Special Report

Ministry of Defence: Coordinated advance on efficiency

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Special Report: Carbon Reduction Commitment


Matt Foley, who heads the Ministry of Defence’s central programme office for energy, has a bigger challenge than most. The MoD has tens of thousands of buildings, from aircraft hangers to patrol huts on 4,000 sites across the UK.

Separating the carbon dioxide emissions included in the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme from domestic properties and transport - which are excluded - is proving tough, he says. The MoD will have to make some assumptions for now, then go back and audit and refine them later.

Current estimates put around 1.5 million tonnes of the MoD’s total 1.8Mt annual CO2 emissions under the CRC, making the department a major player in the scheme.

The MoD is divided into a series of cost centres - or ‘top-level budget holders’ (TLBs) like the Army and Navy - each with their own energy teams and responsibility for their own bills. Mr Foley’s department was established within the Defence Estates TLB at the end of 2008 to coordinate their actions. He says the CRC is exactly the kind of challenge his team was formed for.

He will be responsible for managing the CRC and the budget for buying allowances will initially be found centrally. But if the MoD gets less money back in revenue recycling payments than it has spent, it may have to turn to the TLBs responsible to make up the difference.

The MoD already has emission-reduction targets under the central government’s Sustainable Operations on the Government Estate (SOGE) initiative, which has stood it in good stead for the CRC. It accounts for about 70% of all SOGE emissions, and the ministry met SOGE’s target for a 12.5% reduction in CO2 emissions compared with 1999/2000 levels two years ahead of the 2010/11 deadline.

Three quarters of the MoD’s emissions come from just 210 sites, which have become the focus of its initial efficiency efforts. Energy audits have been completed on two thirds of them and a long list of potential projects identified.

These are mostly being carried out as and when funds become available through other government schemes, says Mr Foley. An £8.5m grant from the energy and climate department (DECC) funded more than 30 projects this financial year. These should save £2m and cut CO2 emissions by 7,000 tonnes per annum.

The problem is that many loans and grants specify a payback period and often come available at short notice, says Mr Foley. It is not always possible to put a case together for the very best projects in these circumstances.

Three of the MoD’s TLBs are already accredited under the Carbon Trust Standard or its predecessor the Energy Efficiency Accreditation Scheme. A couple more will apply this year if it looks like they will be successful. This is in some doubt because the SOGE reporting system uses data corrected to account for variations in the weather but the Carbon Trust will not accept this, says Mr Foley. With the recent cold winter, it might be hard to show an emissions reduction.

The introduction of smart meters and the energy efficiency programme are being done as much for internal reasons as the CRC, says Mr Foley. "The MoD is very much signed up to doing our bit and I see the CRC as the primary vehicle to demonstrate that," he says.

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