Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Former BP geologist: peak oil is here and it will 'break economies'

A former British Petroleum BP geologist has warned that the age of cheap oil is long gone, bringing with it the danger of “continuous recession” and increased risk of conflict and hunger.At a lecture on ‘Geohazards’ earlier this month as part of the postgraduate Natural Hazards for Insurers course at University College London UCL, Dr. Richard G. Miller, who worked for BP from 1985 before retiring in 2008, said that official data from the International Energy Agency IEA, US Energy Information Administration EIA, International Monetary Fund IMF, among other sources, showed that conventional oil had most likely peaked around 2008.

via Former BP geologist: peak oil is here and it will ‘break economies’ | Nafeez Ahmed | Environment |

Former BP geologist: peak oil is here and it will 'break economies'

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

50 New UK Nuclear Power Plants

New documents submitted to the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) by one of its advisory bodies have shown that the government could be considering building as many as 50 new nuclear power stations.The figure, ten times the number the DECC was believed to be considering, will likely cause much turbulence…

via 50 New UK Nuclear Power Plants.

50 New UK Nuclear Power Plants

Friday, 20 December 2013

Twitter fiasco director leaves British Gas

The British Gas director who was slammed on Twitter for the energy supplier’s soaring bills has left the business after an “organisational change”.

Bert Pijls will leave his post as managing director of customer services at the end of the year.

Just two months ago the Dutchman fielded customer questions over the internet just hours after British Gas announced a 9.2 per cent price hike for the winter.

The webchat, under the hashtag #AskBG, quickly became dominated by abuse directed at the company over high prices.

The Q&A became one of the top trending topics as hundreds of customers joined in to vent their anger. One critic, John F, wrote: “Thanks for helping me save money on heating. Your latest hike has boiled my blood enough to keep me warm through winter.”

via Twitter fiasco director leaves British Gas – Telegraph.

Twitter fiasco director leaves British Gas

Npower calls in service partners after troubled SAP rollout disrupts billing systems

Npower has been forced to bring in service provider partners to help resolve disruption to customer-facing systems after encountering problems with its large-scale SAP rollout.

Many of the energy provider’s 5.4 million customers began to experience problems as account details were transferred from legacy in-house systems onto an SAP platform in 2011. Issues included billing delays, problems with the creation of accounts and direct debit payment schemes not being set up properly. A backlog of complaints also created longer call waiting times, with regulator Ofgem highlighting a “serious deterioration in service levels” in the past year, prompting an apology from npower CEO Paul Massara.

The project was originally aimed at improving administration of millions of customer accounts, with the IT system covering billing, customer service and financial systems. IBM was contracted as the systems integrator for the project, with account migration reaching completion in August 2012.

However, Forrester analyst Duncan Jones said that the stakeholders should have expected to encounter some technical problems with such a large, transformative SAP project. As a result, customers, vendors and service partners need to ensure that project contracts give the flexibility needed to react to unplanned changes during and after the implementation process, he said.

“These are complex projects involving a lot of changes to the way that people are doing things, and there is risk involved that you have to mitigate,” he said.

“They [npower] should have foreseen this, SAP should have foreseen this and IBM should have foreseen this.”

An npower spokesperson said that the billing and account problems were the result of a number of “complex and varied issues” due to the size of the project, and the company is currently working to resolve the IT issues.

via Npower calls in service partners after troubled SAP rollout disrupts billing systems ( – Software ).

Npower calls in service partners after troubled SAP rollout disrupts billing systems 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Fracking could be allowed under homes in Britain without owners' knowledge

Fracking could take place under thousands of homes without their owners’ knowledge after ministers said companies would no longer have to notify people directly about potential gas drilling in their areas.

Nick Boles, the planning minister, said the law would be changed to allow gas companies to put in fracking applications without sending out letters to tell people about possible drilling beneath their properties. Instead, companies will be required to publish a notice in a local newspaper and put up site displays in local parishes, as well as conducting a wider consultation.

Campaigners said the announcement was a blow to all communities likely to be affected by fracking, following concerns about minor tremors caused by test drilling for shale gas near Blackpool, and the potential for flaring, air pollution and contamination of water.

However, the government said it would be too burdensome for gas companies to tell everybody within a wide radius of drilling that it might take place under their homes.

