Monday, 30 July 2012

Energy supplier websites suffer from terrible UX | Econsultancy


UK energy companies are delivering such a poor customer experience that they’re potentially losing out on new customers, according to a new report from Global Reviews.

In fact the study found that just 6% of potential customers would recommend energy suppliers' websites, while 64% would actively discourage friends or colleagues from visiting.

Drax's £700m bill to reap benefits of green energy

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Drax Plunges After U.K. Cuts Biomass Power Support


The U.K. government today published proposals for so-called renewable obligation certificates, or ROCs, a system to reward generators for switching to low-carbon power. Biomass generation, burning wood and other plant matter, will get fewer certificates than initially proposed. Drax plans to convert its plants to burn a proportion of biomass fuel.

“The proposed level of ROCs for biomass raise uncertainty as to whether Drax would proceed with its investment plans to partly covert the power plant to burn more biomass,” Goldman Sachs Group Inc. analysts said in a note today.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Nine in ten customers say gas and electricity statements are too confusing


Customers could have lost hundreds of pounds because household bills are too complicated for them to understand, researchers claimed today.

Utility firms are confusing consumers with energy, phone and water bills they cannot follow, a survey found.

Energy suppliers were accused of being the worst offenders, with 82 per cent of customers surveyed claiming they found electricity or gas charges more baffling than any other bill.

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Government postpones green energy subsidy cut by two months

Britain moved back the start date of new mostly lower subsidy levels for small-scale renewable projects by two months to December 1 and said it would cut support for wind, hydro and waste power by 5 percent per year from 2014, depending on uptake.
Friday's announcement came days after the government delayed a tariff decision for large-scale renewable projects, its Renewable Obligations programme.

It gave green energy investors some certainty about how much money they will receive for smaller projects which will start operating later this year.

New #Energy Supplier - Just Energy Launches UK Operations

The Just Energy Group Inc, a leading competitive retailer of natural gas, electricity and green energy in North America, announced today its entry into the commercial UK energy market through its subsidiary, Hudson Energy Supply UK Limited. Specializing in customized index and fixed price energy products, Hudson Energy is a business-to-business supplier of electric power and natural gas commodities.

With its leading edge technology, Hudson Energy brings agility and flexibility to the market, as well as an experienced UK management team. Brokers will have instant access to customer pricing information that enables them to generate comparative rates for customers within minutes as opposed to days, which is typical in today's market. For the UK business customer, this enables them to take advantage of market conditions and offers a significant improvement in the accessibility and transparency of pricing information.

The entry into the UK market is the first step beyond North America for Just Energy. "We believe the UK market has the ideal characteristics for our entry into Europe," said Deborah Merril, President of Hudson Energy. "It has well established market rules that ease our entry into the commercial market through Hudson. Once established, it is a logical next step to enter the residential market, and then broaden our offerings to other countries in Europe."
"Our move into the UK energy market is a natural step in the evolution of our company. We have leveraged our strong North American supplier relationships to support our entry and many of our North American brokers also serve customers in the UK," says Ken Hartwick, Just Energy's President and Chief Executive Officer. "Our Hudson business unit has been a major contributor to our North American growth over the past two years leading to unprecedented customer additions and margin growth. We have committed substantial investment to develop our entry into Europe and we are very excited to see that it is now going to begin adding new customers to the Just Energy family. European operations stand to be the next growth engine for the Just Energy story."

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Britain's biggest UK solar farm unveiled: Huge 224 acre site comprising 135,000 panels to be built on Cornish farmland


Britain’s biggest solar farm – covering 224 acres – could be built in the Cornish countryside.

Renewable energy firm Good Energy wants to put 135,000 solar panels on farmland near the village of Week St Mary.

It would cover an area six times bigger than the UK’s second largest solar power project.

The renewable electricity firm has not yet submitted a planning application for the project but has held discussions with Cornwall county council about its plans.

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Wednesday, 18 July 2012

UK #Electricity Price Increase Due

A report filed yesterday shows that Ofgem believes around £22bn needs to be spent to improve the current energy systems across the UK, with a number of ‘critical infrastructure projects’ requiring action within the next decade.

