Alongside energy efficiency, low carbon and renewable products are a central focus for our business. They give customers greater choice over how they generate and consume energy, while cutting carbon emissions and bills. Technologies such as solar, ground source heat pumps (GSHP) and biomass boilers are becoming increasingly important in helping the UK Government meet binding climate change targets - we calculate for example, that these products alongside those we’ve already installed since 2010, have helped save over 13mtCO2e, which is equivalent to the average annual emissions of 2.6m UK homes.
During 2014, we provided 6.2MWp of solar power to 280 UK homes and businesses, down from 7.4MWp delivered through 490 installations in 2013. The decline was due partly to the challenging residential market for solar, as well as precautionary measures taken following three fires at installations during 2013 and 2014. We have now re-launched our residential product range and through British Gas’ education programme, Generation Green, which enables schools to benefit from lower cost energy and learn about sustainability through winning energy makeovers.
In 2014, we contracted 137 renewable heating technologies such as GSHPs and biomass boilers for residential, commercial and local authority buildings, including schools and community projects.
We also signed low carbon district heating contracts for a further 2,500 properties, such as domestic tower blocks and commercial buildings like hospitals. Most of the contracts were for biomass fuelled social housing projects, which will help provide lower cost reliable sources of heating, while delivering lifetime carbon savings of more than 170,000 tonnes. This builds upon more than 5,550 properties where we have already installed such systems and a further 2,000 properties that are close to completion; representing over 750,000 tonnes of lifetime carbon savings.
Following a successful trial, a pioneering contract with Sainsbury’s has additionally been secured to install GSHPs for space and water heating, which utilises waste refrigeration heat. These installations will take place across a significant number of their stores and the contract is the first of its kind - British Gas funds each project which on completion is sold to a financier, while British Gas continues to manage energy consumption and monitoring over a 15-year period. By working with the financier to provide the installation at no up-front cost, this is an attractive model for the customer and consequently, we expect more of these contracts in the future.
We delivered nine of the first tranche of 15 installations during 2014. As a result of improved efficiency in heating and refrigeration, a typical site could benefit from reduced carbon emissions of around 60%* and cost savings of 43%**. The system also includes monitoring points which enables the British Gas Energy Performance team to track performance and make adjustments remotely. This helps save energy while also making it possible for engineers to pin-point problem areas so that repairs become more efficient as they know which parts are needed.
In 2015, we’ll remain committed to delivering low carbon and renewable heating to give customers better value and a greater range of services.
* Based on replacing gas with electricity, with gas at 0.216 (kg CO2 / kwh) and electricity at 0.519 (kg CO2 / kwh)
** Based on gas at 3p/kWh an electricity at 10p/kW