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.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Climategate scientists DID collude with government officials to hide research that didn't fit their apocalyptic global warming

More than 5,000 documents have been leaked online purporting to be the correspondence of climate scientists at the University of East Anglia who were previously accused of ‘massaging’ evidence of man-made climate change.

Following on from the original 'climategate' emails of 2009, the new package appears to show systematic suppression of evidence, and even publication of reports that scientists knew to to be based on flawed approaches. 

And not only do the emails paint a picture of scientists manipulating data, government employees at the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) are also implicated.

One message appeared to show a member of Defra staff telling colleagues working on climate science to give the government a ‘strong message’.
The emails paint a clear picture of scientists selectively using data, and colluding with politicians to misuse scientific information.

‘Humphrey’, said to work at Defra, writes: ‘I cannot overstate the HUGE amount of political interest in the project as a message that the government can give on climate change to help them tell their story. 

'They want their story to be a very strong one and don’t want to be made to look foolish.’

Professor Phil Jones, director of the Climatic Research Unit at the centre of the affair, said the group findings did stand up to scrutiny.

Yet one of the newly released emails, written by Prof. Jones  - who is working with the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - said: 'Any work we have done in the past is done on the back of the research grants we get – and has to be well hidden. 

'I’ve discussed this with the main funder (U.S. Dept of Energy) in the past and they are happy about not releasing the original station data.'

Autumn Statement the Chancellor George Osborne - Energy Guzzling Companies to Receive Relief on Carbon Taxes

During today’s Autumn Statement the Chancellor George Osborne is expected to inject hope into the British economy to halt the feared double-dip recession. One of these measures will benefit intensive business energy users with a relief on their carbon taxes which could represent savings of up to 10% on their business electricity bills.

If confirmed these carbon taxes rebates will help British companies become more competitively internationally. Intensive business electricity users have complained that right now the carbon taxes harm their international competitiveness.

Germany offers carbon tax rebates worth more than €5 billion a year and high energy users only pay €0.5 of a €35 tax. Estimates are that the British rebate will be worth a total of £212 million for the period 2012-2016 for those affected by the EU-ETS tax or the CCL (Climate Chance Levy). Another £250 million will also be available for companies affected by the upcoming carbon price floor.

Renewable energy industry welcomes UK heat scheme

The renewable energy industry has welcomed the government’s scheme to subsidise renewable heat production, which opens today.

The world’s first Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) provides payments for heat generated from renewable technologies, including biomass boilers, solar thermal equipment and heat pumps installed since 15 July 2009.

‘This is excellent and very long-awaited news,’ said Gaynor Hartnell, chief executive of the Renewable Energy Association. ‘It’s high time UK started benefiting from a major roll-out of some of the cheapest forms of renewable energy.

Anger at aid to help Africa cope with climate change: As UK faces economic meltdown, ministers hand over £330m

Hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash is to be poured into Africa to help it cope with the impact of climate change.

The £330million handout will be spent over the next four years on schemes to install solar power plants and encouraging investment in low-carbon transport.
One of the main beneficiaries will be South Africa, a country which is prosperous enough to have its own space agency.

Chris Huhne, the Lib Dem energy secretary, will unveil the foreign aid package at a United Nations summit on climate change which opens today.

The largesse will fuel criticism from Tory backbenchers over David Cameron’s promise to increase UK spending on aid at a time when public services in Britain are facing swingeing cuts.

Philip Davies, Tory MP for Shipley, said: ‘It is completely unjustifiable to spend so much money at a time when we’re  reducing the number of police officers in this country.’

Fellow Tory MP Peter Bone said: ‘What makes it worse is that much of the aid budget is spent on things that are not really benefiting developing countries. The answer is trade, not aid.’

Ireland and UK energy ministers back ocean power

Irish and United Kingdom ministers have pledged to work together to unlock the potential of ocean power around the coastlines and called on the European Union (EU) to back the technology.

Ministers last week called on the EU to give its full backing to the development of massive ocean energy resources available in the UK and Ireland.

The governments spoke out jointly as they supported to a Member State Position Paper on Ocean Energy, issued jointly by them and the leaders of Norway, Spain, Portugal, France and Denmark.

The paper sets out the potential for the Ocean Energy sector to fill 15% of European Union energy demand and create around 314,000 new jobs across the continent by 2050.

UK energy sectary, Charles Hendry, said: "There is an abundant energy resource in European waters and there is a clear appetite from individual states to make the most of it.

Monday, 28 November 2011

Crunch Time Is Coming for U.K.'s Green Commitment

Britain has some big decisions to make on energy, and environmentalists say the answers that politicians come up with in the next few months will determine whether the country follows through on its promises of strong action against global warming.
A series of important questions about investment in renewable energy, efficiency and nuclear generation are up for discussion as the government and energy companies plan how to replace a generation of power plants that are nearing retirement.

Britain put itself out in front of the effort to slow climate change by legally binding itself to strict carbon reduction targets in the Climate Change Act, passed in 2008 with support from all three major political parties.

Prime Minister David Cameron took office last year promising to lead the “greenest government ever.” Still, with the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition giving priority to budget cuts and the economy flat-lining, the powerful Treasury department appears unenthusiastic. George Osborne, who as chancellor of the Exchequer, or finance minister, controls the country’s purse strings, has hinted that he sees aggressive carbon-cutting as a luxury that Britain may not now be able to afford.

