Solar Close to Grid Parity
The renewables industry is in turbulent times. The surprise removal of the Climate Change Levy Exemption status, the closure of the Renewables Obligation to onshore wind, the imminent review of the feed-in tariff, the overspending of the Levy Control Framework (LCF) and its implications for the second round of of Contacts for Difference (CfDs) are just a few current issues. It seems politics rather than pragmatism is calling the tune on renewables policy. The astonishing price reduction seen in solar power is hard to keep pace with, plus it can be deployed quickly and is a comparatively easy market for new entrants. These three characteristics make it extremely challenging for governments to get it right, when stimulating the market. It’s all too easy to either overheat the market, or conversely to leave it undernourished. Right now the UK is the third largest market, globally, for ground-mounted solar, yet other sectors of the market are languishing. The reality is that solar is approaching the point at which it costs as much to generate one’s own electricity as it is to buy it from a supplier. This is known as “grid parity”, or in the context of smaller scale users “socket parity”. Ground-mount solar will be the first of the various market segments to achieve this, which for this sector means it’s approaching the costs of conventional generation. However, it would be a mistake to think that the reaching of grid parity means that government support can end. Even if the costs are the same, under the current energy policy regime it’s a great deal easier to continue to buy electricity as one has before than it is to invest in a solar system of one’s own. And that applies whether you are a householder or a business.
Solar Portal 17th July 2015 read more »
Scottish councils may lose out on more than £44m of income over the next 20 years if changes are made to wind farm subsidies, according to a trade body. The UK government recently announced changes to the way onshore wind energy schemes are supported. Critics fear this could lead to some proposed schemes getting the axe. Industry body Scottish Renewables said five Scottish councils could lose out on income if developments they have invested in do not go ahead. The UK government announced last month that new onshore wind farms would be excluded from a subsidy scheme from 1 April 2016 – a year earlier than expected. But there will be a grace period for projects which already have planning permission. Energy firms had already been facing an end to subsidies in 2017.
BBC 17th July 2015 read more »
Nissan goes for 4.8MW solar
Japanese car manufacturer Nissan is to learn the fate of its plan to develop a 4.8MW solar farm at its Wearside manufacturing facility in Sunderland next week. The firm submitted a planning application in May to develop 8.7 hectares of land at the site into a solar farm comprising more than 19,000 panels which will help meet the plant’s substantial energy demand. Nissan had previously intended to construct a solar farm almost twice as large as the current plans on land adjacent to the manufacturing facility, however these plans were rejected in January amidst fears the development would harm greenbelt land.
Solar Portal 17th July 2015 read more »
Sunderland Echo 17th July 2015 read more »
International coffee chain Costa Coffee is to build a new eco-friendly roastery in Basildon, it announced yesterday, in order to cope with growing demand. The coffee giant, which recently opened its first “zero energy” coffee shop, said it plans to repurpose an old automotive plant and turn it into a new roastery capable of securing the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology’s (BREEAM) “Outstanding” accreditation. The company said it will revamp the old factory by installing 250KW of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, and a rainwater harvesting system to recycle water, in a bid to make the building’s structure “zero energy”. A spokesman for the company also told BusinessGreen it will take steps to improve the energy efficiency of the site through measures such as the installation of LED lighting and insulation for its heating and cooling processes. It will also be using solar thermal power to heat its water, and will implement a Green Travel Plan to ensure sustainable travel for staff, he added.
Business Green 17th July 2015 read more »
Solar Impulse might have stolen this year’s headlines for solar-powered transport, however a 60-strong team of engineers at Cambridge University is aiming to match the aircraft’s successful summer.
Solar Portal 16th July 2015 read more »
The former minister of energy and climate change Greg Barker has been named the new president of the British Photovoltaic Association (BPVA).
