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HEAT 2007 at New Hall, Cambridge

A Conference Expo on New Energy for Buildings and Intelligent Energy Management Technology

Speaker Company Title
Justin Hayward MD, CIR Ltd Event Intro (VideoCast) (PDF)
Tim Jervis CEF Chairman's Intro (VideoCast)
Jeremy Nicholson EEF (EIUG) Power Generation (VideoCast) (PDF)
Philip Martin Marks & Clerk Patent Attorneys IPR for Energy Technology (VideoCast) (PDF)
Jim Wallace ARM Holdings plc EcoHouse (VideoCast) (PDF)
Allen Broad Connaught Partnership plc Partners in providing sustainable heating systems (VideoCast) (PDF)
Mike McCreary CIR Ltd Chairman's Intro (VideoCast)
John Halfpenny CMR Fuel Cells plc Cord-free fuel cells for the home (VideoCast) (PDF)
Bob Flint Ceres Power plc Fuel cell products for global energy markets (VideoCast) (PDF)
Tamas Bertenyi Quiet Revolution Ltd Wind: New Energy for Buildings (VideoCast) (PDF)
Alan South Solar Century plc Solar power for homes and commercial buildings (VideoCast) (PDF)
Garry Staunton Carbon Trust Making Business Sense of Climate Change (VideoCast) (PDF)
Prashant Vaze Office of Climate Change Heat Project (VideoCast) (PDF)

The following summarises the discussions that took place at the new one-day Conference Expo on Tuesday 04 December 2007, at Buckingham House Conference Centre, New Hall, Cambridge, from 10:00 - 16:00. Over 120 delegates attended.

Summary HEAT07

A real culture shift to sustainability seems needed. In the UK, the average age of domestic property is 55 years; providers are working with much older stock than in many other countries. (One should) research into how to get an Edwardian or 1930s house sustainable, from being poorly insulated and pouring water away.

Pressure groups have vested interests. Householders have and should retain strong private property rights in a free country. But the choice should be made available and affordable by providers.

There is a growing recognition of corporate valuation of (indirectly) non-financial or green factors.

New technologies will be driven by city demand! This could lead to a new international paradigm as cities collaborate on energy strategy without national assistance. Consumer electronics is set to be 45% of energy use in a home by 2020, according to the Energy Saving Trust. Power needs may continue to rise with increasing demand for mobile power (mitigated obviously to the extent of greater device efficiency and management).

On the basis that knowledge is power, introducing smarter indicative metering by the energy supply companies will encourage consumers to reduce consumption even when using existing fossil fuel technology, as they become shocked by the energy guzzlers within their homes.

The extended use of smart sensing technology can also have social benefits through, e.g., the monitoring of the elderly and infirm.

Saving 10% on emissions/bills with smart metering is dull, people don't get excited by saving just 10% on what is for most people far from their highest single cost (after mortgages, food bills, council taxes, running cars and so on). (Service providers should) offer people displays and metering (like in a car) so that they can see their usage and make it more interesting that way!

There was frustration among some, of the problems of getting things done in various parts of the supply chain for adding renewable energy to ones property in the UK as a consumer. This was cited in: The lack of tradespeople able and interested in installing features such as solar panels built in to roofs, heat pumps, wind turbines, and indeed to build new houses or extensions to houses that are greatly reducing heating bills, using salvage materials, and so on. In some cases those established firms were creating new brands or partnering with other companies which did the non-traditional work.

Does the planning system need to be improved to encourage uptake of energy saving technology / distributed energy? The Merton rule (requiring 10% on site renewable energy) was one approach currently used by some local authorities, establishing 'low carbon zones' for new major new developments could be another.

The larger companies were represented, and it was stated that they too had an interest in securely supplied clean energy, and although it was argued that new markets should not be subsidised too greatly, it was pointed out that the oil and gas industry, over time, had been subsidised many times more than what was tabled for renewables. Nuclear power was generally ignored or treated with distaste as a provision of energy for civil use. The price of renewable technology will fall as volume increases, government need to stimulate demand and volume increase by appropriate specification of their own buildings, and indeed leading institutional structures. Building efficiency needs to be driven by regulation to persuade the new home builders to achieve zero CO2 emission structures.