Energy firms must do much more to regain our trust

There was some positive news at last this week from the energy companies. First the mighty British Gas agreed to simplify its charging structure to just two tariffs. Surprisingly they won't be giving customers the choice of – as one wag put it – freezing or going bankrupt.

Instead the firm is cutting back its tariffs to a simple choice between variable and fixed. It also promised to provide customers with a breakdown of all the costs that make up their bills.
It's about time the firm – which remains Britain's biggest energy supplier – started to think about the way it treats customers. This summer alone it increased gas prices by 18 per cent and electricity prices by 16 per cent. That move cost its customers an average of an extra £200 a year.

It's also worth bearing in mind that more than 70 new tariffs have been launched this year by energy firms. That leaves us being confronted with a choice of 400 different tariffs. I know we should welcome choice, but not when it becomes too complex and difficult to choose.

Nuclear power 'gets little public support worldwide'

There is little public appetite across the world for building new nuclear reactors, a poll for the BBC indicates.

In countries with nuclear programmes, people are significantly more opposed than they were in 2005, with only the UK and US bucking the trend.

Most believe that boosting efficiency and renewables can meet their needs.

Just 22% agreed that "nuclear power is relatively safe and an important source of electricity, and we should build more nuclear power plants".

In contrast, 71% thought their country "could almost entirely replace coal and nuclear energy within 20 years by becoming highly energy-efficient and focusing on generating energy from the Sun and wind".

Globally, 39% want to continue using existing reactors without building new ones, while 30% would like to shut everything down now.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Video - 'Fuel poverty' surges in UK on rising prices

Growing numbers of Britons are struggling to pay their fuel bills as energy companies hike costs.

Local authorities facing £86 million carbon tax bill

Cash-strapped councils face a combined carbon tax bill of £86 million next year which risks stripping funds from energy saving projects, experts have warned.

From 2012, councils will have to pay £12 for each tonne of CO2 they emit, including through heating and lighting communal areas of council housing, as part of the government’s carbon reduction commitment energy efficiency scheme.

More than 200 UK councils are regulated by the Environment Agency under the CRC because they use at least 6,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a year. The agency last week published the first CRC league table, which showed councils emitted about 7.1 million tonnes of CO2 last year, equating to a collective bill of £86 million.

Two housing associations also appeared on the league table; 2,000-home Cosmopolitan Housing Group and 5,000 Broadacres Housing Association which face bills of £78,000 and £5,100 respectively.

The league table scores organisations out of 100 based on whether they take energy efficiency measures and install smart meters. Both housing associations and 24 councils scored zero points.

Energy Prices: £15m Added To Gas And Electricity Bills By Ghost Meters

Thousands of UK households are not paying for electricity and gas.

According to a report in The Times, around 20,000 properties have “ghost meters” – those that are not registered to an energy supplier.

Households with ghost meters continue to receive electricity and gas, with the cost passed on to registered recipients.
This equates to around an extra £15m a year paid for by consumers.

Speaking to The Times, energy watchdog Ofgem claimed that the oversight was due to “errors in the industry’s administrative process”, with the majority of the unconnected “ghost meters” installed in converted flats or new blocks of flats.
According to Scott Byrom, utilities specialist at “You would hope that Ofgem is doing something about the issue. The market is not good at tracking down these meters. If people are using energy it needs to be paid by someone. So it’s free for them - but the rest of us are paying.”

British Gas Launches B2B Panel to Represent the Voice of Business Customers

Marking a major step forward in ensuring the voice of business is heard at the heart of British Gas, the company is today announcing the formation of a 1000 member Business Panel, which is open to all businesses whether they are British Gas customers or not.

The Panel marks the latest development in our commitment to listening to customers. We already talk to over 150,000 businesses a year through various forums and surveys. However, as the Residential Customer Panel illustrates, a dedicated panel for businesses will allow us to get even closer to our customers concerns and needs.

From talking to thousands of customers we already know some of their biggest frustrations. Top of their list is transparency on pricing, the renewal process, bill accuracy and customer service – and we are actively looking at addressing those concerns. They also tell us they want to hear about how they control their energy usage more, the role of smart metering and data analytics, as well as how best to use energy efficiency measures.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Ovo Energy breaks ranks by cancelling price hike

UK power and gas supplier Ovo Energy has scrapped plans to increase prices for its variable rate customers due to a drop in wholesale costs, breaking ranks with rival suppliers who have all imposed double digit increases.

"Since we announced the planned increase in our variable prices, on the 26th October, wholesale costs have fallen," Ovo managing director Stephen Fitzpatrick said in a statement.

"In response to this change in the market we're delighted to announce that we will not go ahead with the planned increase," he said.

BBC's Mr Climate Change accepted £15,000 in grants from university rocked by global warning scandal

A senior BBC journalist accepted £15,000 in grants from the university at the heart of the ‘Climategate’ scandal – and later went on to cover the story without declaring an interest to viewers.

Roger Harrabin, the BBC’s ‘environment analyst’, used the money from the University of East Anglia’s Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research to fund an ‘ad hoc’ partnership he ran with a friend.

Mr Harrabin, an influential figure who both broadcasts and advises other BBC journalists, later reported extensively about Climategate. The scandal erupted two years ago when emails were leaked from the Tyndall Centre’s sister department, the  Climatic Research Unit at the same university.

Wind turbines ‘a waste of space’ says MEP

MEP Struan Stevenson will tell a conference tomorrow that wind farms are a “waste of space” that “desecrate the landscape and make people’s lives a misery”.

In a hard-hitting keynote address to the National Windfarm Conference in Ayr, Conservative MEP Mr Stevenson will attack the use of wind farms to generate power in Scotland.

