Information Batteries: How They Can Help Store Sustainable Energy

Data Battery

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is influencing a greener future with renewable energy projects. He created a sustainability goal for the U.K. to source all its electricity from emission-free sources by 2035. As a result, environmental engineers and scientists are searching for supportive technologies to maximize renewable energy production and minimize loss.

Solar and wind power rely on inconsistent weather patterns, which limit their ability to replace fossil fuels. Energy professionals identify grid-scale storage and load shifting as practical solutions to the intermittency of renewable energy. An information battery supports efficient power production and emission-reduction goals.

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Information Battery Technology and Load Shifting

Information batteries influence efficient energy storage measures by developing precomputations. They access necessary data and help storage facilities meet end-to-end production demands. Storing energy as information minimizes power loss and increases renewables’ ability to replace fossil fuels.

Energy professionals can use consumption predictions to move renewables throughout grid systems. Instead of storing excess solar and wind power as hydrogen, the energy supports computer learning. An information battery is a realistic solution to grid expansions by transitioning away from conventional electricity sources.

Predicting renewable energy consumption patterns may be challenging for individuals because the industry is changing rapidly. Power plants that utilize information battery technology can support load shifting to eliminate energy loss and improve sustainability. Instead of forcing maximum quantities of clean electricity through the grid, information batteries study consumption rates and mindfully distribute power.

Load shifting helps production facilities respond to real-time consumption demands. Pairing load shifting with information batteries reduces the risk of power outages. The batteries also reduce energy expenses because information storage is more cost-effective than electricity storage.

The Clean Electric Grid

Britain plans to achieve 100% renewable energy sourcing by adopting a clean electric grid. Currently, the country obtains 80% of its electricity from low-emission sources. Optimizing energy production and distribution with information batteries can reduce power loss and pollution.

Utilizing excess energy to predict production demands improves grid success. Pairing the batteries with smart grid technologies also optimizes electricity development and distribution. The autonomous systems use monitors and sensors to collect vital production and consumption data.

Smart grids also support communication among renewable energy producers, delivery channels and customers. Autonomous technologies and information batteries use information collection to improve efficiency levels. Smart grids can also minimize electricity costs by quickly identifying and responding to problems.

Renewable Energy Storage with Hydrogen

Renewable energy production facilities can store excess electricity with hydrogen fuel cells. The power left over from an information battery may support efficient grid functions by powering a backup supply. In addition, solar and wind energy’s inconsistent development rates reduce their compatibility with modern consumption demands.

Hydrogen fuel cell storage helps energy companies respond to high demands during low production times. The technology directly connects to photovoltaic solar panels or wind turbines to charge a conventional battery. Once it reaches a full charge, electricity moves through an electrolyzer and produces hydrogen gas and water.

The renewable energy storage system holds hydrogen as a potential power source and converts it into electricity during high consumption. Renewable energy manufacturers can utilize hydrogen batteries to support the clean electric grid, while information batteries help develop structural improvements.

Information Batteries and Data Centers

Corporations rely on computerized data centers to store and process essential information. Large-scale data centers like Google utilize up to 50% more energy than conventional buildings. Renewable energy manufacturers can work with digitized companies to power their facilities with emission-free electricity.

Working with tech companies to store renewables as information shrinks the carbon footprint of the energy and corporate sectors. Different businesses recognize the advantages of information battery technology and sustainable storage systems. They are investing in advancements to access affordable electricity and shrink their carbon footprints.

Early Investment Benefits

Businesses can access the optimal benefits of information batteries by investing early. Tech companies may utilize renewable energy sources directly, supporting sustainable system transitions and low electricity costs.

Corporations can also use the technology to gain insight into their consumption patterns, which help minimize energy loss and emissions and help the U.K. meet its 2035 clean energy goal.

Could The Energy Crisis Have Been Averted in the UK?

Energy Crisis

Although the energy crisis is affecting the whole world, the UK has been hit particularly hard. The record high wholesale cost of gas has led to soaring electricity bills which is fueling a cost-of-living crisis in the UK. The crisis is set to get worse come April when the energy price gap will rise by 54% and customers will see an increase of £693 per year on their energy bills. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak’s targeted support scheme will do little to lessen the worse effects of this huge price jump.

Why are UK Energy Bills so High?

While there is no doubt that these high prices are in part due to the wholesale cost of gas, there’s evidence that some electricity generators are charging much higher prices to increase generation on days when flows of electricity from wind and solar plants fall.

To ensure a steady supply of electricity engineers at National Grid ESO, which manages the grid, have to work continuously with generators to manage supply.

On the days or hours when there is very little wind, National Grid takes bids from suppliers to fill in the gap via something called the “balancing market”. In recent months balancing market costs have risen exponentially.

Darren Jones MP, chair of the business, energy and industrial strategy committee told Sky News:

“The pricing seems very high compared to normal. What we need to understand is how much of that is related to the price of gas given the international gas crisis, and how much of that is due to potential bad behaviour of generators who are quite frankly taking the mick in order to make excessive profits.”

November 2021 saw the most expensive month on record with balancing costs reaching £541 which is nearly four times the monthly average.

This unprecedented peak led to the energy regulator Ofgem writing to energy companies about the issue. National Grid ESO has since launched a review of the market. The review will examine the timing and the cost of the “bids” made by power generators offering to take part in the balancing market.

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Fintan Slye, Director of National Grid ESO told Sky News:

“We wanted to ensure the rules and mechanisms of that market were delivering competitive outcomes for consumers.”

The severity of the UK’s energy crisis is in part due to the mishandling of its ambitious green agenda.

