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Latest news

week ending 11 April 2014


Cumbria Geothermal Plan

CHEAPER fuel for Whitehaven residents could be an “unexpected legacy’’of the town’s redundant pits. A potential scheme to extract heat from water and gas in disused mines in Kells has moved closer after a £123,470 funding award. The money, from the Department of Energy and Climate Change to Copeland Council, will be used to look into developing “innovative heat networks’’. It follows a bid from economic development organisation, Britain’s Energy Coast (BEC). Coun George Clements, Copeland Council’s portfolio holder for community planning, said: “This is a great example of partnership working with Britain’s Energy Coast to secure Government funding.

Whitehaven News 10th April 2014 more >>

Mid Suffolk Solar council houses

Mid Suffolk District Council has backed the first phase of plans to install solar panels on more than 2,100 council houses in a joint scheme with Babergh. The £7million plan has identified 2,150 south facing properties within the two councils suitable for the panels. Babergh District Council is making a decision on the scheme this afternoon. Councillor Roy Barker, Mid Suffolk’s environment portfolio holder, said money earned from the solar panels would more than cover the cost of the scheme in 20 years.

Bury Free Press 10th April 2014 more >>

Printing firm goes solar

A Bury St Edmunds business has embraced solar energy in a bid to cut costs and help the environment. Specialist printing firm Denny Bros has installed a series of 50kw solar photo voltaic panels on the roof of its headquarters in Kempson Way. As well as lessening greenhouse gases and emissions, the company says the panels – supplied by Kentford-based Evogreen – will considerably reduce its electricity costs and help enhance its return on investment.

Bury Free Press 10th April 2014 more >>

Solar Incinerator

Solar engineers had to abseil down the roof of an energy from waste plant in Slough to install solar PV panels. The Lakeside plant near Heathrow Terminal 5 can process 410,000 tonnes of non-recyclable residual waste a year, generating 37 megawatts of sustainable power. The 1,000 solar panels stretched out over its south-facing curved roof will generate 230,500 Kwh of energy and save 137,000 tonnes of carbon a year.

Energy Live News 10th April 2014 more >>

Energy Costs

Both wind and solar are technologies which are deployable at scale and whose costs are fast becoming competitive with conventional power generation. A report published by Denmark-based consultancy, Make in February last year, suggested that in Europe: “Wind will be a very competitive power generation technology in 2020, cheaper than all the fossil fuel technologies.” At the same time Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimated its global average levelized cost to be at a level similar to coal and about 10% higher than gas. For comparison it put offshore wind at over 2.5 times the price. Solar’s cost is falling so fast that the conventional energy sector does not realise how inexpensive it has become, policy makers find it a challenge to keep pace with and find the comparison metrics challenging.

Solar Portal 10th April 2014 more >>

Commercial rooftop PV

Lightsource Renewable Energy recently announced that it was moving into the commercial rooftop space after the company’s acquisition of assets from Renewable Resources. In light of the new Solar Strategy and its focus on rooftop developments, Lightsource’s move into the commercial rooftop sector shows significant prescience. Nick Boyle, founder & CEO of Lightsource talked to Solar Power Portal about the recent acquisition and what the company’s ambitions are under the new remit:

Solar Portal 10th April 2014 more >>

Renewable Energy Focus 8th April 2014 more >>


Two of the world’s largest companies, Walmart and GE, have announced they are to team up to undertake one of the biggest LED lighting deployments yet undertaken, in a move designed to slash energy use and emissions from the retail giant’s supermarkets. Walmart announced yesterday it has inked its largest lighting deal to date with GE, after it committed to purchasing LED ceiling lighting fixtures for use in new supermarkets in the US, Asia, Latin America and the UK.

Business Green 10th April 2014 more >>

Renewable Heat

Households can get paid for supplying their own heat from renewable systems, after government launched its long-awaited domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI) on Wednesday. Biomass boilers, heat pumps and solar thermal panels are covered by the scheme, which aims to do for renewable heat what the feed-in tariff did for renewable power. The 3 million UK homes not connected to the gas grid are considered most likely to benefit. On-grid households are also eligible.

Utility Week 9th April 2014 more >>

Renewable Energy Focus 9th April 2014 more >>

The government has today launched its long-awaited domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), in a bid to stimulate investment in new green technologies such as biomass boilers, solar thermal panels, and heat pumps. Climate Change Minister Greg Barker unveiled the much-anticipated scheme this morning, completing the rollout of the RHI, following the launch of similar incentives for commercial and public sector properties in November 2012.

Business Green 9th April 2014 more >>

Solar Portal 9th April 2014 more >>

Today has seen the long-awaited launch of the domestic element of the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme, which will now offer households the opportunity to secure quarterly payments based on how much renewable heat they generate. There has been plenty of grumbling about the lengthy gestation for the scheme, while concerns remain about how effective the initiative will prove at ferreting out any rogue traders who seek to take advantage of increased demand for renewable heat systems. Others have highlighted the relatively high cost of carbon savings delivered by renewable heat systems compared to alternative technologies. But despite these reservations the scheme represents a significant boost to the green economy and could deliver a major breakthrough for the emerging green home market.

