Utility Week

UTILITY Week 30th January 2015

Utility Week - authoritative, impartial and essential reading for senior people within utilities, regulators and government

Issue link: https://fhpublishing.uberflip.com/i/453394

Contents of this Issue


Page 18 of 31

UTILITY WEEK | 30Th JanUarY - 5Th FEbrUarY 2015 | 19 Operations & Assets guarantees investors who come on board in the first month an annual interest rate of 7.5 per cent over three years, with 7 per cent for those who invest later in the scheme. Investments start from £50 and loans will be secured against ten already operational farm-scale turbines, located across the UK. If you have an asset or project you would like to see featured in this slot, email: paul.newton@fav-house.com Pipe up Dr Simon Harrison If you want to explore how to minimise carbon diox- ide emissions, spend an hour experimenting with the Department of Energy and Climate Change UK 2050 pathways calculator (http://2050-calculator-tool.decc.gov. uk). It's not perfect, but it brings home the importance of energy efficiency. The calculator has been a real success for Decc, which has seen it emulated in many other coun- tries, and a global version is due for launch imminently. Energy efficiency is a conundrum. It's cheap, effective and mostly relies on technologies and supply chains ready to deliver right now. Evidence from the Interna- tional Energy Agency also suggests it has wider second- ary economic benefits. However, we seem to proceed at a snail's pace while focusing our efforts on the more expensive challenge to decarbonise the energy supply. Why is this? It seems mostly about how consumers value the effort of learning about the issues and the disruption involved in having home alterations done. Even in an era of austerity, we've been reluctant to invest en masse in efficiency improve- ments with short payback times. Also, the rising numbers of people renting their homes face a market failure: they pay the energy bills, but have no control over the building fabric. More widely, energy system models now show district heat- ing to be the low-carbon energy solution of choice in urban and suburban environments, perhaps supplemented by the gas grid. Installation of heat distribution infrastructure in existing environments is not easy, but has been done in other countries. Again there will be issues of public acceptability and trust in utility companies is no doubt a factor too. If this was not enough, decarbonisation will need more interactions between energy services in the home. For example, surplus wind energy could be stored by heating domestic hot water; the timing of space heating by heat pumps could be controlled to suit electricity grid conditions. This needs a stronger policy focus and an engaged public debate, but engaging people in what seems a mundane part of their lives remains difficult. However, there is hope. We are seeing the beginnings of the internet of things reaching people's homes. A salient example is 'learning thermostats', which promise to learn about your lifestyle, heat your home accordingly and be controllable from your smartphone. What's more, they give you data on your phone that is interesting enough to hold your attention on the commute home. Could this be the beginning of something revolutionary? Dr Simon Harrison, chair, Institution of Engineering and Technology Energy Policy Panel "Even in an era of austerity we've been reluctant to invest in efficiency improvements with short payback times." "Energy system models now show district heating to be the low-carbon energy solution of choice"

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Utility Week - UTILITY Week 30th January 2015