The energy industry have reacted to the news that Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, has granted the green light to fracking in Lancashire after having accepted an appeal against the County Council rejection of the plans by shale gas company Cuadrilla.
Following the news, Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), said that the economic viability of a domestic UK shale gas industry is unproven.
“Leaving aside local environmental concerns, the jury’s still out on whether the economics of developing a UK shale industry really stack up. This is particularly true now, when the world is awash with cheap liquefied natural gas (LNG)” he said.
Leaving aside local environmental concerns, the jury’s still out on whether the economics of developing a UK shale industry really stack up.
“Cuadrilla’s boss said today that importing shale gas is crazy and that we’re running out of gas, but it really isn’t clear that that’s the case. Having invested in UK facilities to take advantage of cheap imported gas, is it really wise to be investing in shale gas which is unlikely to bring bills down – particularly when in post-Brexit Britain we’re supposed to be chasing free trade like never before?
“It’s worth noting too that fugitive emissions of methane from shale gas extraction will count against our domestic climate change targets, whereas for imported gas they don’t. That’s why the Committee on Climate Change recommends that the Government needs to regulate these emissions very tightly – and we’re waiting for the Government’s response on that.”
Phil Foster, Managing Director of North West-based business energy price comparison site Love Energy Savings, explains how the fracking go ahead is really a double-edged sword for the energy industry:
“There are numerous positives of using shale gas, and when we examine these collectively then fracking appears to be a silver bullet for all of our energy problems. The extraction process creates far less air pollution than burning fossil fuels for electricity, which is crucial if we are to achieve our ambitious target of slashing our 1990 carbon levels by 80% in the next few years. Fracking has also been shown to have the potential to significantly lower gas prices.
“The economic benefits are clear, which means it’s easy to see why the government is backing this new form of energy, but the possible consequences cannot be ignored. A 2015 study by Defra, based in Canada, highlighted that houses in a 4km proximity of a gas well could experience a 7% price drop. There were also the worrying reports in 2011 of fracking being the “likely cause” of earth tremors in the North West. In the US there have been reports of contaminated drinking water as a result of fracking. These potential side effects simply cannot be glossed over in favour of economic benefits.
“The government cannot afford to place all its eggs in one basket, which is what is most concerning about the increased investment in fracking whilst more sustainable forms of energy generation have seen their subsidies cut. While on the surface fracking appears to have its benefits, by fast-tracking these projects that so many people are against, the government runs the risk of alienating a large proportion of the public when we should all be pulling in the same direction.”
Commenting on the decision by the UK Government, Emma Pinchbeck Head of Climate Change & Energy at WWF-UK made the following comments:
“The UK carbon budgets commit us to a near-zero carbon electricity system by 2032 and today’s announcement moves us further away from this goal. The government should be spending its time and resources focusing on the development and implementation of clean renewable energy sources, rather than fossil fuels that will impact on our ability to tackle climate change.
This decision has wilfully ignored science, sensible business, and the views of the local community who will be negatively affected for decades to come.”
Hannah Martin, a Greenpeace campaigner, has reacted to the news stating:
“This fudged decision shows the government is struggling to force fracking on a reluctant nation. Fracking will put our countryside and air quality at risk. Digging up more fossil fuels that we can’t burn if we are to honour the international agreement we signed in Paris and is coming into force next month makes little economic or environmental sense.
“Theresa May cannot build a 21st-century industrial strategy on a polluting and inexperienced fracking sector that won’t deliver for years, if ever. If the PM wants to promote an affordable and fair energy system whilst bolstering business growth and job creation, renewable and smart energy technologies are the way to go.”
Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?
Wood is a classic heat source, whether we think about people gathered around a campfire or wood stoves in old cabins, but is it a sustainable source of heat in modern society? The answer is an ambivalent one. In certain settings, wood heat is an ideal solution, but for the majority of homes, it isn’t especially suitable. So what’s the tipping point?
Wood heat is ideal for small homes on large properties, for individuals who can gather their own wood, and who have modern wood burning ovens. A green approach to wood heat is one of biofuel on the smallest of scales.
Is Biofuel Green?
One of the reasons that wood heat is a source of so much divide in the eco-friendly community is that it’s a renewable resource and renewable has become synonymous with green. What wood heat isn’t, though, is clean or healthy. It lets off a significant amount of carbon and particulates, and trees certainly don’t grow as quickly as it’s consumed for heat.
Of course, wood is a much less harmful source of heat than coal, but for scientists interested in developing green energy sources, it makes more sense to focus on solar and wind power. Why, then, would they invest in improved wood burning technology?
Solar and wind technology are good large-scale energy solutions, but when it comes to small-space heating, wood has its own advantages. First, wood heat is in keeping with the DIY spirit of homesteaders and tiny house enthusiasts. These individuals are more likely to be driven to gather their own wood and live in small spaces that can be effectively heated as such.
