GOVERNMENT ACTION NEEDED
To its credit, the UK Government is already providing grants, tax breaks and
other incentives for renewable energy, insulation and the like. With regard to
the suggestions that follow, the Government has already taken action or is
taking action in many cases. But its initiatives are often complex and confusing
from a consumer's perspective or they are not well publicised. So these
suggested actions are actions that seem to be needed from a consumer's eye
- Designs for light fittings. It would be good if the Government would encourage the development of light
fittings designed specifically for low-energy bulbs. Many light fittings in
the shops will only take traditional bulbs.
- Photovoltaics. 50% grants are now available for the purchase of photovoltaics but an even
larger subsidy may be needed to get the market going. There may be a case for
encouraging the development of systems for storing energy from photovoltaics.
- CHP. A research initiative or a subsidy or both is needed to encourage the
development of CHP units designed for domestic users.
- Super insulation. Here, 'super' insulation means insulation that is good enough to allow
buildings to occupied comfortably in winter with little or no heating.
Heat exchangers are likely to be needed to allow ventilation without loss of heat.
Integrated systems of 'super' insulation are needed that can be applied to the
roofs, walls, ground floors and windows of existing buildings. An R & D
initiative is probably needed to develop these systems. It is likely that very large
subsidies will be needed to encourage householders to install super
insulation. And planning laws and regulations probably need to be modified to
accommodate the visual effect of thick layers of external insulation on existing buildings.
In general, there is a need for
'systems' that can be retrofitted in a flexible way to existing houses of many
different designs. We believe the Government should take steps to ensure that
systems of this kind are developed and made available for purchase by
- Biofuels for
domestic heating. Some kind of
combination of subsidies and tax breaks is probably needed to make biofuels more attractive
for domestic heating.
- Heat pumps. The market for heat pumps in the UK is still embryonic. Although some
installations attract VAT at 5% (compared with the normal 17.5%), there is a
need for the market to be given additional encouragement by tax incentives
- Solar panels and passive solar
heating. Larger incentives are
probably needed to encourage the development and adoption of systems for solar heating
of water and passive solar heating of existing buildings.
- Traffic-free routes for cycling.
We badly need safe, traffic-free routes for cycling both in towns and in the
open countryside. This could be done with a small fraction of the money
currently spent on roads.
- Diesel engines
and SVO. It would be good if manufacturers
would develop Diesel engines that can run on
straight vegetable oil without the need for modifications. Government
encouragement and incentives would be useful.
- Taxes on
biofuels for transport. Taxes on
bio-diesel, SVO and bio-ethanol need to be further reduced to develop these
types of fuel. Any consequent loss of income to the Government can be offset
by raising taxes on fossil road fuels.
- Electric cars,
hybrids and fuel cells. The
market for electric cars, hybrids and fuel cells needs more encouragement by tax
breaks, tough emission standards or other means.