New technology entrants are competing against several centuries of established industry and infrastructure that at the point of consumption isnt broken! The consumer needs to be encouraged educationally and financially to view new installations from the wider perspective. Many other European nations, e.g. Spain, have legislated in favour of technologies such as PV by insisting that new build must embrace the technology. Others have introduced feed-in tariffs to take account of carbon neutral technologies.

Subsidies, however, are not the answer but there needs to be a level playing field with both fossil and nuclear fuels bearing their true costs, including those attributed to global warming, reducing fossil fuel availability and decommissioning.

How can we improve transparency for consumers? It is difficult to make a well-informed choice, especially when manufacturers and lobby groups tend to say: our technology is best. There is a role for independent organisations providing genuinely impartial advice. Do we have the building skills we need for large scale installation of high quality insulation, micro-CHP, PV, etc? Improving the skills base is vital if these technologies are to be developed successfully and on a significant scale. The new technologies e.g. fuel cell CHP, solar PV, and wind, will demand new skills in the installation, support and maintenance area, thus placing further pressure on the most seriously deplete resource: technicians able to understand the technology, but also with the will to go out and work in the customer environment. We need new NVQs and training/re-training schemes, a responsibility of the Learning and Skills councils.

The most significant short term benefits will not come solely from any one new technology but by education of the consumer in terms of:
Switching off items not in actual use
Insulating the buildings properly
Sensible integration of relevant technologies e.g. ground heating, wind, solar, fossil and nuclear.

The UK was falling behind countries like Germany and Spain in the use of solar energy (PV and thermal), probably in part, as a result of the lack of will to subsidise clean energy technology at the same levels as in Europe, and indeed a reduction of what subsidies for capital installations in 2006 householders saw by around 75%. UK consumers are already subsidizing renewables (GBP 1bn pa by 2010). It was claimed by the oil lobby that larger (in the short term) carbon savings can be achieved at lower cost by other means.

Complaints about the level of subsidies need to be seen in context - Lord Browne (ex BP) recently said subsidies supporting oil and gas had totalled USD200bn, compared with USD30bn for other forms of energy.

It was put forward that the real way forward was a combination of consumer demand pull for renewable installations and design for such in buildings, while the market push for such products could be greatly improved if use of HVM techniques to scale up production by a limited number of UK SME providers were implemented so that the market would be more flush with actual products ready for installation. Some of the companies involved had done very well from a financial/balance sheet perspective, by entering the stock markets with great promise, but still had very few products beyond one or two working demonstrations.

A zero emissions grid as soon as fairly possible (is called for). Electricity is 'the way forward', especially in this context. This would enable people to use as much as they liked. One could also switch to battery-electric vehicles which are coming on tap, and an infrastructure of charging vehicles via electrical sockets (ie its already there) and hence, move to a zero-emission society.

CHP, where it was using natural gas or other nonrenewable fossil fuels as a source of energy, was criticised, in that, although it might fit into boiler replacement cycles and reduce emissions (through a netting off effect with higher numbers of installations in a non-linear fashion), it was nevertheless only going to reduce them incrementally, and in some sense reduced the impetus for the genuine renewables. In general, there was distaste in the room for partial solutions that didn't yield a zero-emission grid and much renewable, decentralised energy production. CHP can of course source sustainable biomass. Is the government encouraging a 'dash for CHP', leaving us locked in to long term fossil fuel dependency and hindering deeper cuts in emissions? CHP need not be fossil fuelled; the important thing is to develop heat distribution networks - heat sources can be changed later, if required (e.g. as has already happened in London, where a local network originally served by Battersea coal-fired power station is now supplied from a new station burning waste).

There is still confusion about the benefits of each of the new micro-generation technologies.