The Green Deal – Is the government’s flagship green policy set for failure?

James Woollard, Managing Director, Evergreen PV

The Green Deal is at the heart of the UK government’s ambition to be the ‘greenest ever’ as it will deliver large cuts in climate-warming carbon emissions, and curb high energy bills by making houses warmer and less expensive to heat.

But with just three months to go, and many unanswered questions, is the policy set for failure? James Woollard, Managing Director at Evergreen PV takes a closer look…

The flagship Green Deal policy has massive potential, but with so many unanswered questions the road ahead for the project looks decidedly rocky.

Businesses considering developing Green Deal services, homes and companies looking to take out Green Deal offers, and environmentalists keen to see the UK meet its carbon targets need to know more before they back the project, and if they don’t back it, then quite simply, there is no project.

One very important question that the Government has yet to be clear on, is what the interest rate will actually be. They’ve hinted that packages will be between six and eight percent. This might not sound much of a difference, but in reality it is, and will have a huge impact on which solar panels, inverters etc will be able to qualify under the ‘golden rule.’

If the Government decides to go with high interest rates such as eight per cent, will people really take out a financing package that would require them to pay back around double the initial £10,000 loan?

Also, there’s been a lot of talk on how the scheme will be incentivised. The treasury has confirmed £200m will be available on a one-off basis to support early participation, but details are still yet to be confirmed. For example would this be a cash-back incentive, or have the Government got something else planned? Different incentives work for different people, so you can see why people will hold back until they know more.

Then there’s the ‘golden rule,’ which is promising people energy bill savings that are greater than resulting energy bill levies, e.g. net financial benefits. But if the rule doesn’t stand up, and the National press got hold of a few stories where households see their bills rise or weren’t happy with the work done through the Green Deal project, then this could quickly turn into a PR nightmare, putting others completely off the scheme.

Of course the Green Deal is open to businesses too, from SMEs to much larger companies. However calculating the golden rule will be a lot tougher for commercial premises than domestic, which again could prove a real nightmare.

I guess the ultimate question is; ‘will this work, and if so will it make a enough of a difference.’ This is a crucial time for the UK, and for achieving its carbon targets. If the Green Deal works as the Government says then the next few carbon budgets will be completely achievable. But if high interest rates emerge, along with problems with the golden rule, then there is a serious risk the Green Deal will be ineffective with regards energy efficiency savings, which will only mean that we will just have to do it all over again in a few years time.

The Government has responded to a lot of the criticism of the Green Deal fairly well, and I’m sure most of us would love to see it prove to be a big success. There aren’t many opportunities that come about where you can transform the UK’s building stock, so let’s hope we can all work together and make this really happen.

Evergreen PV is one of the UK’s largest importers and distributors of solar PV kits. Based in Oxfordshire, and founded in 2010, Evergreen PV has spent the majority of the last two years sourcing the world’s best quality solar products and bringing them to the UK market.For more information visit www.evergreenpv.co.uk or phone 0843 289 6636.

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