All posts by Zoe Forbes

Climate Minister: ‘Solar is coming of age’

 

Greg Barker urges industry to beef up marketing efforts to get the message out

Climate Change Minister Greg Barker has predicted the coming years will see a surge in solar installations as the cost of the technology continues to fall and businesses and households realise solar panels offer an effective means of reducing energy bills and carbon emissions.

But he warned the technology will only realise its full potential if the industry and government step up efforts to “get the message out there that solar is now on a firm footing to build deployment and a ‘go-to’ solution for energy generation”.

Speaking at the official launch of BRE’s new National Solar Centre, Barker acknowledged the sector had faced a turbulent 18 months as a result of the government’s controversial reforms to feed-in tariffs (FiT) and admitted the changes had “difficult consequences” – the government is still facing legal action over its handling of the cuts to the incentives with a handful of solar firms seeking damages.

However, he insisted the government had “no choice” but to reform a scheme that was on track to significantly exceed its budget and had now delivered a stable policy framework that could “bring about a solar energy revolution in the UK”.

“Despite all the adverse publicity these changes generated, one fact remains true – solar is still a great deal,” he told an audience of solar industry executives. “There’s been much disinformation out there on how solar is now just uneconomic and unaffordable.

“The opposite is true. Unit costs have fallen dramatically. And it’s worth underlining – the rates of return under the new bands actually remain broadly similar to those when the FiTs scheme was first launched in 2010. Together, we need to get that extremely positive message out to the wider public.”

Barker also predicted that with 1.8GW of solar capacity now installed and the technology included in the government’s Renewables Roadmap for the first time it has the potential to deliver over 20GW of capacity by 2020.

“Thanks to dramatically falling costs, costs that will… and must, fall further, solar PV will play a critical role in helping the UK meet its vital renewable energy targets,” he said. “And we in the coalition government are absolutely committed to working with you to make that happen… We have the ability – and more importantly, the ambition – to see a 10-fold increase in solar power by 2020.”

He added that there were signs the market was picking up after a slow second half of 2012, with 1,500 installations totalling 5MW of capacity installed last week.

But he admitted that the industry had “a long way to go” to meet the 20GW target and as a result would have to embrace innovative new technologies, such as those expected to be developed at the National Solar Centre, at the same time as stepping up efforts to promote the technology.

“The sector needs real champions; champions with the vision, the ambition and the resources to lead the charge on the next stage of the solar power revolution,” he said.

Barker also highlighted the potential for solar companies to take advantage of the government’s Green Deal energy efficiency scheme, which will launch on January 28th and offers both households and businesses the opportunity to install energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies at no upfront cost.

Good Energy swoops in to buy RWE’s Doncaster wind farm

 

Independent energy supplier pays £3m for project due to be completed this year

By Jessica Shankleman

11 Jan 2013

Good Energy is set to almost double its wind farm portfolio, after buying the rights to a planned 8.2MW wind farm at Hampole, near Doncaster.

The independent green energy supplier confirmed today that it purchased the site for £3m from RWE npower Renewables.

The site already has planning permission for four turbines and Good Energy now intends to complete the project by the end of this year, nearly doubling the amount of green electricity the company generates to 20,000 MWh a year.

The move comes just days after Good Energy launched a “local tariff“, which offers a discounted rate to customers living near its existing wind farm in Delabole, Cornwall.

People living within two kilometres of the wind farm can now benefit from a 20 per cent discount on tariffs from Good Energy, and those near the new Hampole wind farm will also be able to take advantage of the scheme once the development is completed.

Juliet Davenport, chief executive of Good Energy, said the acquisition would play a role in meeting the company’s target of developing 110MW of new capacity by 2016.

The Delabole wind farm in Cornwall has a capacity of 9.2MW, so the new project will increase Good Energy’s portfolio to 17.4MW, while additional capacity is in the pipeline through a planned wind farm in Turriff, Aberdeenshire.

“Acquiring sites like this one, that have already received planning permission, brings a welcome balance to the portfolio so that we can have this site in development in 2013,” she said.

