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.
Archive for the ‘zero carbon’ Category
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?
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.
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:
- Decent Homes
- Allowable Solutions
- Part L
- 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?
Sure, biodiesel is considered “renewable” in the upcoming building regs. But that won’t stop the backlash against developers who use it.
Yesterday a biodiesel generation plant proposed for Avonmouth near Bristol was rejected 6-2 in planning committee on the grounds of its impact on rainforests on the other side of the globe. Of the 1,121 letters received by councilors in advance of the meeting, only 2 were in favour of the plant.
Strictly speaking, the application should not have been rejected. The plant passed air quality tests and all other material considerations. The chairwoman of the committe went as far as saying she could find no reason to refuse the application and the city’s legal chief agreed. After all, it’s not the job of the planners to consider the source of fuel – that’s OFGEM’s role.
But that didn’t stop the committee throwing it out anyway, at the end of a fiery meeting, on moral and ethical grounds.
Posted in climate change, Code for Sustainable Homes, energy, engineering, ESCO, passivhaus, PAYS, renewable energy, sustainability, utilities, zero carbon, tagged CLG, DECC, HEMS, HESS, Supplier Obligation on February 14, 2010 | 5 Comments »
Wrong. Unless they include extra charges.
The Code for Sustainable Homes, upcoming changes to building regs, and national emissions targets are all driving the industry towards much wider use of on-site generation.
Reducing carbon with on-site generation (also called “distributed energy” or just “DE”) brings extra costs relative to the business-as-usual approach of individual gas boilers and grid electricity. Cyril Sweett and others put the additional cost of building a zero-regulated-emissions house at £10k – £13k per dwelling, and some recent projects at work have borne this out.
This £10k – £13k is a massive problem for developers and housing associations, in some cases making projects infeasible.
There’s a widespread misconception that ESCOs can make the problem disappear. Some of this misconception has been fostered by ESCOs keen to get deals on the books (I’ll come back to this in a minute), but I think most of the problem is down to a poor understanding of distributed energy and how ESCOs make money.
So how much capital cost can ESCOs take on? Here’s an example: (more…)
Although PAYS has been conceived to address retrofit, developers and RSLs are hoping it might also reduce the financial burden of meeting more stringent upcoming regs for new build.
In theory it works like this: by capitalising future energy savings, developers could afford to put in the low carbon measures they need to in order to hit strict limits on emissions. The occupants then use a portion of the savings to pay off this capital lump.
Developers hit their targets and occupants get savings. Everyone’s a winner. But in the case of new build, what are the savings measured against? The UKGBC final PAYS report suggests that:
Biodiesel will almost certainly be a recognised fuel under to upcoming changes to building regs, opening the door to biodiesel CHP as a way to meet increasingly stringent limits on emissions. While a number of big urban developments will breathe a sigh of relief at the news, it’s not all plain sailing. (more…)