UK Faces Higher Energy Bills this Winter due to Limits on Renewables

higher energy costs

The current decision by the UK government to limit new renewable energy generation has disappointed the renewables industry. The industry sees this as a “missed opportunity” while the green campaign group, Greenpeace has berated government ministers for “outdated thinking”.

The government is restricting renewable installations by setting arbitrary limits on the amount of capacity that can be subsidised through the contracts for difference (CfD) scheme. This means that consumers will face higher energy bills than necessary this winter.  The limits are being supported despite the UK’s urgent campaign to stop importing Russian gas and to protect consumers from the full impact of soaring natural gas prices.

The way the system of “contracts for difference” works is by renewable energy generators bidding for contracts to produce power, but the government can set an overall limit on how much capacity it wants in the auctions as well as set limits on how much cash it is prepared to provide in the form of incentives.

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Ministers will authorise contracts for about 12GW of new renewable energy generation, to begin construction this year, with much of it likely to come on stream before the autumn of 2023. Although this is the biggest auction so far, the renewable energy industry has estimated that there are about 17.4GW of projects that have already been granted planning permission and are “shovel ready”. This includes 8.5GW of offshore wind, alongside 3.9GW of onshore wind and 5GW of solar. Greenpeace said that few of these projects will go ahead without the contracts that let generators lock in prices for their power.

This shortfall will result in consumers being deprived of the energy savings on bills that come from renewable energy. Renewable energy is now cheaper than fossil fuels which have risen to sky-high prices since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While onshore and offshore wind and solar power all now command about £40 per megawatt, gas fired power generation costs about £140 per megawatt hour. Increasing the amount of renewable capacity would help to ease energy prices and mean that households would feel less strain during the winter of 2023-2024 when bills are forecast to still be high. In fact, if the 12GW of new renewable energy generation the government is planning for this year had been available last winter, energy bills would have been about £100 lower for the average household.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has set out plans for the next CfD auction, to be held on 5th-6th July. During the auctions, generators will bid for contracts to produce green power at a guaranteed per-unit rate. This round will see the government award contracts to a combined 5GW of new onshore wind and solar installations with neither allowed to take more than 3.5GW in total.

It was expected that the government would set a cap of 7GW on new onshore wind capacity. However, the plan isn’t to set a cap but instead to limit the incentive pot to £200 million, which industry expects will amount to a de facto cap of 7GW.

Many groups, including unions, the CBI employers’ organisation, the National Farmers’ Union, and green and consumer groups, called for the government to increase the amount of renewable energy generation.

Doug Parr, a policy director for Greenpeace UK, said:

“We have a global climate emergency which requires low carbon power, we have a cost-of-living crisis which requires cheap power, and we have a war in Ukraine that requires domestic power. By an amazing stroke of luck, renewables are low-carbon, cheap, domestic and can be deployed faster than the alternatives. Capacity limits on cheap renewables are outdated thinking.”

Back in March this year, research from Carbon Brief’s Dr Simon Evans said that 649 onshore wind and solar projects with a total capacity of 10GW already have planning permission. If they went ahead, they’d save Britain more gas than it currently imports from Russia.

Total renewable capacity grew by 3.4% to 49.44GW in the year to December 2021, which is a significant drop compared with an average annual rise of about 18% over the previous 11 years.

However, a government spokesperson defended the UK government’s record in bringing renewable energy capacity online.

“The Covid pandemic and its aftermath understandably slowed infrastructure deployment across the country. That said, nearly 40% of our electricity now comes from renewable sources, and since 2010 we have delivered a 500% increase in the amount of renewable energy capacity connected to the grid. The contracts for difference scheme has been hugely successful in boosting UK energy supply and reducing our dependence on volatile fossil fuels, with competitive auctions reducing the price of offshore wind by around 65% since 2015.”

Sustainable Future for UK Hospitals with Solar Energy

hospital medical solar panels

Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham, East Yorkshire has become the first hospital in the UK to be completely powered by its own renewable energy in daylight hours. In September 2021, Hull University Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust started installing solar panels on land next to the hospital site. It took five months to install the £4.2m grant funded installation of more than 11,000 solar panels, which covers 7.7 hectares, around the size of 14 football pitches. The Trust received a grant from the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) as part of its Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme which allowed them to embark on this ambitious project. The plan was to generate a third of the total energy requirements of the hospital.

The project which became known as the ‘Field of Dreams’ is part of the trust’s campaign to tackle the NHS’s impact on climate change by achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2030.

The Trust’s investment in solar technology is now paying dividends. Hull University Teaching Hospitals Trust, which runs the hospital, said the scheme meant the trust was currently saving about £250,000 a month. With the arrival of the longer days of British Summer Time, the panels are generating enough electricity to meet the entire daytime power needs of the Castle Hill site. Currently, about 26MWh per day is generated, the equivalent to the average daily energy needs of 3,250 UK households. Output is expected to almost double during the peak summer months.

The trust, which also runs Hull Royal Infirmary, is also planning to replace 20,000 lights across both sites with LED bulbs, to insulate buildings and install heat pumps to cut heating costs.

