Work Begins On Army’s First Solar Farm To Support Its Commitment To Sustainability

UK Army Renewables

The installation of a 2.3MW photovoltaic solar farm at the British Army’s Defence School of Transport (DST) in Leconfield is part of a major project expected to deliver £1million in efficiency savings and a massive reduction of carbon dioxide emissions per year.

The project will support the Government’s commitment to meet Net Carbon Emissions by 2050.

Delivered by Centrica Business Solutions, the solar farm is the first of four photovoltaic solar farm sites to be built on the Army’s vast estate as part of Project PROMETHEUS, which are designed to increase renewable energy across the Defence estate.

Greg Mckenna, Managing Director of Centrica Business Solutions, said:

“We are proud to support the army launch what is an ambitious sustainability programme. It is incumbent on organisations big and small to show leadership in meeting net zero, and the army is doing just that.

Large scale solar projects like this can create significant cost and carbon savings, helping customers accelerate their transition to a sustainable future.”

Centrica Business Solutions started construction of the 2.3MW solar farm earlier this year. The DST site covers an area the size of six football pitches and consists of 4,248 Trina Vertex panels that are predicted to generate up to one third of the electricity needed on site. It will produce enough power to supply much of the site’s infrastructure including the single soldiers and family’s accommodation the offices, classrooms, and gym.

Together, the four pilot sites are expected to result in £1million in efficiency savings and to reduce emissions by 2,000 tCO2e (tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent) per year. These cost savings will be reinvested into Army infrastructure and help to reach the Army’s own ambition of Net Zero by 2045.

Major General David Southall, director basing and infrastructure and the Army’s sustainability champion, said:

“The Army remains wholly committed to play its part in meeting the UK’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions by 2050. To deliver this, we are working hard to reduce energy demand as well as increase ‘green’ supply across our estate.

Project PROMETHEUS is an exciting pilot which will showcase renewable energy generation across the Army estate. When operational, we will learn from our four pilot sites and scale-up fast across the wider Army estate to help decarbonise the power we use.”

The three remaining solar farms planned for construction will be based at Duke of Gloucester Barracks, South Cerney, Gloucestershire; Rock Barracks, Suffolk; and Baker Barracks on Thorney Island, Sussex and are scheduled for delivery by summer 2021. Beyond the pilot project, the Army hopes to deliver a further circa 80 solar farms across its estate over the next seven years.

Defence Procurement Minister, Jeremy Quin said:

“Project Prometheus is an example of how Defence is actioning its all-encompassing approach to reducing carbon emissions and increasing sustainability, announced last week.

The Army, through Prometheus, is showing our commitment to positive green initiatives, driving impressive energy efficiency savings.”

Project Prometheus is one of several sustainable initiatives undertaken by the army to support the UK Net Zero legislation. Project TAURUS saw a solar carport with electric car charging ports and battery storage built at the British Army Headquarters. The second phase of this project will go on to install a further six solar carports across the UK.

Project KELPIE is a pilot scheme which is looking at thermal battery storage, and project Romulus is working on the development of a ‘digital twin’ system for managing buildings’ carbon footprints. This system collects and collates data on how the infrastructure works. Further to this there are initiatives such as buildings Efficiency Management Systems (BEMS) which is working on improving sub-metering across the estate and near Zero Energy Buildings (NZEB) which is looking at making the estate more sustainable by enhancing the energy efficiency of Single living accommodation (SLA).

The army further shows its commitment to sustainability with Project MARKER which is a habitation creation scheme and a natural capital research project with Exeter University.

The Commandant of the Defence School of Transport, Colonel Chris Henson is very pleased that the Defence School of Transport site was chosen as the first solar farm site within Defence. He said that becoming more environmentally friendly and sustainable was something they are definitely focusing on at the school though he acknowledges that they are a long way off becoming carbon neutral.

Why It’s Worth Installing Solar Panels in 2021

solar panels

There have been some significant changes to the economics of solar power in recent years. The popular and successful feed-in tariff closed to new applicants in 2019 meaning that photovoltaics were no longer subsidised. Further to that the government changed the rules so that not every installation is eligible for the preferential 5% VAT. However, solar panels are still a fantastic and affordable investment due to the steady drop in solar prices that has occurred for many years. Thankfully, it appears that Covid-19 has not significantly affected the cost of solar panels, except to perhaps slow down the year on year drop in prices. The solar industry is expected to flourish again when normality returns.

According to government data, installing 4kW of solar panels in the first 3 months of 2020 was already £288 cheaper, on average, than it was in 2019. Thanks to an increase in demand and the development of new technology, solar panels costs have fallen by more than 50% over the past decade.

Overall, the cost of domestic solar electricity is now around 8p per kWh. This is a lot less than the 16p average domestic import cost from the grid, a cost that has increased by an average 4.75% each year over the past decade. Just this fact alone makes installing solar PV extremely worthwhile as you will be protecting yourself against future increases in the cost of importing power from the grid.

Financial considerations aside, installing solar panels is a good way to lower your carbon footprint. Solar energy is a natural, renewable source because it can be replenished unlike fossil fuels which are finite.  As solar energy relies entirely on gathering energy from the sun and converting it into electricity (or hot water) for use in your home, using it means that you are not producing any greenhouse gases or contributing to global warming. The Energy Saving Trust estimates the average UK home with a solar PV system installed could reduce carbon emissions by 1.3 to 1.6 tonnes per year depending on where you live in the UK.

Here are a few things to consider before installing solar panels:

  1. Payments for solar energy that you don’t use:

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) launched by the government on 1st January 2020 requires all large energy providers with at least 150,000 customers to pay households for the renewable electricity they export back to the grid. This is electricity you generate but don’t use yourself that is then pumped back to the National Grid. In order to qualify for the SEG your solar panel system must be 5MW capacity or less.

Energy suppliers have to pay a set rate for each kilowatt (kWh) of electricity you export. The amount you receive will vary by supplier but you’re free to shop around to get the best rates.

Though the scheme isn’t as generous as the feed-in tariff, the tariffs being offered by most suppliers are very reasonable and similar to the export tariff rates previously being offered by the government. Some energy providers are offering around 5.5p/kWh of exported electricity.

Depending on your circumstances, a 4kWp solar panel system could make around £340 per year which will go a long way to helping you recoup your original investment.

Homeowners with solar panels need no longer feel that their unused electricity is being wasted and the SEG rates should gradually increase as energy companies compete with one another.

  • You will need a smart meter to get the smart export guarantee payments:

In order to get the SEG tariff, you’ll need a smart meter that’s capable of tracking how much solar electricity you’re exporting to the grid.

