, and we urge the government to include those at the subsidy level which was originally proposed.”

Trials carried out in Norfolk last year used this B30k blend to replace kerosene in about 25 sites with no adverse effects, says
OFTEC, so over 1.8 million oil heating customers in the UK and Ireland could switch over to a lower carbon fuel, without having to replace existing heating systems.

HHIC’s Roger Webb says: “As expected, the review was short on detail. The Renewable Heat Incentive is definitely in but what will it cover? Similarly, feed in tariffs’ are to be reviewed but what will this mean? For example will micro CHP still be included?

He also expressed concern that the government may be selective over which renewable heating technology it will support, stating that these are at an early stage and all deserving of support.

Association of Plumbing & Heating Contractors’ Rick Crees says the CSR was a mixed bag. On the downside, CLG is facing big budget cuts and it is not clear how this will affect Competent Persons Schemes. Funding for social housing and school buildings has also been cut.

On the plus side, there’s a £1 billion investment in a Green Investment Bank to finance green infrastructure projects, the RHI will come in next year and the feed-in tariffs have survived, although with a promise to look for cost savings.

“For any businesses in our industry, it’s fairly clear where the government’s immediate priorities lie - it’s green, green, green all the way,” says Mr Crees.