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  • 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.” 

  • CMA issues Energy Market report

    A recent report by the Competition and Markets Authority has delivered its findings on the challenges that are limiting competition in the energy market. The report highlighted concerns that many customers have not considered changing over their energy supplier and this could be costing them over £100 every year.

    It was found that the far too many consumers were paying too much for their energy bills and it is thought that one of the reasons customers do not switch over is due to the fact that they find billing difficult to understand; regulators have introduced a four tariff system to try and make billing clearer, however, the report concluded it had not been as successful as hoped.

    Moreover, the report revealed that a lot of customers were reluctant to change over suppliers because they were concerned over the complexity of the process and they were unaware of what deals were available to them.

    Roger Witcomb, who chaired the investigation, said:

    “Whilst competition is delivering benefits to increasing numbers of customers, mainly through the growth of smaller suppliers with cheaper fixed-price deals, the majority of us are still on more expensive default tariffs. Many customers do not shop around to see if there’s a better deal out there – let alone switch. The confusing way energy is measured and billed can make comparing deals understandably daunting”.

    Mr Witcomb also noted the high level of customer complaints about companies in the Energy sector.

    Concerns over industry transparency

    Another issue addressed in the report was concerns over the lack of transparency in the energy industry and the distrust that this can cause among consumers.

    CMA Referral and Report

    The energy industry was referred to the Competition and Markets Authority in 2014 with the aim of establishing whether or not competition in the energy sector was working well for customers. It was also hoped that an investigation would help to make the energy market clearer for consumers to understand, and that this would result in a greater level of fairness for customers.

    As a result of the report, a number of possible remedies have now been drawn up; a final report is due to be issued by the Competition and Markets Authority by the end of 2015.

    Companies have been invited to submit their comments regarding the authority’s initial findings and these can be submitted until the end of July 2015.

  • 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.

  • Contracts for World’s biggest interconnector awarded

    Contracts worth €1.5 billion have been awarded to build an electricity link between England and Norway. When it is complete, the interconnector will be the longest in the world; NSN Link Limited gave the contracts to Nexans and Prysmian, who will be responsible for constructing the 740 km route.

    The England and Norway link will be the first time that two countries have shared a direct energy system; the project is a collaboration between the National Grid and Norwegian company Statnett SF.

    The cables will run from Blyth in Northumberland to Kvilldal in Norway. It will require almost 1500 km of cable to complete the project and there will also be a 10 km offshore route.

    Prysmian will be providing 950 km of the submarine and land cables; they will also be responsible for installing them. Prysmian will manufacture the cables in a factory in Naples and they will use a specially designed cable laying vessel, which is called the “Giulio Verne”.

    Nexans will be providing cabling for the Norwegian side of the connection; they will manufacture the cables in their Halden-based factory.

    Commenting on the project, Alan Foster, National Grid’s director of European Business Development, said

    “There is a huge programme of work for us to undertake over the next five years to deliver what will be the world’s longest interconnector.  Our contractors will have a big part to play in that successful delivery. But the benefits to both UK and Norway are also huge and when completed the link will deliver low carbon electricity for the UK and also add to security of supply for Norwegian consumers.”

    Håkon Borgen, Executive Vice President of Statnett, added that the project was vital for the future of the energy system in Europe.

    The licence that will allow the project to go ahead was first granted in 2013 when the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy gave permission for the interconnector to be built. Preparation work at the site will begin in 2016 and will continue into 2017 when construction will get underway

    The link between the two countries will have numerous benefits including helping to provide a more secure power supply for both the UK and Norway, and the construction work will help to provide jobs. When the link has been finished it will have the capacity to produce 1400 MW of power.

    It is expected that the work would be completed in 2019 and the interconnector will be operational by 2020.

  • Exports stall for small and medium sized manufacturers

    While small and medium sized manufactures in the UK have announced new job opportunities, increased orders and more domestic orders, they are still struggling when it comes to exporting goods.

    According to the statistics from the CBI SME Trends Survey, domestic orders remained steady, but export orders show little sign of picking up. It is also predicted that domestic orders will continue to increase in the next quarter, but small and medium sized manufacturers remain pessimistic about the future for exporting.

