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UN-climate-changeRenewableUK says comments by Prince Charles to be aired at tomorrow’s UN Climate Summit in New York, following massive turnouts at this weekend’s People’s Climate Marches in cities around the world, demonstrate comprehensive global support for renewable energy.

In a video to be shown at the UN summit on Tuesday, Prince Charles will call for a “vast scaling up” of renewable energy because “the battle against climate change is surely the most defining and pivotal challenge of our times”.

Tellingly, the Prince of Wales will warn specifically that “we cannot meet the climate change challenge unless business and government actively work together. More and more businesses are supporting the transformative goal of reaching net zero greenhouse gas emissions well before the end of the century. Taking action on climate change is neither inherently bad for business nor against economic interests – in fact it is the only rational choice”.

About 40,000 people took part in the People’s Climate March in London, including many holding placards calling for “100% clean energy”. Clean electricity generated by onshore and offshore wind in the UK currently offsets more than eleven and a half million tonnes of carbon emissions every year. In New York, turnout for the march exceeded 300,000.

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery, said “People power is creating an unstoppable momentum for us to accelerate the transition from fossil fuels to renewables.  The massive level of support at the People’s Climate Marches proves this.

“Politicians in Westminster would do well to take notice with just eight months to go before the next General Election. Anti-renewable energy policies are way out of step with public opinion.

“This is a message which has royal endorsement too. Prince Charles’s comments to the UN Climate Summit amount to a trenchant riposte to those who are still trying to spin yarns about the cost of supporting clean energy, as the business case for renewables is proven.  

“Prince Charles gets it. The people get it. When will all of our elected representatives at Westminster start to get it too?”

“Wind is making a substantial contribution to the UK’s energy mix, providing more than half of our renewable generation, leading to a corresponding drop in the use of coal and gas. The UK’s carbon dioxide emissions fell between 2012 and 2013 – and the key factor driving the change was the switch away from fossil fuels”.

Notes-

  1. RenewableUK is the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. Formed in 1978, and with more than 575 corporate members, RenewableUK is the leading renewable energy trade association in the UK.
  2. Details on the UN Climate Summit 2014 can be found here: http://www.un.org/climatechange/summit/
  3. Generation statistics from the annual Digest of UK Energy Statistics published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change:  https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/342760/Press_Notice_2014_v2.pdf

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wind3Good news – Infinergy’s 7-turbine New Albion Wind Farm between Kettering and Corby will now be taken forward by infrastructure investor John Laing, who will construct and operate the wind farm as 100% owners, taking over all responsibilities and commitments associated with the project. Finance for the project is currently being arranged and financial close is expected to be achieved later this year. Apart from that, selection of the turbine model to be used for the site is in full swing. Infinergy will stay involved in order to arrange for the discharge of all planning conditions and other requirements. Until a full handover with John Laing has taken place, Infinergy will remain the first point of contact for any third parties. We are delighted that this important project is finally going ahead and are looking forward to see the project fully operational by spring 2016.

416138_347722131972086_1739595764_oThe government is wrong to prop up an outdated model of large, centralised power stations and should be supporting smarter technologies that hold the key to a cheaper, cleaner, and more and secure electricity system that works better for consumers, think tank IPPR will say today.

Technologies such as solar power, wind turbines, smart thermostats, and batteries would lead to lower bills and a more efficient energy system, while ensuring more of the government subsidies offered for low carbon generation end up with communities rather than in the hands of big, foreign-owned utilities, IPPR argues in the new report.

The report argues current government policies are tilted in favour of large-scale low carbon generation technologies, such as nuclear reactors and offshore wind projects, which merely bolster the declining large scale utility business model. Instead, ministers should begin work on a large-scale roll out of solar power, accelerate the development of a nationwide smart grid, and restricting the Big Six’s ability to trade electricity between their generation and retail arms, IPPR claims.

The report will make concerning reading for large utilities, which have experienced plunging profits and credit downgrades that have wiped 50 per cent off the value of Europe’s top 20 utilities over the last six years.

Solar power in particular is driving drastic changes in the European energy market as rapidly falling technology costs allow solar electricity to compete on price in a growing number of markets. Analysis from Citibank said solar in the UK should be cost-comparative with grid electricity by the end of the decade. Meanwhile, the cost of onshore wind power is also dropping, approaching the average wholesale electricity price in Italy, Spain, China and the UK, while already proving competitive with fossil fuel generation in Brazil.

These technologies have no marginal cost so will be prioritised by grids when there is demand for power ahead of coal and gas fired power plants where generators have to pay for fuel, the report explains. And the market for utilities is expected to be further eroded by smart technologies that adjust and reduce demand for electricity, which could ultimately smooth out peaks in demand utilities have traditionally relied on to make money. IPPR says that in the US technologies such as smart meters, thermostats, appliances and lights have been shown to be capable of delivering a 90 per cent reduction in the peak time electricity price.

