UK Needs to Create 120,000 new Green Energy jobs to Meet Targets by 2030

grid and green energy

The National Grid has warned that more than 100,000 people need to be recruited to fill green energy roles in the next decade if the UK has any hope of meeting its binding climate targets.

A report by the company found that the UK must fill at least 120,000 jobs in the green energy industry by 2030 to help develop projects that can cut greenhouse gas emissions to near zero. This number is likely to rise to 400,000 by 2050 by which time the UK government hopes it will have developed a clean energy system based on renewable electricity, green heating systems and electric vehicles.

The report advised that a fifth of employees in the energy sector are due to retire by 2030. As it stands, the UK’s energy industry is up against stiff competition from other sectors and has a limited pipeline of young people pursuing Stem (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) qualifications to draw from.

The energy industry is expected to use its role in tackling the global climate crisis to attract young graduates into the industry.

The UK expects to see a growing need for new recruits to power the UK’s climate targets as it faces a green energy jobs crunch over the next 10 years.

Nicola Shaw, the executive director of the National Grid, said:

“The time is now for the sector to rise to the challenge and overcome the longstanding issues we face in recruiting a diverse workforce with the right skills to deliver on the UK’s ambitions.”

Major investments will be required in offshore wind, clean heating schemes, electric vehicles and carbon-capture technology if the UK’s plan to cut emissions to virtually zero and offset unavoidable pollution through carbon capture schemes, can happen.

YouGov has carried out research that has revealed that people of all ages, from all regions across the UK, are “looking for a job with environmental purpose”.  More than eight in 10 women and seven in 10 men have said they are keen to play their part in tackling climate change. Over half of adults are particularly looking to be employed by organisations that are helping the UK to achieve its climate goals.

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

According to the National Grid a quarter of the green jobs required will need to be based in the north of the country. In order to complete the current energy projects including an offshore wind farm off the coast of Blyth and the new subsea power cable to Norway from the north-east of England it estimated that more than 21,000 new recruits will be needed.

As the need for green energy jobs increases the report states that this could bring opportunities for skilled tradespeople, engineers and other specialists “across every region of the country”.

Kwasi Kwarteng, the minister of state for business, energy and clean growth, said:

“Tackling climate change is not only saving the planet but is significantly boosting our economy. As we work to reduce our emissions to net zero by 2050, the UK has the potential to support 2m green-collar jobs across our world-class renewables sector, among other industries.”

At the same time the advancement in carbon capture and storage in the Yorkshire and Humber region is expected to support 17,000 new jobs. Another 28,000 roles will be needed to work on more offshore wind farms off the east of England.

Green energy workers will be needed in Scotland to fill more than 48,000 jobs by 2050, with a further 25,000 green energy roles expected in Wales.

With the global rise in green jobs there is no doubt that the labour market is in the process of shifting from more CO2 reliant jobs to those that are environmentally friendly.

Find out more about heat pumps here.

Find out more about solar here. 

New Development Combines Solar Power Source with Energy Storage

Heliatek

New advances in solar panel technology are announced constantly. There were many breakthroughs in 2019 with milestones being reached in solar efficiency, solar energy storage, wearable solar tech, and solar design tech.

The two main types of solar technology are photovoltaics (PV) and concentrated solar power (CSP). Solar PV technology captures sunlight to generate electric power, and CSP harnesses the sun’s heat and uses it to generate thermal energy that powers heaters or turbines. There is a wide range of opportunities for technical innovation with these two forms of solar energy. One of the latest emerging developments in solar power technology to come out of 2019 involves a new form of combined solar power generation and storage.

This new form of integrated solar power generation and storage is currently being developed for the UK.

It pairs thin, flexible, lighter solar sheets with energy storage to power buildings or charge vehicles off-grid.

Solivus, the company behind the development intends to cover the roofs of large industrial buildings with the solar material.  These buildings would include supermarket warehouses and delivery company distribution centres.

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

They also plan to manufacture solar units or “arcs” for home usage.

The aim is to develop regional, renewable energy to allow people and businesses to have their very own power supply as well as helping the UK reach its target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

The solar product is a carbon-based sheet, which Solivus describes as an “organic photovoltaic” (OPV). It’s a material that absorbs sunlight and creates energy.

The layered film can be used on surfaces where panels can’t be used or fixed on, without harming the integrity of a building because it not only can be bent into shapes or glued on to flat or curved, vertical or horizontal, surfaces but is also one-tenth of the weight of typical panels in frames at 1.8kg per m2. The material also doesn’t contain any rare earth or toxic materials and lasts for 20 years.

Solivus places the material’s effectiveness in a laboratory at about 13% but states that this stays steady as temperature levels increase in natural sunlight. This can be a problem with traditional solar panels although they can function at an average of 15-18% efficiency.

Manufacturer Heliatek says the film collects a wider spectrum of light while still working on grey days.

