Renew On Line (UK) 68

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 168 July-Aug 2007
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. Energy White Paper - and Planning White paper

2. LCBP Household Woes- micropower issues

3. Wave & tidal projects - and the Marine Bill

4. Budget and Climate Bill Reactions

5. Biofuel progress- ban them?

6. The Greening of Brown- and Hain

7. BG goes beyond gas

8. World developments- IPCC latest

9. Around the EU- Dutch, Danes,talians Germans all at it

10. US news -New US plans

11. Nuclear Developments -Australia, China, UK

2. LCBP Woes

The Household ‘micropower’ scheme within the Low Carbon Building Programme has certainly got off to a bad start. The temporary suspension of the scheme while it was re-vamped, certainly didn’t help. But some progress has been made, with 2175 projects funded, (1467 solar thermal, 313 solar pv, 242 micro wind- see below), although there have also been some contractual problems for installers: see below. The government has been trying to provide other sorts of help (see below) and in May it produced a plan for a revamped version of the scheme (see box below), with £11.9m available including the extra £6m from the Budget, though the DTI said half of the original £6.8m already allocated by March 2007 had been spent. But with the maximum grant per household savagely cut, there were cries of pain: ‘woefully inadequate’ was FoE’s verdict.

Revamped Household scheme

* Monthly cap removed
* Planning permission must be obtained before applying
* £2,500 max limit on grants per household (down from £15k!)
* Shorter grant offer periods
* Tighter policy on extensions

Certification Battles

H & V News, the weekly magazine for the heating and ventilation trade, reported on April 5th, said that the Government ‘is planning to charge installers £1,800 and renewable product manufacturers £3,600 just to register with the UK Microgeneration Certification Scheme (UKMCS). This is before they have passed the assessment to the new requirement, allowing them to install or offer renewable technologies to their customer’. It claimed that potential installers were being ‘fleeced to join scheme’. It noted that the UKMCS is ‘the third-party certification scheme for microgeneration products and installers, developed and operated by BRE Certification. From April 30 2007, the UKMCS is set to replace the existing Clear Skies & Photovoltaic programmes, under which installers & manufacturers could register for free’.

*A cynical comment we’ve heard was that ‘this fulfills the Treasury objective- to be able to announce additional funding, but then ensure that it is not taken up and spent!’ And that it also creates a nice new cash flow- for BRE, which is now a commercial Trust. We couldn’t possibly comment on that!
LCBP awards - so far
It’s been rather traumatic, given that the demand from householders has outstripped the available money provided by the government, but here are the results of the first wave of application under the householder section of the Low Carbon Building Programme, as relayed in responses to Parliamentary Questions in March, by Malcolm Wicks: under phase 1, the successful household projects in Sept to Nov 2006 were as follows :

Number of applicants Value (£)
Sept 393 £785,459.30
Oct 1,071 £1,342,226.50
Nov 1,051 £1,296,116.18

He also provided the following table showing the number of applications received and grants awarded under the LCPB household stream in 2006, Jan and Feb 2007.

Applications received Grants awarded
April-Dec 2006 5,103 4,672
Jan, 2007 381 264
Feb. 2007 326 199

As can be seen, after an average of 540 grant awards per month, the brakes got slammed on in Jan, with a monthly cap being imposed, as the money ran out. Wicks noted that ‘the purpose of the monthly cap was to ensure the resources did not run out before June 2008’.
He reported that ‘At 9.00 am on 1 March, the monthly allocation for the household stream of the LCBP opened to new applicants. In less than 2 hours, we had been successful in allocating £635,340.47 to 189 projects.’

The scheme was then temporarily suspended (for April) while the DTI restructured it with £6 extra allocated in the Budget. Wicks added that given the extra £6m ‘we aim to continue funding until June 2008, by which time some of our wider measures to promote microgeneration should be taking hold’.

Welsh Micropower Plan

The Welsh Assembly has developed a new Microgeneration Action Plan for installing:
o 20,000 microgeneration heating units by 2012;
o Approx. 100,000 units installed by 2020;
o 10,000 micro electricity units installed by 2012;
o Circa 200,000 micro electricity units by 2020;
o 50 CHP and/or district heating systems by 2020.

Scottish Micropower Plan

The Scottish Executive has produced an Energy Efficiency and Microgeneration Strategy and has allocated an extra £2m for SCHRI, the Scottish Community & Householder Renewables Initiative, to help support the rapidly growing micropower market. This follows an additional £3m provided for SCHRI last year.

* The Scottish Lib Dems have said they want a 100% renewable Scotland by 2050, with wave & tidal boosted. They, the Greens and and the now ruling SNP are all anti nuclear. Expect battles!

Free home energy monitoring

The DTI and DEFRA have proposed making real-time electricity monitors available free of charge to all household in Britain to help combat climate change. Electricity suppliers would be required to provide these displays free to all customers who want them. All new and replacement household electricity meters would also come with
a visual display. Real time electricity monitors show how much electricity is being used and what it costs from moment to moment. They help people cut back on unnecessary use, saving money and cutting emissions of carbon dioxide from power stations.
One estimate suggests that British homes are collectively wasting £900m of electricity a year by leaving appliances on while they’re not being used. A typical household could cut its electricity bill by £25 a year simply by turning appliances off instead of leaving them on standby.

