Friday, 24 April 2009

Darling Puts His Money Where His Mouth Is!

Alistair Darling, Chancellor of the Exchequer, announced the new 2009 Budget on Wednesday 22nd April.

Whilst taxes have been toughened on the usual suspects – cigarettes, alcohol, fuel – and increased significantly for those earning at the higher end of the market (£150k plus now being taxed 50% and pension loop holes closed up), the overall message towards the green and low carbon sectors was very positive: Brown and Darling are making it clear that they are serious about their commitment to Renewable Energy and Low Carbon initiatives. They have stated that the UK will become the first country to commit to legally binding targets for reducing CO2 (34% reduction by 2020).

Here is a summary of the financial investment into the Low Carbon and Renewable Energy sectors:
  • £525m to be invested into the development of Offshore Wind farm development between 2011 and 2014. The money will be raised through the Renewable Obligation. Darling’s money is going behind Offshore Wind because it is the closest to generation. Nuclear will take significant time to build; tidal is still in early stages; geothermal opportunity in UK is limited.
  • Review of ROC (Renewable Obligation Certificate) scheme – Electricity companies will receive 2 ROCs for every MWh of energy they buy from an offshore wind farm (increased from 1.5 ROC) for the financial year 2009-2010. This will fall back to 1.75 ROCs 2010-2011.
  • Opportunity to benefit from up to £4bn of investment into renewable infrastructure projects from the European Investment Bank (EIB). This could translate to £1bn of development in the UK.
  • £375m to support energy efficiency initiatives in businesses, public buildings and homes in the UK through various schemes including £100m of funding for low cost loans delivered through the Carbon Trust. 
  • £70m of investment into micro-generation or small scale renewables. 
  • £405m of investment to go into developing “low-carbon energy and advanced green manufacturing" in the UK. This will focus on opening up a “green” supply chain in the UK to aid the development of low carbon technologies in the UK.
The government also reaffirmed its support of CHP (Combined Heat and Power) with its long term strategy being announced later this year. 

Adam Bruce of the BWEA said: 
"This package of measures deserves a welcome from our industry, and is in line with proposals that we have been working through with government. It addresses the short-term economic hurdles we faced due to the fall of the £ against the €, and the post-Lehman collapse in project finance.
It also restates the Government's long-term commitment to the renewable energy sector, and should enable us to unlock up to £10bn of private sector investment in wind and marine energy projects over the coming few years."
Overall it looks like Darling’s Budget will receive a warm welcome from the Renewables community. Is this enough?

As always, I would be very interested in hear your views directly.

Leave your comments below or find me via twitter, LinkedIn or directly by email.

Clare Buxton
Wind Sector Lead

Image by John-Morgan

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

15 Online News Sources For Renewable Energy And The Carbon Markets

Our work requires us to stay ahead of the game when it comes to news in the Renewable Energy Space.

As I was putting together a list of essential news services for new employees, I thought the resource was too good not to share with everyone.

So here, in alphabetical order, are EcoSearch’s top 15 online sources for green news.

Alternative Energy – Alternative energy news and information resources about renewable energy technologies. RSS. Twitter

All-Energy – The Renewables Show, held annually in Aberdeen, aggregates all of the top new stories on its website.

BBC Science & Environment - Get the latest BBC Science and Environment News: breaking news, analysis and debate on science and nature in the UK and around the world.RSS. Twitter

Carbon Finance - A a monthly newsletter and e-mail update service providing in-depth coverage of the global markets in greenhouse gas emissions. RSS

Edie - Officially Europe's biggest environmental website, Edie combines an unparalleled directory of products and services from thousands of specialised companies with an online news service reporting on the latest environmental stories as they break. RSS. Twitter

Financial Times Energy Source Blog - The FT’s specialist writers offer their insight into energy markets, companies and policy, plus commentary on the latest market-moving news. RSS. Twitter

GreenTechMedia – A fully integrated online-media company comprised of cutting-edge news, in-depth market research, and focused industry events. RSS. Twitter

Guardian Energy - The Guardian newspaper, of which is its online presence, was founded in 1821 and has a long history of editorial and political independence. RSS.