All this spells bad news for utilities and it has not gone unnoticed. Earlier this year, Barclays downgraded its credit rating for the entire US electric utility sector on the basis of its predictions for falling solar and battery costs, while Citibank has forecast distributed electricity generation will halve the size of the market open to utilities over the next two decades, which could see the utility business model “crumble”. Ex-npower bossVolker Beckers told BusinessGreen last month that the centralised model has “reached its natural end“.

As well as pressure from new technology and independent suppliers, utilities are also facing increasing competition from community energy projects. “Communities and consumers are fed up with the old energy model and can now get directly involved”, Philip Wolfe, a director of Community Energy England told BusinessGreen in an email. “Social enterprises are springing up all over the country with renewable and energy saving projects owned and controlled by local communities.”

However, IPPR contends the UK government has failed to recognise the prevailing direction of travel in the energy market globally and has instead introduced a package of measures to prioritise utility-scale generation through its Electricity Market Reforms. These include contracts guaranteeing electricity prices for new nuclear reactors, offshore wind farms, and other large low carbon power plants, as well as a mechanism to pay generators to provide back-up power so the UK’s lights stay on as it switches off aging power plants.

Nuclear plants and offshore wind farms do not currently have to compete for subsidies under these contracts, unlike onshore wind and solar, and have an allocation of funds that dwarfs that set aside for the feed-in tariff scheme that supports small-scale projects. Meanwhile, IPPR says the complexity of the contracts are better suited to utilities, many of which are headquartered overseas and therefore effectively repatriating UK billpayers’ money.

The report says this policy framework is “unnecessarily costly, limits competition, and risks undermining decarbonisation objectives”, and argues that now the positive impact of distributed energy technologies is increasingly clear the government should adapt its supposedly ‘technology neutral’ approach to ensure they play a more central role in the future.

“Distributed electricity technologies such as solar power, batteries and smart thermostats, give reason for great optimism but they are being held back by a bias in both policy making and regulation which favours the large-scale utility business model,” said Will Straw, associate director of the IPPR. “A fundamental change in direction is required so that the innovative businesses and entrepreneurs developing these new technological solutions have a level playing field with the incumbent utilities. It is time to break with the past and embrace the brighter new future that these technologies offer.”

This would mean a large-scale deployment of solar power, scrapping the capacity market in favour of a new approach focused more on delivering energy security rather than simply adding generation capacity, and a review of network regulations to accelerate the development of the smart grid. The report also recommends reforming the electricity markets to allow greater competition for the Big Six, which could include restricting self-supplying between their generation and retail arms and introducing a new ‘pool’ system for wholesale energy trading.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) was still formulating its response at time of going to press, but it seems unlikely that having spent years forcing through its Electricity Market Reform programme it will suddenly tear up the guinding principles that shaped the programme. Moreover, such as drastic shift in policy would have a huge short to medium term impact clean energy investment, particularly given repeated warnings that policy uncertainty is undermining green investment.

However, the manner in which falling renewable energy and battery costs is continuing to strengthen the already compelling case for distributed energy could yet cause major disruption to the UK government’s plans through market forces alone. As IPPR’s report makes plain, there is good reason why so many senior executives within the European energy sector fear that the utility model is on its way out.

intro to climate change campaigningPassionate about people and our planet? Want to help make a difference? Here in Coventry and Warwickshire Friends of the Earth are looking for people who want to raise awareness of climate change locally and make change happen in their town.

And to get you started, they’re running a half-day introduction to climate change, campaigns like Run On Sun and the skills you need to start campaigning with Friends of the Earth.

To book – just RSVP to their Facebook event or e-mail tim.atkinson@foe.co.uk

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September 12, 2014

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offshore-turbinesThe offshore wind capacity in the UK could hit 11GW by the end of the decade, according to a new report.

That’s an increase from around 0.3GW in 2006 and 3.7GW in 2013, analysts at GlobalData said. Investment is also expected to jump from $3.3 billion (£2bn) last year to $7.53 billion (£4.6bn) by the end of the decade.

The rise is supported by the nation’s “aggressive” renewable targets, policy backing and a shift towards a greener climate, the report added.

Swati Singh, GlobalData’s Analyst covering Power said: “The UK’s growing concerns over climate change and the security of its energy system will provide sufficient impetus for the country’s offshore wind industry to continue its growth trajectory.”

The UK Government has set a target of generating 15% of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

Siemens is said to dominate the global offshore wind turbine market, accounting for more than 56% of the world’s installed capacity last year.

Source – Energy Live News

Household Energy Bill

September 6, 2014

home energy costs

Here is a breakdown from DECC on our bills which is quite interesting – large-scale renewables comprise 2% and FiTs are 0.6% of the average annual bill, so not such a big deal after all! Supporting cleaner energy amounts to 4% only!!!