Solar Portal 16th July 2015 read more »
Renewables – small hydro
Micro-hydro, the generation of electricity from small streams, has begun to take off in rural Wales. The country’s geography makes small-scale hydropower a viable alternative source of energy and, for struggling rural areas, a source of income and jobs. Wales has long exploited its natural advantages in waterpower, from pre-industrial mills to six large hydropower schemes today. The vast Dinorwig plant alone generates 1,728MW, meeting peak-time electricity demand across the country. A typical micro-hydro installation, by contrast, will produce well under 50kW, although some run as high as 0.5MW. At present, some 23 micro schemes are in operation, with another 30 or more due to come onstream over the next year or so. The potential for expansion beyond that is significant, with the Welsh government estimating that 1,000MW could be installed by 2020 – a small but not negligible contribution to Wales’ target of generating 22,500MW of renewable energy by 2025.
Guardian 16th July 2015 read more »
Renewable – Hydrogen
Aberdeen City council has awarded a hydrogen fuel contract worth around £1.9 million to Hydrogenics Europe Nv – a Canadian controlled company in Belgium. Hydrogenics Europe Nv – which designs, manufactures and installs industrial and commercial hydrogen systems – has been contracted to deliver a fully renewable multi-application power-to-gas facility. The site is to be a completely green system as it will produce hydrogen by the electrolysis of water using renewable electricity. Hydrogen fuel creates no greenhouse gasses and only produces water when burned, so the new system is hoped to help meet the government’s green energy targets. The facility is set to produce renewable fuel for transport and fuel cells, and hope to inject surplus energy into the Natural Gas network in the future.
Scottish Energy News 16th July 2015 read more »
One of Scotland’s leading whisky producers has cut its carbon footprint by 90 per cent at a Highland distillery. John Dewar & Sons, part of the Bacardi group, installed a biomass boiler at its Aberfeldy site late last year and says the results are pointing the way for the industry. Iain Lochhead, operations director, said: “Traditionally, distilleries are heavy users of fossil fuel – and that’s not good for the environment. We had many ideas for reducing fossil fuel usage and explored several options, but we settled on a biomass boiler.”
Herald 16th July 2015 read more »
EARTHMILL, the leading farm wind turbine company, has diversified into the rapidly growing combined heat and power (CHP) renewable energy market. Steve Milner, launched the £13m turnover business in 2009, since when it has become the UK’s biggest supplier of wind turbines to farmers and landowners. The firm now has more than 200 turbines across the UK, with its head-office in Wetherby and service and technical teams throughout the country. The new business – Earthmill CHP – was formally launched at this week’s Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate. The low carbon technology uses a specially-designed reactor, which heats sustainable fuel such as woodchip to produce a flammable gas. The clean-burning “biogas” is then used as fuel in a gas engine to drive a generator and produce electricity. A large amount of heat is produced in the process, but unlike conventional power stations, it is not wasted. The thermal or heat energy is transferred into water, which can then be used on farms to heat dairies, or pig or poultry sheds, making the process more than 88 per cent efficient.
Darlington & Stockton Times 16th July 2015 read more »
Wetherby News 15th July 2015 read more »
Energy Performance Certificates
Brighton is a sellers’ market. Demand for rented property is very high. (I have also heard that the same applies when buying a property). Thus, even for me, the EPC eventually became a “nice to know” factor rather than being a decisive part of the process – unfortunately. I have come to the conclusion that we would need a buyers’ market in order for the EPC to be effective, particularly in the rental market. However, the EPC is likely to be more influential for home owners as they will be reaping the benefits of improved energy performance not only through reduced energy bills but through other benefits, because better insulation and better windows also reduce outside noise. So, what to take out of my personal experience? For home buyers, we should keep informing about the benefits of improved energy performance and how they can profit, i.e. flagging up the EPC. For those renting their homes, I guess we just wait for the market to change… Unless, we can come up with policy packages that better connect EPCs with benefits to the landlords. What is clear, however, is that in the looming absence of a Zero Carbon Homes target, the EPC is not going to fill the void.
