Friday, 30 December 2011

Germany's #Solar Power Output Up 60% in 2011

Another encouraging year-end announcement regarding renewable energy, this time in Germany. As PV Magazine reports, the German Solar Industry Association has said that the nation's solar power producers have produced 60% more electricity in 2011 than they did in 2010—in the past year producing 18 billion kWh.

Growth in #green energy backing

Investment by companies into renewable energy projects in the UK has risen sharply this year but is still well down on 2009 levels.

The Government said £2.5bn of new, privately funded projects had been announced since April. That marks an improvement on the £2.1bn measured in the whole of 2010 by research group Pew Environment. The projects will create nearly 12,000 jobs across the country.

Companies held off investing in new projects in 2010 because of uncertainty around the policies of the new Government. However, with more details published, the investment taps appear to be turning back on.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

2011 #renewables investment by firms $3.9 billion - DECC

Companies have announced plans to invest almost 2.5 billion pounds in renewable energy projects in the UK this year, the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said on Thursday.

The plans could potentially create almost 12,000 jobs, DECC said, and compare with estimates from various consultants of around 2.1 billion pounds for the previous year.
"Renewable energy is not just helping us increase our energy security and reduce our emissions. It is supporting jobs and growth across the country," Energy Secretary Chris Huhne said.

"I do not want the UK to be left behind by turning our back on the green economy," he said, adding that Britain's renewable targets were "less demanding than other EU member states."
DECC said that its report to the European Commission on renewable energy progress showed that the UK had achieved a 27 percent increase in renewable energy consumption, rising to from 54 terawatt-hours (TWh) in 2010 from 42.6 TWh in 2008 and reaching 3.3 percent of total energy consumed.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Go back to Work On a #Christmas Card

If all the UK's discarded wrapping paper and Christmas cards were collected and fermented, they could make enough biofuel to run a double-decker bus to the moon and back more than 20 times, according to the researchers behind a new scientific study.

The study, by scientists at Imperial College London, demonstrates that industrial quantities of waste paper could be turned into high grade biofuel, to power motor vehicles, by fermenting the paper using microorganisms. The researchers hope that biofuels made from waste paper could ultimately provide one alternative to fossil fuels like diesel and petrol, in turn reducing the impact of fossil fuels on the environment.

According to some estimates 1.5 billion cards and 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper are thrown away by UK residents over the Christmas period. They currently go to landfill or are recycled in local schemes. This amount of paper could provide 5-12 million litres of biofuel, say the researchers, enough to run a bus for up to 18 million km.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

#Christmas Waste Paper Could Be Turned Into High Grade Biofuel

If all the UK’s discarded wrapping paper and Christmas cards were collected and fermented, they could make enough biofuel to run a double-decker bus to the moon and back more than 20 times, according to the researchers behind a new scientific study.

The study, by scientists at Imperial College London, demonstrates that industrial quantities of waste paper could be turned into high grade biofuel, to power motor vehicles, by fermenting the paper using microorganisms. The researchers hope that biofuels made from waste paper could ultimately provide one alternative to fossil fuels like diesel and petrol, in turn reducing the impact of fossil fuels on the environment.

According to some estimates 1.5 billion cards and 83 square kilometers of wrapping paper are thrown away by UK residents over the Christmas period. They currently go to landfill or are recycled in local schemes. This amount of paper could provide 5-12 million liters of biofuel, say the researchers, enough to run a bus for up to 18 million km.
“If one card is assumed to weigh 20g and one square meter of wrapping paper is 10g, then around 38,300 tons of extra paper waste will be generated at Christmas time,” said study author Dr Richard Murphy from the Department of Life Sciences at Imperial College London. “Our research shows that it would be feasible to build waste paper-to-biofuel processing plants that give energy back as transport fuel.”

Friday, 23 December 2011

Infographic - What Is Santa's Carbon Footprint?

Ethical Ocean delves into the serious issue of Santa's carbon footprint. Seen by millions as a jolly old soul, this bearer of gifts and muncher of cookies also has a dark side -- a dark, polluting side that the environmental movement must address. [deep theatrical voice] For centuries we have allowed this to occur every single year but the toll now is too great. Just look at these disturbing calculations:

Facebook recruits Google green energy czar for sustainability push

Facebook has hired Google’s former “green energy czar” Bill Weihl, in a move designed to demonstrate the company's commitment to low-carbon computing and renewable energy. Weihl will begin the new post in January 2012, Facebook confirmed.

Weihl reportedly told online magazine Fresh Dialogues that he plans to “advance sustainability” at Facebook. While his job title and responsibilities at have not been decided, the focus will be on sustainability, clean energy and energy efficiency, he said.

The news comes just as Greenpeace winds up a long-running campaign calling on Facebook to “unfriend coal” as a source of energy for its data centres. The environmental campaign group singled out Facebook because of the company’s decision to site its first wholly-owned data centre in Oregon, using electricity from PacificCorp – an energy company which makes two thirds of its power using coal.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

What do you think is the future of UK energy prices in 2012?

What do you think is the future of UK energy prices in 2012?

'Green deal' will fail, government's climate advisers warn

The government's flagship programme to transform the energy efficiency of 14m homes in the next decade will fail and only reach only 2-3m households, according to an unprecedented attack from the government's own climate advisers.

The warning comes from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which on Tuesday for the first time published an open letter criticising government policy. It follows soaring energy bills and the news that one in four homes are now in fuel poverty.

The "green deal" plan, which will start in October 2012, will allow homeowners to take out loans to pay for insulation, with the guarantee that the savings on their energy bills will be greater than the loan repayments. Currently, energy companies have a legal obligation to enable their customers to improve their energy efficiency.

"The [green deal] proposal is to take away that obligation and say 'let's leave it to the market'," said David Kennedy, the CCC chief executive. "We think there is a significant risk in leaving it to the market, as that has never worked anywhere in the world and is unlikely to happen in the UK. We are talking about the transformation of the entire building stock of this country."

