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Monday, 25 May 2015

Solar power reaches parity with fossil fuels in UAE

Prices for solar energy in The United Arab Emirates (UAE) have achieved parity with fossil fuels for the first time in the nation’s history according to a new IRENA report. 

UK Energy News May 2015

According to Friends of the Earth, reported by Business Green, the government's plans for shale gas extraction in the UK would only secure a fraction of the country's energy requirements.

Of course its no surprise that Friends of the Earth, an environmental NGO, should say this, but others have said it previously. Moreover, the US shale gas industry is already declining, just a few years after it supposedly started to take off. We certainly can't compare the potential of shale gas in the UK with America's experience, given that the US is a much larger country, but it says something when their much larger shale resources are already on the wane. It doesn't hold out much hope for the fracking industry in a much smaller country like ours.

SNP Leader demands veto over UK energy decisions

Nicola Sturgeon has set out a list of specific demands on energy from Westminster, following a meeting with the Scottish Energy Advisory Board. These include an assurance that subsidies for Scotland's onshore windfarms will not be changed without the agreement of SNP ministers in Edinburgh. She also demanded that Westminster commit itself to major offshore wind projects because of the costs Scotland has incurred due to construction in deeper waters. The SNP also wants transmission charges for generators in Scotland to be cut further than the level currently set by Westminster.

"Scotland is an energy powerhouse but we have very limited powers on energy policy" Sturgeon said. "That is why today I am calling on the UK to take a much more collegiate approach to policy-making on energy and ensure proper consultation with the Scottish Government on major areas of energy policy. We have achieved a great deal in the renewable field, however there is still much to do and Scotland's natural potential makes it a cost-efficient place to develop renewable resources. We see a benefit to both Scotland and the rest of the UK in enabling this economically efficient development of renewable potential to continue."

Source: Herald Scotland

National Grid investigates the benefits of EU membership for energy matters

National Grid Ltd has announced it is investigating the benefits of EU membership in order to support its argument that Britain should remain a member. NGL is currently investing heavily in new power lines to countries such as Belgium and is convinced that continued membership of the EU is vital for Britain's economy.

"We cannot afford to lose the access to (European) energy supplies and interconnection, whatever the framework is eventually," Chief Executive Steve Holliday told Reuters. "Being part of the European energy market is unquestionably essential for the UK.

Source: Reuters 

National Trust says UK cities should generate their own energy

British cities should follow the example of Freiburg in Germany and generate their own energy rather than relying on the countryside, according to the Trust's rural enterprise director, Patrick Begg. Mr Begg also said that the National Grid should be overhauled so that it can meet demand at different times of the day. Smart grid technology could help to achieve this so that the grid could react to supply and demand.

Freiburg is one of the most eco-friendly cities in Europe. Its citizens live in sustainable housing and minimise their use of the car. The city uses hydro-power that is either generated locally or imported and large areas of the city have been pedestrianised with cyclists using miles of cycle lanes.

Source: The Telegraph

Friday, 22 May 2015

Electricity-generating solar windows become easier to install

SolarWindow Technologies today announced plans to replace traditional electrical wiring connections with a simplified next-generation system for collecting the power produced by its see-through electricity-generating windows.

SunEdison to build 33 MW of rooftop solar in Southern California

Renewable energy development company SunEdison has received contracts to build 33MW of DC rooftop solar with Southern California Edison (SCE) in the utility’s most recent round of solar procurement.

Oil spill pariah criticised for saying solar can't hack industrialisation

A conference on climate change and business has been punctuated by a sharp exchange of views between Tony Hayward, non-executive chairman of mining giant Glencore Xstrata, and solar industry executives, according to reports.

UK Energy Performance Certification to become much more stringent

The rules regarding Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) are to become much more stringent.

At present, anyone letting residential property requires an EPC, which highlights the financial savings to be gained in improving the energy performance of the property as well as informing the tenant, with particular relevance to new tenants, an idea of the expense involved in heating the building. This has meant rent reductions in some cases where properties have been performing badly with others prevented from being let at all.

Another requirement is that an EPC valid for 10 years should be displayed prominently.

From 2016, a tenant will be able to demand the landlord carries out work on recommendations set by the EPC and it will be a legal requirement for the landlord to do so. From 2018, it will be illegal to let a property with an EPC rating below Band E.

"Time is running out for landlords to carry out the measures recommended in the EPCs for their rental properties" said Shirley Mathieson, of chartered accountants Saffery Champness. "They should not wait until either those improvements are demanded by a tenant or, by not making the recommended improvements, allow a property to become unlettable."

Ms Mathieson added that repairs to a property will normally be a deductible expense for tax purposes, however where the work carried out significantly enhances the property, this can change the tax treatment such that the costs are considered as 'capital' and thus no longer deductible as repairs.

If the works meet certain criteria, tax relief could still be claimed using capital allowances. Farmers and rural landlords should be eligible for help with additional costs they might incur and the government's 'Green Deal' scheme may also help, although this would have to be recommended by a green deal assessor and the works themselves would have to be carried out by qualified green deal installers. 