SPRU 16th July 2015 read more »
South Cambridgeshire Solar
Mears has secured a partnership with South Cambridgeshire District Council to install solar PV panel systems across the council’s housing stock, under the new ‘South Cambs Solar Savers’ initiative. This innovative programme will see residents benefit from ‘free’ electricity during the daylight hours, while the council will receive a significant income in return for a ‘roof-lease’ via Mears. Mears has secured the required funding to enable this project, engaging with investor partners in order to provide finance from the export of electricity back to the National Grid via the Feed-in Tariff. Initially 1,000 homes will benefit, with potential for a further 3,000 homes to receive a Solar PV install. The scheme will run for 3 years, with an option to extend by 1 year to enable as many local installations as possible. It is estimated that the first 1,000 installations could save more than 23,000 tonnes of carbon over 20 years – the equivalent of the average car travelling over 58 million miles
24 Dash 16th July 2015 read more »
Carbon Positive House
Britain’s first low cost ‘energy positive’ house, which can generate more electricity than its occupants will use, opens on Thursday despite George Osborne axing plans to make housebuilders meet tough low carbon housing targets from next year. The modest three-bedroom house built in just 16 weeks on an industrial estate outside Bridgend in Wales cost just £125,000 to build and, said its Cardiff University designers, will let occupants use the sun to pay the rent. Using batteries to store the electricity which it generates from the solar panels that function as the roof and more panels in the garden, and having massive amounts of insulation to reduce energy use in winter months, it should be able to export electricity to the national grid for eight months of the year. For every £100 spent on electricity used, it should be able to generate £175 in electricity exports, said Professor Phil Jones, whose team from the Welsh School of Architecture designed the house specifically to meet the low carbon housing targets set by the Labour government in 2006. These were scrapped last week by the Conservative government on the grounds that housebuilders should not be over-regulated.
Guardian 15th July 2015 read more »
Edie 16th July 2015 read more »
OXIS Energy certainly isn’t letting any grass grow under its feet. In June, the UK energy storage innovator announced that it will be ready next year to market its super efficient lithium-sulfur battery, and barely a month later, the company has just launched a partnership with Anesco, a leading commercial and home energy storage installer. Yes, that’s lithium-sulfur, and OXIS aims to leverage the low, low cost of sulfur to undercut the market for lithium-ion batteries.
Renew Economy 15th July 2015 read more »
Renewable Energy Focus 15th July2015 read more »
Edinburgh Solar Co-op
The Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative (ECSC) is looking to procure a solar PV installer to supply and fit up to 1.85MW of solar PV on a maximum of 25 public buildings in Edinburgh. ECSC – which will be the sole owner of the installed systems – requires all installations under the contract to be completed within one year of pre-accreditation of Feed-In Tariffs. At this time, the anticipated completion date for all installations is 31st August 2016. ECSC later intends to offer Edinburgh residents the chance to collectively own solar panels. It intends to raise project capital from the capital’s residents via a public share offer which is due to be launched later this summer. Tenders must be submitted by 13 August 2015.
Scottish Energy News 15th July 2015 read more »
Solar capacity in the UK could reach 18GW by 2020, and could soar to even higher levels if policy support for other technologies is diverted to solar in the wake of policy changes according to the latest Future Energy Scenarios report issued by the National Grid.
Solar Portal 15th July 2015 read more »
A MOSQUE has become London’s first solar-powered building from the Islamic community after installing special panels on its roof. Palmers Green mosque, in Oakthorpe Road, has introduced new, 15-kilowatt solar energy panels with the aim of converting natural sunlight to power the building. Funded by donations from worshippers and the general public, the mosque raised a total of £20,000 to complete the project.
Enfield Today 15th July 2015 read more »
District Heating in Camden
In the second part of his series looking at the potential benefits of district heating for the UK, Crispin Matson discusses the Gospel Oak project in Camden, one of the country’s success stories. The Gospel Oak project originated in 2012 when MITIE (now part of Utilyx) appointed Ramboll to carry out the detailed design of a district heating scheme in the London Borough of Camden. MITIE’s involvement with Camden started when it was appointed by the Royal Free NHS Trust to install and run a 5 MWe gas-fired Combined Heat and Power plant (CHP) in the Royal Free hospital. This was designed to achieve both energy savings and approximately 93,000 tonnes of CO2 reductions over a 15 year period. At the same time Camden council were separately investigating alternatives to upgrade the heating infrastructure to a number of large housing estates situated close to the Royal Free hospital.
