Standard Assessment Procedure and Reduced Data Standard Assessment Procedure – flawed tools in the toolbox

One of the reasons why the microgeneration of energy (which is the use of small household technologies to generate energy which is created and used on site) is employed so infrequently is that there is little government support of it in the United Kingdom. Microgeneration is wrongly seen as a lifestyle choice, rather than an environmental imperative. As microgeneration industries have grown in the United Kingdom, government incentives have been introduced (also in the case of some important technologies they have been turned on and off, creating instability. The second reason is that the ordinary consumer cannot be sure about its value, because the government approved methodologies for calculating the benefits are deeply flawed.

The main methodology is the Standard Assessment Procedure, which was introduced in 1992 (when the United Kingdom was in the dark ages of renewable energy) and which has been revised. SAP is a tool for calculating whether buildings are compliant with regulations for energy and environmental performance, but it was developed in 2005 into a Reduced Data SAP for calculating energy performance.

However these tools are being used to assess financial performance and that is where their existing flaws really affect the use of microgeneration. They are the wrong tools for the job of showing which microgeneration system provides a benefit and what those benefits are. These tools will be used as part of the Government’s Green Deal, which finances the Renewable Heat Incentive. They often (in the case of solar thermal) provide an underperformance of the technology in terms of useful energy produced, lifetime carbon emissions saved and financial benefits received.

This is not a deliberate outcome; it is simply because SAP and RDSAP are the only tools in the tool box for measuring. If you measure incompletely you will get inaccurate results and if you build a microgeneration programme on inaccurate results, the programme will fail and carbon emissions will rise and rise.

The Government is now consulting on SAP and we can only hope that the consultation is properly used so that the measuring tools we employ are accurate and are measuring the right things.

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