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  • Littlebrook Power Station Closes Down

    The end of an era for Littlebrook Power station has been announced. The station was officially closed down on March 31st after being in service for decades, the station’s owners announced recently.

    The station, which is based in Kent, was not part of the Large Combustion Plant Directive, which meant that is was scheduled for closure either in 2015, or after it had been in service for more than 10,000 hours.

    German company RWE Generation, who own the Littlebrook Power Station, said they made the decision to close it down this year because of “current market conditions”.

    The plant was the last significant non-gas fired station in the Greater London area to be closed down; it has been operating since the 1980s and construction work began on it in the 1970s.

    RWE Generation says that during the stations life span, it provided 43475.699 GWh of power to fuel both homes and businesses in the local area. The owners of the station also pride themselves on the links they forged with the local community.

    Commenting on the announcement, Roger Miesen, Chief Technical Officer (CTO), RWE Generation, said:

    “Today is a sad but not unexpected day. I’d like to pay tribute to this station and the people that have worked here helping to keep the lights on across London for so many years.”

    While Keven Nix, Head of RWE Generation UK, said:

    “I would like to thank all of our staff past and present who have contributed to the success of the station, we are also grateful to the local community for their continuous support during the life of the plant.”

    Miners’ Strike

    During its lifetime, Littlebrook Power Station set some records for producing electricity. This was during the 1980s miners’ strike, when the power station was operating as a three unit station to keep the electric flowing to local residents and businesses.

    Peak Demands

    The Littlebrook Power Station has also proved crucial when it comes to meeting the growing demands for energy, providing power during peak times in the Greater London area.

    Cleaner energy supplies

    The decision to close Littlebrook Power Station is part of a drive towards finding greener energy alternatives for power generation. RWE has stated it has invested over £6 billion in a five year period into improving the efficiency of power generation by shutting down the older fossil fuel plants.

  • 30% take time off to deal with winter emergencies

    A new survey by British Gas has revealed that 30% of Britain’s have had to take time off sick, use holiday time, or have had to turn up to work late due to an  a home energy emergency such as a broken gas boiler or burst pipes.

    It is estimated that Britain’s take up to an average of 12 working days off to manage winter repairs to their gas heating system over a lifetime; 10% of those surveyed also stated they were concerned taking time off to deal with such problems could lead to them losing their job, missing out on a promotion or stop them from getting a pay rise.

    Moreover, the survey discovered it was residents in London that were more likely to take time off to deal with an emergency, with 44% stating  they had to take time off to cope with an unexpected emergency at home.

    The cost of emergencies

    In addition, electrical faults are another common reason for taking time off work with 21% of people forced to stay at home to deal with the problem, and it is estimated it costs £512 million a year in repairs.

    The survey also estimates UK workers can lose anything up to £100 in lost income and face average bills of £542 a time to repair winter damage.

    Commenting on the survey, Matthew Bateman, managing director at British Gas residential services, said:

     “The results of the research highlight that winter home emergencies can take a toll on people in terms of time and money, and worrying about how it impacts time away from their job. Every winter we increase the number of staff in our call centre teams so we have the resources ready to help customers who may be calling us with problems”.

    Prevent emergencies

    In order to help prevent household emergencies, British Gas advise householders to arrange regular checks of their boilers and bleeding the radiators. They also suggest insulating the gas pipes during the colder months and insulating the hot water tank.

    In addition, Chris Brain, a British Gas engineer from Canterbury, states:

    “This winter, frozen condensate pipes have been a big problem for customers with condensing boilers in colder areas of the country. Frozen pipes can result in damage to the boiler and even flooding, so people should ensure pipes on the outside of their home are wrapped with lagging, at the very least”.

  • 52 percent of Tory Voters in favour of Wind Farms

    A poll published in the Sunday Times shows more than half of Conservative voters think the government should do more to encourage onshore wind power.  52% of those surveyed said the building of wind farms should be encouraged, while 18% were against the building of more wind farms and thought they should be banned.

    The public in general are also in favour of the use of wind power according to the survey. 61% said that they would like to see more of the wind farms in the UK while 14% said that they would like to see a ban.

    Members of the public are also keen to see more offshore wind power, with 73% of people stating they would be in favour of more offshore wind power plants being built.

    When it came to other forms of energy production, there were mixed views on the extraction of shale gas with 43% against extracting shale and 32% in favour of it.

    Commenting in a press release, RenewableUK Chief Executive Maria McCaffery said:

    “Recent comments suggest that the Government is looking to restrict onshore wind as it’s concerned about the technology’s popularity. These poll results, and the many like them that have gone before, should provide reassurance that the majority of people, however they vote, want to see more onshore wind, and that any premature curtailment is not necessary.

    Indeed, as the Government has said it is committed to decarbonisation at the lowest cost, early curtailment would seem to directly contravene government objectives.”