Two thirds of Brits fear elderly friends and relatives won't stay warm this winter

Rocketing energy bills are leading to widespread concern for the UK's older people with two thirds (66 per cent) of Brits concerned about the elderly people they know this winter, according to a new survey released today by Friends of the Earth (Friday 16 December).

The survey follows fresh evidence released yesterday confirming that the rising cost of gas is the main reason for rocketing energy bills.  The Government's independent advisor on energy and climate change - the Committee on Climate Change - recommended massive investment in energy saving to protect consumers from rising bills.

Almost half those surveyed (49 per cent) blamed energy company greed for the doubling of power bills since 2004, adding to pressure on the Government to get tough on the Big Six energy firms.  Friends of the Earth is calling for a public inquiry into the influence of the Big Six and the UK's broken energy system.

IBM Backs ‘People Power’ as Next Renewable

Anything that moves or produces heat has the potential to create energy that can be captured, and such human activities as walking, jogging and bicycling could soon be used to power homes, offices and cities, according to IBM.

The computer giant has listed “people power” as one of its 2011 “5 in 5″ – an annual list of innovations that have the potential to change the way people work, live and interact during the next five years.

IBM lists such potential innovations as a battery charger attached to the wheel of a bicycle (pictured) that harnesses energy created from the wheels turning as one example of how such technology could work.

Google Invests $94 Million in Solar Energy

Google, in partnership with investment
firm KKR, is making a $94 million investment in four solar energy farms near Sacramento, California.

In a Tuesday blog post, Google noted that it has already committed to outfitting solar panels on the roofs of more than 10,000 home, but this is its first broad-scale investment in the energy grid.

Recurrent Energy, which already has a 20-year deal with the Sacramento Utility District, will be responsible for the construction and operation of the facilities.

"We believe investing in the renewable energy sector makes business sense and hope clean energy projects continue to attract new sources of capital to help the world move towards a more sustainable energy future," wrote Google Treasury assistant treasurer Axel Martinez.

With a capacity of 88 MW, the new farms will be able to power upwards of 13,000 homes.

According to the Wall Street Journal, this deal will also allow Recurrent to quickly fund and build future solar farms.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Six jailed over carbon tax fraud

Six jailed over carbon tax fraud

Article: Court blocks solar subsidy cuts

Court blocks solar subsidy cuts

EU energy production must be carbon free by 2050

To achieve the goal of cutting emissions by over 80% by 2050, Europe's energy production needs to be almost carbon-free, according to the European Commission.

Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger stated: "Only a new energy model will make our system secure, competitive and sustainable in the long-run. We now have a European framework for the necessary policy measures to be taken in order to secure the right investments."

The Energy Roadmap 2050 is based on illustrative scenarios, created by combining in different ways the four main de-carbonisation routes (energy efficiency, renewable energy, nuclear and CCS). None is likely to materialise but all scenarios clearly show a set of 'no regrets' options for the coming years, the Commission says.

The Energy Roadmap 2050 identifies a number of elements which have positive impacts in all circumstances, and thus define some key outcomes such as:

The Queen's hydro energy scheme slots into place

Environment Agency confirms UK's largest hydropower scheme has been installed in the River Thames near Windsor Castle

Two golden Archimedes Screws have been hoisted into the River Thames as part of a major hydropower project that will supply Windsor Castle with green energy.

The 40-tonne devices were installed in the Romney Weir this week as part of a £1.7m project developed by Southeast Power Engineering and financed by Summit Asset Management.

Once completed, the project will be the largest of its kind in the UK, supplying 300kw of electricity an hour and providing Windsor Castle with half of the electricity it requires under a Power Purchase Agreement with the Royal Household.

"[We are] constantly looking at new ways of saving and supplying energy so as to remain as environmentally friendly as possible well into the future," said the deputy treasurer at the Royal Household. Any surplus electricity will be sold back to the National Grid by Southeast Power for use in homes in Windsor.
The Environment Agency, which approved the scheme, said that local Eton residents had chosen the golden brown colour for the two devices, which were made by Netherlands-based Landustrie.

Steve Naylor, hydropower lead for the Environment Agency, told BusinessGreen that the project is slated to be commissioned in February, two months later than planned because of some minor delays brought on by the unprecedented scale of the project and the unusual location.

The Public Supports Renewables

YouGov survey reveals that more than half of the UK population strongly support renewables and would like to see more investment in wind power. Commissioned by the Sunday Times the survey asks a series of questions about the country’s future energy provision, climate change commitments and other environmental issues.

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Cuts will “starve” renewable energy industry, say German ministers

Alterations to Germany’s green policy are causing outrage. The country’s environment minister, Norbert Röttgen, has rejected the economy minister’s calls to cut renewable energy subsidies further. Economy minister Philipp Roesler has proposed that Germany should have an annual ceiling of 1,000MW although some ministers have argued that this would “starve” the industry, following a record installation of 7,400MW of solar panels last year. Röttgen believes that Germany needs to speed up investments to expand the power grid and do more to reduce overall energy consumption.

German newspaper Die Welt printed a draft of a letter from Reiner Haseloff, the head of state for Saxon-Anhalt, to Volker Kauder, chairman of CDU/CSU parliamentary group following a conversation with Röttgen. The letter stated that certain heads of state had insisted that they "would provide no support" for a premature further amendment to the Renewable Energies Act (EEG). Stanislaw Tillich (Saxony) and Christine Lieberknecht (Thuringia) signed the letter expressing fear of the collapse of their solar industries. This letter presents itself as pre-Christmas pressure on the issue. A copy of the letter was also addressed to Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Monday, 19 December 2011

Facebook joins camp Greenpeace

After close to two years of campaigning, Greenpeace has finally won Facebook over, meaning the two will collaborate to make Facebook’s data center activities greener with an emphasis on renewable energy.

Greenpeace’s website today said Facebook will help Greenpeace push for more investment into renewable energy while committing itself to the use of green power.

“From today, Facebook has a siting policy that states a preference for access to clean, renewable energy supply for its future data centers,” Greenpeace said on December 15.

“Coal power is still a feature of Facebook for now, but as they say in the IT sector – it’s been deprecated.”

