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Green economy lauds benefits of renewables in response to fracking industry report

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Developing the shale gas industry in the UK could attract investment of £33 billion and create 64,000 new jobs, according to a new report that environmental campaigners argue is “rose-tinted”.

The report, carried out by consultancy firm EY and commissioned by the onshore oil and gas industry body UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG), investigated how much spending would be required to exploit UK reserves.

It estimates that spending of around £33 billion will be needed to create around 4,000 fracking wells over an 18-year period. At its peak, the study says this supply chain would be able to provide around 64,000 jobs.

“This is a unique opportunity to secure the future of next generations of energy users, but industry and government need to take action now for the necessary infrastructure, supply chain standards and skills to be ready in time”, said Chris Lewis, the author of the report 

The government has already begun its efforts to encourage a UK fracking boom, comparable to that of the US, by offering sizable tax breaks to the industry.

Commenting on the findings Michael Fallon, UK minister of state for business and energy, said the report was a “call to action”.

He added, “The message is to get ready for shale.” 

However, scientists, environmentalists and governments across the world hold a number of concerns over the possible impacts of the fracking.

The process works by fracturing rocks with water and chemicals, releasing the natural gas contained within them. It has been linked to water contaminationleakage of the potent greenhouse gas methane and an increased risk of earthquakes.

Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist and policy director at Greenpeace UK, argued that the EY report was “a rehash of rose-tinted industry guesstimates.

“Paying accountants to tally up hypothetical jobs won’t change the fact that executives still have no idea whether they’ll actually be able to get gas out of the ground on a commercial scale in the UK,” he said.

“Scratch beneath the hype and this report is actually a veiled plea for government and taxpayer support for an industry that has stalled before even taking off.” 

Some supporters argue that a shale gas revolution could help the UK cut its carbon emissions, aiding efforts to limit climate change. 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) most recent study did concede that shale gas could play a role in decarbonisation, but only as a short-term option. 

Instead, the IPCC say that a trillion-dollar shift in investment towards renewable energy is urgently needed.

According to the Renewable Energy Association (REA), there are already over 100,000 jobs across the renewable energy value chain. It argues that investing in renewables, rather than shale gas infrastructure, is the better bet.

“The shale gas industry has government’s unwavering support, and yet according to its own figures its potential for jobs is less than the renewables industry already achieves in the UK”, said REA head of public affairs James Court.

“Renewables are delivering today, while any potential benefits from shale gas are still some way off. Renewable energy is attracting investment, creating jobs, cutting costs, improving our energy security and preserving our environment.”

On Wednesday, the government announced that deals were done for eight major renewable projects, promising 8,500 new jobs.

Photo: UKBERRI_net via Flickr

Further reading:

Eight renewables projects given go-ahead in ‘green energy investment boom’

More research needed into health impacts of fracking, experts warn

Renewable electricity share at 15% in 2013 as UK emissions fall 2%

Poll: two-thirds of Britons favour wind power over fracking

Government’s fracking focus threatens renewables investment, experts say

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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Energy

What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?

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Clean Growth Strategy for green energy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By sdecoret | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/sdecoret

It was hardly surprising the Clean Growth Strategy (CGS) was much anticipated by industry and environmentalists. After all, its publication was pushed back a couple of times. But with the document now in the public domain, and the Government having run a consultation on its content, what ultimately should we make of what’s perhaps one of the most important publications to come out of the Department for Business, Energy and the Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in the past 12 months?

The starting point, inevitably, is to decide what the document is and isn’t. It is, certainly, a lengthy and considered direction-setter – not just for the Government, but for business and industry, and indeed for consumers. While much of the content was favourably received in terms of highlighting ways to ensure clean growth, critics – not unjustifiably – suggested it was long on pages but short on detailed and finite policy commitments, accompanied by clear timeframes for action.