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Alex Best, Head of Capital for the Trust said:

“Our aim has always been to generate enough electricity to make the hospital site self-sufficient in the summer months when the days are longer, and now that the clocks have gone forward, the panels are generating around 26MWh per day so far in May and are anticipated to rise to a peak summer load of 50 MWh per day.

Not only does this represent a significant contribution towards our plan to become carbon neutral by 2030, but the project is also saving us a significant amount of money on hospital energy bills; approximately £250,000 to 300,000 every month.”

Marc Beaumont, Head of Sustainability for the Trust also said:

“When you consider the size of the Castle Hill Hospital site and the amount of activity that goes on here, that’s a huge amount of power that’s required to keep it running.

Now if you stop to consider what the solar panel project is contributing, it’s incredible to think that the power used to deliver patients’ radiotherapy treatment sessions, to support many life-saving surgical procedures, and to keep our intensive care unit running right now is all completely self-generated, green electricity.”

Work has also begun on a 12-hectare solar farm which is being developed on a former landfill site adjacent to New Cross Hospital in Wolverhampton. Proposals for this giant solar farm were approved in 2021 and the site will be cabled directly to the New Cross Hospital.

Hospital bosses believe the scheme will save the trust millions of pounds in energy bills in the coming years and plan to spend the money on frontline services instead.

Planning images showed solar panels stretching across the former landfill site, the size of 21 football pitches.

The original idea to turn a former tip into a solar farm came from the Wolverhampton council.

Councillor Steve Evans said:

“It’s toxic land, we can’t build on here, we’d never be able to do anything, and we had some issues with fly tipping”.

Another hospital, Milton Keynes University Hospital has utilised its flat roofing structure to install solar panels to generate significant energy on-site. £2.75m was invested in new roofing and the installation of solar PV.

The Trust took the opportunity afforded by the installation of solar panels to improve the roof insulation in order to optimise energy use, reduce costs and carbon emissions.

During the building works the Trust has also introduced LED lighting to further improve their energy efficiency.

The first phase of the work has been completed with more than 2,500 solar panels installed across the hospital, producing 853MWh which is equivalent to powering over 200 average homes for a year or around 8% of the Trust’s total electricity requirement. When the second stage of work is completed, there will be over 3,300 individual panels positioned on roofs around the site which will ultimately generate nearly a gigawatt of free electricity which equates to the same power that would be used by 344 average homes in the UK.

The cost and carbon savings are not the only benefits the hospital is experiencing. The new roofing has made for a more comfortable environment for both staff and patients.

A staff member said:

“Before the roofing upgrade and installation of solar panels, this area would fluctuate in temperature – at times too hot and others too cold. The new roofs have made an incredible difference to both staff and patients and it’s even better to know that we are helping the environment.”

The innovative and inspiring project at the Castle Hill Hospital has saved significant funds which can be reinvested back into treatment and care. The success of all the green achievements in the hospital sector provides an excellent example for other hospitals and the wider NHS to adopt sustainability at the heart of healthcare.

It’s possible to see that if these successes were reproduced on a national scale, it could save the NHS billions, allowing reinvestment in healthcare. The advancement of sustainability in healthcare provides a key precedent for a greener future for the NHS.

Are Thin-Film Solar Cells the Next Generation of Renewables?

thin film solar panels

Renewable-energy professionals make advances in new technologies daily, striving to meet the steadily increasing demand for renewables worldwide. When it comes to solar, one of the most exciting and promising innovations may be thin-film solar cells.

Learn more about thin-film solar cells and how they shape up as an alternative to current materials.

How Do Thin-Film Solar Panels Compare to Popular Options?

Traditionally, companies construct most solar panels with silicon photovoltaic cells. This material makes up around 95% of solar panels shipped and installed in the past few decades. The wide use of silicon PV cells is due to how quickly they can convert light into electricity as a semiconductor. Further, silicon solar cells are long-lasting and affordable.

Still, silicon cells are not the only available option for consumers. In recent years, thin-film solar cells have emerged as a potentially worthy alternative. These cells feature light-absorbing layers that are hundreds of times smaller than silicon cells. The design of thin-film solar cells makes them the most lightweight yet durable cell option for solar panels on the market.

Like many solar panel concepts — including fiber-optic solar panels that require the use of fiber-optic cables — thin-film solar cells are not yet as widely used as more popular options. However, it is worth learning more about them because of the benefits they can potentially provide.

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Materials That Can Make Up Thin-Film Solar Cells

Manufacturers can make these kinds of solar cells from one of four materials — copper indium gallium selenide, amorphous silicon, gallium arsenide or cadmium telluride. A-Si and CdTe are the most well-known of these technologies and are viable for general thin-film solar applications.

Amorphous silicon is the most similar thin-film technology to silicon and is more durable than some of its counterparts. These cells are also easier to manufacture than silicon cells and are more durable. However, a-Si cells are less efficient, making them difficult to scale.

Cadmium telluride is the most common type of thin-film solar cell. The main benefit of CdTe is companies can produce straightforwardly and affordably. However, CdTe contains cadmium, which is toxic in certain amounts.