Wind Energy More Energy Efficient than Fossil Fuels


Here’s something that may surprise you. Wind energy is more efficient than carbon-based fuels. That’s despite all the best efforts of the dirty fuels industry to trick us into thinking that wind energy can’t match the efficiency of fossil fuels in producing electricity.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

EnergySolutions Announces Consideration of Sale of Its UK/Europe Business


EnergySolutions (NYSE: ES) has announced that it is considering the sale of the company's UK and European business which holds a contract with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority ("NDA") to manage and operate 22 of the UK's Magnox nuclear reactor fleet. The Company acquired the current Magnox contract in June 2007.

"We were approached by third parties to purchase the ESEU business, which holds the Magnox contract with the NDA, and are considering a number of proposals and transaction structures," David Lockwood, CEO and President, stated. "We are evaluating these alternatives in the best interests of our shareholders, customers and employees."

The NDA has raised no objections to the sale consideration which will be evaluated quickly and efficiently.

'Step towards clean #energy': Biggest laser pulse fired in human history could #power new kind of #nuclear reactor - and solve energy crisis forever


The most energetic laser shot in mankind's history was fired at the stadium-sized National Ignition Facility in California this month.

On July 5, an array of 192 lasers filed a pulse of ultraviolet laser light that deliver generated 500 trillion watts of peak power - 1,000 times more than the whole of the U.S. uses at any given time.

The pulse is a historic moment for the 'fusion' facility, which aims to generate power using a nuclear fusion reaction - similar to what happens in hydrogen bombs.

NIF Director Edward Moses said. 'It is fully operational, and scientists are taking important steps toward the quest for clean fusion energy.'

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Monday, 16 July 2012

Pioneering creator of top energy broker website is sacked


My Best Deal was hailed only three months ago as a fast-growing success story on track to serve thousands of buyers and suppliers by the end of this year following its launch eight months ago.

But its website says the service is now "unavailable", though no hint of the strategic change was given in an announcement earlier this week of a new £10 million funding package for Castle View, the Stirlingshire-based mini-conglomerate with sales last year of £77m and profits of £1.5m.

The group, which did not respond to phone calls placed by The Herald, is understood to be now using the system internally to reduce its own procurement costs, after Mr Paterson demonstrated in a presentation that it was about to save the group up to £90,000 on a two-year office contract worth £600,000.

China Quadruple Solar Power Goal | The Market Leading Energy Consultant -


As the planet’s biggest supplier of solar power panels, China always held lofty solar energy production targets. But those targets were unexpectedly quadrupled today as China looks to avoid the rising costs of fossil fuels. The new goals would be the equivalent of 21 gigawatts produced per-year by 2015 to help absorb excess supply of panels and support prices.

UK #Energy bills set to rise under Ofgem upgrade plans


Household energy bills will rise by £11 a year by the start of the next decade, an increase of more than 8% on current costs, under plans unveiled by the industry regulator for upgrading of gas and electricity networks.

Ofgem said the £22bn programme will see household bills rise by £7 next year, rising to £15 by 2021 – an average rise of £11 over the eight-year period. Distribution costs account for around 20% of a household gas bill, with any large-scale investment programme therefore having a material impact on household bills.

The change equates to an 8.4% increase on the average household dual fuel bill, which is £1,310 according to Ofgem. However, the proposals were slammed by Britain's dominant energy network business, National Grid. In a statement the company said its own plan "differs substantially" from Ofgem's, which argues that National Grid can deliver the improvements at a lower cost.

UK #Water Bill to open market and save £2 billion

Businesses in England will be allowed to switch water suppliers in the future and this could potentially save £2 billion for the economy, it was announced today.

The news comes as Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman launched the draft Water Bill this afternoon in a bid to reform the water industry by driving innovation and opening the market to new companies.

Under current rules, only businesses which use large volumes of water have the choice of switching suppliers and any new supplier must negotiate with up to 21 other companies before entering the water market. Defra said the new Bill will allow companies to get more competitive prices.

