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  • 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”.

  • Cardiff is one of the most energy efficient cities

    Householders in Cardiff are the most energy efficient in the UK according to a new survey by British Gas. More than 50% of the people surveyed said they are taking steps to save energy around the home while  87% said that they would change their habits if it meant saving money on their bills; 37% of householders stated they wanted to make energy efficiency a priority.

    The survey also showed that many people are completely unaware of just how much their energy bills cost them every day. Many householders estimated their energy spend cost them an average of £2 a day while others assumed the daily energy spend was anything from £3-£6.

    The survey was conducted as part of the British Gas Energy Saving Challenge, which sets out to help people save money on their energy bills.

    Lydia Campbell. Regional Director for British Gas in Wales, said:

    It’s great to see that so many people from Cardiff are looking to make changes to save energy and get their bills down.

    “The 60 Second Energy Challenge will help people living in Cardiff be more aware about how they use energy, it offers simple and practical tips to reduce their energy use."

    As part of the challenge, a survey was conducted and it revealed how little some householders understand about the simple measures they can take to save on energy around the home.

    Only 3% of the people interviewed were aware that by installing insulation they could make significant savings on their bills, and despite the fact smart meters are soon to be rolled out across the country, many consumers did not know that installing a smart meter could help them save money on their bills and gain a better understanding of which appliances were using the most power.

    Smart Meter Roll out

    While 500,000 smart meters have already been installed around the country, the full roll out will not begin until later in 2015.  The government is currently working with the energy industry to ensure that the roll-out goes ahead within the scheduled time frame.

    It is the gas and energy suppliers that will be held responsible for the planning and installation of smart meters; the roll-out will end in 2020. The method of installation will vary from company to company and the Department of Energy and Climate Change will oversee the management and implementation of the programme as well as carefully monitoring the roll-out.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Criminal sanctions for gas and electric rigging introduced

    The government is taking steps to crack down on anyone who attempts to manipulate the energy markets. On April 13, 2015, the U.K.’s energy regulators will be given new powers to prosecute anyone suspected of rigging the wholesale electricity and gas prices.

    Under the new laws, it will now be a criminal offence for anyone to use insider information to buy wholesale energy products, or to artificially inflate the wholesale price of energy. Any individual convicted of these offences could face a two-year jail term.

    There are already regulations in place to try and prevent the rigging of the wholesale gas and electricity prices, and Ofgem already has the power to conduct investigations and to impose fines on the individuals and companies involved if it is found  they have flouted the rules, however, until now it has not been a criminal offence.

    As well is facing a possible jail sentence, anyone convicted will also receive a criminal record, and companies that are found guilty will face similar sanctions.

    The government believes that by introducing an additional criminal offence, it will act as a deterrent.

    Commenting on the new announcement, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said:

    “Manipulating the energy market is absolutely unacceptable – which is why we’re introducing the strongest possible sanctions, including prison sentences”.

    “Tougher penalties will help to create a fairer and stronger market, providing more protection for bill payers and building on action we’ve already taken to increase competition, drive down bills and make it easier and quicker than ever for consumers to switch energy suppliers.”

    Ed Davey first proposed the new measures to criminalise energy price rigging in 2014 and a public consultation was later launched.

    Speaking at the time of the proposals, Energy UK told The Independent:

    “Energy companies welcome scrutiny about how the market is working and our members have nothing to hide.

    “Energy companies are also committed to quick switching and have kept government fully informed of the work already underway to cut switching times dramatically while making sure customers’ consumer rights are protected. Already around one quarter of a million customers switch every month, proving it is not only possible but easy.”

    Ofgem investigation

    There has been a previous year-long investigation into allegations of price rigging in the industry, however, after a 12 month review Ofgem and the Financial Conduct Authority concluded there was no further action to be taken regarding the claims.

  • 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”.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Growth remains steady, but manufacturing faces challenges

    New figures from the CBI show that there is encouraging news for the economy. Growth in the UK continues to remain steady, however, the CBI predict that it might level off slightly during the final quarter of the year.

    Despite the positive news of steady growth, the CBI did sound a note of caution and stated that: “Expectations for growth are not as strong as earlier in the year”.

    Commenting on the latest growth indicator figures, Rain Newton Smith, Director of Economics for the CBI, said:

    “This shows a continuing story of solid growth.

    “Previously pent-up demand delivered a strong boost to growth during the first half of the year but this effect may be fading. The UK is continuing to expand on a healthy trajectory, returning now to steadier and more sustainable growth rates.  

    “Domestic political uncertainty is an issue for businesses but the global backdrop is a greater concern. The Eurozone is weak, with a real risk of deflation, growth in emerging markets has slowed and geo-political tensions in the Middle East and Ukraine are the biggest threats to confidence.”