    A quarter of the 426 businesses surveyed stated their exports increased, but 28 per cent said they have fallen. These statistics are the same as the last quarter and companies expect the export market to remain unchanged in the near future.

    Moreover, there was less optimism surrounding the future for exports in the coming year, and a number of firms expressed concerns over how the exports would be affected by political and economic conditions.

    Export Challenges

    There are several factors making exports a challenge for UK-based businesses. The increase in the Pound against the European currency means UK firms are less competitive, while the on-going financial problems in Greece are causing continued concern.

    Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:

    “Smaller manufacturers are reporting solid increases in output, orders and jobs. While growth was a little slower this quarter, they expect a pick-up in activity in the next three months.

    “However, prospects for exporting to the rest of Europe remain a concern. Sterling’s recent rises against the Euro may mean more money in the back-pocket of holidaymakers, but it makes it that bit tougher for British manufacturers to stay competitive and sell inside the Eurozone.

    “Business will also be keeping a close eye on how the Greek situation develops in the coming weeks.

    New Government

    However, with a new government about to be elected, firms are hopeful there will be a more concerted effort to develop a long-term export strategy for the future, and businesses hope that this will be adopted sooner rather than later, as the CBI makes it clear exports are key for helping to keep economic growth on track.

    Employment Prospects and Output

    Nevertheless, despite the continued negative outlook for exports, employment prospects are looking up. Job creation in the manufacturing sector continued in the last quarter and at better than average rates. Moreover, job creation is predicted to grow in the next three months as well.

    Output was also on the increase; this trend is expected to continue into the next quarter.

  • 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.

  • Government draws up draft regulations for fracking

    The Government has drawn up a set of draft regulations that set out which areas will be protected from underground fracking.

    The regulations also detail the additional protections that will be given to Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, World Heritage Sites, and National Parks etc.; when fracking is permitted in these areas, restrictions will be put in place to protect them.

    Despite this, environmental groups have reacted angrily to the announcement that areas such as National Parks could be used for fracking. However, in a statement, Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom said:

    “The UK has one of the best track records in the world when it comes to protecting our environment while also developing our industries – and we’ve brought that experience to bear on the shale gas protections.

    “We need more secure, home grown energy supplies, and shale gas and oil have a vital role to play – much better that we use what we have at home than relying on supplies from volatile foreign imports.

    Ms. Leadsom added that the fracking industry would be “developed safely with world class environmental protections, creating jobs and delivering better energy security while safeguarding of some of our most precious landscapes.”

    Task Force on Shale Gas

    The draft regulations from the Government come at the same time as the latest report from the Task Force on Shale Gas, which examines the possible health implications and environmental concerns that could be caused by the shale industry in the United Kingdom.

    In its report, the Task Force detailed a number of recommendations to make the fracking industry safer. This includes companies providing full details of the chemicals that are used as part of fracking and regular monitoring from the Environment Agency to ensure that chemicals are kept at safe levels.

    The Task Force also suggested that a National Advisory Committee should be formed so that data could be collected and monitored, making it possible to analyse any possible impact that fracking could have on health and the environment.

    Commenting on the report, Lord Chris Smith, who chairs the Task Force on Shale Gas concluded by saying that:

    “Only if the drilling is done properly and to the highest standard, and with rigorous regulation and monitoring, can shale gas fracking be done safely for local communities and the environment.”

    Fracking has long been used in the U.K, but it gained more prominence when proposals were announced to use the method to extract shale gas; efforts are already being stepped up by several communities to prevent fracking in their local areas.

  • Manocomb TM unit - Three Instruments in One

    Manocomb TM unit

     

    Three Instruments in One

    The Manocomb TM unit features a highly accurate mechanical pressure switch with a pressure gauge for visual indication of pressure & a 4 -20 mA pressure transmitter for re-transmission of pressure data. All housed in a robust IP65 housing with ranges starting at 0 to 600 mbar & going up to 250 bar. The Manocomb TM offers three instruments in one, saving space & connections on systems. 

