UK Renewable Power Generation and Grid Carbon Intensity

Since 2nd June 2015 we have been monitoring the contribution of renewable power generation and carbon intensity of the UK National Grid. A ‘spot’ reading is taken at midday each day.

The addition of wind, solar and hydro-power to existing power generation (gas, coal and nuclear) is starting to make real inroads into the average carbon intensity of the national grid (the amount of CO2 emitted for each unit of electricity generated).

Coal power stations are to be phased out of the UK by 2023 meaning that it is likely that more gas power stations will have to be constructed (new nuclear power installations will take a minimum of 10 years to come on line). The current UK government has put a stop to further onshore wind installations, but there are likely to be more constructed offshore. Likewise, the rate of installation of solar PV, ground source and biomass systems will slow radically with the planned major reduction of tariff payments.

Wind, solar, hydro and nuclear power do not emit CO2 to the atmosphere, while coal and gas emit CO2 with coal being significantly worse than gas.

Graph of UK Grid Carbon Intensity (Nov 4)

As stated in the last article the Carbon Trust states that in all calculations 500 gCO2/kWh is to be used for computation of carbon emissions for heat pumps. However, the value found over the past 4 months is significantly lower than that with an average closer to 385 gCO2/kWh. The result of this is that Ground Source Heats Pumps provide significantly greater environmental benefit than the data published by the Carbon Trust would suggest.

UK Turns To Diesel For Power

At the same time as destroying the UK renewable power industry and removing many energy saving initiatives, the UK is turning to diesel to meet an impending power supply crunch. You really couldn’t make it up if you tried. This Tory government is surely the most short-sighted and bone-headed ever. They have entirely lost the plot!

The UK is set to grant subsidies worth hundreds of millions to highly polluting diesel electricity generators (reports the Financial Times). The support, through the government’s capacity market auction, is designed to ensure the lights stay on. Yet in meeting this aim up to 1.5 gigawatts of polluting small diesel could receive up to £436m in grants. The plant would be only slightly less CO2-intensive than coal and emit several million tonnes of CO2 a year.

The Fate of the Renewable Heat Incentive

The UK’s stated efforts to reduce CO2 emissions rely on replacing coal (and later, gas) with power from nuclear, wind, solar and tidal generators. These sources of power are to be linked with massive uptake of electrically-powered low carbon heating technologies (heat pumps). The renewable heat incentive (RHI) was intended as a driver toward this aim to promote the uptake of low carbon heating.

Amber Rudd, our new DECC Secretary of State has hit the ground running and is wielding a very sharp axe! With the key UN climate event in Paris looming in December you might think our government would be paying urgent attention to our commitments towards reducing CO2 emissions. The Minister’s speech acknowledges no such urgency – instead she chooses to focus on how the UK’s response to climate change somehow fits within the Chancellor’s drive for short-term and short-sighted savings. The Green Deal, feed-in-tariffs, zero-carbon homes and other recently installed measures are to be cancelled or ‘reviewed’. Although no changes have been announced, we can be confident the renewable heat incentive (RHI) will also be under review.
To date, uptake of renewable heating has progressed in a surprising direction with technology selection based on RHI income, and not sound engineering principles. Figures show that over 90% of all non-domestic RHI applications have been for biomass systems. This is clearly unsustainable. This skewed market is being addressed by recent reductions of the biomass RHI tariff allowing (ground source) heat pumps to compete.

Bearing in mind that the entire RHI budget accounts for less than 1% of DECC’s annual spending (96% goes toward nuclear decommissioning); any future reduction of the RHI would be a wholly ineffective response to Treasury pressure for cuts. However, the RHI in its current form has not achieved some of its intended aims and so it is right to consider some changes and improvements.

The RHI should be retained and improved to support an emerging, high technology engineering sector. We see a blend of ‘carrot and stick’ as being the way ahead to promote renewable technologies, meet emissions targets – and reduce cost to the Treasury.
The below should also be given due consideration:

• Addition to the RHI of an up-front payment to help with the higher capital costs associated with renewable heating systems.
• A renewable heat tariff paid over a shorter time frame. This reduces the government’s long term obligations – which is seen as a factor for opposition to FIT and RHI payments.
• Tightening of (Part L) Building Regulations and introduction of ‘Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards’ for non-domestic buildings. At no cost to the Treasury, these changes would force energy efficiency improvement of the UK’s housing and commercial building stock and promote uptake of renewable technologies.

UK Power Generation Grid Carbon Intensity

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The UK is committed to phasing out power generation by coal (and much later gas) and to increase the contribution from nuclear power and renewable technologies (wind, solar, hydroelectric and tidal). The goal is for power generation to become ‘zero carbon’ by 2050 when all power will be generated by renewable and nuclear means.