The other two technologies — CIGS and GaAs — are expensive and difficult to scale.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Thin-Film Solar Cells?

When compared to silicon cells, thin-film cells come with a couple of advantages that have positioned them as a potential popular option for future solar panel installations:

  • Eco-friendliness: Because of the structure of thin-film cells, they are much less carbon-intensive than silicon cells. This way, thin-film cells are more sustainable than their more commonly used counterparts. That said, manufacturers must remember some types of thin-film cells contain toxins.
  • Labour Costs: A series of panels using thin-film solar cells are easier to install, making them more affordable. The thin, flexible structure of thin-film panels makes them simple for many experienced contractors.

At the same time, it is essential to understand the reasons why thin-film solar cells have had trouble experiencing the same level of popularity as silicon cells:

  • Efficiency: When you compare the two in terms of efficiency, silicon solar panels come out on top. They offer around 14-16% efficiency, sometimes increasing to 20%. Thin film’s newest recorded record for efficiency is just under 10%. As a result, it makes more sense from an investment standpoint to choose silicon solar panels.
  • Space: To maximise efficiency, it is necessary to install several thin-cell solar panels. Therefore, their installation requires more space, meaning only consumers with larger homes or businesses can use them.

Comparing the advantages and downfalls of thin-film solar panels can give you further insight into why they are not as widespread as traditional silicon solar panels yet.

With Adjustments, Thin-Film Solar Cells Are Promising

Ultimately, thin-film solar panels hold significant promise as part of the next generation of renewables — they are easy to install, sustainable and affordable.

However, thin-film solar panels will remain second to other alternatives unless experts can maximise their efficiency, limit their toxicity and minimise how much space they require for installation.

Still, thin-film solar cells are worth keeping an eye on as they continue to develop in the coming years.

Author bio:

Jane works as an environmental and energy writer. She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of

Environment.co.

Insulating an Old House

So, how do you go about insulating an old house? There are two methods that can be adopted; the traditional method, which works ok in modern homes and the natural method which works great with older homes!

So, what’s the difference: The traditional method uses man-made insulation materials and involves simply adding the insulation to the property. Ok that’s the simplistic description, there is a bit more to it. But essentially that is it. Man-made insulation will absorb water vapour, but it will not release it easily.

The natural method refers to the use of natural insulation materials. These natural insulation products are breathable, and they readily absorb and release water vapour without affecting their ability to insulate your home.

Why is Breathability Important?

Old homes are typically built with solid masonry walls and lime-based mortars and render etc. This structure is breathable and allows the property to stay dry while allowing water vapour to pass through the structure. If you start adding modern manmade insulations to old houses you can create a vapour barrier that stops the movement of the water vapour. And when the water vapour stops, you get problems. These typically take the form of damp, rot, and mould.

So, it’s really important not to create a vapour barrier, so foil backed insulation, polythene sheets and man-made insulation materials should be avoided. Otherwise, you’ll be putting your home at risk.

Surely, when insulating an old house, stopping the water vapour getting into the wall is a good thing?

I can see why people would think this, but you need to remember that water vapour moves through old walls in both directions. Outwards during the winter months, and inwards during the summer months. So, vapour barriers can actually trap moisture within the wall where it can cause issues.

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So, what’s the solution for Insulating an Old House?

The solution is to use natural insulation materials such as hemp, wood fibre, sheep wool, Jute etc. in conjunction with a vapour control layer on the warm side of the insulation (which allows a small amount of water vapour through in both directions. And, depending on what element you’re insulating a breather layer to the cold side of the insulation to prevent wind wash (where the wind or air moving over the insulation draws warm air out of the insulation and thus reducing its efficiency).

You could even go more hi-tech and use a smart vapour control layer which is a sheet of material that has very small pores to reduce the amount of water vapour passing through it into the wall structure in the winter months and then in the summer months the pores open to allow more water vapour to pass back into the property and not get trapped within structure.

So, in conclusion a vapour BARRIER should be avoided, and a vapour CONTROL layer (VCL) should be used.

Man-made insulation should be avoided, and natural insulation should be used.

Once you get the insulation right what else do you need to consider?

Insulating an old house will reduce the amount of ventilation and this in turn will increase the risk of smells and stale air within the property. So, you’ll also need to ensure that you have adequate CONTROLLED ventilation.

Controlled ventilation is ventilation that is designed into the home, rather than uncontrolled ventilation such as draughts around door, windows, and letterboxes etc. Examples of controlled ventilation include, extractor fans, trickle vents to windows and positive input ventilators. Older homes would not have had these originally, as the structure and windows and doors would have been quite leaky, and many still don’t.

So, after following the above suggestions you now have a well-insulated home, you’ll need to increase the ventilation.

Insulating an old house can be done fairly easily, but it does require a little planning, and the use of the correct materials. But if you, do it right it’ll be easier to heat, will hold onto that heat for longer and will be healthy for you and your family.”

Does it Cost Much to Build an Eco-Friendly and Sustainable House?

