Energy efficiency

No more hot air – just more wind and gas

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Chris Cullen, Sam Taylor and Adam Baddeley of Eunomia Research & Consulting analyse the problems of securing the UK’s future electricity supply

Affordable, secure and clean – these are the objectives for the future of electricity supply in the UK, as stated in July’s white paper on electricity market reform (EMR). The question of what levels of support should be given to each technology type is a relevant one. This should be prefixed, however, by asking what generation mix we need to meet the above policy objectives? Or, perhaps more pertinently, is it even possible that they can all be met?

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Amber light for the Green Investment Bank

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The advent of an independent Green Investment Bank will be a major step forward for a government that claims to be the greenest ever. It comes at a time when, hopefully, electricity market reforms (ENDS Report, December 2010) will unleash a £200bn low-carbon energy infrastructure investment programme by 2020. (more…)

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Fallout and climate policy

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It’s no exaggeration to say that the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster in March has cast a shadow over plans for new nuclear power capacity globally, and it is too early to say whether this will fade with time. But it’s also having much wider indirect consequences which could yet cause a shift in Europe’s energy and climate policy and complicate global climate talks.

Many of the accident’s extreme circumstances were unique to Japan, so there may or may not be lessons to learn in other countries. But, rightly or wrongly, that message is rapidly becoming politically irrelevant amid the understandable trauma. (more…)

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CRC: Dead man walking?

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Industry lobby groups are calling on the government to kill off the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme.

The recent consultation by the energy and climate department (DECC) on reforming the CRC focuses on ways to keep it intact while simplifying its rules and requirements. Among the myriad options there seems to be a handful of frontrunners.

But in their consultation responses, trade associations including the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) and the British Property Federation (BPF) argue the CRC cannot be revived. (more…)

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Conflicting objectives

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Conventional wisdom among climate policymakers holds to the idea that greenhouse gas mitigation, energy efficiency, and renewable energy targets will combine to deliver the EU’s 20% emissions reduction goal for 2020 relative to 1990, with a higher 30% target still on the table.

But the reality is that there is a long-standing and unresolved tension at the heart of the EU’s 2008 20/20/20 energy and climate package. And the bloc’s roadmap for 2050 (ENDS Report, March 2011), aimed at cutting emissions by at least 80% relative to 1990, has brought matters to a head. It’s not just about whether to go for 30% or a near offer, but about how the three elements work together, or do not.

The European Commission is deeply concerned that a renewed drive for energy efficiency, together with a continuing surge in renewable energy investment across the EU, will undermine carbon price signals in phase III of the EU emissions trading scheme (ETS) from 2013. Already in Germany, the power sector is battling low profitability from its conventional power plants which must now power down inefficiently when renewable electricity is available. These utilities are struggling to find the cash to invest in the vast amount of new low-carbon plant needed to decarbonise its grid, not least in back-up and baseload plants. (more…)

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Reading the runes of the CRC review

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The government’s plan to simplify the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme is starting to take shape. In January, the energy and climate department (DECC) published a series of discussion papers.

However, these still allow for a wide range of outcomes, many of which involve huge levels of complexity. On the surface then, there is still not much clarity on offer.

Making a heroic attempt to cut through the complexity, the Sunday Telegraph recently headlined an article: CRC “may be scrapped”. The piece was widely copied on the web. (more…)

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Climate change agreements revisited

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Latest thinking by the energy and climate department (DECC) over climate change agreements (CCAs) smacks of blue-sky thinking. It has floated ideas not only to reform but even potentially to scrap the instruments. The government should be careful before reinventing this particular wheel.

Last December, DECC organised a closed workshop including representatives of sectors covered by CCAs to discuss their future. It released a report on the meeting last week.

There is general consensus that CCAs need reform. The voluntary agreements to cut emissions now signed with 52 industry sectors have various shortcomings. These include difficulties with monitoring and benchmarking of progress and an uneasy mixture of absolute and relative targets in different agreements. (more…)

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DECC the halls

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December was a month of extraordinarily bitter cold. A snowbound Britain found it hard to get excited about Cancún’s fitful progress towards an international agreement to tackle global warming.

But it was a very big month for Chris Huhne, secretary of state for energy and climate change.

His first big climate summit. Publication of an Energy Bill, introducing an ambitious scheme to shift billions of pounds of private sector capital into making Britain’s heat-leaky homes much more energy efficient.

And then, just before the Christmas holidays, the unveiling of still more ambitious and highly complex proposals for reforming Britain’s power generation system.

The last thing you could accuse the coalition of is being a one-club player. Instead, it is reaching for a bewildering variety of instruments to persuade investors to spend billions a year on a variety of low-carbon generating plant. (more…)

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Talk is cheap – but so is energy efficiency

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The last time energy efficiency was a high profile issue was during the notorious oil shocks of the 1970s and the three-day week. But here we are again.

This time round, the ‘trinity’ of rising energy costs, supply concerns and climate change policies is providing a new imperative that will be harder to ignore or forget.

The new ENDS special report on energy efficiency shows how far a wide range of both large and medium sized companies have gone on their energy efficiency journey – and how they are reaping rewards in lower energy bills and greater competitiveness.

As the report explains, there is still a huge amount to be done. (more…)

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10:10 campaign needs a firmer grasp on carbon numbers

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As 2010 nears its end, the 10:10 campaign has very little idea of how well it is succeeding in its goal of getting organisations and individuals to cut their carbon emissions by 10% in a year.

The best guess is that it will have reduced all UK emissions by much less than 1% during 2010.

The campaign, launched last September, has no systems in place to gather useful, credible data on what its signatories are collectively achieving. It prefers to emphasise its success in raising awareness about reducing CO2.

Strategy director Duncan Clark says 10:10 has made “carbon cutting cool and inclusive for the first time”.

He says it is unfair to judge 10:10’s success by how much it reduces UK emissions, or to expect the campaign to audit its pledgers’ CO2 cuts.

“It’s about establishing a coalition big enough to redefine the narrative and create political space for serious change.” (more…)

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The ENDS Carbon & Energy Efficiency blog provides news and comment for carbon and energy management professionals in business and the public sector, covering the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme and other carbon and energy management and regulation issues. The blog is part of the ENDS Report Carbon & Energy Efficiency channel.

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