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.

Energy policy, infrastructure, investment and the future; Energys Group supports aims of new Balfour Beatty report

Balfour Beatty is one of the UK’s top infrastructure providers. As such, it is expertly positioned to comment and lobby on measures required to maintain jobs, competitive industry and a burgeoning UK economy.

The firm’s latest report; ‘Infrastructure 2050 – Future Infrastructure Need,’ has much to say. Overarchingly, it seeks to influence future infrastructure and energy policy, highlighting UK skills shortages, an investment shortfall and economic uncertainty, plus Brexit, as just some of the obstacles to future prosperity.

The report in detail; energy

Balfour Beatty clearly believes that technology is key to the future. Its paper argues that smart technology in building design can help individuals control the space around them and the amount of energy they use.

This endorsement of energy efficiency is most welcome, but there is more. The firm says that a clear long-term vision for UK energy policy needs to be developed, agreed, communicated and retained to provide investors with certainty.

More specifically, the government should support the development of interconnectors, smart grids and smart networks and energy storage through the removal of regulatory barriers to develop markets, in order to help deliver £8bn a year savings to the UK consumer.

Evidently, Balfour considers the UK grid antiquated, and wants solutions fast. It says society will come more and more to demand intelligent infrastructure, which makes the most of energy generation and
distribution.

This will make our buildings smarter and offer up data to inform future decision making. But the implicit sense in the paper is that as a whole, the UK is as yet distant from reaching such goals.

Decarbonisation

Unsurprisingly, Balfour seeks a largely decarbonised energy system before the middle of the century, saying a continuous, reliable and low carbon energy supply is crucial for economic growth and stability as well as social well-being.

It predicts a worsening energy crunch by 2030 and is candid on today’s incoherent strategy, saying, ‘A clear long-term vision for UK energy policy needs to be developed and communicated to facilitate the hundreds of billions of pounds worth of investment in the energy supply infrastructure required by 2030.’

Balfour does praise recent decisions on an overall coal phase out, but argues such certainty is required across the energy policy and investment landscape.

The firm sees a burgeoning future for energy storage, saying it can be used to complement low carbon and renewable generation sources if utilised as a balancing mechanism and appropriately regulated, creating a multi-billion pound industry.

The sense within the paper as a whole is that there is hope out there, but appropriate actions are required fast, and today’s politics pose a risk to future readiness in energy.

The Energys response

“We welcome Balfour Beatty’s paper,” comments Kevin Cox, Managing Director, Energys Group. “The energy sections in particular show how world leading infrastructure providers are all coming to the same conclusion; energy efficiency and decarbonisation represent the future.

“Obviously, tough political times are here, and there are myriad challenges for today’s UK energy sector. To my mind, the paper points to one truth.

“If low carbon firms, centralised policy and the big infrastructure providers and operators come together, there is a chance not only to develop a prosperous UK, but one whose jobs and industries primarily create wealth from low carbon, not coal.

“The issue is we must start now. And all must pull together. Time is not available to waste.”

Energy Institute Report Highlights: Energy efficiency’s challenges and opportunities

000The Energy Institute (TEI) has produced its 2017 Barometer; analysing the pressure on UK energy efficiency. What’s TEI’s professional verdict on the next 12 months for low carbon?

What are 2017’s key challenges?

Energy policy, the investment environment and the need for energy system change are the main challenges for the energy industry in 2017, as identified by TEI members.

Uncertainties

Brexit and wider geopolitics could negatively impact efforts to develop a clear UK energy strategy, to update infrastructure, and to meet demand and climate targets at least cost to end users.

Brexit itself

Brexit is a vast concern to the sector. Negotiators must pay heed to energy policy, regulation and trade agreements, energy costs, and security of supply.

Free movement of labour is key, and skilled engineers and workers could be at a premium. Training and apprenticeships could help prevent a shortfall.

Great Repeal regulations should be informed by existing EU legislation, and continued cooperation with the EU is considered desirable.

UK energy policy

Uncertain energy policy is contributing to a risky investment climate, with immature low carbon technologies most affected. Tech readiness and markets are being harmed. Better business and academia links are needed.

Moderate price rises across primary and retail energy markets are coming in 2017, with exchange rates expected to have a greater influence than in previous years.

