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Environment Update

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Every few months my website will carry news items concerned with the environment and climate change compiled by my staff. I hope you find the items useful and interesting. 

When discussing climate change and the necessary reduction of carbon emissions there tends to be a focus on renewables, which of course is important. However, I feel that immediate gains can be felt a lot more readily through energy efficiency, and we have three interesting examples here in Sheffield that should be more widely known about.   

South Yorkshire Energy Centre

Located at Heeley City Farm, South Yorkshire Energy Centre is based in a terraced house originally built around 1880. The centre demonstrates renewable energy and sustainable building materials and techniques, giving guided tours and technical explanations for individuals and groups.  

They also provide advice, training and awareness-raising for a wide range of users, from building professionals to individual householders and school parties. The centre is usually open to the public from Wednesday - Saturday, 11am-3pm, and for group bookings on Mondays and Tuesdays. 

For details visit: www.syec.co.uk 

Green Energy Centre

I recently visited Pagets Builders Merchants to learn more about their Green Energy Centre. The centre is designed to promote energy efficient and renewable solutions for domestic and non-domestic buildings.  It was created to provide advice for when customers where choosing energy water saving devices, as well as low carbon technologies for the home.  

Staff at the centre asses a particular building’s energy profile and provide a ‘Parity Home Energy Masterplan’ tailored to give advice on energy saving measures. This report is a bespoke energy survey that also provides a guide to appropriate renewables to suit each budget. 

For details visit: http://www.pagets.co.uk/building-supplies-range.asp?ID=36 

Inspirit Energy

Micro-combined heat and power units are small appliances that are efficient and beneficial for the consumer. These appliances generate electricity in the home and can go a considerable way in reducing household energy bills. Electricity that is generated can also be sold to the national grid, adding to a households income and reduce the reliance on large expensive generating plants.  

Inspirit Energy have an appliance which is suitable for the domestic and commercial markets alike. The size of a washing machine, the highly effective boiler is a 3 KW electrical system capable of working at 92% efficiency. The appliance can supply all of the hot water and heating for a home, and up to 70% of electricity needs at peak times, and can generate up to 50% of a user’s annual electricity consumption. The development is well under way and I hope it will be ready to go into production very soon. 

I believe it is vital that governments provide a framework that will allow developers and manufacturers of such units to grow. In my opinion, an important way to encourage their future development is through feed-in tariffs. We have seen the positive effects of such tariffs around the world, cutting the cost as well as creating employment opportunities. By providing clear and effective financial incentives governments can offer benefits to both individuals and companies who are developing appliances for households and small businesses.  

What we can do now

Under the previous Government there was a great deal of support aimed specifically at vulnerable groups in society, including the fuel poor. Warm Front has helped over 2 million vulnerable households, across England, since its inception in 2000, including half a million households in the last 2 years alone. On average, each household that has received Warm Front assistance has the potential to save up to 300 per year on energy bills.  

It’s vital that we focus on what we can do now to make our homes more energy efficient. I hope that the new Government will commit to Warm Front, as well as the policy of requiring energy companies to provide subsidies for insulation, including 100% subsidies for pensioners and families on low incomes. By doing so, we can go a long way towards changing our fuel usage, carbon emissions and ever-increasing fuel bills.


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