Britain missed out on thousands of jobs building offshore wind farms because the Government failed to develop a UK supply chain before handing high subsidies to the industry, according to a former civil servant who was central in the development of the North Sea oil industry.
Efforts to increase the UK share of work on offshore wind projects may now be “too little, too late”, but ministers must take urgent action to prevent the same mistake being made in the shale gas industry, Norman Smith said in a report for the independent think tank Civitas.
Only about a quarter of capital expenditure on the latest offshore wind farms was in the UK, according to the Government’s industrial strategy earlier this year. Ministers say if this were increased to 50pc by 2020, and 85pc of operational spend was also in the UK, it could deliver a £7bn boost to the economy.
Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, has said he wants to see “something approaching the 70pc that we already see in the oil and gas sector of supply chain made in Britain”.
The average British household could eventually end up paying an extra £8,000 for its gas and electricity if George Osborne succeeds in delaying vital action to make Britain greener, the Government’s official climate change advisers warn today.
Postponing decisive action to cut carbon emissions by 10 years to 2030, through measures such as a widespread shift to renewable energy sources, will add at least £100bn to Britain’s collective household energy bills between 2030 and 2050, according to the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC). This works out to £4,000 per household.
The increase is because Britain would need to take even more drastic action to make up lost ground to ensure it hits its legally binding target of reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent from 1990 levels.
And if fossil fuel prices soar to the top of the range of realistic forecasts, the bill to remedy the delayed switch to a low-carbon society could reach £200bn, or £8,000 per household, according to the committee’s calculations – the first time a figure has been put on the cost to the UK of postponing action.
High energy bills may top the political agenda in the UK, but households all over Europe are feeling the squeeze.
Since 2010, both gas and electricity prices have risen markedly, largely due to rises in wholesale prices on the back of the tentative global economic recovery and expectations of higher demand.
Electricity prices fell in the first half of the year, but this was simply a case of energy suppliers cutting prices after large increases in January.
The dip in gas prices has lasted longer, but even they are on the up again.
Britain’s largest bakery chain is cooking up some impressive carbon and energy savings, after it unveiled a series of major new solar installations.
Greggs has installed photovoltaic panels at 10 sites across the UK, in a move that it says will help slash its carbon emissions by 25% by 2015.
The 10 projects have seen a total of 1.28MW of capacity installed on bakery roofs, providing renewable power to the energy-hungry ovens that are used to bake the company’s famous cakes and pasties.
Stephen Weldon, social responsibility manager at Greggs, said that in addition to energy bill and carbon savings the company would also benefit from feed-in tariff payments.
“As a responsible business, we have a duty to manage our energy consumption by becoming more energy efficient in our bakery and retail operations,” he said.
“The installation of PV panels on our bakery roofs provided the perfect opportunity to make use of a previously unused [roof space], take advantage of the government’s feed-in tariff scheme and generate carbon-neutral electricity for use in the bakeries, and, therefore, reduce the amount of fossil fuel we need to buy and consume.”
He added that the PV installations will also help to boost Greggs’ reputation as a company that is seeking to keep a handle on rising energy prices and carbon emissions.
Companies selling the UK government’s flagship energy-saving scheme in Wales could be breaking the law, a BBC Wales investigation has found.
Green Deal offers loans for energy saving measures such as insulation.
But consumer show X-Ray had misleading information given to it in secretly recorded calls to two firms in Swansea.
A consumer law expert says the firms may be breaking the law. One refused to comment and the other has suspended its Green Deal operations.
There has been concern from MPs and trading standards officers about the number of allegations of companies mis-selling the Green Deal and similar schemes – particularly in south Wales.
When X-Ray researchers posed as customers they were wrongly told that the Green Deal was not a loan and that they qualified for the scheme – even though they needed to have an assessment.
Britain could save £85bn a year if it meets its carbon targets, according to a study commissioned by the government’s climate advisers.
As well as tackling global warming, a switch away from fossil fuels and an increase in energy efficiency would result in improved air quality, lower human health costs, lower energy bills, noise reduction, wildlife benefits, better quality water, less waste, less traffic congestion and fewer road accidents, the report by environmental consultancy Ricardo AEA said. It is published alongside the the review of the UK’s fourth carbon budget by the Committee on Climate Change, which said ministers should stick to plans to cut emissions by half in the mid-2020s.