It would mean a “disproportionately large number of individuals and businesses” would have to be personally informed, Boles told MPs in a written statement.

Ministers have repeatedly dismissed safety and environmental concerns about fracking, saying it will be tightly regulated and developed responsibly.

The announcement comes after a report on shale gas found two-thirds of the UK’s land could be made available for fracking companies to license, with new areas opened up in the Midlands, Cumbria and Wales.

The technology uses high pressure water and chemicals to fracture underground rock and release trapped gas. Because it takes place many miles underground, the companies themselves may not know precisely where they are drilling.

“The associated underground extraction takes place very deep below the Earth’s surface, over a wide geographical area,” Boles said. “As a result, it is often not possible to identify the exact route of any lateral drilling.

via Fracking could be allowed under homes in Britain without owners’ knowledge | Environment |

Fracking could be allowed under homes in Britain without owners' knowledge

Video - Perth-based company building world's first wave energy farm off the WA coast

After six years on the drawing board, a Perth-based company has finally started building the world’s first wave energy farm off the West Australian coast.

Carnegie Energy is building the plant five kilometres off Rockingham and will supply electricity and desalinated water to the naval base at Garden Island.

The company’s chief executive Mike Ottaviano says it has taken a lot of enthusiasm and a lot of optimism to get to this stage.

“This is the first time that any company has ever deployed multiple wave energy units into what’s called a wave farm and produced electricity and fresh water from that,” he said.

It is one of three wave energy pilot projects in the pipeline around Australia but it is the only so-called ‘wave farm’, comprising of multiple units.

Under the system, Carnegie places large buoys beneath the ocean’s surface, which moves with the waves to generate high amounts of hydraulic pressure.

That pressure is then delivered onshore through a pipeline and then used to spin a hydro-electric turbine to generate electricity.

And wave power differs from other renewable energies like solar and wind, in that it delivers a relatively constant supply of energy both day and night.

Susan Wijffels from CSIRO says Australia is well placed to take advantage of wave energy.

“The resource that southern Australia gets its absolutely massive, if we could just harvest 10 per cent of that energy, that would supply half of Australia’s electricity,” she said.

That potential Mr Ottaviano hopes Carnegie will be able to capitalise on after it’s proved the technology at Garden Island.

via Perth-based company building world’s first wave energy farm off the WA coast – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Video - Perth-based company building world's first wave energy farm off the WA coast

UK Approves 450 Million Pound Offshore Wind Port Project Plan

The U.K. approved a 450-million pound ($736 million) project to build manufacturing and port facilities for the offshore wind industry in northeast England, expanding the country’s drive to develop the technology.

Able U.K. Ltd. was given the go-ahead for the project after satisfying a government request for more detail on how it will accommodate for seabirds and a railway line affected by the plan, the Department of Transport said today in an e-mailed statement. Parliament must now consider compulsory purchase powers to acquire some of the land needed, it said.

Britain has more installed offshore wind power than the rest of the world combined, and ministers have identified the technology as key to U.K. efforts to slash carbon and boost renewables. Deployment of 10 gigawatts, almost triple current installations, is possible by 2020, according to the government, which has shied away from setting an official goal.

The approval is “testament to a continuing sense of long- term confidence in the offshore wind sector, which is at the very heart of our green energy future,” Maf Smith, deputy chief executive officer of the RenewableUK lobby group said in a statement. “Offshore wind, and the supply chain it is building, could create tens of thousands of green-collar jobs to coastline communities in areas where they’re needed most.”

The project on the banks of the Humber River in northeast England includes about 1,300 meters (4,300 feet) of deep-water docks and 906 acres (367 hectares) of land for offices and factories, according to its website. Able says the project may create 4,000 jobs.

via UK Approves 450 Million Pound Offshore Wind Port Project Plan.

UK Approves 450 Million Pound Offshore Wind Port Project Plan

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

2013 sees £1.3 Billion in Clean Energy Investment

Trillion Fund, a high-profile group aiming to make investment into clean energy more accessible, has announced that over £1.3bn was invested into the renewable energy sector in 2013.The last 12 months have seen substantial records broken in clean commercial energy investments and uptake of projects across the UK’s renewables sector, with £1 billion in Initial Public Offerings (IPOs) invested in the UK’s stock market.

via 2013 sees £1.3 Billion in Clean Energy Investment.