He will describe the SNP’s veto on nuclear power as “sheer madness”, label the target of generating the equivalent of 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity demand from renewables by 2020 as “ludicrous” and argue that rich landowners are raking in profits from wind farms at the expense of consumers.

Mr Stevenson, who is chairman of the climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development intergroup at the European Parliament, will describe a “renewable wind blitzkrieg invading our country with industrial structures of concrete and steel, all for a small, intermittent trickle of electricity at vast cost to the consumer and no benefit to the environment”.

Environmental groups and trade body Scottish Renewables rejected the views put forward in Mr Stevenson’s speech, seen ahead of the conference by The Scotsman.

Co-op shale gas report questions carbon footprint cost

Using shale gas could stop the UK from reducing its carbon footprint, a report for the Co-operative group claimed.

It said recovering 20% of Lancashire's gas resources would produce 2bn tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Shale gas would account for almost 15% of the UK's total allowed emissions up to 2050, the report said.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said it would expect the footprint for shale gas to be similar to onshore natural gas fields.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

British Gas admits loss of trust

British Gas says it is simplifying its tariffs after acknowledging a lack of public trust in the energy industry.

British Gas loses thousands of customers over energy hikes

British Gas, one of the UK’s leading energy suppliers, is reported to have lost over 100,000 customers to rival energy firms as a result of the recent summer price hikes.

The company recently increased the price of gas by 18% and electricity by 11%, adding an average of £200 to the dual fuel bill. Thousands of frustrated families   have now left the energy supplier in search of cheaper tariffs as a result.

However, whilst the leading six energy suppliers have all increased their prices by an average of 20%, it leaves little hope for households which are already struggling.

Many have resorted to extreme measures in order to deal with the winter heating bills. Recent research found that some Brits are cutting back on everyday essentials such as food, as well as rationing their heating. 

Fortunately, the recent spell of warm weather has delayed the need for pensioners and families to use their heating. However, as the cold weather kicks in many will soon be feeling the pinch.
The rising cost of energy will push thousands of households into fuel poverty this winter, with pensioners and single parents in the most vulnerable positions.

According to City analysts, British Gas has lost around 100,000 customers since the start of the year, with many suspected of leaving due to the autumn price hikes.

Chris Huhne shares his views on shale gas and the future of Britain’s Energy Industry

Mr. Huhne believes that the best way to increase Britain’s energy security is to do what canny investors do: spread the risk by investing in an energy portfolio flexible enough to withstand the high winds of global commodity markets.

'New release' of climate emails

A new batch of emails and other documents from the University of East Anglia's (UEA) Climatic Research Unit has been released on the internet.

There are more than 5,000 emails, while other documents include working papers relating to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

A similar release in 2009 triggered the "ClimateGate" affair and accusations of fraud that inquiries later dismissed.

Forum warns lack of dedicated watchdog could undermine energy reforms

Proposals to better protect small businesses from energy companies could be undermined because of the lack of a dedicated watchdog, the Forum of Private Business (FPB) is warning.

Following its research showing that 94% of small businesses surveyed have seen energy bills rise over the past year — the biggest cost increases they have experienced - the Forum is welcoming Ofgem’s proposals to reform the energy market.

However, the watchdog Consumer Focus is being disbanded in 2013 and some of its powers will be passed to the Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB). It follows the demise of its predecessor Energywatch in 2008 and the removal its dedicated small business complaints hotline. The Forum is concerned that, unless new Ofgem powers prove adequate, the CAB could prove even less effective at policing any reforms.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Chris Huhne on Shale Gas...

On an exclusive article for The Telegraph Britain’s Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change shared his views on shale gas and what are the plans to keep the lights on in the UK. He made it clear that shale gas in not high on his agenda but it didn’t dismiss it completely and stated that wind turbines are here to stay.

Mr. Huhne believes that the best way to increase Britain’s energy security is to do what canny investors do: spread the risk by investing in an energy portfolio flexible enough to withstand the high winds of global commodity markets.

We have to agree with the Energy Secretary and his plan of action. We can’t bet the farm on only one energy resource even though that source has proven to be cost effective in other countries.

U.K. Electricity Prices to soar by 2021

On November 14th, 2011, SmartestEnergy (London, England) reported that wholesale electricity prices in United Kingdom will rise by at least 40% over the next ten years.

SmartestEnergy’s Power Predictor Survey 2012 interviewed independent generators, energy buyers and brokers. More than a third of survey respondents believe that wholesale prices will be between GBP 70 – GBP 79.99/MWh.

Many in the industry are bracing themselves for significant increases

"While it is impossible to forecast with any certainty what will happen over the next decade, it is clear from our survey that many in the industry are bracing themselves for significant increases," SmartestEnergy CEO Robert Groves said.

A 29% predicted prices will at least GBP 80/MWh, which is more than 60% higher than the current rates. Only 8.4% believed prices will be the same or lower than today. The average price predicted was just over GBP 70/MWh, compared to the GBP 49/MWh average seen over the past year, representing a 43% increase.

Micro-CHP Called 'Critical' to UK's Energy Future

Micro-CHP may be the key to achieving the United Kingdom’s ambitious energy and  environmental policy goals, according to a new report by JDS Associates.
Micro-CHP encompasses a spectrum of energy technologies that produce heat (which can be used for space heating and hot water) and electric power simultaneously.

