Energy blog

Blog for posts that are specifically about the Energy Group activities
Published by Sam Page on 29 December 2012

The Coalition Government's new Energy Bill is currently being discussed by MPs. This bill sets out the government's committment to cutting Green House Gas (GHG) emissions in line with UK targets - by at least 34% by 2020 and at least 80% by 2050 (against the 1990 baseline). The easiest way of doing this is by decarbonising our electricity supply, i.e. reducing the amount of CO2 that is emitted by electricity-generating power plants, as recommended by the Climate Change Committee (CCC). Energy supply is the biggest polluter, compared with the 7 other sectors, currently emitting around 190 MT (million tons) of CO2 (almost one third of the UK's total GHG emissions) per year:

UK GHG emissions by sector 1990-2010


Unfortunately, Chancellor George Osborne is not only planning to delay the decision to decarbonise the electricity supply until 2016, but is also allowing the level of GHG emissions to be increased up to 200g per kilowatt in 2030. This is twice the amount recommended by the CCC and such a high limit would permit unabated gas (much of it produced by fracking) to provide up to 60% of all electricity generated. The Table below shows that fossil fuels (coal, oil, natural gas) emit at least 500g of CO2 for each kWh of electricity produced, while solar PV, biomass, nuclear, hydro and wind emit less than 100g of CO2 per kWh of electricity.

Comparison of GHG Emission Intensity
Power Source CO2 per kWh of electricity produced
Coal 888g
Oil 733g
Natural Gas 500g
Solar PV 85g
Biomass 45g
Nuclear 29g
Hydro-electric 26g
Wind 26g

See World Nuclear Association Report

According to Chris Goodall, a 200g rule would mean that the pathway to the legally binding 2050 UK carbon budget is unattainable, because it would add 60 million tons of carbon emissions and use up 20% of the 2030 budget.

In its 2010 recommendations on the legally binding emissions budget for the period 2022-27 the CCC said,

To meet the indicative 2030 target, putting the UK on the path to 2050, it is essential radically to decarbonise power generation, cutting emissions intensity from today’s level of around 500g CO2/kWh to around 50g CO2/kWh in 2030.

Tim Yeo M.P., the Conservative Chair of the Climate Change Select Committee and the Labour Party are both planning to put forward amendments to the Energy Bill which would limit GHG emissions to 100g CO2/kWh by 2014. This would enable the UK to reach it's emissions targets and take a lead in averting disasterous global warming.  Please write to our M.P., Claire Perry: claire.perry.mp@parliament.uk and voice your support for these crucial amendments.




Published by Sam Page on 14 December 2012

UK gas production virtually halved between 2000 and 2010, and imports  have risen significantly, so that the UK is now a net importer of gas. More than half of the gas imported comes via a pipeline from Norway, but a growing share – over a third of imports in 2010 – is in the form of LNG imported by tankers, mainly from Qatar.

The use of natural gas is a very significant contributor to UK carbon dioxide emissions, accounting for just over 45% of total emissions in 2010. 

Fracking is a way of extracting gas from shale rock formations, usually located at depths of 1000 – 4000 metres, this gas is know as 'shale gas'.

You can watch the fracking process in this video:

Shale gas is chemically the same as natural gas, being mainly methane. However fracking releases additional emissions that are due to how the gas is extracted. The main sources of additional emissions are how much gas is vented (released to the atmosphere in controlled manner) or flared (burnt off at the site) and how much escapes unintentionally (known as ‘fugitive emissions’). Fracking will, therefore, put the UK's emissions targets at risk, as methane contributes to climate change at a level that is 25 times greater than CO2.

4 million gallons of water is used for each fracking process. This water is is pumped with chemicals into the earth. The resultant fluid is potentially extremely harmful to human health because of the nature of the chemicals used. Exact information on the composition of fracking fluids is hard to obtain but research by Friends of the Earth suggests that:

  • 25% of the chemicals used in fracking could cause cancer
  • 37% could disrupt the endocrine system
  • 40-50% could affect the nervous, immune and cardiovascular system
  • more than 75% could affect the skin, eyes and respiratory system

The US company, Cuadrilla has just been given planning permission to drill in the Blackpool area and has said it could drill over 800 wells in the UK by 2028.

You can read more in Friends of the Earth's Shale Gas Briefing, here...

Shale gas: an updated assessment of environmental and climate change impacts
A down-loadable report by researchers at the Tyndall Centre, University of Manchester


Published by Sam Page on 24 November 2012

Thank-you to everyone who took the trouble to write a response to the Core Strategy consultation on wind turbine separation distances. We’re really pleased with the results – the huge volume of responses even took the Planning Inspector by surprise, and it took a couple of weeks for council officers to process them all and upload them to the Wiltshire Council website.

Analysis of responses

The result was a fantastic endorsement of wind power in Wiltshire - more than 600 people said they thought separation distances were unfair and not based on sound evidence. Unlike respondents who supported Wiltshire Council’s amendment, those in favour of clean energy were spread across the length and breadth of Wiltshire – with the largest numbers of individual responses coming from Bradford-on-Avon, Marlborough, Salisbury, Calne, Pewsey, Chippenham and Corsham. 

