Energy blog

Blog for posts that are specifically about the Energy Group activities
Published by NickSted on 09 April 2014

The Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive Scheme is launched today.

The long awaited domestic RHI scheme has been approved in Parliament and is launched today.  The news item is here


Minister for Energy Greg Barker and Claire Perry MP with a Grants of Devizes biomass boiler.

It is described, rather unsensationally, as a boiler replacement scheme.   However, built into the scheme is the cost of borrowing money and the 'hassle' factor as well as the installation cost.  So, for example, if an oil boiler, using say 1,500 litres of oil, is replaced by a wood pellet boiler, the RHI payments would be something in the order of £1,800 pa tax free for 7 years, which would be adjusted for inflation each year.  The scheme also covers solar thermal panels.

The following is from the press release:

The technologies currently covered by the scheme are:

  • Biomass heating systems, which burn fuel such as wood pellets, chips or logs to provide central heating and hot water in a home. Biomass-only boilers are designed to provide heating using a ‘wet system’ (eg through radiators) and provide hot water. Pellet stoves with integrated boilers are designed to burn only wood pellets and can heat the room they are in directly, as well as provide heat to the rest of the home using a ‘wet system’ (eg through radiators) and provide hot water.
  • Ground or water source heat pumps, which extract heat from the ground or water. This heat can then be used to provide heating and/or hot water in a home.

  • Air to water heat pumps, which absorb heat from the outside air. This heat can then be used to provide heating and/or hot water in a home.

  • Solar thermal panels, which collect heat from the sun and use it to heat up water which is stored in a hot water cylinder. The two types of panels that are eligible are evacuated tube panels and liquid-filled flat plate panels.
Technology Tariff
Air-source heat pumps 7.3p/kWh
Ground and water-source heat pumps 18.8p/kWh
Biomass-only boilers and biomass pellet stoves with integrated boilers 12.2p/kWh
Solar thermal panels (flat plate and evacuated tube for hot water only) 19.2 p/kWh
Published by NickSted on 01 April 2014

Domestic Renewable Heat Incentive

The long awaited domestic Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), as of yesterday, is in front of Parliament for final approval, having received approval in Grand Committee in the House of Lords last week.  .......and no, this is not an April fool!

It will interest anyone who, since 15th July 2009, has installed a heat pump to warm their house via a water based radiator system, or anyone who has fitted solar thermal panels to heat their hot water, or anyone who has changed their boiler to biomass.  Details can be found on the Ofgem website.

I will post a blog when it becomes law.

Published by NickSted on 19 March 2014

A Green Deal Story- Chapter 2

Alice in Wonderland


To re-cap, my recent Green Deal Assessment reduced my house Energy Performance (EPC) from a fairly creditable B to a below average E and all because I fitted a renewable energy biomass boiler.


In trying to understand how this happened I have had to rely on the Green Deal Assessor and the boiler installing company, so here is what they say:


The EPC system is not a direct measure of the efficiency of your house but rather how much it costs to heat. Built into the official assessment software is the assumption that wood pellets cost more than gas or heating oil – which they don't, they are now about 20% to 30% cheaper.


Also built into the software is an assumption of how efficient your boiler is. If your boiler is not on the SEDBUK (now the PCDF) database, the software assumes a default 65% efficiency. Only a handful of biomass boilers are on this database – mine isn't, so its efficiency rating of 96% doesn't count.


However, my boiler is on the Ofgem list of approved boilers for an MCS certifcate and I have one to prove it. Why doesn't the Green Deal software use the Ofgem MCS database?


Ask Alice.


Published by NickSted on 20 February 2014

A Green Deal Story

You would not be able to make it up!


I have just had a Green Deal Assessment carried out on my house with the most bizarre results. I needed a Green Deal Assessment because this is the way that my deemed heat usage can be assessed for when the domestic RHI is introduced this coming Spring.


Part of the Assessment is an EPC rating. The result was that since my last EPC in Nov 2010 my EPC rating has gone down from B 83 to E 46. The only thing that has happened to my house is that I have fitted a biomass boiler in place of an oil one and, according to the assessor, it is only because of this that my rating has deteriorated so badly.


