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Reducing Carbon Emissions in the U.K.

Recently, I had reason to check out what some of the suppliers of industrial HVAC products in the UK are up to, for example, Heaters Wholesale – England’s largest independent distributor of heating products. I was impressed that the controllers they use maximize fuel savings through what they call “self-learning optimization”; the device varies the heating start-up time to ensure that the building comes up to the required temperature precisely at the beginning of every programmed “on” period.

These folks also work with an organization called the Carbon Trust that helps companies reduce their carbon emissions and become more resource efficient. Its mission is to accelerate the move to a sustainable, low carbon economy, reducing carbon emissions and increasing resource efficiency through providing specialist help, support and advice. Also, according to the Heaters Wholesale website, they arrange loans that are paid for by the savings in electricity enjoyed by the customer. Neat idea.

The sense I get from my British friends is that environmentalism is a very big issue in the U.K. However, as I’ve reported earlier, their efforts to go in the direction of renewable energy are plagued with a few high-level naysayers, notably the Duke of Edinburgh, who has made a fierce attack on wind farms, claiming that “they don’t work,” and describing them as “a disgrace” and “absolutely useless.” Who would know that such scathing (and foolish) statements lie behind such excellent breeding?

Fortunately, some Brits who were born without such privilege, i.e., mainstream scientists, don’t see it that way. For example, Professor Jim Skea, research director of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), responds to the Duke:

On the “they don’t work” issue, it’s quite clear that they do generate electricity. If you look at the machinery they are getting nearly 30% compared to their peak capacity [the load factor]. There is a limited degree of predictability about the wind so they do need to be backed up. But not as much as people think because the law of statistics means that the wind is likely to be blowing somewhere. The UK has one of the best wind resources in Europe. Far better than Germany. Going off-shore the wind resource is even better – with load factors up to 40%.

And regardless of the outcome regarding clean energy, energy efficiency is even less controversial. Heaters Wholesale has been quietly cranking out happy customers who are saving on the electricity bills and reducing they carbon footprint — all since 1981. Not too much to complain about there.