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Posts Tagged ‘DECC’

Randy Cambell knows: sometimes halfway is worse than nothing at all.

Randy Cambell knows: sometimes halfway is worse than nothing at all.

The Heat Network Code of Practice is likely to become intertwined with building regs. In particular, heat networks that comply with the Code could be treated more favourably under SAP.

But as I highlighted in the last post, we’ve got a problem: there’s currently no such thing as a Code-compliant heat network. For SAP to reference the Code, some form of Code compliance regime will be required.

DECC has said it wants to keep any such regime light touch, which seems reasonable. But, as I hope to describe in this post, a light touch regime could greatly damage the heat market. In other words, the wrong compliance regime would be worse than no regime at all.

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why I hate Big Data

There’s a lot of noise about Big Data, with much of it in the energy space. The rise of the Internet of Things, self-learning thermostats, the success of O-Power – all are linked to the generation and automated processing of massive datasets.

The hype machine promises that Big Data will solve all sorts of problems and make the world a better place.

But hype or no hype, personally I hate Big Data.

I can hear the sharp intake of breath at Guru’s PR company, who’ve done a great job getting press coverage for “Big Data” work that we’ve done for the Department for Energy and Climate Change. Bear with me guys, I’ll explain in this post.

First, a clarification of terms: there’s a tendency to refer to any large dataset as Big Data, even when it isn’t. If you’re not sure what Big Data is, here’s a nice background piece by Tim Harford, the FT’s undercover economist.

So what’s wrong with Big Data? Here are some examples:

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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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In January I wrote a post about the fact that, contrary to expectations, no meters will be retrofitted under the new Heat Network Regulations. This is because the assumptions in DECC’s meter viability tool mean almost no install will pass the financial viability test.

After hitting publish on that post, things moved pretty fast.

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In the last post, I flagged up the fact that no heat meters will be fitted to homes on heat networks under the Energy Efficiency Directive. This is because, no matter what inputs you feed into DECC’s calculation tool, the output is always the same: heat meters aren’t viable.

As a result, around 300k homes with unmetered connections will continue to pay a flat fee regardless of how much heat they use, robbing them of control over spending and giving them no incentive to save.

In this post, I’ll show that heat meters are viable in a typical block of flats. I’ll also show how a single unrealistic assumption in the DECC calculation tool pretty much guarantees that the computer says no, every time.

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That’s right. None. Zero. Zilch.

This is because, using DECC’s calculation tool, there are no cases in which the retrofit of residential heat meters is considered “financially viable.” No matter what numbers you feed into the calculation tool, the output for homes on heat networks is always the same:

Heat meters are NOT viable on an average building(s) of this type.

This means that the EU Energy Efficiency Directive has just been rendered toothless. Huge savings from behaviour change and efficiency improvements will not be realised. The 75% of people on heat networks with unmetered connections will continue to pay a flat fee regardless of how much heat they use, robbing them of control over spending and giving them no incentive to save. At the same time, heat network operators will be forced to engage in needless calculations and reporting, the outcome of which was decided before they even downloaded the calculation tool.

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Last year the Energy Technologies Institute launched the £100m  Smart System and Heat Programme, which “aims to design a first of its kind Smart Energy System in the UK.” As part of this programme, they’re doing a £3m piece of research into consumer behaviour on heat networks.

A member of the research team got in touch this week to ask if she could come in for a chat about what behaviour trends we’re seeing at Insite, our metering and billing company that looks after around 7k customers on community heating schemes. She was really nice about it and we began to talk about potential dates for the meeting.

Then, as we talked on the phone, some other details began to emerge. Would ETI agree to show us interim results? No, interim results are typically only reported internally to ETI. What about final results? Well, maybe, it depends on whether the ETI members choose to release the results to the public – but there’s a good chance the results will not be released.

I was stunned. For clarity ETI is 50% funded with public money from BIS, DECC, TSB and EPSRC.

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I tweeted Tuesday that 1/2 of us don’t take basic actions to save electricity in our homes (citing Greenwise) and wondered whether all that wasted electricity might be equivalent to a nuclear power station. When I got home I took a stab at the numbers.

The verdict? There’s more than just one nuclear power station lurking in that wastage.

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In my last post, I said that “between a quarter and a third of current UK electricity generation capacity will come offline by the end of the decade.”

In a subsequent comment, Mel Starrs asked me for my sources. It’s such an important fact, I think it’s worth fleshing out.

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