May 23, 2012 at 10:37 am
The energy and climate chief in the UK, Edward Davey, has stated that the UK would prefer that Europe puts more focus on reducing carbon emissions rather than on repeating the same green targets when the current targets come to an end at the end of the decade.
Speaking to an energy summit on May 14, he confirmed that Britain thinks that “carbon emissions should be the key target”.
The EU has a current goal of increasing the percentage of green energy used across the continent to 20%. Asked whether the UK would support further similar targets after this, Mr Davey said that we need to think carefully about what we are trying to achieve with further targets.
However, he confirmed that it was still a suitable target for 2020, and that the government should meet it by increasing investment in renewable energy and focusing on techniques such as carbon capture and storage technology (CCS).
Indeed, the UK has set its own target of increasing the amount of energy produced by renewables to 34% by 2020 as compared to 1990 levels. By 2050 it wants to increase this figure to 80% or more.
This issue is set to receive more attention as we approach the 2020 targets and we will find out which countries in Europe are going to hit or miss the 20% target. There are strong views on both sides of the argument with an issue of such importance so you are certain to hear a lot more about this issue over the coming years.
May 3, 2012 at 10:30 am
With preserving the environment high on the global political agenda, it comes as no surprise that the renewable energy business seems to be booming worldwide. The most recent country to support the cause is Japan, who announced last Wednesday (25th April) that they would be introducing feed-in tariffs (FIT) for renewable energy from July 2012. The predicted outcome is said by energy finance experts to be extremely positive.
After the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan has turned to renewable energy as an alternative to nuclear power. The public response to this is predicted to be positive with the proposed FIT rates bringing equity returns of as high as 44% for solar power projects. An estimate by Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that over 10GW will be produced by solar installations by 2014, which will make Japan the third largest solar market in the world.
This comes at a time of global solar power boom, the UK being no exception to this. A study in February 2012 showed that over the 22 months that the UK had had FITs in place, the UK had surpassed the 1000MW mark. This breakthrough was made even more resonant by the announcement that between 2009/10 and 2010/11, the renewable market had increased its value by 11%, outstripping economic growth eightfold. Additionally, new research published last month (April) by Renewable Energy Association and Innovas revealed that the renewable industry currently supports 110,000 jobs in the UK. With the rate of growth as it is, it seems that the industry could be supporting around 400,000 jobs by 2020 – positive news for the labour market.
This really shows a positive outlook in a time of such economic crisis. Where industries seem to be falling at every hurdle, it is a morale booster to see such growth in one area of the economy. The question remains, however, as to whether the boom will help to drive governments to adopt a multi-faceted approach to the current crisis, using what REA is calling the “single most important economic opportunity of this generation.”
April 26, 2012 at 4:11 pm
As the UK government makes plans to hit its green energy targets set by the European Union, one idea which looks likely to go ahead is harvesting the geothermal energy stored by Iceland’s volcanoes.
The Guardian recently reported that the energy minister, Charles Hendry, is planning to visit Iceland in May 2012 to discuss the plan, which he has already claimed is very popular with the Icelandic government.
The Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajoekull caused travel chaos across Europe in 2010 when its ash cloud grounded flights for a week, so now it could be payback time for the UK.
The talks in May will focus on connecting the UK to the abundant green energy sources underneath the ground in Iceland, and although the idea sounds very ambitious it could well come to fruition.
If it did go ahead then it would involve the laying of thousands of miles of cable along the ocean floor. The cable would stretch from between 1,000 to 1,500 kilometres, which would make it the longest such cable in the world.
It is all part of a plan to link the UK to the European grid over the next decade. This will mean that the UK can sell its wind power to Europe at times of peak demand, and then purchase green energy produced in other countries when it needs to.
Currently there are two cables connecting the UK to Europe, but nine more are either in the planning or construction stage. These should all lead to increased energy security for the UK.
March 9, 2012 at 4:13 pm
If you have yet to be convinced by the new craze for electric vehicles then you might want to take a trip to Glasgow where a new energy centre has just been opened in the city centre which is providing rentals, free parking and free electric car charging.
In what is claimed to be the first place in the UK to provide free charging for electric vehicles, curious visitors can now visit the new permanent exhibition centre to find out everything they ever wanted to know about electric cars and other forms of renewable energy technology.
