Connect with us

Features

Changing the UK Energy Landscape

Published

on

Juliet Davenport, founder and CEO of Good Energy, tells how Britain can cure its addiction to fossil-fuelled power stations.

The UK has a target to meet by 2050 – to reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent of the 1990 baseline figure. Business as usual is not going to get us there; so fixing our old-fashioned energy supply systems is crucial.

We need to turn our energy systems upside down. For many generations the UK has been dependent on coal, oil and gas, with most of our energy coming from large, centralised fossilfuelled power stations. But concerns are growing, not only about the impact of fossil fuels on climate change, but also about the UK’s growing reliance on imported energy – our energy security. The UK’s energy of tomorrow needs to be drastically different from its energy of today.

Happily, there is an answer: renewable energy. And with our abundant natural resources the UK has the potential to lead a renewable energy revolution. As the windiest country in Europe, and with over 11,000 miles of coastline, we have instant access to an Aladdin’s cave of renewable resources. Even better, these renewable resources are not only abundant, but free, too. By making the most of our wind and tides, as well as encouraging more use of solar photovoltaic and thermal technologies, we could put the UK at the forefront of renewable energy generation.
UK behind in Europe

The UK is committed to a target of 15 percent of energy coming from renewable technologies by 2020. This is equivalent to a seven-fold increase in UK renewable energy consumption from 2008 levels; as currently we generate only 2.2 percent of our power from renewables. Compare this with 44.4 percent in Sweden, 11 percent in France, and 9 percent in Germany and you get the picture. If we are to reach our target of 15% percent we have a serious mountain to climb.

And a good place to start is electricity. Our electricity demand is going up, not down – transport technology is switching towards electric vehicles, and heating and industry are becoming electrified. Electricity demand will double by 2050 according to some forecasts; therefore it is essential that we decarbonise our UK electricity market if we want to keep the lights on.
Role of consumers

Today, electricity constitutes a third of the average UK household’s carbon dioxide emissions. Switching to a 100 percent renewable electricity tariff can be a quick and easy way to reduce our carbon footprint.

Pretty much every energy provider now has a green electricity tariff. But not all green tariffs are created equal. The independent Green Energy Supply Scheme launched earlier this year guarantees the environmental benefit of our green electricity supply, in much the same way as the Fair Trade mark guarantees the ethical provenance of products we buy. It also requires energy suppliers to display their fuel mix – this percentage breakdown of all the different sources of suppliers’ energy is a good indicator of companies’ commitment to renewable energy.

We also need to change how energy is used in the UK. For too long we have taken for granted that, at the flick of a switch, the lights come on. But the more we can reduce our overall energy consumption, the greater the proportion we will be able to supply with renewables. Good Energy believes that understanding where our energy comes from makes us value it more and use it less.

Simple steps – like using energy-efficient light bulbs and making sure our homes are sufficiently insulated –don’t only reduce energy waste but also cut costs. And it’s easy and inexpensive enough to install an energy monitor – being told exactly how much electricity we’re using and when is a great incentive for switching things off. Studies show that households with an energy monitor use an average of 15 percent less energy.

Generate our own

DMR Once we’ve reduced our energy consumption and switched to a 100 percent renewable tariff, what can we do next? How about microgeneration?

Individuals and communities installing small-scale renewable technologies, such as solar panels and small wind turbines, have an important and growing role to play in the UK’s renewable energy future. The energy landscape, once dominated by large, faceless corporations, is being transformed into an energy democracy that supports thousands of independent generators making clean, green energy in homes and communities across the country.

In April 2010 the Government introduced its Feed-in Tariff (FiT), a financial incentive for generating our own renewable electricity. The FiT makes microgeneration much more financially attractive –the scheme income can help to repay any bank loan needed for installation. Payments are inflationlinked for all generators and tax-free for domestic properties. They are also guaranteed for 20 to 25 years, depending on the technology, and paid for total generation, including the units for personal domestic use. Thanks to the FiT, the payback time for an average household with a south-facing roof is now less than 10 years, a reduction that has resulted in an explosion of small-scale renewable energy installations.

Also on the horizon are the Renewable Heat Incentive and the Green Investment Bank, both of which the government has pledged to introduce as part of a raft of green measures. The heat incentive will reward those generating renewable heat, for example by heating water through solar thermal panels and heating homes through heat pumps, while the bank should make it easier for people to invest in renewable technologies.

 

Towards a 100 percent renewable future

In July 2010 the German government stated that by 2050 it could source 100 percent of its electricity from renewables. Good Energy’s research proves not only that we in the the UK can reach our EU emissions reduction targets, but that we too could be 100 percent renewable by 2050 – and we’ve mapped out a pathway to do it. We need to change UK energy at every stage of the process, from grid management to investment, and from research and development to transport. For example, because renewable electricity comes from Nature’s abundant resources – wind, water and the sun – its output isn’t always predictable. Our systems require massive improvements in how to forecast, store and manage renewable power, and how to back it up. As consumers we also need to develop a new, much closer and more intelligent relationship with the energy we use. It won’t be easy; but a 100 percent renewable future by 2050 is possible.

Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

Published

on

going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

Continue Reading

Energy

5 Easy Things You Can Do to Make Your Home More Sustainable

Published

on

By

sustainable homes
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By Diyana Dimitrova

Increasing your home’s energy efficiency is one of the smartest moves you can make as a homeowner. It will lower your bills, increase the resale value of your property, and help minimize our planet’s fast-approaching climate crisis. While major home retrofits can seem daunting, there are plenty of quick and cost-effective ways to start reducing your carbon footprint today. Here are five easy projects to make your home more sustainable.

1. Weather stripping

If you’re looking to make your home more energy efficient, an energy audit is a highly recommended first step. This will reveal where your home is lacking in regards to sustainability suggests the best plan of attack.

Some form of weather stripping is nearly always advised because it is so easy and inexpensive yet can yield such transformative results. The audit will provide information about air leaks which you can couple with your own knowledge of your home’s ventilation needs to develop a strategic plan.

Make sure you choose the appropriate type of weather stripping for each location in your home. Areas that receive a lot of wear and tear, like popular doorways, are best served by slightly more expensive vinyl or metal options. Immobile cracks or infrequently opened windows can be treated with inexpensive foams or caulking. Depending on the age and quality of your home, the resulting energy savings can be as much as 20 percent.

2. Programmable thermostats

Programmable thermostats

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Olivier Le Moal

Programmable thermostats have tremendous potential to save money and minimize unnecessary energy usage. About 45 percent of a home’s energy is earmarked for heating and cooling needs with a large fraction of that wasted on unoccupied spaces. Programmable thermostats can automatically lower the heat overnight or shut off the air conditioning when you go to work.

Every degree Fahrenheit you lower the thermostat equates to 1 percent less energy use, which amounts to considerable savings over the course of a year. When used correctly, programmable thermostats reduce heating and cooling bills by 10 to 30 percent. Of course, the same result can be achieved by manually adjusting your thermostats to coincide with your activities, just make sure you remember to do it!

3. Low-flow water hardware

With the current focus on carbon emissions and climate change, we typically equate environmental stability to lower energy use, but fresh water shortage is an equal threat. Installing low-flow hardware for toilets and showers, particularly in drought prone areas, is an inexpensive and easy way to cut water consumption by 50 percent and save as much as $145 per year.

Older toilets use up to 6 gallons of water per flush, the equivalent of an astounding 20.1 gallons per person each day. This makes them the biggest consumer of indoor water. New low-flow toilets are standardized at 1.6 gallons per flush and can save more than 20,000 gallons a year in a 4-member household.

Similarly, low-flow shower heads can decrease water consumption by 40 percent or more while also lowering water heating bills and reducing CO2 emissions. Unlike early versions, new low-flow models are equipped with excellent pressure technology so your shower will be no less satisfying.

4. Energy efficient light bulbs

An average household dedicates about 5 percent of its energy use to lighting, but this value is dropping thanks to new lighting technology. Incandescent bulbs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. These inefficient light sources give off 90 percent of their energy as heat which is not only impractical from a lighting standpoint, but also raises energy bills even further during hot weather.

New LED and compact fluorescent options are far more efficient and longer lasting. Though the upfront costs are higher, the long term environmental and financial benefits are well worth it. Energy efficient light bulbs use as much as 80 percent less energy than traditional incandescent and last 3 to 25 times longer producing savings of about $6 per year per bulb.

5. Installing solar panels

Adding solar panels may not be the easiest, or least expensive, sustainability upgrade for your home, but it will certainly have the greatest impact on both your energy bills and your environmental footprint. Installing solar panels can run about $15,000 – $20,000 upfront, though a number of government incentives are bringing these numbers down. Alternatively, panels can also be leased for a much lower initial investment.

Once operational, a solar system saves about $600 per year over the course of its 25 to 30-year lifespan, and this figure will grow as energy prices rise. Solar installations require little to no maintenance and increase the value of your home.

From an environmental standpoint, the average five-kilowatt residential system can reduce household CO2 emissions by 15,000 pounds every year. Using your solar system to power an electric vehicle is the ultimate sustainable solution serving to reduce total CO2 emissions by as much as 70%!

These days, being environmentally responsible is the hallmark of a good global citizen and it need not require major sacrifices in regards to your lifestyle or your wallet. In fact, increasing your home’s sustainability is apt to make your residence more livable and save you money in the long run. The five projects listed here are just a few of the easy ways to reduce both your environmental footprint and your energy bills. So, give one or more of them a try; with a small budget and a little know-how, there is no reason you can’t start today.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Facebook

Trending