Huhne promises ‘green-collar’ growth in five years

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne today said that the number of insulation workers in the UK could almost quadruple in the next five years. Currently around 27,000 work in the insulation […]

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By Kelvin Ross

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne today said that the number of insulation workers in the UK could almost quadruple in the next five years.

Currently around 27,000 work in the insulation industry but under the government’s proposed Green Deal, which is to be introduced into Parliament next month, Mr Huhne expects this figure to rise to 100,000.

The Green Deal will offer residents of both owned and rental properties the chance to upgrade their property to save energy and pay for the work from the savings on their energy bills.

Visiting British Gas’ Energy Academy in Thatcham today, Mr Huhne said: “At a time of increasing gas prices energy efficiency is a no-brainer. It’s also a massive economic and job opportunity which could help Britain’s economy turn the corner.

“With up to 100,000 green jobs up for grabs over the next five years, and even more in the long term, this is about growing our economy in a way that’s good for jobs, the environment and energy security.”

The Green Deal, which is expected to be available from Autumn 2012, will be open to homes and businesses and involve a three-step process: an independent energy survey of the property, giving clear advice on the best energy efficiency options, such as loft or cavity wall insulation; Green Deal finance would then be provided by a range of accredited providers, which will be repaid through savings on energy bills, making properties cheaper to run from day one; finally, homes and businesses will receive their energy efficiency package. Only accredited measures will be installed by appropriately-qualified installers, overseen by the government, giving consumers confidence that the deal they are getting is high-quality and will save them money.

The government has today also announced measures to improve the energy efficiency of the private rented sector. Under the Green Deal, landlords will face no upfront costs when improving their properties. The forthcoming Energy Bill will create powers allowing any tenant asking for reasonable energy efficiency improvements to receive them from 2015 onwards. It will also allow local authorities to insist that landlords improve the worst performing homes.

In September, British Gas said it would “go early” on the Green Deal by investing £30m in installing energy efficiency measures in its customers’ homes at no up-front cost. Repayments from customers will be made via savings in their energy bill.

To help deliver these energy efficiency services, British Gas plans to recruit a total of 3,700 “green-collar” jobs by the end of next year. Today, British Gas announced that it has now filled 1,000 of these “green collar” roles across insulation, in-home advice, renewable generation and smart metering.

Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association, today responded to Mr Huhne’s statements by saying that the Green Deal should “complement the Renewable Heat Incentive”, which is due to be introduced in June next year.

“By integrating these two policies, the cost effectiveness of both is enhanced,” she said.”It makes sense for homeowners to implement energy efficiency measures before installing renewable space heating, as it reduces the capital and running costs of the equipment, and the income stream from the RHI could help fund some of the more expensive energy efficiency measures. It’s the perfect way to do a green makeover for the home.”