UK to Let the Sun Shine In
Conditions are ideal for the dawn of a new day in the UK power industry, with solar subsidies being adjusted to fit the exploding demand. According to Gregory Barker, the climate minister, the government is finally managing a balanced approach towards renewable energy investment that will soon pay big dividends.
The potentially bright future for the industry “doesn't mean shirking tough choices on budgets and subsidy,” cautions Barker in an op-ed for The Guardian. Last year, there were abuses of what some called an overly generous and poorly executed solar energy subsidy. Critics maintain that wind technology is being left behind, and that fossil fuels maintain a stranglehold on the market.
“But,” writes Barker, “if we can build that elusive consensus around a financially responsible bridge to the future, continuing price falls could put the UK solar sector on the threshold of a genuinely exciting era, unconstrained by the need for high consumer subsidy and able to emerge, at scale, as a genuine market alternative to fossil fuels, and a vital weapon in our war on man-made climate change.”
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It’s easy to see why solar panels are such an attractive outlet for government renewable energy investments. They’re easy to understand, easy to install, and offer the average citizen an opportunity to get involved in an issue many hold close to their hearts.
There’s also huge potential for fighting unemployment and offering retraining opportunities to those left behind by the Great Recession and its austere aftermath. That’s a recipe for both success and wisdom – a rare and tantalizing mix in politics.
Additionally, consumers can look forward to a leveling off and eventual decline in their energy bills once the solar initiatives take hold. Homeowners interested in getting there faster than the Joneses can take advantage of the subsidy by investing to outfit their residences with cutting-edge solar technology. Community leaders may end up setting the curve, but it’s a trend that will soon reach almost everyone – and may help to turn the tide against climate change.
All but two UK regions failing on school energy efficiency
Most schools are still "treading water" on implementing energy efficient technology, according to new analysis of Government data from eLight.
Yorkshire & the Humber and the North East are the only regions where schools have collectively reduced how much they spend on energy per pupil, cutting expenditure by 4.4% and 0.9% respectively. Every other region of England increased its average energy expenditure per pupil, with schools in Inner London doing so by as much as 23.5%.
According to The Carbon Trust, energy bills in UK schools amount to £543 million per year, with 50% of a school’s total electricity cost being lighting. If every school in the UK implemented any type of energy efficient technology, over £100 million could be saved each year.
Harvey Sinclair, CEO of eEnergy, eLight’s parent company, said the figures demonstrate an uncomfortable truth for the education sector – namely that most schools are still treading water on the implementation of energy efficient technology. Energy efficiency could make a huge difference to meeting net zero ambitions, but most schools are still lagging behind.
“The solutions exist, but they are not being deployed fast enough," he said. "For example, we’ve made great progress in upgrading schools to energy-efficient LED lighting, but with 80% of schools yet to make the switch, there’s an enormous opportunity to make a collective reduction in carbon footprint and save a lot of money on energy bills. Our model means the entire project is financed, doesn’t require any upfront expenditure, and repayments are more than covered by the energy savings made."
He said while it has worked with over 300 schools, most are still far too slow to commit. "We are urging them to act with greater urgency because climate change won’t wait, and the need for action gets more pressing every year. The education sector has an important part to play in that and pupils around the country expect their schools to do so – there is still a huge job to be done."
North Yorkshire County Council is benefiting from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which has so far awarded nearly £1bn for energy efficiency and heat decarbonisation projects around the country, and Craven schools has reportedly made a successful £2m bid (click here).
The Department for Education has issued 13 tips for reducing energy and water use in schools.