The plan is that the power generated will be stored locally, in an electric vehicle battery, or possibly a flywheel battery, which can swiftly release its charge.

The story behind this development is that Jo Parker-Swift who has a background in biological sciences was inspired to create the new material when looking at laurel leaves.  However, it was a fortuitous meeting on a train with two former energy company bosses and a discussion about growing demand that motivated her to think about a way to take her house and car off grid.

It was then that she looked at the leaves on the laurel bush in her garden and began to calculate the surface area. She said “I must have looked like a right nutter” as she marked all the leaves, so she didn’t count them twice.

She felt that nature might have the answer to energy independence by using a large surface area in a small space, to capture sunlight. She was thinking along the lines of a solar tree.

She then commenced two-and a-half years of research with financial investment to develop the idea that it would not just be one house running off-grid, but also business, delivery companies and their vehicles, homes, stadiums, and energy points to charge electric transport.

Currently, transport accounts for 23% of the UK’s CO2 emissions, and the government has pledged to ending the sale of new petrol or diesel vehicles by 2040.

Jo Parker-Swift hopes the film will assist in the battle to stop levels of carbon dioxide increasing in the atmosphere and the damage to progressively acidic oceans.

Businesses keen to be carbon neutral have responded positively and Solivus’s medium-term strategy is to roll out an installation of film on large UK commercial properties and stadiums in 2021/22

Solivus expects that a 10,000m2 roof will provide approximately 1MW of energy which is about enough to power a block of flats.

The company is also working with the University of Manchester’s Graphene Engineering Innovation Centre to see if graphene can be used in the production of the new material.


Graphene is a strong 2D material just one atom thick, which conducts heat and electricity efficiently.

The next step is to install the solar fabric on a large building such as a farm or industrial building. The film is shaped into “arcs” which are units with curved sides and a large surface area designed to absorb more light without needing to track the sun.

It is anticipated that one unit would be a 1 kW system providing 1,000 KWh (kilowatt hours) each year in the UK. The university of Surrey researchers are looking at the public response to the idea and the design.

The aim would be to keep the cost to consumers below current energy bills.

Professor Michael Walls, of the Centre for Renewable Energy Systems Technology at Loughborough University, says the concept of lightweight PV on buildings is “exciting” because it creates new applications for solar. There are however some economic and practical hurdles.

At the moment, there is a much larger market for traditional rigid solar panels which means that manufacturers of flexible PV do not have the same economies of scale.

The most dominant technology used in flexible PVs up to now has been CIGS which are devices made up of copper indium gallium diselenide.

Professor Michael Walls, says that so far, problems have been experienced with some flexible solar films where water has seeped through the coating, eventually causing degradation.

He says:

 “If they can sell at a reasonable cost and avoid technical issues, it would be fantastic, but there are many challenges”.

Although we do not yet have a solar tree the journey towards this goal is still in progress.

Find out more about solar here

Construction Begins on World’s ‘Largest Offshore Wind Farm’ That Could Power 4.5 Million Homes

North Sea Offshore Wind Farm

Work has begun on a huge offshore wind farm in the North Sea. The energy firm SSE (Scottish and Southern energy) announced onshore work for the 3.6-gigawatt (GW) Dogger Bank Wind Farms had started near Ulrome, a coastal village in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England.

SSE describes Dogger Bank Wind Farms as “the world’s largest offshore wind farm” which is made up of 3 1.2 GW offshore sites: Creyke Beck A, Creyke Beck B and Teesside A that will be located 80 miles off the Yorkshire coast.

The Dogger Bank wind project is a 50:50 joint venture (JV) between Norwegian energy major, Equinor and SSE Renewables.

Both companies were successful in their JV application in the recent Contracts for Difference (CfDs) Allocation Round which is the UK Government auction bidding process to produce offshore wind power.

The development and construction phases of the project will be led by SSE Renewables with Equinor leading operations upon completion.

Director of capital projects at SSE renewables said:

“The joint Equinor and SSE Renewables project team on Dogger Bank is excited to work with GE Renewable Energy to introduce the next generation of offshore wind turbine to the UK, and to be the first European wind farm to install and operate these innovative turbines. Dogger Bank will now be home to the largest offshore wind turbines in the world and to this pioneering low carbon technology, which will play a central role in helping the UK become carbon neutral by 2050.”

Jones Bros Civil Engineering U.K., a firm headquartered in North Wales are undertaking the construction work.

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

It will have a combined capacity of up to 3.6GW and it is hoped that it will generate around £9 billion of capital investment between 2020 and 2026.

President and chief executive of offshore wind at GE Renewable Energy, John Lavelle, said that his company were ‘very excited’ about the announcement.

He said:

“We have an important role to play in the UK’s offshore wind ambitions and in delivering further carbon emission reductions. Our Haliade-X technology is helping our customers to make offshore wind a more competitive source of clean and renewable energy by reducing the levelized cost of energy (LCOE).”

