Public buildings and green offices are expected to be the main beneficiaries as Government announces the allocation of £100m fund to the UK’s first Green Investment Bank. Thoughts are still positive that the bank will be opened for business by the end of the year this is even more likely now that UK Green Investments (UKGI) has finally assigned the investment budget.
However this budget is specifically for non domestic projects and the two specified fund managers Equitix and Sustainable Development Capital (SDC) have been charged with finding opportunities for investment of the cash out with the domestic energy efficiency sector.
The UK’s Business Secretary Vince Cable has declared the announcement as a show of “good progress” from the Government. He continued” Projects the fund managers invest in will help to save energy and meet the government’s carbon reduction targets”
Regardless of all the positives at the moment the Green Investment Bank cannot officially be launched without the state aid approval from the EU. However the majority of people are confident this will have happened by the end of the year.
Confidence of the state aid being approved is high as the GIB has been somewhat modelled on the existing infrastructure already in place for banks throughout other European nations like Germany.
In an effort to increase the pace of investment in the Green Economy the Department for Business, Innovations and Skills have already allocated £80m of the £100m fund towards tackling waste projects and are now appointing more fund managers to tackle the non domestic energy efficiency sector.
With all these plans in place just waiting for an EU go ahead it must surely be casting some uncertainty over the energy efficiency sector and investment.
This is a great video from National Geographic about the renewable energy technology and where it is going. One of the most refreshing things about this video is that is more objective than most and is trying to highlight the benefits of pursuing renewable energy as a sustainable means of generating power.
It’s well worth a watch (it is under 3 minutes long) as not only is it informative but extremely relevant given the current disagreements in the UK at the moment regarding using renewable energy as a major power source.
Perhaps one day, when we hear the phrase ‘renewable energy island’ it will refer to the UK mainland. For the time being, though, it refers instead to the Danish island of Samsø, which has a small population of 4300 people but a big reputation for renewables.
Once relying entirely on fossil fuels shipped across from the mainland, Samsø’s energy profile would have been fairly typical for a place of its population and geographical location - but over time the islanders have adapted according to the renewables model and can now boast an impressive percentage of its energy coming from wind farms, solar panels and so on, cutting the island’s carbon footprint massively. In fact, according to the island’s official site (follow the above link) not only are the island’s electricity needs provided for by the wind turbines – there’s enough left over for the islanders to export clean energy to other parts of the country.
So, how did one small island near the Jutland peninsula become so self-reliant in energy terms – could it be coincidence, or simply sheer hard work?
Well, it all started back in the 90s when the island won a government competition to take part in becoming a model renewable energy community. An engineer from Aarhus had studied the island’s wind speed and sunshine hours and put forward the island for the programme. And the rest is history – there’s a good detailed post on Samsø’s history here.
The UK’s green energy juggernaut may be grinding to a halt, with reports that the big six are now involved in a gas race and are not focusing so much on the construction of green energy facilities. Fears are growing that this change in policy could put the current climate change targets beyond the UK’s capabilities.
This new direction also means that British households will continue paying a higher rate for their bills. For an indication as to how much the UK industry has slowed, only half of the amount of wind turbines built last year have been built this year. Throughout last year there was 1,192MW of wind power added to the grid yet this year it has only reached around 540MW. This is a stark contrast to the 30GW of new gas fired power stations that are going through the planning stages just now. The problem is people know the gas powered plants cost in the tens of billions of £’s most of which will be coming from the big six – now as you can imagine that certainly doesn’t leave a lot for investment in green technology.
At the moment gas is still cheaper than renewable energy and the fact that we rely so heavily upon gas is proving expensive – hence the rise in energy bills.
However is there any other choice? Should Britain go for the quick win with gas or continue to spend on green energy?
This year’s Energy Customer Satisfaction Awards held no real surprises with all of the ‘big six’ experiencing an overall drop in their customer satisfaction ratings. However this is almost certainly to be expected given that the year has been punctuated by rising energy costs and a number of fines for various incidents.
That being said out of all the companies SSE should still be extremely happy after coming top in no less than 8 out of 11 categories. Not to mention winning the coveted Overall Satisfaction Award for the 8th time in a row.
Eon managed to walk away with two of the awards: Reward schemes and Energy efficiency.
Whilst British gas managed to top the Online services survey.
Polar EV is a new home charging solution whereby you become a member and for a monthly fee they will set you up with everything you need to keep your vehicle charged. It’s started to receive a bit more publicity since SSE launched POWERFUEL their new electric car friendly tariff.
In light of that I thought we could have a look at this home charge solution and see how it measures up.
A standard membership includes:
- A wall charger for your home. It has a lifetime guarantee and is future proofed with 32A capability.
- Full unlimited access to over 4000 public charging bays throughout the country.
- A free iphone/ipad app giving you the location and availability.
The interesting part is it’s only £29.50 a month which for the sake of convenience and ensuring you don’t get caught short, seems like a great deal.
Just remember you still have to pay your electricity bill.
Are any of you members of the Polar EV membership? Share your thoughts and comments.
Every day there are news stories on the topic of renewables. Take today (January 24th) for example – we have the news of possible wind farm agglomeration in the Humber region, following the decision by Siemens to build an £80 million facility there. This is potentially great news for the area, and it probably won’t be the only area seeing this kind of thing happen in the near future.
Sometimes the news is about slightly more out there kinds of fuels, such as biofuels from algae, or fuel made from animal waste. These may develop to be commercially viable fuel sources, but are unlikely to be anything other than marginal.
So, which renewable energy type will be the most developed, provide the most energy, and have the biggest impact by the end of the decade?
So far, it definitely looks like wind power – it’s growing at a faster pace than any of us would have imagined even five years ago. But don’t write off solar energy just yet – breakthroughs will be made in the photovoltaics industry, for sure. Imagine a window that is also a solar cell – these are the kind of things to expect to see in the coming years. Then there’s also hydrogen cell technology, which is being taken seriosuly by the Japanese car manufacturers.
Skykon, the wind turbine manufacturer with a plant in Argyle & Bute, has gone into administration – what this means for the Scottish renewables sector in the medium term is unclear, but in the short term it looks like the companies difficulties were perhaps inevitable. Governments are cuttign back on spending, and wind turbines are one of the first things they’re cutting back on.
The unfortunate thing is that when a company such as Skykon goes into administration, it’s sometimes characterised as a failing of the entire renewables industry – which of course it isn’t. That would be akin to predicting the end of the automobile industry every time a car manufacturer pulls into the hard shoulder.
Renewables in Scotland will see plenty of activity in the coming years, and like in any industry there won’t always be good news – some companies will do well, others won’t – that’s the nature of commerce. But given the high government targets for energy from renewables one thing is for certain: renewable energy ain’t going away…
Front page news on the Scottish edition of The Times at the weekend there, a report on Mitsubishi’s big announcement – £100 million to make Edinburgh and the Lothians into a ‘green energy hub’, with the possible creation of a giant wind turbine and possibly 200 jobs.
This is great news not just for the local area, but for the whole of the UK. Because it means that there is real genuine interest in green technologies from successful commercial organisations: not lip service, not politics, but big business.