Local community groups also responded collectively to the consultation, representing thousands of local people in support of renewable energy. These included submissions from the Wiltshire Federation of WIs (Women’s Institutes) and the CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England.)

On the other hand, the vast majority of responses favouring separation distances came from addresses within a 5km diameter of the county’s only proposed wind farm at West Ashton, which has yet to be submitted for planning.

The consultation also attracted attention from across the UK from over 200 individuals and groups concerned that if the amendment were to stand, it would set a dangerous planning policy precedent, which might be followed by other councils.

What happens now?

The huge number of responses has caused the Planning Inspector to revise his schedule, and he has told us he now expects to hold the ‘pre-hearing meeting’ in January, which suggests that the Public Examination won’t take place before February at the earliest.

We will also be passing on all our feedback from the campaign to Wiltshire councillors indue course.

A Wiltshire Clean Energy Alliance Facebook page is under development in order to keep the debate going, and we will circulate details in due course. You can also keep up to date through the website www.wiltshirecea.org.uk and follow us on Twitter @wiltshirecea.

Sophy, Mike, Jack, Chris, Rowena, Nick and ffinlo


Published by Sam Page on 02 November 2012

Despite manufacturer's claims about so-called 'eco-heaters', all portable electric heaters will consume exactly the same amount of electricity and produce the same amount of thermal heat, relative to power input. The only difference will be in how they deliver the heat, e.g. fan heaters are a good choice for quick heating of specific areas of a room, as you can direct the heat. Halogen heaters heat up quickly, while oil heaters cool down slowly.

The power/energy rating (watts or kWh) will dictate the running cost per hour of any heater. The most effective way to reduce running costs is to keep the heat in, insulating and reducing drafts will help keep bills down. Low cost solutions, such as heavy curtains, blinds, draft excluders will all help. Loft and cavity wall insulation, double-glazing can dramatically reduce heating bills too. 

Electric heaters, whether they are fan heaters, halogen heaters, oil-filled radiators or convector heaters are rated in Watts (W) or Kilowatts (kW). Check the power rating of your heater to determine the running cost per hour:

Power rating Running cost per hour
500W or 0.5kW 7.20 pence
1000W or 1kW 14.39 pence
1500W or 1.5kW 21.59 pence
2000W or 2kW 28.78 pence

..............based on the Average Electricity rate of 14.39p/kWh for a unit of electricity. 

Published by Sam Page on 29 September 2012

The quickest and easiest way to respond is to send an email to spatialplanningpolicy@wiltshire.gov.uk. You need to include your postal address on the email for your response to be considered valid, but you don’t need to be a Wiltshire resident. You should also send a copy of the email to your local councillor (Nick Fogg: nicholasfogg@hotmail.com)  and MP, Claire Perry: claire.perry.mp@parliament.uk

You could copy and paste the text below, however it is better to use your own words:  

I am writing to comment on the amended Wiltshire Core Strategy Policy 42 (standalone renewable energy installations).   I believe this policy is unsound; it has not been positively prepared, it is not justified and is not consistent with national policy.  

1.  The policy takes a negative stance towards large-scale wind power, going against Wiltshire Council’s own findings that “Positive policies are needed to maximise the delivery of large scale, standalone renewable energy technologies in Wiltshire to help ensure national and local targets can be met”.  

2.  The Government has affirmed that “The approach to wind turbine development in the UK is to assess the potential impacts of proposals on a case by case basis”. Wiltshire council has offered no reasoned justification as to why arbitrary separation distances should be set in the core strategy.   

3.  The policy as amended is contrary to the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF): that planning should help in “securing radical reductions in greenhouse gas emissions” (NPPF paragraph 93); and that Local Authorities should “design their policies to maximise renewable and low carbon energy development while ensuring that adverse impacts are addressed”, and “consider identifying suitable areas for renewable and low carbon energy sources” (NPPF paragraph 97).

Published by NickSted on 25 May 2012

Summary of the DECC proposals announced yesterday, 24 May:

Tariffs for solar pv installations to be reduced from 1 August

  • 16p/kWh for household scale solar pv installations to reflect fall in cost of the technology, delivering a return of about 6% for a typical installation.
  • Tariffs for larger installations also to be reduced to reflect cost reductions but with most tariff cuts lower than proposed in February.
  • Reductions to apply to new installations from 1 August, instead of 1 July as proposed, in recognition of low uptake from 1 April and providing time for industry to adapt.

Multi installation tariff increased to 90% of standard tariff

  • Organisations with more than 25 solar pv installations will get 90% of the standard applicable tariff, increased from 80%, reflecting new evidence on costs involved for these projects.