  • Mixed news for manufacturing

    New figures from the CBI and Markit, show mixed news for the manufacturing sector. According to figures released from the CBI, manufacturing output and exports have shown a steady growth in recent months, however, manufacturers are less optimistic about the near future.

    While output, employment and domestic orders were showing signs of improvement in the last quarter, post-Brexit, manufacturers are less optimistic moving forward.

    CBI Chief Economist, Rain Newton Smith, said:

    “Manufacturers picked up the pace over the second quarter, with output growing solidly. We’re also seeing encouraging signs of a boost to export competitiveness from a weaker sterling.

    “But it’s clear that a cloud of uncertainty is hovering over industry, post-Brexit. We see this in weak expectations for new orders, a sharp fall in optimism and a scaling back of investment plans.”

    UK Manufacturing PMI

    The UK Purchasing Manufacturing PMI was also down to 48.2 for July, with production and consumer orders only experiencing a modest rise, which is thought to be largely due to the uncertainties surrounding the aftermath of the Brexit vote. The figures are the poorest for three years, but export orders received a boost.

    Senior Economist, Rob Dobson from Markit, said:

    “The final PMI came in at 48.2, down from the earlier flash print of 49.1. The pace of contraction was the fastest since early-2013 amid increasingly widespread reports that business activity has been adversely affected by the EU referendum. The drops in output, new orders and employment were all steeper than flash estimates.”

    The demand for manufactured goods in the UK also appear to have been affected both prior to the vote and afterwards, and the PMI figures were also bad news the value of the pound, which fell sharply following the announcement.

    Production and employment

    The figures highlight concerns over employment figures in the manufacturing sector. Further job losses were recorded in July, and there are worries that the trend is set to continue. Production experienced the worst decline since 2012 and contractions were noted across the consumer, investment and intermediate goods sectors.

    Recession fears

    The poor performance of manufacturing had been expected following the Brexit vote and the uncertainty surrounding it. However, the PMI results were lower than predicted, and this has led to fresh concerns over a recession.

    David Noble, Group Chief Executive Officer from the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply stated that without new orders coming through, the downward trajectory in the manufacturing sector is likely to get worse in the short term.

  • Offshore wind industry adds more than 900m to economy

    New figures recently issued by RenewableUK shows that the offshore energy wind industry added £906 million to the UK economy in 2014.

    The latest statistics were compiled as part of a report conducted by BiGGAR Economics on behalf of RenewableUK.

    Benefits to Local Regions

    Local regions are also benefiting from the drive towards renewable forms of power generation. In Yorkshire and Humberside, 379MW of onshore wind is being used to help power more than two hundred thousand homes.

    Employers, manufacturers and consultants from the region are also benefiting from the trend towards green energy supply with local firms. The South West and East of the country were also beneficiaries of the offshore wind industry.

    Commenting on the figures, RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery, said,

     “The British onshore wind energy industry is adding over £900 million a year to the national economy, so the benefits to the UK are clear to see. This report also shows that £7 of every £10 spent on onshore wind projects is invested here in the UK. Onshore wind powers local economies, bringing £199 million of investment into the local communities that host wind farms and creating jobs across the supply chain. The industry is helping to propel Britain to a brighter, cleaner and more secure future – onshore wind is already the lowest cost of all low carbon options and is set to become the least cost form of all electricity within the next five years.

    Wind Power in Wales

    The figures published by RenewablesUK shows that Wales is likely to gain £799 million of economic benefit from onshore wind power over a lifetime. 559 megawatts of wind power is already being used; Mid Wales and South Wales are the most active in this area.

    Wind Power in Scotland

    Scotland has also benefited from the move towards green energy. Figures released by RenewableUK show that Scotland will gain £7bn worth of economic benefit over a lifetime due to onshore wind power.

    Scotland has been at the forefront of wind power and it has 4,918 megawatts of onshore wind power in use. This is enough to produce enough power for more than 2.5 million homes in Scotland.

    South Lanarkshire, the Highlands and the Scottish Borders are the areas using the most wind power, and Scottish companies such as Scottish Power Renewables, Natural Power and SSE are among those helping to facilitate the supply of wind power.

  • 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.

