week ending 4 October 2013
Last week, Caroline Flint announced major reform of the energy market under a future Labour government, with supply and generation being split and a regulator given more teeth. But of course there are other ways to break the dominance of the Big Six energy companies and their reliance on outdated carbon-heavy or nuclear generation. And not just by using the Co-operative Energy instead – the energy supply company with 180,000 customers came out firmly in favour of Ed Miliband’s proposals. All over the country, community energy organisations are springing up. Co-operatives, owned by local people each holding a small share, are generating solar power, wind power, even hydro. In Brixton, South London, Brixton Energy Co-op is installing solar panels on council housing blocks whilst creating skills and apprenticeships for local young people. Baywind in Cumbria was the first of now eight community-owned windfarms in England and Scotland. And in Devon, the Plymouth Energy Co-operative is helping people with their bills and energy efficiency as well as looking to invest in tidal and other renewable forms.
SERA 3rd Oct 2013 more >>
It’s been a great year for community energy, culminating in what can only be described as a summer of love. We’ve had the first ever Community Energy Fortnight, displays of mass public support, pronouncements of Government support, and thanks to your campaigning - victories! But there is still a great deal to do.
Co-operative 3rd Oct 2013 more >>
Carillion is having to restructure its energy services division because of the lack of expected Green Deal work and likely delays to the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme. Carillion paid £300m to take over energy services group Eaga in 2011 on the expectation of massive workload. The government promised that its flagship Green Deal policy – where homeowners get ‘free’ energy-saving improvements paid off over time through their fuel bills – would upgrade 14 million homes in the first seven years and 26 million homes by 2030.
Construction Index 3rd Oct 2013 more >>
Construction giant Carillion is to shrink its energy services business, blaming the sluggish uptake of the government’s flagship energy efficiency policies. The company yesterday said it would spend up to £40m restructuring its energy services business over the coming months because the Green Deal had been less successful than expected.
Business Green 4th Oct 2013 more >>
The Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) has published a new solar thermal calculation method ahead of the introduction of the domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) next year. The new calculation is an improved version of the existing Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) method. One of the major changes introduced by the new method is the removal on one irradiation figure for the whole of the UK and the implementation of regional bands. In addition, the effect of the efficiency of the back-up heater (usually a boiler) is recognised, increasing the annual energy saving presented to the customer by at least 30%.
Solar Portal 3rd Oct 2013 more >>
A pioneering new service for renewable energy developers and wind farm owners is being launched by environmental and engineering consultancy Wardell Armstrong. “Solar wind” is designed to optimise the full capacity of expensive grid connections by incorporating ground-mounted solar panels on the same site as wind turbines. With an estimated total capacity of onshore wind across all stages of development now as high as 19,703MWe, planning permission is becoming ever harder to secure. Returns can be high but are limited by turbines typically generating only around 35% of their capacity because of variations in wind strength – even though grid connections are sized at maximum capacity. The cost of these connections can be a very significant portion of development capital cost. Their availability in parts of the UK is also becoming increasingly constrained. Anything that can be done to improve utilisation and make the best use of expensive assets is therefore very worthwhile.
Farming UK 3rd Oct 2013 more >>
H&V News 2nd Oct 2013 more >>
Cumbria’s Carbon Budget
All this talk of gigatonnes and global limits is difficult to relate to. What does it mean for me, my family, my local area, my country? Over the past three years, the Lake District has been involved in a fascinating local experiment that tries to answer this question. As far as we know, the Lake District is the first local area to set a local carbon budget. We worked out how much carbon the Lake District is responsible for, we set targets to reduce this year on year, based on the UK’s national carbon budget, and we’ve made a plan for how we can meet our targets. In a small corner of a small country, we’ve been doing what needs to be done at a global level. Our local experiment is modest, but we’ve counted the benefits in terms of pounds and pence, providing better holidays and a more secure future for farming. It may be a tiny fraction of those gigatonnes but, as the IPCC reports a challenging picture over the years ahead, it’s nice to know we’re off the starting blocks.
Green Alliance 2nd Oct 2013 more >>
The UK’s first ‘Solar House’ to be solely heated by the sun’s energy all year round is up for sale for £1.2m The five-bedroom timber frame property has been built by Caplin Homes in Great Glen, Leicestershire. Solar energy collected in summer is stored by heating the ground beneath the building and this energy will be retrieved through a heat pump when needed in the winter. Hybrid solar panels will collect enough heat from the sun to provide heating and hot water and twice the electricity needed to run the system.
