Tag Archives: DECC

Green Deal Survey Output

25 June 2013: Ahead of Thursday’s (27th) release from DECC of their first detailed quarterly Green Deal statistics, which should include information on the take-up of Green Deal in London, the department have issued a press release highlighting findings from two Green Deal surveys.

Some findings from the Household Tracker Survey include:

  • In Wave 1, which was conducted prior to the official launch of the scheme, awareness stood at 10%. This increased significantly to 19% in Wave 2 and increased further to 22% in the May dip.
  • Despite the increase in Quality Mark recognition there was no increase in the level of reassurance offered by it.
  • The levels of claimed solid wall insulation and loft insulation were considerably higher than DECC’s own estimates, which are derived from official insulation statistics and robust evidence from the English Household Survey. These discrepancies are important as they suggest that there is a lack of awareness and understanding about different types of energy saving improvements which could affect take up of improvements offered under the Green Deal scheme.

Points of interest from the Green Deal Assessment Survey Report include:

  • Paying for an assessment: 85% of respondents said they did not pay for an assessment, with 59% saying the assessor company did not charge a fee and 26% saying it was paid for by a landlord, local authority or other organisation. Eight per cent paid for their assessment in full. [page 10 sets out why so many assessments were at no charge – which is mostly down to incentives being offered by Government earlier this year through the Green Deal Pioneer Places programmes to local authorities]
  • Overall, 64% said they would recommend a Green Deal assessment to a friend.
  • The data tables for the survey highlight that respondents to the questionnaire comprised 83% ‘Owner occupier’; 5% ‘Private rented’  and 12% ‘Social housing’.

Disappointingly, there doesn’t appear to be any breakdown of responses by region – and hence no data on whether assessments/recognition of the Green Deal are stronger in one part of the country than another, and why this might be happening.

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London and the Energy Bill

19 June 2013: Points of interest to London in yesterday’s 6-hour second reading of the Energy Bill in the House of Lords included:

  • Lord Teverson’s mention of the GLA’s work on ‘licence lite’One of the unsung things in the energy market is licence lite, which is being explored by the Greater London Authority. It is about small independent producers, in particular community schemes, being able to supply directly through local networks to final consumers at a consumer price, thus not needing subsidy for that energy. I would like to explore how that great initiative—unsung by DECC, I think—can be expanded more quickly and effectively throughout the United Kingdom.
    As I said earlier, it was 2010 when the initial consultation document was produced. We need now to make sure that this Bill gets through this House, gets through it on time and lands on the statute book, so that those investors, however nervous, can invest.” [col 152]
  • A useful intervention by The Lord Bishop of London with the following “I echo many of the points already made in this debate, but I shall not repeat them. At the same time, from a London perspective, with our growing population and increasing demand for electricity, which could be as much as 4% a year, I am also clear that the Mayor’s call for a change in the system which currently prevents distribution network operators from installing more capacity in the network without first receiving a formal request for a connection to the system from individual developers, deserves immediate and urgent attention.
    In the limited time available, I want to focus on energy demand reduction, which an institution in our position has very much at heart. We have been exploring how to improve our own energy efficiency; there has been some success in my own diocese of London, where over a six-year period we have been able to save about 22% of our energy use. But like others, we need the help of government to achieve the next level. My question to the Minister is: will she undertake to amend Clause 37 to bring forward multiple pilot schemes for incentivising a reduction in energy demand, allowing not only for a capital market pilot but a premium payments pilot and enabling ordinary households as well as big business to be rewarded for demand reduction?” [continues – see col 155 onwards]
  • DECC’s Minister in the House of Lords Baroness Verma also responded to a question that “He also asked about the feed-in tariffs from five megawatts to 10 megawatts. I am currently looking at that and I hope to have some further details to impart in Committee.” (see here and here and here for more on why this is particularly relevant for London)
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Ministers Present on Community Energy

June 2013: See video presentations made by London MP (Kingston & Surbiton) and Secretary of State for Energy Ed Davey and Energy Minister Greg Barker on the new Community Energy Call for Evidence, launched at the Repowering London site in Brixton.

Further information on future projects by Repowering London here.

