Over Doing Insulation – the Health Consequences

I have always been a supporter of home insulation. Exactly six years ago I wrote a post which explained the benefits of home insulation but which contained the following caveat:-

Insulation is very important. In order to try and save energy further the Government is setting air tightness standards for new homes. Here, I think, that they are on much more uncertain ground, because although air tightness does keep the heat in, it also comes at a price, and you have to be very aware of that price and what you should be doing if you live or work in an air tight building.

I went on to describe the ill effects on occupants in buildings that are too tightly insulated of carbon dioxide build up.

Recently some scientists have conducted research into the relationship between the air tightness of buildings and asthma. they found that the higher to SAP rating of a UK building, the more likely it was that the occupants or some of them would suffer from asthma. Continue reading

Large Scale Solar Farms Generating Electricity

In Broxford in Suffolk Santander are building a 60 hectare array of solar photo-voltaic panels, which they expect to generate 32.8 megawatt of electricity. The array is being built on a disused airfield.  It will be one of Britain’s largest photo-voltaic installations. and will feed electricity into the grid during daylight hours, cashing in on the very large subsidy that the United Kingdom taxpayer pays. Continue reading

The Shrinkage of the Green Economy

Mr Stern now thinks that he understated the consequences of climate change when he wrote his report. He also thinks that the government should engage the private sector in developing economic growth without increasing emissions. I cannot disagree but is not that what the government has been pretending to do for the past four years? Continue reading

How tax collection becomes a profit centre for energy companies

Npower have been widely criticised for handing out three million low energy bulbs to customers, who never asked for them. Ofgem has “expressed concern” and the Green Party have described this as “inexcusable”. This is one of those stories that are a little complex to understand, but when you do understand it you will appreciate that there is something that stinks in the United Kingdom’s energy policy, which upon close, careful and cool examination, appears to have been devised by morons. Continue reading

Renewable energy: a prize for the Minister who actually answers questions

Last week in Parliament the Secretary of State for Energy & Climate Change was asked how the £5.8 billion that the Government would spend on renewable energy over the three years ended April 2011 was broken down. 

It was a good question, asked by Greg Clark for two reasons; Continue reading

Emissions and pie crust promises

If Mary Poppins was an environmental commentator she would describe the various noises coming out of governments and local authorities throughout the world about reducing carbon dioxide emissions as “pie crust promises” – easily broken. There are a string of these pie crust promises ranging from the United Kingdom’s promise to reduce carbon emissions by 20% by 2020 or 80% by 2050 to the London Borough of Haringey’s promise to reduce its own emissions of greenhouse gas by 40% within the decade.

These are excellent intentions – I do not criticise people for wanting to do the right thing, but I must explain that however good the intentions promises are empty words if the means and the resources are not available to ensure that the promises are met. I could list the many promises from all over the world to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. However, comparing these promises with reality we see that greenhouse gas emissions are probably not falling at all anywhere in the world and at best are remaining stable at about half the level that the planet can recycle.

This apparent stability is in fact incredibly harmful because the most important greenhouse gas in terms of size and volume of emissions is carbon dioxide which lasts about a hundred years in the atmosphere if the planet is unable to recycle it. There if the bath can only drain half the water coming into it from the taps, then it will overflow, and so there will be a stage if we fail to keep our promises about emissions, when the atmosphere will overflow with greenhouse gas, creating devastation and change on a scale that we mere humans will find it impossible to live with.

In the United Kingdom we are apparently reducing our emissions by .5% per annum. I write “apparently” because I think that such a small margin of reduction is well within normal margins of error. I would be surprised if there was any real reduction in the United Kingdom’s greenhouse gas emissions.

The UK Committee on Climate Change has just pointed out that given the present policies continuing, the United Kingdom will fall very far short of emission reductions and will get nowhere near meeting its targets. It says that a step change is needed and that the market has failed to deliver emission reductions. The committee doubts whether the Emissions Trading Scheme will deliver sufficient savings.

At the time of writing a tonne of carbon under the ETS is only about 13 Euros. That is way below the figure that is needed for the market mechanisms to make investment in low carbon technology attractive to industry. As far as I can see the ETS is simply just another casino where businesses can gamble on the price of a commodity that no one wants.

Governments are too frightened to raise energy prices because of the consequences politically; they will lose votes. Energy prices are bound to rise, but whether they will rise quickly enough to save the planet from intensive global warming is a matter of grave doubt.

The step change that will replace the market mechanisms now being employed can only be compulsion by legislation. Regular readers of these posts will know that I have always urged compulsion by legislation to reduce emissions. Nothing else will work and although legislation is a heavy and sometimes blunt instrument if the market will not fix the problem the legislators will have to fix it.

There has to be legislation requiring energy saving in every home and renewable microgeneration in every home. Homes are the easiest and softest target when it comes to reducing emissions; they should be the first line of emission reduction, regardless of what the house builders want. Insulation technology is simple and well developed. There is no reason not to require it to be deployed. Most forms of clean small scale renewables are also ready to deploy. Things like solar panels will, if deployed across the country, make very fast emission savings as people stop burning fossil fuel to heat their water and start using daylight.

Industry and large scale energy generation is a tougher target. Here we risk losing competitiveness and, worse than that, the solutions are by no means clear and some solutions rely on technology that has not yet been invented or perfected.

So, until we have detailed legislation restricting the ability to pollute and emit greenhouse gases to a far greater extent than now the promises being made by governments will be pie crust promises, as Mary Poppins would have it, easily made and easily broken.

National Energy Action’s plan for insulating the homes of the United Kingdom

Today in Brighton the National Energy Action Charity, a charity concerned with fuel poverty, launch their annual conference and if you are in Brighton and pop into their exhibition you will see some Genersys panels on display with some helpful Genersys staff you can answer your questions. Genersys does not make any sales through their membership of National Energy Action, but the NEA is a worthy organisation well worth supporting in their fight to alleviate the misery and hardship of people who cannot afford to keep warm and live at a decent standard, which is what fuel poverty means, rather than the somewhat formulaic concept of people who spend more than 10% of their income on fuel. Continue reading