    Manufacturing Industry

    One of the strongest performers was the service sector, but news wasn’t all good for the manufacturing industry. Economic indicators from the CBI showed manufacturing growth was still weak, but it has performed better in the last quarter with 15 of 18 of the manufacturing sectors reporting an increase in output. However, the reduced demand for exports meant that the growth in the manufacturing sector was stalling when compared with figures from earlier this year.

    Mixed outlook for manufacturing

    421 manufacturers were surveyed by the CBI and most indicated they expect output volumes to remain low in the near future. The majority of sectors stated export orders remained low, with the mechanical engineering sector suffering the most.

    Manufacturers also expect their output prices to increase over the next quarter due to price inflation.

    In addition, there  were mixed views on the possibility of growth in the next three months; 28% manufacturers think orders will increase while 18% predict they will fall.

    Moreover, there was a mixed picture for output in the last quarter; 36% of those surveyed said that output had increased in the last quarter, and 22% stated it had fallen.

    The CBI stated that manufacturers were facing many challenges in the export markets such as slow growth in the Eurozone and greater competition from countries like China.

  • 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/

  • Manufacturing industry needs more innovation

    There need for more innovation in the manufacturing industry has been highlighted by new research.

    Just 11 per cent of manufacturers have a system in place to enhance innovation; this could put the UK at a distinct disadvantage in the future due to the many challenges the manufacturing sector is currently facing, according to RSM, who conducted the survey.

    RSM found that more than half of the manufacturers interviewed said they do intend invest in business systems at some point. However, these efforts are mainly concentrated on technology to improve the way the business is run, boost efficiency and productivity, but many UK manufacturers are neglecting to invest in innovation.

    Discussing the research, Mike Thornton, head of manufacturing for RSM, said:

    ‘As many UK manufacturers prepare for a potential surge in competition and uncertain trading conditions, harnessing technology could be the answer to future success. Technology will play an important role to help the sector become more efficient, productive and, in turn, more competitive, but this requires significant investment into the right software, equipment and talent to drive change.’

    Lack of innovation not limited to manufacturing industry

    Experts say that innovation is crucial if the UK manufacturing industry is going to be competitive post-Brexit and if it is to keep up with cheaper manufacturing bases like China.

    However, the manufacturing sector isn’t the only industry struggling when it comes to innovation.

    A study from PWC found that relatively few of the UK-based companies interviewed (32 per cent) viewed innovation as important, with most companies preferring to prioritise technology instead.

    Government initiatives to improve innovation in manufacturing

    Although a considerable percentage of manufactures admit that investing in innovation isn’t their priority, government agency Innovate UK say UK manufactures do still rate as a ‘major driver of innovation’.

    The agency also explains how new technologies that involve digitisation, like the Internet of Things and cloud based data, have the power to transform manufacturing.

    Digitisation is where a new generation of ideas and products is most likely to come from in the future, and progress is being made in this area. Research shows that most UK companies plan to have invested in digitalisation by 2021, although they don’t plan to invest quite as much as other countries.

    And to encourage fresh innovations in the sector, government agency Innovate UK has opened the third round of funding competition, which is designed to encourage manufacturers to come forward with new ideas.

  • 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.

  • New electronic pressure switch from PINTER

    minicomb eds smallest

    With the MINICOMB-EDS PINTER has introduced a new and innovative electronic pressure switch for the fluid technology market.

    The pressure switch features a robust design combined with a highly functional user friendly operating system. With a ergonomic 3-button control panel, the pressure switch is operated with a menu according to VDMA standard. In addition to the standard menu the MINICOMB-EDS features a multilingual plain text menu which clearly explains the selected menu item, ensuring a rapid and hassle-free installation is ensured.

    Reviewing set parameters is easy - even when password protection is active.

    The various menus, parameters and settings are displayed on the monochrome high-resolution full graphic OLED display. The 180° rotatable display allows for excellent readability even under direct sunlight or large angles.

  • New figures show surge in renewable power

    New figures from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show an increase in the role that renewable energy is playing in powering homes and commercial premises in the United Kingdom.

    The latest figures from the DECC cover the April to June 2015 period and show that during this time, renewable power was used to produce 25.3% of electricity in the United Kingdom; the majority of this was produced from offshore and onshore wind power. This increase represents an 8.6% surge on the figures for the previous year.

    This means that renewable power is now more popular than coal and nuclear as a means of fuel, and the Department of Energy and Climate Change say this upsurge is down to “favourable weather conditions” such as increased wind speeds and sunshine, and a greater capacity for producing wind power.

    Commenting on the increase, Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive of Energy UK, said:

    “Renewables have now become Britain’s second largest source of electricity, generating more than a quarter of our needs. The new statistics show that Britain is relying increasingly on dependable renewable sources to keep the country powered up, with onshore and offshore wind playing the leading roles in our clean energy mix.”

