With the launch of an environment and energy manifesto this week, Jeremy Corbyn may have signalled a renewed focus from Labour on energy policy. In the same week that saw Barry Gardner launch a campaign against rising business rates on solar installations, could it be that Corbyn’s Labour is about to bring green energy policy to the fore?
Solar Portal 9th Sept 2016 read more »
The number of new community companies setting up to deliver renewable energy projects has dropped by more than 80% following cuts in government support, according to new findings from Co-operatives UK. The industry body claims that just ten new community energy organisations have been registered between the start of the year and 6 September, compared to 76 green energy start-ups launched in the same period in 2015. The severe reduction follows a series of policy changes to have hit the community energy sector, with cuts to tax reliefs and feed-in tariff rates enacted in November 2015 and January 2016 respectively leading to new projects being described as “not financially viable”.
Solar Portal 8th Sept 2016 read more »
Policy Exchange’s Richard Howard argues it is time to fire up a more cost effective green heat strategy. Heat is a critical and substantial part of our energy system. Overall, a total of £32 billion is spent each year heating homes and other buildings in the UK. Heat represents just under half of the energy we use and one-third of total greenhouse gas emissions in the UK. Yet despite its significance, heat has been largely overlooked in energy policy debates for years – the so-called “Cinderella” of energy policy. The decarbonisation of heat is absolutely fundamental to the achievement of wider decarbonisation goals – such as the carbon budgets which have been set to 2032. Policy Exchange has published a major new report looking at how to decarbonise domestic heating. The report provides a critique of the previous government’s heat strategy (which was developed by the then Department of Energy and Climate Change in 2012 and 2013). Our assessment is that the strategy, which largely focuses on shifting homes to electric heat pumps, looks extremely expensive and difficult to achieve in practice. Heat pumps represent a very small proportion of the domestic heating market at present, despite the generous subsidies available under the Renewable Heat Incentive. They face a number of consumer challenges, such as a high up-front cost (£8,500-£13,000), high running costs (due to the increasing gap between electricity and gas prices), low consumer awareness/acceptance, and in the case of some existing installations, poor performance.
Business Green 9th Sept 2016 read more »
The Government’s strategy for making UK heating supplies green would cost £12,000 for every household and be a “colossal waste of money”, a leading think tank has warned. Policy Exchange said plans drawn up under the Coalition government for “heat pump” technology to be installed in more than 80pc of UK homes by 2050 would be “very costly and challenging” and called for a rethink by the new Business and Energy Department. Currently, more than 80pc of UK homes use gas boilers for heating, contributing significantly to UK carbon emissions. To hit the climate change targets, heating will largely need to be decarbonised. The Government’s most recent strategy envisages widespread use of heat pumps, a technology that uses a reverse refrigeration process to draw heat from the air, the ground or a water source and increase the temperature. Heat pumps require electricity to power the process and involve significant upheaval for the installation of the equipment in every home. Policy Exchange estimates that the total cost of the plan to fit heat pumps in most homes could reach £300bn . A government spokesman said: “Government has no intention of forcing households into making expensive changes to their heating and has not set a target for electric heat pumps. So we do not recognise the numbers produced.”
Telegraph 8th Sept 2016 read more »
Jeremy Corbyn has vowed to use new laws and the public purse to promote the creation of more than 200 local energy companies. He pledged to create 1,000 community energy co-operatives and give them the legal right to directly sell energy to the people they serve. Outlining his new ‘energy and environment manifesto’ in the Guardian, he slammed Britain’s energy market as not just “expensive, inefficient and polluting” but “above all, undemocratic”. He said the new package of policies would “pioneer a democratic, community-led system of energy supply”. If voted into office, the Labour leader promised to build 1 million carbon neutral homes, half of them council houses. A national home insulation programme would be created to bring four million homes up to the energy efficiency standards B or C, and all rented housing would be forced to meet the same standards. Vulnerable customers would be given help paying their bills.
Utility Week 8th Sept 2016 read more »
Jeremy Corbyn has announced a bold new set of policies which will pioneer a democratic, community-led system of energy supply. Over the course of the next parliament, we will use public investment and legislation to promote the creation of over 200 local energy companies, giving towns, cities and localities the powers they need to drive a clean, locally accountable energy system with public, not-for-profit companies. At the heart of this policy will be a new generation of community energy co-operatives. We will create 1,000 of these co-operatives with the support of a network of regional development banks, and legislate to give them the right to sell energy directly to the communities they serve. At the same time as building a new publicly run, locally accountable energy system, we will invest in the high quality homes and insulation needed to make Britain environmentally sustainable. We will create a National Home Insulation programme to insulate at least 4m homes to energy efficiency standard B or C. In the private rented sector, we will set compulsory standards at the same level and end the misery of cold rented accommodation. This would save millions of people money on their bills as well as saving energy that is currently wasted on poorly insulated homes. Scotland is already on course to generate 100% of its electricity from renewables, and Britain has an ample supply of wind and water. In government, I will commit to generating 65% of Britain’s electricity from these sources by 2030. All of these measures will create secure, skilled employment for hundreds of thousands of people. As part of our transition to a low-carbon economy, we estimate that we will create 316,000 jobs in wind, solar and wave power. We will use a £500bn national investment programme, with a National Investment Bank and a network of regional development banks, to ensure that these jobs and opportunities are created in places where they are most needed – in coastal towns and areas with high unemployment.