The move follows Facebook’s announcement that it is building a data center in Lulea, Sweden, which will use free cooling and renewable energy.

Greenpeace called this a “big sign of progress” but warned the fight was not over. More than 700,000 campaigners had signed up online over the past 20 months to let Facebook know they preferred its data centers to be powered with renewable energy, and for this to be part of its permanent policy.

Solar investment bank delayed by tariff legal battle

Not a Bank, the new Cambridge UK investment vehicle based on solar energy, has been forced to delay launch until 2012 because of a legal wrangle over government feed-in tariffs.

Cambridge entrepreneur Peter Dawe, tells Business Weekly that the Government’s decision to cut the tariffs prompted the postponement.

He said: “The change concerning feed-in Tariffs meant we had to restructure our offering. We are now looking at a January launch.”
He hasn’t detailed the nature of the restructuring.

The situation has now taken a further twist after a judge ordered an urgent hearing of a High Court challenge to the Government’s plans.

Friends of the Earth and two solar companies - Solarcentury and HomeSun - were given permission to seek a ruling that the proposals were unlawful.

The Government tariff cut meant that the amount paid for solar panel generated electricity was reduced from 43.3p per kWh to 21p – slashing the average revenue that could be earned by households from £1,100 to £500.

Following a launch in Cambridge in September, Dawe had hoped to announce an interest rate for Not A Bank at the start of November.

The intention is for his new Cambridge Provident Society to use investors’ cash initially for solar power projects that carry a payback for the investors themselves and the communities they support.

A typical project would see the society instal solar panels on the roof of a school or other community building and sell surplus energy to the power brokers.

Fracking debate hits the UK

TOM Greatrex, the British shadow Energy Minister, is demanding a full-scale government investigation into the controversial 'fracking' technology used to dislodge natural gas trapped in rocks, after a dramatic new report linked the practice to water pollution for the first time.

Mr Greatrex will table a series of questions in Britain's parliament today urging the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, to step up the Government's probe of hydraulic fracturing after reading the report, by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

In his first question, Mr Greatrex will ask: "Further to the article in The Independent on 14 December 2011, what assessment has he made of the report by the United States Environmental Protection Agency into the impact of hydraulic fracturing on water pollution; and if he will make a statement?"

Climategate Bombshell: Did U.S. Gov't Help Hide Climate Data?

Are your tax dollars helping hide global warming data from the public? Internal emails leaked as part of “Climategate 2.0” indicate the answer may be "Yes."

The original Climategate emails -- correspondence stolen from servers at a research facility in the U.K. and released on the Internet in late 2009 -- shook up the field of climate research.

Now a new batch posted in late November to a Russian server shows that scientists at the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit refused to share their U.S. government-funded data with anyone they thought would disagree with them.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Four big gas and electricity scams to avoid this winter

If it looks too good to be true, it usually is. An especially valid mantra if the ‘it’ in question involves saving cash on your gas and electricity bill.

But nevertheless, hordes of us fall for energy scams every year. Even worse, one of the newest tricks doing the rounds could cost you a lot more than just your
hard-earned pennies.

So here’s a look at how to avoid this new scam, as well as four other ‘classics’.

EDF to up UK nuclear spend in wake of Fukushima

EDF Energy will increase its current 300 million pounds a year investment on UK nuclear plants to adopt extra safety rules imposed by Britain's nuclear regulator after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, its chief executive told Reuters on Tuesday.

"We will now make over and above current investments to take into account the recommendations on backup systems, openness and transparency and so on. It's something we can afford to do," said Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of the British arm of France's EDF (Paris: FR0010242511 - news) .

The utility, Britain's largest nuclear operator, will up its nuclear plant spend from the current 300 million pounds yearly, but De Rivaz said a final sum had not been agreed.

Britain's Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) in September published a series of safety recommendations to the nuclear industry following lessons learned from Japan (EUREX: FMJP.EX - news) 's nuclear accident which plant operators have to follow or face station shutdowns.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Research shows storing CO2 underground safe and effective

An international team of scientists including Simon Fraser University groundwater special Dirk Kirske has proven that capturing carbon dioxide and storing it underground can be a safe and effective way of reducing greenhouse gas emissions over thousands, even millions of years.

Kirske was one of over 20 scientists who participated in the $40-million Otway Project in Australia, which tracked how carbon dioxide behaved when it was pumped into a depleted natural gas reservoir two kilometres beneath the earth's surface. The scientists applied a broad range of monitoring strategies.

"Setting up this experiment we were able to test our ability to understand residual gas saturation, which is an important trapping mechanism," Kirske said in an interview.

He said no leakage was detected and the experimental results matched the scientific models.

"We can verify what the CO2 is doing," he said, adding that scientists are now confident that they can say what will happen over a time scale of thousands or even millions of years.

Growing a green economy

In a period of difficult economic recovery what the UK needs most is sustainable growth. However if this is to be truly sustainable, we need to both rebalance and decarbonise our economy. The problem is that policies in these two areas are often pulling in different directions:

This may be a natural reaction to our lack of progress, but it needn't be like this. Our belief is that rebalancing our economy goes hand-in-hand with decarbonising it and today we have launched a report to show how this can be done.

We therefore welcome the government's announcement in the Autumn Statement of a package of measures to help protect the competitiveness of UK energy intensive industries.
The government have recognised that these industries will play an integral role at the heart of the UK's plans to decarbonise the economy. From the steel in wind turbines, to the chemicals used in energy-saving lighting and solutions in high speed rail, they will provide the building blocks for an energy-efficient and low-carbon economy.

The Chancellor has acknowledged that the current approach to UK climate change policy is increasingly putting their future at risk. Policies that push UK electricity prices above those of our competitors will undermine their ability to attract mobile investment and compete in international markets.

