Former SSE Chief becomes President of the Energy Institute

July 1st, 2013

Ian MarchantJust because Ian Marchant is no longer the chief executive of SSE does not mean that he has anything to do. In fact, this former chief executive is now the new president of the Energy Institute, which openly describes itself as the only professional body of the energy industry. He was appointed by the institute back on June 10. Right now, the institute is describing this role as nothing more than a voluntary role. Marchant will serve as the president of this energy body for the next two years.

Back in January of this year, Marchant said that he would be stepping down from his position at the top of SSE. He had been with SSE since 2002. Alistair Phillips-Davies, who served as Marchant’s deputy at SSE, will take over as the new chief executive. This news came just as it was announced that SSE is to be fined a record £10.5 million for miss-selling energy tariffs to its consumers.

It is believed that the miss-selling of these tariffs went on for nearly three years. Ofgem said that SSE had been feeding consumers misleading statements in order to get them to switch energy providers. There was no way the company would have been able to know the information that it claimed to know.

Of course, Marchant always said that this misleading was never the company’s intention. In fact, he said that this miss-selling was nothing more than a big misunderstanding, and it is a shame that it has led to such a huge fine. The cases that involved staff lying to consumers, whether it was accidental or deliberate, were very few and far between.

Marchant, when commenting on his role as the new president of the Energy Institute, said that he had already spent the last 21 years working in this industry. As a result, he has grown to really appreciate the knowledge, experience and skills that everyone brings to this amazing sector. He is simply delighted to be able to continue to work in such an amazing industry through the Energy Institute. This is a group that is able to not only promote the knowledge of the industry but to keep up with good practices that will benefit the industry as a whole.

Ministers to Include the Energy Industry in £100 Billion Infrastructure Overhaul

June 28th, 2013

Gas Ministers in the UK have revealed that they now have plans for a huge £100 billion overhaul of the nation’s infrastructure. This huge overhaul will include not only upgrading homes, roads and providing flood protection but also an upgrade to the UK’s struggling energy industry. As far as the energy industry is concerned, a lot of the money it receives will go to finding new sources of shale gas.

According to Danny Alexander, the Treasury Minister, nearly £50 billion of this money will be spent between 2015 and 2016. The major goal is to use this money to fix long-term problems instead of to focus on political pressures. The government wants to protect the UK’s “tomorrow.” Of course, although the first part of this money is scheduled to be used within the next few years, the second half of this money will be used between 2016 and 2020.

The Labour party was very happy with the announcement of how much money was being used to fix Britain’s infrastructure, but it is not happy with the time line. It feels that there is no reason to wait, and work on this overhaul needs to start right now.

This huge overhaul comes just a few days after the UK held its Spending Review. During this review, it was announced that nearly £11.5 billion in cuts would be made to Whitehall departments. It now looks like a lot of these cuts will help fund this huge infrastructure overhaul.

The government did a huge breakdown on how $100 billion will be spent. This includes spending £3 billion to build more than 165,000 new homes that are affordable and spending £28 billion on improving roads in the country. From there, the government hopes to use another £10 billion to help clear the long backlog of school building repairs that are needed and another £370 million on new flood defenses.

Alexander says that these are very ambitious plans for Britain, and the government and its people can be proud. Although some of these repairs might be overdue, it is better to deal with them now instead of let them continue to build.

On top of the money being used to find new shale gas, the government will also be giving support to the building of new nuclear plants. It will be giving a guaranteed price for companies that help to produce offshore wind energy. Another part of this money will be used as a tax incentive for companies that start shale gas projects.

Total Seeks to Join the Fight to Explore Britain for Shale Gas

June 27th, 2013

Total logoEver since Centrica, which is the owner company of British Gas, took a big 25 percent stake in Cuadrilla’s Bowland shale license, a lot of other companies have been eying the UK shale gas situation. Now it appears that yet another company is looking to join the fight, and that is French energy company Total. Apparently, this energy giant is already considering on bidding for rights to explore the UK for shale gas.

