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Archive for the ‘biomass’ Category

A few weeks ago, my business partner and I were walking to a meeting in Stratford when we realised we were surrounded by several heat networks (seven actually): each one standing alone, isolated from its neighbours, each dependent on its own small boilers or CHP, each its own tiny monopoly. Seven networks right next to each other, brazenly missing the opportunity to reduce cost and carbon by linking together.

Here he his, pointing them out:

 

 

The scene on that Stratford street corner highlights a failure of coordination on the part of planners and a lack of incentives to link small heat networks to each other and to larger-scale sources of low-carbon heat.

But what if we put it right? Imagine for a minute that we do stitch together groups of small networks, perhaps using the £320 BEIS funding to do it. Technically it might be straightforward, but what about commercial structure? What do you do with all those little monopolies?

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The EU won’t publish its data on emissions from biofuels and tar sands until the spring but the working figures have been leaked to EurActiv and published on line.

The figures show that, once Indirect Land Use Changes are counted, biodiesel from palm and soybeans is roughly as polluting as Canadian tar sands. And rapeseed oil (which OFGEM has classed as “renewable”) is nearly as bad. And all three are worse than crude oil.

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In the UK we generate enough heat each year to meet the needs of every home in the country… and then we throw the heat away. So why should we promote the use of precious resources and expensive technologies to generate that heat a second time?

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DECC have announced the final FiT levels in advance of the incentive coming in in April. Having had a number of disheartening conversations with policy makers over the last few months, the FiT levels are no surprise. No one in government seemed to mind that the FiT would be a subsidy for middle class greenies and folks like McAlpines. The important thing was that the FiT wouldn’t cost too much.

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For consultants, energy reports for planning are fantastic: a bit of SAP, a few benchmarks, some spreadsheet magic, and hey presto you’re sending an invoice. But the contents of the energy report can have huge implications, in some cases committing the scheme to commercially or legally impossible strategies, causing delays and increasing costs later in the programme. Here are a couple of examples:

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Good news. As spotted by Tom N, the LCBP Stream 2 is back up and running with £35m of new funds (and a hefty backlog of PV, GSHP, and solar thermal projects that weren’t processed before the money ran out the last time). One lovely feature: the cap for heat technology has gone from 45kW to 300kW. Much more sensible.

It’s clear this is the Government’s stopgap until the FiT comes in for electricity in March April2010  and the RHI comes in for heat generation in April 2011. They’ve put those dates on the LCBP website as if they were set in stone, but I wonder…

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The Biomass Energy Centre has launched a national woodfuel supplier database. A couple of websites have tried to do this over the years but this one is already fairly well populated and it looks like BEC mean business.

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Future Energy Yorkshire has put together some standardised biomass supply contracts, available from their website. This provides a great starting point and actually takes some real costs out of setting up a supply contract. Excellent work, FEY.

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In the last post, I argued that we’ve got to strip the carbon out of almost all of our existing stock in order to hit the 2050 target. That’s a huge challenge. Phil Clark summed it up in a comment:

I would consider it a near impossibility to upgrade every old leaky house without some massively radical action.

I completely agree: it’s going to take radical action. But what kind? The picture gets a bit clearer if you take a look at where the carbon is coming from.

Looking at the graph from my previous post, we can take a snapshot of where the emissions will come from in 2050 under a business-as-usual scenario.

carbon-from-houses-by-end-use-in-2050

The pie chart above shows that of the emissions from houses in 2050, almost 2/3 will come from heat. Electricity, on the other hand, will only make up just over a third of emissions. Without radical action to decarbonise heat, we won’t get anywhere near the 2050 target.

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From the zero carbon consultation, you can see that CLG has accepted that we need to resolve the onsite / offsite question. They have also moved away from the requirement for private wire networks or “direct connections” between generators and homes since it caused all sorts of problems.

So positive moves from CLG, but there is still a huge amount of confusion over what onsite and offsite actually mean. This is a crucial issue since only onsite energy will count towards carbon compliance, while offsite energy is only likely to count as an allowable solution.

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