Wood heat is also very effective on an individual scale because it requires very little infrastructure. Modern wood stoves made of steel rather than cast iron are built to EPA specifications, and the only additional necessary tools include a quality axe, somewhere to store the wood, and an appropriate covering to keep it dry. And all the wood can come from your own land.
Wood heat is also ideal for people living off the grid or in cold areas prone to frequent power outages, as it’s constantly reliable. Even if the power goes out, you know that you’ll be able to turn up the heat. That’s important if you live somewhere like Maine where the winters can get exceedingly cold. People have even successfully heated a 40’x34’ home with a single stove.
Benefits Of Biomass
The ultimate question regarding wood heat is whether any energy source that’s dangerous on the large scale is acceptable on a smaller one. For now, the best answer is that with a growing population and limited progress towards “pure” green energy, wood should remain a viable option, specifically because it’s used on a limited scale. Biomass heat is even included in the UK’s Renewable Heat Initiative and minor modifications can make it even more sustainable.
Wood stoves, when embraced in conjunction with pellet stoves, geothermal heating, and masonry heaters, all more efficient forms of sustainable heat, should be part of a modern energy strategy. Ultimately, we’re headed in the direction of diversified energy – all of it cleaner – and wood has a place in the big picture, serving small homes and off-the-grid structures, while solar, wind, and other large-scale initiatives fuel our cities.
7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees
As an energy startup, you’re always looking to offer the most competitive packages to entice top-tier talent. This can be tough, especially when trying to put something together that’s both affordable but also has perks that employees are after.
After all, this is an incredibly competitive field and one that’s constantly doing what it can to stay ahead. However, that’s why I’m bringing you a few helpful benefits that could be what bolsters you ahead of your competition. Check them out below:
One benefit commonly overlooked by companies is offering your employees financial advising services, which could help them tremendously in planning for their long-term goals with your firm. This includes anything from budgeting and savings plans to recommendations for credit repair services and investments. Try to take a look at if your energy company could bring on an extra person or two specifically for this role, as it will pay off tremendously regarding retention and employee happiness.
While often included in a lot of health benefits packages, offering your employees life insurance could be an excellent addition to your current perks. Although seldom used, life insurance is a small sign that shows you care about the life of their family beyond just office hours. Additionally, at such a low cost, this is a pretty simple aspect to add to your packages. Try contacting some brokers or insurance agents to see if you can find a policy that’s right for your firm.
Dedicated Time To Enjoy Their Hobbies
Although something seen more often in startups in Silicon Valley, having dedicated office time for employees to enjoy their passions is something that has shown great results. Whether it be learning the piano or taking on building a video game, having your team spend some time on the things they truly enjoy can translate to increased productivity. Why? Because giving them the ability to better themselves, they’ll in turn bring that to their work as well.
The Ability To Work Remotely
It’s no secret that a lot of employers despise the idea of letting their employees work remotely. However, it’s actually proven to hold some amazing benefits. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 95% of employers that allow their employees to telework reported an increased rate of retention, saving on both turnover and sick days. Depending on the needs of each individual role, this can be a strategy to implement either whenever your team wants or on assigned days. Either way, this is one perk almost everyone will love.
Even though it’s mandated for companies with over 50 employees, offering health insurance regardless is arguably a benefit well received across the board. In fact, as noted in research compiled by KFF, 28.6% of employers with less than 50 people still offered health care. Why is that the case? Because it shows you care about their well-being, and know that a healthy employee is one that doesn’t have to worry about astronomical medical bills.
Unlimited Time Off
This is a perk that almost no employer offers but should be regarded as something to consider. According to The Washington Post, only 1-2% of companies offer unlimited vacation, which it’s easy to see why. A true “unlimited vacation” program could be a firm’s worse nightmare, with employees skipping out every other week to enjoy themselves. However, with the right model in place that rewards hard work with days off, your employees will absolutely adore this policy.
A Full Pantry
Finally, having a pantry full of food can be one perk that’s not only relatively inexpensive but also adds to the value of the workplace. As noted by USA Today, when surveying employees who had snacks versus those who didn’t, 67% of those who did reported they were “very happy” with their work life. You’d be surprised at how much of a difference this could make, especially when considering the price point. Consider adding a kitchen to your office if you haven’t already, and always keep the snacks and drinks everyone wants fully stocked. Doing so will increase morale tremendously.
Compiling a great package for your energy company is going to take some time in looking at what you can afford versus what’s the most you can offer. While it might mean cutting back in other areas, having a workforce that feels like you genuinely want to take care of them can take you far. And with so many different benefits to include in your energy company’s package, which one is your favorite? Comment with your answers below!