The study, which weighs up the options given to government by the committee, finds some of the biggest benefits coming from people walking and cycling instead of driving, and from switching to electric and hybrid cars. The health benefits of more walking and cycling are estimated as £2.3bn a year by 2030 with the benefit of less congestion put at £8.4bn and noise reduction nearly £1bn a year. Limiting road speeds would reduce transport emissions considerably, but would also reduce accidents.
“The significant co-benefit of avoided congestion costs should provide a further impetus for policy-makers to focus on promoting smarter transport choices, and should justify higher levels of investment in these options. These benefits can be maximised by focusing support measures (such as construction of safe cycle paths) in highly congested areas. It is likely that this would also maximise the opportunity to reduce accident risks,” says the study.
Equally, measures like reducing shipping speed and improving aviation fuels, would not only reduce emissions considerably, but would greatly reduce noise and air pollution around ports and airports. “Substantial co-benefits arise from the air quality impacts of avoided fuel combustion. The benefits are large for shipping because of the high sulphur content of marine fuels. Significant benefits could also arise around UK airports, especially at Heathrow where air quality limits for oxides of nitrogen are regularly exceeded.”
Norwegian hydropower schemes linked to Europe’s large wind farm projects could successfully act as a backup when wind power fails to deliver enough energy, according to SINTEF, the largest independent Scandinavian research organization.
With both on- and off-shore wind power being seen as key to reducing the EU’s carbon emissions by 80-95% by 2050, a big hurdle for the technology is solving the problem of intermittent power production. Sometimes there will be too much power on offer, and at others too little.
A northern European offshore power grid is being developed to link wind farms and carry the electricity to population centres where it is needed in Sweden, Denmark and Germany. But the key problem remains how to maintain a regular supply of energy.
If the existing Norwegian hydropower schemes were refurbished and updated and connected to the same grid they could act as a giant “blue-green battery” for the system and provide all the necessary backup power, according to SINTEF.
A new smart meter installer training centre, which is expected to create new employment for up to 2000 trained engineers, is to be unveiled in Newcastle this week.
Newcastle City Council leader, Nick Forbes, will unveil the centre which is due to officially open in January.
Run by energy services company, Future Energy Solutions Ltd, the centre will be the first of its kind to open in the north east of England. It will offer accredited training to those wishing to become smart meter installers and it is expected that up to 400 candidates will be trained each year.
Smart Meters are a new kind of energy meter which replace existing meters and work by communicating directly with the energy supplier. Smart Meters will ensure that all energy bills will be based on real time reading rather than estimates and customers can track energy usage accurately.
Tim Cantle-Jones, managing director of Future Energy Solutions said: “This vocational training is very relevant and important at this time when plans are being put in place by energy suppliers to ensure that smart meters are installed in every house by 2020.
“We are delighted to be opening the centre in Newcastle which will support the training of smart meter engineers from the North East, Yorkshire and Scotland.”
The training centre is being operated in partnership with Nutech Training, which is based in Blackburn and has been delivering training for smart meter installers for the past 18 months.
With four of the UK’s big six energy firms stalling on administering the £50 reduction to domestic and commercial energy consumers, and threats of blackouts next winter, it looks like the heated debate over energy prices is set to continue well into 2014.Having negotiated a £50 reduction to energy bills and chipped away at green levies, the government would have hoped that energy companies would have done them something of a favor and implemented those changes to bills with some sense of urgency.
A consortium of investors led by Macquarie Group’s Infrastructure and Real Assets business have signed an agreement to buy the Severn power station from Danish owner DONG Energy for £350m.
Thomas Dalsgaard, Executive Vice President in DONG Energy, said: “We have succeeded in divesting the Severn power station at a satisfactory price in a difficult market.
“The divestment is an important element of the Group’s strategy to divest non-core assets and thereby strengthen the capital base for the benefit of the future development of the company.”
Severn power station has a capacity of 832MW and is able to generate power for approximately 1.5 million British households.
It is one of the most efficient natural gas-fired power stations of its type in the UK and started commercial operations in November 2010.