50% Emissions Cuts by 2027

So a cut of 50% based on 1990s emissions by 2027, that’s 16 years from now.

The graph shows the emissions reductions as we approach the 2020 target of a 20% reduction, the provisional figures for 2010 are almost certainly due to the recession which will be  replicated in 2011.

But, I do wonder how much of these emissions reductions are due to the export of industry to China and how much to increased efficiency and the use of renewable energy.

Certainly, while we have boosted the numbers of wind turbines and solar panels, these only represent perhaps 1 or 2 % of generated electricity, the headline figures of a 100MW wind farm realistically equating to maybe 20MW actually generated.  Solar panels  don’t yet make much of an impact.

Emisions are indicated as coming down, but is that because we are doing good things or simply moving our factories abroad?

What is clear is that the emissions reductions are almost certainly down to the shifting of industry to other countries, potentially with a higher level of emissions due to lowered efficiency.

Where the consumption of lets say a “tyre” for a car might have cost .2 tonnes of carbon where it was made in the UK, that tyre made in China and with the electricity generated from a coal power plant, equates to .3 tonnes, then it has to be shipped round the world (though perhaps we have saved some of the raw material shipping costs?).

So, there is more carbon in the form of CO2 generated but Britain claims a reduction!

Its the same as carbon offsetting or perhaps nearer the knuckle, getting somebody to accept a speeding fine so you can retain a clean licence?

To have any chance of showing an honest reduction in CO2, the 1st thing DECC needs to do is totally review the way Britain’s contribution to Global CO2 production is counted. Not based on what is generated in the UK, but what is gereated as a result of UK consumption of goods and services.

On the plus side this means we can remove the carbon associated with exports, but add those associated with imports. What about shipping and international travel ?

Do an honest measure and we might find that CO2 production that is attributed to the UK  has gone up since 1990. I think this is the more likely outcome.

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Feed in Tariffs

The Feed-in Tariff scheme  as defined by this government is ill conceived. It does not tackle the problem of energy conservation nor CO2 reduction and appears to be more suited as an investment that will make wealthy people richer. It does not help the fuel poor, nor does it help the householder who simply wants to do their bit for the environment, rather it will make energy cost more, particularly for those who are currently struggling to pay their bills.

Below I have proposed an alternative that will encourage and reward conservation, will mean cheaper bills for the lower energy user and will support the homeowner who wants to generate their own electricity.

The Spanish FIT scheme has just closed, it proved to be too costly. Germany’s has been seriously scaled back, for the same reason. Experience shows they are not sustainable.

Our FIT scheme is going to favour the large investor taking over large plots and setting up large scale arrays, the householder is going to be sidelined – though they will ultimately pay through higher tariffs!. Basically the Labour Govt’s scheme, which you will inherit, is not at all focused on saving energy, or reducing carbon, it seems to be about developing an alternative investment.

Even now it is being touted as providing an 8% return on investment, that is so wrong, isn’t this about saving the planet?

FITs favour the investor with money and ultimately are paid for by the consumer, the energy poor, at the bottom of the heap

An Alternative?

What follows is simple and I hope innovative, solving many problems.

I would like to suggest an alternative scheme that will encourage both renewable energy generation, reduction in consumption and address fuel poverty.

Current Situation

When you purchase your electricity – as we all do – the 1st 1,000 units or so are charged at a premium. This is the alternative to paying a standing charge. In my case with Eon my current quarterly bill shows 242 units at 22.84p  then 1982 units at 8.71p.

The more I use, the cheaper (average cost per unit) it gets.

Anybody on a low income or trying to save electricity will pay a higher average cost per unit as they lower their consumption.

Here’s an alternative (domestic only).

Through OFGEN, Energy companies will be directed to reverse their charging scheme, charging a low tariff, lets say 10p per unit up to the UK average consumption for a domestic property. Any consumption above that is charged at a higher rate, I would propose a sliding scale that I have detailed below.

Immediately we have clear incentives.

