News: Northern Ireland in household green energy push

Launching an £8 million renewable energy household programme earlier this week, Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain said that Northern Ireland is leading the rest of the United Kingdom in green energy.

Some 4,000 households in the province will benefit under the programme to install renewable energy systems in their home.

Families on low incomes and in social housing are also set to benefit from renewable energy.

The Department of Social Development is providing 100% grant assistance to install solar hot water systems in 500 homes in private fuel-poor vulnerable households.

In the public sector, the Northern Ireland Housing Executive is to install 600 solar water panels in its properties. Peter Hain said: "Northern Ireland is leading the rest of the UK in renewable energy and the government is introducing initiatives to stimulate the use of green energy across the board."

"I am fully committed to the use of renewable energy and I know how effective it can be. In my home in Wales, I have installed PV panels on my roof and this has resulted in my energy bill being halved."

"Planned amendments to the Building Regulations will make micro-generation mandatory in new builds from April 2008. This comprehensive range of measures puts Northern Ireland in a good position to develop its renewable energy options."

The Household Programme will offer grants to up to 50% to 4000 households of the cost of installing systems such as solar heating schemes and photovoltaic panels, small scale wind turbines, biomass boilers and geothermal heat pumps.

The change to the Building Regulations is unique to Northern Ireland. To date, Building Regulations deal with insulation and efficiency, the move to micro-generation is a new initiative in which Northern Ireland is taking the lead.

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