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The Implications of Paris Climate Talks are Clear for UK Energy and Industry Sector Carbon Clean-up



Today, the UK Committee on Climate Change (CCC) spells out what the political agreement made at the COP21 climate talks in Paris means for UK climate policy, including energy, industry and transport. At those talks, 195 nations pledged to keep global warming to less than 2°C, and to aspire to keep global warming to less than 1.5°C. This means that today’s net release of fossil and biomass carbon into the atmosphere must decline rapidly. So that, by 2050, every tonne of carbon released or used in fuels, manufacturing, products, and services has to be either eliminated – by substituting different energy sources and production methods – or has to be captured and stored securely for the long-term in deep geology, in soil or in weathered minerals. Reductions of present day emissions must decrease by at least 2% year-on-year from now until 2050.

The UK Conservative Government came to power in May 2015 using a manifesto alluding to the “greenest government ever” and promising £1 billion for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS). This government’s legacy from its first 8 months has been a systematic and unprecedented pull-back from financial incentives for all types of low-carbon electricity production, energy efficiency, and financing of “green” commercialisation.

Of particular note was the cancellation on 25 November, separate from the Chancellor’s Autumn Spending Review speech, of the 10-year, multi-government, cross-party support for constructing Europe’s first CCS projects. These projects had been 40 months in detailed development. The Peterhead project led by Shell and SSE would be the first CCS project on gas power in the world. This is of particular relevance to the UK because of the government’s ambition to construct multiple gas-fuelled power plant as replacements for about 30% of UK electricity generation from coal and nuclear (which will be retired during the 2020s).

When attempting to explain the cancellation of CCS, unsubstantiated reasons were stated by different government ministers, from “not working yet”, and “only a long-term need” to “costs £170 per Megawatt hour compared to gas at half that” – all have been shown to be untrue by expert witnesses to the Energy and Climate Change Committee (ECCC).

Fundamental problems are that the first projects of any new technology are deliberately more expensive so that they will work; and the Prime Minister and others in government are choosing to quote CCS numbers that include costs of pipes and boreholes, which are not included in the costs quoted for gas or nuclear – because these are national infrastructure asset costs.

The CCC letter today recommends that their proposed budget to 2032 is a minimum, and suggests that government must be prepared to do more, not less, in order to reduce total UK domestic carbon emissions in line with the Paris agreement objectives. The committee also notes that increased decarbonisation ambition will be needed by the European Union. In short, we need to make more reductions. For that, CCS is essential and an urgent plan is needed for a minimum of 7GW clean power by 2030, and support for industry decarbonisation.

The CCC also appears to bear out what expert witnesses told the ECC – that the first CCS projects will deliver at a strike price of £170 / MW hr but then drop to £110/MW hr.

The CCC letter today makes clear that rapid delivery of CCS is part of the least-cost package of techniques and technologies to achieve UK carbon budgets. And that failure to deliver CCS will have wide and costly consequences across the UK economy. To achieve that, the UK needs at least two CCS projects operating by 2020, and a development of five more following on from those.

Professor Stuart Haszeldine, SCCS Director, said: “To stay on track in the ‘high ambition coalition’ of leading nations agreed in Paris climate talks, the UK needs to do a lot more on UK electricity, and a lot more on UK low-carbon industry and low-carbon heat. But now this government is doing a lot less. There is no sign yet that facts, unbiased scientific evidence and rationality are regarded as more important than lobbying by corporations and colleagues wishing to take the UK back to the 1960s energy mix. It’s a choice between spending £40 per household in 2016 or spending £200 per household each year from 2050. We can afford it.”

Through delaying CCS development for at least 10 years, the UK will fail to demonstrate the commercial-scale operation of CCS on gas power plant and, additionally, will fail to demonstrate the collaboration of different types of companies in the UK’s uniquely disaggregated electricity market. It will also fail to build the first geographic centres of pipeline infrastructure essential to transport CO2, and will fail to demonstrate the secure integrity of UK geological storage of CO2. This means that, even if the UK attempts a future “buy in” of CCS capture equipment from the US, China or Canada, there will be many years of recovery time, rebuilding and re-skilling of people and infrastructure, which are right now being lost through decommissioning of the North Sea offshore industries.


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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