Saturday, 21 August 2010

Green Deal or No Deal?

We've had the first 100 days of the "greenest government ever" and  following on from my post on the subject last month we have a number of other green question marks over the Coalition Government's commitment to addressing climate change.

 In abolishing the Regional Spatial Strategies, where the primary purpose was to abolish housebuilding targets, the government have also abolished the regional renewable energy targets. These were supposed to drive the installation of wind turbines, solar panels and other clean energy sources. With this gone there is very little hope of the UK hitting the EU's 2020 target of 15% of the UKs energy from renewable sources unless government acts quickly to put new policy drivers in place.

There is also concern over the government's commitment to high Environmental Performance Standards for new power stations and whether or not carbon capture and storage technology is yet mature enough as a technology to make coal fired plants viable. It is likely that though the Lib Dems supposedly are against using public money to finance new nuclear power stations that ways will be found in making them a reality. This will probably be though our energy bills. So no public money just the publics money. Fiendish or what!  Despite all the public statements by politicians on the need for nuclear the case has never been properly made. Most opinions on this seem to be based on belief not facts. Lots of evidence contradicting assertions that we need nuclear energy 'to keep the lights on' can be found at

So we are left with reducing energy demand in the home as our best hope for reducing carbon emissions. The 'Green Deal' not the 'Green New Deal' (as promoted by the Green Party at the last election) is what the Government is pinning its hopes on. Roughly the Green Deal will be a loan arrangement linked to the properties energy bills where the cost of measures will be recovered at a rate no greater than the cost of energy saved making it a win win scenario. This is due to be introduced in 2012 as primary legislation will be required to establish the property linked loan. So far so good but the devil is as always in the detail. There are contradictions to overcome. Within a month Greg Barker MP, Tory Climate Change Minister has said solar panels/microgeneration will not be part of Green Deal's finance package and Nick Clegg, Lib Dem leader has said they will. There are questions over whether simple cost effective insulation measures are best dealt with through loan arrangements in value for money terms compared with public/CERT funded area based initiatives like Kirklees Warm Zone. The answer is probably no. So if microgeneration is not to be included and low cost insulation measures are not appropriate that leaves us with solid wall insulation which may be a 'hard sell' for many households. So there are more questions than answers yet and the governments stated belief that somehow finance packages and project management by supermarkets hold the key to reducing household carbon emissions does not bear much examination. If anything it is local authorities in conjunction with energy utility partners that have the best models for delivering mass energy efficiency measures to households not Tescos.

There is always hope however and we need to see what can be done to steer the Green Deal on the right path in a world where public money is tight and where the risk of a double dip recesssion is ever present. There are more questions than answers at present and the danger is that models for delivering energy efficiency to householders are designed by people who have never had to deliver a successful energy efficiency project of this kind using untested policy models but I'm sure the government wouldn't do that!

(Pictured Noel Edmonds creator of Channel 4s Deal or No Deal gameshow and of course Mr Blobby, proponent of cosmic ordering and also an anti wind Campaigner who created the Renewable Energy Foundation that campaigns against renewable energy. I'm not a fan,)

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