REI Group Mon, 12 Dec 2016 11:40:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Sainsbury’s says solar still crucial to sustainability plan, trials battery storage Thu, 01 Sep 2016 11:43:06 +0000 Sainsburys_654_469

UK supermarket giant Sainsbury’s has said that commercial rooftop solar remains a crucial element of its sustainability plans and revealed that it is currently experimenting with battery storage technologies.

The supermarket was once one of the largest operators of rooftop PV in the country and has now installed the technology on more than 200 sites, with a cumulative capacity of 41MW.

Speaking to Clean Energy News, the supermarket’s head of sustainability Paul Crewe said that the supermarket embarked on its solar strategy as part of a far wider sustainability drive that also takes into account other generation and energy efficiency technologies, particularly ground-source heat pumps.

“We’ve got installations across a range of our buildings, from stores, support centres and depots. To date we have used blended programmes, and have often installed solar panels alongside other renewable sources. We take each site on a case-by-case basis though, and will always independently assess it before moving forward,” Crewe added.

He also said that while changes to renewable energy support programmes – particularly the feed-in tariff – would have an impact on any future solar deployment, the supermarket remained committed to the technology and wanted to remain an “industry leader in sustainability”.

The company is however pushing ahead with commercial battery storage and is currently trialling a system in an unnamed store in order to better understand its potential applications.

While Sainsbury’s did not reveal any project specifics, Crewe said it would be monitoring the results to see whether or not it was something that could be “rolled out more widely” in the future.

World could warm by massive 10C if all fossil fuels are burned Wed, 01 Jun 2016 11:05:32 +0000 Arctic would warm by as much as 20C by 2300 with disastrous impacts if action is not taken on climate change, warns new study

A parched Manjara dam project reservoir in Dhanegaon near Latur in Maharashtra, India. Parts of India are currently facing drought.

A parched Manjara dam project reservoir in Dhanegaon near Latur in Maharashtra, India. Parts of India are currently facing drought. Photograph: Anshuman Poyrekar/Getty Images

The planet would warm by searing 10C if all fossil fuels are burned, according to a new study, leaving some regions uninhabitable and wreaking profound damage on human health, food supplies and the global economy.

The Arctic, already warming fast today, would heat up even more – 20C by 2300 – the new research into the extreme scenario found.

“I think it is really important to know what would happen if we don’t take any action to mitigate climate change,” said Katarzyna Tokarska, at the University of Victoria in Canada and who led the new research. “Even though we have the Paris Climate Change Agreement, so far there hasn’t been any action. [This research] is a warning message.”

The carbon already emitted by burning fossil fuels has driven significant global warming, with 2016 near certain to succeed 2015 as the hottest year ever ever recorded, which itself beat a record year in 2014. Other recent studies have shown that extreme heatwaves could push the climate beyond human endurance in parts of the world such as the Gulf, making them uninhabitable.

In Paris in December, the world’s nations agreed a climate change deal intended to limit the temperature rise from global warming to under 2C, equivalent to the emission of a trillion tonnes of carbon. If recent trends in global emissions continue, about 2tn tonnes will be emitted by the end of the century.

The new work, published in Nature Climate Change, considers the impact of emitting 5tn tonnes of carbon emissions. This is the lower-end estimate of burning all fossil fuels currently known about, though not including future finds or those made available by new extraction technologies.

The researchers used a series of sophisticated climate models and found this rise in CO2 would lead to surface temperatures rising by an average of 8C across the world by 2300. When the effect of other greenhouse gases is added, the rise climbs to 10C.

The heating predicted by the models was not uniform across the globe. In the Arctic, the higher CO2 levels led to 17C of warming, with another 3C from other greenhouse gases, across the year. These rises are higher than indicated by previous, less comprehensive models, which are less accurate at modelling how the oceans takes up heat. In February, parts of the Arctic had already recorded temperatures 16C above normal.

The warming caused by burning all fossil fuels would also have enormous impact on rainfall. The new research shows rainfall falling by two-thirds over parts of central America and north Africa and by half over parts of Australia, the Mediterranean, southern Africa and the Amazon.

Thomas Frölicher, at ETH Zürich in Switzerland and not involved in the new work, said: “Given that current trends in fossil fuel emissions would result in temperatures above [the 2C Paris] target, policymakers need to have a clear view of what is at stake both on decadal and centennial timescales if no meaningful climate policies are put in place. The unregulated exploitation of fossil fuel resources could result in significant, more profound climate change.”


