Microrenewables grant scheme still failing

The government’s grant scheme to boost microrenewable power generation has descended into farce again

The number of grants paid out since the Business Department (BERR) reformed the scheme last May has fallen by 66% per month according to figures obtained by ENDS.

The Low Carbon Buildings Programme was launched in May 2006 as the government’s flagship scheme for promoting microrenewables. However, it has been dogged by problems and last March was suspended after the monthly fund allocation ran out in less than an hour.

It was relaunched in May without a monthly cap, but with grants for some technologies slashed. For example, the maximum grant for solar PV installations was reduced from £15,000 to £2,500.

However, according to a monthly breakdown of LCBP applications, these reforms have only made matters worse. In the nine months since the LCBP was relaunched, the average number of grants paid out has dropped 66%, from 279 a month to 95. The average grant has also dropped from £1,866 to £932.

The picture is worse for individual technologies. For example, mini-wind turbines have gone from having over 40 applications paid out a month to just 4.

Solar PV, solar thermal and ground source heat pumps have also seen reductions in the number of grants paid-out of over 60%.

Industry lays the blame for the fall at BERR’s door. “A combination of suspending the programme and cutting the grants available was always going to have an effect,” said Seb Berry of Solar Century.

Industry representatives called on BERR to restructure the programme. The current £2,500 restriction on grants per household should be restored to its original £15,000 and grants for individual technologies should be increased, they said.

BERR is expected to make an announcement on the scheme shortly.

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