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Liverpool will host three-week International Festival for Business 2016



The International Festival for Business 2016 (IFB2016) will showcase the UK’s leadership in green technology, shale exploration, nuclear power and offshore wind technology. The three-week festival will include leadership events, conferences and one-to-one appointments with suppliers, buyers and investors, export and investment opportunities.

IFB2016 is expected to attract more than 30,000 delegates from the UK and overseas, it will be a buzzing marketplace for companies to create connections and do deals. The festival takes place in Liverpool over three themed weeks from 13 June to 1 July.

The second week of the festival will see UK Business Secretary Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP address the Federation of Small Business at an event, with international opportunities for small businesses in the Northern Powerhouse at the heart of its agenda.

Ian McCarthy, Festival Director of IFB2016, said: “For Energy & Environment week at IFB2016 we have brought together an exceptional series of events that both showcase UK capability, expertise and leadership and open up a wide range of investment and trade opportunities for both UK and overseas companies.

“The Festival will be a platform to highlight the UK shale industry, bring together leaders in biofuels and demonstrate how renewable technologies will shape tomorrow’s energy production. The richness and range of events, under one roof and over a few days makes this the must visit energy sector event of 2016.

“The UK Government’s support for IFB2016 is demonstrated by the scale and quality of the UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) events programme, providing the opportunity for business to investigate how to work with the UK government in both international technology transfer and investment in UK energy infrastructure.”

The festival in former European Capital of Culture, Liverpool, at the Exhibition Centre, a state-of-the-art event complex on the city’s iconic waterfront. There will be a rich and varied cultural programme for delegates to enjoy and in addition to the events outlined below, there is a day programme of ‘Blue Skies’ activity that takes in informal talks from global figures, business leaders and innovative thinkers.

The programme for Energy and Environment week at IFB2016 highlights global advances across the industries that will shape energy production in the future. The festival includes a week of international leadership events, including:

Federation of Small Businesses: From Northern Powerhouse to Global Markets (20th June) – Small firms aiming to use the Northern Powerhouse’s international profile to boost their export sales will hear from keynote speaker UK Business Secretary Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP and other business leaders 

Energy 2016: Risk, Resilience and Cyber Security of Global Supplies (21st June) – Speakers from the US Department of Homeland Security, European Commission, UK Power Networks and National Grid will address changes in the global energy mix, bring international perspectives on security and resilience in infrastructure. In addition, energy gaps, new infrastructures, technological innovation and incentives for investment will be considered.

OLEOFUELS 2016 (21st-22nd June) – A two-day conference that will bring together the leading executives and experts from across the UK and EU to debate the future of fuels made from oils & fats including biodiesel. The event includes a site visit to the ReFuel Energy plant in Knowsley. Key speakers include Javier Vila od Petrofac, Stephen Leisner of Bio Oil Group, Ralf Scmidt of Bioeton Deutschland and Nuno Correia of Prio Energy

International Circular Economy, Resource Efficiency and Eco-Innovation (22nd June) – An innovation event covering technology developments in eco-innovation, low carbon and energy efficiency

International Shale Conference 2016 (22nd-24th June) – the UK’s definitive guide to the potential of oil and gas shale within the UK

UKTI will be showcasing the Government’s support and investment in UK energy opportunities to both invest in the UK and for UK companies to export technology globally. These events will cover the following areas:

2017 and beyond – Energy Industry Challenges & Solutions (20th June) – The event will also look at how technologies and the future demands on them will contribute towards global carbon reduction targets in the next 30 years. Speakers include Philip New (Chief Executive – Energy Systems Catapult)

Oil & Gas: Connecting the UK’s Capabilities to the World (21st June) – An event including interactive discussions with leading experts and senior business executives. It will provide a unique networking opportunity for both regional and international oil and gas communities. Speakers include Jon Fredrik Muller of Rystad Energy

Green Finance: Changing the Colour of Money (22nd June) – This roundtable event will bring together UK and international investors, industry practitioners and senior policy makers to increase momentum in both the UK’s green finance offering

From Innovation to Industrialisation: How UK Renewables are Delivering Global Carbon Reduction (23rd June) – Influential players from the renewable energy industry will discuss current and future ambitions for implementing the renewable technologies that will contribute to global carbon reduction targets.

Selling your Products and Services to Global Aid Organisations (25th June) – Delegates will hear from, and have the chance to have 1-2-1 meetings with, UKTI specialists from Washington, New York, Geneva, Brussels, Manila and Abidjan.

In addition to the events focused on the energy and environment sectors, IFB2016 offers services through the free membership of the IFB2016 Business Club. They include inspiring talks from leaders in the fields of business, innovation and technology as well as:

“Meet Your Future Deal” – one-to-one appointments with suppliers, buyers and investors, export and investment opportunities.

“Meet the Specialist Advisor” a range of free international business services including legal, financial and marketing advice.

World-renowned events – including Wireless Global Gongress, TEDx, Accelerate 2016 and the Horasis Global Meeting.