Construction Enquirer 2nd Oct 2013 more >>
Yorkshire Post 2nd Oct 2013 more >>
Green Building Press 1st Oct 2013 more >>
Daily Mail 1st Oct 2013 more >>
Bristol City Council has been working on climate change and energy issues for over 10 years. With lots of successful projects completed already, Bristol is moving forward to a new phase of action. All the positive changes we make today will help to create a better future for the city and its people. Every area of the city is set to benefit, with plans for better street lighting, warmer homes, greener buildings and improved waste collection services. The full extent of the work across Bristol is contained in the Council’s Climate Change & Energy Security Framework, which aims to reduce Bristol’s carbon emissions by 40% by 2020 from a 2005 baseline.
Bristol City Council 1st Oct 2013 more >>
5MW project marks a milestone for EU Green Capital for 2015. Regional and local governments are charging ahead with plans to become energy independent and curb their carbon emissions, reports this week suggest. Bristol Mayor George Ferguson confirmed yesterday that the city is poised to become the first to host a council-owned wind farm, which will be located on a disused oil tanker.
Business Green 4th Oct 2013 more >>
ITV 3rd Oct 2013 more >>
ITV 3rd Oct 2013 more >>
Tory Energy Revolution
The energy and climate change minister Greg Barker will open this year’s Solar Energy UK event at the NEC Birmingham on 8-10 October. “Solar Energy UK 2013 is the UK’s largest solar energy event, attracting companies from all the around the world. It offers companies the opportunity to showcase innovative products and services, do business and learn about market trends to help stay ahead in the global race,” said Barker. The minister’s comments ahead of the exhibition come after the UK market reached 1GW annual demand for the first time in its history, marking it out as one of the top six global PV markets. Barker has continually reiterated his desire for the UK to install 20GW of solar by 2020.
Solar Portal 2nd Oct 2013 more >>
Greg Barker has spoken of his determination to encourage a “decentralised power to the people energy revolution” made up of households and businesses producing their own energy. Addressing the Conservative Party conference today, the Energy and Climate Change Minister said there are already more than half a million local energy systems installed in homes and businesses and growing this sector can challenge the dominance of the Big Six energy suppliers, bringing down energy bills. Barker was particularly enthusiastic about solar energy technology, which today accounts for around 2.5GW of installed capacity. He insisted the failing costs of solar, as well as technologies such as combined heat and power, geothermal, biomass, energy from waste and hydro power, were driving jobs and growth.
Business Green 30th Sept 2013 more >>
Greg Barker’s Speech
Conservatives 30th Sept 2013 more >>
Labour’s Energy Revolution
Tens of thousands of people would club together to set up their own energy companies under plans being considered by the Labour Party. The proposal follows Ed Miliband’s pledge that an incoming Labour government would freeze gas and electricity prices for 20 months. The initiative would lead to 600,000 people in ten cities and towns belonging to community-owned or co-operative energy schemes. Supporters of the move say it would help break the monopoly of the ‘Big Six’ firms over the energy market and drive down prices.
Independent 3rd Oct 2013 more >>
Luciana Berger: Labour have announced that we will overhaul the Green Deal and replace it with a new ‘Energy Save’ scheme. Neither will we be continuing with the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) in its current form, which is due to expire in March 2015. The Green Deal is failing. Since its launch, only 384 households have signed up for a package and just twelve have gone live. Most importantly, 99 per cent of the 71,000 households who have had a Green Deal assessment have not gone on to take out a plan. And at the current rate of 13,000 homes being assessed each month, it would take 160 years to survey all the homes in the UK. That just isn’t good enough. Not when ministers promised at least 10,000 households would be signed up by the end of this year and forecast the scheme would renovate 14 million homes by 2020. Caroline Flint led a visit to Germany, where 360,000 people took out energy efficiency loans from their KfW state investment bank last year at interest rates of just 1 per cent. Here at home Nationwide’s Green Additional Borrowing service allows its existing mortgage customers to take out loans for energy efficiency improvements for as little as 2.29 per cent interest. As well as cheaper loans, we will also be looking at a more efficient, affordable and less bureaucratic replacement for the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) for when it comes to an end in 2015.
Business Green 30th Sept 2013 more >>
Ikea is shining a fresh light on the UK’s domestic solar panel market, offering customers a fully installed, decent-sized system for £5,700. Following a successful pilot project at its Lakeside store in Essex, which it says has been selling one photovoltaic system almost every day, the Swedish retailer is to offer a range of solar panel packages at all 17 of its British stores within the next 10 months. The good news is that you won’t have to get out the Allen keys and struggle to put the solar system together yourself. The company providing the service on Ikea’s behalf, Hanergy, will survey your home and install the panels on your roof.
