Sustainability

Green Deal statistics show improved take-up

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has released the first official Green Deal statistics, showing that 1,803 assessments for the home-improvement energy-efficiency scheme were made between December 2012 and February 2013.

Take-up was initially slow, with only 74 assessments being made in December 2012 and January 2013. However, this number greatly increased after the scheme officially launched in England and Wales on 28 January, with 1,729 assessments undertaken in February 2013. The Green Deal launched in Scotland on 25 February.

The scheme allows householders and businesses to take out loans to make up to 45 different types of energy-efficient improvements to their property – such as installing double-glazing, insulation and new heating systems – with repayment taken through the property’s electricity bill rather than through individuals.

It is hoped that the plan will cut electricity bills, improve household insulation and reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions, as ‘leaky homes’ are currently thought to be responsible for 38 per cent of the UK’s total emissions.

As well as an increase in assessments, the new statistics also show that the number of Green Deal individual advisors has risen exponentially from 40 in October 2012 to 619 by the end of February 2013. The number of installer organisations has also risen, going from 231 to 629 during the same period.

The number of Green Deal providers and assessor organisations has seen less impressive growth. The number of providers has risen from eight to 40 during the October to February period, whilst the amount of assessor organisations has grown from 13 to 77.

Image from DECC

The Green Deal is accompanied by the Energy Company Obligation (ECO), which DECC describes as ‘providing energy-efficiency measures to low income and vulnerable consumers and those living in 'hard-to-treat' properties’. This is done through supplier obligations worth around £1.3 billion every year.

ECO consists of three elements: the Carbon Saving Obligation, Carbon Saving Communities and Affordable Warmth, which cover the fitting of insulation and targeted aid to low-income households.

As part of the scheme, Green Deal providers can auction ‘lots’ of future measures from the three elements to energy companies. According to DECC statistics, £9.5 million was traded through such auctions in January 2013, with £17.4m being traded in February.

Initial signs 'aren't good'

A spokesperson for Greenpeace warned that it is still "early days" and celebrating the Green Deal as a success would be premature as 1,803 homes had so far been assessed - but not improved. He said: "Making our homes energy efficient is a great way to slash fuel bills, have a warm place to live and cut UK carbon emissions. Energy bills are soaring thanks to our reliance on fossil fuels and the costs of treating illnesses caused by cold homes is putting a heavy burden on the NHS - the case for better insulation has never been stronger. 

"The Green Deal is heading for trouble without lower interest rates, more money to tackle fuel poverty and tough regulations on landlords renting out dangerously cold homes. 1,803 homes have been assessed, not actually insulated - it's still early days, but the initial signs aren't good."

The Green Deal suffered a series of early setbacks and was initially labelled a ‘shambles’ by Luciana Berger, Shadow Minister for Energy and Climate Change, after it was revealed that not a single UK household had signed up to the scheme a month into the ‘early adoption period’, which began in October 2012.

There was further bad press in January when a uSwitch poll indicated that only 19 per cent of the population had heard of the Green Deal, with only five households having signed up for it less than a week before its official launch.

However, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Edward Davey has said that the statistics show there is "genuine interest from consumers".

Commenting on the recent figures, Davey, said: “We’re seeing clear signs of a promising new market gathering momentum. In little more than a month, there have been 1,803 Green Deal assessments and that shows genuine interest from consumers. Some householders in older properties, and those on benefits or low incomes may qualify for extra financial assistance from the new Energy Company Obligation, and this has also started really well with £26.9 million worth of contracts signed.

“We have created the Green Deal to overhaul our inefficient housing stock and help people keep their homes warm, while also reducing their energy bills. And as the market builds and awareness of the Green Deal increases, I am confident that consumer interest will grow and grow.

Davey went on to say that the deal is also helping to “create skilled jobs” and offer businesses “new opportunities”.

The UK Green Building Council also reacted positively to the figures but warned that government needs to introduce “lasting, structural incentives” if take-up is to be sustained.

John Alker, the council’s Director of Policy and Communications, said: “It’s great to see the momentum building behind the Green Deal and ECO. While much of this activity will have been driven by DECC-funded local authority projects, it still demonstrates that the public are taking note of the scheme and getting involved.

“However, the initial rush provided by these early projects, and the subsequent take-up driven by the cash-back scheme is likely to prove unsustainable in the long-term if Government fails to put in place lasting, structural incentives. We would hope to see proposals in this respect included in next week’s budget.”

Greg Barker, Minister of State for Energy and Climate Change, recently announced via his Twitter page that he had signed documents with the Green Deal Finance Company to release a further £244m of funding. Details of the funding are yet to be released.

Read the first ‘Domestic Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation in Great Britain, Monthly report’.