Decarbonising the UK’s energy sector and other industries is essential to our shared zero carbon future. Change at scale will need new technologies and services. These must include new ways to plan and finance climate action, as well as affordable products for businesses and the public.
Four trailblazers are highlighed in the Ashden Award for UK Energy Innovation, supported by Impax Asset Management. A key focus of the shortlist is decarbonising the UK’s housing stock, a major contributor to our emissions.
Tackling this issue will also address fuel poverty and other social challenges. But work is needed to make the fabric of our homes more energy efficient, and also to boost the spread of low-carbon heating technologies. Investment in training the workforce to upgrade homes – and consistent, ambitious government policies on retrofit and renewable energy – can help get the job done.
Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT)
HACT has created ‘Retrofit Credits’, a new revenue stream for retrofitting social housing. This means the resources of large companies engaged in voluntary carbon markets can be channelled to tackling fuel poverty and addressing the UK domestic retrofit gap.
Social housing providers in the HACT network upgrading homes sign up to the scheme and Arctica, HACT’s partner, calculates the potential emission reductions using the Verified Carbon Standard. The social housing providers then use the extra projected revenues to inform the business case for retrofit. This is a first of a kind scheme, reducing fuel poverty and decarbonising houses by gaining revenue from corporations seeking to offset some of their emissions.
Tepeo’s Zero Emission Boiler (ZEB) is an electric heating device designed to heat homes in place of a gas boiler. This is not a heat pump – in the ZEB, electricity heats a high-density thermal core which uses an air exchange to heat water. The ZEB can be installed without disruption to pipework, controls, radiators and other internal fittings.
Much like an electric storage heater, but connected to the wet system, the ZEB is ‘smart enabled’, in that it can respond to times of low pricing on the retail electricity market, ‘charging’ when power is cheap (and low carbon), and releasing heat on demand.
Advanced Infrastructure’s LAEP+ geospatial planning tool supports councils, energy networks and others to identify and plan viable pathways to decarbonise local areas. The toolk means complex decisions can be made faster and more effectively, accelerating progress towards net zero.
Users can map and model building stock information and the potential for roll out of renewable energy in a given area, as well as grid infrastructure. The tool gives resource-poor local authorities an affordable and adaptable package to drive ‘ground up’ transformation of energy systems.
Urban Chain’s peer-to-peer marketplace for renewables is detached from the overall wholesale price of energy. The company uses a virtual power plant model, which aggregates renewable developers (sellers of energy) and corporate and public sector buyers, to provide fixed prices for both. Buyers can pay a stable price for power and manage risk. For sellers, there is no need to participate in competitive state auctions for subsidies, trade power on merchant exchanges, or rely on power purchase agreements offered by large utilities.
Urban Chain’s proprietary Artificial Intelligence predicts buyer demand and sellers’ supply of renewable energy to 95% accuracy. This minimises clients’ interaction with the wholesale market at times when demand does not match supply.