Unlike conventional combined heat and power (CHP) applications, micro-CHP produces relatively small amounts of heat and electricity.  For example, conventional CHP systems commonly produce enough heat and power for large, mulit-buildings hospitals.  By contrast, micro-CHP systems are typically sized to produce heat and power for a modestly sized home.

Centrica buys $1.63 billion Norwegian upstream assets

The UK's Centrica boosted its oil and gas production by a quarter on Monday through buying a string of assets from Norway's Statoil and signing a 10-year gas deal that will improve the UK's energy security.

Centrica, the parent of household energy supplier British Gas, will buy 5 billion cubic meters (bcm) of natural gas per year - about 5 percent of the UK's annual gas needs - between 2015 and 2025 in a deal worth about 13 billion pounds ($20.5 billion).

Monday, 21 November 2011

Britain's Gas-Price Gamble

When Cuadrilla Resources, a small independent gas producer, announced in September that it had found vast quantities of shale gas under northwest England, it caught many people off-guard. It had been known for some time that the area contained some shale reserves, but nobody anticipated anything like the volumes that Cuadrilla discovered. We cannot yet know what proportion of those volumes will turn out to be producible. But this is not the first time that developments in shale gas have taken people by surprise.

Ten years ago, no one could have predicted the shale revolution that has occurred since in America's energy markets. Investors at the time built import terminals to receive shiploads of gas from the Middle East and Africa. Those now sit idle, made redundant by developments in America's shale basins.

The lesson here is that technological change will always scupper long-term plans. In the 1980s, the British government spent a lot of time examining and attempting to predict the future of the U.K. energy-generation market as part of its planning enquiry for the Sizewell B nuclear plant. None of the many energy experts involved at the time suggested a significant role for gas generation.

Yet by the 1990s, gas turbines were basically the only generation facilities being built in England. In 2003, the government issued a white paper concluding that new nuclear generation was unnecessary. By 2006 it had decided that it was essential.

Today, the possibility of large shale-gas resources is once again calling into question the U.K.'s energy policy—particularly its approach to electricity-market reform, which is based on Whitehall officials' tallies of future market developments and their desired contributions from nuclear, renewables, gas and other technologies. The government is offering tens of billions of pounds in subsidies to its favored renewable-generation technologies—a large proportion of which will go to expensive deepwater offshore wind projects.

The carbon savings from these projects are 20-30 times as expensive as those that could be achieved through technology-neutral policies, such as the EU Emissions Trading Scheme, or even Britain's own newly introduced carbon-price floor.

Ofgem set to tackle mis-selling of energy contracts by brokers to small businesses

Ofgem will tomorrow announce a big initiative to tackle mis-selling of energy contracts by brokers to small and medium-sized firms.
An industry source said the watchdog was 'determined to tackle those brokers acting against the interests of small business customers'.

Ofgem is believed to fear the activities of some brokers could deter firms from using genuinely helpful intermediaries.

Financial Mail has long campaigned for action against rogue brokers who get firms to sign up to long, costly contracts.

Most mis-selling complaints relate to verbal contracts. These are legally binding, yet there is no requirement for brokers to keep recordings of calls.

To make matters worse, Ofgem currently has no direct power over brokers.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Climate Minister buys a castle with 16 bathrooms... and a massive carbon footprint

He is the climate change  minister who pledged to ‘lead by  example’ in the fight against global warming.

But Charles Hendry is facing accusations of hypocrisy after buying himself a 20-bedroom castle – with a potentially massive carbon footprint – as a second home.

Blair Castle in Ayrshire, which went on the market for £2.5million, has three storeys, 16 bathrooms and a heated outdoor swimming pool set in 260 acres of beautiful countryside.

Friday, 18 November 2011

'Bailiffs broke in and sprayed chemicals in my dog's eyes over unpaid gas... and it wasn't even my bill'

Matthew Swale and Melanie Cunningham were terrified when they were woken up early one morning to see a hoodie-wearing gang armed with crowbars hammering on their front door and shouting obscenities.

The flat-mates became even more distraught when the men sprayed chemicals through their letterbox in a bid to subdue Matthew's anxious Labrador, Jake.

But that fear has now been replaced by anger after it was revealed that last month's 7am raid was carried out by bailiffs sent to sort out an unpaid gas bill - which had been left by a former tenant.

Recovery is a dirty word... as carbon emissions are outstripping economic growth

The global financial recovery has been unkind on the environment, with carbon emissions rising faster than economic growth, a report has warned.

Analysis by the PwC Low Carbon Economy Index shows that during the recession many countries, including the UK, saw emissions fall faster than gross domestic product - a broad measure of the total economy.

This was because their manufacturing output fell, and not because of environmentally conscious politicians or businesses.

Read more:

Thursday, 17 November 2011

The £2,000 fuel bill: Energy prices could soar by 60% by 2021, say experts as wholesale costs rocket

Energy bills could rise by as much as 60 per cent over the next ten years - plunging ever more customers into fuel poverty, industry experts have predicted.

Analysts warn that average electricity tariffs could increase by £300 a year to £800, while gas prices may jump from £845 to more than £1,300.

The hikes, being blamed on rising wholesale prices and the need to invest in green technology, would force total annual bills through the £2,000 mark, more than £700 higher than today's rates.

Centrica warns as households, businesses retrench

British Gas owner Centrica issued a profit warning, saying customers were shopping elsewhere following price hikes and using less electricity and gas due to economic uncertainty and warmer weather.

The utility, whose British Gas unit is the UK's biggest household energy supplier, said customer churn had risen since it raised prices by as much as 18 percent and that account numbers had dipped since the start of the year to 15.9 million.

