Author Archive Clare Scurr

Carbon reporting … en route to no carbon at all?

New business energy and carbon reporting rule changes don’t affect SMEs … yet … although early volunteers for SECR can benefit. Meanwhile, how big is the UK’s real carbon footprint, can zero-carbon be achieved and is our 80% greenhouse gas reduction target about to get much tougher?

Corporate carbon moves into the firing line

Beware – SECR is coming! In fact, for many “large” companies, SECR arrived on 1st April 2019. Most SMEs, however, will have to wait a while for “streamlined energy and carbon reporting” to fundamentally change how they work.

The alternative, which the Low Carbon Programme recommends, is to volunteer for the best practice scheme designed to help investors assess companies and their proactive climate change commitments.

SECR?

What exactly is SECR (Streamlined Energy and Carbon Reporting)? This does seem to be proving to be a bit of a mystery for many UK companies.

SECR is the Government’s method of choice for encouraging business and industry to use less energy, raise productivity, cut costs, increase growth and radically reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), including carbon.

However, BEIS (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) has been accused of introducing SECR very quietly. So quietly, in fact, that with only guidelines and a press release published in the New Year, outlining the full details now is particularly important.

But first, it may help to summarise why carbon made dramatic headlines again during April.

The good, the bad and the unexpected

One piece of good news is that Britain broke its own record for the longest continuous period of electricity generation without coal and carbon – more than 90 hours, which is the longest since 76 hours and 10 minutes in April 2018. The UK is also said to have done relatively well compared to the rest of the world in cutting its carbon emissions for the sixth year running – albeit at a slowing rate.

But while a new Government/wind sector agreement for 30% of UK electricity to come from offshore wind by 2030 is positive, other news is less reassuring. Greta Thunberg has questioned whether the UK has really cut its carbon by some 42% since 1990.

Lies, damned lies, and statistics

The young Swedish climate activist says the official figure only covers “terrestrial emissions”. With aviation, shipping and embedded carbon in imports, the figure is nearer 10%, she told MPs recently.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) says the question is complex when global supply chains are involved; its approach follows the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol.

Also in April, MPs on the BEIS Committee claimed that 15-years of “turbulent” government policy have held back vital development of the carbon capture, utilisation and storage (CCUS) technology needed to achieve zero-carbon. They want more clarity and funding for rapid development.

Political action

But MPs have passed a non-binding motion urging the Government to declare an environment and climate emergency. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon declared a “climate emergency” in her April SNP conference speech. The Welsh Government has made a similar move.

This was one of the demands of Extinction Rebellion members who, after ten-days of direct action in London, said they were disappointed in a meeting with Environment Secretary Michael Gove that he declined to back a climate emergency motion tabled by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Perhaps the most far-reaching development moving into May is recommendations from the Government’s advisory body, the Climate Change Committee (CCC) that the UK must legislate for a net-zero emissions goal by 2050. More details are mentioned later.

Meanwhile, SECR is designed to help working businesses tackle carbon.

Aiming at the corporate and private sector

From October 2013, companies listed on the London Stock Exchange, in the European Economic Area, or on the New York Stock Exchange or NASDAQ, have had to measure and report their GHG emissions through a robust independent standard that not only presents all data clearly but also shows how it differs from information given in conventional consolidated financial statements.

It was soon recognised that measuring, managing and reducing carbon emissions is an effective way for companies generally to identify their carbon footprints and set important environmental targets within their supply chains.

Until recently, the rules only applied to large listed companies. Now, as a result of the Companies (Directors’ Report) and Limited Liability Partnerships (Energy and Carbon Report) Regulations 2018, they are being trickled down to large unlisted businesses through SECR.

Under SECR, qualifying organisations must include new energy and carbon reporting data in their annual reports to cover forthcoming financial years starting within the 12-months leading up to 31st March 2020.

BEIS has communicated via Companies House and the Financial Regulatory Council, Environment Agency newsletters, business trusts and professional bodies – plus EMA and IEMA – and estimates that some 11,900 organisations are affected at this stage – including circa 1,200 quoted companies.

However, because SECR will only apply to financial years starting after 1st April 2019, companies have time to prepare. The earliest reports will be submitted in April 2020, meaning that companies can put new systems in place and synchronise them with existing corporate reporting cycles.

Moving forward

SECR builds on – but does not replace – existing requirements, such as Mandatory Greenhouse Gas (MGHG) reporting for quoted companies, the Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS), Climate Change Agreements (CCA) Scheme, EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS) and Climate Change Levy increase. It also coincides with the end of the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme.

