Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Just how environmentally friendly are electric vehicles?

Because they produce no exhaust gases in operation electric vehicles (EVs)
are seen as the eco-friendly alternative to conventional gas-fueled cars.
While zero-local emissions is clearly a big plus, other factors contributing
to the overall environmental impact of EVs are often overlooked - namely the
manufacture, usage and disposal of the batteries used to store the
electrical energy and the sources of power used to charge them. Now, for the
first time, a team of scientists from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for
Materials Testing and Research (or EMPA) have made a detailed life cycle
assessment or ecobalance of the type of lithium-ion batteries most
frequently used in EVs, to see if they really are as environmentally
friendly as their manufacturers would have us believe.

Fuel source is the key

The investigation shows that, if the power used to charge the battery is not
derived from purely hydroelectric sources, then it is primarily the
operation of the EV that has an environmental impact, exactly as is the case
with conventionally fueled vehicles. In other words, the size of the
environmental footprint depends on which sources of power are used to "fuel"
the EV. Contrary to initial expectations that the manufacture of the
batteries could negate the advantages of electric drive vehicles, the Li-ion
battery itself was actually found to have a limited effect.

The team calculated the ecological footprints of electric cars fitted with
Li-ion batteries, taking into account factors such as those associated with
the production of individual parts, the operation of the vehicle during its
lifetime, all the way through to the scrapping of the vehicles and the
disposal of the remains. The electric vehicles evaluated were equivalent in
size and performance to a VW Golf, and the power used to charge the
batteries was assumed to be derived from sources representing an average
European electricity mix - that is, a mixture of atomic, coal-fired and
hydroelectric power stations.

For comparison the team used a new petrol-engined car, meeting the Euro 5
emission regulations. It consumes on average 5.2 liters (1.37 U.S. gallons)
per 100km (62 miles) when put through the new European Driving Cycle (NEDC),
a value significantly lower than the European average. In this respect,
therefore, the conventional vehicle belongs to the best of its class on the


The study shows that the electric car's Li-ion battery drive is in fact only
a moderate environmental burden. At most only 15 per cent of the total
burden can be ascribed to the battery (including its manufacture,
maintenance and disposal). Half of this figure, that is about 7.5 per cent
of the total environmental burden, occurs during the refining and
manufacture of the battery's raw materials, copper and aluminum. The
production of the lithium, in the other hand, is responsible for only 2.3
per cent of the total.

"Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are not as bad as previously assumed,"
according to Dominic Notter, coauthor of the study which has just been
published in the scientific journal Environmental Science & Technology.

The outlook is not as rosy when one looks at the operation of an electric
vehicle over an expected lifetime of 150,000 kilometers (93,205 miles). The
greatest ecological impact is caused by the regular recharging of the
battery, that is, the "fuel" of the e-car. Topping-up with electricity
sourced from a mixture of atomic, coal-fired and hydroelectric power
stations, as is usual in Europe, results in three times as much pollution as
from the Li-ion battery alone. If the electricity is generated exclusively
by coal-fired power stations, the ecobalance worsens by another 13 per cent.
If, on the other hand, the power is purely hydroelectric, then this figure
improves by no less than 40 per cent.

The EMPA team concluded that a petrol-engined car must consume between three
and four liters per 100km (or about 70mpg) in order to be as environmentally
friendly as the electric car studied, powered with Li-ion batteries and
charged with a typical European electricity mix.


The Bloom Box is the future of energy

Silicon Valley startup Bloom Energy has invented what some are calling the
power plant in a box, a little square shape device which is about the size
of a brick is said to be able to power an entire home.

With the Bloom Box You'll generate your own electricity wirelessly with out
the need for addition equipment in the home, Bloom Energy ultimate goal with
the box is to get rid of the need for big power plants

and transmission line grids. Co-founder and chief executive, K.R. Sridhar,
while working as a director of the Space Technologies Laboratory at the
University of Arizona, was approached by NASA and asked him to find a way to
make life sustainable on Mars. The first project his lab came up with was a
device that would use solar power and Martian water to drive a reactor cell that generated oxygen to breathe
and hydrogen to power vehicles, from that came the Bloom Box.
Breakthrough technology that will revolutionize the way we think of energy

The Bloom Box is a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that uses liquid or gaseous
hydrocarbons (such as gasoline, diesel or propane produced from fossil or
bio sources) to generate electricity on the site where it will be used,
According to the company, a single cell (one 100mm × 100mm metal alloy plate
between two ceramic layers) generates 25 watts. In an interview with CBS, company co-founder K.R. Sridhar was asked about
whether the box is intended to replace the utility companies he responded by
saying, "The Bloom box is intended to replace the grid...for its customers.
It's cheaper than the grid, it's cleaner than the grid." So far the small
startup claims to have 20 large corporations as customers testing Bloom
boxes in California. FedEx, Walmart, Google to name a few are all on board. Many skeptics would point out the fact that fuel cells have underdelivered
on their promise over the years but the company is worried and is very
confident about their device. "Our system can use fossil fuels like natural
gas. Our system can use renewable fuels like landfill gas, bio-gas," Sridhar
said in an interview, Bloom's corporate boxes cost about $700,000 to
$800,000 and have a three- to five-year payback period, the company
estimates. As the device begins the mass production phase each home sized
Bloom device will cost under $3000, "We are twice as efficient as the U.S.
national grid, which means we can produce the same amount of electricity for
half the fuel and half the carbon footprint," Sridhar says.

Many Analysts and Energy Brokers
are predicting that Bloom could do very well in U.S. states that subsidize
alternative energy technologies, such as California, New York, and
Connecticut. We have to wait and see what impact the Bloom Box will have on
our ever growing need for energy. Bloom boxes will power not just our
richest companies, but remote villages in Africa and all our houses said
Sridhar. http://www.huliq.com/10180/bloom-box-future-energy

The Bloom Box is the future of energy

Silicon Valley startup Bloom Energy has invented what some are calling the
power plant in a box, a little square shape device which is about the size
of a brick is said to be able to power an entire home.

With the Bloom Box You'll generate your own electricity wirelessly with out
the need for addition equipment in the home, Bloom Energy ultimate goal with
the box is to get rid of the need for big power plants

and transmission line grids. Co-founder and chief executive, K.R. Sridhar,
while working as a director of the Space Technologies Laboratory at the
University of Arizona, was approached by NASA and asked him to find a way to
make life sustainable on Mars. The first project his lab came up with was a
device that would use solar power and Martian water to drive a reactor cell that generated oxygen to breathe
and hydrogen to power vehicles, from that came the Bloom Box.
Breakthrough technology that will revolutionize the way we think of energy

The Bloom Box is a solid oxide fuel cell (SOFC) that uses liquid or gaseous
hydrocarbons (such as gasoline, diesel or propane produced from fossil or
bio sources) to generate electricity on the site where it will be used,
According to the company, a single cell (one 100mm × 100mm metal alloy plate
between two ceramic layers) generates 25 watts. In an interview with CBS, company co-founder K.R. Sridhar was asked about
whether the box is intended to replace the utility companies he responded by
saying, "The Bloom box is intended to replace the grid...for its customers.
It's cheaper than the grid, it's cleaner than the grid." So far the small
startup claims to have 20 large corporations as customers testing Bloom
boxes in California. FedEx, Walmart, Google to name a few are all on board. Many skeptics would point out the fact that fuel cells have underdelivered
on their promise over the years but the company is worried and is very
confident about their device. "Our system can use fossil fuels like natural
gas. Our system can use renewable fuels like landfill gas, bio-gas," Sridhar
said in an interview, Bloom's corporate boxes cost about $700,000 to
$800,000 and have a three- to five-year payback period, the company
estimates. As the device begins the mass production phase each home sized
Bloom device will cost under $3000, "We are twice as efficient as the U.S.
national grid, which means we can produce the same amount of electricity for
half the fuel and half the carbon footprint," Sridhar says.