The drop in account numbers, which one analyst put at close to 100,000, was also due partly to Centrica ending doorstep sales in response to pressure from consumer groups.

Following the latest round of price hikes by Britain's six dominant energy suppliers, gas prices are rising by an average of 15 percent this winter, just as austerity measures aimed at cutting government debt curb economic growth and reduce household incomes.

Hydro firm raises £2m for 15 new projects

Hydro energy firm Green Highland Renewables has raised £2 million from investors after it secured a deal to develop up to 15 small-scale schemes on land owned by the Forestry Commission Scotland.

Iain Wotherspoon, the chairman of the Perth-based firm, said it will invest around £1.5m per scheme and the joint venture deal made Green Highland Renewables the “largest developer of small-scale hydro schemes in Scotland”.

The company has also appointed Ian Cartwright as managing director to oversee the next phase of its development.

Cartwright, who replaces the firm’s founder Alastair Riddell, has made a career in renewable energy delivery in Scotland, having built up and sold his own £1m business, J S Cartwright and Company, to Scottish Hydro Contracting in 1999.

Riddell will remain on the board as an executive director of the business.

Riddell said: “Green Highland now sits at a very exciting juncture in its development.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Ofgem head flags major fraud threat

Describing the watchdog as a multi-billion pound "clearing house" for money funding various energy schemes, Alistair Buchanan, its chief executive, said fraud was a "huge issue".

"Fraud and money laundering are permanent concerns for our internal auditors, Deloittes (sic), when they are looking at all of our projects," he said. "The sheer scale of numbers that are coming in and out of Ofgem as a clearing house, it's nearly £3bn, [mean] it is a very major concern."

In addition to its regulatory responsibilities, Ofgem runs various schemes for the Government, which impose costs on energy suppliers – and so ultimately, the consumer.

The figure Mr Buchanan cited covers the cost of social, environmental and energy efficiency schemes. Ofgem also runs a competitive tender process to build and maintain the offshore cables which connect wind farms, worth around another £2bn.

2010-2011 CRC League Table

Manchester United Tops CRC Performance League Table while Virgin Atlantic is amongst worst performers.

The Environment Agency has published its first Carbon Reduction Commitment Performance League Table (CRC League Table) ranking 2,000 registered organisations on how they manage their business electricity usage and carbon emissions. 

According to EA’s data more than 60% of the registered companies have installed smart meters or gained good energy management and Carbon Trust accreditation.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

UK government seen backing mandatory carbon reporting

The UK government is to decide by the end of the year whether to make greenhouse gas emissions reporting mandatory – and observers are hopeful that it will compel at least the largest companies to report on their carbon emissions.
The issue was put on the regulatory table by the previous administration’s Climate Change Act, passed in 2008, which charged the government with making reporting mandatory, or explaining to Parliament why it has not done so, by 6 April 2012.

The coalition government has been consulting on the issue, and is considering whether to make reporting mandatory for all large companies, all quoted companies, or all large corporate energy consumers.

Supporters of corporate reporting fear that ‘no’ would seem the likely answer, since the idea was conceived by a Labour government, and the current Conservative-Liberal Democrat government has expressed its intention to lighten the regulatory burden upon business.

Energy price to hit six million households

The energy giant is the last to put up prices, following moves by British Gas, EDF Energy, E. ON, npower, Scottish Power and SSE, which takes the typical household energy bill up from £1,132 to £1,293 – an increase of £161. The increase brings to an end a year of misery for consumers where energy bills rocketed by 21pc or £224 on average.

Energy customers in some of the poorer parts of the UK are paying more for their domestic fuel than those in the more prosperous South.

According to a nationwide study issued by, the postcode lottery means that those living in Merseyside and North Wales are paying the highest typical electricity and gas bills in the country with an average customer on £1,373 a year. This is £80 more than those in London and £79 more than those in Southern England. While the North West England region customers are paying the second highest typical bill at £1,341 a year.

Cuts to solar panel scheme could be 'phased in' after public backlash

The Government is under huge pressure over the turmoil caused to people and businesses because cuts to the “feed-in tariff” scheme are coming in so quickly on December 12.

Thousands of homeowners have been caught out because their applications for new panels are stuck in the planning system or waiting for a connection to the power grid.

They have paid up to £4,000 in deposits for their installations but there is little hope of meeting the deadline before the subsidy is halved, which is likely to make their investment uneconomic.

Concerned by the backlash, Greg Barker, the Climate Change Minister, is considering whether to “phase in” the cuts to help people who are losing out because they will narrowly miss the deadline, according to sources in the department.

However, he will only be able to do this if there is enough money left in the £867 million budget after a consultation period finishes at the end of December.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Today's UK Business Gas Prices

British spot gas rose more than 7 percent on Monday morning as exports to mainland Europe increased and supply fell short of demand, while curve contracts were buoyed by government reshuffles in Greece and Italy.Gas for immediate delivery surged to 57.60 pence per therm as utilities in Europe leaned heavily on imports from Britain as heating demand increased, sucking 42 million cubic meters/day (mcm/day) away from the UK.

New lighting saves Welsh Water £70k/year

Cardiff, UK – Welsh Water has reduced its electricity bills by £70,000/year as a result of a programme undertaken by Energys Group across 41 Welsh Water sites. The project involved replacing old-style fluorescent lamps with energy-efficient equivalents using its Save It Easy retrofit converter.