National Grid and RES strike new energy storage deal Wed, 01 Jun 2016 09:41:10 +0000 The new service is a forerunner to National Grid’s upcoming tender for 200MW of enhanced frequency response

RES has signed a four-year contract with National Grid to use battery storage systems to help National Grid perform its system balancing role.

RES’ systems will provide frequency response to the grid within one second of the detection of a frequency deviation. The two companies have been working on developing this service since 2014. It is expected to be fully operational within 18 months.

This service is a forerunner to National Grid’s upcoming tender for 200MW of enhanced frequency response. Both services will help National Grid support the network as the country transitions to a generation mix with greater levels of renewable energy.

RES said it believes the contract will demonstrate the potential role of energy storage in the UK’s transition to a secure, low-carbon future system, and encourage policymakers and regulators to “accelerate the removal of barriers to wider deployment of storage in the UK.”

National Grid’s senior account manager Adam Sims said: “This is the first time that battery storage will be used to provide such fast-acting frequency response service to the national transmission network in Great Britain.

“This innovative technology will enable us to respond to frequency issues in under a second, helping to maintain the integrity of the grid.”

RES energy storage manager John Prendergast said: “RES has previously pioneered the delivery of very fast frequency services in Canada and is one of the largest providers of such services in the USA. Now, developing this innovative service with National Grid is a major step in the development of RES’ UK energy storage business.”

RES has already commissioned six similar projects in North America.




World’s largest investor: We want companies with long-term sustainability plan Tue, 22 Mar 2016 08:46:35 +0000 blackrock

The chief executive of the world’s largest investment firm, Blackrock, has called for companies to build environmental, social and governance (ESG) management into their business models, calling it a sign of ‘operational excellence’.

In a letter to chief executives at ‘S&P 500’ companies and large European corporations, Blackrock’s Larry Fink warned that investors were looking for firms with sustainable long-term strategies in place.

Fink wrote: “Generating sustainable returns over time requires a sharper focus not only on governance, but also on environmental and social factors facing companies today.

“These issues offer both risks and opportunities, but for too long, companies have not considered them core to their business – even when the world’s political leaders are increasingly focused on them, as demonstrated by the Paris Climate Accord.

“Over the long-term, environmental, social and governance issues – ranging from climate change to diversity to board effectiveness – have real and quantifiable financial impacts.

“At companies where ESG issues are handled well, they are often a signal of operational excellence. BlackRock has been undertaking a multi-year effort to integrate ESG considerations into our investment processes, and we expect companies to have strategies to manage these issues. ”

In January, funds controlled by Blackrock bought shares in three UK windfarms in a deal worth £423m. Blackrock itself now controls around $4.6trn in assets.


The environmental focus of the world’s largest investor is symptomatic of a shift in the finance sector as a whole. Also announced last week, investors responsible for more than $8trn called on mining giants Anglo American, Glencore and Rio Tinto to be more transparent over the climate risks and impacts of their businesses.

The movement was organised by the Aiming for A coalition of investors which filed two similar successful resolutions focusing on climate change with BP and Shell last year.

The influence of investors on companies should not be underestimated – CDP’s Carbon Action initiativeclaims to have generated 641 million tonnes of carbon savings through investors engaging with companies.

The programme saw investors worth $22trn ask companies to help tackle climate change in three ways: making emissions reductions; publicly disclosing emissions reduction targets; and investing in emissions-reduction projects with a positive return.

In an effort to scale up this type of initiative, the G20 finance watchdog launched a taskforce during COP21 that aims to make company ESG data more easily available to investors.

‘Albeit slower than we all would have liked, we are seeing an increasing number of Companies proactively embracing sustainability around the Board table’ comments Simon Booth, Managing Director of REI. ‘Whilst still early days, this is resulting in positive actions being taken to demonstrate to employees and customers that the company really does care about the future of the earth for our children and future generations’.

‘Originally posted by on 8th February 2016’




Budget 2016: Osborne confirms carbon tax reform and new CfD funding Thu, 17 Mar 2016 14:11:19 +0000 Osborne budget 2016_29910

Delivering his eighth Budget announcement to a jubilant House of Commons yesterday afternoon, Osborne provided some positive news on carbon reporting regulations and the next Contracts for Difference (CfD) auction, and also confirmed new funding for energy storage and demand-side response technologies.

But the Chancellor failed to answer a number of other key green policy questions.

Carbon Reduction Commitment

In a packed Budget that “puts the next generation first”, Osborne confirmed that the Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) will be abolished, with effect from the end of the 2018-19 compliance year.

