Network operators in £17bn smart grid pledge

A commitment made by electricity network companies to help Great Britain’s fast developing smart grid could help deliver £17bn back to the economy by 2050, according to an industry body.
Electricity network companies operating across England, Scotland and Wales have announced the joint pledge to “create new markets to enable flexibility services that will compete alongside traditional investment”.

They say the move will help reduce the cost of running the network to customers and provide new opportunities for businesses and communities to offer flexibility services to local network operators.

Benefits to businesses and consumers could include:

  • Selling power generated by technologies such as solar panels and wind turbines
  • Businesses adjusting their electricity use at the times of day when they least need it
  • Using new smart energy efficiency technology to adjust consumption remotely and buying electricity from battery storage

Research conducted by Imperial College London and The Carbon Trust for the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan shows that the UK could deliver £17-40bn of benefits across the energy system by 2050.

David Smith, chief executive of the Energy Networks Association, said: “Our energy networks have a great track record of delivering for households, businesses and communities when it comes to network reliability, reducing costs to the bill payer and driving forward new investment in our infrastructure.

“This announcement builds on that as our energy market rapidly changes. It is about creating a system that creates a platform for a whole range of new energy technologies and services that not only allows network companies to manage the system more effectively but give other organisations the chance to benefit from that, whether that be directly or indirectly.”

Richard Harrington MP, Minister for Energy and Industry, added: “A smarter, more flexible energy system will create opportunities to reduce energy costs, increase productivity and put UK businesses in a leading position to export smart energy technology and services to the rest of the world.”

Dermot Nolan, chief executive of Ofgem, also welcomed the commitment by the networks, saying: “Flexibility is key to the transition to a smarter energy system which saves consumers money on their energy bills. We will work with the energy industry, government and consumer groups to make sure that these new services are delivered in whatever way works best for consumers.”

Source: SmartestEnergy

Time to act now for ESOS Phase Two compliance

The countdown has begun for businesses to meet the requirements of the next phase of the government’s Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS).

Although the deadline of December 5, 2019 may seem a long way off, it’s vital for companies to act now – not only to get measures in place to make significant savings on energy bills but to help to cut UK carbon emissions.

Failure to comply with Phase Two of ESOS could also result in significant financial penalties.

Raja Khan, commercial director at Inteb Managed Services, explained: “Even though the deadline for compliance with ESOS Phase Two is two years away, it is crucial for businesses to act now and start putting measures in place to make sure they are compliant in time.

“Leaving it too late can cause challenges, as the original Phase One proved when a large number of organisations – almost half – failed to achieve compliance until months after the deadline.

“Also at stake is the chance to make energy and cost savings now, by implementing energy-saving initiatives. With electricity prices forecast to rise substantially over the next three years, the earlier businesses start to comply with ESOS, the better.”

ESOS is a mandatory UK energy assessment and energy saving scheme which requires compliance by large organisations. It was introduced to incentivise these businesses to implement energy-saving measures and help to cut UK carbon emissions.

Businesses need to carry out an audit of their energy-consuming activities and identify cost-effective energy-saving measures once every four years.

Companies need to comply with ESOS if they have:

  • More than 250 employees
  • An annual turnover of more than €50m
  • An annual balance sheet of more than €43m
  • Before the deadline date of December 5, 2019, businesses need to comply through an approved route to compliance such as:
    Measure their total energy consumption – energy used, transport fuel and Industrial process
  • Conduct audits to identify cost-saving energy efficiency opportunities for 90 per cent of the total energy
  • Report compliance to their national scheme administrator – the Environment Agency in England, SEPA in Scotland, NIEA in Northern Ireland and NRW in Wales.

Alternatively, organisations can comply automatically when 100 per cent of their energy use is certified to ISO 50001. This requires early action as it often takes well over a year for companies to implement an energy management system and achieve certification.

However, the one element of ESOS compliance that businesses are not yet formally able to complete is collecting the data for reporting their total energy consumption. The earliest this can begin is the start of 2018 as ESOS compliance requires a 12-month period of total energy consumption data which includes the qualification date of December 31, 2018.

In the meantime, Inteb Managed Services recommends organisations confirm if their legal entity will need to comply. If a participant, plan for compliance through data collection and undertake ESOS compliant energy assessments of the largest energy consuming elements of your organisation.

This early action is key to a smooth operation for ESOS compliance. Apart from the potential consequences of fines for non-compliance, it will also help to avoid some of the bottlenecks and challenges that occurred during the first phase of ESOS when around 2,800 organisations sent notifications that they would be late reporting compliance.

Compliance audits for the first phase revealed that only 16 per cent of participants were fully compliant and 75 per cent needed to take remedial actions to become compliant. Therefore instructing an experienced Lead ESOS Assessor and experienced advisory team will be beneficial to your organisation in Phase 2.

Inteb Managed Services is able to help large organisations meet Phase Two requirements of ESOS. Please get in touch with Suzanne Roberts via 07983 020402 or to discuss your organisation’s needs.