Source: Herald Scotland

Global renewable energy employment increases by more than a million jobs

A new report by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has revealed that more 7.7 million people worldwide are employed in the global renewable energy industry.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Friday, 15 May 2015

Envision Solar completes further deliveries of transportable EV charging stations to Silicon Valley

If this innovation could be brought to the UK it would dispel much of the range concern currently being felt with regard to electric vehicles in the country. Easy peasy, all you do is wheel the thing into a parking space, it generates electricity for charging EVs, or topping up, it can store electricity too so can charge at any time of day or night. It can be set up in minutes and just as quickly be on its way to a new location if needs be.

REC launches industry-leading certification scheme in The Philippines

Solar power company REC is rolling out its successful Solar Professional Programme to support local solar installers in the Philippines.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

US Senator introduces bill to boost biomass

Senator Ron Wyden, representing the State of Oregon, has introduced a bill that would encourage the use of low-carbon biomass energy to heat and power homes and businesses while also creating jobs in rural areas.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

The Future of Electric Vehicles in Europe

Part two: 
What consumer concerns will affect the electric vehicle transition in Europe?

Changing consumer mindset is crucial for electrical technology to progress, says Ulla Pettersson, Advisory Board member for POWER-GEN Europe and Managing Consultant and Founder, E for Energy Management. However, more effort is required to engage consumers and incentivise the transition.

Electric vehicles could feasibly operate as the primary mode of transport today. Even without a smart grid, the technology exists and vehicles are commercially available for purchase. However, as of September 2014, as little as 0.6% of Europes new car registrations in 2014 were electric vehicles. Clearly there are social barriers that must be broken in order to make electric vehicles a financially viable and attractive option for consumers and kick-start widespread adoption across Europe.

Cost for consumers
Cost is always a crucial barrier when adopting change and it is especially important for transport. A car is a huge personal economy for people and financial investment plays a big part when deciding whether or not to adopt a new technology.

Recently the oil price in Europe has decreased but this hasnt significantly affected the consumer price as the general public potentially hoped due to the protection of petrol and diesel taxes. Whilst the situation wont stop the transition to electric vehicles, it will slow down progress as people choose to continue using their cheaper, familiar vehicles that are guaranteed to fulfill their mobility needs, rather than invest in new technology.

The charging energy consumed by electric vehicles is already much less than the energy consumed by motor cars and therefore a very important enabler for countries to reach their climate targets. However, incentives are still required in order to make electric vehicles financially attractive for consumers. As of April 2011, 15 of the 27 European Union member states provide tax incentives. For example, in the UK all electric vehicles are exempt from the London congestion charge, and in Amsterdam taxi drivers are given subsidiaries to purchase an electric vehicle – €5 000 from the City of Amsterdam and €5 000 from the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment.

Consumer behaviour 
Using electricity to charge cars is a new form of energy consumption that relies on consumer behaviour compatibility to thrive. Energy generation distributors have not had to consider consumer behaviour as a variable for acceptance before, therefore how people will react to using electricity to charge their vehicles is unknown.

Different countries have different attitudes to the expense of electricity, and this will inform whether consumers accept the smart grid technology. For example, in Denmark, a country with some of the highest energy prices in Europe, electricity is considered expensive therefore people may be unsure about using the national grid as a fuel source for cars. In the UK or Sweden, on the other hand, electricity is relatively cheap, and the concept of repeatedly charging devices is already widely accepted, therefore the switch to electric vehicles is more probable.

Whilst consumer behaviour for charging cars with electricity has yet to be established, it is an opportunity to redefine public service offerings. For example, charging points could be established in locations that enable the integration of charging into everyday activities. Converting existing petrol stations at supermarkets is an obvious option but charging points could also be installed at shopping centres and leisure centres. In this way everyday activities are given added value to drivers - if someone is already shopping or at the gym, charging the car uses its stationary time more effectively and encourages guaranteed custom for public services through convenience and efficient time management.

This shift in energy consumption pivots on a change in consumer mindset - but this will be difficult to implement and could take considerable time. In addition, regardless of whatever vehicles technicians design and produce, customers may surprise the market with new demands due to the consumptive nature of electricity usage. The power industry, then, needs to invest in the electrical technology and install vital infrastructure in order to enable the inevitable consumer innovation as people adapt the technology to their own needs. This will make the technology more attractive and encourage consumers across Europe to embark on electric driving.

About POWER-GEN Europe

The drastic change in the power sector caused by the moves towards a decarbonised energy sector and a green society requires new approaches, new products and new skills. The POWER-GEN Europe conference and exhibition will take place on 9-11 June, 2015 at the Amsterdam RAI in the Netherlands. It remains the destination of choice for stakeholders to gain and exchange key insights and learning as all aspects of Europes energy transition come under the spotlight. Utilities, equipment producers, service providers, city energy co-ordinators, consultancy firms, financiers, data handlers and grid operators will share their experiences and knowledge, and discuss the industrys current and future needs. For more information and to register for the event visit:

Energy & Environment Dates 2012