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Friday, 29 June 2012

Oxfam warns businesses of climate change effect on supply chain
Businesses have been warned by Oxfam that climate change is threatening the resilience of global supply chains. A paper published by the charity today highlights the increasing impact of climate change on small-scale producers in the developing world, even suggesting that agricultural productivity in some countries could fall by as much as 50% by 2080.

Sustainable buildings can be sexy....
For the longest time, discussion of green design and construction were considered very inside baseball; that is, limited to interested industry geeks already familiar with the concept. But the marriage of sustainability and architecture has become more than just a trendy buzz phrase for both the media and general public. Around the world, projects are showing not only how sustainable building practices can help a project’s bottom line but also how they can make an architectural splash.

New policy will force UK firms to reveal emissions
New emissions policy will force biggest UK firms to reveal CO2 figures
Public companies in the UK are to become the first in the world forced to publish full details of the greenhouse gases they produce, under plans announced by the government at Rio+20. About 1,800 companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, including some of the biggest corporate names in the world such as BP, Tesco and Tate & Lyle, will have to publish their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from April next year. The move will please business leaders and organisations such as the Confederation of British Industry, which have urged the government for regulations to provide greater transparency and enable companies to be easily compared. (The Guardian)

Don't subsidise nuclear power
Don't Subsidise Nuclear Power
The government plans to force everybody to pay for new nuclear power stations through their electricity bills, despite promising there would be no public subsidies.
Proposed changes to the electricity market, currently going through parliament, will provide a series of direct and indirect subsidies to the nuclear industry. These include a guaranteed long term price for the electricity produced by new nuclear plants.
Don't let the government throw good money after bad. Rather than increasing our bills to pay for the runaway costs of nuclear power, they should be supporting a clean, sustainable future based on renewable sources and energy saving.
Please send a letter [click here] to the government minister responsible for this policy - Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Climate Change – urging him to abandon all subsidies for nuclear and stick to his original commitment to a nuclear-free future.
Valerie Davey
Stop Hinkley Membership Secretary & Website Management

US in trouble as massive 'debilitating' heat wave spreads eastwards
An historic heat wave that has helped create tinderbox conditions in Colorado and other Western states is moving east, with record-breaking temperatures expected in at least 13 states Thursday, from Oklahoma to Ohio. Already during the past seven days, 1,701 warm temperature records had been tied or set across the U.S., compared to 401 cool temperature records during the same period.

Britain's coal imports increase by 20%
Britain is burning more now than at any time since 2006, despite official promises to move to greener fuels. [The Sun] Imports are up 20 per cent to 18 million tons this year — with coal responsible for generating 42 per cent of all UK electricity, the Department of Energy says.

Nature Climate Change publishes new evidence on warming oceans

From Climate Progress
Nature Climate Change has published a new paper on the warming oceans which compares Ocean Heat Content (OHC) simulations in climate models to some of the newest and best OHC observational data sets from Domingues (2008), Ishii (2009), and Levitus (2009). The paper makes several important points:
  • The 0-700 meter layer of the oceans warmed 0.022 degrees C to 0.028 degrees C on average per decade since 1960.
  • Climate model simulations which include the most complete set of external forcings – natural (solar and volcanic) and anthropogenic (greenhouse gases and sulphate aerosols) – are consistent with the rate of warming observed over the past 40 years and multimodel response including volcanic forcings projected forward using the IPCC SRES Scenario A1B
  • Thus: The ocean warming observed over the past 40 years cannot be explained without anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions; it is a ‘fingerprint’ of human-caused global warming.
The Gleckler et al. results are more robust because it is the first (and by far the most) comprehensive study to provide an in-depth examination of data and modelling uncertainties, and to use three improved data sets with corrections for instrumental biases. 

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Vestas drops plans for UK wind turbine factory

The wind turbine manufacturer Vestas has dropped plans for a factory in Sheerness which would have created around 2,000 jobs. This is the second time the company has abandoned plans for a plant in the UK, having closed its blade-making factory on the Isle of Wight in 2009.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Rio 20+ or whatever nonsense...

There's lies, damned lies and then there's the Rio 20+ summit or whatever it's called, supposedly arranged to do something about climate change. We know its going to achieve jack sh*t, so why bother giving it any attention at all.... what we need is global mass movements, but that isn't going to happen in a hurry, given that most people are too busy watching Eastenders... until the flood waters start coming in of course, and then it's "why didn't the government do something?". Look in the mirror, that's why....

