The negative opinions of one housebuilder should not obscure the potential benefits of fitting micro renewables in housing
A housebuilder bemoaning the inclusion of micro renewable technologies in housing. Well nothing new there then! But does housebuilder Stewart Milne, have a point?
EfficiencyClearly, building mounted renewables perform best when used in the right location; both with regard to their position on the building itself and the building’s geographical location. In particular, wind turbines can work well, providing lots of useful electricity... provided there is sufficient wind and turbulence isn’t an issue. There are many case studies to supporting the valuable contribution they can make. Using Microgeneration Certification Scheme approved contractors that are accredited under the REAL Assurance Scheme will go a long way to ensure only appropriate technologies are installed in the manner that the manufacturer intended.
ObsolescenceConcern was raised as to whether spares would be available over the lifetime of the systems, as the report states that the solar thermal system being used is no longer sold. Do we hear the same complaints when a conventional gas boiler is removed from sale? There are major companies such as Sharp, Kyocera, Worcester Bosch to name but a few, now selling micro renewable systems, as well as lots of smaller companies that have been in business for many years. Further comfort can be gained from using products accredited under the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, all of which have been thoroughly tested.
CostDespite the good performance of the PV system, upfront capital cost was raised as a barrier to its use. Currently, grants for up to 50% of the installed cost can be obtained for most microgeneration technologies under the Low Carbon Buildings Programme. Looking further ahead, the introduction of feed-in tariffs for electricity in 2010, and heat in 2011 should further reduce costs.
The report also questions whether energy efficiency and ‘greening the grid’ would be a better way to achieving low carbon housing? Well, improved energy efficiency of our homes, as well as continued decarbonisation of the grid, are both key to reaching the carbon reduction and renewable energy targets set by government. But we need action on all fronts. Householders will need to and want to play their part, and housebuilders should respond to the challenge and opportunities entailed.
Stuart Pocock is the Renewable Energy Association's head of onsite renewables