Introduction

Constructing your house from the ground up is an exciting but scary concept. Each house construction requires meticulous budgeting and planning to save time, resources, and wellbeing. These aspects are more fundamental, especially if you’re looking to construct a green home, as the Materials Market and eco-housing industry are filled with continuous innovation.

Therefore, we’ve prepared information to let you know how much it can cost to construct a sustainable house. We’ll also provide some tips on how to build one. Read on to discover more.

What is a Sustainable House?

“Sustainable” is a term that often gets thrown around that it’s become a staple in the green-washing marketing campaigns of various brands. In this context, a sustainable house is constructed to decrease negative environmental impacts caused by construction and during the home’s lifespan.

Characteristics of a Sustainable House

A sustainable house is:

  • Environmentally sustainable. These buildings are designed to decrease their environmental footprint. They achieve that by saving water and energy, reducing waste, and minimizing greenhouse emissions.
  • Economically sustainable. It’s vital to concentrate on converting environmentally friendly housing into cost-efficient housing to continue thriving as a species. Therefore, ultra careful planning and budgeting are needed to reduce construction costs and future renovations.
  • Socially sustainable. For a house to be sustainable, it needs to accommodate people with limited mobility more. It’s designed and constructed to prevent injuries and enhance the occupants’ sense of security.

Essentially, a sustainable home should be constructed with materials that can’t harm the environment, durable, flexible, energy-efficient, and cost-efficient to run in the long run. When you achieve these objectives, you can enjoy many benefits such as reduced energy costs, minimal ecological footprint, and a house designed to meet your family’s ever-changing needs.

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How Much Does It Cost to Build an Eco-Friendly and Sustainable House?

Many often overestimate the overall cost of constructing a sustainable house, especially compared to standard housing. According to a report released by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, many people assumed that eco-friendly housing features increased the total construction costs by 17%. Yet, in reality, it adds less than 2%.

Here is what contributes to the overall construction cost:

  • Building costs – 61%
  • Finished lot costs – 18.5%
  • Builder profits – 9.1%
  • General and overhead expenses – 4.9%
  • Sales commission – 3.7%
  • Financing and marketing costs – 2.7%

Therefore, you need to calculate all the costs – construction costs, general & overhead expenses, and finished lot and builder costs = to determine the total cost of building your house, as they contribute 94% of the overall sale price.

A Breakdown of the Cost of Constructing a Sustainable House

The Rocky Mountain Institute released a report in 2019 showing that zero-energy housing is more feasible. It roughly costs around $240,000 to $260,000. A breakdown of these costs looks like this:

Interior finishes – 25.4%

The highest portion of your construction budget will be spent on setting up your house’s interior. This stage includes insulation, flooring, lighting, etc. It’s best to choose eco-friendly options like recycled insulation or air sealing technology, sustainably certified timber, energy-saving home appliances, and the like.

Framing – 17.4%

Framing includes sheathing, roof, and general steel and metal. Choose durable roofing options like metal roofs.

Major system rough-ins – 14.7%

Think of using solar panels, low-flow plumbing systems, rainwater harvesting systems, etc. These products will benefit you and your family in the long term.

Exterior finishes – 14.1%

Exterior finishes comprise roofing, doors, windows, et cetera. Consider installing sustainable roofing materials, insulated garage doors, and triple-pane windows.

Foundations – 11.8%

This stage entails excavation, foundation, retaining walls, concrete, and backfill. To get a more energy-efficient and durable option, it’ll help to use efficient building materials such as an insulating slab foundation with a steel mesh to reinforce the concrete slab foundation.

Conclusion

Are you looking to construct an eco-friendly house? If so, you can approach this project in multiple ways. When building such a house, it is fundamental to plan and budget for it carefully. The post illustrates that creating a sustainable home is less costly than many think. Follow these tips to construct your eco-friendly and sustainable house efficiently.

Automating with AI and Cloud for Renewable Energy

AI and Renewable Energy Image

The global renewable energy sector is growing and influencing sustainable changes. Electricity professionals are optimizing grid expansion and production rates by advancing supportive technologies. They are using artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud computing systems to reduce energy waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

Expanding the renewable energy sector is essential to ecological conservation. Protecting the global ecosystem may reduce biodiversity loss, resource degradation and adverse human health effects. AI and cloud-connected technologies support the renewable energy sector in four ways.

The Demand for Renewable Energy Advancements

Environmental engineers are developing AI and cloud-connected technologies for renewable power sources to minimize production limitations. Solar and wind power production relies on inconsistent weather patterns. Photovoltaic (PV) panels achieve 20% efficiency rates on average.

Individuals can optimize their renewable energy production rates using monitoring, storage, and distribution devices. AI and cloud systems also improve renewable energy’s storability. Solar panels and wind turbines distribute clean electricity directly to consumers. Professionals must expand storage technologies to create a sustainable and reliable electric grid.

They can create a compatible grid using advanced technologies. Energy professionals may also meet eco-consumer demand using AI and cloud-connected devices. Oil and gas prices are skyrocketing as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues.

