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Uncertainty ahead as Low Carbon Building Programme is cut

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 May 2010 at 12:31 pm

The Low Carbon Building Programme (LCBP) grants scheme closed to new applications on Monday. We're calling on the Government to act quickly to eliminate the state of uncertainty facing  consumers and the renewable heat industry as a result.

The cut came as part of the Department of Energy and Climate Change's share of the £6bn public sector cuts, also announced on Monday. Anyone who has already had a grant application confirmed will still receive it, and those who have already submitted an application will have their application considered, but no new applications will be accepted. Cutting the programme will result in £3m in savings - DECC will need to find £82m additional savings.

DECC officials are currently analysing responses to its consultation on the renewable heat incentive (RHI - see our thoughts here), and are not expected to respond until late September. Since the election none of the new ministers has commented on whether or not they plan to introduce the scheme as intended.

A question on the LCBP website indicates it will, asking: "Are you now offering zero support for renewable heat until the RHI kicks in?"

But the answers are a bit more ambiguous: "

  • The Government is committed to meeting the UK’s share of the EU renewable target and to reducing carbon emissions to meet our 2050 targets. Both targets will require developing renewable heat and decarbonising the heating sector. The Government will be considering further the role that financial incentives can play in helping us to meet our renewable and carbon targets; and 
  • The Government is also clear that decentralised energy including Microgeneration technologies have a role to play in meeting these targets."

This leaves consumers in a quandry. Do they take a punt and go ahead and make an expensive investment without a certain guarantee that they'll get the renewable heat incentive? Or do they wait?

Given the significant expense involved in most renewable heat installations it would make sense to wait until the scheme is confirmed. Many of the early adopters of wind and solar pv got their fingers burned by investing too early and have found themselves worse off as a result of the feed-in tariff. We need to know more about the coalition's intentions to bring confidence to the market.

If David Cameron is serious about leading the "greenest government" ever, let's have a ministerial statement of intent on financial support for the renewable heat sector. The stop-start approach to grants under the last government was unsatisfactory for industry and consumers alike. This government has started badly with a stop: If we're going to make progress towards the much spoken about low carbon economy, we need the confirmation (and start) of a long-term, stable support system going forward.

NB: This cut won't impact on people wanting to generate their own electricity through solar PV, wind or micro-hydro, as they can access the feed-in tariff

Photo by ssoosay


If you have a question about anything in the above blog, please ask it in the comments section below.

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1 comments - read them below or add one

John E Martin

John E Martin from QMSAComment left on: 2 June 2010 at 9:33 pm

It is disappointing that the LCBP grants have been cut-short but one potential positive is that it levels the playing field somewhat for installers seeking MCS approval as they would previously be competing for work (needed for MCS approval process) against MCS approved businesses who could provide access to the grants (as these could not be claimed retrospectively once the business is approved) as for the RHI’s the money is not likely to be coming out of the Governments pockets, so there seems little reason to abandon the programme. (let us hope commonsense prevails) a positive message is required from Government regarding the RHI's or the uptake of these technologies will again be set-back! As we continue to approach 2020 with little to show so far!!

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