Renew On Line (UK) 57
Extracts from NATTA's journal
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The '40% House'
The 40% House report, from Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute, claims that CO2 emissions from the UK’s domestic housing stock could be reduced by 60% by the year 2050, by upgrading insulation levels and installing more efficient appliances and low energy lighting. In addition use should made of community and micro CHP, heat pumps, PV, solar and wind to supply heat and power. The report also argued that these upgrades should be targeted mainly at new build: 14% of the UK’s current housing stock- 3.2 million homes- was unsuited to cost effective improvement, and should be demolished by 2050. Listed buildings would be spared, but the present demolition rate would be quadrupled to 80,000 homes a year by 2016. The report says “Care must be taken not to invest money in upgrading those homes that will ultimately be demolished”.
This raised some hackles. For example, Architect Quinlan Terry, told the Telegraph (30/5/5) that it missed the “bigger picture”, which included the fossil fuels already expended in putting up existing buildings and how long the new buildings would last. The carbon from the fossil fuels burnt to build our existing housing stock was, he said, already in the atmosphere. “So why repeat the process?”. Actually though the embedded carbon is much less that that created by the energy used once the house is built- so its efficiency is crucial.
See our Reviews section and Forum in Renew 157 for more.
Micro power not nuclear
Using micro-CHP units to generate electricity could provide the same amount of power as the UK’s current nuclear capacity, according to Powergen- who have been running consumer trials with 400 of their WhisperGen stirling engine units. The system could reportedly save a three to four bed household around £150 per year, with any surplus electricity to be purchased by Powergen at 3 pence per kWh. Jeremy Harrison at Powergen told BBC Radio Four’s ‘Today’ programme: “We’re committed to installing up to 80,000 systems over the next few years. There is a potential for about half the houses in the UK to have micro-CHP installed and if that happened- as we expect ultimately that will- that’s about the same generation capacity as the entire nuclear industry today.” Source: EST Daily News Summary.
* The DTI has produced a consultation paper on Microgen strategy which also covers their proposed new Low Carbon Building programme.
Solar PV cut fears
The UK Photovoltaic solar community’s fears that that the government is about to pull the plug on grant money for early adopters of solar energy (see Renew 156), were not assuaged by recent comments from the DTI- which had indicated that PV would be included, along with other micro renewables, in the new ‘technology neutral’ Building-Integrated Renewables funding programme, subsuming its dedicated programme for solar PV, originally set to run to 2012, which will now end prematurely in March next year. A DTI spokesman told the Guardian (8/4/05) that there had to be priories: “The climate we have does not lend itself to solar energy and the government has to decide which kind of renewable power is most viable. The government has to prioritise.”
The Guardian noted that, so far, the UK has installed 6MW of PV but may have trouble meeting its target of 9MW. By contrast, Germany installed 300MW last year and on 12 occasions since 1999 delivered the equivalent of the UK’s three-year target in just one month.
* It may not solve the problem, but the DTI’s new consultation paper on Microgen lays out plans for a Low Carbon Building programme which includes PV. And allocations are still continuing under the existing scheme- the latest, in May, was £1.35m for 14 new PV projects, bringing the total so far to 180.
DEFRA has provided £10.6m for a further 17 projects in homes, schools, hospitals, leisure centres & colleges, under the Community Energy scheme, which since 2002 has allocated £50m for a range of local heating projects The latest round includes £1.3m for a hospital & University in Birmingham.
Rubbish for power
30 million tonnes of household waste is sent to landfill dumps in England each year, of which more than half could be used to generate power for 2m homes- 17% of UK electricity could come from rubbish by 2020, according to ‘Quantification of the Potential Energy from Residuals in the UK’ produced by the Institution of Civil Engineers & the Renewable Power Assn.
Green Channel Isles
Tidal currents around Guernsey could provide Britain with a third of all its power, according to Prof. Peter Smith, from the University of Nottingham. The UK government has already awarded the island a grant to build tidal turbine and, with backing from Guernsey Electricity and EDF, Marine Current Turbines evidently see this as one possible site for a commercial scale version of their SeaGen device, following on from the successful Lynmouth Seaflow prototype (see Renew 150). Meanwhile, Jersey Electricity has been looking into renewable energy sources, including a wind farm between Jersey and France, and it has helped set up a company to invest in renewable projects, Renewable Energy Generation Ltd, which is currently raising funds for investment in new projects.
Solar panels are being installed on Crichton, a ruined 14th-century castle in Midlothian, to provide power for heating and lighting- the first of Historic Scotland’s properties to be fitted. It is south east of Dalkeith, and is noted for its role in Sir Walter Scott’s book Marmion.
Britain’s first major electricity plant to be fuelled by grass is under construction. The £6.5m power station in Staffordshire will be burn locally grown elephant grass and it is claimed will be able to supply 2,000 homes with electricity. According to the Guardian (May 3rd) around 170 farmers are diversifying into growing the new energy crop to feed the 2MW steam-turbine generator at the Raleigh Hall industrial estate, in Eccleshall, near Stafford. The local regional development agency, Advantage West Midlands, has approved a £935,000 grant for it.
£500m for Renewables in Northern Ireland
The new Renewables Obligation for Northern Ireland (NIRO) is expected to stimulate private sector investment of about £500m in renewable energy projects over the next five years. Like the RO on the mainland, the NIRO, introduced in April, requires electricity companies to supply specified proportions of power from renewables or buy-out their obligations
The results of the first call on the Challenge Fund aimed at the planting of Short Rotation Coppice (SRC) willow for energy production- 415 hectares of agricultural land have been approved for SRC, under the first tranche of the Challenge Fund. 26 applications were received, of which 18 were approved. See: www.forestserviceni.gov.uk
UK Businesses want Green policies…
In May BP, Shell, Scottish Power and HSBC plus some other major companies, wrote a letter to Tony Blair saying that they wanted a clearer climate policy and more incentives to help them reduce emissions. In particular they want the government to set targets for emissions trading and other related policies beyond 2012, when current targets run out.
Art and Energy
£40m has been allocated from the Goverments 'Invest to Save Inclusive Communities Budget’ to raise energy efficiency in the public sector- and to increase access to the arts.
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