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The new solar trade war
A new solar trade war is looming as America and Europe begin to levy anti-dumping tariffs against cheap Chinese solar PV imports. But how will this affect the market?

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Wave of Hydro Investment in Pipeline for Scotland

From British Hydropower Association Press release
Over £5m paid to independent schemes in last year
TENS of millions of pounds of investment in smaller-scale hydropower projects in Scotland could be unlocked by the outcome of a review of a green energy support scheme, industry leaders have predicted.
A significant number of potential schemes are on hold by landowners and investors while the UK Government considers changes to rates paid under the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) support scheme.
The British Hydropower Association believes investment of as much as £100m in Scotland is being held back by the uncertainty over the FiT scheme which provides guaranteed financial returns from investment in renewable energy projects. An announcement on the outcome of the review of the FiT scheme is expected shortly.
New figures released today (June x) have highlighted the contribution already being made by smaller-scale hydro to the Scottish economy.
SmartestEnergy, the UK’s leading purchaser of electricity from independent generators, estimated that some £5.1 million has been paid to hydro projects in Scotland under the Feed-in Tariff scheme over the past year.
“SmartestEnergy alone paid out more than £2.8m in Scotland which highlights the potential of the technology to provide a valuable income stream from a natural resource,” said Iain Robertson, the Glasgow-based Deputy Head of Generation for SmartestEnergy.
“In many cases the returns being generated are used to support employment – often in remote rural areas - and contribute to the upkeep of land and property.”
David Williams, Chief Executive of the British Hydro Association, said the latest figures underlined the importance of the outcome of the FiT review to provide long term confidence for investors.
“These figures demonstrate the contribution small-scale hydro is already making to landowners, businesses and communities in Scotland which is home to an estimated 90% of the UK’s hydro resource.
“We believe that if the uncertainty over future FiT rates was removed that would unlock a significant amount of fresh investment in hydro. Many potential schemes have been in limbo for more than 18 months as lenders won’t give them the financial backing they need until things are clearer.”
SmartestEnergy’s hydro customers in Scotland include the Conaglen estate near Ardgour in the Highlands where owners Broadland Properties have built and commissioned three run-of-river schemes.
The schemes, ranging from 250KW to 1MW, provide around 40% of the power needs of the 40,000 acre West Coast estate with the remaining electricity exported to the grid.
As well as reducing energy bills, the revenue generated is providing a valuable income stream to support the estate’s operation and its 25-strong staff.
In total during 2011/12, SmartestEnergy paid out more than £17.8m across the UK under the FiT scheme across wind, solar, hydro and anaerobic digestion projects. 

  • Estimates for the total figure paid to hydro schemes in Scotland under FiTs is based on SmartestEnergy market data and Ofgem FiT statistics.
  • Today hydropower contributes 1.5GW to the UK’s electricity supply capacity (4.3GW with pumped storage). This could be doubled if remaining viable potential resource is developed.
  • To meet DECC estimation of hydropower targets for the 2020 Renewable Energy plan, output from hydropower has to increase to 6360GWh. It is expected that all this is to come from plants having a capacity of less than 20MW. Hence, growth in this sector has to increase 73% over 2010 figures.
  • Taking account of the load factor, a 1MW hydro plant produces 1.5 times as much energy as that provided by a 1MW wind turbine.
  • Hydro storage is the most economic and efficient way of storing energy, helping to balance the intermittency of other renewables and providing security of supply and frequency regulation.
  • Hydropower provides 17% of the world’s electricity. It is the largest producer of global renewable and sustainable energy.

Monday, 18 June 2012

UK solar PV industry at a crossroads
According to Edwin Koot, chief executive of Solarplaza, the UK solar industry is at a crossroads in its development, the independent global knowledge platform for the solar PV industry. Mr Koot believes that it’s now up to the industry players, and not the government, to shape the UK market for solar PV. “The UK solar industry needs to reflect on what happened over the past 18 months. It can either throw in the towel or realise that there is a solar future – even without feed-in tariffs – and fight for its future.

Solar power costs falling below that of fossil fuels
Renewables in many cases are actually cheaper than their fossil-fuelled rivals. And the most important such case is that of solar photovoltaic cells – the cells that convert sunlight directly into electric power.

