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At Hayo, we believe that there’s no such thing as a silly question.
In theory, yes, but if would be extremely difficult. For every 500 square metres of land in the country, 1 square metre would have to be covered in solar panels! Also, there would be a vast power surplus in summer which would have to be stored for the winter, for example as hydrogen.
This is a good suggestion but it won’t be anywhere near enough. 80% of the buildings standing today will still be standing in 2050, and if we’re to go ‘net zero carbon’ by then, retrofitting will be most of the battle.
In almost every case, if you’re reducing energy costs, then you’re also reducing carbon footprint. Whilst there’s a cost (and carbon) investment in solar systems, the benefits over the life of the product vastly exceed the costs, both in money and carbon terms. While we calculate the monetary ‘payback period’ for our customers, there’s also a carbon ‘payback period’, although we let others (like academics) count those particular beans.
Battery technology is also improving all the time, and cobalt-free batteries are now available from some manufacturers. Future home battery options are likely to be based on sodium or magnesium, rather than lithium.
In short, yes!
EVs convert around 80-90% of their energy into movement, even after allowing for battery losses, compared to nearer 25% for internal combustion engine vehicles. In addition to this, pollutants (like particulates) are significantly reduced, and moved to large power stations where they are further reduced again thanks to industrial scale filters and ‘scrubbers’. On top of this, the carbon footprint of travelling reduces in an EV by switching the fuel source from oil to mains gas, and can be reduced yet again as the electrical grid transitions from mains gas to zero carbon options, such as solar, wind and nuclear.
As with home batteries, concerns about environmental harms from lithium mining are being addressed, battery manufacturers are phasing out cobalt, and new battery technologies are being developed all the time which will be even better than the current products, and cheaper too. Taken together, EVs are a win/win/win/win for air quality, costs, carbon footprint, and the environment.
EVs which have on-board electricity generation from hydrogen (e.g. with a hydrogen fuel cell) are called ‘hydrogen vehicles’. Many long distance trucks, motorbikes, high-end supercars and airplanes are likely to become hydrogen vehicles in the long term, although other energy storage methods (e.g. Ammonia, Methanol) are also possible.
Insulating your buildings as much as possible is the first step. Call in expert and professional help with this, if you need to. Insulation acts as a heat barrier, reducing heating costs when it’s cold and cooling costs when it’s warm.
Heat Pumps can be a good option in some cases, however they work best for well insulated, draughtproof properties, and even if the building has mains gas already, the modest savings in running costs won’t pay back the initial investment in the heat pump for many years.
According to the British Geologic Survey, geothermal energy could provide up to 100% of the Britain’s heat, plus up to 9% of electricity in England and up to 85% of electricity on Scotland. However this will only be feasible if combined with the widespread rollout of district heating schemes.
District heating, also called ‘community energy’ is where heat is generated at one or more dedicated facilities and piped to homes and businesses via a network of pipes. This heat can be metered, and the centrally generated heat can be obtained from a variety of sources, such as waste heat from power stations and incinerators, deep geothermal, and biomass. District heating heats around over 50% of homes in Sweden, 65% of homes in Denmark and 90% of homes in Iceland. Many other cities around the world have district heating schemes in place, or in development, and in the UK around 2% of homes are already heated this way, including many apartment blocks. This could eventually be extended to most buildings located in cities, towns and villages, perhaps around 80% of all properties.
To help you choose the ‘greenest’ heating system, we have made a flowchart below that guides you through the complexity of the options.