    Queen’s Speech and Onshore Windfarms

    In the Queen’s Speech it was announced the new energy bill would mean decisions over smaller onshore wind farms that have a capacity of 50 MW will be decided by local authorities in England as opposed to a ministerial level.

    At the moment it is unclear whether this will also affect wind farms in Wales as a decision has not yet been made.

    Renewable energy organisations have expressed concerns that this could cause a delay in renewable energy projects and RenewableUK are calling on the government to give local authorities the additional resources local councils will need to make quick decisions.

    Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive of RenewableUK said

    “Onshore wind is committed to being a good neighbour to the local communities in which it is hosted, providing substantial economic advantages to the region including the ground-breaking community benefits it pays, so we are confident that Local Authorities should recognise the value of these projects.” 

  • China hosts annual valve exhibition

    An industry expo due to be held in Guangzhou, China from May 14th-16th is expected to attract 10,000 visitors from forty different countries. The expo is an annual event that has been hosted annually since 1997.

    The fair will be held at the China Import and Export Complex, which is Asia’s biggest exhibition center; it was first opened in 2002.

    It is estimated there will be 300 exhibitors at this year’s event, with 8 per cent of them travelling from overseas to be there, and thousands of invitations for the exhibition have been sent out.

    Representatives from the food and beverage industry, environmental protection, petro-chemical, pharmaceutical, gas and electricity, water supply, and a vast range of other industries are also expected to attend.

    The exhibition has been designed to help manufacturers of valves, pipe fittings, castings and a range of other products to gain new customers for their products and make new connections with others in the same industry.

    It will also provide the opportunity to meet with new distributors and agencies to help increase distribution and forge new business relationships. In addition, it will give exhibitors the chance to reconnect with existing clients, increase import and export opportunities, mix with consumers and end users of the products, source new suppliers and even aid in the recruitment of key staff.

    Buyers from around the world have been invited to attend the exhibition and traders, wholesalers, importers and exporters, agents and distributors are all expected to be at the event.

    Exhibits

    There will be hundreds of different exhibits on display and numerous companies from China and the rest of the world are scheduled to be at the event when it gets underway in the middle of May.

    Future Trade Fairs

    Aside from the exhibition in China, there are a number of other trade fairs for the valve industry scheduled throughout the year. One of the most high profile events is due to be held in Rotterdam on the 30th September 2015 and it will run until 1st October.

    The trade show will highlight innovations and initiatives from the valve, pump and seal industries. The event is expected to attract buyers, process engineers and maintenance managers who are keen to demonstrate their solutions to new contacts in the industry.

    Exhibitors will also have the opportunity to demonstrate solutions that can make the valve industry safer and more efficient.

  • Competition to open up in the connections market

    Ofgem has announced a new code of practice aimed at regional electricity distribution networks. The announcement was made at the end of October with the purpose of increasing competition in the UK connections market.

    Ofgem say that the new code of practice should help to lower the cost of businesses connecting to the grid and add that the new measures should help to enhance the quality of service customers can expect.

    Statistics from Ofgem show that the electricity connections market is worth more than £500 million and thousands upon thousands of connections are made on an annual basis.

    Although many independent companies were already competing against the regional electricity distribution networks remained the only providers of a number of essential services that are required to make new connections. Due to the concerns that this was limiting competition in the field, Ofgem introduced its new code of practice at the end of October

    Under the new code of practice, electricity distribution networks ­- or DNOs as they are known - will have to abide by a new set of guidelines that have been set out by Ofgem.

    If the electricity distribution networks don’t abide by the new code of practice, then they could face action from Ofgem.

    Commenting on the announcement, Maxine Frerk, senior partner, electricity distribution, Ofgem, said:

    “We want to see competition in the electricity connections market thriving. While some DNOs are helping to achieve this, many independent companies still face unnecessary delays and needless complexity.”

    Frerk added that the new code of practice would enable independent companies to compete fairly throughout the UK, and it will mean businesses and other organisations will now have a choice as to who delivers its connections.

    Ofgem decided to implement the Code of Practice after carrying out a review of the connections sector. It found that while some companies were making an effort to improve competition in the connections market, to further improve competition it was going to be necessary to introduce a formal, binding code in order to ensure fairness to independent companies.

    Home Builders Federation welcome announcement

    The decision was welcomed by Dave Mitchell of the Home Builders Federation. Mitchell explained that as home builders are increasing the number of homes built to help address U.K.’s housing crisis, it was important these new changes had been introduced to improve the speed at which new homes are connected to the grid.

  • Consultation opens over new interconnectors

    Ofgem has opened up a consultation over plans for a number of new electricity interconnectors. If the proposals go ahead, Ofgem say they will be built by 2020 and will provide an increase of 3.4 GW of electricity.