Lighting is an essential part of keeping the company running safely, but for Welsh Water it was also an overlooked energy drain, with its old-style T8 fluorescent lamps using an excessive amount of electricity. The obvious solution was to upgrade to new, energy-efficient T5 lamps, but the process for upgrading was not as straightforward as it seemed.

Read more:

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Charity in solar cut legal action

Friends of the Earth is taking the government to court over its plans to halve the subsidies for households that install solar electricity.

Friday, 11 November 2011

The UK Shale Gas Rush...

Once again shale Gas is subject of debate between conservatives and non-conservatives about whether it can solve Britain’s energy and gas crisis. On one side we have the Energy Select Committee, lead by Tim Yeo, who advocates on the potential benefits that shale gas could bring the UK economy. On the other side we have environmentalists, backed by Lord Redesdale, who believe anaerobic digestion is the way forward.

Didn’t they do well?

FOR ALL THEIR green efforts, the Big Four found themselves ranked lower than some would have expected in the first carbon reduction league table.

The newly introduced government scheme forces companies, which spend at least £500,000 annually on energy bills, to pay for and report on their carbon emissions. Based on the reports, the government has published the first league table of how these businesses faired against each other.

The Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (CRC) not only hits the wallets of companies, but publicly reveals their achievements, or lack of.

Organisations collated a year's worth of information to April 2011, before submitting it to the government.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

UK British prompt gas prices rose on Thursday

British prompt gas prices rose on Thursday as exports to Europe surged and supplies from Norway fell, making the system short of gas.

Gas for immediate delivery rose 2 pence to 59 pence-per-therm as supply fell short of demand, while day-ahead gas traded 1.8 pence higher at 58.50 pence.
Britain exported 56 million cubic meters/day (mcm/day) to Belgium on Thursday, as continental buyers snapped up comparatively cheaper gas from the UK.
Benchmark summer 2012 gas was little changed at 66.45 pence.

Provider Warns Of Increased Energy Prices

One of the UK's biggest energy companies has warned that the age of cheap energy prices has ended.

Npower said that unless investment of at least £200bn is made in Britain's energy infrastructure, prices will spiral, and the Government could be forced to backtrack heavily on its carbon reduction targets.

Volker Beckers, chief executive of RWE npower, told Sky's Jeff Randall Live that it was important not to sacrifice the cost of supply to reduce its carbon impact.

He blamed the recent increase in energy prices on a rise in the cost of oil and other global commodities, but said companies like npower had tried to reduce the impact on consumers.

"Energy companies have managed volatility in wholesale prices," he said.

The International Energy Agency warned oil prices could hit $150 a barrel over the next five years unless $100bn is invested every year in North African and Middle Eastern oil fields.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Bglobal seeks £1.5m costs saving measures

Smart meters firm Bglobal said it has shed more than a quarter of its workforce this year as part of a drive to reduce its annualised costs by £2.5m.

In the first tranche during the spring, Lancashire-based Bglobal made about 15 redundancies as it sought to achieve savings of £1m.

It said in a trading update yesterday that those measures had not gone far enough and it had embarked on a second phase of cost reductions to save a further £1.5m.

Chief executive Tim Jackson-Smith said it involved about 50 redundancies. At the start of the year, Bglobal had a workforce of around 220. Bglobal, based in Darwen, said it remained profitable in the six months to September 30, but added that some customers in the industrial and commercial sectors had reduced their level of installations in response to a government announcement that a mass roll-out to the residential and SME markets would not start until 2014 at the earliest.

It also said its previous strategy of working with the big six energy companies to secure a large contract to install and read smart meters was no longer the way forward amid calls for more competition in the sector, and that it was working with an 'experienced retail player' to establish a new energy supplier to enter the market and establish relationships with end users.

CRC policy blamed as 800 firms fail to take energy efficiency action

British businesses have been warned against celebrating the results of the government's Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) league table, after they revealed 40 per cent of firms are failing to take action on climate change.

The inaugural CRC Energy Efficiency League Table was unveiled today by the Environment Agency, ranking 2,000 organisations according to how they manage their energy use.

The Shale Gas Rush:

Once again shale Gas is subject of debate between conservatives and non-conservatives about whether it can solve Britain’s energy and gas crisis. On one side we have the Energy Select Committee, lead by Tim Yeo, who advocates on the potential benefits that shale gas could bring the UK economy. On the other side we have environmentalists, backed by Lord Redesdale, who believe anaerobic digestion is the way forward.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

CRC performance league table – the reaction

Key industry players give their thoughts on the first Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency League Table

Carbon Reduction Commitment Performance League Table

Today, the Environment Agency has published the eagerly anticipated Performance League Table which details the performance of all participants under the Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme (the CRC). 

Click Here to see the results.

How 9 UK tech companies can save the UK government £1.7 billion

This is a guest post by Philip Petersen, CEO of ad infinitum.

The seed for this article was sown by Sarah Lacy when she stated she was not writing enough about “admittedly boring infrastructure or enterprise software names.” Boring? How can anyone think that about data centre energy management software! Then Mark Goldenson discovered that “only 2% of TechCrunch stories are about enterprise companies.” And that did it – time for action. So, this is for enterprise software and some other boring sectors, too!

