Some green news hit the wires this week which – to be honest – didn’t register as much of a surprise here at Green Electricity.
The headline? “Electric cars cheaper to run, less polluting” according to a new report by the UCS (Union of Concerned Scientists). Now, there are likely to be some who would believe an electric car could be costly to run – after all, they’ve only been on the road for a relatively short while – and the technology will surely maximise their battery life as time goes on. But it’s official – even at this early stage the electric car is a money saver and pollution-buster.
The UCS report states that the saving is”750USD to 1,200USD a year based on 11,000 miles of driving”. So in this age of financial prudence – a saving like that isn’t one to be overlooked.
Great news regarding energy bills today folks, it would seem that the Big Six energy firms have finally agreed to let customers know if they are paying too much for their energy. And they’re even going to show you how to switch to the best energy deal.
Gas and electricity companies will write to their customers every year advising them of the best deals for their household. The more vulnerable customers i.e. those affected by unaffordable heating bills will be contacted twice a year if they’re involved in the warm front scheme.
The new plan also means that the customer will be offered the best deal available when their contract ends or if they phone up and enquire about the best deal for their usage.
The new agreement will be getting announced today by Nick Clegg during his speech at Canary Wharf.
All of the Big Six are believed to have signed up to the deal meaning that around 99% of the population will benefit. Whilst at the moment as many as 70% of people in the UK are on the wrong energy deal.
One company has already been trialling a similar scheme; SSE has been working with a similar idea since October. An SSE representative said: “These Government measures fit well with SSE’s own commitments.”
However some critics feel that we are relying heavily on the energy companies to tell customers about the cheapest energy deals. uSwitch said: “Companies must not be allowed to make assumptions about which tariff is right for customers.” Apparently uSwitch feels the deal doesn’t go far enough as the energy companies will only be sharing information of their own deals which may not necessarily be the cheapest.
Energy Efficiency in the home is an often overlooked aspect of green messaging . The energy that is lost through wastage each and every day is frustrating an unnecessary – saving cash on our bills is possible. Sadly, many of the systems that heat our homes are not particularly efficient – particularly our boilers.
Boilers are an integral aspect of our home heating and hot water generation, and therefore determine a large degree of our energy efficiency. Ensuring that your boiler is working as efficiently as possible in the process of heating our homes is vital. Unfortunately, as im sure you’re all too well aware, boilers can be rather temperamental beasts and require a little looking after to ensure that they are working properly.
Got an old boiler? Best think of a change
Boiler cover has to be a serious consideration for our homes – most providers offer a range of options for cover, at differing price ranges. For example, SSE Home Services offer a basic boiler cover package that includes an initial visual inspection of your boiler and a 5 year inspection period, to more detailed packages offering an annual boiler and central heating service, unlimited callouts, parts and labour and a priority ticket to get you up the queue – there are decisions for us to make – depending on how comfortable you are with your boiler system.
For more information on boiler efficiency, see these great resources:
Wrexham is not exactly somewhere that you would normally associate with sunshine yet they are about to join cities like Freiburg (Germany), Sacramento (California), and Desert City (Abu Dhabi) as a centre for solar power.
The town in north Wales actually has one of the largest solar panel factories in Europe courtesy of SHARP and in the last month they have installed around 30,000 solar panels on 3,000 council homes. There are also plans to fit six schools and a number of other public buildings with the solar panels to generate another 90kW of solar power.
In an interesting turn of events the council shipped in scaffolding from the surrounding areas to help ensure that they would qualify for the higher pre 4th of March Solar Incentive rate. However this does all hinge on the Government losing their appeal.
Wrexham council have borrowed close to £28 million to help fund the scheme that will eventually generate 5MW of power by equipping one property in every three with solar panels.
The scheme looks to be of particular benefit to council housing tenants as they pay approximately £70 per week for their home and these solar installations are expected to save them around £200-£300 a year on energy bills. The council is also confident that given the electricity they will generate there is a £1m a year profit to be made from the feed-in tariff. This will in turn allow Wrexham to increase their housing budget by almost 10% that is to be re-invested in public housing.
The scheme is expected to help bring an end to fuel poverty in Wrexham and benefit the community as a whole including schools and old people, not to mention a CO2 reduction of about 3,000 tonnes a year.
The investment has allowed Wrexham to jump to top end of the league table for emission reductions and they’re expecting to have reduced 2005’s figures by 70% which could be the largest cuts of anywhere in Britain.
A worrying trend is occurring as wholesale energy prices are on the rise again. In fact this time the wholesale prices for gas and electricity have reached a 6 year high.
The London stock market has shown an increase of 28% taking it up to $520 per 1000 cubic metres.
The sharp increase in gas prices has been caused by the rapid onset of severe frost throughout Europe. This has resulted in what many believe to be reduced supplies of gas from Russian energy giant Gazprom. As you can imagine the rapid change in weather coupled with an increase in prices has certainly caused some panic.
