When I first started writing about the renewables sector I was faced with a raft of new technology and whole new group of acronyms – GSHP, CoP, FiT, RHI, DECC, PV – what did it all mean? I attended a number of training courses to help me learn more, and if I’d taken the practical instead of just joining in the theory then who know, maybe today I would be plumbing in an air source heat pump rather than writing about it. Though to be honest, that’s an extremely unlikely scenario.
I write for numerous trade magazines, about individual technologies, integrated systems and case studies, and supplying comment from time to time. I love writing for the heating and plumbing guys – the editors are really friendly and you never feel you’re having to beg to have an article included. The local press are also interested and I’ve contributed to the Big Green Guide published by the Western Morning News on a number of occasions.
I find the whole energy sector fascinating. Finding out about how locked in we are to oil and gas was a real eye-opener for me. I live in a rural area with no mains gas. We inherited a large LPG tank which was supplying a three bar gas radiator and nothing else, and which now supplies our cooker and a gas heater. We put in central heating that runs on oil. Now our property is completely at the mercy of oil and LPG gas prices which have shot up so much in the last few years that it makes me breathless!
The main issue with renewables for space heating as I see it is their relevance to the vast numbers of leaky old properties – like mine – that will never be able to be insulated to a level where a lower flow temperature will suffice unless we can afford to ‘rip it out and start again’, in essence. Solar PV and solar thermal are possible additions, but when you’re in a listed building….
It’s also interesting to watch the Government huffing and puffing, promising this, promising that and never quite hitting the mark. The solar PV debacle was an example of lack of forethought and also an incredible inability to make a judgement call. For space heating we’re all waiting for the Renewable Heat Incentive (domestic version as the commercial one has already started, albeit with a trickle rather than a stream of approved installations), and this has been put off so many times now that some of us have lost the will to live – well, almost.
Sometimes the subjects I write about are not things that have any relevance to or impact on my life. I loved writing a series of scripts for Leeds Uni on Maths in Computing, but to be frank, I’m not sure that I will ever be able to use the information for anything practical unless I decide to build a robot. But energy has a lot of relevance and I genuinely do enjoy seeing what’s going on – all too many of us don’t have a clue!