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EIC Innovation Awards applaud UK energy industry’s positive impact



The UK Energy Innovation Awards, organised by the Energy Innovation Centre (EIC), are an annual awards ceremony that showcase the latest and greatest technologies from the energy industry. This year over 300 of the movers, shakers and rising energy stars were out in force once again to applaud and honour those creating a positive impact.

Hosted at the Hilton Manchester Deansgate, guests gathered for the unveiling of the winners who are making a progressive impact on the UK energy industry and benefitting energy customers through their collaborative partnerships.

Dermot Nolan, Chief Executive of energy industry regulator Ofgem, said: “Over the last few years, the Energy Innovation Centre has grown from providing a gateway to SMEs to now delivering projects with a strategic view. The EIC fosters collaboration and partnerships across many stakeholders and it’s great to see the energy networks stepping up to the challenge with these projects. As an industry, we should be proud of how far we have come in our bid to embrace innovation.

“The UK Energy Innovation Awards are about celebrating the innovators but it is also very much a celebration of this open collaboration, the opportunities that it creates for customers, the supply chain and the industry itself.”

Following an opening speech from the evening’s compere, actor and comedian Hugh Dennis, John Morea, CEO at SGN said a few words before the winners were announced.

He said: “In their own way, each nomination highlights the remarkable transformation our industry has undergone and the role that SME innovators have played in this as we seek to provide even greater value for customers and embrace the innovation that the broader supply chain has to offer.”

One of the evening’s winners was Cyan Technology who took home the Best International Trade award. The company, which is based Cambridge, was commended for its work towards tackling a world-wide energy issue.

With over 300 million citizens in India alone without access to power, the need to address energy in emerging markets is growing. Cyan Technology is delivering smart technologies to enable utilities in emerging markets, specifically in dense urban environments, to control and measure energy consumption.

John Cronin, Executive Chairman of Cyan Technology, said: “We are thrilled to have won this prestigious award, which provides further validation of Cyan’s success in emerging markets.

“Cyan has designed its solutions specifically for next-generation economies and has established in-country partner ecosystems across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and South America, supporting the transfer of skills and experience to facilitate customer ownership and generate local wealth. It is fantastic to gain this recognition from the Energy Innovation Centre and we thank them very much.”

Another SME recognised for its collaborative work with an energy network was Slough based, Industrial Noise and Vibration Centre (INVC) who won the Environmental Impact Award.

Peter Wilson, Technical Director at INVC, said: “As a small, specialist engineering noise and vibration consultancy, it can be difficult to spread the word about technical advances amongst organisations that can make best use of them. Winning this award will provide us with a high profile platform that both showcases our advances in noise control and gives more companies immediate access to the benefits of the latest innovations in the field.”

Another winner on the night was the University of Manchester which has developed ‘Acoustek’, an innovative technology that uses acoustics to detect and locate leakages and blockages within the gas network. This technology has the potential to reduce the number of disruptive excavations, saving time and money.

Professor Barry Lennox, Leader of the Acoustek Research Group, said: “The work we have been doing with the gas distribution operators and managed by the Energy Innovation Centre has been really successful. By being part of the Energy Innovation Centre’s awards programme, we should secure the right support to see our technology have a thorough evaluation around the UK’s gas distribution network over the next two-years.”

Denise Massey, Managing Director at EIC, closed the ceremony. She said: “Our future, and that of our children, is an energy system that has customers at its centre and puts them in control of their energy.

“Creating this future energy system is not the responsibility of the networks alone and there’s no blue print on how we will get there. But as the major players in our sector we have an obligation to facilitate others from beyond our sector and borders to collaborate with us, and create a movement that will take us towards that consumer centric future.

“As we’ve heard tonight, the shared opportunities that are created through network collaboration with SME innovators offer huge potential and will, ultimately, help us to accelerate the change that we need to achieve.”


Is Wood Burning Sustainable For Your Home?



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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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:

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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