Renew On Line (UK) 66
|Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 166 March-April 2007
|Welcome Archives Bulletin|
Carbon Policy developments
Zero Carbon Houses
Gordon Brown may not have introduced very radical green taxes in his Dec. pre-budget announcement- they amounted to around £1bn, or about 0.1% of GDP, whereas the Stern report, which Brown had commissioned, had suggested that 1% of GDP would be needed as the UK' s share of the global climate change response. But Brown did make a commitment to supporting carbon neutral houses, although this caught some people offguard. What were they? Were there any examples? The Bed Zed project in Beddingon was one answer, and as noted in Renew 165, a 3 acre ' zero carbon' housing development is planned at Gallions Park in Londons dockland. But then Communities and Local Government Minister Ruth Kelly came to the rescue with details of what was being proposed, including a a timetable for making all new homes ' zero carbon' by 2016. Under the proposed scheme, from 2008 all new homes will be given ' star ratings' to reflect their energy efficiency, and the building regulations will be progressively tightened to force improvements.
Under a new Code for Sustainable Homes, properties will qualify for the maximum six stars, and be exempt from stamp duty, if they produce enough energy from solar panels, wind turbines & other micro-generation technologies to cover all the power they take from the national grid. Kelly said that the star ratings would ' bring a new low carbon consumerism to house buying' , and the new system could cut CO2 emissions by 7m tonnes by 2050.
Friends of the Earth supported the plan but felt it could be speeded up: ' The technology already exists to make new homes carbon zero. We need mandatory regulations to ensure that all new homes are built to the highest environmental standards. And this should happen within months, not years.'
WWF, who a year ago withdrew from a government steering group drawing up an earlier code because it did not go far enough, welcomed the new stronger version of the code. However the House Builders Association said it could ' jeopardise the increase in new home building that ministers claim to want if they impose excessive, eye-catching, sustainability requirements on house builders. Expecting house builders to install wind turbines and other devices is a waste of money and will slow house building down.'
The idea of personal carbon rationing via switch type cards has come a step near, with Environment minister David Miliband publishing the results of a study he commissioned from the Bristol based Centre for Sustainable Energy, which claims that individual carbon trading is less regressive than carbon taxes, as the poor emit less than the rich* and can earn money by selling their unused carbon credits. It also argues that schemes like Tesco' s Clubcard show that it is technically feasible. It' s been suggested it could happen within 5 years. CSE' s Report ' A Rough Guide to Individual Carbon Trading' is at http://www.cse.org.uk/pdf/news1270.pdf
*The PSI has suggested that in fact many poor people would be hit harder- since they use more energy.
The DTI has announced details of phase II of the Low Carbon Building Programme. An extra £50m was allocated in last years budget and this is to be distributed over the next 18 months to help fund installation of micropower technologies such as solar panels, micro wind-turbines and ground source heat pumps in schools, not-for-profit & public sector buildings. In phase II, grants for up to 50% of the cost will be available and the DTI has selected 7 companies to help install five technologies- PV (Dulas, Solar Century, British Gas), Solar Thermal (Dulas, Filsol, British Gas), Heat Pumps (Glen Dimplex, EOn, British Gas), Wind (EOn, Dulas, British Gas) & Biomass (RES, EOn, British Gas).
However the selection process has led to some complaints. Companies that have been shut out have set up an action group to fight what they call the ' grants cartel stitch-up' . Clive Collison, MD of Action South Facing, a solar installer, said ' The DTI and the government are losing the confidence of the entire renewable industry' .
The DTI said grants were allocated in a fair way, with 53 companies expressing an interest when it put the installation work on public buildings out to tender. It selected 7, based primarily on price. But Rajiv Bhatia of Altenergy, a micropower technology supplier, said the DTI' s approach ' will result in keeping prices artificially high and transfer taxpayers' money to the coffers of the tender-winning companies. We know we can deliver these projects at a lower cost' . Source: Guardian 18/12/06
Carbon Footprints for electricity generation
POST, the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology has produced a useful new POST Note (No 268) looking at the ' Carbon Footprint of Electricity Generation' , which shows how some of the technologies will develop to reduce their footprints. Carbon Capture and Storage may they suggest help fossil fuels get their footprint down, and might also help biomass actually have a negative footprint. Otherwise, some types of biomass can have a relatively large carbon footprint compared with other renewable sources, due to the energy used for example in harvesting the wood and transporting wood chips to the combustion plant.
It' s certainly true that the other renewables all have inherently lower footprints, but so does nuclear, according to POST. However they do note that ' some analysts are concerned that the future carbon footprint of nuclear power could increase if lower grade uranium ore is used, as it would require more energy to extract and refine to a level usable in a nuclear reactor' . However, they say ' a 2006 study by AEA Technology calculated that for ore grades as low as 0.03%, additional emissions would only amount to 1.8gCO2eq/kWh. This would raise the current footprint of UK nuclear power stations from 5 to 6.8gCO2eq/kWh. If lower grades of uranium are used in the future the footprint of nuclear will increase, but only to a level comparable with other ' low carbon' technologies and will not be as large as the footprints of fossil fuelled systems.'
That' s debatable- it depends what grade or uranium you have to use- and where you get the energy to fabricate it from.
The POST Note is at: http://www.parliament.uk/documents/upload/postpn268.pdf
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