Draughty homes targeted in UK climate change masterplan

Millions of draughty homes in England and Wales will be insulated and overhauled by 2035 to save families as much as £300 a year on their energy bills under the government’s climate change plans.

The long-delayed blueprint for how the UK will hit its binding target of cutting emissions by 57 per cent by 2032 includes about 50 policies supporting everything from low-carbon power and energy savings to electric vehicles and keeping food waste out of landfill.

Big winners in the 164-page Clean Growth Strategy include offshore windfarm developers, which will be guaranteed a further £550m of subsidies. Experts believe that could more than double the UK’s existing offshore wind capacity.

Energy efficiency for businesses and householders is at the heart of the plan, which the government was required to publish under the Climate Change Act.

There is an aspiration that all houses will be brought up to the minimum of energy band C by 2035, but how that will be achieved is not spelled out. Existing schemes to improve insulation will be extended until 2028.

New nuclear power stations are encouraged, but they will only go ahead if developers can do so at competitive prices. Solar power was given tentative support while onshore windfarms won partial backing.

The Business Secretary, Greg Clark, compared the changes under way in energy today to the big

changes wrought by the UK’s first coal power station in 1882.

Launching the plan, he said: “This government has put clean growth at the heart of its industrial strategy to increase productivity, boost people’s earning power and ensure Britain continues to lead the world in efforts to tackle climate change.

Green campaigners, industry groups and businesses mostly welcomed the plan but said it needed more ambition and lacked detail in some areas.

Robert Gross, the director of the Centre for Energy Policy and Technology at Imperial College London, said the politics of the strategy were key, and showed the greener wings of the Tory party had won out.

He said: “In 2015 the government started hacking and slashing at all manner of green policies. This has stopped, and that’s very welcome.”

The plan is scant on any detail of how the UK will cut emissions from heating, talking instead of simply exploring the best options. Low-carbon alternatives to gas include electrification via heat pumps, or using greener gases such as hydrogen.

Many of the ideas in the strategy have already been announced, such as phasing out petrol and diesel cars by 2040 and £246m to develop batteries for cars and energy systems.

Despite the wide-ranging policies, the strategy concedes that the UK is still not on track to meet its legally binding carbon targets for the late 2020s and early 2030s. The government noted it had “flexibilities” on meeting the targets under the Climate Change Act but might not need to use them.

Source: The Guardian

This summer was greenest ever for energy, says National Grid

The UK has set a new landmark for clean energy after the National Grid announced that the electricity powering the UK’s homes and businesses this summer was the greenest ever.

The record comes as the first subsidy-free large solar power project opens in the UK in what the government described as a significant moment for the energy sector.

Analysis by National Grid of power generation showed that a combination of solar, wind and nuclear – and an absence of coal – pushed carbon emissions to their lowest level yet over the season.

Between June 21 and September 22, the carbon intensity of the grid – as measured in grammes of C02 emitted per KWh of power generated – was more than halved from its level over the same period four years ago.

A growing number of solar and wind farms, coupled with nuclear and gas power stations, have transformed summer power supply and broken new records. On one Friday in May, solar panels even briefly provided more power than the UK’s nuclear fleet.

Duncan Burt, director of the system operator at National Grid, said: “It’s been a summer of records. The big fundamental shift has been the continuing growth in offshore wind and solar coming on.

“We’ve gone from renewables being a part of the mix to often being a significant, majority part of the mix.”

He added that while the group would have liked to have seen some windier, sunnier days in August, it had coped with the challenge of managing intermittent power sources such as wind and expected the trend to continue.

While National Grid said that handling the amount of variable, renewable power on the system is not adding to consumer costs at the moment, studies have shown a much higher penetration of green energy could result in higher bills.

A report by the UK Energy Research Centre earlier this year warned that balancing intermittent wind and solar would increase costs if the grid is not made more flexible with new measures, such as battery storage.

National Grid has launched a new forecast of the grid’s carbon intensity to help householders see the most environmentally friendly time to use appliances, such as washing machines, or to charge an electric car.

The best times to keep emissions down while making a cup of tea on Tuesday, for instance, are forecast to be at 1am, 2.30pm and 11.30pm.