    Ofgem states the new electricity interconnectors would help to create cheaper energy generation thus helping to reduce energy bills for customers in the UK; another benefit would be better energy security for the future, and it would help to boost Britain’s energy supply.

    As well as saving the consumer money, interconnectors, which allow electricity to flow between two different countries, can also help to reduce the carbonisation of energy, thus producing greener forms of energy supply.

    Commenting on the proposals, Martin Crouch, Ofgem’s senior partner for electricity transmission, said:

    “Ofgem is helping to deliver greater interconnection. These three interconnectors would further boost Britain’s energy security and reduce pressure on bills. To date, under our cap and floor regime, we are looking at adding around 5GW to Britain’s energy supply.”

    If the plans go ahead, Ofgem says the new interconnectors could offer up to £8 billion worth of benefits to consumers over a 25 year period.

    Four projects under consideration

    The proposals set out explain two of the interconnectors will connect Britain’s electricity system with France and the third one with Denmark

    The FAB project will link Britain and France via the island of Alderney; the project is under development by Transmission Investment and RTE.  If it goes ahead, the interconnector will produce 1.4 GW of electricity.

    The proposed IFA2 project will also establish a connection between Britain and France, but would only produce one gigawatt of electricity; this project is a collaboration between National Grid Interconnector Holdings and RTE.

    Also under consultation is the Viking project, which would mean a 1 GW interconnector transmission link between Denmark and Britain; this would be developed by NGIH and Danish company Energinet.dk.

    In addition, a fourth and final project, which is known as Greenlink, is being considered. The 500 MW interconnector would run between Ireland and Britain; this project would be developed by Element Power.

    Current Interconnections and Consultation

    Currently, there are four interconnectors in place between Great Britain and Europe; they are located in France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Northern Ireland; this produces 4 GW of electricity and accounts for 4% of Britain’s energy supply.

    The consultation will remain open until May 2, 2015.

  • Didcot A demolition continues

    In 2012, Npower announced the famous Didcot A tower was to be demolished. Now, Npower has announced the demolition, which is being carried out by specialist firm Coleman and Company, is nearly a third of the way complete. So far, three of the cooling towers have been demolished and the Didcot A coal yard has also been destroyed.

    The 47 hectare site that was left behind following the demolition of the coal yard has now been sold to developers Clowes Development Limited and a consultation process is now underway to determine what will become of the land.

    In addition, Turbine Hall has also been demolished and recovery of the remaining scrap is still continuing. Thus far, 20,000 tonnes of scrap materials have been collected and 36,000 tonnes of concrete from the site has been recycled; many of the tanks that were used to fuel the Didcot A tower have been demolished and the external ductwork has been taken down.

    Work will continue on the site well into 2016. The main stations buildings are scheduled for demolition in the summer of 2015 and the north cooling towers and chimney are likely to be demolished the following year. It is predicted the demolition of the site will be completed by September 2016.

    The Didcot A power station closed in 2013 after being in use for more than four decades. Speaking at the time, a spokesperson for Npower said the decision to shut down the power station was “driven by government policy” and the need to replace less energy efficient means of power generation with low carbon alternatives.

    The first towers were felled in July 2014; it took less than ten seconds to demolish them. The demolition of the towers was described as a sad day and the end of an era for Npower.

    Speaking at the time, Alan Robinson Chief Commercial Officer for Npower, said:

    “In anticipation of the closure of older coal-fired power stations, such as Didcot A, RWE has invested strongly in modern gas-fired stations. Didcot A has played a vital role in ensuring security of supply for the UK for over 40 years. Our new gas stations are continuing where Didcot A left off by providing reliable, low-cost electricity.”

    “RWE has invested more than £6bn in the UK in new renewable technologies and state-of-the-art gas-fired power stations, which will continue to help keep the lights on whilst dramatically reducing environmental emissions”.

  • Didcot B back online following fire

    The Didcot B Power Station is back online following a fire that occurred in late October. It was eight days before the power station was in action again and repair work is still continuing; until the affected module is repaired fully the tower will only work at 50% of its usual capacity.

    The fire began on a Sunday evening and affected one of the cooling modules in the Didcot B Power Station; the tower stands alongside the Didcot A tower, which was decommissioned in 2012.

    When the fire broke out, an emergency team put in place a co-ordinated plan and worked alongside local emergency services to extinguish the flames as soon as possible. The Fire Brigade stayed on site until the next morning and then control of the cooling tower was handed back to the team at Npower. The fire caused millions of pounds worth of damage, and 25 fire engines were called to the scene.

    It is still not known what caused the fire; Npower have stated that an investigation is being held into the cause. While the investigation is underway, the cooling tower, which is one of two at the Didcot B plant, will remain out of use. Npower are unable to say how long the module will be out of action for.

    In a statement, Npower said that the power station was shut down as soon as the fire began to take hold and that there was no injuries caused to staff at the plant; the public were not put at risk as a result of the fire.

