Select Committee on Science and Technology Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 180 - 181)



180.  So is it fair to say then that the present structure, if you can call it that, of our energy markets is putting tremendous barriers in the place of developing renewable energy?

  (Professor Strbac) Yes.
  (Professor Acres) You have an example not far from here, which you might be aware of; Woking, which is incorporated distributed or embedded energy system, not only distributing electricity on a private wire system, but also heat and heat for its chilling air conditioning. The gentleman that initiated it all is not the most popular person in the country because he had to get around some of the regulations that you are implying exist. But it is there and even to the Americans that is a major project that they have come over and looked at and the rest of it. So if you got the right person who is prepared to sort of bend the rules and what have you, you can do it in the UK. He claims a CO2 reduction of 50% because, of course, you are using the heat and the electricity. So I think some people believe—and of course a lot technology involved in doing it if you are going to have security of supply. So you cannot just do it. But a lot of people believe that that is the direction in which embedded electricity, let us say, but embedded energy is in fact going. And we have an example down the road of it.

181.  Yes, we saw examples in Japan of zero energy houses with roofs that were selling back to the distributing company their surplus energy during the day. Am I right in thinking that that is just not possible at the present time in this country because of the market?

  (Professor Strbac) Can I comment on that? I would like to mention Distributed Generation Coordinating Group which represents a joint effort of DTI and Ofgem to really facilitate deployment of embedded generation sources on the UK system. There is, as we speak, a tremendous amount of work going on in the area of trying to remove all the barriers associated with connecting of distributed generation with connection issues, market issues and so forth. I am reasonably confident that we would, in the not too distant future, I am talking about, I guess one or two years, have the commercial framework in place which would enable development and connection of these renewable sources should they appear. One of the difficulties which I would like to mention is the shortage of skilled manpower to deliver that and it is now very clear that even if this industry will find it difficult just to continue business as usual, never mind the challenges which we have got in front of us over the next eight years, as I mentioned this anecdotal example of building on a weekly basis a connecting new plant. We just have no resource to facilitate that. Again, I would like to see if we can possibly develop or state clearly some strategic goals and get support for both research in that area and also developing skills to enable this technology to actually be implemented on the ground and obviously the research outputs to materialised with the industry.

  Chairman: Thank you very much. We will have to move on, I am afraid. It is getting on. We could talk all night, I am sure. Thank you very much for taking time and coming to give us your advice. You will see the report in the end and I am quite sure you will recognise some of things you said, but there will be other ideas by the time of the report. Thank you very much indeed.

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