Slides from our workshop “Understanding Your Energy Bills”
Presentation slides from our Industry Commerce Seminar
Slides from our seminar “Power Coniditioning, How to manage power quality and voltage to achieve a positive outcome”
Revolution is in the air! Or in the case of sustainable energy, a series of revolutions in low-cost renewable power production, battery storage technologies that hold spare green watts, major “Internet of Energy” efficiency gains and vital innovations with UK and global sales potential.
Carbon-based energy is not our greatest friend. For two centuries. coal, oil and gas have powered industry. Today, their “dirty” legacy is poor air quality, persistent pollution problems and one of our greatest environmental threats – global warming.
Fortunately, there are solutions. A series of exciting developments are coming together “in the nick of time”. But to work they need our active participation at a personal, business and industrial level.
Fossil-based energy still underpins many of the transport, heating, lighting and the manufacturing systems that make society tick. In an odd twist, technology based on semi-conductors is increasing the short-term problem; huge backbone computers produce vast amounts of unwanted heat. The answer is likely to be found in new semi-conductor materials that work at, or near to, room temperatures. Meanwhile, the race to develop them highlights the urgent need for innovative energy-related products, services and gizmos!
However, Low Carbon Programme team members are already working closely with regional companies of all types and sizes to review, improve, and some cases replace, existing energy systems for sound environmental and commercial reasons. We’ll look at that first and how their work feeds in naturally to the sustainable energy revolution – or revolutions.
First steps … and upwards
A basic energy review is often a good starting point. Firms already working towards – or upgrading – their ISO 14001 (environmental) and ISO 50001 (energy) compliance to international management system standards will already be familiar with the need to identify aspects, linked impacts and well-thought-out mitigation measures needed to maintain continuous improvement.
However, if the ISO concept still seems a somewhat alien, don’t worry. You are very welcome to join the programme’s ISO 14001 and ISO 50001 masterclasses. Do please contact us for more details.
The first steps are usually quite basic. They can involve switching off lights, unused machinery and constant heating sources. They also include reviewing transport arrangements and waste and procurement policies. In addition, many firms are able to pinpoint inefficient industrial processes that can be improved. Replacing old plant and equipment is often a sound long-term investment.
Importantly, the team can also put you in touch with “green” energy suppliers to benefit from reliable low-cost power – solar and offshore wind sources, plus biomass, hydropower, anaerobic digestion energy-from-waste and the emerging hydrogen economy.
And that takes us to the first revolution.
The world’ largest on our doorstep
By happy coincidence, since 6th September 2018 we have had one of the world’s largest renewable energy resources almost on our doorstep.
At a cost of £1 billion, and standing twice as high as the Elizabeth Tower – often called Big Ben – which is the highest point of the Houses of Parliament, 87 new wind turbines reaching 198 metres / 623 feet into the sky now form the Walney Extension. They cover a 55 square mile (145km2-) marine site off the Barrow coast roughly equivalent to 20,000 football pitches. Along with 102 exiting turbines, Walney Extension is now officially the world’s largest wind farm. Producing 659MW, it can power 600,000 homes. For comparison, the world’s second largest is China’s Gansu Wind Farm; the Thames estuary London Array takes third place.
Wind and solar prices fall
There has been a dramatic fall in UK offshore wind energy prices over the last half decade. A 2017 report from the Offshore Wind Programme Board (OWPB), which manages the UK seabed for The Crown Estate, showed sector costs had fallen by 32% from £142/MWh in 2012 to £97/MWh in 2016. Technical advances, larger turbines – 7MW and 8MW turbines are now standard – more competition and lower costs of capital were given as reasons. The Government’s 2020 target of £100/MWh was also broken four years early; costs are expected to fall by a further 24% to 30% by 2030. with £57.50/MWh to come. Reuters says the UK’s investment in offshore wind since 2010 totals more than £9.5 billion.
Solar is doing well too; installed PV capacity in January 2018 reached 12.8 GW across 939,872 installations, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. This is equal to eight new-generation nuclear reactors and can power 3.8m homes – making the case for more nuclear power shakier by the day; not to mention the waste issue!