Renewable Energy Focus 14th July 2015 read more »
Solar Farming in the Scottish Borders
A solar farm could be built on farm land near Kelso. Developers have submitted initial plans for the 5MW project to Scottish Borders Council. Green Energy UK is exploring the possibility of constructing the panels about a mile south-east of the centre of Kelso. The firm, which is based in Cheshire, has told planners it would cover an area of 30.6 acres (12 hectares) of land at Wooden Farm. In a pre-application “screening request” to the council, they claim most of the site will remain vegetated as only 30% of the site will be covered by solar panels. The developers said the farm could be built in 12 weeks and it is likely to be in place for 25 years. The panels will be no more than 2.3m (7.5ft) in height.
BBC 14th July 2015 read more »
Officials have drawn up plans to cut the funding for household energy efficiency in the autumn spending review as they seek savings from the energy department’s budget. The government has allocated £220m this year and £150m next year towards the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund to provide incentives and cashback on double-glazing, boilers and insulation. Despite the scheme’s name it is not part of the wider “Green Deal”, under which households can use a credit finance scheme to improve their energy efficiency. The main Green Deal is also the subject of intense speculation after Whitehall’s “Major Projects Authority” gave it an “amber-red” score in its annual review of government schemes. Although it has lent £34m since it was set up two years ago, it has fallen far short of ministers’ original expectations. One insider at the Departmen t of Energy and Climate Change said he expected the GDHIF to be cut – with the whole scheme potentially cancelled after the programme ends in 2017. Officials are also braced for job cuts in the autumn. Decc’s headcount rose 35 per cent under the coalition, making it one of only three departments, including the Department for International Development and the Cabinet Office, not to see net staff cuts. DECC justifies its headcount of 1,605 by arguing that it has had to deliver a “challenging agenda” including electricity market reform and the implementation of the Wood Review into North Sea oil.
FT 13th July 2015 read more »
Amber Rudd, the secretary of state for energy and climate change, has warned that the government is “looking carefully” at solar subsidies as a result of budgetary overspend. Speaking to Solar Power Portal, Rudd explained: “There has been a lot of subsidy in this area – a lot. More than people anticipated when the feed-in tariffs and the renewable obligation were set up and we have to find ways of supporting solar that doesn’t involve subsidy.” The secretary of state continued: “We are reviewing the feed-in tariff now and your readers will know that when the Levy Control Framework was analysed as part of the budget it was considerably above budget – we will have to look very carefully at the cost going forward, and I think the industry is expecting that.”
Solar Portal 13th July 2015 read more »
A trio of prisons in Scotland are to receive rooftop solar installations this week after installer Campbell & Kennedy won a tender process started at the end of March. The Scottish Prison Service (SPS) tendered the three projects on 31 March which included a 50kWp system to be installed on the Energy Centre building at HMP Low Moss, a 50kWp system to be installed at HMYOI Polmont and a 40kWp system at HMP Perth. Campbell & Kennedy secured all three tenders and work is due to start today (Monday) on the first installation, and all three will contribute towards the SPS’ five-year carbon management plan which intends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by the end of this year.
Solar Portal 13th July 2015 read more »
Twenty three renewable energy projects across Scotland will share £500,000 of funding through a scheme designed to encourage the local uptake of green technologies. The 23 projects include a way to capture and distribute heat from local waste water, as well as the formation of Local Energy Supply Companies (LESCOs), where towerblock residents produce and import energy to the grid. Specifically, the money – from the second round of the Local Energy Challenge Fund – will be used for feasibility studies, with successful schemes in line to receive further “significant capital support”.
