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wrong energy bills

That's the research findings from uSwitch, the comparison website. They also found that billing mistakes involve more than 1,300,000 of us with an average over-charge of £79. Even when you spot the error and complain it will take an average of 35 days to get your money back. uSwitch say that customers having to pay for energy company mistakes is totally unacceptable and are calling on Ofgem, together with all energy suppliers, to minimise mistakes and to improve the design of bills with simpler explanations of how a bill is actually calculated. In the meantime we would urge you to check your own bills (25% of us don't!) and get on the case if you spot a mistake – remember, you can always say you'll switch if it's not quickly resolved.

Source: uSwitch – to read the whole story please...

A new scheme, which will ensure that the pre-packaged wood logs typically sold in garage forecourts are 'guaranteed' Ready to Burn and as such will provide you with more heat for your money, as well as be good for your local air quality, has been launched by Woodsure, the not-for-profit organisation, wholly owned by Hetas, which strives to raise the quality of woodfuel. Woodsure is supported by Hetas (naturally), The Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) and Defra – and we think it's long overdue. Find out why Ready to Burn wood is better for you and the environment please click here.

Parliament's spending watchdog has just concluded that the economic case for the multi-billion pound Hinkley Point C nuclear power station is at best 'marginal' and is also subject to significant uncertainty. They're also not happy about locking us all into such a risky and costly venture when the economic benefits are unclear and are measured against continually falling costs for producing our energy with other renewables. They added that with the French builder EDF's current difficult financial problems that no-one could actually be 100% certain that the new plant would ever be built.

Source: Utility Week – to read the complete Utility Week story please click here

64 million trees notice

A new 100% renewable energy-only company is getting all geared up to take on the Big Six with a single tariff which will mean substantially lower energy bills – they say it's because they're going to pass the energy on to us at cost! Instead Pure Planet will make their money from a simple £10 monthly membership fee per fuel. Even so, they reckon that their energy will still be, on average, a staggering 20% cheaper than any of the Big Six. This might all be a bit hard to believe if it weren't for the fact that the people behind Pure Planet are the same ones who brought us Virgin Mobile and went on to run Orange, T-Mobile and form EE. The only snag is that you'll be dealing with Artificial Intelligence when it comes to customer service as Pure Planet are committed to bringing their telecommunications...

Deep in the rainforest just 60 miles from Machu Picchu in Peru they are pumping out shale gas – not for the poor locals, but for us far away in the UK. Very soon the first tanker (owned by those wonderful folks who brought you the Gulf of Mexico oil spill) full of the Puruvian gas will dock at the Isle of Grain in Kent. Naturally you'd expect Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace to be up in arms (and they really are) but even supporters of fracking in the UK are quite upset because they say that we should be using our own fracking gas. Sometimes you just can't do right for doing wrong, wrong, wrong.

Source: BBC News – to read the complete BBC article please click here

The last three months of 2016 (seems like ages ago) saw power prices at their highest levels in two years mainly due to us having the lowest gas reserves (what we might need if the weather goes pear-shaped – which it just has) since the mid-90s and the reduced nuclear output in France caused by unforeseen safety checks which pushed French prices up and which then caused ours to rise to a 22% year-on high. Storm damage to the inter-connecter between us and France, which left it operating at half capacity, and the National Grid suggesting that low levels of wind generation might actually leave us with a shortfall, were also contributors to the single biggest price spike of around 10% over a couple of days in November. Tight margins and poor weather are expected to see UK prices remain high as we continue to go shopping to import what we need (or might need) from mainland Europe.

Source: Utility Week – to read the complete Utility Week story please...

oil no1 energy source

Every Christmas time the gentle folk of Oslo, Norway provide Trafalgar Square with its annual gift of the famously big Norway Spruce Christmas tree which they have been supplying since the end of the second world war (at over 20 metres tall, can you imagine the logistics?). The tree is a symbol of the close fraternal and commercial relationship the two countries have, which from 2021 will be even closer when the 450 mile UK / Norway North Sea Link (NSL) electricity interconnector is completed – the world's longest. So quite possibly, on the 1st December 2021, when the 500 white lights on the famous tree are turned on there's a good chance they could be lit with Norwegian electricity supplied via the NSL. With the growing concerns about the UK's ultra-low energy capacity and uncertain European energy supplies (...

64 million trees notice

64,000,000 is a big number but that's how many new trees The Woodland Trust estimates we need to restore the UK's woodland. The UK is one of the least wooded places in Europe with Northern Ireland having less woods than most. The European average is 37% forest cover and the UK has only13% and Northern Ireland a mere 7%. Half of the UK’s ancient woodland has been lost or damaged in the past 70 years and in the last 17 years alone, over 300 ancient woods have suffered complete loss or damage, with another 600 or so under threat. Just think of all that loss of wild life and biodiversity as well as the loss of amenity for local communities. In a recent survey undertaken by the Forestry Commission an amazing 96% of people said that the dazzling spectacle of Autumn tree leaf colours improved their mood and...

