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YouGen press release

YouGen calls for clarity on government plans for energy efficient homes

Posted on 8 June 2010 at 10:17 am

Swift introduction of a pay as you save scheme and clarity about plans for the renewable heat incentive are vital if the Government is to meet its target reductions in carbon emissions from homes says YouGen in its comments on the proposed measures for energy and climate change.

"There are lots of fine sounding ideas in the coalition's list," says YouGen director, Cathy Debenham, "but they are just general statements. Without more detail  it's difficult to give constructive feedback. Establishing a smart grid, creating a green investment bank and the intention to encourage community-owned renewable energy schemes where local people benefit from the power produced are all examples of welcome ideas, but the devil will be in the detail."

However, there are some issues affecting how (and whether) people are able to reduce their energy use in the home that YouGen feels strongly about. These include:

1.    Pay as you save

The sooner we have a pay as you save scheme the better. We need to know when it is likely to be in place, and how much people will be able to borrow. We prefer the LibDem’s promised £10k to the Tory figure of £6,500. The more difficult and expensive energy efficiency measures will not reach the mainstream without a good, affordable loan scheme

2.    They say: “We will establish a full system of feed-in tariffs”.

What does this mean? Will microgeneration pioneers – ie those who installed prior to 15 July 2009 – be included at the full rate as promised by the Conservatives prior to the election?

"The current arrangement, which leaves many microgeneration pioneers worse off than they were prior to the introduction of feed-in tariffs is a disgrace," says Cathy. "Especially as they are the people whose stories can help ‘normalise’ renewable energy, and encourage others to invest.

"We are calling on the Conservatives to make good their promise that existing microgenerators will be eligible for the feed-in tariff at the same rates as those who install in the first year of feed-in tariffs"

3.    There is no mention of the Renewable Heat Incentive. The sudden closure of the Low Carbon Building Programme grant scheme, with no information about whether or not the government is planning to proceed with the RHI has left consumers and industry in a damaging limbo. It is vital that some information about the government’s intent is made available as soon as possible, with confirmation of timescales.

While YouGen is keen to see the introduction of some form of financial support for the switch to renewable heat, it is also keen that it should:
a.    encourage less energy use overall
b.    make meeting energy efficency standards a pre-requisite
c.    skew the incentive to encourage take up of the technologies that give the biggest reduction in carbon dioxide emissions
d.    include people who had systems installed prior to July 2009, and
e.    include wood burning stoves where they have the capcity to replace a boiler, or have a back boiler (see our response to the consultation on the Renewable Heat Incentive).

"We're already concerned about some of the claims made for solar thermal panels and heat pumps, and how they are sold. If the promise of good financial returns are added to these messages there is a significant danger that there will be a lot of disappointed consumers," says Cathy. "This will seriously set back a shift to cleaner forms of energy.

"The renewable heat market is very poorly understood, so it is even more important here that there are good stories to tell, to educate the public and help encourage people to try it. By excluding pioneers the government will make this more difficult."

4.    We welcome the roll out of smart meters, but with the caveat that government must ensure that they are useful tools for consumers to manage and reduce their energy use, and not just tools for the energy supply industry to manage supply.

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