The UK is in a transition stage on its journey to reaching net zero. While we build our low-carbon energy systems we need to ensure we have “dispatchable power” which are sources of energy that allow supply to be ramped up or down to meet demand. In older electricity systems this was simply a case of burning more hydrocarbons when necessary. Wind and solar energy, which in 2020 made up 29% of the UK’s energy supply, are intermittent as they depend on the weather.

In order to balance out the shortfall when the wind doesn’t blow, and the sun doesn’t shine it’s essential to retain some dispatchable power which means being able to switch to some other source of power at short notice. With coal almost entirely phased out the only option is gas which is currently hugely expensive.

Unfortunately, the UK’s geography doesn’t help as the best option for dispatchable power which is also low carbon is hydroelectricity. Furthermore, batteries, green hydrogen, and carbon capture are not yet developed enough to be used on a scale large enough to cover days or weeks of shortfall.

There is nothing like soaring energy bills to focus the mind on the age-old problem of how we can better store power.

The closure of the Rough gas storage facility in the North Sea in 2017 left the UK with only enough storage to meet the demand of four to five winter days. While gas is being phased out and we are relying more on renewables such as offshore wind and solar we are stuck with solving the problem of intermittency, the periods of time when the wind doesn’t blow, and the sun doesn’t shine.

The key to securing enough affordable, low-carbon energy is more storage to make the most of the renewable energy available. Within the next five years the International Energy Agency (IEA) expects global power storage capacity to expand by 56% to reach more than 270 GW by 2026. This is being driven by a growing need to create flexible electricity systems which rely more on renewable sources.

According to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, well established lithium-ion batteries are expected to dominate but their capacity is measured in hours rather than days. As the winter energy crisis has progressed new energy technologies have found renewed favour within the power industry.

It is time to concentrate on developing energy storage options which could help keep the lights on in the future. Currently, there are four long-range options being developed.

Pumped hydropower:

Hydropower has acted as a form of energy storage in the UK for decades, but the new breed of pumped storage could play an even bigger role than the giant hydropower plants of the past. The way hydropower works is quite simple. Electricity is used to pump water upwards into a reservoir when the market has ample power available. When electricity supplies become tight the water can be released at short notice to flow over a generating turbine to create electricity for the grid to use. In future projects could generate the same amount of electricity from slopes which are less than half as high by using a mineral rich fluid which has more than two and a half times the density of water.

Green Hydrogen:

The demand for hydrogen made from water and renewable energy is expected to boom in the decades ahead as governments plan to replace the fossil fuels used in power plants, factories and heavy transport with the clean burning, green alternative. What may not be realised is that green hydrogen can be used as a form of energy storage.

Dr Graham Cooley, the chief executive of ITM Power which makes the electrolysers used to produce green hydrogen, says:

“When the wind is blowing but the grid is oversupplied with renewable energy you can store energy in a battery for about an hour. But if you want to store energy for days or even months you need something new.”

In the past, the UK’s electricity system operator has had no choice but to pay renewable energy developers to switch off their wind turbines or solar farms to avoid overloading the grid with green electricity when power supplies outstrip demand. Using sunny weekends and windy nights to run electrolysers and create green hydrogen could help countries make better use of their wind and solar farms.

Concentrated Solar Power Storage:

New technology is already being pioneered which allows energy generated by renewables to be stored as heat. To give an example, the Crescent Dunes project uses the heat of a vast solar farm, concentrated using mirrors, to heat molten salt to temperatures of up to 560C. The salt can maintain this temperature until electricity is needed. Then, the heat is used to run a conventional steam turbine which generates enough electricity to power 75,000 homes long after the sun has set.

According to the IEA, concentrated solar power is typically stored for between five to 15 hours, more than three times the duration of traditional lithium-ion batteries. Unlike batteries, which have a finite number of charge/discharge cycles, the molten salt, or molten silicon, can be used indefinitely and can be recycled when the units reach the end of their 20-year service life.

Cryogenic’ Batteries:

Within the next year one of the world’s biggest liquid air, or “cryogenic”, batteries will begin operating near Manchester in the UK after its developers promised it could help store renewable energy for weeks rather than hours.

The project being developed by Highview Power plans to use renewable electricity to chill air to -196C, transforming it into a liquid that could be stored in large metal tanks for weeks. When needed, the liquid can be turned back into gas, and used to turn a turbine and generate enough electricity to power up to 200,000 homes for five hours. The full-scale “cryobattery” will have a capacity of 50MW or 250MWh over a five-hour release time.

Payment from UK Renewables

The UK’s wind and solar farms could help to reduce household’s energy bills by paying back almost £800m to consumers by the end of the winter. According to official figures, households earned a £157m windfall from renewable energy generators for the first time in the final quarter of last year following record high market prices.

The body responsible for managing renewable energy payments, the Low Carbon Contracts Company (LCCC) has forecast paybacks from the industry could increase to a total of £770m by the end of winter, shaving an average of £27 from the annual home energy bill.

However, according to the industry, customers might have been in line for multibillion pound paybacks worth about £140 for a typical annual energy bill if the UK’s renewable energy rollout had taken place sooner.

The system that typically sees renewable energy projects receive payments from household energy bills to top up the earnings from the energy market to an agreed level, is supposed to protect households from surging market prices. Renewable energy projects in return, are expected to pay cash back to consumers when market prices outstrip the set subsidy level.

Based on official figures form the last quarter and according to analysis by SSE, the UK’s pipeline of renewable energy projects, which are expected to be under construction until 2023, could have saved households £3.9bn if they were operating this winter.

It is widely agreed within the industry that in order to avoid an energy crisis caused by soaring gas prices, investment in low-cost renewables needs to be encouraged so that the UK can decrease its reliance on very expensive fossil fuels. The UK needs to build more of its own clean energy infrastructure and invest in the network infrastructure to connect it all if we are to be protected from the next energy crisis.