Many people are still wary about the benefits of electric vehicles, and the centre was established by energy firm SSE in a bid to combat some of the prevalent myths about electric vehicles and to highlight the fact that they are a very convenient way to get around the city, and are actually fun to use.
Visitors can get a hands-on experience, and people arriving in Glasgow on the train will find the centre conveniently located nearby should they wish to try out an electric car for the day to get around the city.
There is also a free parking facility for anyone who owns an electric vehicle and needs a place to park it, and visitors can also rent electric scooters should they prefer to get around in this way.
The exhibition centre is located in Waterloo Street, and has been named ‘Power of Now’. It is set to demonstrate the potential of renewable energy in Scotland, and the chief executive of SSE, Ian Marchant, said that the investment “will bring environmental, economic and social benefits for generations to come”.
February 22, 2012 at 4:09 pm
As renewable energy technologies are finally becoming cost effective, not to mention cleaner than the traditional counterparts, solar powered buildings have been popping up everywhere across the country.
Kingsmoore Lower School in Bedfordshire has become the first educational facility in the area to embrace renewable energy sources by installing high-performance solar panels on its roofs. The reasoning behind investing in solar energy is not only to generate considerable financial savings, nor to cut up to 172 tonnes in CO2 emissions, but also to make the school’s energy supply completely self-sustainable.
The obvious benefits of utilising solar power have not gone unnoticed elsewhere in the UK either as two primary schools and a children’s care centre in the borough of Reading have also opted for solar panels over their roofs, as part of the city council’s wider scale plans to invest in sustainable energy solutions for schools and public buildings.
Even Winchester College, an educational institution dating back to the 14th century, has recently installed no fewer than 500 solar panels over the many buildings on its campus. The company behind the work, Freewatt Ltd, expects to generate 103MWh per year for the campus, an equivalent of powering approximately 35 homes.
While the government has recently announced its plans to use solar energy to power around 4 million households in the UK by 2020, its solar power tariff scheme has come under public scrutiny. As of April 2012, each household which installs solar panels will receive 21p per kW/hour of generation, down from the original 43p promised by the government.
The Ministry of Energy says it simply cannot afford the rates as the take up rate for solar powered panels has been phenomenally high and Greg Barker, the energy minister, has cited research showing that the cost of solar panels has dropped by 45 per cent since 2009.
The high take up rate might mean further reductions to the tariffs in the future, with the Department of Energy and Climate Change estimating that the subsidy will fall to 13.6p per kW/hour, a 68% decrease since December 2011.
With a still considerable investment of £10,000 needed to install solar panels over a typical household’s roof and the likelihood of further reductions in tariffs, the future of solar power as the leading renewable energy source in the UK is questionable.
January 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm
Wind power has never been far from controversy, with many people unhappy about the government’s investment in this form of green energy for a number of reasons.
These include the impact on the countryside and the argument that it is not efficient enough because of the inconsistency of the wind.
However, now the think tank Civitas has raised another startling claim by suggesting that wind power may actually be responsible for producing more CO2 than modern gas power stations.
On top of that, Civitas also said that reliance on wind power could increase energy bills.
The study was carried out in the Netherlands, and the main criticism Civitas has raised is that turning wind power stations on and off to deal with the fall in wind leads to greater production of CO2 than if an efficient gas power station produced a steady supply of energy.
Other criticisms of wind power in the report were that the construction of wind farms emits a lot of CO2, and that the farms don’t last very long compared to other types of power station.
This will not be good news for the government which is set to invest heavily in wind power over the next two decades, both onshore and offshore.
However, the report has been heavily criticised by proponents of wind power.
Dr Gordon Edge, who is the director of policy at RenewableUK, was quoted in The Telegraph as saying that the report was based on work carried out by “anti-wind cranks” and is “based on outdated and inaccurate information”.
December 21, 2011 at 4:19 pm
E.ON has just announced its plans to construct a huge offshore wind farm off the coast of East Yorkshire. The new project will cost £736 million in total, and will consist of 73 turbines. It will produce 219MW of power which is enough to power up to 170,000 homes.
The news is a huge boost for the UK’s renewable energy ambitions, and as such the investment was welcomed by Prime Minister, David Cameron.
Indeed, the UK government has some ambitious renewable targets to reach, and despite ongoing controversy surrounding wind farms, this is being seen as a sign that the green energy industry is improving.