2013 sees £1.3 Billion in Clean Energy Investment

Renewable energy: Tony Abbott signals he could wind back or scrap targets

Tony Abbott has signalled next year’s review of the renewable energy target could wind back, or even scrap, the scheme, saying lower power prices are the government’s primary goal and the rationale for the RET no longer exists.

Announcing modest government assistance for Holden, the prime minister also revealed he would chair a new taskforce to find ways to make industry more competitive, with reducing the cost of energy a primary aim.

Asked whether that could involve scaling back the RET, which was set up by the Howard government and requires energy retailers and large customers to source a proportion of their energy from renewable sources, Abbott said: “We support sensible use of renewable energy, and as you know it was former Howard government which initially gave us the RET and at the time it was important because we made very little use of renewable energy.”

But times had changed, he said.

“We have to accept that in the changed circumstances of today, the renewable energy target is causing pretty significant price pressure in the system and we ought to be an affordable energy superpower … cheap energy ought to be one of our comparative advantages … what we will be looking at is what we need to do to get power prices down significantly,” he said.

Abbott said he would also “consult closely” with his Business Advisory Council, chaired by Maurice Newman, as the taskforce looked for ways to increase industry competitiveness.

via Renewable energy: Tony Abbott signals he could wind back or scrap targets | Environment |

Renewable energy: Tony Abbott signals he could wind back or scrap targets

Fracking companies entitled to licences on more than 60% of British land

Two-thirds of the UK’s land will be available for fracking companies to license, a government map published on Tuesday shows, with new areas opened up in the Midlands, Cumbria and Wales.

Ministers said major energy companies had expressed interest in new shale gas licences and up to 150 applications are expected, which could cover about 15% of the UK.

Almost £1bn of financial incentives and revenues could be injected into local communities that accept fracking, according to a new assessment of the impact of a largescale shale gas industry on the UK, published the same day.

The report, commissioned by the government, suggests that a major fracking effort would deliver about 25% of the UK’s annual gas needs in its peak years in the 2020s and provide up to 32,000 jobs, although as few as one-fifth of these could be local.

However, Keith Taylor, the Green party’s MEP for south-east England, said: “In reality, many people will be unwilling to accept air pollution, noisy trucks, gas flaring and potential water contamination in exchange for the government’s bribe.”

The assessment, required by law, was produced by consultants Amec and also warns that the billions of litres of polluted wastewater produced by a big shale gas industry “could place a significant burden on existing wastewater treatment capacity”. Fracking uses high pressure water and chemicals to fracture underground rock and release trapped gas.

“There is a huge amount of shale gas underneath us all and what is important for public confidence is to show the regulatory framework is robust,” said energy minister, Michael Fallon. He said Tuesday’s announcements were “stepping up the search for shale gas” but declined to say whether he would welcome fracking under his own house. The government also published a “roadmap” of existing regulations covering the sector, intended to “provide certainty to investors and local communities”.

via Fracking companies entitled to licences on more than 60% of British land | Environment |

Fracking companies entitled to licences on more than 60% of British land

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Survey reveals that renewable energy is UK’s second favourite investment

A survey of 2,000 people has revealed that renewables are the British public’s second favourite investment choice behind property.

The Great British Money Survey carried out by One Poll reveals that 33% of those surveyed said that renewable energy would be their preferred investment area, behind property at 43%. Trailing renewable energy was traditional energy (oil, coal, gas) with 23%.

The results of the survey reflect the growing public acceptance of renewable energy, the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) most recent public attitude tracker shows that three quarters of people (76%) continue to support the use of renewable energy sources to generate the UK’s electricity.

The survey, commissioned by Abundance Generation, identified that Brits value financial return; risk; transparency; environmental and ethical impact when deciding what to invest in. Indeed, 75% said that they would be unhappy if their money was invested in companies that damage the environment or are unethical.

In addition, the survey reveals an increasing appetite for renewable investment from the younger generation, with renewables beating the traditional investment stalwart property amongst 18 to 24 year olds.

via Survey reveals that renewable energy is UK’s second favourite investment | Solar Power Portal.

Survey reveals that renewable energy is UK’s second favourite investment

Monday, 16 December 2013

Fracking protesters dump wind turbine blade at Manchester drilling site

Anti-fracking protesters have dumped a wind turbine blade at an oil drilling site in Manchester, in the latest step in an ongoing campaign that saw scuffles between police and protesters on Friday.