4 steps to finding a reputable heat pump installer

heat pump installer

With the increased demand of people looking for heat pump installations, due to consumer awareness and the government commitments to reducing the carbon the UK produces from its heating systems, it’s important to know how to find a reputable and experienced renewable heating installer.

The government has committed to ambitious targets to reduce CO2 emissions by 78% (compared with 1990 levels) by 2035, moving towards the overall target of the UK achieving net-zero by 2050.

The government has also banned installations of gas boilers in new builds from 2025 and plans to phase out gas boiler installations in other properties by 2035.

So when you are looking to replace your heating system with a renewable heating system like an air source heat pump or ground source heat pump, you will want to instruct a reputable heat pump installer who has experience and a good track record of installing these types of systems.

When you are looking for a plumbing and heating company to install a heat pump system, where do you start?  These are the 4 easy steps we would recommend you take to find a reputable installer.

Step 1 – You want a heating installer who is qualified specifically in heat pump installations.

Industry qualifications and competency is a must, a starting point is an NVQ level 2 in plumbing. Further accreditations and qualifications will be taken throughout a plumber’s career to build on skills and diversification of the services they offer.  (i.e.  Gas, Renewable qualifications etc)  

In addition to industry qualifications, heating installers can be trained in product specific installations via the manufacturer, so for example a NIBE heat pump installer has specifically been trained on installing their products.

At R A Brown Heating Services all our staff are industry qualified and have manufacturer training as well.  Apprentices work under a qualified engineer, and we detail all our engineer qualifications on their staff profile on the website.

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Step 2 – What are the company’s industry accreditations and memberships?

You want to use a company who takes pride and cares about their work and the industry, they will be members of professional bodies and a good installer will be proud of their memberships and display them on their website.

CIPHE – Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineer. The professional body for Plumbing and Heating engineers.  

Gas Safe – This is a mandatory requirement for any installer who is servicing or installing gas appliances, they must be gas safe registered.  

RECC – Renewable Energy Consumer Code, it is a sign that the company has agreed to abide by the high standards set out in the Consumer Code.

MCS – Microgeneration Certification Scheme, is a nationally recognised quality assurance scheme which demonstrates compliance to industry standards.  It highlights to consumers that companies can consistently install or manufacture to the highest quality every time.

If a customer wishes to take advantage of the Government’s financial incentives, like the Renewable Heat Incentive (up until 31st March 2022) or the Boiler Upgrade Scheme (from 1st April 2022), then they need to make sure that the installer they select is MCS registered. Check to see if an installer is MCS accredited.

GSHPA – Ground Source Heat Pump Association, this is a voluntary scheme for which members sign up and agree to follow their code of conduct.

Trustmark – A government endorsed quality mark scheme for trades that work in and out the home.

R A Brown Heating Services is a member and registered with all of the above schemes and accreditations and takes pride in making sure all work is completed to the highest standards. 

Step 3 – What do others in the renewable industry and their customers say about them?

Customer reviews – If a company has customers who have made an effort to give them reviews then they must be either very happy or very unhappy.  If a company has good reviews and testimonials, they will most certainly be displaying these, they will make them available on their website as testimonials or case studies projects.  There may also be reviews under their Google business page or a 3rd party review platform like Trusted Trader/Reference line/Trustpilot.

You may also be able to speak to previous customers about their installations also, to gain first-hand knowledge from one of their existing customers who has had an installation completed.  If customers are happy to recommend a company after the installation is complete and they have left the site, it says a lot about the workmanship, communication, and integrity of the business.  It is worth asking the company if you would particularly like to speak to a past customer.

Industry recognition – does the company receive recognition through awards or commendations from their industry sector?   Any awards or commendations, or even if they have been shortlisted are proof of consistent work well done and recognition by industry experts.

Step 4 – Have they an office or showroom you can visit?

Is the company legitimate and who they say they are?  Can you trace registered company addresses?  How long have they been trading for? 

Not every company is large enough to have a showroom of their products, some may have an office or work from an office at home, but all companies should be traceable. 

It is important to check the installer history and their experience as there are often installers who will “pop up” to meet the increased demand of government promotion and it is important to ensure your installation is completed by a competent and reputable company.

Once you have followed these 4 steps, you should be able to find a good reputable installer, then it’s worth giving your shortlisted installers a call to discuss your project and see how they can help you.  

If you are based in Norfolk or North Suffolk and would like to discuss your renewable heating requirements, then visit the R A Brown Heating Services website or give us a call on 01603 898904 as they meet all the above steps.

Written by R A Brown

Innovating to Net Zero: UK start-ups and entrepreneurs

net zero

The global consensus is that we need to collectively decarbonise our economies to reduce the impact we’re having on the planet. But achieving net-zero might require more than the systems and businesses we currently have in place, something that the world’s innovators are taking on board. Entrepreneurs could be the secret to reaching net zero and having a positive impact on the planet – here’s why. 

The UK leading the way

Tech Nation issued a report stating that the UK is paving the way in Europe for the number of Net Zero companies, with 323 compared to Frances’ 207 and Germany’s 150. What’s more, the report highlighted that 37% of these companies are still in the early stages of growth which makes the figure even more impressive. 

It’s no wonder that more start-ups and small businesses are looking to enhance their green credentials. Their altruistic efforts have a positive impact on the environment and create a better world for everyone, but there are also business benefits to taking the sustainable route. 

Companies with green credentials are increasingly considered to be a more appealing option for investors and consumers alike. Studies show that 50% of prospective applicants would consider refusing a role if they carried out harmful practices and 26% would be willing to take a pay cut for an employer with sustainable values. 

