Environmentalists Are Against Importing Wood From the United States to Burn

May 30th, 2013

Burning Wood PelletsThe UK is doing all it can to keep up with changing times. In fact, it is struggling just to keep up with new European Union rules that are forcing countries to look at renewable energy more seriously than ever before. Due to these new rules, the UK will see a number of its dirty power stations, like coal, shut down in a few years.

To help deal with the loss of this power, the UK has increased wood trade with the United States. It is importing millions of tonnes of wood chips. These chips will be shipped throughout the entire year to help keep the lights on in Britain. However, environmentalists say that this method is doing very little to help the planet.

Of course, the environmentalists are right on this one. It does not matter where the wood is coming from, trees have to be cut down. It makes no difference if the trees are in the UK or the United States. As long as there is a market for it, companies are going to continue to offer supply. After all, supply would stop if there was no demand for it.

These same critics go on to say that burning wood from the United States is nothing more than a waste of money. It is doing nothing to tackle the issue of climate change as it is causing the destruction of some of the greatest forests in the United States.

Take the swamp forests of North Carolina. Here, trees are cut down all the time so that they can be shipped to the UK for power. The UK needs this wood because many of its dirty coal plants are switching over to wood boilers to meet European Union regulations.

On top of this, environmentalists believe that this will soon strike a bad nerve with the European Union. Although it is unclear just how they wanted countries to get their energy, it is pretty clear that they did not want countries cutting down forests in America to power countries all over the European Union.

The European Union wanted at least 20 percent of all of Europe’s energy to come from renewable sources. Wood from America is not a renewable source no matter how people want to look at it. The trees that are being cut down could take 100s of years to regrow.

Energy Suppliers in the UK Push for More Support for Gas-fired Stations

May 29th, 2013

Gas-fired stationEveryone in the UK has a different idea about how the country should get most of its energy needs. The Big Six energy suppliers in the UK are no different. In fact, these energy suppliers are asking the UK government to offer more support to gas-fired power stations. They go on to warn the government that failure to support these kinds of stations will result in a possible blackout for the country later down the road.

EnergyUK, which is actually the name behind some of the biggest energy companies in the UK, said that the government needs to move a lot faster to come up with a plan on how to keep the UK from running out of energy. The best way to do this is to encourage other companies to invest in gas-fired power stations all over the country.

It is not so much that EnergyUK feels like renewable energy should be done away with. It feels like other forms of energy should take center stage for now. However, that goes against everything the UK government has been working towards these past few years. In fact, some experts say that backing off renewable energy now may result in companies and groups pulling funding for that sector. This is the last thing the UK needs if it is going to reach its carbon emissions goal.

The head of EnergyUK, Angela Knight, just recently wrote a letter to UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey. In this letter, Knight said that results are urgently needed to avoid any kind of further harm to the sector. It is extremely important that companies that are actually part of the energy market have a say in the future of this sector.

So why is everyone in so much of a hurry to find more power for the UK? This is because close to one-fifth of all of the UK’s generating power is about to close over the next decade or so. A lot of this will see old coal plants finally shut down. These plants will have to be shut down due to the new European Union environmental standards that have been put into place. Now the government has to find a quick way to come up with more power or the UK will find itself without a source of energy.

The truth is many gas plants are not going to be built either. This has a lot to do with the cost of gas in the UK and the amount of money it would cost to generate electricity from it. Overall, these tougher European Union rules have made it very hard to argue that gas is an economic choice for the UK.

British Gas Invests £7 million into 4energy

May 28th, 2013

British Gas logoHow many people out there have heard of 4energy? Probably not too many, so it is easy to see why so many people were shocked to see that British Gas was investing a staggering £7 million into this company. 4energy is known as a company that comes up with cooling systems for data center and telecommunication companies.

British Gas, which is actually the largest energy supplier in all of the UK, now holds a huge stake in 4energy, which is based in Nottingham. This stake is actually bigger than all of the existing investors in the company. Currently, 4energy has been backed by other groups like the Carbon Trust and Catapult Venture Managers.

