I write this as an avid fan of moving towards a sustainable future. I have children who I am very conscious of being the receivers of a world tainted by the industrial revolution and what has followed since. However I also believe that in using more energy, this normally translates into a better standard of living. So, the secret is to not use less energy, but to use more, ensuring that it is clean energy.
At QASSS, we have been building up a picture of how renewable energy is delivered to the UK homeowner. We collect data around complaints, disputes and claims in relation to renewable energy, along with other home improvement sectors. It allows us to have a view of how things look at the backend; how do all of those sales translate to deliveries and installations. How do those installations translate to quality and great service.
Its fair (we think) to say that the UK is still quite new to the world of renewables, at a residential level certainly. We are still feeling the aftermath of the great solar mis-sell event which happened in the UK. In 2014/15, sales were booming across the country, particularly in those sunny southern regions. But by the end of 2015, the sinister side of the boom started to show its face. Claims arriving on the doorsteps of retailers, installers and finance lenders. Mis-selling being mentioned everywhere. Claims/compensation style companies picking up on the scent, as vulnerable consumers were being promised the undeliverable.
What drove this? Government incentives and a lack of market entry controls. The Government Feed-in Tariff along with RHI (renewable heat incentive) payments accelerated the interest in renewable energy. At the time, it was mainly solar. But with that interest comes opportunity to make a fast buck. As the RHI scheme came to an end in 2020/21, renewable energy installations were not just flatlining, but declining. This showed a market that was built upon financial incentive, and not necessarily by the climate change agenda which is feeling more real now.
As we come out of a pandemic, and with rising energy prices, and a need to reduce our reliance on gas, renewable energy has never looked so attractive. Add to that more incentives such as the removal of VAT from renewable energy equipment purchases, the introduction of a Boiler Upgrade Scheme, the addition of renewable energy to the government ECO4 scheme, plus others…the market is perfectly positioned to make a lot of the same mistakes from 2015.
With a surge in demand, comes the need for more materials and skilled labour. Both of which are found lacking at the moment. The renewable energy gold rush is on, and the impacts of that are already starting to show in consumer detriment volumes.
So, what is the point of this article? Well right now the UK still needs more investment from renewable energy manufacturers, home insures and banks. It needs more skilled labour and better supply chains. It needs more measures to assist in ensuring only professional businesses are allowed to operate in it.
To mitigate the above, more than ever, companies delivering these solutions have to invest in their design departments. With the amount of work becoming available, they need to learn to say no when they have not got the right solution. They need to ensure that collectively they manage renewable energy installations with a quality first mindset, to assist in enhancing the reputation of the market. UK consumers need this confidence as they seek to understand how they should spend their money in order to avoid long term, excessive energy bills.
We all have a duty to make sure that renewable energy works. Particularly for our children.
If there are organisations or individuals out there interested in receiving anonymised, industry data, highlighting where things may be going wrong with the sales, installation or aftercare phases of renewable energy, please feel free to subscribe to our emailing list.