Yesterday was Birmingham and I had been invited to talk as part of the DECC community heat conference. My focus was the Plas Newydd marine source, community opportunity and also risks based on the NT few years of experience in renewable heat. As with all these gatherings (about 200 people in the grand surroundings of the county hall in the middle of the city) we could at best deal with the highlights without any real detail. Cramming 3 years of development on a heat pump into 4 mins was a challenge but the NT lessons from 10 years + of biomass and renewable heat in a similar time frame was even more of a challenge. My main advice was to “go in with your eyes wide open and question”
The presentation which really stuck in my mind was that of Ian Manders . He covered the development of the 50,000km of district heating in Denmark and the 100% renewables targets. A throw away comment from him “In Denmark you are required not to waste heat” really stuck with me. Wow this will never catch on here! On personal level this is really where you can probably see market failure and Government need to take a stance. A market which is slanted at selling stuff like energy finds it very difficult to sell “selling less” of something to its share holders and so energy efficiency is left to the will of the market and we carry on wasting at a huge scale
From the conference I saw as many challenges in community heat as there are wins. For example small non domestic biomass(<200kw) RHI payment levels are currently falling off a cliff in terms of digression but I suppose this is a balancing system and this drop will drive innovation to reduce costs in order to maintain a margin from this support mechanism. Heat is 60% of our energy need but does not seem to have inspired such a spark in developers as electricity generation but i suppose all good things take time. I hope the conference yesterday is the start of something… it got us thinking which is good measure of success for a conference!