    Roger Miesen, Head of Hard Coal and Gas, on the RWE Generation board, said:

    ‘It’s good news that Module 5 is back online so quickly. It will be available to generate power this winter and essential repairs will be in the region of single digit million pounds. Didcot B, as part of RWE Generation’s wider fleet, has an important part to play in contributing to the UK’s security of supply.

    ‘Our thanks go out for the fantastic response and dedication of the emergency services who worked alongside RWE teams to bring the fire under control quickly and safely. Huge credit is also due to the RWE site and central engineering teams whose expertise meant that we are able to bring Module 5 back into service after only nine days.’

    The gas-fired power station creates enough energy to power 1 million homes, but energy supplies were not affected. 

  • Didcot B repair work announced

    Npower has announced a programme of works to restore the Didcot B cooling tower, which was damaged as a result of a fire in October 2014.

    The energy company has been searching for contractors to undertake the project to repair the damage that was caused to module five of the Didcot B cooling tower in Oxfordshire. The search to find contractors took six months and Npower have now announced that SPX Cooling Technologies has been selected to complete the repair work.

    Cells 19 and 22 of the cooling tower were also damaged during the fire, but this was only minor. Npower states that they will be back in service in the summer of 2015 and cells 20 and 21, which received more extensive damage, should be restored and be back in use by September 2015.

    Work will also need to be completed to repair the fans of the cooling towers; it is expected that this work will be finished by December 2015.

    Due to damage that has been caused to the towers, Npower state that it will be necessary to rebuild the entirety of some units. However, components that weren’t so badly affected by the effects of the flames can be repaired.

    As well as employing outside contractors to do some of the work, the owners of Npower, RWE, will complete some of the repair work itself.

    Commenting on the repairs, the manager of the Didcot B power station said:

    ‘We are pleased to announce the project to repair the cooling tower of Module 5 has begun. The power station has been available to generate since the fire but the repairs will enable us to achieve a higher efficiency, and full station capacity as we approach the winter months.’

    ‘I would like to again thank the emergency services who worked alongside RWE teams to bring the fire under control quickly and safely.’

    The Didcot B power station fire made headline news in 2014. The BBC reported that 100 firefighters and 25 fire engines were called out to control the blaze. As a result of the fire, Npower said the station would need to be closed down for the foreseeable future while the repairs were carried out.

    The fire started in one of the Didcot B cooling station but soon spread to a number of the other towers.

    Following an investigation into the cause of the fire, Npower have since identified a fault within the fan unit, which the power company says started the blaze.

  • Galloper Windfarm gets £1.5 billion investment

    Three companies have invested into the Galloper windfarm project, helping to secure £1.5 billion of funding. The new project partners are the UK Green Investment Bank, Siemens Financial Services and Macquarie Capital. Each of the companies will have a 25% equity in the windfarm, and they will be joining forces with RWE Innogy to move the project a step closer to reality.

    Welcoming the announcement, Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said:

    “This is fantastic news for the region and the whole of the UK, reflecting the fact that we are open for business and the best place in the world to invest in offshore wind. This milestone shows how the UK’s offshore wind industry is going from strength to strength.”

    Commenting on the investment from the three firms, Hans Bünting, CEO of RWE Innogy said:

    “Today’s announcement is the culmination of many months of successful negotiations with our partners and investors and shows that the UK is still a strong market for offshore renewables”.

    Bünting added that securing the financing from the three partners was vital for keeping the project “on track”.

    In addition to its investment, Siemens will be supplying and installing 56 6 MW turbines as part of the Galloper windfarm, and they have signed up to a 15 year contract to provide ongoing maintenance.

    Head of Investing for the UK Green Investment Bank, Ed Northam, described the investment as a significant milestone in the development of the UK offshore industry.

    Construction work on the project, which is situated off the coast of Suffolk, will begin in November 2015. It is estimated the construction work will create approximately 800 new jobs, and when it is complete the windfarm is expected to produce enough energy to power more than 300,000 homes.

    When the project is up and running, the windfarm is likely to employ 90 people to keep the site operational.

    Project completion

    Permission for the Galloper windfarm was first granted back in 2013; cabling work got underway in 2014. It will be situated 27 km of the Suffolk coast and it will have the capacity to create 336 MW.

    In January 2016, work will begin at Sizewell beach to lay the cables and offshore construction work is scheduled to start in November 2016. The completed project will also have 6MW turbines and one substation.

    When it is finalised, the Galloper windfarm will be situated near to the Greater Gabbard windfarm, which opened in 2012. The Galloper windfarm is expected to be operational from 2018.

  • Gas and oil production in the UK predicted to increase

    The UK’s gas and oil production increased by 7 per cent in 2015, according to new figures released by Gas and Oil UK, however, it is warning that it will be difficult to sustain these levels during the coming year.