The official Budget document states that the CRC will be replaced, “in a revenue-neutral way”, with an increase in the Climate Change Levy (CCL) from 2019 – although this CCL rise does mean that renewable energy generators will now have to pay a higher tax, as the Chancellor controversially removed the CCL exemption for clean energy generation in last year’s Budget.

Osborne said: “Many retailers have complained bitterly to me about the complexity of the Carbon Reduction Commitment – it’s not a commitment, it’s a tax. So I can tell the House, we’re not going to reform it. Instead, I’ve decided to abolish it altogether… the most energy-intensive industries remain completely protected and I’m extending the climate change agreements that help many others.”

Contracts for Difference

The Chancellor went on to confirm that £730m will be dedicated to the next wave of Contracts for Difference (CfD) auctions for onshore wind and “other less-established technologies” – double the amount put into the first CfD auction.

“The Energy Secretary and I are announcing £730m in further auctions to back renewable technologies and we’re now inviting bids to help develop the next generation of small modular reactors,” Osborne said.

The official Budget document reads: “The government will auction Contracts for Difference of up to £730m this Parliament for up to 4GW of offshore wind and other less established renewables, with a first auction of £290m. Support for offshore wind will be capped initially at £105/MWh (in 2011-12 prices), falling to £85/MWh for projects commissioning by 2026.”

Energy storage/demand-side response

Following the newly-formed National Infrastructure Commission’s report into the UK’s future low-carbon energy system, the Budget document states that the government will allocate “at least £50m” for innovation in energy storage, demand-side response and other smart technologies over the next five years

Osborne offered little positivity for the green economy from there on. In the same breath as announcing the scrapping of the CRC, the Chancellor agreed to provide yet more support for the UK’s fossil fuel industries in the form of tax cuts for oil and gas – the supplementary charge for oil and gas producers will fall from 20% to 10%.

Nuclear energy

The document states that the Government will launch the first stage of a competition to identify a small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) to be built in the UK, and will publish an SMR delivery roadmap later this year. It will also allocate at least £30m of funding for R&D in advanced nuclear manufacturing.

Osborne gave no mention of Hinkley power plant in today’s speech, and there is no mention of it in the full Budget document.

Flood defence spending

Budget 2016 announces an additional boost to spending on flood defence and resilience of over £700m by 2020-21. This is a welcome boost for Defra, given that this time last year it was being reported that the Department was struggling to fill a £600m black hole in its flood defence spending that was expected to be filled by businesses and local authorities.

Air quality

Osborne gave no mention of this critical issue in his speech, but the full Budget document does include new measures to support the transition to cleaner, zero and ultra-low emission vehicles

Specifically, the Government says it will:

  • Extend the 100% First Year Allowance (FYA) for businesses purchasing low-emission cars for a further three years, to April 2021.
  • Reduce the main rate threshold for capital allowances for business cars to 110 grams/kilometre of CO2 and the FYA threshold to 50 grams/kilometre of CO2 from April 2018.
  • Continue to base Company Car Tax on CO2 emissions of cars, and consult on reforming the lower CO2 bands for ultra-low emission vehicles to refocus incentives on the cleanest cars beyond 2020-21.


Going into the 2016 Budget, hopes were high but expectations were understandable low among sustainability professionals and green groups. Clarity over the Levy Control Framework, more ambitious action on air quality, better support for SMEs on energy efficiency and a U-turn on the controversial CCS cancellation were all on our wishlist, but none received a mention.

The most significant green policy announcement this week came a day before the budget, when Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom announced that the UK will enshrine in law a long-term goal of reducing carbon emissions to zero, as called for in last year’s historic Paris climate deal.

Ultimately, though, this was another Budget that failed to rise to the challenge set by the ambitious Paris Agreement, and Osborne just hasn’t quite delivered the Easter egg of green pledges we were all hoping for.

View the full green business reaction from edie here.

Budget 2016 full document


Renewable energy deployment suppresses CO2 emissions growth Thu, 17 Mar 2016 09:11:07 +0000 Solar_and_emissions_750_505_s

The global surge in renewable energy deployment has been credited for greenhouse gas emissions remaining flat for the second year running, according to the International Energy Agency.

The organisation said the figures suggested that the decoupling of global emissions and economic growth – a key objective in efforts to tackle climate change – was beginning to become a discernable trend.

“The new figures confirm last year’s surprising but welcome news: we now have seen two straight years of greenhouse gas emissions decoupling from economic growth,” said IEA executive director Fatih Birol. “Coming just a few months after the landmark COP21 agreement in Paris, this is yet another boost to the global fight against climate change.”

According to IEA data, global emissions of carbon dioxide stood at 32.1 billion tonnes in 2015, having remained essentially flat since 2013.