What happened on 1st April 2019 is that SECR updated the rules and extended the requirements not only to quoted companies but also to all unquoted companies or limited liability partnerships (LLPs) seen as “large” under the Companies Act 2006.

“Large” is generally defined as meeting two of the three following criteria within a reporting period: – having more than 250 employees; an annual turnover greater than £36 million; and/or an annual balance sheet greater than £18 million.

New requirements

Quoted companies, according to the Carbon Trust, must continue to report their “global scope 1 and 2” (direct and indirect) GHG emissions in CO2-equivalent tonnes (all seven gases under the Kyoto Protocol) within their Directors reports, plus at least one emissions “intensity ratio” for current and previous reporting periods.

However, they must now also report their underlying global energy use split between the UK and offshore countries, again with previous year comparisons after the first SECR reporting period.

Unquoted large companies and large LLPs now have to report at a minimum their UK energy use from electricity, gas and transport fuels (in company vehicles, including reimbursement for employee business mileage, but not external air, rail or taxi journeys, or third party contractors), plus associated GHG emissions and at least one intensity metric – such as tonnes of CO2/kWh for the energy sector, or tonnes of CO2/m2 for the property sector

Reporting must include a description of steps taken to improve energy efficiency in the relevant year, plus resulting savings if known. Where no measures are taken, this should be reported.

Although no specific methodology is prescribed, the selected methodology must be shown and be robust, transparent and widely-accepted. Scope 3 “corporate value chain” indirect emissions should also be given, with the voluntary disclosure of any additional sources of energy or GHG emissions.

Exceptions

There are of course exceptions. Although local authorities, government departments and statutory agencies are not covered by SECR, they report carbon in their annual reports under other legislation. Devolved administrations have their own systems. Not-for-profit bodies, such as companies and LLPs owned by universities or NHS trusts, come under SECR rules.

Another important area for clarification is the distinction between group and subsidiary level SECR reporting – the rule is to avoid duplication on an either/or basis. One other sub-group is companies within the SECR definition using no more than 40MWh. They must submit total energy calculations but also state why they are low energy users.

A further area for temporary exemptions is sensitive situations, such as takeovers, where releasing information could arguably be prejudicial. Also, if specified data cannot be collected in a specific year, it is important to explain why, the impact and how it will be provided in future.

Making waves at the top

Business is increasingly concerned about emissions. Legal & General Investment Management – covering £1 trillion of UK pension funds – believes the world faces a climate catastrophe that businesses must tackle urgently or risk losing shareholder support. Director of Corporate Governance, Sacha Sadan, says L&G is getting tougher with boards and managements.

In parallel, Bank of England governor, Mark Carney, and his counterpart, François Villeroy de Galhau, warn that companies and industries which don’t meet dangers facing the global economy “will fail to exist”. They add that: “Carbon emissions have to decline by 45% from 2010 levels over the next decade in order to reach net zero by 2050. This requires a massive reallocation of capital”.

Radical carbon update

The CCC says meeting the popular call for net-zero emissions by 2025 is not practical but can be achieved by 2050.

The Climate Change Act 2008 set the current 80% target which the CCC agrees has achieved a 43% cut since 1900, with economic growth of 66%. To meet a 100% target, it recommends big cuts in red meat-eating, millions of new trees, onshore wind turbines, more electric vehicles (EVs), less flying, less waste, plus more households replacing domestic gas boilers with renewable alternatives.

On CCUS, the Government’s 2030 ambitions have been described as “so broad as to be meaningless; BEIS select committee members say delay could double the cost of meeting the UK’s climate change targets from 1% of GDP in 2019 to 2% by 2050.

Final carbon footnote

UK greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions fell by 2.5% in 2018 compared to 3% in 2017 and 16% in 2016 – making a total of 43.5% since 1990. This means that theoretically at least, Britain is over halfway towards its self-imposed commitment of an 80% reduction by 2050. However, this was the easy half.

Specifically, UK CO2 emissions fell by 2.4% to 364.1 million tonnes while global releases reached a 2018 all-time high, rising by 4.7%, 2.5% and 6.3% in China, the US and India. But there is potentially bad UK news on the horizon that needs urgent action.

Having beaten its first and second carbon budgets by 36 MtCO2e and 384 MtCO2e, with an 88 MtCO2e surplus predicted for the third from 2018 to 2022, BEIS acknowledges that the UK is on course to breach its fourth and fifth budgets by 139 million and 245 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (MtCO2e).

Connecting East Lancashire

The Chamber Low Carbon programme is happy to support Connecting East Lancashire as a fantastic initiative helping people engage in active commuting.  Not only is cycling or walking to work great for health and well-being but it is also an effective low carbon option both reducing emissions and improving air quality.

