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Tell Dave and Nick what you think of their energy plans

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 June 2010 at 9:22 am

Tell Dave and Nick what you think of their energy plans

The government is asking for our views on its programme for government. We've had a look at its proposed measures for energy and climate change, and our response is below. You can comment too - but get your skates on, they want to hear from us by Thursday 10 June. Our first thought is of motherho…

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Barriers to microgeneration part 2: finance

Posted by on 31 May 2010 at 9:37 pm

Barriers to microgeneration part 2: finance

Initial capital outlay is a major barrier to installing microgeneration systems, whatever someone's motivation. Renewable energy installations can cost from £4,000 to £25,000. Access to sums of capital of this size is not realistic for most UK homeowners. So how do we get around this? Especiall…

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Uncertainty ahead as Low Carbon Building Programme is cut

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 May 2010 at 12:31 pm

Uncertainty ahead as Low Carbon Building Programme is cut

The Low Carbon Building Programme (LCBP) grants scheme closed to new applications on Monday. We're calling on the Government to act quickly to eliminate the state of uncertainty facing  consumers and the renewable heat industry as a result. The cut came as part of the Department of Energ…

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Coalition plans for renewable energy and energy efficiency

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 May 2010 at 4:20 pm

Coalition plans for renewable energy and energy efficiency

So now we know what the department of Energy and Climate Change's priorities are. It believes that "climate change is one of the gravest threats we face, and that urgent action at home and abroad is required. We need to use a wide range of levers to cut carbon emissions, decarbonise the economy and …

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Why on earth would an energy company want me to use less energy?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 19 May 2010 at 2:03 pm

Why on earth would an energy company want me to use less energy?

It's so counter intuitive, I struggle to get my head round it. Why would an energy company want me to use less energy? And, stemming from that, why would the Government use energy companies – whose main interest is surely to sell more energy – to deliver their main energy efficiency measures?&nb…

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Barriers to microgeneration, and how to overcome them.

Posted by on 12 May 2010 at 10:03 am

Barriers to microgeneration, and how to overcome them.

Using microgeneration technology to produce heat and power at home could deliver large amounts of energy, help increase the UK's energy security, reduce our carbon emissions and have a positive influence on consumer behaviour towards energy use. So why are only around 100,000 homes in the UK …

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Renewable Heat Incentive consultation: YouGen's response

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 April 2010 at 10:29 am

Renewable Heat Incentive consultation: YouGen's response

The Renewable Heat Incentive consultation closes today. Here is YouGen's response. If you want to respond yourself, you can email DECC's renewable financial incentives team. Key Issues We strongly ask you to reconsider your policy of excluding those who had systems installed prior to July …

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Some questions for prospective parliamentary candidates

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 April 2010 at 9:22 am

Some questions for prospective parliamentary candidates

I know it's unlikely, but if you're short of questions to ask the people seeking your vote on 6 May, here are a few ideas from the combined forces of of the renewable energy industry's trade associations. They published Zero Carbon Switch: Joint Manifesto for Renewables last week, to coincide with t…

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How to buy renewable electricity

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 April 2010 at 10:18 am

How to buy renewable electricity

Until recently the electricity market was flooded with 'green' tariffs, usually for a premium price, with no clear indication of what made them 'green'. Were they just packaging up the renewable energy that they are obliged  to produce under the government’s Renewables …

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Wind farm in my backyard? Yes please

Posted by Gilly Jones on 31 March 2010 at 9:47 am

Wind farm in my backyard? Yes please

Two wind turbines constitute a wind farm. That's just one of the many facts I learned last week on a tour of the Roskrow Barton Wind Farm near Penryn in Cornwall, courtesy of the The Cornwall Light and Power Company (CLP).   Members of Sid Valley Energy Action Group (SVEAG) invited me…

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Renewable Heat Incentive: join the campaign for equal treatment for existing generators

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 29 March 2010 at 10:19 am

Renewable Heat Incentive: join the campaign for equal treatment for existing generators

More and more people are calling for the renewable heat incentive (also known as the Clean Energy Cashback) to treat existing microgenerators equally. At RegenSW's consultation conference in Bristol earlier this month property developers and installers were flagging it up as important for the scheme…

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Conservative energy policy is a damp squib for renewables

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 March 2010 at 9:30 am

Conservative energy policy is a damp squib for renewables

Twelve actions "to put our energy system back on its feet" are at the heart of the long awaited Conservative energy policy which was finally launched last Friday. Of them, three relate directly to domestic renewable energy and energy efficiency, but it's difficult to see that they add much new to th…

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Renewable Heat Incentive: A homeowners guide