Small businesses are estimated to account for around half of all UK business greenhouse gas emissions, and a third of the UK’s total emissions. When it comes to impacting the UK’s net zero goals, entrepreneurs and start-ups have a key role to play and their efforts can have a significant impact. 

In fact, achieving net zero won’t be possible without the help of small businesses. Luckily, there are already businesses paving the way when it comes to eco innovation and sustainable practices. 

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Responsible payment methods

One business leveraging its success to create a better world is financial technology company SumUp. In November 2021, the business announced it was joining 1% for the Planet and committing 1% of its future net revenues to environmental causes, including building renewable energy infrastructure, preventing deforestation, and creating sustainable materials. 

They take eco issues incredibly seriously, complying with WEEE directives and have systems in place so that customers can return old card readers free of charge so they can be disposed of responsibly. 

Not only are their practices sustainable, but in providing cashless alternatives for payments, SumUp is also contributing to lesser waste and carbon emissions, since the production of coins and polymer banknotes are incredibly damaging to the environment. 

Eco-friendly energy

The energy sector is one that’s rife with unsustainable practices, but Bulb is a business striving to do better. Their electricity is supplied from 100% renewable sources, from a mixture of wind, solar and hydropower, along with 100% carbon neutral gas, 10% of which is produced from renewable sources such as food waste. 

Bulb’s ethos centres around three core pillars – simplicity for customers, affordability through cheaper tariffs and a commitment to making energy greener. According to researchers, a shift to renewable energy sources early would have lessened the climate crisis, so companies such as Bulb are helping customers make the switch in an accessible and affordable way. 

Waste management with the planet in mind

Waste management is a serious issue when it comes to carbon emissions, but it’s an issue CupClub are tackling. This platform is for food and beverage brands and retailers looking to track and manage consumer packaging, with the aim of reducing single-use plastics from circulation. 

CupClub gives customers the opportunity to halve CO2 consumption by switching to reusable alternatives, managing its end-to-end reuse system by charging consumers a flat fee per order to collect, sanitise and redistribute the packaging. Packaging waste has been a concern for some time in a range of industries, contributing to our total waste and landfill usage considerably. 

With the food and beverage industry being such a big player in the waste we produce, having companies tackle this issue can go a long way towards a greener planet. 

Animal-free dairy

Dairy farming is a practice that emits over 1.7 billion tonnes of CO2 every year – more than five times the global aviation industry. It’s a huge problem for the environment and an issue that needs to be addressed if the UK is to reach its net zero targets. 

Better Dairy is contributing to the future of the industry with animal-free dairy products that are molecularly identical to dairy but remove animals from the equation. The process is similar to that used for beer brewing, giving consumers better options and food manufacturers environmentally friendly ingredients. 

Tackling food waste

OLIO is an app that’s designed to deal with the huge food waste issue we have in the UK. It enables individuals and businesses to list food items that have reached their sell-by date so locals can pick them up free of charge to reduce the amount of food going to landfills. 

OLIO’s business model is focused on the fact that an estimated 50% of food waste occurs within the home and a third of all food produced goes to waste. With businesses such as OLIO reducing the impact of food waste, not only are climate issues addressed but also the issue of hunger in the UK, with people who need it most able to get food for free.

Final thoughts

With the climate crisis looming over us, it’s more critical than ever that we make changes to create a better, healthier planet for all. From our energy use and food to the way we dispose of electronics and packaging, these innovative businesses are tackling the issues that are causing climate issues to provide businesses and consumers with eco-friendlier alternatives. 

With start-ups contributing to such a large proportion of the UK’s total emissions, companies like this can have a significant impact on the UK’s ability to reach their climate targets. 

by Daniel Groves

UK Homes Could Reach Net Zero with Tidal Energy

tidal energy

On April 20th, parliament initiated an ambitious sustainability policy, reducing emissions by 78% over the next decade. It developed a limited carbon budget for the transportation sector, minimizing fossil fuel uses. The new policy supports the U.K.’s larger plan to reach net zero emissions by 2050.

The residential sector generates a large portion of England’s energy-derived emissions. Individuals can source their power from renewable sources to prevent atmospheric degradation, achieving parliament’s climate goals. Tidal energy may support residential electricity demands, delivering abundant, emission-free power.

What is Tidal Energy?

Tidal energy is a new form of renewable power, relying on changing oceanic patterns. The gravitational relationship between the sun, moon and Earth causes natural rises and falls of tides. As tidal patterns shift, water moves quickly through constrictions, producing enough energy to harvest.

Environmental engineers and scientists developed specialized generator technology, capturing tidal energy in deep ocean regions. Large tidal range regions contain the greatest potential for renewable power production. In these areas, waterways become narrower and their current strength increases.

Society began using tidal energy over a thousand years ago to mill grain. Moving water turned waterwheels, processing grain to enhance efficiency. The advanced tidal energy systems environmentalists are developing today produce accessible electricity.

South Korea is currently operating the largest tidal energy project, producing nearly 254 megawatts (MW) of emission-free electricity. The power station can create enough energy to support 500,000 individuals. England can adopt tidal power technology to decrease energy-related emissions and produce a clean electric grid.

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The Electric Grid’s Future

The U.K.’s prime minister hopes to source 100% of the country’s electricity from renewable sources by 2035. Energy professionals can shift away from fossil fuel uses by developing a clean electric grid. Because England is a relatively small island, it is highly compatible with tidal power.

While tidal turbines achieve 80% efficiency rates on average, they are less accessible compared to other renewable energy technologies. As power professionals begin developing clean electric grids, they must combine multiple sources, producing enough energy to support residential demands. Renewable devices’ reliance on inconsistent weather patterns also increases the need for diversity in sources.