Source: The Guardian

Inteb’s vital energy messages to young people in local community

Tackling climate change and saving energy are among some of the most important issues facing the current generation.

To get these vital environmental messages across, Inteb Managed Services has been going out into the community to talk to young people about how their own individual efforts can be a powerful force for good.

The first Inteb energy awareness workshop took place at The Hive Youth Zone in Birkenhead, a new £6m state-of-the-art youth centre with more than 5,000 members from across the region.

A group of Young Leaders took part in a session, led by Raja Khan, commercial director at Inteb, when they were given some invaluable help and advice about the importance of conserving energy – for the future of the planet as well as for the future health of their own finances.

Raja said: “The workshop at The Hive was a wonderful opportunity to get a group of young people together to talk to them in an informal setting about energy issues that are so vital to them and to future generations.

“Most of this age group are still living at home but it’s important for them to be aware of how the smallest change in their energy usage can impact on the household bills.

“Getting into good habits now sets them in good stead for when they are homeowners themselves or renting a property.

“Hopefully, they will take all the information on board and pass it on to their families, friends and other young people at The Hive.”

A survey by the Energy Saving Trust showed that only seven per cent of those aged under 35 said they fully understood their energy bill.

Philip Sellwood, chief executive of the Energy Saving Trust, pointed out: “We now have a generation who don’t understand their bills and have little idea where energy comes from. One reason for this is that many young people rent and do not own their home, they are simply not invested in energy efficiency like their older relatives.

“We are calling on one generation to impart their knowledge to another so young people can learn to save energy and not worry so much about their bills in the future”

Among the tips Raja and Matthew passed on to The Hive’s members were:

  • If you’re not watching the TV, turn it off at the plug. Not turning of unused appliances is a huge contributor to high energy bills.
  • Finished charging your phone, laptop or tablet? Turn it off at the plug.
  • Toasters and microwaves which aren’t used on a daily basis can also be turned off and turned back on again when needed.
  • Save money by using a lower water pressure on the shower. The difference on your bills can be enormous.
  • Try to keep the fridge full. The more that’s in there, the less energy it uses because it doesn’t have to work as hard.
  • A simple way to save energy in the winter is to wrap up warm rather than turning up the heating.

Inteb’s vital role in supporting and developing economic growth

Inteb Managed Services has taken up a vital role in supporting development and growth of the economy in the region where the business has its national headquarters.

The company has become a Strategic Partner of Wirral Chamber of Commerce – the fastest growing Chamber in the UK – joining other leading businesses which champion the area as a great location for investment in new talent and staff development to create industrial and commercial wealth.

As a Strategic Partner, Inteb will be at the heart of plans for Wirral Chamber’s local sector development and also be involved in its lobbying activities.

Raja Khan, commercial director at Inteb, said: “As a huge supporter of Wirral Chamber and the strides it’s making to put the area on the map as a great place to work and do business, it was a natural move for us to take on the extra responsibility of becoming a Strategic Partner.

“We are delighted to be joining like-minded business people who, with their influence and decision-making, will be able to make a real difference to the success of the local economy.”

Andy Snell, head of strategic partnerships and international trade at Wirral Chamber, added: “Our Strategic Partner members are the face and voice of their sector in Wirral.

“We are delighted to welcome Inteb to this expanding group to work alongside many of the most powerful and influential business leaders in our community.”

Electric car owners ‘can drive for free by letting energy firms use battery’

Electric car owners will be paid for letting an energy company use their vehicle’s battery in a pioneering scheme to increase take-up of the cleaner vehicles and help power grids manage the growth in green energy.

Nissan and one of the UK’s biggest challenger energy suppliers, Ovo, will offer the “vehicle-to-grid” service to buyers of the Japanese car maker’s new Leaf from next year.

After installing a special charger in a customer’s home, the supplier will take over the management of the car’s battery, with owners able to set a minimum amount of charge they want for driving the next day. Ovo will then automatically trade electricity from the battery, topping it up during off-peak periods when power costs about 4p per kilowatt hour (kWh), and selling it at peak times for about four times as much.

