Archive for UK Energy News

Burning Trees to Produce Electric “Worse Than Coal”

In a plan to cut carbon emissions power stations around the UK are being encouraged to burn wood in order to cut carbon omissions.  The UK Government argue that burning “biomass” is a carbon neutral process and will offer subsidies to stations which start using wood to produce power instead of coal.

One of the country’s largest coal fired stations, Drax, is aiming to replace half of its coal energy output and replace with biomass.  Eggborough, in North Yorkshire, plans to replace all its coal with wood burning energy production.

The amount of biomass that has been burned for electricity production has doubled in capacity in the last 12 months to approximately 3 million tons and it is thought that this will increase to near enough ten times that amount by 2017.  This means that most of the wood that will be burned for energy in this country will be imported from abroad; already half of current biomass stocks are imported.

However a report from the RSPB, Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace declares that the amount of carbon that is produced when burning wood is higher than that of coal per unit of electricity.  The reason for this is due to the fact that newly cut wood is wet and bulky which means that carbon has already produced through transportation to the power stations as they source wood from as far away as New Zealand as well as having to dry the wood out.

Also as wood, in weight, is half water so the amount of wood required is far more than you would need to produce the same amount of energy with coal.  Even when the trees are replanted the amount of time it would take to offset the amount of carbon already produced is too great to make a difference.

More information can be found on the RSPB website.

So what do you think about biomass energy production?  Please feel free to leave a comment below.

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Big Energy Week: Which issues smart meter concerns

Consumer group Which? has used Big Energy Week to issue a warning to the Government to halt the installation of Smart Meters across the UK or risk becoming embroiled in an £11bn fiasco.

Big Energy Week sparks debate

The main thrust of their concern is that the efficiency savings which the meters are supposed to engender will not pass sufficient value onto consumers, and enable them to save money on their energy bills.

British Gas has urged the government to continue with the programme, insisting that its customers are happy with the smart meters and are saving cash on their bills.

For more detail on this story see the following websites:

Do you have a smart meter installed?

Is it helping you to save on your energy bills?

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Also worth noting is that, as part of Big Energy Week (a collaboration between the Citizens Advice Bureau, energy companies and other bodies), Which is holding a live Q&A session with energy secretary Chris Huhne at 2.30pm tomorrow (Wednesday 18th January) – go to this webpage to get involved.

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The Green Fleet Hit The Street….

Scottish and Southern Energy, the UK’s largest supplier of green energy have now taken their commitment to a greener UK one step further, by switching to a fleet of just under 400 low emission Mercedes-Benz vans.

For the petrol-heads amongst you the vans are fitted with the 129hp Euro 5 engine and the Mercedes Blue Efficiency pack. Now that’s all well and good but, what does it mean? What does a Blue Efficiency pack get you?

Well, Blue Efficiency gets you:

–  Quite a range of extras all aimed at making your vehicle as efficient and green as possible.

– Eco-Start- Improves economy by automatically turning off the engine when stationary i.e. traffic jams, it then restarts it when you press the clutch.

– Low rolling resistance tyres- The tyres will move easier on the road, thus requiring less fuel to keep the car in motion.

– Significant changes have also been made to the power steering, fuel pump and battery management systems in order to maximise the economy and therefore the savings.

Here at The Greener Power Blog we think it’s fantastic, that during a period when the majority of companies are penny pinching and forgetting any commitments to going green. SSE are still willing to go out and spend a bit more to maintain their standards, the funny thing is that by being forward thinking its SSE who will be making all the savings once the vans are in full flight.

Watch this space because the other big companies wont be far behind once they realise they’ve missed a trick.

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News: More hydro for Scotland – GDF takeover

A couple of quick updates on some interesting energy news:

Scotland yields more hydro power

£100m hydro win for Green Highland Renewables – A good news story from Scotland where a small hydroelectric specialist company Green Highland Renewables (based in Aberfeldy) has won a £100m contract to develop a series of small hydro schemes on Forestry Commission land. The company, backed by Scottish Hydro Electric owners SSE will develop  in excess of 100 hydroelectric dams across the Highlands, many of them in the most remote glens in the region. The programme is set to last for 10 years. Read more on this deal over at recharge news.

GDF Suez takeover International Power – Now for some not so good news for the UK energy sector. The ownership of UK energy is for us and others a rather worrying issue, and with the proposed takeover of International Power by GDF Suez, more UK energy companies are set to fall under foreign ownership. See more from The Herald.

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Learing about energy

One of the best things about the Green Energy topic is that theres always something of interest to read. There is a constant stream of news and opinion out there in the mainstream news and more niche blogs and websites.

For enthusiasts of the subject who may wish to dig a little deeper (we like to count ourselves in here) truly great reading material can be found within the Academic Community: for example this great post by Josh Winn at the University of Lincoln on Oil and the story of energy. There is also a great deal of excellent video content out there, the Open University has a guide to some of the best out there. Of course, we shouldn’t forget about our friends across the pond where a huge academic network exists.

In order to find these sites, simply perform some smart Google searches, ie: “green energy” inurl:.ac.uk” and you should get some interesting results.

Happy learning, and please let us know what your favourite energy learning resource is!

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Boiler Scrappage Scheme – Scotland

The boiler scrappage scheme has finally been given government backing in Scotland, several months after it was introduced in the rest of the country. This was announced by Ministers at the weekend. The scheme is very similar to those that have up and running in both England and Wales.

This is surely good news for those people North of the Border, where the winters tend to bite that little bit harder, and were looking southward rather enviously during this oncoming period of austerity.

In the first wave a sum of £400 will be offered to the first 5000 successful applicants, who have made sure the benefits to the house and the environment of the replacement boiler.

And this is just the perfect time to offer such a scheme, as at the moment, and because of the recent heatwave, not many people are likely to have their central heating running at full steam in the current climate. And it would be best to get ready for the winter before you really need to.

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‘Sustainable Energy – without the hot air’, fantastic free book

Sustainable Energy - without the hot air

This is amongst the best books ive read on the energy sector in a long time – ‘Sustainable Energy – without the hot air‘ by David Mackay (a Professor in the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge). I really can’t do the work justice in a short blog post and i don’t really need to as you can download the entire book in PDF format for yourselves. There is a 10 page synopsis available for anyone who doesn’t fancy downloading 27mb. I would recommend that anyone with an interest in sustainable energy get hold of this text somehow – you can also buy a copy from Amazon for £19.99.

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