Last week I secured an adjournment debate in the House about ‘the potential for micro-CHP’. Not exactly the hottest of topics I know, and I’m not sure my soaring rhetoric calling for a ‘second boiler revolution’ exactly heated it up.
But, as I pointed out, the last ‘boiler revolution’ was pretty comprehensive as it turned out, and has probably been the single most effective change in domestic energy and emission saving over the last decade. The Government’s Carbon Plan has this to say about the process of changing the building regulations with effect in 2005 so that , by and large replacement boilers (of which there are about 1.5 million per year) should be more efficient condensing boilers. ‘Installation rates’ they say, ‘have increased to over 1.5 million a year [i.e. pretty much all new boilers]….which in turn has saved 4.1 mt of C02 alone. This has led to savings for many householders (approximately £95 off their energy bills for this year) and at least £800 million for the UK as a whole’.
‘The second boiler revolution’ could be just as spectacular, if we moved to a similar regulation mandating the installation of micro CHP boilers, which are now on the market, are reliable, heat your homes, provide hot water and generate about as much electricity per day in the winter as a 2.5 kw Solar PV installation does on a sunny day in the summer. Pretty compatible weather-wise, you might well think, as well. They still have a bit of a cost premium attached to them, but that will mostly be taken up by mass production. So a little support is needed, I suggested, and a little more than the 10.5 p currently allowed for under FITs, up to a pilot limit of 30,000 installations.
I received quite an positive reply from the minister. He made some encouraging noises on FIT support, but understandably demurred on tackling Eric Pickles to persuade him to draft the changes next time the building regs come up for review. That would be what we need next, and then you wouldn’t need any FIT support at all. And Eric could prove us all wrong about his relative green-ness (see very old post on Eric and Sontaran-looky-likey here.)