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Community Energy in the Energy Bill

13 June 2013: The House of Commons Library has issued a useful briefing note on the Energy Bill. Included in the note is a summary of  discussions on concerns of how community energy schemes will operate under the new complex electricity market reform (EMR) regime.

The note highlights the key issues with the following text:

“Community Energy Schemes

“In its pre-legislative scrutiny of the Draft Energy Bill, the Energy and Climate Change Committee concluded that the proposed CFDs were unlikely to work for smaller electricity providers, such as community schemes. It heard evidence that the problems for smaller-scale projects included:

  • A lack of financial capability to deal with the complexities and uncertainties of CFDs, resulting in high transaction costs; and
  • Difficulties in obtaining the full reference price for the electricity they generate, resulting in lower income per unit of electricity generated.

(House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, Draft Energy Bill: Pre-legislative Scrutiny July 2012, HC 275-i of session 2012–13, para 66)

Continue reading…

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Brixton launch of Government Community Energy Work

6 June 2013: Ed Davey MP, Secretary of State at DECC, will be launching his department’s Community Energy ‘call for evidence’ at the Brixton Energy project on the Loughborough Estate later today (see an earlier post here for details on this ‘call for evidence’).  Mr Davey  writes in today’s Guardian that:

“Today I will be visiting the Repowering South London project in Brixton. Several hundred square metres of solar panels have been installed on six blocks in the Loughborough Estate and the project is providing work placement opportunities for local young and unemployed people from the estate.
These examples are fantastic and extremely encouraging. I want to see community energy projects rolled out across the country, but we need a strategy to help unlock the potential. And that strategy has to be informed by the best available evidence.”

Further information on the Government’s work on Community Energy to date can be seen on their micro-site here. Minutes of the Community Energy Contact Group meetings can be viewed here. An excellent piece in last week’s issue of Utility Week – here – provides a great overview of many of the key issues.

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Increased grant for solar thermal systems

May 2013: DECC announced earlier this week that they were going to increase the level of grants given to householders to purchase renewable heat technologies. The Renewable Heat Premium Payments (RHPP) vouchers scheme was supposed to be an interim measure before the introduction of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), however the life of the RHPP has been extended as a result of delays to the introduction of the RHI. Government announced earlier this year that they expect the scheme to be in place now in Spring 2014 instead of Autumn 2013.

Technologies that qualify for the RHPP include Air Source Heat Pumps (ASHP), Ground Source Heat Pumps (GSHP), biomass boilers and solar thermal systems. However – Londoners only qualify for solar thermal – this is because priority for the other technologies is given to households off the gas-grid.  As a result, the number of renewable heat installations installed in London under the RHPP is very low (see Table 2.2 of the latest RHPP deployment data here).

Continue reading…

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Further background on ‘Licence Lite’

March 2013: Some more helpful detail on the complex area of ‘Licence Lite’ (covered in some earlier posts here and here) can be found in the following two briefs:

  • The excellent Cornwall Energy were commissioned by the GLA and others to look at this issue and have produced the following summary article; and
  • The output of Cornwall Energy & law firm Nabarros work – undertaken for Haringey – can be found on Haringey 4020 website here

And some more tricky detail on the issue in the following helpful blog. Energy for London will monitoring process on this development over the coming months.

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DECC signs up to RE:FIT

March 2013: DECC have just announced that the department has signed up to the Mayor’s RE:FIT public sector energy efficiency retrofit programme. Signing up to RE:FIT will allow DECC to access guidance from the RE:FIT Programme Delivery Unit (PDU). Support from the PDU is funded by the GLA and is only available as a no cost service to public sector organisations in the London region. Organisations can then use the procurement framework established under RE:FIT – and the PDU can also help facilitate access to available funding sources, such as Salix, the London Energy Efficiency Fund (LEEF), and the  Public Works Loan Board amongst others.

The GLA have recently reported that “the RE:FIT programme was considered to be a highly effective, low cost model that the Department for Energy and Climate Change were considering as a model for a national scheme.