4energy has not been around too long. In fact, the company was first started back in 2005. Currently, it is known for reducing the amount of cooling equipment data centers need. In fact, 4energy says it is able to reduce the amount of cooling this kind of equipment needs by nearly 50 percent in most cases.

So if 4energy is doing so well, why do they need more investment? Apparently, the company already operates in places like India, China and the UK. However, the company would like to expand in these areas and into new areas as well. Thus, they want to use this funding to expand in Africa, North America and other places in Europe. They will, of course, also continue to expand in China and India. Since their technology seems to work rather well, a number of companies have been trying to get in on the ground floor of this thing, including British Gas.

The founder and current CEO of 4energy, Pat Tindale, said his company will hopefully be able to enrich other companies’ current energy saving methods. If this technology can reduce their need to cool equipment by 50 percent, it is likely that it can save companies tons of money every year. 4energy is excited to have landed the support of British Gas.

The managing director of British Gas, Phil Bentley, said that his company can see promise in 4energy. Data center equipment uses a lot of power. It takes a lot to keep them cool. 4energy has found a way to reduce the amount of energy it takes to do this. Investing in 4enegy is going to help British Gas and its consumers manage all of their energy much more efficiently.

Some Energy Suppliers Were Holding Gas Back during Britain’s Time of Need

May 27th, 2013

Gas StoveThis past winter was a bad one. Gas supplies were low, and this caused a number of energy companies to jack up prices. This price increase lead to a number of people falling behind on their gas bills and many of those people are still paying off this backlog of overdue payments. So they will be pretty upset if they found out that Britain’s main energy suppliers were holding gas back during this time. Unfortunately, that may just be the case.

According to a report from the National Grid, the main energy suppliers in the UK were holding gas in storage tanks during a time when the market was suffering a gas shortage. This, in turn, saw a doubling of wholesale gas prices, which consumers had to pay for. This news comes to light just after claims suggest that the UK, at one point, was within six hours of completely running out of gas. Although the UK never suffered a complete shutdown of gas services, it did raise fear in the public that gas supplies were dwindling down. Now, with this new report, who is really telling the truth?

The National Grid says energy suppliers are not as low on gas supply as they are letting on. The network, which is tasked with keeping up with data from all gas companies, said that liquefied natural gas in the Isle of Grain is about 40 percent full. The Isle of Grain is located near London. It is an area that suppliers like BP and Centrica use to store their natural gas. The National Grid went on to say that other locations near Wales were at 52 percent capacity on the same day. These readings were taken at the time that the UK pubic was told that gas supplies were almost empty.

So the real question is: Which reports are correct? Most people are siding with the National Grid just because it seems like this group would not have a reason to lie about the supply of natural gas. Energy suppliers, however, would have a lot of profit to gain from spreading the rumor that gas supplies were nearly all dried up. At this point, it is still far too early to tell which side is correct or if the truth is found somewhere in between. Either way, it is safe to assume that energy suppliers are going to be investigated and watched a lot more closely in the coming years.

Energy Experts Say the Sooner the UK Invests in Renewable Energy the Quicker They Can Save Money

May 24th, 2013

Energy StorageWith the energy industry in its current state, it is a hot topic all across the UK. People from all walks of life are chiming in to give their two cents on the matter. However, it now seems that the Committee on Climate Change is saying that the UK government needs to invest more money into renewable energy. They said that doing this will save the government more money than if it takes part in the dash for gas.

David Kennedy, who is the current chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change, said that the sooner the UK starts investing more money in low-carbon technology, the quicker it starts saving money. Investing in this kind of technology will actually save the UK more money than investing in other forms of energy, like gas. These low-carbon energy alternatives include nuclear power, energy from waste and onshore and offshore wind farms.

