A major new global report has predicted huge reductions in the cost of electricity generated by renewables over the coming decade, that could see the global average cost of electricity from solar PV and onshore wind fall to roughly 5-6 US cents per kilowatt hour by 2025. The report, published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), forecasts that by 2025, the levellised cost of electricity (LCOE) generated by solar thermal by 43 per cent (depending on the technology used), by 26 per cent for onshore wind and by 35 per cent for onshore wind. In the case of solar PV, IRENA estimates the average LCOE could fall by as much as 59 per cent – mirroring the 58 per cent price drop that occurred between 2010-15, that has already made the technology increasingly competitive at utility scale.
Renew Economy 16th June 2016 read more »
Scottish Energy News 16th June 2016 read more »
Utility Week 15th June 2016 read more »
Business Green 15th June 2016 read more »
Energy Voice 15th June 2016 read more »
Commercial and Industrial Solar
An increasing number of companies in the commercial and industrial (C&I) space are coming round to solar, however their business is placing more demands on installers particularly in the field of customer service. That is the opinion of Chris Morrison, head of power development at Centrica’s British Gas Solar division, who also firmly believes that solar PV can now deliver returns without subsidies for intensive energy users – with the caveat that installations are appropriately sized. Speaking to Solar Power Portal after the company revived the Energise Barnsley project last week, Morrison said British Gas Solar’s strategy had been focused on “direct to customer work” rather than installations plugged into the national grid. This, Morrison said, allowed the company to compete with commercial electricity costs without subsidy support when energy consumption is high and solar can be tailored to meet base load requirements.
Solar Portal 16th June 2016 read more »
Not just any solar…
Marks & Spencer is using crowdfunding to back the installation of solar panels on its stores. The retailer is partnering with Energy4All, a not-for-profit group that helps community groups set up energy co-ops, with the aim of raising £1.23m to put panels on nine large stores including Torbay in Devon, Truro in Cornwall and Cheshunt in Hertfordshire. A new entity, M&S Energy Society, is inviting investments of between £100 and £100,000 to install and own 891kWh-worth of panels for 20 years from which the retailer will buy energy. The group is offering a target interest rate of 5% each year for those who invest. The Energy Society scheme is part of M&S’s plan to source 50% of electricity used in its UK buildings from small-scale renewables by 2020. M&S installed the UK’s largest single array of rooftop solar panels on its distribution centre in Castle Donington in 2014. A number of other retailers have also invested heavily in renewable energy. Sainsbury’s is one of the largest rooftop solar operators in Europe. The supermarket installed more than 170,000 panels above stores and distribution centres as part of a plan to go off-grid eventually. Kingfisher, the owner of B&Q and Screwfix, is putting solar panels on its distribution centres and some stores as part of a £50m investment to cut its reliance on the National Grid. Last year, Ikea, the world’s biggest furniture retailer, pledged to spend £700m on renewables as part of its plan to generate all the energy required by its shops and factories from clean sources by 2020.
Guardian 16th June 2016 read more »
Edie 17th June 2016 read more »
Small Wind Co-op
A new community energy initiative focused on farm-scale wind turbines has been launched by Sharenergy and will combine projects in Scotland and Wales. Small Wind Cooperative is first to combine projects in different countries within the UK and will allow members to use the energy generated in their homes and businesses as part of a deal with energy supplier Co-operative Energy. The project offers people the chance to support three community turbines, one in Wales and two in Scotland, with bonds or shares and a minimum of £100. The bonds offer a return of 4.5 per cent and will be repaid after 6 years and the shares a projected annual average return of 6.5 per cent over 20 years.
Utility Week 16th June 2016 read more »
Business Green 17th June 2016 read more »
Reading Council to set up Local Energy Supplier
Reading Borough Council is in talks about establishing itself as a local energy supplier to help tackle fuel poverty. At a policy committee meeting earlier this week, lead councillor for strategic environment, planning and transport Tony Page was asked whether the council is considering joining other local authorities in a bid to democratise energy supply and reduce bills. Page said: “Reading has been in conversation with a number of other southern local authorities to consider the possibility of working together to establish a joint arrangement to supply energy locally. “A number of local authorities in the UK have taken forward initiatives to supply energy to their residents.” Page added that to become fully licensed to sell power without working with an energy company would be a difficult and expensive process. Nottingham City Council successfully set up Robin Hood Energy last year with a full supply license, but is the only local authority to do this to date. Reading Borough Council was one of the founding councils of APSE Energy, a collaboration of local authorities that seeks to bring about the municipalisation of energy and through this has discussed the possibility of a support relationship with Robin Hood Energy.
