Monthly Archives: September 2011

Energy giant SSE gives firms online access to consumption data

Dubbed Business Energy Centre (BEC), the service means customers will no longer have to email or call in to request information about consumption.

“The old manual service was labour intensive. We wanted to differentiate ourselves from the competition, and provide better services to our customers by giving them presentable and engaging data,” said Phil Collard, SSE’s head of business and operational support.

The BEC will be a self-service customer portal providing usage data in addition to next-day billing.

European supergrid would be beneficial for UK grid

Although the cost of developing such a grid would be very high, it could bring a host of benefits such as tens of thousands of new jobs in the offshore renewable energy industry and allowing the UK to become a net exporter of energy.

It would also deliver a 25% capital cost saving on connecting each offshore wind or marine farm compared to connecting site individually.

Tim Yeo, Chair of the ECCC, says: “The UK’s electricity system is the least interconnected of all European Countries – but we also have vast offshore resources of renewable energy. In fact, we potentially have enough wind, wave and tidal energy to more than match our North Sea oil and gas production and transform the country from a net energy importer to a net energy exporter.

“If we continue developing these renewable resources site-by-site it could be prohibitively expensive with large individual connections for each power plant. Developing an integrated and interconnected offshore network would allow us to tap these huge resources cost-efficiently and prepare the ground for a future European Supergrid – if it is necessary and feasible in future.”

An offshore network could also provide vital support to the UK’s ageing onshore grid.


Where next for natural gas prices?


The natural gas market has seen prices depressed for a while now as investors have contended with a glut in production.

But while one might have expected prices to fall further amid the commodities slump of the past few weeks, long-dated UK natural gas prices have held up relatively well.

Although near-dated prices sold off in tandem with crude prices, longer-dated prices for the winter and next summer have remained more resistant to the commodities sell-off.

Analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch said the main reason behind this resilience is supply.

“Domestic gas supplies in the UK are falling precipitously. Competition with Europe over Norwegian and Dutch supplies have heated up in the past months, with Continental Europe absorbing a rising share of North Sea gas supplies.”

In the second quarter, production from UK Continental Shelf fell by a record 24% year-on-year, partly as a result of maintenance, but also down to the worsening investment conditions due to the North Sea oil and gas tax raid announced earlier this year.


ICT sustainability initiatives slowed by ‘hidden’ power bills


Fujitsu in Australia has published a second edition of its ICT Sustainability: The Global Benchmark Report, which analyses the extent of green information and communications technology maturity across the globe. The headline finding of the report is that lack of visibility of energy bills has slowed down sustainability initiatives.

The research is based on 1,000 responses to 80 questions in an online survey about ICT sustainability policies, behaviour and technologies. The respondents were chief information officers (CIO) and ICT managers in large IT-using organisations across industry sectors in Australia, Canada, China, India, New Zealand, UK and the US.

The overall ICT sustainability index measured by the research across all countries and all industry sectors has declined slightly in the last year. It’s down from 56.4 to 54.3 (out of a 100). It wasn’t particularly good in the first place, but now it looks like organisations may be losing what focus on ICT energy efficiency they had, with existing projects slowing down.

The cause is put down to the fact that the majority of respondents were not aware of how much power ICT consumes. Only one in seven ICT departments includes the power cost in its budget. Performance was significantly higher for the small proportion (less than 15%) who did take responsibility for ICT-specific power – mostly larger companies.


Cut Your Business Energy Bills By 25%

Energy efficiency and energy management are the trending topics of the UK energy industry these days. By trending topics I mean that these two terms are the subject of discussion in many board meetings of small, medium and large corporations across the UK, but according to the Carbon Trust there are still a high number of businesses overlooking them. 

According to the Carbon Trust; industrial, commercial and public sector organisations can save up to 25% on their energy bills by taking energy management and energy efficiency more seriously.


Reasons behind rising energy bills are extensive and challenging


EDF Energy became the last of the big six providers to increase its prices this week. From November, the French-owned supplier will raise the cost of its electricity by 4.5% and gas by 15.4%, meaning the average bill, for gas and electricity, from the company will jump by £120 to £1,165.

Mike O’Connor, chief executive of Consumer Focus, said: “This not unexpected news means more consumers making tough decisions as we head into the colder months and millions of people cutting back on other essentials if they want to keep warm.”

EDF Energy surprised sceptics when it admitted that the public had lost trust in the energy industry and called for a Competition Commission inquiry to rebuild customer confidence. “We recognise there remains a widespread lack of understanding and suspicion of the industry as a whole, among the public, customers in general, politicians, regulators and others,” said Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy.


Energy companies ‘want inquiry’


Three of the UK’s big six power companies want a competition inquiry into the gas and electricity market as a way to restore customer confidence.
Having previously opposed any investigation, the change of heart follows an attack this week by Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, who accused the industry of predatory pricing following a big hike in gas and electricity bills this autumn.

According to the Financial Times (FT), npower, part of German group RWE, now believes that mistrust of the industry by the public is such that a formal investigation may be the only way to restore it.

Volker Beckers, chief executive of RWE npower, said what is needed now is clarity and that if a Competition Commission inquiry achieves that clarity then “let’s get on with it”.

He added: “We have nothing to hide.”

Another German owned group, E.ON, is also now said to want an inquiry following Mr Huhne’s comments, saying it may be the only option to get out of “this situation of distrust”.

French-owned group EDF was the first of the large power suppliers to advocate a referral earlier this month.


Chris Huhne? He’s full of hot air


The other day, I popped into an energy shop. I needed three bags of electricity and a punnet of gas. Then, because I’m an eco kind of girl, I picked up a bottle of wind as well.

Came to 12 quid! Can you believe it? I dumped the lot on the floor in a huff and went to Tesco, where they do a “gas family pack” for a fiver. It’s more than I need, it’s wrapped in nasty plastic and I’m not at all sure it’s organic – but you can’t argue with a massive price difference.

That didn’t really happen. Or, at least, it only happened in the mind of Chris Huhne, who (according to the Times) has complained that people “do not bother” shopping around for energy supplies. So we only have ourselves to blame if we’re going skint on the costs.

People, Chris Huhne reportedly opined, “spend less time shopping around for a bill that’s on average more than £1,000 a year than they would shop around for a £25 toaster”.

But let me ask you, Mr Huhne, at the risk of sounding like Lewis Carroll: what is the difference between gas and a toaster?


Faked phone call traps Alison into unwanted E.on contract


Not sure what is worse here – a blatantly doctored recording that tricked someone into a costly and unwanted energy contract, or the fact that the energy supplier refused to listen to the victim.

The saga began when shopkeeper Alison Gardner (below) was phoned by a caller named Shane who claimed to be from E.on, her existing supplier.


UK gas prises will rise in order to compete with Asia

As news breaks that a major UK Shale gas find by Caudrilla could reduce our dependency on LNG, Energy Brokers Catalyst have predicted that UK gas prices are to rise toward the end of the year, because of higher demand of LNG supplies in Asia.

Since the Japanese earthquake and nuclear disaster, back in March, global LNG has been squeezed as many supplies have been diverted to countries affected by the disaster.