There are so many great technology companies out there that get no exposure because most of the mainstream media ignores them. It seems to me sometimes that the word “technology” has been hijacked by journalists to refer almost exclusively to consumer-oriented tech – ecommerce, mobile, apps and social media and so on. Exciting though these are, what about the rest – the unknown technology innovators out there who are trying to create great solutions for business or for medicine or whatever? Perhaps they don’t even come from Silicon Valley or Silicon Roundabout. Perhaps, shock horror, they don’t have VC-backing nor a pre-revenue $1 billion valuation. (Perhaps they should but that is another story). What they do, though, is address $billion markets – such as data centre energy management.

Manchester United tops CRC league table as Virgin Atlantic sinks ...

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Manchester United tops CRC league table as Virgin Atlantic sinks ...

By Jessica Shankleman More than 60 per cent of organisations reporting under the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) have installed smart meters or gained ...

Latest UK Gas Prices

British prompt gas prices rose more than 5 percent on Monday morning as supply fell short of demand while lower temperatures boosted gas burn in heaters and power plants nationwide.

Gas for delivery in the next working week hit a 13-day high at 61 pence-per-therm on a downward revised temperature forecast following extended mild weather conditions this week.
Next week [temperatures] should be in line with seasonal norms, with this week staying about 1 to 2 degrees Celsius above norms,” a trader with a UK utility said.

Gas for immediate delivery gained 2 pence at 59 pence as cooler forecast temperatures on Monday and Tuesday spurred demand, overtaking supplies by 17 million cubic meters/day (mcm/day).

Monday, 7 November 2011

Energy Market Report Nov11

Our monthly analysis of the UK gas and power markets is now available on line for the month of November 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.

UK food and drink manufacturers reduce water use by 11.9%

Nearly a quarter of the UK's food and drink manufacturers have helped reduce water use in the sector by 11.9%, more than halfway towards a 2020 water reduction target of 20%, according to the latest report by the Federation House Commitment (FHC).

The FHC, which published its third annual report today (October 3), is a voluntary agreement set up in 2008 to help food and drink manufacturers improve their water efficiency, and is managed by WRAP and the Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

In the report it was revealed that signatories of the commitment, which include major brands such as Coca Cola, Nestle, Dairy Crest, Pepsi, Mars and Kraft Foods, reduced their water use by 1.3m cu m each year, compared with 2007, resulting in a reduction of 5.3%, while water use per tonne of product decreased by 11.9%.

The FHC figures show that in 2010 FHC signatories used 22.9m cu m water in the manufacture of food and drink, compared to 24.2m cu m in 2007.

UK energy bills on the up due to gadget addiction

It looks as if UK consumers' addiction to gadgets means the country will have a hard time meeting targets for cutting home energy use.

It seems that Brits can’t get enough of their gadgets. A report by the UK’s Energy Saving Trust, an NPO that promotes the use of sustainable energy, says that despite a greater awareness of ways to save energy in the home, many British citizens are so addicted to their gadgets that energy bills and emissions are on the rise.

According to the Energy Saving Trust’s report (pdf), titled The Elephant in the Living Room, targets for cutting home energy use by 34 percent before 2020 are in jeopardy as a result of the growing popularity of items such as personal computers, large refrigerators and smartphones.

Commenting on the report’s findings, its author Dr Paula Owen said: “If we look over the last five years a lot has changed and a lot of progress has been made making the most energy-sapping appliances more efficient. But where we still have a long way to go is with our gadgets and home entertainment appliances, which are using more and more electricity.”

Saturday, 5 November 2011

£10m wind turbine ecobonds on offer

A green energy company is to launch a new £10 million bond scheme to give investors the chance to back UK renewables, after a similar programme was oversubscribed last year.

Ecotricity is launching “ecobond-two”, to fund investment in renewable projects to build 19 new wind turbines for which it has planning permission.

The second investment scheme follows the success of the first round of £10 million of ecobonds it issued last year, which were oversubscribed by 50%, to help fund a solar park and turbines at two factories.

The company said the scheme allowed people to bypass the banks and invest in green energy “without needing to stick anything on their roofs”.

Ecotricity believes the bonds will appeal to people who may have been considering investing in domestic solar power to take advantage of subsidies which pay people for electricity from small scale renewables, but are thinking again in the wake of the Government’s announcement the payments are to be slashed by half.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Give councils no opt-out on climate policies, says Green Alliance

Two-thirds of councils are scaling back or abolishing climate change programmes, leading to calls for local authorities to be prevented from opting out of action.

Research published today by think-tank Green Alliance finds 37 per cent of councils are "deprioritising climate change" or even claiming it was never a priority. Meanwhile, 28 per cent are purely focusing on tackling emissions from their estate and ceasing to work on wider climate change issues.

KPMG: Aims to reduce its carbon footprint by 25% through environmental stewardship

In the past 18 months, the IT group at KPMG has helped update and create new processes and workflows for the company's paper-, energy- and carbon-intensive systems.

These efforts included raising the ambient temperature in the data center to improve efficiency by more than 5%, raising the temperature of the water in the cooling tower to improve efficiency by 5% and migrating to blade server technology, with the average blade server consuming about 50% less power than a comparably configured rack-mounted server.

The New York-based audit, tax and advisory services firm is also in the midst of a data center transformation, incorporating an older, inefficient data center into its main facility. With this consolidation, KPMG anticipates saving about 15% in energy costs.

"At KPMG, the role of IT is to create new sources of value and improve the productivity of our business teams, using technologies that are powerful, flexible and efficient," says CIO Dick Anderson. "As we look to optimize our investments in IT, an important priority is our use of green technologies like server virtualization, and our energy-efficient data center heating and power systems to help optimize the efficiency of our solutions."

Thursday, 3 November 2011

The Queen Going Green...

