Renew On Line (UK) 64

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 164 Nov-Dec 2006
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         

1. Energy Review and the RO

2. Scotland Accelerates
3. Micro power doubts
4. UK’s first combined PV and wind system
5. Marine Power - wave and tidal ups & downs
6. Tyndall say 90% CO2 cut needed
7. Local Biofuel growth stalled
8. Ramblers fear wind farms
9. Carbon Rationing
10. Planning for Decentral Power
11. UK funding for sustainable energy
12. UK Roundup
13. Renewables in Europe
14. World Renewables
15. Nuclear News

10. Planning for Decentral Power

Environment Secretary David Miliband has urged local councils and individuals to develop local solutions to combat climate change: ‘I believe decentralised energy should play a greater role in meeting future energy needs as we move to a low carbon society and the emergence of new technologies are there to make this happen. Other countries such as Holland and Denmark have made good progress in this area where we are increasingly seeing more decentralised and distributed power generation- from biomass fuelled combined heat and power stations serving a community, to individual citizens producing energy through solar or wind power and selling their energy back onto the gird. In the next thirty years we could see the same transformation in energy production that we have seen in computers over the past generation- with a growing reliance on small computers connected via network rather than a traditional mainframe.’

He added: ‘Councils should develop an action plan to ensure that good intentions turn into reality. The Energy Savings Trust is working on a much improved package of support measures that will outline the milestone activities that should be undertaken, together with a range of options on how to proceed.’

DEFRA cited the following examples :
* 16 councils now part of a British Gas scheme that offer households £100 off their council tax bill in return for implementing energy efficiency measures
* Woking Council where through the creation of a private electricity supply network, an energy services company and a range of energy efficiency measures, has reduced energy use by half and CO2 emissions by 77% since 1990. Alan Jones, who was behind the Woking programme, is now applying the idea across London.
* DEFRA has launched a new Every Action Counts initiative, designed to help community groups, clubs and societies across to get involved. More in Renew 165

Planning for local renewables

A Dept. for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) survey of local plans has found that many local authorities are now adopting new requirements in their plans for on site renewable energy in new developments. The Government is now urging all local authorities to do the same and is including this request in the new planning policy guidance on climate change due out later this year.

Speaking at a Town and Country Planning Association /Renewable Energy Association conference earlier this year, Housing and Planning Minister Yvette Cooper urged all local authorities to include on-site renewable energy measures in their local development plans to help tackle climate change. She also set out the Government’s long term ambition to support the move towards zero carbon development: ‘We need to seize on new development as an opportunity not a threat. It is time to rethink the way we build. It is time to rethink the way we design our homes and communities, if we are to build communities for the future that are truly sustainable. Our long term ambition should be zero carbon development and we believe the Thames Gateway offers a fantastic opportunity to lead the way in environmental improvements for new developments. We do not know yet how fast we can get there, but the development industry should be clear about our aims and should start planning now for new investment and innovation to meet our goals.’

Not everyone sees the Thames Gateway programme in such positive terms, with the issue of building in flood plains being a key one, but, on the technology side, the government is clearly keen to help e.g. by reducing planning restrictions on small-scale micropower equipment for people’s homes. A review of planning permission rules aims to make it even easier for people to ‘do their bit’ to help the environment. Ms Cooper said: ‘It is patently absurd that you should be able to put a satellite dish up on your house but should have to wrestle with the planning process for small scale microgeneration which is no more obtrusive. We want far more microgeneration to be treated as permitted development.’

The proposals in the Governments Energy Review for streamlining the planning consents process for energy projects, designed partly to help nuclear get re-started, but also to limit objections to wind projects, was challenged by Campaign to Protect Rural England, who warned that the proposals could delay rather than speed up the delivery of renewables by igniting public hostility. ‘The government risks undermining the role of the planning system in securing sustainable development. In tackling our energy needs, (planning) should not be seen as part of the problem. Any proposals to weaken the public’s voice in future planning decisions will only intensify concern over nuclear power and other large energy installations.’

TCPA In its energy review submission the Town & Country Planning Association backed renewables and energy efficiency and worried about the impacts of investment in nuclear. More in Renew 165

REAL Code for micro power…

The Renewable Energy Association has published a new code of conduct for companies that sell home generation systems. It says that ‘with rapidly rising demand for domestic renewable energy systems- so called microgeneration- the REAL code offers consumers the assurance of high product and installation standards by selecting suppliers that are members of the scheme’.

Launching the code, Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said: ‘Microgeneration can help to reduce carbon emissions while saving on fuel bills and that is why I will be fitting a micro wind turbine at my own home. Having now received planning permission from Croydon council it will be installed in the near future. It is important as the industry develops that others who want to do likewise have faith in the products and companies who will fit these new types of technology. The code that is being published today should help to provide the necessary reassurance for customers.’

REA’s Philip Wolfe said ‘We have taken the lead in introducing this code of conduct to help members offer the highest standards in their dealings with consumers. Customers will learn to look for the scheme’s marque, the REALity Check, as a sign of quality products and excellent service. This will provide a solid basis for rapid growth of the market.’

The REA has designed a tick mark symbol, the ‘REALity Check’, which can only be used by registered scheme members. It has set up a not-for-profit subsidiary Renewable Energy Assurance Ltd, to administer the scheme, and has submitted the Code to the Office of Fair Trading. The Code of Conduct for sellers is part of a wider consumer assurance scheme which will include an accreditation process for equipment installers, plus a certification process for products & equipment being developed by the DTI.

…but domestic energy efficiency plans stall

With the introduction of ‘energy performance certificates’ (EPCs), which each house seller will have to pay for, from next June, every house sold in England will be required to have energy ratings similar to the ‘A’ to ‘G’ categories used on fridges. EPCs will give average costs for heating, hot water and lighting, as well as overall ratings for energy efficiency & carbon emissions, based on standard assumptions about occupancy, heating patterns and location. They will include practical information about a range of changes which will be viable for that home including things like cavity wall insulation or double glazing.  They will also list measures to cut emissions even further such as solar PV or micro-wind turbines, where possible. 

EPCs are part of the ‘home information packs’ (HIPs) that will become mandatory for house sales- at a cost estimated at between £600 to £700 plus VAT. However, the home condition report (HCR) element of the pack has been postponed, following dry run tests on 14,000 home information packs with searches. DEFRA said the survey element of the packs needed further testing and the 7,000 new home inspectors needed to produce the survey reports might not be in place in time for June 2007- the original start date. The Tories said the plans were now ‘a complete shambles’ and suggested that the entire scheme be abandoned.

More info:
* Another problem in this field is that the Energy Saving Trust has been told that from now on its grants will become liable for VAT, which could slow progress on improving energy efficiency significantly.

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