Utility Week 15th June 2016 read more »
Isle of Canna renewable grid?
A Hebridean community energy trust has shared in a £1 million hand-out to 20 charities by the Highland Sustainable Development Fund. The Isle of Canna Community Development Trust has been awarded £100,000 towards the installation of a renewable-energy powered grid to serve the current population and local businesses. The island is not connected to the mainland electricity grid and currently relies on environmentally-damaging diesel generation. The island was bequeathed to the National Trust for Scotland by the Gaelic folklorist and scholar John Lorne Campbell in 1981. The Highland Sustainable Development Fund – funded by SSE’s onshore wind farms – is open to all non-profit making organisations, community groups and charities with a project that will provide benefit in the Highland region. It is expected to release over £20 million in awards over the next 25 years. The fund will open again in autumn 2017.
Scottish Energy News 15th June 2016 read more »
Bristol Community Energy Fund
A second round of funding has been launched to allow community groups in Bristol to secure grants for new clean energy projects with the support of the city’s new Mayor. Bristol Community Energy Fund (BCEF) is offering up to £10,000 to individual projects intended to make a positive change in how local energy is generated and used. Through the fund, Bristol City Council is aiming to see the development of local solutions to community-specific energy challenges. While not specifically aimed at community energy projects, one of the objectives of the initiative is to fund projects which support community groups and locals move towards renewable sources of energy. Marvin Rees, the Labour Mayor elected in May, has expressed his support for the BCEF as the city moves towards its ambition of carbon neutrality.
Solar Portal 14th June 2016 read more »
Factory goes solar
GREEN building company CA Group Limited has upgraded its own headquarters to create one of the most energy efficient factories in the North-East. The building, which features a combination of solar technologies and CA Group’s own Twin-Therm roof and wall system, is expected to save as much as 55 per cent on the combined heating and electricity requirements, when compared with its base build performance, the company claimed. The company based at Evenwood, near Bishop Auckland, which specialises in the manufacture and installation of some of the UK’s largest warehouses, has fitted 849 solar panels to the roof of its profiling mill.
Northern Echo 14th June 2016 read more »
The Irish Solar Energy Association (ISEA) has called on the Government to introduce a support mechanism for solar power. Solar power is currently the only renewable energy technology that does not qualify for any form of a subsidy in Ireland. The ISEA said the deployment of solar power in Ireland will see the creation of over 7,300 high-value jobs throughout the country. It also said it will help save the country from EU fines in excess of €300m a year from 2020. An independent KPMG report has estimated that the Irish solar sector can deliver €2 billion in gross value added (GVA) for Ireland and return €800m in tax revenues by 2030.
RTE 14th June 2016 read more »
Scotland’s Urban Hydro
Scotland’s first urban hydro scheme took a major step forward last week with the news preparatory construction work has begun on the site. The Donside Hydro scheme, a community energy project developed by Aberdeen Community Energy (ACE), is being built on the site of a former paper mill on the outskirts of Aberdeen. It will draw water from the River Don to generate clean electricity which will be sold to the national grid.
Business Green 14th June 2016 read more »
Docklands District Heating
A new £1bn development in the London Docklands area will supply low-carbon energy to power 20,000 of the capital’s residents through the adoption of combined heat and power (CHP) technology. Due to begin operating at the 40-acre East London Royal Wharf site in August, the new cost-effective 1MWe CHP unit, operated by Veolia, will reduce NOx emissions to 95/nm3 and carbon emissions by 1,800 tonnes each year – equivalent to removing 1,400 cars from the road. The unit will capture and use heat to ensure that reliable electricity, heating and hot water is delivered locally to a new community in 3,385 modern homes and business.
