The United Kingdom is committed to fighting climate change in 2004 when the amount of energy coming from renewable resources was as low as 1.1%. The country vowed to hit 15% by 2020 with 30% in electricity, 12% in heating and 10% in transport. According to reports in 2017, the UK has reached 28% on the electricity score but is still lagging in reaching the target for heating and transport. Today, where does it stand is the focus of the context given further.
Heating Homes In The UK With Innovation
According to The Committee on Climate Change, homes in the UK contribute to 14% of the greenhouse gas emissions. The rate must be reduced if the country aims to meet the emission reduction targets. The UK has legally pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.
Approximately, 80% of the homes in the country are heated by gas. However, the UK finance minister Philip Hammond has promised to ban fossil fuel heating systems in new homes constructed from 2025.
Going further, as per the new research conducted by Aurora, UK homes are increasingly using electric sources such as heat pumps for heating purpose. If this continues, the power demand from the sector could increase from 27 terawatt-hours per year currently to about 100 terawatt-hours per year by 2050.
So, coming as a solution, engineers developing the £1.3bn HS2 rail super-hub in the UK are proposing plans that could meet the green energy demands for hundreds of new homes in the country.
The idea is to recycle heat produced by the engines and brakes of trains arriving and departing Old Oak Common in north-west London. The recycled energy could be used to heat water and power central heating of up to 500 new homes constructed in the vicinity.
The plan includes extracting warm air from the railway’s tunnels through five air source heat pumps. Typically, waste heat from trains is extracted from the tunnels by traditional ventilation systems and leaks into the ground surrounding the place. Alternatively, the company building the high-speed rail line is looking to load the waste heat into a local district heating system.
Going as per the plan, HS2 is building a crossover box near Old Oak Common, which is an underground hall that comprises a points junction to let trains arrive and depart from any platform of the station.
Further, the plan is to push the warm air from the trains into the crossover box, just as the working of pistons. Next, the warm air that rises will be harnessed by air source heat pumps, converted into hot water and carried to homes by insulated pipes.
Considering the current energy price prediction, HS2 expects that the investment in waste heat recycling system will start paying for itself in four years. It is also seen that the project may decrease the carbon footprint of the 500 new houses by more than one-fifth – as opposed to employing gas boilers.
As per Pablo Garcia, innovation manager at HS2, the company is working on how the investment in the high-speed railway can become more fruitful. It is examining how can they provide more sustainable, recycled heating to up to 500 new homes.
As per HS2, the new station at Old Oak Common will be the UK’s best-connected rail intersection. It is predicted that the train will carry about 250,000 people, each day.
The new waste heat recycling system sharing space with the high-speed railway will help in inaugurating the UK’s largest regeneration project which will give birth to a new neighbourhood that supports up to 65,000 jobs and 25,500 new homes.
At present, over 1000 workers are freeing the way to start the construction of HS2 railway across London.
What Does Research Say About The Potential Of Renewable Energy In The UK?
As per experts, for the first time in the UK, the potential of renewable energy has surpassed that of fossil fuels. Thanks to a number of environment-friendly initiatives taking place in the country. Even the ones moving bit by bit matter a lot.
As per The Imperial College London research commissioned by Drax, a gas, coal and biomass company, the amount of renewable energy potential has increased threefold while fossil fuels have dropped by one-third.
Last year, the capacity from coal dropped by one-quarter with only six coal-fired plants left in the country. UK’s carbon tax system on electricity generation has significantly affected the coal operators.
In a span of three months from July to September in 2018, the potential of solar, biomass, wind and hydropower reached 41.9 gigawatts. This outstripped the capacity of 41.2 gigawatts by coal, gas and oil-fired power plants.
Dr Iain Staffel who led the research stated that though the UK’s power system is moving slowly towards green energy, it is definitely getting away from fossil fuels. And this quarter in 2018 has seen an important milestone on the journey.
In the same time span, the amount of power generated from fossil fuels was still greater, as 40% was for electricity generation and 28% was for renewable sources.
Overall, 57% of electricity generation was low-carbon, coming either from renewables or nuclear power stations.
When considering the renewable source installations in the UK, the wind is the largest source at over 20 gigawatts. Second is solar which is covered across nearly 1 million rooftops and fields. The third is biomass.
Climate Emergency In London
When the UN has already warned that the world has 12 years to limit the climate change catastrophe, London’s existing targets aim at making the city carbon neutral by 2050.
However, The London Assembly, a part of the Greater London Authority, passed a proposal as a request to the city mayor to bring the goal forward, declare a ‘specific emergency plan’ and make sure London reaches zero-carbon status by 2030.
In this context, Bristol is the first city in the UK to declare climate emergency in November 2018 and established a goal to become carbon neutral by 2030. Next comes Manchester that has committed to achieving zero-carbon status by 2038.
As the world has 12 years to avert the catastrophic effects of climate change, London needs to have new and updated plans towards its carbon reduction targets. The catastrophic effects of climate change in the city would mean a substantial impact on every aspect of life from overheating in summers and flooding to disruption in food supply chains with the natural ecosystem not being an exception.
As per The London Assembly, the climate change reduction and adaptation responsibilities of the mayor have been remarked. The Assembly is positive that he would embrace the ambitious steps in the wake of the climate emergency.
Furthermore, The London Assembly has urged the mayor to declare a climate emergency that is backed by precise climate action plans that are required to make London reach the zero-carbon target by 2030. Besides, the Assembly also included in its motion to call on the government to provide the mayor authorities and funding and, as vice chair of the C40 cities network to be a leader on this agenda. London is among the world’s largest cities who have pledged to fight climate change by being a part of the C40 network.