New Green Deal owners reach out to UK installers

The new owners of the Green Deal Finance Company (GDFC) will seek to rebuild the installer base that grew around the original scheme by recruiting from the tens of thousands of UK companies working in the home energy efficiency products sector.

According to Greenstone Finance, which bought the previously government backed business alongside Aurium Capital Markets, has said the new pay-as-you-save loans will be sold through the existing network of Green Deal Providers and installers.

According to the government’s most recent figures for the Green Deal supply chain as it stood in November 2016, there were 1,392 installer organisations signed up to the original scheme. This is down from the peak of 2,774 in August 2014 when optimism regarding the scheme was at its highest.

In a statement released to Solar Power Portal, a spokeswoman for Greenstone said: “We aim to recruit more of the over 32,000 UK companies operating in the home energy efficiency products sector to ensure that customers can easily connect with a Green Deal Provider in their area.”

The GDFC, which had its funding pulled by government in July 2015, has already begun servicing existing loan plans and will begin originating new loans “as soon as operationally possible”.

Among the key failings of the government scheme were the high interest rates assigned to the finance, however the new owners of the GDFC would not be drawn on if this would change. However, the spokeswoman was clear that the new scheme would address another key issue that hampered the domestic energy efficiency framework by improving how it was taken to consumers.

“Based on the learnings from the past four years, we will focus on three areas in order to make this a success across the nation, namely through improving awareness by investing in better marketing and educating of consumers; improving access to the scheme (including creating a new and improved website); and by investing in training and recruitment of our installers and customer services team to better educate and help customers,” she said.

Previously, Green Deal installers were required to be certified as meeting the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) 2030 for the measures installed under the scheme, as well as complying with the conditions of the Green Deal Code of Practice.

PAS2030 will continue to be a requirement, however Greenstone and Aurium will be implementing “more stringent requirements” to ensure quality of delivery. Installers will be vetted and required to go through regular training to meet standards set by the owners, who will also monitor supply side participants on an on-going basis.

The restart of the Green Deal finance offer has come at a time when the home energy efficiency market is preparing for an upsurge in demand as new regulations come into force in April 2018. The minimum energy efficiency standards (MEES) will require all landlords to ensure their properties meet at least an EPC rating of E before they can be leased.

The cost of installing new measures was intended to be met in part by Green Deal finance, however this was put in question after the scheme closed.

In addition to this upcoming market growth, Nimesh Kamath of Aurium hinted that the framework could be opened up to commercial properties, while Greenstone added that it will seek to grow the offer to take a significant market share in the home energy efficiency sector.

“We will continue to focus on products that improve a home’s energy efficiency, such as boilers, solar panels and insulation. Over time, our aim is to expand the range of products our financing covers so that we become the go-to provider of energy efficiency improvements for homes,” the spokeswoman said.

Solar Impulse completes epic flight to Hawaii

Solar Impulse, the aeroplane that is powered only by the sun, has landed in Hawaii after making a historic 7,200km flight across the Pacific from Japan.

Pilot Andre Borschberg brought the vehicle gently down on to the runway of Kalaeloa Airport at 05:55 local time (15:55 GMT; 16:55 BST).

The distance covered and the time spent in the air – 118 hours – are records for manned, solar-powered flight.

The duration is also an absolute record for a solo, un-refuelled journey.

Mr Borschberg’s time betters that of the American adventurer Steve Fossett who spent 76 hours aloft in a single-seater jet in 2006.

Despite being in the cockpit for so long, the Swiss pilot told the BBC that he did not feel that tired: “Interestingly, not really.

“I am also astonished. We got so much support during the flight from so many people; it gave me so much energy.”

He said he looked forward to having a shower and visiting one of the many steakhouses suggested to him on the way into Hawaii’s O’ahu island.

“We have some work to do, and to meet people, because I am sure a lot of people will want to see the aeroplane and discuss its technologies. But there is no way we shouldn’t try some surfing,” he joked.

Generate Energy and Save Money with Solar

By using solar photovoltaics (PV) panels to generate your own electricity the average household can save up to £880 every year. This means the amount of electricity you need to buy from energy companies is significantly reduced. You’ll also be paid for what you generate, regardless of whether you use it or not, with the Government’s Feed-in Tariff.

Warm Up North is one of the UK’s largest energy efficiency initiatives and the only one endorsed by Newcastle City Council and eight other North East Local Authorities. The scheme is part of British Gas, a leader in residential solar market with over 17 years’ experience, and is helping thousands of residents to improve the quality of their homes by making them warmer and more affordable to heat.

As part of Warm Up North’s solar provisions, its energy experts will recommend a system tailored to customers’ requirements and budgets, with prices starting at under £4500. And until 30 November customers can save £1400 on a 4kWp system, the type generally recommended for a large un-shaded roof.

Ian Weatherston, Head of Warm Up North, said: “We’re delighted to be introducing solar PV panels which will help people in the North East to benefit from more energy efficient homes, with a system which best suits their energy requirements.

“Solar PV is a great way to save money and also generate some additional income for your home. Installing solar brings a number of benefits, which includes a regular payment for every unit of energy generated whether you use it or not, a payment for all the excess electricity you do not use and the additional savings made on energy bills.

“Through Warm Up North residents can be confident that they are not only benefiting from a scheme that is endorsed by nine local authorities in the region, but also that their energy efficiency measures will be installed by British Gas, which boasts over a long history of working in the residential solar market.”