Of course, even if the company does not win its own rights to explore the UK, it has a backup plan. Apparently, it has already held a number of talks with different companies about buying a stake in their exploration block in the UK. At this point, no figures have been release, but it is safe to assume that it will cost a pretty big sum in order to buy such a block.

Shale gas has become extremely popular since it was seen just how profitable this product has been for the United States. Now energy companies from all over the world are turning to the UK. After all, the UK did announce that it believes that it might be sitting on more shale gas than previously believed.

It also looks like the UK government might be getting behind shale gas. In fact, ministers are just about to announce a new plan that will give incentives to communities that might be affected by exploration fracking. This looks like yet another attempt by the government to encourage companies to start exploring shale resources.

The geosciences adviser for Total, Simon Green, said that he attended a shale gas conference in Manchester this week. He said that his company is currently interested in more details of when ministers in the UK are going to hold their 14th onshore licensing round. Total knows that this has been promised for next year, but it is hoping to receive more details than that.

The UK government was actually preparing some licenses for fracking back in 2010. However, it had to put this project on hold after two small earthquakes were caused by fracking by Cuadrilla. Although most experts saying that fracking is completely safe, others worry that it might hurt ground water and cause more earthquakes. Either way, the studies done on this method are still too young to say for sure one way or the other.

Essar Energy Says It Expects Another Profitable Year

June 26th, 2013

Essar logoThere are families and companies all over the UK that are struggling to get by. Unfortunately, with the way the economy is, there is not much they can do about it but hang tight. Well apparently this problem is not the same all over the world. For example, Essar Energy has just recently made a public announcement that it is expecting yet another strong year of earnings. This boastful company said that this is all thanks to improvements in refining margins. On top of that, it has witnessed growth in demand in its Indian market. This announcement sent the company’s shares up 4 percent.

This company, which is listed on the London stock exchange, deals mostly with gas, oil and power. It is owned by the private Indian company Essar Group. This conglomerate recently made note that demand for things like diesel is on the rise. In fact, it has seen demand increase by 7 percent, which is good for its business.

Of course, this increase in diesel earnings is to be expected. Right now, India gets close to one-third of its fuel from diesel alone. Many homes and businesses run small or medium generators to help run air-conditioning units. This helps the country make it through the dry season when it cannot get any hydro power.

Despite this, Indian refiners are in production all year long, even when the monsoon rain season hits and diesel demand declines. During this time, the refiners export tons of diesel around the world to keep their profits up. These exports are one reason why Essar Energy is making such a big profit.

Laura Webster, an analyst for the Bank of America Merrill, said that Vadinar is actually one of the lowest cost refineries anywhere in the world. Thus, this is one refinery that benefits from the choice to export its products to other countries around the world. The more product that is exported, the more money this refinery makes.

Essar Energy has already said that it expects its refining margins at Vadinar to run about $8 per barrel above the benchmark currently set by the Singapore’s International Energy Agency. Margins at this refinery have already been on the rise. In fact, it saw margins at this refinery jump 79 percent to just under $8 per barrel during the year that ended March 31.

Blackouts in the UK a Real Possibility as Energy Bills Continue to Grow

June 25th, 2013

High Energy BillPeople like to think that this is an era where blackouts in first-world countries are a thing of the past. However, this may not be the situation. In fact, reports show that millions of homes in the UK are in danger of facing regular blackouts in the years to come. To make matters worse, energy prices are likely going to continue to grow at an uncontrollable rate.

Reports from Ofgem say that millions of homes around the UK may face energy bills in the coming years that they simply cannot afford to pay. To make matters worse, the people who do pay their bills may still have to deal with regular blackouts. Although people would like to think this is years away, reports suggest that this might happen within the next two years. This is because power stations all over the UK are due to close down due to European Union regulations.

