Government policy: Renewable heat, carbon and all that …

Our quarterly rant: Government policy, renewable heat, carbon and all that…

Future generations won’t thank us for the current lack of technical understanding within our senior political ranks. It was, to say the least, a little disappointing that no party in the snap-election bothered to mention renewables policy. At the same time, the climate-change denying dinosaur Trump promotes the use of coal and oil in the face of accelerating increase of global temperature and atmospheric CO2.

Despite all of this, we can report that GSHP, renewables and water resource works are all busy. We believe there have been so many false starts, U-turns and instances of good old-fashioned government mess-ups over the last seven years with regard to the RHI and renewables policy that people and investors have decided that we may as well just get on with it! In a similar fashion, it is clear that the world will get on with implementing the Paris climate accord despite the USA’s brainless stance.

As regards the RHI; we have a degree of continuity. Despite some tabled amendments to RHI policy (delayed by the election and summer recess), Carbon Zero Consulting are confident the RHI will remain open to applications until March 31st 2021. Work is now in progress at the department of BEIS to develop strategies for the ‘post-RHI’ environment. This is likely to take the form of planning requirements for renewable energy provision – rather than payment of tariffs.

UK renewable energy has managed to get column inches this summer with the significant contribution of solar and wind power to the UK power mix – at times providing up to 50% of our energy on a sunny/windy day. Just a few years ago, the ‘carbon intensity’ of grid electricity was in excess of 500g of CO2 (this is the measure of how ‘dirty’ or how much CO2 is pumped into the atmosphere for every unit of power we all consume). This figure now averages less than 300g with some instances, of less than 100g.

This is real progress – based on investments made some years ago. We need to keep our focus on the importance of renewables in the face of huge cost increases of nuclear power. The latter is of huge importance to our future zero-carbon power mix, but we are ‘over a barrel’ due to shameful policy to allow the Chinese and French to name their nuclear power price and take control of our future energy security.

Despite the many problems and shortcomings of our government’s approach, the significant reduction of CO2 emissions means the use of heat pumps for heating and cooling has never been more attractive as they become an increasingly low-carbon technology.

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