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Promise on further heat consultation

Energy minisiter Malcolm Wicks has promised further consultations on heat and energy efficiency after some groups said the Government's Call for Evidence on Heat has been 'flawed'.

Results of Call for Evidence on Heat released
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Mr Wicks said: 'We will be consulting on our Renewable Energy Strategy shortly, and will be consulting on the wider issues of heat, energy efficiency and distributed energy in the autumn. 

'The recent Heat Call for Evidence emphasised the key role that microgeneration heat technologies can play in decarbonising domestic heating, and we will be sure to explore the opportunities for reducing our overall levels of energy use, through energy efficiency measures.'

The heating strategy group of the Energy Efficiency Partnership for Homes’ (EEPH) was one of the organisations which raised questions over the direction of Government policy following the publication of the Call for Evidence in January..

The EEPH comprises members of government departments, local authorities, manufacturers, retailers, distributors, energy suppliers and consumer advice agencies. The heating strategy group aims to promote reliable information, efficiency measures and competence standards.

Strategy group chairman Peter Thom said officials from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) told members that the Call for Evidence on Heat, launched at the end of January, had focused too heavily on renewables, at the expense of energy efficiency.

Mr Thom said the BERR officials had promised the strategy group another consultation would take place to look into the existing heating market.

“We pointed out to them that they had missed out virtually the whole of the heating market by concentrating on renewables. As a result, they only focused on a growing, but still very small part of the market,' he added.

“The main part of the market is still traditional heating and that is going to be the same for the foreseeable future, certainly for the next two boiler changes. I don’t think the Government recognises that at all.

“We know what the issues are, but it needs a concerted effort by government to get things done. It is quite frustrating for us as the Government does not seem to see what is staring it in the face.”

The Group’s concerns about the original Call for Evidence were echoed by the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE), whose members include major energy suppliers and leading manufacturers such as Worcester Bosch.

It has asked for the Call to be completely withdrawn, but welcomed the possibility of a new consultation which it hoped would look at energy-efficiency alongside other issues.

Pedro Guertler, head of research at ACE, said: “The partnership’s concerns were shared by many. The Call was extremely flawed in the terms of reference and scope. It seemed to signify a gradual, institutional loss of grasp of energy demand issues.”

Mr Guertler said ACE believed the Call for Evidence had focused heavily on supply without looking at how heat could be managed through energy efficiency. He said ACE was also worried by figures included in the original consultation documents which suggested efficiency measures were more expensive and less effective in cutting carbon emissions than increasing nuclear power supplies.

He said: “From our point of view that is very worrying and must be challenged.”

The original Call was undertaken by BERR in partnership with the Department of Communities and Local Government and the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. Its findings will be released in the next two weeks.

A BERR spokeswoman refused to be drawn on whether another consultation would take place. She said: “We’ll be publishing details of the responses in the next couple of weeks and until then can’t really give details of further possible consultation.”