Kennedy went on to point out that a new dash for gas would actually require the UK to invest a ton of money. That is because they would have to invest in shale technology. This would cost tens of billions of pounds. Not only that, investing in this kind of technology only helps the country for so long. Once shale gas depletes itself, the UK will find itself right back in the same situation.

The pursuit for shale gas, however, is working in other countries. For example, in the United States they have started an aggressive pursuit for shale gas. In turn, this has kept energy prices down and the United States is now a major export of natural gas. The United States is hoping to use this extra money to invest in more renewable energy.

Mr Kennedy added that investing in renewable energy makes sense. However, it only makes sense if people want to meet the emissions targets. If the government wants to honor the Climate Change Act, they will invest more in renewable technology. The targets on emissions set by the Climate Change Act need to be enforced. This is the only way the government is going to be able to spur on low-carbon investments in the UK. Companies need to know the path the UK is going to go down, and they need to know that this path is renewable energy.

SSE Warns People That Energy Bills Will Jump Again

May 23rd, 2013

SSE LogoAlthough people want to believe that energy bills have reached their max, SSE begs to differ. In fact, this UK energy giant has said that energy bills are likely to increase yet again. This announcement comes after the company announced a huge 27.5 percent increase in profits.

SSE was the same company that increased its gas and electricity prices by nearly 10 percent back in October. It now says bills are going to increase unless there is some kind of reduction in the costs of wholesale electricity and gas prices. Unless this happens it is very likely that the cost of bills in the UK will continue to increase. This will lead to higher household energy bills for consumers all over the UK, regardless of what company they are with.

That being said, SSE did try to play the good guy. It said that it wants to resist the current trend of increasing energy prices and to protect consumers for as long as possible. However, at some point, it will have to increase its prices again. SSE says that it cannot be forced to suffer the wrath of increasing prices.

Currently, SSE actually supplies energy to more than 9.6 million homes in the UK. This is significant when thinking that SSE also said that the amount of gas used in the UK increased by 21 percent due to the cold weather this past winter.

The director of consumer policies for uSwittch, Ann Robinson, said that profits are nothing more than a “smoking gun.” It is making it very difficult for suppliers in the UK to justify last winter’s huge price hikes. If they made so much profit last winter, it stands to reason that they could have possibly lowered prices a bit. Despite this fact, SSE did not lower its prices and racked in a good profit. It is no wonder that people are a bit skeptical if the latest price increases that SSE is talking about is really necessary.

So how can SSE fix this problem? According to Ann Robinson, a price cut or some kind of price freeze would be a show of good faith. Although some energy companies have announced price freezes, not all energy companies have jumped on board with this idea. On top of this, some low price tariffs are coming to an end, and this is going to bump more consumers up to higher tariffs automatically.

The World May Be on the Edge of a Solar Revolution

May 22nd, 2013

House with solar panel roofingWhen it comes to renewable energy, there are a lot of different choices out there. Recently it seems as if wind energy has become top dog. However, experts now think that solar energy might be on the edge of a revolution. This is because people are now becoming aware of just how much solar energy comes from the Sun every year.

According to experts, the Earth receives an equivalent of 12.2 trillion watt-hours in solar energy every single year. To put that into perspective, that is about 20,000 times more energy than what all of humanity can consume in a year.

So if solar energy can provide the planet with so much energy, why don’t more companies invest in this form of renewable energy? Most of it has to do with the fact that solar energy costs so much to produce. Due to the high costs, solar energy only accounts for about 0.7 percent of the world’s total energy production.

The U.S. Department of Energy said that solar energy costs about $156 per megawatt-hour to produce. This makes it hard for companies to want to invest in this kind of energy since coal only costs about $99 per megawatt-hour to produce. On top of that, the United States is in the middle of a natural gas boom, which only costs about $65 per megawatt-hour. So obviously, from an economic view, solar energy is just not a great choice.

To make matters worse, experts say that solar energy is still a tough choice because of how difficult it is to store. After all, one can only generate solar energy during the day. Thus, solar energy must be stored so it can be used at night.

