Catalyst Business Energy Market Brief September 2014

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Escalating Russia/ Ukraine tensions and unexpected nuclear outages supported rises in power and gas prices in August, as contracts saw their first monthly increases this year.

Following on from the crash of flight MH17 over Eastern Ukraine in July, geo-political tensions have dominated market focus. Sanction announcements by Europe, Ukraine and Russia have heightened gas security of supply fears for the winter-ahead.

via Energy Market Reports | Catalyst Commercial Energy Brokers.

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Ditching desk bins crushes office waste by 60%

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It’s an example which could spell the end of impromptu workplace wastepaper-cum-basketball games forever – or perhaps not.

Welsh business BI WORLDWIDE claims to have sent recycling at its office rocketing by ditching individual bins at desks in April.

The “performance improvement” agency swapped the desk bins at its UK office in Newport Pagnell with 20 bio-degradable recycling points.

via Energy Live News – Energy Made Easy – Ditching desk bins crushes office waste by 60%.

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EU ban on powerful vacuum cleans sparks anger and legal move

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Consumers are being urged to buy powerful vacuum cleaners while they can after it emerged that some of the most powerful models on the market will disappear in September when a new EU rule comes into force.

An EU energy label, to be introduced from 1 September, means manufacturers will not be able to make or import vacuum cleaners with a motor that exceeds 1,600 watts.

The Which? consumer group said many of its Best Buy models had motor sizes that exceeded this, “so if you’re in the market for a powerful vacuum, you should act quickly, before all of the models currently available sell out”. The wattage will be limited to only 900 watts by 2017 – further restricting choice. Current cleaners typically boast an average of 1,800 watts.

Which? warned that many of the models that appear in its Best Buy tables have motor sizes in excess of the new limit.

Of seven awarded Best Buy status since January 2013, five have motors of more than 1,600 watts. A Best Buy 2,200w vacuum costs around £27 a year to run in electricity – around £8 more than the best-scoring 1,600w it has tested.

The consumer group argues that the move is self-defeating – claiming that householders would simply use the less powerful models for longer to achieve the same degree of cleaning.

The move has also angered manufacturers who agree the move will do nothing to make cleaners more environmentally friendly and will simply reduce efficiency in the home.

via EU ban on powerful vacuum cleans sparks anger and legal move | World news | The Guardian.

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Future road generates energy

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The picture could be from any small town in the United States. The only thing that stands out is the colour of the road and car park in the town in Idaho: they have been surfaced with hexagonal plates that are green.

The plates are made of tempered glass and hide solar panels underneath. The road and car park produce electricity. The image is only an artist’s rendition of the novel idea but a small car park complete with solar panels already exists in reality.

Electrical engineer Scott Brunsaw and his wife Julie Brunsaw are the founders of Solar Roadways, a company developing technology for generating electricity with solar panels embedded in the road surface.

The Brunsaws worked on their idea for a long time in the noughties before receiving funding from the Federal Highway Administration in 2009, which they put towards developing a prototype of a road with solar panels.

At the first phase, they tested the solar panels indoors. Research teams at universities focussed on the durability and traction of the glass surface and found that using tempered glass as a surface material was a feasible idea.

On the strength of these promising results, the Brunshaws were able to secure more funding, allowing them to produce a combined solar power plant and car park.

Now they have launched a crowdsourcing campaign to raise funds needed to gear up for production at a commercial level. So far, they have collected more than 1.5 million dollars.

Testing carried out in January and February revealed that the glass surface cuts the amount of electricity produced by panels by around 11 per cent but the technology still produces enough energy to make it a promising innovation.

Scott Brunsaw has calculated that if all the roads in the US were surfaced with these panels, the energy generated would be triple the current US energy consumption.

He erred on the side of caution in his calculation as it is based on winter conditions in Northern Idaho.

via Future road generates energy.

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Consumers to fund free LED lighting for supermarkets

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Households could pay millions of pounds on their energy bills to provide supermarkets and airports with free LED lighting, under energy department plans to cut the UK’s power usage.Ed Davey, the energy secretary, on Thursday announced £20m taxpayer cash for a trial scheme in which businesses will be offered funding to carry out energy efficiency improvements “like replacing old light bulbs with LEDs or improving motors and pumps”.Firms will compete for the funding in a reverse auction, and will be able to bid for the entire cost of the work to be covered, or for it to be partially subsidised. They should then enjoy cheaper energy bills as a result, Mr Davey said. More than 300 organisations including “hospitals, airports and supermarket chains” have already express interest in the auction, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said.The plan is intended to reduce national electricity demand, easing the risk of blackouts and averting the need for more power stations to be built. If the trial is successful, ministers will continue to offer such cash through the billpayer-funded ‘capacity market’.

via Consumers to fund free LED lighting for supermarkets – Telegraph.