Many Analysts and Energy Brokers
are predicting that Bloom could do very well in U.S. states that subsidize
alternative energy technologies, such as California, New York, and
Connecticut. We have to wait and see what impact the Bloom Box will have on
our ever growing need for energy. Bloom boxes will power not just our
richest companies, but remote villages in Africa and all our houses said
Sridhar. http://www.huliq.com/10180/bloom-box-future-energy

UK, Norway to collaborate on energy exchange

The UK and Norwegian governments have agreed to team up on a common energy
strategy including both conventional and alternative energy.

As per both the government's strategy, UK will serve as a key gas consumer
with Norway acting as a natural gas supplier, according to UPI.com.

Both the governments highlighted the importance of natural gas by saying
that it is a key component of energy security and further stated that they
will jointly work on ways to prepare for any emergency gas supply

commercial gas companies in the region are planning to set up offshore
storage facilities to hold natural gas.

The UK and Norwegian governments stressed that North Sea resources could
spawn growth in a green energy sector.

The joint statement also said that North Sea wind energy projects could
provide a cheap energy source through bilateral technology sharing.

UK government's regulator of natural gas and electricity, London's Office of
Gas and Electricity Markets, said that the region faces a gas crisis by


Commercial LED Lighting - The Top 10 Business Benefits of Commercial LED Lights

When we talk about energy efficiency nowadays we cant go by without
mentioning LED lights. Over the past few years Commercial
LED Lighting has become the most cost effective commercial lighting
system capable of generating savings of up to 90% on business electricity

Rising energy prices may lead to problems but also opportunities

Following one of the driest summers on record, the return of the rain has
slowed the progress of harvest across Yorkshire. Yield reports appear to
vary significantly according to land type and localised rainfall with
lighter land suffering the most. Recent crop prices are offering a decent
return compared to the spring when wheat was trading below £100. Wheat has
recently risen sharply to £170 per tonne for May delivery; albeit
temporarily, due mainly to the Russian government announcing a ban on wheat
exports making trading somewhat of a lottery. Currently, spot prices are in the region of £140 per tonne and the prospect
of fixing into £120 per tonne ex farm for November next year has tempted
many growers to take advantage of the buoyant trade.

While the rain may be a relief to livestock farmers faced with rising forage
costs and limited grass supplies, it means increased drying and energy cost
for arable farmers. This leads onto discussing energy usage, costs and new
legislation which will impact on farmers and businesses.

The prospect of rising energy costs, especially electricity, is encouraging
farmers to control or reduce energy costs through more efficient systems.
This may be through improved grain drying systems, temperature controlled
pig and poultry units, temperature controlled potato stores or cooling milk.

In addition, new legislation resulting from the UK's Carbon Reduction
Commitment will create further burdens. Part of the legislation requires all
businesses including farmers that have used half
hourly metering from 2008 to the present to register with the Carbon
Reduction Commitment and complete an information disclosure by September 30.

Half hourly meters have a 00 displayed in the profile type box in the top
left hand corner. This is also on your electricity bill, labelled
electricity supply number. Those who don't comply may be subject to a fine
of £500 per meter that is not disclosed. Further pressure to reduce energy
consumption and accurately calculate and record carbon emissions is
inevitable but there are some positives. The Carbon Trust is offering interest-free unsecured loans for between
£3,000 and £20,000 depending on the size of the overall investment and the
type of energy and this will be a big incentive for farmers struggling to
access credit and finance. Through the Enhanced Capital Allowance (ECA)
scheme any investment made for energy efficient equipment or improving the
efficiency of existing equipment is 100 per cent allowable against taxable
profit in the first year. With careful planning farmers will be able to benefit from the carbon trust
loan and ECA scheme as many investments increase energy efficiency.

The loan can be used for a wide range of projects including upgrading grain
drying systems, crop store insulation, milk cooling facilities and heat
exchange systems on poultry sheds.

One of the most effective ways of reducing energy costs and carbon emissions
is by producing renewable electricity through wind, hydro, solar biogas or
heat exchange which can provide income. http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/country-columnists/Industry-Eye-Rising-energy

Friday, 27 August 2010

Late Fines for the Carbon Reduction Commitment Registration

Anaerobic digestion offers farmers food for thought

The UK's emerging anaerobic digestion (AD) industry was thrust into the
limelight this week after two major new projects that promise to demonstrate
the viability of the waste-to-energy technology were unveiled.

First up, energy firm Farmgen broke ground on the first in a wave of
anaerobic digestion plants, designed to provide farmers with an additional
revenue stream from "energy farming".

The £2.5m project at Carr Farm in Warton, Preston will be the first AD plant
built under Farmgen's proposed £30m UK-wide investment programme. Local
crops will be used to create biogas that will generate 1MW of
commercial electricity, which will
then be exported to the national grid.

Farmgen said that it also plans to build a second £2.5m plant in Silloth,
Cumbria later this year and is preparing planning applications for sites in
Lancashire and Staffordshire.

The coalition government has earmarked the accelerated roll out of AD plants
as a key part of its renewable energy strategy and last month launched a
consultation designed to assess how new policies could help increase support
for the emerging sector.

Under the existing feed-in tariff scheme, farmers or businesses installing
AD systems generating up to 500 kilowatt hours (kWh) a year are eligible for
payments of 11.5p per kWh, while those installing larger systems producing
500kWh to 5MW receive 9p per kWh.

Industry insiders have warned that the rates are not currently high enough
to drive the widespread roll out of AD plants and have been calling on the
government to increase in the incentive.

In related news, airport operator BAA announced yesterday that it has signed
a deal with food management firm Vertal that will see travellers food and
drink waste turned into fertiliser for use on local farms.

The company said that food waste from Heathrow's daily 180,000 passengers
will be collected separately and sent to Vertal's recycling facility in
South London where it will be composted within 72 hours.

It added that it hoped the initiative would save carbon emissions equivalent
to around half a million air miles.

Vertal founder and managing director Leon Mekitarian said he hoped the deal
would encourage other firms with large amounts of food waste to invest in
composting technology to reduce their carbon footprint.

"Our accelerated composting technology is significantly more carbon positive
than any other process," he said. "And as the market matures and new
legislation comes on stream, that's becoming a very important business


Thursday, 26 August 2010

UK energy price hike could send data center offshore

A number of companies operating data centers in the UK could end up moving
abroad if the UK Government's proposal to increase
business electricity charges for
businesses by up to 43 percent by 2020 end up being approved.

Both data center operators and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI),
which represents the private sector in Britain, have said they are concerned
the proposal could end up costing not only jobs but competitiveness in a
number of industries that rely on fast and reliant low-latency data center

But it may not be as bad as it seems, according to London City data center
operator City Lifeline managing director Roger Keenan.

"Not all data centers are the same, and they don't exist for the same
reason," Keenan said.

"Some data centers need a lot of computation power (and therefore electrical
power) but have little need to communicate with the outside world. This
might be geological computation, with lots of number crunching, little
communications and few staff. These kinds of data centers may leave the UK."

Keenan said he believes data centers that are communications heavy or
latency critical such as 'algo traders' or telephone calling-card companies
that need myriad diverse connections at low cost to all parts of the world
will remain in the UK, and close to London.

CBI senior policy advisor for energy Murray Birt said the CBI has asked the
British Government to work fast on finalising its plans for energy price
hikes so that businesses, especially those that are more energy intensive,
such as data centers, can finalise goals to become more energy efficient and
reach key government carbon reduction commitments.

According to the Environmental Agency, less than half the number of
companies required to register for the new Carbon Reduction Scheme in the UK
have, and the deadline is close -30 September this year. "We want the government to try and simplify its energy policy," Birt said.
"The price hikes are likely to be here to stay due to the world commodity
price for natural gas, oil and coal, but we do anticipate that these price
will actually end up being slightly less than what is forecast for now."