“We also plan to bring online some of the sites we are currently developing from scratch in 2014/2015. With that in mind, we are pleased to have reached this agreement.”

She addded that Good Energy was keen to speak to the local community about how the wind farm could help drive investment in the area.

Trinity College solar scheme passes planning examination

Conservation groups ‘concerned’ as Cambridge city officials approve proposal for panels on Grade I listed building

By BusinessGreen staff

11 Jan 2013

A solar system proposed for the roof of the historic Trinity College has been given the go-ahead by Cambridge city planners.

The world-renowned college had included details of the proposed installation as part of plans for an ambitious renovation of accommodation and offices at the 200-year-old, Grade I listed New Court site.

Insulation work will also be carried out and a ground source heat pump installed alongside the solar array if the plans are subsequently approved by the government, which makes final planning decisions on changes to listed buildings.

When completed, the project could cut the historic building’s carbon emissions by 88 per cent, slashing the Trinity’s energy bills in the process and providing a new revenue stream through the feed-in tariff incentive scheme.

Trinity College said the work needs to be undertaken to meet modern fire safety and environmental standards.

However, elements of the plan have been opposed by conservation groups, including English Heritage and Cambridge Past, Present and Future, who argue the building’s character would be altered by fitting the two rows of panels.

The plans have been altered to make the panels less visible, but English Heritage said it “remained concerned” about the proposals.

“We believe that the building’s performance can be greatly improved without the harmful installation of double glazing and the unnecessary lining of the external walls of the building,” it said.

 

Gas Fracking

The government has given the go-ahead for a firm to resume the controversial technique known as fracking to exploit gas in Lancashire.

The company, Cuadrilla, was stopped from fracking after two tremors near Blackpool.

Conditions have been imposed to minimise the risk of seismic activity.

In fracking, a mixture of water, sand and some chemicals is pumped into a well under high pressure to force the gas from the rock.

The Energy Secretary Ed Davey said shale gas was a promising new potential energy resource for the UK. It might contribute significantly to energy security and substitute for imports which are increasing as North Sea gas is decreasing.

But he warned against over-excitement: “We are still in the very early stages of shale gas exploration in the UK and it is likely to develop slowly.

“It is essential that its development should not come at the expense of local communities or the environment. Fracking must be safe and the public must be confident that it is safe.”

He said the government had uncovered management weaknesses in Cuadrilla following the minor earthquakes. These had been put right, he said.

He said impacts on water and local air pollution were already covered by the UK’s existing “stringent” rules on oil and gas.
‘Better solution’

Mr Davey said the advent of shale gas would not weaken the UK’s legally binding targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions. He announced a study from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) chief scientist David McKay on the impact of shale gas on climate change.

But he asked: “Is it not better that we produce gas in this country than gas shipped half way across the world?” He said his view was that, overall, greenhouse gases from shale gas in the UK might only be slightly greater than importing gas exploited in the conventional way.

In the US, exploitation of shale gas boom has sent energy prices tumbling, and the Prime Minister has expressed hopes that the UK can enjoy a similar boom.

But government advisers warn today that shale gas may be unlikely to bring down energy prices much in Britain.

In fact, the Committee on Climate Change warns that relying heavily on gas for future electricity supplies would leave households vulnerable to higher bills in the long run as the price of gas on the international market is volatile.

The UK won’t benefit from substantially lower prices unless the rest of Europe decides to back shale gas too, as Europe has a gas grid that allows gas to be traded to the highest bidder.

The CCC has examined the potential impact on bills of different energy systems and predicts that subsidies to renewables and nuclear would put about £100 on household bills by 2020, but that by 2050 a gas-based electricity system might cost people as much as £600 extra.

Extra £3m Funding for Heat Pumps,Thermal & Biomass

Government warms to renewable heat with £3m community funding

Around 1,250 homes to benefit from government-funded roll out of solar thermal, biomass, and heat pump technologies

The government has announced the latest round of funding awards from its renewable heat scheme, confirming that 38 communities will share £3m of funding to support the roll out of domestic renewable heat technologies.

