Climate Minister to Open Mr Renewables New Showroom

 Mr Renewables is pleased to announce that Greg Barker, Minister for Energy and Climate Change, will be opening our new showroom in Norwich, at Unit 1 City Trading Estate, on April 1st 2014 at 10am.

Greg Barker became MP for Bexhill and Battle in 2001. He has a BA (Hons) degree in History and Politics from London University and over ten years’ experience of working in the City of London. Mr Barker was appointed Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Environment in December, 2005, and led the passage of the Climate Change Bill through the House of Commons in 2008, prior to becoming Minister for Energy and Climate Change in May, 2010.

Mr Renewables is delighted that Greg Barker is taking time out of his busy schedule to open our new Norwich showroom, which will have a range of energy efficiency measures available for clients to see in operation and to try out before they buy.

All of our installations are designed to give the best possible results under current government incentives, including the Green Deal and ECO. The systems we offer include solar PV panel systems, solar thermal heating systems and thermal insulation, ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps, biomass boilers and renewable fuel burners.

Our qualified team look forward to welcoming new and existing customers through our doors in April and are always happy answer any questions you may have and discuss your requirements in full.

Look out for further details on this site shortly.

Top Energy Saving Tips

The Energy Saving Trust (EST) recently unveiled its top ten tips for energy saving in the home:

1. Draught exclusion: Don’t lose heat through draughty doors and windows. Draught-proofing doors, windows, sealed skirting boards and chimneys can save you around £55 a year.
2. Switch it off: Turning off lights and appliances when they are not in use, including gadgets on standby, will save the average household between £50 and £90 a year.

3. Kitchen savings: Washing clothes at a lower temperature and boiling only the required amount of water in the kettle are simple money-saving measures.
4. Change your shower head: Investing in a more efficient shower head can save a family of four around £75 a year on gas and a further £90 on their water bill for those with a water meter.
5. Turn it down: Reducing a room thermostat by just one degree can save around £65 a year. Only heat the rooms in use.
6. Insulate the loft: The EST recommends having at least 270mm (around 10in) of loft insulation. Insulate or upgrade existing loft insulation.
7. Make the switch: Traditional bulbs are now being phased out across the EU in favour of more efficient LED lights. The EST suggests that a typical household replacing all their traditional bulbs with CFLs and all halogens with LEDs could save around £60 a year.
8. Cavity wall insulation: Cavity wall insulation can save up to £140 on energy bills. The initial cost is high but can pay for itself in less than four years.
9. Renewable technology: Cut energy bills by generating your own energy. A typical 4kWP solar panel can generate feed-in tariff payments and energy bill savings topping £785 a year.
10. Solid wall insulation: An good way to improve a property’s energy efficiency is through solid wall insulation. A complete upgrade can be expensive but financial assistance may be available through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) scheme.

Controversy Over New EC Guidelines

The European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA) has criticised the European Commission’s (EC) draft guidelines on state aid. The EPIA is concerned that the proposals could hamper member states’ efforts to achieve their 2020 binding renewable energy targets.

The original draft suggests replacing feed-in tariffs with feed-in premiums which reflect market prices. Also put forward by the EC was ‘the idea of reverse auctions for tendering processes for projects’.

Frauke Thies, EPIA’s head of policy, first raised concerns over the EC draft guidelines back in November, suggesting that reverse auctioning would neglect small-scale generation installations. The Solar Trade Association’s (STA) head of public affairs, Leonie Greene, said the guidelines were ‘incredibly ill-informed’.

A public consultation period on the draft guidelines was open until 14 February and the EPIA has responded to two aspects of the draft. The first is a reply to the ‘general Guidelines on Environmental and Energy State Aid for 2014-2020’.  The EPIA’s head of regulatory affairs, Alexandre Roesch, stated that, “State Aid rules should not replace energy policy,” and that the EC’s proposals on renewable energy went “far beyond the framework defined in the relevant European legislation.” The second is a comment on the ‘draft regulation declaring certain categories of aid compatible with the internal market’.

The EPIA recommends that the State Aid regime should not be used to facilitate the integration of renewable energy sources and that this purpose is better served by the existing  Renewable Directive 2009/28/EC.

Leonie Greene encouraged members to respond to the public consultation telling them, “if you care about the future of the renewables industry across Europe, let the Commission know what you think.”