McKinsey Quarterly (Energy, Resources and Materials) - The McKinsey Quarterly is the business journal of McKinsey & Company.RSS. Twitter

New Energy Focus - A daily news service for the UK energy sector, dedicated to the professionals working towards sustainable energy in the UK. RSS

Point Carbon - A world-leading provider of independent news, analysis and consulting services for European and global power, gas and carbon markets. Point Carbon provides market-moving information through monitoring fundamental information, key market players and business and policy developments. RSS

Renewable Energy World - was started in 1998 by a group of Renewable Energy professionals who wanted their work to relate to their passion for renewable energy. RSS

Reuters Environment – Reuters is a world leading source of intelligent information for business and professionals. RSS. Twitter

Telegraph Earth - Earth is your source for environmental and green news, with information on global warming, pollution, green living and recycling, as well as tips on how to cut your contribution to climate change. RSS.

TreeHugger - TreeHugger is a fast-growing web magazine, dedicated to everything that has a modern aesthetic yet is environmentally responsible. Check out the latest news, reviews and recommendations for modern yet green products and services. RSS. Twitter

Do you have another source of online green news that you would recommend?

By Katharine Robinson
Research Associate, EcoSearch

Wikipedia Links: Learn more about RSS feeds and Twitter

Thursday, 9 April 2009

The Gym, Fitness Regimes & Wind Energy

It’s a common phenomenon that, come January of any year, hundreds of people will renew or revive their fitness campaign in order to start the New Year on a positive note, or loose the pounds that piled on during the long hard run up to Christmas and then the holiday season itself.

Gyms all over the country ensure that they have special joining offers available, and the whole population seems to jump into activity as they cycle and run and stretch with renewed vigour and enthusiasm. There are queues for the treadmills, the changing rooms are full, and you need to sign up to your yoga class at least a week in advance in order to squeeze into the packed little room.

But then, around March or April time, normal routine kicks in again. The gym stops being quite so busy and the classes are only half full again. People start to prioritise work and social lives, and gradually - excuse after excuse - despite the knowledge that we really should go to the gym, the enthusiasm of the New Year exercise craze is abandoned. Only those who are really determined to get fit, or who enjoy it, are continuing their fitness plans.

It happens every year.

It feels a bit like we are at that March/April phase of the year in the life cycle of Wind Energy at the moment. The last couple of years have been a whirlwind of activity, with every month seeing a new company moving into the space and exciting developments seemingly happening every time I picked up the phone or logged on to a news site. However, provoked I believe by the economic challenges that the whole world is facing right now, the last few months or so has seen a lot of people back away, or even drop out altogether, from their previously ambitious wind energy plans.

Shell, this month, announced that it was withdrawing from its Wind Energy programme and would be pursuing biofuels instead (it is note worthy that they receive significant tax breaks in doing so in the USA). BP reduced its renewable energy involvement significantly at the end of 2008, and at the beginning of this month announced further job cuts from their Solar Energy business. Vicious rumours flew round about Iberdrola withdrawing investment, although that claim was then revoked.
This week I heard terrible rumours about losses being made into the millions by certain divisions of major OEM manufacturers, and small wind companies struggling to remain competitive in the market. The future of the London Array offshore wind remains in question.

I could go on.

But I don’t want to because the aim of this discussion is not to depress us all with bad news. It’s rather to point out that, like with the gym, there are always going to be participants who fall out of the cycle, and go back to what they were doing before – be that burning oil, or putting up telecommunications masts. The crucial thing really is that those players that remain in the game are able to work closely with authorities and policy makers, as well as investment institutions, in order to ensure that the economic trials of 2009 do not prevent the Renewable Energy agenda progressing. There are plenty of companies still dedicated to making Wind Energy a competitive energy source, and many of them with money to spend and teams to grow.

And who knows, maybe some new players will sign up again next January!

Let me know your point of view.

By Clare Buxton,
Wind Energy Sector Lead, EcoSearch

Image by flem007_uk