If you have what’s known as a ‘SMETS 2’ meter, the second   generation of   smart meters or certain ‘SMETS 1’ meters (the first generation) you will be able to receive payments from your supplier for your exported electricity.

If you’re not sure what type of meter you have, you can contact your electricity supplier to help you find out what type of meter you have and whether it supports the SEG. If needed you can arrange to get a new meter installed.

  • Your solar panel system & installation must be MCS certified:

To qualify for the SEG tariff your system and installation must be MCS accredited. MCS, or the Microgeneration Certification Scheme, is a quality assurance scheme for microgeneration technologies. Technology which is MCS accredited has been installed to a high standard and will operate both safely and efficiently. The MCS is certified by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

  • Get the most value out of your solar panels:

The savings you make on your electricity bill depend on a few different factors including system size, electricity use and whether you are home during the day to use the energy you are producing. It is best to use more energy during the day when the solar panels are generating. This will save you even more money as you will need less electricity from the grid.

In the winter, when there is less sunlight and you’ll generate less solar power, it’s a good idea to set appliances such as washing machines and dishwashers to run while it is light outside to avoid taking energy from the grid as much as possible.

The Energy Saving Trust estimates that a typical four-kWp system   can reduce your bill by between £90/year and £240/year depending on where you live and how much you use the energy you are producing during the day (kWp stands for kilowatt peak which is how the power produced by panels is measured).

  • A south facing roof will work best:

The best type of roof for solar panels is a south facing roof as they tend to generate the most electricity. South facing roof panels generate the most energy because they get the sun when it is at its most intense for the longest period of time. You’ll still get some benefit if your roof faces south-west or west, but it may be less effective, and you might not get the maximum savings. Ideally, your roof should be unshaded between 10am and 4pm.

  • The further south you live the better:

When you are calculating how much installing a solar system will save you it’s important to take into account where you live. The further south you live the better. Though you don’t need to live a hot sunny climate to benefit from solar panels, where you live can make a difference when it comes to the panels’ effectiveness. Northern homes will get slightly less daylight than their southern neighbours.

The Energy Saving Trust estimates that panels in Manchester could save you between £95 and £230 each year on your electricity bills, compared with around £100-£240 in London and £90-£220 a year in Stirling.

  • You can still switch energy supplier:

Your energy supplier doesn’t need to be the same as the supplier that pays you for your solar generated energy, so you are still free to switch and take advantage of the lowest priced and/or fixed tariffs being offered by different suppliers.

There is a range of suppliers offering the SEG. Ofgem has a list of all of them on their website.

  • Solar panels can affect the value of your property:

There may be some people who find solar panels on the roofs of houses ugly which could push the value of those houses down, but it is much more likely that buyers will find a more efficient home generating its own energy an attractive proposition.

Something else to bear in mind for those living in energy inefficient homes is that they could soon find it harder to get a mortgage, after a Government report called on lenders to help improve energy performance.

Mortgage lenders may soon be required to track and annually disclose the average Energy Performance Certificate rating of the properties they lend against.

The Government could then use this information to publish ‘lender league tables’ based on the average EPC ratings within their portfolios.

  • Planning permission should not be needed:

Generally, you will not need planning permission for solar PV systems. There are a few exceptions which include, if your property has a flat roof, is listed or in a conservation area.

You might need to get approval from your council’s building control team, so remember to check with your local authority before starting your solar project.

In England and Wales, the Government’s Planning Portal says that panels are likely to be considered as “permitted development”.

  1. Solar panels are mainly low maintenance:

If your solar system has been properly installed and well-designed little maintenance will be required. It will however be likely that you will need to replace the inverter, a gadget which is a key part of the mechanism within about 25 years at a cost of approximately £800.

There are of course things that can go wrong. Make sure to check the installer warranty which can cover you for up to 20 years.

If the panels have been damaged by something unexpected such as a storm, you may also be covered by buildings insurance. It’s worth checking what your insurance covers before you have the solar panels installed.

Solar panels are still a very good investment despite the lack of government subsidies. As long as you use at least 50% of your solar power on site, then, with a sensible choice of import tariff, solar will make financial sense. The more you use on site, the greater the savings. It’s definitely worth bearing in mind that the cost of grid electricity is rising.

UK’s Flagship Green Homes Grant Scrapped

The government has abandoned its much-heralded Green Homes Grant scheme which was at the heart of Boris Johnson’s promise to build back greener after the Covid-19 pandemic. Just over 6 months after the scheme was launched in September 2020 the government has announced that the scheme will close to new applicants on Wednesday, 31st March. The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy have stated however that applications made before the deadline will be honoured and any vouchers already issued may be extended upon request.

The axing of the scheme which offered households grants of up to £5,000 or £10,000 to put in insulation or low-carbon heating, means the UK is left without a plan for tackling one of the biggest sources of greenhouse emissions. As things stand, Britain’s inefficient, leaky homes account for around a fifth of total carbon dioxide emissions. Green campaigners have said that scrapping the programme which was the only significant green stimulus policy announced by the government to date was a serious blow as the UK prepares to host vital UN climate talks called Cop26 in November this year.

Ed Matthew from climate change think tank E3G said:

“The end of the government’s flagship green homes scheme is a tragedy that was avoidable. There was plenty of demand for the grants, but the scheme was plagued by incompetent administration. The reality is that we can’t get to net-zero without decarbonising our homes.”


In the end the Green Homes Grant (GHG) has reached just 10% of the 600,000 homes the chancellor promised would be improved. The roll-out of the scheme has been beset with problems from the start. There were more than 123,000 applications for the grant by the end of February, but only 28,000 vouchers had been issued and only 5,800 energy efficiency measures had been installed.

The scheme was originally expected to create tens of thousands of green jobs, but it is more likely now that many ‘green’ jobs could be lost in a time of deep economic uncertainty for many.

Builders and installers have complained of a disproportionate amount of red tape in registering for the scheme while households have found it difficult to access. A US company was awarded the contract to administer the grants, but a Guardian investigation found that numerous people were unable to get a response at all. Although there were some householders who were reluctant to apply for the grants because they were worried about catching Covid from contractors coming into their home, in some parts of the country installers were overwhelmed by demand. To register to become a Green Homes Grant installer, installers needed to have both a TrustMark license number and a Microgeneration Certification Scheme (MCS) licence number for the installation of low carbon measures such as heat pumps.