Power grid professionals can increase the clean energy supply’s abundance by pairing tidal technology with photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. PV energy systems convert solar radiation into emission-free electricity. Wind turbines similarly transform natural weather occurrences into clean power for residential consumers.

Individuals can additionally install backup generators on their properties, sourcing reliable energy during peak hours. During low-light and -wind seasons, the clean electric grid may produce lower quantities of energy. Residents may support their vital home appliances and technologies like medical equipment by installing generators.

Environmental engineers are also improving supportive technologies, increasing the efficiency of renewable energy production. They are developing storage systems to contain excess power during high-production times.

Additional Sustainability-Enhancing Technologies

Hydrogen fuel cell battery storage systems hold excess renewable electricity to increase the U.K.’s residential supply. The technology can connect to tidal turbines, using clean energy to power a conventional battery pack. Then, the power moves through an electrolyzer, splitting the electricity into hydrogen and water.

The storage system releases the water into a holding tank for reuse and moves the hydrogen into a separate container. When residential energy demands rise, fuel cells convert the hydrogen back into electricity. The technology effectively produces and stores power without releasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Professionals are also supporting the transition towards clean energy by first reducing fossil fuel pollution using smart technology. Smart pipeline leak detectors monitor systems, alerting maintenance workers when the technology identifies current or potential damage. The device can save nearly 2,000 tons of emissions annually, improving environmental conservation efforts.

While energy professionals expand tidal power plants, they can reduce residents’ reliance on fossil fuels. Developing green infrastructure and increasing individuals’ access to emission-free power can significantly decrease emissions.

Reducing Residential Emissions

Residents can shrink their carbon footprints, supporting England’s climate goal by connecting their highest energy-consuming appliances to clean power sources. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems and lights consume the most electricity in a home. When individuals connect the systems to on-site renewable power systems or a local clean electric grid, they may effectively decrease emissions.

They can also install smart devices to monitor and minimize their residential energy consumption. Engineers design the technologies to enhance a home’s energy efficiency, decreasing stress on renewable electricity systems like tidal and solar power.

By Shannon Flynn

One Third of UK Adults Make Green New Year’s Resolutions For 2022

new year 2022

According to research, a third of UK adults have made New Year’s resolutions that involve living more sustainably this year. More people than ever before are realising that they need to play an active part in combating climate change.

A survey of 2,000 adults by the National Grid found that reducing food waste, using less plastic, recycling more, using colder washing cycles and generally curbing home electricity use were among the most popular resolutions. 44% say that combating climate change is the main reason that they have made these resolutions with 41% hoping to have a positive impact on local wildlife.

Duncan Birt, chief sustainability officer at National Grid said that the polling suggests warnings about the advance of climate change have hit home with consumers over the last year.

He said:

“2021 has been a challenging year but also a big year for the climate change agenda and we’ve seen people becoming more engaged and vocal. The research shows that many are considering their day-to-day behaviours and looking for changes that can tackle this issue.”

Other changes people are making for 2022 include always carrying a reusable water bottle, taking shorter showers, growing their own veg and reducing their meat consumption. A quarter of people surveyed with green resolutions plan to try and do less driving and 37% say that they want to buy food with less packaging, but these resolutions are considered the hardest to keep. 

The survey revealed that more than half of UK adults thought that having a better understanding of how their central heating works would help them to live a greener lifestyle. Three in 10 respondents said that their resolutions include turning their heating off or down when they go out with some realising that a smart thermostat can help take care of that for you. Many more people now have smart meters that can help them to keep track of their energy usage in real-time as well as help them identify opportunities to make savings.

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75% of the people with green resolutions said that they wanted to stick to them, so that they could do their bit to help save the planet, admitting that they wouldn’t normally keep to their resolutions.

Understandably, in the current energy crisis with many people seeing their energy bills escalating, 4 in 10 people are looking to reduce their energy costs by going greener and 37% of those surveyed believe their green resolutions will be good for their health.

Marc Robson, Smart Energy Expert at British Gas, which commissioned the study, said:

“It’s great to see how many people recognise the benefits of living more sustainably, not just for the planet, but in making our everyday lives healthier and more cost-effective. There are so many small steps we can take around the home to be greener and save on our energy costs and being energy-efficient is also getting easier with the help of technology.

9 out of 10 people with green resolutions think that the small steps they are taking to live more sustainably in 2022 will lead to bigger changes in years to come. They believe they have a role in bettering the world. More than half of those polled went as far as to say that they believe 2022 is the last chance the world has to start reversing the effects of climate change.

Marc Robson, from British Gas, said:

“We know that most people with green resolutions have been thinking about them for a while. And now is the perfect time to commit to them. It’s best to start small with a resolution you can stick to and then you can add to or extend it when you’re ready. Everyone needs to take responsibility for reaching net zero, and it’s our job to make sure that’s inspiring, not daunting.”

It is perhaps fortuitous that as more people in the UK are understanding the importance of reaching net zero by 2050 the government are launching the Boiler Upgrade Scheme which aims to help existing small domestic buildings transition to low carbon heating systems for heating their homes. The scheme will come into effect from April 2022.

Grants of up to £6,000 will be given to households as part of the Boiler Upgrade Scheme to promote clean heat from low carbon technologies such as heat pumps. The main aim of this scheme is to reduce carbon emissions emitted by homes that are still dependent on fossil fuels to heat their homes and enable the phasing out of fossil fuels in the coming years.

Currently, fossil fuels used in our homes for heating, hot water and cooking are responsible for more than a fifth of the UK’s carbon emissions and are one of the greatest contributors to pollution in our everyday life. 85% of homes in the UK use natural gas boilers at the present time so replacing them could make an enormous difference to the environment and help combat climate change.

