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Subsidy loophole to be closed for dirty fossil fuels

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The UK government has announced it will close a legal loophole that could have given billions of pounds to old coal power plants. However, the news has reopened the debate over why subsidies for fossil fuels are continuing to undermine carbon reduction policies.

The loophole was found in the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) new electricity market reform policy, the Capacity Market. The Capacity Market aims to deliver secure energy for the future, although think tank e3g and Greenpeace calculated £5-10 billion would have been paid to old coal plants if the loophole stayed.

On Friday a spokeswoman from the DECC told the Guardian, “We are going to amend the capacity market rules to clarify without any doubt that only new projects can access the 15-year maximum term. We will be consulting on this shortly.” 

Closing this loophole will save the pubic from paying for billions of pounds worth of subsidies for old coal plants. However, Greenpeace has said even if the loophole is closed, existing plants would still be able to bid for one to three year contracts worth millions of pounds.

“The idea that super-polluting old coal plants should get billions in subsidies for the next 15 years is so indefensible that the government has little choice but to close this loophole. If it’s true that no one at DECC was aware of it, this raises serious questions about who’s really writing our energy policy,” said Greenpeace UK energy analyst Jimmy Aldridge.

He added, “One colossal waste of bill payers’ money has now been ruled out, but the government is still offering ageing coal plants other subsidies worth hundreds of millions, putting our climate ambition at risk and locking us into more years of dependence on coal, the dirtiest of all fuels.”

Campaigners say such subsidies undermine the UK’s carbon emission reduction measures. A paper from e3g has even called for an investigation into the UK Capacity Market by the EU, claiming subsidies create “barriers” to reducing carbon emissions.

UN experts have recently said the huge subsidies given to fossil fuel industries must be curbed if we are to cut carbon emissions. Campaigners have added that the government must instead fund green energy projects, in order to help reduce fuel poverty, cut emissions and help investors.

Experts warn that we need renewable projects to transition to a greener world – in line with EU targets to cut fossil fuels before global warming reaches dangerous levels.

“A much better use of this money would be to invest in clean, sustainable ways to help keep the lights on such as cutting energy waste and building interconnectors with Europe, storage, and smart demand management,” added Aldridge.

Photo: jonasclemens via Flickr

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Further reading:

Fossil fuel subsidies preventing transition to low-carbon economy

European commission sets out future energy strategy

MPs call for cuts to fossil fuel subsidies, not green levies

Green subsidies should be cut to reduce bills, report says

Changes to solar subsidies threatens jobs and investor confidence

Economy

A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon

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energy efficient homes

Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.

There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.

1. The Rise Of Smart Windows

When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.

If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.

2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs

If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.

Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.

3. Low-E Windows Taking Over

It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.

They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.

4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges

Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.

The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.

5. Improving Our Current LEDs

Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.

That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.

Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too

Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.

ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244

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Economy

IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”

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IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.

Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.

Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:

“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.

We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.

There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.

We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”

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