50 campaigners put the blade in place at around 5.30am at the Barton Moss site this morning, and said it was disrupting vehicle access to the site.

Sandra Denton, one of the protesters, said: “We’ve delivered this early Christmas gift to IGas to remind them that we don’t need damaging, risky and polluting energy sources like oil and gas to power the UK. The government and the big energy companies are planning to build a new wave of gas-fired power stations, partly fed by thousands of fracking wells across the British countryside.”

The 1.5-tonne blade is the same one used by the Liberate Tate group in a stunt at the Tate Modern in 2012, in protest at oil company BP’s sponsorship of the gallery.

IGas, the operator of the site, told the Guardian that operations would not be affected because the site was not blocked and it would be “business as usual” today.

via Fracking protesters dump wind turbine blade at Manchester drilling site | Environment |

Fracking protesters dump wind turbine blade at Manchester drilling site

John Lewis signs deal to buy 100% renewable energy

The John Lewis Partnership has signed a deal to buy 100% renewable energy from small supplier SmartestEnergy.

The contract will start in January 2015 – running until March 2018 – and will provide power for more than 380 John Lewis and Waitrose sites.

Nigel Keen, Director of Property Services for the John Lewis Partnership said: “The Partnership aims to source sustainably across its supply chains and this agreement provides us with full transparency over where our energy is coming from.

“Working with SmartestEnergy means we can support independent renewable generators and contribute to progress towards the UK’s target for 15% of energy demand to be met from renewable sources by 2020.”

via John Lewis signs deal to buy 100% renewable energy | Energy Live News.

John Lewis signs deal to buy 100% renewable energy

Birmingham to get £47.8m biomass plant

A new £47.8m power plant in Birmingham is set to use biomass as a fuel.

The 10.3MW plant in Tyseley will be built by the construction arm of US firm MWH. Running for 20 years it could power more than 17,000 homes a year.

Energy is generated by heating wood to just before the point it burns, without enough oxygen, which creates a gas known as ‘syngas’.

This syngas is then burned to create steam which drives a turbine, generating electricity.

via Birmingham to get £47.8m biomass plant | Energy Live News.

Birmingham to get £47.8m biomass plant

'Frack Master' says UK shale gas market threatened by scaremongering

Investment in the British shale gas market is being threatened by “scaremongering” green campaigners, according to a leading industry executive, speaking before a government report is published this week on the environmental impact of fracking.

Chris Faulkner, a US executive known as the “Frack Master” in his home country, said the standoff involving shale gas driller Cuadrillla in Balcombe this year had caused concern across the sector with widespread coverage of clashes between police and protesters. Last week those scenes were repeated at an exploratory drilling site near Manchester as anti-fracking campaigners descended on a project operated by IGas in Barton Moss.

Faulkner criticised Cuadrilla’s response to the Balcombe protests, when thousands of protesters attempted to halt exploratory oil drilling near the West Sussex village.

“I did not see a strong message coming out of Cuadrilla during May and June when the demonstrations were taking place. The reaction instead seemed to be to put up a prison fence. Does that create a situation where people would like to come and invest large sums of capital? No, it does not,” he told the Guardian.

“The BBC was reporting every day it seemed from Balcombe last summer but what you did not find was the other side of the conversation. Whether you believe that voice or not – whether you join the fracking bandwagon or not, it is right to hear both sides of the argument. I don’t think the industry generally has done enough.”

Faulkner is chief executive of Breitling Energy Corporation, which is considering investing in British fracking projects. But the company is holding back until it is convinced the controversial drilling technique has the support of the political establishment. Hydraulic fracturing – or fracking – involves pumping sand, chemicals and water underground at high pressure to extract shale gas trapped in rocks.

via ‘Frack Master’ says UK shale gas market threatened by scaremongering | Environment | The Guardian.

'Frack Master' says UK shale gas market threatened by scaremongering

Friday, 13 December 2013

More suppliers limit energy back-billing for small businesses

More energy suppliers have pledged to limit how far back they can charge small businesses for their energy to one year.

It comes as a national campaign to get people shopping locally and on the high street began today called ‘Small Business Saturday’.

