No better time to consider renewable heat!

Our quarterly rant: Despite everything, there has never been a better time to install a Ground Source Heat Pump (GSHP) of the provision of renewable heat.

The UK does not have targets for the increased provision of renewable heat; rather a requirement to lower carbon emissions across the board. The UK’s fifth carbon budget, due for parliamentary approval this year, recommends a 57% reduction in UK emissions from 2028-2032 on 1990 levels.

The committee for climate change (CCC) recently commented that ‘Heating and hot water for UK buildings make up around 40% of our energy consumption and 20% of our greenhouse gas emissions. It will be necessary to largely eliminate these emissions by around 2050 to meet the targets in the Climate Change Act and to maintain the UK contribution to the Paris Agreement. Progress to date has stalled. The Government needs a credible new strategy and a much stronger policy framework for buildings decarbonisation’.

Progress has indeed stalled since the Brexit referendum, cabinet reshuffle, scrapping of DECC and absorption of all things carbon/renewable into the catchily named new department of ‘Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’ (DBEIS). It is likely that we will be told a little more about the fate of the RHI and renewable heat in early December. We await with great interest what BEIS have taken 6 months to mull-over!.

The UK’s long term aim for the provision of heating for domestic and commercial premises is to utilise low carbon (and ultimately zero carbon) electricity to provide renewable heat via heat pumps. Great strides have already been taken to reduce the ‘carbon intensity’ of mains electricity. Coal, the worst possible option for emissions of CO2, has rapidly become a minor contributor to our mix of power sources with gas, nuclear and renewables providing the bulk.

Just 3 years ago, the carbon intensity of grid electricity was often in excess of 500g of CO2 for every kilowatt-hour (500gCO2/kWh). Now, with increased contribution from renewables and gas, the average has fallen to 300gCO2 or less.  This will continue to fall as more renewables are brought on line, and eventually more nuclear – although I fear Hinckley and other nuclear projects have further hurdles to jump before they power-up your heat pump!

The major ‘fuel’ source for a GSHP is, of course, the ground. A well-designed and maintained borehole or trenched ground array will provide renewable heat for 100 years or more – provided nobody digs it up! As such a ground array acts as a very long term capital asset for the system owner. With the significant reduction of carbon emissions from electricity production, there has never been a better time to install heat pumps.

There is ongoing technical demand and client desire to utilise GSHP systems, but in a government incentivised market, there is an urgent and absolute requirement for clarity and certainty from DBEIS. To read more from Carbon Zero Consulting Ltd, visit our news section. 

UK national grid uses no coal for first time in over 100 years

The UK’s national grid has been producing electricity without any assistance from coal fired power plants for the first time since 1882. This historic event occurred late Monday 10th May and spanned into the early hours of Tuesday morning. This was again repeated over the weekend.

The government has stated its plans to phase out coal power by 2025 as it is has a significantly higher ‘carbon intensity’ compared to gas (and of course energy from renewables and nuclear has zero carbon intensity). The reduced reliance on coal is excellent news for heat pump owners as reduced grid carbon intensity will see the carbon efficiency of heat pumps improve even further.

UK Grid Carbon Intensity on 14/05/2016

UK’s Solar Power Generation

The UK’s solar panels generated more electricity than coal for the first time. On Saturday 9 April, solar generated 29 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity, 4% of the total power used that day and more than the 21GWh output from coal (3% of demand). This pattern was repeated on Sunday, with solar (6%) outpacing coal (3%). In reality, the coal consumption was unusually low – but this does demonstrate some of the major changes and improvements being made to the UK’s power supply.

Feasibility assessment of a large water-source heat pump for Nottinghamshire County Council

Carbon Zero Consulting completed the Stage 1 feasibility and options assessment for a potential renewable heating system to replace gas boilers at Nottingham County Hall on the river Trent.

An assessment of river flow and temperature confirms the Trent is certainly capable of providing sufficient water for an open-loop water source heat pump (WSHP) to replace the majority of heat currently provided by gas boilers.

Our detailed report on the viability of this system covered initial aspects of the existing heating and heat distribution system, water intake and discharge works in the river and regulatory issues.

Our findings were presented and well received by Councillors and the engineering team. We have now been asked to make proposals for the 2 Stage feasibility assessment.

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.

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.

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.