 

Connecting East Lancashire is a Department for Transport funded project delivered in partnership between Lancashire County Council and Blackburn with Darwen Council. Through a variety of initiatives, the project supports businesses, organisations and colleges in East Lancashire (Burnley, Hyndburn, Pendle, Ribble Valley, Rossendale and Blackburn with Darwen) to increase health and well-being through smarter travel choices as well as opening up access to work opportunities for apprentices and job seekers.

 

Businesses will have the opportunity to engage in:

  • Cycling Training Session – Providing the opportunity for employees/students to improve their skills and cycling confidence.
  • Cycling Maintenance Sessions – Providing the opportunity for employees/students to improve their skills and become more competent at basic cycle maintenance.
  • Roadshow Events – Interactive roadshow events promoting cycling and walking initiatives, facilities and service information.
  • Personal Travel Planning advice and transport assistance – Provision of quick and simple advice on the most efficient modes of transport and routes. Providing information on all available transport modes, costs, health benefits and registered car users in the area. Through partner organisations financial support maybe available for those starting out in employment or training.
  • Bike Hire Scheme – Providing the opportunity to participate in the Bike Hire scheme on a monthly basis including the hire of electric bikes.
  • Annual Cycling and Walking Challenges – To increase participation and raise the awareness of the benefits of cycling and walking opportunities.
  • Annual inter-business challenges – Providing an opportunity for cycling and walking events to be inter-business/organisation challenges with other partners.
  • Workplace Walks Programme – Promotion and coordination of a series of walks, for example lunchtime walks and raising awareness of the health benefits of walking.
  • Walk Leader Training – Employees can partake in walk leader training to deliver bespoke led walks programmes.

 

To find local cycle routes please visit www.visitlancashire.com/things-to-do/hyndburn-cycling-map-p747390

 

If you are interested in any of the activities above, or would like to meet a member of the team, please email accessfund@lancashire.gov.uk or visit the website www.connectingeastlancashire.org.uk.

 

The Project Officers cover different areas of East Lancashire and these are detailed below along with their relevant contact number:

  • Blackburn with Darwen: Melanie Taylor – 01254 585687
  • Burnley: Obie Enninful – 01772 359087
  • Hyndburn and Rossendale: Mandy Jenkinson – 01772 533946
  • Pendle and Ribble Valley:  Caroline Holden – 01772 537906

‘Pedal Power – Year of Green Action’

We’re host a joint event on 12th June at the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce offices.  Drop-in anytime between 7:30am and 10am and take part in these activities:

      • Doctor Bike – bring your own bike for a health check and basic repairs done free of charge
      • Smoothie Maker – pedal your own delicious fruit smoothie
      • Love to Ride – businesses and individuals can sign up for Love to Ride to be in with a chance to win some fabulous prizes such as holidays
      • Information – lots of information about what Connecting East Lancashire can offer local businesses with regards to sustainable travel
      • Merchandise – plenty of ‘freebies’ to encourage staff who work on the business park to cycle, walk or car share to work

Lancashire Businesses Urged to Action Against Climate Change

Lancashire businesses will be urged to play their part in the fight against climate change in order to achieve Government ambitions to be net carbon neutral by 2050.

One simple way that businesses can support this is to switch to renewable power, and Lancashire-based energy consultant Businesswise Solutions is on a mission to empower this change, by bringing market access to renewable energy to mid-sized companies without a price premium for the privilege.

“Previously, access to competitive renewable energy products has long been monopolised by some of the largest corporations, or only available to small and medium sized businesses at a premium,” explains Businesswise Solutions’ managing director Frazer Durris.

“But we’re working together with businesses to help embrace the switch to a 100% wind-based energy option that won’t cost companies the earth; but might just help save it.”

The company will harness its group buying power, combined with its use of intelligent data, to empower Lancashire businesses to collectively spearhead action against climate change.

Frazer added: “It has never been a more relevant time to purchase renewable energy rather than carbonised, unclean energy for your business.

“Consumers are demanding change and the economics behind purchasing renewable power are starting to make good business sense. Our renewable offering presents Lancashire businesses with a risk-free way to contribute towards the effort and embark on their carbon reduction journey.”

The company will leverage its network of supporters in order to reach businesses and spread the word about the renewable energy option.

Miranda Barker, chief executive of the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, said: “This a fantastic news for the area. It underpins exactly what we are trying to achieve through our Chamber Low Carbon programme and supports Lancashire’s journey to a green future.”