Ms Spelman said: “This draft Bill will create a modern customer focused water industry and for the first time all businesses and other organisations will be able to shop around for their water and sewerage suppliers.

Ofgem to back £44bn National Grid deal

National Grid is proposing spending more than £21bn on its electricity transmission network in the eight years from 2013 to connect new power plants across England and Wales. It will also spend £9bn on gas pipelines.

With the announcement imminent, analysts have warned that Ofgem, the energy regulator, is not likely to allow National Grid to charge consumers as much as it would like under "price control" regulation which governs the level of expenditure and rate of return. National Grid has suggested bills could increase by between £15 and £20.

This will raise the prospect of National Grid having to cut its dividend, raise capital or sell off assets to access the funding. National Grid's chief executive, Steve Holliday, faced criticism from investors for his handling of a £3.2bn rights issue in 2010.
National Grid believes it will need to spend another £13.5bn on its four regional gas distribution networks and has argued for a 7.2pc cost of equity. But analysts believe that Ofgem could set out stricter terms.

It could limit the cost of equity to 7pc or less, and has hinted it could demand greater efficiency from National Grid to deliver the infrastructure at a lower cost.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Kingfisher follows M&S’ footsteps for green plans


The owners of B&Q are set to follow Marks & Spencer in a path to become more sustainable.

Kingfisher, which owns B&Q and Screwfix, published its ’2012 Corporate Responsibility Report’ last week following an announcement in March about its new sustainability project ‘Net Positive’.

The report comes after M&S published its own commitments to address social and environmental issues such as energy saving, carbon emissions and waste management.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Ban food waste from landfill for renewable energy, urges thinktank


The government should ban all food leftovers from landfill by the end of the decade to boost technology which can turn it into energy, a study from thinktank CentreForum suggested on Tuesday.

Councils should be given financial support to help them bring in separate food waste collections for households and businesses to ensure a steady supply of organic waste for anaerobic digestion, a renewable power source.

The process could create enough biogas from green waste and purpose-grown crops to power more than 2.5m UK homes by 2020, the report said.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Are there limits to energy efficiency for supermarkets?


Over the past decade, many large UK retailers have made significant efforts to reduce their energy consumption. They have invested in energy saving measures across their buildings and their transport fleet, they have implemented formal environmental and energy management systems, and they have published reports on their energy use and greenhouse gas emissions performance and targets.

The question is what these actions have delivered in terms of performance improvements? Over the past three to five years, UK supermarkets (or, more specifically, the seven that report on their social and environmental performance) have reported energy efficiency improvements (as measured in energy consumption per unit of floor area) of between 2.5% and 5.5% a year. Over longer time periods (ie up to 10 years), these companies have consistently achieved annual improvements of between 2% and 3% in their energy efficiency.

Firms fined £99,000 for failing to report CRC data

The maker of Pritt Stick and Schwarzkopf hair products is one of four companies to be fined a total of £99,000 for reporting failures under corporate emissions cutting scheme, the controversial Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC).

Henkel was last week ordered by the Environment Agency to pay £38,000 for late submission of a footprint report and an annual report required by the regulation, which compels around 2,100 businesses with energy bills over £500,000 a year to measure and pay for each tonne of CO2 they emit.

Failure to submit these two reports by last year's 29 July deadline also saw international utility Saur's UK arm fined £41,000, engineering company BI Group £10,000, and engineering and manufacturing group Tomkins Ltd £10,000.

Late reports submitted within 40 working days of the cut-off date are usually subject to a £5,000 penalty and an escalating fine of £500 for each working day past the deadline.

The Environment Agency can use its discretion to modify penalties if a firm has demonstrated that it took reasonable steps to comply with the order or tried to rectify the problem once it became aware of it. This explains the lower fines for BI Group and Tomkins.

Neither the Environment Agency nor Henkel had responded to a request for comment at time of going to press. BusinessGreen was unable to contact Saur, BI Group, or Tomkins.