The good news is, according to Ofgem, this can all be avoided. However, in order to avoid this fate, the government is going to have to start investing in new power stations without putting it off any longer. The cut off to keep this fate from happening to the UK is approaching quickly. Unless the government wants its citizens to live in the Dark Ages again, they need to invest in a new form of energy.

UK households all over the country are already struggling to keep their lights turned on. Many families have even admitted that they have had to choose between paying the energy bills and buying food for their home. This is because power bills have already jumped a lot during the last few years. By the end of next year, power bills are expected to jump an incredible 20 percent. If families are struggling now, how are they ever going to be able to afford an energy bill that is 20 percent higher?

So how much would a 20 percent increase be on the average homeowners bill? According to Ofgem, the average home has an energy bill that is around £570. This would mean that their bill would increase £114, putting their new energy bills at an average £684 before the end of 2014. Those who are on a dual fuel bill would see their current average of £1,400 jump up to £2,000 over the next five years. This is likely to throw millions of more families around the UK into fuel poverty.

Npower Teams Up With Trilliant to Tackle Smart Meter Push

June 24th, 2013

Trilliant smart meterSmart meters are not going anywhere. In fact, every home in the UK may have a smart meter in a matter of years. All energy providers in the UK have been given the task of rolling out more and more smart meters. In order to move forward with this requirement, npower has announced its plans to team up with Silicon Valley-company Trilliant. This big push in smart meters is scheduled to take place later this year for npower consumers.

Trilliant may soon become a household name, at least as far as smart meters are concerned. This company may soon be the single biggest provider of smart energy equipment in the UK. This would, of course, include the roll out of certain smart meters.

So now this brings up a great question: What are the terms of this new partnership between npower and Trilliant? According to reports, this new deal will see npower offer all of its consumers Trilliant products. This is a huge deal for Trilliant since npower actually provides energy to over 500,000 homes in the UK. The most likely product to be pushed would be smart meters, which will help consumers easily keep up with their power usage in real-time.

The government in the UK has already made it extremely clear that it plans on introducing smart meters to as many homes as possible by the end of the decade. Right now, the goal is to roll out smart meters to 50 million homes and businesses across the country. The government believes that these smart meters will be the key helping consumers reduce their energy consumption. In turn, this will help the UK cut back on its carbon emissions to meet European Union regulations.

Of course, there are a number of energy companies in the UK that have already started to roll out smart meters to their customers. First Utility and British Gas have already started this big push, and they plan to continue moving forward with it. Other energy companies in the UK will likely start following suit within the next few years.

That being said, not everyone is a fan of these new smart meters. Some groups are worried that these smart meters are going to infringe on people’s privacy. By looking at these meters, people could easily tell when families are home and using the most energy and when they are away.

Catering Industry Continues to Throw Away Money by Wasting Energy

June 21st, 2013

Catering servicesIf there is one industry in the UK that could benefit from energy-saving measures, it is the catering industry. This is a huge industry in the UK but also one that has refused to change its ways. As a result, the catering market in the UK is throwing away tons of money every year. A new report from the Carbon Trust suggests that the industry is wasting more than a quarter of a billion pounds in savings by ignoring energy-saving methods.

This news was released by the Carbon Trust as it revealed its Cut Cost & Carbon Calculator. This new tool helps to figure out just how much money companies could save by cutting down on their carbon emissions. This warning was sent to the Catering Industry Trade Association to help is see the error of its ways. The Carbon Trust hopes that this report will be an eye opener and that the catering industry will turn a bigger profit by saving money on energy.

According to the Carbon Trust, more than eight billion meals are served by the catering industry in the UK every year. This industry works at 260,000 sites across the country. On average, the industry spends nearly £770 million on energy alone. This results in the release of about 3.9 million tonnes of carbon every year. To make matters worse, if something does not change, the industry is looking at its energy costs jumping up another £154 million a year by 2020.

