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Buildings will vie with cars for electricity, delegates told

Transport will increasingly compete for the electricity potentially needed to heat buildings, according to Chris Twinn, director of sustainability at consultant Arup.

Mr Twinn told delegates at the Merton Rule: Building a Zero Carbon Future conference that those designing and building developments had to lay the foundations for decentralised generation and district-wide heating systems or the UK could face serious problems adapting to changing energy needs. “We are looking for national and local leadership to bring these things together,” he said.

Mr Twinn said developments reliant on National Grid electricity would have to compete against domestic and commercial transport users who were willing to pay more for the energy. He said this would undermine efforts to offset carbon emissions by trying to link to green energy provided through the grid from large-scale renewable sources as demand for this would be dominated by the transport industry.

“There is going to be growing demand for electricity as oil supplies run out and people realise it is cheaper to charge their vehicle with electricity. Buildings will find it difficult to compete,” he said. “We need to be very careful that we are using the most appropriate fuel for the most appropriate purpose. We also need to reduce demand in the first place.”

Mr Twinn concluded by saying infrastructure needed to be put in place to support the energy needs of both new-build and existing-stock sectors.