The roll out of the monitors with all new electricity meters and to households who request one, could cut UK CO2 emissions by 400,000 tonnes a year by 2010, equivalent to taking about 100,000 cars off the road. A survey by the Energy Saving showed that most people wanted better information about their energy use. Another survey by Logica CMG of over 2,000 people, found that 82% would like a real time display.

*DEFRA has also launched Labour’s new climate change pledge card, which sets out how the Labour Government working in partnership with councils, energy companies and the Energy Saving Trust will help households take simple steps to cut energy bills by
up to £300 per year and reduce emissions of CO2.
* Meanwhile Labour claimed that the Tory plan to put VAT on airline tickets would only apply to domestic flights, and would save less in one year than achieved by the climate change levy in one week. measure the Tories oppose.

EST check Micro-Wind

The Energy Saving Trust has launched the first independent, UK wide assessment of household wind turbines at sites across Great Britain and N. Ireland, aiming to monitor one hundred household wind turbines. The assessment will take into account a number of factors including the local wind resource, where they are installed on the house and the impact of nearby buildings and trees on the performance of the turbine. According to the EST, household wind turbines could potentially supply 4% of the UK’s electricity and reduce carbon emissions by 6%. To achieve this, they say that the consumer needs to know what will work most effectively for them.

Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said ‘To date there is no independent, real life assessment of wind turbines installed on homes. Consumers need to know how much electricity they can expect to generate from a wind turbine, how much money it will save them, and how much it can reduce their carbon footprint. The experience of other wind turbine owners will also be of tremendous benefit in helping potential new owners to decide whether a wind turbine is right for them.’

Project Aims The research will look at:

*An assessment of the factors that influence the overall performance of domestic micro-wind installations including wind speed, location, surrounding buildings and the effect of local air turbulence.
* Comparison of wind speed data at monitored sites with other wind speed data such as meteorological statistics, looking at the relationship between published wind data and measured wind speed taking into account local characteristics including height, roof characteristics and building proximity.
* An assessment of the relationship between the design output of the turbine, taking account of expected local wind conditions & local site characteristics.
* The proportion of total electricity generated from micro-wind installations that can be exported to the grid. This statistic will be taken from the times that generation took place during the day.
* Comparison of the actual performance of micro-wind turbines against the manufacturer’s/installer’s assessment of the expected performance.
*Financial performance, including cost-benefit ratio i.e. payback

The project is jointly funded by EST’s partners including B&Q, British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON UK, Northern Ireland Electricity, RWE, Scottish & Southern Energy, and ScottishPower. Installation of monitoring equipment is scheduled to take place by June 2007. The trial is scheduled to run for 12 months, with results in Autumn 2008.

Planning rules to be eased
for domestic microgeneration

The new Planning White paper released in May proposes changes in the planning rules designed to encourage people to generate their own energy supplies and cut carbon emissions, as well as reducing the number of non-controversial applications that clog up the planning system. At present applications can take months to be processed and cost hundreds of pounds. But planning permission will still be needed wherever neighbours could be affected significantly by the installations, and when the technology is unlikely to bring substantial benefits.

Community Secretary Ruth Kelly stressed that people should not use the technology as a fashion accessory, a remark that the Guardian (4/4/07) suggested might be read as a ‘passing swipe at the Conservative leader, David Cameron’ whose £3,000 wind turbine was removed from his London home after it was fixed in the wrong place. The Guardian added ‘contractors will have to reinstall the machine in the designated place on his roof to avoid breaching the planning permission’.

According to the Dept of Communities & Local Government: ‘Local authorities will retain the right to restrict planning permission in exceptional circumstances where the benefit of the technology is clearly questionable and outweighed by its impact on the local environment. For example, this could include a wind turbine in a built-up area with little wind.’ Kelly said ‘We can only succeed if we match local action alongside global agreement. The real action to implement steps to a low-carbon economy and society has to take place at community level. The local planning system should support efforts to tackle climate change rather than acting as a barrier. We need changes to ensure the system is proportionate- whilst retaining clear, commonsense safeguards on noise, siting & size.’
The Guardian noted that over 100,000 micropower appliances were installed across the UK, and more than 1.3m are expected by 2020.

‘Misleading’ Green Tariffs

Ofgem, the energy market regulator, has been revising its old guidelines on the operation of ‘green’ power tariff schemes.
A spokesman for Ofgem said: ‘Suppliers really must demonstrate that if they are marketing these tariffs they are doing something in addition to the Renewables Obligation’. Friends of the Earth commented ‘Most suppliers have simply established green tariffs and then proportioned in some arbitrary way renewables to their green consumers. Their purchases ought to result in an additional pull on renewables, but that’s not happening. We have been calling for an independent auditing of these schemes.’ The Independent 8 March

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