Diesel farm boom and UK energy subsidies


It has been discovered that subsidies being granted on household energy bills have caused a boom in polluting “diesel farms” across the UK so the grid can meet periods of high electricity demand.

One programme for the National Grid has almost a quarter of Britain’s back-up power provided by tiny fossil fuel power stations – some of which have been built on what was previously farmland by opportunistic entrepreneurs.

When there is a surge in demand for power, for example during large sporting events such as the World Cup or Wimbledon, the mini-power stations are brought online by grid managers.

via Diesel farm boom and UK energy subsidies.


Catalyst shortlisted in the TELCA Business Person of The Year and Unsung Hero awards


The finalists for this year’s Energy Live Consultancy Awards have been announced and we are delighted that Catalyst have been shortlisted in the Business Person of The Year award and Unsung Hero award.

Congratulations to Chris Hurcombe and Debbie Francis for reaching the final selection which will be made by the panel of independent and well respected judges and announced during an exclusive black-tie event on the 25th June.

We are competing against other brilliant enterprises, but regardless of the results we our hugely proud of our nominations.

via TELCA Awards 2013 – Catalyst Commercial.


How Big Is Tesla’s ‘Big’ Announcement?


When Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled his company’s new battery division last week, he hailed the beginning of a “complete transformation of the entire energy infrastructure of the world.”In reality, Tesla is joining a crowded field of companies already invested in on-site energy storage, and experts are split on just how much those systems will impact the energy market.Beginning this summer, Tesla Energy will sell at-home battery systems at a starting price tag of $3,000. The debut press conference featured Musk heralding a dramatic step forward in the ability of homeowners to store energy generated from potentially fickle renewable sources — namely, rooftop solar panels.

via How Big Is Tesla’s ‘Big’ Announcement?.


Catalyst Business Energy Market Brief April 2015


Brent crude oil, coal and carbon prices returned to downward trends in March, impacting GB commercial electricity and gas contracts. Oil prices dropped 2% to average $57.4/bl as concerns increased that US storage levels were reaching full capacity.

The falls fed into coal prices, which dropped 4.9% over March and hit a five-year low of $56.9/t. The coal market was also affected by falling global demand levels, which have increased oversupply in the market.

The carbon market was also bearish, with priced dropping 7% to average €6.8/t as talks on proposed market reforms slowed. Prices hit a five-month low of €6.3/t in the month.



Nuclear waste dumps bypass public approval under new UK law


A UK law has quietly passed through Parliament which allows for radioactive waste dumps to bypass the planning system, local authorities or public opinion. The new legislation is opposed by anti-nuclear activists.

Under the new law, Britain’s radioactive waste from medical use, weapons and power stations which has been stockpiled for 50 years may be dumped, circumventing local requirements.

Sites will be chosen by the secretary of state for energy and climate change. As of last week they are considered “nationally significant infrastructure projects.” While the planning inspectorate could recommend sites for the nuclear waste piles, the secretary does not necessarily need to follow the advice. Local communities and councils can dispute the details, but can’t stop the process.

The law was passed in the Parliament’s last working hours before it was prorogued for the general election and was noticed only by anti-nuclear activists and local opponents.

via Nuclear waste dumps bypass public approval under new UK law — RT UK.


4% Of UK Electricity Could Come From Solar By 2020


Solar panels costs have plunged though, so the government revised its numbers. Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey made some key remarks about what the UK’s solar future might look like: “He said he expected up to 14 GW of solar by 2020 – up from 5 GW at the end of 2014. That equates roughly to 1.5% of total UK annual electricity to just under 4%. He said he expected it to grow further in the next decade.”

However, the government will no longer subsidize large-scale solar farms. These are facilities with 5 MW of solar or more. Of course, we all know that national economies are emerging from the worst recession in decades. Supporting a fledgling industry like solar power seems to be both reasonable and future-forward, especially considering that new solar installations create jobs that are skilled and generally pay decently.

Both solar and wind power need support at the policy level, but politics too often has a way of interfering with the development of renewable energy. Conservative politicians frequently have ties to the fossil fuel industry, and some of them work strenuously to hold back anything that could hurt it.

via http://snip.ly/ebtr


New kind of “tandem” solar cell developed


Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Stanford Univ. have developed a new kind of solar cell that combines two different layers of sunlight-absorbing material in order to harvest a broader range of the sun’s energy. The development could lead to photovoltaic cells that are more efficient than those currently used in solar-power installations, the researchers say.

The new cell uses a layer of silicon—which forms the basis for most of today’s solar panels—but adds a semi-transparent layer of a material called perovskite, which can absorb higher-energy particles of light. Unlike an earlier “tandem” solar cell reported by members of the same team earlier this year—in which the two layers were physically stacked, but each had its own separate electrical connections—the new version has both layers connected together as a single device that needs only one control circuit.

The new findings are reported in the journal Applied Physics Letters by MIT graduate student Jonathan Mailoa; associate professor of mechanical engineering Tonio Buonassisi; Colin Bailie and Michael McGehee at Stanford; and four others.

via http://snip.ly/I5vB



Eiffel tower renovation includes wind turbines


As part of a high profile renovation project, one of the most iconic sites in the world has become the latest venue to embrace renewable energy as two vertical axis wind turbines are installed on the Eiffel tower.

US-based renewables specialist Urban Green Energy (UGE) announced that it has fitted the two turbines and that they can deliver 10,000kWh of commercial electricity annually. This effectively offsets the power used by the commercial areas on the tower’s first floor.

The company added that the two turbines are “virtually silent” and have been painted to resemble the rest of the tower.

The height of the turbines, 400 feet above the ground, was specially chosen to maximise the energy production of the devices, allowing them to take advantage of relatively steady winds.

via Eiffel tower renovation includes wind turbines.


North Sea wind power ‘may make East of England a trade hub’


The East of England could become a hub for trade in renewable energy with Scandinavia if the proper regulation is put in place, says an industry group.

RenewableUK said it hoped a House of Lords report on the North Sea would help move forwards a framework to allow the import and export of wind energy.

Some of the biggest offshore wind farms are off the coast of Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex.

The committee found the North Sea was under pressure from human activity.

But it said urgently-needed strategic and political vision would “secure it for future generations” and help manage the economic opportunities.

via BBC News – North Sea wind power ‘may make East of England a trade hub’.


Catalyst Business Energy Market Brief March 2015


Brent crude oil saw its first month-on-month increases in eight months in February as a number of US oil rigs were taken offline, and prices hovered around the production costs of US shale oil. New commercial crude reserve regulations were introduced in China, which boosted short-term import demand. The gains throughout February sent long-term UK gas and power prices higher.

via Catalyst Business Energy Market Brief March 2015.