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The UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy is masking stark regional divides, according to new research, with regions such as the North of England and East Midlands being left behind. Researchers from Imperial College London and consultancy firm E4tech are warning of a two-tier emerging as Britain undergoes an energy revolution. While many businesses and homes across London, Scotland and the East are set to benefit from clean growth and lower energy bills, research has found that regions such as Wales, Yorkshire and the East Midlands are falling behind. Some of these regions are suffering from low energy efficiency ratings, while cost of heating, combined with lower average incomes in these areas mean that fuel poverty rates are particularly high. Imperial’s Dr Iain Staffnell said: “The country is going through an energy revolution. We are creating an energy system which will power our future economy and help tackle climate change. “But, our research reveals that Britain is at risk of creating a two-tier economy, leaving millions of families and businesses less well equipped to enjoy cheaper bills and better health outcomes. Our concern is they will not be offered the same opportunities as people living in regions which are modernising their energy infrastructure.”

Edie 19th Nov 2018 read more »

Times 19th Nov 2018 read more »

The differences in the pace of the energy revolution are the result of uneven investment from both national government and local authorities, the report said, as well as variations in average household income. London is leading the way because of its high provision of public transport – it receives 45 per cent of national funds for rail electrification, for example – and the relatively low cost of owning an electric car in the capital. Residential homes in the capital also tend to be more energy efficient, while households in the south east tend to enjoy higher incomes. Meanwhile, people in Scotland benefit from high levels of renewable power generation, a high proportion of EV charging points, and relatively energy efficient housing. Conversely in the East Midlands and Yorkshire homes are draughtier and less energy efficient, pushing rates of fuel poverty up. Transport is also more centred around personal vehicle use, pushing up emissions.

Business Green 19th Nov 2018 read more »

SCOTLAND and London are leading the way in the UK’s “energy revolution” with advances in electric cars and smart appliances, according to a new study. The country’s capital and Scotland lead on energy due to their successful shifts from fossil fuels to renewable-generated electricity, researchers from Imperial College London and E4tech suggested. The report also pointed out that residential homes in London, Scotland and the east are more energy efficient – being more likely to score high, A-C Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) ratings and have fewer buildings rated F and G. But while some areas rushed ahead in the renewable energy ratings, others lagged further behind. The north of England and the East Midlands were included in the list of areas where renewable energies were not as well developed.

The National 19th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018

Renewables

Renewable energy is now cheaper than natural gas and coal in parts of the United States. The only problem: Cheap renewables may not be enough to stop the world from warming to dangerously high levels. The dynamic is outlined in a pair of recent reports. The first, by the financial advisory firm Lazard Frères & Co. LLC, finds wind and solar costs have declined by 69 percent and 88 percent, respectively, over the last nine years. In some parts of America, renewables don’t need subsidies to outcompete fossil fuels. That should be music to the ears of climate hawks. Yet the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) annual World Energy Outlook outlines the scope of the challenge facing greens. The agency projects global energy demand will rise 25 percent through 2040 if it stays on its current trajectory. Even more vexing for would-be carbon cutters: The average coal plant in Asia is 11 years old, meaning emissions from the sector will likely be locked in for decades to come, even as older American plants are retiring.

Scientific American 14th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018

100% Renewables

Matching electricity, heat, and cold demand with supply at low cost is the greatest concern facing countries seeking to provide their all-purpose energy with 100% clean, renewable wind, water, and sunlight (WWS). Implementing WWS worldwide could eliminate 4e7 million annual air pollution deaths, first slow then reverse global warming, and provide energy sustainably. This study derives zero-load-loss technical solutions to matching demand with 100% WWS supply; heat, cold, and electricity storage; hydrogen production; assumed all-distance transmission; and demand response for 20 world regions encompassing 139 countries after they electrify or provide direct heat for all energy in 2050. Multiple solutions are found, including those with batteries and heat pumps but zero added hydropower turbines and zero thermal energy storage. Whereas WWS and Business-As-Usual (BAU) energy costs per unit energy are similar, WWS requires ~42.5% less energy in a base case and ~57.9% less in a heat-pump case so may reduce capital and consumer costs significantly. Further, WWS social (energy þ health þ climate) costs per unit energy are one-fourth BAU’s. By reducing water vapor, the wind turbines proposed may rapidly offset ~3% global warming while also displacing fossil-fuel emissions. Thus, with careful planning, the world’s energy challenges may be solvable with a practical technique.

