Renew On Line (UK) number 71
|Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 171 Jan/Feb 2008
|Welcome Archives Bulletin|
7. Carbon policy & initiatives
Climate Change Bill changed
The draft Climate Change Bill has been revised following a three-month public consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny by three parliamentary committees. When originally published in March 2007, the draft Bill set out legally binding targets for reducing carbon dioxide emissions in the UK by at least 60% by 2050 and 26 to 32% by 2020, and a new system of “carbon budgets” set at least fifteen years ahead, with reviews every five years. It also proposed the creation of a new independent, expert Committee on Climate Change to advise on the best way to achieve these targets, with annual reports. Most responses to the draft were positive, although FoE et al wanted annual targets.
The changes to the draft Bill, set out in a Command Paper entitled ‘Taking Forward the UK Climate Change Bill’ include strengthening the role and responsibilities of the Committee on Climate Change, by requiring the Government to seek the Committee’s advice before amending the 2020 or 2050 targets in the Bill; and strengthening the Committee’s independence from Government, by confirming that it will appoint its own chief executive and staff, and increasing its analytical resources; increasing its transparency, by requiring the Committee to publish its analysis and advice to Government on setting five-yearly carbon budgets.
In addition, as announced by the Prime Minister in Sept and again in Nov., the Committee will be asked to report on whether the Government’s target to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 60% by 2050 should be strengthened further (to 80%?); and to look at the implications of including other greenhouse gases and emissions from international aviation and shipping in the UK’s targets as part of this review. That’s what FoE etc. want- and an 80% target. But not waiting two years for this review...
Launching the new version last Oct., Environment Secretary Hilary Benn was upbeat: it will set up the Carbon Reduction Commitment- a new cap and trade scheme for large organisations not already covered by other schemes; and it will ensure that the Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation, delivers environmental benefits; and also help local authorities who want to pilot incentives for household waste recycling and minimisation. All together it’s estimated that these three policies could save the equivalent of up 9.4-13.9m tonnes of CO2 p.a. by 2020. The Government plans to introduce a revised Bill to Parliament ‘at the earliest possible legislative opportunity’.
ETF: £170m boost for low-C energy
Government investment in commercialising UK low carbon technologies will top £370m over the next three years, thanks to an extra £170m being provided to the Environmental Transformation Fund (ETF) for UK based projects. The new domestic element of the fund will invest in the demonstration/deployment of low carbon energy and energy efficiency technologies within the UK, to help reduce emissions and improve the security of energy supply. When added to the £800m already announced for the fund’s international element- to focus on protecting the environment and reducing poverty in developing countries- the funding will bring total investment through the cross-departmental ETF to £1.2bn for 2008 -2011.
Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said ‘the policies and programmes we have in place to fight climate change will help drive investment in clean, renewable technologies, with benefits for jobs and Britain’s economy. Britain must be at the forefront of developing and deploying this technology- whether it be LED lighting for people’s homes, biomass boilers for small businesses, or major sources of renewable electricity from wind and the sea to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.’
The domestic element of the ETF, led by Defra & BERR, will build on existing programmes. It will work closely with the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) and the new Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), which itself will have up to £1.1bn to spend over the next ten years- half from the private sector. The ETF’s specific role is to support commercialisation of technologies which the ETI, TSB and others have helped to develop. It will support continued investment by the Carbon Trust in technology programmes such as their work to accelerate cost-effective organic solar photovoltaic cells. It will also look to increase the amount invested through the Trust in interest-free energy efficiency loans for small and medium-sized businesses, and through Salix Finance, in public sector revolving loan schemes.
The international element of the ETF, announced in the 2007 Budget and allocated to Defra and DfID equally, will fund overseas development activities that deliver both poverty reduction & environmental benefits in developing countries. £50m has been earmarked for tackling deforestation in the Congo Basin. The domestic funding will be divided between BERR & Defra. BERR’s share is £200m to be invested across the UK, including £41m new money over and above expected spend over the period on previously announced departmental programmes. Defra’s share will be £170m, to be invested within England, including an increase of £129m on expected spend over the period. The devolved regions get allocations via Defra.
