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Shout it from the rooftops

Dimplex managing director Stuart MacKenzie talks to Frankie Snobel about the quickly advancing future of the renewables sector and why contractors need to embrace this innovative technology


Contractors in the economic downturn are seeing a real business opportunity here in the renewables industry

34 ECA Today May 2011

enewable energy is the key to our low-carbon future. Government targets to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions have been set, but the only way to get there is to diversify

our energy sources. Rising to the challenge, the UK has created an ambitious target of achieving 15 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2020. With last year’s Feed-in Tariff scheme and this year’s Renewable Heat Incentive, consumers are finally seeing the advantages of renewable energy technology, creating a lucrative business opportunity for contractors nationwide. Dimplex is a leading player in the renewables industry, manufacturing high-quality products and training contractors to install them correctly, providing much-needed skills to an industry that is finally accepting a future shaped by renewables. Here, we talk to Dimplex’s managing director, Stuart

Mackenzie, to get his views on the current market – and the future for renewables.

ECA Today: The Feed-in Tariff scheme has grown the demand for renewable energy technology – how can contractors jump on board and make the most of this valuable business opportunity? Stuart Mackenzie: The straightforward answer here is training and making sure that they get MCS accreditation, because without the MCS accreditation there is no access to grants to benefit their customers. And then they have got to do some marketing. Contractors must determine what their market is, whether they are going for some of the larger commercial opportunities. These are highly competitive and the margins are thin. Or contractors can look for local business with owner-occupiers, with targeted mail shots supported with local press and radio advertising.

ECA Today: Do you believe contractors are actually seeing the business and environmental benefits available through the renewables industry? Stuart Mackenzie: Yes, most definitely. We’ve got a good example locally, Harvey Electrical in Poole; it’s an ECA member. A couple of years ago, Steve Harvey saw the opportunity in the renewables sector and has actually set up a growing, successful renewables business called Anolis. We are seeing this being replicated throughout the country, as contractors in the economic downturn are seeing a real business opportunity here in the renewables industry.

ECA Today: What are the current challenges faced by the renewables industry? Stuart Mackenzie: It’s really getting consumer acceptance – educating the consumer about the environmental (the carbon benefits) and the financial benefits. There has been a gap in recent years in grant funding. The Low Carbon Buildings Programme finished over a year ago, and we’ve had a void, but the Feed-in Tariffs came in last year for photovoltaics, and now we have the Renewable Heat Incentive. The government has got to give greater clarity to the marketplace, really.

ECA Today: What is your response to the government’s recent announcement regarding the details of the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme? Stuart Mackenzie: We have a reserved welcome for it. Largely, we see it as quite positive. It only covers commercial initially, and domestic won’t be included until next year. We’re a little disappointed that air source heat pumps weren’t included in the full scheme to start with on the commercial side, but as a business we are well placed with large ground source heat pumps and solar thermal products, which will give us a good opportunity. I think a soft start to this program is important, and the planned Renewable Heat Premium Payments seem a good way of doing this, although we would like to see more detail on this from government as quickly as possible. The incentive is not as clear to the to the customer as the Feed-In Tariffs, and I think by the government giving it a soft start it will help educate and communicate to people the benefits. With the Feed-In Tariff, it’s a quick retrofit. If you’ve got a south-facing roof, it’s a relatively easy proposition. But, with something like a heat pump, you’ve got to give

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