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Last Updated: Monday, 24 July 2006, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK
Greener houses get 8m fund boost
Solar panels are used for greener energy
Solar panels are used for greener energy
About 8m worth of funding for homeowners who want to switch to green energy is to be made available, the government has announced.

Secretary of State Peter Hain said Northern Ireland was "leading the rest of the UK" in green energy provision.

Under proposed building regulation changes, the use of renewable energy in new builds will be mandatory from 2008.

About 4,000 grants will cover up to 50% of the cost of installing renewable energy systems, such as solar panels.

Other options under the Household Programme include small-scale wind turbines, biomass boilers and geothermal heat pumps.

In my home in Wales, I have installed PV panels on my roof and this has resulted in my energy bill being halved
Peter Hain
Northern Ireland secretary
Five-hundred low-income families will get solar hot water systems installed in their homes, under a Department of Social Development initiative.

Addtionally, the Housing Executive is to install solar water panels in 600 homes.

Mr Hain said the programme would "stimulate renewable energy at household level and effectively initiate a programme of micro-generation development for the future".

He said he had first-hand experience of the benefits of renewable energy.

"In my home in Wales, I have installed PV panels on my roof and this has resulted in my energy bill being halved," he said.

"Changes will come into effect in November that will result in a 40% reduction in emission and set onerous targets to encourage the use of renewables."

The grants are part of the 59m Environment and Renewable Energy Fund launched in February.

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23 Aug 04 |  Northern Ireland

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