Monthly Archives: August 2013

UK’s first Community Energy Fortnight is raising awareness of sector

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Organisations representing more than 16 million members from across the UK are backing the first ever Community Energy Fortnight, highlighting the benefits of community owned energy schemes.

The Community Energy Fortnight, running until 8 September, aims to promote a co-operative approach to energy and climate change challenges by empowering communities across the UK.

The Community Energy Coalition, which includes organisations such as the Co-operative Group, Co-operatives UK, Forum for the Future, the National Trust, the Women’s Institute and the Church of England, calls for an increase in the number of communities controlling and benefiting from their own energy projects.

The Coalition has also supported a petition calling on Government to provide greater support for co-operatives and community-owned energy projects. This petition has attracted almost 60,000 signatures and will be presented to Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, on 3 September.

Television presenter Michaela Strachan, who signed the petition, thinks working as a community to come up with practical ideas to save energy is the way forward.

Referring to the Community Energy Fortnight, she said: “It will engage and inspire people about the wide-ranging benefits of community energy and hopefully lead to hundreds of new community groups getting involved. I know there are many people wanting to do their bit for the environment by generating and saving energy together for the benefit of people and planet.”

Giles Bristow, Head of Energy at Forum for the Future, said: “The enthusiasm in the build-up to the Fortnight has been fantastic, and shows that there’s a real appetite for this form of energy ownership. At a time when the news is dominated by negative stories around energy-generation, it’s refreshing to see that there is a positive way forward for the future energy security of the UK that the public is willing to support.”

via UK’s first Community Energy Fortnight is raising awareness of sector | Co-operative News.

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Annual demand for solar power in UK passes 1GW milestone

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The UK solar market’s annual demand has hit the GW-level for the first time, according to research data published by NPD Solarbuzz.

The news confirms the UK’s position as one of the up and coming markets in the global solar industry, marking out the UK solar sector as a GW-status end-market territory.

NPD Solarbuzz vice president Finlay Colville told PV Tech it was important to note that despite recent negative publicity around solar and other forms of renewable energy as a result of mainstream newspapers’ coverage of ‘not-in-my-back-yard’ (nimby) pressure groups, the findings demonstrate that end-market growth remains strong.

Figures published by NPD Solarbuzz show that demand for solar PV during the first quarter of 2013 stood at 520MW, dropping to 282MW for the second quarter. When added to figures of installed capacity in July and August, the total exceeds the 1GW mark.

The cumulative total of solar PV installed in the UK to date stands at over 2.7GW, with 50% residential, 22% commercial rooftops and the remaining 28% from ground-mounted PV.

The research also reveals that the ground-mount segment declined by more than a factor of two during Q2’13 compared to the previous quarter. The slowdown has been attributed to the cut to the available Renewable Obligation Certificate (ROC) rate for large-scale solar developers, which fell from 2ROCs to 1.6ROCs in April 2013. This aspect of the slowdown was widely anticipated. Colville added: “The slowdown in the ground-mount segment in Q2 was also impacted by the availability of Chinese modules coming into Europe, prior to the European Commission ruling at the start of August.”

via Annual demand for solar power in UK passes 1GW milestone – PV-Tech.

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British Gas leads the way in consumer online searches

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Latest figures have shown that British Gas was the most online searched for energy provider in July.

Searches for the most competitive rates on the market saw British Gas as the top utility with a 26 per cent share in visibility, while Npower came second with 22 per cent and EDF Energy third with 15 per cent.

The research, from digital marketing agency Greenlight, revealed that consumer online searches through search engine Google UK have been in steady decline since March this year, most likely due to a hot summer.

However, search volumes over the 2013 summer period from May to July amounted to 790,000, up on a lull of 655,000 recorded in the period from August to October in 2012.

via British Gas leads the way in consumer online searches.

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Energy UK calls for more focus on catching energy thieves

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Trade association Energy UK has insisted that not all of the focus should be placed on utilities to deal with energy theft and more efforts should be focused on apprehending criminals.

The comments come as regulator Ofgem closes its consultation which proposes a new licence condition whereby electricity suppliers have to be “more proactive at detecting, investigating and preventing theft”.

An Ofgem spokesperson said: “Power theft is costing customers £200m per year or £7 per customer per year so it’s important that suppliers do more to tackle theft.

“This is why we have proposed stronger licence conditions on suppliers to detect, prevent and investigate theft as well as obligations on suppliers to work together to help assess the risk of theft at premises.”

Ofgem is to put an obligation on gas suppliers to tackle theft and be more proactive in stamping it out his year and says it wants to place a similar license condition on electricity.

However, Angela Knight, chief executive of Energy UK, argued that while suppliers had a part to play in reducing theft, the main focus should be on “catching those who bypass meters”.

“Ofgem is in danger of looking too much down the wrong end of the telescope on energy theft. Theft is theft and the main focus should be on catching those who bypass meters, particularly when they use the electricity for criminal activity like growing cannabis,” she said.

A spokesperson for Ofgem told Utility Week: “We are not saying suppliers are doing a bad job at the moment it is just that the obligation will mean that they will have to step up to make sure that they are doing more to tackle theft.”

via Energy UK calls for more focus on catching energy thieves.

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Vattenfall submits plans for £190m wind farm

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Swedish energy firm Vattenfall has submitted plans for a £190m 50-turbine wind farm in the south west of Scotland to the Scottish government.

The company said the 170MW South Kyle Wind Farm could power more than 90,000 households in the UK.

The farm would be based near Patna, Carsphairn, Dalmellington and New Cumnock.