If the industry as a whole changes, it would be able to remove one million tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere a year. It would also be able to reduce its energy bill by at least 30 percent every year. This would make this profitable industry even stronger.

The Associate Director of Business Advice at the Carbon Trust, Dominic Burbridge, said that the catering industry is extremely sensitive to rising energy prices. A great way to tackle this problem is to focus more on being energy efficient. Although some in the catering business have already made changes to be more energy efficient, the majority of the industry refuses to change. The industry could save more than 3 pence per meal if it switches to being more energy efficient.

The catering business in the UK is a huge one. This industry accounts for at least 2 percent of all the emissions released in the business and public sectors in the UK.

Ofgem Says British Gas Consumers May Have Been Overpaying for Years

June 20th, 2013

British Gas logoRight now, a lot of people are worried that they are paying too much on their energy bills. However, what if people found out that they have been overpaying for years? Well, that is just what British Gas consumers are learning. According to a report released by Ofgem, millions of British Gas users may have overpaid on their gas bills between the years of 2006 and 2011. Now British gas finds itself forced to pay £10 million into a trust to settle this dispute.

Ofgem says that British Gas consumers during this time paid too much for gas. This is because British Gas calculated up gas bills in a different format than what Ofgem requires. In short, this means that consumers ended up paying more than what they should have for the gas that they used. The consumers who overpaid had no idea that this was happening.

That being said, Ofgem says that it is extremely important for people to keep a very close eye on their energy bills. They need to check and make sure that energy companies like British Gas are not trying to charge them too much. Ofgem asks that all homeowners visit their site for more information on how to avoid overpaying for energy.

Due to the nature of this problem, there is no way to know just how much money British Gas made from people who overpaid. Thus, British Gas has opted to donate close to £10 million into a trust fund for its consumers. Of course, experts still believe that British Gas made more money than this by overcharging consumers.

British Gas released a statement saying that consumers have not paid for any energy that they have not used. This donation was made in recognition of an alternative interpretation of figuring up gas bills. It added that this donation was in no way a fine.

Ofgem made it clear that people cannot get their money back because the amount that they overpaid is still unclear. That being said, it feels that the donation is a very welcome move by British Gas. Ofgem explained that the problem was that British Gas did not round down the calorific value when calculating consumers’ bills. The calorific value is a number that tells energy companies just how much heat a home gets from the gas that is supplied to it. Thus, it is used to determine how much people pay.

Japan Dives Headfirst Into Solar Energy

June 19th, 2013

Solar PanelsEver since the meltdown that happened at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, Japan has been looking for a new way to generate energy. Until now, the country has relied a lot on nuclear power. Now that the public feels uneasy about nuclear energy, the government is working on finding another source of power. It appears that companies are looking toward solar energy.

Since Japan is an island nation, one would think that it would be mostly interested in offshore wind farms. However, both private and commercial investors are now looking to jump into the solar energy market. Reports show that solar energy parks are actually popping up all over the country, and it does not look like it is going to stop anytime soon.

Of course, it is not just Japan that is looking into solar energy. Several countries around the world are currently looking into solar energy as a way to generate renewable energy. So this brings up a great question: Why are so many people now investing in solar energy? After all, this technology has been around for years. This mostly has to do with the fact that the cost of producing solar energy is on its way down. This is making it a more feasible choice when it comes to producing energy.

That being said, the big boom seen in Japan was caused by a new government policy. This policy, which was only put in place about a year ago, guarantees a nice payment to anyone who is selling renewable energy. This, of course, includes solar energy. Now companies in places like Tokyo can outfit their buildings with solar panels and actually sell the excess energy.

This new policy, which is pretty much a feed-in tariff, has caused Japan to become one of the world’s fastest-growing users of solar power. Reports show that Japan is planning on installing enough solar panels this year alone to replace seven modern nuclear reactors. At this rate, the whole country will be able to get its energy from solar power in just a few years.

