Buildings across Britain could soon be turned into ‘power stations’ to supply the energy grid, the director of the Transforming Construction Challenge at UKRI has said.
Speaking at Digital Construction Week, Sam Stacey said that changes to how Ofgem manages the electricity market means that, from next year, building owners will be able to sell energy to the grid in kilowatt hour (kWH) rather than the larger megawatt packages.
The change opens up the market for building owners who are looking to sell energy generated from renewable sources such as PV solar on their estate to the national grid.
He said: “People may or may not know this, but until now, you’ve only been able to trade energy in megawatt-hour packages.
“But from the spring, you’ll be able to trade energy and kilowatt-hour packages, which essentially means that we can mobilise buildings collectively and individually as power stations to feed into the grid, which is a fantastic opportunity for both for asset owners and for the decarbonisation mission.”
Stacey is leading the £170m of government research and innovation investment, which is matched by £250m of industry funding, to create new construction processes and techniques.
He pointed at the current levels of waste from the construction industry and what needs to change.
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He said: “When we make buildings, we cart away 100 skips for every million pounds we spend on construction. There is a huge opportunity to cut that waste out.
“And then there’s the energy factor in terms of running buildings. We know that we can and we need to take out the bulk of the energy associated with running buildings.”
Stacey also highlighted disruptors such as Tesla as models from which the construction industry could learn, stating that the top 10 construction companies in the world had a combined share price that was only a fifth the value of the California car maker.
He added: “If you look at Tesla and what Tesla has done in the automotive sector, they’ve got this phenomenal share price. They’ve gone all out for decarbonisation, for electric vehicles, and achieved this fantastic business success.
“And that’s the era that we’re living in. We have this need and this obligation to decarbonise the world, and the biggest opportunity is in relation to construction.”
Image: Sam Stacey, director of the Transforming Construction Challenge, UKRI. Written by Tim Clark
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