Scottish Water goes solar
SCOTTISH Water has unveiled its single biggest ever investment in solar energy projects as it seeks to drive down carbon emissions and costs a sites across Scotland. The utility has pledged to spend £9 million in solar projects at assets around the country over the next three years through its Scottish Water Horizons subsidiary, having appointed four contractors to develop, design and install solar panels at the sites. The work will be carried out by Absolute Solar & Wind, FES, Saliis and Styles & Wood, which emerged after Scottish Water Horizons received 17 bids and 45 expressions of interest during the tender process. The utility produces electricity through 26 hydro turbine sites, 18 wind-powered sites and two biomass plants. It also generates sufficient bio-gas to power 2,000 homes through a Scottish Water Horizons-owned food waste recycling plant near Cumbernauld.
Herald 30th Sept 2016 http://www.heraldscotland.com/business/company_news/14767888.Scottish_Water_sanctions_biggest_ever_solar_project_investment/
Solar Portal 29th Sept 2016 read more »
A report published by the Welsh government last week has raised the possibility of extending permitted development rights (PDR) for solar PV and thermal beyond current limits. The move would echo similar rules enacted by the UK government last year, which raised PDRs for rooftop solar installations from the “outdated” 50kW limit to 1MW. Under the changes explicit planning permission is only needed for rooftop solar installations above 1MW in size, with all installations below that capacity only requiring notification to the local planning authority.
Solar Portal 30th Sept 2016 read more »
Pressure has continued to build on the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Energy (BEIS) to reform the feed-in tariff after government statistics revealed August to be the slowest deployment month yet under the new regime.
Solar Portal 29th Sept 2016 read more »
A new energy storage technology currently under development by Siemens is set to see excess wind energy converted to heat rocks, allowing the energy to be stored using an insulated cover. The system consists of a fan that uses an electrically-heated air flow to heat the stones to high temperatures, with the thermal energy then converted back to electricity when needed using a steam turbine.
Business Green 29th Sept 2016 read more »
Lauren Cook, analyst at Solar Market Research, discusses the nascent Irish solar market and answers some of the industry’s most frequently asked questions regarding opportunities on the Emerald Isle.
Solar Portal 29th Sept 2016 read more »
Community wind fight
In true David and Goliath style, a group of crofters from the Isle of Lewis are taking on the might of the multinationals by using a little known and relatively new piece of crofting law to try to claim back the rights to develop their land. The crofters come from the townships of Melbost & Branahuie and Sandwick North Street, and they have submitted development applications for wind farms on their common grazings — which directly rival plans for the same areas by Lewis Wind Power, the private consortium led by EDF and Amec in partnership with Stornoway Trust. The crofters have submitted their plans under section 5Ob of the Crofting Reform (Scotland) Act 2007 which, crucially, gives the Crofting Commission powers to approve a community’s development plans even when the landowner opposes them.
Hebrides Writer 27th Sept 2016 read more »
When will stationary fuel cells begin to fulfil the enormous potential that this ‘ultra-clean’ technology promises? Progress to date has been no more than steady – the last (November 2015) annual Fuel Cell Industry Review suggested that 50,000 stationary fuel cells, with a total power generating capacity of just over 200 MW, were installed world-wide during 2015 – up from 40,000 units for the previous year. Adoption of the technology was still being held back by costs and its relative novelty; I’ll be interested to see if that increase has been maintained this year. We are certainly seeing some interesting new and larger-scale installations around the world in recent weeks. In the US, FuelCell Energy is building what it calls a utility-scale (3.7 MW) fuel cell power plant at a ‘land-constrained’ industrial site in Danbury, Connecticut. The company says that fuel cells can generate quantities of clean power from much smaller sites than other state-supported renewable technologies, and at much higher availability rates.
Decentralised Energy 27th Sept 2016 read more »
Will-power is the key to generating green power, the leader of Plymouth Labour told conference this week, as he set out his vision for a “greener Britain”. Speaking at a fringe rally in Liverpool, councillor Tudor Evans stressed the importance of both political power and the community in tackling the country’s carbon footprint. He pointed to the city’s award winning Plymouth Energy Community coop as an example of the kind of project that councils up and down the country should be pursuing. But he also issued a stark warning about the impact of Brexit on funding for future schemes – dubbing the potential drop-off in funding as “Fexit”.