LCD panel manufacturers could be the driving force in reducing costs for thin-film

New LCOE report for wind and solar
New research report "Grid Parity for Wind and Solar Power - Future Outlook and Impact Analysis" prepared by GlobalData has been recently published by Market Publishers Ltd. The report suggests that the levelized cost of electricity for solar PV is likely to keep on decreasing due to declining capital costs and increasing capacity factor.

German solar industry getting hammered by cheap Chinese imports
Cheap imports of silicon solar photovoltaic (PV) panels from China, sharp cuts in subsidies, and the ongoing euro zone debt crisis is taking a heavy toll on Germany’s once world-beating solar energy industry.
Cheap imports of silicon solar photovoltaic (PV) panels from China, sharp cuts in subsidies, and the ongoing euro zone debt crisis is taking a heavy toll on Germany’s once world-beating solar energy industry.
Cheap imports of silicon solar photovoltaic (PV) panels from China, sharp cuts in subsidies, and the ongoing euro zone debt crisis is taking a heavy toll on Germany’s once world-beating solar energy industry.

Plumb Centre to become Green Deal provider
The government’s Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker has praised Plumb Center’s intention to become one of the UK’s Green Deal providers.

Global PV market to treble in three years
The global solar PV industry is going through what McKinsey & Co recently described as the darkness before the dawn – a massive shakeout as subsidies are wound back, demand plateaus (at least temporarily), and the rewards go to the cheapest, most efficient and best managed. Some 200 solar manufacturers that displayed last year failed to make an appearance at this year’s InterSolar conference, one of the biggest on the annual calendar, with most unable to cope with the 45 per cent cut in module prices over the past 12 months.

But getting through the current shakeout may be not be a guarantee for success, even if the prospects of volume look promsing. According to Dieter Manz, the CEO of Manz, a German electronics (LCD and solar PV) manufacturer, the solar PV industry is likely to more than triple by 2015 to 100GW a year, and that will be the signal for a range of new competitors – this time the deep pocketed LCD manufacturers such as Samsung, LF and Foxconn, to enter the market.

What is really meant by 'grid parity'?
The article (via link) comments on the ongoing discussion of the grid parity issue. Although considerable movement can be observed in how PV is thought of in the industry, this article aims to point out the consequences of the necessary transition from incentive to non-incentive markets.

LDK Solar introduces first operational and warranty insurance
LDK Solar, a leading vertically integrated manufacturer of photovoltaic (PV) products, together with its partner Solarif, a fully mandated underwriter of HDI Gerling for PV insurance, are the first companies to introduce a unique insurance solution at the system level.  LDK Solar announced the new 'Secure' offer at Intersolar Europe, the world's largest solar industry exhibition taking place in Munich from the 13th – 15th of June.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Issues with the Green Deal

Some of the administration costs of the Green Deal are to be waived for two years in a bid to help encourage more companies and organisations to join it and stimulate the market (Greenwise Business - link broken). The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has confirmed that no-one seeking to become a Green Deal assessor, installer or provider will have to pay fees for registration until 2014. Meanwhile the government has appointed Gemserve and its partner REAL to be the overseer for assessors, installers and providers and to monitor the Green Deal code of practice for the next three years.

Energy Minister Greg Barker has described the Green Deal as a 'game changer' writing in his blog in The Guardian. In counter argument to an earlier Guardian story that claimed insulation rates would drop by 83% under the Green Deal, the minister said, :

"The government's ambition for the green deal goes much further than the current system of cheap loft-lagging and cavity-wall insulation paid for through levies on everybody's bills. It both recognises the opportunities presented by the growing green goods and services market, which now supports 1m jobs, and that in tough economic times, government subsidies must be targeted where they can have most impact and enduring value.

One fact about loft insulation is that the market is shrinking. 99% of lofts have some kind of insulation. By the end of the year about 200,000 – only about 1% - will remain without any insulation; and well over half have the maximum level. So it's inevitable that forecasts show the number of loft insulations will fall: there are fewer of them to do.

The reason for this is far from failure – quite the opposite. The job has largely been done thanks to government subsidy schemes which have to date focused very strongly on lagging our lofts with the result that almost all of us have benefited. And in tough times, it doesn't seem right that the government should continue to promote indiscriminate subsidy for measures which pay for themselves, when there are so many other challenges where subsidy is needed more. Insulating your loft is still a good idea, it pays for itself, and the green deal means you can do this without upfront costs - what better platform for an industry to diversify and innovate?"