Edie 13th June 2016 read more »
The SNP and the Solar Trade Association have called for the UK regulator to speed up the approval process for accreditation for feed-in tariffs for larger solar power projects. The move comes after SNP MP Ronnie Cowan revealed that there are just under 2,000 such applications awaiting approval by OFGEM.
Scottish Energy News 13th June 2016 read more »
Community Solar Farming
In Q1 2016, community-based solar farms truly arrived on the scene within the UK, the reasons for which I will touch upon later in this blog. The UK will have more than 150MW of community-based solar farms in operation by the end of the year.
Solar Portal 13th June 2016 read more »
Solar vs Coal
The former colliery town of Stanley in Co Durham has become the first to offer in-home batteries and solar panels for free, in the latest sign of the huge shifts rocking the household energy market. The programme is a joint scheme between the town council and a startup called North Star Solar, and will be offered to all the town’s 35,000 households. It is expected to be followed by others aiming to cut the “big six” energy suppliers out of their traditional market by turning homes into mini power stations. Large utilities such as British Gas and SSE have long dominated the market by operating huge coal- and gas-fired stations whose output they sell to homeowners. Leaps in battery and solar technology, accompanied by huge drops in their production costs, means models such as Stanley’s can now be launched without subsidy for the first time. Solar costs have plunged by 70% in five years, while battery prices have more than halved. North Star’s chief executive, Paul Massara, the former boss of Npower, said the combination of rooftop panels, a lithium battery and energy-efficient LED light bulbs would immediately cut power bills by 20%. The catch is that the council or homeowner must agree to a 23-year contract to allow the company to recoup its initial investment, plus make a return. The electricity rate is fixed annually and rises with inflation.
Sunday Times 12th June 2016 read more »
A huge solar plus storage project is set for the town of Stanley in County Durham, where up to 22,000 homes will have a combination of PV panels, battery storage units and LED lighting installed at no cost to residents. The project will be delivered by North Star Solar after Joan Nicholson, chair of Stanley Town Council, came forward to take up the company’s offer on behalf of local residents. It will see the package of solutions delivered to the benefit of up to 35,000 local residents, with these costs paid pack over a 23 year period through the savings made on energy bills. The project is still at the early stages, with the council preparing to hold a series of community meetings to find out how many of the 22,000 homes being offered the package want it. If all homes in the area are positive about the offer, North Star Solar estimates the project will cost around £140 million to deliver – an average of £6,363 per home.
Solar Portal 15th June 2016 read more »
Storage system manufacturers Sonnen and Leclanché are in early talks to help deliver an “unprecedented” scheme with North Star Solar which will see its batteries rolled out as part of a potentially huge project. It was revealed yesterday that Stanley Town Council in County Durham has committed to a large scale scheme which could see a package of solar panels, battery storage units and LED lighting delivered to up to 22,000 homes. Community meetings are underway to see which of the town’s 35,000 residents want to take up to offer, which will be carried out at no upfront cost to households.
Solar Portal 16th June 2016 read more »
Business Green 16th June 2016 read more »
Amidst all the doom and gloom stories about the terrible impact that the government policies are having on the renewables sector this year, it is worth remembering that Brendon Energy is part of a big energy co-op family. In the UK there are 224 renewable energy co-ops with 16,880 members and an annual turnover of £8.9 million (figures from Cooperatives UK). These figures are dwarfed by the scale of energy co-ops in many other places such as Scandinavia and Germany where the governments are more supportive. They show what can be achieved – perhaps one area where we would benefit from being more European in our outlook?
Brendon Energy 12th June 2016 read more »
Solar to redistribute wealth
“A solar panel”, says Pablo Cotarelo, “is a way to redistribute wealth”. The energy analyst is sitting in the little courtyard of Rosa de Foc, a social centre in Barcelona. Inside, members of the food co-op are collecting their weekly fruit and veg; here in the yard a group of activists from the UK are listening to Cotarelo describe the ‘energy revolution’ planned for the city. They’ve come over on a social movement ‘tour’ with Global Justice Now, a group which campaigns against poverty and injustice and pushes for democratic ownership of resources. “We are trying to establish a kind of co-operative with state ownership – a ‘public citizen’ company. It’s a very new proposal, not tried before in Spain”, explains Cotarelo. The radical plan is made possible by the takeover of City Hall by ‘citizen’s platform’ Barcelona En Comu last year. De-privatising water and energy is high on the agenda.
