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

Are you an energy-efficient landlord?

More than 400,000 properties in England and Wales could be unfit to let because they fail to meet new energy performance standards.

According to government figures, one in 10 rental properties could be unlettable next year if landlords fail to improve their energy efficiency.

Urging landlords to take action now to meet the new requirements, Raja Khan, commercial director at Inteb Managed Services, said: “A huge number of properties in England and Wales could be taken off the lettings market because they fail to meet energy performance standards.

“Many landlords may not even know their property’s energy rating, despite needing an energy performance certificate (EPC) by law, so it is vital they take immediate steps to avoid non-compliance and the possibility of a fine in the civil courts.”

From 1 April 2018, privately rented properties must meet new energy efficiency standards (MEES) or landlords cannot rent them out to new tenants or relet to existing ones.

Local authorities will be able to impose civil penalties of up to £4,000 for non-compliance.

Since EPCs were first introduced, the standard for achieving an E grade has changed and landlords and agents should review their properties to check they meet the required standards here. Landlords who do not have a valid EPC could also face a fine of £200 and may also be unable to serve a Section 21 notice to gain possession at the end of the tenancy.

Another potentially high cost to landlords is the loss of income while their property is legally unlettable.

Smart meters: How consumers can control their energy usage

The government’s smart meter programme is continuing to roll with almost five million new meters now operating in the UK.

But there’s a long way to go as there are more than 26 million homes for energy suppliers to get to, with the goal of every home having a smart meter by 2020.

Raja Khan, commercial direct at Inteb Managed Services, explained: “Smart meters put consumers in control of their energy use, allowing them to adopt energy efficiency measures that can help save money on energy bills and offset price increases.

“They are the next generation of gas and electricity meters and offer a range of intelligent functions. For example, they can show how much energy is being used through an in-home display and they communicate directly with the energy supplier, meaning there will be an end to visits by meter readers to your premises.”

However, smart meters aren’t compulsory and people can choose not to have one. This means the national roll-out won’t just happen automatically and consumers need to have as much information about them as possible before making any decision.

Here are some answers to important questions about smart meters.

Are smart meters compulsory?

Smart meters are not compulsory; it’s entirely your choice. The government requires energy suppliers to offer smart meters to all homes and small businesses across Great Britain by 2020, but whether you accept them is completely up to you. More than four in five people who have a smart meter say they would recommend one.

What exactly are smart meters? Smart meters are the new generation of gas and electricity meters. They are being installed across the country, at no extra cost, to replace the traditional meters – including pre-pay key meters. They will give consumers more control over energy use and help them to understand bills and the energy system.

What do smart meters do?

A smart meter sends automatic meter readings directly to the energy supplier, resulting in accurate bills, an end to estimates and manual meter readings. The in-home display is a portable device which shows how much energy is being used and what it’s costing in pounds and pence, in near real time. Both smart meter and display will be installed by the energy supplier at no extra cost.

How do smart meters work?

The smart meter measures how much gas and electricity being used and shares this directly and securely with the energy supplier and the in-home display, using wireless technology. You won’t have to take any meter readings manually – the smart meter will send automatic readings to the energy supplier via a secure national network which is solely for smart meters. This works in the same way as other wireless systems like car remote keys or TVs, using radio waves. Though it is a wireless system, you don’t need Wi-Fi for it to work and the meter won’t use your Wi-Fi if you do have it.

How accurate are smart meters?

Smart meters are as accurate as traditional meters. By law, all smart meters have to be certified by the National Measurement Office to prove their accuracy but if you do think there’s a fault, it can be reported to the Energy Ombudsman.

Is a broadband connection necessary to use a smart meter? No – smart meters use an entirely separate, bespoke wireless system.

Who can access my smart meter data and how is it used? Only the supplier, and they won’t share any of it without permission. The meter will keep your data secure. Depending on how often you agree to share it with your supplier, the smart meter will send half-hourly, daily or monthly meter readings. You can change your preference for how often you share this information at any point by getting in contact with your supplier directly. The energy supplier may also use this information to provide tailored energy efficiency advice and improve the service they provide for you.

