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Scottish Conference On The Next Steps For The Biomass Heat Industry

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Scottish Conference On The Next Steps For The Biomass Heat Industry

Months of policy instability and uncertainty have meant that installations in several heat-and-power sectors have slowed since the last annual conference of the UK’s wood heating and combined-heat-and-power (CHP) industries.

Much is to be discussed on the 28th and 29th of November this year in at the Wood Heat Association’s annual conference in Edinburgh. Now boasting nearly 11,800 jobs and as many of 590 companies in 2014/15 (accounting to REView 2016), the sectors that have delivered the majority of the UK’s heat decarbonisation to date face an unprecedented challenge.

Driving 2016’s difficulties have been the Government’s consultation into the Renewable Heat Incentive scheme. Nearly eight months of uncertainty regarding the sector’s future levels of support by Government have deterred investors and made the development of new plants a difficulty. Investor confidence was not bolstered in July when the Government tabled an amendment in the Commons introducing unforeseen reductions in the tariffs for certain CHP plants. With industry only receiving 21 days’ notice, the amendments put over £140m of investment at risk.

In September the sector rallied behind Andrew Percy, Minister for the Northern Powerhouse at an All-Party Group event in Parliament as he spoke of the economic benefits that the biomass supply chain brings to the North. Mr Percy’s sentiments were shared by Angus MacNeil MP (former chair of the Commons’ Energy and Climate Change Select Committee) and Nigel Adams MP.

Additionally, recently Jessie Norman MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Industry and Energy acknowledged (19 October 2016) that BEIS would introduce a transition period for many of the biomass CHP plants impacted by the legislation introduced in July.

Now, the industry is looking forward to the publication of the Government’s response to the Renewable Heat Incentive consultation, which hopefully will restore confidence in the biomass heat sector.

Other topics that will be discussed at the conference, which will focus on good practice in the industry, will include:

· Good practice in district heating design
· The outlook for biomass heat and CHP, with speakers from BEIS and Ofgem;
· Emissions from biomass boilers;
· Biomass fire and explosion risks;
· The Biomass Suppliers List and Sustainable Fuel Register

The 2016 WHA Conference is sponsored by the Forestry Commission Scotland, Rehau, Close Brothers Asset Finance, and Schiedel Chimney Systems.

Decarbonising heat is one of the most challenging sectors and the Wood Heat 2016 Conference in Edinburgh will be critical to discussing how the industry will adapt

Frank Aaskov, renewable heat analyst at the Wood Heat Association and the Renewable Energy Association said:

“I can’t recall a year of greater prolonged uncertainty for the biomass heat industry, which began months before the referendum vote. The actual number of projects being installed has certainly taken a hit, particularly on the domestic biomass boiler front. Decarbonising heat is one of the most challenging sectors and the Wood Heat 2016 Conference in Edinburgh will be critical to discussing how the industry will adapt and thrive in the future. The industry now looks forward to the outcome of the RHI consultation.”

Energy

Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?

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The revolution in the energy sector marches on, wind turbines and solar panels are harnessing more renewable energy than ever before – so where is it all leading?

The UK government have recently announced plans to modernise the way we produce, store and use electricity. And, if realised, the plans could be just the thing to bring the energy sector in line with 21st century technology and ideologies.

Central to the plans is an initiative that will see smart meters installed in homes and businesses the length and breadth of the country – and their aim? To create an environment where electricity can be managed more efficiently.

The news has prompted some speculation about how energy suppliers will react and many are predicting a price war. This could benefit consumers of electricity and investors, many of whom may be looking to make a profit by trading energy company shares online using platforms such as Oanda – but the potential for good news doesn’t end there.

Introducing New Technology

The plan, titled Smart Systems and Flexibility is being rolled out in the hope that it will have a positive impact in three core areas.

  • To offer consumers greater control by making smart meters available for all homes and businesses by 2020. Energy users will be able to monitor, control and record the amount of energy they use.
  • Incentivise energy suppliers to change the manner in which they buy electricity, to offer more smart tariffs and more off-peak periods for energy consumption.
  • Introduce new standards for electrical appliances – it is hoped that the new wave of appliances will recognise when electricity is at its cheapest and at its most expensive and respond accordingly.

