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HPM November 2015

Got a story? Ring us on 01732 748041 or e-mail twood@unity-media.com SPECIALREPORT Fuel and running costs condensed What is the role of gas in a low carbon energy future? A Heating & Hotwater Industry Council host fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference sought to provide the answers... The Heating & Hotwater Industry Council (HHIC), together with the Policy Exchange, hosted a fringe event at the Conservative Party Conference on Monday October 5. Former energy minister, Charles Hendry, was keynote speaker and he was joined Neil Schofield, of Worcester, Bosch Group, Richard Howard, of Policy Exchange, Mike Foster, of Energy Utilities Alliance (EUA) and Ben Caldecott, of Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment. Mr Hendry opened the event outlining his concerns over the lack of gas storage in the UK, and concluded that through legislation, gas companies was required to increase the amount of gas they store. Neil argued that the ‘future of gas’ had been a topic of discussion when he first joined the industry 20 plus years ago, but it was still a massive market heating the majority of UK homes. Ben talked of the need to phase out coal for power generation by 2020 and to bring forward construction of new gas power plants. Mike, EUA’s chief executive, discussed the role gas does and would continue to play in UK heating, arguing that costs involved in the ‘all electric’ scenario made them unlikely to be adopted when developments in unconventional and green gas could offer cheaper and cleaner alternatives. Reviewing the future of gas, Mike said: “The WWW.HPMMAG.COM coalition government responded to the energy trilemma – affordability, security of supply and climate change obligations by publishing its ‘All electric’ scenario. In this, power (electricity) would be derived from solar, wind and nuclear with heating demand also met by electric. “However as the UK is in the northern hemisphere, closer to the North Pole than the equator, solar isn’t as efficient; the wind doesn’t always blow and to provide secure supplies our forecasting of weather patterns isn’t that reliable. We will need a backup source of energy to deliver intermittent power generation and gas will offer the answer as it is cleaner than coal. GENERATIONAL CAPACITY “Aside from this challenge, UK heat demand is seasonal it varies by month, by day, by hour. To meet peak demand the UK would have to have generational capacity to meet the extreme demand from say a cold, dark, still January evening.” Mike pointed out that in the home, air source heat pumps would be needed costing approximately £7,000 compared to £3,000 for a condensing boiler, plus radiators would need resizing, possibly new ones fitted and insulation would have to be of the highest standard possible. A unit of electricity costs three times that of gas, even after adjusting for efficiency differences in appliances based on an average home, according to the Energy Saving Trust, a heat 46 NOVEMBER 2015 HEATING & PLUMBING MONTHLY pump costs £140 per annum more than a modern condensing gas boiler and that is before the costs of the electricity infrastructure investment required has been added to bills. All of this suggests that gas has a very important role to play in the future. Delegates also heard that carbon dioxide reductions have taken place since 2005 largely thanks to condensing boilers being fitted which are up to 30% more efficient, but there are still ten million homes with old boilers. It was suggested that new forms of heating controls could reduce demand further while still maintaining comfort in the home, with figures suggesting another four per cent saving was possible. Mike concluded: “We need to be realistic; there is no single solution to solve the energy trilemma and that is why the all-electric scenario was flawed. Keeping gas in the mix, allows the UK to balance secure supplies to the home and continue to contribute to tackling Green House Gas emissions.” The overall consensus of the event was that gas did have a role to play in the future decarbonisation process and to meet 2050 targets means not ruling out any technologies and encouraging innovation. This is at odds with current thinking by the Department of Energy and Climate Change but this may change after the spending review on November 25. enquiry number 120 Delegates at the HHIC conference held last month


HPM November 2015
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