2014 looks set to be a winner for the United Kingdom’s solar energy sector. A new report showing a major increase in approvals for megawatt-scale solar farms will position the UK as Europe’s biggest photovoltaic market by the end of the year.
According information contained in analysis by market research firm NPD Solarbuzz, more than 325 solar PV farms were completed by the end of April 2014, with more than 60 above 10-megawatts of solar capacity.
“While reaching the long-term goal is expected to involve a blend of rooftop and ground-mounted systems, solar PV farms above 10 megawatts will provide the dominant contribution in 2014,” said Finlay Colville, vice-president at NPD Solarbuzz.
This year has seen more than 120 new solar projects granted planning approval, with an additional 444 awaiting building approval. The report found the UK sector had profited from a rush by solar developers to take advantage of the UK government’s support scheme under its Renewable Obligation policy before a funding reduction in 2015.
“Establishing a large portfolio of solar PV assets has become an attractive long-term financial proposition within the United Kingdom,” according to Colville. “The race is now on to develop and acquire solar PV farms, before the Renewable Obligations scheme is discontinued in 2017, or ahead of any legislative changes that may occur after the May 2015 general elections.”
Slow Start – Ocean Power TechnologiesTidal Energy has made headlines this week for all the wrong reasons as a high-profile project in the United States was scrapped this month, calling into question the prospects of wave power. Created by Ocean Power Technologies over two years ago, a huge, 260 tonne buoy was destined to supply power to 100 homes in America’s Pacfic Northwest; instead, it remains quietly on dry land – shuttered in a house near a port in Oregon.
Political uncertainty is damaging the UK’s low-carbon ambitions and could prevent the nation from staying within its carbon budgets, a report claims.
The UK Energy Research Centre asserts that while the UK remains committed to lofty climate change targets recent rises in energy prices, the impact of the 2008 financial crisis and heightened concerns about energy security have challenged the government’s commitment to them.
The report UK Energy Strategies Under Uncertainty features contributions from more than 30 academic experts on energy and identifies the key issues that have arisen as well as recommending strategies to tackle them.
Professor Jim Watson, Research Director of the UK Energy Research Centre and one of the lead authors, said: “For the past decade energy policy in the UK has been an increasingly delicate balancing act between reducing emissions, security and affordability.
“Policymakers are right to be sensitive to the financial pressures facing the public and businesses but action to relieve these pressures shouldn’t come at the cost of progress towards a low-carbon economy.
British prompt gas prices declined on Tuesday, with traders confident of ample supplies and sanctions on Russian energy exports deemed unlikely.Gas for delivery on Wednesday fell 0.55 pence to 48.05 pence per therm by 0735 GMT, while gas for immediate delivery was down 0.60 pence at 48.20 pence per therm.Gas flows of around 198 million cubic metres mcm were slightly under forecast demand of around 200 mcm, National Grid data showed.Two liquefied natural gas tankers are expected to arrive in Britain on Tuesday, which should boost supply.”The downward shift looks to be continuing today, the balanced system and confidence in supplies seeing prompt contracts offered over 0.50 pence lower,” a gas trader said.
Over the last two weeks we’ve had the great pleasure of running profiles of 10 eco homes around the country.
Some have displayed high-end style and elegance, notable for their technological wizardry and innovative energy solutions. Some have sprung from community inspiration, or have provided bold new templates for home ownership. Others have been light-on-the-earth dwellings that use recyclable materials, and take a lo-fi approach to home life. But the common theme for one and all has been that we want to live in them. All of them.
We chose our list of 10 with the help of a fantastic panel of experts who helped us come up with a list that reflected so many different facets of the move to sustainability. Thanks, once again, to the Green Building Council, Hattie Hartman, sustainability editor at the Architect’s Journal, HAB housing, The Green Press, Green Sky Thinking, Superhomes, the Centre for Alternative Technology, BREEAM, and The Built Environment Centre for Northern Ireland.
Voting opened on Tuesday last week, and you voted in your thousands. We had a wonderful week fielding tweets and emails and your general enthusiasm and in an amazingly even spread of votes – no house got less than 5 per cent.
But enough chatter! Incredibly, despite thousands of votes, there were two tied runners-up for your favourite eco home. One was Lammas in north Pembrokeshire – the eco-village that is a shining example of low-impact dwelling, completely self-sufficient and deeply connected to the land in which it is situated.