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 March 2010 at 2:09 pm

Renewable Heat Incentive: A homeowners guide

Heat is the biggest use of energy in the UK. Just under half of the UK's CO2 emissions and 60% of domestic energy bills are used on heating space and water. Heat in the UK is currently supplied predominantly by fossil fuels - less than 1% comes from renewable sources. The proposed renewable h…

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Renewable Heat Incentive is welcomed by industry

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 March 2010 at 10:42 am

Renewable Heat Incentive is welcomed by industry

Ambitious and far-reaching were just some of the words delegates used to welcome the Renewable Heat Incentive proposals at yesterday's consultation event organised by RegenSW. However, they said that more education about renewable heat is needed if the Renewable Heat Incentive is going to suc…

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EDM adds weight to campaign for equal rates for microgeneration pioneers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 March 2010 at 9:29 am

EDM adds weight to campaign for equal rates for microgeneration pioneers

Sixty seven MPs have signed early day motion 953 calling for equal clean energy cashback (feed-in tariff) for pioneer microgenerators. You can check whether your MP is one of them on the parliament website. If not, why not ask them to sign it. The easiest way to do this is at Write to Them. The m…

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Warm homes, greener homes: the government's vision for 2020

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 March 2010 at 9:32 pm

Warm homes, greener homes: the government's vision for 2020

Reduced energy use, savings on energy bills and more comfortable homes in cold weather are the benefits claimed by government of its household energy management strategy, Warm Homes, Greener Homes launched on Tuesday at Ecobuild by Ed Miliband. Its aims are that: Every home, where practic…

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Renewable energy is coming to a supermarket near you

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 March 2010 at 10:31 am

Renewable energy is coming to a supermarket near you

"I'm just popping down to Tesco for a solar panel" doesn't sound right somehow. Maybe it's just me, but I not sure that the entry of the supermarkets into the renewable energy market is a good thing.  Sainsbury is first out of the starting gates. It opened Home Energy Centres in three of its…

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Three ways we could improve UK feed in tariffs

Posted by Matthew Rhodes on 22 February 2010 at 9:17 pm

Three ways we could improve UK feed in tariffs

I am a stalwart supporter of feed in tariffs, and anticipate a revolution in UK microgeneration in the next few months as a result. Their introduction is long overdue. However, on Monday I sat through a lengthy discussion both of feed in tariffs (FiTs) and the proposed renewable heat incentiv…

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Conservatives support fair treatment for all microgenerators

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 February 2010 at 9:07 am

Conservatives support fair treatment for all microgenerators

If elected, the Conservatives will pay early adopters of microgeneration technologies the same rate of Clean Energy Cashback (the government's new financial incentive for renewable generation) as new installers according to a new campaigning website. Charles Hendry, the shadow minister for energy…

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Energy efficiency a priority for M&S home insurance

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 12 February 2010 at 9:41 am

Energy efficiency a priority for M&S home insurance

Recently I asked whether renewable energy affects your house insurance. In the twittering that followed the blog's publication I discovered a home insurance policy that stands out from the crowd for the approach it takes to energy efficiency. Ever since Stuart Rose announced its Plan A, M&S h…

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Feed-in tariff scheme is shortsighted

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 February 2010 at 12:46 pm

Feed-in tariff scheme is shortsighted

A last, we've got our foot firmly on the road to making renewable energy part of the UK's energy mix. Yes, the Feed-in Tariff rates could be higher. The government's goals for microgeneration could have been more ambitious. But the rates are probably attractive enough, especially in the current e…

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Feed-in tariff: your questions answered

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 February 2010 at 12:02 pm

Feed-in tariff: your questions answered

Read the updated version of this article here. The introduction of the feed-in tariff (known as Clean Energy Cashback scheme) opens a new and exciting era for microgeneration. Here we answer some of the most common questions on the new scheme. If you've got any more, please add a comment bel…

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Feed-in tariff explained in video

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 3 February 2010 at 3:41 pm

For those of you who prefer your information visually, here's a great video from Solar Century.   …

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Feed-in tariff rates: the headline figures

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 2 February 2010 at 12:57 pm

Feed-in tariff rates: the headline figures

At last the uncertainty is over - we now know what the rates are for the Clean Energy Cashback (feed-in tariff) which starts on 1 April 2010. Its purpose is to encourage installations of wind turbines, solar photovoltaic panels, micro hydro and microCHP schemes of up to 5MW capacity to produce low …

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500 households to try Pay As You Save schemes

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 February 2010 at 8:53 am

500 households to try Pay As You Save schemes

Talk on how to finance making your house more energy efficient has turned to action - that's the good news. The bad news is that it's a small scheme that will only reach about 500 households in five areas of England between December 2009 and April 2011. Households in Birmingham, Sunderland, Londo…