Concerns over tight energy supply margins this coming winter have driven wholesale gas and power prices upwards in the third quarter of this year. News emerged, at the end of September, of a series of unscheduled safety tests and potential maintenance disruption at as many as 18 of EDF's French nuclear plants causing EDF to revise its supply forecasts downwards. This saw a sudden 13% spike upwards in gas prices – the biggest increase since 2010. Summer maintenance at gas-fired plants; some of our own unplanned outages at coal and nuclear plants; lower levels of wind power; the partial failure of an interconnector with France; and even a boost in demand from air-conditioning due to warmer than usual weather have all helped fuel the uncertainty of the UK's energy stocks. Experts say things could improve but also warned that stronger demand during a very cold winter could quickly exacerbate the situation. Perhaps this one of the reasons for the Government's sudden green light on...

solar subsidies cut, utility week

Especially in the Autumn. In a recent survey, undertaken by the Forestry Commission, an amazing 96% of people said that the dazzling spectacle of Autumn tree leaf colours improved their mood – but why do the leaves change colour so dramatically? What makes Maple leaves turn fiery red, or Beech leaves become golden? To help us understand the science behind our woodland’s most vibrant season, the Forestry Commission has put together a simple colour guide which explains how all of the different colours come about. For example, did you know that egg yokes are yellow because of the xanthophyll in plant products that the hens eat and that this also creates all of the different yellows of autumn leaves? So take a woodland walk this weekend and colour yourself happy then as the day gets colder head home to the...

There's an ill wind blowing for Hinkley. The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) has just produced a report which says that renewable alternatives, plus energy saving measures, would be much quicker, cheaper and simpler than the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant – and also be a lot less controversial. Their report also states that if we all stopped wasting energy then we wouldn't need two fifths of Hinkley's energy anyway. They say building four really big wind farms, other than the one's we're already building like the 300 turbine wind farm (the world's biggest) off the Yorkshire coast just given the green light, could do the same job as Hinkley and at the same time reduce the average annual energy bill by £20. Whether or not Theresa May decides to give the go-ahead for Hinkley it's never going to be plain sailing. With various ongoing legal issues, EDF's perilous financial position and the ever-so-slightly upset French unions (bless 'em) the plug could still be...

The UK is well on its way to totally dropping the use of coal to generate its electricity – the first time since 1882 when our very first coal-fired power station started up. However, let's not get carried away here, we've still got some work to do to catch up with our European neighbours when it comes to clean green energy generation. Take Sweden for example, at the last count just over half of its energy supply came from renewables. In Norway it's 69% – and they're sitting on huge oil reserves that it would be oh-so easy and cheap to turn to, and in Iceland it's a staggering 77%. On windy days in Denmark they can generate all of the electricity they need and still have some left to sell to Germany. So what are they doing that we aren't? Well, quite simply, they've kept their focus and haven't been distracted by shale gas and nuclear like us. They've just quietly got on with decarbonising their energy while we tinker around the edges. In 2015 only 22% of our electricity was...

Northern Ireland RHI

According to the Northern Ireland Audit Office, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), which was established to encourage people to switch to biomass heating systems (eg pellet stoves), is now going to cost NI taxpayers hundreds of millions of pounds. This comes amid a background of accusations of mismanagement and fraud and external consultants have already been appointed to conduct on-the-spot and thorough inspections of RHI installations to ensure that they meet the spirit and letter of the scheme. "There will be no toleration of fraud and where it is identified it will be firmly dealt with" said Simon Hamilton the Economy Minister.

Source: 4NI News – to read the complete 4NI News story please...

A recent discovery on the Indonesian Island of Flores has shown that modern humans (Homo sapiens) were likely to be using fire and constructing 'fire places' to cook and keep warm some 41,000 years ago. The fire places, which are in such an excellent state of preservation, are allowing archaeologists a unique insight into the behaviour of our ancient relatives. Although they'll never find any evidence to support this, you just know that these guys also chilled out around their fires to talk about their day... "Man, I thought that sabre tooth tiger would never leave... what was that all about?"

Source: Science Newsline. To read the complete Science Newsline story please click here

A Conservative 'think-tank' tells the Government to phase out coal-fired power in 2023 – that's just over six years away – because, not only will it significantly cut carbon emissions and air pollution, but it will also add further impetus to clean energy projects and create jobs. They say that if the Hinkley C nuclear plant is shelved, as seems more likely with each passing day, then it could be quickly replaced by renewables. The original 2025 date for phasing out coal was widely praised but since then the Government has cut solar power subsidies, blocked onshore wind farms and closed its Green Deal energy efficiency scheme all of which, according to a report published this week by the Renewable Energy Association, has left many businesses in the sector reeling and has also slowed down the deployment of renewables. Renewable energy accounted for 22.3% of the UK’s power in 2015 – and of course the humble wood burner has also done its bit too.

Source:...

Go Compare Man

According to GoCompare, the price comparison website (yes, that one), average annual energy prices are likely to rise by as much as £132 for customers on 16 fixed dual tariff deals which come to an end on 31 May – that's a rise of about 14% if they don't look for a new deal. 12 of these16 tariffs will automatically place customers on a more expensive variable tariff. For example, if you were on Npower's Price Fix May 2016 tariff you could see an annual average increase of over £190 with some First Utility customers seeing a hike of £380. So don't take your eye off the ball.

