Stories about the environment and renewable energy have certainly had a leading position in the news throughout this year. For certain, nobody could have missed the continued impact of TV shows like Planet Earth 2 and more recently, Drowning in Plastic with Liz Bonnin, dominating the news stories. Alongside daily updates on Brexit there is an increased level of news on the impact that us humans are having on the planet. Here’s our round-up of our top 5 environment and energy news stories from this year.
Temperature records smashed all over the world in Summer 2018
Hundreds of temperature records were broken in summer 2018 due to a global heatwave, as shown on this engaging animation from Axios. As well as the record-breaking temperatures causing widespread wildfires in America, Australia and other areas of Europe, the extreme weather continued across the globe with snow in the Sahara, typhoons in Japan, flooding in China and the UK “Beast from the East”. Sky News’ “a year of dangerous weather article” is a great summary of these extreme weather events.
Here in the UK, summer 2018 was the joint hottest on record, with England having it’s hottest summer on record, according to the Met Office. Many of us will surely remember the 6 weeks of glorious weather (or stuffy, sleepless nights and stores sold out of electric fans!) in July and August where temperatures consistently rose higher than 30C.
There are natural and regular temperature cycles in the UK’s weather systems but a spokesperson for the Met office also warned that “the risk of heatwaves is increasing due to greenhouse gas emissions”. Reducing carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions is something that can be achieved with renewable energy technology and other lifestyle choices (currently being widely debated, such as giving up beef).
Read the full article on UK temperature records this summer on the Guardian website here.
Image from BBC news article
Privately rented properties in England and Wales must now meet minimum “E” level EPC rating
As of 1st April 2018, new regulations came in to force to ensure that all privately-rented homes would have an energy efficient rating of at least an “E”, for new tenancies. The alternative would be to face a fine of up to £5,000 per property and the rules apply to residential or commercial premises. The rules will also be extended to existing tenancies in 2020.
Loft insulation is one way to make a big impact on your building’s energy efficiency score, with spray foam insulation expected to save at least 30% of energy used to heat your home, therefore reducing your heating bills by 30% too.
The latest government guidelines on the minimum energy efficiency standards for rented homes can be found here on the government website.
Example EPC rating from the UK Government
For the first time, the renewable energy capacity of the UK surpassed fossil fuels this summer
With the use of fossil fuels falling by a third, and the uptake of renewable energy having tripled in the past five years, renewable energy production capacity has overtaken fossil fuels sooner than predicted.
“The result is that between July and September, the capacity of wind, solar, biomass and hydropower reached 41.9 gigawatts, exceeding the 41.2GW capacity of coal, gas and oil-fired power plants.”
Solar energy (Photovoltaic) panels are now the second largest source of renewables across the UK after wind power and ahead of Biomass, and there are only six coal-fired power plants still in operation in the UK.
This is also likely to be boosted by the reduction in costs of renewable energy production, which is set to be cheaper to produce than fossil fuels by 2020.
Government announces full closure of the Feed In Tariff (FIT) for new applicants after 31st March 2019
In July this year, the Government announced its closure of the export tariff alongside the generation tariff on 31st March 2019. This move has widely been considered as a blow for small-scale renewables, especially after the scheme was much more successful than predicted.
Residents and business who have solar panels installed after March 2019 will therefore be expected to give any excess energy produced back to the grid for free, rather than receiving the Feed-in Tariff. If UK residents and businesses are still interested in installing Solar Panels from April 2018 onward, then a battery storage solution could greatly reduce the amount of energy handed back to the grid – Daylight Energy Battery Storage Solutions.
First Green GB Week
2018 saw the government’s first ever Green GB & NI week (15th – 19th October 2018) to promote clean growth to provide new job opportunities, tackle climate change and build a “cleaner, green future” alongside economic growth.
As part of this week, companies could pledge sustainable commitments on the Mission Possible platform. Introduced by edie.net, Mission Possible is “purpose-driven campaign which aims to inspire and empower businesses to ramp up efforts across all areas of sustainable development”. Companies that pledged sustainable commitments for their businesses included Amazon, Barratt Developments, Deloitte, Green Tourism, John Lewis Partnership and Royal Mail Group.
“We pledge to deploy up to 20MW of large-scale rooftop solar systems on 10 of our fulfilment centres in the UK over the coming 18 months, generating the equivalent amount of electricity required to power over 4,500 UK homes.”
“We pledge to develop a science-based carbon reduction target by the end of 2019. We also pledge to procure renewable electricity for 100% of our non-landlord supplied offices by the end of October 2018. And we will also reduce our waste intensity by 20%, to 5.67 tonnes per 100sqm (compared to baseline of 7.09 tonnes per 100sq m in FY 2015), by 2025.”
“Deloitte has targeted the highest sustainability standards in our new London headquarters, optimising environmental performance and maximising wellbeing design. From today, we pledge to apply the same principles to all future UK office fit-outs.”
“We pledge to provide advice and guidance to 5,000 members of the hospitality industry to help them work towards zero use of single-use plastic by the end of 2019 – especially in foodservice and personal hygiene products”
“We pledge to revolutionise our 500-strong fleet of John Lewis & Partners and Waitrose & Partners delivery trucks, turning current diesel lorries into bio-methane clean machines by 2028.”
“We commit to investing in existing and new technologies and trialling low or zero-emission vehicles, to reduce our emissions by 20 per cent by 2020–21, against a 2004–05 baseline.”
All 67 pledges made can be read here on the edie.net website.
Look out for more information on Green GB Week 2019. Daylight Energy will be promoting Green GB Week and other energy news stories on their website and social media platforms.