Reduction in tariffs over time in line with uptake of FITs scheme

  • Ensuring solar PV is not over subsidised.
  • Average tariff reductions of 3.5% every 3 months, reductions will be bigger (up to 28%) if there is rapid uptake.
  • Tariff cuts will be skipped (for up to 2 quarters) if uptake is low.
  • Uptake in 3 different bands (domestic (size 0-10kW), small commercial (10-50kW) and large commercial (above 50kW and standalone installations) will determine the quarterly reductions within those bands.

Increase export tariff from 3.2p to 4.5p/kWh

  • To better reflect the real value of electricity exported to the grid.

RPI index-linking of generation tariffs to be retained

  • Reflecting the high value investors place on this element of the FITs scheme.

Scheme lifetime reduced from 25 to 20 years for new solar installations

  • Reducing the lifetime costs of the scheme and bring solar in line with most other technologies supported under FITs.

Tariffs for installations which do not meet the energy efficiency requirements will mirror the tariffs for standalone installations

  • Ensuring energy efficiency is still encouraged as tariffs are reduced. 

The new Tariff table:

Generation tariffs for new solar PV installations from 1 August 2012


Band (kW)

Standard generation tariff (p/kWh)

Multi-installation tariff (p/kWh)

Lower tariff (if energy efficiency requirement not met) (p/kWh)

4kW (new build)




4kW (retrofit)
































Published by NickSted on 01 May 2012

The Government's Bioenergy Strategy was published last week by DECC, Dept for Transport and DEFRA .

For those who want to read the whole thing, here is the link.

Unless you suffer from insomnia, here is a summary:

In 2010 bioenenergy provided 3% of the UK's primary energy.  65% of this was used for power generation.  There will be a nearly fourfold increase to about 11% by 2020.  If not, the cost of achieving the same carbon reduction by other means is estimated to be £44 bn.

Unlike other renewables, bioenergy is a solution for all major primary energy sectors: heat, electricity and transport.  Also, it is not an intermittent supply.

The strategy is based on 4 principles:

  1. it must deliver genuine carbon reductions
  2. it must be cost effective in terms of energy goals
  3. it must maximise the benefits and minimise the costs to the economy
  4. it will be subject to frequent reviews to assess its impact on food security and biodiversity both nationally and internationally.

Without careful management, the use of bioenergy can have negative consequences.  The Government will seek to:

  • improve domestic supply
  • promote sustainable supply markets
  • deploy low risk technologies
  • minimise the impact on clean air standards

The bioenergy sector will be an important source of new employment opportunities.

Published by Sam Page on 23 March 2012

WWF’s Earth Hour is a simple idea that’s quickly turned into a global phenomenon. Hundreds of millions of people turning off their lights for one hour, on the same night, all across the planet.

But it’s not to save an hour’s electricity. It’s something much bigger. WWF’s Earth Hour is about people coming together to put the focus on this brilliant world we all share – and how we need to protect it. Not just for an hour a year, but every day.

Because a healthy planet isn’t just good for polar bears or tropical tree frogs. It’s essential for us all. It’s easy to forget how much we depend on it for food, fuel, water, fresh air… And the truth is, our modern lifestyles have been taking a toll on our planet.

WWF already tackles a lot of the environmental impacts – like deforestation, endangered species, and the impacts of climate change. But Earth Hour is a chance for everyone to say they’ll do their bit. And that’s never been more vital.

And, Earth Hour is a celebration. It’s always a night to remember – whether it’s a special candlelit evening at home with friends or family, or a night out on the town, or watching the spectacular global switch-offs from landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Pyramids of Giza, Times Square, Sydney Opera House…

And everyone’s invited.

Why is Earth Hour important?

The way we live has impacts that we can’t always see or haven’t experienced directly.  From extreme weather changes such as flooding or drought, to food shortages, the loss of species and deforestation.

So Earth Hour is not about saving an hour’s electricity, it’s much bigger than that. It’s about realising that the actions we take, from the energy we use, to the food we buy and water we drink, has an effect on the world. We all depend on our amazing planet and need to look after it – not just for an hour a year, but every day.

Find out how to get involved by going to WWF's Earth Hour website

Published by NickSted on 15 March 2012

I am sure much will be said on today's report ( http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/funding/fuel_poverty/hills_review/hills_review.aspx ).

For Wiltshire, para 38 in the Summary and Conclusions is very relevant: a subset of half the increasing number of households in fuel poverty are those living in pre-1945 single wall houses in rural areas not on the gas grid.

Fuel poverty is a serious problem in Wiltshire and the Energy Group in Transition Marlborough must address it.

Published by NickSted on 07 March 2012

Home Insulation – Still a long way to go



DECC have just released the statistics for home insulation to Jan 2012 (http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/stat_ins_jan12/stat_ins_jan12.aspx

There are still:

9.25 million houses with sub-standard loft insulation

7.75 million cavity wall houses without cavity insulation

7.6 million solid wall houses (almost all of them) without insulation

Considering about one third of the UK’s carbon footprint is due to home heating and that energy prices are almost inevitably going to rise, there is much work still to do. 

Will the New Green Deal work? – there are many sceptics.  We will have to see.

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