Edie 13th July 2015 read more »
Communities from Glasgow to western Harris are set to benefit from £500,000 in funding for demonstrator projects designed to encourage the use and local ownership of renewable energy. A third of the projects are specifically focussed on town and city areas, building on the already established trend for community ownership of renewable energy sources in more rural areas. Energy Minister Fergus Ewing announced last month that community and locally owned energy capacity in Scotland could generate enough electricity to power approximately 100,000 domestic households. It is the second tranche of funding from a government fund. Each project has received funding of up to £25,000 for feasibility work and, if successful, may be able to compete for significant capital support. The 23 projects include a scheme, Community Energy Supply for Urban Areas, which will allow residents or landlords of multi-occupancy blocks in Glasgow and Edinburgh to form Local Energy Supply Companies.
Herald 13th July 2015 read more »
M&S Energy – the energy retail arm of Marks & Spencer – has committed £400,000 to a new community energy funding competition. Styled as a competition – with a judges’ shortlist then prizes decided by a public vote – the Fund has two UK-wide pots totalling £60,000 up for grabs, plus up to £12,500 in each of three Scottish regions.
Scottish Energy News 14th July 2015 read more »
The UK’s biggest railway stations have signed up to a new project turning coffee waste into fuel. Euston, King’s Cross, Liverpool Street, Paddington, Victoria and Waterloo, all in London, generate nearly 700 tonnes of coffee waste each year between them. Rather than sending it to landfill, where it would release more than 5,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year, this waste will now go to a factory run by the bio-bean firm to become carbon-neutral biofuels for heating homes, offices and factories. Each tonne of waste coffee grounds creates over 5,700 kilowatt hours of energy, with the 700 tonnes enough to power 1,000 homes for a year.
Herald 13th July 2015 read more »
Cornish Solar offer
A Cornish sustainable energy charity is set to unlock the energy generating potential of commercial and community buildings across Cornwall following the launch of their free roof mounted solar PV offer. Community Energy Plus have launched ‘Community Energy Solar’ as a socially motivated alternative to other solar offers for commercial rooftops. Through the programme businesses, farms, community buildings, clubs and community centres can benefit from the free installation and ongoing maintenance of solar panels in order to access the electricity generated by the panels at a rate which will be typically at least 50% less than standard commercial tariffs.
Western Morning News 13th July 2015 read more »
London’s Solar Potential
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has been urged to make it easier for people living in the capital to install solar panels, as the city this month saw record-breaking temperatures and long hours of sunshine that could have boosted renewable energy output. Murad Qureshi, Labour’s environment spokesperson for the London Assembly, slammed the Mayor’s “dismal” efforts to boost solar power production, arguing there is “vast untapped potential” for the renewable energy source.
Business Green 13th July 2015 read more »
Zero Carbon Homes
The government’s decision to scrap the zero carbon homes target plus the equivalent for non-domestic houses is a major setback for achieving a low carbon UK and will undermine the credibility of the policy mix on building energy efficiency and beyond. The zero carbon homes target was announced in 2006 and, as the name suggests, was an obligation for any new home to be built from 2016 to be ‘zero carbon’. This includes improvements to be building fabric compared to standard new buildings and measures such as on-site renewable energy generation. Since this is difficult to achieve, the government then introduced so-called ‘allowable solutions’ which are measures which can be implemented off-site to reduce emissions to complement the on-site carbon savings. The recent announcement on the details of the allowable solutions has already been criticised as being ‘watered down’ compared to the original target.
Sussex Energy Group 13th July 2015 read more »
Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) has expressed disappointment after it was confirmed that the government will not proceed with the zero carbon allowance offsetting scheme, meaning an end to zero carbon homes.
24 Dash 13th July 2015 read more »
On the matter of zero-carbon housing, 38% of our total greenhouse gas emissions are leaked from buildings. Overhauling our housing stock is, by a mile, the easiest fix we have to meet emissions targets, easier than green energy and electric cars and solar storage, easier than everything else put together. The idea of a government not just retreating from the need to retrofit existing stock, but creating new housing that wastes yet more energy: it’s too depressing to contemplate.