The funding was awarded yesterday under the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme, which is acting a forerunner for the launch of the full domestic RHI scheme next year.

The funding awards, which are being administered by the Energy Saving Trust, will result in households in 38 different communities installing renewable heating technologies like solar thermal panels, biomass boilers and heat pumps.

The projects will be managed by local not-for-profit charities and community groups and will completed by next summer.

“We need to transform the way we heat our homes to help keep bills down and cut carbon too,” said Climate Change Minister Greg Barker, adding that the funding would benefit around 1,250 homes.

“Community groups, with their enthusiasm, local knowledge and drive, need to be at the very heart of this revolution so it’s great to see so many groups across Great Britain getting on board.”

Energy Saving Trust’s Director for Local Delivery, Andy Deacon, added that the project could help demonstrate how community-scale deployments of clean technologies can help to reduce costs ahead of the launch next year of the Green Deal energy efficiency scheme and feed-in tariff style RHI.

“Local communities are at the forefront of the scheme and will play a vital role in learning how community buying networks could help make renewable heating more affordable for millions of British households,” he said.

The funding will be welcomed by developers and installers of renewable heat technologies who have become frustrated at delays to the full launch of the RHI, which promises to deliver a significant boost to the market.

Government New Energy Bill

Energy Bill to create ‘low carbon economy’, says Davey

Energy Secretary Ed Davey says the Bill will transform the energy landscape

Energy minister Ed Davey has unveiled the government’s much-trailed Energy Bill, setting out the roadmap for the UK’s switch to “a low-carbon economy”.

Energy companies will increase the amount they levy consumers from £3bn to £7.6bn a year by 2020, potentially increasing household bills by £100.

But big, energy-intensive companies will be exempt from the extra costs of the switch to renewable energy.

The “transformation” will cost the UK £110bn over ten years, Mr Davey said.

He told MPs: “Britain’s energy sector is embarking on a period of exceptional renewal and expansion.

“The scale of the investment required is huge, representing close to half the UK’s total infrastructure investment pipeline.”

The government’s plan formed the “biggest transformation of Britain’s electricity market since privatisation,” he said.

The Energy Bill aims to move the UK’s energy production from a dependence on fossil fuels to a more diverse mix of energy sources, such as wind, nuclear and biomass.

This is to fill the energy gap that will from closing a number of coal and nuclear power stations over the next two decades, and to meet the government’s carbon dioxide emissions targets.

Mr Davey said government policy was “designed specifically to reduce consumer bills”, arguing that without a move to renewable energy, bills would be higher because of a reliance on expensive and volatile gas prices.

Exemptions

But in a statement published alongside the Bill, Mr Davey said energy-intensive industries, such as steel and cement producers, would be exempt from additional costs arising from measures to encourage investment in new low-carbon production.

“Decarbonisation should not mean deindustrialisation”, Mr Davey said.

“The transition to the low carbon economy will depend on products made by energy intensive industries – a wind turbine for example needing steel, cement and high-tech textiles.

“This exemption will ensure the UK retains the industrial capacity to support a low carbon economy.”

Without the exemption, the government fears big companies would cut jobs and relocate abroad.

Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)

What is the Renewable Heat Incentive?

The Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) is a Government scheme that provides financial support to non-domestic renewable heat generators and producers of biomethane.

In its first phase, the RHI only applies to non-domestic systems. In the meantime there is a rebate scheme known as the Renewable Heat Premium Payment that is available for homeowners.

Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP)

Phase 2 – Rewarding renewable heat on domestic installations

The Renewable Heat Premium Payment (RHPP) is a one-off grant to help you meet the cost of installing green heat-generating technologies within your home. It’s here in place of a domestic stream of the RHI, which is yet to be introduced.

Phase 2 of this scheme runs from May 1st 2012 to March 31st 2013 (subject to available funding) and includes £300 towards cost-saving Solar Thermal installations, which you can get through Southern Solar.

The RHPP is also available for heat pumps and biomass boilers.

Those who receive the RHPP will still be eligible for RHI funding when this comes in.

Am I eligible?

