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Hot air over Durham

Supporting climate change initiatives at Durham University

Durham University are big on studying climate change, which is the destination of our next stop and the topic of our next article.

Peter managed to keep his journey carbon-free as his points out Durham on a globe as he stays at home.


Monday 25 January

Written by Camilla Ritchie, Senior Investment Manager

Having attended Durham University, I like to keep up with the bits of research that they’re doing. And some of the most interesting stuff is in the area of climate change – which given I run the Sustainable Balance fund, is rather appropriate.

The world wastes more energy than it uses every year. In 2018, 65% of total gas consumption in the UK was burnt to produce heat. Some of that heat was used to drive industrial processes, and some heat was converted to electricity by the power generation industry, but most of it was just emitted as waste. Poured straight into the atmosphere, contributing to Global Warming.

It’s a terrible waste and something that researchers at Durham University have been thinking a lot about ( There’s no time to waste either. The UK has set itself a target to become carbon neutral by 2050 and if the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals are to be met by 2030 - in particular Goal 17: Affordable and Clean Energy - better use must be made of available resources and in particular reducing heat waste.

Everyone knows how wasteful car engines are – they lose more than 80% of the energy contained in the fuel. But the gas that is converted to electricity by the power generation industry isn’t used very efficiently either. By the time that electricity finds its way to your home, it could have lost two thirds of its potential energy.

One way to deal with the waste of heat and energy is to install combined heat and power generators (CHP) close to the point of use. First, this keeps the energy loss to a minimum as the transfer is much shorter – there’s less time for the energy to be lost due to friction. But, even more, it means any excess heat which is generated from the energy production can actually be used to heat or cool nearby buildings. The “waste” heat is no longer wasted!

The SDCL Energy Efficiency Investment Trust (SEEIT) has installed 15 CHP generators in Premier Inns and Crown Plaza Hotels throughout the UK which provide enough electricity for operational needs and heat which can be used for heating, and even, through clever thermal-powered products, for cooling rooms.

7IM Sustainable Balance fund invests in Energy Efficiency as part of the Climate Change theme, including an investment in SEEIT.

Any reference to specific instruments within this article does not constitute an investment recommendation. Past performance is not a guide to future returns.

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