Birt said the CBI's main concern is those industries where energy is a key
component of their cost, such as the commercial data center. He said
businesses operating data centers will not realise much change in pricing,
due to the small percentage of cost it already equates to for an enterprise
such as large banks, and other entepriees running their own data centers.


Business Electricity VAT Levels

Business VAT

What rate of business VAT should I be charged for my gas or electricity? VAT for business consumers of energy is generally in line with standard VAT
rates, and is normally charged at 17.5%. However, some businesses will meet
the Deminimis requirements of using an average of 33 kWh per day, and then
you would be billed at 5%.

How is VAT Deminimis applied to electricity?

Supplies of not more than an average of 33 kWh per day (1,000 kWh per month)
of transmitted electricity to one customer at any one of his premises, are
billed at 5% VAT. This quantitative limit applies whether the bill is based
on a meter reading by either the supplier, the customer or on an estimate.

How is VAT Deminimis Applied to Gas?

Supplies of not more than an average of 5 therms or 145 kWh per day (150
therms or 4,397 kWh per month) of piped gas to one customer at any one of
his premises are billed at 5% VAT. This quantitative limit applies whether
the bill is based on a meter reading by either the supplier, the customer or
on an estimate.

What criteria does my business need to meet for VAT to be levied at 5%?

To qualify for VAT exemption the site has to be either: * For domestic use * A building, or part of a building, which consists of a dwelling or
number of dwellings * A building, or part of a building, used for a residential purpose * A home or other institution providing residential accommodation
for children * A home or other institution providing residential accommodation
with personal care for persons in need of personal care by reason of old
age, disablement, past or present dependence on alcohol or drugs or past or
present medical disorder * A hospice * A residential accommodation for students or school pupils * Residential accommodation for members of any of the armed forces * A monastery, nunnery or similar establishment * An institution which is the sole or main residence of at least 90%
of its residents * Except use as a hospital, a prison or similar institution, a
hotel, inn or similar establishment * Self catering holiday accommodation * A caravan * A houseboat * A charity otherwise than in the course of furtherance of a
business * Where there is a supply of goods or services partly for domestic
or charitable endeavours * If at least 60% of the goods or services qualify (meet the
aforementioned criteria the whole shall be treated as meeting the criteria)


Plans for a £70m commercial tidal energy project off the coast of Anglesey have been unveiled.

Plans for a £70m commercial tidal energy project off the coast of Anglesey
have been unveiled.

Marine Current Turbines, and its project partner RWE npower renewables, held
an exhibition at Holyhead Town Hall on Monday and Tuesday, about its scheme
to harness the power of the tidal waters off the north-west coast of

The marine power project is the third strand of the Energy Island concept
which includes plans for a new nuclear power station at Wylfa and
applications for biomass power plants in Holyhead and Llangefni.

A planning application for the off-shore scheme is being submitted to the
Welsh Assembly Government in September.

article_mpuAdvertisement The proposal, which has benefited from funding from the Welsh European
Funding Office, will consist of up to nine turbines located between the
Skerries group of rocks and islands and Carmel Head, about 1km off the
Anglesey coast.

The 10MW tidal farm, named Skerries Tidal Stream Array, will include proven
and award-winning tidal energy technology known as SeaGen,which is
essentially an underwater windmill.

It will generate enough power to supply electricity to up to 10,000 homes -
approximately 20% of Anglesey's electricity demand.

Work could start in 2013/2014, subject to the project securing planning and

Paul Taylor, of Taylor Keough which was running the exhibition on behalf of
MCT, said: "It's gone well. In the first couple of hours we had 60 to 70
people attend.

"There was a great interest. People were very curious about the technology
involved, our plans and how it would benefit Anglesey.

"Most have been supportive and several had questions that they wanted to
ask. "

Albert Owen MP said: "I've been to the exhibition, there were many people
there when I went.

"We have to embrace efficient renewable sources of energy, and tidal energy
will compliment the nuclear aspect and is part of the Energy Island concept.

"There is a potential for manufacturing and maintaining the turbines, here
on Anglesey.

"Looking at the bigger picture, with Wylfa's life being extended and Wylfa B
not too far down the line, we can link with colleges and create the skill
base here for low carbon jobs, making Anglesey a centre of energy excellence
that can benefit our long term future.

"Tidal power makes sense. From what I understand there a potential of
electricity being generated for 18 out of every 24 hours."

Anglesey Assembly Member Ieuan Wyn Jones said: "I welcome the fact that
local people have been given the opportunity to learn more about the plans
for the proposed tidal power scheme off the coast of Anglesey. "It is important that we look at clean, green ways of producing energy and
Anglesey is in a strong position to attract these types of technology and
jobs to the island and it is important that local companies can also benefit
from these opportunities."


Only a third of organisations have registered for the CRC Scheme

Carbon Reduction Commitment Registration

Only a third of organisations have registered for the CRC Scheme

The deadline for public and private organisations to register for the CRC
(Carbon Reduction Commitment) scheme is next month and according to reports
from the Environment Agency only one third of organisations have registered.

On September 30th 2010, every public or private organisation in Britain that
use more than 6,000 Megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity a year is required
to registered for the Carbon Commitment Reduction. Every organisation that
misses the deadline will have to pay a £5,000 fine with an additional £500
for every day they are overdue.

Speaking to PublicTechnology.net, head of climate change and sustainable
development at the Environment Agency, Tony Grayling said:

"Around a third of organisations that we expected to register for the CRC
scheme have registered well in advance of the deadline. We would urge the
remaining businesses to sign up now, and not leave registration to the last

The CRC is Britain's first mandatory energy efficiency scheme aimed to help
the nation meet its Climate Change Bill commitment of reducing 80% of the
CO2 emissions by 2050. As afore mentioned in the first phase only "big"
private and public corporation have to register which is expected to affect
approximately 5,000 organisations in the UK.

But why wait till your company meets the requirements needed to enter the
scheme. Why not start improving your business energy efficiency today?

Energy industry and sustainability experts have stated that homeowners and
business leaders all share a joint responsibility for improving the UK's
energy efficiency and help Britain meet its legally binding commitment to
reducing CO2 emissions by 80% by 2050.

Domestic and business electricity suppliers should work together with their
clients to contribute towards the carbon reduction emissions target by
obliging home and business owners to improve their energy efficiency,
therefore reducing the CO2 emitted by their home and businesses alike.

In short, we all have our share of responsibility to help Britain achieve
the dream of a low carbon society. From the big corporations that consume
thousands of Megawatts per hour every year, to our own homes, if everyone
does their bit the UK can become one of the most energy efficient nations in
the world.

For business owners looking for innovative business management solutions,
contact Catalyst now and one of our experienced energy consultants will be
happy to discuss our energy management solutions in detail with you.

If you would like more information on our range of energy broker
services or would like to find
out how this could benefit your business, simply call our energy team today
on 0870 710 7560 or request a call
back at time to suit.


Concrete Cow' Becomes First Commercial Power Plant Fed on Crops in U.K. - Bloomberg

Severn Trent Plc started generating electricity from the U.K.’s first commercial-scale crop-fed power plant as the utility seeks to lower its carbon emissions and tap a new form of renewable power.

The company’s Severn Trent Water unit began feeding the power grid with electricity from a gas-fueled turbine at a site near Nottingham, Gill Dickinson, a company spokeswoman, said in a telephone interview. The gas comes from anaerobic digestion towers, which use micro-organisms to break down corn and wheat.

Rising oil prices since the 1990s has led to growth of the previously uneconomical technology in Europe. Severn Trent, which plans to use government incentives to earn money from the 15 million-pound ($23 million) plant, is tapping crops to produce energy after exhausting sewage waste as a fuel.

