Retrofit buildings instead of building pylons?
In the new issue of Passive House Plus, architect David Hughes argues that instead of investing tens of billions of euro upgrading its electricity infrastructure and building wind farms, Ireland should instead invest the money in the energy retrofit of its building stock.
His Hughes Energy Initiative paper details how a massive building retrofit programme can provide an alternative to EirGrid’s divisive plans to build pylons across the country. He argues that by doing this Ireland can meet it’s targets for energy efficiency, carbon emissions reduction and renewables generation. Here’s an extract from the article:
Buildings account for 40% of energy usage – both electrical and non electrical – nationally. Investing the same €30bn plus in retrofitting buildings will save 75% or more, reducing the energy demand of buildings from 40% to 10% of the current national demand. This will free up 30% of the energy consumed. This equates with 1500MW of electrical power and €2bn per annum off our annual energy imports bill which currently costs €6.5bn.
Reducing electrical demand by 1500MW has the same benefit as adding 1500MW of electrical wind power, including all of the CO2 reductions, but in a truly passive way — not one more wind turbine or pylon needs to be built to achieve this benefit. In addition instead of increasing electricity prices it will lower energy bills including electricity by 75%. The net result is that every €100 spent on energy today for buildings will drop to €25. Furthermore as the demand for energy will have dropped, the electricity supplied by existing wind power will automatically grow to 33% of national consumption...
…So which would you choose? Spend €30bn plus increasing electrical supply by 1500MW and doubling electricity costs? Or redirect that €30bn into retrofitting and reduce energy demand from buildings by 75%, saving €2bn per annum of energy imports and reducing electrical demand by 1500MW?