However, solar panels are getting more efficient. According to reports, the amount of light that these solar panels can turn into energy has increased from 8 percent when they first came out in the 1970s to 44 percent with the efficient cells of today. Of course, this efficiency is on its way up yet again. Right now researchers are busy with new technology that will be able to turn 54 percent of light into energy. This will, of course, lower the cost of solar energy production.

If this improvement scheme continues in the next eight to 10 years, solar energy in the United States will only cost about $120 per megawatt-hour to produce. This will make it far more competitive with other forms of energy like nuclear and coal.

First Utility says Energy Bills May Soon Overtake Some Mortgages

May 21st, 2013

First Utility logoEnergy bills are still on the rise, and they show no signs of going down. With the UK likely having to import energy from other countries, energy prices are sure to continue to rise. It is because of this why Ian McCaig, who is the current chief executive of supply for energy company First Utility, said that bills could eventually overtake some mortgages in the UK. His firm’s research has shown that dual-fuel bills have already increased by 8.5 percent over the past five years. This means that many homes are paying over £1,420.

McCaig says that interest rates are pretty low right now. This is good for people who have a mortgage. Due to this, over the next five to 10 years, British consumers could see their energy bills overtake the costs of their mortgages. This is a point that most people never thought the country would get to.

Despite reports that energy consumers may soon be struggling, energy companies are reporting amazing profits. In fact, British Gas recently announced a huge boost in profits thanks to the extremely cold winter the UK had this year. With such a huge boost in profits, it would appear that energy companies could afford to come down on prices a bit.

During the cold winter, demand in UK homes for gas and electricity jumped by nearly 20 percent. This means that the average consumer paid an extra £73.80. This is one reason why researchers from First Utility say average bills in the UK will reach £3,761 by 2025. Of course, this is assuming that energy prices continue to rise at this current rate.

Of course, the UK government also predicts that the average energy bill in the UK will continue to rise. Their researchers say that the average bill will jump by £76 by the year 2020. Of course, these assumptions are based on the idea that they stick with energy-saving schemes.

The campaign body for the Energy Bill Revolution, Ed Matthew, said that it was completely impossible to predict how much bills will increase. He said that no one could have predicted that bills would be as high as they are right now years ago. Despite this, it seems certain that bills are going to continue to rise over the next few years.

U.S. Department of Energy Approves the Export of Liquefied Natural Gas

May 20th, 2013

Hydraulic FracturingAccording to reports from the United States, the Department of Energy has approved a proposal that will see a company in Texas export liquefied natural gas to other countries. This approval was given to the Freeport LNG Expansion L.P. They now have the go ahead to export at least 1.4 billion cubic feet of this type of natural gas every day. This gives the company a chance to take full advantage of the huge boom in natural gas production in the United States thanks to shale extractions.

Right now, this agreement allows Freeport LNG the right to ship this natural gas to other countries that do not currently have free trade agreements with the United States. Usually the lack of free trade agreements with certain countries is there to keep public interest in mind.

This is sure to open the door for more companies to ask the government for the same kind of agreement. In fact, energy companies around the United States have been asking for federal permits to export natural gas to other countries. There has been such a huge demand for these permits thanks to the shale natural gas boom in the United States. Companies now see this as a chance to make a huge profit off other countries that are in the middle of a power crunch.

This huge influx of natural gas from the United States does not look like it will be ending any time soon. This is all thanks to a huge increase in natural gas from a process called hydraulic fracturing. This is a technique that involves drilling a hole and blasting water down it to break rocks. These rocks then release the natural gas trapped inside.

Although this method is making the United States a lot of money, it is still a very controversial procedure. Some environmentalists are worried that hydraulic fracturing will only lead to earthquakes and the contamination of groundwater. Despite these fears, there has been no evidence that supports these claims.