Renewable energy is the most cost-effective power source on the market. Expanding clean energy production can decrease economic and environmental struggles. Eco-conscious countries like England are adopting advanced renewable energy technologies to shrink their carbon footprints,

1.   Grid Management

AI and cloud technologies support England’s clean energy goals by enhancing grid management practices. The U.K. plans on expanding its clean electric grid to align with the Green Grids Initiative. AI and cloud-connected systems help power professionals expand production and maintain consistent output rates.

The technologies can predict regions’ energy consumption rates and distribute adequate amounts of electricity. AI also enhanced grid resilience by diversifying power sources. The technology recognizes consumption changes and autonomously accesses excess power from decentralized sources.

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2.   Preventing Disaster-Related Interferences

AI and cloud technologies can also prevent environmental disasters, which interfere with renewable energy production. Earth is experiencing an increase in the frequency and intensity of storms from climate change. High winds, heavy rainfall, flooding and moving debris can damage PV panels and wind turbines.

AI systems can monitor climate change effects and predict disasters, which helps professionals prepare for production limitations. The technology can inform renewable energy maintenance professionals of upcoming storms. Workers may secure panels and turbines before disasters strike to decrease damage.

Individuals can repair panel racks before storms to protect them from high winds. Preparing renewable energy systems for disasters may prevent production interferences. Many consumers rely on renewable power after storms to access electricity during outages.

3.   Maintenance

Energy professionals are also automating maintenance practices using AI and cloud technologies. Employees experience health and safety challenges while installing and inspecting wind turbines. Environmental engineers developed turbine inspection drones to protect workers and improve job site efficiency.

Renewable energy professionals can also conduct predictive maintenance with AI technology. Relying on smart systems instead of human power may decrease mistakes and increase time efficiency. Improving maintenance accuracy may also increase renewable energy’s cost-efficiency.

4.   Minimizing System Stress

Individuals also integrate small-scale AI and cloud computing systems onto their properties and improve their energy efficiency. Residents and business owners are adopting cloud smart services to access financial benefits. The technologies reduce individuals’ energy consumption rates, which decreases stress on renewable power supplies.

Building owners can install smart thermostats to decrease energy waste from heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. The technology uses Wi-Fi to distribute temperature control data to residents’ smartphones. Individuals can monitor temperature changes and control indoor climates using cloud-connected technology.

Smart lights also enhance energy efficiency and minimize stress on renewable energy supplies. The technology uses AI to determine a room’s occupancy and lighting demands to reduce waste. Many smart lights also rely on light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.

LED lights are about 75% more energy-efficient compared to incandescent bulbs. They decrease electricity waste and increase buildings’ sustainability levels. Reducing energy consumption rates can improve society’s compatibility with clean energy grids.

The Benefits of AI and Cloud-Connected Energy Grids

In 2015, the United Nations (UN) created a global sustainability goal. The agreement works to minimize climate change effects and protect the global ecosystem. Regions can abide by the UN’s sustainability standards by expanding renewable energy production.

Using AI and cloud technologies to increase the clean energy supply may protect human health and biodiversity rates. Reducing emissions effectively lowers individuals’ risks for respiratory conditions. It also preserves natural habitats and other vital resources for species.

7 Best Practices for Eco-Friendly Remote Work

To live a healthy life and reduce your environmental footprint, you should be aware of your business’s resources. For both financial and environmental reasons, businesses should pay attention to the little details. 

Since COVID-19 has changed the way companies view remote work, there are now more regulations about using energy while working at home. So how can you reduce energy consumption when doing remote work? Consider these tips:

Go paperless

Whether you’re using technology for your work or a digital office, going paperless is an easy way to impact the environment. You’ll save on paper costs and energy consumption. You’ll also work more efficiently if you don’t worry about managing documents and scheduling meetings by phone or email. 

You can digitize work-related documents, forms, and communications to save space, organize information, and make it accessible from any device. A paperless workplace will also appeal to those customers who are more technologically savvy and environmentally conscious.

Sustainable events 

If you own a business, another way to engage remote workers in environmental issues is to organize company-wide sustainability events. Scheduling these events will boost the cumulative impact of individual efforts. To celebrate the achievements of remote workers, organize a recycling drive or team-based brainstorming sessions. For example, reward your team members for exhibiting environmentally friendly behaviours with prizes, public praise, and tangible rewards. This way, they will be more likely to continue the sustainable behaviour and make the company an even more environmentally friendly place to work.

Using energy-efficient appliances

LEDs are an excellent choice for lighting. They produce light with a low electrical current, have no warm-up time, and last for twenty or more years. They can be programmed to automatically dim or turn off when they detect that the room is empty. In addition, they can be more durable, so replacing them is much easier. LEDs also have more features, such as a built-in daylight sensor. This technology helps businesses lower their overall energy costs. So, if you are looking for a way to reduce energy costs and improve the environment while improving your home’s energy efficiency, consider switching to LED lighting.