  • The less energy used, the lower the average cost of each unit.
  • Those who are on lower incomes and lower energy use will immediately benefit with lower cost energy.
  • Higher users of energy will pay more and have a clear incentive to reduce energy consumption.
  • Higher users will also have a clear incentive to invest in microgeneration. Anything they generate, by definition will be saving money at the higher rate.
  • Surplus energy exported to the grid is used to reduce the overall consumption bringing the consumer / generator nearer to, or below the average.

Going forward, the average energy use will decline, there is now a clear incentive. As the average goes down, that point at which the higher tariff starts kicking in also declines, hence there is a simple process that will reinforce the incentive to keep reducing consumption. The average consumption being publicised and re-set each year. (we are all, as a nation now part of this drive to save energy)

Identifying the average UK consumption is relatively easy, the data exists and it is only numbers.

In numbers.

An average consumption of say 8,000 units per year, a baseline cost of 10p per unit, any consumption above 8,000 but less than 12,000 charged at 20p

Above 12,000 charged at 40p (sounds high?)

Low income, energy poor benefits: A low income consumer immediately benefits, their cost is 10p per unit. Considering a 6,000 unit consumption compared to now (1,000 at 23p + 5,000 at 9p = an average of  11.3p) their energy cost comes down.

Mine goes up. I use 9,000 units, about £950 or an average cost of 10.5p ie less than the person on a low income and low consumption. My cost goes up to and average of 11.1p per unit, as I use more, my average cost goes up.

Now, I have wind turbines and solar PV so my consumption is already low compared to similar families / houses. If I didn’t have these, my consumption would be higher, my average cost would be higher.

Note, the costs per unit remain in the same ball park figure as existing costs.

The process and impact

The break points for doubling and quadrupling the cost per unit above are at average consumption, 1.5 times average and twice average. (keeping it simple)

A high consumer will have a clearer incentive to reduce consumption, ie their average cost goes up the more they use rather than down! 40p per unit means I will certainly switch my lights off and choose a more fuel efficient fridge.

40p per unit means Mr Average will also have an incentive to install microgeneration. I would see a simple additional reward in that exported electricity can bring down the net overall use. If my use is 9,000 units, I export 1,200, I pay for 7,800. While the average consumption is 8,000 units I pay at the 10p rate. As the average goes down, I must in turn look for other ways to save energy if I want to keep my per unit cost at 10p!

Feed in tariffs become an irrelevance.

There is no need whatsoever for the complexity of Feed-in Tariffs, nor can the money to finance Feed-in Tariffs run out, nor, with the utilities paying for the Feed-in Tariffs will we see ever higher electricity costs being passed on to the lower income consumer to benefit the wealthy investor!

Every year the average will come down as there is more microgeneration and energy saving. That means the point at which the higher costs start kicking in will be at a lower baseline, it is self sustaining towards ever lower consumption!

The lower income, lower users of electricity are generally well below average consumption so for some years remain insulated from this process.

The energy companies?

Well, they will be free to set their rates, I have used 10p as an example, they can be  as competitive as they wish. All they have to do is follow a formula of less than average consumption is charged at X, Average to 1.5 times average is 2X , more than 1.5 times average is 4X. These figures could be fine tuned but that would give an opportunity to procrastinate for the next 5 years.

I can see tariff packages where there is a standing charge then a lower X, No standing charge but a higher X.

NB. This is workable. I have worked within the regulated Water industry and am currently working within the energy sector, in particular energy switching so am very aware of how energy companies try to differentiate and compete.

Also, consider this. There are only 500 people qualified to install microgeneration systems that might be eligible for FITs. Compare this with 60,000 Gas Safe (Corgi) qualified engineers.

Requiring an MCE (Microgeneration Certified Engineer) in order to qualify for a FIT simply duplicates existing quality schemes.

Shock Horror, Govt Scientist has revelation!