    McCaffery added that “we’d welcome clearer signals from Government that it’s backing the installation of vital new projects”.

    New Campaign

    The release of the figures came shortly before a new campaign got underway in opposition to the Government’s plans to cut support for some smaller renewable energy projects such as investment in solar panels and wind turbines.

    The new campaign has been named People Power and hopes to persuade the Government to think again before reducing funding.

    Renewable energy investment cuts

    In recent years there has been a steady increase in renewable energy investment in the UK as the government looks for more sustainable ways to power the country. However, there have been some concerns about continued investment after it was announced earlier in the year that funding for renewable energy subsidies was to be cut.

    In September, the BBC reported the CBI has expressed concerns that the reduction in these energy subsidies could be off-putting to investors, and there are also worries the reduction in funding could lead to job losses in the renewable energy sector.

    Renewable Energy UK says that Government cuts to funding for smaller renewable energy projects would mean it won’t be possible for such schemes to advance.

  • New fund allows communities to create power stations

    A new £10 million fund will make it possible for local communities to come together and create their own power stations. Funding will be made available as part of the Urban Community Energy Fund and allow community groups to apply for grants of up to £20,000 or loans of up to £130,000.

    The initiative is a way of encouraging people to look towards greener formers of energy, and it is part of the government drive to move towards cleaner methods of energy generation.

    Under the scheme, communities will be able to create local “power hubs” by finding innovative new ways to generate renewable energy. Examples include the installation of solar panels on buildings, and the construction of anaerobic digestion plants, which would take local waste and burn it to create energy.

    Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said:

    “I want to give more people the power to generate their own electricity and by supporting community energy projects we can - helping them drive down their energy bills at the same time.

    “That’s why we’ve pledged £10 million, so communities can play their part in generating renewable power at a local level. This is all about investing in renewable energy sources, creating jobs and changing the way renewable energy is developed in the UK.”

    New Initiatives

    East Sussex is being cited as one area that has come up with a unique idea that provides a greener source of energy, as well as helping to save money on energy bills. A local community energy scheme fitted solar panels into the brewery walls, and now uses the sun’s rays to help it provide green fuel. The scheme allows the brewery to reduce the cost of their energy bills, and the community also gains as it gets money back from the Feed in Tariff.

    Feed in Tariff Scheme

    Communities that wish to develop their own energy schemes have now been told that they will get additional support from the Feed in Tariff Scheme. The Feed in Tariff Scheme allows community energy project owners to earn extra money by getting paid for the energy production.

    Community Investment Projects

    According to research from Ethex, renewable energy schemes have fast become one of the most popular types of community investment projects and have already generated millions of pounds. It is hoped that with additional support from the government, many more community investment projects will be set up, allowing entire communities to benefit from the generation of green energy.

  • 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.

  • Ofgem call for more competition in connections market

    A new report from Ofgem has called for reforms in the electricity connections market to help reduce delays for customers that find it difficult to get connected to the electricity grid.

    Ofgem has carried out a six-month review to investigate the energy connections markets to examine just how competitive it currently is, and to understand the barriers that are preventing better competition.

    In the report, Ofgem has detailed the changes that all local distribution network companies must carry out within the next six months in order to adequately improve competitiveness.

    Strong competition in connections market

    The review by Ofgem  showed that competition in the electricity connections market was growing strongly, however, there are areas of competition that have been slow to gather speed. Ofgem asserts that stronger competition would lead to lower prices, better services for customers and better innovations.

    Reforms

    As things currently stand, the network company is the only provider   for many parts of the connections process. However, under the new reforms, independent companies would be allowed to step in to help decide connection points and speed up the process. Ofgem says that these measures would “level the playing field by reducing their reliance on the local electricity network companies”.

    Commenting on the proposed changes, Maxine Frerk, Ofgem’s senior partner, distribution, said: 

    “We are requiring electricity network companies to work quickly to resolve the issues identified in the connections market, to reduce the hassle of getting connected to the grid and help lower costs for customers.

    “We are determined to ensure this part of the energy market works in customers’ interest and will use the full range of our powers to do so.” 

    Possible Breach

    During its review, Ofgem also found that one energy company could be in breach of the current competition laws. The Competition and Markets Authority have been advised of this possible breach and an investigation is to be launched as to whether the energy company acted in a way that put its competitors at a disadvantage in the energy connections market.

    Consultation Process

    Following the review, people will now be invited to take part in a consultation process so they can give their opinions regarding the proposed reforms of the energy connections market.

    The consultation will come to an end on 18, March, 2015 and the new regulations are likely to come into force at the end of September.

  • 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.

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