 

(Source: Solar Power Portal)

Refund Agreed for Direct Debit Energy Customers

According to an announcement this week, four of the big six energy companies will now automatically refund direct debits to customers who are in credit.

EON was already doing this but Energy and Climate Change Minister, Greg Barker, has announced that British Gas, EDF, SSE and First Utility have now also agreed to provide customers with an automatic refund.

Following negotiations with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), the companies involved said that they will automatically refund consumers with a credit balance over a minimum threshold (EON – £5, British Gas – £5, EDF – £5, SSE – £5, First Utility –  £10) at the annual review of account. Alternatively, if the customer prefers, the money can be deducted from their next energy bill. DECC welcomed the news, saying this move will give consumers more control over their energy bills.

Participating suppliers will also review each customer’s direct debit charge to see if any changes are necessary for the remainder of the year to avoid a large build-up of credit or debit on their energy account.

Greg Barker commented: “This is important and welcome news for the 55 per cent of energy customers who chose to pay by direct debit. The Coalition is committed to helping hardworking people reduce the cost of energy bills and this will ensure that customers are rightly returned the cash that is theirs without having to ask.”

 

(Source: Department of Energy and Climate Change)

British Workers not as Energy Conscious at the Office as at Home

A recent survey, carried out by OnePoll and Rexel, has revealed that the British public do not maintain the same energy efficiency habits practiced at home in their work environment.

The study showed that whilst 50% of those who took part in the survey claimed to be energy conscious in their own home, only 20% said the same when it came to their place of work.

According to Brian Smithers, strategic development director, Rexel Northern European Zone, the results reveal “a noticeable ‘split personality’ in energy usage behaviour.”

The survey also uncovered the fact that 60% of employees charge their personal electronic devices at work rather than at home. Mr Smithers said: “Our research shows that people are wasting energy and in some cases actively adapting their energy behaviour to avoid the rising costs of energy at home.”

Only 43% of those surveyed said that they thought about energy efficiency at the office as opposed  to 70% who admitted to being concerned about energy usage at home.

Mr Smithers commented: “What’s worrying about this apparent trend is that the average office worker spends at least 40 hours a week at work, so a huge percentage of the country’s energy consumption is taking place in the nation’s offices.”

 

“To reach the UK’s carbon reduction target of 80% by 2050, long-term and mass behavioural change is required not just in the home but across all aspects of people’s lives.”

 

(Source: Solar Power Portal)

Changes Announced to DECC’s Cashback Scheme

 

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has revealed changes to the government’s Green Deal Cashback Scheme.

Under the new proposals consumers can now claim up to £4,000 for solid wall insulation (increased from £650), £1,000 for ‘room in roof’ insulation (up from £220), £550 for flat roof insulation (increased from £390) and up to £650 for double glazing (up from £320). The new rates will be posted on the Cashback website sometime in early March.

The Cashback Scheme aims to encourage householders to make energy efficiency measures in their home as part of the government’s Green Deal. The DECC has extended the cashback scheme to June 2014 to enable more people to take advantage of the deal and ‘the more you do, the more you get’.

Under the Cashback Scheme, energy efficiency improvements can be funded through a Green Deal Finance Plan or in other ways as long as participating householders use a certified Green Deal Provider to arrange the work.

Additional revisions to the scheme include the cap on cashback payments being increased from 50 per cent of a household’s contribution to two thirds. The new rates will be applied to any applications made on, or after, December 2013.

 

Energy and climate change minister, Greg Barker commented: “The extension and increase to Green Deal cashback means more families will be helped to have warmer, more energy efficient homes and lower energy bills by next winter. These changes also create more opportunities for the growing number of authorised green deal companies.”

 

 (Source: Department of Energy and Climate Change)

 

Research Breakthrough into Cheaper Organic Solar Cells

A research team from Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) in Japan is investigating the production of low-cost solar cells based on organic materials such as those used in plastic.

Traditional solar cells made from silicon are rigid and opaque. This makes then expensive with limited usage and replacement. The Japanese research team, led by Yabing Qi, have been working with transparent, flexible conductive materials named ‘Flextrodes’ which are easier to manufacture. The main component for fabricating the new Flextrodes is PET, an inexpensive and plentiful plastic used to make disposable drink bottles. The partial transparency of the new cells also means there is greater potential to place them in other locations, such as on windows.

