To promote investment in sustainable building and technologies, various forms of 'green finance' are already in place or are under development. These vary from direct subsidy, through to the creation of institutions and market mechanisms that catalyse flows of private and public money into green projects.
The Green Deal is the current Government’s flagship environmental policy, designed to drive significant investment in energy efficiency improvements to the UK’s domestic and commercial buildings.
The scheme enables homeowners and businesses to have various measures installed at low or no up-front cost, financed by the private sector and repaid through a charge attached to the customer’s energy meter. The “Golden Rule” of the scheme aims to ensure that energy bill savings are greater than or equal to the repayments. Find out more about the Green Deal under our section on Retrofit.
The Green Investment Bank
Recognising the need to have institutions in place to drive the transition to a low-carbon economy, the Government is setting up the world's first Green Investment Bank (GIB). Due to be based in Edinburgh, the GIB is intended to play a key role in supporting and overcoming barriers to investment in green projects.
Initially set to be capitalised with £3 billion, the GIB’s priority areas for investment are offshore wind; commercial and industrial waste processing and recycling; energy from waste; non-domestic energy efficiency; and supporting the Green Deal. Find out more about the Green Investment Bank.
In July 2011, we held a workshop for members on the Green Investment Bank and published a short briefing document on the plans.
Intended to accelerate investment in renewable energy, the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) was launched in April 2010 under the Energy Act 2008. Under the FiT mechanism, businesses and households are paid for generating electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind and small-scale CHP, and only applied to installations of up to 5 MW.
The costs of the scheme are covered via a levy on energy bills, with eligible installations receiving payments for up to 25 years. Since their launch, the rate of uptake has been significant, leading the Government to reduce the rate paid for both large (commerical) and small (domestic) installations, alongside the introduction of a minimum energy efficiency requirement for households wishing to recieve the payments.
Some of these changes, particularly the sudden and rapid nature of the cuts to the tariffs, were met with significant opposition, with the Phase 1 of the Government's consultation having been subject to legal challenge. More recent changes resulting from a second consultation on "cost control" have been broadly welcomed by industry and green groups for returning a degree of stability to the industry.
Renewable Heat Incentive
Similar to the FiT, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is designed to encourage the installation of measures which generate renewable heat. Initially made available only to those installing systems in non-domestic buildings, the scheme was originally due to be extended to households late in 2012 (to coincide with the start of the Green Deal). This has now been pushed back to the summer of 2013, with a second phase of the Renewable Heat Incentive Premium Payment Scheme put in place in the interim.
Technologies eligible for the scheme include renewably powered district heating, solar thermal panels, heat pumps (ground- and water-source), biomass boilers and deep geothermal systems.