Now here is the best bit on the EPC:


“The average household causes about 6 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Based on this assessment, your home produces approximately -0.3 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year. Adopting the recommendations in this report can reduce emissions and protect the environment. If you were to instal these recommendations you could reduce this amount by 0.1 tonnes per year.”


It also suggests I can save money by installing solar thermal water heating. The cost would be between £4000 and £6000 with a yearly saving of £98 which would not be financeable under the Green Deal. The fact that I already heat my water with surplus solar pv electricity does not come into the equation.


The only other thing it suggests is under floor insulation with a surprisingly low cost of £800 to £1000 and with an annual saving of £220 which would be financeable under the Green Deal. My house has rather nice Canadian polished strip hardwood flooring which would be expensive to lift and almost certainly would not look the same if relaid. I have a large carpet in one room which Dibles have said cannot be relaid due to its age and is best left in place. The kitchen and utility rooms have sheet plywood laid over the boards with vinyl overlay stuck down which would not survive lifting. I have discovered that the price assumes bare floorboards so the cost is going to be over three times that suggested and obviously is not financeable under the Green Deal.


Any Green Deal is essentially a 20 year debt at 8% interest rate paid for by the fuel saving. The latest Green Deal figures from DECC for Jan 2014 revealed that in total 145,110 assessments had been made but only 494 Green Deal plans had been signed up. Hardly surprising!

Published by Sam Page on 03 December 2013

Dear All,

Thank you very much for your email regarding your concerns about fracking in Wiltshire.

I have read your correspondence with much interest and I appreciate concerns.  I completely agree with you that we need to invest in renewable energy sources, including solar or wind energy, and that is why I am so pleased that the Government has already made great progress in this area.  Last October, for example, it published a solar PV Roadmap which lays out the priority issues for solar PV.  The roadmap can be found at


At the same time, I think that shale gas is a promising new potential energy source which could reduce our reliance on imported gas and help lower household energy bills.   Moreover, it has the potential to create thousands of jobs, bring in billions in tax revenues and secure our energy supply for the future, keeping energy costs low for households and businesses.

The Government has made it very clear that shale gas production should not , and will not, be at the expense of the UK’s renewable technologies and our wider environmental aims. I know that the policy has been deeply and thoroughly considered, following an extensive consultation and study of the latest scientific research available.  It does, of course, go without saying that any fracking operations must be safe and must not be at the expense of local communities or the environment.

I have been assured by Government Ministers that the UK has a strong regulatory system which provides a comprehensive and fit for purpose regime for exploration, and Ministers continue to improve it.  New controls and requirements are thereby being introduced, including prior reviews and fracking plans to address any potential risks, and there will be a new Office of Unconventional Gas and Oil which will focus on the regulation of explorations.

In addition, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, the Rt Hon Ed Davey MP, requested a study on potential greenhouse gas emissions from shale gas extraction and the report by DECC Chief Scientific Advisor, Professor David Mackay FRS, and Dr Timothy Stone, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State, concluded that, with the right safeguards in places, the net effect on greenhouse gas emissions from fracking will be relatively small and that the practise is compatible with the UK’s climate change targets. Gas is, in fact, the cleanest fossil fuel and therefore plays an important role in tackling climate change - it can act as a bridge in our transition to a green future.

Thank you again for taking the time to write to me on this very important issue and for sharing your views with me. I will, of course, monitor the situation closely as developments occur and if you have any further questions or if there is anything else with which I can help you, then please do not hesitate to get in touch again.

Yours sincerely,


Member of Parliament for the Devizes Constituency

Assistant Government Whip

Telephone: 0207 219 7050

Email: claire.perry.mp@parliament.uk

Website: www.claireperry.org.uk

Twitter: @claire4devizes


This was our letter to Claire: 

Dear Claire Perry, MP

We are extremely concerned about Michael Fallon's recent statement that places such as Wiltshire, Hampshire, Surrey and Sussex 'should get ready for fracking', while at the same time pledging to block wind farms.

As you know there are many families in Wiltshire that are fuel poor because they are not on the gas grid and are forced to pay higher prices for heating oil or Economy 7 electricity. These families are unlikely to benefit from fracked shale gas, but need financial help to install improved insulation and renewable technologies, such as heat pumps and biomass boilers.

