The European Council and European Parliament set challenging new goals when they convened in June to discuss the EU’s 2030 Clean Energy Package. But while the EU is on track to meet the original 20% renewables shared target in 2020, there are significant discrepancies between some member countries, including the UK.
UK renewables usage is inconsistent at best, with us leading in some areas but lagging behind in others, and with 11 countries already having gone above and beyond their targets. The UK is close to its 2020 target to generate 30% of its electricity from renewables, while wind, solar and biomass usage has increased from 8% in 2010 to 28% in 2017.
Heat generation is one of the UK biggest pollutants
One critical area where the UK needs to improve, however, is in one of its biggest polluters; heat generation, which accounts for almost 40% of the energy consumed in the UK. It also accounts for 20% of UK CO2 emissions, but at just 1% usage is significantly under-utilised at present. The EU’s average usage of renewables for heat generation is 10%, with Sweden leading the way with nearly 50% usage. With a 12% target set for 2020, the UK was not even halfway towards its target at the last count in 2016.
Advances in technology have brought many options for renewable heat generation to the market in recent years, such as ground source heat pumps and biomass and air source heat pumps. These can be used both domestically and commercially, but it seems significant parts of the UK are unconvinced of the reliability and efficiency of renewable energy.
One major challenge the UK now faces in meeting its EU targets is in the ageing demographic of its population, and the increase of retirement homes being built. It is estimated that the number of people in the UK aged 85 or over will increase by 48% over the next eight years. With several new retirement complexes being built across the country, it is felt this could lead to an increase in CO2 emissions, when the usage of renewable energy could be a better solution.
Renewable heat solutions
Renewable heat is ideal for retirement homes as they tend to be new builds that are well designed and well insulated. And with the residents requiring consistent and reliable heat, a ground source heat pump, for example, can provide that while also saving on CO2 usage. A heat pump is significantly more economic than traditional forms of heating, estimated at 30% less cost compared to a gas boiler, 40% compared to an oil burner and 60% compared to LPG.
Robinsons MEA can point to several examples of successful heat pump installations in the UK that have proven to be efficient and effective, and demonstrate the reliability of the technology. Talk to us about your renewable technology requirements and our experienced and qualified engineers can discuss a suitable design solution for you. Renewable heat is the next frontier that the UK must face in its transition to clean energy, and with the Government’s Renewable Heat Incentive available for a period of 20 years, now is a great time for businesses to get involved.