There has never been a better time to consider installing renewable energy technology such as solar panels or heat pumps as costs are continuing to fall and the performance of renewable energy solutions improves all the time.  At the same time grants and subsidies are still available for homeowners to benefit from installing renewable energy for their homes. With the right advice consumers can benefit from renewable energy whilst also reducing their carbon footprint and supporting the drive towards net zero and a brighter, greener future for all of us.

New Guidance Published to Decarbonise UK Government Buildings

Decarbonisation

The Cabinet office has published new guidance in the form of an 88-page handbook which is aimed at decarbonising public sector buildings including schools, hospitals, prisons, offices and job centres. The UK Government’s new ‘playbook’ details how it plans to help departments and agencies to maximise their contribution to making the UK a net-zero carbon emissions economy by 2050.

The publication of the ‘playbook’ comes less than a month after the Government provided the first update to its ‘Greening the Government’ framework since the UK legislated for net-zero.

Measures such as reducing water consumption, waste and greenhouse gas emissions have always been included in this framework, but stricter decarbonisation targets and sustainable procurement targets have now been set. There are also new requirements for departments to produce Climate Change Adaptation Strategies and plans for restoring nature.

The UK public sector manages more than 300,000 individual properties according to the Net Zero Estate Playbook, which is the largest property portfolio in the UK. It is currently responsible for generating 2% of the nation’s carbon emissions or around 9% of the UK’s total annual building-related emissions.

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The ‘playbook’ calls on departments and agencies to lead by example and outlines the practises that should be adopted in order to reduce the public sector estate’s environmental impact and deliver the 78% reduction in emissions that the Government has promised by 2035.

Guidance included in the document covers all steps of decarbonisation, from updating energy and emissions audits, to securing necessary funding, to installing mature technologies and testing emerging solutions, to monitoring progress post-installation and, finally, offsetting residual emissions.

The UK government is keen to take the lead and show other governments that it is taking its commitment to net zero by 2050 seriously. Being the first major country to legislate for net zero and as the host of COP26 recently, the UK has been leading the way in securing global action to tackle climate change. Giving departments, the public sector, and government property professionals clear guidance on the design, implementation, and monitoring of Net Zero strategies and delivery programmes will help to make the UK’s national infrastructure greener.

Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay said decarbonising public buildings was “absolutely crucial” if the nation was going to meet its environmental targets.

He said:

“Property professionals should use the playbook to turn best-practice into standard-practice. It will put the public estate in a stronger position to deliver a 78% reduction in emissions by 2035, and fully net zero by 2050”.

The Net Zero Estate Playbook will ensure that a coordinated approach is applied across public buildings with the use of, for example, solar panels, LED lighting and greener building materials.

The ‘playbook’ also highlights examples of model projects, such as the Department for Work and Pensions’ hub in Tŷ Taf, which has been recently opened in Wales. The new site is leading the way in sustainability with energy efficient solar-powered technology and has electric vehicle charging points for staff, putting it at the forefront of the UK Government’s commitment to using Ultra Low Emission transport.

The guidance, which is applicable to both existing and new properties, will also assist the Department of Health and associated public bodies to improve the sustainability of their hospitals with the use of low carbon materials and an improved understanding of a building’s environmental impact over its whole lifespan.

All decision makers are encouraged to properly investigate the benefits of refurbishing or retro-fitting existing buildings as an alternative to “automatically” commissioning new-build properties. The ‘playbook’ acknowledges that most of the buildings which will be standing in the UK post-2035 and post-2050 already exist so retrofitting will be needed at pace and scale. Advice is also given for listed and other historic buildings.

The handbook outlines how developers of new buildings can meet the Future Buildings Standard, which is due to come into effect from 2025. There is specific advice for topics such as rooftop solar and corporate power purchase agreements (PPAs) for renewable energy and for building in energy efficiency and choosing low-carbon heating systems.

The ‘playbook’ is different from the recently published Heat and Buildings Strategy in that it is unbiased in the specific technologies it focuses on, pointing out that different solutions will suit different contexts. The report recommends that developers undertake an updated assessment as soon as possible whether they are looking at heat pumps, district heating, biofuels or hydrogen.

Though the playbook stops short of setting a target for reducing embodied carbon it does recommend that developers work with suppliers to procure low-carbon building materials. Recently, the UK Green Building Council (UKGBC), concerned that businesses were failing to address emissions from materials, published what is thought to be the first UK-specific whole life carbon roadmap for the sector. Importantly, it is clearly stated in the ‘playbook’ that there will be “future versions” of the document with “further guidance” in the years to come.

All existing policies, such as the 25-Year Environmental Plan, the Greening Government Commitments, and the Net Zero Strategy (published in 2021) are supported by the Net Zero Estate Playbook.

The publication of the ‘playbook’ came after COP26 concluded with 197 Parties agreeing the Glasgow Climate Pact to urgently keep 1.5°C alive and finalise the outstanding elements of the Paris Agreement.

The pact will accelerate the pace of climate action this decade, with all countries agreeing to return improved emissions targets in 2022, as well as doubling climate finance for action on adapting to climate change by 2025.

We Need More Energy Goals to Truly Fight Climate Change

Energy Goal

This year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced his plan to reduce the United Kingdom’s environmental impact with renewable energy. Based on his announcement from Manchester, the U.K. will source 100% of its electricity from emission-free sources by 2035. Parliament established the goal of decreasing atmospheric degradation, and it continues to define each step carrying the country towards carbon-neutrality.

Currently, the U.K.’s infrastructure is incompatible with complete renewable electricity sourcing. The country must establish additional energy goals to increase its climate change prevention efforts. Let’s evaluate the potential objectives and assess the current clean power plan.