The initial, short-term target is to pool a total of 100GWh annual energy consumption and shift this from brown to renewable energy, representing a reduction of 16 kilo tonnes of CO2; that’s equivalent to greenhouse gasses emitted from 3000 passenger vehicles driven for one year.

“If we can achieve this, it’s a great start to making a significant contribution towards the national carbon targets set,” Frazer concluded.

“Green Money & How to Spend It”

Join the team from Chamber Low Carbon on the 5th June 2019 to learn about the environmental support available NOW to your business.  You can drop-in anytime during the day for as long, or as little, as you like.

Find out how you can access funding to help your business install renewable energy technology or energy and resource management measures available to Lancashire SMEs via the Chamber Low Carbon Grant.

On the day there will be a full programme of insightful and thought-provoking seminars highlighting the challenges and opportunities afforded by renewable technology – see below for the detailed agenda so you can schedule your visit.

The Low Carbon Marketplace will house over 30 exhibitors highlighting the latest technologies available from Chamber Low Carbon’s Lancashire-based solution providers.

The event will start at 10am – registrations and refreshments from 9:30am.  The event will run until 4pm.  Don’t worry if you cannot make the full session – we’d be delighted to see you for part of the day.

 

AGENDA

10:00-10:30

Welcome & Grant Overview – Miranda Barker, CEO, East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce

The Green Energy Basket – Peter Catlow, Director, BusinessWise Solutions

10:45-11:15

A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment – Ellyse Mather, 25 Year Environment Plan Pioneer Programme Manager, Environment Agency

11:30-12:00

Introduction to Local Energy – James Johnson, Head of Regional Programme, Local Energy North West Hub

13:00-13:30

Leading the NW to Zero Carbon – Helen Boyle, Strategic Decarbonisation Manager, Electricity North West

13:45-14:15

Latest View from Boost – Andrew Leeming, Senior Project Manager, Lancashire County Council

14:30-15:00

Zero Hour – Charley Rattan, Energy Consultant

15:15-15:45

Grant Summary, Q&A & Close – Stephen Sykes, Programme Manager, Chamber Low Carbon

 

This is just one in a busy series of events and workshops run by the Chamber Low Carbon team. To discover our full programme take a look at our events section or sign up to our monthly newsletter.

Book Your Place

Taking control of carbon?

How the UK finally decides to leave the EU could affect our future ability to cut carbon emissions and the strength of post-Brexit environmental regulations. Meanwhile, one of the few certainties we do have is increasing evidence of climate change in action and more extreme weather.

 

Post-Brexit environmental regulation?

As an uncertain March moves into April, the UK’s political strife over Europe could have a significant impact on Britain’s world-leading low-carbon transition plans.

Westminster’s Brexit war is sending long-term ripples not only through Whitehall’s ministries but also the UK’s legally-binding carbon reduction commitment. But developments far away from London have made headlines too in the last month.

For example, what links our coastal mudflats, the UK’s ultra-long-range 25-year weather forecast, Greenland’s rain and climate-friendly milk? The answer is that they’ve all made recent carbon news.

Before looking at these later, it’s worth mentioning that mudflats may be surprisingly interesting. New research shows that our remote fens and wetlands could be super-efficient “sleeping giants” in locking away the CO2 driving global warming.

All plants store carbon. However, instead of decaying, the carbon from marshland plants is buried permanently. As sea levels rise with climate change, the new layers of sediment they wash in will help to store millions of tonnes of CO2 and also raise the level of the wetlands. A neat trick!

But first it is important to look at events closer to home.

Energy & Environmental Forum – coming soon

A more immediate question for North West companies is probably what links Brexit, Environment Secretary Michael Gove’s draft Environment Bill, the views of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) and East Lancashire Chamber’s first Energy and Environment Forum which is currently being arranged.

The answer is again carbon. However, this time it concerns new proposals for regulation that on the surface look robust but could have a major underlying weakness.

Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Officer of IEMA, is a lead figure in the national debate on these issues and a strong supporter of our new Forum where he will be a guest speaker in the near future. The Forum’s aim is to keep larger companies fully-informed about key environmental, energy and carbon issues and channel their views, comments and concerns back through the British Chambers of Commerce to ministers and Government.

Regulatory successor to the EU

Many people sense a post-Brexit opportunity. The Government says it wants its new environmental regime to be at least as good as – and better than – that developed over 40 years with the EU. Surveys show strong public support. A consultation in 2018 received more than 1,750,000 responses.

IEMA also sees this as an opportunity to break away from a system that is an “unnecessarily prescriptive, compliance driven, reactive (rather than strategic) and complex approach to the environment” and “poor at anticipating new issues” – such as single-use plastics and low air quality.