British Gas, EDF Energy, npower, ScottishPower, First Utility, Good Energy and Opus have said they will do so by the end of the year or as soon as they can in 2014.

E.ON and SSE have already done so. Today rgulator Ofgem welcomed the news and says the fresh supplier action follows on from work it has done with government on the issue.

Philip Cullum, Consumer Partner at Ofgem said: “Small businesses have told us they’re worried about facing big energy bills out of the blue and our latest data reveals that suppliers’ record on so-called ‘back-billing’ is poor but moving in the right direction.”

via More suppliers limit energy back-billing for small businesses | Energy Live News.

More suppliers limit energy back-billing for small businesses

Predicted ‘Power cuts at Christmas’ as big chill hits Britain

Professor Ian Fells fears a bitterly cold winter will push the National Grid beyond breaking point when demand for ­electricity peaks.He said coal and gas-fired power stations will have to run at full capacity to try to keep the lights on and they still may not generate enough to prevent homes being blacked out.Professor Fells said: “It may be the case that power shortages will occur over Christmas and the New Year when families are at home and annually there is a spike in energy usage.”The Emeritus Professor of Energy Conversion at Newcastle University added: “There is no doubt that if we take the weather forecast for one of the coldest winters on record seriously then if we only have two per cent spare capacity, which is what Ofgem the energy regulator have reported, that is a serious matter.“You only have to have one power station suffer an accident or have to close down for whatever reason and you find yourself in trouble.”

via Predicted ‘Power cuts at Christmas’ as big chill hits Britain | UK | News | Daily Express.

Predicted ‘Power cuts at Christmas’ as big chill hits Britain

Loughborough launches million pound UK solar research project

The potential costs and benefits of solar energy in the UK will be explored by academics at Loughborough University.

Dubbed the ‘PV2025’ project, researchers will work to understand how solar PV generation in the UK varies across regions as well as what environmental conditions can affect output. In addition, the project aims to look at what infrastructure will be required to accommodate the predicted increase in UK solar-generated electricity on the grid.

The university has partnered with aerial mapping company Bluesky for the million pound PV2025 research project which will last for three years. Funding for PV2025 has been provided by EPSRC, the UK’s main agency for supporting university research in engineering and physical sciences.

Dr Paul Rowley, senior lecturer in renewable energy systems at Loughborough University noted that the project’s partnership with Bluesky would be key to its success, he said: “We are delighted to be supporting this significant national project that will improve understanding of solar energy in the UK. Working with Bluesky will be critical as they have access to nationwide geographical datasets that are essential to some of the work packages included within this project, they also have the knowledge and proficiency to apply them for maximum gain.”

via Loughborough launches million pound UK solar research project | Solar Power Portal.

Loughborough launches million pound UK solar research project

Why don’t we mine our coal?

The government is re phrasing the definition of being in fuel poverty to take 800,000 people out of fuel poverty with a new definition, this is a manipulation of the true picture.

The stats published last week tell us that 30,000 people died as a result of bad weather last year, now that is a disgrace, and national scandal.

It’s little surprise that (chancellor) George Osborne did a quick U-turn on snatching 12,000 pensioners’ concessionary coal allowances the very same week.

The UK consumed 64.1 million tonnes of coal in 2012, also including 54.9 million tonnes in power stations.

Coal imports to the UK were 44.8 million tonnes from places like, Columbia, Russia, Australia a large increase (+37.7%) on the previous year’s amount, mainly as a result of a dramatic increase in electricity generated from coal.

via Why don’t we mine our coal? – Hucknall Dispatch.

Why don’t we mine our coal?

Thursday, 12 December 2013

UK missed chance of offshore wind jobs

Britain missed out on thousands of jobs building offshore wind farms because the Government failed to develop a UK supply chain before handing high subsidies to the industry, according to a former civil servant who was central in the development of the North Sea oil industry.

Efforts to increase the UK share of work on offshore wind projects may now be “too little, too late”, but ministers must take urgent action to prevent the same mistake being made in the shale gas industry, Norman Smith said in a report for the independent think tank Civitas.

Only about a quarter of capital expenditure on the latest offshore wind farms was in the UK, according to the Government’s industrial strategy earlier this year. Ministers say if this were increased to 50pc by 2020, and 85pc of operational spend was also in the UK, it could deliver a £7bn boost to the economy.

Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, has said he wants to see “something approaching the 70pc that we already see in the oil and gas sector of supply chain made in Britain”.

via UK missed chance of offshore wind jobs – Telegraph.

UK missed chance of offshore wind jobs

George Osborne's U-turn could add £200bn to energy bills

The average British household could eventually end up paying an extra £8,000 for its gas and electricity if George Osborne succeeds in delaying vital action to make Britain greener, the Government’s official climate change advisers warn today.

Postponing decisive action to cut carbon emissions by 10 years to 2030, through measures such as a widespread shift to renewable energy sources, will add at least £100bn to Britain’s collective household energy bills between 2030 and 2050, according to the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC). This works out to £4,000 per household.

The increase is because Britain would need to take even more drastic action to make up lost ground to ensure it hits its legally binding target of reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent from 1990 levels.

And if fossil fuel prices soar to the top of the range of realistic forecasts, the bill to remedy the delayed switch to a low-carbon society could reach £200bn, or £8,000 per household, according to the committee’s calculations – the first time a figure has been put on the cost to the UK of postponing action.

via George Osborne’s U-turn could add £200bn to energy bills – Climate Change – Environment – The Independent.

George Osborne's U-turn could add £200bn to energy bills

Energy bills: Who pays the most in Europe?

High energy bills may top the political agenda in the UK, but households all over Europe are feeling the squeeze.

Since 2010, both gas and electricity prices have risen markedly, largely due to rises in wholesale prices on the back of the tentative global economic recovery and expectations of higher demand.

Electricity prices fell in the first half of the year, but this was simply a case of energy suppliers cutting prices after large increases in January.

The dip in gas prices has lasted longer, but even they are on the up again.

via BBC News – Energy bills: Who pays the most in Europe?.

Energy bills: Who pays the most in Europe?

Greggs bakes in solar power

Britain’s largest bakery chain is cooking up some impressive carbon and energy savings, after it unveiled a series of major new solar installations.

Greggs has installed photovoltaic panels at 10 sites across the UK, in a move that it says will help slash its carbon emissions by 25% by 2015.

The 10 projects have seen a total of 1.28MW of capacity installed on bakery roofs, providing renewable power to the energy-hungry ovens that are used to bake the company’s famous cakes and pasties.

Stephen Weldon, social responsibility manager at Greggs, said that in addition to energy bill and carbon savings the company would also benefit from feed-in tariff payments.

“As a responsible business, we have a duty to manage our energy consumption by becoming more energy efficient in our bakery and retail operations,” he said.

“The installation of PV panels on our bakery roofs provided the perfect opportunity to make use of a previously unused [roof space], take advantage of the government’s feed-in tariff scheme and generate carbon-neutral electricity for use in the bakeries, and, therefore, reduce the amount of fossil fuel we need to buy and consume.”

He added that the PV installations will also help to boost Greggs’ reputation as a company that is seeking to keep a handle on rising energy prices and carbon emissions.

via Greggs bakes in solar power | Environment |

Greggs bakes in solar power

Green Deal firms 'could break the law' in Wales

Companies selling the UK government’s flagship energy-saving scheme in Wales could be breaking the law, a BBC Wales investigation has found.

Green Deal offers loans for energy saving measures such as insulation.

But consumer show X-Ray had misleading information given to it in secretly recorded calls to two firms in Swansea.

A consumer law expert says the firms may be breaking the law. One refused to comment and the other has suspended its Green Deal operations.

There has been concern from MPs and trading standards officers about the number of allegations of companies mis-selling the Green Deal and similar schemes – particularly in south Wales.

When X-Ray researchers posed as customers they were wrongly told that the Green Deal was not a loan and that they qualified for the scheme – even though they needed to have an assessment.

via BBC News – Green Deal firms ‘could break the law’ in Wales.

Green Deal firms 'could break the law' in Wales

Carbon targets can help UK 'save £85bn a year'

Britain could save £85bn a year if it meets its carbon targets, according to a study commissioned by the government’s climate advisers.

As well as tackling global warming, a switch away from fossil fuels and an increase in energy efficiency would result in improved air quality, lower human health costs, lower energy bills, noise reduction, wildlife benefits, better quality water, less waste, less traffic congestion and fewer road accidents, the report by environmental consultancy Ricardo AEA said. It is published alongside the the review of the UK’s fourth carbon budget by the Committee on Climate Change, which said ministers should stick to plans to cut emissions by half in the mid-2020s.

