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A preview of 2010

January 12, 2010
solar panels on Killick House

Installation on Killick House, London: similar projects to come in 2010?

2010 could be the warmest year on record, according to the Met Office (who add, unsurprisingly, that this is ‘not a certainty’; especially not after last week’s ‘big freeze’ which caused havoc across the UK).

Whatever this means for the planet, there would at least be a silver lining for owners of solar hot water systems: a warm year could lengthen the period (currently May to September) when the sun provides virtually all a household’s hot water requirements – and perhaps boost the sun’s energy input during the winter months too!

As things stand, over the course of a year an advanced system such as the LaZer2 solar water heating system should be able to provide between 50% and 70% of a household’s annual domestic hot water demand.

SolarUK director Geoff predicts a sluggish start to 2010 followed by a 52% (an intriguingly specific figure) spike in demand for its services.  Growth should be propelled again in 2011 when the Renewable Heat Incentive, which will apply to the generation of heat from a number of technologies (including solar hot water), is in place.

Turning to the state of the nation, we have a general election to entertain us in 2010.  What will the parties’ manifestos say about renewable energy – from which we might also deduce their take on solar power?

Looking at current policies of the three main parties gives us hints.  The Conservative Party says that developing renewable energy sources will be a ‘priority’, with any expansion of nuclear power not coming at the expense of investment in renewables.  It enthuses about feed-in tariffs and smart meters, which our current Government is already rolling out (the differences, and the devil, may be in the detail).  Its plans for a ‘smart grid’ would see demand and supply managed in a way that minimises CO2 emissions.

The Liberal Democrats make a specific pledge: at least 20% of our energy will come from renewable sources by 2020 (if this figure seems familiar, it’s because it matches current EU targets) helped along by new incentives for microgenerators in the form of guaranteed minimum feed-in tariffs (the Government’s own new ‘cash back’ feed-in tariff comes into force in April).  They will also roll-out smart meters within five years (twice as quickly as currently planned).

The Labour Party’s summary of its policy highlights its ‘target’ of making all new homes zero-carbon from 2016 and its ‘new £100 billion blueprint for renewable energy’.

Meanwhile, there are notable developments on the European stage.  The nine countries involved in the ambitious scheme to link clean energy projects in a ‘supergrid’ should, by the autumn, have worked out a practical plan setting out how and by when the network will be built. 

Finally, away from domestic politics, it’s the UN’s International Year of Biodiversity.  Its objective – a predictably woolly one, it has to be said – is to ‘raise awareness of the importance of conserving biodiversity for human well-being’.

A belated Happy New Year from all at SolarUK.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Janet permalink
    February 3, 2010 7:07 pm

    I have just read an article in the Daily Telegraph 3rd Feb. on solar panels on houses. It is interesting and makes out that the house owner can make money out of supplying the National Grid with any electricity that is left over from what the householder uses. It is worth reading.

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