Avoid energy waste during your business Christmas shutdown

Companies shutting down for business over Christmas and New Year are being urged to pay close attention to energy saving measures during the festive break.

To avoid energy waste which could amount to huge sums of money, Inteb Managed Services has produced a checklist which, with some simple tasks and ideas, can result in financial and environmental gains.

Raja Khan, commercial director at Inteb, explained: “It’s that time of the year when many companies are working through their to-do lists before shutting down for Christmas and New Year and it’s easy to overlook energy saving measures.

“That’s why it’s important to think now about getting your business ready for winter. Some of the steps to take are simple and maybe obvious – but added together these moves to reduce energy consumption can have a massive cost-saving impact.”

Before shutting down for the Christmas and New Year break:

  • Turn off all lights, including lamps, desk lights, external lights and any Christmas lights.
  • Fully shut down and turn off all computers and printers. A single monitor and computer left on 24 hours a day will cost around £45 a year.
  • Turn off all machinery and equipment, including kitchen appliances.
  • Turn off all fans, heaters and air conditioning units and set radiators to freeze protection mode. This will ensure they are off for the duration of the break and not wasting energy and should also stop pipes from freezing.
  • Turn off all vending machines that do not contain perishable goods.
  • Close all windows and both external and internal door.
  • Empty, defrost and switch off freezers.
  • Check all taps are turned off.

Get all staff involved. Ensure everyone knows they are responsible for their own personal equipment, such as computers and desk lamps, and nominate a couple of members of staff to do a final walk-round before everyone leaves for the holiday.

Earlier this month the UK’s gas and electricity network companies launched a Be Ready for Winter campaign aimed at helping the public better prepare for power cuts and gas emergencies that may result from bad winter weather.

The campaign encourages everyone to make note of these free emergency numbers – in a power cut dial 105 or, for a gas emergency, dial 0800 111999.

UK in top ten for world’s cleanest energy

The UK has the seventh cleanest electricity generation in the world, according to a new league table.

The latest Electric Insights report revealed that the UK moved 13 places up the rankings to reach seventh spot.

Britain’s rise up the league table was the largest while the Netherlands posted the biggest fall, dropping eight places.

The UK now only lags behind Norway, Sweden, France, Canada, Brazil and Venezuela, according to the report compiled by Imperial College London and power station operator Drax,

While France relies on nuclear power, the other five nations use large amounts of hydro-electric power; the UK’s shift to low-carbon sources has been triggered by its carbon price.

Iain Staffell, a lecturer in sustainable energy at the Centre for Environmental Policy in Imperial College London, said: “Since we started Electric Insights a year ago, we have seen a number of ‘firsts’ across the power sector and this quarter is no different – Britain has entered the world’s top ten low-carbon power league for the first time.

“Britain is reducing its carbon emissions from electricity faster than any other major country and this has happened because the carbon price and lower gas prices have forced coal off the system – the amount of coal-fired power generation in Britain has fallen 80 per cent between 2012 and 2016.

“In the Netherlands, coal-fired electricity output has risen 40 per cent over the same period as generators only have to pay the much lower European carbon price.”

Energy swappers top 600,000 in past month, figures reveal

More than 600,000 customers took steps to save on their energy bills this winter by switching electricity provider in October, the latest figures from Energy UK reveal.

Switching continues to surge with October’s figure showing an increase of 11 per cent on last month, taking the total number of customers changing supplier so far this year to more than 4.5 million. It is also only the second time the monthly figure has topped 600,000.

A third of those changing providers in October moved to small and mid-tier suppliers.
With recent research showing that that nine in 10 energy switchers were happy with the process of changing suppliers and with the reassurance provided by the Energy Switch Guarantee – a series of commitments ensuring switches are simple, speedy and safe – more and more customers now appear confident when looking to move.

Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, said: “Switching continues to surge with over 600,000 customers changing supplier to find a better deal last month. Many more will have made savings by checking they are on the best deal with their current supplier.

“With more than 55 suppliers across the market, there’s never been more competition or choice.”

Raja Khan, commercial director at Inteb Managed Services, welcomed the news and said: “Businesses and individuals are now better informed when it comes to making their energy purchasing options and realise there’s no need to pay unnecessarily high bills if there’s a choice to to otherwise.

“Energy management technology, lower prices and better customer service – along with a generation looking to greener energy solutions – all contribute towards a ‘can do’ attitude of change.”

Survey shows how smart meters impact on energy-saving behaviour

Research has shown that around 86 per cent of people who have had a smart meter installed make significant changes to their energy-saving behaviour.

Smart Energy GB – the government body tasked with ensuring customers understand smart meters – surveyed 2,332 people’s energy attitudes and usage before and after upgrading to a smart meter and found, in most cases, this enthusiasm is maintained during the months and years after installation.

The results also show nearly four in 10 people fitted energy efficient lightbulbs immediately after having a smart meter installed, increasing to more than two-thirds of those who have had one for more than two years.