The future of the CRC remains unclear until the government issues its response to a consultation on simplifying the scheme.

The Chancellor has said he will scrap the CRC if the administrative burden cannot be reduced, an outcome made more likely given the introduction of mandatory emissions reporting for 1,800 of the UK's largest firms in April next year.

However, Paul Sheridan, a partner at law firm CMS Cameron McKenna, said the scale of the fines indicated non-compliance will be taken seriously, particularly if companies have made little effort to rectify the problem.

"These fines were on the high side – it's clearly sending a message [the CRC] has to be taken seriously," he told BusinessGreen. "We might expect for a new regulation there would be a slow start and a ramping up over time, but they seem to have gone in quite heavy."

He added the fines offered a "stark reminder" to companies to submit this year's annual reports by the end of July, despite uncertainty over the CRC's future.

"The scheme may be under fire, but not the principle of the levy," he said. "The same information is ultimately required."

Friday, 6 July 2012

Prototype wind turbine could transform #renewable energy


A prototype for a new design of wind turbine which could revolutionise the renewables industry has been installed at Keele University.

The new vertical-axis turbine, which has been installed at Keele University Science and Business Park by McCamley UK Ltd has been designed to overcome many of the issues which are associated with the current wind turbines.

Wind turbines currently used on wind farms rely on a steady wind speed to produce energy whereas the prototype vertical-axis turbine is able to cope with the turbulent and variable wind conditions.

When the wind drops below 2-3 metres per second, the turbine will continue to operate, a point at which traditional models stop before using power from the National Grid to restart. The McCamley turbine does not require power to restart making it more efficient.

Easily assembled from ‘flat-pack’ storable parts, the McCamley turbine could one day be fitted to the roofs of offices and residential spaces without a supporting mast making it a viable source of renewable energy in areas which have previously seemed unsuitable for wind energy.

Renewable UK threatens legal action as Tory MPs call for wind policy U-turn


The government is under intensifying pressure over its wind energy policy with a lobby group threatening legal action and a key investor warning that a planned £200m facility could be at risk.

Renewable UK, the wind power lobby group, said it would consider a judicial challenge if ministers caved in to Tory backbenchers and implemented a major cut in onshore wind subsidies.

Meanwhile, Siemens, one of the last turbine makers still wanting to construct a new blade factory and port complex for the North Sea, has warned that it cannot wait for ever for longterm Whitehall plans to be "clarified".

Decc seeks evidence on faltering market for power purchase agreements


The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) has asked for evidence from renewable energy developers on the availability of power purchase agreements (PPAs), and suggested intervention may be needed to stimulate the declining market for the agreements.

Developers seek PPAs when they are building wind farms and other projects so that they have a guarantee that the power they produce will find a market, but also so the buyer will manage the fluctuations in generation - often by aggregating with other power plants. But recently developers have complained that fewer PPAs are available, that the number of counterparties offering them has fallen, and where PPAs are available that the terms - which generally include a discount on the power price in return for assuming the risk - are less favourable.

Speed controlled AC fan helps to achieve 30 percent energy savings


Aerco is making the prize-winning ADDA OSmart AC fan now available in the UK which the company claims is the first AC equipment fan that can vary its speed with changes in ambient temperature.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Developer trials wind turbine design for city settings in UK


A new wind turbine design developed by renewables company McCamley UK for urban areas is being tested at Keele University’s Science and Business Park in North Staffordshire.

The vertical-axis turbine comes ‘flat-packed’ and can be retrofitted onto a roof without a supporting mast, making it much easier to install in cities than other similar turbines.

Unlike the now-familiar horizontal-axis turbines, which rely on steady wind speeds, the vertical-axis design devised by McCamley can deal with the turbulent and gusting winds often encountered in urban areas.

While horizontal-axis turbines cease turning if the wind speed drops to less than 2-3 m/s and need to draw power from the grid to restart when the wind picks up again, the new turbine design is self-starting and is self-regulating so that it keeps turning even under gusty conditions.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

E.ON ends doorstep selling and cleans up the way it charges customers for energy


E.ON has become the last of the 'big six' energy firms to stop the selling of gas and electricity to customers on the doorstep.