As a result, in April 2018 the UK was able to go for three days with zero coal-power, a number that will continue to rise. March figures showed that renewables account for nearly 30% of energy output; the UK now meets more than 50% of its energy needs from renewables on an increasing number of days. In fact, we are well on way to this figure rising regularly to 100%. At that point, will we be forced to stop generating? Fortunately, no, due to another energy revolution.
We can continue to generate from renewables when the going is good if we take full advantage of the recent rise and rise of advanced battery technology.
Batteries are set to change our lives. Not AAA pocket-sized batteries. But batteries large enough to store the spare renewable energy needed to iron out peak-time grid fluctuations at one end of the scale, and small enough at the other to hold locally-produced green home and business energy.
Just two years ago, modern battery technology barely existed. Today, the challenge is to find out how energy storage innovations can be introduced successfully to individual homes, streets, neighbourhoods, schools, hospitals and other public buildings – the residential areas and town centres where the grassroots low-carbon revolution is changing the behaviour of individual people.
Some traditional power stations are turning themselves into modern energy centres. Tilbury B power station in Essex could build a 100MW battery as part of its conversion from ‘dirty’ coal to a gas-firing and evolution into the Tilbury Energy Centre. Yorkshire’s Drax generates some 6% of Britain’s electricity and has plans to construct a 200MW industrial-sized battery to add operational value and flexibility as it adjusts its bio-mass burning strategy.
On an intermediate-scale, 49MW batteries have been built by Centrica at the old Roosecote power station site near Barrow and EDF at West Burton power station in Nottinghamshire. Statera Energy’s has its “49.99”MW Pelham battery storage project near Bishop’s Stortford in Hertfordshire.
Innovative battery technology is also central to the Government’s new road transport policy based on a long-range, fast-charging electric vehicle (EV) revolution.
And then there is technology. Technology supports the energy revolution(s) in three key areas – decarbonisation, decentralisation and also digitisation. Millions of homes and businesses with roof-top solar panels and micro-wind-turbines will in future be able make, store, use and sell their own low-cost green energy. Many will use smart appliances too, such as washing machines that can be programmed to switch themselves on/off when energy demand is low and cheap, often at night.
The Internet of Energy (IoE) is the link that will make it possible for them to trade their spare energy at peak times when demand and prices are higher to the national grid and fast-emerging local energy grids. Similarly, if necessary they can buy energy when prices are low.
Making connections to the system, managing millions of new small supplier/buyers efficiently and in parallel maximising new opportunities in the vast quantities of energy data from so many new sources and smart devices, underlines the critical role of digital technology.
The hydrogen revolution is also gathering speed. Hydrogen itself is not a primary energy source per say but an energy carrier – it has to be produced or isolated before it can be used as a combustible fuel or in fuel-cells. However, whichever way hydrogen is used to produce electrical energy, its only by-products are safe water and oxygen.
Again, very fortunately for us, a major development is taking place in the North West where hydrogen on a commercial-scale is being stripped out of the methane source known as natural gas.
What happens to the carbon? It will be sequestered permanently underground in one of the UK’s first Carbon Capture, Utilisation and Storage (CCUS) projects. Earlier this year, energy and industrial strategy minister, Claire Perry, made a point of stressing the UK’s urgent need for a workable CCUS technology that can not only help to meet the UK’s ambitious 2050 carbon reduction targets but also has significant export potential.
The project being pioneered by HyNet includes the development of a new hydrogen pipeline. The company says the North West is an ideal location because its concentration of industry, technical skill base and unique geology “offers an unparalleled opportunity for a project of this kind”.
Dyson award for urban wind turbine
Small is beautiful too. A new-type of low-cost turbine developed by Nicolas Orellana and Yaseen Noorani at Lancaster University to capture wind from any direction has won the UK’s 2018 James Dyson Award. Their highly-flexible O-Wind Turbine fitted to the side of buildings is designed to work in swirling winds for cities struggling to provide renewable energy for expanding urban populations.
Unlike tall wind farms out at sea that only capture horizontal wind, the O-Wind can capture multi-directional winds around large buildings and other complex infrastructure.
As Yaseen Noorani explains, “If we could find a solution that caters for the half of the world’s population who live in cities, we could give these people an opportunity to generate their own energy and contribute to the environment”.
We hope that you can join us on 30th October 2018 at this Free morning session.
This event will provide an expert overview of various government policies and on the environmental agenda.