“We’ve maxed out and have sewage-fueled combined heat and power plants deployed at all our major sites,” Renewable Energy Development Manager Martin Dent said in an interview at the Stoke Bardolph site near Nottingham. “This means we need to start going into new areas we haven’t gone to in the past.”

Anaerobic digestion is also used to make gas from food waste, animal slurry and sewage. Severn Trent already has power plants at 34 sites fed by sewage instead of crops. The new plant is fitted with two engines from General Electric Co.’s Jenbacher unit and will help the utility come close to a company target of getting 30 percent of its power from renewable power by 2015.

Concrete Cow

One of the two turbines began to power the sewage works and feed some energy to the grid on Aug. 16, Dickinson said. The generator is producing about 880 kilowatts of electricity, she said, adding that the quantity exported to the grid varies daily depending on the site’s energy needs. When both engines are generating at capacity, the plant will produce 2 megawatts of power, enough power for more than 4,000 homes.

“We don’t expect to be at maximum capacity with both engines until the end of the year,” Dickinson said.

There are about 25 anaerobic digestion plants on U.K. farms, running mainly on animal slurry, and 220 anaerobic digesters run by water companies using sewage, according to the government’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. In the U.K., there are no crop-fed plants of the scale as the Severn Trent project, a department spokesman said.

In the digestion towers, micro-organisms that occur naturally in the crops break them down into gas aided by a temperature of about 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and air that’s low in oxygen.

“What we’re actually doing is building a concrete cow,” Dent said. “We need to keep it fed, we need to keep the temperature inside constant, and we want gas out of the end.”

Government Incentives

At present, it wouldn’t be viable to build such a plant without government incentives, Dent said. Severn Trent hasn’t yet decided which incentive plan to use -- the government’s feed-in tariffs, guaranteeing a set rate per unit of electricity generated, or the renewables obligation that awards sellable certificates for energy from renewable sources.

“The asset life of the mechanical plant and equipment is 20 years, and that’s 50 percent of the build cost,” Dent said. “Anything beyond a 20-year payback, you wouldn’t do it.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Alex Morales in London at amorales2@bloomberg.net

Carbon Reduction Commitment Registration

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Don't be duped by fuel switch sharks

Devious energy salesmen are preying on vulnerable customers despite a
crackdown on doorstep selling by the regulator, consumer groups have warned.

Eight months after tough new rules were imposed, evidence is growing that
consumers are signing up to more expensive deals after being persuaded to
switch energy supplier by salesmen working on commission.
Around 2.5 million people switched supplier last year after being approached
on their doorstep, over the phone or in a public place such as a shopping
centre. In January, energy regulator ofgem introduced new regulations on doorstep
sales, forcing suppliers to provide a written estimate before a sale is
concluded. However, consumer groups claim that mis-selling is still rife.
A spokesman for Citizens Advice says: 'our advisers still see cases of
pressure-selling, many involving elderly or vulnerable customers.

'This includes misleading information about "savings" where people end up
with much higher bills and being transferred to a different supplier without
their knowledge or consent.' Rajan Antony, 54, from North-East London, was
persuaded to switch supplier to British Gas after 'persistent' phone calls
from a residnetial energy broker .
The entrepreneur says: 'I only agreed because the salesman promised that
British Gas prices were cheaper than our supplier's, southern electric.
'But after a few days, I checked British Gas's prices and discovered we
would actually be paying more - so we called them back and cancelled the
' I felt very annoyed because I felt as if I had been lied to.'
To make matters worse, Mr Antony then became locked in a dispute with
British Gas after the supplier demanded he pay a bill for £152.
The amount was only written off after Mr Antony contacted the company
chairman to complain. British Gas is now investigating.
Hannah Mummery, of Consumer Focus says: 'We are very concerned that
consumers are continuing to report being hit by bad sales practices. If any
company is encouraging their employees to break the rules and talk customers
into taking up an energy deal that leaves them worse off, there should be
strict action from the regulator.' Read more:


Bglobal in green energy drive

Our need for energy - secure, sustainable and, crucially, affordable - has
never ranked as highly on the global political agenda. These exceptionally straitened times are causing organisations large and
small to rigorously examine their outgoings. So it stands to reason that any
company that can help businesses both cut costs and reduce their carbon
footprint should be well placed for profitable growth.

Bglobal, the smart metering specialist floated on AIM in 2007 with a £7.75
million fundraising at 50p, is one such case in point. Led by CEO Tony
Barnes, Bglobal blazed the trail by establishing smart metering as a viable,
low-cost opportunity for every business in the UK.

Capitalised at a shade over £40 million, this is a company on an impressive
growth curve as it rolls out smart meters
and data management services that
are pivotal to the development of a low-carbon economy and the so-called UK
'smart grid', one of the utility sector's current buzzwords. Its technology
and services are also helping an ever-broadening array of businesses comply
with energy management targets and the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC).

A slow burner on AIM to date, Bglobal has successfully passed through the
pilot phase with customers and looks well placed to profit from
international energy efficiency drives and the green agenda. Not only does
smart metering have the support of the new coalition government, but energy
suppliers are now implementing smart metering 'business as usual' strategies
in industrial and commercial markets, while formulating strategies for the
residential market.

Having traded profitably since October and won a succession of valuable
contracts over recent months, Bglobal is worth buying for its growth
prospects in the smart metering market as well as the ambitions of
management, who hope to grow the business overseas and eventually take it
into the FTSE 250.

'Our business has an opportunity as we move toward the world of the smart
grid,' opines Tony Barnes, 'and while we are currently focused on the UK
market, with 1.5 per cent of all the power in the UK now being settled by
our meters, we are very much a global play.'


Though still small, Lancashire-based Bglobal has nevertheless made a huge
impact on its chosen industry. Before it entered the energy market fray,
there was no model for delivering smart metering economically and
efficiently to millions of UK businesses. Only the largest UK electricity
consumers could benefit from accessing energy profile data. Everyone else
was on estimated, often incorrect, bills, bereft of the data that could give
them real control and drive down costs.

It is no exaggeration to say that the company has completely changed the
market landscape, since it provides remotely read, fully automated meters to
businesses, large or small, at a fraction of the price. Bglobal has already
installed more than 100,000 business meters and become the number one UK
provider of smart metering in the so-called non-half-hourly market, covering
most of Britain's homes and businesses, helping them to reduce costs, cut
carbon emissions and gain real control over when, where and how they use gas
and electricity.

As the enthusiastic Barnes explains, 'The model we pioneered has been
universally adopted. We brought the whole "end-to-end" proposition to the
market, we have first-mover advantage and still, to this day, what we are
doing is groundbreaking stuff. There really isn't a company like us in
either the UK or Europe'.

Under Barnes, Bglobal's strategy centres on the cementing of its position as
UK market leader in smart metering solutions by installing meters and
signing up lucrative contracts. In an impressive year to March, the group
installed more than 40,000 meters (taking the number of meters in operation
to 100,000), while its services revenues burgeoned by more than 130 per cent
to £2.26 million.

Services sales will grow again strongly this year on the back of further
meter installations following a busy period for contract wins last year. New
smart metering services deals were signed with British Gas Business and
Npower and sizeable orders won with new entrants, all with smart metering at
the heart of their strategies, into the UK electricity market - namely
Gazprom, Dual Energy Direct, MA Energy and BES Electricity.

Besides deals with energy suppliers, Barnes and his board place much
strategic emphasis on smart metering deals secured directly with clients
across an array of sectors. Some 45 new direct contracts were clinched last
year, with the likes of Transport for London, Aviva, Capgemini, Land
Securities, Greater Manchester Police, Dorset Fire Brigade, JD Sports and
Manchester Metropolitan University.

