Upper House of Germany's Parliament Passes Renewable Energy Law
Germany’s government is looking to move away from its dependence on nuclear and fossil fuels with a bill passed Friday in the upper house of its parliament.
The bill passed after months of tough negotiations, including exchanged blows between Berlin and Brussels, a European Commission probe, and the EU’s concern that German renewable energy firms had unfairly benefitted from clean energy subsidies in the past.
One of the bill’s main goals is to deal with side effects from the government’s plan to replace nuclear energy with renewable sources in the near future. While this shift in policy has lead to a green energy boom in Germany, many businesses are unhappy with the rising power costs they have faced.
The bill itself lowers subsidies for green energy farms across the board, ranging from small rooftop solar installations
The EU had previously expressed concerns that companies importing electricity into Germany were being treated unfairly in the form of a surcharge the government equated to a customs duty. As a response, the government decided that imported renewable energy would be treated the same as energy locally produced.
Germany power companies will have to contribute to a fund that subsidizes renewables and 350 companies will have to pay back a total of €30 million, or $40.8 million, for unfair aid the commission found they received in both 2013 and 2014.
The bill will take effect on the first of August and German President Joachim Gauck is expected to sign the legislation without conflict.
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.