Changing Attitudes Could Mean More Solar for U.K.
The UK’s economic and housing problems could be helped if all new builds were fitted with solar panels, according to a shift in attitude in the U.K. Politicians, celebrities, and industry leaders have come together to outline their beliefs that solar panels should be compulsory on all new houses.
With the UK facing a number of current challenges, it can be hard to spend time and money on the environment when threats of economic, housing and security crises loom imminently overhead.
However, many believe if all new builds came with solar panels installed, this could do well to at least battle two of the above.
The average solar panel household saves about £657 on energy bills, an amount that would certainly help make things easier in today’s economically stretched environment.
It would also generate more jobs and help industries in the U.K., again helping Britain boom again.
Clearly this is a popular thought—it is already a law in some American towns—but the policy has yet to be introduced in the U.K.
In fact, according to Imperial College, Britain could get as much as 40% of its electricity from solar power on sunny days by 2020 if it increased the number of homes with solar PV. Surprisingly, given the environmental and economic implications, an e-petition to turn this into law in the UK received only 21 votes.
But that doesn’t mean the idea doesn’t have political backing.
“It should be compulsory to fit solar panels to all new homes in the UK," Tory MP John Stevenson said.
Other supporters include those within the industry (perhaps not unsurprisingly), as well as actress and green-advocate Joanna Lumley.
“I absolutely love the idea of solar panels, and I think they should be compulsory and I don’t think a new house should be built without solar panels,” she said. “There are so many people on the planet and the world is soon going to be swamped. I believe we should use less and less and less (energy) and be more clever.”
A study by Imperial College in London said that Britain had only 5% of its recommended houses with solar panels.
“It is actually much cheaper to build a house with solar panels, rather than installing them at a later date,” A spokesperson for renewable energy experts The Eco Experts said. “Enforcing solar panels on new builds would make financial sense. The Government has targets which must be met regarding the UK's carbon emissions, and targets surrounding building lots of new homes. Making it law for all new builds to have solar panels would help hit both of them.”
Lima Curtis writes about energy and the environment for many different sites including The Independent, The Energy Saving Trust, and www.theecoexperts.co.uk.
Toyota unveils electric van and Volvo opens fuel cell lab
Toyota is launching its first zero emission battery electric vehicle, the Proace Electric medium-duty panel van, across Europe.
The model, which offers a choice of 50 or 75kWh lithium-ion batteries with range of up to 205 miles, is being rolled out in the UK, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Sweden.
At present, alternative fuel vehicles (AFVs, including battery electric vehicles) account for only a fraction – around 1.8 per cent – of new light commercial van sales in the UK, but a number of factors are accelerating demand for practical alternatives to vans with conventional internal combustion engines.
Low and zero emission zones are coming into force to reduce local pollution and improve air quality in urban centres, at the same time as rapid growth in ecommerce is generating more day-to-day delivery traffic.
Meanwhile the opening of Volvo's first dedicated fuel cell test lab in Volvo Group, marks a significant milestone in the manufacturer’s ambition to be fossil-free by 2040.
Fuel cells work by combining hydrogen with oxygen, with the resulting chemical reaction producing electricity. The process is completely emission-free, with water vapour being the only by-product.
Toni Hagelberg, Head of Sustainable Power at Volvo CE, says fuel cell technology is a key enabler of sustainable solutions for heavier construction machines, and this investment provides another vital tool in its work to reach targets.
"The lab will also serve Volvo Group globally, as it’s the first to offer this kind of advanced testing," he said.
The Fuel Cell Test Lab is a demonstration of the same dedication to hydrogen fuel cell technology, as the recent launch of cell centric, a joint venture by Volvo Group and Daimler Truck to accelerate the development, production and commercialization of fuel cell solutions within long-haul trucking and beyond. Both form a key part of the Group’s overall ambition to be 100% fossil free by 2040.