Industrial electricity prices in the UK are already far from the most competitive and additional pressure from unilateral climate policies risk investment in UK. Analysis carried out by EEF shows that in 2010 large electricity-intensive UK manufacturers paid approximately 10% more for their power than their German competitors and that in both countries, policy was a significant factor, accounting for 16% of the price. By 2013, based on existing and planned climate policies, the competitiveness gap is likely to widen to around 15% with the introduction of the UK's unilateral 'carbon price floor'. The result of this will be that by 2013 the impact of climate policies could account for about 25% of the price paid by the most electricity-intensive industries in the UK.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Natural Gas to Pass Coal

Natural Gas is set to become the world’s second-biggest source of energy by 2025. This sure has been the year of natural gas, or we are yet to see the golden age of natural gas? According to ExxonMobil’s latest annual survey the fossil fuel will overtake coal and become the world’s nº2 overall fuel source in precise 13 years.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

EDF named UK's worst energy supplier

WATCHDOGS named and shamed EDF Energy as Britain’s worst power supplier yesterday after a 74% surge in complaints.

The French-owned firm became the first to be damned with a zero star rating by Consumer Focus.

The watchdog said there were almost 220 gripes per 100,000 customers about EDF between July and September, more than twice as many as the next-worst supplier Npower.

Measuring carbon emissions: How can business really be accurate?

Guy Ruddock, Vice President for design, delivery and operations at Colt Data Centre Services discusses the impact of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme league tables:

The Department of Energy and Climate Change recently published the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme performance league tables which has ranked companies according to their carbon emissions. While the programme is aimed at improving energy efficiency and cutting emissions in large public and private sector organisations, some believe there are alternative and more effective ways of doing this.

Earlier this year, the US Department of Energy (DoE) issued recommendations for measuring and publishing energy efficiency in Power Usage Effectiveness (PUE) for all data centres with the aim of delivering a consistent and repeatable measurement strategy that allows data centre operators to monitor and improve the energy efficiency of their facilities. The DoE has openly recognised how effective PUE is but the question remains as to which measurement should be used in the UK. Should we follow the US example of using PUE or stick to the controversial CRC scheme?

The issue with the CRC, which was introduced in 2010 with its allowance sales coming into effect in 2012, is that it doesn’t address key challenges at the heart of the energy problem including, the role of data centre outsourcers, increasing power costs, and the benefits of renewable and sustainable power resources in addition to heat reuse and water use.

Taking all this into consideration, it could be said that the CRC is placing a disproportionate focus on rewarding participants who meet their pre-defined narrow ‘Early Action’ metrics, despite them achieving minimal carbon savings. For example, as one part of these metrics, an organisation can, by simply replacing two manually read meters with automated ones, achieve 50 percent of the total ‘Early Action’ metrics and under the current scheme. This means they would be excessively rewarded for very little effort and insignificant carbon savings.

Treasury 'cash-grabs' hurt energy sector, says Tim Yeo

The former environment minister accused the Treasury of undermining Britain's energy future with a string of "short-term fixes and U-turns" that showed a worrying failure to grasp the need for stability.

His comments, echoed by three of the Big Six energy suppliers, come as households and businesses across the country scramble to meet tonight's midnight deadline to qualify for the current rate of 'feed-in-tariffs' for solar panels.

Mr Yeo told The Sunday Telegraph: "Slashing solar subsidies with inadequate notice is the latest abrupt change to energy policy to damage investor confidence. The UK needs to attract an unprecedented amount of investment in the next eight years to replace ageing power stations and build an energy system fit for the future. Confidence, certainty and political stability are more vital in this sector than in many others.

"Worryingly, the Treasury doesn't seem to grasp this and seems willing to intervene in the Department of Energy and Climate Change's budgets whenever it feels like it."

Monday, 12 December 2011

Huhne fights for climate deal that will cost UK taxpayers £6bn

Climate talks hung in the balance last night with Britain pushing for a global deal to cut emissions in poorer countries which would cost British taxpayers £6billion.

Energy Secretary Chris Huhne told world leaders to commit to binding targets for greenhouse gases to keep global warming within 2c by the end of the century.

Yesterday he said he was hopeful that the ‘high ambition’ group would win out as talks continued late into the night on the last day of the United Nations climate summit in South Africa.

Britain and the rest of the EU want the world’s biggest polluters – the U.S., China and India – to agree for the first time to ‘legally binding’ caps as they account for nearly half the world’s emissions.

If they refuse to accept a ‘roadmap’ for a deal, the EU – which accounts for only 15 per cent of emissions – will not commit to a second period of the Kyoto Protocol which expires next year.

As well as a deal which Mr Huhne admitted ‘may go pear-shaped’, world leaders are expected to outline the details of a £64bn package to help the developing world cope with climate change.

The Green Climate Fund is set to cost Britain £1billion a year, or £6billion by 2020, to fund solar panels, flood defences and technology.
It was agreed two years ago, but talks this year have focused on how it will be funded, as countries grapple with low growth and cuts.

UK faces threat of legal action over solar subsidy

The European Commission is threatening to take the Government to court over its controversial decision to cut solar-power subsidies by half.

The commission became the latest party to question the move publicly yesterday, revealing that it had contacted the Government as it investigates the impact of the cut.

Günther Oettinger, the EU Energy Commissioner, said: "Whenever member states revise their support for support schemes for renewable energy, they need to do so in a manner which does not destabilise the renewable-energy industry or risk undermining their plans to achieve their 2020 targets."

The Government is legally obliged to generate 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

"Should the UK weaken policies in such a way that it would threaten progress towards their targets, the commission would take action, launching legal proceedings if necessary," Mr Oettinger added. He was responding to a "priority question" about the solar subsidy from Jean Lambert, Green MEP for London.

Ms Lambert said: "Under the commission's ruling, the UK is prevented from making amendments to support schemes which could jeopardise the renewables industry, yet sudden, drastic cuts to the tariff will strip away investor confidence, reduce the market for solar companies across the country and threaten jobs."

Friday, 9 December 2011

Hard-up families struggling under £560m of energy debts

Figures published yesterday reveal nearly 1.8 million gas and electricity accounts were in the red in the three months to June, up 12% on the previous quarter.

