Achieving Zero

Brenda Boardman is at the Environmental Change Institute at the University of Oxford. I have always found that she has interesting things to say about climate change and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in buildings. She has now written a report “Achieving Zero” which you can read in full at http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/achievingzero/achieving-zero-text.pdf or in summary at http://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/research/energy/achievingzero/achievingzero-execsum.pdf which sets out some findings and ideas about reducing greenhouse egas emissions from buildings. This is a difficult problem in the United Kingdom where there are more than 26 million buildings the vast majority of which were built to designs and specifications when green house gas emissions and fuel costs were not a concern. Continue reading

The Genersys Solar Thermal Guide to the Renewable Heat Incentive for commerce, businesses, industrial and public sector and not for profit organisations

The Renewable Heat Incentive is a United Kingdom government subsidy, financed by the tax payer, to provide incentive payments for those who install renewable heat. It is essentially an incentive to reward renewable heat installations, rather than low carbon emitting installations and covers solar thermal biomass, ground and water source heat pumps, geothermal, biogas and biomethane technologies, but I shall concentrate on the incentive for solar thermal incentive. Continue reading

The rationale for a renewable heat incentive

Consumers often ask why they should pay for renewable heat. The funds allocated for this over four years may be around £850 million, which is a great deal of money in these hard times. Renewable heat in effect comprises biomass, solar thermal panels for heat and hot water and heat pumps. There are two main reasons for encouraging renewable heat. The first is to provide a measure of energy security, lessening the dependence on imported fuel. The second reason is to help alleviate rapid climate change because, biomass aside, these technologies emit significantly less carbon dioxide than traditional fossil fuel and in the case of solar panels they emit virtually no greenhouse gases.

Is it right that these installations should be incentivised by the taxpayer? I think so. Continue reading

A Short Guide to the United Kingdom’s Renewable Energy Statistics

This year the United Kingdom is generating 3% of its energy requirements from renewable sources as defined by the European Union. That may seem to be cause for celebration, as that figure can only rise, we hope. Continue reading

Problems with biofuels

The main biofuels are ethanol and biodiesel, which are becoming used more frequently in an effort to slow down global warming. Germany, for example, aims to provide 17% of its liquid fuel need from biodiesel and ethanol within ten years. Continue reading

Certification of biofuels and biomass

I have written a number of times about the problems with biofuels and biomass. Most governments seem to accept that these are “renewable” fuels and because of that associate them with low carbon fuels. They fail to understand that not all the carbon dioxide is taken up with new growth and in some cases, like ethanol made from corn, the net carbon dioxide emissions are higher than those created by burning oil. For that reason I have classified biofuels and biomass as “dirty” renewables.

The message is beginning to sink in. The European Union is now encouraging (but not mandating) member states to set up certification programs for biofuels, including wood and wood chip. I do not know yet how the certification system would work – no one does – but we can only hope that the standards would be stringent and genuinely address the problems that certain biofuels create, by banning them, or at least withdrawing all energy subsidies for them. Continue reading

How much fuel is left in the world?

In London when I was much younger there were two fellows who walked around with sandwich boards, not because of their occupations, but as a result of their preoccupations. One chap’s board had a message that warned against the eating of beans and pulses, which according to this chap were at the root of all lasciviousness and evil. The other chap’s message was, at the front of his board, “the end of the world is nigh”. He wanted to tell the population of London that the world was about to end. On the back of his board the message read “prepare to meet thy doom”. Continue reading