As well as efficiency improvements, houses and other buildings in Cumbria will also need to make use of low and zero carbon technologies (LZCT), where possible, if they are to contribute their fair share to UK efforts to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.
Providing LZCT can mean installing some form of microgeneration or connecting buildings to a district heating network which provides hot water to a group of buildings through a network of pipes from a central boiler which usually also generates electricity. Microgeneration means small-scale renewables like solar panels or small wind turbines, ground-source or air-source heat pumps (which transfer heat from the ground or air into a building to provide space heating in a similar way to the way a fridge works) or it could mean a micro combined heat and power (micro-CHP) boiler, which would be used instead of a central heating boiler but which would generate electricity as well as provide hot water for central heating.
There has been a massive growth across Europe in small-scale onsite energy generation or “distributed energy” as it is known. The primary focus of this growth, especially in the domestic market, has been the installation of solar photovoltaics (PV) which can generate electricity on an individual house level.(1) At least 37 GW of PV capacity was installed in 2013 around the globe according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA), bringing the total global installed capacity to 136.7GW, an increase of 35% compared to 2012. Over 1GW was installed in the UK during 2013.(2)
In the UK solar is now a priority industry in the Government’s Renewables Roadmap. It is recognised as having a future as one of the key renewable technologies in the UK’s energy mix. Almost 2GW has been installed in this country so far and by the 2020s Energy Minister Greg Barker says he wants to see 20GW installed.(3) In October 2013 Barker launched the first-ever Roadmap to a UK Government Solar PV Strategy. (4)
In April 2014 DECC entrenched solar’s place in the energy mix with a dedicated strategy.(5) Not even Germany has a dedicated solar power strategy.
Other forms of LZCT might include:
- solar water heating,
- ground and air source heat pumps,
- biomass boilers and wood stoves,
- micro-combined heat and power (CHP) boilers,
- small-scale wind turbines,
- micro-hydro systems,
but also district heating schemes which provide hot water to a group of buildings which is often generated by a combined heat and power station.(6)
LZCT could be installed throughout Cumbria by three different vehicles:
- Local authority action.
- Community and co-operative organisations.
- Action by individual building owners and householders.