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Public wants ambitious support for microgeneration

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 28 January 2010 at 9:32 am

Public wants ambitious support for microgeneration

Renewable energy in homes, communities and businesses got a public vote of confidence this week, but needs ambitious goals and support from government to succeed. A new survey found that people are prepared to pay higher energy bills to support a stronger feed-in tariff. Two thirds of the pop…

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Generating energy from scrap materials

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 January 2010 at 10:27 am

Generating energy from scrap materials

Renewable energy really comes into its own when it's applied at village level in developing countries. While in the UK we argue about whether or microgeneration is eco-bling, there are 1.6 billion people in the world for whom it is the difference between light or dark in the evenings. So it's gre…

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Does renewable energy affect your house insurance?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 25 January 2010 at 10:20 am

Does renewable energy affect your house insurance?

We've had solar hot water panels for a couple of years now, but it was only recently, when asked by a visitor to this site, that I wondered what, if any implication they had for my house insurance. Happily, a quick call to the insurance company (NFU Mutual) was all I needed to find that it makes …

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Four reasons the renewable energy grants system is failing

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 22 January 2010 at 9:31 am

Four reasons the renewable energy grants system is failing

The Low Carbon Building Programme started out with worthy goals for domestic microgeneration. Sadly it is failing to achieve most of them, according to research from the Environmental Change Institute at Oxford University1. Goal 1: support a more holistic approach to reducing carbon emissions by …

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What will 2010 bring for microgeneration?

Posted by Matthew Rhodes on 18 January 2010 at 9:39 am

What will 2010 bring for microgeneration?

I have a growing feeling that 2010 will mark a watershed in the development of microgeneration in the UK . The introduction of feed-in tariffs (FiTs) from April marks a sea change in established attitudes to small scale renewables, and a very belated attempt by the UK to catch up with the rest of…

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Happy Christmas

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 December 2009 at 12:21 pm

Happy Christmas

Seasons Greetings to all our visitors. Our office is now closed until the 4 January 2010. We look forward to seeing you again then. Photo by Jenny Downing …

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Give the gift of light this Christmas

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 18 December 2009 at 1:51 pm

Give the gift of light this Christmas

We talk about fuel poverty here in the UK, but it's nothing compared to places like Africa, where people spend 15 to 20% of their income on kerosene. Not only is it expensive, but kerosene is also the main source of poison in Africa. Solar power has the potential to bring the gift of light to ma…

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Win a GEO Minim Home Energy Hub

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 11 December 2009 at 4:56 pm

Win a GEO Minim Home Energy Hub

YouGen will be giving away a GEO Minim Home Energy Hub every month for the next year, to thank people who recommend their renewable energy installer on the site. Everyone who makes a recommendation in the month will be entered in the draw. We're especially pleased to be able to offer a Mi…

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Back UK jobs, innovation and manufacturing through renewable energy

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 9 December 2009 at 10:25 am

Back UK jobs, innovation and manufacturing through renewable energy

With the announcement of the final feed-in tariff rates postponed until (probably mid) January, a frenzy of lobbying has erupted for a more ambitious settlement that will deliver more renewable energy, and more British jobs in manufacturing and installing. If you want to join in, here are some sugge…

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Pedal power

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 1 December 2009 at 10:46 am

Pedal power

I've written before about how difficult it is to get a grip on energy, and understand how much it takes to do different things. Well, you really find out when you try to power a whole house for 24 hours just using cycle power. Luckily for those of us whose muscles don't  feel up to the task,…

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Prices vary hugely between renewable energy installers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 27 November 2009 at 11:17 am

Prices vary hugely between renewable energy installers

Prices for renewable energy installations vary wildly, making buying decisions difficult for homeowners, according to Power from the People, a new study by researchers at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute. In addition, there is little correlation between price and the gener…

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Feed-in rate announcement may be delayed

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 24 November 2009 at 4:07 pm

Feed-in rate announcement may be delayed

The much awaited results of the consultation on feed-in tariffs may take a little longer than hoped. Internal wrangling between government departments is to blame according to the Guardian, and it's not clear when we're going to find out. Ed Milliband had apparently hoped to have the policy i…

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YouGen Energy Expert wins installer of the year

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 23 November 2009 at 9:13 am

YouGen Energy Expert wins installer of the year

Congratulations to everyone at SunGift Solar which has won Installer of the Year in RegenSW's Green Energy Awards. Company founder Gabriel Wandrausch is one of YouGen's volunteer Energy Experts, contributing articles on solar hot water to the YouGen blog. SunGift Solar, which started as a solar t…

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Green party promises best finance scheme for microgeneration

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 16 November 2009 at 11:59 am

Green party promises best finance scheme for microgeneration

Proper insulation for every home and interest-free loans for domestic renewable energy are just some of the policies promised by the Green party if they win the next election. While it would be expensive, says Paula Black, Totnes councillor, and prospective Green Party parliamentary candidate for Ex…

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Energy: out of sight, out of mind?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 20 October 2009 at 10:17 am

Energy: out of sight, out of mind?