And the data, released by Ofgem, is just the tip of the iceberg. It only measures those customers who have come to an arrangement with their supplier to clear their arrears over time – and does not include many others who are behind with their bill but suffering in silence.

Even more worrying is the fact that, since the data was compiled, millions have been hit with energy price hikes of up to 20%. The rise, the second in less than a year, has left the average customer facing a bill of more than £1,300 a year to heat and light their home.

The report shows more than 926,300 with a standard or pre-payment electricity meter were repaying an average debt of £318 between April and June. Around 854,000 gas customers were also officially classed as in the red, owing an average of £316.

In many cases, households will have run up debts for both gas and electricity.

Energy Market Report Dec11:

Our monthly analysis of the UK gas and power markets is now available on line for the month of December 2011. The service is intended to keep you up to date with all the major news in Europe’s gas and power markets. It is also designed to keep power executives focused on market activity in an easy to digest format.

Video - The Market Report – 6th December 2011

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Big six energy firms face fresh accusations of profiteering

The big six energy companies have been repeatedly taking advantage of brief spikes in the wholesale price of electricity to pass on much longer-term increases to householders, new analysis for the Guardian shows.

The revelations of potential profiteering over many years were described as appalling by one MP and come amid mounting political pressure for a competition inquiry into the energy sector.

Npower, British Gas and others have repeatedly denied claims of profiteering and have blamed "green taxes" for increasing costs. But new calculations by statisticians at Manchester University show a widening gap between wholesale and retail prices, even before the last couple of months when domestic bills have soared and yet wholesale prices have slumped.
"There is a clear trend and this shows a widening gap between the price consumers pay and the wholesale cost paid by the energy companies," said Dr Nathan Green, a statistician at the university.

The Guardian obtained data on retail prices paid by consumers for their electricity and compared it with a composite measure of wholesale prices paid by electricity companies, generated by information specialist Mintec. This data shows retail prices, even excluding the impact of the relatively new climate change levy, increasing at a faster rate than wholesale electricity prices.

Households face rising energy bills due to green taxes

The minister admitted that the Government is powerless to protect home owners from rising gas and electricity prices, which will be continue to be “pushed up” by fuel prices on the world market.

He also said that the range of green initiatives that the Government has committed to support – such as solar, wind and nuclear energy – will add £280 a year to utility bills within the next decade. These costs include putting so-called smart meters in homes, making consumers pay to support the reform of the electricity market, and charging a tariff to support the development of renewable energy.

Energy bills have already risen by a fifth this year, heaping pressure on household budgets. The average annual dual fuel energy bill now stands at over £1,200, according to, the online comparison site.

Mr Huhne used the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) annual Energy Statement to Parliament to outline how the Government plans to help consumers mitigate the impact of rising bills.

He said that DECC’s so-called Green Deal, under which home owners will be offered lower energy bills in return for making their houses more energy efficient, will reduce the severity of rising prices.

Is Thorium the Energy Panacea We Have Been Waiting For?

Thorium is a naturally-occurring, radioactive, and amazingly abundant metal that was discovered in 1828 by Swedish chemist, Jons Jakob Berzelius. The mineral, named after the Norse god of thunder, has languished in relative obscurity for many years as opposed to its much more recognized cousin, uranium. However, conversations have been popping up about thorium in recent years and how it can be a game-changer in the energy industry. Thorium has incredible potential as an ultra-safe, clean, and cheap nuclear energy source which can power the world for millennia.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

New Floating LNG Gas Terminals

As the world continues to look for a fuel to meet the ever growing global demand many alternatives are emerging to solve the problem. Due to its lower CO2 emissions than oil and coal, natural gas is presenting itself as viable and cost effective alternative with many developments in progress in the field like shale gas and the renaissance of Floating LNG Terminals (FLNG).

While many are striving to get a head start on the controversial shale gas rush others are seeking cost effective alternatives to extract natural gas in offshore areas too far or too small to warrant a pipeline to shore.

One of the biggest challenges of offshore LNG extraction is the transportation to shore often done by expensive pipelines, which also limits how far offshore the fossil fuel can be extracted. Floating LNG terminals have proven to be a cost effective alternative to that problem.

Industry stymied by energy firms' demands for upfront payments

The government's hopes of rebuilding the economy with a "march of the makers" risks being derailed by energy companies that are demanding huge upfront payments to power new factories.

Soaring energy prices, which are already hitting homeowners, are also forcing manufacturers to shut down plants or relocate their factories to other countries.

The British Ceramic Confederation said some members have been asked to pay deposits of up to £200,000 – the equivalent of four months' worth of power – before energy firms are willing to take them on as customers.

The problem compounds wider difficulties brought on by the economic downturn, said Laura Cohen, chief executive of the confederation.

"Five of our members have closed in the last few weeks," she said. "embers tell me they have seen their energy costs increase considerably in the last year,
typically by 30% or more, and in one case doubling. In addition, from 2013 they face a crippling array of climate-related taxes and costs in the UK through higher electricity [prices]."

Potteries and brickworks, which need huge amounts of gas and electricity to heat their kilns, are particularly hard hit, as are energy-intensive chemical and steel plants.

Among the victims are the Carradale, Broadmore and Normanton brickworks, which have shut recently along with Jesse Shirley, a Stoke-on-Trent pottery firm, which had been trading for 191 years.

An industry figure representing a smaller firm said: "I was looking for a new power connection and was told it would only be provided if I paid a deposit of £200,000 for electricity and £100,000 for gas."

Another industrialist said he abandoned plans to set up a new factory because he could not afford the upfront power costs.

Floating LNG Gas Terminals

As the world continues to look for a fuel to meet the ever growing global demand many alternatives are emerging to solve the problem. Due to its lower CO2 emissions than oil and coal, natural gas is presenting itself as viable and cost effective alternative with many developments in progress in the field like shale gas and the renaissance of Floating LNG Terminals (FLNG).

While many are striving to get a head start on the controversial shale gas rush others are seeking cost effective alternatives to extract natural gas in offshore areas too far or too small to warrant a pipeline to shore.

