Industry fears ‘soft launch’ will undermine the energy efficiency scheme from the outset

The UK’s largest energy firms are pressing ministers to delay the launch of the Green Deal amid fears that a “soft launch” of the energy efficiency scheme could critically undermine its take-up from the outset.

The intense lobbying comes as the latest figures on another major government sustainability policy, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), showed there had been an extremely low take-up of the scheme since it was launched last November. Industry figures blamed a lack of preparedness and publicity.

As Building revealed last week, the six major energy firms - EDF, Scottish Power, Southern Energy, Npower, E.ON and British Gas - have told ministers they will not be ready to deliver the payment mechanism for the Green Deal until “first quarter 2013”.

A well-placed industry source said the energy firms were pressing ministers to delay the October launch as they feared that, unless all the elements of thescheme were in place, the Green Deal could be undermined from the outset.

“The firms want everything in place 100% end-to-end - they don’t want a soft launch. There should be no outstanding questions. That’s key to getting consumers on board,” the source said.

The payment mechanism is critical to the operation of the Green Deal as it enables consumers to pay for energy efficiency measures through a charge on their energy bills.

Climate change minister Greg Barker insisted this week that the October launch of the Green Deal would go ahead as planned, stating that energy firms would have to have the payment mechanism in place from October as it was “the law”.

But the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) later confirmed this legislation was not in fact in place and would form part of the secondary legislation required to implement the Green Deal, which was initially set to be introduced last month, but has slipped to June.

A DECC spokesperson said the clause requiring firms to have the payment mechanism in place by October “would not be changed”.

She said the scheme would be launched “steadily”.


Less than 1% of the extra renewable heat capacity needed this year to keep the government on track to meet its targets for its Renewable Heat Incentive scheme has been installed and accredited in the first three months of the programme.

Figures from Ofgem show that only 10 installations of renewable heat generators with a total capacity of 3.5MWh have been accredited since the scheme, which is currently only open to non-domestic installations, launched in November last year.

The government expects around 6.3 million MWh of capacity to be installed each year through to 2020.