Key Sustainable Energy Goals

In 2019, the U.K. established the Climate Change Act, which would reduce its general emissions by 80% by 2050. The country developed a carbon budget, restricting its release of greenhouse gases over a half-decade. The Climate Change Committee regulates emissions using carbon-tracking technology.

Climate professionals are zeroing in on the shipping and aviation sector’s pollution, penalizing them for ecological degradation. The U.K. government also developed a net-zero goal to hold companies responsible for carbon offsetting. While the U.K.’s sustainable energy goals are inspiring, they have flaws limiting their effectiveness.

The Climate Change Act solely contains emission-reduction tactics instead of carbon policies. Business owners may struggle to reduce ecological degradation without legal guidelines to follow.

Additionally, the Climate Change Act only targets the U.K. rather than global energy emissions. We need to expand universal sustainability regulations to truly fight climate change. The United Nations attempted to manage global emissions by creating the Paris Agreement.

Challenges With the Paris Agreement

At the Conference of the Parties (COP) in 2015, the United Nations released its plan to minimize adverse environmental effects. The goal is to limit Earth’s temperature rise to 1.5°C beyond pre-industrial rates. Each country that signed the Paris Agreement must develop its own emission reduction plan and present it to the committee.

There are some significant challenges within the global climate change prevention tactic, starting with free riders. The agreement only works when each country contributes equally to the end goal. Regulating nations’ efforts is challenging because of the complexity of industrial pollution and geopolitics.

Some countries and industries within a country minimize their emission reduction efforts hoping someone else will step up to the plate. When multiple nations rely on the sustainable advancements of others, it limits the success of global climate change prevention. Holding each country to the same emission reduction standard is also challenging.

Many environmentalists struggle to determine which countries are responsible for what emissions. Like the U.K. and U.S., post-industrial nations rely on outsourced materials and labour to meet consumer needs. While manufacturing emissions occur in other countries, the consuming nations must still take responsibility for some of the pollution.

Another challenge derives from the varying impacts of energy sources. Countries like China rely heavily on coal for power, which has different effects on the atmosphere than natural gas. Various greenhouse gases produce unique effects, limiting a climate committee’s ability to regulate each country’s impacts.

The Paris Agreement creates an effective starting point for sustainability enhancing efforts, and we must establish more global energy goals to further reduce adverse environmental effects. There are three potential goals countries can establish to truly fight climate change.

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1. Expanding Renewable Energy Project Funding

Nations must develop goals of expanding clean energy funding to minimize their emissions effectively. Many countries prioritize economic gains over natural resource conservation but establishing both as a priority can help power professionals develop successful systems. Regions can profit from renewable energy production by selling their excess electricity.

Developing initial financial support can jumpstart a country’s transition away from its emission-producing energy reliance. The World Energy Investment of 2021 sets a beneficial example for nations minimizing their atmospheric degradation. Nearly 70% of the funding goes towards clean energy production.

The funding supports green technological advancements, renewable system installations, and maintenance costs. If nations develop an independent budget and support global energy investments, we can make significant strides in climate change prevention.

Government officials can also use the funding to create a clean electric grid. Developing supportive green infrastructure requires renewable energy expansions. Energy professionals can expand alternative electricity supplies like biodiesel to improve environmental conditions.

Unlike solar or wind power, biodiesel derives from repurposed natural resources, like vegetable oil and algae. The technology is relatively new, requiring higher funding support than well-established renewable energy sources. Developing abundant clean power sources and creating emission regulations can effectively minimize ecological degradation.

2. Establishing Emission Regulation Committees and Laws

Countries can additionally create climate change prevention committees and strict pollution-reduction laws to minimize ecological degradation. Currently, the lack of accountability for nations and industries allows emissions to accumulate in the atmosphere, limiting its ability to generate life-supporting temperatures on Earth’s surface. When countries regulate emissions and levy fines to those breaking climate change prevention laws, we can increase global environmental sustainability levels.

3. Holding Post-Industrial Nations Responsible for Outsource-Related Emissions

Developing countries, to which post-industrial nations often outsource their labour and emission-emitting facilities, struggle to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Transitioning from a fossil fuel-reliant power grid towards renewable electricity is costly and labour-intensive. We can increase the sustainability of global energy by holding developed nations responsible for their outsource-related emissions.

Countries can create a higher outsourcing tax, where the profits help establish a clean energy grid in developing nations, and additionally take a portion of their sustainability-enhancing funding and use it to expand green infrastructure in other areas.

Starting at Home

Before developing regulations and goals for global energy sources, countries must establish firm plans at home. Independent emission monitoring is a relatively new practice, and ecological engineers are continuously advancing the supporting technologies. While government officials wait for a global monitoring system to arrive, they can increase their clean energy funding, establish effective regulations, and clean up their outsource-related pollution.

By Jane Marsh

A Straightforward Sustainability Guide for Small Business Owners

Small business owners often need to find ways to stand out from competitors and snag more market share. While product differentiating and clever marketing can help, another approach could be worth considering. By embracing sustainability, you can connect with eco-conscious buyers. Plus, along with helping the ecosystem, green business practices might reduce your costs, too.

If you’re wondering whether green approaches are suitable for your company, here is a straightforward sustainability guide from The Renewable Energy Hub for small business owners that can help you decide.

Pursuing Sustainable Possibilities

As a small business owner, it may seem like there aren’t many opportunities to reduce your carbon footprint or lessen your eco-impact. However, that isn’t the case. Even small changes add up, so they are worthwhile.

Plus, sustainable practices give you the chance to reposition your company in a way that can increase sales. Many shoppers favour eco-friendly companies over traditional ones, allowing you to snag more market share.