The findings of Qi and his team were recently published in Organic Electronics. In the paper, Qi says that unlike conventional silicon-based solar cells ‘the organic materials available to make the cells are virtually limitless.’ In addition to the development of Flextrodes, the team also discovered a way to clean and restore the new cells after an extended period of storage.

As this is an emerging technology further studies will need to be undertaken to assess the scientific viability of the new cells but this exciting breakthrough could point towards the development of low-cost, organic solar cells in the near future.

 

(Source: Science Daily)

How Soap Opera Properties Fare in Energy Efficiency

Millions of viewers tune in daily to watch British soap operas and their storylines have the power to influence the way people think about the subjects that they tackle. It stands to reason, therefore, that if the popular soaps were to lead the way on energy efficiency measures, the public will follow. A recent article published by TheGreenAge shows how our favourite shows are shaping up:

The analysis examined the energy efficiency of properties in some of the most famous streets in the land; Coronation Street, EastEnders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks.

The worst performer was Dot Branning’s mid-terrace house in Albert Square (EastEnders). The house was deemed to have no loft insulation or double glazing and an old boiler.

At the other end of the scale, Tony Hutchinson’s flat (Hollyoaks) came out on top. Following renovation after a fire in 2010, the flat has a modern heating system and proper insulation.

Occupying the joint middle position in the soap energy analysis were Tyrone and Fiz’s mid-terrace house in Coronation Street and Debbie Dingle’s cottage in Emmerdale. Tyrone and Fiz’s home was thought to be in need of loft insulation and a new boiler. The article went on to suggest that the couple might also benefit from the installation of Solar PV to generate a potential income, by taking advantage of the government’s Green Deal and ECO schemes.

Debbie Dingle’s stone cottage in the Emmerdale countryside was considered ‘hard-to-treat’ and the kind of property that might benefit under the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) from spring 2014. The property appeared to lack thermal insulation, driving up heating bills, and had an inefficient boiler in need of an upgrade.

It would appear that there is considerable room for improvement in the energy efficiency of most soap households. If future storylines were to include the upgrade and installation of energy efficient measures, perhaps this make a greater impact on the viewing public than government schemes.

Minister Declares Solar PV Better than a Pension

Greg Barker, the Minister for Energy and Climate Change, suggested in a recent interview with the Daily Telegraph that installing solar PV could potentially provide a better financial return than a pension.

With returns on traditional annuities having fallen, Mr Barker stated that solar power could be the answer for anyone planning for their retirement. He said: “Solar is a really attractive financial proposition… You get a guaranteed tariff for 20 years and if your panel is well-sited, it could yield 8 per cent or more.

Mr Barker’s comments were prompted by his visit to a Sussex couple who had recently installed solar PV to mark the occasion of half a million roofs in the UK being fitted with solar.

With prices for solar panels having fallen in recent years, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) say that the typical domestic installation currently costs around £5,500, as opposed to £13,000 in 2010. Government figures show that typical rates of return on domestic solar panels are running between 5 per cent and 8 per cent a year.

Mr Barker summed up:  “Anyone considering retiring should seriously consider whether solar panels are right for them, because in some circumstances, they will get a higher return than from putting the money into an annuity.”

Let There Be Light

The Premium Light Scheme, in conjunction with the Energy Saving Trust (EST), has been set up to help consumers choose the best energy efficient lighting. Working with industry professionals,  Premium Light aims to make people aware of their choices when selecting different types of energy saving light bulbs.

The Premium Light initiative is being coordinated by the Austrian Energy Agency in partnership with 12 European organisations including the EST. During the next few months, Premium Light will be testing testing various types of LED and energy saving lamps. The results are being published on their website (www.premiumlight.eu).

The initiative will look at ‘Light Emitting Diode (LED) and Compact and Linear Fluorescent Light (CFL and LFL) technologies’ as well as providing ‘information on current products, guidelines for selecting light bulbs, and other services that support individuals to choose efficient, high quality lighting products.’

The scheme comes in response to the phasing out of inefficient light bulbs across Europe. With traditional filament bulbs now banned within the EU, the UK government is working with light bulb manufacturers and retailers to produce and supply sufficient energy saving light bulbs to meet the new demand.

According to the EST, replacing just one traditional incandescent bulb with an energy saving light bulb could save the average consumer £3 a year. If all the inefficient bulbs are changed, this figure rises to as much as £55 a year. In addition, replacing all the inefficient, filament light bulbs across the UK would make a significant difference to our national energy consumption.

 

(Source: Energy Saving Trust)