Using bamboo office products

If you’re looking for a sustainable office product that can last a long time, you should consider using bamboo office products. Bamboo is a popular alternative to traditional wood, which can be difficult to care for. With proper care, bamboo products can last a lifetime, saving you thousands of dollars in repairs and replacements. Despite the cost of bamboo office products, they are highly attractive and environmentally friendly. In addition, bamboo forests are highly efficient and help counter climate change. 

Adopt Energy-Saving Habits

Keeping a constant check on your energy usage while working at home is a smart way to save money and the environment. You can lower your home’s energy bill by turning down the thermostat and limiting electronic use. Changing habits that use less energy include turning off lights when not in use, using programmable power bars in kitchens, and keeping windows closed. Using a table lamp for a single task, track lighting for hobbies, and under-counter lights in the kitchen can all help save money on your electric bill.

Energy-efficient thermostat settings

If you have a smart thermostat, change its settings accordingly. You can even schedule heating and cooling times. Some smart thermostats can even be programmed to reduce energy consumption when the home is unoccupied. These smart devices can also be programmed to automatically adjust the temperature according to the weather forecast. This will ensure that you’re not wasting energy and money. In addition to being easy to set, they give you real-time updates on your energy consumption. They display current temperatures, humidity levels, and weather forecasts. The best part is, they’re designed to save money!

Reduce the brightness on your laptop

Increasing brightness increases power consumption exponentially. Reduce your laptop’s brightness when working in a dimly lit room. You’ll be amazed at how much energy you save. A recent study conducted by a manager showed that adjusting the brightness of your monitors could save 20% of the energy. Using hundreds of computers could amount to thousands of dollars in savings for your energy bill. That’s a great deal of savings! So the next time you’re working in front of a computer, don’t forget to adjust the brightness of your monitors. You’ll be glad you did!

Why Smart Meters are Important for the Net Zero Target

Energy-Usage

Smart meters are no longer new to people. Most of us have heard about how smart meters can help us to be more efficient in the home through monitoring our energy usage. What is less understood is the benefit that smart meters can bring to the grid as a whole.

If we’re going to prevent a climate catastrophe it is vital that we reach the net zero carbon emissions target. The only way we are going to do this is by generating more green energy and being much smarter about how we use it. The technologies we use to help monitor and control our energy consumption are set to play a critical role in the fight against climate change.

The number of smart meters being installed in the UK has surged in recent times. Despite the pandemic slowing the rate of installations there were still 3.8 million smart meters installed in 2021 and the uptake of smart meters is likely to increase as consumers deal with the ongoing surge in energy prices. 

Smart meters are a key part of the clean energy system of the future. They will be an indispensable tool in the development of a more sustainable future. As they become more widespread, they’re likely to have a radical effect on energy use in the UK. Customers and businesses will have more insight into their energy use than ever before which will reduce waste, cut bills and help to drive industry innovation. 

If you have a smart meter installed at home one of the first things, you will notice is how easy it is to see how much energy you are using and how much it is costing you. Because smart meters give you real-time data on your energy use, you can see how your energy consumption rises and falls and therefore make informed decisions about how and when you buy energy. Knowing how much energy is being used every day can also really help you to cut down which means you are reducing your carbon emissions as well.  You might decide to swap your bulbs for energy saving LEDs, use the tumble dryer less, batch cook food, turn off appliances before going to bed or to insulate your home. Whatever you do you’ll quickly be able to see if you’re using less energy.

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It’s when you add up all the small changes that everyone in the UK makes to their daily routine that you can see how this could be important to reaching the net zero goal. If 10 million households were to do something as simple as only boiling the amount of water, they need for their morning brews instead of overfilling the kettle it would significantly cut the amount of fossil fuels that the UK needs to burn.

Smart meters aren’t just about saving energy at home. Currently, energy suppliers and the National Grid don’t have a full and accurate picture of consumer energy demand. They know how much consumers are using between meter readings, and they can estimate daily and yearly peaks and troughs, but this unclear picture can lead to energy being wasted. Smart meters lead to a more accurate view of exactly when energy is being used and where which means that energy suppliers and the grid will know in more detail how much energy to buy and sell. Not only does this allow for energy generation and transmission to become much more efficient but it helps the grid to incorporate a higher percentage of renewable electricity. 

Things are set to improve even further as by 2025 the frequency in which smart meters transmit their data to the energy companies will increase to every half an hour to help to provide a larger picture of the country’s energy usage.

Let’s look at an example of how smart meters can help in the future. Electric vehicles are going to become increasingly commonplace on our roads which will mean that the amount of electricity needed to charge them will also increase. If everyone arrives home at the same time and plugs in their vehicles, this will place a peak demand on the electricity grid and potentially lead to extra generation from fossil fuels being needed. This is something we all want to avoid. This is where smart meters can make a significant difference as they have the potential to spread out this kind of intensive demand so that green energy can be used throughout. Most vehicles won’t need to be fully charged until the following morning, so there’s no need to charge every car in the shortest time. In the future, you might tell your car or an app your driving needs, and it would communicate with your smart meter to ensure green energy is being used to charge your vehicle without creating a peak in demand.

Furthermore, there’s the potential to be paid to use your EV battery as energy storage, where the National Grid could take energy back from your vehicle in order to meet high demand and replace it later.

