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Report on the Heat and Shift conference: Part Two

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Report on the Heat and Shift conference: Part Two
by Sune Nightingale
05 December 2011

Heat and shift conference

Another speaker there was a chap from LooWatt. This is an ingenious and simple idea which is a compost toilet which holds about a weeks worth of poo. You then take the container to a local digester into which you empty it. The digester makes methane which you can cook with and compost. The thing about this scheme is that it is small scale, usually bio digesters are large scale. It is also something which can be rolled out quickly - there are various DIY digester designs that work well in warmer climes but they can take a while to build and get right. So Loowatt seems well suited to quick deployment in the developing world.

There was a fair bit of talk about Microinverters from Stephanie Asselin of Enecsys. Essentially if a single panel in a normal PV systems is shaded then its voltage decreases and all the other panels in the system reduce to that same voltage because they are connected in series and so the shaded panel creates a 'blockage'. With microinverters you have an inverter for each panel so it doesn't matter if one is shaded and because the panes are not connected in series the voltage is lower which is safer and means less chance of fires. It also allows you to set up just a single panel very quickly and start producing energy from it.

I also met a chap called Wookey who posts a lot on the Green Building Forum. Interestingly I think his name is actually Wookey, I had thought it was just a username. Good name. It was nice to put a face to the name of someone I had posted back and forth with for a long time. Juho, Wookey and myself also had a bit of a laugh together when one speaker presented energy usage figures for buildings of around 50kWh/mē/yr as being a low figure. The PassivHaus and other lower energy house standards (which of course you need in Finland where Juho is from because the temperatures regularly drop to minus double digits) are at 15kWh/mē/yr and lower!

There was a tiny bit of discussion about the Renewable Heat Incentive. A few of the speakers were under the impression that it had already started. Not surprising with the multiple delays - at the time of the conference it had been stalled by negotiations with the EU about the level of the grants, but since then Phase I has actually started.

Then from DECC David Thomas spoke about the Green Deal which will roll out (one hopes on time) next year. If you do not know what the Green Deal is then essentially your house is assessed for energy efficiency measures. Any measures that, over 20 years, do not end up costing more than they will save can be installed by an approved installer. The costs are paid for by being added to the utility bills over 20yrs. So the idea is that your bills either stay the same or come down. Remember that as energy prices are due to carry in rising even if the costs of the measures are the same as they save today, the savings will probably be rising year on year. I like this scheme because the government does not have funds to pay for all the energy efficiency measures and home owners either cannot afford the measures or have no motive to install them for themselves beacuse energy prices are still sort of low. The people left in the dry by the scheme are the fuel poor. They do not really heat their houses so the savings made are negligible. These people/houses move onto a different, more grant-based scheme.

Part One

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