Archive for UK energy

>> Everything’s Going Green – slowly but surely >>

In terms of renewables, it looks like the UK is surely moving in the right direction. While government policy on renewables hasn’t (so far, at least) been exactly what you’d call ‘radical’, there have been some encouraging signs that the main parties are united in their commitment to getting the country where it needs to be, or to the starting line, at least. The UK electorate (as if anyone needs reminding) even returned a Green member of parliament for one of its constituencies way back last month (how long ago the general election seems now…!)

And while much good work has been done, there are always reminders around us that there is still the majority of the progress yet to be made. So it was with mixed emotions that I read the latest findings by Cambridge Econometrics, who have forecast that renewables will account for seven percent of elecricity sales to final users by the end of 2010.  While this is a move in the right direction, it actually falls pretty far short of the ten percent target. Assuming that certain economic conditions are as expected, the figure is predicted to rise to 11 percent by 2015 – but since the 2015 target is fifteen percent, we will still be wide of the target.

There is always a good news/ bad news element to this type of forecast, and this one’s no exception. The good news? Carbon emissions are predicted to continue fallling. The bad news? They’re going to fall only by a fraction of a single percent, and even only then because of changes to coal-fired power station equipment. The obverse of the good news v. bad news scenario is the bad news v. good news one – and so it has been predicted that the knock-on effects from the economic downturn of 2008 will provide a significant drop in CO2 emissions, rendering the figure lower than initial projections. And the UK will as a result be likely to meet its Kyoto target without much difficulty.

UK Green Energy policy - going in the right direction.

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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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Boiler Scrappage Scheme Closes, Discounts Available Elsewhere

Boiler Scrappage ends, will it return?

Apologies for missing the end date on this, but it appears that the government boiler scrappage scheme has closed after 125,000 vouchers being handed out in three months – good luck to those who managed to get a shiny new, energy efficient boiler! If you missed the scheme do not despair as the energy companies are continuing to offer their own deals, i.e. SSE Home Services gas boiler scrappage scheme, so there are still some savings to be made. Elsewhere in the country, SWALEC in Wales has its own scheme in place from April the 1st and Scotland is set to get its own boiler scrappage scheme, but an exact start date is proving a little elusive.

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3 Pin Lightbulbs, Consumer Concerns

green lighbulbs

Green Lighting?

Normally here at Greener Power we are keen to endorse any new technologies that can improve the energy efficiency of our homes and businesses, but when it comes at the expense of consumers that aren’t given any choice on the matter, we are not so keen to blow our green trumpets. This has definitely been the case with the implementation of the MEM 3 Pin Lightbulbs in new-build UK housing stock.

A quick summation of the background to this issue. In 2006, changes to Part L of the Building Regulations stipulated that most new and refurbished homes in the UK have  to install light-fittings that only accept energy efficient three-pin and four-pin bulbs. This is all well and good, these are much more energy efficient than the ‘traditional’ incandescent bulb types in the old housing stock. Unfortunately, this is where the good points end for this particular bulb.

There are three main problems with these 3 pin bulbs:

1) Unlike the traditional bulb which you could get a 3 for £1 or something, these 3 pin MEM (compact fluorescent lamps ‘CFLs’ or ‘energy-saving’ bulbs) bulbs cost about £10 each. This has led to a number of associations dealing with rightfully irate resident feedback about these unconventional fittings.

2) They and do not provide any additional energy saving benefit to equivalent two-pin low-energy bulbs, which you can get for about £1.

3) Only MEM mannufacture them

There is much more on this important issue which hasn’t got the attention it deserves over at Dan Lockton’s ‘Design with Intent‘ blog. He has covered the entire issue from its inception and has a wide range of information on the subject, including a guide on how to fit a normal bulb into a 3 pin socket! (for the more determined or technically minded).

Hopefully, someone will see sense on this issue eventually and either stump up the cash to pay for these bulbs for redsidents or alter the building regulations to allow other types of bulbs to be used in new housing stock.

This post was prompted by a debate on Radio 4 today (15/03) at lunchtime, hopefully this will be available on the BBC iPlayer soon.

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OFGEM Certified Green Energy Tariffs Unveiled

green energy tariff

OFGEM Green Energy Certificate

The energy regulator OFGEM has revealed the first tariffs that meet its requirements for green certification. These tariffs meet three main criteria laid out by an panel of independent experts:

1.    All the electricity use by customers signed up to the tariff must be matched by Renewable Energy bought or generated by the tariff’s Supplier.
2.    The Supplier must also contribute to a minimum level of additional environmental benefits for each customer
3.    The Supplier must sign up to the Green Energy Supply Certification Scheme and obey its rules on transparency (including reporting all its sources of electricity by type) and submitting its Green Supply Tariffs to an annual independent audit.

Nine tariffs have been given ‘green energy certification’…..

