Month: May 2012

Some countries reach the “golden goal” of grid parity for solar electricity

According to Bloomberg several countries that have high electricity prices have already reached the “golden goal” of grid parity. This means putting solar modules on the roof to replace electricity purchased from the grid is a good investment for consumers. This includes Germany, Denmark, Portugal, Spain and Australia. Brazil is also above the 6% level, but consumers may require higher returns on investment in a developing economy.

Japan, France, Greece and Turkey are expected to be there by 2015, and by 2020 even the US average price will high enough to justify investment, even without the 30 percent investment tax credit subsidy.

An interactive version of this chart can be found on the Bloomberg site.

My comment on the UK situation: The UK having relatively lower electricity costs than other countries is likely to be similar to the US, but there are wide regional variations in the cost of electricity from the grid and as it is a very competitive market variations depending on usage so some consumers might reach the golden goal earlier than others. In addition, the UK government is also being fairly rigorous in legislating for carbon emission reductions that could also have an impact upon the time when grid parity is reached.

Localisation is also another interesting factor. Location householders could club together to get good deals on Solar PV installation as well as adopt collective bargaining techniques to buy electricity from the grid at a lower price in the same way as a number of communities are clubbing together to buy cheaper oil. The development of Community Energy Companies is also yet another factor.


The impact of occupant behaviour and use of controls on domestic energy use

This review was commissioned by the NHBC Foundation to examine previous research and knowledge on occupant behaviour and user interface design in homes.  An extensive literature review was conducted and information was also gathered from experts at BRE.

The review published in March 2012 examines how energy is used in the home and how the way people behave affects their energy consumption.  It explores the factors that affect energy use in the home and looks at the ways in which energy consumption can be reduced.  In particular, the review examines the importance of providing guidance, feedback and information to occupants, and the role of in-home displays such as smart meters.  It investigates behavioural science theories for changing behaviour and how these have been applied to energy use behaviours.  It also examines the differences between energy efficiency and energy conservation and asks if energy-efficiency measures go far enough to tackle energy reduction.

Occupants control the energy used in a home through controls and user interfaces.  These controls and interfaces can influence occupant behaviour.  The review, therefore, goes on to explore the influence of controls and user interfaces on domestic energy use.  It explores findings from previous research into how occupants typically use controls, their level of understanding and the information provided with controls.  The review also compares automated and manual control systems in dwellings and their advantages and disadvantages.

The review then explores future user interfaces and ‘smart homes’.  It examines how occupants will interact with future homes and what interfaces they are likely to use.  It highlights where smart home systems might add value and possible barriers to the widespread roll-out of smart homes.  It also examines recent consumer research on the latest low energy homes and outlines the concerns of consumer groups about the technologies and interfaces installed in these homes.

Research has shown that changing occupant behaviour will allow more energy to be saved than is possible through architectural and technical strategies alone. Differences in individual behaviour can produce large variations of more than three times the average energy consumption, even when differences in housing, appliances, heating, ventilation, air conditioning and family size are controlled for. It is, therefore, vital that more work is done to understand occupant behaviour and how to alter it to minimise wasted energy
and ensure energy is used efficiently.

More details and the Full Report

Smart grid technology could save £19bn pounds to UK’s electricity infrastructure upgrade

Smart grid technology will cost £27 billion to develop and deploy, but sticking to conventional technology to upgrade the UK’s ageing electricity infrastructure between now and 2050 will cost £19 billion more.

Those are the findings of a major new piece of research commissioned by the UK’s smart grid industry and written by Ernst and Young, which concludes Britain could see major economic and carbon reduction benefits from the development of smart grid. However, it warns that there is a “decreasing time window” for the UK to be a world leader in the technology, because of competition from abroad, and that failure to deploy smart grid will push up domestic electric costs and could mean the UK misses its carbon reduction targets.
But the report, commissioned by SmartGrid UK, founded by the UK’s leading smart grid companies including British Gas, BT, Cable & Wireless and Oracle, warns that although the UK is currently well placed to become a world leader in smart grid technology, there is a “decreasing time window to do so” with other countries, notably South Korea, China and the USA all developing smart grids.
Full article in Greenwise