However in comments, Guardian blogger Damian Carrington countered the Minister's positive assertions about the scheme saying:

"We agree that the Green deal is a major and crucial plan I accept there are lots of good things in it and you point about solid wall insulation is well made. But where I disagree is that I fear the policy focuses on the means, not the ends.

The end goal, surely, is to reduce energy bills and carbon emissions by the greatest amount and at the least cost, that simply cannot mean causing a plunge in loft insulation of 83% and cavity wall insulation of 43% on the means - the market you argue is a game-changer - what do you say to David Kennedy, ceo of the government's official adviser on climate, who says: "We think there is a significant risk in leaving it to the market, as that has never worked anywhere in the world and is unlikely to happen in the UK."

Carrington also claimed that the Minister was ignoring the CCC (Climate Change Committee) data which stresses a figure of 1.4 million cavity wall insulation installations per year is needed.

One of the main issues is that the public still hasn't heard of the Green Deal in sufficient numbers and therefore many people still don't know what it is, as Brian Smithers wrote in The Huffington Post (UK) blog

"There is still a widespread lack of understanding of how green technologies can help people improve their energy efficiency and reduce bills. For example, Rexel's recent energy efficiency survey found that over a quarter of Brits would be motivated to save energy if they had access to financial subsidies, yet 90% hadn't heard of schemes such as Carbon Trust Loans, which offer businesses an interest free loan of between £3,000 and £400,000 to reduce CO2 emissions through the introduction of clean technology."

But it also turns out that fewer than half of UK MP's intend recommending the Green Deal to their constituents (

So, all things considering, it still doesn't look very promising!

And while I am about it, here's another one, Blue Chip companies have stopped working with the Green Deal Finance Company over concerns over funding:

"A group of companies expected to finance the government's Green Deal energy efficiency scheme have issued a stark warning to the Deputy Prime Minister that its flagship policy is in jeopardy as a result of funding delays."

The Green Deal is Floundering

A government impact assessment of the Green Deal energy efficiency scheme predicts that it will drastically fail to achieve its objective, with the number of lofts being insulated per year falling to 83% below the current rate. 

How environmentally friendly is insulation material?

Most people should know by now that loft and cavity wall insulation can really help you to cut your carbon emissions, but just how environmentally friendly are the materials used in the process? The good news is that modern insulation is much more environmentally friendly than it used to be. 

Germany meets half its electricity demand from solar

Some people think that a German move away from nuclear is madness, but critics were proved wrong recently when the country managed to produce around 22 gigawatts during a cloudless period in May. That’s equivalent to about 20 nuclear power plants. 

Solar PV gaining rapid popularity among UK farmers

A research study conducted by the National Farmers Union (NFU) in partnership with NatWest Bank has found that 30 percent of farmers in England and Wales will have installed some form of renewable energy generation by the end of this summer. 

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Indian solar manufacturers seek anti-dumping duty on imports
NEW DELHI: Indian manufacturers of solar equipment are seeking anti-dumping duty on imports from China, Malaysia, Taiwan and the US on the grounds that local industry is bleeding because of "ridiculously low" price of foreign equipment.
The industry wants anti-dumping duty on imports of solar photovoltaic (PV) cells and modules, and has filed an application to the directorate general of anti-dumping and allied duties (DGAD).

ET Solar 12.6 MW installation in Germany
ET Solar Group Corp. ("ET Solar"), one of the globally leading solar PV one-stop solution providers, today announces construction execution of two ground-mounted PV power plants in Germany with total installed capacity of 12.6MW.

US leads solar PV and CSP rankings
The United States came in first in both solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) rankings, with India and Germany tied for second in PV, and Spain in second place for concentrated solar thermal power.

Solar industry feeling the effects of cuts

From The Financial Times
The rapid expansion of photovoltaic installations across Europe has made solar power not just a matter of political controversy, but a common feature of the landscape.
A sharp reduction in subsidies for domestic and commercial PV installations – particularly in the Germany and the UK – may for the time being result in financial distress to both European manufacturers and installers. But beyond the policy hiccups facing those in the more popular PV arena, work on developing projects based on concentrated solar power, the original focus of the solar sector, continues.

(For full article see link)

Friday, 1 June 2012

Solar PV is the answer to rising energy bills

Leading free panel provider A Shade Greener has conducted research which shows that installing solar PV could help consumers deal with rising energy bills.

Energy & Environment Dates 2012