E.ON is one of the ‘Big Six’ energy firms in the UK, and its new Humber Gateway Project will be situated just north of the mouth of the River Humber about 8km from the coast. The energy company has confirmed that work will begin on the project in March, and the aim is to have it up and running by 2015.
Aside from the benefits of producing a huge amount of power from renewable means, it will also create 1,000 jobs during the construction phase, with a further 30 permanent positions created when it is operational.
The chief executive of E.ON, Dr Tony Cocker, said that it was significant for the UK and will help it to meet the energy challenges currently being faced.
The new wind farm forms part of E.ON’s £1.7 billion commitment to expand its offshore wind sector together with other wind farms off the German and Swedish coasts. These are part of an even bigger €7 billion investment over five years with solar and biomass plants also planned.
December 17, 2011 at 4:16 pm
A new report has been released which is highly critical of the government’s renewable energy plans. The report was co-written by the Adam Smith Institute and the Scientific Alliance, and highlights what it sees as a number of serious flaws in the renewable energy policy.
A number of problems are highlighted in the report, including the following points:
- Renewable energy cannot provide the secure energy supply that the UK needs
- Consumers will have to pay more for their energy from renewables
- If current policies are continued, the UK will face an energy crisis within a few years
One of the key criticisms was that solar and wind power actually did very little to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide because they both have to rely upon backup capacity to be effective.
Instead of renewable energy, it backs nuclear and gas power if the UK is to prevent an energy crisis. One of the reasons for this is that wind turbines have an operational life of just 20 years, which is much shorter than both coal and gas, and this therefore makes it more expensive.
The Renewable Energy Road Map for 2020 was also criticised for being too ambitious, and the report claims that it is already below its target by 28%. As a result it is calling on the government to update its renewables plan.
But others have criticised the report. Niall Stuart, who is the chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said that the report is “full of serious flaws and oversights” and called it a “one-sided argument”.
He highlighted the fact that renewable energy causes fewer emissions, leads to more energy security and protects from gas price rises which have led to increases in energy bills.
December 4, 2011 at 4:24 pm
There has been a big fuss made about wind farms over the past few years with many hoping that they will play a large role in helping the UK to become less dependent on carbon-releasing fuels.
So it comes as a bit of a blow that Prince Philip has now called them “absolutely useless”.
Amongst other things, he said that the turbines never work and that supporters of wind power “believe in fairytales”, which is hardly the kind of publicity the industry is looking for right now.
However, wind power has never been far away from controversy.
One of the chief objections to wind power as a possible alternative to carbon fuels is that large areas of the country will have to be covered in plants if the government wants to meet its objectives.
The Prince’s remarks were made to Esbjorn Wilmar, who is the boss of a wind-turbine company, Infinergy, which is based in Dorset. He said that he was surprised by the Prince’s views.
But although the Duke has always had a reputation for being outspoken, his remarks have already been backed by some who have said that he is right and that consumers should not be forced to pay for wind farms.
One of the biggest problems with wind power is that a large proportion of the annual income for onshore wind farms comes from subsidies, and the amount is even greater for offshore farms.
The Prince’s remarks have to be given some credit given that he is an environmentalist and clearly wants the best green energy for the UK.
November 24, 2011 at 4:21 pm
Ofgem, the energy regulator, has announced that it is going to bring in a number of measures to protect businesses from unfair practices which are currently used by some energy providers and brokers. The move comes as part of Ofgem’s overhaul of the energy market.
One of the biggest problems highlighted by Ofgem following its review is that many businesses are finding that their energy contracts are renewed without them knowing once they have come to the end.
These contracts can sometimes last for years, and this is something which Ofgem wants to change.
It wants to introduce measures which will mean that energy suppliers will have to provide businesses with a clearer notice of when their contracts are coming to an end so that they can make a more informed decision about whether they would like to continue with it.
It also wants to make it easier for businesses to be able to change their energy providers in the future to take advantage of more competitive deals.
It has warned that those energy suppliers who do not conform to the new regulations will have to pay fines as a result, although it did not go into details about the size of these.
As a part of its new measures to make the energy market more fair for business customers, Ofgem is also going to seek new powers which it currently lacks to take action against brokers.
All in all, the new measures sound like very good news for business energy customers and will hopefully lead to a simpler and fairer system.