The Green Deal

In two weeks time the UK Government will have completed the finishing touches to the “Green Deal” which will be at the heart of its claim to be the greenest government ever. Frankly there is not a great deal of competition when it comes to being a green government of the United Kingdom; the last labour government was very good at setting up bodies to talk about being green and provide advice, very good at putting targets into legislation but when it came to measures they were rather on the short side.  The new coalition, perhaps with the influence of the Liberal Democrat members of it, do now have an opportunity to become the greenest government ever, by providing for real measures which will reduce energy consumption and increase the proportion of renewable electricity and renewable heat to the inhabitants of these islands.

I have always held that measures, not legislation will make a climate change difference. It is important to get solar panels on roofs and heat pumps in the ground and wind turbines in the air, rather than mysterious devices such as the European Emission trading scheme which has so far provided loads of free money to the fossil fuel power generating companies and some good opportunities for fraud as the emission certificates have been stolen and traded.

What is the Green Deal about? I have read the government documents and I do not think that the documents explain it terribly well, so I shall give my own explanation on what I think the green deal is and how it will develop.

As I constantly remind people it is measures that save greenhouse gas emissions, not schemes and devices. The people and businesses that use electricity and heat every day would, in the main, wish to install a measure, such as solar thermal panels for water heating and space heating support, but in these difficult times are put off by the cost. It is all very well to say that the measures, whether insulation or better control instruments for your heating, will save money in the long run, but most of us are more immediately concerned about paying our bills these days, rather than adding to them, even if we save money in the future.

That is where the Green Deal comes in. You will be able to get your measures, such as insulation and solar panels installed to save energy and provide you with some free renewable energy without an upfront payment. Once you have done that you will pay less for your energy on your gas and electric bills but repay the cost of the measures by paying something on your gas and electricity bills.

If you move house you do not have to repay the loan – the new buyers will simply step into your shoes and enjoy the energy savings and pay the additional renewables charge.

In an ideal world the savings will be the same as the additional charge or greater than it. That is the way in which the Green Deal will work. Even if they are not there is no doubt in my mind that the way in which energy charges are going up, within a year or two the Green Deal will mean you are paying less on your energy bill even with the additional charge, than you would have been had you not signed up for the Green Deal.

Setting the savings to be at least equivalent to the additional costs is going to be a hard target to reach, but it can be reached if the energy companies are able to get the savings of scale that increased uptake of measures will provide by buying things like solar panels in bulk and training installations teams to carry out the installation in an efficient manner.

You will be able to sign up to the Green deal in October 2012, if all goes according to plan. It is unfortunate, to say the least, that there is such a long time delay. Some things are better done quickly, such as stopping fats and irreversible climate change, but nevertheless if the Green Deal works then the emissions savings and the pollution savings should comfortably make the present UK government its greenest ever.

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