It should be noted that the EU Energy Efficiency Directive (agreed in June 2012 and required to be fully implemented by Spring 2014) includes an obligation on the central government estate to meet annual targets for building renovation the majority of this will of course be in Whitehall (see page 16 of the recent DECC Energy Efficiency Strategy from 2012 for background).

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Regional Green Deal statistics available …but not quite yet

14 March 2013: DECC published their first statistical release today on activity under the Green Deal over the months of January and February 2013 (statement by Secretary of State here). This revealed that 1,803 assessments of properties have taken place over the two months. The statistics however do not set out where these assessments were undertaken – ie no regional breakdown has been provided – which is hugely disappointing. Hence – the following twitter conversation took place.

So – Green Deal (and ECO also …?) regional statistics (hopefully at the local authority rather simply the regional level) will be made available in the fuller dataset released in June of this year. DECC should also consider reporting on a regional basis in the monthly stats …a discussion that will likely continue. Interested parties do feel free to contact DECC to request this happens!

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Update on the ECO brokerage

March 2013: DECC have provided a summaries on the first four auctions undertaken under the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) brokerage (for more on the brokerage – see here and here).  Details can be viewed on DECC’s website here . They’re not the easiest thing to decipher…hence, useful that Inside Housing have produced the following analysis highlighting that:

  • Energy companies are paying as much as double last year’s high for carbon savings from energy efficiency works on homes
  • The identity of the organisations selling the savings is hidden until a deal is struck to make the process more transparent and competitive.
  • Many of the lots did not meet the reserve price set by green deal providers.
  • A spokesperson for DECC said: ‘Ultimately, the ECO brokerage market is in an early stage of development and it will take a few auctions for the price to settle.’
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Is the Community Energy Strategy being kicked into the ‘long grass”?

February 2013: In a response given yesterday to a Parliamentary Question asking what the Government’s “policy is on support for localised renewable energy projects”, Energy Minister Greg Barker replied: “DECC is currently scoping a Community Energy Strategy and will publish a call for evidence in the spring.

DECC Ministers have previously stated that a consultation paper for the Community Energy Strategy would be issued in March 2013 – see transcript of Hansard here with the Secretary of State saying:

Mr Davey: Yes. We would then hope to finalise that community energy strategy before the summer recess, or it might end up going into the autumn.

The October 2012 minutes of the Government’s advisory board for the strategy, the Community Energy Contact Group (CECG), reflect a similar provisional timeline for the release of the Community Energy Strategy:

  • Informal consultation through the CECG (Mar-Apr)
  • (tbc) Formal consultation – Apr–Jul
  • (tbc) Publish Strategy – Aug-Sep

Similar time tabling references to the Strategy are also made in the Government’s recent Energy Efficiency Strategy (we’ll however leave to one side Greg Barker rather optimistic tweet in June 2012 that the strategy would be released “within months” which must have left DECC officials somewhat baffled at the time!).

So does it make any difference that DECC are now pointing to a ‘call for evidence’ being released in Spring 2013 rather than an actual draft consultation? Worryingly, it does bring to mind the process Government have been navigating the past five years in issuing policies to drive forward a heat strategy for the UK. A heat ‘call for evidence’ was first issued in 2008 by DECC’s predecessor department, BERR. This was followed by a consultation in 2009 for a Heat and Energy Saving Strategy which was then followed by a further Heat Consultation Strategy consultation in March 2012. We are now awaiting actual ‘policy proposals’ which are due to be released by DECC in March 2013.

Maybe the Community Energy Strategy will be pushed by Ministers more than heat policy has been to date. However – a move to the publication of a  ‘call for evidence’ rather than a draft consultation strategy must surely indicate that the original timelines set out to publish policies to support community-led energy projects are now behind schedule.