The scheme is set to use GE’s Haliade-X wind turbine, which has a 12 megawatt generator and stands 260 meters tall. the project will have the capability to produce enough renewable energy for more than 4.5 million homes per year according to SSE.

Managing Director of Dogger Bank Wind Farms said in a statement:

“Getting the first spade in the ground is a significant milestone on any project, but for what will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm, this is a major moment for a project that has already been over a decade in the making,”

Bjorn Ivar Bergemo, Dogger Bank project director said that the development had been successful in the recent CfD auction “due in large part to the relationships we have built with our supply chain, which enabled the lowest ever strike prices”.

He described the Haliade-X as a “step change in turbine technology”.

There is no doubt that the UK is a big player in the offshore wind sector. The UK is already home to projects such as 659 megawatt Walney Extension facility, in the Irish Sea, which was officially opened in 2018.

This large-scale project is capable of powering more than 590,000 homes. According to Danish energy company Orsted it covers an area of around 20,000 soccer pitches and has 87 turbines.

Collectively Europe is home to a significant offshore wind sector. In a report from the industry body WindEurope 409 wind turbines were connected to the grid in 2018. Their average size in 2018 was 6.8 MW, which equates to a 15% rise compared to 2017.

New Deal to Offer All UK Homes Community-Generated Green Electricity

community solar project

Homes across the UK will soon be able to plug into community wind and solar farms from anywhere in the country with the first energy tariff to offer clean electricity solely from community projects.

As customers become increasingly eco-conscious more energy suppliers are ‘greenwashing’ the market in a race to demonstrate their sustainability credentials amid growing competition in the industry.

Co-Op energy is the first ever supplier to offer clean electricity exclusively from community projects. The new energy tariff will cost the homeowner £5 more per month than their regular tariff to provide electricity from community energy projects and gas which includes a carbon offset in the price.

The clean electricity for its new tariff will be sourced from 90 local renewable energy generation projects across the UK, including the Westmill wind and solar farms in Oxfordshire. Co-op energy, which is operated by Octopus Energy after it bought the business from the Midcounties Co-operative last year, plans to use all profits to reinvest in preserving existing community energy projects and building new ones.

Chief executive of Midcounties Co-operative, Phil Ponsonby, said that the tariff is the only one to be powered by 100% community-generated electricity in the UK and that it would ensure that community generators were paid a fair price too.

Phil Ponsonby said that customers on the Community Power tariff will be able to monitor the source of their electricity and “see exactly where it is being generated at small scale sites across the UK”.

He added that the wind and solar projects that generate power for the new tariff “plough the profits they make back into their neighbourhoods or into helping other similar projects get off the ground”.

Co-op which has approximately 300,000 customers has set itself apart from an ever-increasing number of energy supply deals that are marketed as being 100% renewable but are not as green as suppliers would lead customers to believe.

Consumer watchdog Which? found that many energy suppliers offering renewable energy tariffs did not generate renewable electricity themselves or have contracts to buy any renewable electricity directly from generators.

Instead, these ‘pale green’ suppliers exploit a technical loophole which allows them to buy cheap renewable energy certificates without in reality buying any renewable energy. The certificates are issued by Ofgem to renewable energy developers for each megawatt generated, but these can then be sold separately from the electricity at a bargain price.

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

Which? cautions that these suppliers appear to be greenwashing their energy tariffs in order to potentially mislead their customers. The results of a survey conducted last year found that one in ten people believe that a renewables tariff means that the supplier generates at least some of its electricity from its own renewable energy projects.

Greg Jackson, the chief executive of Octopus Energy, said that it is ‘a massive jump in the right direction’ for customers to be able to buy locally-generated green energy.

He said:

“Investing in more local energy infrastructure and getting Britain’s homes run by the sun when it’s shining and the wind when it’s blowing can end our reliance on dirty fossil fuels sooner than we hoped. Local people investing in local people means that we can all muck in and put the work in to decarbonise where governments and large companies are slow to.”

Electricity from low carbon sources is now making up a larger percentage of our national Grid and it is likely that we are all using some sustainably generated electricity, whatever tariff we’re on. Currently electricity suppliers are obliged by government to buy some renewable electricity in the mix of sources.

Choosing a green tariff helps to send a message to your supplier and the wider industry that you wish to avoid electricity generated from fossil fuels. You can see from the growing numbers of green tariffs available that the industry is listening. You are making a valuable contribution, whichever green tariff you choose.

Your energy supplier should let you know where your energy comes from and what proportion of your supply is renewable.

However, it is recommended that you take a close look at how your supplier operates when it comes to putting together your green tariff. Some are definitely greener than others in terms of how much they support the renewables industry in the UK. 

The hope is that genuinely green tariffs will grow in popularity and build up to a significant additional incentive which will help to accelerate decarbonisation.

Learn more about Solar Panels here.

Why is Australia Suffering a Shocking Bushfire Season?