Guardian 4th Oct 2013 more >>
Modern Power Systems 3rd Oct 2013 more >>
Ecologist 2nd Oct 2013 more >>
IKEA has revealed plans to sell solar panels at all of its UK stores, as it seeks to tap into the burgeoning home energy generation market. The Swedish retailer confirmed today that it had signed a deal to sell Hanergy’s latest thin film photovoltaic panels at all of its 17 UK stores, following a pilot at its Lakeside store in Essex, where one solar panel is now sold every day.
Business Green 30th Sept 2013 more >>
Guardian 30th Sept 2013 more >>
Independent 30th Sept 2013 more >>
Solar Portal 30th Sept 2013 more >>
Good Energy group has been granted planning consent for a 30MW solar site in Pembrokeshire.
Founder and chief executive Juliet Davenport said: “This is the first of our larger solar sites successfully through planning. The layout of the solar farm has been specifically designed to minimise visual impact, and included in the land management plan is habitat improvement through the planting wildflowers and sheep grazing. The directors are considering the options for the delivery of this project.”
Money AM 1st Oct 2013 more >>
Up to 1,500 UK homes will be able to have solar panels installed for free each month, following a financial deal between British solar supplier Freetricity and Australian investment bank Macquarie. According to Freetricity the free solar rollout will be the largest of its kind in the UK and will create more than 550 new jobs.
Energy Live News 30th Sept 2013 more >>
Two of Britain’s leading scientists have urged the setting up of a world Sunpower Programme to deliver solar electricity that is cheaper than fossil fuel power by 2025. All countries should be invited to participate, say Sir David King, a former government chief scientific adviser, and the economist Lord Richard Layard in an article in the Observer.
Observer 29th Sept 2013 more >>
Rates on savings accounts are still ridiculously low. The market-leading instant access account currently pays just 1.6%. If you’re not prepared to take any risks at all with your money, then this is the sort of rate you’re just going to have to put up with. The Bank of England shows no real sign of raising interest rates until it’s absolutely forced to. But if you’re prepared to stick your money in a less conventional home, you could earn a much better return – 6.65% a year. And while it’s nowhere near as safe as a bank account, it’s less risky than you might imagine.
Money Week 30th Sept 2013 more >>
A bright summer has driven up the returns households can make from solar panels on their roofs. And despite cuts in the amounts paid for the electricity generated, which is paid through a levy on all energy bills, the industry claims returns of more than 12pc are still possible. But the bold promises from salesman have also led to a rise in complaints from those who feel let down.
Telegraph 29th Sept 2013 more >>
We could cut energy bills right now with collective switching. 41% of us have never switched energy supplier -- because we aren’t sure how, don’t have time to compare tariffs and doubt better deals will stay that way for very long. But if a trusted authority takes the initiative to make switching safe and easy they can give punters a better deal for years. It’s already happening. The Eden Project are behind a Cornwall scheme with 20 thousand members set to save a whopping £3.7 million when their switch goes ahead. Almost 5 thousand Liverpudlians just saved £110 apiece the same way. Labour MSP Jenny Marra launched the first Scottish scheme last year – folk saved an average £154. It’s easy. Folk opt into an auction to see which energy supplier offers the lowest price -- “group purchasing” like this in Belgium has knocked 25% off energy prices.
Lesley Riddoch 29th Sept 2013 more >>
The Coalition is considering agreeing to the demands to reform the controversial home insulation scheme, the Energy Companies Obligation, in a deal that could avert steep price rises in the run-up to the next general election. Centrica, owner of British Gas, and SSE are pushing for an 18-month reprieve to meet targets under the ECO scheme, arguing that more time to implement the costly programme would ease the financial burden on customers. Ministers are under added pressure to try to halt bill increases in the wake of Labour leader Ed Miliband’s pledge to cap prices. They are believed to be “receptive” to the companies’ suggestions. The option of an extension is expected to be included in a consultation document on the future of the ECO, likely to be published early next year. On Saturday, George Osborne opened the door to reducing the impact of green policies on bills. He said that the Government had to keep a “very close eye on affordability” and that Britain should not be “in front of the rest of the world” in tackling climate change.
Telegraph 28th Sept 2013 more >>