If you aren’t sure how to pick sustainable possibilities to pursue, start with internal processes. For example, implementing a recycling program while going paperless can have a significant impact. Both are viewed positively by customers and can boost your bottom line, all while helping the planet.

Reducing your utility use by switching to LEDs, installing low-flow sinks, and making similar choices is also a great place to start. You’ll save on your monthly bills while making changes customers may appreciate.

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However, you also want to explore changes that have a direct impact on the customer. For example, switching to eco-friendly packaging and shipping materials may improve your position, potentially leading to higher sales.

But before you alter anything that impacts the customer, you’ll want to do some market research. Examine every aspect of your operations to find areas where you could use a greener approach. Then, analyse how current and prospective customers will respond to it, ensuring you choose strategies with the strongest return on investment. That way, you can help the planet while supporting your company’s financial success.

Increasing Customer Interest Through Your Shift Toward Sustainability

Once you’ve embraced sustainability, update your advertising to showcase the positive environmental impact of the changes you’ve made. That way, eco-conscious shoppers may find your company more enticing. Plus, you can position it as a differentiator, helping you stand apart from the competition.

If you’re looking for more ways to stand out from competitors and boost brand awareness, a new logo that highlights your commitment to sustainability is a wise addition. If you’ve got a tight budget, go with an online logo maker over a logo design service. You can create a custom design by selecting the style, icon, fonts, and colours, as well as adding your text. That way, the result is genuinely unique.

Another excellent option is launching a new social media campaign to highlight your new green practices. If you’re worried about campaign effectiveness, working with an influencer marketing agency could be the ideal answer. You can learn more about influencer marketing agencies on online job boards, giving you a place to check reviews, weigh experience, and compare costs. That way, you’ll get the perfect match.

Take the Leap and Launch Your Sustainable Business

As you can see, making your business green is simply about making a series of smart operational choices, ensuring sustainability is always a priority. By adopting a “green first” mindset, it’ll start coming naturally in no time.

Once you’re ready to take the leap, you’ll need to select a business structure. For many small businesses, choosing an LLC is a smart move, ensuring you get potential benefits like:

You can even bypass cumbersome attorney fees if you use the right approach. Begin by learning formation laws in your area, as they do vary a bit by state. Then, you’ll know what you need to do to file yourself, or you can turn to a formation service if you’d like a bit of help. Both options cost less than a lawyer, so check them out if you’re worried about cost.

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Working From Home vs In-Office: What is Better for the Environment?

Working from home seems the most viable solution to sustainability when you have zero commutes and office energy consumption. However, whether remote work is better for the environment remains in question. The answer to making the future of work more sustainable isn’t quite that simple.

One would think that taking the commute and office heat out of the equation would positively impact carbon footprint. After all, sustainability relies on reducing emissions and energy consumption from large buildings.

However, this may not be the case.

Work From Home vs. The Office

For the average American worker, 29% of respondents say they spend 15 to 29 minutes commuting to work. Meanwhile, 25% of workers say they do not commute to work. For the employees who commute, that’s plenty of time and energy they could save when getting ready for remote work.

Many people do not enjoy commuting as the work-life balance is of the utmost importance for the modern-day employee. Plus, the expenses add up when it comes to public transit, gas, and maintenance.

Remote work may have its perks on people and the environment. In fact, carbon dioxide emissions from traveling decreased by 11% in 2020 when the pandemic forced people to stay home.

The Environmental Impact of Remote Work

When limiting the carbon footprint, remote work can easily seem like the simple solution to driving sustainability. However, when each person decides to use their home as an office, the following questions come through.

How much energy are people using at home with the air conditioner and heat? Is that energy use coming from clean sources?

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According to the International Energy Agency, electrical home energy consumption increased by 20% due to spending time at home. This analysis shows that emissions could increase when working remotely versus someone who uses public transportation or drives less than a few miles each way.

Additionally, employees that live near the office choose to walk, bike, or take public transportation. If those same employees end up working remotely, does this mean they’ll move out of their city apartment and live in a house? Suburban homes account for 43% of energy consumption — meanwhile, apartments with over five units utilize 25% of energy consumption.

Furthermore, if they move into a house, they’ll have to buy a car as well. So, the question is if they buy a car, will it be electric or gas-powered?

As these factors come into play, a hybrid work environment seems to be the more favorable solution to sustainability.

The Possibility of Sustainability Through Hybrid Work

Remote jobs might seem like the future of work, but many companies are navigating the flexibility of working from home and in the office. Could hybrid jobs be the solution to environmental sustainability?

To create better sustainability, people will have to turn to electric vehicles to reduce emissions. On the other hand, it’s more costly for the environment and for companies to have a physical office. So, companies will have to work around the issue by downsizing their offices. In fact, 74% of Fortune 500 CEOs expect to decrease their office space after the pandemic.

A happy medium between employees working remotely and, in the office, could save energy when downsizing and scattering remote days.

However, the carbon will inadvertently fall on individual workers to invest in low emissions with people working remotely. For instance, solar paneling can save energy and reduce billing expenses.

Although solar panels are more expensive, the overall effect, in the long run, will help save on energy costs. Solar power accounts for only 2.3% of energy consumption in 2020. Nevertheless, this will become a work-in-progress as people find solutions to reduce their carbon footprint.

Total Sustainability Will Take Time

We may be close to achieving the sustainable option when working, but we’re not out of the water just yet. When thinking about sustainability solutions, it all comes down to companies and employees working together.

Remote work may not be the most effective way to create a better environment. Regardless, a hybrid approach could temporarily solve the issue until society can ultimately impact climate change. Still, this will take time and energy to rethink the effects of working from home vs. the office.