There are also indications in the CECG minutes that the Group are not entirely happy with progress to date. At the October 2012 meeting members “raised lack of progress on research requirements discussed at previous meeting as an outstanding issue” and that with regard to a proposed research paper – “members do not feel the current version reflects the previous meetings discussions and outcomes.” The Group’s previous meeting’s minutes also indicate that DECC resourcing for the initiative is limited (para 9) and that the work for the Community Energy Strategy appears to sit within DECC’s ‘Communication Directorate’, with the minutes stating that:

“The focus of the strategy should be community engagement, ideally setting out best practice and a model which all DECC community activity would follow… The Strategy could not seek to modify policies, except in respect to approaches to community partnership and community support. It may however recommend policy areas for further review.” [paras 10/11]

So – if the eventual strategy comes out a little late and doesn’t actually modify any policies at all, but simply sets out some advice and case studies on a website for communities to hopefully follow – does this in fact matter? Putting to one side that DECC do already have a mind-boggling (and not in a good way…) ‘Community Energy Online‘ website, with the Energy Bill current proposals making it more complex for the development of smaller scale generation schemes, it’s yet to be proved that DECC have the same level of ambition for the UK to achieve what has been seen in Germany which has now more than 80,000 German citizens come together in some 600 energy cooperatives”. Only time will tell…

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Brixton Energy and the Future of Community Energy Schemes

January 2013: Labour’s Shadow Energy Minister, Luciana Berger MP, recently visited the team at Brixton Energy to see the excellent work undertaken there in developing a community-led PV project. The scheme has been getting a lot of attention and was raised during a recent House of Commons debate on the Energy Bill, where it was refrenced as the kind of community energy initiative the Bill should be supporting – something which it is sorely lacking to do so at the moment.

The issue of the Energy Bill and community energy schemes – and the forthcoming Government Community Energy Strategy – was picked up again during the committee stage oral evidence sessions last week, with the Secretary of State being quizzed by another Labour Shadow Energy Minister, Tom Greatrex:

“Q 37 Tom Greatrex:  I would like to ask the Secretary of State about community energy projects, because he has talked in the past about wanting to foster a community energy revolution. Will he explain why, contrary to the Select Committee’s report and other representations, he decided against increasing the threshold for the small-scale feed-in tariff above 5 MW?

Mr Davey: I know that there has been a lot of focusing on that. I would say first that community energy strategy is far wider, richer and deeper than simply that particular issue, although I know the Select Committee paid a lot of attention to it. Mr Barker and I will be publishing a consultation paper on a community energy strategy in March—I think that is the current working timetable. Mr Barker will correct me if I am wrong, but I think that we are working to March.

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Gregory Barker)  indicated assent.

Mr Davey: Yes. We would then hope to finalise that community energy strategy before the summer recess, or it might end up going into the autumn. The community energy strategy will cover many more issues than the one that you have identified.

Q 38 Tom Greatrex:  This strategy will be after the Bill, though, so the opportunity to increase that threshold, if that were an appropriate thing to do, is therefore lost.

Mr Davey: The Bill is before the Committee. Of course, we keep those things under review, but let us be clear that the Bill’s major focus is not on community energy. It is about many other things, as we have been discussing. As you will be aware, community energy does not have to go into this Bill. As I have said, it goes much broader than the particular point that you are focusing on, important though that is.

Q 39 Tom Greatrex:  But the thresholds for where the small-scale tariff and the contract for difference come in are in the Bill, are they not?

Mr Davey: Let us be clear. In our discussions on that, the vast majority of community energy schemes that we are seeing are below that threshold.

Q 40 Tom Greatrex:  Because that is what the threshold is. That is why they are below it. It does not follow that they would not be—

The Chair:  Just let him answer the question.

Mr Davey: To invest in bigger schemes than that, you need quite a significant amount of money. You are talking about several more millions than most of the communities will be putting in. When you get to that size of scheme, there is a question mark about how much of a community scheme it remains. There is no science here. I cannot say absolutely that that is the right threshold. There is a legitimate debate to be had about it. I am not pretending that there is not a legitimate debate, but one can slightly over-egg the pudding and not see the overall picture of what we are trying to achieve with community energy.”

Though the Minister is right with respect to London -that we have not as yet seen community-led schemes of the MW size/millions investment – there are however such projects now going ahead elsewhere in the country which are likely to be the pathfinder schemes for other similar initiatives – including ones hopefully in the capital. An excellent scheme worth mentioning is the West Mill Solar Co-op, recently launched in Oxfordshire, which is spread over 30 acres with more than 20,000 solar panels!

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