Furthermore, any fracking that takes place in the Marlborough Area may lead to unsustainable abstraction from the River Kennet. Also, it is not clear how the UK would meet its GHG emissions targets - by at least 34% by 2020 and at least 80% by 2050 (against the 1990 baseline) if up to 60% of our electricity is generated by gas. We are also concerned that funds that are spent on the process of extracting shale gas, including protecting the environment, may be diverted away from insulation and renewable energy projects.

There are several community-based enterprises in Wiltshire that are trying to expand renewable energy installations (solar PV, biomass boilers, wind turbines) to cover the energy needs of schools, village halls, leisure centres and business premises. These projects not only reduce carbon emissions, but also reduce energy costs, while providing a return from green tariffs to local investors.

We are therefore calling on you to withhold your support for hydraulic fracturing in Wiltshire, and instead give your full support to local community-based enterprises that are promoting renewable energy.

Yours sincerely

Sam L J Page, SN8 4AU. 
Shirley Pryor, SN8 2BJ
Alexandra Wax, SN8 4BJ
Gerald Payne, SN8 4BJ
Gina Cooke, Marlborough
Judy Hindley, Marlborough
Ellie Gill, Devizes
Rich Pitts, SN8 4HT

Published by Sam Page on 23 October 2013

The government has just announced that a new nuclear power station will be built at Hinkley Point. This new power station will use Uranium 238 as it's fuel and create yet more Plutonium waste. The UK currently houses 112 tonnes of plutonium - the biggest stockpile in the world. Estimates suggest that the taxpayer currently spends £80m a year to store it safely and stop it from falling into the wrong hands.

The chief scientific adviser at the Department for Energy has agreed that this plutonium could be used to generate enough low-carbon energy to meet all UK demand for 500 years if integral fast reactors or liquid fluoride thorium reactors were deployed. These reactors would keep recycling the waste until hardly any remained: solving three huge problems – energy supply, nuclear waste and climate change – at once.

Thorium reactors use an element that’s already extracted in large quantities as an unwanted by-product of other mining industries. They recycle their own waste, leaving almost nothing behind. For more information, see 'Thorium and the Liquid-Fluoride Reactor: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle'.

George Monbiot says that 'to build a plant at Hinkley Point which will still require uranium mining and still produce nuclear waste by 2063 is to commit to 20th-Century technologies through most of the 21st. In 2011 GE Hitachi offered to build a fast reactor to start generating electricity from waste plutonium and (unlike the Hinkley developers) to carry the cost if the project failed. The government has yet to explain why it turned down this offer.'


Published by Sam Page on 30 July 2013

The Energy Company Obligation (ECO) is a Government designed scheme intended to reduce the UK's energy consumption and support those living in fuel poverty, by requiring energy suppliers to provide households with energy efficiency improvements. ECO was launched in January 2013 to support those in or at risk of fuel poverty and to provide insulation for harder to treat properties.

Part of these ECO funds (known as the Carbon Saving Communities obligation, CSCo) are being used to target areas of low income, particularly in rural settlements with a population size under 10, 000.

Last year Wiltshire Council identified 795 households in Marlborough that are in fuel poverty using a range of indicators, including age and type of dwelling, also wealth, health and age of householder. Since Marlbrough's population is less than 10, 000, you may be surprised to learn that the only areas of Wiltshire that can benefit from CSCo funding are in Swindon, Salisbury and Trowbridge! 

Unfortunately the Department of Energy and Climate Change is using a much narrower set of indicators than WC to target those eligible for CSCo funds, namely those households in receipt of welfare benefits, defined as being in 'the bottom 15% of Lower Super Output Areas from the Indices of Multiple Deprivation'.  Other important indicators such as the age of the property and being off the gas grid have been ignored.

Claire Perry MP has invited us to meet the Energy Minister, Gregory Barker, when he visits Marlborough early in 2014. We intend to use this opportunity to present the Minister with a series of case studies of local residents who are living in 'hard to treat' homes, in an effort to improve their access to CSCo funds. If you know someone who could benefit from this excercise please contact Sam: sampage_zim@yahoo.co.uk

Published by geoffbrickell on 16 July 2013

The Government have asked all Community Energy Companies for their views on what needs to be done to help those already in existence and to encourage more to be started.

