Mind the Technology Funding Gap

  • Building Design Expert
  • 5 years ago

What do you get if you cross an award winning architect with a garden shed? answer: You get an inspired storage space for a lawnmower. But make no mistake we need to pay as much attention to the lawnmower as we do to the shed. Whatever the awe inspiring appearance of the shed, it always remains a receptacle in which to store the technology that is the lawnmower.

Whilst technology has been the cause of our planets woes concerning greenhouse gases and climate change; technology must also be the resolution. The ultimate fight of fire with fire.

New tech is always expensive. It’s something that has become built into our culture. Then it doesn’t get cheaper, it simply becomes more affordable. Everything is of course relative. We have the technology, but we simply cannot afford it en masse.

But look at the potential:
Recently in the news is Armstrong Point Business Park in Wigan They are providing a new development on a regeneration site for SMEs – importantly with the promise of no energy costs for tenants. Here’s how:

  • 90 KW Solar PV
  • 6KW Wind Turbine
  • 9 No. Solar Thermal hot water generating units
  • 9 No. Air Source Heat Pumps

The trick, as far as the developers are concerned, was securing European Regional Development Funding on the strength of the ‘renewables’ proposals. We cannot be cynical about that. At the moment a ‘zero energy’ developments remain the exception, and have high saleability as a consequence.

The mix of renewables specified for the Armstrong Point development is representative of today’s tech. But the mix is not optimal. If this was one hundred percent privately financed there would be no requirement to exceed to the criteria laid down by the ERDF which has made £201B available for such projects across the European community.

We are on the cusp of these developments going it alone, but whilst there remains funding available, the funders will continue to call the shots. Wind turbines are a token requirement that in the suburban Wigan landscape are unlikely to return anywhere near it’s full 6KW, but the ERDF insists upon diversity – upon which it thrives. However, diversity for diversity sake does not make a successful mix. This development, like many other similar small schemes up and down the country, is simply scratching the surface. It’ is doing it in a good way, and it’s far better we do it this way than not. However, renewable technology needs to be applied in the best way suited to individual projects, not simply draw up a list of available tech. and apply a thin coating.

The right mix on renewables is going to be one of the tickets to the star ship ‘outta here’, but until the price becomes as attractive without supplement we will not get the best out of the process. We have to mind the technology funding gap.