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Greg Barker: UK renewables ‘extremely attractive’ for investors



Britain is an “extremely attractive” place for investment in renewable energy, the energy minister Greg Barker has said.

Speaking ahead of the release of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) latest report, which looks at the mitigation of climate change, he noted how the UK was consistently ranked among the best countries for investing in renewables.

A recent ongoing study from consultancy firm EY placed the UK fifth in the world in this respect – though this was one place lower than the previous ranking, due to political uncertainty and a range of “mixed signals” for investors.

However, Barker – the Conservative MP for Bexhill and Battle – told Blue & Green Tomorrow, “The scope for investment in the UK is huge. Between 2013 and 2020 we need up to £110 billion of investment in electricity infrastructure, including over £40 billion in renewables and our ambition is that at least 30% of our electricity will come from renewables.

To support this we have taken significant steps to reform the electricity market to make it more attractive to investors. The Energy Act 2013, for instance, will has introduce a raft of reforms that will build the UK’s first ever low-carbon electricity market. This includes contracts for difference which reduce the risks faced by generators and increase revenue certainty, backed by a long-term contract.”

The latest IPCC report, released on Sunday, concludes that green investment must triple in order to sufficiently decarbonise the energy sector and keep global warming below a 2C threshold.

Despite overwhelming evidence to suggest human activity is driving climate change – something that around 97% of climate scientists agree on – certain sections of the media, business and politics continue to either deny it is happening or question mankind’s influence.

Perhaps most notably in the political arena, the environment secretary Owen Paterson has hinted that he may not fully agree with the science of climate change. In September last year, he said Britain may even see advantages from having a warmer climate. The government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Mark Walport, later told MPs not to expect such benefits, adding that the effects in the long-term will be harmful.

Barker has previously claimed that no members of the cabinet questioned the need to act on dangerous climate change. But asked about the voices who loudly and publicly deny the scientific evidence of climate change, he said, “There is an overwhelming consensus from the scientific community that the Earth’s climate is changing due to human influence and that this will have catastrophic effects. 

The World Meteorological Office recently reported that, over the last decade, extreme weather events resulted in a death toll of more 370,000 worldwide, and the economic damage was estimated at $660 billion. That is why this government has adopted some of the most ambitious climate change targets in the world to tackle the threat and is working internationally for a global deal to limit climate change.”

An MP since 2001, Barker was appointed energy and climate change minister after the 2010 general election. His work at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been largely praised, at a time when the government is being questioned by green groups over its desire to pursue shale gas through fracking.

In his four years at DECC, Barker has emerged as a particular champion for solar power, and at the beginning of this month, launched plans to turn factories, supermarkets and car parks into ‘solar hubs’ as part of the government’s new Solar Strategy. This followed the release of the Community Energy Strategy in January.

Further reading:

Investments in renewables must increase, warns UN

Government sets out plans for ‘solar hubs’

EY: ‘political point scoring’ leaving UK renewables sector in state of uncertainty

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

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


7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption



Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions |

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

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Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis




Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey 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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