Archive for September, 2013

Middlesbrough FC may have had a ropey start to the new Championship football season, but the Riverside could soon become the UK’s first wind-powered stadium.

The club have announced that they plan to install a 1.5MW, 136 metre high, wind turbine in the overflow car park. Once complete the turbine should provide meet the stadium’s electricity needs for the next 20 years, saving Middlesbrough around £3.2 million.

While a wind turbine may not be feasible for most businesses, the returns for on-site generation (photo-voltaic, wind, heat pumps and biomass) are increasingly attractive, as the cost of technology falls and subsidies such as the Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) and Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) continue.

All businesses are indirectly paying for these incentives, yet surprisingly few are taking advantage of the opportunity to:

  • reduce energy costs by generating their own energy
  • protect against future energy price rises
  • benefit from inflation linked guaranteed returns (FiT)
  • generate a second income from un-productive spaces (eg roofing, car parks)

Most renewable generation companies provide free on-site surveys, though it can be difficult compare the suitability of different on-site generation technologies without independent advice


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Reports in the last week indicate that several of the ‘big 6’ energy suppliers are set to increase their prices (although only after the political party conference season).

British Gas is expected to announce an increase of around 8%, with other suppliers set to follow suit.

The price pressure is not only due to increases in wholesale energy markets however, but on-going rises in 3rd party and non-commodity costs. In 2007 these third-party charges, along with infrastructure costs, accounted for around 25% of total electricity costs; that proportion is now nearer 40%.

Transmission and distribution use of service (TUOS and DUOS), along with government charges such as the Renewables Obligation and Feed-in-Tariff (FiT) are all on an upwards trend, while standing charges, reactive power and available capacity tariffs are also accounting for an increasing proportion of energy bills.

These charges should be checked regularly to ensure you’re only paying for what you use: reviewing available capacity, reactive power charges and meter operating agreements, for instance, can result in savings, particularly if your facilities have seen a change of use, major refurbishment or installation of new equipment or machinery.

The Energy Savings Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) being developed by the government is beginning to gain some publicity prior to its proposed launch in December 2015, in line with the EU Energy Efficiency Directive.

ESOS will introduce mandatory energy efficiency audits for all large businesses as part of the government’s push to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Who qualifies? Business with over 250 employees or turnover of over €50 million will be required to conduct an audit. Public sector organisations are exempt, while SMEs can participate voluntarily.

What’s involved? ESOS audits must review total energy consumption and establish an energy intensity measure (eg energy use per employee), as well as identifying and quantifying cost-effective energy savings opportunities. The audits should take place at least every four years, though it’s unlikely there will be penalties for not implementing efficiency measures.

Who does it? Qualified ESOS assessors must carry out the audits – the qualifications required are being established by the government working with the British Standards Institute, who aim to develop a Publicly Available Specification detailing the minimum competences needed.

What’s next? DECC has said it will allow organisations to use already collected energy data under existing schemes (eg the CRC) to be used for ESOS audits, so there’s nothing to lose (and potentially a lot to gain) by continuing or initiating energy efficiency programmes in advance of Dec 2015.

With penalties unlikely for not reducing energy use and intensity, the aim appears to be that companies will act once they see the financial benefits of implementing energy savings measures. In which case there’s no advantage to waiting for ESOS to kick-in before understanding and reducing your energy consumption.

A major retro-fitting of Las Vegas’ street lights with LEDs has halved the city’s street lighting costs, while also reducing maintenance time and expense.

The US$20.8 million programme installed 42,000 LED lamps according to a report in Energy Manager Today, and has reaped immediate dividends as the lights are expected to last up to 13 years, with payback for the entire project expected to be between 7-10 years based on annual savings of at least US$2 million.

Los Angeles completed the largest LED street lighting retrofit earlier in 2013, installing around 141,000 new lights.

A number of UK local authorities are also installing LED street lighting, with or instance, Richmond Borough Council in south-west London part way through a LED replacement process.

With LED technology and prices improving monthly the payback period on some installations can be less than a year for light-intensive sites such as hotels, while most commercial sites will see a return on their investment in between 2-4 years.

Electricity wholesale prices fell slightly during August (-1.15%) due in part to weather conditions that saw a 50% increase in wind output, which, along with increased coal generation, led to a fall in more expensive gas-fired generation. Gas prices also fell, by 2.34%,  due in part to lower power station demand.

Compared to August 2012, electricity prices increased by 2.69%, while gas fell back by 0.32%.

Of greater concern for energy users is the continuing fall-off in UK oil and gas output from the North Sea, which is happening faster than anticipated. This decline in production adds to concerns about security of energy supplies and increased dependence on imports to fuel the new generation of gas-fired power stations.

While imports of US shale gas have been agreed, this new supply won’t arrive for another two years, leaving the UK reliant on Norwegian and Middle Eastern gas which will support prices over the next few years.