How the Plans Will Affect Solar Energy

Around 7 million houses in the UK have solar panels and the government say that their plan will benefit them as they will be able to store electricity on batteries. The stored energy can then be used by the household and excess energy can be exported to the national grid – in this instance lower tariffs or even payment for the excess energy will bring down annual costs significantly.

The rate of return on energy exported to the national grid is currently between 6% and 10%, but there are many variables to take into account, such as, the cost of battery storage and light levels. Still, those with state-of-the-art solar electricity systems could end up with an annual profit after selling their excess energy.

The Internet of Things

Much of what the plans set out to achieve are linked to the now ubiquitous “internet of things” – where, for example, appliances and heating systems are connected to the internet in order to make them function more smartly.

Companies like Hive have already made great inroads into this type of technology, but the road that the government plans are heading down, will, potentially, go much further -blockchain technology looms and has already proved to be a game changer in the world of currency.

Blockchain Technology

It has already been suggested that the peer to peer selling of energy and exporting it to the national grid may eventually be done using blockchain technology.

“The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.”

Don and Alex Tapscott, Blockchain Revolution (2016)

The upshot of the government’s plans for the revolution of the energy sector, is that technology will play an indelible role in making it more efficient, more flexible and ultimately more sustainable.

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Energy

4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy

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Demand for solar energy is growing at a surprising rate. New figures from SolarPower Europe show that solar energy production has risen 50% since the summer of 2016.

However, many people are still skeptical of the benefits of solar energy.Does it actually make a significant reduction in our carbon footprint? Is it actually cost-effective for the company over the long-run?

A number of case studies have been conducted, which indicate solar energy can be enormously beneficial. Here are some of the most compelling studies on the subject.

1.     Boulder Nissan

When you think of companies that leverage solar power, car dealerships probably aren’t the first ones that come to mind. However, Boulder Nissan is highly committed to promoting green energy. They worked with Independent Power Systems to setup a number of solar cells. Here were the results:

  • Boulder Nissan has reduced coal generated electricity by 65%.
  • They are on track to run on 100% renewable energy within the next 13 years.
  • Boulder Nissan reduced CO2 emissions by 416,000 lbs. within the first year after installing their solar panels.

This is one of the most impressive solar energy case studies a small business has published in recent years. It shows that even small companies in rural communities can make a major difference by adapting solar energy.

2.     Valley Electric Association

In 2015, the Valley Electric Association (VEA) created an 80-acre solar garden. Before retiring from the legislature, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid praised the new project as a way to make the state more energy dependent and reduce our carbon footprint.

“This facility will provide its customers with the opportunity to purchase 100 percent of their electricity from clean energy produced in Nevada,” Reid told reporters with the Pahrump Valley Times. “That’s a step forward for the Silver State, but it also proves that utilities can work with customers to provide clean renewable energy that they demand.”

The solar energy that VEA produced was drastically higher than anyone would have predicted. SolarWorld estimates that the solar garden created 32,680,000 kwh every year, which was enough to power nearly 4,000 homes.

This was a major undertaking for a purple state, which may inspire their peers throughout the Midwest to develop solar gardens of their own. It will reduce dependency on the electric grid, which is a problem for many remote states in the central part of the country.

3.     Las Vegas Casinos

A number of Las Vegas casinos have started investing in solar panels over the last couple of years. The Guardian reports that many of these casinos have cut costs considerably. Some of them are even selling the energy back to the grid.

“It’s no accident that we put the array on top of a conference center. This is good business for us,” Cindy Ortega, chief sustainability officer at MGM Resorts told Guardian reporters. “We are looking at leaving the power system, and one of the reasons for that is we can procure more renewable energy on the open market.”

There have been many benefits for casinos using solar energy. They are some of the most energy-intensive institutions in the world, so this has helped them become much more cost-effective. It also helps minimize disruptions to their customers learning online keno strategies in the event of any problems with the electric grid.

4.     Boston College

Boston College has been committed to many green initiatives over the years. A group of researchers experimented with solar cells on different parts of the campus to see where they could produce the most electricity. They discovered that the best locationwas at St. Clement’sHall. The solar cells there dramatically. It would also reduce CO2 emissions by 521,702 lbs. a year and be enough to save 10,869 trees.

Boston College is exploring new ways to expand their usage of solar cells. They may be able to invest in more effective solar panels that can generate far more solar energy.

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