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Latest news

week ending 18 April 2014


Energy from Fracking

Balcombe’s close encounter with energy production has had one crucial silver lining. It has forced us to engage with energy issues to an unprecedented degree – making us think about the energy we use, where it comes from, the politics of energy provision in the UK, the pros and cons of different generation technologies and more. This collective awakening has started us on a journey we might never have considered if fracking had never been on the cards – a journey towards a 100% renewably powered future. Our ticket to that future is a new community power company called REPOWERBalcombe. Its mission is to match our village’s domestic electricity consumption kilowatt for kilowatt with community-owned, locally generated renewable energy – and to re-unite our community behind this ambitious goal. Something very strange is happening when on the one hand ministers single out onshore wind turbines and solar farms for attack because they are so “unpopular”, while on the other hand they go “all-out for shale gas” – when polling consistently shows the unpopularity of shale gas. Repowering Balcombe is as much about self-determination, choice and community power as it is about generating electricity. This is a newly possible model of energy provision that is being done by us and for us – instead of being done to us. If a group of local volunteer residents can do this for our village in our spare time, imagine what whole towns and cities could do to repower themselves if they try.

Guardian 17th April 2014 more >>

Scottish Home Renewables Loan Scheme

The Scottish government has announced £4m of extra funding for a scheme which helps Scottish households generate their own green energy. The Home Renewables Loan Scheme gives people access to interest free loans of up to £10,000 for a range of renewable energy technology. The project was launched in 2011 and aimed to cut reliance on fossil fuels. First Minister Alex Salmond said the scheme was “vital” to enable Scotland to be “a truly low-carbon economy”.

BBC 17th April 2014 more >>

STV 17th April 2014 more >>

Scotsman 17th April 2014 more >>

Herald 18th April 2014 more >>

Wind Turbines for Glasgow

GLASGOW City Council want to build nine new wind turbines across Glasgow to help cut the city’s annual £26million energy bill.

Daily Record 17th April 2014 more >>

Solar India

In sun-drenched Rajasthan, Ajaita Shah is working to change that. Through Frontier Markets, a social enterprise she co-founded back in 2011, the 29-year-old cleantech entrepreneur is looking to provide solar-powered lighting solutions to some of the state’s poorest citizens.

Guardian 17th April 2014 more >>

Solar Powered Cement

Solar developer Lark Energy has partnered with Armstrong Energy to complete a 9MW solar farm at Hanson Cement’s Ketton works in Rutland. The solar farm sits on top of 20 hectares of former quarry and is expected to generate around 10% of the cement work’s annual electricity consumption. The 38,544 modules represent that first phase of the project which aims to install a further 3MW of capacity later this year.

Solar Portal 17th April 2014 more >>

Biomass-powered offices

E.ON to install, operate and maintain a new 995kW biomass boiler at Unipart’s head offices in Oxford.

Renewable Energy Focus 17th April 2014 more >>

Solar Finance

NextEnergy Solar Fund is to acquire eight UK solar projects after raising £86m in a London IPO. The amount raised is less than the £150m originally targeted by the fund, which has limited itself to acquiring existing UK solar power assets whose revenue streams have been backed by subsidy schemes designed to meet the country’s renewable energy targets. Michael Bonte-Friedheim, chief executive, said investors in the fund could expect predictable dividend returns beginning at 5.25p per share in its first year, 6.25p in its second then rising with inflation beyond. It shares were placed at £1 each and begin official trading on April 25. Other recent equity raisings for renewable energy funds, including by John Laing and The Renewables Infrastructure Group (TRIG), were blamed for sapping investor demand.

