New Report Highlights Essential Role of Renewable Energy Generation in Achieving Zero Carbon Homes

A new report from the Renewables Advisory Board (RAB), which advises Government on renewable energy issues, provides the first in depth analysis of the role of on site energy generation in the delivery of the Governmen's policy of ensuring that all new homes are zero carbon from 2016. Amongst it findings is the conclusion that the policy could drive a market for onsite renewable worth £2.3 billion a year from 2016.

Other findings from the report, which was produced by Element Energy for RAB, are that:

  • The electricity load created by appliances means that renewables are essential to meet zero carbon standards even where homes are built to the highest levels of energy efficiency.
  • The proposed timescale of the Government's green homes policy creates very little demand for renewable energy until 2016. From 2016 the market for onsite renewables rises dramatically and could be worth between £1.4 billion and £3 billion a year, with the base case estimating a market of £2.3 billion a year.
  • The projected annual uptake of on site generation is greater than UK manufacturing capacity for all renewable energy technology, and greater than global manufacturing capacity for a number of the most cost effective technologies.
  • Technologies that are likely to experience the highest levels of uptake are biomass combined heat and power and solar photovoltaics, but this is sensitive to the level at which government allows offsite generation.
  • The average cost of meeting zero carbon standards from on site renewables is expected to be £6,000 per dwelling, with higher costs for small urban developments and the lowest costs for large rural developments.

On the basis of the reports findings RAB, which supports the zero carbon homes policy, has made three headline recommendations to Government:

  1. Change the proposed policy to create earlier stimulation for onsite renewable energy e.g. Encouraging local authorities to use the planning system to require zero carbon standards in the largest housing developments in advance of 2016.
  2. Accelerate the technological and commercial development of Biomass Combined Heat and Power (CHP) E.g. making deployment of biomass CHP a priority of the Environmental Transformation Fund.
  3. Minimise the use of remote offsite energy generation in meeting zero carbon standards E.g by settting a tight cap on its use and a high "buy-out"; cost for any offsite generation fund.

These recommendations are described in more detail on pages 3 to 4 of the report.

Commenting on the report, Matthew Spencer, Chair of the RAB microgeneration working group said:

"The zero carbon policy is long-sighted and bold, and could produce big environmental benefits in existing and new homes if it is used to accelerate the development of decentralised energy services and technology. However the Government's current timescale postpones much of the hard work until 2016, with little opportunity to learn or build capacity in the UK onsite renewables sector in the next eight years. If left unaddressed this could slow house building but we think there are options to overcome this supply gap. This includes using the planning system to require earlier uptake of renewable energy in larger housing developments"

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