Cllr Ged Bell, Cabinet Member for Investment and Development for Newcastle City Council, added: “Warm Up North has already helped many households across Newcastle to lower their fuel bills by making their homes more energy efficient. The introduction of solar as the scheme’s first renewable energy product is a fantastic addition to Warm Up North’s range of energy efficiency solutions that will allow even more households to save energy and money

“I would strongly encourage Newcastle home owners to contact the Warm Up North team today to see how they could benefit.”

DECC reveals plans for Domestic RHI

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has finally revealed its plans for the future of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) after initially announcing the scheme in 2009 and introducing commercial RHI support in November last year.
Solar Panels

1006-largeGovernment is proposing that the Domestic RHI will support the installation of ground and air source heat pumps, biomass boilers and solar thermal panels. The RHI scheme will work in the same manner as the existing commercial RHI as well as the more popular Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme, whereby subsidy is provided through tariff based payments for every unit of renewable heat generated.

DECC states that the domestic RHI is aimed at any householder looking to replace their current heating with renewable heating kit as well as supporting any householders who have installed an RHI-eligible technology since July 15, 2009.

DECC is proposing that the new Domestic RHI payments will be paid over a seven year period. However, the proposed seven year payment period is designed to pay for 20 years’ worth of heat generated. DECC believes that paying the tariff over a shorter period will help investors realise their investment in a timely manner. The department does recognise that it will face challenges over ensuring the assumed levels of heat are actually generated.

The Department is also proposing to introduce a budget management system for the domestic RHI, similar to the one consulted on for the commercial RHI. The budget management system would be almost identical to the current model employed for solar FiT payments, where degression would occur when certain trigger points are hit by industry. DECC maintains that a trigger mechanism is necessary to protect the budget of the scheme and ensure that it can keep running.However, DECC are keen to stress that it will be “going through a period of refining, updating and verifying our evidence during the autumn including the incorporation of evidence that we gather from this consultation and the most up to date data from the RHPP scheme and other government calls for evidence. This means that the final tariff rates will almost certainly be different to those set out in this consultation.”

Commenting on the proposals, Energy and Climate Change Minister Greg Barker said: “We need to revolutionise the way we heat our homes and businesses and move away from expensive fossil fuels, not only to cut carbon but to help meet our renewables targets and save money on bills.”

“Our proposals aim to encourage even more uptake of clean green heating in industry and in our businesses. We have also set out our views on long term support for those who invest in low carbon kit in their homes and we look forward to hearing your thoughts.”

DECC has announced that Ofgem will be the interim delivery partner for the Domestic RHI scheme. The department is hoping to ready the announced scheme for summer 2013.

REA Head of Policy Paul Thompson, who was speaking this morning alongside officials from DECC and Ofgem at an REA seminar on sustainability under the RHI, said: “Renewable heat has been the sleeping giant of UK renewable energy policy. Renewable heat technologies are often very cost-effective, and have a major role to play in reducing our carbon emissions, improving our energy security, and revitalising our economy.

“We are delighted that the Government has published these proposals on time and we are looking forward to engaging further with DECC on the details to make the RHI work.”

Rob Gardiner of Myriad added: “Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) has the ability to make the renewable energy sector take off – but skilled workers will be lost if it fails to deliver due to a lack of clarity.

“The main concern is that, if the RHI is not promoted correctly and user-friendly for designers, installers and the end user, then this badly-needed support will not occur and a significant number of skilled people will be lost from this specialised industry. This is a real and present danger.

“There is a genuine fear within the sector that, if RHI support doesn’t take hold, this will happen and it would be massively damaging. A number of manufacturers have geared up quite heavily to cater for the demand expected to be driven by RHI.

“If it is delivered correctly, the RHI will provide fantastic opportunities for the sector but for that to happen it is vital that the Coalition follows through on its promises and ends the uncertainty surrounding the financial support for the scheme.

“An important part of that is fulfilling the pledge to allow homeowners to take advantage of payments next year – enabling GHSP to take its place alongside other renewables as a mainstream technology.”

The closing date for this consultation is December 7, 2012.

Ofgem confirms November FITs rates

Ofgem has confirmed the feed-in tariff rates for solar photovoltaic technology beginning November 1st 2012. The rates were reported earlier this month, and are as follows:

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   Description          FIT Rate p/kWh
0-4 kW 15.44
>4-10 kW 13.99
>10-50 kW 13.03
>50-100 kW 11.50
>100-150 kW 11.50
>150-250 kW 11.00
>250kW-5MW 7.10
Stand-Alone 7.10
Export Tariff 4.50

Commenting on the news, Paul Williams, CEO of Freetricity, spoke out against the tri-monthly degression model put in place by Government: “With only around 1000 solar installs being done across the whole of the UK in the first three weeks of August  – two per installer company – and a solar industry on its knees,  a further digression of the FiT programme in November will just heap more misery on the green energy sector.

“This at a time when Government are wanting to promote the green deal, desperately need economic growth and job creation and are encouraging businesses like Freetricity to export our knowledge and expertise to new markets. In order to flourish, the industry needs German and American style tangible long term consistent support.”

The November rates will be the first round of FiT cuts enacted under the newly-introduced tri-monthly degression model. Announching the scheme Greg Barker, the Energy and Climate Change Minister, said: “I want to send a very clear message today. UK solar continues to be an attractive proposition for many consumers considering microgeneration technologies and that having placed the subsidy support for this technology on a long-term, sustainable footing; industry can plan for growth with confidence.”