Guardian 12th July 2015 read more »
A plan to make all new homes “zero carbon” from next year has been abandoned by the government in a move which house builders say will save the average buyer £2,500. Builders will no longer be forced to install solar panels, heat pumps and other measures to reduce the need for new homes to use fossil fuels. George Osborne, the chancellor, also cancelled plans to require builders to offset carbon dioxide emissions from new homes by paying for reductions elsewhere, such as insulation for existing homes or LED street lighting. The UK Green Building Council, which campaigns for sustainable homes, said that Mr Osborne’s announcement would raise energy bills for new homes. Julie Hirigoyen, the chief executive of the UK Green Building Council, said: “This announcement is the death knell for zero-carbon homes. It is short-sighted, unnecessary, retrograde and damaging to the house building industry which has invested heavily in delivering energy efficient homes. Britain needs more housing but there is no justification for building homes with a permanent legacy of high energy bills.”
Times 11th July 2015 read more »
Guardian 10th July 2015 read more »
Some of the UK’s biggest house builders have hammered the government over a shock decision today to ditch a series of policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions from new developments. The Treasury today announced it will not proceed with two planning regulations that were set up under the coalition government to ensure that all new homes were “zero carbon” by 2016. The government said it would shelve the much-anticipated “Allowable Solutions” scheme – a mechanism that would have allowed developers to deliver greenhouse gas savings elsewhere if it was not cost effective to do so on site. It will also halt plans to tighten on-site energy efficiency standards in 2016, as part of efforts to curb regulation on house builders.
Business Green 10th July 2015 read more »
Housebuilders, planners and green groups have condemned the government for scrapping plans to make all new UK homes carbon neutral.
Guardian 10th July 2015 read more »
Green groups and house building organisations have lambasted the Government’s latest plan to axe ‘zero-carbon’ plans for future UK homes. The Treasury announced today (10 July) it will be scrapping regulations on house building to streamline development, including ending the proposed zero-carbon Allowable Solutions carbon offsetting scheme and the planned 2016 increase in on-site energy efficiency standards.
Edie 10th July 2015 read more »
District Heating Futures
The potential advantages of district heating for the UK, where the technology is expected to meet 20% of the country’s heat demand by 2030. District heating (DH) is currently experiencing a renaissance the UK. Implemented across Europe during the post war period, DH remains popular on the continent in places such as Germany, Scandinavia and much of Eastern Europe. DH in Denmark, for example, currently heats over 60% of homes with that number rising to 95% in Copenhagen. In contrast, the UK, which saw significant growth in DH with the council housing boom in the 1950s – 1970s, fell out of love with DH when the North Sea natural gas network was established in the 1980s. The tide is turning, however and the UK’s energy future with regards to DH looks to be falling in line with the rest of Europe’s. The last government funded, via DECC, over 140 DH feasibility studies to the tune of over £6m. The Government’s Heat Strategy published in 2013 firmly placed DH as the preferable source of heating in urban areas by 2050. Today’s figure of 2% of domestic demand in the UK being fed by DH is predicted to rise to a figure of 20% by 2030. Why is this the case and what are the advantages of district heating?
Renewable Energy Focus 10th July 2015 read more »
Clean energy utility Good Energy is to reveal a new five-year strategic plan at its interim results disclosure in September after a string of recent policy decisions and increased competition in the sector threatened to impact the business. A trading update issued yesterday revealed that Good Energy has continued to post impressive growth in customer numbers, with energy customers up 20% year-on-year to 55,000 and the number of feed-in tariff sites it maintains up 42% to 93,500 in the six-month period ended 30 June. But decisions made by the government to end subsidies for onshore wind a year earlier than planned as well as this week’s move to remove the exemption for renewable energy technologies from the Climate Change Levy are both noted by the firm in its statement.
Solar Portal 10th July 2015 read more »