the national residential retrofit plan

“A medley of factors, both on the home front and on the global stage, are converging to reshape the retrofit industry in unprecedented ways” (Dr. Ciaran Byrne, the Director of National Retrofit at SEAI).

On February 8th, 2022,  the government dispelled ambiguity, especially within the domestic retrofit sector, by unveiling the National Residential Retrofit Plan.

A Singular Hub and Expanded Financial Backing

Prominent within this scheme is the National Home Energy Scheme, designed to be administered via an array of certified One Stop Shops (OSSs). Geared toward homeowners planning to enhance their homes’ energy efficiency to achieve a BER B2 rating, the OSSs are entrusted with guiding customers through the entire process. Since its launch, five OSSs have already registered, with more anticipated in the near future. SEAI is working through increasing this network of OSSs in the coming months and years.

February also heralded a boost in funding support for SEAI’s pre-existing home energy grants initiative, which covers insulation and heating system upgrades. This program permits homeowners to gradually carry out home energy improvements based on their individual circumstances. These grants now shoulder around 50% of the total costs, escalating to 80% for wall and attic insulation. This notably targets homeowners who may not qualify for full funding or who lack the resources for a complete home overhaul to attain a B2 rating.

Wall and cavity insulation offer an economical, speedy solution with enduring benefits for home energy efficiency, a pivotal factor during a phase of rapidly escalating energy prices. The demand has been staggering, witnessing a leap of over 300% compared to the previous year. Crucially, this isn’t a fleeting phenomenon but rather a well-defined government policy, imparting market assurance.

Year 2022 2023 2024 2025 2026 2027 2028 2029 2030
Planned Allocation (million) €202 €291 €380 €496 €641 €898 €1,257 €1,760 €2,000

Source: National Development Plan Annual Allocations for Retrofit.

The Blueprint for Residential Retrofit

Laid out meticulously, the National Residential Retrofit Plan outlines Ireland’s route toward curbing 3.5mt CO2 eq emissions by 2030 within the residential sector. This objective entails upgrading 500,000 homes to attain a BER B2 rating and installing 400,000 heat pumps. Beyond conferring the imperative policy and market stability essential for elevating the current sector to meet our aspirations, this blueprint is supplemented by substantial funding.

From 2022 to 2030, the Plan allocates a projected €8 billion to domestic retrofit undertakings. The heartening aspect is that this is merely the beginning. Accomplishing this 2030 goal addresses approximately one-third of the nation’s housing stock. The remainder must undergo enhancement to position Ireland on the trajectory to becoming a net-zero carbon emissions society by 2050, a legal imperative. This National Plan offers enterprises the requisites for monumental advancement: a clear indication of a viable market, stability in that market’s growth, and substantial funding of €8 billion up to 2030.

At present, SEAI’s grant-funded domestic retrofit programs are witnessing robust demand and an impressive influx of projects. By mid-year, the tally of grant applications has already matched the entire count for 2021, nearly reaching 20,000 applications. And this trajectory is poised to ascend further. Much of this surge is attributed to geopolitical unrest and persisting energy uncertainties, accompanied by relentless increases in the cost of living.

Capitalizing on Industry Prospects Amidst Global Trials

The pronouncements of An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin, resonate; his cautionary words of an impending “new era” characterised by soaring energy costs and challenging times ahead urge vigilance. Present predicaments, such as inflation and supply chain convolutions, largely stem from overarching macroeconomic dynamics. Inflation, living expenses, and supply chain disruptions appear to be felt globally. These adversities encompass labour strikes in South Korea, extensive civil unrest in Bangladesh, and stringent pandemic-linked lockdowns in pivotal shipping centres like Shanghai.

The effects of the Ukrainian conflict remain underestimated. These international currents are influencing the domestic economy and are to a large extent uncontrollable, with only limited countermeasures feasible. The issue of labour shortages, though relatively more controllable, remains a challenge. While a dearth of skilled labour is pervasive throughout the construction realm, with retrofitting competing with new construction endeavors, solutions are in motion. Concrete strategies have been devised by Solas, the Education and Training Boards (ETBs), and the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research Innovation and Science (DFHERIS) to substantially amplify training opportunities within the retrofit and green economy domains.

In 2022, an additional €17 million was earmarked for 2,650 training slots, culminating in a total of 4,550 positions by year’s end. As per a recent report by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs for the Zero Carbon Economy, fulfilling the labour demand for domestic retrofit, heat pump, and solar PV sectors would necessitate 17,400 Full Time Equivalents (FTEs). The National Residential Retrofit Plan presents an unparalleled opening. The fusion of lucid governmental direction and substantial financial backing is poised to galvanize businesses into seizing this opportunity. SEAI is actively engaged with prospective contractors, organizing regular onboarding workshops to aid their journey. To those yet to contemplate retrofitting as a business avenue, I strongly advocate considering entry into this burgeoning sector, nurturing the skills and capabilities inherent in the role of a domestic retrofit contractor.

Original Article Source: This article is based on an original piece written by Dr. Ciaran Byrne for the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). For further information and in-depth insights, you can refer to the original article on the SEAI website here.