Despite these accreditations, checks on the way the money was spent were so rigorous that some installers have ended up going out of business because payments were so badly delayed. Far from creating new jobs some builders have had to lay off staff due to problems with the scheme. Many people were given conflicting advice while builders have been frustrated by the rules imposed on heat pump installations in particular. Perhaps the scheme was doomed to fail from the start as many installers were reluctant to register for the scheme having learnt from past experience of similar schemes that saw them out of pocket while waiting for payment.

The amount of money allocated for greening homes is being reduced from the £2.5bn announced last year as part of the government’s bid to “build back better”.  Of that, £1bn was set aside last year for local authorities to improve homes for people on low incomes, now raised to £1.3bn. The Green Homes Grant was meant to account for the additional £1.5bn, most of which remains unspent.

The demise of the Green Homes Grant means that 20m households on moderate incomes will be left without any government help to undertake the improvements necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

When the government announced the scrapping of the scheme, they said that the scheme was only ever intended to be a short-term stimulus, but could this be part of an ongoing problem?

Ed Matthew said:

“There has been a stop-start approach (to home energy efficiency) which has stopped businesses investing in skills and has failed to give households confidence. They (the government) must pick themselves up and create a new green programme that works and has long-term funding in place from the beginning. It is surely not beyond the capability of this government to give money away at a time of economic crisis.”

WHAT IS THE MICROGENERATION CERTIFICATION SCHEME?

MCS certification is an internationally recognised quality and safety scheme for small-scale renewable energy technologies. This includes solar PV and solar thermal panels.

Technology which is MCS accredited has been installed to a high standard and will operate both safely and efficiently. The MCS is certified by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).

MCS For Solar PV and Solar Thermal Panels In New Builds

If you are a building developer, contractor or architect looking to install a solar PV system in a new build we can provide you with everything you need to ensure your installation runs smoothly and complies with manufacture & industry standards.

Together with Eco Green Partners, we aim to provide a comprehensive equipment and support package so that all you or your contractor have to do is install the supplied equipment and supply all additional materials to complete the installation to MCS standards.

Our unique package includes a bespoke system design, supply & commissioning of the equipment and MCS certification.

Drawing on our specialist expertise and many years of experience we are able to select equipment based on key factors such as value for money, life cycle costs, performance, reliability, and warranty.

To find out more about this fantastic opportunity please visit our Renewable shop at https://shop.renewableenergyhub.co.uk/.

Benefits of MCS Accreditation for Supply & Installation

  • Signifies product quality; MCS accredited technology has been tested to ensure it meets the necessary quality and safety standards. Installing MCS certified solar panels will be more efficient, reliable, and safer than those without certification from MCS.
  • Proof of competence; You can be confident that your renewable technology has been installed safely when the work has been MCS certified.  This will include making sure that the system achieves the highest levels of energy efficiency and performance.
  • Peace of mind; MCS certification guarantees that both your solar panels and their installation meet the highest standards. This means that you will be able to get the most out of your solar panels for a long time to come.
  • Consumer protection; MCS offer consumer protection which will protect you in the event that the information you’ve been given about the scheme or the renewable technology is misleading, the generation system is underperforming or the information in the contract and the actual service provided don’t match up. If you have not happy with your MCS product or installation, MCS is committed to resolving the problem fairly and impartially.
  • Eligibility for financial incentive schemes; Your solar panels and their installation must be MCS accredited to be eligible for financial schemes such as the Smart Export Guarantee (solar PV), the Renewable Heat Incentive and Green Homes Grant (solar thermal). These financial schemes will help you to earn a quicker return on your investment in solar.

Financial Incentive Schemes for Solar PV and Solar Thermal Panels

Smart Export Guarantee

The Smart Export Guarantee (SEG) is an obligation set by the government for licensed electricity suppliers to offer a tariff and make payment to small-scale low-carbon generators for any renewable electricity they have generated and exported to the National Grid. It replaces the Feed-in Tariff (FIT) scheme, which pays many solar panel owners for the electricity they generate at home.

Once your MCS solar panels are installed, you can earn money for the energy generated that you’re not using yourself through the SEG. Through the scheme, energy suppliers with more than 150,000 customers will pay a set amount for each kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by your solar panels. Energy suppliers set their own rates, as long as it’s more than zero so it’s definitely worth comparing them. Currently, you can get between 2-5.6p per kWh.

The biggest energy companies all offer SEG tariffs. Other companies with SEG customers include Avro Energy, Bulb, E, Green Network Energy, Octopus, OVO, Shell, Utilita and Utility Warehouse.

In order to be paid for your excess electricity you have to sign up to a SEG tariff with a company. If you don’t do this, you will not be paid for your electricity and will export any you don’t use to the grid for free.

Eligibility Criteria for SEG

If you install solar panels, a wind turbine or other renewable generation at home, you should be able to sign up to a SEG tariff. There are, however, certain criteria that you’ll need to meet, including the following:

  • Your installation must be 5MW capacity or less (50kW for micro-CHP).
  • Your installation must be MCS-certified.
  • You’ll need a smart meter or a meter that can provide half-hourly readings for electricity export.

Smart Meters give both you and your energy provider accurate and regular updates on how much electricity and gas you use. They measure your energy use in the same way that traditional gas and electricity meters do, the main difference being that smart meters automatically send this information over wireless networks to your supplier.

Electricity smart meters are connected to the mains and monitor how much power you’re using in real time. They mean more accurate bills for you and remove the costs of meter readings, which are currently added to your bills.

When you get a smart meter installed, you’ll get a smart electricity meter, a smart gas meter if you use gas, and an in-home display (IHD). These elements will talk to each other wirelessly. 

You should be able save money by being more efficient with energy used at home. However, smart meters will only save you money if you use and act on the information provided by your in-home display to cut your consumption. 

Green Homes Grant

The Green Homes grant can help you with the upfront costs of installing solar thermal.  The grant will pay two-thirds of the costs of energy-efficient improvements, up to the value of £5,000 per household (£10,000 for low- income households). As well as solar thermal, the Green Homes Grant can also be used for renewable heating systems, such as heat pumps. This scheme is currently set to run until March 2022. Solar panels are not eligible for the Green Homes Grant.

Renewable Heat Incentive

The Renewable Heat Incentive provides financial support for people who use certain renewable technologies to heat their homes such as solar thermal systems. The payments are meant to help offset the cost of installing and running your new heating system.