Source: Utility Week

Peabody Energy, fools gold

Peabody Energy, the world's largest privately owned coal producer, has declared itself bankrupt. This follows the unprecedented collapse in global coal prices due to falling demand, ultimately driven by environmental pressures and this has left them unable to pay their creditors. The multi national mining company, which owns mines in the US and Australia, has estimated liabilities of up to $50billion. Nobody likes to see workers loose their jobs but some argue that this could actually signal the dawn of a cleaner industrial age and in the long run could further fuel the growing renewable energy sector.

Source: BBC News and Edie Newsroom – to read the complete Edie Newsroom article please...

stars align for hinkley

A trade union board member of EDF, the French energy giant which has long-standing plans (but no money) to develop a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, has said that currently the conditions weren't right to go ahead and that he will vote against it. Problems with a similar reactor in France, EDF's weak financial position and the poor state of the energy market had all influenced his decision. In an EDF internal document, recently leaked to the the Financial Times, EDF engineers expressed doubts about Hinkley's reactor technology and argued for a redesign to make it less expensive. Meanwhile the UK Government has said it is 'committed' to Hinkley – just like they said they were committed to the defunct Green Deal, the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) and the Renewables Obligation (RO) schemes....

charnwood talking logs energy policy

Or else we're all going to be in the dark and the cold – that's just about the gist of the latest thinking from the UK's National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) who were asked to recommend ways to secure a low-carbon energy system for the UK. This comes at a time when the Government has all-but ditched its Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme and the cash-strapped French-owned EDF new nuclear reactor at Hinckley Point has been dealt another blow with the departure of its Finance Director. Anyway, I digress, the NIC wants the UK to become a world leader in a smart power revolution and it's all to do with removing regulatory barriers and the best bit is, that it won't cost the Government a penny. And it could save us consumers around £8billion a year. Crikey, so lets get started soon and while...

small window to reduce emissions

Latest analysis from Oregon State University says that if we continue to emit carbon into the atmosphere at the current rate by burning fossil fuels then the earth may suffer damage which could last tens of thousands of years. The authors believe that the focus on climate change by policy-makers and the public needs to be shifted towards a much longer-term perspective and that we need to recognise that the impact that we've had on our climate simply just won't go away, not at least for hundreds of generations. The real risks and consequences of the fossil fuel, era such as the potential rise 25 metre rise in sea level, will commit the human race to massive adaptation efforts so that dislocation and migration for 10% of the population will become the only option. We can't sustain...

oil no1 energy source

... and gas will overtake coal for second place. That's according to oil giant BP in their 2016 Energy Outlook report who say that, in the next 20 years, although oil will still be the world’s most used energy source, its energy mix share will drop significantly as more renewables sources kick in. Despite the increasing use of renewables, fossil fuels are expected to remain the dominant source of the world's energy. The growth in gas-produced energy will be driven by shale gas production which is expected to increase by over 5% each year and will account for over a quarter of all the world's gas supplies by 2035.

Source: Utility Week – to read the complete story please click...

That's according to the latest official government research by DECC. In its quarterly review of public opinion about energy options, over half of the people who completed the survey who said that they understood what fracking actually is were opposed to it. The reasons mainly being because of concerns about long term damage to the natural environment, as well as possible water contamination. Only one third said that they supported fracking. The report concludes that the more awareness people have of fracking then the less they seem to like it. On the other hand everybody seems to love a wood burning stove...

Source

christmas sprouts

Not everyone loves a brussel sprout (personally I can't get enough of them) and there's an awful lot of them that go to waste at Christmas. It has been estimated that more than 5 million Christmas puddings will also be binned this year. In fact your typical Christmas generates nearly a third more extra wasted food over the festive period. However, one specialist anaerobic digestion plant alone gathered together at least 150,000 tons of the stuff (the equivalent weight of over 83,000 Ford Mondeos) to generate cheap power for the National Grid between Christmas and New Year. So, for those of you who leave your sprouts on the plate, at least now you can say that some time soon someone, somewhere will benefit from them – and it won't be from wind power.

Source: Edie Newsroom – to read the complete Edie story...

And not just the glittery Christmas type either. When the head of the Energy Managers Association, Lord Redesdale (he should know a thing or two), tells you to expect blackouts this winter, you've got to believe him. He puts it down to our lowest ever capacity margin at 1.5 per cent as well as government policies which have put the brakes on the rapid expansion of the UK's renewable energy and which could have easily replaced our closed coal-fired power stations. Still there's always the Chinese-funded Hinkley Point C nuclear plant due in the mid 2020's (ha!) to look forward to. A big thank-you to Utility Week for this story - click here to read more.

 

 

dan skan cartoon

That's according to Chancellor George Osborne in an announcement later today (Tuesday) at GCHQ when he will say that the UK's cyber security budget will be doubled to £1.9 billion, specifically to counter potential plots by Isis. The money will provide additional protection to the UK's infrastructure including the National Grid, power plants and even hospitals which are believed to be specific Isis targets.

 

Source: Utility Week. To read the complete Utility Week article please click here.