Plymouth Herald 27th Sept 2016 read more »
The Solar Trade Association has published its position paper on the interaction between solar and energy storage following a year of analysis and detailed discussions with members. At the same time, the STA is working together with Renewable UK and the Electricity Storage Network to share knowledge on the practicalities and opportunities of building renewable-linked storage projects. Its new paper is published shortly ahead of the Government call for evidence on ‘smart power’ – storage forms an important part of the ‘smart’ tools that offer much greater flexibility to grid managers and which could save consumers up to £8 billion by 2030, according to the National Infrastructure Commission.
Scottish Energy News 28th Sept 2016 read more »
A coalition of industry-leading businesses from the building industry including AkzoNobel, Philips Lighting and Siemens have urged the European Commission (EC) to implement continent-wide action to improve the energy efficiency of Europe’s building stock. A letter addressed to the EC President Jean-Claude Juncker and Vice-President Frans Timmermans by a group of 42 representatives from the European building sector is calling for the European Union (EU) to create a clear 2050 vision which ensures that all buildings have a very high energy performance. The alliance states that a “Nearly Zero Energy” building stock by 2050 would provide an opportunity to create jobs and economic growth in line with climate change commitments set in the Paris Agreement. The letter reads: “It is clear that the Paris commitment cannot be honoured without drastically reducing energy consumption in our buildings; the EU building stock emits over one-third of our CO2 emissions, three-quarters of our buildings are inefficient, and up to four-fifths will still be in use in 2050. We need EU wide action to drive the transformation of our inefficient building stock and make it a resilient component of the energy system of the 21stcentury.”
Edie 27th Sept 2016 read more »
For the past 50 years, the UK government has issued many projections estimating future demand for energy. These have varied greatly, especially regarding the predicted market share of different fuels 15 or 20 years hence. But there is one factor every official projection has always had in common. Without fail, our governments always grossly over-estimate the overall amount of energy that will be consumed. One current example: since 2010, when the Conservative party returned to government, the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station has endlessly been justified by official threats that “without it, the lights will go out.” In practice, demand for electricity has already fallen during this decade alone by 25 terrawatt hours; that is the same realistic output that Hinkley might provide when/if it is finally built. It has not required £24bn to achieve these savings. This spring the trade body Energy UK published an in depth survey of current electricity industry opinion about their likely 2030 marketplace. Practically nobody working in the retail electricity industry is expecting any serious increases in the market’s size. Almost everybody in the supply industry reckons that demand for electricity will continue to decline overall, or at most remain constant.
Business Green 28th Sept 2016 read more »
Local Authority Solar
In my blog in August, I commented on the different options available for local authorities and other public bodies to acquire solar assets. Most of my own work involves consultancy on the usual option, i.e. design, build and operate solar farms on land within the ownership of the council. However, I am intrigued by the different avenues being chosen by local authorities to get a stake in this game. In the last blog I mentioned Forrest Heath District Council and its decision to purchase the 12 MW solar farm at Lakenheath, which had already been developed by Greenheath Energy. Where an authority that wants to develop an asset itself has to undertake considerable work that would normally be outside of its comfort zone (such as grid connections and Power Purchase Agreements), this route simply delivers an asset ready-made. The council paid around £13m for the asset. Local authorities have more than one way of financing such a deal, but interest rates for borrowing from the Public Works Loans Board (PWLB) remain at a historically low level (around 2.5%). There is a good reason for this of course, which is that the PWLB is a facility provided by central government to fund necessary public infrastructure. Local authorities have now realised that cheap capital can effectively be used to generate the income that they so desperately need to keep public services running. Another way to raise the money is via the Municipal Bonds Agency, which has been set up by the Local Government Association to find even less expensive borrowing for local authorities. The agency believes that it can beat the PWLB rates, although bonds offer different conditions and risks. But it is bonds that have hit the news recently with the effective acquisition by three local authorities (Warrington MBC, Thurrock Council and Newham London Borough Council) of the huge 60 MW solar farm developed in Swindon at Wroughton airfield. The site was developed by British Solar Renewables in conjunction with Public Power Solutions and then acquired by Rockfire Capital. It has offered the site via a cleantech bond and the three local authorities have invested in that way. Again, they have been relieved of the pressure to develop assets directly and simply acquired a de-risked project.
