A coal-free Easter weekend for Britain!

A coal-free Easter weekend for Britain!

The National Grid have reported that Britain broke records over the Easter weekend for the longest consecutive period without using coal power since the start of the industrial revolution. The previous record stood at 76 hours, set in April 2018 but this was surpassed as the country managed to go coal–free for 90 hours over the past few days.  The good weather has undoubtedly assisted in this achievement, causing reduced energy demand and providing prime conditions for utilising solar power. Over the weekend, solar energy accounted for 25% of UK supply, with similar amounts being contributed by gas and nuclear power. Last year, coal accounted for less than 10% of the country’s energy mix, and it is expected to contribute even less this year, as the government work towards its target of phasing out all coal power plants by 2025.

However, experts have warned that despite the progress, unfortunately the reduction in coal use is being replaced by gas, another fossil fuel, rather than renewable energy. It is emphasised that reliance on gas makes the UK vulnerable to volatile world markets, and isn’t clean enough to meet the UK targets, set in the 2008 Climate Change Act, of reducing emissions by 80% by 2050.

In a BBC article released yesterday, Muna Suleiman, a climate change campaigner at Friends of the Earth, has said “90 hours of coal–free electricity is great but let’s make it every day. Electricity generated by renewable sources is a key part of the fight against climate change so it is time to remove any barriers to implementing renewable energy. The government must start to prioritise the development of solar and wind energy”.

 

Elmhurst Energy Consultancy are encouraged to hear of the record breaking coal–free period and the drive towards implementing more renewable energy strategies. However, having worked in the built environment compliance and assessment industry for over 25 years, we understand more than most the barriers companies and homeowners feel they face, when looking to integrate renewable systems into their homes or business environments. The main barrier has always been the initial upfront cost in comparison to traditional systems, and with government announcing plans to phase out gas boilers and coal power by 2025, consumers will be left with little choice but to invest in renewable systems.  The cost of renewables has fallen considerably over the past decade, making the payback period much less, enabling homeowners and businesses to realise the benefits much sooner. At Elmhurst Energy Consultancy, we would like to see further incentives for the uptake on renewable systems, such as ‘Pay as you save schemes’ now that the feed in tariff has been scrapped. This will remove the barrier associated with higher upfront costs and allow consumers to pay for the system as they start to realise the financial benefits.

From a consultancy perspective, we are able identify the most appropriate systems for homeowners and businesses, based on individual building construction and operational characteristics, ensuring long term sustainability but also making it a cost effective investment. Through ESOS Phase 2, many of our recommendations for improving the energy efficiency of buildings, and reducing emissions, involve the installation and maintenance of renewable systems, and our expert Lead Assessors and Consultants are able to provide cost benefit analysis on all options. Furthermore, when self-builders, architects, or construction companies are looking to achieve or even surpass building regulation compliance, renewable energy is now a key component, and our consultants are able to run several scenarios in the government approved software, to find the most appropriate systems.

However, our consultants will also highlight that despite seeing many benefits to renewable systems, the building fabric must not be overlooked. They use the ‘leaking petrol tank scenario’. Imagine that unleaded fuel is your traditional energy sources (fossil fuels), and premium unleaded fuel is renewable energy sources. We all know that premium unleaded fuel is more expensive than standard fuel, in the same way that renewable sources, when considering initial outlay, are usually more expensive than traditional sources of energy. Now consider that your petrol tank has some small holes in. You wouldn’t fill up the tank with the premium unleaded fuel holes were fixed because you know you would be leaking fuel and wasting your money. The same theory should be applied to buildings. Renewable energy systems are a beneficial investment, if fabric efficiency is also maximised. Ensuring insulation is sufficient, and windows, which represent a break in fabric, are draught proofed, will enable you, as building managers or homeowners, to realise greater benefits from using renewable energy, helping you to reduce energy demand, whilst also increasing cost savings.

For further advice on how to reduce your energy use, improve energy efficiency, or for assistance with building regulations compliance, or ESOS Phase 2, please don’t hesitate to contact the team on 01455 883 259, or visit our website at www.elmhurstenergyconsultancy.co.uk.


Article published 23rd April 2019

Elmhurst Energy Services Ltd. 16, St Johns Business Park, Lutterworth, Leicestershire, LE17 4HB

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