“When is a cylinder, not a cylinder?”

16th Apr 2018


Energy efficiency is often viewed as the Cinderella of our future energy world – not sexy, but it does a lot of the hard work to lower demand, reduce bills, and deliver carbon savings. Compared to building new power stations, the political photo opportunities are less glamorous but I’d argue they should be more common-place (if only the Government would fund efficiency schemes).

The recent Clean Growth Strategy will come to nothing without energy efficiency schemes and that would be frankly embarrassing for Ministers who have put their names to the document.

For those of us who believe that gas has a long-term future role to play in the UK, we also need to make sure we use our energy as efficiently as possible – requiring less gas demand which makes our vision of greening the gas grid more likely to be accepted.

So let’s devise a road map. Let’s start by reversing the previous Government decision on zero-carbon homes. Start building the new housing stock to the highest standards of energy efficiency and using renewables built-in, rather than retro-fitted, is a sensible approach.

So let’s start building homes with south-facing roofs, to maximise the solar PV potential. Let’s not think about simply generating power for the grid but storing it in the home. I’m not advocating huge battery arrays but heat storage. Storage of heat in liquid form, that can meet flexibly household demand – yes, I’m talking about hot water cylinders. Capturing “free” renewable electricity, converting it to hot water for domestic use is a no brainer really. It’s certainly a start on the route to our clean growth future.

Oh, yes, the puzzle – a cylinder is not a cylinder when it is a solar thermal store.

Best wishes

Mike Foster, CE