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The Government’s new Green Deal initiative is destined to fail because most people don’t understand how renewable energy works, experts warn.

Research undertaken by specialist energy saving engineering consultancy, Encraft, has found that more than 90 per cent of people who shopped for green energy options for their home failed to actually make a purchase.

When asked why they decided not to take the plunge, most said it was because they lacked confidence that they would get a return on their investment, or that they didn’t understand the technology.

Matthew Rhodes, managing director for Encraft, said: “The Green Deal could offer a massive boost to the UK’s carbon reduction and to the economy, but only if homeowners become confident about which renewable technologies can deliver long-term financial savings for them.

“If this problem is not tackled before the Green Deal is introduced next year, then unfortunately it is destined to be an expensive failure.”

Encraft researched sales conversion rates in more than 2,000 specialist renewable technology installers around the UK. It found that although the majority had seen sales enquiries at least double over the last 12 months, only one in 12 enquiries led to a purchase.

For most installers, just 10 per cent of those who enquired about the likes of solar panels or wind turbine solutions actually had them installed.

Worryingly, it also identified that the majority of renewable energy technology installers didn’t give their customers accurate, customised advice on when to expect a return on investment. As many as 56 per cent admitted that the payback timescales they gave customers weren’t accurate to within a 12 month period.

The findings are a shot across the bows for the Government’s Green Deal initiative, which is currently in the planning stages for introduction in late 2012. The scheme aims to offer financial assistance to homeowners who install energy-saving measures to homes, including renewable energy technology.

Matthew Rhodes, managing director for Encraft, said: “The effectiveness of renewables and energy efficiency technologies are totally dependent on location and the way they are used, which means there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and all advice must be bespoke for each individual site.

“Although the British public is coming to understand this, people have no confidence that investing in renewable technology will pay off for them. Most don’t know that it’s possible to get a payback timescale for renewable technology that is accurate to within a few months (based on transparent assumptions about inflation and usage) so they don’t ask for one. New incentive schemes such as feed in tariffs and the renewable heat incentive provide highly predictable returns for many technologies over long time periods..

“As such, we found that only a third of installers gave quotes accurate to within a year. Nearly a tenth – and one in five in Scotland – didn’t give a timescale to customers at all.

“If this problem is not tackled before the Green Deal is introduced, all it will achieve is to create a lot of wasted time for homeowners as they investigate technologies which are not suitable for their homes.”

Mr Rhodes added that the key to making the initiative work was to educate the public about how different energy saving measures and types of renewable energy work, and what to look for in a good installer.

He said: “There is a quality assurance initiative called the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, but most people have never heard of it let alone know what it is and why installers should have it.

“People also need to learn about what sort of information they need to ask for from their installer, what it actually means, and how to do their own homework, such as using online calculators to find out what the potential solar energy or wind speed in their area is.

“Until they do, the Green Deal is destined to fail.”

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