Transition to low carbon

The UK will likely fall short of its carbon targets through to 2050. Additional support for energy efficiency and renewables could help close the perceived carbon policy gap. That said, wider environmental concerns, falling technology costs, and rising energy costs are making efficiency more attractive.

Future energy will be more flexible and will involve system-level strategies and new business models. Grid updates, energy storage and new tech will change behaviours and shift consumer demand.

Financial incentives, mandatory standards and community engagement are seen as the best measures for reducing emissions.

Overall, decentralisation and new models will drive innovation, with new tech coming to suit the new direction.

And finally

TEI professionals expect that decarbonisation of the energy system will be the greatest change they witness over their careers. But it won’t come without its challenges, and its winners and losers.

Call us today for an informal chat about the ways Energys Group can help your business improve its low carbon. 

Cash-positive lease package delivers energy efficient LED lighting upgrade to Theresa May’s former school

A risk-free operational lease has allowed the Oxfordshire state secondary school to install the latest LED lighting technology with no upfront costs, delivering £8.5k annual savings.

The number of schools across the UK deciding to make the journey from traditional lighting to the latest LED-based systems is increasing all the time – thanks in no small part to the availability of innovative financing schemes that make it possible to cope with the investment expenses over an extended period of time.

Occupying the site of UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s former school, Wheatley Park School in Oxfordshire is one such institution, having recently utilised a leasing scheme operated by lighting specialist Energys Group and Utility Rentals to undertake a comprehensive lighting upgrade.

The school is no stranger to the benefits of energy efficient lighting, having engaged Energys Group five years ago to undertake the successful retrofit conversion of fluorescent T8 tubes to energy-efficient T5s. With the T5 adapters coming to the end of their life, Energys proposed an LED upgrade using the latest technology from New Vision, that would bring significant benefits in terms of energy consumption and lighting quality.

Unique funding option

It was Raj Gunasekaran, Business Development Manager at Energys Group, who first suggested to Wheatley Park Senior Site Manager David Jones and School Business Manager Kevin Heritage that they might wish to explore the opportunities presented by a unique lease package funded by Utility Rentals. The scheme enables schools to upgrade their lighting to energy efficient LED with no upfront cost.

By contrast to some other available funding schemes, the Utility Rentals scheme is “fast and guaranteed and is available for any school in the country – no matter what size or establishment type. The rental scheme is cash-positive from day one, with repayments covered by the energy costs saved. The repayments are also fixed and won’t go up year on year and can even be deferred until 12 months after the lighting has been installed,” says Utility Rentals director Steve Mattey, who highlights the scheme’s compliance with the Academies Financial Handbook.

‘Extremely happy’

 For Kevin Heritage, the business case for the lease package was a ‘no brainer’ and helped the project to get approved by governors. “There is no upfront investment capital needed and the repayments are covered by the money we will save on energy. All of the lighting is fully maintained for the duration of the lease, so there will be no surprises.”

Encompassing both indoor and outdoor areas, the installation resulted in new LED lighting being brought to classrooms, offices, science labs, workshops, common areas, science labs and the drama block, among other spaces.

Remarkably, the fit-out was completed in just over one week, but its benefits are set to be long-lasting indeed. With annual energy savings expected to be £8.5k, and maintenance costs reduced by £4k, the project’s Return on Investment is predicted to less than 3 and a half years.

Enhanced learning environment

The school is evidently delighted by the results of the project. “The lighting is now 30% more efficient and it has actually been possible to reduce the amount of lighting as the output is so much brighter – so there’s a further notable saving to be taken into account,” David Jones observes. “The funding scheme’s five-year repayment terms allow us to meet the costs in a reasonable way that complements the long-term budgeting of the school.”

Kevin Heritage adds that teaching staff have commented positively on the upgrade. “A number of studies demonstrate the importance of good lighting for student performance, and for us it stands to reason that the excellent illumination levels, pleasant daylight colour and uniformity of the new lighting has improved the learning environment.”

Final word goes to Raj Gunasekaran, who helped plant the seed of the entire project in the minds of the school staff. “The Energys/Utility Rentals scheme has brought obvious and immediate advantages to Wheatley Park, which is terrific news,” he says. “With many other projects currently in progress funded by the scheme, numerous other schools are set to experience similar benefits from new LED lighting fit-outs in the months and years ahead.”

