Back in 1927, long before the age of the internet, Smart TVs and mobile phones, a Russian scientist called Oleg Losev claimed to have developed the first Light Emitting Diode. He knew that he’d discovered something great, but wasn’t sure how to take it further, and sent his research out to scientific journals in Russia, Germany and the UK.
Fast forward to 1962, and despite thirty plus years of experimenting, nobody had really done anything major with Losev’s invention. GEC’s Nick Holonyak developed the first highly visible red LED, and LED technology suddenly took off, with different colour lights and purposes being developed rapidly. Initially only used as indicator lights for buttons and switches, people were unsure what to do with these tiny, super bright bulbs. Once again, LEDs went on the back burner.
Meanwhile, the incandescent light bulb continued to be the light source of choice. Cheap to produce and doing the job perfectly well, there was no need to look elsewhere. Their superheated filaments glowed brightly, and were used in everything from domestic lighting to infra-red heating. The only problem was that these bulbs were using so much energy to heat that filament that only 5% of the energy was actually being emitted as light. The other 95% was wasted as heat. There had to be a more efficient way of lighting a room.
The next step forward was the halogen bulb, commonly seen in the shape of GU10s. Also relying on heating, these bulbs were pricey to manufacture, because the concentrated super heating required to induce the light would have shattered conventional glass, and expensive materials such as quartz were one of few appropriate alternatives. There were also safety concerns, as the GU10 bulb’s surface is closer to the filament than an incandescent bulb.
One efficient alternative was the Compact Fluorescent Lamp, or CFL, which used a third less energy than the incandescent. You probably remember those as the swirl style bulbs, which took a long time to heat up. Introduced in 1995, CFLs used much less energy than incandescent lamps, meaning a worldwide substitution would result in less CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere. There would be a CO2 reduction of 230 million tons every single year, more than the combined annual emissions of Portugal and the Netherlands.
However, despite their green credentials, they were unpopular as they were slow to warm up to their maximum output, and turning the light on and off seemed to significantly shorten their lifespan. Rather than going out with a bang like incandescent or halogen bulbs, a CFL got slightly dimmer with each use, until it was simply not able to light up a room any more.
Meanwhile, the LED had quietly been preparing for its big entrance. They’d been installed in traffic lights since the 1980s, car brake lighting systems in the 1990s, and people were starting to wonder if the LED couldn’t be used for lighting rooms. They were used in tiny clusters for giant screens such as Jumbo-Trons, popular at concerts and festivals, taking over from energy hungry traditional Cathode Ray Tubes.
In 2008, the first commercially available LED filament style bulb was introduced, and just 3 years later, Philips won the “Bright Tomorrow Lighting” prize from the US government for their general use LED screw in bulb. LEDs were installed in street lights, outdoor lighting displays, and famous screens such as London’s Piccadilly Circus billboard.
With 25% of the average household’s energy bill attributed to lighting, it’s crucial to ensure that you’re getting value for money. An incandescent bulb, while cheap, will cost you up to ten times more than its purchase price in electricity over its lifetime. An LED bulb can offer you genuine savings, to both your pocket and the environment. With less power usage than halogen and fluorescent bulbs, your kW/hr consumption per year is reduced, bringing down CO2 emissions.
Offering instant bright light, financial savings and the chance for you to do your bit to keep our planet energy efficient, LED lighting is the olution for the future.
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 will my retirement savings 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!
What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?
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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