Renew On Line (UK) number73

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 173 May-June 2008
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         

1. UK Needs to try harder 

2. Wave and Tidal-  ‘slow progress’

3. RO bands- no to REFIT  

4. Biofuel doubts grow 

5 Micro power- ups and down  

6. Reactions to Nuclear White paper 

7. Wind power developments  

8. Planning Changes 

9. Global developments  

10. EU News 

11. Nuclear News


5. £25m for micro power 

So far grants worth £25m have been claimed under the Low Carbon Building Programme. Since it launched in April 2006, grants to install solar panels, biomass boilers and ground-source heat pumps have included £7.5 m to help 4,600 households generate their own green energy, and £18m for 739 projects on school, community, housing association and business buildings.

 However the pace is now slowing (see p.5), due to the fall in the level of grants available for projects. But a bit apologetically, Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said : ‘there are still grants available to householders who want to follow in the footsteps of the thousands across the UK who have been helped by the Government to fit microgeneration technology at their homes. Many schools have benefited also and the pupils there have been able to see renewable energy in action and understand more about its important benefits.’

In fact there is still £11m available under Phase 1 for householders who want to generate renewable energy at home. Schools, charitable bodies and other public sector organisations can apply for a share of the £44m that remains from the original £50m set aside for them under Phase 2.  

LCBP micropower slows 

Take-up of domestic micro-generation under the Low Carbon Building Programme has fallen by 66%: following cuts in the level of some of the grants, the average number awarded fell from 279 a month to 95. There were 110 grants for micro-wind in 2007, compared with 380 in the 7 months from May 2006, when the programme started. The initial £5000 grant ceiling had been halved. Even where the grants remain the same, take up has still slowed. For solar heating there were only 835 grants in 2007 compared with 1,610 in the previous 7 months. For ground source heat pumps there had been 30-40 grants per month in 2006, but none in Oct-Dec last year. And for PV solar, where the grant has been cut from £15,000 to £2500, in 2007 only 270 grants were awarded- around 6MW peak, bringing the UK PV total to 16MWp. By contrast Germany has installed 130,000 last year- 1,100MWp- and has a total of 3,800MWp so far. While in Germany domestic renewables continue to expand, aided by their guaranteed price Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) system, in the UK the slow down means there may be a £10m underspend on the programme over the next year- over half the £18m allocated to it for the three years to March 2009. But (see Budget Box & Renew 172) a FIT for micropower may be considered. Guardian 15/02/ENDS

Micro wind- more doubts 

Following the fairly damning BRE study (Renew 172), an interim report form the Warwick  micro- wind power study (see Renew 167) has revealed that homeowners could be being misled by the official figures for wind speeds because they are consistently overestimating how much wind there is- sometimes finding that real speeds are only one third of those forecast. There was noticeable disparity between poor results in urban and suburban areas and far better ones in high-rise and coastal locations. In the worst case scenario, the figures indicate that it would take more than 15 years to generate enough  energy to compensate for the manufacture of the turbine in the first place.

Encraft, based in Warwickshire, launched the trial in 2006 and is now monitoring speeds and power generation at five rural, eight suburban and 11 urban sites, including six on blocks of flats.  Most trial sites only began working last year, but the results of nearly 64,000 operating hours ‘reasonably indicate’ their performance. Results from 15 sites show only three generated more than 400 watt-hours of electricity a day; two at 875wh and the single site which reached 1,790wh. Windspeed indicators confirmed that the official data used to assess how good a site is for a wind turbine are too high: wind speeds were one third to two thirds of what was forecast,

The Guardian (10/1/08) said the study, which was supported by government and the British Wind Energy Association on behalf of the industry, ‘is a setback for hopes of a big uptake in micro-wind turbines to help slash the carbon emissions from big power generation’. Encraft, did however point out that other research had  shown that seven out of 10 people say seeing turbines reminds them to save energy, and commented ‘there is no doubt that microgeneration as a whole has a critical role to play in delivering a low carbon and secure energy future for the UK. Micro wind turbines are part of this mix, but they need to be installed in a responsible and appropriate manner. Consumers need to exercise common sense: these will be more effective where it’s most windy.’

*The project had an open day last December- the first of several planned. It reported on progress.  The  original plan was for 30 windsave plus 1 Swift in Warwickshire in 2006. But that had to change. So far they had: 1 Swift (at BRE-see pic right), only 5 Windsave, but 14 Amplair, plus 1 Eclectic and 3 Zephr Air Dolphins (1 in Nottingham, 1 in Aberdeen). First results are accessible on their web site, along with their interim report from last March, and a new one in January. More in Renew 174.


BG go for Fuel cells 

 Centria subsidiary British Gas may have given up on its gas-fired Microgen Stirling engine micro-CHP unit, but Centrica is now investing £25m in another contender, the micro fuel cell CHP unit being developed by Aim-listed Ceres Power.  BG says that micro CHP could take 30% of the domestic boiler market by 2015.  It’s agreed to buy at least 37,500 units from Ceres over a 4 year period. It’s provided £5m for continuing development and the product launch- and  bought a £20m 10% share in Ceres.

Meanwhile E.ON is linking up with Chester-based micro-CHP developer Energetix and will evaluate its product.

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