Home energy efficiency drive will cover renewable generation as well as insulation

Homeowners could be able to borrow money to pay for solar panels and other forms of renewable generation under the government’s Green Deal initiative, the department for energy and climate change has announced.

In a document released today outlining measures the deal covers, ground and air source heat pumps, solar thermal, solar PV, biomass boilers and micro-CHP (combined heat and power) are all listed.

The announcement is significant because it was previously unclear whether the Green Deal would apply to the technologies, which in some difficult-to-insulate homes may be the only way to cut carbon emissions significantly.

The move is another boost for the Green Deal after it was announced on 26 May that the government’s new Green Investment Bank would be able to lend the scheme money.

Solar panels will only be covered if they meet the Green Deal’s ‘golden rule’ that the cost of the installation will be recouped over a certain amount of time through lower energy bills, probably 25 years.

In addition, climate change minister Greg Barker also unveiled:

  • Plans to set up a new Green Deal Code to protect customers
  • Plans to set up a new Green Deal advice line for consumers
  • The formal appointment of the United Kingdom Accreditation Service (UKAS) that will accredit Green Deal installers and assessors

The news was welcomed by Paul King, chief executive of the UK Green Building Council:

“Last week Government recognised it needed to address the cost of Green Deal finance, by using the Green Investment Bank as a vehicle to attract private investment. This week Government has taken important actions to safeguard the consumer,” he said.

“These are encouraging steps towards ensuring the Green Deal is a success and are to be welcomed. The next big challenge is how to incentivise take-up on a mass scale.”

Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said that the government had to make it clear to consumers how green home schemes worked and which were on offer:

“Greg Barker talks about the importance of trust in the Green Deal – and we couldn’t agree more. Since Feed-in Tariffs [subsidies for solar power] were introduced in April last year, we’ve seen an increase in calls to our advice centres from concerned householders who are interested in green technologies, but faced with a raft of offers they are unsure about how to make sure they’re getting the best deal to help them reduce their energy bill.”

“Green Deal is an even more ambitious and wide-reaching scheme, so stepping in now to ensure people know what they’re getting into from the start is essential,” he said.

Follow Building on Twitter