Government slashes financial support for renewablesNEF response to Bonfield ReviewVAT on energy-saving materialsFuel poverty in Scotland stagnant and more...
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Issue 427
Wednesday 23 Dec 2015
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Season’s greetings from the National Energy Foundation
The Trustees and staff at the Foundation wish everyone a warm and merry Christmas, and a happy and fulfilling New Year. NEF will be open over the festive period, except for public holidays, and we look forward to working with you in 2016.

University of Nottingham/National Energy Foundation PhD Studentship
Fully-funded industrial PhD studentship (four years): Investigating Relationships between Building Airtightness and Infiltration Rate. The successful candidate will undertake research using a novel pulse test that measures building air leakage rates at low pressure. He/she will also build upon a large database comprising measurements of air leakage rates at high and low pressures, and measurements of infiltration rates, and will investigate relationships between them. Closing Date: Sunday, 17th January.

NEF response to Bonfield Review
The Foundation submitted a response to the Independent Review of Consumer Advice, Protection, Standards and Enforcement for UK Home Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Measures. The review is being conducted by Dr Peter Bonfield on behalf of the Secretaries of State for Energy & Climate Change and Communities and Local Government.
Government slashes financial support for renewables
The Government announces reductions in feed-in tariffs (including cuts up to 65%) for PV, wind and hydro, changes to the Renewables Obligation for solar PV of 5MW and below, and a cap on subsidy spending to 2018-19.
ESOS compliance two-thirds
The Environment Agency reports that a flurry of last-minute submissions boosts ESOS compliance to 65% on the deadline date.
Solar anger at HMRC VAT proposal
Anger brews in the solar industry over the threat of a VAT hike on the installation of renewable energy measures and what it sees as unfair treatment for solar.
More measured response to HMRC VAT proposal
Others in the renewables industry reckon that the proposals put forward by HMRC on the VAT applied to energy-saving measures are better than most had feared.
Latest household energy efficiency stats
DECC issues the latest statistics on household energy efficiency measures installed under ECO, the Green Deal and the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund up to October.
GIB sell-off raises concern
The Government’s plan to sell the Green Investment Bank into the private sector, and the possible loss of its 'green mandate', alarms MPs and peers.
Pressure for zero carbon homes policy investigation
13 organisations, including the Royal Town Planning Institute, write to the Energy and Climate Change Committee asking for a formal investigation into the Government's scrapping of its zero carbon homes policy.
Latest smart meter stats
DECC’s latest statistics show that there are now 1.516 million smart gas and electricity meters operating in residential properties, with a further 550,000 at smaller non-domestic sites.
The role of gas in UK’s energy future
DECC’s Chief Scientific Advisor outlines the role of gas in securing the UK’s energy future; how we can meet the demand for energy in our buildings, and the part that shale gas might play.
Dishing the dirt on diesel
An IPPR report looks at the Government’s contradictory policy whereby new, dirty diesel-powered generators secure excessive returns at billpayers' expense, while subsidies for clean energy are being cut.
Latest on ECO
The latest House of Commons briefing paper on ECO.
VAT on energy-saving materials
The Government consults on proposed changes to the VAT applied on energy-saving materials and installations – for example, PV and wind, etc – from 1 August 2016. Closing date: 3 February.
Renewables Obligation support for solar PV
Government consultation proposes reduced levels of banded support under the Renewables Obligation for new solar PV up to 5MW. Closing date: 27 January.
Fuel poverty in Scotland stagnant
The number of households in fuel poverty in Scotland in 2014 remains similar to the previous year with 34.9% or around 845,000 households affected.
Huge fine for npower
Ofgem fines npower £26 million after a new IT system creates bill chaos and the energy supplier fails to deal with the resulting complaints quickly and fairly.
Average household electricity bill
DECC reports that the average 2015 household electricity bill across all payment types fell by £8 compared with 2014, and is now £584 pa.
Switching suppliers increases
The latest statistics on household switching show that the number who switched electricity supplier in Q3 2015 rose by 6% over Q3 2014, while those who changed their gas supplier was up 27.6% over the same period.
Tackling fuel poverty in North Yorkshire
More than 20 charities and organisations across North Yorkshire join forces to tackle fuel poverty and make residents’ houses warmer.
No to “rip off” prepayment meters
A London MP launches a campaign to end the "rip off" of prepayment energy meters, which cost customers significantly more than online, direct debit tariffs.
Does it matter where your solar PV panels come from?
A look at the import quota and minimum price imposed on solar panels by the Government in 2013, whether the restrictions should be lifted and what the repercussions might be.