Delivered by Liverpool Vision in partnership with UK Trade & Investment, the Great Britain Campaign, IFB2016 will feature the Great British Showcase – an exhibition of UK innovation, technology, design and creativity – the Exporting is Great Export Hub, and a changing, interactive display of UK industry sectors and inward-investment opportunities.

IFB2016 will highlight the UK as the go-to place to do business and will build on the success of IFB2014, which attracted companies from 92 countries and facilitated export and investment deals worth over £280 million.

Attending the festival is free, but to get involved with the many and varied aspects of the festival, delegates must register for the IFB2016 Business Club here.

Membership of the IFB2016 Business Club will give representatives and visitors access to free advice from specialists in legal, accounting, translation, regulation and exporting. In addition, there is a digital matching service that will arrange meetings from delegations looking to do deals. Finally, all the details of the attendees at events that a visitor registers for thorough the IFB2016 Business Club will be available.


What Should We Make of The Clean Growth Strategy?



Clean Growth Strategy for green energy
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By 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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How Much Energy Does Bitcoin Use, Really?



how much energy bitcoin requires
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Chinnapong |

Many headlines have capitalized on the rapid rise of Bitcoin’s value. However, there’s a darker side of things that may entirely escape people’s awareness — the vast energy usage associated with Bitcoin mining. The practice involves adding information about transactions to a publicly accessible record called the blockchain.

Bitcoin miners increase the amounts of the cryptocurrency they own by being involved in mining. That means there is a built-in incentive to start mining and keep doing it. The energy consumption associated with mining may not be as visible as it is in traditional types of mining because everything happens in the digital realm — however, it’s exceptionally high, which is a cause of concern to many individuals in the know.

The Rise in Value Brings About Higher Energy Consumption

It’s not hard to find impressive headlines and news stories about how the value of Bitcoin has soared over the last few months. Many people even suspect they’ll soon witness the inevitable burst of a “Bitcoin bubble.” Miners are taking advantage of the current boom, though, which involves depending on power-sapping computers and related equipment.

In the early days of Bitcoin, it was possible to mine on basic home computer setups. Now, the most dedicated miners invest in the best computers around. In some cases, that means the machines they use are quite energy efficient, which is a good thing. However, the purchase of equipment that uses electricity well isn’t enough to make a significant dent in the overall Bitcoin energy usage.

The Approximate Energy Usage Statistics Vary

When you start doing in-depth research about just how much energy consumption Bitcoin demands, be prepared to come across many different figures. Although people are doing diligent research, they still can’t reach an agreement. For example, according to statistics from the Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index, the annual energy usage is just under 32 terawatt hours.

That’s the estimate for per-year energy use of Serbia and more than 150 other countries. However, analysts find it impossible to reach a unified conclusion about the per-transaction energy consumption for Bitcoins.

Figures from Digiconomist estimate one Bitcoin transaction takes 255 kilowatt-hours of power — or enough to power an American household for more than eight days. Marc Bevand, another analyst, disagrees with that figure, though his remarks on the matter are not as specific. He discusses how many of the highly publicized statistics fail to account for the technological innovations that occur as equipment improves.

He gives the example of an S9, which is a standard piece of Bitcoin equipment, claiming 16% of the S9’s revenues went towards electricity costs. If that figure is more accurate, it would mean each Bitcoin transaction uses enough power to keep an American residence going for just under four days.

Bitcoin Miners May Be Able to Branch Out From Cryptocurrency

Some Bitcoin miners are attracted to their trade for more reasons than just the lucrative and ballooning prices of the coins. People from a wide variety of industries, from banking to insurance, are looking at uses for blockchain technology. In the insurance sector, fraud costs $40 billion per year, but the verification method that miners understand and work with dramatically reduces fraud and makes blockchain appealing to insurance professionals.

Also, banks are increasingly researching Blockchain as a supplement to their current methods. As the prominence in the market goes up, the allure of being a Bitcoin miner does, too.

Also, going back to Bitcoin specifically, as the value of each coin goes up, people become more motivated than ever to invest in better technologies that help them remain profitable for as long as possible. When all these factors combine, it’s not hard to understand why energy consumption rises.

Do Banks Use More Energy Than Bitcoins?

Some analysts argue that even if the energy demanded by Bitcoins is exceptionally high, it’s still not at the level of energy used by banks. To keep things in perspective, it’s important to realize that the banking industry keeps its total energy usage figures under wraps, leaving people to do lots of speculating.

One analyst determined there are approximately 30,000 banks in the world, and each one has ATM networks, offices and other components that require electricity. When adding all the relevant factors together, the final figure this individual came up with is that banks use about 100 terawatts of power per year, less than the earlier-cited figure related to Bitcoins.

However, people have given opinions that the amount is too conservative. It does not include the energy used by bank employees, such as when employees drive to their offices or fly to meet clients. It bears mentioning, though, that the Bitcoin figures mentioned in this piece probably don’t either.

There are countless statistics about Bitcoin energy usage, and most of them are not promising. But instead of reading a few of them and immediately feeling shocked, it’s important for people to take a broad look at the findings and reach their own intelligent conclusions based on the collective research.

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