Green Investment Bank’s latest LED street lighting deal highlights how green loans should become a ‘no-brainer’ for councils and businesses. The GIB’s latest announcement it is to provide a Green Loan to Stirling Council to fund the installation of 12,000 LED lamps and 4,000 lampposts as part of a major street lighting upgrade is the third of its type, and certainly won’t be its last. The benefits from the deal are compelling. Stirling Council will borrow £9.87m over four financial years to fund the upgrades. Repayments are then spread over a lengthy period of up to 30 years at a relatively low fixed interest rate, which means the energy bill savings exceed the repayments. Consequently, the council can expect to save £31m over 30 years while also cutting carbon emissions by 63 per cent. The soon to be privatised GIB, meanwhile, gets a stable and extremely low risk return from a public sector customer. There are currently seven million streetlights in the UK, fewer than one million of which use proven LED technology. Councils face a £300m a year lighting bill, an overhead so high some cash-strapped authorities have taken to turning lights off to save money. In this context, green finance packages that deliver all but guaranteed energy bill and carbon savings are such a no-brainer local authorities really should be deploying them faster than you can say ‘controversial council tax hike’. What is now needed, as it was eight years ago, is for the banking sector to flick the switch and make green finance a truly mainstream concern.
Danish lighting company Scotia unveils new range of solar-powered streetlights that promise to turn local authorities into ‘energy powerhouses’ London may take a lead in zero-emissions street lighting later this year if plans go ahead to install the first wave of a pioneering streetlight that illuminates streets and feeds energy back into the grid using only solar power. The Monopole street light, developed by Danish solar lighting firm Scotia, collects solar energy during daylight hours and stores it in a battery for use after sundown. Not only do the lights generate enough energy to power themselves, they can also feed energy back into the local grid to turn local authorities into “energy powerhouses”, according to Scotia’s founder Steven Scott. According to Scotia, if all of the UK’s seven million streetlights were switched to Monopoles, it would save more than £300m in electricity costs and generate more than 4TWh of clean power per year. Some 40 per cent of this would feed back into the grid, saving more than two million tonnes of CO2 every year, it added.
Most farms have outlying barns and sheds where there’s no mains power. That’s no problem in the daytime, but no fun if you have to rely on a torch after dark. However, Berkshire firm Bright Spark Solar reckons it has the answer with its latest 44-LED solar-powered floodlight. The lithium-ion battery is fully charged after nine hours of bright sunlight, it says, which then gives five nights of light from the low-wattage LED floodlight.
The Government urgently needs to replace the scrapped Zero Carbon Homes policy to avoid locking in higher carbon emissions and higher energy bills for occupants for decades to come, the Solar Trade Association warned today.
London Mayor Boris Johnson has revealed he is seeking to press ahead with plans for all new homes to meet a “zero carbon” standard, despite the government scrapping the target earlier this year. Answering questions from the London Assembly this week, Johnson said City Hall would issue guidance for developers on how it planned to implement the Zero Carbon Homes target in the capital.
In a well-insulated building the energy emitted by a television, a fridge and two human bodies would be enough to heat it, said senior electrical engineer Bill Watts, who thinks we could all save money and energy by adopting Passivhaus building standards. Although central heating systems would be needed on the coldest days, they would be made “all but redundant” in homes built according to Passivhaus standard, said Mr Watts, a senior partner at engineering firm Max Fordham. The standard, developed in Germany in the early 1990s, leads to homes that are so energy efficient they only need an extra 15kWh/sq m per year of heating energy. So, just an hour in front of the box would be “enough to keep you warm when it’s down to three degrees outside. That will give you 21 degrees inside,” said Mr Watts. “It does depend on whether you’ve got very heavy concrete walls. But if it’s a modern construction, things will heat up very quickly.” Mr Watts said those wishing to feel the full heating benefits of a television would need to thoroughly insulate their home through such methods as triple-glazing and wall insulation. “The average home in the UK uses 130kWh/sq m per year to heat. Even in older homes, effective insulation can, in some cases, reduce this to as little as 15kWh/sq m per year, meaning the modest amount of radiated heat from a television in a well-insulated home would keep most of us comfortably warm,” said Mr Watts. Although popular in Germany and Sweden, not enough homes in the UK are being built to the Passivhaus standard, he said. Instead money was being spent on more wasteful systems such as Combined Heat and Power schemes and District Heating, which are switched on all year round and can cost between £5,000 and £15,000 to install. Investing in Passivhaus standard insulation of existing building stock as a national infrastructure priority, would also reduce the need for new power plants. “Maybe we wouldn’t need that next generation of expensive Chinese-funded, French-built power stations after all,” he said.
A major new global campaign calling on cities worldwide to switch all their street lights to LEDs by 2025 has been launched this week by The Climate Group. Mark Kenber, CEO of The Climate Group, said there is no longer any reason to delay the deployment of LED street lighting, describing it as a “no-brainer” for city authorities looking to cut emissions and save money.
A new contender for Britain’s greenest home has been unveiled in North Yorkshire. The four-bed house, known as Furrows, will have a unique renewable energy system, allowing it to generate more than 13,000 kWh of electricity and heat a year. Around 5,000 kWh will be used by Furrow’s homeowners with the remaining 8,000 kWh exported to the grid – enough electricity to run two further houses.
“Certainly, energy efficiency is one of the areas I want to continue to push,” Lucas tells BusinessGreen. “If we’re looking for policies that have a multiplying impact on the economy then super-insulating every home in Britain is just about one of the best you could possible come up with in terms of providing jobs in every constituency, in terms of getting people’s fuel bills down and tackling fuel poverty, in terms of getting emissions down, and stabilising the economy.” Lucas advocated a mass roll-out of insulation in her role as co-president of the All-Party Group on Energy Efficiency and Fuel Poverty and has been a long-standing critic of the government’s flagship Green Deal energy efficiency programme. After a slow start, more and more people are taking up the government’s offer of loans to cover the upfront cost of home improvements, but Lucas remains sceptical about the scheme. “It hasn’t fulfilled any of the promises made for it,” she says.
An estimated 15,000 people died unnecessarily between December and March because they were living in homes they couldn’t afford to heat, new figures show. The news has led campaigners to hit out at what they claim is an inadequate Conservative pledge to help freezing people by insulating homes. Fuel poverty campaigners reckon the number of excess winter deaths surged last winter to 49,260, of which around 14,780 were due to people living in cold homes. The Energy Bill Revolution estimates that the average number of excess winter deaths over the previous five years was 27,830, so last winter saw an increase of 77 per cent above the five year average.