  1. better plan from SSE – Scottish Hydro’s green energy scheme, also available with  SWALEC & Southern Electric
  2. Zero Carbon (to be renamed) and Future Energy from British Gas
  3. Go Green from E.On
  4. Green Tariff from EDF Energy
  5. 100% Green & Gold from Good Energy
  6. Juice and National Trust Green Energy from npower
  7. Simply Green from Scottish Power

A good move from OFGEM which should weed out alot of the ‘greenwash’ tariffs out there…………

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Isle of Lewis Residents to Pay For Wind Farm

isle of lewis wind farms

Wind farms - coming soon the the Isle of Lewis

It was on this exact day 2 years ago that we posted about the blocking of a Wind Farm application on the Isle of Lewis. At the time there were widespread complaints from some island residents and campaign groups that the wind turbines would have a detrimental affect on the tourism and wildlife of Lewis, particularly the bird population (Scotland’s largest). Well, it now seems that the tide has turned completely and the Isle of Lewis scheme has been given the go-ahead as part of the Scottish Governments latest ‘green energy’ plans. However, it seems that the islanders (whether the want to or not) are going to have to pay £18.5m to buy the equiptment to make it happen.

As with all of these major rural developments there are a wide range of viewpoints – is the generation of power from renewable sources more important than preserving the natural beauty of these landscapes?. A very difficult question to answer, and we imagine even more problematic for the Isle of Lewis residents that will have to live with the development every day.

What are your opinons on this wind farm – should it have been given the go-ahead?

For further information on this developing story see:

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Scotland: Beauly to Denny Line Debate Continiues

Controversy surrounding the Beauly to Denny power line replacement linking Nothern and Central Scotland continues to rumble on. Last week the Scottish Government approved the 137 mile line (with 600 overhead pylons). The decision was made despite 18,000 objections. The latest development is that appears that some of the line could go underground after all – if you take Energy Minister Jim Mathers rather Rumsfeld-esque take on the issue:

“We cannot require them to underground. What we can require them to do is to mitigate. That them leaves them the option to mitigate by undergrounding.”

In other words, he can’t force Scottish and Southern Energy (the developers of the line) to go underground but the option is open.

Another intriguing aspect of this project is the fine line being straddled by environmental groups such as Friends of the Earth Scotland, who lent their support to the line on the principal that it’s worth scarifcing the aesthtics of the Scottish landscape in order to  combat future climate change.

Those of you who have an hour and a half of your time to spare can watch Scottish Energy Minister Jim Mather being questioned on the decision.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “BBC News – Beauly to Denny power line…“, posted with vodpod

What are your thoughts on the Beauly-Denny replacement line?

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Copenhagen 2009 – Conference Coverage On The Web

Copenhagen 2009 - 7th - 18th December

The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen is just under three weeks away (Dec 7th to Dec 18th) and the last few days have seen some high stakes political games going on behind the scenes. UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband has described the negiotiations as:

………..the most complex set of international negotiations ever, on any issue

With a conference dealing with such complex issues it can be difficult to track what exactly is going onopinion on what will actually be achieved at the conference seems to be shifting constantly. There are screeds of  Copenhagen coverage around the web – these are what we will be checking in the run up to and during the conference itself.

Official Pages

News Coverage

Newspapers

The Blogosphere

Hopefully there will be a channel that will provide you with the latest news from Copenhagen to meet your requirements. We are aiming to post on all the major developments as they happen.

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Excellent Wind Power Infographic

Im sure that you are all too aware of the feeling you get sometimes: “i wish id thought of doing that!” – well, this sensation washed over me quickly this week when i came across this great illustration from US website Power and Energy.

Essentially, it encapsulates in one tidy design the questions regarding Wind Energy, the generation of which has been risen rapidly in the USA over the past two years. Although the statistics are all related to North America (and New York state in particular), the questions posed still hold relevance worldwide.

With scottish power suppliers and the government in this country pushing Wind Energy as THE answer to our energy needs, perhaps it would help them to consider this graph.

Is wind energy the answer?

Is wind energy the answer?

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SSE Brings 250 Renewable Energy Jobs to Glasgow

Excellent news for Glasgow yesterday that Scottish and Southern Energy had agreed to join with The University of Strathclyde (renowned for wind power research) in Glasgow to create a new Centre of Engineering Excellence for Renewable Energy (CEERE). The new facility will primarily become a new a new research and management centre for wind farm projects.

SSE Manging Director Ian Marchant:

“Our Centre of Excellence which will be known as CEERE will play a crucial part in helping SSE to realise its renewable energy goals in the UK, Ireland and elsewhere in Europe, helping to secure energy supplies and contributing to the development of a lower carbon economy.

“Having considered all of the options in mainland Europe, Ireland and the UK, we have settled on Glasgow as the best location for CEERE, and the city’s own sustainable energy ambitions also make it a very appropriate choice.

“Working with the University of Strathclyde, and with the support of the Scottish Government, we will create and secure several hundred skilled jobs for Scotland.

“Scotland’s ambition to become a leader in renewable energy is well known and we are delighted to be making this investment in Scotland. We’re very positive about the prospects for creating new jobs to harness Europe’s renewable energy resources and the potential make a significant contribution to the achievement of Scotland’s ambitions.”

Strathclyde University Principal (and Professor) Jim McDonald said:

“If we are to address the challenges of climate change, rapid and widespread deployment of renewable energy technologies is critical.

“The new partnership reflects Scotland’s potential to be at the forefront of the UK and European renewable energy sectors, creating new jobs and research and development opportunities.”

The Scottish Government is investing £2.8m into the scheme, First Minister Alex Salmond spoke on the new energy centre yesterday.

Good news for Glasgow and Scotland – this is a considerable commitment to the green economy and hopefully another step on the way for Scotland to become a true renewable energy hub.

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