Either way, hydraulic fracturing has lowered the price of natural gas in the United States. It is so low, in fact, that the price of energy has been on the decline. This is very different than other places in the world like the UK, where energy prices have been on the rise. The UK will likely start importing extra natural gas from the United States in order to help keep its energy prices stable.

Families Still Struggling in the UK After Harsh Winter Causes Energy Bills to Soar

May 17th, 2013

High Energy BillRight now, millions around the UK are still struggling to pay their energy bills. According to energy experts, this is due to the harsh winter and rather cool spring that people have had to endure. This has caused them to turn up the heat to stay warm. To make matters even worse, most energy companies raised their prices by an average of 10 percent. This means that the average dual fuel energy bill was close to £1,600 last year.

Of course, the bleak outlook isn’t over just yet. Although people won’t be using their heat as much during the summer, experts are saying that this year’s winter is going to be just as bad as last year’s. In some cases, it might be even worse. With no energy relief in sight, it seems as if people are looking at even higher energy bills this coming winter season.

Many families are struggling to pay their bills form last winter. Most families kept turning up the heat despite the fact that they couldn’t pay for it. Now energy giants are demanding that these people pay their overdue payments. In order to do this, they will be increasing how much people pay during the summer and fall months to make sure they get their money. So while some people were hoping for a break in their energy bill this summer, it appears that some are still going to see rather steep prices as they pay for their backlog of payments from last winter.

Mark Todd, who is actually the founder of EnergyHelpline.com, said that people are being punished by these big energy companies. This punishment comes despite the fact that these companies are still making a profit. He went on to say that the Big Six energy companies in the UK are likely to increase their prices again before the end of the year. Most likely, this increase will be between 5 and 10 percent.

He went on to say that consumers have already been hit extra hard this past winter. Now the people who were unable to pay last winter are going to be made to pay their backlog during the summer and fall months. By the time next winter rolls around, people are going to just be paying off last year’s bills. Then they will have to turn around and deal with higher energy bills all over again. Unfortunately, there is not a lot they can do to stop this. It is going to happen, and people just have to find a way to cope with it.

Energy Secretary Ed Davey says Oil Bosses Caught Price Fixing Will Be Jailed

May 16th, 2013

Ed DaveyApparently the UK has no tolerance anymore for oil price fixing. Although the UK has always claimed to have a no tolerance policy for price fixing, Energy Secretary Ed Davey has proved this by saying that any oil executives who are caught doing so will be jailed and held responsible.

Earlier this week, investigators from the European Commission raided offices of many different major oil suppliers. This raid was launched as the European Commission looks to see if it can find any proof to claims that oil companies are fixing their prices. These claims have dated back for more than a decade.

That being said, not all MPs are happy about this raid. In fact, some say that they can’t believe that the European Commission did this after the Office of Fair Trading gave the whole industry its approval. That being said, the European Commission does not believe that the Office of Fair Trading held a very in-depth inquiry into the matter.

In order to address this, Davey issued an urgent statement to all of Parliament. This statement was regarding petrol prices in the UK, as well as the cost of living. He addressed the fears of millions of Brits who have been paying more than they should at the pumps for years.

Davey said that they take all such allegations very seriously in the UK. If it turns out that any of these allegations are correct and consumers have been paying extra at the pumps due to a fixed market, the UK will throw the full force of the law at these companies. There should be no doubt about that in anyone’s mind.

On top of this, Davey defended the Office of Fair Trading. He said that they are a great independent regulator. They are there to rule out the idea that the government is conducting these investigations for its own personal gain.

Robert Halfon, who is a Tory MP against high petrol prices, said that a tough prison sentence would be given to any companies that break price fixing laws. They will also be hit hard with taxes, and they can use all of the money that they took from consumers over the years to pay for it.

That being said, Halfon is not a fan of the Office of Fair Trading. He said that this group carried out a very “limp-wristed” investigation. As everyone can clearly see, this investigation was not up to anyone’s standards. If it was, the European Commission would not have to get involved.