Renewable Energy (accessed) 18th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018

Renewables – solar

With prices of solar panels dropping by as much as 30%, the mass-adoption of photovoltaics (PVs) would bring 20% of Europeans out of energy poverty With heating season in full swing, as many as 120 million citizens living in the European Union – or 20% of the bloc’s entire population – are still living in what energy experts refer to as ‘energy poverty’ – the most common indicator of energy poverty is households spending in excess of 10% of their budget on energy bills. One of the driving factors behind energy poverty and the rising cost of heating bills across Europe is the European Commission’s regulated energy costs, which were originally implemented after World War II to establish fixed energy prices. However, the regulations have led to the creation of a European energy monopoly in which the average price of heating and other utility bills range between EUR 500 per-year in the union’s poorest member states such as Slovakia, and EUR 2,300 p/a in wealthier countries such as Sweden.

Open Access Government 16th Nov 2018 read more »

A string of subsidy-free solar farms will move ahead within weeks, marking the first fresh private investments in renewable energy without government handouts. Private equity fund Horus Capital said its new solar development arm, Suncore Energy, will begin construction of three new solar farms totalling 45MW from next month. The first of the trio will move ahead in Worsted, near Gatwick, after clinching the last ever government feed-in tariff for solar power, but the pair that follow will be the first new projects to power the grid with subsidy-free renewable electricity.

Telegraph 18th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018

Renewables – tidal

The threat of climate change should lead the government to look again at harnessing tidal power in the Severn Estuary, ministers have been told. Darren Jones, MP for Bristol North West, has urged the government to “harbour” the energy from the Severn Estuary – which he said could be the “second-largest source of tidal power in the world” – if it is going to cut the UK’s carbon emissions. According to United Nation scientists, world leaders have only 12 years to put measures in place to prevent the world’s temperatures from rising by 1.5C.

Bristol Post 19th Nov 2018 read more »

Orkney tidal development firm Orbital Marine Power has today revealed the new design for its commercial production tidal turbine. The two megawatt (MW) Orbital O2 has a target deployment of 2020. The new turbine design will be launched at the tidal test base at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. Andrew Scott, CEO of Orbital Marine Power said “The Orbital O2 is a low cost solution for future commercial projects and builds on the features which made the SR2000 an industry breakthrough.

Energy Voice 19th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018

Smart Meters

Large energy suppliers will need to triple the number of smart meters they are installing to meet a 2020 deadline, consumer group Which? has warned. It said firms would need to install 30 smart meters a minute, every day, for the next two years to replace the 46 million existing meters. At present, large energy suppliers are only putting in 9.7 meters a minute. Smart Energy GB said suppliers “are working hard to offer all households smart meters as soon as possible”. A spokesman for the independent body which is responsible for promoting the scheme, added: “In line with the government’s figures, smart meters will help people save on average almost £50 a year on their energy bills by 2030.”

BBC 19th Nov 2018 read more »

Telegraph 19th Nov 2018 read more »

Guardian 19th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018

Energy Storage

The United States has, of late, made much of its ability to produce its own electricity from natural gas – which regularly accounts for around a third of the country’s generation. In fact, until the last few years, natural gas generation has grown steadily in the United States and, sometime in 2015, overtook coal as the country’s leading generator of electricity. However, recent news out of California shows that the long-term dominance of natural gas is under questions, with California electric utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announcing it intends to replace three ageing natural gas power plants with battery-storage systems. The California Public Utilities Commission last week formally approved four PG&E energy-storage contracts intended for Northern California’s electricity grid – including a project to be constructed by Tesla. The approval stems from PG&E’s response to the Commission’s own order in January to replace the power it receives from three Calpine Corp. gas plants that are at risk of retirement, and to consider using battery projects. Moving to replace the three gas power plants requires significant capacity, and the four recently-approved battery projects will amount to a total 568 MW.

Renew Economy 19th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018

EVs

Plans to decarbonise London’s bus fleet are continuing apace, after it was confirmed Shepherds Bush has become the fifth bus garage in the capital to install a bank of electric bus charging units. UK Power Networks announced late last week it has completed work at the Sulgrave Road site to enable 36 new electric buses to charge overnight.