The Ovo chief executive, Stephen Fitzpatrick, said the savings would cover the £350-£400 annual cost of charging an electric car.

He said: “Being able to feed back into the grid will mean that customers will be able to drive for free.”

There are about 100,000 plug-in cars in the UK but National Grid has warned their rapid growth will require the equivalent of a few new nuclear power stations. However, the cars’ batteries could also help energy networks cope with the increasing but variable wind and solar power on the system, by returning power to the grid at times of peak demand and smoothing out inconsistencies in energy supply.

The government recently launched a £20m fundfor research into such vehicle-to-grid technology, which has previously been confined to private pilots, but will now be open to consumers.

Stephen Fitzpatrick predicted that while the technology would initially have a “relatively modest” impact on the take-up of electric vehicles and easing pressure on the grid, it was “the thin end of a very important wedge”.

In future, the flexibility provided by allowing power grid managers to draw on millions of electric cars would be “transformational”, he said. As well as avoiding the need for costly grid upgrades, paid for through energy bills, it could reduce the number of new power stations that need to be built.

Nissan and Ovo have also collaborated to sell a £4,800 home battery system to households with solar power, similar to the Powerwall made by Elon Musk’s Tesla. The battery is pitched as a way for buyers to make more money from their solar panels, and Ovo will pay owners about £350 a year for allowing it to offer services to the power grid.

Source: Guardian

New record for renewable energy – producing almost a third of UK electricity

Nearly a third of all UK electricity came from renewable sources in the second three months of this year, setting a new record for clean energy generation, the Government has revealed.

Wind, solar and other forms of low-carbon power were responsible for 29.8 per cent of the total amount of electricity generated in the UK, beating the previous record of 26.9 per cent set in the first three months of 2017.

In a statement, the Government said: “Renewables’ share of electricity generation was a record 29.8 per cent in the second quarter of 2017, up 4.4 percentage points on the share in the second quarter of 2016, reflecting both increased wind capacity and wind speeds, as well as lower overall electricity generation.

“Onshore wind generation increased by 50 per cent, the highest increase across the technologies while offshore wind rose by 22 per cent.

“Generation from biodegradable waste was up 30 per cent, due to much increased capacity.”

Total renewable electricity capacity was 38 gigawatts at the end of June, a 13 per cent increase on a year earlier, with over half of the annual increase coming from onshore wind, and around one quarter from solar photovoltaics.

Responding to the news, Emma Pinchbeck, director of industry body RenewableUK, said: “It’s terrific to see that nearly a third of the UK’s electricity is now being generated by renewables, with wind power leading the way.

“The UK’s renewable energy sector is an industrial success story, attracting investment, creating new jobs, and powering our economy.

“Onshore wind performed particularly well, with generation increasing by 50 per cent compared to the same period last year.

“Onshore wind is the cheapest form of new power plant, so it plays an absolutely crucial role in keeping consumer bills down. When the Government holds the next set of competitive auctions for contracts to generate electricity, low-cost onshore wind deserves the chance to compete.”

Plan launched to accelerate growth of green finance

The Government is launching a Green Finance Taskforce bringing together leaders from the financial sector to accelerate green investment.

Claire Perry, Minister of State for Climate Change and Industry, said: “Britain has already shown the world that a strong economy and efforts to tackle climate change can, and should, go hand in hand.

“The transition to a low carbon economy is a multi-billion-pound investment opportunity and a key part of this government’s Industrial Strategy.

“Developing standards to promote responsible investment in sustainable projects and establishing the Green Finance Taskforce will help ensure businesses across the UK take full advantage of it.”

Members of the taskforce will include Nikhil Rathi, chief executive of the London Stock Exchange, Edward Northam, head of investment banking at the Green Investment Group, and Rhian-Mari Thomas, managing director of Barclays.

Public sector members of the taskforce include Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency, Ben Caldecott, founding director of the Oxford Sustainable Finance Programme at the University of Oxford’s Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, and Paul Fisher, senior associate at the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

The British Standards Institute is also developing the first green financial management benchmarks.

Source: The Informer