Sheffield Green Deal firm defies odds to expand

The team at Green Deal Initiative of Holbrook, Sheffield.
The team at Green Deal Initiative of Holbrook, Sheffield.
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A Sheffield Green Deal installer is thriving in an industry hit by wild swings in demand and uncertain funding by trying to stay one step ahead, according to the boss.

Green Deal Initiative Ltd has hit £8m turnover in three years and employs 150 people from its base on Holbrook Industrial Estate in south east Sheffield.

The firm is expanding at a time when a growing number of energy efficiency installers have hit trouble, including NWS of Barnsley, with many blaming the Government.

In insolvency documents sent to creditors NWS blamed early closure, unexpected delays and sudden reductions in eight subsidy schemes involving the Government.

Green Deal Initiative director David Holliday, said they had survived by diversifying - the firm fits 16 energy efficiency measures in homes under two schemes: the Government’s Green Deal and the Energy Companies Obligation. It has a third income from fitting solar panels for housing associations.

He said: “It’s a constant battle for us trying to stay one step ahead. We speak to contractors and try to spot trends before they happen. We’re one of the few who has made a success of it.”

The firm, and the industry, had been hit by a drop in installation prices after the Government gave energy companies an extra two years to meet obligations in last year’s Budget, he added.

And the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund had dried up in July after the Government said it would reduce payments the following week and “everyone applied”, Mr Holliday added.

“We drew up a business plan for six months and got four months out of it. We are happy with our lot because we have diversified.”

The Green Deal has seen thousands of assessments but only 4,500 installations in homes so far, he added.

“It’s been a flop but I think it will bounce back. It’s a good idea and the Government has a target of cutting carbon emissions by 15 per cent from 2010 to 2020 and 80 per cent by 2050. We’re just experiencing a few teething problems.”

The firm has planted 1,000 trees - one for each completed job, “because of all the paperwork”.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said: “Our energy efficiency schemes are aimed at helping people to make their homes warmer and cheaper to run – they aren’t industry subsidies and we’ve always been clear about the amounts of money that are available to consumers. There isn’t unlimited funding, and companies should develop their business models accordingly.

“Through the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund, the sector has already seen a £100 million boost through incentives to consumers. We’ve just announced up to another £100 million, taking funding for energy efficiency over three years to more than half a billion pounds.”