Utilitywise: lack of qualified assessors puts non-domestic Green Deal at risk

30th April, 2013

The success of the Green Deal for business is at risk due to a lack of qualified assessors for the scheme, says Tim Hipperson, energy services director at Utilitywise plc.

The Green Deal is a promising scheme, but while there are an increasing number of suppliers for the domestic branch, the lack of qualified assessors capable of evaluating businesses is a serious threat to the non-domestic Green Deal.

There are currently over 100 firms capable of carrying out assessments for the domestic Green Deal – this figure dwarfs the number of assessors, at just five. So why is this? After all, there are 44 Green Deal Providers ready to provide funding to businesses so that they can install energy saving measures.

It could be argued that these are only teething problems in a scheme in its very nascent stages.

There are of course greater technical requirements for evaluating business premises, where energy-consuming assets are far greater than in our homes. The wide array of heating, cooling and lighting systems, coupled with the greater variety of usage types and patterns, means that more information has to be gathered as part of the assessment.

Business demand for Green Deal is high. But it remains a frustrating situation because what is clear from our work with over 13,000 companies throughout the UK is that the demand is there and companies and finance directors in particular are keen to cut their energy bills.

In fact, owners of commercial properties are much better placed to take advantage of the Green Deal than consumers because they understand the business model and can build it into their balance sheets.

The Government has committed millions of pounds to its flagship energy saving scheme, but at the time of writing, Utilitywise employs one (with another two in training) of only five assessors in the country capable of carrying out Green Deal assessments on commercial premises.

Utilitywise has been offering a range of financing schemes to businesses since last year, so we know the Green Deal makes a lot of sense. What’s lacking from the scheme at present is the certainty about what terms financing will be made available to companies. Those who haven’t addressed their energy costs, could benefit significantly from the Green Deal, but the scheme is struggling to gain any traction at present because of the lack of qualified assessors.

It is something that we need to get right because the potential benefits go beyond individual companies, it can help reduce the demand on an antiquated energy infrastructure and go some way to mitigating the risk against security supply.

Energy efficient installations under the Green Deal will also go some way to achieve the tight emission reduction targets laid down by the Climate Change Act of 2008, as well as promoting economic growth and productivity through reduced overheads.

We believe that the scheme has massive potential and are currently planning to accredit two more non-domestic Green Deal assessors. We are also in discussions with the Department of Energy and Climate Change over ways to speed up the assessment process and cut the cost of the scheme in order to get funding into the hands of businesses sooner rather than later.

This article first appeared in Greenwise Business on 18th April

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