New Clause 19 - Micro combined heat and power passive flue gas heat recovery devices

Part of Energy Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 5:45 pm on 21st June 2011.

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Photo of Alan Whitehead Alan Whitehead Labour, Southampton, Test 5:45 pm, 21st June 2011

The new clauses would require the Secretary of State to consider and produce within 12 months reports on the effectiveness of installing on domestic premises new boilers that are micro-combined heat and power units including passive flue gas heat recovery devices or, as in my new clause 20, passive flue gas heat recovery systems—PFGHRS.

The new clauses make modest changes to the Bill—so modest that they hardly dare point their shrinking little fingers at the last time the building regulations were substantially revised to take account of changes in how boilers might be installed in UK households. The change to part L of the building regulations, which was undertaken on the watch of a Minister whose name escapes me for now, was quite revolutionary in the difference that a modest change could make to carbon containment over a period of time. The change was that if people were considering installing new boilers in their properties, they should normally install condensing rather than traditional boilers. Yes, the change in regulation shaped and directed, to an extent, in that it backed a particular technology, but within a few years the result of its implementation was that condensing boilers rose from 15% of installations in UK properties to 85%. Each boiler saved 1.5 tonnes of CO2-equivalent compared  with its forebears. With 1.5 million boilers sold every year, this has been the single most effective measure for saving CO2 emissions ever passed in this House. That change alone saves some 0.4% of UK annual emissions per year.

After many years of, I think it fair to say, some false dawns in the development of microgeneration combined heat and power boilers for domestic installation, we could develop a mass market for such boilers. The change in emissions that would result from the installation of large numbers of such boilers—which heat the home, work efficiently and, with the conditions I mentioned, collect and recycle flue gases and produce electricity as a result—would be of a descending order similar to when part L was introduced in the early 2000s. There is a strong case for examining whether similar arrangements ought to be undertaken, so that such technologies could become widespread in UK homes, achieving a second generation of substantial carbon savings to follow what condensing boilers did only a little while ago.

Obviously, any such changes would need to be written carefully, as with the previous changes in building regulations, and for that reason the new clauses do not actually propose a change. They propose an examination of the change required and of how the new forms of boilers would work in conjunction with flue gas heat recovery devices to make the savings I have described. These are modest new clauses with enormous implications for a low-carbon domestic energy economy. I trust that the Minister will therefore jump with alacrity at the idea that they should be accepted.