The firm, which has 5million residential customers, said that it will cease selling energy via doorstep salesmen this autumn as part of a raft of measures resulting from its 'Reset' review.

The electricity and gas supplier also announced changes to the way it charges customers for energy as part of a plan to simplify tariffs.
Finally: E.ON has announced it will be ending doorstep sales and revealed its plans to clean up the way it charges customers for energy

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UK gas prices rise on undersupplied system

British prompt natural gas prices rose on Wednesday morning as an undersupplied system pushed up prices while contracts for later delivery remained firm on the back of oil prices hovering around the $100 a barrel marker.

Gas prices for within-day delivery were trading around 57.85 pence a therm at 0930 BST (0830 GMT) on Wednesday, up 1.05 pence since Tuesday morning.

The price rise was a result of an undersupplied system and supply concerns as a result of an offshore oil and gas strike in Norway.

UK gas demand was expected to be 190.6 million cubic metres (mcm) on Wednesday, some 15.5 mcm above supplies, according to National Grid data.

"The UK system opened significantly short also this morning on higher IUK exports (to continental Europe)," analysts at Point Carbon said, adding that "the Norwegian processing plant Kollsnes will go into partial maintenance tomorrow and possibly reduce Norwegian imports to the UK, providing a bullish signal for day-ahead."

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Catalyst #Energy Market Report July 2012


Our monthly analysis of the UK gas and power markets is now available on line for the month of July 2012. 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.

Solar energy turns over a new leaf with frontier science


You couldn't ever power a jet aircraft with solar panels, but a 747 might one day be solar powered. It sounds like science fiction, but there is hard science and hard currency being spent to research "artificial photosynthesis" and emulate nature's conversion of photons into powerful chemical bonds that release large amounts of energy.

Monday, 2 July 2012

Top 5 solar gadgets for summer 2012


With the sun finally deciding to get its hat on, it’s time to think about how best to enjoy a (we hope) scorching gadget-filled summer. To get in the mood we’ve picked out a handful of the best, and most essential solar-powered gadgets that any tech-loving fan would love to own.

From backpacks to solar-powered lawnmowers, we’ve tried to find something for everyone to enjoy for some fun in the sun.

CrossKase Solar 15 backpack

For the ultimate summer hiking accessory look no further than the CrossKase Solar 15 backpack. The rugged rucksack has built-in solar panels that let you charge your portable gadgets on the move, be it your smartphone, MP3 player, laptop or games console. It has 9 device charging adapters, dedicated iPod and iPad pockets, and an integrated rain cover just in case the rain gods decide to spoil things.

Britain's supply of #green energy soars


Britain is being powered by record levels of green energy, after a surprise increase in electricity generated from wind, sun and waves. Renewables accounted for 11 per cent of the UK's electricity in the first three months of 2012, compared with 7.7 per cent from January to March 2011.

There were big rises in power from onshore wind farms, while generation from hydroelectric and bioenergy plants also rose sharply, putting Britain much closer to meeting its legally binding commitment to get 15 per cent of its power from renewable sources by 2020. The increases could also go some way to solving the looming energy crisis, as decades-old nuclear, coal and gas power stations are taken out of service.

The latest figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that gas accounted for 27 per cent of electricity generated in the first quarter of 2012, its lowest level in the past 14 years. High gas prices were blamed. Coal accounted for 42 per cent, up by a fifth, while nuclear fell from 19 to 17 per cent.

The £1.7bn daylight robbery: Utility firms claim paying by direct debit saves us all money. In fact we're being conned into lending them a fortune


Each time I receive an electricity or gas bill, it is accompanied by the same request from the utility company. Would I like to sign up to pay my bills by direct debit? Apparently it is the ‘modern’ way to pay.

The usual spiel is that it would save me money, be much more ‘convenient’ and I would never have to worry about late payment charges again. Many happily take up such invitations, which means more than 50 per cent of utility bills are now paid by direct debit.

But who benefits from this system?

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