It adds that some parts of society are pursuing unfair and short term economic gain at a cost to the long-term prosperity for everyone.

Working with the Federation of Small Businesses, Water UK, the Wildlife Trusts, business and environmental stakeholders, academics and professional bodies, its Broadway Initiative has developed a Blueprint to advice ministers what an effective Environment Act needs to include.

Work in progress

In the interim, in December 2018, Defra published two key documents in tandem. In one, Mr Gove explained his vision for natural capital to remain as “one of the UK’s most valuable assets”; with a “pioneering” new green governance system to improve air quality, restore and enhance nature, improve waste management and resource efficiency and similarly improve surface water, ground water and wastewater management.

The other was a policy paper partial draft of clauses for a new Environment (Principles and Governance) Bill that will eventually set the framework for a new Office for Environmental Protection (OEP) watchdog for England and put the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan on a statutory footing with a very pro-environmental agenda.

The draft clauses include environmental principles such the ‘polluter pays’ and public participation in decision-making. The bill also proposes a legal requirement for a government plan to improve the environment which is updated at least every five years, with annual progress reports to Parliament.

Dog with blunt teeth?

However, many organisations including IEMA feel that the proposals are “not world leading yet”, “EU-lite” and too weak to replace the powerful European Commission/European Court of Justice structure that currently enforces environmental governance in the UK.

A key flaw is seen in the transfer of all EU/ECJ powers to the shoulders of just one person – the Secretary of State for the Environment – whoever he or she will be in future. Without a ferocious watchdog, will future governments be tempted to dilute away bêtes noires – such as losing three times in a row in the High Court for failing to tackle poor air quality?

There is also concern over the implementation of new laws if future chancellors see regulation as an expensive economic drag. In question are the bill’s “principles and objectives” which could be legally binding, or simply designed to guide policy, the development of legal frameworks and fill in missing legislation.

Four decades of progress

Some 80% of UK environmental law has been developed in partnership with the EU since 1973. Most is already subject to UK court rulings and will remain as part of UK law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018.

In the EU, environmental protection pervades all policies and laws. The ECJ adds interpretation and precedents to strengthen implementation and enforcement. The new draft bill, say Ministers, should simply “have regard to” principles and objectives set out in a policy statement created by the environment secretary – and this is not directed at regulators, agencies, the courts or third-parties.

Interestingly, EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, insists on a “non-regression” clause in any future trade deal to maintain high standards; July 2018’s Brexit White Paper promised “no regression” from existing EU regulations in air quality, water pollution and waste management.

IEMA concerns

IEMA also questions the proposed OEP’s independence because it does not meet its ‘independence tests’ and resourcing and appointments will be made by the secretary of state.

Martin Baxter has explained that while the proposals contain some promising provisions, “Lots more needs to be done to bring the draft bill up to the level of ambition needed for a comprehensive environmental governance framework that will deliver the future we want.”

IEMA fears the bill has a number of “escape clauses”; it says OEP proposals must be judged on accountability, resourcing and appointments to determine its independence. The watchdog must report directly to parliament, which should allocate appropriate resources, not the Government.

It adds that key appointments – particularly the chair of the new body – need direct Parliamentary support to establish public confidence and trust from the start.

Broadway Initiative

The Broadway Initiative is very clear on what the final Bill should look like and has identified Nine Pillars of Governance it feels must be addressed in the Environment Act.

They include: objectives, targets, milestones and metrics; underlying principles; a process to produce plans at national level; maps and plans for the place-based (local community) environment; clear responsibilities for key actors; well-aligned incentives; effective enforcement; purpose-driven feedback loops; and independent oversight

Responsibility as the new default.

Specifically, IEMA wants to see a “paradigm shift” towards direct environmental responsibility in two potential areas. The first is an environmental duty of care for all organisations. The second is activity-specific “net gain” responsibilities for developers, utilities and others with influence over natural assets.

Duty of Care for the Environment could push society towards taking local environmental responsibility where businesses and people are best placed to resolve problems early at source, rather than relying on the Government to make rules at a distance.

‘Environmental net gain’ covers activities that can make a positive environmental impact. Just as the 25 Year Environment Plan puts new responsibilities on developers, the same could apply to others owning, managing or controlling land or resources, such as water and energy companies.

IEMA believes that this in time could create a self-generating positive force for a better environment. Organisations could adopt a net gain obligation in return for more flexibility about how they apply it.

Carbon wetlands

As mentioned earlier, the crucial carbon sink role of coastal wetlands has been highlighted by University of Wollongong in Australia where scientists have shown that they could be “awoken” by rising sea levels as glaciers and ice-sheets melt in a warming atmosphere.

