Earlier this year SEAI (Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland) published a survey of the gains from various grant-aided schemes. The sad thing is, that despite HUGE investment of my money and your money, the gains, in many cases, were nil or close to nil.
I am not surprised
Does this surprise me?? No way - not in the least am I even mildly surprised. Why am I not surprised? Read my blog!!
SEAI started out with very good intentions. They had an excellent website and they offered VERY GENEROUS grants for various sustainable energy projects.
However, they got it terribly wrong in some areas. Just looking at the case of wood pellet heating, they did not bother to:
(1) Check the availability of pellets. No pellets manufactured in the Republic at the time!!
(2) Neither did they make ANY PROVISION WHATSOEVER to protect the consumer from the hoards of Rip-Off cowboys waiting to pounce on a lush market.
(3) The entire €4700 value of the grant was absorbed by RipOff Irelands inflated prices for boilers etc., on the one hand, some 30% to 50% dearer than say Germany, and by installers charging €1000 to do a simple installation.
(4) Nor did they fully examine the quality and available of the technology, thus allowing “Heath Robinson” cobbled together systems and really clunky design gain a hold riding on the back of €4700 grants.
(5) Finally, or perhaps not actually finally as there could be many other instances outlined, they have not to the present time made any attempt to right the glaring problems that they have primarily created.
No then, it does not surprise me -at all at all - that SEAI grant schemes have been shown to be generally a waste of public money.
A known problem generally with “Authorities” and “Government Agencies” is that these “Institutions” tend to develop a “self-serving” attitude, looking after their own and their employee’s needs and well being BEFORE the people or projects they are supposed to be serving.
Every dog on the road knows that the very best jobs in the country are with government agencies.
(1) They pay on average 25% - 50% better than the private sector.
(2) They carry guaranteed pensions, something the rest of us can never hope for.
(3) Short of committing murder, you cannot be fired,
(4) You are expected to work some 50% less than a similar job in the private sector.
(5) Sick leave, maternity leave, breaks, time to cash you wage cheque, and a dozen other little perks are included.
(6) They would appear to be recession proof, and
(7) They live in a twilight zone where normal science and business laws do not apply.
All and any of these would not and could not be supported in the real world. Only in the parallel world of the Government Agency, Civil Service, or County Council, could this alternative reality survive. The country cannot afford this kind of bullshit anymore.
My advice to Ireland, to the sustainable energy community, and to the Government? Cut the losses and please scrap SEAI now. A partially funded partially voluntary organisation would do much better. The grants could also be simplified and made much more attractive and less costly. Current grant schemes tend to favour the better off. Lower income groups cannot affort to go for fancy geo-thermal or €10,000 wood-pellet systems.
Simple everyday energy saving methods like fully promoting the change-over to CFL or LED lighting, and the promotion of fitting stoves and fireplace doors in place of open fires. All would effect greater savings than the disastrous wood-pellet cock-up or the less than well planned geo-thermal grants.