    In a statement, Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive Deirdre Michie, said:

    “Government data for the first 10 months of 2015 shows that the total volume of oil and gas produced on the UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) was up 8.6 per cent compared with 2014, with the production of liquids up 10.6 per cent and gas up 6.1 per cent.

    “Output in November and December tends historically to be more stable, but even so, Oil & Gas UK now expects year end production for the full year of 2015 to be seven to eight per cent higher than last year.”

    However, Michie also made it clear that gas and oil production will face many challenges in the year ahead; the most pressing challenges for the offshore gas and oil industry include the low prices for oil, and the sector is also facing job losses.

    In a recent statement, Michie also spoke of the importance of a resilient gas and oil industry, and it is imperative that the gas and oil industries adapt their strategies if they are going to compete globally and gain vital investment.

    The official announcement that production was on the increase followed predictions issued by the government in late 2015, but figures are expected to decline from 2020, according to the UKCS Oil and Gas Production Projections.

    New Initiatives

    A number of new initiatives were introduced in 2015 to help bolster the gas and oil sector in the UK. In late 2015, an Industry Behaviours Charter was signed by the Oil and Gas UK Board. The aim of the charter was to improve efficiency in order to transform the offshore gas and oil industry and enhance collaboration between SMEs, contractors and operators, as well as to develop new business models.

    In addition, the Rapid Efficiency Exchange was launched to allow gas and oil companies to come together to share useful advice on improving efficiencies in the industries, while also providing a forum to discuss the challenges that face the sector.

    Government support

    Oil and Gas UK added that an important factor for the future of the industries would be support from the government and HM Treasury.

  • Government announces licenses for 27 onshore blocks

    The Oil and Gas Authority has announced that 27 onshore areas of land or blocks, are to be offered to businesses as part of the 14th Onshore Oil and Gas Licensing Round. The announcement of the fresh licensing round was first made in 2014.

    Other blocks of land that were applied for are to undergo further assessments to establish the environmental impact of the applications, and when this has been completed licenses will then be offered to the companies. The announcement regarding the remaining companies that have been awarded licenses is due to be made later in 2015.

    Commenting on the new licences, Lord Bourne, the Energy Minister for the UK, stated:

    “Keeping the lights on and powering the economy is not negotiable, and these industries will play a key part in providing secure and reliable energy to UK homes and businesses for decades to come.

    “It’s important we press on and get shale moving, while maintaining strong environmental controls

    The Government said that close to one hundred companies had applied for the initial licenses for shale gas exploration, and chemical company INEOS has revealed that it is one of the successful applicants.

    With three licenses granted for shale gas exploration in the East Midlands, this opens up brand new opportunities for INEOS Shale, who pledged a £640 million investment into shale gas exploration last year.

    Gary Heywood, CEO for INEOS Shale said:

    "We are keen to move quickly to evaluate the potential of this resource, and determine if we can economically produce gas from our licenses.  This will depend on the pace of planning approval. If we can, it will provide a local source of competitive energy and raw materials to support manufacturing jobs in the UK.”

    Ministers say that the new rounds of blocks are essential to secure UK energy supplies into the future, and that they will also be a vital part of the continued UK economic recovery by creating new jobs.

    Controversy

    Shale gas has its opponents and there has been controversy caused by plans to allow shale gas exploration in the UK. However, others argue that it is important for finding fresh sources of energy and it is vital for job creation, and for ensuring energy production into the future. The Government predicts that investment in shale gas could be worth as much as £33 billion, and it could assist in the creation of more than 60,000 jobs.

  • Grangemouth project to receive £4.2 million funding

    £4.2 million worth of government funding has been made available to carry out a feasibility study for the proposed Caledonian Clean Energy Project. The Department of Energy and Climate Change has given funding of £1.7 million, while the Scottish government has given £2.5 billion in funding.

    The money will enable the Summit Power Group, who are based in Seattle, to carry out an intensive research and a feasibility study for the full–chain 570 MW Carbon-Capture-Storage (CCS) coal-gasification power station, which is planned for Grangemouth.

    According to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the feasibility study and research phase will help to plan the design, sighting, and financing of the power station as well as the building work that will be required.

    Commenting on the funding, Ed Davey, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change said:

    “Carbon Capture and Storage could be crucial in helping us meet our ambitious climate change goals. The UK is one of the world’s frontrunners in this sector and the UK Government is leading Europe with its support of the two competition projects at Peterhead in Scotland and White Rose in Yorkshire.

    “Developing CCS more widely is vital if it is to become cost-competitive technology, and I’m excited at the prospect of Grangemouth contributing to the UK’s low carbon future.

