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UK govt 'hopes to find compromise' on energy targets

The government has revealed it believes a compromise on plans for the country to become more energy efficient by 2030 is possible ahead of an EU summit meeting next week.

Despite continuous messages over how the coalition intends to reduce power consumption across the country over the next decade and a half, ministers have been wary of committing to a European-led plan.

According to The Guardian, this is because politicians believe the subsequent policies that would be introduced - which could include a ban on high-powered vacuum cleaners - could sway voters to support UKIP in 2015's general election.

This is despite David Cameron's Conservatives going so far as to say they would be in favour of a 40 per cent target in the past - ten per cent more than what EU leaders are proposing.

However, energy minister Ed Davey has told The Guardian he thinks the coalition will be able to come to an agreement with their continental counterparts, describing his government as being "strong supporters of energy efficiency".

"If you look at central and east European countries, or at the Netherlands and others, they are having problems with too many targets that create inflexibilities for them," Mr Davey said, adding: "They all want to lower emissions and share the UK’s position on an ambitious greenhouse gas reduction target but they want to do that in way that gives them flexibility. In some cases that will be by using energy efficiency, but not in all cases."

The focus on the proposed targets has intensified following the escalation of political instability in Ukraine and Russia, with the region responsible for a significant proportion of Europe's oil and gas imports.

As a result, bosses are hoping to reduce this dependency and improve their level of energy security in the process.

The return of the GDHIF

Mr Davey's comments come off the back of his recent announcement that the government would be allocating £100 million of funding to reintroduce the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF).

This scheme was originally introduced earlier this year, but was forced to close down after just seven weeks because it proved to be more popular than anticipated, resulting in its budget being blown ahead of schedule.

Under the GDHIF, homeowners could apply for cashback worth up to £7,600 to help to cover the cost of fitting measures like solid wall insulation and new boilers - both of which can reduce the energy needed to keep a home sufficiently heated.

As well as boosting the business of organisations specialising in the installation of such technology, it's believed the difference this could make to lowering power consumption across the UK could be significant.

However, it's unlikely that the GDHIF alone is enough to help the UK reach a 20 per cent reduction target by 2020, so support for further measures - including a rehash of the Energy Companies Obligation programme - remains.

With under a week to go until the crunch EU meeting, it could prove to be an interesting few days ahead for the sector and the UK's energy efficiency policies as a whole.

Posted by Simon Webster


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