There is a brief overview and a link to the background pdf paper issued by the Department of Energy & Climate Change which can be downloaded here.

Kennet Community Energy Limited (KCEL - formed by the Transition Marlborough Energy Group) believe it is important that KCEL make a submission, as not only have we encountered various difficulties in our formation process, but that such a submission will also generally promote the benefits of community based energy production.

As KCEL is a co-operative it is important that as wide a set of views as is possible are collected and considered as part of the KCEL submission in response to this Call for Evidence. Also, since there are not many Community Energy Companies around, we believe the KCEL submission will be noticed.

Please could you provide any response that you might have as soon after the 19th July 2013 as is possible, since the completed submission has to be sent in before 1st August and we will be completing it in the final week of this month. Please use the KCEL 'chair' email address to provide your feedback.


Published by NickSted on 26 March 2013

A press release from DECC today (26th Mar 2013) has announced that the implementation of the domestic RHI scheme will be delayed until Spring 2014.  This is very disappointing for all those installing, or who have already installed, solar hot water panels, biomass boilers or heat pumps.

This is the second delay in the scheme as it was originally for implementation in Oct 2012.  It is currently undergoing a consultation period and this week is being discussed in a Parliamentary Committee.

The domestic sector accounts for the bulk of CO2 emissions so it is highly unlikely that the Government's own targets (reduction by 26% of 1990 levels by 2020) will be met.

Nick Stedman







Published by Sam Page on 17 January 2013

The Green Deal is due to come into force at the end of this month.  People in both rented and private properties will be invited to make energy-saving improvements to their homes or businesses without having to pay all the costs up front. This depends on the Golden Rule that says: 

'You should not have to pay back any more than the savings you'll make on your energy bill as a result of the energy-saving improvementments you've installed'. 

In most cases, repayment levels will be based on heating bills for the property or the typical energy bills of a similar property. The Green Deal is designed to try to save the customer at least as much money as they will have to repay. However, the actual level of savings will depend on how much energy is used (e.g. to heat your home) and the future cost of energy. 

Since up to £10,000 may need to be spent on 'hard to treat' homes, such as those without cavity walls, in listed buildings or off the gas-grid, the big loan repayments may not fit the Golden Rule.  This will be particulary true if families that are in fuel poverty have been 'under-consuming' in order to save on heating bills.

In order to deal with this problem, the government has tasked the Energy Sector with providing grants to cover hard-to-treat homes, known as ECO (Energy Company Obligations).  The big Energy Companies will have 2 obligations:

  1. To make carbon emission savings in line with the Kyoto Protocol.
  2. To ensure 'affordable warmth' by making SAP-based energy cost reductions, by installing loft, wall and floor insulation and repair, but not replace, boilers.

The funds that will be disperced by ECO will be paid for by increasing energy prices to all consumers.

However, ECO has been criticised by both Professor Hills (the goverment's expert in fuel poverty) and the Chartered Institute of Housing for directing only 25%, rather than 50% of this funding towards the fuel poor. Hills says that rather than reducing fuel poverty, it is more likely that, as the better-off take advantage of the Green Deal and average heating bills fall, the most vulnerable will be left behind with increasingly unaffordable bills and even more families will fall into fuel poverty.

Persuading the government to use carbon taxes to end fuel poverty

In recognition of the on-going problem of fuel poverty, more than 120 health, old age, child poverty and green energy charities, also power companies, local councils and 180 M.P.s are calling on the government to use the funds raised from carbon taxes to treat 600,000 fuel poor households every year, providing each of them with a grant worth on average £6,500 to install energy efficiency measures. This would reduce their energy bills by an average £310 a year.  This could could bring 9 out of 10 homes out of fuel poverty. It could also be used to quadruple savings in carbon emissions compared to the Government’s new energy efficiency schemes and create up to 200,000 jobs.

Join the campaign and sign the Energy Bill Revolution petition, here...

Find out more about fuel poverty in the Marlborough Area, here...


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