There are some eligibility criteria that it is useful to be aware of:

  • You must live in England, Scotland or Wales.
  • Your installation must not have received funding under phase 1 of the RHPP.
  • The installation must have been commissioned on 21st July 2011 onwards.
  • You must own the property and continue to own it for the duration of the metering and survey requirements; or
  • If you’re a tenant you must be purchasing the system yourself with permission from the owner of the property.
  • If the property is a new-build you must own it after it’s built as either the occupier or the landlord.
  • The property must have loft and cavity wall insulation (where practical).
  • Planning and environmental permission must be in place if needed.
  • The product used and the installer must be MCS or Solar Keymark certified.

Also, how you heat your home currently can make a difference:

  • If you’ve recently removed a gas heating system or if the property runs from mains gas heating – you are only able to apply for Solar Thermal RHPP.
  • You can apply for the other technologies if you run on oil, liquid gas, solid fuel or electricity.

When does the RHI launch?
The scheme opened for applications on Monday 28 November 2011.

What technologies are included in the scheme?

• Biomass boilers (Including CHP biomass boilers)
• Solar Thermal
• Ground Source Heat Pumps
• Water Source Heat Pumps
• On-Site Biogas combustion
• Deep Geothermal
• Energy from Municipal Solid Waste
• Injection of biomethane into the grid

Key principles of this policy/scheme:
The RHI provides a continuous income stream for twenty years to any organisation that installs an eligible renewable heating system, ensuring that renewable heat is commercially attractive when compared to fossil fuel alternatives. The RHI is important because it will help increase significantly the level of renewable heat produced in the UK, which is key to the UK meeting its renewable energy targets, reducing carbon emissions, ensuring energy security and helping to build a low carbon economy. The RHI will accelerate deployment by providing a financial incentive to generate heat from renewables instead of fossil fuels.

What is it trying to do?

The key objective of the scheme is to increase significantly the level of heat generated from renewable energy sources in Great Britain and thereby enable the UK to meet its binding targets to generate 15% of our energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The Government is committed to the ambition that by 2020, 12 per cent of heating can come from renewable sources.
The Government estimate that the RHI could save up to 44 million tonnes of carbon (MtCO2) by 2020 (and 7 MtCO2 inside the EU(ETS). This works out as a saving of one million tonnes of carbon in the first carbon budget period (2008-2012), 14 million tonnes in the second carbon budget period (2013-2017) and 52 million tonnes in the third budget period (2018-2022).

By 2020, they estimate the RHI support levels are expected to bring forwards around:

  • 14,000 installations in industry; and
  • 112,000 installations in the commercial and public sector.

These installations are expected to generate around 57TWh of renewable energy.

Are the government going to launch RHI for domestic installs?

YES, and they expect the RHI to deliver those too. But cannot give estimates of numbers as they have not determined how the RHI is going to operate for domestic installations.

Ahead of the introduction of support for domestic installations under Phase 2 of the RHI will be providing a simple one-off payment through the Renewable Heat Premium Payment scheme to cover part of the installation costs for domestic installations.

The level of support varies depending on the type and size of technology. In order to calculate support, the appropriate tariff is multiplied by the eligible heat used.

Eligible Technologies Tariff Table
The current tariff levels are shown in the following table:

Tariff Name Eligible Technology Eligible Sizes Tariff Rate (pence/kWh) Tariff Duration (Years) Support Calculation
Small Biomass Solid biomass; Municiple Solid Waste (inc. CHP) Less than 200kWth Tier 1: 8.3p 20 Metering Tier 1 applies annually up to the Tier Break, Tier 2 above the Tier Break.  The Tier Break is installed capacity x 1,314 peak load hours, i.e.: kWth x 1,134
Tier 2: 2.1p
Medium Biomass 200 kWth and above; less than 1000 kWth Tier 1: 5.1p
Tier 2: 2.1p
Large Biomass 1000 kWth and above 1.0p Metering
Small Ground Source Ground-source heat pumps; Water-source heat pumps; deep geothermal Less than 100 kWth 4.5p 20 Metering
Large Ground Source 100 kWth and above 3.2p 20
Solar Thermal Solar thermal Less than 200 kWth 8.5p 20 Metering
Biomethane Biomethane injection and biogas combustion, except from landfill gas Biomethand all scales, biogas combustion less than 200 kWh 6.8p 20  

Metering


Slow pace of carbon cuts brings catastrophic climate change closer: UN

The gap between the carbon emission cuts pledged and the cuts scientists say are needed has widened.