Moreover, Bglobal's growth prospects have been seriously enhanced following
the recent £12.8 million takeover of energy data management concern
Utiligroup, an acquisition financed with the help of a £6.76 million funding
at 38p. Utiligroup, the parent of Utilisoft, from which Bglobal was originally spun
out, has secured recent new business with EDF Energy and Western Power
Distribution and should enable Bglobal to position itself as a so-called
'end-to-end' solutions provider, with the ability to develop propositions
for new revenue-generating activities including micro-generation feed-in
tariffs, pre-payment metering and pay as you go.


Non-executive chairman Peter Kennedy, a Lancashire-based serial
entrepreneur, established forerunner Bglobal Metering in 2003 from within
the aforementioned Utilisoft, the specialist in energy market
business-to-business transactions in the UK, Australia and Europe, which he
had co-founded in 1997. An entrepreneur of proven value-creation
credentials, he enjoyed earlier success with QCL Systems, which he
co-founded in 1983 and where he was managing director before its eventual
sale to Optim in 1988.

Exuberant hot seat occupant Tony Barnes has spent more than a decade
managing high-growth technology businesses, having previously been managing
director of Utilisoft. Barnes, a former Granada TV newsreader, boasts
significant experience in the technology, media and communications
industries of Europe, the Far East and Australia, is highly motivated and
has global ambitions for Bglobal.

Overseeing the group's increasingly attractive numbers is finance director
Nick Kennedy, an Oxford graduate who earned his accountancy spurs with
Deloitte & Touche and added further strings to his bow during a two-year
stint with Grant Thornton Corporate Finance. Kennedy knows the business
inside out, having joined Bglobal Metering as financial controller at the
tail end of 2005. Today, his key responsibilities for Bglobal encompass
everything from forecasting to sourcing its meter rental securitisation

Bringing a high degree of quoted company experience to the boardroom table
is James Newman, who chaired the business from IPO until April 2009 and now
acts as senior independent non-executive director. Newman currently chairs
two AIM-listed businesses, the recycling products play Straight and pubs and
petrol forecourt monitoring systems specialist Brulines. His CV also
includes spells as chairman of Waste Recycling Group and as a non-executive
director of Richmond Foods, before their respective takeovers in 2003 and


It hasn't all been plain sailing for investors since Bglobal's IPO. As well
as a slower than expected take-up of smart metering in the market, progress
towards profitability was interrupted by the withdrawal of one of the
group's meter funding sources in 2008, causing a delay in rolling out
orders. However, recent trading and growth rates have proved highly
encouraging, with annual figures to March meeting the market's expectations
and showing substantial top-line growth once again as smart meter
installation volume targets were achieved.

Sales were more than 99 per cent ahead at £13.23 million and Bglobal, which
has traded profitably since October, reported an 84 per cent reduction in
pre-tax losses from £4.28 million to £670,000 and closed the year with £2.2
million cash in its coffers. According to Barnes, last year's progress
reflected the fact that 'several energy supplier customers moved their
commercial and industrial smart metering activity from trial phase to

In a further positive development, high-visibility services revenues grew by
more than 130 per cent to £2.26 million and should continue to build
strongly following high volumes of meter installations as well as the
Utiligroup takeover. Prospects at Bglobal are further underpinned by an
order book that already covers analysts' forecast revenues for the current
year following the aforementioned raft of contract wins. And Barnes believes
further deals will follow, stating that 'we are now working on building
orders for FY2012 and beyond'.

It is also important to note that existing forecasts ignore the potentially
huge, though certainly longer-term, opportunity in the emerging residential
metering market. Indeed, Barnes and his team are developing a fully funded
smart metering 'rollout and read' proposition, in order to leverage the
company's expertise in the business market.


For the current year to March, house broker Charles Stanley forecasts
dramatic growth in turnover from £13.2 million to £29.6 million, from which
Bglobal should swing strongly from losses to pre-tax profits of £4.4
million. By March 2012, the broker believes the top line could surge to more
than £39 million, driving pre-tax profits north to £6.2 million.

Based on forecast earnings per share of 4.3p this year and 5.95p next,
Bglobal shares, which have traded between 52-week highs and lows of 56.25p
and 20.75p, are currently swapping hands on a lowly prospective p/e of just
over ten times, which drops to roughly seven and a half times for the
following year.


Apple blocks iPhones from green ranking scheme

Crude Drops Below $72 as Equities Decline Amid Concern Recovery Is Slowing

Oil dropped to its lowest level in 11 weeks as sales of previously owned
U.S. homes fell more than forecast in July, boosting speculation that
economic growth is slowing and curbing fuel demand. Futures declined 2 percent as U.S. stocks plummeted after the National
Association of Realtors reported purchases of existing homes tumbled 27.2
percent to a 3.83 million annual rate. U.S. crude supplies rose last week
amid a 20-year high in petroleum stockpiles, according to estimates of
analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. "We're getting all the classic signals that the economy is slowing down,"

Bill O'Grady, chief market strategist at Confluence Investment Management in
St. Louis. Crude for October delivery fell $1.47 to settle at $71.63 a barrel on the
New York Mercantile Exchange, the lowest level since June 7. Oil has lost 13
percent since Aug. 3 and has decreased 3.7 percent in the past year. Prices declined from the settlement as equities extended losses after oil
closed. The American Petroleum Institute reported at 4:30 p.m. that U.S.
crude-oil stockpiles decreased 1.85 million barrels to 356.8 million.
October oil fell to $71.50 a barrel in electronic trading at 4:38 p.m. Home sales were forecast to decline 13.4 percent to a 4.65 million rate,
according to a Bloomberg News survey. The July figure was lower than all 74
responding economists estimated. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-08-24/oil-falls-to-seven-week-low-as-equi

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

British Company HomeSun starts £1 Billion Solar Giveaway

Solar energy is one of the most effective and renewable sources of green energy. A British company named HomeSun is trying its best to bring solar energy to 2.5 million households in UK. The company is offering solar energy giveaway worth £1 Billion.

Under the giveaway offer the company will be giving away solar energy generation equipments to households who have a decent south facing roof. With the use of solar energy households would be able to save energy and cut down their energy bills by almost 40% this means monetary savings of £250 per year.

As per the company's scheme the customers will be provided the necessary equipments to generate solar energy free of cost. The fees received by energy providers known as feed in tariffs would be directed towards HomeSun. The company will also undertake the responsibility of installing and maintaining the equipments for 25 years.

Many people want to go the green way because of its numerous benefits but they are unable to do so because of the high costs involved in purchasing the equipment. Government grants have however helped many households in getting access to solar energy and enjoying its environmental and economic benefits. HomeSun has joined the league and is planning to make a significant impact in the way people use solar energy.

National Care Association secures electricity deal that guarantees to beat renewal price

National Care Association has announced a new business partnership with British Gas Business that will give members access to a business electricity deal guaranteed to beat the renewal price with their current supplier and will see British Gas as one of the main sponsors of the 2010 Annual Conference.

After finalising the agreement National Care Association Chairman Nadra Ahmed OBE said “We are thrilled to have secured this deal with British Gas Business as it will deliver a fantastic on-going benefit to our members, giving them access to a fantastic deal on electricity - a very important cost saving for their businesses.”

Stuart Hough, Head of Sales and Marketing at British Gas Business said “We are delighted that the members of the National Care Association are now able to take advantage of British Gas’s competitive prices and outstanding customer service. We are looking forward to an on-going and close relationship with National Care Association, and to meeting its members at their 2010 Annual Conference.”

National Care Association 020 7831 7090 www.nationalcareassociation.org.uk


Monday, 23 August 2010

Finance chiefs ignore carbon counting

Advocates of corporate responsibility for carbon reduction have suffered a blow with the publication of a survey showing that the majority of financial managers from 200 large companies have acknowledged that their organisations do not yet know their carbon footprint.