The study, which weighs up the options given to government by the committee, finds some of the biggest benefits coming from people walking and cycling instead of driving, and from switching to electric and hybrid cars. The health benefits of more walking and cycling are estimated as £2.3bn a year by 2030 with the benefit of less congestion put at £8.4bn and noise reduction nearly £1bn a year. Limiting road speeds would reduce transport emissions considerably, but would also reduce accidents.

“The significant co-benefit of avoided congestion costs should provide a further impetus for policy-makers to focus on promoting smarter transport choices, and should justify higher levels of investment in these options. These benefits can be maximised by focusing support measures (such as construction of safe cycle paths) in highly congested areas. It is likely that this would also maximise the opportunity to reduce accident risks,” says the study.

Equally, measures like reducing shipping speed and improving aviation fuels, would not only reduce emissions considerably, but would greatly reduce noise and air pollution around ports and airports. “Substantial co-benefits arise from the air quality impacts of avoided fuel combustion. The benefits are large for shipping because of the high sulphur content of marine fuels. Significant benefits could also arise around UK airports, especially at Heathrow where air quality limits for oxides of nitrogen are regularly exceeded.”

via Carbon targets can help UK ‘save £85bn a year’ | Environment |

Carbon targets can help UK 'save £85bn a year'

Giant ‘battery’ ensures renewable supply

Norwegian hydropower schemes linked to Europe’s large wind farm projects could successfully act as a backup when wind power fails to deliver enough energy, according to SINTEF, the largest independent Scandinavian research organization.

With both on- and off-shore wind power being seen as key to reducing the EU’s carbon emissions by 80-95% by 2050, a big hurdle for the technology is solving the problem of intermittent power production. Sometimes there will be too much power on offer, and at others too little.

A northern European offshore power grid is being developed to link wind farms and carry the electricity to population centres where it is needed in Sweden, Denmark and Germany. But the key problem remains how to maintain a regular supply of energy.

If the existing Norwegian hydropower schemes were refurbished and updated and connected to the same grid they could act as a giant “blue-green battery” for the system and provide all the necessary backup power, according to SINTEF.

via Giant ‘battery’ ensures renewable supply | News | Eco-Business | Asia Pacific.

Giant ‘battery’ ensures renewable supply

First training centre for smart meter installers to open in Newcastle

A new smart meter installer training centre, which is expected to create new employment for up to 2000 trained engineers, is to be unveiled in Newcastle this week.

Newcastle City Council leader, Nick Forbes, will unveil the centre which is due to officially open in January.

Run by energy services company, Future Energy Solutions Ltd, the centre will be the first of its kind to open in the north east of England. It will offer accredited training to those wishing to become smart meter installers and it is expected that up to 400 candidates will be trained each year.

Smart Meters are a new kind of energy meter which replace existing meters and work by communicating directly with the energy supplier. Smart Meters will ensure that all energy bills will be based on real time reading rather than estimates and customers can track energy usage accurately.

Tim Cantle-Jones, managing director of Future Energy Solutions said: “This vocational training is very relevant and important at this time when plans are being put in place by energy suppliers to ensure that smart meters are installed in every house by 2020.

“We are delighted to be opening the centre in Newcastle which will support the training of smart meter engineers from the North East, Yorkshire and Scotland.”

The training centre is being operated in partnership with Nutech Training, which is based in Blackburn and has been delivering training for smart meter installers for the past 18 months.

via First training centre for smart meter installers to open in Newcastle | Bdaily Business News.

First training centre for smart meter installers to open in Newcastle

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Delay of £50 Reduction Could Mean Two Tough Winters

With four of the UK’s big six energy firms stalling on administering the £50 reduction to domestic and commercial energy consumers, and threats of blackouts next winter, it looks like the heated debate over energy prices is set to continue well into 2014.Having negotiated a £50 reduction to energy bills and chipped away at green levies, the government would have hoped that energy companies would have done them something of a favor and implemented those changes to bills with some sense of urgency.

via Delay of £50 Reduction Could Mean Two Tough Winters.

Delay of £50 Reduction Could Mean Two Tough Winters