24 November 2015
In recent months, the renewable energy sector has taken a couple of large blows that have set back the industry quite a bit.
First the Government announced the scrappage of the Green Deal Scheme, which, although it wasn’t the most well-thought through of policies, was finished without anything concrete ready to replace it.
Secondly, the European Court of Justice stated that the UK had not complied with a particular piece of VAT legislation. This means that important energy saving components like solar thermal panels, biomass boilers and heat pumps must be subject to the usual 20% rate of VAT, whereas they previously enjoyed the low rate of just 5%.
One of the main problems with recent renewable energy incentives is that people simply can’t afford an upfront cost to replace their inefficient heating system, even with subsidies from government. Not enough has been done to justify why people should replace their systems and how it can benefit them in the long term.
Hopefully the Department of Energy and Climate Change realises that much more effort needs to be made to connect with the British public on this issue and some heating industry insiders have come up with some suggestions that they think will help.
One of the most important suggestions has been the idea of introducing a boiler scrappage scheme. This has worked in the past with cars are it should be a serious consideration that would help get rid of a lot of old, inefficient and potentially dangerous boilers and replace them with new, reduced energy ones.
Northern Ireland has been operating something similar and it has seen almost 14,000 new energy-efficient boilers in the last 3.5 years. Those in the heating industry argue that this never would have happened without assistance from government and they hope it can be rolled out to the rest of the UK.
Surveys and research have shown that a majority of people are in favour of renewable technologies yet a tiny percentage of these have gone ahead with installing them in their own homes. The discrepancy between the two figures shows that the step from thinking about renewable energy to actually implementing it is too great for most people to go ahead with.
It’s been argued that asking people to take small steps, such as taking part in a boiler scrappage scheme, would be more successful rather than the giant leaps that people have been asked to make in recent years.
Encouraging people to make the first step to low carbon heating by incentivising them to change boilers will open the door to further steps. People will see the benefits of low energy boilers in their resulting heating bills and, thus, it will be much easier to persuade them to do more to bring down their carbon footprint in the future.
As it stands, the changes required are too great, the cost too much and the steps too complicated for people to take action. When faced with complicated decisions, people are more likely to do nothing at all, so the Government needs to bear this in mind when announcing their next round of low energy policies.
Article by Benjamin Clarke
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