Thursday, 31 July 2014

Zero carbon rethink to drive energy demands

Revisions to the government’s definition of zero carbon homes will result in increasing demands for low carbon electricity, it has emerged.

The committee that monitors the government’s progress in reducing carbon emissions has revised its estimates to increase electricity demand by 6TWh by 2030 as a result of changes to the definition announced alongside the Budget in March.

All new homes built from 2016 must be zero carbon, but the government has yet to define exactly what this means. Its latest proposal includes emissions covered by building regulations, such as lighting and heating, but does not cover appliances.

The Committee on Climate Change had previously assumed all new homes built from 2016 would be carbon neutral, with emissions either met on site, or mitigated by paying into offsite renewables.

These ‘allowable solutions’ would previously have been used to offset all emissions from the home not covered on site. The Zero Carbon Hub, which is working with the government to define zero carbon, yesterday issued its proposals for the operation of a market in allowable solutions.

The Committee on Climate Change has now revised its approach in line with the new zero carbon definition, resulting in the 6TWh increase contained in its latest progress report, which was published last week.

Campaigners were angered by the change to the definition announced in March, with WWF-UK resigning from the Zero Carbon Hub in protest.

Darren Shirley, campaign manager at WWF-UK, said: ‘The government has created more of a challenge for itself by changing the definition. They are making it harder to meet carbon reduction targets, and the Committee on Climate Change report showed the government is off track.’

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