How can a smart meter save money?

Using the information shown on the in-home display should be able to help cut energy costs. Smart meters also mean accurate bills, consumers only paying for what has actually been used rather than overpaying, as sometimes happens with estimates.

Can a smart meter help with energy efficiency?

Smart meters make it easier to identify situations where a lot of energy is being used and where consumers might want to make changes to reduce it. They are also a crucial step towards the development of the smart grid, a new way of running our energy network. Energy suppliers will be better equipped to plan and manage the country’s electricity and gas and match supply and demand. Also, smart appliances will be able to interact with smart meter systems to help save energy – for example, setting the dishwasher to come on when electricity is cheapest or by getting a text message if the heating has been left on on by mistake.

UK energy bills rising at fastest rate since 2014, data reveals

Energy bills across the UK are rising at their fastest rate in more than three years, new data reveals.

Figures published by consumer website MoneySavingExpert.com show that average energy costs have increased by 5.3 per cent over the last year, which marks their steepest rise since February 2014. The cost of electricity alone, the data shows, has risen by 9 per cent.

The website publishes a monthly bills tracker, which examines the cost of living. Unlike official inflation figures, it strips out items that the average UK household is unlikely to buy on a monthly basis, like rugs, door handles and knitting wool.

The latest survey to the end of August shows that overall household costs increased by 2.4 per cent over the last year. Rent rose by 0.9 per cent, water by 1.8 per cent, insurance by 8 per cent and internet and phone connections by 2.3 per cent.

The UK’s biggest energy providers have all hiked prices this year. A 12.5 per cent increase in the cost of the British Gas Standard Variable Tariff has now come into effect, affecting an estimated 3.1 million people. MoneySupermarket has estimated that that change will collectively cost households £235m per year.

Earlier in September, Energy UK, the trade association for the UK energy industry, said that nearly half a million customers switched their supplier in August 2017.

But MoneySuperMarket estimated that around 70 per cent of UK households are still on expensive SVTs from the Big Six providers – British Gas, EDF Energy, nPower, E.On, Scottish Power and SSE.

Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark wrote to regulator Ofgem in June asking what action it intended to take to safeguard customers on the poorest value tariffs and the future of the standard variable tariff.

Since then, Ofgem has committed to taking action, saying that it would consult with consumer experts to develop ways of safeguarding tariffs.

Offshore wind power prices fall by half as giant farms win generation auction

Developers of three giant offshore wind farms have been successful in the second government auction under the contracts for difference (CfD) scheme, with dramatically reduced “strike price” bids well below expectations.

Bids of £74.75/MWh and £57.50/MWh succeeded for projects planned to start generating in 2021/23, representing a reduction of nearly half from equivalent bids in the first CfD auction held in 2015.

The CfD scheme is designed to drive investment in new low carbon power generating capacity. Successful projects in this round receive 15-year contracts with a guaranteed price of power generated.

In total, 11 new energy projects were successful in this round – three offshore wind farms totalling 3.2 GW of generating capacity, 86 MW of biomass with CHP and 65 MW of waste gasification or pyrolysis projects.

But it is the dramatic reduction in the cost of power from planned large offshore wind power that is generating headlines. In 2011, the government challenged the wind industry to reduce its “levelised cost of energy” (LCOE) down from £142/MWh to under £100/MWh by 2020. These new prices, albeit for wind farms yet to be built, demonstrate the very sharp fall in the cost of wind power in recent years to well below £100/MWh. The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult says that the strike prices of £74.75/MWh and £57.50/MWh equate approximately to LCOEs of £65 and £51.

The bids also undercut the £92.50/MWh price negotiated for nuclear power generated by the proposed Hinkley Point C power station currently expected to generate first power in 2025 or later.