Businesses attending will get a thorough understanding of existing legislation as well hearing about upcoming
items that may affect them.
The briefing will be presented by Martin Baxter, Executive Director – Policy IEMA.
He will be covering the following topic areas:
• Proposals for extending mandatory carbon and energy reporting to all large companies
• Forthcoming resources and waste strategy
• Proposals for making biodiversity net gain a requirement for new developments
• The forthcoming new Environment Act
• Brexit update
Tue 30 October 2018, 08:30 – 13:00 GMT
Preston Marriott Hotel
Refreshments will be available from 8.30 am with a 9:00 am start and a 12:00 noon close.
Following the briefing a light lunch will be provided and there will be a chance to network with your fellow delegates and meet the experts.
The Chamber Low Carbon Team will be on hand to discuss the support and funding available through the
Low Carbon programme.
Click below to download the presentation slides from ‘The Circular Economy – Resource and Waste Management Best Practice’ presentation by Darren Thomas, Chamber Low Carbon Supply Chain Manager
Click below to download the presentation slides fom the Chamber Low Carbon launch event held at Brockholes Nature Reserve on 17th July 2018.
However, we are not battling global temperature rises on our own. We will also be looking at how leading corporations, company groups, familiar brand names, governments, local authorities, excellence and research centres, individual innovators and entrepreneurs are tackling and benefiting from the urgent need to help put a swift end to man-made contributions to global warming.
The main problem is carbon – an element essential for all forms of life as we know it. However, as part of the greenhouse gases (GHG) carbon dioxide and methane, it is also a threat to life on Earth because of the increasingly dense insulating blanket it is building up around the blue planet. This is the so-called greenhouse effect.
Our problem is that almost everything we do in our present energy-hungry lifestyles creates carbon emissions. The challenge is to keep the world acceptably cool through the present and the coming centuries by learning how to use green renewable energy – and even then, as little as possible.
At the same time, reducing our carbon footprints also involves using fewer raw materials, being more sparing with water, eliminating or reducing waste generation, increasing recycling and recovery rates where waste is inevitable and minimising what goes to landfill where it can create methane. However, on the upside, well-proven sustainable credentials are a very positive selling point. Reputations do count commercially!
Part of the worry is the growing concern that natural carbon sinks – such as soils, huge amounts of leaf mould, melting arctic tundra and warming oceans – could quickly reach a point where higher temperatures turn them into natural carbon sources. Instead of helping us, they could work against us. This is the so-called tipping point.
Although the debate itself has at times been heated, there is now a general scientific consensus that GHGs resulting from human activity are a major cause of global warming. While proven links to climate change are as yet more tenuous, it is widely agreed that the recent global increase in extreme weather events – heavy rain, floods, stormy seas, high winds, plus droughts and heatwaves – can be ascribed at least in part to a warm and less stable atmosphere.
In addition to the inconvenience, damage and potential loss of life caused by severe weather, increasing unpredictability on a global scale is likely to bring substantial impacts from failed harvests, disrupted food chains, high levels of migration, political instability and distressing refugee crises.
The other way in which a warming world is already affecting us in the UK is through rising sea levels and storms associated with low-pressure systems and high tidal surges. Large areas of agriculturally-productive fenland have already been lost due to artificial drainage and falling land levels. Rising seas are expected to make this worse, with cities as far inland as Peterborough already on the frontline.
However, the world is fighting back. In December 2015, 197 nations pledged at the COP21 UN https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/cop21/ Climate Change Conference in Paris to put in place measures best suited to their own individual circumstances that will jointly limit any rise in earth surface temperatures during the rest of this century to no more than 20C – or preferably 1.50C to prevent any chance of irreversible warming if natural carbon sinks were to become runaway carbon sources.
This is not the only high-level international driver. The UN Millennium Development Goals http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/ signed in September 2000 also committed world leaders to actively combatting poverty, hunger, disease, illiteracy, environmental degradation and discrimination against women. This commitment has now transitioned into the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2015 – 2030 otherwise known as the Global Goals https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/sustainable-development-goals/ and signed up to by the UK Government as well as another 192 countries
The UK has taken one of the strongest stances through the Climate Change Act 2008 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2008/27/contents which binds us legally to an 80% cut in emissions by 2050 from a 1990 datum level. But the Government is adamant that such social and environmental commitments include tremendous commercial opportunities. To make these a reality, the Industrial Strategy https://www.gov.uk/government/topical-events/the-uks-industrial-strategy and Clean Growth Strategy https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/clean-growth-strategy of autumn 2017, and 25 Year Environment Plan https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/25-year-environment-plan of January 2018, are designed to create an economy for a post fossil-fuel world.
