Hugo Chandler, Director of New Resource Partners, Paul Massara, Former Head of REW npower and Joan McNaughton, World Energy Trilemma Executive Chair at World Energy Council, comment in advance of reports to be published by National Grid this week.
Commenting ahead of reports this week from National Grid, on UK electricity margins for this winter and on future energy scenarios, Hugo Chandler, Director at New Resource Partners, said that National Grid has the tools to address concerns over generation-related blackouts.
“There’s been a lot of crying wolf over blackouts given that the UK has only seen one in the past 10 years that was due to issues with generation. Just for comparison, transmission and distribution faults cause around a quarter of a million power cuts across Britain every year. And although people get quite excited over grid management measures such as NISMs, the reality is that they’re needed much less frequently than in the past,” he said.
“National Grid has the tools to tackle the tight margins this winter, but that doesn’t mean we should hold off investing in cheaper, smarter and cleaner ways of balancing the grid right now. The immediate opportunity lies in demand-side response, which the Government and big consumers want but which isn’t yet properly incentivised. Ultimately demand response means fewer new peaking plants, avoiding the price tag that comes with that and less of a burden on bills for consumers and businesses.”
Joan McNaughton, World Energy Trilemma Executive Chair, World Energy Council, said that the UK power system is in a transitional period.
“The UK, like almost every other major economy, is on a journey from an old-fashioned baseload-heavy system to a more flexible, cleaner future.
The UK lacks a clear plan for getting from A to B, and stability and clarity are paramount right now.
The capacity market is a short-term fix, but energy infrastructure has a long lifespan and the UK needs to start building a smarter grid now to keep bills and carbon emissions down,” she said.
“Energy business leaders and investors need to have confidence in the coherence and longevity of the overall package of what is proposed. Such a strategic approach would see us emerge from this transitional period into a future where subsidies are no longer needed and flexible technologies compete in a free market economy; muddling through and back-tracking will not.”
Paul Massara, CEO North Star Solar and former CEO of RWE npower, agreed that the Government needs to take strategic decisions to develop a power system fit for the 21st Century.
“If we’re going to continue having a reliable electricity system in this country, there’s a real need for government to give investors long-term clarity. Unfortunately, we’ve had several years of disjointed and incoherent policy, and the referendum has rocked an already unsteady boat,” he said.
“It’s very unlikely that the lights will go out this winter, but we’re dealing with a lot of old, creaking kit and the Government needs to start taking strategic decisions if we’re to replace it in a sensible manner. The aim must be to ensure we’re building a clean, smart power system that’s fit for the 21st Century, and all policy measures need to start pointing in that direction.
“The National Infrastructure Commission and the Energy UK Pathways 2030 report both support smart grids, battery storage and demand side management. What we we need now is a coherent energy policy to these, otherwise we’ll continue to stumble from one short-term stopgap measure to another – which will inevitably push costs upwards.
“Hinkley remains the wrong technology and is hugely expense – a bad deal for consumers and businesses alike. The Government should end this tortuous process and instead focus on wind, solar, storage and demand side management.”
7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis
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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