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Amber Rudd energy policy reset: further reactions

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Today the Energy Secretary Amber Rudd focused on energy security and keeping prices as low as possible. The world’s first industrialised nation to end coal-powered generation is sending a strong signal ahead of the UN Climate summit in Paris. But is it strong enough and is it the right signal?

Here’s just some of the reaction (earlier reactions here and here):

Eliot Whittington, Deputy Director of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, commented: “Amber Rudd set out her vision for the UK energy system in 2025, and there is much that progressive businesses, like members of The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group, will applaud: in particular her desire for a clear, consistent direction of travel, where costs are managed but the UK delivers on its carbon targets.

“The UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change has made two major announcements that will ensure the UK can hold its head up at the global climate change negotiations held in Paris at the end of the month. She has delivered both a timetable to end unabated coal, and a positive vision for the role offshore wind can play, giving a strong signal about the UK’s commitment to decarbonisation.”

“Now it has set out its refreshed intentions for the power generation sector, the UK government now needs to deliver equal clarity for how it can drive action in increasing energy efficiency for business and consumers.”

Friends of the Earth’s senior energy campaigner Simon Bullock said: “While it’s genuinely historic news that the UK will phase-out coal by 2025, this is tempered by government intentions for a huge new generation of gas-power stations, fuelled by fracking.

“UK energy policy should overwhelmingly be focussed on boosting renewable power and energy efficiency. Gas is too high-carbon for a long-term future.”

Niall Stuart, Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “It appears that the Secretary of State is bending over backwards to highlight the benefits of gas-fired and nuclear power, whilst overstating the challenges of increasing our renewable energy capacity.  It is right that we get coal off the system but there is no mention of gas already being the UK’s main source of carbon emissions, the cost of nuclear power being significantly more expensive than onshore wind and solar, nor the challenges of managing large and inflexible nuclear power plants.

“With the promise of future support for gas, nuclear and offshore wind, it is totally unclear if there is any future for investment in onshore wind and solar, despite the fact that these are the cheapest forms of renewable power available.  Both have the potential to make a significant contribution to future climate change targets while keeping bills down for consumers, but we will only secure deployment if they too can bid in for the long term contracts for clean power available to other technologies.

“The offshore sector will be pleased to see ministers set out ambitions for future growth in the 2020s – as long as costs continue to come down – but the delay to the next auction of long term contracts leaves two major projects off the coast of Scotland in limbo for another 12 months. It also pushes back delivery timelines for onshore wind projects on Scotland’s islands which will in turn delay the delivery of grid connections, meaning these developments will not be able to contribute to Scotland’s 100% renewable power target.

“The Government’s commitment to innovation and research is right, particularly in the crucial area of energy storage, but again they focus on everything but renewables, and there is not even a mention of the huge potential of wave and tidal energy.

“Lastly, heating accounts for 45% of the UK’s energy use and we have still to see any detail on how the Government believes it can best move us away from fossil fuels to renewables.  With less than five months to go till the current funding of the Renewable Heat Incentive runs out, industry needs certainty so it can plan for the future and continue to deliver the change in the energy mix that Government wants to see.”

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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