* The King report for the Treasury on low carbon cars, noted that ‘in the long term, carbon-free road transport fuel is the only way to achieve an 80-90% reduction in emissions, essentially ‘decarbonisation’. Given biofuels supply constraints, this will require a form of electric vehicle, with novel batteries, charged by “zero-carbon” electricity (or, possibly, hydrogen produced from zero-carbon sources).’ But there’s no mention of peak oil...
£1m Carbon Trust grants
The Carbon Trust has awarded over £1m to seven pioneering low carbon technologies. The funding aims to speed the technologies’ development through to commercial reality and accelerate the UK’s move to a low carbon economy. Projects including a new generation of LEDs, energy efficient kilns and steam trap performance sensors have all received financial backing from the Carbon Trust’s Applied Research scheme. Over the past 4 years the Carbon Trust has invested more than £17m in projects that have demonstrated their potential to develop into viable commercial technologies.
The 7 new projects funded by the Carbon Trust are:
* Aluminium smelting technology with the potential to cut energy consumption by up to 20%- Coventry University
* Technology to explode paint into moulds, avoiding the need for paint shops in the manufacture of plastic components- Warwick Manufacturing Group
* Energy efficient kilns, which could reduce the energy used in the manufacture of ceramics- Horizon Ceramics
* Natural ventilation systems for large buildings which could halve energy used by conventional mechanical ventilation- e-stack Ltd.
* Testing of new fully automated biomass CHP unit- Biomass CHP Ltd.
* Steam trap performance sensors which could reduce carbon emissions by more than 750,000 tonnes over ten years- Spirax Sarco Ltd.
* New generation of ultra bright LEDs with improved life expectancy and carbon savings over traditional lighting- GlowLed Ltd.
Garry Staunton, Head of Low Carbon Research at the Carbon Trust, said: ‘The diverse nature of these technologies clearly demonstrates the exciting low carbon innovation work taking place in the UK today’.
The Applied Research scheme requires that each project must secure additional funding from alternative sources. www.carbontrust.co.uk.
HIPs & EPCs arrive
The Governments delayed Home Information Packs (HIPs) and Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) programme is beginning to get underway and is being linked to a new system to help homebuyers get grants to lower their fuel bills and make their homes greener- making them aware that for example there are grants of £100-300 for loft and cavity wall insulation.
EPCs give home-buyers a home energy rating, and a new portal on the Energy Saving Trust’s website enables consumers simply to tap in their postcode to find details of grants and other offers available: six major energy companies have agreed that when buyers move into their home and sign up to an energy contract they will get immediate access and information about ‘green’ grants or offers to consumers. Consumers who choose to give details from their EPC to suppliers will also receive targeted offers for recommendations in their certificate. The system should make it easier for consumers to get grants to make the improvements recommended in the certificates. The offers are funded by energy suppliers and other partners, with their investment in ‘green grants’ increasing to £2.5bn over the next three years from April 2008, compared to £1bn over the last three years.
Housing Minister Yvette Cooper said: ‘Energy certificates have the potential to cut family fuel bills by hundreds of pounds. But it can still be a real hassle getting the work done. Most people don’t know these grants are available or don’t know how to apply for them. This means it should be much easier for homebuyers to get help to cut their fuel bills and carbon emissions too. It could save hundreds of pounds on insulation and hundreds off pounds on their fuel bills too.’
Philip Sellwood, Chief Executive of the Energy Saving Trust, said: ‘Our Green Barometer shows that more than half of people want tailored advice on energy saving. Energy Performance Certificates will make it easier for people to identify the simple things they can do in their home to reduce their energy consumption. More people will be reached now that energy companies are being proactive in providing information to householders on grants available to them.’