Business Green 9th April 2014 more >>

The government announced the renewable heat incentive for householders today. For Tony and Rhoda Graham, who have lived for 30 years in their 5 bedroom home which doubles as a bed and breakfast, in an idyllic location in Windermere, it is long overdue. Several years ago, while cycling through Europe, the couple came across eco-friendly biomass boilers, but couldn’t find them in the UK. Eventually the government announced its intention to launch the scheme, which prompted them to make the switch from oil exactly a year ago, for Tony’s 70th birthday.

Guardian 9th April 2014 more >>

RHI Reaction: Dave Sowden “The industry is delighted the domestic RHI has finally launched and that the journey to cleaner home heating can now begin. Installing low carbon heating technologies into energy efficient homes is one of the most important ways of securing cheap, affordable, clean energy, and this world-first scheme is a very important start.”

Business Green 9th April 2014 more >>

European Guidelines

The EU has approved new state aid guidelines for the energy market that critics say could disadvantage smaller renewable energy producers. Under the proposals, that will be valid from 1 July 2014 until 2020, projects over 1MW in size will have to take part in a technology-neutral competitive bidding process. All projects will also have to provide balancing services, while the guidelines will recommend certificates linked to the electricity market, as the preferred source of support. “A tendering scheme inevitably comes along with risks and transaction costs, making it unfit for rooftop PV systems and other small-scale electricity generators,” said Alexandre Roesch, head of regulatory affairs, European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). “The 1MW threshold under which a different support regime is possible, is not enough. Co-operatives and community projects, for instance, will now be forced to place their bids in a scheme much more suited to the largest energy players,” he said.

Solar Portal 9th April 2014 more >>

Staffordshire Solar Schools

THE FRIARY School in Lichfield is benefiting from a project to install solar panels in 25 schools across the county. The panels are being funded by a community share issue which gives local people the opportunity to invest while the schools gain free electricity. The project, undertaken by GEN Community and Southern Staffordshire Community Energy (SSCE), has seen a 50 kilowatt array of panels installed which has delivered savings.

Lichfield Mercury 9th April 2014 more >>

Bradford Turbine

A UK recycling and green energy company, the Leo Group, has invested £250,000 into its first wind turbine to help power its Bradford plant.

Farming UK 9th April 2014 more >>

Community Finance

A government-backed fund designed to boost investment in environmental and socially beneficial projects has helped leverage £35m of new investment in a variety of schemes across the UK, according to a new analysis published today. The study by the Boston Consulting Group found that “modest support” from the £10m Investment and Contract Readiness Fund (ICRF) has helped eight charities and social enterprises secure investment from the private sector.

Business Green 9th April 2014 more >>

Energy Efficiency in Europe

Europe has reached a crossroads at which energy saving investments can either be scaled up with market drivers that carry multiple benefits, or risk being sabotaged by a dearth of funding, an official report says. “We are at a tipping point, with energy efficiency investing having the clear potential to emerge into the mainstream as a key driver of EU competitiveness, economic value, innovation and employment across Europe,” says the new study by the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG). But the paper also notes “insufficient public and private investment” in the sector at present, and warns that “if this trend continues, then EU Member States are at risk of missing their 2020 and longer-term energy efficiency targets.”

Euractiv 8th April 2014 more >>

Solar Strategy

The UK could be set for a huge boost in renewable energy as the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has published the first dedicated Solar Strategy of any EU Government. The Strategy, outlined by Energy minister Greg Barker, could see the rooftops of Government estates as well as factories, supermarkets and car parks turned into “solar hubs”, potentially supporting thousands of jobs in the process.

Roofing Cladding & Insulation 9th April 2014 more >>

Solar Trade Association’s Leonie Greene welcomes the government’s new strategy, but asks why Ministers have to detract from the launch by bashing solar farms? There is much to celebrate in the UK’s newly published solar strategy. A target of one million solar homes in the UK in 2015 is truly ambitious and world-class. It’s a target we have been championing at the Solar Trade Association and which, to be met, would require a 50 per cent increase in domestic deployment levels compared to the past three years - beautifully bold but certainly achievable.

Business Green 8th April 2014 more >>

The government’s new plan for solar wants the south facing roofs of public buildings covered with PV panels as quickly as possible. The 22,000 schools in England and Wales are a particular target. Two communities are currently raising money for schools in their area. Staffordshire Sunny Schools is raising about £1m to put an average of 40 kW of panels on 25 primary schools. Plymouth Energy Community is looking for £0.5m to match a loan from the local council that will see PV installed on about the same number of schools. The two schemes are both proposing investor returns of about 5-6%, as well as discounted electricity for the schools and large amounts of cash devoted to local energy efficiency schemes. Both these companies will happily accept investors from outside their area.

Carbon Commentary 7th April 2014 more >>

We’ll curb the blight of the solar farm, say Tories: Minister vows to slow the spread of panels across countryside.