After joining the RHI scheme, you receive a quarterly tariff payment for every kilowatt hour (kWh) of renewable heat you produce. You get these payments for seven years. It’s possible for households to install more than one technology and receive payments for each system they use. The RHI can also be used in conjunction with the Green Homes Grant but only if you do not currently receive RHI payments for the specific installation you are applying for with the grant. You are required to apply for a Green Homes Grant and then apply for RHI. This cannot be done the other way round, RHI first and then Green Homes Grant. The cost of the Green Homes Grant vouchers will then be taken off the value of your projected RHI payments.

The amount you’re paid per kWh of heat depends on the renewable technology you install, when you apply to receive RHI, and your home’s Energy Performance Certificate. Your payment amount will be estimated, based on your home’s EPC rating.

The rates you get can also change annually, in line with the Retail Prices Index or Consumer Prices Index.

Why You Should Install Renewable Energy In Your Self Build Home In 2021

self build renewable energy

If you are a self-builder planning your own home building project in 2021 sustainability will no doubt be a priority for you. You will need to consider what types of renewable energy systems can power your home but make as low an impact on the environment as possible. There are a number of renewable energy systems available which can considerably reduce your carbon emissions and cut your energy costs. Established carbon neutral technologies have never been more affordable with the greatest results being achieved in new build projects. With renewable energy prices falling and incentives to go green now is the ideal time to build your own home and create an energy efficient space that will have much lower long-term running costs.

It’s an excellent time to get ahead of the game as the UK government has ruled that gas boilers will be banned in all new homes built after 2025. The government’s “future homes standard” will require all new builds to have low-carbon systems, such as electric heat pumps. The ruling is part of the government’s ten-point initiative to help the UK reach its target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. From this year all new homes are expected to achieve a 31% reduction in carbon emissions to ensure industry is ready to meet the new standards by 2025.

Although any experienced self-builder will understand that doing it yourself isn’t the easiest path to take, they will also be aware that the cost of a self-build home can be considerably cheaper than if you were to buy from a commercial developer. For many people money will be the biggest incentive to installing renewable energy into their home.

It’s almost always cheaper to merge renewables into a new build rather than trying to retrofit into an older house. You will be able to tap into the best options available rather than having to compromise.

If you build your own home as a DIY ‘self-build’ project or contract a builder to create a ‘custom-built’ home, you will be eligible to apply for the Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).  With the RHI, you can enjoy financial returns for up to 7 years after the instalment of renewable energy systems, meaning the end cost is far less. In order to be eligible for the RHI your renewable energy systems must be accredited by the Microgeneration Certification Scheme. MCS certification is an internationally recognised quality and safety scheme for small-scale renewable energy technologies.

Some of the most common renewable energy technologies available are:

Air Source Heat Pumps

Air source heat pumps are one of the most popular options for self-builds being cheaper to run than traditional heating sources as well as producing significantly less CO2 emissions which will promote a higher Standard Assessment Procedure rating (SAP). SAP calculations are a requirement of the Building Regulations and are required for all newly built dwellings in the UK. An SAP is the official, government approved system for assessing the energy rating for a new home. Air source heat pumps run on electricity and work by converting outside air to warm air, which then acts as your heating system. They are compatible with solar panels which means you can generate your own electricity to power your air source heat pump. Known for being efficient and reliable air source heat pumps are also eligible for the government’s RHI.  

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground Source Heat pumps use the heat energy collected in the ground from solar exposure to provide your heating and hot water needs.

Installing the ground source heat pump system is perfect for new builds as it requires a lot of soil upheaval in your garden or drilling deep down into the earth. Installation isn’t cheap but the end result is a system with a very low running cost. These pumps are an attractive choice for self-builds because after you’ve made the initial outlay, the RHI will give you a good return on your investment by the end of the 7-year term.

Solar PV & Solar Thermal

Solar panels, otherwise known as photovoltaics (PV) are a system for generating electric power via solar cells which convert energy from the sun into a flow of electrons via the photovoltaic effect. Generally better for a south facing property, solar panels are improving all the time with specialist PV cells able to generate power even on a cloudy day.

You can either use this energy directly in your home or store it with a special renewable battery storage system. If you don’t need to use all your stored energy you can sell excess energy back to the grid. Solar PV is far more affordable today and can be paired with air source heat pumps or used as a standalone system to generate all the electricity your household will need. With oil and gas prices rising year on year the sooner you invest in solar the more quickly you will get a return. There are no longer any government subsidies for solar panels, but you can benefit from the Smart Export Guarantee (SEG). The SEG pays customers of the big energy companies for renewable electricity they have generated and put into the grid. They have had to participate in the SEG since the beginning of 2020.

The sun is an infinite renewable energy source which can also be used for solar heating water. Solar thermal panels are ideal for a self-build project. They work by transferring the suns heat within special pipes on your roof via copper wires inside. Solar thermal panels are a great option for heating water for a new build home and can be a part of your eco build strategy. They are also eligible for the RHI.

An important benefit to bear in mind when installing renewable energy in your self-build is that your house value will ultimately rise too. Having a super energy efficiency rating will make your home even more attractive to potential buyers knowing that they won’t have to go through a ‘transition’ to clean energy later on as the work is already done. This means that renewable energy is a real investment into your present and future wealth.

Investing in a green self-build project means your home will no longer be a part of the problem causing climate crisis but instead part of the solution. According to the Climate Change Committee (CCC) 40% of the UK’s emissions currently come from households which explains why the government is so keen to see change in the way we use energy in our homes.

Air source heat pumps, solar panels, solar thermal and ground source heat pumps produce a significantly lower amount of CO2 making your home clean and green.

Another factor that should be taken into account is the degree of pollution generated by using fossil fuels such as gas, oil and coal which affects the health of many people. When you build your new home using renewable energy you are a making a big difference to your contribution to air pollution. By not burning fossil fuels such as gas, oil and coal via home heating and electricity, you are no longer pumping poisonous gases into the atmosphere which benefits you, your whole community, and the future health of our planet.

Ultimately you may be able to go off-grid entirely with renewable energy, no longer subject to energy price increases and self-sufficient. To be completely independent of the national grid, a single renewable technology won’t be enough. A combination of a storage battery, a solar PV system and a heat pump will likely be needed to match the usual energy needs of an average household on grid.

It is clear that the technology is now available and appealing for those thinking about how to start a self-build project.

Good News for East Devon Homes As Centrica Partners with Council To Install Heat Pumps

Devon

One of the greatest challenges that the UK faces in meeting its net-zero carbon emissions target by 2050 is the decarbonisation of heat.

Last year, British Gas owner Centrica called for a national heat pump installation drive over the next decade suggesting that the UK should be aiming to install one million heat pumps by 2025. Centrica believes that we may be more than a decade away from hydrogen domestic heating being viable.

