Friday, January 16, 2009

Energy Payback Period

Suppose a developer looked at this row of poor constructed and poorly maintained buildings and had an idea.

I'm going to make this offer to all the property owners. I will knock this whole block and rebuild using a highly efficient pre-fab system so you can be back in your homes/shops in 2 months. I will put solar panels on the roof and a gas fired CHP plant for the whole block.

You get, at no cost other than some inconvenience, a new building that has low running costs.
I will rebuild back to a higher level and will get the additional space to rent or sell. I will also maintain and run the CHP plant and supply you with heat and electricity and take the profits from that.

So assuming you could work your way through peoples reluctance for change and the planning laws, and assuming this was a profitable deal for the developer. How long would the payback be in terms of energy and how long would it be in terms of carbon emissions (this would be sooner because the proportion of renewables would be increased)?

A lot would depend on constructions methods and how inefficient the buildings currently are. There are many options when you are building new buildings, to reduce fossil-fuel use and energy use overall. Retrofit is much much harder. Maybe we starting again in many cases. Develop a whole new 21st century style that retains some of the characteristics of earlier times, but is not trying to mimic any period of the past.

Anyone any thoughts?

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