Tesco hopes to erect a ten-metre high wind turbine at its biggest Edinburgh store in Corstorphine. It follows a similar scheme in Wick, Caithness, where solar panels and five wind turbines were built on the roof of a new store to provide a tenth of its electricity needs. Meanwhile, McCain Foods is investing £10m to build three 8o metre tall wind turbines at the UK’s largest chip factory. The Sainsbury outlet in Greenwich was one the earliest with a PV array on the roof. Planning changes
Many other shops, as well as offices, pubs and clubs could also soon be powered by renewables, under changes to planning rules aiming to make it easier to install ‘green’ technologies like solar panels and wind turbines.
Communities Secretary, Hazel Blears, has asked planning and environmental consultancy Entec to draw up new planning rules to ensure the system is doing more to encourage the use of renewables. She wants Entec to investigate how renewable energy systems can be included as ‘permitted developments’, which means the changes can be made without the need for specific planning permission as long as there is clearly no impact on others or the local environment. The research will also consider what safeguards will be needed when the benefit of the technology is clearly questionable and outweighed by its impact on the local environment.
The Government has also announced that the UK Green Building Council has been asked to set out a route map for improving the overall energy efficiency of non-domestic buildings with the aim of delivering substantial reductions in carbon emissions from new buildings over the next decade. And the Government has also commissioned White Young Green Planning (WYGP) to carry out a wider investigation into what planning reforms are needed to make it easier for businesses to build extensions or make improvements to their premises. It will consider whether the need for planning permission can be removed for minor developments- such as small scale extensions and changes to shop fronts- where it is clear they have little or no impact on neighbouring properties or the local environment. WYGP will also look at how local authorities can retain the right to restrict planning permission with strengthened safeguards to deal with eyesore developments.
The new research projects follow on from the Government’s commitment to overhaul the planning system and to better equip councils to tackle climate changes. This included:
* A commitment to drive up the energy efficiency of all homes and for all new houses to be zerocarbon by 2016.
* Proposals to overhaul planning rules to make it easier for home owners to make minor household extensions and install Microgeneration equipment.
* New planning rules that will require councils to consider tackling climate change as a core factor when considering every new planning application and setting out a new role for them in promoting energy efficiency.
But there’s strong opposition to proposals for streamlining and centralising planning- see Groups in Renew 171
Energywatch, the Energy Retail Association and Utility Week have joined forces to call on the Government to push ahead with smart meters in all UK homes within 10 years and scrap its proposal to install interim devices- like simple displays.
* By the end of 2010, 10% of the UK’s electricity will come from CHP, and the potential exists to provide 17%: See http://defraweb/environment/climatechange/uk/energy/chp/index.htm
* British Gas has launched Green Streets, a competition where streets across the UK will compete to reduce their CO2 emissions. www.britishgas.co.uk/greenstreets
The voluntary scheme agreed with manufacturers means that incandescent 150W light bulbs have been phased out, so you won’t find many in the shops. 100W bulbs go next year, 40W bulbs the year after and all traditional bulbs by 2011. But not halogen lights...
DEFRA says it will save 5 million tonnes of CO2 p.a.
When you save energy by investing in energy efficiency you may reinvest the money saved in more energy intensive products and services, thus undermining the initial carbon savings. That’s one example of the so-called ‘rebound effect’.
In general, if something becomes cheaper you are likely to use more of it. The importance of Rebound Effects is hotly disputed: some believe that they are insignificant and can be ignored, while others believe they are large enough to make improved energy efficiency ineffective in reducing carbon emissions. A new UK Energy Research Centre report, ‘The Rebound Effect: Uncovering the Truth Behind Energy Efficiency and Carbon Reduction’, looks at the evidence and finds that:
• Rebound effects can result in energy savings falling short of expectations- imagine you buy a fuel efficient car and end up driving further because it’s cheaper to run. Rebound effects vary in size, and in some cases may be sufficiently large to increase overall energy use.
• Rebound effects are often overlooked by experts (e.g. the recent Stern and IPCC reports) and Governments, (e.g. the recent Energy White Paper) thereby threatening the success of energy and climate change policies
• Rebound effects should be taken more seriously by policy-makers, but they do not undermine the case for energy efficiency policy
See: www.ukerc.ac.uk More in Renew173.
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