However, as Patrick McGonigal of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre in Maryland, US, points out: “The important question is how many wetlands will remain wetlands and how humans manage the land adjacent to them.”

The RSPB’s Alex Pigott from Hesketh Out Marsh on the Ribble Estuary adds that muddy marshes may not be “chocolate box images of the countryside” but are “exciting dynamic habitats”.

25-year rain forecast

In March, the Environment Agency warned that despite extreme wet weather during the month, climate change and population growth mean that England will not have enough water to meet consumer demand within 25-years.

CEO Sir James Bevan told a London Waterwise Conference that England would reach the “jaws of death” – a carefully chosen phrase – of inadequate water supplies in 20 to 25 years. He added that he wants wasting water to be “as socially unacceptable as blowing smoke in the face of a baby” with people in England cutting their daily use from 140 litres to 40 litres by 2050.

Winter precipitation over Greenland is now falling not as snow, which thickens the ice, but as rain that melt it.

Sustainable dairies

Cows as ruminant are major methane-emitters. However, one dairy cooperative, Leeds-based Arla Foods, says it will make more than 2,000 UK dairy farms cow-to-supermarket carbon neutral by 2050.

The Vegan Society thinks this isn’t possible. Arla Foods admits its goal is “ambitious” and will require “radical changes” that include new technologies. However, as the EU’s largest farming cooperative, it wants to neutralise all CO2 produced by it 10,300 member dairy farms by mid-century.

With so much going on, it’s time for a green cuppa!

“Fit for Purpose” The Principles of Lean Production

Presentation slides for the Lunch & Learn workshop ‘Fit for Purpose’ The Principles of Lean Production held on 4th & 8th March 2019 in Blackpool & Accrington respectively.

Led by Graham Leather of Graham Leather Consulting & Coaching.

Fit for Purpose- The Principles of Lean Production Presentation

LUNCH & LEARN: ‘The Energy Equation’ Small Waste That Costs A Lot

They may not seem like much but small leaks can be big source of waste and be costing you money. Let us help you identify areas of waste and what you can do about it.

This free lunchtime workshop in Accrington will cover the following topics:

  • Energy use and conservation in your business
  • Examples of energy waste and escapes in Lancashire businesses
  • Assessing energy use, losses and waste
  • Innovative and low cost approaches to minimising losses, capturing and applying unused energy
  • Making energy work to improve your bottom line

The workshop will be led by Ged Heffernan, founder and Managing Director of Fern Innovations. Ged has a track record of achievements during more than 20 years of operations and programme management within corporates including: Rolls-Royce plc, BAE Systems, Renold Chain, Mercedes-Benz F1 and IndyCar. Building upon this led to engagement in technology based start-ups as founder, owner, CEO, Non-Executive Director and Consultant.

Fern Innovation is a consultancy providing support to start-up, SME and corporate businesses in developing and delivering new product introduction and growth programmes, with particular focus on Renewable Energy, Cleantech, Manufacturing and Energy.

The event will start at 12:00 with lunch and networking, with the session starting from 12:30. Following the session there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and for further networking over refreshments.

The Chamber Low Carbon team will be on hand to discuss the support and funding available through the Low Carbon programme.

This workshop is part of a regular Lunch & Learn series giving Lancashire businesses the knowledge and tools to go green. To keep up-to-date with further workshops subscribe to the Chamber Low Carbon newsletter.

Book your place:

19th March – Accrington

Benefits of Water Management Lancashire

LUNCH & LEARN: ‘Money Down the Drain’ The Benefits of Water Management

Are you pouring money down the drain?

Water management is often overlooked by the drive to reduce energy bills when saving water can save £thousands a year, sometimes with very short payback periods, and it reduces carbon emissions, too.

At this free workshop held in Blackpool We will discuss conducting water audits and also

  • The benefits of having robust water management plans
  • Government schemes that give you 100% tax relief for using the correct equipment
  • Private water supply management and staying on good terms with the authorities
  • Avoiding 6 and 7 figure fines by controlling Legionella risks, you’d be amazed how many businesses are dicing with death!

The session will be led by Ian Hughes of Oakstone Environmental Consulting.

Starting his professional life in the Royal Navy, Ian later worked in corporate Safety and Environment for Centrica (offshore gas) before going self employed in 2000. He undertook a 4 year full time Master’s degree in Natural Sciences as a mature student graduating from Lancaster University in 2017. Since then he has completed diplomas in Environmental Management, Water Conservation and Management and Legionella Risk Management working as a freelance consultant in his own business Oakstone Environmental Consulting Ltd. Although specialising in water management predominantly, Ian also undertakes all aspects of environmental sustainability work.

