David Symons, director at environmental consultancy WSP, insisted: “Many commentators have been quick to deride Green Deal, but the reality is that today’s figures show a new scheme that is at last getting underway. The UK needs Green Deal to be a success if we are going to substantially reduce carbon emissions.
Thomas Heldgaard, managing director of insulation materials supplier Rockwool UK, said: “While there will be some disappointment that Green Deal and ECO [Energy Company Obligation] have yet to meet the government’s ambitions, there is no doubt these schemes provide a significant framework for real, long-term, progress towards the UK meeting its carbon targets. They will also see the regeneration of run-down communities and increased employment opportunities.
“Green Deal and ECO are firing the starter pistol for behaviour change on an unprecedented scale and will have significant benefits for homeowners and tenants. Rockwool is confident that, with a few minor adjustments, people will recognise the significant opportunity this scheme represents."
Mr Heldgaard concluded: “Rockwool urges doomsayers to back the Green Deal and ECO and, like us, develop the products and partners to make the policy a success for local communities across Britain.”
Keepmoat sustainability director Nigel Banks expressed disappointment at progress to date but called for patience and passion. He said: “The take-up figures are very low, but this was to be anticipated as the legal contracts to offer Green Deal finance are not in place, meaning just a few of the 60 Green Deal providers are actually able to offer finance at present.
“It is frustrating that these legal contracts were not in place sooner but we expect this to be resolved in the next few weeks and then the take-up figures for the Green Deal will begin to build in July and August. We need to be more patient with the Green Deal scheme and as a nation we need to be more passionate about building and creating more energy-efficient homes.”
Mr Banks added: “People need to remember the Green Deal is just one finance option available. There are other significant grant subsidies available such as the Energy Company Obligation which means people can get home insulation, sometimes covering the full cost of installation, and free replacement boilers for those on qualifying benefits.”
Unsurprisingly, the most bullish of all was energy minister Greg Barker, who is responsible for the progress of the scheme to date. He said: “The Green Deal is an ambitious and uniquely long-term programme designed to upgrade the energy efficiency of Britain’s homes. It’s only just getting started, but the early signs are encouraging.
“Today we’ve seen that 81,798 installations have taken place with the support of the new Energy Company Obligation, helping those most in need or with particularly hard to treat properties. But this is just the start. 38,259 Green Deal assessments is also a clear sign that many consumers genuinely want to make their homes more efficient; but we are keen to do more.
“78% of people who have received a Green Deal advice report, following a Green Deal assessment, said they had, were getting or would get energy saving measures installed. This too is a great sign – many people are increasingly looking to make their homes more energy efficient and keep bills down.
“Getting software systems running and finance into place for Green Deal plans to be signed has taken time, so the numbers here are lower. The very first wave of Green Deal finance providers have only just got their individual finance terms and conditions in place and gone live with their software systems that operate this whole new product. However, now the first five are up and running, the good news is that we expect up to 50 authorised finance providers to be active by the end of the year, massively increasing the access to finance in the market.
“It will take time as this brand new market finds its legs, but I now expect the number of plans signed to start steadily rising.”
Though mostly supportive, WSP’s David Symons did add a note of caution: “The figure of 38,000 Green Deal assessments is a reasonable start, but before we get too excited, this only represents a tiny 0.1% of the UK’s housing stock. Government will need to keep a close eye on uptake over the coming months, amending the scheme where necessary and importantly, not hide behind political spin and dogma.”