    Development Work

    The next phase of making the Grangemouth project a reality will involve carrying out the research and development work, which is scheduled to last for 18 months. The results of this aspect of the project are important; there are plans to share it across the industry to help boost the understanding of successfully developing and deploying carbon capture storage commercially.

    Unique project

    The project at Grangemouth is the first of its kind, and if it is successful, it will combine a state-of-the-art coal gasification and carbon capture technologies all into one individual unit.

    The carbon capture storage technology would make it possible to retain the majority of the CO2 emissions that escape; these would then be transported off the site via onshore pipelines, which would then be stored deep under the North Sea.

    Carbon Emissions Pledge

    The government has pledged to take action to reduce carbon emissions and it has come up with numerous initiatives to encourage companies to come up with solutions to emit CO2 emissions and to fund greener forms of technology. If the Grangemouth project is implemented successfully in the future it will offer another way to reduce carbon emissions. 

  • Improved manufacturing performance in last quarter

    Manufacturing growth ended on a high in 2014, according to the latest figures from the British Chamber of Commerce; statistics from the Quarterly Economic Survey were positive news for the manufacturing industry following a period of slow growth in the sector.

    Nearly 7,000 companies were interviewed for the survey and the results showed a marked increase in growth for the last quarter in 2014. Analysts say that the strong performance of the last quarter is a good sign of continued economic growth throughout 2015, however, this will only be possible if U.K businesses get the support that they need from the government.

    Strong Growth and Job Creation

    The figures from the Chamber of Commerce show strong growth all round with an increase in domestic and turnover confidence. Export sales were also on the increase, however, they were still slow. According to the statistics, there was an increase in the number of firms investing in training in the last quarter of 2014, and an increased amount of manufacturing firms are now operating at full capacity. The figures are also good news for future job creation as many companies indicated that they intend to recruit new staff members and were actively searching for new employees.

    Commenting in a press release, John Longworth, Director General of the British Chamber of Commerce said:

    “British businesses are well placed to grow in 2015 – a testament to their hard-work and resilience. It is particularly pleasing to see the manufacturing sector bounce back, despite signs of a slowdown in recent months. However we must aim for growth that is sustainable for the long-term, rather than settle for second best.”

    “With employment and investment intentions at historically high levels, businesses are gearing up for a big year in 2015. It is now vitally important that firms are able to convert their growth ambitions into reality. Strengthening our business finance system, which constrains the growth aspirations of too many firms, will remain a decisive factor in securing a sustainable recovery. Low interest rates and reduced regulation will also go a long way to creating an environment that encourages enterprise and wealth creation.”

    Economic Recovery

    Despite the positive news, Longworth also added that the U.K. economic recovery still faced many challenges, and while businesses are “bouncing back” he warned that the economic recovery might face a set back “if political point scoring outweighs sound economic policies” Longworth also urged politicians from all parties to outline what they will do to make sure that business investment and growth continues over the long term.

  • Industrial Valve Summit to be hosted in Italy in May

    The Industrial Valve Summit, which is held in collaboration with ISA, the European Commission, NACE International, the European Sealing Association and other organisation, is set to get underway on May 27th, 2015. The two day event will be held in Bergamo, Italy, and it is open to individuals from a wide range of industries including the power generation and co-generation, food and beverages, chemical, pharmaceutical and biotechnology, oil and gas distributions industries, and many other manufacturing businesses.

    The summit, which attracts some of the best-known names in the valve industry, is aimed at allowing attendees to share their expertise and experience with other people from the same field.

    In addition, the summit provides a forum for those working in the industrial valves industry and allows people to network with experts and specialists. Another benefit to attendees is that it is a way of allowing companies in the valve industry to keep up-to-date with the latest technologies and news.

    Typical products that will be exhibited and demonstrated include valves, pipes and fittings, leak detectors, lubricants and software.

    Opportunities and Demonstrations

    At the Industrial Valve Summit, there is ample opportunity for anyone involved in operations, management or maintenance to review and compare a range of new products from exhibitors, and to watch demonstrations to they can gain a better understanding of how the newer technologies could aid their business.

    Focused Market

    Another aim of the Summit is to allow exhibitors to reach a focused market to gain new clients and to network with already existing customers. Both managers and specialists can use the Summit as a way of gaining important information about valve products and also gives them access to a “knowledge hub” of hundreds of attendees that would not normally be gathered together.

    Changing Trends and Contacts

    Visitors to the Industrial Valve Summit can also benefit from identifying possible trends in the valve industry when they attend the event and it can help visitors to find valuable contacts for their new and existing valve products; attendees that exhibit at the Summit also have the opportunity to take part in promotional packages to promote their existing and new products.

    Attending the Summit

    Although the Summit is some months away, organisations that are interested in attending are invited to sign up as a visitor to the summit in advance. Further information can be found about this by going to the official website at http://www.industrialvalvesummit.com/

  • Killingholme Closure date confirmed

    Centrica has confirmed the closure date for the Killingholme power station. The energy company first made the announcement that the Lincolnshire based station was to close in 2015 due to the losses that Centrica’s gas fired power stations were making; in an official statement recently released, the power company stated that it will close Killingholme A on March 1, 2016.