Following on from this, one of the projects Centrica is undertaking in 2021 involves an ambitious heat pump installation scheme. The energy firm is working with East Devon District Council to install heat pumps and other low carbon technology at 78 homes in East Devon by the end of March. Houses & bungalows located in Lyme Regis, Exeter and Axminster will have their solid fuel heating and immersion systems replaced with low carbon alternatives, the plan being to reduce energy bills for residents and bring about a significant reduction in carbon emissions. The scheme is being delivered as part of the Green Homes Grant scheme with additional investment from East Devon District Council.

Each home will be provided with an air-source heat pump to include all necessary components, solar panels, new radiators, upgraded insulation and a new intelligent heating control system. The heat pump being used is the Vaillant aroTHERM air-source heat pump while Mixergy, a firm that Centrica has invested in and partnered with is providing an unvented heat pump cylinder with built-in solar PV modulating diverter. Stelrad is supplying individually sized low water volume radiators complete with thermostatic valves.

The objective of the scheme is to bring the ECP rating E or below up to a minimum of a C, although it is expected that most properties will achieve ECP B or above.

An application for the second phase of the project has already been submitted which if successful could see sustainable heating technology extended to a further 75 properties in the area.

Sophie Davies, housing business and customer improvement manager at East Devon District Council, said:

“This scheme has real potential to change tenants’ lives for the better, by making their home heating systems more effective and more affordable, while reducing global warming and improving air quality. Collaboration has been at the heart of the project, which can now be used as a best practice example in the low carbon economy, showing others what can be achieved and encouraging them to follow suit. We’re proud to be investing in our tenants, and to be investing in a green future for East Devon.”

P H Jones, Centrica’s specialist social housing division are overseeing Project planning, delivery, and compliance with the support of engineers, electricians, and managers from British Gas.

Ian Mather, business development manager at P H Jones, said:

“Now that the first units are in, early indicators and tenant feedback suggest that the project will over-deliver against the targets we’ve set, in terms of its environmental benefits, and by making residents’ homes warmer and more comfortable, for less. We’re committed to being at the forefront of the UK’s transition to low carbon heating, drawing on the expertise within our organisation to make a meaningful difference to local communities in everyday life, and in the context of our national net zero goals.”

It is encouraging to see this scheme getting underway in East Devon as the Green Homes Grant has been beset with problems and delays. The idea behind the grant was to target green home improvements, issuing vouchers for technology such as heat pumps as well as solar thermal and insulation. However, the Environmental Audit Committee has warned that at the current rate it will take 10 years to meet the government’s target, with only 20,000 vouchers issued so far out of a total of 600,000 on offer.

Further to this it has recently been announced that any unspent funding of the £2 billion Green Homes Grant scheme would not be rolled over into 2021/22.

The Best UK Green Energy Suppliers in 2021 And How To Choose One

UK Energy

It has become ever more apparent in the last decade that climate change and its side effects are the most pressing challenges that mankind is facing. Fortunately, there is a way we can prevent disaster and that is to reduce greenhouse emissions.

Back in 2019 The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy revealed that 85% of people in the UK supported the use of renewable energy. However, for many people, installing renewable energy into their home can still be too expensive despite government initiatives such as the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and the Green Homes Grant. If you want to reduce your carbon footprint but are not yet in a position to install renewable energy the next best thing is to switch your energy supplier to one with green credentials. There has never been an easier time to switch to a green energy supplier. The industry is growing at such an incredible rate that there is more choice than ever before as the market moves towards embracing renewable energy.

It isn’t difficult to find a supplier that can provide 100% green electricity these days. In fact, most of the Big Six energy companies, British Gas, EDF Energy, E.ON, Npower, Scottish Power, and SSE have tariffs that offer this. You will have to turn your attention to the smaller energy suppliers if you want green gas too or at least a share of it.

What Is Green Energy

Green energy is electricity and gas that is generated from renewable sources instead of fossil fuels like coal and gas. It is renewable because it is collected from sources, such as wind and the sun’s rays, which are naturally replenishing. If you burn coal, you’re left with nothing but ashes and carbon dioxide.

The main renewables used are wind power (on-shore and off-shore), solar power, wave and tidal, biomass, hydroelectric and geothermal. Though nuclear power doesn’t produce carbon dioxide and is considered by some as a green, low carbon alternative to fossil fuels, it does produce nuclear waste which means it is not generally classed as ‘green’.

‘Green gas’ refers to Biomethane, which is a naturally occurring gas produced from the breakdown of organic materials and landfill gas and there is also syngas made from biofuels. 

How To Choose The Best Green Energy Supplier For You

Green energy doesn’t have to cost you more. If you use a price comparison website, you will find some green energy suppliers that offer cheaper tariffs and some that are more expensive. The price difference is usually down to just how green the energy really is. On the whole, you will pay more for a supplier that generates its own electricity from renewable sources and provides some level of green gas than you will if the supplier simply matches your usage by buying green energy.

Buying your energy from a green energy supplier does not mean that you will get all your energy from renewable sources. The National Grid electricity network links all power stations which means that your electricity will come from that pooled network.

To decide which green energy supplier is right for you, check their fuel mix and see if they can guarantee that you’re getting green electricity or if they are actually just offsetting your usage. It is possible to find out what type of energy your supplier uses as each year energy companies must report to Ofgem exactly how their energy is generated. This allows you to see which suppliers are truly green and which are still relying on coal for example.

If you want your energy supplier to provide some green gas you will need to check that they are a member of the Green Gas Certification Scheme. The green gas you receive will also be mixed with normal ‘natural’ gas. The UK does not produce enough green gas to supply all those who want it, but most companies offer carbon offsetting as an alternative to green gas.

You may be anxious about the stability of the smaller suppliers fearing that they will be less reliable, but it’s worth knowing that even if your provider goes bust, you’ll just be moved to a different supplier. According to customer satisfaction polls many of the smaller suppliers have better service and happier customers. Some of them such as Bulb and Octopus have become as well-known as the Big Six suppliers.

There are approximately 355 green energy tariffs currently on sale in the UK but it’s not like for like and often what is on offer is misleading.

