5 things you need to know about this year’s party conferences and energy

We round-up the key issues in energy which the UK’s political parties are grappling with at their respective conferences.

1. Energy prices won’t go away

According to this i news briefing, MPs of all parties are demanding Theresa May keeps her promise to curb big energy price rises.

It claims Theresa May is facing a growing Tory rebellion before her party’s conference, over failing to act on a manifesto commitment to cap electricity and gas bills for 17 million families across the UK.

The government signalled on Thursday 28 September that it was prepared to legislate to curb excessive price rises if the regulator Ofgem failed to produce adequate proposals to combat profiteering.

2. Labour to re-nationalise energy

Metro writes that John McDonnell has confirmed that Labour will re-nationalise railways, water, energy and Royal Mail, if in power.

“Building an economy for the many also means bringing ownership and control of the utilities and key services into the hands of people who use and work in them. Rail, water, energy, Royal Mail: we’re taking them back.” he said.

3. Brexit trumps energy

Richard Black, Director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, says feedback from MPs suggests it is difficult to predict what will be happening in Parliament over the next couple of months following conferences. “The prime ministership is very fragile,” he told Utility Week.

But others are more candid; saying there’s little doubt which issue will be most on Tory activists’ minds when they assemble in Manchester. “The Tory party will be dominated by Brexit, I’m afraid,” says Tim Yeo, the Conservative former Chairman of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.

4. But, there is hope…

However, Luke Clark, Head of Public Affairs at Renewable UK, believes the consensus around the need to decarbonise the energy mix has strengthened over the past year.

“Across the parties there is a very strong majority in favour of continued development of renewables. Very few fringe voices are questioning the direction of travel,” was his takeaway for Utility Week.

5. Nuclear is in the mix

The sense is that nuclear power will continue to be under the spotlight at the Tory conference, with environmentalists calling for a rethink of government support following the dramatic reduction in offshore wind prices thrown up by the recent contracts for difference auction.

The nuclear lobby will be heartened that BEIS Secretary Greg Clark’s biggest energy speaking slot on the Tory fringe will be an hour-long Q&A at a Nuclear Industry Association meeting.

“There’s so much electricity capacity coming off in the next 10 to 15 years that we need to develop all of the low-carbon options available to us and that includes nuclear,” says Peter Haslam, Head of Policy at the Nuclear Industry Association.

Energys Group are experts in delivering energy efficient technologies. We’d be delighted to talk about any of the issues and themes covered in this article. Give us a call for a chat.

What does London’s Draft Environment Strategy hope to do?

London has a fast rising list of environmental issues. They range from harmful air quality to climate change mitigation, plus achieving greener energy, less waste and less noise.

London’s Mayor, Sadiq Khan, published his draft London Environment Strategy in August. Right now, it’s out for consultation, and all Londoners can have their say.

Khan promises to tackle the urgent environmental challenges facing the capital, as well as safeguard London’s environment over the longer term.

What’s the problem?

Half of Londoners have poor access to public open space, and water demand is set to outstrip supply by 2025.

Further, carbon dioxide emissions are way too high, and in some areas the city’s electricity infrastructure is approaching full capacity.

Interestingly then, some of London’s major challenges are identical to those facing the UK as a whole. It’s to be hoped its Strategy can act as a test-bed, for rollout across many other areas.

In another interesting coincidence, the Strategy sets out its overarching vision for London for 2050, the same year the UK Carbon Budget targets kick in.

Key Strategy targets for London

By 2050, London will be a zero carbon city, with zero emissions transport. London will send zero waste to landfill by 2026 and recycle 65% of its waste by 2030.

More than half of London will be green by 2050, featuring new parks and biodiversity. The Mayor’s new Energy for Londoners programme will help Londoners and businesses to generate more renewable energy.

In this new capital, tree canopy cover will increase by 10% by 2050. London will have the best air quality of any major world city by 2050, going beyond the legal requirements.

London’s transport system will phase out fossil fuels including diesel, making the whole bus fleet zero emission by 2037 at the latest. The Ultra Low Emission Zone, by 2019, will deter the most polluting vehicles from entering the capital. 2,000 EV charging points will appear.

London’s zero carbon 2050 target is very tough. By 2019, all new buildings will be zero carbon. Renewables will provide 15% of energy by 2030. Low carbon heat will be city wide by 2030.

The analysis; can it happen?

Khan’s promise is immeasurably challenging. Remodelling every facet of a city London’s size for zero carbon in 30 years is a vast undertaking.

His full Strategy document numbers some 200 pages; worryingly any high quality, deep strategy document or review on London’s energy alone should take at least this many pages.

Add in a missing 200 pages for a deep review on waste and water, let’s say about 100 for air and another 100 for vehicles and the deeper insight, or cohesive plan behind the promises begins to appear very lacking.

Aspiration vs reality

But, in many senses this is an aspirational plan. Zero waste, included in its promises, has always been an idealistic idea.