    In a press release, Centrica’s Operations Director Mark Futyan, said:

    “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has played their part at Killingholme over the past 21 years of operation. We will continue to support the site team, as we have since we announced the potential for closure earlier in the year.

    “For the final few months of winter, Killingholme will remain ready to step in and help at periods of high demand until the time comes to switch off for the last time.”  

    Plans to sell the gas power plant got underway in 2014, but as the bids did not reach expectations, Centrica announced proposals to close the loss-making Killingholme A power station.

    The Killingholme A power station is currently functioning under the National Grid’s Supplemental Balancing Reserve, but this will cease on February 29th, 2016, hence the official closure of the plant.

    Killingholme A, opened in 1994 and was originally owned by National Power; it was purchased by Centrica in 2004 and had a capacity to create 665 megawatts of power.

    South Humber Bank

    However, there is better news for Centrica’s South Humber Bank power station, which is now secure until 2027. It is to be returned to full power in 2017, and Centrica has announced that £63 million is to be invested in the gas turbines at the plant, which is based in North East Lincolnshire.

    Killingholme B

    In 2015, E.on announced that it would be withdrawing the Killingholme B power station and its 900 MWs of capacity from the market, and that the Transmission Entry Capacity would be released in the National Grid.

    At the time, the company also stated that the power station could face permanent closure, and E.on UK’s chief executive, Tony Cocker, spoke of the challenges for the gas-fired power stations.  In June 2015, E.on  officially announced that the Killingholme B station was to close with the loss of at least fifty jobs.

    Killingholme B is owned by E-on and was brought back into service in 2005 after two years of work and a £25 million investment.

  • Record amounts of energy produced by renewable sources

    New figures indicate the growing popularity of wind power. The statistics, which were recently released by the National Grid, show that an increasing amount of power is being generated by greener forms of electricity generation. According to the figures, the wind energy produced in 2014 was enough to power 6.7 million U.K Homes in 2014, which is a record figure.

    The figures for 2014 show an increase of 15% from the previous year, and wind farms and smaller operations that help feed the National Grid accounted for 9.3% of the United Kingdom’s energy supply in 2014 – this is a steady increase from the 7.8% in the previous year.

    In December 2014, yet more records were broken when statistics showed that 14% of the U.K.’s total electricity was produced by using wind power; this is compared with 13% from the year before. The figures from the National Grid show quarterly records were also broken, with 12% of energy in the United Kingdom coming from wind power in the last quarter of 2014.

    Commenting in a press release, Maf Smith, Deputy Chief Executive for Renewable Energy UK, said:

     “It’s great to start 2015 with some good news about the massive quantities of clean electricity we’re now generating from wind, with new records being set month after month, quarter after quarter, and year on year, as we increase our capacity to harness one of Britain’s best natural resources.

    “We are now into a general election year so we know that the political temperature is set to carry on rising over the next few months. The cost of energy has become a political issue, so now would be a good time for voters, prospective parliamentary candidates and MPs to take account of the fact that onshore wind is the cheapest from of renewable energy we have at our fingertips. So if we are serious about cutting bills, and securing an indigenous supply of clean power, all parties need to support it in the month ahead”.

    Green energy a growing trend

    In recent years, the government has launched numerous different strategies that are aimed at getting companies to invest in greener forms of power generation, and there have been a number of different announcements regarding new schemes that have opened up to encourage firms to find innovative ways of producing cleaner energy; these figures highlight the growing trend towards renewable energy in the U.K.

  • Report highlights need for fresh investment in the oil and gas industry

    A new report shows how competitiveness in the oil and gas industry is improving, The Oil and Gas UK economic report also highlights how the cost of extracting oil and gas have fallen dramatically and how productivity has increased by 10%. However, it also details the importance of new investment into the sector.

    Lack of capital investment and exploration

    Another factor highlighted in the report is the declining capital investment for the industry: £9 billion was invested in 2015, compared with over £14 billion in 2014. In addition, job losses are a continuing concern for the sector, as well as declining revenues for the supply chain, which fell by 30 per cent.

    The report goes on to explain how the lack of exploration continues to be a concern. It states that there are low levels of exploration, with only ten wells subject to exploration and appraisal activity in 2015.  In addition, only one new field received approval, and brownfield investment was also on the decline with just five projects given the go ahead in 2016.

    Commenting on the report, Oil & Gas UK’s chief executive, Deidre Michie said:

    “The UKCS is in urgent need of fresh investment to boost exploration and drive activity, particularly for the supply chain.

