Monthly Archives: April 2012

UK, Denmark study power cable to swap #wind energy

Wind power producers Britain and Denmark are studying options to build a power cable between them to import and export renewable energy and increase market competition, the countries’ grid operators said on Monday.

Britain’s National Grid and Denmark’s will publish an initial interconnector study by the end of this year, detailing potential landing points, capacity and how a cable could integrate into a North Sea super grid to connect offshore wind power.


Green energy vital, says David #Cameron


David Cameron today backed the growth of renewable energy as “vital” to the UK’s future – but warned green power sources had to be financially sustainable.

Speaking specifically on the environment for the first time since pledging to lead “the greenest government ever”, the Prime Minister said the UK was now one of the best places in the world for green energy, investment and jobs.

In a riposte to critics of renewables, including Tory backbenchers who have attacked subsidies for wind power, Mr Cameron said he “passionately” believed the rapid growth of renewable energy was vital for the future.

But his comments were dismissed by environmentalists who said the sector, which is growing by 4% a year while the rest of the economy slides back into recession, needed consistent support from across Government – including the Treasury.

The Chancellor George Osborne has been accused of “anti-green rhetoric” after warning green policies could put a burden on business.


Video – 4 Bizarre uses for Wind #Energy

Wind power has many amazing applications.

These include offsetting carbon emissions, providing wind turbine jobs, appearing in adverts for energy companies to show how eco-friendly they are, and giving angry people something to complain about in local newspapers. 

You might not think that the uses of wind power go much further than that. After all, while wind farms might be a great idea, obviously there are a limited number of things you can stick a windmill on top of, right?


UK #Energy Supplier #SSE to offer annual reviews for customers

Following Nick Clegg’s push for UK energy companies to offer the British public the best tariffs, utilities giant SSE has announced that it is to offer all its customers an ‘Annual Energy Review’ (AER), the company revealed today.

SSE said this afternoon that, after a successful pilot programme involving over 1,000 customers, it will now offer an AER to “make sure that customers are on the best product for their needs, paying for their energy in the most effective way, using their energy efficiently and accessing any benefits or support they might be entitled to.”

Earlier this month, the Deputy Prime Minister claimed that families were paying too much for their bills as they are on the wrong tariff.

SSE said it will start off by prioritising AERs for “vulnerable” customers before rolling-out the scheme nationwide throughout the year. SSE has reassured that it will freeze prices until at least October 2012, in spite of wholesale price pressures.


Small #nuclear reactors generate hype, questions about cost

From oil fields to wind turbines to coal mines, size and scale rule the economics of energy.

But the nuclear industry is thinking small these days.

The latest evidence came last week when Ameren Missouri and Westinghouse Electric Co. announced plans to pursue a $452 million federal subsidy to advance development of small modular reactors that could be built alongside the utility’s much larger Callaway nuclear plant near Fulton, Mo.

While some utilities are still pursuing full-scale plants, there is a parallel push for smaller reactors that could be easier for utilities to finance and minimize sticker shock for regulators and consumers. But despite a lower total cost, there’s no evidence yet that tiny fission factories would be able to produce electricity at a competitive cost in an era of abundant, cheap natural gas.

“There just isn’t any proof that small reactors are going to be any more economic than larger ones,” said Peter Bradford, an adjunct law professor at Vermont Law School and a former Nuclear Regulatory Commission member. “At this point, it’s all about hype and hope.”

The so-called small nuclear reactors promise the same benefits as larger ones: namely, an option for around-the-clock, low-carbon electric generation that could be a key in replacing aging coal plants.

For utilities considering nuclear technology, the smaller size means a smaller price. Even using the most generous cost estimates, a new nuclear plant the size of Ameren Missouri’s existing Callaway plant could rival or exceed the $7.5 billion market value of the utility’s entire parent company.

But the differences go beyond size. For one, the small reactors envisioned would be modular, able to be manufactured at a central factory, shipped by rail, ships or truck and assembled on site. That means a potentially larger market for vendors like Westinghouse.

“This (small) plant will appeal to a very broad market,” Kate Jackson, a Westinghouse senior vice president and chief technology officer said last week.

Invest in green energy for just £5 – Community finance project Abundance allows regular savers to earn up to 9%

A new website has been launched with the aim of enabling people to invest from as little as £5 in green energy projects and enjoy an attractive return.

Abundance describes itself as a “community finance platform” allowing small investors to put money into UK renewable energy schemes and receive a regular cash return based on the energy produced.

It is looking to raise money from consumers tired of the old banking model who want their cash to be used to help fund green projects and facilitate change. And it says rates of return are expected to average 5%-9%, depending on the type of scheme in which the money is invested.

Abundance is currently aiming to raise £1.4m to build a wind turbine on the edge of the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire, and has plans for further renewable energy schemes – solar and hydro – around the country.

The platform says it works in a similar way to “peer-to-peer” lending websites such as Zopa – as a middle man, getting investors together with community groups and companies that want to build environmental projects. It collects the money and organises the payouts to investors in return for a 1.9% fee paid by the body that builds and operates the project.

Individuals can invest as little as £5 in each project, or as much as £50,000. Abundance is marketing itself on the basis that some investors will put in enough to produce a return each year that will cover their annual electricity bill – typically £500 a year.
Bruce Davis, the site’s co-founder, and one of the founders of Zopa, describes the website as democratic finance in action. “We are enabling small investors to produce a regular return from the generation and sale of 100% green electricity from wind, solar, hydro and other renewable energy sources,” he says.

“Abundance is like a building society for the 21st century which enables our customers’ money to go directly into projects generating growth and revenue in the real economy.”


UK and US to Fund Development of Floating Wind Turbines

Britain’s energy secretary Ed Davey and his American counterpart Steven Chu are set to announce a joint venture between Britain and the US to accelerate the development of new floating wind turbines technology.

Floating Wind Turbines

Floating offshore wind turbines should provide the cost effectiveness the “Wind Industry” needs to gain recognition amongst investors and establish itself as a leading renewable energy resource for Britain and other countries around the world.

Traditional offshore wind farms must be located in waters less than 200 feet deep. Studies revealed that wind speeds are consistently stronger above deeper waters.

Floating wind turbines will enable the possibility to tap into winds that are located in deeper waters. Not to mention that once the technology is fully deployed such turbines should cost a lot less than their conventional siblings.

Speaking on the matter, Ed Davey said: “Turbines will be able to locate in ever deeper waters where the wind is stronger but without the expense of foundation down to the seabed or having to undertake major repairs out at sea,”


Water companies ‘push needless pipe insurance’ to homeowners

Water firms are pushing customers to take out private insurance against burst pipes that could be totally unnecessary, it has been claimed.

Most of the biggest companies are promoting cover from insurers such as HomeServe in return for substantial commissions.

The policies, which cost around £35 a year, are sold to millions on the basis that they offer peace of mind in case of emergencies.

However, many of the same water firms offer free repair schemes for pipes running from outside the home to the boundary.

And many customers already have home insurance policies that would cover them for damage or costs associated with repairing a burst pipe inside the home.

The research from consumer watchdog Which? estimates that customers are spending £100million a year on the cover.
It is likely to fuel anger at private water firms which have recently pushed up prices well above inflation for struggling homeowners. 

A Which? spokesman said: ‘Water companies pro-actively push this costly third party insurance, and our researchers found nine of the 12 big companies promoting HomeServe’s policy via direct mail promotions.