Extreme weather : Drought in  Spain's Canary island of Gran Canaria

A dead fish on the bed of a reservoir on the drought-stricken island of Gran Canaria. Europe is already feeling the effects of climate change. Photograph: Borja Suarez/Reuters

The world is straying further away from commitments to combat climate change, bringing the prospect of catastrophic global warming a step closer, a UN report said on Wednesday. The warning came as nearly 200 governments prepare to meet in Qatar for international climate negotiations starting next Monday.

The gap between what world governments have committed to by way of cuts in greenhouse gases and the cuts that scientists say are necessary has widened, but in order to stave off dangerous levels of global warming, it should have narrowed. There is now one-fifth more carbon in the atmosphere than there was in 2000, and there are few signs of global emissions falling, according to the new report from the United Nations Environment Programme (Unep).

The warning of increasing emissions came as fresh evidence was published showing the last decade was the warmest on record for Europe. The European Environment Agency (EEA) said all parts of the region had been affected, with higher rainfall in northern Europe and a drying out in the south, bringing flooding to northern countries including the UK, and droughts to the Mediterranean.

According to the United Nations report, drawing on research from more than 50 scientists, the widening gap between countries’ plans and scientific estimates means that governments must step up their ambitions as a matter of urgency to avoid even worse effects from warming. “The transition to a low-carbon, inclusive green economy is happening far too slowly and the opportunity for meeting [scientific advice on emissions targets] is narrowing annually,” said Achim Steiner, executive director of Unep.

The explicit goal of international policy is to prevent global warming of more than 2C above pre-industrial levels, which scientists say is the limit of safety beyond which climate change is likely to become irreversible and catastrophic. That goal that has been roughly translated as a concentration of carbon in the atmosphere of no more than 450 parts per million. To meet this, governments would have to ensure that no more than 44 gigatonnes (Gt) of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) is emitted per year by 2020. The UN’s latest research, published on Wednesday as the Emissions Gap Report 2012, shows that on current trends, emissions by 2020 will be 58 Gt CO2e.

This gap between the cuts needed and the cuts planned brings the prospect of dangerous levels of climate change – entailing more extreme weather including floods, droughts and fiercer storms, such as those witnessed this year – much closer.

Even if countries manage to change direction in time and meet the emissions-cutting targets they have committed to in the past three years, the gap will still be large – about 8 Gt by 2020. To meet scientific advice, countries would have to agree to much bigger curbs on emissions than they have yet done – and there is little chance of that happening at the next round of annual climate negotiations, which begin on Monday in Doha, Qatar. At the fortnight-long talks, ministers are expected to set out a few more details of how they will work towards their agreed plan of drawing up a new global climate change treaty by 2015, to come into effect from 2020.

Despite the slow pace of progress, Steiner said there was still a chance for the world to obey scientific advice. He said: “Bridging the gap remains do-able with existing technologies and policies.” He said many of the measures governments were undertaking, from investments in renewable energy to public transport and higher energy efficiency standards for buildings, were yet to bear fruit, and their effects should start to be seen in the next few years.

But he warned that countries must avoid being “locked in” to high-carbon infrastructure – power stations and buildings constructed today will still be in operation and spewing out carbon decades from now, and that will be unsustainable. It would be cheaper to make sure that all such infrastructure is low-carbon from the start, than to abandon it or refurbish in years to come.

Christiana Figueres, the UN’s top climate official, who will head next week’s talks, said: “Time is running out, but the technical means and the policy tools to allow the world to stay below 2C [of warming] are still available to governments and societies.”