Produced by the Carbon Trust Standard, it shows that 74% of respondents said that their organisation does not currently measure its carbon footprint, while 76% believe that all businesses will be legally obliged to pay for their emissions in the future. 40% said they believe this will happen in the next decade.

A surprisingly high 87% also said that their companies do not currently have publicly disclosed targets for carbon reduction. 48% said targets were in place but had not been made public.

The revelations were based on a UK-wide survey of senior financial managers from UK companies that employ more than 500 people. It ranged across six sectors: retail, professional services, financial services, technology and communications, fast moving consumer goods, and leisure and entertainment.

Harry Morrison, general manager of the Carbon Trust Standard (CTS) which commissioned the survey, said: "Businesses realise that the switch to a low carbon economy is happening (but) … they don't have all the data they require at the moment".

He said the CTS deliberately targeted financial managers because it believes their involvement will be vital in auditing carbon and forming strategies in a carbon constrained economy: "We're now seeing a real trend for companies to bring … the reporting of carbon into their financial departments because (they can bring)… the rigour and the audit to that data."


Urine Could Be Used To Create Green Electricity

Scientist have known for years the value of hydrogen as a fuel source. Used in fuel cells or engines, the exhaust is water, but here are a few problems with hydrogen fuel technology. Hydrogen is hard to produce, hard to store and hard to transport. Methods for producing hydrogen fuel use commercial electricity for hydrolysis. The methods end up wasting energy; with 20% being lost in conversion. Just as harvesting solar energy with solar panels and wind power with wind turbinds, researchers need time for creating the technology to bring hydrogen and other elements to be used as a viable renewable energy sources to the table.

Biomass Using Bacteria in Waste Water to Create Electricity

A company called Nanologic found a way to create hydrogen gas out of waste water using a “Hydrogen Bioreactor.” Biomass is using bacteria that are found in waste which eat the hydrocarbons also in waste and exhale hydrogen gas.The process cleans water and creates green energy. The process also solves the storage/transportation problem in that the alternative energy source can be converted to mechanical or electrical power and used on site. If more extra electricity is produced it can be transported back into the existing power grid.

Read more at Suite101: Urine Could Be Used To Create Green Electricity http://environmental-engineering.suite101.com/article.cfm/urine-could-be-used-to-create-green-electricity#ixzz0xPdtKuMO

Ministers to help UK energy firms win deals abroad

In the past few weeks, the Government has called a meeting of ambassadors informing them that British politicians are actively looking to help UK businesses secure big deals abroad.

Mr Hendry told The Daily Telegraph that the potential development of giant oil fields in northern Russia is a place where the Prime Minister or an energy minister should be promoting business energy companies and key suppliers.

"Looking at the potential development of the Yamal Peninsula where Prime Minister Putin has actively said he wants international investment. I think it's important for a British minister to be out there supporting British companies trying to get those contracts," Mr Hendry said, in his first major newspaper interview.

It should be natural for the Prime Minister to shake hands with his foreign counterparts when big commercial oil and gas contracts are agreed, he argues. Mr Hendry believes that longer-term agreements with energy-rich countries could provide greater stability and guard against price fluctuations.

"We've never been very good in this country at long term contracts and I am very keen we do more to help secure those," he said. "If you find a new international contract being signed with the Germans then Angela Merkel is there or President Sarkozy with the French. We send along the British ambassador who is a very fine man or woman but doesn't quite have the same political clout."

The move is part of a wider government push to make sure British business is being supported abroad, as the industry remains in a fragile state following the recession.

"We had a gathering for a large number of high commissioners coming through saying we actually want to engage with you to secure our supplies and help develop those contracts and help find opportunities overseas for British businesses," Mr Hendry said.

The policy could be controversial in light of accusations that officials may have taken BP's commercial interests in Libyan oil and gas into account when authorising the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

Earlier this year, Peter Luff, a defence minister, attracted criticism from pressure groups for saying the Government was prepared to push British defence exports abroad with "very heavy ministerial involvement".


The UK government has accelerated the delivery timescales for a giant £7 billion smart metering project

The UK government has accelerated the delivery timescales for a giant £7 billion smart metering project. This news has triggered UK mobile operators into preparing to bid for the contract that will now start in July 2012, a year earlier than previously planned.

The project, which has been mandated by the UK government, aims to install gas and electricity smart meters in 27 million UK homes by 2020, and will initially focus on a major contract to run the Data Communications Company (DCC). The DCC would play a central role as a national communications network managing data received from the meters and distributing it to utility suppliers.

Vodafone, which is already working with British Gas to deliver its smart meter programme, is tipped as certain to bid, while Orange and O2 have indicated a wider interest in the project.

Geoff Sarney, O2's head of smart metering, said: "At O2 we believe that the challenge is not just to deliver a smart meter that can provide energy readings remotely but to create a service that delivers an end-to-end solution, which satisfies Government, utilities and consumers, in addition to providing future revenue streams."

Orange (or Everything Everywhere, if you prefer) said that it had smart metering expertise across the business, from R&D through to design and delivery of core smart metering services. "A huge amount of development work has been undertaken to ensure we have the best solutions, backed by the largest network to meet and exceed the demands of the Prospectus."

Read more: Operators poised for £7bn smart meter bid - FierceWireless:Europe http://www.fiercewireless.com/europe/story/operators-poised-7bn-smart-meter-bid/2010-08-20#ixzz0xLJ8Qhkn

UK and LNG Gas Imports

Britain has a record amount of liquefied natural gas (LNG) stocks after a flurry of deliveries in early August, but the re-routing of a Nigerian tanker from Britain to Brazil this week may signal a drop in cargoes over coming weeks.

Britain's LNG storage has been rapidly filled by tankers coming from producing countries such as Trinidad and Nigeria in response to a huge surge in UK gas prices in the second quarter.

The energy content of the super-cooled gas held in Britain's LNG storage tanks has risen sharply in August, hitting an unprecedented level of 9,261 gigawatt hours (GWh) on Thursday.

But the resulting slide in UK commercial gas prices since late July is likely to deter many more spot deliveries to Britain, and one Nigerian LNG shipper that had planned to deliver to Britain has re-routed to Brazil.

"LNG storage is good, but the marginal profit on LNG spot cargoes to the UK has decreased in the recent weeks," said Mark Daubney, a trader at EnergyQuote JHA, pointing to the end of Britain's summer spell as one of the world's most attractive markets for LNG.

"I think the 'things to come' bit is more a case of cargoes not showing up in the UK and showing up elsewhere, rather than U-turns in the middle of the ocean," said a gas analyst with a utility.

Britain has relatively little gas storage capacity compared with other European countries that rely more heavily on pipelines from external suppliers such as Russia. Instead it has opted for increased reliance on LNG tanker deliveries at times of peak demand.

The increased reliance on LNG -- effectively using the world's tankers as storage -- has made wholesale British gas prices highly sensitive to LNG supply and challenged the profitability of traditional storage sites.

Although LNG tanks at UK import terminals have never been more full and their capacity has grown enormously in the last year with the opening of the South Hook and Dragon terminals, Britain's long-range stock levels, which make up most of the total, are almost 6 percent lower than a year ago.

Held mainly in the Rough storage facility under the North Sea, long-range stocks were relied upon so heavily in the unusually cold start to the year that they bottomed out around at 3,300 gigawatt hours (GWh) in March 2010.


Lidl, the cut-price supermarket, is dipping its toes into the world of electricity trading dominated by banks and utilities

The supermarket is setting up its own power trading desk, after UK managers taught themselves how to trade using dealing platforms. It is usually the banks and major utilities that trade on the complex markets driven by oil, gas and coal prices.

However, the idea was successful in Germany, where the €59bn-revenue (£48bn) retail giant managed to reduce its bills by taking control of its own energy supply.