Australia bushfires 2020

As Australia’s bushfires continue to burn the world looks on in horror. There are many competing arguments being made about the principle causes of the human and environmental tragedy of this unprecedented bushfire season. The most compelling cause being discussed is climate change.

Former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull recently wrote “the lies of the climate deniers have to be rejected. This is a time for truth telling, not obfuscation and gaslighting”. He believes that Australia’s priority this decade should be their own green new deal in which they generate as soon as possible, all their electricity from zero emission sources. He hopes that they have come to a point of resolve as a nation to act on climate change. 

Meanwhile the current prime minister Scott Morrison has acknowledged that climate change has had an influence on the fires and has defended his government’s climate record. However, he has also said:

“job-destroying, economy-destroying, economy-wrecking targets and goals on climate change won’t change the fact that there have been bushfires or anything like that in Australia”.

One of the Australian government’s Backbench MPs Craig Kelly denied any link between climate change and bushfires in a contentious interview on British TV.

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

Other factors have been cited as causes for the bushfires such as the amount of hazard reduction burning carried out, or the activities of arsonists – a claim shown to have been inflated and misrepresented.

Bushfire experts say that climate change is making it harder to carry out hazard reduction as a way of controlling the behaviour of fires and according to fire chiefs hazard reduction is not a panacea for extreme bushfires.

When it comes to bushfires there are two important influencers, extreme heat and dryness and both were remarkable for Australia in 2019.

Australia experienced its hottest year on record in 2019, with average temperatures 1.52C above the 1961-1990 average. Their second hottest year was 2013, followed by 2005, 2018 and 2017. On top of this Australia also had its driest ever year in 2019, with rainfall 40% lower than average, based on records going back to 1900. The 2019 spring months of September, October and November were the worse on a record going back to 1950 for bushfire risk.

New South Wales, one state hard hit by the bushfires broke its record by a greater margin, with temperatures 1.95C above average, beating the previous record year, 2018, by 0.27C. NSW also had its driest year.

Basically, we have a situation globally where rising levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are changing the earth’s radiation balance which is allowing less heat to escape.

Though Fire authorities and the Bureau of Meteorology use the forest fire danger index which is a combined measure of temperature, humidity, wind speed and the dryness to look at the risk of bushfires they do not have a measure of the amount of fuel on the ground.

Two other meteorological patterns have helped generate the extreme conditions that Australia has been experiencing and both these “modes of variability” were in “phases” that made conditions worse.

The Indian Ocean dipole was in a “positive phase”, meaning the Indian Ocean off Australia’s north west was cooler than normal and the west of the ocean was warmer.

Positive dipole events draw moisture away from Australia and tend to deliver less rainfall.

However, there is evidence that the extra greenhouse gases in the atmosphere are also impacting the dipole and another phenomenon, known as the southern annular mode (SAM).

In 2009 a study found that positive dipole events “precondition” the south of the country for dangerous bushfire seasons and that these events were becoming more common.

A trend towards more dangerous fire weather has been discovered by scientists.

Back in 2017 a study of 67 years of the Forest Fire Danger Index data found the following:

“There is a clear trend toward more dangerous conditions during spring and summer in southern Australia, including increased frequency and magnitude of extremes, as well as indicating an earlier start to the fire season”.

This trend continued in 2019 which was the riskiest year for bushfires since 1950.

A study was carried out of Queensland’s historic 2018 bushfire season which found that the extreme temperatures occurred simultaneously with the fires were four times more likely because of human induced climate change.

Australia’s National Environmental Science Program issued advice which was unambiguous in November 2019.

“Human-caused climate change has resulted in more dangerous weather conditions for bushfires in recent decades for many regions of Australia. Observations show a trend towards more dangerous conditions during summer and an earlier start to the fire season, particularly in parts of southern and eastern Australia. These trends are very likely to increase into the future, with climate models showing more dangerous weather conditions for bushfires throughout Australia due to increasing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Climate studies are showing that as more greenhouse gases are added to the atmosphere the conditions in Australia for extreme bushfires will only get worse.

Professor John Shine, president of the Australian Academy of Sciences said recently that Australia needs a better understanding of fire behaviour and that the country would need to further improve its climate modelling ability if it was going to mitigate against the extreme events that would undoubtedly become more frequent and intense because of climate change.

He said:

“Australia must take stronger action as part of the worldwide commitment to limit global warming to 1.5° C above the long-term average to reduce the worst impacts of climate change.”

Professor Matt England of the UNSW Climate Change Research Centre, said:

“We are loading the dice for more and more of these summers. But we have had knowledge of this for some time. What we have seen in Australia this year will just be a normal summer if we warmed the planet by 3C. And an extreme summer would be even worse than we’ve seen now.”