Further, any environmentalist knows London’s 2050 success, given its size and infrastructure, depends on myriad factors way outside the Mayor’s direct control, or that of his Strategy.

What matters may not be Khan’s deep understanding or detail, but his top level desire and willingness to transform London into one of Earth’s greenest cities.

That is worthy of high praise indeed; but the path to getting there, one suspects, needs stronger foundations than this one document.

We hope you enjoyed this article? Please drop us a line if you’d like to chat about any of the issues and themes covered we’ve covered.  

Energys Group’s News Round-Up: What’s new for energy efficiency in September?

Rapid decarbonisation

Excitingly, the UK is decarbonising fastest among G20 countries, claims PwC.

Clean Energy News notes that figures compiled by the accountancy giant revealed that the carbon intensity of the UK economy fell by 7.7% last year, reaching an intensity of 142 tonnes CO2 for every US$1 million of gross domestic product (GDP).

PwC cites the drastic reduction in coal consumption within the UK as a crucial factor for its decarbonisation success.

Jonathan Grant, Director of Climate Change and co-author of the LCEI report at PwC, lauded the UK government for creating a “pretty positive investment climate” for low carbon technologies in previous years.

But, “The UK now needs to tackle other parts of the economy, whether it’s increasing renewables or efficiency improvements, in order to maintain its position as a climate leader,” he said.

His words contribute to this month’s overwhelming sense that efficiency must become central to a future low carbon UK.

Energy efficiency policies ‘could save UK homes £270,’ report finds

Startling findings from Carbon Brief point to a telling new focus on domestic energy efficiency this September, to match efficiency’s ongoing ascendency within the corporate sector, as noted by PwC.

Investments in efficiency up to 2035 could save a quarter of the energy used by households, the UK Energy Research Council (UKERC) report says, worth an average of £270 per household per year at current energy prices.

Around 140 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy could be saved, roughly equivalent to the output of six Hinkley C-sized nuclear power stations, it notes, though savings would be in heat as well as power.

Yet more tellingly, the investments would deliver net benefits worth £7.5bn to the UK, the analysis found, using the government’s own guidance.

Almost half of the total savings could be achieved through building fabric improvements, such as installing better loft insulation, along with boiler replacements and upgrades of heating controls.

These are precisely the technologies Energys knows to offer powerful dividends in the commercial environment already.

Efficiency bests nuclear again

Yet more research, this time from Green Alliance, suggests if the government fully commits to renewables and energy efficiency, it would be unnecessary to invest in the much more expensive replacement of the UK’s nuclear fleet.

For many in the sector, this may be old news. But the sense is that as 2017 nears its final quarter, more and more documents are piling on the pressure for Government to truly give efficiency the kudos it merits.

Is the new energy efficiency digital?

In this month’s final trend, Energy Live News argues digital technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT) and smart data are the key to energy efficiency.

Mike Hughes, Zone President for Schneider Electric UK & Ireland, spoke at the company’s Innovation Summit.

He explained how these disruptive technologies could vastly improve productivity and reduce costs once they allow the widespread linking of industrial and domestic devices and appliances.

He said: “The key impact on the energy space will be having the ability to use those assets in a more efficient way.

“The biggest single factor is actually energy saving, it’s energy that you don’t need to consume in the first place.”

Energys Group are experts in delivering energy efficient technologies. We’d be delighted to talk about any of the issues and themes covered in this article. Give us a call today.

Energys Helps YPO ‘Practice What It Preaches’ with Comprehensive Lighting Upgrade

The UK public sector procurement organisation recently overhauled an outdated fluorescent lighting system in one of its large office facilities in favour of the latest LED technology – with dramatic results.

Based in West Yorkshire, public sector procurement organisation YPO supplies an extensive range of products and services to a wide range of customers – ranging from schools and local authorities to charities and emergency services – in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. With a focus on securing the very best solutions and deals for its customers, YPO also likes to ‘practice what it preaches’ when it comes to its own operations – a principle that was underlined by a recent lighting upgrade project at one of its main office locations.

As a 100% publicly owned organisation, YPO has an obligation to be cost-effective in everything that it does, allowing the maximum value to be returned to the tax-payer. The reduction of energy expenditure was therefore a primary driver of the lighting revamp, although the organisation was also keen to reduce its carbon output and improve the overall standard of illumination to the benefit of employees and overall productivity.

Leading lighting specialist Energys was engaged to work on the upgrade having won a competitive tender through YPO’s own Dynamic Purchasing Framework. CapEx funding helped to finance the work, which focused on the replacement of a fluorescent system that had become inefficient and outdated when compared with contemporary equivalents.

Energys Group Senior Account Executive Ian Humphries recalls that the existing T8 fluorescents “had become very energy inefficient and were delivering poor light levels. To transform this situation we installed Energys New Vision 1200 x 600mm LED panels with Helvar Active iDim control. A total of 90 have been fitted in phases one and two of the project – and the resulting improvements have been pretty dramatic for all concerned.”

