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Archive for the ‘zero carbon’ Category

Capital contributions, the payments made by ESCOs to developers in exchange for long-term concession agreements, are a hangover from the days when everyone thought onsite generation would be highly profitable.

We’ve since discovered that it isn’t as lucrative as expected. Nevertheless developers continue to demand these upfront payments, leading to higher standing charges, longer contracts and unhappy residents. Isn’t it time for the practice to stop?

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pllWith the election looming, it’s time to nail your colours to the mast. Ain’t no purdah round here, so here’s my contribution…

If I were Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, my mission would be to put us firmly on the path to zero carbon heat and electricity. Only by doing this will we meet our legally binding promise to decarbonise the UK economy and mitigate the worst effects of climate change.

As you’ll see, I also wouldn’t get too hung up on where my remit officially stopped.

To get back on the path, we’ll need to radically improve energy efficiency, develop our ability to shift electricity demand, enable renewables to meet the bulk of our electricity requirements, and rapidly develop our district heating market.

First: ramp up energy efficiency

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It’s been a long and protracted death, but the Queen’s Speech finally spelled the end for plans to drastically reduce emissions from new build.

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Here’s the promo video for the Sol-evo PV carport we’ve developed over the last 3 years or so. One of several reasons why this blog has suffered! I try and console myself that at least there’s a good reason.

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Golly it’s been a while. So long that I’d almost forgotten my WordPress login. Things have been manically busy at work. We got 2MW of PV installed in Italy just under the 2010 FIT deadline, our first containerised plant room is installed in Preston, we’ve been doing DH design and our first install in North London, and so on. It’s been tough going but really good.

Anyway, I got an update from the Zero Carbon Hub about carbon compliance levels and was intrigued to read that they’re recommending that buildings should have to achieve a “built” performance standard rather than the current “design standard”. This stems from the revelation that, while they meet standards on paper,  most new homes don’t meet Part L in practice.

This is nestled within the other recommendation from ZCH that to achieve Zero Carbon, carbon compliance levels for flats should be frozen at the Code 4 level of 44% reduction in emissions relative to ADL1 2006. For detached homes this is 60% and for everything else, 56%.

If you keep in mind that these reductions are in the context of regulated emissions only, this starts to look pretty paltry. Looking at total emissions, those figures become 27.5%, 35%, and 37.5% (when once we were aiming for 100%!)

So the question is this: does a requirement to build right (i.e. “built performance”) excuse lower targets?

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Infuriatingly, it looks like the government may mothball the Environmental Performance Standard, which would have limited emissions from new large power stations. This is despite the fact that both the Conservatives and Libdems championed the policy while in opposition.

As a result it’s likely that emissions from grid electricity will stay high for quite some time. In fact the official line is that the carbon intensity of the grid will remain roughly steady until 2015, when it will plummet towards near-zero carbon in 2040. (As an aside, is it a coincidence that the dropoff comes in 2015, given that it’s the latest possible date for the next general election?) It will be interesting to see how that drop off moves in coming years.

The announcement strongly reinforces the message from DECC that decarbonisation of heat will not be achieved through electrification. In other words, heat pumps are not the answer to decarbonising heat at the national scale.

Source is table 1 from the recently published DECC stats.

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The proper way to slash carbon emissions is to tax carbon at the point of fuel extraction and let the market sort the problem out.

But because there’s no political appetite for carbon tax, we end up tinkering at the margins trying to address the emissions problem in tortuous and esoteric ways. Here’s a list I jotted down on the train on my way into the office:

  • CERT
  • SHESP
  • CESP
  • PAYS
  • Decent Homes
  • Allowable Solutions
  • Part L
  • RHI
  • FiT
  • CCL
  • CRC
  • ROCs
  • Retrofit for the Future
  • JESSICA, JASPERS, ELENA
  • Expanded Suppliers Obligation

All of this cost and bureaucracy becomes redundant the moment the real price of carbon is reflected in the cost of energy. Is political expediency the biggest obstacle to carbon abatement?

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