FT 16th April 2014 more >>

Power to the People

Andy Atkins: Stop investing in dirty fossil fuels and rapidly shift to renewable energy to prevent dangerous climate change – this was the message from Sunday’s long-awaited UN report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Why, then, is the government still kowtowing to big energy companies determined to keep us hooked on dirty energy? Last week I travelled to the south-west of England to meet people taking matters into their own hands. Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (Wren) in Cornwall and Plymouth Energy Community in Devon are two exciting co-operatives rolling out clean energy in their local areas. Community energy projects could go a long way towards providing solar in the UK, keeping down our energy bills, slashing carbon emissions, and boosting local economies. The government needs to act now to remove the barriers and empower ordinary people to launch a massive generation of new, clean energy projects.

Guardian 15th April 2014 more >>

Solar Strategy

Earlier this month, the government unveiled its long-awaited solar strategy, designed to ramp up investment in the burgeoning sector and increase capacity nearly six-fold by the end of the decade. Tucked away in a raft of commitments to increase the deployment of solar panels on schools and boost R&D efforts, was a pledge to “encourage the industry to open up employment in the sector to greater numbers of women”. Leonie Greene at the Solar Trade Association (STA) argues that there are still far too few women working in solar, although she admits that to date nobody has counted how many. “We can all be pretty confident from the number of events we run and go to that the proportion of women in the industry is pretty slim,” she tells BusinessGreen.

Business Green 15th April 2014 more >>

Solar Schools

Abundance Generation has launched its latest green energy project, inviting people to invest in a new initiative to installs solar technology in schools. The clean energy crowd-funding platform today kicked off fund-raising for Engynious solar schools project, which has already installed 800kW of solar capacity on 19 schools and is pursuing plans to scale up its portfolio of project.

Business Green 15th April 2014 more >>

Love Money 16th April 2014 more >>

Local Authority Efficiency Targets

Leading Liberal Democrat MPs, including Nick Clegg and Ed Davey, could end up blocking their own local councils from setting ambitious energy efficiency targets, under new plans being driven through Parliament by the coalition. The government’s Deregulation Bill, which is currently weaving its way through Parliament, would make it illegal for local councils to set higher energy efficiency standards than those imposed nationally, in a move that industry says would push up energy bills and undermine both the government’s localism agenda and its carbon-cutting efforts.

Business Green 15th April 2014 more >>

A coalition of green businesses has written to Liberal Democrat MPs, urging them to vote against coalition plans to remove local authorities’ powers to set their own energy efficiency goals, warning the move will water down existing green building regulations. Under current laws, local planning authorities can set their own energy efficiency standards that exceed those set by central government. However, the Deregulation Bill, which is currently working its way through Parliament, contains an amendment that would remove that power, potentially impacting on hundreds of councils’ planning guidelines.

Business Green 15th April 2014 more >>

Welsh AD

Wales’ First Minister Carwyn Jones will today officially open the Prosiect GwyriAD plant at a recycling plant in Llwyn Isaf, near Caernarfon, bringing online the country’s first purpose built anaerobic digestion (AD) for generating power from food waste. The £6m project was backed by a £2.4m grant from the Welsh government and is expected to process 11,000 tonnes of food waste from the local area, producing green energy and fertiliser in the process. Built by AD developer Biogen, the project has been financed by Gwynedd Council, Biogen, Iona Capital and the Welsh Government.

Business Green 15th April 2014 more >>

ECO Windfall

The big six energy suppliers are set to get a “windfall” of £245 million due to the government’s proposed changes to the Energy Company Obligation (Eco), according to the Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE). In ACE’s consultation response, seen by Utility Week, the organisation claimed that the savings per customer from the proposed changes to the Carbon Emissions Reduction Obligation (CERO) element of Eco will amount to £44.90 for the 12 months to March 2015. That is considerably more than the average reduction to energy bills the major suppliers have passed on to their customers of £32.25 for the same period.

Utility Week 15th April 2014 more >>

Building 16th April 2014 more >>

Business Green 17th April 2014 more >>

Britain’s biggest energy suppliers are in line for a £245m windfall because their savings from the Government’s “green levies” deal will be greater than they have passed on to consumers, it has been claimed. Ministers in December announced a deal with the Big Six energy firms to cut household energy bills by about £50 a year by reforming several levies paid for on bills. But analysis by the Association for the Conservation of Energy (Ace) suggests that the Government underestimated the benefits to the companies of the changes.