Solar Portal 27th Sept 2016 read more »
Investment specialist Downing has launched its latest crowd bond seeking to raise £2.7 million for the refinancing of a residential solar portfolio in Colchester.
Solar Power Portal 27th Sept 2016 read more »
Barry Gardiner: The next Labour government will launch a new programme called ‘Repowering Britain’ that puts you in control. It will build on the innovation and leadership of 70 Labour Councils who have already committed to run their towns on 100 per cent clean energy by 2050. We need to localise the way energy is produced and stored. I want people earning from the energy they produce on their rooftop solar or their community wind turbines, not just consuming what the Big Six sell. We need to create smart networks and local grids to make energy work to pay people rather than people working to pay their energy bills. How can it be right that when the Government found out that we were being overcharged by £1.4billion a year on our energy bills they said, ‘it’s all the customers fault – we should shop around more’. Well we do. We need to shop around for a new government. A new Labour government will legislate to force the energy companies to put you on their cheapest tariff and to tell you if you can get a better deal elsewhere. More people die from cold each winter here in the UK than in Finland. We have four million people in fuel poverty and yet heat is escaping through draughty walls and windows. We will train a skilled workforce to retrofit insulation in Britain’s older housing stock to help vulnerable people keep warm and safe and free from fuel poverty.
Labour Party Press Release 26th Sept 2016 read more »
Solar Power Portal 26th Sept 2016 read more »
Today a new report released calculates that 44% of UK electricity could be produced, with the right investment, by 2050 by ‘energy citizens’. Many more households, organisations and small enterprises could produce their own energy, supply demand-side flexibility or store energy in times of oversupply. Today’s report examines the extent of this potential, and provides insight into the role of ‘energy citizens’: anyone who moves from consuming, to producing, energy. This isn’t limited to individuals, but can include farmers, community groups, small business, and co-operatives. The report estimates that by 2030 15% of the UK population could be involved as ‘energy citizens’, rising to 35% in 2050 (producing 19% and 44% of our electricity respectively).
Blue and Green Tomorrow 26th Sept 2016 read more »
Hundreds of British industrial sites face being burdened with higher energy costs, in a proposed shake-up of the rules governing small power plants. Some 375 industrial sites around the country that have installed small “combined heat and power” (CHP) plants could take a combined hit of £160m a year under plans being considered by energy regulator Ofgem, according to new analysis. These sites currently benefit from lucrative payments worth an estimated £80m a year for exporting their surplus electricity to the local power distribution network when UK supplies are scarce. They are also currently exempt from paying charges faced by bigger power plants to help fund maintenance and upgrades to the UK’s high-voltage electricity transmission network. These cost reductions are worth an extra £80m a year, according to analysis by the Association for Decentralised Energy, which represents small power plant owners. But Ofgem has said it believes that these so-called “embedded benefits” that small power plants such as CHP and diesel generators enjoy may be “distorting energy markets”. In a consultation that closed on Friday, the regulator considered scrapping the payments the plants receive. It has also indicated it may make further changes, which could include making them pay network charges.
Telegraph 24th Sept 2016 read more »
A passive house is designed to be extremely energy-efficient so that it doesn’t take a lot of power to heat or cool. To be designated as a passive house, a building must embody a set of specific best practices that seal it from outside temperatures while maintaining a stable inside temperature and high air quality.
Tree Hugger 23rd Sept 2016 read more »
The 2016 UK Passivhaus Conference and Expo will be held on Tuesday 25 October 2016 at the Business Design Centre, London N1 0QH The Conference will focus on successful delivery of Passivhaus at scale, including case studies of leading Passivhaus projects from the UK and Europe. These case studies will be followed by detailed seminars and masterclasses in the afternoon, exploring lessons about how to successfully deliver Passivhaus projects, from early design decisions through to construction, handover and occupation. 10% early bird discount ends on September 25th.
UK Passivhaus Conference (accessed) 24th Sept 2016 read more »