The CRC – a benefit not a burden

Get ready for a surge in demand for energy efficient building services equipment as big energy guzzlers get to grips with the Carbon Reduction Commitment, says Mark Northcott, Managing Director of Remeha Commercial

When it comes to drivers for the take-up of energy efficient building services in the UK, there is none bigger than the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (the Carbon Reduction Commitment).

The CRC, enabled under the Climate Change Act, is a major legislative plank in the government’s drive to meet its carbon dioxide emissions reduction commitments of 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050 from baseline 1990 levels. The scheme is mandatory and aims to raise revenues of around £1 billion per year by 2014-15 by effectively taxing organisations for the carbon dioxide emissions that are attributable to energy consumption. Tariffs have been set at £12 per tonne of CO2 emitted.

As the CRC targets the UK’s highest energy users, we are talking about the likes of the big supermarkets and retailers, large government departments and banks, who will now have to raise their game to avoid the new tax and drive down emissions. You might assume that such major organisations are already at the forefront of energy efficient thinking? Not so, says the Carbon Trust. Analysis of large private and public organisations by the Trust found significant potential for cost effective emissions reductions through energy efficiency. Its recent analysis of the non-domestic building sector suggests 70-75% reductions could be made by 2050 at no net cost using options which exist today.

Achieving reductions

Good news for the building services sector then as large energy users seek to reduce their carbon emissions. So how can this be achieved? The Government is supporting renewable technologies however low carbon renewable solutions can be costly and impact on the profitability of a business. What’s more, when the embedded carbon from the renewable product is factored in, they may not all necessarily be environmentally sustainable.

In addition, there is too much emphasis placed on new build projects. According to the Building Research Establishment, 60% of the buildings that will be standing in 2050 are already built. Yes, we must opt for low energy solutions on new build projects, but the majority of savings on any building estate have to come from both a better approach to maintenance of existing building services and simple energy efficiency improvements on refurbishment projects.

Affordable heating

According to the Carbon Trust, about a third of the UK’s energy consumption is used for heating or producing hot water. A significant proportion of this is provided by commercial boiler plant, so it should be top of the list of any energy reduction strategy. Typically, energy improvements of 10% or more can be made relatively easily through maintenance and low cost improvements. Many building owners or operators may still have a 25 to 30 year old atmospheric boiler in place, wasting up to 50% of the energy they input up the chimney.

At Remeha Commercial, achieving carbon and NOx reduction for our customers through energy efficiency is our top priority, whether that is in new build or the refurbishment of existing plant. While today’s boilers are very highly energy efficient, we have identified the need to improve efficiencies still further to deliver affordable heating systems that perform well at all operating conditions. Unfortunately, the maximum efficiencies achieved by condensing boilers under laboratory conditions at low temperatures (30-50°C) and half load are rarely achieved in real conditions. More typically, boilers are run at high loads and high temperatures and waste around 20% of the energy input through the flue.

We believe that with our latest product, the super condensing Quinta Eco Plus developed in association with our partner Zenex Technologies, will prove to be the Holy Grail of condensing technology – a system that achieves maximum condensing at all times by use of a passive flue gas heat recovery device. Quinta Eco Plus offers a new level of attainable efficiency of 97% GVC at 82/71°C flow and return temperatures. That means £97 of actual usable energy for every £100 of gas input in real time installations rather than laboratory conditions.

We at Remeha Commercial look forward to working with contractors and consultants to bring affordable, replicable, energy efficient heating systems to customers, helping them lower their carbon emissions and make savings to help ease the strain on the bottom line in tough economic times.

Your guide to the CRC

The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) came into force on 1 April 2010 and it is an EU-wide initiative to encourage major energy users to reduce their carbon emissions. It uses a carrot and stick approach of bonuses, penalties and openly published league tables to name and shame those that fail to comply as well as give kudos to the highest achievers.

There are two levels of participation. Organisations that have half-hourly metering (HHM) and consume over 6,000 MWh of electricity per annum (equivalent to a spend of roughly £500,000 per year) are required to participate fully. Those with HHM but consumption of between 3,000 MWh and 6,000 MWh are known as information declarers, which involves submitting data on carbon emissions.

Fully participating organisations have to monitor their emissions and purchase carbon allowances on the basis of their consumption. The original intention was to allow organisations to recoup the costs of investment in energy efficient technology from the pot of money received from allowances. However, Chancellor George Osborne decided to hang on to those funds himself rather than recycle it to participants. In effect the CRC has become a pollution tax.

Efficient collection and validation of carbon data will prove essential in compiling accurate reports, in compliance with the legislation as inaccurate data can lead to heavy fines. The first CRC performance league table, published in November 2011, ranks companies solely on initiatives that have been undertaken to measure their energy consumption. Next year’s table will show the total emissions of each participant and in future years will highlight the improvement made and the percentage change as a proportion of turnover.

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