Some 125,000 new boilers and doubling of commitment to carbon capture and storage included in Alistair Darling's speech. Householders will be able to trade in their old boilers for newer, more efficient models under plans announced today by the chancellor, Alistair Darling.
The cash is part of a package of environmentally friendly measures (pdf) unveiled in the government's pre-budget report. Announcing funding for carbon capture projects and tax breaks for those generating their own electricity, the chancellor said that Britain had to conserve more energy to cut carbon emissions.
An extra £200m will go into helping people make their homes more energy-efficient through measures such as insulation, supporting around 75,000 households. "This will go alongside further requirements from the energy companies, up to £300m overall, to provide discounts on energy bills to another 1m low-income households," Darling said.
Paul King, the chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, welcomed the energy-efficiency moves. "They help raise the profile of home energy efficiency and provide some support to the emerging low carbon refurbishment industry. However, we're still just tinkering around the edges of what is possible. Householders need help refurbishing their whole home, not just their boiler."
There are around 4m G-rated gas boilers in the UK, according to Philip Sellwood, the chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust. "If these were all replaced with A-rated boilers it would save almost 4.5m tonnes of CO2 per year, the equivalent of 830,000 household's emissions, so the scheme announced today has real promise," he said. Upgrading to an A-rated condensing boiler could save a household £310 a year in bills.
Homeowners with wind turbines or solar panels will also benefit from feed-in tariffs starting next April, which will guarantee a price for any electricity fed into the national grid. The government said it could provide an average of £900 - tax free - per year, for a household generating green power.
Darling said the government will also invest in low-carbon sectors such as wind power and increase its commitment to carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. The CCS money will fund four demonstration projects in the UK.
Darling said the environmental sector was an opportunity to produce create new high-skilled, highly paid jobs for the UK. "Today I can redirect existing funding, and invest in wind power, renewable energy and other green industries," he said.
"Through the Innovation Investment Fund and the Carbon Trust's venture capital scheme, we will support at least £160m of public and private investment in low-carbon projects. We will also invest £90m in the European Investment Bank's new 2020 fund, which will enable €6.5bn of finance for green infrastructure projects."
Greenpeace's executive director, John Sauven, said a bold move would have been to scrap the UK's Trident nuclear weapon system, which could have saved £100bn, and use the money to create a green investment bank. "This would help British companies invest in clean technology, and bring thousands of new jobs and much needed energy security to the UK. Instead we've got a few tax breaks and lots of rhetoric, but words alone won't build a low-carbon economy."
Copyright Speakers Corner 2017