     “Exploration has fallen to record lows and little new investment has been approved in 2016 and 2017 looks no better.  Increased asset trading is one area that could free up new investment by facilitating the trading of late-life assets.”

    Calls for government action and recognition

    As a result of the report’s findings, Michie is urging the government to “champion the UK’s oil and gas industry”. One of the measures Michie specifically called for was ‘encouragement’ for new entrants into the sector.

    Although Oil and Gas UK remain focused on increasing productivity and efficiency, while reducing costs in the sector, it’s still asking that the Oil and Gas authority, the Department of Business Energy and Industrial strategy and HM Treasury offer further support for the industry.

    One of the steps Oil and Gas UK have requested is for the government to reaffirm its commitment to the Driving Investment Strategy, which was first published in 2014. The Strategy detailed the need for reform in the industry; reforms already introduced were aimed at increasing exploration and aiding the UCKS to compete for investment, however, despite these efforts, exploration is now at an all-time low.

    Oil and Gas UK also ask industry and government bodies to “work together to create a low tax, high activity province which can continue to support the important supply chain based here and position our sector in the best place to take advantage of any potential upturn.”

  • Report proposes new Office for Energy

    An Energy and Economics consultancy called Vivid Energy has issued a report detailing the need for an Office for Energy.

    The report has the backing of Npower and it sets out how an Office for Energy would provide accurate data and analysis of Britain’s energy sector. It is suggested that the proposed office would either be established as a new organisation or have its base within an already existing organisation.

    Among its duties would be to ensure there will be detailed, impartial analysis of such issues as the low carbon energy sector and it would also examine changes to policies and regulations and how they would affect policy goals.

    However, the proposed new body would not have the power to suggest laws or regulations and its purpose would not be to replace government bodies that are already in existence. Instead, it would provide support for government and regulators and would function in the same way as the Office for Budget Responsibility.

    Commenting on the need to improve consumer confidence in the energy industry, Robin Smale, Director at Vivid Economics, said:

    “The UK energy market has been subject to criticism and controversy, due in part to a lack of analysis that is both trusted and clear. 

    “There is a case for a new role to enhance consumer and investor confidence by providing much needed trusted and clear analysis across the whole of the energy sector. Many stakeholders see value in this new role, and in identifying options for how this role could be delivered.  With the CMA about to report, now is an opportune time to consider it.”

    Other sectors such as healthcare, already have similar body in place and it is suggested that due to the success of these organisations, there would be confidence in a new institution for the energy sector.

    The report argues that while there are already several UK energy institutions, it is perceived they have not always been able to provide a “balanced and clear analysis of key issues across the whole of Britain's energy sector”.

    Paul Massara, CEO of RWE npower said said:

    “Earlier this year I asked Vivid Economics to look at whether there could be a new way to build the debate about energy on a complete foundation of fact and reliable analysis.

    “…An Office of Energy would support and empower a continuing open and transparent debate about the competing issues of the trilemma.”  

  • RWE inaugurates Germany wind farm

    As it continues with its commitment to greener forms of power generation, RWE has introduced the German-based Nordsee Os windfarm into its business. The windfarm is one of the biggest in Germany and has enough capacity to produce 295 Megawatts of energy. There are 48 wind turbines in the wind park, which bring power to 320,000 homes.

    RWE’s investment into the windfarm stands at more than €1 billion. An operation room situated in Heligoland will operate and manage the running of the windfarm and a control room has been set up to monitor the project. Moreover, an apartment block has been built for employees to stay while they work.

    It took more than 60 kilometres of undersea cable to make the installation possible and the installation vessels used in the project cover 137,000 nautical miles; each of the blades weighs more than 23 tonnes and measures over 60 m long. The turbines weigh 350 tonnes and they measure 160m in height.

    Commenting on the project, Peter Terium, CEO of RWE AG, said:

    “The expansion of renewable energy is one of our main growth areas and offshore wind energy will play a vital role. RWE will become the third largest player in the European offshore market this year. And we are growing further: In only one month’s time, we will be commissioning another wind farm, Gwynt y Môr, located off the coast of Wales.

    “We are developing and operating additional offshore projects alone and with partners in Germany, the UK and the Benelux region.”

    Hans Bünting, CEO of RWE Innogy, added:

    “At the end of this year, 40% of our power generation from renewables will already come from offshore power production. Thanks to the Nordsee Ost and Gwynt y Môr offshore wind farms our operating result will see double-digit growth."

    Further wind farms are in the development stages and when they are completed, they will be situated in the German North Sea. The wind farms will have an expanse of 150 km² and they will be able to produce 1000 MW of power.

    Gwynt y Môr windfarm

    RWE will introduce the Gwynt y Môr windfarm into its business in June 2015. The farm is located in Wales and it has the capacity to produce 576 MW of energy. The building of the windfarm has been carried out in conjunction with Siemens and other partners.

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