Prof Nerilie Abram, a climate scientist at the Australian National University said:

“Even from my perspective, I am surprised by just how bad 1C of warming is looking. It’s worrying that we are talking about this as a new normal, because we are actually on an upward trajectory. Currently the pledges in the Paris agreement are not enough to limit us to 1.5C – we are looking more like 3C.”

Big centralised coal burning generators are being replaced with many more distributed renewable generators, but these will require more and differently designed transmission. The better and more distributed the generation system the greater the resilience in the face of natural disaster.

Australians need to face the fact that coal is on the way out. As we can see today it is a matter of life and death. Demand for their export coal is going to decline and expire and this is vital if the world is going to avoid the worst consequences of global warming.

The good news for Australia and indeed the rest of the world is that we can have abundant energy which is both green and cheap.

The cost of solar per watt is being reduced every year, by 13% last year alone and by over 90% over the last eight years. Due to research at the university of New South Wales we will soon see a standard solar panel increase its energy efficiency by another 50%. Batteries are seeing similar increases in efficiency and therefore affordability.

Unfortunately, Australia is only about halfway through its summer season. Normally, temperatures peak in January and February, meaning the country could be months away from finding relief.

The time for Australia and the rest of the world to take action is now to prevent catastrophic climate change.

Find out more about wind turbines here.

Find out more about solar here.

Fukushima Plans to Transform itself into a Renewable Energy Hub

Fukuyama nuclear plant

Fukushima in North-East Japan will always be remembered as the site of the world’s worst nuclear accident for a quarter of a century.

Nine years later Fukushima is planning to reinvent itself as a renewable energy leader in Japan. After the 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Station the land became too toxic for people to farm and live on. The accident set off by a powerful earthquake and Tsunami, sent large quantities of radiation into the atmosphere and led to the evacuation of 150,000 people. This land will soon be dotted with windmills and solar panels. Local government has promised to power the region with 100% renewable energy by 2040 compared with 40% today. The new projects will also include biomass plants, geothermal stations, even fleets of sea-going windmills.

Fukushima Prefecture is an area encompassing 59 municipalities and a population of over 1.8 million people which is still recovering from this disaster and a further one in 2019, typhoon Hagibis which wiped out many of the homes and businesses that had been rebuilt since 2011.

Sponsors for the 300bn yen ($2.75bn) project include the government-owned Development Bank of Japan and Mizuho Bank. The project will involve the construction of 11 solar and 10 wind farms on abandoned farmland and in mountainous areas and are scheduled to be built by the end of March 2024. According to a report in the Nikkei Asian Review the Fukushima prefecture will generate 600 megawatts which is approximately two-thirds of the energy output of a typical nuclear power plant, when it is completed. Although this is much less power than the nearly 4,700 megawatts its nuclear reactors were capable of generating before, a 2017 prefecture survey revealed that 54 percent of residents wanted renewable energy, compared to 14 percent who didn’t, according to The Japan Times.

A new 80km power grid will connect to the Tokyo Electric Power Company’s transmission lines, which will transfer energy to Japan’s capital city, the Tokyo metropolitan area, a three- to four-hour drive away. The change is beginning to take place thanks to the $2.75bn in financing.

Japan’s conservative government is pushing to restart idle reactors in the face of the Fukushima disaster which was the world’s worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl in 1986. Despite this the government wants to use nuclear power to make up between 20% and 22% of its overall energy mix by 2030. Before Fukushima, nuclear energy was responsible for generating almost a third of Japan’s power. Campaigners have heavily criticised the government’s policy saying that nuclear plants are clearly a danger given the country’s vulnerability to earthquakes and tsunami.

Fukushima’s transformation from nuclear energy to solar and wind comes at a time when policymakers and scientists all over the globe are debating the role of nuclear energy in an effort to stop the climate crisis. Some scientists see nuclear energy as an important way to generate energy without burning planet-heating fossil fuels. Others are still concerned about the dangers associated with nuclear power even though there have been advances in nuclear technology since the infamous meltdowns of the past. After the Fukushima meltdown all of Japan’s 54 reactors were shut down and only nine reactors are in operation today having passed strict safety checks brought in after the disaster.

As it rebuilds Fukushima is determined to lead the way forward in renewable energy. In 2014 its objective was to meet all its energy needs with 100% renewables by 2040. The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology also opened a research and development centre for renewable energy in Fukushima Prefecture at this time.

According to the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies renewables accounted for just 17.4% of Japan’s energy mix in 2018 which is well below countries in Europe. The Japanese government is planning to increase this to between 22% and 24% by 2030, a target which their prime minister believes to be ambitious, but which climate campaigners criticise as inadequate.

Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe is insistent that nuclear energy will help Japan meet its carbon dioxide emissions targets and lessen its dependence on imported gas and oil. However, his recently appointed environment minister, Shinjiro Koizumi, does not agree and is calling for the country’s nuclear reactors to be shut down to stop a repeat of the Fukushima disaster.

Koizumi said:

 “We will be doomed if we allow another nuclear accident to occur. We never know when we’ll have an earthquake”.