The event will start at 12:00 with lunch and networking, with the session starting from 12:30. Following the session there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions and for further networking over refreshments.

The Chamber Low Carbon team will be on hand to discuss the support and funding available through the Low Carbon programme.

This workshop is part of a regular Lunch & Learn series giving Lancashire businesses the knowledge and tools to go green. To keep up-to-date with further workshops subscribe to the Chamber Low Carbon newsletter.

 

Book your place:

4th April – Blackpool

Freen Clean Energy Low Carbon Conference Preston

Free Conference on Planning for Clean Energy and a Low Carbon Economy

Chamber Low Carbon would like to let you know about a upcoming Free conference on Planning for Clean Energy and a Low Carbon Economy being held in Preston on the 15th March 2019.

Bringing together business, local government and community groups you will hear about the differing roles they each play to accelerate the clean energy and low carbon economy transition in Lancashire, the North West and the rest of the UK.

The purpose of the day is about understanding how these varied stakeholders can maximise collaboration and positive outcomes while working together throughout transition.

The conference is running two separate sessions: morning and afternoon. Attendees may register for an individual session or register for the full day.

You can find out more and register to attend the conference by Clicking Here

The sun – friend or foe?

While falling solar energy prices are good news, living in history’s warmest decade is not. However, using low-cost, low-carbon power beamed straight to us from our local star, we can build a cooler, cleaner world with the Sun’s “dirty” old fossil-fuels left safely in the ground.

 

BP predicts renewables as the world’s main 2040 power source

Renewable energy is about to change every UK workplace and home, revolutionising global energy as we currently know it, according to the London-based multinational energy giant, BP.

This may sound like a ground-breaking admission from one of the world’s seven oil and gas “supermajors”. However, with the caveat that oil will still be with us for a long time to come, BP adds that renewables will be Earth’s main power source within two decades, gaining ground faster than any fuel in history.

In fact, it predicts that “fuels” like wind and solar energy will account for circa 30% of global electricity supplies by 2040, and up to 50% in Europe. Today, they represent just 10%.

But BP goes further. If we switch to a low carbon economy even faster, the timeframe could fall from 2040 to 2035, a historic shift that would be “literally off the charts”, it adds. This calls for strategic governmental changes but also “many small points of light”.

Green opportunity for thousands of SMEs

The Low Carbon Programme encourages North West companies to maximise their “green” power opportunities. By good luck, this coincides with important developments for both large- and small-scale solar energy users. Offshore wind energy cost also continues to fall.

However, before outlining how the Programme team helps to pinpoint commercial solutions for individual companies, several other recent headlines underline why low-carbon energy is crucially important in the global climate change battle.

Urgent challenges ahead

Later, we look at falling solar energy costs, and the Met Office’s news that we are in the hottest decade since 1850. Meanwhile, there have been several worrying and some more positive developments.

In late February, the Government’s environmental advisor, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), warned that new homes could be barred from the national gas grid by 2025 if the UK is to meet its legally-binding 2050 greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction target of 80%.

This is an obvious open goal for sustainable energy, including heat pumps which draw hidden heat from the ground, local lakes, and even the sea.

Earlier in February, the Institute for Policy Research (IPPR) think-tank also warned that critical human impacts could destabilise society and the global economy through a “complex, dynamic” and high-speed combination of climate change, species loss, topsoil erosion, forest felling and acidifying oceans.

But positive carbon news too

On the plus side, the UK’s 2017 GHG footprint was 2.7% lower than in 2016 – and 42.1% lower than in 1990 – largely due to a 27% fall in coal-fired power station use. This also sounds like a great renewables replacement opportunity! But the CCC says much more carbon-cutting is still needed. Ministers are on track for short-term goals but short of policies to achieve long-term targets.

If doubts about the next generation of complex, expensive nuclear power stations are added, the case for renewables in the UK’s future sustainable energy mix becomes even stronger.

North West businesses, and millions of similar companies around the world, can and are beginning to make a substantial difference that also has clear bottom-line advantages.

Low Caron Programme hands-on 2019 spring help

The Low Carbon Programme team is able to help in several ways.

We introduce companies to green energy suppliers. Where processes and equipment need replacing, upgrading or updating – for example, inefficient water heating boilers – we can also help to identify solar or small wind-turbine options and put you in touch with the best local suppliers.

In parallel, we are building up local and regional sustainable energy supply chains. These include equipment manufacturers, installation and maintenance experts, plus support services such as companies able to confirm whether an existing roof-structure has the strength to carry extra loads, plumbers, firms specialising in installing buried connection cables, and many more.

