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Jobs, Growth and Reduced Energy Costs: Greenprint for a National Energy Efficiency Retrofit Programme

Jobs, Growth and Reduced Energy Costs: Greenprint for a National Energy Efficiency Retrofit Programme

Joseph Curtin

21 October 2009

Energy saving plan to slash fuel bills and create more than 30,000 jobs

A scheme to upgrade the energy efficiency of more than a million Irish homes would create up to 32,000 building industry jobs and help drive economic recovery. This publication is available for download here.

Press: Sunday Business post article. View here

Improvements ranging from insulating walls and attics, to installing more efficient boilers and lighting, would slash householders’ energy bills. Nationwide the housing stock would be upgraded to a benchmark C1 Building Energy Rating.

The work would provide a badly needed boost for the construction industry – and the wider economy – while helping Ireland prepare for the challenges of climate change and energy security.

No upfront costs and average savings of €1,100 a year on energy bills would act as a strong incentive for householders to participate in the scheme.

The improvements to approximately 1.2 million homes, mainly those built before 2002, would require investment estimated at €14.5 billion over a period of 12-15 years.

As a result an estimated €1.4 billion would be saved on the nation’s collective energy bill every year.

The proposals – including a range of options that would minimise the cost to the taxpayer – are contained in a report from Dublin think-tank the Institute of International and European Affairs. The report will be launched on Wednesday 21st October by Eamon Ryan TD, Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources.

“Bold action today will save tens of thousands of construction workers from the dole queue and drastically reduce energy bills in more than a million homes,” said the report’s author Joseph Curtin, Senior Researcher at IIEA.

“Simultaneously it will help prepare Ireland for what will be two of the biggest challenges of the 21st Century, climate change and energy security. 

“Throw into the equation that this can all be achieved at low or no cost to the exchequer and you have a compelling proposition.”

In the report – which will be distributed to the Taoiseach, Government ministers and every member of the Dáil, – IIEA outlines four options that could be used in a variety of combinations to secure finance for the rollout of the programme.

·      Government-set targets for energy companies to reduce demand from their customers, as set out in the Renewed Programme for Government 2009. To meet these targets the companies would pay the upfront cost of energy efficiency improvements. Customers would then repay the cost through their bills, which would not rise because of the energy saved. Market research shows 80% of owner-occupiers would be interested in energy efficiency improvements under this system*.

·      A premium on individual energy bills – either as a standing charge or per unit used – that would be pooled and used to fund energy efficiency improvements.

·      A minimum energy efficiency standard required for homes being sold or let. Alternatively an adjustment to stamp duty or the proposed property tax to provide a strong incentive for energy efficiency improvements. Minimum standards would be of particular relevance in the private rental sector, where landlords may be reluctant to invest when they do not pay the energy bills.

·      Using the proceeds of the carbon tax planned for the Budget to expand the availability of grants, as proposed in the Renewed Programme for Government 2009. This would apply particularly to the social housing sector.

A Government-established ‘green’ bank or an issue of ‘green’ bonds could help power companies with capital if they met the upfront cost of improvements.

A new breed of ‘one stop shop’ Energy Services Companies would explain the efficiency options to householders and then carry out the work.

Government money would probably be needed to fund improvements in the social housing sector, but this would be recouped over time through reduced assistance with fuel bills.

The proposals would also markedly reduce ‘fuel poverty’, which affects approximately 150,000 Irish households. The World Health Organisation described its prevalence as “shocking” for a country at Ireland’s level of development.

In environmental terms, greenhouse gas emissions from the residential sector, which currently account for about a quarter of Ireland’s CO2 footprint, would be cut by 40% against 2005 levels.

This reduction would help meet targets for the wider domestic sector, which may be expected to cut emissions by up to 30% by 2020.  The domestic sector also includes agriculture and transport, where reductions are “very difficult”.

* Findings of Amárach Research online survey, August 2009.

For further information please contact: 

Joseph Curtin: joseph.curtin@iiea.com                      +353 (0) 1 8773018 

IIEA         

Malcolm Jones: malcolm.jones@bulletinpr.co.uk        +44 (0) 7984 700030 

Bulletin PR 

Notes to Editors: 

 The research was funded by the European Climate Foundation.

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