One of the biggest challenges of offshore LNG extraction is the transportation to shore often done by expensive pipelines, which also limits how far offshore the fossil fuel can be extracted. Floating LNG terminals have proven to be a cost effective alternative to that problem.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Nuclear power? Yes please!: A former opponent calls on Chris Huhne to embrace the energy source that's cheap AND good for the environment

I never thought I’d say this – but the future is nuclear. Or it should be.  And I urge Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne – who, like me, has been an opponent of nuclear power – to embrace that future. Our energy bills depend on it. And so may our climate.
Huhne’s ‘green tax’ sparked anger last week as it became clear that this surcharge on our energy bills will rise to £280 a year for every household by the end of the decade.

Read more:

As energy costs fall, suppliers face pressure to cut our bills

Energy companies are under pressure to cut prices  following significant falls in the wholesale cost of gas and electricity.

Unusually warm weather and the lack of demand from industrial customers as the economy falters have created a glut of cheap power.

The fall in wholesale prices kicked in at the end of August – which is exactly the same time that Britain's 'Big Six' energy firms began a new round of price hikes.

Quarter of homes 'face fuel poverty': Green taxes add to burden for struggling families

One in four households will struggle to keep warm this winter because of costlier gas and electricity and the impact of green taxes, figures out today show.

More than five million households in England alone are living in fuel poverty as incomes stagnate and energy bills soar. It is feared many may have to choose between food and energy in a 'heat or eat' dilemma.

Fuel poverty is where a family spends more than 10 per cent of its income on energy.

FITs shambles forced developer behind world's largest solar farm out of the UK

The company behind the world's largest solar PV farm looked at expanding into the UK before changes to renewable energy subsidies forced it to abandon the project.

First Solar's director of customer relations, Tom Kosnik, speaking exclusively to edie energy at his company's Sarnia solar farm in the Canadian province of Ontario said the UK was not right for renewable investment at the moment.

Founded in 1999 and based in the United States First Solar has spread across the world investing in a host of projects.

But Mr Kosnik explains First Solar initially invested heavily in Spain and now 'doesn't like to talk about that'.

He said: "We were then looking at the UK and there were a lot of positives to investing there, from a shared language to a growing solar PV market.

"But this was a few months ago and we then got wind of planned changes to the FIT and we had to forget about the UK."

The UK's loss is certainly the Canadian province of Ontario's gain as First Solar has developed what is claimed to be the world's largest solar farm.

90% worldwide call for more renewable energy

The Global Consumer Wind Study has revealed that 79% of those surveyed have a positive perception of wind energy.
The study, by Vestas, a company which has pioneered wind energy for over 30 years now, and has installed over 43,000 wind turbines in 66 countries on six continents, surveyed 31,000 customers in 26 countries.

This is hopefully good news. Wind energy in the UK is currently being given a bit of a hard time; some claiming only wealthy landowners gain from government subsidies, some claiming we simply don’t have enough wind, and then there are those who claim wind turbines are a blot on the landscape. Personally, I find them attractive (but then I’ve always had a thing for pylons too).

Monday, 5 December 2011

Outlook for UK natural gas

The traditional contango of the UK natural gas curve has smoothed out in recent weeks, with summer seasons now at parity and the winters either on a par or even dipping into backwardation. Tom Woolley investigates the trend and its likely impact on consumers

The UK gas curve was in steep contango earlier in the summer, with products at the back end holding a sizeable premium over those for more immediate delivery, a trend that counterparties are used to seeing. Summer 2016 for instance - the six month contract period running from April through to the end of September - was assessed at 73.16p/therm at the start of August, marking a hefty 7.37p/therm uplift on top of Summer 2012, traded at the Ice Futures Europe exchange.

Fast forward to the last available settlement in November, however, and that spread has narrowed considerably. The seasons have lost value across the board since early August, although the sell-off has been notably more pronounced at the far end of the pricing curve, in effect eradicating the market's normal contango.

Eurozone crisis could cut £100 from energy bills

If the Euro collapses, we’re predicting that the impact on global energy markets is likely to be similar to when wholesale prices crashed by 66% in 2008-9 following the collapse of Lehman Brothers. This led to two years of tentative price drops in household gas and electricity bills, with a fall of 6.9% in 2009.

Applied to today’s record average annual gas and electricity bill of £1,345, a 6.9% price drop would equate to a reduction of £93 next year. This doesn’t make up for the jump of around £170 we’ve seen from the price rises this autumn, but at least it bucks the upward trend.

Although a new European recession would be devastating in many ways, there is the thin silver lining that UK gas and electricity prices could finally start coming down, easing pressure on household bills at a time when it would be most needed.

Chris Huhne plans 32,000 more wind turbines and new nuclear plants

A report by the Department of Energy and Climate Change says the huge expansion is necessary if Britain is to meet greenhouse gas emissions targets.

Chris Huhne, the energy secretary wants to convert all Britain’s vehicles and homes to run on electricity by 2050, the Sunday Times reported. This will require a sharp increase in electricity generation by as much as double, with almost all coming from low-carbon sources such as wind and nuclear power.

There are currently 3,000 onshore turbines and several hundred offshore. They have helped cut carbon emissions but generate just 1-2pc of the nation's power.
The programme risks transforming Britain's wild landscapes, with an estimated 6,000 to 10,000 turbines needed onshore and up to 25,000 required offshore, with many visible from land.

Until there are dramatic increases in solar and wave power technology wind turbines and nuclear are regarded the most viable green energy sources.

Doubts Remain Over KPMG Renewable Energy Report

A controversial report on the renewable energy industry allegedly leaked from KPMG has continued to spark hostility from renewable energy groups, which are now training their ire at news corporation BBC.

The report allegedly urged the UK government to revamp its current renewable energy policy, according to a report ostensibly leaked to the BBC. Now, KPMG has started working on the claimed “draft” report.

The official release by KPMG of the report was preceded by the draft version reported by The Sunday Times and the BBC’s Panorama, which accordingly suggested that Britain could be more cost-effective in meeting its 2020 carbon reduction targets by building nuclear and gas-fired power stations in lieu of wind farms.