Please get in touch if you would like our help – or think you can help in your particular area. We’d be pleased to hear from you.

Joint energy and environmental performance review

Our starting point with companies is a joint energy and environmental performance review. This identifies where technology can help to minimise your carbon footprint, often by using energy more efficiently, as with low-carbon LED lighting.

Each Practical Action Plan is tailored to specific company circumstances and maximising the low-carbon and commercial advantages. For example, some solar installation providers will “rent SME roof space”, providing renewable energy on-site at low prices but selling any excess to the grid.

Why subsidy-free wind and solar is important

The National Grid estimates the UK could be on track for a solar capacity of 18GW by 2030; installed capacity at end-2017 was 12.8 GW. In comparison, by mid-December 2018, UK installed wind energy capacity was calculated as 12.3GW onshore and 7.9GW offshore, making us the world’s fourth largest wind power generator. China is the world’s largest solar power installer with 52GW in 2017.

With limited Government funding, any form of low-carbon energy must stand firmly on its own commercial feet. After a patchy period of boom and bust “incubation” support from central government, both offshore wind and solar energy are now competitive in mature markets.

In fact, with rapidly falling costs, the two are said to be in a close race to become the UK’s cheapest renewable energy resource, with prices more attractive than anything oil, gas or coal can offer.

Wind’s early lead

The Financial Times reported in September 2017 that since 2012 offshore wind energy costs had fallen by nearly a third to an average of £97/MWh – four years ahead of schedule – largely due to advances in technology, economics of scale, fast supply chain development and improved finance.

Offshore wind then gained a state-guaranteed “strike price” for its output under for the Contract for Difference (CfD) scheme in Government energy auctions, overtaking nuclear. Solar energy is on a similar cost-reduction path but not currently eligible for CfD. Many people want this to change.

A relaxation of planning constraints could put offshore wind in pole position within a decade as new ultra-large 8MW turbines currently being deployed giving way to larger 10MW and 12MW models.

Solar posed to move ahead in 2019

However, solar energy costs are predicted to take an early 2019 lead. Two further factors are important for solar parks and individual installations designed to be profitable for 30 to 40 years.

China is releasing a slew of cheap solar panels on to world markets after cutting its own huge solar programme. This follows a September 2018 end to EU price tariffs introduced in 2013 to protect the European market from low-cost Chinese solar imports.

But there is also good news for small solar array operators too. The Government’s Feed-in Tariff (FiT) for solar – which pays for spare power sold to the national grid – ends in April 2019 but will be replaced by the new “smart export guarantee (SEG)” that encourages low-carbon energy use.

Evidence of falling solar energy prices

The Solar Trade Association’s (STA) updated assessment of the solar levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) – defined as the cost of electricity over a project’s lifetime – concludes that solar is on track to become the UK’s cheapest form of energy.

STA estimates that solar LCOE during 2019 will be £50/MWh – £60/MWh, far lower than the £80/MWh forecast in 2014 and competitive against natural gas and onshore wind. STA says this could fall to £40/MWh by 2030, and through technology, auctions, networks access and a climate change levy exemption, it wants to see a level playing field with other energy sources.

Even more good renewable news

Renewables have already been incredibly good for the UK. A Carbon Brief analysis shows that while the UK’s total carbon footprint has fallen by 38% since 1990, it could have doubled without the renewable energy revolution.

In 1990, coal represented 67% of the UK’s energy mix but fell to 5% in 2017. Government figures suggest that the UK’s total carbon footprint in 1990 stood at 600m tonnes of CO2 (MtCO2) but fell to 367MtCO2 in 2017. However, the second-largest contributor (31%) was lower industrial and residential sector energy use as people turned actively to LED lighting, electric heating and other energy-efficiency measures.

Green shots of optimism

Looking on the bright side, NASA satellite data also shows that two of the world’s biggest carbon polluters, China and India, are now adding more than 2 million sq. miles of extra leaf area every year – a 5% increase on the early 2000s.

China’s contribution comes from forest conservation and expansion programmes designed to counter soil erosion, air pollution and climate change. India is making a difference through intensive food crop cultivation with fertilisers and irrigation.

But researchers warn that the positive effects will be offset by rising temperatures, adding that world atmospheric CO2 could reach record levels this year due to heating in the tropical Pacific which is expected to reduce carbon dioxide uptake in plants.

Met Office warning

Talking of rising temperatures, Met Office scientists predict that temperatures in each of the next five years up to 2024 are likely to be 1oC or more above pre-industrial levels.

They also think that the next five years could also see an average annual global temperature rise greater than 1.5oC.

It’s time for the many points of low-carbon light to come together.