Guardian 7th Sept 2016 read more »
Of all the options consumers seeking to reduce their energy bills have, making energy-saving home improvements – such as installing a new boiler – can have the largest and longest term impact. But as hundreds of online reviews show, the big energy services companies continue to rip home-owners off, with homeowners often finding themselves paying a significant premium if they want a ‘big company service’. We are launching HomeTree (www.hometree.co.uk), a ground-breaking residential energy service platform, to alleviate the hassle too often associated with purchasing boilers and other energy saving home improvement categories once and for all. Boilers account for about 55% of what consumers spend in a year on energy bills, so an efficient boiler makes a big difference. We want customers to finally take back their power over their utility bills and that’s why we strive to help consumers understand what type of system is right for their home in the most hassle free-way possible, and ensure that the price offered is great value.
Scottish Energy News 8th Sept 2016 read more »
Europe has met a landmark goal of slashing its energy consumption six years ahead of time, cutting greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to switching off about 400 power stations. In 2014, the EU’s 28 member countries consumed 72m tonnes of oil equivalent less than had been projected for 2020, according to a report by the EU’s science arm, the Joint Research Centre (JRC). The figure matches Finland’s annual energy use. Environmental campaigners described the achievement as “remarkable”. and “incredible” but the European commission was restrained. “Final energy consumption is currently below the 2020 target,” a spokeswoman for the commission said. “The EU-28 are also on a good pathway to achieving the primary energy consumption target for 2020 if current efforts are maintained.”
Guardian 7th Sept 2016 read more »
Renewable energy purchaser and supplier Smartest Energy urged National Grid to provide far more certainty on future frequency response capacity in order to best drive the expansion of the still fledgling energy storage sector. In a bid to explore the barriers to commercialisation facing energy storage firms, SmartestEnergy consulted 45 battery storage firms in the lead up to the auction. Encouragingly, almost nine out of 10 said they had high levels of confidence their battery projects were viable and said they see storage playing an important role in contributing to a secure electricity future. However, the responses also revealed significant uncertainty around how firms will be able to monetise their projects given the limited revenue streams currently available. In particular, four key challenges were revealed by the report.
Business Green 7th Sept 2016 read more »
Transitional Tax relief
The Treasury is to launch a consultation setting out proposals for transitional relief measures for companies affected by upcoming changes to business tax rates on solar installations, Solar Power Portal has learned.
Solar Portal 7th Sept 2016 read more »
The solar industry was singled out for cuts in subsidy support by the UK government, new Scottish energy minister Paul Wheelhouse MSP told a conference in Edinburgh on Tuesday. Support at all scales has dwindled and deployment statistics show that residential installs have fallen below expectations with government caps unfulfilled. The slowdown was estimated to have cost 12,500 jobs, according to a PwC report commissioned by the Solar Trade Association. Wheelhouse acknowledged the difficulties facing the Scottish solar sector but was quick to stress they were not the result of his nor his predecessor’s doing.
Solar Portal 6th Sept 2016 read more »
Commitments to new climate change and energy efficiency measures have been welcomed by campaigners.WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “Commitments to new climate change and warm homes legislation will provide opportunities to bring forward new policies that will put us on track for securing the full benefits of a zero-carbon future.”Money for energy efficiency in the First Minister’s post-EU referendum stimulus package is a welcome recognition that tackling cold homes can create jobs, boost the economy and cut our climate emissions.” Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said the Government was right to prioritise a new climate bill and called for it to “set new targets f or 2020 and beyond, and pave the way for every sector of the economy to deliver carbon savings”. Alan Ferguson, chair of the Existing Homes Alliance, said: “It’s great news the government has decided to make tackling fuel poverty and driving up the energy performance of our homes a priority in the programme for government.
