Green Homes Grants for Solar Thermal to Close

Solar Thermal Green Homes Grants

After a difficult 6 months following its launch, the Green Homes Grant scheme is set to close.

Final applications for a Green Homes Grant voucher must be submitted by 5pm on Wednesday 31st March 2021. 12 months sooner than the recently extended end date of 31st March 2022.

Through the scheme, homeowners could apply for a voucher of up to £5,000 (£10,000 for eligible low-income households) that would go towards making their home more efficient – This included renewable heating systems, including solar thermal panels. But since failing to get anywhere close to the initial target of improving the efficiency of 600,000 homes the scheme is closing.

After its closure, additional funding will be made available to the Local Authority Delivery scheme, also designed to improve the efficiency of homes.

Existing applications, as well as those made before the end date, will still be processed, and voucher extensions are available upon request.

Following the decision to end the scheme, Kwasi Kwarteng, Business and Energy Secretary, said: "Upgrading the country's homes with energy efficiency measures means we can cut emissions and save people money on their energy bills.

"Today's funding boost will mean even more households across England are able to access these vital solar panel grants through their local authority."

Why is the Green Homes Grant scheme closing?

Nothing has quite gone to plan for the Green Homes Grant scheme since its launch. The initial target of improving the efficiency of 600,000 was soon found to be over ambitious – only around 6,000 jobs have been completed so far.

The scheme has been criticised for being poor on the administration side, struggling to sign up installers and making it challenging for homeowners to apply for the work they want. Add a global pandemic on top of that and it's no surprise the scheme hasn't flourished.

How do renewable heating systems make homes more efficient?

A renewable heating system provides domestic hot water and/or central heating using a sustainable fuel source without emitting carbon into the atmosphere. This is opposed to gas and oil boilers – the most popular heating systems in the UK.

A solar thermal heating system is made up of panels, installed on the roof, which absorb heat from the sun and use it to heat water stored in a cylinder. Once installed, the solar energy will essentially give you free hot water (during daylight hours) and cut your carbon footprint.

Air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps and biomass boilers are other renewable heating systems that could be installed through the scheme.

What's being done now to improve the efficiency of UK homes?

Our homes are emitting around 14% of all UK carbon emissions. An estimated 19 million UK homes are poorly insulated which is a massive concern. This is because heat will be escaping all of those properties which leads to the heating being on for longer. Considering that most of these homes will have a gas or oil boiler, the longer the heating is on, the more emissions will rise. This makes increasing the efficiency of properties essential, otherwise emissions will continue to rise and we won't reach net-zero by 2050.

There are plenty more targets the government is wanting to achieve as part of its 'Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution'. These include, heat pumps being installed in 600,000 homes a year by 2028 and increasing the Energy Performance Certificate to band B and C in as many homes as possible by 2035. Despite all of these targets, there currently seems to be very little action.

Following the closure of the Green Homes Grant scheme, £300 million of additional funding will now be made available to the Local Authority Delivery scheme for the 2021/22 financial year. However, this scheme is designed to help households with an income lower than £30,000 per annum. So, for those who aren't eligible, there's currently little they can get in the way of financial support. And without government help, it's unlikely that many households will want to make such an investment.

The government will be announcing more details around the Local Authority Delivery scheme later in the year.

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