The three winning offshore wind projects are:

  • Innogy and Statkraft’s 860 MW Triton Knoll off the coast of Lincolnshire, due to begin operation in 2021/22, at £74.75/MWh
  • DONG Energy’s 1,386 MW Hornsea Two off the coast of Yorkshire, due to start in 2022/23 at £57.50/Mwh
  • EDPR’s 950 MW Moray off the northeast coast of Scotland, also due to start in 2022/23 at £57.50/MWh

Announcing the results, the Department for Business, Energy and Industry Strategy stressed that competition in the CfD scheme has driven down the costs for consumers, suggesting that the generating capacity delivered in this auction will cost up to £528mn per year less than it would have in the absence of competition.

Minister for Energy and Industry, Richard Harrington, said: “The offshore wind sector alone will invest £17.5bn in the UK up to 2021 and thousands of new jobs in British businesses will be created by the projects announced.”

Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK which represents the whole energy industry, added: “Today’s exceptionally low results are further evidence of how the cost of clean energy is continuing to fall and how the move to a low carbon future is delivered at the lowest cost to consumers. This shows what can be achieved by providing the necessary certainty for investment, which drives down the cost of decarbonisation, benefits customers and the wider economy and creates highly skilled jobs and stimulates growth in rural economies.

“The industry has shown it can deliver, with over a quarter of electricity generation now provided by renewables. We now need the government to set out an ambitious, long-term plan for further decarbonisation in the Clean Growth Plan as well as providing certainty around the timing for further CfD auctions which allow for all technologies to compete for contracts.”

Source: Energy Institute

Fraud prevention measures to protect energy customers

Energy suppliers take fraud and crime seriously and want to do what they can to help protect their customers. Energy suppliers will have approaches in place – and staff will be trained – to recognise and handle fraud.

The energy industry is keen for all customers to know what they should be able to expect from their energy supplier for the main ways suppliers interact with them:

When a meter reader or a smart meter installer visits your property:

You can verify their identity – Meter readers or smart meter installers carry visible identification such as a badge and sometimes wear the uniform of your supplier.

You can request additional security – You may also be able to agree with your supplier to set a password up, also valid on phone calls, for additional security.

When you call your supplier:

Energy suppliers will verify your identity – Suppliers need to make sure they are speaking to authorised account holders so will ask you a couple of security questions. They will not ask for account passwords or security codes related to bank accounts or other payment cards. Account details will only be disclosed with the account holder once their identity has been verified.

Energy suppliers will never ask for the passwords or security details of your bank accounts or cards.

When you receive a call from your supplier:

Be cautious – Just because someone knows your bank details, it doesn’t mean they’re genuine. So be mindful of who you trust and don’t be afraid to ask them questions to verify their identity.

When you receive an email from your supplier:

The email will not ask for your personal details except where previously arranged; it will only be addressed to the account holder or a nominated individual. Where appropriate, your supplier will ensure that their emails contain your reference number.

Inteb backs crackdown on unregistered gas fitters

A major crackdown on unregistered gas fitters is being supported by Inteb Managed Services.

The move follows news that millions of people across the UK are putting themselves at risk from carbon monoxide poisoning, gas leaks, fires and explosions by employing illegal gas engineers who are not properly qualified.

Gas Safe Register, the official legal gas registration scheme, has discovered that nearly one in five people (19 per cent) who employed a tradesperson to work on a gas appliance did not check their ID card or qualifications.
Raja Khan, commercial director at Inteb, said: “It is vital to make sure that fitters are Gas Safe registered and are qualified to work in their property. An unsafe gas appliance can have appalling consequences and can, in extreme cases, prove fatal.”

Data from the Gas Safe Register, whose investigations team searches out unqualified and unregistered gas fitters, reveals that 65 per cent of gas jobs carried out by illegal fitters were unsafe and one in five gas appliances were so dangerous that they had to be disconnected immediately.

The study found that people are most likely to employ a tradesperson based on recommendations from friends or family members (53 per cent), and trust them based on their personal presentation (41 per cent) or how official they look (30 per cent), rather than on their qualifications (11 per cent).

