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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.


Electricity isn’t the only form of energy

The planned RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) scheme is almost with us, but seems to be seriously watered down when it comes to solar water heating on domestic properties.

Where is most of domestic energy consumed? In heating!

How is most of that heat generated? By using gas or oil or coal, rarely electricity!

What do the government want us to cut down on?  Our consumption of gas and oil and coal.

Looking at hot water alone and lets say I have a choice of heating it using solar hot water or electricity. Throughout the summer I can have all my hot water heated by a solar water heater which comprises a contraption made up of glass, copper and insulating material, all relatively low tech but varying in efficiency depending on the way it is formed, perhaps solar flat plate or vacuum tube.

This solar water heater will cover between 4 and 6 square metres of my roof and provide all my hot water from , late spring to early autumn. The whole system will cost in the region of  £4,000, is reliable and relatively maintenance free.  Very little electricity is involved.

 Conversely, I could do the same job with £10,000 to £20,000 worth of solar PV, which while I might have to pay a great deal to  install, I will get paid Feed in Tariffs which will pay back the full costs in 10 years and give me a profit for another 15.  These solar PV panels are very costly to make, invariably imported from China, consume vast amounts of rare metals and are very costly in energy to manufacture.  

If the Government really wants to cut down on the use of energy, they should proactively support the installation of solar water heating, in my opinion to a greater extent than solar PV as there is a far greater carbon saving return per £ invested whether through grants or when considering the cost of the installation. 

More information on the  Renewable Heat Incentive and how it relates to Solar Water Heating can be seen here within a press release from the Solar Trades Association placed on the solaruk website. http://www.solaruk.net/news/solarenergy.asp?item=2170

The Government seem to have got hung up on electricity rather than energy.


Today the Solar Trade Association welcomed the announcements by Ed Milliband regarding solar energy, but expressed disappointment that the proposed rate of investment will be lower than that for other green energy technologies.

See: http://www.solaruk.com/news/solarenergy.asp?item=2048

Buying Solar Water Heating

An increasingly popular investment is in fitting solar panels for water heating. Not a new technology and one that is widely used on the continent. After insulation, the most likley to show an actual return on investment, certainly if you are on oil like me!

You will most likely have had a few letters from solar water heating companies through your door, perhaps from smartenergy, simple solar and a whole host of others. Beware! Unfortunately the industry has attracted the same people who 20 years ago were selling double glazing, 10 years ago it was timeshares and they have just moved out of selling dodgy finacial deals into solar panels! Call one of these guys and you are in for a few hours of sales patter, sign now and we will knock off 30% etc etc.. Its just that at £8,000 or £10,000 or £12,000 even with the extra special discount, its still a con!

A decent solar water heating system should cost no more than £4,000 and possibly less. It will only heat a proportion of your hot water, it will not heat the house. Mine, which I have had for about 4 years, allows me to switch off my boiler between May through till September. In late Autumn, Winter and eraly Spring there is minimal overall heat generated.