The report by Wardel Armstrong Consulting, prepared for HCC in 2010 as part of the evidence base for the LDF process, examines the potential for the various RE technologies across the county. The original brief constrained the report by requiring a “Merton Rules” approach to new developments whilst ruling out consideration of passive solar design. In areas where this approach has been used developers have overcome all the imagined issues of having to build properly by using huge biomass boilers to supply their projects, mostly using fuel imported from Scandinavia. Under Merton Rules, this qualifies as low or zero carbon; but it’s obvious nonsense.
There are now a range of model designs for both private and social housing which afford genuine zero carbon opportunities; largely by intelligent use of passive solar capture and by high build quality ensuring air management.
There is no excuse for any new house to be built to anything other than passivhaus standard.
The original HCC Wardel Armstrong report is here. (The appendices are the data maps.)
Shortly after its publication HCRE co-ordinater produced a detailed critique, challenging the brief, the methodology and the conclusions, whilst welcoming the data being in the public domain and agreeing with a push towards community engagement.
Here are the main summary points from the critique;
Specific issues with the report;
The SQW methodology excludes consideration of passive solar
design. This is a building design approach which allows structures
to capture heat from sunlight, as in a greenhouse, coupled to very
high standards of insulation. By excluding this option, an
opportunity to save energy and prevent fuel poverty in future is
The report fails to count road access and grid capacity as
constraints on large or medium wind turbines. At least one
previous survey found no sites in Herefordshire which pass these
tests, so the capacity claimed in this report must be over-
estimated. In policy terms this places critical importance on areas
which could accommodate this technology.
Policy suggestions in the report for renewable heat energies in
new developments fail to consider the need to apply these
resources to existing uses.
The report fails to consider potential for larger arrays of solar
energy systems, limiting itself to roofs at single building scales. In
addition it fails to insist on universal deployment of these
technologies to all proposed new housing.
Policy proposals for new non residential buildings to be required to
off set as little as 10% of their greenhouse gas emissions allows
for very poor design and use in a sector which already uses two
thirds of all electricity in the county.
A proposed Biomass Plan is most welcome, and should begin at
once, with a priority for biogas production from waste streams
(AD). The next priority must be to ensure that energy resource in
burnable fuels should be utilised in combined heat and power plant
located to serve socially critical needs.
The proposed priority of community ownership of local energy
resources is most welcome, but there is a lack of capacity to
ensure this happens. This capacity needs to be addressed
urgently as a contribution to ownership and participation by all
members of the community.