I am not the only blogger who has commented that when estimating our carbon emmissions we must take into account emmissions that have been generated overseas in manufacturing products that we use.

Go back a few years and the consumer durable that you bought, a TV, computer, clothes etc was almost certainly made in the UK. That TV caused a certain volume of emmissions, both carbon and other pollutants. Now the TV is made in another country, we seem to think the emmissions don’t count!!

CO2, methane or any greenhouse gas along with most pollutants don’t obey national boundaries, it is a global problem!

Briton has a long way to go to get to an 80% (by 2050) or even a 20% reduction by 2020.  Unless Govt start to take it seriously – like when the Nazis were going to invade –  we will fail.

I note that the recent speech by Gordon Brown didn’t mention Climate Change, realistically the only thing of any importance for the next 50 years, and that just days after another relevant science report says we should expect 4 degrees of warming perhaps by 2060 – I’ll be 103!

Continued Decline – In consumption!

My electricity consumption continues to go down!

My Energy Tracker
My Energy Tracker

The earlier decline in energy consumption is largely due to general conservation measures, switching off lights and not using standby. The red realistically shows no change and fits in with the trend from last year, our extra effort in energy saving having started in April 2008.

With what appeared to be a limited impact on our net energy consumption by our wind turbines I approached FutureEnergy who very kindly called in and made some changes to settings. The mains electricity here is 250 and more volts, far from the European target of 230! Their visit was in late June and we appear to be showing an immediate 20% electricity saving from our Turbines and its during the summer when there is far less wind!

Ongoing changes are replacing failed light bulbs with LED lights (not CFLs). My bathroom will have 9 LEDs with a total consumption of about 11 Watts!

Overall a target of more than 10% by 2010, having had a 20% reduction in 2009 and similar in 2008.

See: Guardian article on Politicians plans to reduce consumption. You would think they would be leading, it all seems to be political hot air!

E.on and my OWL Energy Meter

My record of energy use over the last couple of years

My record of energy use over the last couple of years

My e.on account records my energy use on a month by month basis.   April is when I bought an OWL energy meter!

The energy use is generally low for my property as during the summer (mostly) I have solar PV. I have just installed Wind so next year should show a further month by month reduction.

Realistically, All we are doing with the OWL is using it as a reminder to go round switching things off at night. There is more to do, but I expect my consumption to go up again as I am looking at getting an Air Source Heat Pump. Certainly cheaper to run than the oil system I currently have.  That, along with triple glazing should mean that next year we are warm!

OWL’s website

The Awful state of new housing

The story in the press at the moment about the pcso who was incorrectly suspected of running a drugs factory rather sums up both the awful state of new housing in the UK and the profligate way that people heat their homes!

Its July, a police helicopter with an infra red camera detects a house emitting exceptionally high levels of heat, so much they think it is a cannabis factory!

bbc article: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/cambridgeshire/7532503.stm

But no, its a new house with crummy roof insulation and a resident who has the heating turned up in the middle of the summer!

David Wilson Homes have stated that the insulation fully complies with their obviously extremely low standards – from the bbc The firm which built the house said it complies with “all relevant standards”. the house is 4 years old so won’t legally need to comply with the recent upgrades to the levels of loft insulation. Are David Wilson Homes actually saying that they only work to the minimum legal requirements? Surely a developer marketing a house as one of the eco-homes, or of any standard should aim to go way beyond the minimum!

David Bell, managing director for David Wilson Homes South Midlands, said: “All David Wilson homes are built to the highest specification and in accordance with all energy efficiency legislation and regulations.

Next time we have snow, have a look at the new housing developments. In Sittingbourne it was clear that the new homes, actually on housing estates still being built, lost their roof snow before the older houses.

And another thing. Its summer, we might not have the same temperatures that might be found in Southern Europe but there is no need to have the heating on, certainly not to the point that the house stands out as a hot spot!

This simple story really shows the dire straights we are in. Greedy developers and a public for all their statements about caring for the environment really don’t care!

Sad isn’t it.