The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has released its latest set of data relating to the Green Deal and Energy Company Obligation (ECO), to aid energy efficiency retrofit of existing housing stock. The year and a half of data now assembled chart the vicissitudes wrought by shifting government policy as much as they do the Jones’ neighbours efforts to keep up with them in the energy saving stakes.
Look at the climb and fall off in ECO installations, as the government’s ‘roll back’ of ECO at the end of last year has taken hold. The number of ECO installations, which ultimately help the country’s poorest households, has fallen back from a peak of almost 80,000 in March to a quarter of that number in June, and the figure looks set to fall further.
As the National Insulation Association has warned, data also released by Ofgem in the form of the ECO Compliance Update show that two of the targets for ECO have already been met, around nine months ahead of the scheme’s end date next March. By the end of June, one target relating to free boilers and home insulation to vulnerable and fuel poor households, and another relating to free or subsidised solid wall, cavity wall and loft insulation has already effectively been exceeded.
Green Deal and ECO data make it clear that without ECO the number of retrofits have struggled to pass 1,000 a month, hardly enough to tackle the challenges of upgrading the UK’s old and draughty housing stock, seriously alleviating fuel poverty or building a thriving retrofit industry.
The data leave us with a tantalising but short-lived prospect in the 218 homes retrofitted under the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF), the financial incentive that the government introduced on 9 June. The fund was exhausted within just six weeks amid some suspicion over exactly who has been accessing the money.
The government has now written to GDHIF stakeholders and participants explaining that the processing of GDHIF vouchers may take some time to process. DECC writes, “Given the volume of applications and the need to ensure only redemptions which comply with the scheme terms and conditions are paid, it will be necessary sometimes to make extra checks on applications and redemptions, especially where we see unusual patterns of activity.” That’s a welcome announcement and the data emerging over the coming months will be closely watched.