A Strategy, Instead of a Plan

But should we really be surprised? The answer, in all honesty, is probably not really. BEIS ministers had made no secret of the fact they would be publishing a ‘strategy’ as opposed to a ‘plan,’ and that gave every indication the CGS would set a direction of travel and be largely aspirational. The Government had consulted on its content, and will likely respond to the consultation during the course of 2018. And that’s when we might see more defined policy commitments and timeframes from action.

The second criticism one might level at the CGS is that indicated the use of ‘flexibilities’ to achieve targets set in the carbon budgets – essentially using past results to offset more recent failings to keep pace with emissions targets. Claire Perry has since appeared in front of the BEIS Select Committee and insisted she would be personally disappointed if the UK used flexibilities to fill the shortfall in meeting the fourth and fifth carbon budgets, but this is difficult ground for the Government. The Committee on Climate Change was critical of the proposed use of efficiencies, which would somewhat undermine ministers’ good intentions and commitment to clean growth – particularly set against November’s Budget, in which the Chancellor maintained the current carbon price floor (potentially giving a reprieve to coal) and introduced tax changes favourable to North Sea oil producers.

A 12 Month Green Energy Initiative with Real Teeth

But, there is much to appreciate and commend about the CGS. It fits into a 12-month narrative for BEIS ministers, in which they have clearly shown a commitment to clean growth, improving energy efficiency and cutting carbon emissions. Those 12 months have seen the launch of the Industrial Strategy – firstly in Green Paper form, which led to the launch of the Faraday Challenge, and then a White Paper in which clean growth was considered a ‘grand challenge’ for government. Throughout these publications – and indeed again with the CGS – the Government has shown itself to be an advocate of smart systems and demand response, including the development of battery technology.

Electrical Storage Development at Center of Broader Green Energy Push

While the Faraday Challenge is primarily focused on the development of batteries to support the proliferation of electric vehicles (which will support cuts to carbon emissions), it will also drive down technology costs, supporting the deployment of small and utility-scale storage that will fully harness the capability of renewables. Solar and wind made record contributions to UK electricity generation in 2017, and the development of storage capacity will help both reduce consumer costs and support decarbonisation.

The other thing the CGS showed us it that the Government is happy to be a disrupter in the energy market. The headline from the publication was the plans for legislation to empower Ofgem to cap the costs of Standard Variable Tariffs. This had been an aspiration of ministers for months, and there’s little doubt that driving down costs for consumers will be a trend within BEIS policy throughout 2018.

But the Government also seems happy to support disruption in the renewables market, as evidenced by the commitment (in the CGS) to more than half a billion pounds of investment in Pot 2 of Contracts for Difference (CfDs) – where the focus will be on emerging rather than established technologies.

This inevitably prompted ire from some within the industry, particularly proponents of solar, which is making an increasing contribution to the UK’s energy mix. But, again, we shouldn’t really be surprised. Since the subsidy cuts of 2015, ministers have given no indication or cause to think there will be public money afforded to solar development. Including solar within the CfD auction would have been a seismic shift in policy. And while ministers’ insistence in subsidy-free solar as the way forward has been shown to be based on a single project, we should expect that as costs continue to be driven down and solar makes record contributions to electricity generation, investment will follow – and there will ultimately be more subsidy-free solar farms, albeit perhaps not in 2018.

Meanwhile, by promoting emerging technologies like remote island wind, the Government appears to be favouring diversification and that it has a range of resources available to meet consumer demand. Perhaps more prescient than the decision to exclude established renewables from the CfD auction is the subsequent confirmation in the budget that Pot 2 of CfDs will be the last commitment of public money to renewable energy before 2025.

In short, we should view the CGS as a step in the right direction, albeit one the Government should be elaborating on in its consultation response. Its publication, coupled with the advancement this year of the Industrial Strategy indicates ministers are committed to the clean growth agenda. The question is now how the aspirations set out in the CGS – including the development of demand response capacity for the grid, and improving the energy efficiency of commercial and residential premises – will be realised.

It’s a step in the right direction. But, inevitably, there’s much more work to do.

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