We’ve talked a lot about what smart meters mean for households, but businesses will benefit from the technology too. Smart meters can provide more detailed insights into a business’ energy usage, allowing suppliers to offer that business bespoke tariffs based on their actual energy requirements. This means businesses will get better deals and prices, but also makes things easier for suppliers by providing greater certainty around their customers’ energy demands.

Apart from helping businesses and households to consume their energy more efficiently, the extensive growth in the installation of smart meters has the potential to unlock a level of untouched energy efficiency in the form of a smart energy grid.

Smart grids are different to traditional grids as they use different technologies, such as smart meters, sensors and networks to increase the level of intelligence and efficiency at which the grid operates.

A smart grid will mean that operators will be able to balance the flow of energy more efficiently throughout the grid. This is vital if we are to be more sustainable. With the help of the grid’s sensors and meters, operators will be able to detect power demand surges and outages in real-time and adapt accordingly to ensure efficiency.

Furthermore, smart grids can enable the smooth integration of renewable energy sources, such as solar panels. Better energy infrastructure will allow operators to effectively manage different renewable energy sources that are geographically spread across the grid. In addition to that, smart grids will enable providers to let energy consumers play a central role in the grid by selling extra energy storage they might have at home.

Whether it’s reducing the amount of energy wasted or helping the grid become truly responsive smart meters are essential components for the creation of a greener energy network that can maximise use of renewable energy sources as well as help us reach our net zero carbon emissions target by 2050.

Landmark Moment as G7 Countries Commit to Near Zero Emissions by 2035

G7

At the end of a three-day summit in Berlin, climate, and energy ministers from the group of seven wealthy nations have announced that they will aim to largely end greenhouse gas emissions from their energy sectors by 2035. The seven nations’ goal is for a complete phaseout eventually. In particular they agreed to phase out coal-fired generation making it very unlikely that any of these countries will burn coal for electricity beyond 2035.

Coal is a heavily polluting fossil fuel which is responsible for a fifth of global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans. Though there are ways of reducing the carbon dioxide from the burning of coal it is almost impossible to reduce it to zero. This makes it the first fossil fuel that should be completely phased out.

The 2035 target is a real breakthrough. Luca Bergamaschi, director of the Rome-based campaign group ECCO said that in practice this means that countries need to phase out coal by 2030 at the latest.

Germany, the current chair of the G7 has played a big part in driving this commitment. The German coalition government vowed to bring forward the country’s own coal phaseout by eight years to 2030 and has pushed the other G7 nations to bring their plans forward too.

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Currently, Germany and Canada are aiming for 2030 while the US administration has set a target of ending fossil fuel use for electricity generation in the US by 2035. Japan is the only one of the seven nations asking for more time.

Although Britain, France and Italy have already set themselves deadlines to stop burning coal, Britain has recently decided to postpone some of the planned closures of coal power plants due to predicted energy shortages.

Other major polluters will likely feel pressurised to follow suit and build on the compromise deal which was reached at last year’s UN climate summit. At this summit nations merely committed to the phasing down rather than the phasing out of coal with no fixed target date.

There will no doubt be a return to this issue at a meeting later this year of the group of 20 leading and emerging economies, who are responsible for 80% of global emissions.

Officials from Germany, Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Canada and the US, the nations that make up the G7, have also agreed on a target to have a highly decarbonised road sector by 2030. This would mean that zero emission vehicles would dominate sales of vehicles by the end of the decade.

Governments are continuing to prioritise decarbonisation plans for their economies with a view to cutting their nation’s reliance on Russian oil and gas as a response to their invasion of Ukraine. They are focusing on finding new energy sources as well as expanding the use of the renewable energy sources they already have in order to guarantee long-term energy security in light of both the war in Ukraine and the recent price volatility associated with fossil fuels.

Ministers at the G7 meeting pledged to be more ambitious regarding renewable energies and to “rapidly scale up the necessary technologies and policies for the clean energy transition.”

Canada has made good progress and is on track for phasing out coal by 2030. If it is to achieve a net zero grid by 2035 it will, however, need to reduce gas-fired power, scale up affordable and proven clean energy technologies and take the necessary steps to enable grid flexibility.

Despite these good intentions, global coal is expected to reach an all-time high by the end of 2022, if current trends continue.

Developing countries have for years demanded a clear commitment that they will receive financial support to cope with the destruction caused by climate change and to help them make the transition to a greener economy.

In a move to end this inequality, the G-7 has now recognised for the first time the need to provide additional financial aid to developing countries so that they can cope with the loss and damage caused by global warming.

David Ryfisch of the Berlin-based environmental campaign group Germanwatch said:

“After years of roadblocks, the G7 finally recognise that they need to financially support poor countries in addressing climate-related losses and damages. That recognition is not enough: they need to put actual money on the table.”

The agreements which will be put to leaders at the G-7 summit in Elmau in June, were largely welcomed by climate activists.

It is hoped that the G7 nations will propose similar commitments in a meeting later this year of the wider group of 20 leading and emerging economies to ensure that tackling climate change is a global effort. The group of 20 are collectively responsible for 80% of global emissions.

