Archive for May, 2009

  • Brilliant report. Pöyry finds that, where DHNs can achieve high penetration in built up urban areas, the carbon abatement costs of various district heating options are more cost effective than stand alone renewable technologies.

    But the report indicates that unless there is a shift in the present market or regulatory environment, the take up of DHNs in existing building stock is likely to be limited, particularly in the domestic sector.

  • Dorothy Thompson, chief executive of the Drax group,doubts whether CCS would contribute anything significant to Government targets for reducing carbon emissions by 34% by 2020. Ms Thompson pointed out that, should a modern coal-fired station be fitted with CCS today, it would need to generate 25% more electricity just to power the equipment to remove the increased carbon being emitted. Ms Thompson finished with a warning against planning for the future and neglecting the present.
  • A review of MVHR in use. The BRE’s report said: “There is no market for replacement filters, with several manufacturers reporting no filter sales at all. Even basic maintenance is not undertaken.”

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We’ve all seen the private development sector hit the skids over the past nine months. At the moment, the only residential projects that seem to be going ahead are those with a large RSL component (and so grant-funded by the HCA). This has a serious implication from a regs point of view because from spring 2011 all publicly funded housing will have to meet Code 4 (pdf). That effectively means that the residential development sector, such as it is, has to meet its regulatory targets two years early.

Here’s a map (ok, I know Code 6 won’t look quite like that once the consultation finished, but it will still be a hell of a drop):


Bob Cervi, the editor at the CIBSE Journal, writes this month that on the road to zero carbon “it’s going to be a quick six years.”

It’s going to be an even quicker 5.

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We engineers are great at estimating energy and carbon emissions and dealing with concrete systems: pipes, wires, flues – that’s our bag. One of the things we do poorly (but for some reason are too willing to do) is financial modeling relating to low and zero carbon generation.

For the last couple of years I’ve been working alongside financial and commercial bods who actually do know what they’re on about and it’s been a real eye opener. They might not know how to size a duct but they can tell you where your business is making money – and where it isn’t.

On a recent project I was looking at small CHP engines (5 – 30kWe) on a sheltered housing scheme. As part of that work, I put together a simplified financial model (with guidance from the bods) to quickly test whether a given option was worth looking at in detail. It was hugely useful and threw up some surprising results – for example, none of the small engines I looked at could pay back its capital cost in its lifetime. Ouch.

So based on that work, here’s the model. I’m using micro-CHP as an example but it’s just as easy to use for renewables.


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new SAP

Ok, here we go! The draft version of the new SAP is out.

This is it – the document that could assist or sabotage the whole move to low carbon homes. Have they sorted out the major issues? I almost can’t bear to look.

[update 14/5: No, they haven’t. All the more reason to respond to the consultation.]

Let’s get stuck in.

Hat tip to Nick Devlin.

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