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Renewable Electricity Growth is Strong, But New Government Data Reveal Overall Energy Policy Failure

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New statistics released by the Department of Energy and Climate Change today have revealed significant increases in the installation of new renewable electricity capacity, over a period where overall electricity generation fell.

Renewable electricity in 2015 made up 24.7% of the overall electricity generated in the UK, a record-breaking achievement and up 28.8% from 2014 when renewables generated 19.1% of the country’s electricity.

An area of strong growth was in solar PV, where total electricity generation reached 7.6 TWh, an increase of 86% from 2014

The government understands that it needs to reach a target of 30% renewable electricity by 2020 to meet its legally binding 2020 targets. Given present growth rates it appears likely that this will take place.

Analysis by the Renewable Energy Association reveals that this may not be enough. The legally binding 2020 renewable energy targets include both heat and transport, two sectors where the government is set to miss their decarbonisation targets. As such, to meet the overall binding target the electricity sector will have to go even further, hitting 44% to 45% sourced from renewables by 2020.

2015’s renewable electricity growth rate of 5% would need to continue year-on-year to achieve the 44% to 45% renewable electricity mark. Recent policy changes makes achieving this unlikely.

Groups such as the Committee on Climate Change have acknowledged in government committee hearings that the UK is presently likely to miss its heat and transport targets.

Headline statistics in today’s publication includes:

  • Total electricity generation in the UK fell by ½ per cent
  • As of February 2016, overall UK solar PV capacity stood at 9,213 MW across 867,876 installations.

o   Electricity generated from Solar PV increased to 7.6 TWh in 2015, and increase of 86.6% from 2014.

  • Renewable electricity generation reached 26.9 per cent of the total generated in Q4 2016.
  • Industrial electricity prices remain unchanged in real terms in Q4 2015 compared to Q4 2014.

James Court, Head of Policy and External Affairs at the REA said: “On the face of it, it appears that the government will meet its renewable electricity target of 30 per cent by 2020. In reality, due to the significant failure to increase the rate of renewables in the heating and transport sectors, the REA projects that we will clearly miss our overall renewable energy target.

We would have to meet the target of 44 to 45 per cent renewable electricity by 2020 to achieve our legal targets. There is a desperate need for policy certainty and a clear electricity plan that doesn’t gamble everything on new nuclear, in addition to urgent action for renewable heat and transport.”

Lauren Cook, Solar Policy Analyst for UK Solar, a sector group of the REA said: “The 62% increase in number of solar PV deployments since February 2015 is extraordinary and represents the success that is possible when a collaborative and supportive government policy is coupled with an innovative and driven industry.

This increase took place under the old policy framework. The Government cuts that kicked in this January are beginning to bite- solar PV deployment from January to February 2016 was 92 per cent lower than between January to February 2015.

We’re looking to work constructively with Government to remove the many barriers to solar PV deployment that have been erected since the General Election. We are frustrated that these barriers, including the severe cuts to the Feed-in Tariff and proposed tax policy changes, will slow the uptake of solar, and ultimately delay the time it takes to reach cost-parity.“

Clare Wenner, Head of Renewable Transport Fuels at the REA said: “The need for renewable and low-carbon fuels, such as sustainable bioethanol and biodiesel now is clearly urgent, as this new data shows that people are driving more and transport fuel use, and transport carbon emissions, are increasing.“

Responding to the DECC energy trends survey released today, Juliet Davenport OBE, chief executive of renewable energy company Good Energy said:

“Yet again renewables are really proving their worth and it’s fantastic to see record amounts of electricity generated by renewable sources.

“Renewables have shown incredible growth in the last few years and are leading the way when it comes to making the UK more energy secure in the future.”

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

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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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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