Herald 6th Sept 2016 read more »
Lang Banks: A commitment to ensure everyone in Scotland lives in a warm home and action to address fuel poverty should be priorities for the Scottish Government, campaigners said today. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will outline her Programme for Government for the upcoming term in Holyrood this afternoon and WWF Scotland has highlighted key areas expected to feature in the Programme that could create jobs, boost the economy as well as tackle climate change. Promised in the SNP’s manifesto, a Warm Homes Bill is needed to support the rapid growth of district heating and renewable heat in Scotland. With approximately 50 per cent of Scotland’s emissions coming from heating, WWF Scotland said this would bring clean and green warmth to thousands of homes and create new industrial jobs. Also with fuel poverty deadlines approaching and households wasting cash and carbon heating leaky homes, the charity argued that increased investment in energy efficiency is needed. A goal must be set to ensure no-one in Scotland is living in a cold & draughty home- meeting this would create 8-9,000 jobs spread across the country, with most of those in small and medium-sized businesses, it said.
Scottish Housing News 6th Sept 2016 read more »
Solar Schools Tax
Many state schools with solar panels are set to be hit with a tax hike, according to government plans, but private schools, free schools and academies will not be affected due to their charitable status. Campaigners say the move will end the installation of solar energy for most schools. The government proposes to end an exemption for small solar panel installations (less than 50 kilowatts) and charge business rates on them from April 2017. The charity 10:10 has calculated this will cost schools more than £820 a year for the average 10kW installation and, combined with recent cuts to the subsidy paid for rooftop solar energy, make future projects risky or uneconomic. As recently as September 2015, schools could expect to pay back the costs of installation in five to eight years, but the new regime would mean payback times of at least 12 years and perhaps never, 10:10 says.
Guardian 6th Sept 2016 read more »
Labour has stepped up its pressure on the government over proposed increases in business rates taxation on solar installations and launched a campaign against the plans. Returning to parliament this week following the summer recess, Labour shadow energy secretary Barry Gardiner has rallied other MPs to campaign alongside businesses and industry bodies against increases on rateable value attributed to solar.
Solar Portal 6th Sept 2016 read more »
Business Green 6th Sept 2016 read more »
Labour MP Steve McCabe calls on government to publish the Bonfield Review – originally due in April – as soon as possible. The government is coming under renewed pressure to publish its review into domestic energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, which was launched last year in response to the controversial shake-up of green building policies. Chaired by Peter Bonfield, chief executive of the BRE Group, the Bonfield Review was due to be published in April, but was delayed by local elections and the EU referendum campaign. Writing exclusively for BusinessGreen today, Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak Steve McCabe said the government’s delay in publishing the review “adds to a sense of disillusionment with energy policy and the feeling that, as far as Theresa May’s administration is concerned, ‘home energy policy’ and ‘carbon emissions’ have failed to make it onto the government’s list of priorities”. The UK Green Building Council is calling on the government to make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority, which would come under the remit of the National Infrastructrue Commission, set up by former chancellor George Osborne last year with the aim of “shaking Britain out of its infrastructure inertia”.
Business Green 5th Sept 2016 read more »
Business Green 5th Sept 2016 read more »
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has labelled cuts to the small-scale feed-in tariff “nonsensical” during a speech launching a pledge to invest £300 million in low-carbon technology. Corbyn, who is strong favourite to resist a leadership challenge from Owen Smith, this morning pledged to establish a £300 million Advanced Research Agency to help conduct cutting edge research in renewable energy technology, should he win any future general election.
Solar Portal 5th Sept 2016 read more »
The main part of a new community hydro power scheme in Aberdeen has been lowered into place. It is hoped the Donside Hydro project – aimed at powering about 130 homes on the site of the former Donside paper mill, as well as selling energy to the National Grid – will be generating electricity later this month. Aberdeen Community Energy (ACE) is behind the project. The hydro power scheme will harness energy from the River Don.
BBC 5th Sept 2016 read more »
Behind-the-meter energy storage will overtake grid-scale storage as the largest market segment in 2021 as the result of a surge in storage capacity. Currently utility-scale storage developments make up 84 per cent of total installed capacity, but by 2024 behind-the-meter storage will account for two-thirds of capacity according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). A new forecast report by BNEF revealed that by 2024 capacity will reach 45GW, 16 times the current amount, following investment totalling £33 billion ($44 billion). This compares to £2.9 trillion in power generation capacity. This will be the equivalent to less than 2.5 percent of the total installed capacity of intermittent renewables.
Utility Week 2nd Sept 2016 read more »
Solar price cut
The installed price of solar energy has declined significantly in recent years as policy and market forces have driven more and more solar installations. Now, the latest data show that the continued decrease in solar prices is unlikely to slow down anytime soon, with total installed prices dropping by 5 percent for rooftop residential systems, and 12 percent for larger utility-scale solar farms. With solar already achieving record-low prices, the cost decline observed in 2015 indicates that the coming years will likely see utility-scale solar become cost competitive with conventional forms of electricity generation.
Scientific American 27th Aug 2016 read more »