Many supposed renewable energy suppliers are actually dependent upon a certification system from Ofgem called ‘Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin’ (REGO) certificates. These REGOs are sold alongside the energy itself per MWh (Megawatt hours) to the energy supplier, allowing them to prove their energy is green. The more green energy a company generates, the more REGOs they can earn. However, a loophole currently exists that enables suppliers to buy REGOs without the energy. They can buy fossil fuel energy and provided they match the amount of REGOs per MWh they can still call themselves green. The term to describe this is greenwashing. These so called light green energy suppliers can buy themselves an ‘eco status’ without investing in renewables. Ofgem are looking at what measures they can bring in to stop this happening. In the meantime, if the deal you’re considering appears to be offering seriously cheap energy then it may be that your saving is costing the planet elsewhere.

Here are 5 the best renewable energy providers who are specifically offering 100% renewable energy and at least 10% green gas (biogas) making them the most sustainable on the market.  Many offer their energy tariffs at competitive rates with fixed rate options so that even if they are not the cheapest energy supplier, you can still expect your energy bills to come down.

Green Energy UK

Green Energy UK is the only supplier to offer 100% green gas as well as green electricity, making them the truly sustainable choice. Their renewable sources are hydro, solar and wind. Unlike other green energy suppliers, who offset their gas emissions Green Energy UK produces all of the gas it provides to customers from anaerobic digestion. You’ll have to pay more for these green credentials than you would with the ‘big six’ energy companies though, because Green Energy UK is exempt from the Ofgem price cap. However, Trust Pilot ranks Green Energy UK at 4.5, albeit from a smaller review pool, with excellent customer service and a smooth transition for those switching over.

They’ve been in business since 2001 and aspire “to be pioneering champions of green and sustainable energy in the UK and to delight our customers”.

Ecotricity

Ecotricity, established back in 1996 is one of the longest standing renewable energy companies. Their mission is simple:

“To change the way electricity is made and used in Britain”.

They guarantee 100% green electricity and carbon neutral green gas. Their renewable sources are wind, solar and hydro. Their profits are invested into further renewable projects such as wind and solar farms and they own a grass-fed green gas mill though you won’t get 100% green gas from the company. Ecotricity is the only energy company to get a stamp of approval from the Vegan Society. If you are looking for an ethical option, this may be the energy company for you as they also fund and support anti fracking campaigners and have followed in the footsteps of Extinction Rebellion to declare a climate emergency.

In 2020 they were awarded the title as one of the greenest energy suppliers in the UK by ‘Which?’. They are also responsible for a number of electric vehicle points across the UK making electric car drives lives easier.

Their tariffs include one simple rate with no contract and no exit fee. There are however some negative reviews on Trust Pilot around closing accounts and switching away from Ecotricity to bear in mind.

Octopus Energy

Another big player in the renewable energy supply, Octopus has a strapline ‘doing energy better’ which rings true. They won 1st place in the 2019 Which? survey as a recommended supplier. As well as winning awards for customer satisfaction, 97% of the company’s 22,000 reviews on Trustpilot are rated good or excellent. That’s very rare for an energy company, and means Octopus has the maximum five-star rating on Trustpilot. Launched in 2016, they supply their customers, in the region of 1.4 million UK homes with 100% renewable energy only.

They offer a tariff with 100% renewable electricity and carbon offsetting for gas, a tariff that includes perks for electric vehicle drivers as well as a tariff that tracks wholesale energy prices with customers able to view daily costs. They promise to make sure that any carbon involved in the production of your gas will be offset and to do this they have partnered with Brighton-based charity Renewable World which specialises in carbon reduction projects.

Octopus has strong green credentials with a policy of investing into sustainability projects and research. They are well-respected for their company ethics and transparent green tariffs with no exit fees. Their tariffs are some of the cleanest and cheapest deals you can find in the UK.

Bulb

Bulb is an excellent choice if you have renewable energy technology in your home because it allows you to sell your excess energy back to the grid.

They make things simple by offering one variable tariff with 100% renewable electricity and 10% green gas with the rest of the gas supply being offset by carbon reduction projects. A variable tariff means that you can benefit if the wholesale price of energy drops but you need to bear in mind that the extra cost is also passed on to you if the price goes up. The average customer can reduce their carbon footprint by 3.5 tonnes per year. Bulb also doesn’t charge an exit fee for switching to another energy supplier. Each time someone switches to them as their energy supplier they donate £1 to a children’s education charity about growing your own food. Plus, if you recommend a friend, you’ll both get £50. 

They have a good reputation for customer service with a score of 4.7 on trust pilot. They are known for an easy transition, fair prices, and transparency on bills. Launched in 2015, they have become increasingly popular supplying over 1.4 million homes, which is in no small part down to their affordability. 

Bulb buys its energy from independent generators, such as hydropower, solar and wind so it can guarantee its electricity is 100% green. The 10% green gas comes from renewable sources such as food and farm waste with the rest being offset by supporting carbon reduction projects around the world making its gas 100% carbon neutral.

Ovo Energy

Launched in 2009, Ovo Energy was one of the new kinds of digital challenger brand looking to take on the Big Six. In 2019, Ovo Energy acquired SSE and its 3.5 million customers, technically making it one of the Big Six. However, they are running the two brands separately for now.

Ovo Energy prides itself on excellent customer service which is backed up by 87% of reviews on Trust Pilot though not as highly rated as Octopus currently. Their renewable energy sources include Anaerobic digestion, solar, wind and hydro. One thing to bear in mind though is that Ovo Energy charge a £30 exit charge per fuel.

With 100% renewable electricity, Ovo also provides 100% carbon neutral gas for members of the Ovo Beyond scheme, which is made up of 15% green gas and 85% offset using carbon reduction projects like the Katingan project in Indonesia, which invests in peatland restoration and protection.

They pledge to plant a tree in your name every year, through a partnership with the Woodland Trust, when you switch to them and they also support charities through the Ovo Foundation.

The best way to find a cheap green energy tariff is to use a comparison website. Most will let you filter the results, so you just see renewable tariffs. There are many comparison websites to choose from. To find your cheapest deal, grab a recent bill from your current provider so you know how much gas and electricity you’re using for an accurate comparison and go from there.

The UK Takes A Major Step Towards Phasing Out Fossil Fuels

fossil fuels end

New analysis from the independent climate think tank Ember in partnership with Agora Energiewende has shown that the UK’s renewable electricity outpaced its fossil fuel generation for the first time in 2020. According to Ember, renewables could remain the largest source of electricity in the future.

Renewable energy sources, wind, solar, bioenergy and hydropower all combined to generate a record-breaking 42% of the UK’s power in 2020. This compares with 41% generated from gas and coal plants together.

In what was a remarkable year the new report revealed that renewables have finally tipped the balance – in 2019 renewables generated 37 per cent of the UK’s electricity compared with 45 per cent for fossil fuels.