The agency said that electricity generated by renewables played a “critical” role, having accounted for around 90% of new electricity generation in 2015.

Alongside the stalled rise in greenhouse gas emissions, the global economy continued to grow by more than 3%, offering further evidence that the link between economic growth and emissions growth is weakening, the IEA claimed.

The agency said that in the 40-plus years it had been gathering CO2 emissions date, there had been only four periods in which emissions had stood still; three of them – in the early 1980s, 1992 and 2009 – were associated with global economic weakness.

But the IEA pointed out that recent stall in emissions comes amid economic expansion, citing International Monetary Fund figures showing that global GDP grew by 3.4% in 2014 and 3.1% in 2015.

REI response to FIT consultation Fri, 28 Aug 2015 10:20:42 +0000 The changes to the Feed-in Tariff (FiT) scheme proposed by DECC yesterday will create turmoil for the solar industry and are the latest and most damaging of a recent series of hostile actions taken by the Conservative Government across the renewables sector. The stability and confidence that the solar market has enjoyed since the last Government FiT disaster in 2011 has suffered a severe knock and left everyone involved in this vibrant sector reeling.

“We believe the FiT support should continue to fall as solar becomes cheaper to deploy, but through a structured and well managed subsidy scheme. Instead, the government evidently plans to remove support entirely,” said Simon Booth, Managing Director from REI. “This would appear to be politically motivated and will take away power from people and hand it back to big energy firms”.

If these proposals are enacted, what are we likely to see? All those schools, businesses and hospitals who have been seeking to take a more proactive stance on reducing their electricity costs by becoming local electricity generators, will lose this ability and have to rely once again on expensive and volatile fossil fuels. While the government’s need to control costs can be understood, it is inefficient to target material savings from the commercial rooftop sector as these solar systems were delivering a much needed stimulus to British SME’s and public organisations through savings in energy bills.

The commercial rooftop segment presently accounts for just 5% of the solar being deployed under the FiT scheme and the sector requires a positive boost, not a death blow. Whilst the consultation proposes a marginally lower reduction to the tariffs available for commercial systems, the investment case would still be left in tatters. Whilst the proposed FiT’s may be attainable in the future as further cost efficiencies are achieved, it is too large to happen all at once and would cause a sudden and prolonged freeze of new investments and the disappearance of a flourishing industry. Proposed stringent caps to annual deployment and the threat of scheme closure if deployment surges, create yet further uncertainty for this part of the industry. The deployment volumes proposed are ridiculously low and, being significantly below the historical volume of installations on commercial rooftops, are inconsistent with repeated statements from the UK government advocating an increase in deployment of solar on commercial roofs.

The Conservative manifesto made no mention of plans to attack the British solar industry, which has flourished thanks to overwhelming public support and delivered unprecedented efficiency improvements. Government should capitalise on that momentum, not push the industry over a cliff when it is so near to being able to repay public support through lower and more stable bills in the future – as well as sustaining tens of thousands of jobs.

REI will work closely with our industry partners to urge the Government in the strongest possible terms to re-think its proposals.

Solar capacity could reach 18GW by 2020, estimates National Grid Thu, 16 Jul 2015 15:54:06 +0000

Solar capacity in the UK could reach 18GW by 2020, and could soar to even higher levels if policy support for other technologies is diverted to solar in the wake of policy changes according to the latest Future Energy Scenarios report issued by the National Grid.

This year’s edition of the study, published on Wednesday, predicts the deployment of energy generation technologies depending on various economic and policy factors and determines what the risks to the National Grid might be.

Both the ‘no progression’ and ‘slow progression’ scenarios paint a tale of minimal uptake all the way into the 2030s with little support from government and a tough economic climate, while ‘gone green’ and ‘consumer power’ scenarios include continued support for renewable technologies, accelerating their adoption.

Under the consumer power scenario solar PV capacity could reach as high as 18GW by 2020, slightly missing former energy and climate change secretary Greg Barker’s ambition of 20GW by 2020, however the difference between that and the bleakest scenario of no progression is stark, with National Grid projecting just 8.6GW – a minute increase over current expected capacity as of Q1 2015.

By 2030 the consumer power scenario predicts solar capacity could have topped 29GW, a substantial increase over other scenarios which the National Grid said would be typified by favourable economical conditions promoting research and development of new technologies, coupled with a strong decarbonisation effort in the UK.

If the consumer power scenario is to ring true National Grid forecast 46% of energy generation demand in the UK could be met by solar PV and wind by 2035, but again the no progress model forecasts that just 11.3GW of solar capacity could be installed in the UK by 2030 if conditions are unfavourable.