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SSE: Energy company loses customers

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The former Scottish & Southern Energy blamed “very competitive market conditions” as the number of electricity and gas customers fell from 9.1 million to 8.99 million in the three months to June 30.

Britain’s “big six” energy suppliers have come under mounting political pressure to lower bills and are facing an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) amid concerns about excess profitability and pricing practices.

via SSE: Energy company loses customers | City & Business | Finance | Daily Express.

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Germany is most energy efficient major economy, study finds

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Germany is the world’s most energy efficient country with strong codes on buildings while China is quickly stepping up its own efforts, an environmental group said Thursday.

The study of 16 major economies by the Washington-based American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Mexico last and voiced concern about the pace of efforts by the United States and Australia.

The council gave Germany the top score as it credited Europe’s largest economy for its mandatory codes on residential and commercial buildings as it works to meet a goal of reducing energy consumption by 20% by 2020 from 2008 levels.

“We are pleased to win a second title in a week’s time,” Philipp Ackermann, the deputy chief of mission at the German embassy in Washington, told a conference call, alluding to his country’s World Cup victory.

Echoing the views of the report’s authors, Ackermann pointed out that Germany has achieved economic growth while improving efficiency and reducing harmful environmental effects of the energy trade.

“We all agree , I think – the cheapest energy is the energy you don’t have to produce in the first place,” Ackermann said.

“Our long-term goal is to fully decouple economic growth from energy use,” he said.

via Germany is most energy efficient major economy, study finds | Environment | theguardian.com.

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Amazing Video – Worlds First Tidal Energy Generator Lands in Wales

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It seems we can’t go a week without talking about strides being made or patents being filed for a new style of solar cell or increases in wind power capacity. But, as we’ve reported before, many commercial energy developers are all at sea when it comes to tidal power.

But this week a new wave of tidal energy landed in the UK, as the first of a new generation of devices landed in Wales.

The DeltaStream device, developed by Tidal Energy Ltd, is a 150 ton, 20m-tall platform housing three turbines. Capable of outputting 400kW, the Deltastream will be installed off the coast of Pembrokeshire, Wales in Ramsay Sound.

The UK government and investors will operate the generation for a trial period of 12 months, in which time it will supply commercial energy to around 1000 nearby homes.

via Video – ‘World First’ Tidal Energy Generator Lands in Wales.

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Solar panels could become a third more effective with new technique

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The scientific technique of singlet fission was first observed in glowing crystals nearly half a century ago, but now scientists are looking at it once again as a way to improve the efficiency of modern solar cells.

The process allows a single photon of light to release two electrons instead of the usual one, and a new paper published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters claims this could increase the rate of energy conversion in solar panels by as much as 30%.

Solar panels currently work by absorbing a photon of light and then creating a exciton, which splits into two electrons and is then harnessed in the panel as electricity. However, in singlet fission a highly charged photon can emit two excitons, and therefore four electrons, creating the possibility of a solar cell with a 40% efficiency.

In the early 60s and 70s, singlet fission was first described in order to explain the strange glow coming from various fluorescent organic crystals. However, the process was forgotten soon after.

via Solar panels could become a third more effective with new technique.

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EDF Energy Shut Down Four UK Nuclear Reactors

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France’s largest supplier of commercial energy – EDF – have shut down four of it’s UK-based reactors after discovering a fault in a boiler unit.

A statement from the company says it found a potentially-dangerous defect in a boiler spine at the Heysham-1 plant in Lancashire back in June, and following on from that discovery have taken the “conservative decision” to temporarily switch off the second reactor at Heysham-1 and two at its Hartlepool site in the northeast of England which use similar components.

With fifteen reactors in the UK, EDF will lose around a quarter of it’s nuclear commercial energy capacity for some eight weeks whilst necessary investigations take place and replacements installed – which the French supplier say will amount to a a 4.5 per cent drop in energy output over the course of the year.

via EDF Energy Shut Down Four UK Nuclear Reactors.

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