Given the strong local opposition and legal challenges the government is unlikely to meet its own target of 30 reactor restarts by 2030.

Japan is also facing growing international criticism over its dependence on imported coal and natural gas. It received the ironic ‘fossil of the day’ award from the Climate Action Network at the recent UN climate change conference in Madrid after its industry minister disclosed plans to continue using coal-fired power. Every day at the COP this award is presented to a country that is blocking progress in the negotiations or the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

According to the US Energy Information Administration, currently Japan is the third biggest importer of coal after India and China. Its megabanks have been urged to end their financing of coal-fired plants in Vietnam and other developing countries in Asia.

The idea of safer, cleaner next-generation nuclear technology  is still being debated elsewhere in the world. In fact, nuclear energy was included as part of the solution by the United Nations’ panel of scientists in its landmark report on how to keep the world from warming above 1.5 degrees Celsius, the benchmark that they say the planet will need to stay below in order to avoid the most devastating effects of climate change.

Fukushima is the third largest administrative district in Japan and uniquely includes a variety of energy resources such as prime spots for solar and wind farms and opportunities for geo-thermal power as well.

Since 2012, Fukushima has already tripled its renewable energy production, with solar, wind, water, thermal, and biofuel resources totalling 1,500 megawatts of electricity, delivering a contribution of nearly 18% of Japan’s total yearly energy consumption. This is a great start to their ambitious plans for the future.

Find out more about wind turbines here.

Find out more about solar here.

What you Need to Know When Buying Solar Panels in 2020

solar panels 2020

So, you’ve decided to go solar but have no idea how large a system your roof can support or even whether your home is suitable. No doubt you have lots of questions such as where to put the panels, how many kilowatt hours the system will generate and what type of panels you should buy.

There’s no need to worry as there is a lot of expert help available. If you decide to go ahead and purchase solar panels you will find that they are an excellent way to provide energy for your home and lower your annual energy bills in one go. It is thought that your average power system can save you money on your electricity bills from £85/£410 a year.

Aside from saving money on your electricity bill solar panels are a great source of renewable energy and will without doubt lower your carbon footprint. As well as being environmentally friendly they require hardly any maintenance.

Solar technology is constantly evolving and improving.  Last year saw milestones in solar efficiency, solar energy storage and solar design technology. Furthermore, solar panels have never been as affordable as they are now. The price of solar is 70% cheaper than in previous years.

Before buying it is important however, to have a rough idea of the panel size and number of panels that you will need. It is advisable to consult with a professional and accredited installer to discuss all of this. This article is aimed at giving you a rough idea of the things you need to consider before buying solar panels.

Typically, the size of your solar array is defined by two factors, space and budget. The amount of power you can generate will be less if your roof is small, but this outcome can be mitigated if you install more expensive panels that generate more energy per m2. The most efficient panels on the market are around 22.8% efficient, so shopping around is important. Residential systems over 4kW require an additional survey that can delay your installation.

What is Your Home’s Daily Electricity Usage?

The first step you need to take is to work out how much energy your home uses. In order to do this, you need to look at your past electricity bills and work out your average energy usage. These bills will show you how much electricity you’ve used in kilowatt-hours (kWh) over a time period depending on how frequently you’re billed (every month or quarter, for example). To work out how many solar panels you’ll need to power your home, you will first need to calculate your electricity usage per day. If you’re billed monthly, you’ll need to divide your electricity usage in kWh by 30; if you’re billed quarterly, you’ll need to divide the figure by 90, and so on. A UK home with a monthly electricity usage of 320kWh, for example, will use about 11kWh of electricity each day (320/30).

What is the Average of Daily Sun Hours in Your Location?

Broadly speaking, the peak hours of sunlight are between 9am and 3pm each day, although there can be variations depending on your location. Some areas will have more light than others, and there can be a bit of a difference between the north and south of the United Kingdom. However, this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to produce as much energy if you live in a shadier area, it simply means that you might need more panels in order to fully benefit. To calculate roughly how much energy, you need to produce in kWh, you need to divide your daily kWh usage by the peak number of sunlight hours in a day. You can multiply this number by 1000 for the watt usage. It’s important to also consult your installer about this.

That said, solar panels will not always work at full efficiency for a number of reasons. For example, it could be a cloudy day or there could be some unexpected shade. For this reason, experts recommend that you leave a cushion of 25% when it comes to calculating how much energy you will use on a daily basis. This offsets any inefficiencies that may occur.

How Many Panels Do You Need?

The capabilities and performance of solar panels can vary and so the quality can really make a difference. PV solar panels tend to range between 150w to 345w per panel, depending on the size of the panel and the cell technology used to create each of the modules.

To work out how many panels you need, divide the hourly energy usage of your home by the wattage of the solar panels. To make sure your expectations are realistic you should do this for a low and high wattage option which will allow you to create a range of sizes.