  • SMEs confirm fall in domestic and export orders

    Figures released by the CBI show a fall in output for small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses in the UK. The CBI SME trends survey also indicated a fall in export and domestic orders for the last quarter.

    More than 400 small and medium-size companies were interviewed for the survey; the results showed there was a poor performance for output growth, but it is predicted that both domestic orders and output will perform better in the next quarter, and the decline in exports is expected to slow.

    The latest figures also demonstrated that less people were employed in the last three months, and this trend is expected to continue into the new year.

    According to the survey, businesses felt less optimistic about the future and they were less positive over the future for exports in the coming year. In addition, companies will be spending less on both product and process innovation in 2016.

    The figures from the CBI revealed that 26% of SMEs manufacturers had a rise in orders, but 48% reported a fall; these figures are expected to improve slightly in next three months.

    In addition, 25% of companies reported an increase in domestic orders while 36% reported a fall. And the 10% of companies said they had experienced an increase in export orders in the last quarter, while 46% stated export orders had fallen. This is the poorest performance since 2009.

    Other key figures from the survey show 23% of manufacturers say output has increased, while 31% reported a fall, and 22% of companies remain optimistic about their business prospects in the future; 29% say they are less positive

    Moreover, 23% of companies had increased their amount of employees, while 15% of SEMs had employed fewer people in the last quarter.

    Commenting on the new figures Rain Newton-Smith, CBI Director of Economics, said:

    “As demand has fallen, especially in the face of a strengthening Pound, our smaller manufacturers have had a tough quarter, with orders and output volumes dropping.

    “Manufacturers expect conditions to stabilise somewhat over the quarter ahead, but remain concerned about the outlook for demand.

    Newton-Smith went on to urge the government to include measures in its Comprehensive Spending Review to help improve skills and innovation in order to improve productivity in the coming year.

    Overall growth

    While the news for SMEs wasn’t overly positive, there was better news for growth overall as newly released figures from the CBI showed growth has increased by 4%, and GDP grew by 0.5% in the last quarter.

  • UK businesses Support changes to Renewables obligations

    Research conducted by Npower business solutions shows that UK-based businesses are largely in favour of the proposed new energy legislation regarding renewables obligations (RO) and feed in tariffs (FiT,) and they feel that it is likely the changes will have a positive effect on their business when they go ahead.

    The changes in legislation was announced in late 2015 as part of the government’s spending review. In the review, the government announced its intention to scrap the compensation scheme for RO/FiT and to introduce an exemption programme in its place. 51% of those surveyed stated that they were in favour of the exemption scheme and plans to backdate compensation as they felt it would enable their businesses to remain competitive.

    However, more than half of the manufacturers interviewed said that they were not aware of the government’s plans regarding Renewables Obligations and Feed in Tariffs, and the majority of retailers had not heard of the government’s proposals either.

    Review and Consultation

    A review into the proposals is scheduled to get under way later this year, and according to the research more than half of those surveyed said they would be interested in taking part during the consultation phase because of the impact the proposals could have on their business.

    Commenting on the plans, head of Npower Business Solutions, David Reed said:

     “The proposed exemption would represent good news for the businesses and sectors which are eligible. Making regulatory processes more transparent and more straightforward would reduce the burden on businesses and would provide them with greater clarity about their finances.

    “A majority of retailers and manufacturers we spoke to were not aware of the upcoming consultation. That’s why we’re working with the Government to host a round table event, to explain these upcoming changes to businesses and discuss the proposed benefits.”

    Renewables obligation and feed in tariffs explained

    The Renewables Obligation scheme is a measure that was introduced to ensure that electricity suppliers buy a percentage of their power from renewable energy suppliers, however, these charges have been steadily increasing due to a number of factors, including the surge in the number of renewable energy companies.

    The Feed in Tariff was an attempt to get UK-based businesses and homes to generate greener forms of energy themselves such as wind and hydro power; the suppliers get compensated for each kWh of energy that is generated. However, as with the Renewables Obligation scheme, the cost of the tariffs are continuing to increase because of the growing number of low carbon energy firms and a greater amount of green energy being generated.

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