Telegraph 17th April 2014 more >>

Commercial Solar

Bolton-based installation contractor Forrest and Macquarie Lending have agreed to fund and supply photovoltaic (PV) systems for commercial buildings across the UK. The agreement is part of Macquarie Lending’s up to £50 million commercial solar power programme, one of the largest in the UK, and follows the success of Macquarie Lending’s residential programme launched in conjunction with Forrest in late 2013.

BDaily 15th April 2014 more >>

Solar Praise

Ed Davey, the energy and climate change minister, has praised the UK solar industry’s rise to the sixth largest market for utility-scale solar in the world. According to, 500MW of new projects were connected in March in the run up to the Renewable Obligation rate degression. As a result, the UK has now joined a select few markets which have more than one gigawatt of installed utility-scale capacity.

Solar Portal 15th April 2014 more >>

School Solar Leasing

Following from the Solar Strategy’s promise to install 1GW of solar on government buildings, Solar Power Portal spoke to Jason Hunter from Capitas Finance to find out how schools can earn more money for education, and pay less on energy bills. In line with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC)’s ‘Power to the Pupils’ push for free solar energy in UK schools, Capitas is offering solar leasing plans for schools.

Solar Portal 14th April 2014 more >>

Bristol Solar Co-op

Our first community share offer raised £145,000, and put solar panels on 23 homes in Lockleaze, north Bristol. On the strength of the Lockleaze project, we got a £100,000 eco-loan from Pure Leapfrog to put solar on 25 homes in south Bristol. Now we are back. We aim to raise £500,000 to put solar on 120 homes in fuel-poor areas of Bristol – at no cost to the householder. By amplifying this equity with loan finance, we plan to put solar on 250 homes.

Bristol Power (accessed) 13th April 2014 more >>


The domestic renewable heat incentive (RHI), which was first proposed in 2010, was finally launched this week. Ministers say it is the first scheme of its kind in the world offering financial incentives to householders to install low-carbon heating systems. So do the figures add up for householders?

Guardian 12th April 2014 more >>


Britain’s biggest biomass developers are quitting the country after accusing the government of discriminating against them in favour of the offshore wind industry. David Williams, the chief executive of Eco2, a renewables developer, blamed a government U-turn on capping subsidies for small biomass plants fuelled with local supplies of straw or wood. He and his fellow Eco2 executives, who have developed more than half Britain’s small biomass plants, have vowed to halt all activity from next year and are scouring the globe for new projects. MPs said that snubbing such biomass projects was “absolutely bonkers” when the UK desperately needed new power generation to head off the threat of blackouts as Britain continues to close down coal-fired power stations. Replacing them with more offshore wind farms, which earn subsidies that are nearly 50 per cent more expensive than biomass, will push up energy bills even more, claimed Jackie Doyle-Price, the Conservative MP for Thurrock, who campaigned against the closure of a dedicated biomass plant in her Essex constituency.

Times 12th April 2014 more >>

Solar Farming

What is believed to be one of the North’s largest privately owned solar panel installations has taken place on Hulam Farm in the heart of Northumberland. The farm has installed a 150kW, 460 panel Sunpower solar PV system which will achieve financial payback within six years and generate a combined revenue and savings of over £1 million within 25 years. The economic viability of the system was a key driver along with the long term benefits of an annual income thorough the Government’s Feed in Tariff (FIT).

Bdaily 11th April 2014 more >>

Community Renewables

In a drive to cut the cost of renewables, the European Commission on Wednesday updated state aid guidelines to bring in competition for subsidies. Under the new guidelines, community-scale solar and hydro schemes could be forced to compete with larger developments in the contract for difference (CfD) regime instead of receiving a feed-in tariff (FIT).

Utility Week 11th April 2014 more >>