Up until the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, Japan had not really focused much on renewable energy. Instead, it was focusing a lot more on atomic power. The government later shut down the country’s 50 reactors. Although some of the reactors have been restarted, it does not seem like Japan is going to place all of its eggs in one basket.

Scottish Power Starts Multi-million-pound Upgrade to Longannet Power Station

June 18th, 2013

Scottish PowerThere is no question at this point that energy companies in the UK are taking their customers for a ride. Prices just seem to be jumping way too quickly for them to justify it. That being said, it appears that some energy companies are at least putting this money to go use. In fact, Scottish Power has already started work on a huge multi-million pound upgrade to Longannet Power Station.

This upgrade, which will cost around £25 million, is being paid for by the extra money Scottish Power has made from its struggling customers. The upgrade will take 650 workers over four months to complete. Apparently this upgrade will see new boiler parts and generators put in, as well as a new generator transformer. This upgrade work is being done on a unit that is able to generate close to 600MW of electricity. This is the same as 10 percent of Scotland’s peak energy usage.

Of course, if there is one power station in Scotland that needs this upgrade, it is Longannet. This power station first opened up its doors back in 1969. However, it did not become fully functional until around 1973. Currently, the net output of this power station is about 2,304MW of electricity. This is because the company operates four 600MW turbines. This is enough power to supply electricity to about two million homes in the UK. Experts say that this is the third largest coal power station in all of Europe.

Neil Clitheroe, who is the retail and generation chief executive for Scottish Power, said that this was a very vital upgrade. This is the kind of investment that energy companies have to make in huge power stations like Longannet. Scottish Power will continue doing everything that it can to keep this power station running smoothly.

Clitheroe added that Longannet is the largest power station in all of Scotland. Due to this fact, it plays a huge role in producing power for not only homes but for businesses. It is very important that Scottish Power keeps this station up and running. Scottish Power has been investing in this same station for more than 40 years now. In fact, just last year the company invested nearly £20 million in the same station.

This work will be completed over the summer months this year. The whole goal of this upgrade is to keep this power station an extremely huge part of Scotland’s energy mix. To do that, the company will have to continue investing money.

EDF Agrees With Plans to Replace Tariffs With a Single Unit Price

June 17th, 2013

EDF LogoThere are very few energy companies in the UK that have openly said that they support the consumer watchdog Which? and its fight to switch to a single unit price for energy. However, it now appears that EDF Energy has said that it backs this proposal. It feels that it would be far less complex than the current tariffs that people are used to today.

This new proposal by Which? would make looking at energy prices a lot like looking at petrol prices. This way consumers could quickly and easily see where they are getting the best deal. It works for the petrol stations, so why can’t it work for the energy market?

Right now energy prices in the UK are a huge topic. Many consumers from all over the UK are battling their energy suppliers for information on what their cheapest tariff is. However, even if they find the cheapest tariff offered by that company, it is even harder to find out how that tariff stacks up against other energy companies. In short, it is nearly impossible for people to know if they are getting the lowest price available on energy.

The executive director of Which?, Richard Lloyd, said that rising energy prices in the UK are one of the biggest worries that the average homeowner in the UK is concerned with. That being said, most people do not switch to save money. This is because the energy market is very complicated, and it is hard to see who is offering the best deal.

That being said, Lloyd added that it is great to see that some energy companies, like EDF Energy, are supporting the idea of a single unit price for energy tariffs. This might just be a big enough change to give people the upper hand when searching for the best energy deal. He went on to say that Which? recently found out that eight out of every 10 consumers can easily identify the cheapest energy deal when using this new single unit price. Due to this, nearly 10,000 people have already joined a campaign in order to get the energy industry to switch over to this new style.

It is not known if other energy companies support this proposal the same way that EDF does. It is known that some executives in the energy industry suggest that this new proposal is not going to help people. In fact, they believe that switching it now might only confuse people even more.