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Wales Reaches Top Of Renewable Progress Leagues



Renewable Revoloutions by Gerry Machen via flickr

Leagues tables ranking the progress on renewable energies over the past year, published by think tank Green Alliance, have indicated that Gwnedd and Mid Glamorgan are the most improved solar and wind power counties respectively.

The solar progress league table reveals that new solar power installations in the past year have been strongly concentrated in England’s eastern counties. However, it is not the UK’s sunnier areas but Gwynedd in north Wales which takes top place for new solar.

The picture for onshore wind is more even, with counties in the East Midlands and North West doing well, but they were pipped to the post by Mid Glamorgan in south Wales.

Cambridgeshire is not only one of the top three improvers for both solar and onshore wind power; it is also top overall for solar power, with a total of 235 MW installed – enough to power more than 50,000 homes.

These findings come as the UK joins more than 190 countries in Marrakech calling for the highest political commitment to fight climate change, in the face of a threat from President-elect Trump that he will pull out of the international agreement. The ‘Marrakech Action Proclamation’ has been described by the climate minister, Nick Hurd MP, as a “clear signal” of the unity around this issue.

The cost of renewable technologies continues to fall, with onshore wind now cheaper than new gas plants, and solar costs dropping dramatically in recent years. Renewables have become fundamental to the UK’s electricity system, providing a quarter of the country’s power in 2015. And, according to official government statistics, public support for renewables remains solid, above 76 per cent.

Amy Mount, head of the Greener UK unit at Green Alliance, said:

“Following the UK’s ratification of the Paris climate agreement last week these data bring it home, showing that progress in tackling climate change isn’t just about world leaders making deals – though they’re very important. It’s as much about the actions of communities and businesses here in the UK, who are gradually transforming our power system into one that’s pollution-free and fit for the twenty-first century.”

Welsh Government Cabinet Secretary for the Environment and Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths, said:

“I am pleased Wales is leading the way in the UK on progress in wind and solar power. We have committed to supporting the development of more renewable energy projects in our Programme for Government and this progress clearly supports our decarbonisation agenda. These technologies provide affordable low carbon energy, which can help secure a smarter energy future for Wales.”

Councillor Mandy Williams-Davies, Gwynedd Council Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economy and Community matters, said:

“We have a long tradition of energy production in Gwynedd, and we are pleased that there has been a rise in terms of the production of solar energy within the county. This is of environmental, social and economic benefit to the county as a whole. The Council’s carbon management plan has already reduced the carbon emissions of Council properties by 35,000 tonnes and delivered £3.1 million cumulative revenue savings over recent years. This, along with other renewable developments within the county, are obviously helping to deliver real improvements in Gwynedd’s production of renewable energy.”

Robert Proctor, business development manager for Community Energy Wales, said:

“We are delighted that Community Energy is playing a significant role in Wales. Projects such as Awel Coop, a 4.7MW wind farm currently under construction, show what can be achieved through community ownership. Community Energy projects are also leading the way in developing new business models that promote a greater link between local supply and demand. Cyd Ynni in Gwynedd are pioneering a pilot project with Ynni Ogwen and Energy Local to deliver locally generated energy directly to local people which could transform the way energy is used. With over £5 million raised through community share offers over the last three years to invest in schemes like these, it demonstrates that there is a growing interest in supporting the democratisation of our energy.”


Are the UK Governments Plans for the Energy Sector Smart?



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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4 Case Studies on the Benefits of Solar Energy




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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