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Confidence in government energy efficiency polices slumps to all time low

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The latest issue of the UK Energy Efficiency Trends report (Volume 12) provides evidence of the impacts resulting from a sharp fall in industry confidence with regards to the government’s management of energy efficiency policies.

Compiled from the results of a confidential, quarterly industry survey, it clearly evidences industry trends and has become one of the sector’s leading sources of market intelligence. The report covers both energy suppliers and consumers, providing differentiated results for each market sector.

Delivered by a research partnership between EEVS and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and supported by Bird & Bird, Bellrock and Schneider Electric, the latest report shows the energy efficiency market monitor falling for the second consecutive quarter, from just below 100 points in Q1 2015 to 51 points in Q2 2015.

This represents a decline in supplier order books, sale prices and government action. Suppliers responding to the survey said that two of their top three concerns were regulation and subsidy/policy support.

When asked about the government’s management of energy efficiency policies alone, supplier confidence hit an all-time low in Q2, with more than 60% of respondents citing ineffective management. This represents the biggest quarter on quarter fall following Q1 which saw the confidence indicator break out of the negative zone for the first time – reaching zero.

Supplier confidence in the government’s management of the wider economy also fell in Q2, although the change on Q1 was less steep than that of energy efficiency policy. Respondents citing ineffective management increased by 3/4, but still accounted for just 36% compared to the 41% citing effective management.

Despite this gloomy picture, respondents are confident of a turnaround in Q3 and expect the market monitor to bounce up to 115 points, which, if achieved, will be the highest market monitor points score since the research was launched in 2012.

By contrast the energy efficiency consumer respondents reported an increase in project commissioning in Q2. Typically, around 70% of consumers report commissioning energy efficiency projects each quarter. Q2 2015 saw a jump in project commissioning following an extended downward trend in the market. At almost 80%, this quarter represents one the highest take up rates since the survey began.
Download the graph here: Projects Commissioned)

When it comes to technology choices, consumers continue to favour high-efficiency lighting over other individual technologies and this solution is included within 63% of energy efficiency projects.

When combined, controls (in the form of lighting controls, 34%, and general building controls, 31%) offer some collective competition for the top energy efficiency technology selection. Solar PV has also sustained its recent gains, with 22% reporting uptake in Q2, perhaps in response to the proposed FITs changes.

Interestingly, both public buildings (21%) and manufacturing sites (17%) overtook offices (15%) this quarter as the principle property types to benefit from energy efficiency upgrades. This is the first time that office property has not been in the top spot since the survey began.

The capital cost of respondents’ energy efficiency projects remains wide-ranging and volatile. Overall however the long-term trend is towards sustained growth in project size. Starting at around £60k in 2012, the current median project value is circa £110-120k despite material decreases in the volume of the very largest projects (£500k+) in the last two quarters.

Energy efficiency landscape

The above trends must be considered in the context of the operational landscape. Ian Jeffries at EEVS commented: “A notable theme in this quarter’s research has been the lack of support that the energy efficiency sector feels it has received from the UK government.

“Interestingly, however, the policy landscape has shifted somewhat since the survey was carried out.

“For example, in July the new Conservative government announced its much-publicised cuts to renewable energy subsidies and, shortly afterwards, a less prominent Treasury-led review of energy efficiency and carbon taxation. This perceptible swing in favour of energy efficiency could be a shot in the arm for a sector reporting a loss of confidence.

“Allied to this, there is increasing political optimism that the upcoming COP21 negotiations in Paris will yield a new global climate agreement.

“If so, these recent UK policy changes may suggest that encouraging energy efficiency through higher taxation could be UK government’s preferred approach, at the expense of incentivising renewables. If nothing else there’s certainly lots to look out for, and it will be interesting to see how the sector responds to these issues in the coming quarters.”

About the survey

The Energy Efficiency Trends Survey (Vol.12) was conducted between 12 August and 30 September 2015 and was completed by 63 UK-based energy and other senior managers (41 consumer organisations and 22 suppliers). Their answers related to the situation from the second calendar quarter of 2015.

The insight it provides is helping to transform levels of transparency and understanding within the sector – as well as supporting better, faster, more confident decision making in relation to commercial energy saving investments.

The analysis is produced quarterly, based on survey feedback from a wide range of commercial consumers and suppliers of energy efficiency.

The survey is delivered by EEVS and Bloomberg New Energy Finance and is supported by Bird & Bird (international law firm with a specialism in the energy and utilities sector), Bellrock (providing property and facilities management services to over 40,000 retail, commercial and public sector properties throughout the UK) and Schneider Electric (a global specialist in energy management improving energy efficiency and performance in more than 100 countries).

Energy

Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?

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sustainable wood burning ideas

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?

Homegrown 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.

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Energy

7 Benefits You Should Consider Giving Your Energy Employees

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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:

Financial Advising

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.

Life Insurance

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.

Health Insurance

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.

Final Thoughts

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!

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