Queen Elizabeth wants stop wasting energy in family's residences in the UK.

£1bn flagship green scheme is cancelled

Britain's efforts to fight climate change suffered an embarrassing setback yesterday when the Government abandoned plans for the UK's first coal-fired power plant fitted with technology to capture and store carbon emissions.

The flagship project at Longannet, the huge power station on the Firth of Forth, fell apart after the consortium planning to build it, headed by ScottishPower and including Shell and the National Grid, demanded considerably more investment than the £1bn which the Government had set aside for the scheme.

The project's collapse is a blow to Britain's declared aim of being the first country with a full-scale generating plant employing carbon capture and storage (CCS) – a complex new technology which takes CO2 out of power station waste gases, liquefies it, and buries it deep underground, or in this case under the North Sea. CCS is seen as a crucial technique in reducing carbon emissions, which Britain has pledged to cut by 80 per cent by 2050.

The Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne, was quick to point out yesterday that CCS remained a key part of Britain's energy strategy and that the £1bn would remain available for other CCS projects.

The funding had been exempted by the Chancellor, George Osborne, from his cuts programme last year, and the collapse of the deal with ScottishPower is not seen as the Government's fault, but the delay in CCS coming on stream will add to the impression that the UK is slowing down on its efforts to tackle climate change in a time of recession.

Keep a close watch on the energy market

Taking control of your organisation's energy consumption could help reduce your carbon footprint. David Hunter, energy analyst at M&C Energy Group, explains how to get the most from your energy budget

Utilities costs are unavoidable in running any operation. The focus should be on minimising the impact of these overheads, and ensuring the energy budget serves business objectives. The potential to reduce utilities expenditure should not be underestimated. If left unmonitored, energy users can expect to face escalating prices and missed carbon reduction targets.

Deregulation of the energy markets has led to a vastly more complex purchasing and decision-making process for organisations if they are to optimise price, choice of supplier and negotiate better terms.

Price volatility has also contributed to the challenge of managing budget and strategy. Wholesale energy markets have doubled, halved and almost doubled again in the past four years – simply riding the wave of market movements can put intolerable financial pressure on an organisation.

A further consideration has been the build-up of environmental legislation and taxation policies that have led to additional cost burdens on utility pricing. This in turn has focused users on controlling their costs and consumption.

Smart meter users face hidden charges

Hidden charges for smart meters are catching small businesses unawares, says a price comparison company.

The sophisticated meters are being offered free by energy suppliers as part of a national programme to provide new products and services and make it easier for businesses and householders to monitor consumption and improve efficiency.

But Make it Cheaper, which acts for businesses, charities and trade associations in negotiating power deals, is recording a sharp increase in the number of companies eager to instal the new meters but cancelling contracts because of the 'extras.’

Businesses are finding charges ranging from 20p to 60p a day are being added to their bills in the shape of additional standing charges. In some cases rental fees are being introduced if customers switch suppliers.

Jim Fallow, vice-chairman of The Park Club, a bowls and tennis club in Thornton Cleveleys, Lancashire, negotiated considerable savings on a new supply contract but found the benefits had been wiped out when told the club would have to pay an extra daily charge of 60p a meter.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Energy companies 'giving poor advice on best deals'

The number of energy tariffs available to householders is so vast and the options so complex that staff at energy companies have no idea which is the best deal, according to an undercover investigation.

Consumer body Which? called each of the six major energy suppliers 12 times in one week to get advice on the cheapest deal.

Despite being asked clearly for the lowest cost option in each case, in nearly a third of the calls, the firms failed to offer their cheapest tariff. Staff also gave questionable advice about potential savings, cashback deals and fixed prices.

The big six energy companies have about 400 tariffs on offer between them, with some only available to online customers, others offering cashback incentives and others with "bill free" months if a customer signs up for long enough.

npower releases latest energy market update

npower has released its new energy market update, reporting that mild temperatures and good storage levels have resulted in a bearish prompt market.

New UK & Norway Energy Agreement

UK and Norway Reaffirm Their Commitment on Energy Security and Climate Issues.

Just a day after Norwegian oil and gas producer Statoil threatened to stop selling its North Sea natural gas to the UK, unless our Energy Secretary, Mr. Chris Huhne, made more effort to increase the country’s use of renewable energy. Amazingly a joint Ministerial statement on climate change and energy security was signed between the two countries.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Opus Energy Ltd Celebrates The Sunday Times Top Track Listing with the Creation of 100 New Positions

Independent UK business-to-business energy supplier, Opus Energy, has today announced the creation of an extra 100 jobs. This follows the company’s recent feature in The Sunday Times HSBC Top Track 250 league table of the UK’s top mid-market private businesses.

Published on Sunday 16th October, the Top Track 250 league table ranks the UK's mid-market private companies by their sales. Opus Energy’s ranking in the Top Track 250 was achieved through a 31% growth in sales over the previous year; the sales figures for the year up until March 2011 show that Opus Energy achieved £198 million in sales.

Typical Top Track 250 companies are owned and run by entrepreneurs and established families, which have between 100 to 13,000 employees. Opus Energy employs 360 staff at both its Northampton and Oxford offices, but as the business has continued to see rapid growth during the first six months of the 2011 financial year it aims to create 100 new jobs by the end of 2012 to meet demand.

Charlie Crossley Cooke, Managing Director, Opus Energy Ltd, states: “We are extremely pleased with this recognition of our performance over the last year but are now very much focused on the future. We are creating these new jobs to meet our continued level of growth.”