In the meantime, there is a snag. Evidence from authoritative bodies, such as the Committee on Climate Change https://www.theccc.org.uk/ as the Government’s official advisor, suggests that although the UK was 41% below 1990 levels in 2016, we are not on track to meet the UK’s fourth carbon budget (2023-27). It adds that to reduce domestic emissions by at least 3% per year, progress will need to be supplemented by more challenging measures. There is additional evidence that following an impressive 5.8% CO2 drop in 2016, emissions fell a further 2.6% in 2017 aided by a 19% decrease in coal use.
There are clearly many things that Government is well-positioned to do, such as continuing to phase out coal-fired power generation. Minister for energy and industrial strategy, Claire Perry, also made a strong personal commitment early this year to make carbon capture, utility and storage (CCUS) a workable technology. She explained that, “I see my job as to decarbonise, keep bills down and develop technologies that we can export around the world”. Carbon is definitely in her crosshairs.
But there is also a great onus on businesses, companies and individuals to do more, albeit in their own self-interest. There is also lots of encouraging news to tap into.
The Low Carbon Programme is a delivery partnership between North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Businesswise Solutions Ltd and BOOST. Our aim is to help Lancashire businesses save money and cut their carbon footprints. The £2 million part EU-funded programme provides a suite of free services aimed at improving energy and environmental efficiencies, introducing on site renewable energy generation and cutting costs.
We can also help you to take new pieces of low carbon technology to market via local manufacturing routes backed by funding opportunities, skills development … and assistance in finding your dream customer!
In summary, we provide support in reducing your energy bills, GHG emissions, on site water use and waste. At the same time, we help to improve your office/shop floor efficiency, install solar/wind and other renewable energy systems on site, use corporate social responsibility (CSR) to access to new markets and find markets for low carbon innovation/technology products.
However, we will also on occasion dip into the experience of other leading private and public sector initiatives, such as Waitrose’s use of biofuels for its road fleet, IKEA’s commitment to produce as much green energy as it consumes by 2020, Aldi’s ambition to secure ‘carbon neutral’ status in the UK and Ireland by 2019 and Buckinghamshire plans for a 76-acre 15MW subsidy-free solar farm supporting the UK’s first “carbon-negative” business park.
Local and regional companies have a very broad range of interests. However, there are key sectors and industries where either significant low-carbon progress has already been made, supply-chain opportunities may exist, or progress urgently needs to be made.
The UK renewable energy industry has been a major success story in the last half a decade that we will refer to in more detail in the near future. Progress has been made in two critical areas. The first is a systematic reduction in energy production costs from large and remote offshore wind farms that has far-exceeded original expectations. This has been linked in parallel with the extremely fast emergence of battery and energy storage systems on a scale from large utility companies down to household and electric vehicle (EV) level.
The other is the rapid development of smart technologies. These make it possible for households and businesses to generate, use and trade green energy from on-site micro-solar and wind turbine systems to both the grid and to/from local customers. However, according to a new joint report from Imperial College London and OVO Energy https://www.ovoenergy.com/binaries/content/assets/documents/pdfs/newsroom/blueprint-for-post-carbon-society-1.pdf they could also cut the cost of decarbonising the UK’s housing stock by circa £7 billion annually. The report further predicts that up to £3.5 billion could be saved from vehicle-to-grid (V2G) EV charging.
And that will take us on to the low-carbon transport revolution and the Government’s new Road to Zero https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-launches-road-to-zero-strategy-to-lead-the-world-in-zero-emission-vehicle-technology strategy which is important in providing opportunities for companies, organisations and individuals to make a real difference as OEMs, service providers and green motorists.
Clearly, the low-carbon revolution is not just a two-way but a multi-way street, as our team is keen to prove. Over the next two years we hope to show that stepping up to the low-carbon plate is not a passing trend or fad but an indispensable new way of life where it’s cool to be cool.