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Economy

Energy switching: out of the frying pan into the fire

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Yesterday’s news that a record number of customers had switched energy supplier in November is welcome, on the face of it. It remains to be seen whether this will actually benefit consumers or whether it represents a shuffling of multiple bad choices, leaving the UK hooked on fossil fuels.

A market where the majority of players can raise prices significantly ahead of inflation with impunity, without seeing a net loss of customers, is a dysfunctional one. While the industry body, Ofgem, is unwilling to label the situation a cartel, what looks, smell and feels like a cartel is probably a cartel in all but name.

Some 614,000 customers may have secured an immediate benefit in switching but in a market where all prices are rising, the reprieve will be short-lived.

As fossil fuels become harder to acquire, generally more scarce and competition from emerging economies increases, we will be subject to rapidly increasing prices. The lights will go out. This is unsustainable.

Click here to read The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2013

The only alternatives are to reverse our commitment to a low-carbon economy, inflicting on the population a growing balance of payments deficit, massive health problems and runaway climate change on future generations.

We can go for nuclear, but this most subsidy junkie of energy generators will take at least a decade to start generating the megawatts we need today.

We could go for hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of the huge shale gas reserves under our crowded island, but even its own industry leaders say this will not reduce energy prices and the resultant gas will be sold globally on the wholesale market. A market where we have to compete with energy hungry China and India.

But nailing our blue and green colours to the mast, we could commit the billions we will spend subsiding nuclear and cleaning up the resultant waste, the billions we already subsidise fossil fuels with and the generous tax subsidies fracking is already demanding, and build a truly sustainable energy policy and world beating industry.

We have several of the largest tidal ranges in the world (tidal power). We are next to one of the most violent seas on Earth (wind and wave). Regardless of reputation and cloud cover, the sun hits the UK every day of the year (solar). While an economic challenge today, the Earth is always hot beneath our feet (geothermal). And while we exploited most of our river capacity in the 1950s and 60s, small scale hydro could double its share of UK energy production – ideal for those kettle-on surges (hydroelectricity).

A combination of all six, when coupled with effective energy storage, would mean we have the baseload we need, and the capacity to deal with sudden surges.

The other side of the coin is to reduce energy usage. Insulating every house in the UK, and ensuring shops and businesses power down when out of use, would cut demand and mean we need less energy for the same level of economic activity.

Critically, all of this would stabilise and then reduce energy prices. Communities could own their own energy generation in small-scale schemes. Being a net producer of energy would bring valuable income to communities facing a cost of living crisis.

A bold, imaginative and future-looking government would embrace emerging clean technology and innovation. Such a shift in policy would be a spur for economic renewal, sustainable growth and a victory for hard pressed families and businesses.

If every community was a power plant and if the rivers, tides, waves, winds, sunshine and Earth’s natural heat were captured, we would not need risky and punishingly expensive nuclear, or invest in unproven fracking.

It’s neither idealistic nor naive, but instead, the kind of vision our country needs. It also represents a fantastic investment opportunity. This is the kind of switch we need.

Further reading:

Green energy firms Good Energy and Ecotricity break mould with winter price freezes

Nina Skorupska: we need energy ‘prosumers’ to effect real change

Jennifer Granholm, former governor of Michigan, on how to fix the planet with clean energy

Climate change aside, we’re harming our children with dirty energy

The Guide to Limitless Clean Energy 2013

Simon Leadbetter is the founder and publisher of Blue & Green Tomorrow. He has held senior roles at Northcliffe, The Daily Telegraph, Santander, Barclaycard, AXA, Prudential and Fidelity. In 2004, he founded a marketing agency that worked amongst others with The Guardian, Vodafone, E.On and Liverpool Victoria. He sold this agency in 2006 and as Chief Marketing Officer for two VC-backed start-ups launched the online platform Cleantech Intelligence (which underpinned the The Guardian’s Cleantech 100) and StrategyEye Cleantech. Most recently, he was Marketing Director of Emap, the UK’s largest B2B publisher, and the founder of Blue & Green Communications Limited.