The share of renewable energy on the British grid increased in the three months ending in February, though coal still dominated, the government said Thursday.The British Department of Energy and Climate Change published energy data from December to February.For renewable energy resources, DECC said wind power dominated the sector with offshore wind capacity increasing 39 percent in the three-month period and onshore wind up 68 percent compared to the same period one year ago.For bioenergy, capacity increased 9.4 percent and the low-carbon share of electricity on the British grid increased by 7 percent to 36.7 percent year-on-year.Coal, however, provided 41 percent of the electricity generated, with natural gas and nuclear power accounting for the bulk of the remaining power share.The British economy relied more on imports as coal and crude oil production declined, Natural gas production, however, increased 1.3 percent compared with the same period one year ago.Energy consumption in general declined 7.6 percent compared to the same period a year earlier, DECC said.
The Tories have pledged that if they are elected with an overall majority in 2015 they will axe public subsidies for any newly planned onshore wind turbines.
Existing windfarms and those already with planning permission would be protected from the change but the energy minister, Michael Fallon, said these would be enough to meet 2020 targets set by the EU – meaning any further developments should not be subsidised.
Instead, the money will be used to back other renewable technologies as part of a mix of energy supplies.
Changes to planning rules will also give communities more power to reject onshore wind projects not already in place or planned when the policy comes into force.
But critics said the Conservatives were turning their back on the cheapest form of renewable energy and would put future jobs at risk. They claim the move is designed to counter the threat from Ukip.
Fallon said: “We remain committed to cutting our carbon emissions. And renewable energy, including onshore wind, has a key role in our future energy supply.
“But we now have enough bill payer-funded onshore wind in the pipeline to meet our renewable energy commitments and there’s no requirement for any more.
ENERGY Assets, the Scottish gas meter specialist, has made its first big move into the electricity meter market by acquiring a Lancashire-based firm for £2.3m cash.
Livingston-based Energy Assets said the purchase of the BGlobal Metering business from Bglobal group will allow the company to become a leading player in the market to supply smart meters that companies can use to monitor their power consumption.
Chief executive Phil Bellamy-Lee described the deal as a significant step in the delivery of the group’s strategy to offer services across a range of utilities.
The acquisition will result in a big increase in the number of meters that Energy Assets provides to and monitors for customers in the industrial and commercial markets on which it focuses.
BGlobal Metering provides 60,000 meters to customers and collects information from 90,000.
Energy Assets had 101,000 meters installed at clients’ facilities at March 31, including hundreds of electricity meters. It collected information from 62,500 meters.
The company is confident both arms of the enlarged business will be able to capitalise on regulatory changes intended to help reduce power consumption and associated carbon emissions.
These are fuelling demand for smart meters.
MORE than 300 jobs will be created after the company behind an innovative infrared energy saving heating system was awarded a £2m loan.
Erad Systems Limited secured the loan from the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) as part of its Regional Growth Fund Programme.
The firm’s founders Mike Drogan and Steve Robson believe their Erad system has the potential to revolutionise the way in which people heat their homes and businesses.
It works by using infrared radiant heat to warm the objects in a room as opposed to the surrounding air resulting in a much more even distribution of heat.
Mike said demand for the product is high and said the £2m will be used to invest in high quality staff.
He said: “Countless hours have gone into developing and testing the system to create an energy solution that is both highly energy efficient and extremely cost effective for our customers.
“Since starting to introduce the system to the market just eight months ago as part of our pre-launch activity, we have received an overwhelming response and it is great to see this potential recognised by the GMCA.
“We have a global patent for the Erad system and, although our short-term goal is to focus on the UK market initially, we see great potential in the future for the system to be rolled out overseas.
“We believe has the potential to revolutionise the way in which people heat their homes and businesses.”
The UK has joined solar power’s ‘gigawatt club’, becoming one of only six countries with more than one gigawatt of installed capacity, according to new figures.Industry authority Wiki-Solar.org released data showing that the UK is now ranked sixth in the world in terms of utility-scale solar, largely thanks to a record month that brought over 500 megawatts of new projects.The US is the world leader, with over 5.6 gigawatts of capacity from 315 plants, followed by China, Germany, India and Spain.Energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey welcomed the UK’s recent growth in the sector, pointing out that the country was the leading European nation for bringing new solar projects online in 2013.
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