Vattenfall said the project would bring “lasting economic benefit to the local community”, if approved.

Vattenfall’s UK Onshore Wind Development Director, Piers Guy, said: “Developments like this not only make a substantial contribution to the environment, they also have a significant positive impact on both the local and national economy.

via BBC News – Vattenfall submits plans for £190m wind farm.

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UN ruling puts future of UK wind farms in jeopardy

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Plans for future wind farms in Britain could be in jeopardy after a United Nations legal tribunal ruled that the UK Government acted illegally by denying the public decision-making powers over their approval and the “necessary information” over their benefits or adverse effects.

The new ruling, agreed by a United Nations committee in Geneva, calls into question the legal validity of any further planning consent for all future wind-farm developments based on current policy, both onshore and offshore.

The United Nations Economic Commission Europe has declared that the UK flouted Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention, which requires full and effective public participation on all environmental issues and demands that citizens are given the right to participate in the process.

The UNECE committee has also recommended that the UK must in the future submit all plans and programmes similar in nature to the National Renewable Energy Action Plan to public participation, as required by Article 7.

The controversial decision will come as a blow for the Coalition’s wind-power policy, which is already coming under attack from campaigners who want developments stopped because of medical evidence showing that the noise from turbines is having a serious impact on public health as well as damaging the environment.

Legal experts confirm the UNECE decision is a “game-changer” for future wind-turbine developments in the UK. David Hart, QC, an environmental lawyer, said: “This ruling means that consents and permissions for further wind-farm developments in Scotland and the UK are liable to challenge on the grounds that the necessary policy preliminaries have not been complied with, and that, in effect, the public has been denied the chance to consider and contribute to the NREAP.”

via Exclusive: UN ruling puts future of UK wind farms in jeopardy – UK Politics – UK – The Independent.

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Google Clean Energy Investments Paying Off

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Google announced it decreased total carbon emissions 9% to 1.5 million tons of CO2 in 2012 in its Green Blog this week. It emitted 30 metric tons of carbon per million dollars of revenue compared to 44 tons in 2011.

The search giant achieved the emissions reduction by investing in global renewable energy projects to power its operations, including US$12 million in a 94 megawatt solar project in South Africa and a US$200 million 161 megawatt wind farm project in Texas.

Jolanka Nickerman, Google’s program manager commented on the 9% emissions decrease on the Green Blog: “For the fourth year in a row, we’re emitting less carbon per million dollars of revenue. This means that our footprint is growing more slowly than our business because we’re able to get more done with each gram of carbon we emit.”

via Google Clean Energy Investments Paying Off | EarthTechling.

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Germany breaks world solar power generation record

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In the international solar race, it looks like Germany might be winning. The European nation generated a stunning 5.1 tWh in July, breaking all previously-set records. Oh, and that last record? Also set by Germany. So yeah, it’s safe to say that Germany is taking solar power very, very seriously, along with other forms of alternative energy like wind (the nation set another record in January by generating 5 tWh of wind power). Good on you, Germany!

Why is this so remarkable?

Well, for one thing, it shows that Germany has seriously invested in solar infrastructure. It’s being widely adopted across the country and it has a very high per-capita penetration across the nation. In fact, Germany has the highest per-capita capacity worldwide, and it is continually growing that capacity, clearly on a mission to keep upping its renewable energy use.

Like other members of the European Union, Germany is very committed to getting away from the use of fossil fuels and into alternative energy, and the government is putting its money where its mouth is. This isn’t just good for the planet. It’s also a sound move economically speaking, because it makes these nations less dependent on sources of fossil fuel, allowing them to generate their own energy independently. As we know, dependence on potentially unstable nations for fuel supplies can become a political nightmare.

The United States, which has long touted energy independence as a key goal for national security, is lagging seriously behind on alternative energy. It ranks number 20 worldwide in terms of solar energy per-capita, illustrating that this country needs to do a lot more work to adopt solar power. Even now, it remains prohibitively expensive for many individuals, and it’s seen as the focus of “green” design rather than something universal that everyone can adopt. A national plan should include not just the installation of individual home solar units, which is a great idea, but also the construction of larger solar arrays and government participation in solar energy programs.

via Germany breaks world solar power generation record – FOX5 Vegas – KVVU.

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UK’s New Nuclear Plants Could be ‘Obsolete’ Before Launch

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The British-born entrepreneur behind one of the US’s most rapidly-rising solar panel companies has weighed in to the debate over Parliament’s plans to rely on nuclear power for the UK’s commercial energy needs.Andrew Birch, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, is currently chief executive of Sungevity – one of the fastest growing names in solar panel production.

Based in San Francisco, Sungevity has doubled in sized every year since it’s 2007, employing 300 people and selling 500 solar units worth $10m in the US alone last month.

via UK’s New Nuclear Plants Could be ‘Obsolete’ Before Launch.

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UK’s New Nuclear Plants Could be ‘Obsolete’ Before Launch

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The British-born entrepreneur behind one of the US’s most rapidly-rising solar panel companies has weighed in to the debate over Parliament’s plans to rely on nuclear power for the UK’s commercial energy needs.Andrew Birch, born in Edinburgh, Scotland, is currently chief executive of Sungevity – one of the fastest growing names in solar panel production.

Based in San Francisco, Sungevity has doubled in sized every year since it’s 2007, employing 300 people and selling 500 solar units worth $10m in the US alone last month.

via UK’s New Nuclear Plants Could be ‘Obsolete’ Before Launch.

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