This week is Energy Saving Week, so it seems as good a time as any to think about energy and what it means to us. Despite the constant calls on us to be more energy efficient, the reality for most people is that we know next to nothing about our energy consumption. Most of us have a grasp of how …

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Learn how to generate your own electricity

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 8 October 2009 at 2:19 pm

Learn how to generate your own electricity

Wind farms - you either love them or you loathe them. I'm on the side of love. Ever since the first time I drove down the A395 in Cornwall, and they loomed, eerie and magnificent in the bleak dusk, I've been a wind turbine fan. So I'm excited to hear about Good Energy's Power from the People day …

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Building a thermal store - experience sought

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 7 October 2009 at 9:35 am

Building a thermal store - experience sought

Can anyone help Jeff B with this query: I am thinking of having a very large thermal store (of the order of 2000 litres capacity) to use with my 30kw wood pellet boiler. Due to space restrictions this would have to be located just outside the house. Does anyone have experience of making a wel…

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Equal feed-in tariff for existing generation has heavyweight support

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 30 September 2009 at 10:10 am

Equal feed-in tariff for existing generation has heavyweight support

Support for equal feed-in rates for those who already have small solar PV, wind turbines or hydro came from diverse parts of the renewable energy sector at yesterday's RegenSW conference in Bristol. Sponsor Christine Griffiths of Aeolus Power got her passionate call in early in the day - to be me…

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Is Carlos Tevez a green god?

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 21 September 2009 at 9:36 am

Is Carlos Tevez a green god?

Manchester City's Carlos Tevez has "signed for the greens", according to the Daily Star following his move into "the country's most environmentally friendly superhome". A claim in the article that this makes him "probably the greenest footballer in the country" overlooks  David James' long-s…

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Low carbon UK is well down the pecking order

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 17 September 2009 at 11:35 am

Low carbon UK is well down the pecking order

How much does the government really care about shifting the UK to a low carbon economy? Not a lot is the only conclusion I can come to from its spending figures. Yesterday's Guardian published a wonderfully simple, easy to read, chart called the definitive atlas of UK government spending, created…

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Existing generators angry at feed-in cuts to income

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 15 September 2009 at 8:32 am

Existing generators angry at feed-in cuts to income

Feed-in tariffs are designed to incentivise people to invest in renewable sources of energy generation. Yet, the government's proposals will give much lower rates to existing microgenerators, leading to a cut in income for many. This seems a perverse move from government. The numbers of micro wi…

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Warm Front leaves many households cold

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 August 2009 at 2:29 pm

Warm Front leaves many households cold

The Warm Front scheme may be failing the poorest and most vulnerable households according to a report from the Public Accounts Committee published last month. Warm Front is meant to  improve energy efficiency and reduce fuel poverty through installing heating and insulation in eligible house…

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The case for secondary double glazing

Posted by Tim Pullen on 21 August 2009 at 12:08 pm

The case for secondary double glazing

I recently helped a lady refurbishing a typical 1960s three-bedroom semi with energy efficiency issues. A quick heat loss calculation gave a peak heat load of 8.5kW which should have equated to a use of about 10,000kWh of gas per year. Her actual gas consumption was 15,000kWh p.a. which was used…

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Off-grid versus on-grid microgeneration in practice

Posted by Matthew Rhodes on 17 August 2009 at 11:57 am

Off-grid versus on-grid microgeneration in practice

I really needed a holiday this year. So when we arrived at the holiday cottage we had rented in Orkney and saw the 6kW wind turbine outside my heart sank a little. We had accidentally opted for two weeks of off-grid existence – and slightly dodgily designed off-grid existence at that – with only…

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Feed-in tariffs are not fair to renewable energy pioneers

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 14 August 2009 at 9:17 am

Feed-in tariffs are not fair to renewable energy pioneers

Renewable energy pioneers have been dealt a dismal hand by DECC's proposed rates for the feed-in tariff. Existing microgenerators (whose installation has been accredited under the Renewable Obligation) will be automatically transferred to the feed-in tariff on a rate of 9p per kWh (kilowatt hours)…

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