Since 2nd June 2015 we have recorded (once per day) renewable power production and the ‘carbon intensity’ of the UK National Grid. The graph shows the percentage of total power generation being met by renewable energy (wind plus hydroelectric) and the resulting carbon intensity of energy produced.

It can quickly be seen how renewable energy generation impacts directly and significantly on the Nation’s Grid carbon intensity.

UK Grid Carbon Intensity

We do not include contribution from nuclear power in the ‘Percentage Renewables’, but nuclear power is also a zero-carbon power generator. Currently, nuclear power provides about 20% of total power produced.

Continued reduction of grid carbon intensity will reduce the UK’s impact on the global rise of CO2 and average temperature. The benefit of lower grid carbon is further enhanced when used to heat our homes and businesses via electrically powered heat pump technologies, such as Ground Source Heating.

Currently, the Carbon Trust states that in all calculations of CO2 emissions from heat pumps, a grid intensity of over 500gCO2/kWh is to be used. However, our findings clearly show the average value is closer to 375gCO2/kWh.

We will continue to plot this data to show the beneficial impact of renewable power implementation.

Busy doing soil surveys!

There has been a bit of a rush on soil thermal conductivity surveys this month. We normally perform 2 or 3 a month, but we’ve done 5 already in July!
Our surveys provide in-situ measurement of soil thermal conductivity at the depth at which a proposed GSHP ground array is to be installed.
We successfully completed domestic scale surveys, a large golf club array near Durham, and another for a new poultry farm in Cheshire.
We are also working with De Montfort University in Leicester on an exciting new piece of research to assess heat storage in soils; we were asked to perform a baseline survey with excavation and measurements down to 2m depth on the 2 hottest days of the year …..a fine welcome to the world of Carbon Zero Consulting for our new recruit, Lawrence Scott!

Politics and ‘renewable hot air’?

Despite an election campaign that failed to mention UK renewable energy policy, the recent G7 meeting made a commitment to pursue ‘deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions’. Good news? Yes, probably, although cynics might suggest this does no more than delay commitments made previously to reduce emissions by 50% before 2050! Rhetoric will no doubt increase toward the ‘UN climate show’ in December; a major objective of which is to limit global temperature increase to 2°C.

John Findlay of Carbon Zero Consulting, explains ‘the UK’s efforts in reducing CO2 emissions rely on replacing coal (and later, gas) with increased power output from nuclear, wind, solar, tidal – and through massive uptake of renewable heating. The latter continues in a rather surprising direction. Recent figures show that 93% of all non-domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) applications have been for biomass systems. On the domestic front the story is more mixed but shows that the predicted renewable market as a whole is well below where it needs to be.
Major changes are needed to the RHI to breathe life into the renewable heating market, to correct the imbalance of technology uptake and to allow movement toward the stated aims of the UK Climate Change Act.

Proposals to address these factors have been developed by the ground source heat pump association (GSHPA). These can be found at GSHPA_Manifesto Briefing. Findlay adds that “although recent reductions to biomass RHI will help the situation, we must ensure renewable technologies are selected on sound engineering principles – and not simply on short term RHI gain”.

The Winners of the Carbon Zero Consulting Renewable Energy Implementation Award

Our winners for the Carbon Zero Consulting Renewable Energy Implementation Awards, held as part of The Drinks Business‘ 2015 Green Awards at the Ivy in London on the 21st of April.

Green Awards 2015_HEL5309John Findlay of Carbon Zero Consulting with the winner of the 2015 Renewable Energy Implementation prize. Torres witnessed a change in climate, and vine growing patterns, and acted upon it in a very rounded way to install renewable heating and power systems across the business internationally.

 

Green Awards 2015_HEL5307John Findlay of Carbon Zero Consulting presenting the runner-up prize for Renewable Energy Implementation. Jacksons have put a huge effort into installation of some major solar PV arrays in California including innovative power storage systems to make use of PV power at night time.

 

Green Awards 2015_HEL5304John Findlay of Carbon Zero Consulting presenting the special commendation prize for Renewable Energy Implementation. Principi di Porcia have shown great foresight in applying an array of renewable energy technologies to their vine growing and farming activities including solar PV, solar thermal, Biomass and hydro-electricity.

 

Carbon Zero crown Torres Winery with prestigious international drinks award

Carbon Zero Consulting is delighted to announce that as sponsor of The Renewable Energy Implementation Award it has today crowned Bodegas Torres as a worthy winner of this newly created category of The Drinks Business Green Awards 2015 at The Ivy in London.

The Renewable Energy Implementation Award, sponsored by Carbon Zero Consulting, were seeking submissions from drinks companies who could firstly, demonstrate a strong reduction in carbon emissions and use of fossil fuels and secondly, show adoption of renewable technologies to provide alternative sources of heat, power and cooling.