Not to mention the fact that electricity supply prices in France have actually doubled to around the 140euro per MWh. This is due to an increase in demand which may soon reach its highest ever levels.
Some news agencies have already reported that Gazprom decreased their supply of natural gas to Europe to cover the increased in internal fuel requirements.
Interestingly Russia appears to be somewhat bewildered about all the talk of a decrease in supply; in fact Russia claims that in light of the ongoing frost issues they have actually increased gas supply to Europe.
In light of the recent legal debates regarding the FiT, Ministers have came out claiming it was a necessity to slash the subsidies as quickly as they did, because the cost of the panels has nearly halved in the past year. This is a much faster drop than was envisaged when the plan was put in place.
In 2010 the average domestic solar installation cost around £15,000 but this dropped to almost £8,000 in 2011 and is expected to hit £6,000 in the coming months.
The UK Energy Minister is expected to be announcing a reformation of the feed-in tariffs so that the subsidies gradually reduce in relation to the cost of the panels and installation.
This is very similar to current German system the idea is to ensure that the rate of return is maintained at around 5%. The common consensus is that 5% is enough of a return to give everyone the necessary incentive i.e. purchasers, installers and manufacturers.
The original allocation for the scheme was around £860m but this is expected to be increased to around £1bn. The tariffs are actually paid by additions to energy bills and not from public funds however the concern is that without some kind of slowdown on the scheme people bills could increase far too quickly.
Originally, the tariffs were allocated about £860m but this is likely to be increased to about £1bn. The tariffs are paid by additions to energy bills, not from the public purse, but the Treasury has limited the amount that can be spent on them because of fears that bills would rise too fast unless there is a brake.
The additional cash is being siphoned from large scale renewable projects that have been completed under budget.
One of the main reasons for current state of flux regarding the FiT is the massive investment in China that has resulted in hundreds of solar panel factories aimed solely for exports, thus driving down the cost of solar panels in the UK.
Good news for SSE this month as they have hit a huge milestone in their production of renewable energy. SSE has managed to build enough onshore wind farms throughout the UK to generate power for 700,000 homes.
It is believed that the generating capacity of the SSE wind farms has now exceeded 1GW.
This news comes even as SSE are looking to increase generating capacity even further by building onshore farms in Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland.
The Chief Executive of SSE Ian Marchant has made it clear he wants to continue to grow capacity “significantly” in the coming months.
In the past 6 years SSE’s onshore generating capacity has increased massively from 40MW to exceed their more conventional hydro electric capacity, of 1,150MW.
And with construction work ongoing in Northern Ireland, Ireland and Scotland it is expected that the generating capacity of SSE is only going to increase in coming months.
The real question is what are the rest of the big six energy companies doing to follow this example?
SSE is clearly betting big on the renewable future of the UK, do they know something the others don’t? Or are the others just working away quietly whilst SSE courts all the publicity?
Please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas on this ….
I read a fantastic article on the Business Green Industry Voice Blog today about how the London Olympics has the potential to make some permanent changes regarding Londoners approach to a more sustainable way of life. As it says in the blog post “It is easier to get people to think about changing their behaviour when their normal routines are disrupted.”
The main disruptions look like they will form around transport givenm that there is to be an expected influx of around 5.3 million visitors over the 100 day affair. In fact on some of the more heavily scheduled days this will create a staggering 855,000 fan trips. So with over 100 miles of Londons roads being shut off as the official Olympic Network things could get interesting.
It looks set to be another booming year for renewables in Scotland, especially with the reputation as a welcome home for green energy investment starting to grow. In fact initial figures are showing that there is a pipeline of around £46 billion of investment for renewables in Scotland which should generate up to 17GW of renewable energy capacity.
Fergus Ewing – Scotland’s Energy minister has said he is “relentlessly positive” regarding 2012.
It is believed that such a large scale investment in renewable energy will not only create jobs throughout Scotland and further strengthen the renewable industry there but it will also put Scotland even further on its way to being able to create 100% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.
In fact, figures showed that in the first quarter of 2011 Scotland had generated 94% of 2010’s entire output. Now that is a massive increase in generating power and the Scots are expecting at least the same again.
This relationship between Scotland and renewable energy has risen from the realisation that Scotland is almost perfect for wind and wave energy generation. There is an abundance of rugged coastline and flat tree-less land and when you add that to a co-operative Government it almost becomes the perfect place to build a renewable energy industry.
How do you feel about Scotland being a hub of renewable activity?
Well I think it’s fair to say that winter is definitely upon us now…. And with winter comes the cold and with the cold comes high heating bills. But fear not because the lovely folks at Videojug have provided us with a great video that shows exactly how to seal up your home and make sure you’re not wasting any energy.