Posts tagged with: housing

Following up on Gordon Brown’s ‘Green New Deal’ pledge, the government has announced that it will oversee a complete upgrade of British housing in order to make homes greener. The targets set last month outline the government’s objectives to completely overhaul the way homes are constructed and also to upgrade all existing houses by 2030.

The ambitious targets of reducing the carbon footprint of homes across the UK will represent a massive overhaul not just of the way homes are built and invested in, but also of the mindset of homeowners and construction companies who will demand tangible benefits from any outlaying of money. While wall insulation is of course the best way of reducing heat loss through external walls, the government will seek to introduce a series of economic measures designed to make investment in all household green technologies a viable option.

Currently, one proposal is to offer low interest loans to homeowners and landlords to spur investment in property refurbishment in order to make homes greener. This option would be an effective way of reducing the heating efficiency of homes and enable the installation of smart meters which will be essential in the future as a way of monitoring energy usage and will be essential to manage feed-in tariffs (FIT).

Feed-in tariffs could prove to be an extremely effective way for the UK government to make homes across the UK greener. The tariffs, when introduced in 2010 will offer long-term contracts to those investing in renewable energy technology in their homes. The idea is to offer premium, fixed rates for energy fed- in to the national grid by small (under 5mW), renewable energy producers. The plan is that the tariffs will spark investment in technologies such as photovoltaic (PV) which will enable households to greatly reduce their carbon footprint by installing solar technology. The principle of the tariff is to incentivise investors by offsetting the obvious costs of investing in green plant and guaranteeing a yield on the investment of a long-term period.

Speaking on behalf of the housing association Peabody, Stephen Howlett commented on feed-in tariffs stating,

“Ensuring greater use of renewable energy through feed-in tariffs and the renewable heat incentive could offer real opportunities for us to create a package of carbon-reduction measures, based on financial models we have been working on for some time”.

Sharp Solar announced last week that they will begin to match their photovoltaic (PV) products to individual customer needs in a move designed to meet the needs of the housing trade. Sharp Solar, part of the Japanese electronics company Sharp spoke last week during the Ecobuild exhibition in London and reaffirmed the massive popularity of Solar roofing systems. Sharp Solar announced that interest in PV systems has grown dramatically and that Ecobuild has also highlighted a growing desire from businesses to reduce their carbon footprint and of course hopefully benefit from government schemes which will come in to lay in 2010

The new PV systems will be part of a bespoke service which will allow a choice of colours and more importantly, can be installed on roofs more easily making the possibility of future retrofitting much more convenient as the systems can be locked in to place on brackets. The new ‘Slot and Play’ system which was exhibited in Earls Court last week will offer value to new low carbon projects across the UK where buildings are fitted with the latest PV technology.

Key to the success of companies such as Sharp Solar is the highly popular feed-in tariff, due to be introduced next year by the UK government. Members of the industry have, since November’s Energy legislation and the creation of the Energy and Climate Change department been highly supportive of the tariff system as they believe it will give a much needed kick start to renewable investment as it has done for example in Germany.

Solar Sharp have given their backing to the ‘We Support Solar Campaign’ along with other leading members of the industry, providing a lobby which is seeking to push solar to the forefront of the energy debate and seek key government legislation and funding which will be paramount to the initial success of investment in Photovoltaic technology in this country.

The crucial factor in the success or failure of the solar industry will of course be the feed-in tariff, designed to spur the growth of investment in the renewable sector by guaranteeing long-term, healthy yields to investors. The long-term contracts set a fixed, above market rate for megawatts fed in to the national grid by small (systems under 5MW), green energy producers. The fixed rate for the renewable energy is paid by the power companies, the additional costs of which are absorbed by all consumers adding a small amount to monthly utility bills. Certainly, in order to keep apace with the infrastructure of areas such as Germany and California many believe that the government should set a rate of around 50p/kWh unit generated and the ‘We support Solar Campaign’ will make this clear when they produce their research findings to the government at the end of March.

Regarding the possible findings of the report, Andrew Lee of Sharp Solar commented,

“I can’t pre-empt what it is going to say, but there’s a lot of work being done on feed-in tariffs. There are a number of different options how feed-in tariffs would work, and certain job creation scenarios. There could be 300,000 to 400,000 people in this market if the feed-in tariff is fit for purpose.”