The report further suggests that harmful carbon-emitting fossil fuels, coal and gas are on their way out as a source of power generation in the UK. 

June 2020 saw the UK completing a record-breaking run without coal-fired power. The run came to an end on 16th June after nearly 68 days and made it the longest run without coal since 1882. By the time, the coal-free run ended it had far outstripped the previous record for the length of time the UK had gone without fossil fuel of approximately 18 days set in June 2019.

Though renewable energy has outstripped fossil fuels during the summer months before, this is the first time that renewables have been the main source of the UK’s electricity over a year.

This turnaround between fossil fuels and renewables came as energy demands fell last year as a result of the Covid-19 lockdowns and took place on the back of longer-term declines in electricity use.

Ember said that the growth of windfarms was one of the main reasons for the UK’s renewable record. Very nearly a quarter of the UK’s electricity was generated by wind turbines in 2020 which is double the share of wind power in 2015 and up from a fifth of the UK’s electricity in 2019. In comparison, electricity from gas-fired power plants was forced to a five-year low of 37% of the UK’s electricity with coal power plants accounting for just 2% of the electricity mix.

A representative from the firm said:

“Analysis by Ember reveals that a major milestone has been reached in 2020 in the United Kingdom, as renewables overtook fossil fuels as the main source of electricity. With coal power already near zero, fossil gas was forced to a five-year low in 2020 by growth in wind power and below-average demand due to Covid-19. While UK renewables production is dominated by wind, it still remains overly reliant on risky bioenergy, which must be replaced with cleaner power to fully decarbonise the UK grid.” 

However, gas still remains the UK’s single largest power source as the renewables record portion for 2020 is made up of different energy sources.

Bioenergy, which is power generated by burning wood pellets grew a little in 2020 to make up 12% of the UK’s electricity. Using this energy source has raised concerns as it carries with it a much higher risk than wind and solar of negative climate and environmental impacts.

The Ember analysis also revealed solar and hydro power were unchanged since last year, making up only 4% and 2% of the UK’s electricity production, respectively.

Charles Moore, the programme leader at Ember, predicts that with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson’s 40 GW 2030 offshore wind target, gas generation will undergo further rapid declines over the 2020s. He said that it’s clear the UK has begun its journey towards gas power phase-out in 2035 as recommended by the Climate Change Committee.

The report said that the trend towards renewable energy power sped up in 2020 as a result of the sudden drop in demand from the National Grid for energy as shops, offices and restaurants closed during the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. Undoubtedly, the pandemic had an impact on the energy industry.

Renewable energy, the cheapest source of electricity in the UK was able to claim a bigger share of the electricity mix as the electricity system operator let gas plants go idle and called on nuclear reactors to lower their output in order to stop the grid being overwhelmed with more electricity than the UK actually required.

Ember forecasts that renewable electricity will keep its lead in the UK’s electricity system in the years ahead even when normal demand levels return, as new wind and solar farms are built across the country.

Charles Moore said:

“The coronavirus has accelerated the trend towards renewable energy, but we would have expected renewables to overtake fossil fuels by 2021. It has brought forward the trend by only a year or two. Renewables will probably remain above fossil fuels this year, but it’s very dependent on various things like nuclear output and the weather. Even if fossil fuels return this year it will be a narrow lead and a short-lived one.”

The UK recorded a series of green energy records in 2020, including the highest recorded output for wind during Storm Bella on Boxing day and a new record for solar power in April.

The electricity system operator owned by the National Grid, said that the larger role for renewables also caused the “carbon intensity” of the UK’s power system to drop to its lowest level on record. It said that “carbon intensity” had fallen to 181g of carbon dioxide per kilowatt-hour of electricity last year, compared with an average of 215g in 2019 and 248g in 2018, it said. This is a good result for the UK in the face of potential catastrophic climate change.

Official Advisors Say that Ending UK’s Carbon Emissions is Affordable

UK_Carbon_Emissions

According to the UK government’s advisors on climate change the world’s first detailed route map for ending the UK’s use of fossil fuels is both “ambitious and affordable” reports the Guardian.

This route map sets out a cleaner, greener future that would see half of the cars on the road being electric by 2030 and 10,000 giant wind turbines in the North sea. The Climate Change Committee’s (CCC) report found that the future reductions in cost from no longer having to buy oil and gas almost offsets the £50bn a year investment needed in low carbon power, transport, and home heating across the next three decades.

Jonathan Marshall, at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit said:

“These stretching targets will see climate policies increasingly overlap with everyday life, bringing changes in the cars we drive and how we heat our homes. The overwhelming backing among the British public for climate action means that these measures are likely to be popular and well supported, as long as well-thought policies are used to bring about change.”

Despite the prime minister, Boris Johnson’s recently announced green industrial revolution plan, the CCC have said that further action will be needed from the government to set the UK on the path to ending emissions by 2050. The world looks on as the UK prepares to host a critical UN summit to tackle the climate crisis next November as the UK’s leadership is considered vital for success.

The CCC route map predicts that people’s energy bills will remain level before dropping after 2030 as cheap renewable energy expands. The CCC say that drivers will save money using electric cars but the phasing out of gas boilers will mean that some households will need government help to install more expensive low-carbon heating systems.

The CCC’s plan anticipates that air travel will stay near current levels and meat eating which has already fallen being reduced by just 20% by 2030. The CCC have said that the changes in how people live “need not entail sacrifices”. They believe mixed woodlands should be planted by 2035, covering an area three times the size of Greater London, capturing CO2 and providing new green spaces.

The cost of offshore wind power has fallen fast in recent years and the CCC sees it as the “backbone of the whole UK energy system” with all electricity being renewable or nuclear by 2035. The UK looks set to become an electric nation with twice the current amount of power being generated by 2050, but with hydrogen expanding to fuel heavy industry and transport and warm some homes.

As required by law the CCC has laid out a new carbon budget for the UK by 2035. The CCC says that the UK for less than 1% of national wealth can reduce 78% of emissions by 2035 compared with 1990 levels, which is equivalent to cutting two-thirds of today’s emissions. Advancing carbon cuts by 15 years in comparison to plans in 2018 reflects falling green costs.

BBC News said:

“CCC members say the targets proposed for the UK’s ‘carbon budget’ period of 2033-2035 are definitely achievable, so long as the government moves urgently.”

The Financial Times reports:

“The advice of the CCC is not legally binding but has exerted a strong influence on the decisions of the UK government, which has always followed its advice when setting the five-year ‘carbon budgets’ required under the Climate Change Act. Emissions will have to fall at a faster pace in the next 30 years than the UK has achieved in the past three decades”.