Business Green 19th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018

Fossil Fuels

The National Trust has invested tens of millions of pounds in oil, gas and mining firms – despite the conservation charity pledging to cut down its own use of fossil fuels and warning about the impact of climate change. An investigation by the Guardian has found that the trust – which aims to “nurse the environment back to health’ – has more than £30m of investments in oil, gas and mining companies, including BP and Shell, held indirectly via a portfolio fund. The trust has vowed to decrease its own use of fossil fuels across its estates in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in response to climate change, aiming to generate 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Hilary McGrady, the director-general of the trust, which has more than five millio n members and 61,000 volunteers, has previously said: “We are playing our part by ensuring we reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and at every property we are constantly looking at ways to seek out energy efficiencies.” A 2015 report by the trust warned: “It is abundantly clear to us from across the breadth of places we look after that the impacts of climate change are already increasing, and are a worrying threat to the fragile and venerable places of natural and historic importance that we care for.”

Guardian 19th Nov 2018 read more »

Nick Butler: A shale revolution in the UK was proclaimed six years ago by David Cameron, then prime minister, who said Britain should be at the heart of the global industry initiated by developments in the US. In Davos two years later, he said shale gas could produce a new industrial revolution in Britain and bring down energy costs. The conventional wisdom at the time held that energy was scarce and prices were doomed to rise inexorably. With North Sea production of gas declining, the country was believed to be vulnerable to a squeeze on supplies driven by either politics or a surge in demand caused by harsh weather conditions. Since then, the companies that would like to start producing have been hampered by disputes over planning consents for drilling and have only been able to proceed after central government took powers to override local objections earlier this year. Cuadrilla finally began drilling in Fylde, Lancashire, last month only to be halted repeatedly after a series of small earth tremors. Under the terms of the planning consents, drilling must stop for at least 18 hours after each tremor. Thousands of such small tremors occur naturally around the country every year, most of which go unnoticed. The company says these tremors are within operating expectations. If I were a shareholder in Cuadrilla or any of the other companies hoping to drill in areas believed to hold shale gas such as Yorkshire or around Balcombe in Surrey, I would be starting to think the game was not worth the candle. This would not be because of environmental concerns. I believe fracking can be managed safely with no damage to water supplies or the wider environment, and that the companies know how to work to high standards. The judgment of the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, which has produced an authoritative independent study of the technology involved, concluded that shale gas development involving fracking could be “managed effectively in the UK as long as operational best practices are implemented and enforced through regulation”. The reason for scepticism is not environmental but economic. Since 2013, gas prices have fallen sharply. German import prices – the standard European benchmark – are half their 2013 level. There is no shortage of gas supplies in Europe or across the world.

FT 19th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 November 2018

Capacity Market

Winter has come early for the Government’s energy policy. Although temperatures have only just begun to dip, certainty over whether the UK is prepared for the cold has already plunged. In the space of one week, major policies affecting Britain’s gas and electricity supplies have been thrown into doubt. A European court ruling has brought a cornerstone scheme designed to keep the lights on to an immediate standstill. Meanwhile, Brexit fears have reignitedThe move threatens a return of price spikes over the winter, which could be made worse by growing fears over access to gas supplies. Behind closed doors, the industry is calling on ministers to prioritise policies which can help to keep a lid on prices. The growing reliance on foreign sources for gas does little to calm jitters that the UK could be held to ransom amid a winter gas supply crisis. It has just 1.5bn cubi c meters of gas storage capacity, or 2pc of the total gas system, following the closure of the Rough gas storage facility in 2017. concerns over Britain’s decision to forego investment in gas storage facilities.

Telegraph 17th Nov 2018 read more »

Electricity prices could double after the government suspended the UK’s system for ensuring there is a back-up power supply, experts have warned. The wholesale power price could hit £121 per megawatt hour (MWh) by next winter unless the so-called capacity market is reinstated, according to a report – risking higher energy bills for millions. The government suspended the capacity market on Thursday after the European Court of Justice (ECJ) found it breached state-aid rules. Under the mechanism, which had originally been cleared by the European Commission, power stations are subsidised to be on standby to provide extra electricity for the UK’s main network immediately, if needed. Some businesses are also paid to be ready to reduce their energy use when needed. However, payments and auctions have now been suspended while the government tries to find a way to re-establish the scheme. If no solution is found, projects could be pulled as they might no longer be economically viable, and prices could be pushed up by limits on supply. Prices on future electricity contracts leapt by an average of £1.40 per MWh on the day after the announcement, experts said. Analysts at the think-tank Aurora Energy Research forecast power prices next winter of about £60 per MWh if the capacity market is reinstated, but up to £121 if it is not. On Friday, the power price was £55. Energy suppliers tend to pass on to customers the cost of power by hiking bills. Many are already running on low margins following a spike in the wholesale gas price over the summer.

Times 18th Nov 2018 read more »

Posted: 18 November 2018