Bella Caledonia 11th May 2016 read more »
Los Angeles goes for 100% Renewables
Los Angeles City Council is going to consider a motion this month that would direct the municipal utility to determine how to move the city to 100 percent renewable energy. The motion already has broad support from councilmembers, and Los Angeles officials confirmed that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has begun work on the report, which will be developed with research partners, including the Dept. of Energy. The motion from council members Paul Krekorian and Mike Bonin reads: LADWP is on the verge of making significant investments in its infrastructure, and with that 100-year-old power system in need of significant upgrades, the city has an opportunity to re-create its utility in a way that recognizes the potential for a fossil-free future, demonstrates global leadership in its commitment to clean energy, and protects ratepayers from the increasing costs of carbon-based fuels. The importance of the economics here cannot be underestimated. Los Angeles’ $57 million worth of LED lights, for example, will have paid themselves off in less than six years — a staggering return on investment. A report published last fall found that cities could save themselves $17 trillion by pursuing clean energy options such as increased efficiency, “aggressive” solar installations, and better public transportation.
Climate Progress 10th June 2016 read more »
Solar Job Cuts
The solar power industry says it has seen the loss of more than half its 35,000 jobs due to recent changes in government energy policy, just at a time when solar power has eclipsed coal as a major generator of Britain’s electricity. Experts believe ministers had cut subsidies too far and too fast, praising the “seismic”, record-breaking growth of solar in recent years. This month the Solar Cloth Company became the latest to be put into administration, following the liquidation and 170 job losses at Solarlec two weeks ago. The biggest single collapse was late last year when the Mark Group went into administration with almost 1,000 redundancies. The Solar Trade Association (STA), which represents the industry, said it was collecting exact statistics to be published soon but believed up to 18,000 jobs had gone in less than 12 months.
Guardian 10th June 2016 read more »
Liverpool Energy Company
Walton MP and Labour metro mayor hopeful Steve Rotheram says he wants to power homes across Merseyside through tidal energy – if elected to the top job. In his first major policy commitment the MP says he wants to create a new ‘Liverpool City Region Renewable Energy’ company to bring down energy bills. The MP says he believes investing in renewable energy will stimulate economic growth and help hardworking families across the Liverpool City Region save on their household bills. Steve Rotheram said: “This policy will ensure the Liverpool City Region, under my Mayoralty, leads the way in green technology; producing jobs, reducing energy bills and helping Merseyside become one of the greenest regions in the country.
Liverpool Echo 10th June 2016 read more »
Argyll, Scotland-based firm Xanthella Ltd last week announced the start of a GBP-2-million (USD 2.8m/EUR 2.5m) two-year project, called Algal Solutions for Local Energy Economy (ASLEE). The Xanthella-led project has secured GBP 500,000 from the Scottish government’s Local Energy Challenge Fund to fund the first year of feasibility studies. If this is successful, an algal production facility will be built at Ardnamurchan, a remote area of Scotland, which Xanthella says will be the largest in the UK. The project will use surplus green electricity to power photobioreactors that will produce high-value products from algae, including liquid fuels. It will at the same time provide additional local use of electricity with the aim of removing grid constraints on the deployment of renewable capacity. According to the company, the process is ideal for combining with intermittent renewables generation as it can use the energy at times when it is abundant and cheap, and provide a grid balancing service at the same time.
SeeRenewables 13th June 2016 read more »
A pioneering project to establish the UK’s largest micro-algae manufacturing facility in remote Ardnamurchan has received a £500,000 cash boost. The £2million project could see a new industry flourish while also ensuring it is powered by local sources of renewable energy. The Algal Solutions for Local Energy Economy (Aslee) project has been awarded the cash from the Scottish Government’s Local Energy Challenge Fund to fund the first year of feasibility studies. The pilot project will allow the group behind the scheme to research the effects of intermittency of electrical supply on algae production. This fits the wider theme of the project’s funders, to determine new uses for renewable energy in remote areas such as the Ardnamurchan peninsula that are “grid constrained” – where it is difficult to bring in revenue by supplying energy to the grid.
Press and Journal 9th June 2016 read more »