Zero-carbon houses and hot air

This draws on an article which appeared in the Daily Telegraph on 8 Dec 06, by Amy Iggulden

"BedZed" is an award-winning development of 99 apartments in South London. It was intended to be "zero-carbon" and entirely sustainable, It has been open for four years. The energy for the buildings was to have been provided by solar panels and a wood-chip combined heat and power plant, known as CHP. It was funded by the Peabody Trust.

The wood-chips are heated, producing gas, which is then ignited and used to power a turbine. But the CHP unit doesn't seem to work, and has been abandoned.

The scheme is under the spotlight at the moment because Gordon Brown has said that all new homes should be "zero-carbon" by 2016, and would be rewarded by being exempt from stamp duty.

Much about the project has been successful - the insulation is excellent, and the energy needs are a fraction of those of a normal dwelling.

According to the Energy Saving Trust, however, there is no such thing as a zero-carbon house existing on its own energy. Even this development, which is the nearest thing we've got, would not qualify for the stamp duty exemption.

ND comment: Political thinking of this quality does not bode well for the future energy policy of this country. What about having a scientist in the Cabinet?

I predict we'll be having regular power cuts within five years, as our old nuclear power stations get switched off, along with the older coal stations which break the emissions limits of the EU. Those of us with the space will be investing in diesel generators pretty soon.

Nigel Deacon / habitat21 website

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