The project has been led by Lidl's national cost manager, Senol Kosar, who has been learning about the electricity trading for a year. "It's not our core business but the economy requires us to look carefully at the energy markets," he said. "A couple of years ago, bills weren't so volatile. We decided that we wanted to get the benefit from market movements, whether the market is going up or down, to reduce energy costs.

"We have a relationship with the supplier but we don't actually need to buy the power from them. We have been preparing for a year and will start in two to three weeks."

Suppliers have hinted that prices will rise substantially this winter, hitting domestic consumers and big commercial users. But Jeremy Nicholson, of the Energy Intensive Users' Group, said it was surprising for a supermarket to move into power trading: "I'm not aware of any wider movement to do this yet, but with power prices becoming more volatile there is more commercial incentive to get close to the market."

Ian Parrett, an analyst at the leading energy broker firm Inenco, the energy consultancy, said playing against the big traders would be difficult: "It's very unusual at the moment, but possible."

Only a Quarter of UK Firms Have Their Carbon Footprints on Control!

While the world is reeling under the possible impact of global warming, the British firms couldn’t care less. According to a study by the ICA (Institute of Chartered Accountants) in England have revealed that most firms (almost 3/4th of the lot) do not have a system in place to monitor their carbon footprints – or in plain words, the impact they are making on the environment.

According to an executive at the ICA, most of the firms do not think it is necessary or relevant to have such audits in place. However, they cannot be more mistaken. Only 26% of the finance directors and heads included in the audit were maintaining a regular tab on the greenhouse gas output of their respective firms.

This comes as a surprise to many, as new emission bills are about to be passed into laws, and older laws are already being executed into the norms. While most firms are not aware of the CRC (Carbon Reduction Commitment energy efficiency scheme), they only have till September 30 to register with the same.

Around 5000 companies will be covered by the impending CRC survey, and those found guilty of being ignorant by choice will be punished. As for the Brit firms that are still oblivious of this fact, it is high time their chartered accountants, from London or abroad, notify them of the same.

Otherwise, the aim of improving total output by ignoring their carbon output will backfire – and do so with a LOUD bang!


Sunday, 22 August 2010

Iran 'powers up' nuclear plant

Iran has started loading fuel into its first Russian-built nuclear power plant. After decades of delay, engineers finally began loading the Russia-supplied fuel into the Bushehr plant in southern Iran on Saturday, which is now ready to produce commercial electricity.

The development is a major milestone in Iran's atomic programme despite UN sanctions.

The transfer took place under the scrutiny of International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] inspectors, according to a statement by Iran's atomic energy organisation.

"The operation of transferring nuclear fuel to the reactor was carried out in [the] presence of Ali Akbar Salehi, vice-president and head of Iran's atomic body, and Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia's atomic body, Rosatom," it said.

Al Jazeera's Neave Barker, reporting from Moscow, said it will take "several months before the plant is up and running fully and, according to Rosatom, Russia will continue to play an active role in the running of the plant for several more years."

Fuel 'pool'

A first lorry-load of fuel was taken from a storage site to a fuel "pool" inside the reactor building on Saturday. 

Over the next 10 days, 163 fuel rods - equal to 80 tonnes of uranium fuel - will be moved inside the building and then into the reactor core "after necessary inspections", the statement said.


More than half of Britain's wind farms have been built where there is not enough wind

It's not exactly rocket science – when building a wind farm, look for a site that is, well, quite windy.

But more than half of Britain's wind farms are operating at less than 25 per cent capacity.

In England, the figure rises to 70 per cent of onshore developments, research shows. 

Experts say that over-generous subsidies mean hundreds of turbines are going up on sites that are simply not breezy enough. 

Britain's most feeble wind farm is in Blyth Harbour in Northumberland, where the nine turbines lining the East Pier reach a meagre 4.9 per cent of their capacity.

Another at Chelker reservoir in North Yorkshire operates at only 5.3 per cent of its potential, the analysis of 2009 figures provided by energy regulator Ofgem found.

The ten turbines at Burton Wold in Northamptonshire have been running for just three years, but achieved only 19 per cent capacity.

Europe's biggest wind farm, Whitelee, near Glasgow, boasts 140 turbines. But last year they ran at less than a quarter of their capacity.

The revelation that so many wind farms are under-performing will be of interest to those who argue that they are simply expensive eyesores.

Michael Jefferson, the professor of international business and sustainability who carried out the analysis, says financial incentives designed to help Britain meet green energy targets are encouraging firms to site their developments badly.

Under the controversial Renewable Obligation scheme, British consumers pay £1billion a year in their fuel bills to subsidise the drive towards renewable energy.

Turbines operating well under capacity are still doing well out of the scheme, but Professor Jefferson, of the London Metropolitan Business School, wants the cash to be reserved for the windiest sites.

He said: 'There is a political motivation to drive non-fossil fuel energy, which I very much respect, but we need more focus.'

He suggests that the full subsidy be restricted to turbines which achieve capacity of 30 per cent or more – managed by just eight of England's 104 on-shore wind farms last year.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

BG shares up on takeover reports

Shares in BG Group rise 6% after reports that a takeover bid for the gas exploration company may be in the offing.

Friday, 20 August 2010

New 1-MW Waste-to-energy Plant Goes Online in UK

waste to energy plant has come online in the Clayton Hall Landfill Site near Chorley, in Lancashire. The project is designed to capture methane gas produced from the landfilled waste and convert it into clean business electricity that will be fed into the National Grid. Methane is a greenhouse gas that is 21 times more damaging to the environment than carbon dioxide.

Quercia Ltd, the sister company of Blackburn-based Neales Waste Management Ltd, owns the landfill and Manchester-based ENER-G Natural Power Limited will own the 1.1 MW capacity equipment at the plant.  NEER-G will pay royalties to Quercia, allowing Quercia to avoid capital expenditures.

The companies say that the project will create enough green electricity to power 700 homes, while cutting annual carbon emissions by the equivalent of around 30,000 tonnes, equivalent to the environmental benefit of three million trees.

The level of methane extracted will vary over the 15-year lifespan of the project, so ENER-G is operating a “hire fleet” approach, which means that a larger generator can be switched for a smaller one as demand fluctuates.

Partial capping in the older areas of the site will prevent methane escaping into the atmosphere and wells have been drilled to transfer gas to a compact generator unit where the electricity conversion process takes place.


Thursday, 19 August 2010

UK farmers urged to prepare for water shortages

UK farmers face reduced productivity and bigger water bills in future unless they prepare for droughts by reducing water requirements and harnessing rain and grey water sources more.

That is the message from agricultural and environmental consultancy ADAS, which has warned that farmers' productivity and profitability could be curbed if they do not start implementing measures to reduce (piped) water consumption.

The warning comes as some areas of the UK experience the driest summer in decades. The North West has experienced its driest five months since 1929.

Ruth Kendal, farm resource management consultant at ADAS, said the dry spell could be a taste of things to come when the UK is hit by longer, drier summers caused by climate change.

She said: "Many reservoirs around the country are approaching record low levels and we know that water sources in major food producing regions like the south and the east are dangerously over-abstracted – there is a real danger that farmers in some areas could find water is a limited and more expensive commodity within the next decade."

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, meat and crop production account for 73 per cent of the UK's water footprint.

Ruth added: "Farmers will need to develop a habit for saving water and the first step is to understand how much water is used in the first place – a business water audit for example will create a full picture of usage and will point out where savings can be made."

She said eliminating leaks, using more efficient practices like irrigation scheduling, or by reusing waste water from one process in another were just some of the ways water could go further.

Mains water costs around £1.10-£1.20, meaning it is already a significant overhead for farmers and one that is expected to rise steadily in future.

"Piped water has a direct impact on farm profitability and many farmers could save in the long term and prepare for the future by harnessing alternative sources for operations that do not require drinking quality water.