Trade organizations including RenewableUK was quick to criticize the report, accusing KPMG of failing to consider the entire lifetime cost of a typical power plant. The report was also criticized for focusing only on the capital costs of new energy infrastructure.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Fuel poverty affects a quarter of UK's households as bills soar and pay freezes

A quarter of all households in England and Wales have now fallen into fuel poverty following an autumn of steep increases in energy bills and stagnating incomes, the Guardian can reveal.
The dramatic increase in fuel poverty – up from nearly one in five households last year to one in four now – will be highly embarrassing to the government, which has a statutory obligation to eliminate fuel poverty by 2016. It now looks certain to fail to meet its legal duty.

Previous government projections forecast that this year would see 4.1m households in fuel poverty, which is defined as those who have to spend 10% or more of their income to achieve adequate warmth and light.

But these estimates were calculated before the huge prices rises announced last summer by the big six energy suppliers. New calculations, provided to the statutory consumer body Consumer Focus and seen by the Guardian, based on actual bills, show the figure for England alone is now over 5m households.

Friday, 2 December 2011

'Energy saving' scam hits elderly

Some elderly householders are being targeted by people offering to sell them bogus "energy saving" devices that are dangerous.

Trading standards officers say they have received more than 200 complaints about phone calls from the scammers.

The callers claim to be energy suppliers, or their partners, and offer a plug-in gadget that supposedly cuts electricity use by 40%.

The officials say they are unsafe and could cause a fire or electrocution.

Ron Gainsford, chief executive of the Trading Standards Institute, said criminals were using high energy prices as a pretext for selling dangerous devices, mainly to elderly householders.
"A safety recall has been issued for the items traced so far," he said.

"[We] have had a number of the items tested which not only failed to satisfy electrical safety standards but do not deliver any tangible energy savings."

Osborne: The new enemy of the green movement?

George Osborne is not a climate sceptic, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Chris Huhne, was obliged to pronounce yesterday, in the face of growing criticism of the Chancellor's commitment to Britain's environmental agenda and in particular to UK plans to combat global warming.

Mr Huhne defended the Chancellor against allegations that he showed scant enthusiasm and for the environment in his Autumn Statement this week, and indeed, used language verging on the contemptuous.

"The Chancellor has pointed out, he's told me very, very clearly, he is absolutely committed to dealing with the problem of climate change, precisely because he is convinced by the science," Mr Huhne said. "He is not in the position of somebody like Nigel Lawson [former Chancellor Lord Lawson of Blaby] who is clearly sceptical about the science."
Leaders of Britain's major environmental groups have discussed between themselves in recent days the "problem" of Mr Osborne, who is being regarded more and more as a powerful obstructive influence – not to say a destructive one – on Britain's green agenda.

Homeowners could get £100 energy bill reprieve

According to figures from comparison website the wholesale cost of gas has already slumped 21pc since the peak in early September. Then, it was 78.3 pence per therm. It now stands at 61.5 pence per therm. During the same period, wholesale electricity prices dropped 15pc, falling from £5.62 per Megawatt Hour to £4.79 per Megawatt Hour.

Forecasts from the site indicate that, should the euro collapse, the impact on global energy markets is likely to be similar to the period 2008-09 following the demise of Lehman Brothers' when wholesale prices crashed by 66pc. This led to two years of tentative price drops in residential energy prices with reductions of 6.9pc in 2009 and of around 5pc in 2010.

Hendry details £11.7bn smart meter programme

The UK energy industry is gearing for the single biggest revolution since coal gas was replaced by clean burning North Sea natural gas, Energy Minister Charles Hendry today (Thursday) said.

The introduction of some 53 million smartmeters to more than 30 million homes and businesses is a key priority for the Coalition Government, and it is hoped that by providing accurate, real-time information of electricity and gas usage, homes can repond, helping to reduce their energy usage and cut emissions.

The move will also generate thousands of green jobs and mark a significant investment in the green economy.

Icelandic facility uses geothermal energy to store data for UK colleges

Hertford Regional College (HRC) in the UK has joined forces with the Thor Data Center (THORDC) in Iceland to provide cost efficient, eco-friendly technology to schools, colleges and universities throughout the UK. The joint venture has been coined "HRC Cube" and is an innovative solution to dealing with increasing cuts in UK government funding to education.

Drawing on Iceland's combination of freezing temperatures and natural volcanic heat, THORDC has become one of the most energy-efficient data centers in the world. Powered by clean renewable hydroelectric and geothermal energy sources, the facility is claimed to offer cost savings to its customers whilst at the same time helping them lower their carbon emissions. The fact that it is situated in such a remote location also ensures a high level of security for the data.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Simple energy tariffs find favour

The energy regulator Ofgem says its plans for "no-frills" tariffs will lead to much more switching by consumers.

101 Ways UK Small Businesses Can Save Energy And Lower Their Costs

There are undoubtedly 101 ways UK small businesses can save energy and lower their costs. But just how significant would it be if SMEs increased their energy efficiency?

According to the Carbon Trust, UK SMEs account for 45 per cent of business energy usage and, says Harry Morrison, general manager of the Carbon Trust Standard Company, UK SMEs have the greatest potential for savings on energy: 20 per cent compared to eight per cent for larger organisations.

"That means that when added together, the potential for savings by SMEs could be up to £1.1 billion," says Morrison.

The truth about UK small business energy consumption
The bad news, however, is that the big majority of UK small businesses are missing out on savings because they are not aware of energy efficiency solutions that can save them money and lower their environmental impact. Perhaps because engineering companies devising energy saving solutions for the workplace are not good at communicating with small business.

The big majority of UK small businesses are missing out on savings
In a recent survey published by E.ON Energy*, the big majority of UK small businesses are missing out on savings because they are not aware of energy efficiency solutions that can save them money and lower their environmental impact.

The research paints a picture of poorly managed small businesses that could be saving more and wasting less.