Environmental groups warned that the UN report showed governments were failing. Jennifer Morgan, director of the climate and energy programme at the World Resources Institute, said: “This report is another harsh reminder that the world is simply not moving aggressively enough to tackle the climate challenge. The gap is growing and carbon dioxide levels continue to rise, yet the current pledges and commitments by countries remain sorely inadequate. We are already seeing how climate change – with more extreme weather events, rising seas and more droughts – is taking its toll on people, property and our economy. Without a rapid change in direction, the world is headed more and more firmly down a path to even more severe changes that will be felt around the globe.”

In Europe, the EEA said land temperatures in the decade from 2002 to 2011 were 1.3C warmer than the pre-industrial average. Europe could be between 2.5C and 4C warmer from 2050, according to projections. The study found heat waves have increased in frequency and length, while river droughts have been more severe and frequent in southern Europe. Glaciers in the Alps have lost about two-thirds of their volume since 1850.

Prof Jacqueline McGlade, executive director of the EEA, said: “Climate change is a reality around the world, and the extent and speed of change is becoming ever more evident. This means that every part of the economy, including households, needs to adapt as well as reduce emissions.”

Time to look at the true cost of Energy

Andrew Raingold argues that we need a grown-up debate about the long term implications of our energy policy decisions

A start stop switch

Recent Npower and British Gas announcements of yet another energy price hike this winter have sparked anger and concern among consumers. The cost to households (a nearly 20 per cent increase for some) has rapidly become a hot topic for the nation.

Our political elite are worried. That much was clear when David Cameron spontaneously proclaimed to Parliament that his Government would compel energy companies to charge customers their lowest tariff.

Politicians are right to be concerned about the impact on households. But they should also pay close attention to the effect that our energy choices have on businesses and – as a consequence – our national economic growth.

A few numbers provide a powerful illustration. The price of energy paid by UK businesses has increased 58 per cent since January 2010. Our joint survey of 153 major corporates published in July showed that if energy prices continue to rise at this rate for just another two years, eight per cent would go bankrupt and 31 per cent would have to significantly restructure. 91 per cent of corporate energy users believed that energy prices would rise over the next two years. And what do they attribute it to? Mostly (77 per cent) to anticipated increases in fossil fuel prices – on which we currently rely to meet 60 per cent of our national energy needs. An Oxford Economics study has calculated that a 50 per cent shock price increase would cost the UK one per cent of GDP.

Piece these numbers together, and it is not difficult to see the business case for rapidly building a national energy system that is far less reliant on fossil fuels and imported energy. Businesses understand that the MW cost of generating energy from renewable sources may be higher right now. But this cost constitutes a prudent investment; allowing the nation to hedge against future fossil fuel price volatility and allowing us to benefit from much more certainty about the expense longer term. Too much exposure to fluctuating prices, affected by unpredictable events like the Arab Spring, creates a very risky environment for business.

Major corporates have already made this calculation and are publically showing their hand – most recently in an open letter coordinated by the Aldersgate Group to the Chancellor, calling on Government to make a legal commitment to power sector decarbonisation by 2030. They are seeking to make a straightforward deal with Government: build us an energy system that is secure, reliable and protects us from sudden price volatility in global markets that are beyond national control – and we will do our best to operate profitable businesses that create jobs and help to fund public services.

The Government’s response? The new Energy Minister says “enough is enough”. The Chancellor: “only if our estimate of the levelised cost isn’t too high compared with fossil fuels”. (There has not yet been a formal response to the business letter – but messages being sent through policy decisions is clear).

A case in point is the “Levy Control Framework” – a policy that has enjoyed far less public attention than the 2030 power sector target – but goes right to the heart of the way in which we currently cost our energy choices. Due to be announced in the Autumn statement, the stated intention is to limit energy bill increases by setting a cap on how much energy companies spend on investment in renewables. It will effectively set a cap on the £29 slice of bill increases attributed to environmental regulation from 2004 to 2010; but there is no cap at all on the £290 bill increase attributed to gas price hikes during that period. This cannot be right.