"Practices like rainwater harvesting, harnessing grey water sources and sinking boreholes that do not affect the local environmental balance will not just be desirable, they could become crucial for sustaining farm profits," she concluded.


AMEC awarded £60m contract by EDF Energy for gas storage facility extension

AMEC, the international engineering and project management company, has been awarded a contract worth over £60 million by EDF Energy to extend a gas storage facility in Cheshire.

The contract, at the Hill Top Farm facility at Warmingham, will see AMEC design, install and commission the filtration and compression facilities, after-cooling, de-hydration, metering and utility equipment. This award extends AMEC's long history with Hill Top as the existing two facilities at the plant were originally designed and engineered by the company. The work will enable EDF Energy to significantly increase its gas reserves, and therefore contribute to the security of the UK's gas supplies.

Engineering will start immediately with planned completion in July 2012, after which AMEC will be well positioned for future asset maintenance work.

Neil Bruce, Executive Director of AMEC said: "I am delighted that our good and wide-ranging long-term relationship with EDF, combined with our extensive gas storage expertise, has led to this significant award.  It is another step towards realising our Vision 2015 strategy to become the leader in engineering and project management services for the natural resources, nuclear, clean energy, water and environmental sectors."
Mark O'Brien EDF Energy's Director, UK Commercial Gas Storage, said: "We're very pleased to be working with AMEC on this latest facility at the Hill Top Farm Gas storage facility. AMEC's expertise in gas storage infrastructure together with their experience of the existing facilities at Hill Top makes them best placed to carry out this work. This project will provide valuable capacity at a time when the UK is looking to increase its gas storage capabilities and will support EDF Energy's gas strategy in helping us to provide secure supplies to our power stations and our customers." 
This work further reinforces the long-standing relationship AMEC has with EDF, supporting their lower carbon strategies. Significant project awards include EDF Energy's combined-cycle gas turbine power station at West Burton, UK, and most recently, a contract to support EDF Energy's nuclear new build operations in the UK as part of their Architect Engineer organisation.


New CRC standards promise league table boost

Environment Agency approves the Carbon Saver Standard.

The Environment Agency has approved the Carbon Saver Standard as a Carbon Trust equivalent scheme. This means it counts towards the CRC Early Action Metric, which rewards organisations who voluntarily take steps to better manage their business energy and business gas use before joining CRC.

The decision to approve the Carbon Saver Standard follows extensive consultation with businesses, the public sector and wide range of environmental groups. Alongside CEMARS and Kitemark, the Carbon Saver Standard gives CRC participants an alternative route for gaining credit for earlier efforts to cut carbon.

The Environment Agency’s CRC Project Executive Andrew Hitchings said: “We are pleased to announce the Carbon Saver Standard as a Carbon Trust Standard equivalent scheme under the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme. The Carbon Trust standard and equivalent schemes allow organisations who are leading the way in environmental management to be rewarded for their early action.

“CRC is an opportunity for organisations to show what they have already achieved in reducing emissions through early action and provides an incentive to achieve the further reductions which are necessary in the future.”

Glenn Wilkinson, Managing Director of Carbon Saver said: "We are delighted to be approved as the fourth standard which qualifies as an early action metric for the CRC. There is now a real choice for organisations in the market for approved carbon accreditation schemes.”

Compare Energy Prices For Maximum Savings Or Profits

Trying to manually compare the energy rates or prices of different utility companies is very exhausting and time consuming. Instead of personally going to different utility companies to determine rates and pricing, you can try using the internet. The internet offers not only the fastest and easiest way to check on different things, but you can use it any time of the day, at your convenience. The internet is never closed, on sick leave, taking a break, or out for lunch.

Since gas and other energy related products have an unstable market price, you will want to check on them as frequently as possible. It is very likely that different energy suppliers have their own websites, even though they are relatively new in the marketing of their services online. With fast and easy access to the internet, you can minimize your expenses by selecting and comparing the best services available in your area and then evaluating their rates and pricing structure.

When comparing energy prices, it is important to understand capped tariffs or fixed rates and variable rates. Energy prices or rates with capped tariffs are those which cannot be influenced (upwards or down) by any price change over a certain period of time. If you plan to use services for a long period of time, you may want to consider the capped tariffs being offered. It is much more likely that energy prices will go up over time instead of down, and so it is quite likely that you might save money on future energy price hikes buy selecting a company with capped tariffs. If, on the other hand, you are only looking for the short term, you may consider looking at uncapped deals. Sometimes you can save money when you make a deal during a lull in energy prices. Just check on the price lists on the internet as often as possible. With unstable fuel costs, it is probably best to avoid variable rate energy plans. Try to lock in a price for an annual contract.

Thanks to the competition provided by an open market, cheap gas and business electricity are available through major market players. These companies have their own websites where you can inquire and check on their gas and electricity rates. If you surf a little further online you may find even more affordable deals and promotions by some of the smaller energy suppliers. Different companies will try to blind you with their seemingly good offers and deals so it is best to check each company offer and plan first before making any decision. It takes patience to find the best and highest quality deal for you.

Eco makeover saves contact centre £50,000 in 18 months

Gateshead-based contact centre and fulfilment specialist, Spark Response, has saved over £50,000 through a sustained project reducing the amount of energy that the company uses and embarking upon a large-scale recycling drive which saved the company £26,000 in 2009 and a further £24,000 so far in 2010. *

The company's carbon footprint has also reduced with carbon emissions being cut by 12 tonnes per month on average. During 2010, 71 tonnes of CO2 have been saved compared to the same period last year (January to June), equating to an 18 per cent reduction year-on-year.

Pre-empting the Government's introduction of the carbon reduction commitment, Spark's Quality Manager, Lindsey Pearson, (pictured above) was charged with implementing the company's ISO 14001 Environmental Management System, which is one of a series of international standards for environmental management and forms part of the company's own internal environmental programme, Project Focus.

One of Lindsey's first tasks was to address the company's business electricity consumption and introduce methods to minimise it.  Notices and stickers were put up near all light switches and machinery to prevent appliances being left on unnecessarily, and auto-sensors were installed in the toilets. This activity, coupled with investment from Spark into more environmentally friendly appliances and accessories, contributed towards the £26,000 saving. During 2009, the company achieved an energy saving of 15% when compared to 2008, despite increased business volumes.

Lindsey said: "The success of Project Focus, and more specifically the energy reduction drive, has relied heavily on the co-operation of all members of staff and it is encouraging to see the results that have been achieved in a relatively short period of time. So far everyone has embraced and complied with the new system and this led to us making a significant financial saving, as well as massively reducing our waste output, which is vitally important for our local and wider environment."


Coalition turns down heat under energy suppliers

The Coalition Government has shelved plans for an independent inquiry into the £25bn-a-year energy industry amid accusations of profiteering on electricity and gas.

Before the general election, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats repeatedly criticised Labour for failing to tackle prices charged by the Big Six suppliers. Both the opposition parties demanded an inquiry by the Competition Commission.

An inquiry would have the power to reform the industry, encourage new entrants to break the hold of players such as British Gas and EDF on 99 per cent of the market and, potentially, impose price caps.

However four months into the Coalition Government, no inquiry has been called and the Department of Energy and Climate Change confirmed last night that it has no plans to refer the industry to the Competition Commission.

The news comes amid the possibility that the Coalition will reduce the Winter Fuel Payment for older people, worth £250 per household, or £400 where at least one partner is 80 years old.

With annual bills over £1,000, social problems caused by high energy prices have escalated.

Homes in fuel poverty – defined as spending 10 per cent or more of their income on fuel – have trebled in five years to around 6.6 million. Figures released in December showed that during the cold winter of 2008/09, "excess winter mortality" jumped by 49 per cent to 36,700, sending an extra 10,000 pensioners to early graves.