Economy

New Zealand to Switch to Fully Renewable Energy by 2035

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renewable energy policy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Eviart / https://www.shutterstock.com/g/adrian825

New Zealand’s prime minister-elect Jacinda Ardern is already taking steps towards reducing the country’s carbon footprint. She signed a coalition deal with NZ First in October, aiming to generate 100% of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2035.

New Zealand is already one of the greenest countries in the world, sourcing over 80% of its energy for its 4.7 million people from renewable resources like hydroelectric, geothermal and wind. The majority of its electricity comes from hydro-power, which generated 60% of the country’s energy in 2016. Last winter, renewable generation peaked at 93%.

Now, Ardern is taking on the challenge of eliminating New Zealand’s remaining use of fossil fuels. One of the biggest obstacles will be filling in the gap left by hydropower sources during dry conditions. When lake levels drop, the country relies on gas and coal to provide energy. Eliminating fossil fuels will require finding an alternative source to avoid spikes in energy costs during droughts.

Business NZ’s executive director John Carnegie told Bloomberg he believes Ardern needs to balance her goals with affordability, stating, “It’s completely appropriate to have a focus on reducing carbon emissions, but there needs to be an open and transparent public conversation about the policies and how they are delivered.”

The coalition deal outlined a few steps towards achieving this, including investing more in solar, which currently only provides 0.1% of the country’s energy. Ardern’s plans also include switching the electricity grid to renewable energy, investing more funds into rail transport, and switching all government vehicles to green fuel within a decade.

Zero net emissions by 2050

Beyond powering the country’s electricity grid with 100% green energy, Ardern also wants to reach zero net emissions by 2050. This ambitious goal is very much in line with her focus on climate change throughout the course of her campaign. Environmental issues were one of her top priorities from the start, which increased her appeal with young voters and helped her become one of the youngest world leaders at only 37.

Reaching zero net emissions would require overcoming challenging issues like eliminating fossil fuels in vehicles. Ardern hasn’t outlined a plan for reaching this goal, but has suggested creating an independent commission to aid in the transition to a lower carbon economy.

She also set a goal of doubling the number of trees the country plants per year to 100 million, a goal she says is “absolutely achievable” using land that is marginal for farming animals.

Greenpeace New Zealand climate and energy campaigner Amanda Larsson believes that phasing out fossil fuels should be a priority for the new prime minister. She says that in order to reach zero net emissions, Ardern “must prioritize closing down coal, putting a moratorium on new fossil fuel plants, building more wind infrastructure, and opening the playing field for household and community solar.”

A worldwide shift to renewable energy

Addressing climate change is becoming more of a priority around the world and many governments are assessing how they can reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and switch to environmentally-friendly energy sources. Sustainable energy is becoming an increasingly profitable industry, giving companies more of an incentive to invest.

Ardern isn’t alone in her climate concerns, as other prominent world leaders like Justin Trudeau and Emmanuel Macron have made renewable energy a focus of their campaigns. She isn’t the first to set ambitious goals, either. Sweden and Norway share New Zealand’s goal of net zero emissions by 2045 and 2030, respectively.

Scotland already sources more than half of its electricity from renewable sources and aims to fully transition by 2020, while France announced plans in September to stop fossil fuel production by 2040. This would make it the first country to do so, and the first to end the sale of gasoline and diesel vehicles.

Many parts of the world still rely heavily on coal, but if these countries are successful in phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable resources, it could serve as a turning point. As other world leaders see that switching to sustainable energy is possible – and profitable – it could be the start of a worldwide shift towards environmentally-friendly energy.

Sources: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-06/green-dream-risks-energy-security-as-kiwis-aim-for-zero-carbon

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-france-hydrocarbons/france-plans-to-end-oil-and-gas-production-by-2040-idUSKCN1BH1AQ

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Economy

How Going Green Can Save A Company Money

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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.

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