Simon Booth, Managing Director, REI says “lots of facts and figures in this article, but the underlying spirit is that solar will meet a high percentage of the UK’s energy demands over the coming decades”.

Former energy minister Greg Barker named BPVA president Thu, 16 Jul 2015 15:46:02 +0000

The former minister of energy and climate change Greg Barker has been named  the new president of the British Photovoltaic Association (BPVA).

The trade body confirmed the appointment this morning. Reza Shaybani, chairman of the BPVA, said it was a “huge honour” to have Barker as the new president, saying he had a record  which “speaks for itself”.

“The UK solar industry was born while Greg was the Energy Minister at DECC responsible for solar. During his time in office, the UK’s solar industry grew to be the largest market in Europe and one of the strongest in the world.

“The BPVA board is extremely excited to have Greg as our President which will enable us to be stronger at home and in the international market,” Shaybani added.

Barker will combine the role with his duties as chair of the London Sustainable Development Commission after standing down as the MP for Bexhill & Battle at May’s general election.

Simon Booth, Managing Director at REI says “it’s a major coup for BPVA to have someone of Greg Barker’s calibre at the helm”.

For full story click here


The Solar Trade Association has published a simple and clear checklist to give managers in commerce and industry the confidence to put solar on their commercial rooftops.

Commercial and industrial roofs dominate the solar market in Europe, but in the UK commercial roofs account for only 5% of all solar deployment to date. However, as part of DECC’s 2014 Solar PV Strategy [2], the emphasis is now changing significantly towards boosting rooftop installations and the STA and its members are working closely with Government to help unlock the huge potential across the UK.

The small commercial roofs sub-market (50kW-250kW) is growing steadily but slowly, with 170MW installed in total across 1200 installations. One of the limiting factors to the market is commercial awareness and confidence from rooftop owners who need reliable guidance. The government focus on this sector and the STA work to support, identify and break down barriers, is now showing signs of significant growth in this market: the first quarter of 2015 saw deployment double compared to the first quarter of 2014.

However, the latest DECC data shows there are only 70 larger-scale (250kW+) solar roofs installed across the UK, and this is where more focus and support is required to tackle the limited deployment. More high profile schemes like the Jaguar Land Rover and BMW car factory roofs are needed.

Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association said:

“From Apple and Amazon to Marks & Spencer and Walmart, many well-known companies are going solar to reduce their carbon footprint and because they want the reliable and clean power supply solar provides during work hours. Many companies want to follow suit, and if we can help them to identify competent contractors then we will have more UK success stories. We hope our Confidence Checklist will empower more commercial sector managers to install solar on the roofs of their company premises.”

Welcoming the initiative, Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom MP said:

“Solar is an integral part of the UK’s energy mix. It’s great to see industry initiatives like this boosting confidence and take-up, so hardworking families and businesses can benefit from low-carbon energy and lower bills.”

The checklist, which can be downloaded from the STA website, is applicable to all size of commercial rooftop installation from schools and small businesses to large supermarkets and factories. Solar has been installed on a huge range of structures across the UK including bridges, airports, city skyscrapers, railway station roofs, car parks and even motorway sound barriers. Solar can also be integrated in to buildings, embedded in glass as windows, and also included as a vertical building façade.

The Solar Trade Association’s Technical Specialist Chris Roberts, who developed the checklist in partnership with STA members said:

“Speaking to our members and interested commercial companies, it is clear that many commercial managers will benefit from guidance to help them navigate the installation of a solar scheme, which can be complex. Much of the currently guidance is simply too technical. Managers want to know how to identify a quality contractor to work with. Our checklist helps them to do this, and to monitor the project effectively as it proceeds.”

The STA has previously identified administrative barriers to the incorporation of solar power on commercial premises. Government is acting to remove several of these, including permitted development rights for solar up to 1MW (meaning it will not need planning permission) and the ability to shift rooftop schemes if companies move premises.

Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association, said:

“We need more ambitious rooftop targets and changes to the policy framework by Government to ensure commercial rooftop solar can fulfil its potential in future, but there is no reason why companies cannot take the initiative to go solar today. We hope that our Commercial Rooftop Solar Confidence Checklist will give a little push to companies that have been thinking about going solar to take the plunge. If they follow our advice, it’s a move they won’t regret.”


You can download the Commercial Rooftop Solar Confidence Checklist here

Toby Smith, Commercial Director, REI  says ” this is useful advice from a trade body, and I am pleased to say it all accords nicely with our own process and what we expect from our Partners”.