Claire Maugham, director of policy and communications at Smart Energy GB, said: “This research shows that smart meters are bringing real changes to people’s bills and that we’re using them to make positive changes to our energy behaviour the longer we have them.”
How much will it cost to have a smart meter installed?

You will not be charged separately for a smart meter or for the in-home display. Under current arrangements, you pay for the cost of your meter and its maintenance through your energy bills; this will be the same for smart meters.

Do I have to have a smart meter?

While government and Ofgem believe that all consumers will benefit from having smart meters, they aren’t compulsory and you can choose not to have one.

Choosing not to have a smart meter installed may mean you don’t have access to all the available tariffs on the market, some of which could be cheaper.

If you do not want to have a smart meter installed now, you will still be able to have one installed free of charge at a later date.

Smart meters and switching

If you have a smart meter, you can shop around and switch supplier as before.

During the foundation stage of the smart meter rollout, a number of suppliers are installing first generation smart meters. Consumers with first generation smart meters can realise, at an early stage, many of the benefits of smart metering. If you switch supplier and the new supplier cannot operate the meter in smart mode, they will need to operate it as a traditional meter with meter readings taken manually.

Suppliers are expected to start installing second generation smart meters in late 2017. All suppliers will be able to operate second generation meters. This is because the government has appointed a company – the Data and Communications Company (DCC) – to establish a new national infrastructure that will enable communications between smart meters and all energy suppliers.

In time it’s planned that first generation smart meters will be part of the DCC system too. This will give everyone the flexibility to switch between suppliers without losing smart features.

Smart meters in rented property

If you directly pay your energy supplier for the gas or electricity in your rented property, you can choose to have a smart meter installed. However, it is recommended you tell your landlord before you get one. There may be rules in your tenancy agreement about how energy is supplied to the property, including the type of meter that can be installed. If the landlord pays the energy bill for the property, then the decision to get a smart meter is up to them.

If your tenancy agreement says you need your landlord’s permission to alter metering at your property, your landlord or letting agency should not unreasonably prevent it.

Smart meters and your data

You have a choice about how your energy consumption data is used, apart from where it is required for billing and other regulated purposes.

You will be able to see your real-time energy consumption data on your in-home display. You will also be able to download detailed historical data from your home network, should you wish to.

Your energy company, and the energy networks, can access appropriate data to enable them to send you accurate bills and carry out other essential tasks. For example, suppliers can access monthly consumption data for billing purposes.

Suppliers will have to get your consent to access half-hourly data, or to use data for marketing purposes. They can access daily data unless you object.

You will also be able to share data with third parties, such as switching sites, if you want them to give you advice on the best tariff for you.

Efficient boilers can help to cut energy bills

Heating accounts for about 60 per cent of what you spend in a year on energy bills – so an efficient boiler makes a big difference.

Modern boilers are more efficient for several reasons but their main advantage is that they are all condensing boilers. All well-maintained boilers burn their fuel very efficiently but they inevitably lose some heat in the hot gases that escape up the flue. A condensing boiler has a larger heat exchanger so it recovers more heat, sends cooler gases up the flue and is more efficient.

Sometimes the flue gases get so cool that the water vapour in the gas condenses out – hence the name – and even more energy is recovered from the condensing vapour.

What should I consider when replacing my boiler?

If it is time to change your boiler, you need to decide what type of boiler is right for you. Here are some things to consider:

Fuel type – If you have mains gas, a gas boiler is likely to be the cheapest heating option. Fuel prices as of May 2017 suggest that oil heating is currently a cheaper option; however, historically oil heating has been more expensive.

If you don’t have a gas supply to your premises, it might be worth considering a form of low carbon heating such as a heat pump or biomass. With the renewable heat incentive, these may be a cheaper overall. Alternatively, you may want to get a gas connection to your premises. The company that owns and operates the gas network in your area may be able to help with the cost of getting a new connection – and it may even be fully funded.

Boiler type – Most old gas and oil boilers are regular boilers that have a separate hot water cylinder to store hot water rather than providing it directly from the boiler. When you replace your boiler, you can buy a new regular boiler – and keep your hot water cylinder – or buy a combi boiler that doesn’t need a cylinder. A regular boiler is more efficient than a combi at producing hot water in the first place, but then some heat is lost from the hot water cylinder, so a combi may be more efficient overall.

Space at your premises – Combi boilers don’t need hot water cylinders and so require less space.
Compatibility with solar water heating – If you’re thinking of installing solar water heating, it’s worth noting that many combi boilers are not compatible with this heating system or cannot use it so effectively.

Finding an installer – For a list of registered installers visit the Competent Persons Register, SNIPEF OF HHIC. For gas and LPG boilers, the installer must be Gas Safe registered. For oil boilers, an OFTEC registered installer is recommended. It’s worth getting three quotes from different installers. Your registered installer will ensure that your system complies with current building regulations and will make sure you get all the documentation to prove this. Keep these documents safe; you will need them when you sell the property.

Source: Energy Saving Trust

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

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