After more than 2 years in the making, the Green Deal has had a bumpy start according to government figures released at the end of June 2013. Since the official launch in January, this key scheme to improve the energy efficiency of the nation's housing stock has failed to excite householders; only 245 households had a Green Deal Plan in the pipeline, and none had been completed. However, in the same period over 38,000 Green Deal assessments had been done - these identify measures such as better insulation that householders can install, and show likely savings on their energy bills.
The lacklustre Green Deal getaway is put down to several factors, notably legal problems experienced by Green Deal Providers in arranging finance for the Green Deal loans, and also the challenges faced by energy companies in changing bills to add GD loan repayments for customers who take out Green Deals. Levels of interest on GD loans, currently around 7%, are also thought to be putting people off. However, the GD Cashback scheme has been more popular, with over 5000 vouchers issued, of which nearly 1000 had been redeemed by mid-June, most for boiler replacements.
The related ECO (Energy Companies Obligation) scheme, which also kicked off in January 2013 and is designed to tackle fuel poverty and provide assistance for hard-to-treat properties, has fared much better. Nearly 82,000 measures had been installed by the end of April. Most of these were loft insulation and cavity wall insulation, with only 1208 solid wall insulations.
"Shot in the arm needed"
Energy minister Greg Barker is quoted as saying: "It may be a slightly slow start but it is early days. There is a job to do raising consumer awareness." Indeed there is if we are to succeed in retrofitting 26 million homes in the UK to cut carbon emissions. In the view of Paul King, chief executive of the Green Building Council, "We need to see what can be done to give it [the Green Deal] the shot in the arm it needs. I don't see any alternative out there - this is the only game in town."