Doing this will give you an estimate for the number of panels that you need to generate electricity. At this point you will need a professional installer to come and access your roof to determine what angle would be best and how the panels would be arranged on your roof.

COMPARE PRICES FROM LOCAL INSTALLERS

Compare prices from local companies fast & free

Enter your postcode to compare quotes from leading professionals. We promise to keep your information Safe & Secure. Privacy Policy

Solar Panel Cost?

How much your solar panel array will cost you depends very much on the panels you choose and the size of your roof. Your average solar set up will cost you between £800 and £8,000 including the installation cost. There are also solar tiles, but these are more expensive than the traditional panels costing between £5000 and £14000 depending on how many are needed.

All government incentives, schemes and support for this industry have now ended but the price of solar panels continue to fall.

However, electricity and gas bills continue to rise and are unlikely to stop going up so having a solar panel system will help insulate you from these rising prices that you have no control over.

Please see the table below to give you a rough idea of costs for different size properties.

Property TypeApprox roof sizeApprox system sizeAverage System CostCo2 Saved Per year (tonnes)Approx yearly yield
Small8m21kWp£2500-£30000.5900 kWh
Small semi-detached15m22kWp£3000-£400011800 kWh
Average semi-detached21m23kWp£4000-£60001.52700 kWh
Average detached28m24kWp£6000-£800023400 kWh

Can You Make Money With Solar Panels?

Though the Feed-In tariff has come to an end, some of the excess electricity generated by your solar energy will inevitably go back to the grid and as under current legislation it would be illegal not to be paid for this a new system has been devised. You may have heard about the Smart Export Guarantee which is coming into force this year. The Smart Export Guarantee requires medium – large electricity supply companies including SSE, EDF Energy, British Gas, npower, EON UK and ScottishPower (those with more than 150,000 electricity customers) to offer a Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). All qualifying suppliers will have to offer you terms of payment for your solar power, wind power & other renewable energy exports. Instead of a subsidy, the new guarantee will be a minimum rate and once the new system has kicked in, it seems inevitable that there’ll be competition between energy suppliers to offer better tariffs in order to gain your loyalty. Two crucial points on the Smart Export Guarantee were confirmed last year:

  • To benefit from the new proposed Export Guarantee scheme, you must have an MCS certified installation.
  • Anyone who installed solar panels between the end of the Feed in Tariff and the start of the new scheme will be eligible for the new scheme.

Here is a table as a rough guide that shows you which suppliers are offering you the best price for your surplus solar power:

Solar Panel Power Purchase Table

SupplierTariff NameTariff TypeTariff length Tariff Rate
Octopus EnergyOutgoing FixedFixed12-month fixed term5.5p
Octopus EnergyOutgoing AgilePegged to half-hourly wholesale rate
Social EnergySmarter ExportCurrently FixedNo Fixed End Date5.6p
Bulb EnergyExport PaymentsFixedNo Fixed End Date5.38p
E.ON EnergyFix & Export ExclusiveFixed12-month fixed term5.5p
OVO EnergyOVO SEG TariffFixed12-month fixed term4.0p
ScottishPowerSmart Export Variable TariffCurrently FixedNo Fixed End Date4.0p
SSESmart Export TariffFixedNo Fixed End Date3.5p
EDF EnergyExport+EarnFixed12-month fixed term3.5p
Shell EnergySEG V1 TariffCurrently FixedNo Fixed End Date3.5p
UtilitaSEG V1 TariffUnknownUnknown3.0p
E.ON EnergyFix & ExportFixed12-month fixed term3.0p
Green Network EnergySEG Tariff FixedUnknown1.0p
British GasExport & Earn FlexCurrently fixedNo Fixed End Date1.5p
Utility WarehouseUW Smart Export GuaranteeFixedNo Fixed End Date0.5p
This table shows you what different energy companies are willing to pay you for the excess power your solar panel system generates (Per kWh).

It is important to note that the best price may not always be the best deal for you, such as in cases where you are required to also be a customer of the supplier. Where the tariff is listed as currently fixed it means that the supplier has given warning that the current fixed price might change in the future.

Another option is to store the extra energy in a solar battery to use during non-daylight hours. Using your ‘free’ electricity will always be cheaper then purchasing electricity from the grid and energy companies will never pay you for your electricity at the same rate they sell it back to you.

Battery technology has improved a great deal and the price of buying one with a solar panel system has also fallen. As they increase in efficiency, they will give householders and businesses the potential to use very little electricity from the grid.

More and more people are choosing to install photovoltaic systems causing the solar technology industry to grow rapidly. Technological advances are happening all the time.

Solar power has become a part of our daily life in the 21st century from sun-powered homes to solar heated pools. There are many examples that clearly demonstrate the importance of using clean energy. As concerns mount regarding the dire effects of over-reliance on fossil fuels the future of solar energy can only get brighter.

Find out more about solar panels here.