Key Findings:

• Only one in five (21 per cent) of UK small businesses have energy efficient equipment in the workplace. That means almost four million small businesses are wasting precious money and resources.

• Almost nine out of 10 (86 per cent) don’t have lighting timers or motion sensors in their workplace

• Eight out of 10 (81 per cent) don’t have an energy monitor installed in the office
Only 15% of businesses have a smart meter.

UK on track to meet legally mandated carbon targets

The task of rebalancing the UK economy away from carbon is well-progressed and is set to result in greater energy security and the development of new innovative technologies, according to the Government's Carbon Plan. 
The Carbon Plan sets out progress to date and assesses cost-effective next steps.  It shows:
  • that UK emissions have already been cut by more than 25% on 1990 levels.
  • that with the policies already in place the economy will significantly exceed the 34% target set for the first 15 years under the Climate Change Act, and would have done so even if the recession had not occurred. 
  • that meeting the fourth carbon budget of a 50% cut in emissions by the mid-2020s will not have any additional cost implications during this Parliament, but beyond that will require a decade of mass deployment of key technologies.
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Chris Huhne said: "Publishing the Carbon Plan sends two crucial messages.

UK to give £250 million help for energy intensive firms

Chancellor George Osborne will announce 250 million pounds of support this week for energy intensive industries, part of measures to boost a flagging economy, a Treasury source told Reuters on Sunday.

Osborne is under intense pressure to find ways to revive an economy that has barely grown over the last year, and these measures will be announced in his autumn statement on November 29 among other initiatives aimed at boosting growth.

A first element of the package is to compensate high energy users for the carbon price floor, a tax on fossil fuels which the UK will introduce in 2013, and which business lobby groups have said will lead to large increases in bills for energy-intensive firms.

Osborne is expected to say the government will compensate firms to the tune of 40 million pounds in 2013/14, rising to 60 million in 2014/15.

The government will also help to offset indirect costs arising from the European Union's carbon Emissions Trading Scheme, with payments of 12 million pounds in 2012/13, rising to 50 million pounds in each of two successive fiscal years.

In addition, Osborne will raise the discount relief on the Climate Change Levy fuel tax for firms that promise to improve their energy efficiency, to 90 percent from April 1, 2013 -- an improvement on the increase to 80 percent from 65 percent announced in this year's budget.

Asda Named As Lowest Carbon Supermarket

According to the first league table released for the government’s Carbon Reduction Commitment scheme, Asda has been named as the lowest-carbon supermarket. The Walmart-owned retailer was ranked 37th in the inaugural Performance League Table, which uses a weighted score based on its reported carbon emissions from half-hourly metered sites.

However, because the table only gives credit for metering actions, the total carbon output for a company will not necessarily match its league position. Asda reported 794,000 tonnes of CO2e at a rate of 40.03 tonnes per million pounds turnover. The second-placed retailer in the league table was Morrisons, which ranked 56th with a reported 837,000 tonnes CO2e corresponding to 50.79 tonnes per £1 million of turnover.

In retail terms, the John Lewis Partnership gained third position, with a group ranking of 75th. Its 345,000 tonnes CO2e was achieved at 42.08 tonnes per £1 million turnover. Up-market retailer Marks & Spencer followed in 82nd place, with a reported 410,000 tonnes CO2e at 46.99 tonnes per £1 million turnover.
The battle of the big nationals was won by Tesco, which placed at 93rd position in the league. The Tesco group including One Stop and Dobbies Garden Centres reported total carbon emissions of 1.56 million tonnes CO2e, but it achieved the lowest emissions per £1 million worth of turnover at 35.06 tonnes.

National Grid launches new future energy scenarios publication

For the first time, the document ‘UK Future Energy Scenarios’ brings together gas and electricity data to provide a picture of how energy supply and demand may look under different conditions.

National Grid has published a new document presenting its energy supply and demand scenarios up to 2050.

The ‘Gone Green’, ‘Slow Progression’ and ‘Accelerated Growth’ scenarios (described below in ‘Notes to editors’) will be revised every year using feedback from the industry.

National Grid Future Transmission Networks Manager, Richard Smith said:

"This represents a new stage in our annual consultation process.

"The new publication shows how emissions targets could be met – or not met – under three different scenarios driven by the economy and the demand for heat, transport and electricity.

"Feedback from the industry will be very important to us, and the views gathered will be used to update the scenarios to be presented in future editions."

Previously, the information used in ‘UK Future Energy Scenarios’ was contained separately in the Ten Year Statement (TYS) for gas and the Offshore Development Information Statement (ODIS) for electricity.

The TYS and ODIS documents can now concentrate on the implications of the scenarios for the development of the gas and electricity networks. This new publication combines the TYS and ODIS information and provides a detailed description of scenarios and their underlying assumptions.

View the report click here ‘UK Future Energy Scenarios

Contacts for media information only:
Graham McQuarrie: 01926 655273
Gemma Stokes: 07974 198333
Isobel Rowley: 01926 655275 or 07917 211116.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Businesses asked for their views on energy regulation

Today the Government opens its Energy Red Tape Challenge initiative, encouraging businesses to supply their views on energy legislation.

Businesses are being asked to share their views on whether current regulations are creating administrative burdens, and what could be done to implement more effective policy.

The initiative covers roughly 300 regulations which relate to all aspect of UK energy, from extraction and generation, to safety, supply and consumption.

Energy firm npower have already sought the views of almost 100 major energy users as part of its own “Red Tape Challenge - Have Your Say” campaign, which was designed to provide businesses with a less time-consuming way to air their views on the UK energy market.

Their research asked businesses about energy legislation they would keep, simplify or scrap.

Results show that 51% of respondents thought the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme should be scrapped, and 43% thought Renewables Obligation and Feed-in-Tariffs should be simplified.

Biomass Could Produce Fifth of Global Energy Without Damaging Food Production, Says UK Energy Research Centre

A new report released by the Technology and Policy Assessment function of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), which addresses key controversies in the energy field, suggests that up to one fifth of global energy could be provided by biomass (plants) without damaging food production. The report reviews more than 90 global studies.