Following the result of the general election and the subsequent cabinet reshuffle, industry sets out its hopes for energy efficiency and renewables under the new government.

Renewables manufacturer NIBE is urging the industry to work together with the new government to build a robust policy framework – one that will ensure a secure future for renewable heat in the UK.

Phil Hurley, managing director at NIBE, says: “Now that we know the result of the election – and the make-up of the UK’s political landscape for the next five years – it’s time for the industry to pull together and look to the future. After a coalition government, the move to a single party majority is likely to streamline the policy development process – and from installers and specifiers right through to manufacturers and merchants, we will all have an important role to play in helping to shape this as we move forward.

“The next year in particular will be a crucial one for the Renewables Heat Incentive (RHI). In the short term, the priority should be putting a firm budget in place to extend the scheme past April 2016 (and to address other immediate issues, such as third-party financing). Whilst the outcome of this consultation is yet to be announced, as further developments are made, it’s vital that the renewable heating sector continues to make itself heard. The same is true for the long term, as the focus moves to establishing a clear regulatory plan to take the RHI through to 2020 and beyond.

“Here at NIBE, we also welcome the appointment of Amber Rudd as Energy & Climate Change Secretary. With her experience and understanding of the area, she is well placed to work together with industry to build a cohesive and effective renewable heat strategy – helping the UK meet its ambitious 2020 targets, whilst realising its potential as an international leader in the field.”

RenewableUK also welcomed the news of Ms Rudd’s appointment.

“We are pleased to see continuity at the Department following her role as Energy Minister in the previous government,” said RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery.
”We welcome the positive commitments that she has made on reducing carbon emissions, tackling climate change and protecting the environment. We are looking forward to working with her and showing how all the technologies we represent: onshore wind, offshore wind and wave & tidal energy, can help achieve these aims, as well as providing energy security and financial growth for the UK”.

However, BEAMA’s independent campaign, Ask for Underfloor, noted that talk of commitment to improving energy efficiency was relatively low key in the Conservative manifesto.

“Given the limited impact of the Green Deal, we need to ensure this doesn’t mean the Tory party is even less committed this time around said Colin Timmins of BEAMA Underfloor. 

“The Conservative party will be eager to make an impact across all areas, but as an industry we need to look at what we can do to ensure that energy efficiency of homes is improved during the course of this next government,” he explained.

“As an industry we need to exercise our powers of persuasion from the outset. We need to convince incoming ministers that improving heating systems is important in order to fulfil their commitment to tackling rising energy bills, fuel poverty and energy security. Taking a serious look at existing heating technologies is something they need to get to grips with if we are to deliver homes that are affordable, efficient and comfortable.

“In addition this, we need to pay attention to what the effect the almost total dominance of the Scottish National Party (SNP) will have north of the border. The SNP manifesto commits to large scale housing building in Scotland, more ambitious carbon reduction targets and a continuation of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) beyond 2015. It will be a waiting game to see whether this will influence the rest of the UK, but it should certainly mean that the industry has to look very seriously at the potential impacts of policy in Scotland.

“Greater detail on policy will be revealed now the new government is in place and the Ask for Underfloor campaign hopes that we finally get recognition that low energy homes need more than insulation; they also need well controlled, low temperate heating systems. We hope that the Conservatives will be ready to listen to the heating industry so that together we can implement policies that have a real impact.”

Rated people welcomed the promise of 3 million new apprenticeships in the Conservative manifesto, which it hopes will create great opportunities for the next generation and be welcome recognition of the role trades play in our society.

“But, they won’t come from nowhere,” said Celia Francis, chief executive officer at Rated People. “The government needs to take action to ensure that hiring an apprentice makes good business sense for the firms and sole traders who take them on.

“The National Insurance breaks George Osborne announced in 2014 were a good first step, but these should be made permanent and extended to cover all apprentices. In addition, existing incentive schemes should be extended to provide financial support for small businesses looking to hire more than one apprentice.

“Finally, we’d like to see support given directly to sole traders who are looking to make the first step in extending their business. It’s too confusing right now to navigate employment and tax law, meaning many tradespeople are dissuaded from bringing on an apprentice.”