Sports fans in the UK have experienced a roller coaster of emotions over the years, with highs and lows ranging from Kelly Holmes’ stunning double gold medal victory in the 2004 Athens Olympics to England’s rather mediocre display at this year’s World Cup competition in Germany.
Along with the extremes of joy and frustration they inevitably trigger, there is something else that all large multi-national sporting events have in common – the building programmes they generate provide a world stage on which manufacturers can showcase the very best British products.
But more than this, global sports occasions such as the Olympics can also raise the profile of critical issues that impact on our planet.
The most pressing current concern is climate change. Most of the world’s energy comes from burning fossil fuels such as coal, oil and gas. However, the UK Government has set a target of cutting carbon dioxide emissions to 20% below 1990 levels by 2010 (although former environment secretary Margaret Beckett admitted in March this year that the figure was more likely to be 15 to 18%).
Even this lower figure will be unattainable unless industry plays its part in reducing emissions. In my view, one of the best ways for the heating sector to live up to its environmental obligations is by providing supplementary renewable energy with technology that harnesses natural phenomena, such as sunlight, and geothermal heat.
According to the Environment Agency: “An advantage of renewables is their diversity and range of uses to meet different needs for heat, electricity and liquid fuels. We think that there needs to be more focus on technologies to complement wind power, such as solar and wave power, which can help meet targets for 2020 and 2050.”
Other important benefits of renewable energy include:
• Cleanliness – it produces lower emissions of CO2, particulates, and sulphur dioxide than fossil fuels.
• Sustainability – it will not run out.
• Security of supply – the use of renewable technology decreases the country’s reliance on energy imports.
The London Olympics in 2012 will provide a tremendous opportunity to promote the use of ecologically sound energy sources. Indeed, one of the stated aims of the organisers is that London 2012 will be a ‘One Planet Olympics’, the objective being to leave a lasting positive impact on the environment and communities of the capital.
An agreement between London Olympics’ organisers, the conservation group WWF and sustainable development expert BioRegional, states that London will host: “A zero-waste, low carbon Games that delivers long-term social and environmental benefits to the city”.
To do this, the initiative will have to be firmly rooted in innovation. But what sort of renewable technology will ensure that London 2012 can deliver on its environmental promises?
One example in the heating sector is my own company’s Solar Pack. This is a renewables package comprising solar controller, glycol anti-freeze additive, water controls and Keston selective surface absorber solar panels.
With an absorption level of 95%, heat endurance to 232°C and silicon weatherproofing, we argue that our system provides maximum performance and consistent communication with the solar panel, ensuring energy is used both efficiently and intelligently.
Indeed, connection of a Solar Pack with a Keston Spa twin coil tank and a condensing boiler provides the ultimate in renewable and high efficiency heating and hot water.
Keston’s Spa single and twin coil unvented water storage cylinders are designed to provide instant hot water on demand. The Spa’s rapid heat transfer and recovery rates can produce far more water on demand than much larger units with less rapid re-heat times, and its external expansion vessel ensures the entire volume of the tank is used for water storage.
The Keston Duet combines the Spa with Keston’s Celsius 25 condensing boiler and full controls in one compact, ready-to-install floor-standing unit. It can further be combined with the Keston Solar Pack to produce a complete solar thermal system.
The simplicity of solar over all the other renewable technologies makes it accessible to every installer. It uses skills and technology derived from a standard system. The main differences are the water cylinder, as a twin coil tank is required, and the controls, which monitor the level of hot water received from the solar panel and, if it is insufficient for the building’s needs, will instruct the boiler to supplement the supply.
So, whether UK competitors taking part in the London Olympics delight or disappoint our sports fans in 2012, at least they will be kept warm and we can all rest assured that the Games’ use of renewable energy will help ensure a future for our planet.