UK Hits Renewable Energy Milestone in 2019

uk renewable energy

For the first time since the industrial revolution the amount of zero carbon power the UK generated in 2019 outstripped that from fossil fuels for a full 12 months making it the UK’s cleanest year on record.

This historic milestone has been reached at a time when we have come to the mid-point between 1990 and 2050 which is the year the UK has pledged to achieve at least a 100% reduction in emissions based on 1990 levels.

Fossil fuels have been pushed to their lowest share of the UK’s energy mix on record, according to official data with the rise of renewables combined with output from nuclear power plants

The National Grid which is responsible for balancing supply and demand in the UK’s electricity network has revealed figures showing that almost 50% of the country’s energy came from non-polluting sources over the year. Only 43% of the UK’s power came from fossil fuels and 8.5% from biomass and waste. Their data shows that a combination of wind farms, solar and nuclear energy, alongside energy imported by subsea interconnectors accounts for 48.5% of the country’s energy. Figures released by the government show that the UK depended on renewables such as wind and solar for 38.9% of it’s electricity in the third quarter of 2019 which was up by one third for the same period in 2018. Renewable energy has emerged as the UK’s biggest source of power as it moved narrowly ahead of gas-fired power making up 38.8% of the electricity mix.

While unprecedented bushfires rage across Australia the UK has arrived at a landmark moment in its fight against climate change.

National Grid CEO John Pettigrew said:

“As we enter a new decade, this truly is a historic moment and an opportunity to reflect on how much has been achieved. At National Grid, we know we have a critical role in the acceleration towards a cleaner future and are committed to playing our part in delivering a safe and secure energy system that works for all.” 

This milestone was achieved in 2019 as a result of the rapid growth of renewables as well as a sharp decline in the use of coal power which the UK once heavily relied upon. The diminishing number of coal-fired power stations contributed just 1% of the UK’s electricity in the third quarter, down from 2.5% in the same period in 2018. This is partly because the Cottam power plant in Nottinghamshire burned through it’s remaining coal stocks earlier than expected and before its official 30 September finish date. Two further coal plants, Aberthaw B and Fiddler’s Ferry, are due to close in March, leaving only four coal-fired power stations in the UK.

You can see just how much has been accomplished to date when you look at the numbers for previous years. Fossil fuels generated 75.5% of the UK’s energy in 1990. Coal plants at their peak in 2013 generated enough electricity to power 3m homes every year. In 2019, however the UK achieved its longest time period without burning coal of a full 18 days, 6 hours and 10 minutes. By the summer of 2020 only 3 coal powered plants will remain following the government’s promise to stamp out their use by 2025.

Added to this, the UK’s growing fleet of offshore wind projects generated more electricity than onshore windfarms for the first time. 9.8% of the UK’s electricity was generated by the giant turbines off the coast while onshore windfarms lagged a little behind generating 9.2% of the UK’s electricity in the third quarter, up from 7.3% in the same period in 2018. Wind power reached new highs in December generating almost 45% of the UK’s electricity on one day, and an all-time high of 16GW overnight.

These wind power highs led to thousands of homes being paid to plug in their electric vehicles overnight and set their dishwashers on timers for the early hours of the morning to make use of the extra energy.

The National Grid set out plans in December last year to invest almost £10bn in the UK’s gas and electricity networks over 5 years. Almost £1bn has been designated to allow the transition to Net Zero which includes investments in new equipment and technology to help the electricity system operator (ESO) to operate a Net Zero carbon electricity system by 2025. On top of that a further £85m has been assigned to supporting the decarbonisation of heat within the gas transmission network.

In the last 10 years the decarbonisation of the UK’s electricity system has been the fastest of 25 major economies which has been achieved through a combination of factors including subsidy schemes encouraging renewable energy use and a carbon tax paid by fossil fuel plants.

The UK adopted a target of net zero carbon emissions by 2050 last year making them the first big developed economy to do so and reflecting the growing concern among the British public over the effects of climate change.

Even with the current clean energy achievement, the UK faces significant challenges if it is going to meet its target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Mark Carney, the outgoing head of the Bank of England said that companies and investors need to step up planning for climate change and warned that many corporate assets were at risk of becoming worthless. The results of a stress test system launched by Mark Carney to determine which companies and industries would be worst hit by the effects of a warming planet, are not due to be published until 2021.

Indeed, several members of the British royal family have made public statements calling for more action on climate change. On New Year’s Eve, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge announced “the most prestigious environmental prize in history” which will be awarded to 5 people every year over the next decade in order to try and find answers to some of the greatest problems facing the planet. The award will focus on enterprises in energy, air pollution, freshwater levels and biodiversity, to name a few.

Prince William said:

“Either we continue as we are and irreparably damage our planet or we remember our unique power as human beings and our continual ability to lead, innovate and problem solve.”

Find out more about solar here. 

Find out more about heat pumps here.

Find out more about wind turbines here.