Jonathan Samuel, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, said: “Our investigation team’s data shows how dangerous it is to let unregistered gas fitters carry out work in your home.

We are therefore calling on people to check for the Gas Safe Register logo on gas fitters’ ID cards and help keep their families safe by only employing registered engineers who are qualified to work on the appliance in question.”
More than 2,300 illegal gas jobs have been investigated over the past four years. Significant disparity between different regions and cities across the country can be found when it comes to the number of dangerous gas jobs carried out by illegal fitters. For example, 51 per cent of jobs in the South East were found to be unsafe compared to 78 per cent in Yorkshire and Humber, including 96 per cent of jobs investigated in Leeds.

Gas Safe Register will investigate illegal gas work and the information gathered is then passed on to the prosecuting authority and often results in a prosecution. Illegal gas workers can also be issued with prohibition notices and fines.

MEES Energy Efficiency Rating and Pen

Time is running out for new MEES regulatory compliance

The deadline is looming for landlords to comply with the new 2018 minimum level of energy efficiency standards (MEES) in England and Wales.

From next April, private non-domestic landlords must ensure that properties they rent reach at least and Energy Performance Certificate rating of E before granting a tenancy to new or existing tenants.

Until recently, little guidance had been available to prepare landlords for the new regulations. However, a comprehensive guidance document outlining a number of government rules – including a seven-year payback test to determine possible exemptions – has been produced by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Current estimates show that the regulations will affect a fifth of non-domestic buildings falling under the scope of MEES.

MEES require landlords of properties rated at EPC F or G to improve the property to at least an E, or register an exemption should one apply, when the tenancy is being renewed or extended or a new tenancy is being granted.

The seven-year payback test is one of the main exemptions, available when the installation of energy efficiency improvements will only be required where the recommended measure, or a package of measures, achieves an energy efficiency payback of seven years or less.

Urging landlords to ensure they take measures to comply with the new regulations, Raja Khan, commercial director at Inteb MS, said: “We are now only seven months away from this government legislation coming in to force.

“It is therefore vital that landlords familiarise themselves with the new rulings and that they have everything in place before the April 2018 deadline otherwise they will not be able to sign new lease contacts for properties with F or G rated EPCs.”

Inteb MS has full details of MEES and EPC improvement plans on its Energy Compliance web page here.

A copy of the non-domestic legislation guide can also be downloaded here.

Energy Institute praise for Inteb director Tom Kelly

High praise has come for Inteb Managed Services director Tom Kelly from the energy industry’s professional body.

After assessing Tom’s Continuing Professional Development (CPD) record for 2016, the Energy Institute described it as “one of the best” submissions they had seen this year.

As a member of the Energy Institute, Tom upholds the organisation’s culture of maintaining and developing competence and practice to meet the standards necessary when facing the challenges of his profession.

He said: “It is of benefit to the business that I maintain these qualifications and it helps us to put forward further evidence of our technical leadership within the energy and utilities industry.”

The Energy Institute believes CPD certification is about being the best people can be at what they do and putting themselves in the best possible position to make the most of opportunities.

Confirming Tom’s successful review, Sue Beard, the body’s head of professional affairs, told him: “The CPD panel felt that yours was one of the best CPD records they looked at this year.

“You gave an informative description of your current job role, your CPD covered a wide range of topics and activities and your comments on each of your activities were thoughtful and reflective.”

Tom, who is a chartered energy manager and Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) lead assessor, has worked for more than 16 years in energy, sustainability and resource efficiency sectors, building an in-depth knowledge looking at business solutions to utility and waste costs, environmental legislation and gaining a competitive edge through improved sustainability performance.

With increasing awareness around the tightening legislation and cost of carbon emissions, Tom is able to assist organisations meet their present needs while planning for the future, including monitoring, targeting and assessment of improvement opportunities through to managing building related projects.

His specialities are energy management and carbon reduction, CRC, ESOS, utilities metering and data management, construction project management, waste management and legislation, resource efficiency project management and sustainability reporting.