Looking for more information on lighting efficiency for schools? Don’t hesitate to contact us here for help and advice on energy saving ideas and how you can upgrade your school lighting.

 

Energys LED upgrade set to deliver £7K annual savings for Harry Gosling Primary School

The East London primary school has undergone an entire LED lighting upgrade with Energys Group products, in a project that is expected to achieve return of investment (ROI) in just four years.

Given their often stringent financial and operating circumstances, it is to be expected that schools and colleges of higher education have been among the most enthusiastic adopters of energy-efficient lighting technology. Located in Tower Hamlets in the east of London, Harry Gosling Primary School is a case-in-point, having recently instigated an LED upgrade centred around solutions from Energys.

Constructed more than 100 years ago, the school buildings have been the subject of a number of improvements during recent times intended to enhance their efficiency. Most recently of all, School Premises Manager James Doherty took steps to replace legacy fluorescent lighting that was aesthetically displeasing and inconsistent in terms of light distribution. There was also a clear mandate to reduce expenditure on lighting-related energy and maintenance.

Salix funding

A previous positive experience of Energys during a project that saw the energy efficiency specialist provide boiler optimisation for two units (and achieve a 26% saving!) meant that the company was regarded as a natural choice when the subject of a lighting upgrade came up for discussion. In addition to advising on and supplying appropriate LED lighting solutions, Energys was able to support the school through the process of applying for funding from Salix Finance, which delivers 100% interest-free capital to the public sector to improve energy efficiency and reduce carbon emissions.

Doherty observes that “because of the Salix funding the school is essentially not incurring any additional costs for the project since repayments can be made from the energy savings”. Clearly, that is another significant reason for the project to have won the support of the school’s management and finance departments.

Radical upgrade

So extensive is the upgrade – which covers all existing lights – that Doherty believes it may make Harry Gosling Primary one of very few schools in the country to have undertaken a complete LED upgrade. Encompassing classrooms, corridors, offices, staircases, ICT rooms, the main hall, offices and common areas, the indoor-only project saw Energys provide a wealth of solutions from its extensive range. LED panels, downlighters, wall-lights, 2D LED lamps, tubes, LED emergency bulkheads and PIR sensors were among the items specified by the Energys team.

Doherty is full of praise for the installers, who he describes as being “very efficient and highly considerate. They undertook the work during the holidays and it really felt like they had become part of our staff – the whole process was so seamless. The fit-out took six weeks, meaning that everything was done and dusted in time for the new term to begin.”

In terms of the end-result, there is no doubt that a dramatic improvement in terms of the overall lighting quality has been achieved. “Light is now a lovely daylight colour and is uniformly diffused, while there are no issues with glare; Energys products having been designed with a very specific focus on reducing glare. There has also been an enhancement of the school’s aesthetics since the new fittings are much more attractive than the old fluorescents.”

Prior to the upgrade lights were failing on a frequent basis, but the long lifecycle of Energys products is expected to lead to a substantial reduction in time and money spent on maintenance. Meanwhile, the Energys products’ five-year guarantee means that if there are any failures the company will come and replace them anyway.

The school’s Display Energy Certificate rating may also improve as the result of a project that cost £29.5K and is estimated to achieve annual savings in the region of £7K. Return on investment is predicted to be as little as four years – a remarkable result given the all-encompassing nature of the upgrade.

Spread the word

The easier disposal process associated with LEDs is another benefit earmarked by Doherty, who says that he is “thrilled by the results of the upgrade. It pains me that there are so many other schools around the country putting up with bad lighting that is wasting energy and also impacting negatively on the learning experience. Evidence about the positive benefits of LEDs for education is increasing all the time. In the future, I would love to show other schools around to help showcase the advantages of the latest LED lighting.”

Raj Gunasekaran, Business Development Manager for Energys, comments: “We are delighted that Harry Gosling Primary School is experiencing such a dramatic improvement in its lighting quality as a result of this upgrade, and believe that the project will be a valuable one in spreading the word to other schools and colleges of higher education about why now is the time to move across to LED.”

Looking for energy saving ideas for schools? Visit our education pages for inspiration and advice, or contact us here.