The newspaper went on to report that CCC chief executive Chris Stark said:

“It’s ambitious. It’s very challenging. It’s also, we think, entirely feasible.”

Lord Deben, chair of the CCC said:

“Getting to net zero emissions is ambitious, realistic and affordable. The price is manifestly reasonable. It will be the private sector that will do much of the investment, but it will be the government that sets the tone. It now has to set out in detail the steps required. As we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic, this is a chance to jump-start the UK’s economic recovery.”

Lord Deben would like to see the costs of the transition distributed fairly across society. Up to now the government has accepted all previous carbon budgets proposed by the CCC and has until June to accept this new one.

Interestingly, analysis by the CCC has found that it is cheaper to switch to electric cars and vans than to continue with petrol and diesel vehicles.  This amazing new insight has massive implications for the overall cost of achieving net zero.

The CCC have said that the annual net cost across the 30 years to 2050 is £10bn, or about 0.5% of GDP. This does not take into account the benefits of new jobs or better health as air pollution and damp cold homes are reduced. It is believed that today, poor housing alone costs the NHS £1.5bn a year.

CCC chief executive Chris Stark said:

“It’s now clear that, at worst, we’ve got a very small cost overall in order to unlock those very big benefits of tackling climate change.”

Alison Doig at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit said that the report shows that taking bold action makes sense for jobs and prosperity as well as keeping the UK a prominent leader of an international zero carbon revolution. She says that this is the government’s chance to show how serious it is about delivering the goals of the Paris agreement.

Clara Goldsmith, at the Climate Coalition, said:

“The government must accept this advice and unleash a decade of ambitious action. There is no downside to embracing this plan. It can transform our society and create hundreds of thousands of green jobs.”

There’s no doubt that the major expansion of both renewable energy and electric cars will be challenging. Prof Rob Gross, director of the UK Energy Research Centre, said the CCC’s report is extremely important highlighting as it does the very real challenges facing the UK.

He said:

“The speed with which we would need to get charging stations sorted out is a real challenge, if we are to avoid alienating motorists.”

Doug Parr, at Greenpeace UK has said that despite the CCC having set out a route map to net zero that the government will need to do a great deal more over this parliament to reach it. He thinks that although progress has been made recently, there is still a huge gap between the UK’s targets over the next decade and the action required to meet them.

CCC chief executive, Chris Stark has emphasised the importance of implementing the actions needed to reach the net zero emissions target as the climate crisis is still worsening. He has said that with global CO2 emissions and temperature on an upward trend “We are in a bad place” but that 2021 would be a big year for action in the UK with government strategies due for heat and buildings, food, aviation, hydrogen and trees and peat bogs.

The UK Plans to Double Subsidies for Solar and Onshore Wind in 2021

solar panels

2020 saw a substantial shift in the UK government’s plans to tackle the climate crisis. The government aims to double the capacity of renewable energy it will subsidise in 2021 by backing onshore, offshore, and floating wind projects, plus solar energy, wind, and tidal schemes.

The UK’s renewable industry has been busy during 2020 developing projects which are now expected to move into the build stage.

There are several elements to consider in relation to the anticipated deployment surge from 2021, including what portion of sites may be successful in the next Contracts for Difference (CfD) round within which solar is now allowed to participate.

The Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme is the government’s main mechanism for supporting low-carbon electricity generation.

CfDs incentivise investment in renewable energy by providing developers of projects with high upfront costs and long lifetimes with direct protection from volatile wholesale prices.

In November last year the Prime Minister announced a 10-point plan for a green industrial revolution which set out the government’s approach to accelerating the path to net zero emissions by 2050.

Subsequent to the announcement of the 10-point plan, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy said the fourth round of the contracts for difference (CfD) scheme in late 2021 would aim to double the capacity to 12 gigawatts of renewable energy compared to the 5.8GW at the previous auction in 2019.

The BEIS believes that 12GW could be enough to power 20 million electric cars on the UK’s roads in a year.

The number of technologies supported by the CfD scheme was expanded last year with offshore wind, onshore wind, solar, tidal, and floating offshore wind projects all becoming eligible to participate. The fourth round will provide separate funds, known as ‘pots’ for those energy technologies the government wants to encourage.

The government’s announcement, in March of last year, to allow solar and onshore wind projects to be able to take part in CfD auctions for the first time since 2015 was very important for the solar and wind industry. These established technologies which were excluded from the third round will compete for Pot 1 which has been reserved for solar power and onshore wind.

For the first time, floating offshore wind projects will be included, allowing wind farms to be built further away from the shoreline. These projects will be able to compete for funding with other less established technologies including advanced conversion technologies and tidal stream projects. Pot 2 aims to encourage these less developed technologies.

Offshore wind will compete for a ring-fenced pot of CfD funding with the government recognising the long-term potential of offshore wind to support the country’s 2050 net zero target. Pot 3 is reserved for offshore wind with traditional fixed base foundations. Boris Johnson has signalled a commitment to raising offshore wind deployments to 40 GW, a quadrupling of present capacity, by 2030 as part of making the UK the ‘Saudi Arabia of wind’. 

Further to these changes former coal-burning power stations, such as those owned by Drax PLC that have been converted to biomass generation will no longer be able to bid in future CfD rounds.

Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng said:

“The UK is a world leader in clean energy, with over a third of our electricity now coming from renewables. That huge achievement is thanks to the government’s Contracts for Difference scheme.”

The UK’s CfD scheme has not only already delivered results for developers but also consumers. Developers bid into an auction to win capacity additions at a fixed price which is known as the ‘strike price’. Due to the competitive nature of the auction process prices are driven down to get consumers the best deal while developers are awarded 15- year contracts to sell their electricity at the price agreed.

With a government-guaranteed future revenue stream, developers can then raise finance for their clean energy projects, attracting private capital into the renewable energy sector.

As the UK government unfolds its plans for a Green Industrial Revolution, interest in renewables continues to rise and the fourth round looks set to be every bit as competitive as the third.

Research suggests that the UK will need to build 9-12GW of energy generation capacity annually in order to reach the net zero target, which is higher than any output recorded in the UK in the previous 50 years.

However, renewables are continuously breaking generation and installation records nationally and now account for a large part of the UK’s energy mix. Renewable energy made up almost half of the UK’s electricity generation between January and March 2020. In total, wind power generated 30% of the UK’s electricity in the first quarter of 2020, beating the previous record of 22.3% set in the final months of 2019.