Over half of public prepared to shiver
A Uswitch survey finds that 54% of Brits are considering rationing their energy use this winter because of high costs, and 9% would consider going without heating or hot water to keep their bills down.
Consumer research on district heating
Recent research on district heating schemes with residents living in social housing reveals an overall positive consumer experience.
Largest LED retrofit
The UK’s largest ever fully-funded LED lighting retrofit programme, which is supported by the Green Investment Bank, is taking place in Santander offices across the country.
Trees or solar panels?
A look at the moral dilemma facing householders who are considering cutting down trees that are shading their roofs, in order to make way for solar panels.
Councils pilot battery storage
Four London councils pilot solar-charged batteries on their social housing, after recent government cuts to subsidies make traditional rooftop PV installations “unviable”.
New solar panel efficiency record
Researchers set a new world record of 22.3% for thin-film solar cell efficiency, an increase of 0.6 percentage points over the industry’s previous thin-film record of 21.7%.
Perovskite solar shows record potential
Australia develops perovskite technology (using equal proportions of two other solar types - dye-sensitised solar cells and organic PV) which should make solar both cheaper and more efficient, with a potential conversion rate of 66%.
New algorithm cuts energy use
A new technology developed at a Singapore university that uses sensors and commonly-found microchips to analyse operational data and recommend energy-saving solutions could cut companies’ energy use by 10%.
Cheesy electricity
A French power station uses a waste by-product from the process of cheese making to generate electricity for 1,500 homes.
The fate of gas is sealed
The Paris climate change agreement spells the beginning of the end for cooking and heating with gas, say experts.
COP21 looks to buildings
The COP21 climate change talks in Paris focus on financing energy and emissions improvements in buildings.
Towards a smart energy system
How smart energy solutions – such as demand side reduction, storage and smart networks - could help the UK meet the challenges its energy system faces as the Government seeks to power the economy and decarbonise cost-effectively.
The potential of energy efficiency needs to be maximised
The massive potential of energy efficiency needs to be exploited; it’s a reserve which is cheaper, faster to bring on-stream, and by far cleaner than any other supply-side option.  
Solar from the start
A new EU-funded project is working on how to integrate solar PV into buildings from their very inception.
Strong support for action in 2016
A new survey shows that 93% of company directors plan to implement energy efficiency or demand response measures in 2016.
Three-point plan to make energy-efficient buildings a reality
As the EU attempts to realise the ambitions set out in its European Energy Union Strategy, it needs to move to highly efficient new-build and retrofit buildings.
Wrong meters cost industry dear
Millions of pounds worth of energy are being lost due to incorrectly specified meters, an industry expert claims.
Halogen lightbulbs tests misleading
Tests show that the energy and efficiency claims for halogen lightbulbs have been exaggerated.
Financing Energy Efficiency report
A study reveals that although Energy Managers have access to finance, they struggle to persuade their boards of Directors that energy efficiency is worth investing in.
Passivhaus scheme in Norwich closer
Another step forward for a major residential Passivhaus development scheme in Norwich.
New NHS energy centre
A £15 million NHS energy efficiency programme and centre in Dundee will cut energy costs by 10% and enhance the service and environment for the patients and staff.
PV present for the Chancellor
A journalist tries to install solar panels on the roof of George Osborne’s Cheshire constituency office - unsuccessfully.
Jobs across the UK
Various energy-related jobs across the country are available on the following websites. Take a look at:
Building Better Buildings. Bristol. Wed, 3 Feb
A free Zero Carbon Hub event organised in collaboration with Innovate UK and a number of leading industry partners. The event aims to demystify the Performance Gap and highlight the latest learning from a number of domestic and non-domestic Building Performance Evaluation (BPE) projects. It also includes speakers discussing cutting-edge research findings on building performance.
Low Energy Know How. Liverpool. Wed 3 Feb
This free event provides delegates with the latest policy updates and practical support to deliver energy-efficient new homes. It also looks at commercially viable, practical examples to help deliver to current and future regulations. Attendees will also receive the Zero Carbon Hub’s good practice “Builders’ Book”, an easy-to-read guide to improving site processes, reducing risk and constructing high-quality, healthy homes."
Tackling Energy Demand and Management to Achieve Real Reduction in Non-Domestic Buildings. London. Wed 10 Feb
This one day conference organised by Ashden, in partnership with Arup, will offer new ideas, solutions and inspiration that will allow you to move ahead with systematic energy reduction programmes for your buildings. Chaired by Jonathon Porritt, the event includes some high-profile speakers.
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