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Scotland’s First Minister demands Whitehall “respect” for renewable energy

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Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is using her increased political muscle to fight the corner of the Scottish renewable energy industry in the wake of planned subsidy cuts.

The SNP leader has written to Prime Minister David Cameron to demand “respect” for her nation’s world-leading position on the development of clean energy. In her 700-word letter, the First Minister outlined her concern at the UK Government’s decision to end the Renewables Obligation early to highlight the impact on business and investor confidence north of the border.

She also called on the PM to ensure that all planned onshore wind projects at any stage in the planning system remain eligible for subsidy support.

The full text of the First Minister’s letter:

Dear David

Thank you for your recent response to my letter of 18 June concerning support for onshore wind projects under the Renewables Obligation.

Your response touched on the grace periods proposed by the Secretary of State for Energy to apply following the UK Government’s early removal of previously planned support for onshore wind power under the RO.

As you know, your government’s proposed change in policy on support for onshore wind will have a disproportionate impact on Scotland with 70 per cent of affected developments located here. This comes despite the Scottish Government’s support for the onshore wind sector proving popular at successive elections in Scotland, and your plans proving unpopular. Indeed DECC’s own polling shows support for onshore wind at 71 per cent.

Given the disproportionate impact of your new policy on Scotland, I ask that with regard to the grace period for developments in Scotland you take a flexible approach and ensure that all planned projects at any stage in the planning system remain eligible.

I want also to highlight the impact on business and investor confidence, and the comments made by the CBI regarding grace periods. As you will be aware the CBI has made clear its concern stating: “Cutting the Renewables Obligation scheme early sends a worrying signal about the stability of the UK’s energy policy framework. This is a blow, not just to the industry, and could damage our reputation as a good place to invest in energy infrastructure.” With reference to grace periods, the CBI says: “It is right that an appropriate grace period is put in place to account for projects where significant investments have already been made. The Government must now work closely with industry to get the details right.”

Given your party has traditionally prided itself on being supportive of business; it is concerning that you are taking such an anti-business approach on this issue.

I also wish to stress my concern about the implications of the policy for UK leadership on climate change at this year’s crucial UN talks in Paris. So far this year you have spoken out on climate change pledging “to accelerate the transition to a competitive, energy efficient low carbon economy”. You have also indicated “It is in our national interest to act and ensure others act with us” and you have spoken of the need to get the private sector involved, saying: “The UK is already playing its part, but we need to do more to get the private sector involved, fostering research and innovation into new clean energies, and supporting growth and jobs”.

However your government’s decision to cut planned support for clean green renewable energy could not come at a worse time given the forthcoming climate talks and shows a complete lack of leadership on climate change. It sets an extremely bad example to other countries, will put at risk Scotland’s renewable energy targets, and also runs counter to your manifesto commitment to “cut emissions as cost-effectively as possible”. A flexible approach to grace periods in Scotland would at least show understanding of the need to provide leadership on low carbon energy in the run up to the Paris talks.

The narrowing of electricity capacity margins to as low as zero, highlighted by both National Grid and Ofgem in the last week, makes clear that, from a security of supply perspective, now is not the time to halt planned energy developments that can help keep the lights on across these islands. This yet again strengthens the need to allow Scottish developments to proceed.

I ask that you consider the points above and show respect for Scotland’s position as a world leader in low carbon energy by ensuring maximum flexibility in the grace period in Scotland.

Finally, I note that your government has now postponed an announcement on Contracts for Difference until the autumn despite previous commitments to publish budget information and strike prices this month. This unwarranted delay compounds the uncertainty hanging over the entire renewables sector and will further erode investor confidence in the UK energy market. I seek your reassurance that both the Scottish Government and the renewables industry is properly consulted in advance of any policy changes.

NICOLA STURGEON

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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