It won’t be easy to get all G20 countries to sign up to the ambitious targets set by some of the more advanced economies as countries such as China, India and Indonesia are still heavily reliant on coal. In fact, China has revealed plans to boost its coal production capacity in the coming months.

The US and Germany have signed a separate agreement to deepen their bilateral cooperation on transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy in an effort to curb climate change.

The deal focuses on the two countries working together to develop and deploy technologies that will accelerate their clean energy transition, particularly in the area of offshore wind power, zero emissions vehicles and hydrogen.

The two countries have also pledged to work together to promote ambitious climate policies and energy security worldwide.

Germany’s energy and climate minister, Robert Habeck, said the agreement reflected the urgency of tackling global warming.

Scientists agree that if the goals that were set out in the 2015 Paris agreement are to be met, steep emissions cuts will need to happen this decade.

Time is literally running out, Habeck said, calling climate change the challenge of our political generation.

How to Have a Sustainable Lifestyle with Mobile Phones

The modern-day smartphone is the most popular choice among consumers looking for a way to stay connected to the world. However, this popularity is driving increased demand for smartphone supply and negatively affects the environment.

According to Deloitte, smartphones will generate 146 million tons of CO2 in 2022. It is estimated that, after being manufactured, a mobile phone can generate an average of 8kg of emissions from usage during its working life (between 2-5 years).

Sadly, consumers don’t have any decision power on manufacturing of mobile phones, however reducing devices’ energy consumption and extending its lifespan during usage years can help to decrease the CO2 emissions and make sure the device is used sustainably.

Why Does Your Phone’s Energy Consumption Matter?

The importance of power to phones is often overlooked. Without power, you wouldn’t be able to use it for anything. So, electricity is an absolute must for your device.

It is a well-known fact that the battery of a mobile phone drains depending on what you use your phone for, the number of apps and services running in the background. The amount of time that you spend on your phone each day, as well as the apps you use and how much data you have access to, all contribute to your battery usage.

In the UK, the average person spends around 2 hours a day on their smartphone, which is a substantial increase from just 10 years ago. Our smartphones provide us with access to HDR games, 4K content, music streaming, navigation and are constantly connected to the apps we use the most, which burns through the battery’s charge without us even noticing.

This means that our smartphones are using up more and more of our electricity every day. The electricity consumed to fully charge a phone once a day using a 5W charger is 0.035 kWh per week, which is about 1.82 kWh per year. Take into account that there are multiple mobile phones in a household, and this number can quickly grow. The energy consumption of one’s family’s mobile phones can increase even further if fast chargers are used. 

While mobile phones are not as power-hungry as tumble dryers or air conditioners, it is crucial to understand that the more you use your phone, the more frequently you will need to charge it which in result will speed up the degradation of your phone’s battery cell and you will start noticing performance drop. That’s why it’s important to rethink your smartphone ownership to ensure you use the device efficiently and for as long as possible.

5 Tips for a Greener Mobile Phone Usage

Changing the way, we use our devices can help to reduce the environmental impact of our technology-infused lifestyles. It’s clear that in order to make a real difference, we need to make sure that our devices aren’t charged as often. The good news is that there are many ways to reduce the need to charge your mobile phones. Here are five tips to follow to have a greener lifestyle with personal electronics:

  1. Turning off location services will stop your phone from using GPS to pinpoint your current location. Turning on Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or Mobile Data only when you need it, will also stop your phone from actively looking for connection with nearby devices, which can dramatically reduce drain on battery life.


  2. Apps that are running in the background will continue to consume charge even if you don’t have the app currently open. Make sure that you close the apps after use and run software enabled battery optimisations to put background apps to sleep.


  3. Using Dark Mode will extend your battery’s life as the display won’t require as much energy to show content. This will also prevent your display from developing signs of discolouration and the screen will last longer.


  4. In order to keep the battery life of your phone healthy, it is important to enable the smart charging features built into your smartphone.

iPhones, for example, have an Optimised Battery Charging feature. When switched on, your phone will learn your charging habits and it will delay charging past 80% in certain occasions to finish it just before you need it.

Android phones have a similar function under Device Care that does the optimisation for you closing apps that haven’t been executed for a long period of time and limits unnecessary battery drain.

  1. Assess what type of activities you do the most on your phone. Is it gaming, watching videos, or sending media through WhatsApp? While gaming, you can lower the screen brightness which will help to save the power. Consider reducing the video quality when watching YouTube and perhaps have an occasional smartphone detox.

With these tips, you’ll never have to worry about running out of charge in the middle of your day, and when you get home, you will only need to top up the battery.

It is important to always be mindful of the energy we consume. It is not enough just to unplug our gadgets or appliances when not in use. Taking the above steps to ensure energy-efficient ownership of mobile phones and recycling used phones, will prolong their useful lives and keep valuable materials in use. We need to change our phone usage habits and switch to a more sustainable ownership, so our devices last as long as possible helping us to cut down our overall carbon footprint.

By Lidia Compare and Recycle