Now, on the eve of the biggest reform of our energy market since the 1970s, it is time to seriously test the assumptions underpinning our economic models, start valuing the risk of those assumptions being wrong, and have a proper national conversation about the true cost of our energy choices.

The energy debate has become the site of a major national contest this Autumn. The resulting decisions will have a critical impact on how we fuel our economy – but are also a test of our ability to think afresh about other national challenges

The financial crisis demonstrated the severe economic consequences of undervaluing systemic risk and where it can leads us. Our imminent energy sector choices will show whether we’re capable of building an economy according to the logic of sustainable growth or whether we’re trapped in a web of short-run calculations based on narrow economic modeling.

The Aldersgate Group is an alliance of leaders from business, politics and society that drives action for sustainable growth

Online campaign aims to boost take-up of solar

Green marketing news – by GreenWise staff
16th October 2012
The solar industry is planning to launch a national online campaign to boost consumer confidence in solar power.

The ‘Please Your Plug’ campaign is being launched by Our Solar Future, the campaign first launched to fight cuts to solar subsidies. The latest campaign hopes to reverse flagging figures in solar take-up and is being backed by a number of leading solar companies, including Solarcentury, Southern Solar and Sun Gift Solar.

Those behind the social media campaign are describing it as the “most ambitious renewable energy campaign witnessed by the UK”. However, the campaign still needs to raise £150,000 and is seeking donations from hundreds of solar companies to ensure it can go live.
“The industry needs to get moving again, and we have brought together a group of companies who are keen to do something about it,” Howard Johns, managing director of Southern Solar and chairman of Our Solar Future said. “We really need a fresh take on communications for the industry to wake people up to the opportunity that still exists.”
Fall in solar installations
‘Please your Plug’ is being launched following deep cuts to the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) for solar electricity in the last year. Since August, when the latest cut to solar FiT rates took effect, solar PV installations under 50 kilowatt have fallen dramatically. For the four-week period between August 13th and September 9th, the latest period for which official figures are available, there were just over 3000 installations, a more than nine-fold decrease on the same period last year, when there were almost 13,000 installations.
The ‘Please Your Plug’ campaign will target residential owners, commercial owners and investors, and by September 2013 hopes to have driven more than 250,000 visitors to a ‘one-stop-shop’ website setting out the benefit of investing in solar. It aims to create 80,000 potential sales leads for those solar companies that support it. Central to the campaign will be an entertaining video featuring a plug extension lead.
“As with Ecotricity’s video which attracted over one million views in a matter of weeks, we are hoping our campaign will have similar reach. All that’s needed is for 300 organisations to each contribute £500 to make a real difference to the future of the solar industry,” added Johns.

“It’s been a hard year for solar, but now it’s time to turn things around. There’s a time to complain and there’s a time to get down to growing the market we have by drawing on the positives of this fantastic industry. Good communications will make the difference,” said Charlotte Webster, head of PR firm CleanTech, CCgroug, which is handling communications for the campaign.

Green Deal- Whats the deal?

The Green Deal

The Government predicts that up to a 100,000 jobs could be created over the next 20 years through the government’s flagship energy efficiency policy, the Green Deal.

The initiative will be a new and radical way of ensuring energy efficiency in property, which accounts for 47% of the UK’s carbon emissions. The government is committed to reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions by 34% by 2020 and 80% by 2050.

The Green Deal, due to launch in October 2012, is a financial arrangement to implement energy saving measures with no upfront cost to the property owner/tenant. This is achieved by using the savings on the energy bill to pay for the cost of the measure over the duration of the Green Deal finance arrangement.

The loan would be attached to the property, not the owner, meaning in the event of a sale the buyer would take on responsibility for the repayments.

The government expects the policy will see billions of pounds lent every year, with 14 million of the UK’s 27 million homes expected to benefit. It also predicts that it will create 100,000 jobs by 2015.

The measures included in the Green Deal would be carried out by accredited and qualified installers to ensure the public did not fall victim to rogue traders or receive bad advice on how to make their homes energy efficient.

For more information please visit the Department of Energy and Climate Change web site at www.decc.gov.uk