Daily Mail 5th April 2014 more >>

Video: Greg Barker recently opened SunSolar Energy’s new 75MW module manufacturing facility in Oldbury, Birmingham. Tying in with the opening of the facility, Barker took the opportunity to announce the launch of the UK’s “ambitious Solar Strategy”.

Solar Portal 7th April 2014 more >>

THE Government chose an Oldbury solar panel factory to launch the first solar strategy of any EU country. Sunsolar, Houghton Street, was given £5 million Government grant to build a £10 million factory to build solar panels last year creating over 500 jobs by 2018. Solar Trade Association executives joined Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Greg Barker, at the announcement on Friday.

Halesowen News 7th April 2014 more >>

The government’s new solar strategy will ensure producing their own energy becomes the “natural default” for companies across the UK, Greg Barker has today predicted. The Energy and Climate Change Minister today announced a series of measures aimed at boosting the uptake of solar systems on commercial rooftops, as the government works towards meeting its non-binding goal of seeing 20GW of solar energy capacity deployed in the UK by the end of the decade.

Business Green 4th April 2014 more >>

Solar farms must not spread unrestricted across the British countryside and become as controversial as onshore wind turbines, a minister warned on Friday. Instead, solar panels will be rolled out on millions of homes, businesses, schools and government buildings, said energy and climate change minister Greg Barker. Barker, one the greenest Conservative ministers, launched the government’s first solar power strategy at the end of a week in which senior Tory sources revealed their plans to heavily curb or even dismantle windfarms after the next election.

Guardian 4th April 2014 more >>

Solar Boost

More than 1GW of solar power capacity was installed in the UK in the first quarter ahead of a reduction in government subsidies available from 1 April. Solar capacity increased from around 2.7GW at the end of 2013 to around 3.8GW at the end of the first quarter, as capacity was added across a number of projects to lock in renewable subsidies before they were reduced at the start of the 2014-15 financial year. A number of companies have announced in recent days that they completed projects before the 1 April deadline.

Argus Media 8th April 2014 more >>

PV Tech 8th April 2014 more >>

Solar Portal 8th April 2014 more >>

Anaerobic Digestion

According to Ingenious Clean Energy, anaerobic digestion1 plants provide a safe, unobtrusive source of renewable energy that can be both used by its owners and sold back to the grid. The UK’s AD sector has seen a sharp uplift in investment in the last five years, although the total number of operational anaerobic digestion facilities (excluding water industry plants) stands at just 131. In Germany however, anaerobic disgesiton is a widely adopted source of renewable energy with nearly 8,000 such plants producing more than 22 million MWh of green power every year (enough to power 7 million homes) and creating an annual turnover of 7 billion. Ingenious Clean Energy has backed its first anaerobic digestion plant in the UK in a £4.5 million investment.

Renewable Energy Focus 7th April 2014 more >>

Solar Spuds

Greenvale, the UK’s leading supplier of fresh potatoes, and renewable energy company, Triodos Renewables Plc, announced the completion of a deal to build a wind turbine.The project developed by UK on-site generation specialist, Wind Direct, will be built on Greenvale’s Floods Ferry site in Cambridgeshire and will have an estimated total capacity 1.5 MW. This is expected to meet the average annual electricity needs of 1000 homes, or 13 per cent of the residents of nearby town March in Cambridgeshire, according to the announcement made by the company today, April 7.

Potato Business 7th April 2014 more >>

Good Solar

Here at National Trust we think solar is a fantastic renewable technology. That’s why we’ve installed it at a number of the special places we look after. It’s set to become the cheapest low carbon energy by 2018, and research by the Department for Energy and Climate Change shows that solar has strong national support. We think good solar development is about working with the grain of the landscape and the local community. By respecting special places and adhering to ‘best practise’ the industry can thrive and maintain public support. But what exactly does good development look like?

Good Energy 4th April 2014 more >>

Energy Efficiency

The government has been urged by more than 30 organisation to set a minimum energy efficiency standard for privately rented homes. In a statement, the organisations - including the Energy Saving Trust, the Association for the Conservation of Energy, and the UK Green Building Council (UK GBC) - called on the government to introduce the standard “without delay”, giving landlords as much time as possible to improve their properties. In the Energy Act, the government legislated for a minimum standard to be set by April 2018 at the latest, and the organisations are urging the government to set this standard sooner. Green MP Caroline Lucas said there needs to be “a robust and enforceable minimum standard”, which should be set at the energy performance certificate band E.

Utility Week 3rd April 2014 more >>

Shetland Tidal Power

An Orkney firm is in Shetland today to conduct further on-site investigations into a scheme that would combine a bridge between Yell and Unst with a tidal generator. Aquatera is now entering a “detailed design” stage of the multi-million pound project, which would pay for itself by generating some 30-40MW of electricity. As such it would be one of an increasing number of energy schemes dependent on the installation of an inter-connector cable between Shetland and the Scottish mainland which would feed into the National Grid.

Shetland Times 1st April 2014 more >>