Minimum disruption, maximum results

As a business with consistently high level of activity, it stands to reason that disruptive installation work must always be kept to a minimum. Consequently, the Energys team worked out of hours and overnight to guarantee a minimal impact on day-to-day operations – a feature of the service that has been praised by the YPO team.

Once completed, the benefits of the installation became very apparent, very quickly. “There was a dramatic increase in the lux levels, and the offices now look much brighter and more attractive. This is something both staff and management have remarked upon,” says Humphries.

Richard Hudson, who is YPO’s Procurement Manager for Energy, concurs: “This new LED lighting system is a welcome improvement to the YPO building. Staff feedback has been great, and it’s good to see that this investment has improved working conditions, while saving us money and contributing towards our efforts to reduce energy consumption and emissions.”

Moreover, it is evident that these savings are likely to be very substantial indeed – both in the short- and long-term. As a result of the first two phases, YPO stands to benefit from an annual kWh saving of approximately 55,000, equating to a total yearly saving of £6754. With such a dramatic reduction of energy expenditure, the payback period for the new system is predicted to be as little as 2.5 years.

Of course, the energy saving capabilities of the new system will be fully optimised by the decision to implement it alongside occupancy and daylight harvesting technology – ensuring that light is only used when it is needed and where it is needed.

In addition, average life expectancy of 50,000 hours for the panels and a five-year warranty means that the issue of replacements will diminish hugely in importance, while support and maintenance costs will also be slashed.

As Mr Hudson explains, “the new system means that lighting stays on when it needs to be on. Each LED panel also contains a separate movement detector and very gradually dims over time if the sensor detects no movement. I would also highlight the consistent lighting levels that we are now able to enjoy and which meet the stringent CIBSE industry guidelines.”

Reflecting on the successful completion of a project that has brought a whole new standard of illumination to YPO offices, Richard Hudson sings the praises of “an aesthetically pleasing system that lends our locations a modern and streamlined look”. And it’s by no means the end of the story with a projected further two phases of work set to bring the latest LED lighting to other YPO facilities.

Lighting the way to happier school children

The right classroom lighting can have a dramatic effect on children’s school experience

September is here and the new school year begins with a flurry of crisp new uniform, freshly stocked pencil cases and diligently labelled clothes.  This week, teachers, headteachers and leadership teams will be welcoming new ‘ kindergarteners’ at the school gates for the first time and looking forward to helping returning pupils settle into senior years, it’s a time of new beginnings.

Many parents and schools will also be busy thinking ahead, planning for the influx of new pupils joining in the next year’s intake. As the deadline for 2018 applications approaches, parents will be comparing class sizes, Ofsted reports, reputations and the quality of the pastoral care. While within school buildings, staff will be looking over forthcoming refurbishment, building and maintenance programmes, improving the quality of the learning environment itself and acknowledging the massive impact it has on children’s sponge-like brains.

Modern classrooms – flexible, welcoming and healthier

Today’s classroom experience is virtually unrecognisable from what it was 20 years ago – pupils are no longer restricted to traditional desks, laid out in inflexible rows under the glare of flickering fluorescent lights. Instead, teaching is immersive and interactive, with children working together in clusters. And huge advances have been made in the way we illuminate our classrooms too; there are many ways schools can dramatically improve a child’s experience by ditching fluorescent lighting in favour of modern LEDs.

Ditch the strips

On a basic level, a classroom or library lit with evenly diffused, LED lighting looks like a significantly more inviting space than one illuminated by glaring fluorescent strips. Traditional fluorescent lighting flickers, which is thought to be tiring on the eye and be a possible cause of headaches. LED lighting doesn’t have these unpleasant side effects.

Schools which have phased out traditional fluorescent strip lights in favour of adaptable LED lighting often report dramatic improvements in pupil concentration, behaviour and of course, performance. Modern LED lighting more closely mimics daylight, which helps children’s eyes work more efficiently and means they get less tired.

The result? They’ll find reading easier and more enjoyable. A study in Hamburg showed that using the right lighting increased the reading speed by over a third.

Colour control

A massive benefit of modern LED lighting is that the colour and intensity can be adjusted throughout the day, to suit pupils’ evolving needs and get the best out of them depending on their activity.

A brighter light can be used early in the day or during tests, to stimulate the circadian rhythm, make children alert and boost their concentration – studies in South Korea show that children achieved higher scores under bright LED lighting than under fluorescent strips. During break time or in after school care, LED lighting can be adjusted to a warmer temperature, creating a more relaxing atmosphere and soothing restless youngsters.

Better for pupils, staff and budgets

Let’s not forget the teachers! The more optimised their working environment, the better their classes will be. As Raj Gunasekaran, Business Development Manager at Energys Group, says: “Improved lighting often translates to happier pupils and staff, meaning increased productivity and quality of work.”

LED lighting can easily be installed in modern schools and retrofitted in older buildings with minimum disruption. Long term, it also has big cost savings. Schools don’t need a big budget to install new lighting. Projects that improve an institute’s energy efficiency qualify for interest-free Government funding, through Salix Finance.