John Findlay MSc CEng, Managing Director of Carbon Zero Consulting, who formed part of the independent panel of sustainability and drinks industry experts responsible for judging, was delighted by this year’s quality of entries. John was particularly impressed by the overall dedication Bodegas Torres showed to reducing their carbon emissions and adopting a number of different methods to achieve this.

John Findlay, Managing Director, Carbon Zero Consulting says, “We’re thrilled to have been involved with this year’s Drinks Business Green Awards and delighted to have our own category. The level of entries was high and overall it was pleasing to note that implementation of alternative sources of heat, cooling and power are being adopted by some companies in the drinks sector. However, we felt that Bodegas Torres is a particularly worthy winner due to the fact that they had not only witnessed a change in climate, but acted upon it in a very rounded way to install renewable heating and power systems across the business internationally. One point which deserves special mention, is their innovative approach of using vine clippings and waste to run a biomass boiler resulting in a 85% reduction in their gas consumption at Pacs de Penedes.

Mr Findlay continues, “With the evidence for climate change and its potentially devastating consequences continuing to build, there is a growing need to bring renewable technologies, such as Ground Source Heating and Cooling to the table and to recognise companies in the drinks industry that are already addressing these issues. We are delighted to have supported this cause and call for more companies to consider alternative forms of renewable energies to sustain their businesses in the long term.”

The Drinks Business Green Awards 2015 is the world’s largest programme to raise awareness of green issues in the drinks trade and recognise and reward those who are leading the way in sustainability and environmental performance.

Carbon Zero Consulting was founded in 2007 by John Findlay and is an independent and specialist renewable energy and water management consultancy offering high quality professional services to a variety of businesses and industry sectors nationwide. The company’s new website, www.carbonzeroco.com, provides a valuable source of information relating to renewable energy solutions including ground source heating and cooling technologies for which Carbon Zero Consulting is a leading provider throughout the UK.

Please call on 0844 855 0115 or johnfindlay@carbonzeroco.com for a comprehensive discussion on how we may be able to meet your needs.

Carbon Zero sponsor prestigious International drinks award

Drinks Business 2015Carbon Zero Consulting is delighted to announce that it is sponsoring The Renewable Energy Implementation Award, a newly created category at The Drinks Business Green Awards 2015 taking place on 21st April at The Ivy in London. Furthermore, John Findlay MSc CEng, Managing Director of Carbon Zero Consulting, has agreed to form part of the independent panel of sustainability and drinks industry experts responsible for judging the prestigious awards.

The Drinks Business Green Awards 2015 is the world’s largest programme to raise awareness of green issues in the drinks trade and recognise and reward those who are leading the way in sustainability and environmental performance. This year, The Drinks Business Green Awards encourage companies to decrease their impact on the environment.

More specifically, The Renewable Energy Implementation Award, sponsored by Carbon Zero Consulting, will be looking for examples demonstrating a strong reduction in carbon emissions and use of fossil fuels and instead, adoption of renewable technologies to provide alternative sources of heat, power and cooling.

John Findlay, Managing Director, Carbon Zero Consulting says, “We’re thrilled to be involved with this year’s Drinks Business Green Awards and delighted to have our own category. With the evidence for climate change and its potentially devastating consequences continuing to build, there is a growing need to bring renewable technologies, such as Ground Source Heating and Cooling to the table and to recognise companies in the drinks industry that are already addressing these issues.

Mr Findlay continues, “We will be looking for a company able to demonstrate its ongoing commitment to the implementation of viable alternative sources of power, heat and cooling. In short, the panel is looking for innovative implementation, potentially using combinations of technologies to reduce or completely remove the need for fossil fuel derived energy.”

As a Chartered Engineer, with more than 32 years of professional experience working with blue chip companies from oil exploration to manufacturing and food and drink companies, John has played a major role in the development of Ground Source Heating and Cooling (GSHC) technology with close involvement in many of the UK’s larger public and private sector schemes. With an exemplary track record, Mr Findlay is well respected in the sector and can often to be found presenting at technical seminars and conferences. He is also engaged with the development of new standards for GSHC systems as well as having been appointed as a technical advisor to OFGEM. Outside of daily business, John is an active council member of the GSHPA where he offers advice and guidance to members.  Whilst having a wealth of experience and offering his knowledge in an advisory capacity on various committees, John owns and manages a successful consultancy, Carbon Zero Consulting.

Carbon Zero Consulting was founded in 2007 by John and is an independent and specialist renewable energy and water management consultancy offering high quality professional services to a variety of businesses and industry sectors nationwide. The company’s new website, www.carbonzeroco.com, provides a valuable source of information relating to renewable energy solutions including ground source heating and cooling technologies for which Carbon Zero Consulting is a leading provider throughout the UK.

Please call on 0844 855 0115 or johnfindlay@carbonzeroco.com for a comprehensive discussion on how we may be able to meet your needs.