With the fossil fuel industry up to capacity, the government has ignored the obvious alternative and decided to hand out tax breaks for dirty gas, oil and nuclear power, despite overwhelming scientific and economic evidence of the benefits of renewable alternatives.
So, the air gets more polluted and unnecessarily cold homes continue to contribute to the misery and deaths of thousands of vulnerable people each winter.
We have the resources and the research, and most significantly the will to overcome the energy challenges we face in the UK. Within the space of a year 15 community groups in Sussex alone have joined forces to support energy savings and the development of locally generated renewable energy. But those in power are sidestepping the obvious solution diverting taxpayers funds to uneconomic investments.
Instead, the government offers tax breaks for the big energy companies to build more fossil fuel plants and new nuclear. The autumn statement promised £15billion for roads. It overhauls stamp duty ignoring the opportunity to link it to environmentally friendly buildings. Even the flood defense proposals are inadequate, according to experts. The treasury continues to endorse shale gas production, despite overwhelming public concern about safety and the impacts on land, water and air, including the emission of even more greenhouse gases.
As taxpayers we are right to have a say in where our money goes, and insist on value for money on government spending. One may ask how this major investment in roads and tax breaks for fossil fuels will meet the immediate need to address fuel poverty and its consequent pressure on the NHS. Furthermore, how will it encourage the generation of locally controlled renewable energy which has been proven to reduce energy prices in Germany and is supported by millions of people across the country as a way of taking back control of our own energy supply and improving energy security?
Price comparison website uSwitch, announced that almost four million UK households (14%) owe money to their energy supplier. Increasing gas and electricity prices over the winter pushed UK households into debt at an average amount of £128 per household. Despite the mild winter, bills are £53 higher than at the start of 2013. The report highlights households are facing increased pressure to meet their rising fuel bills with the number of household falling into energy debt rising dramatically. It was also reported that the average household energy bill is 168% higher than in 2004, an increase of £472. Read the full report from uSwitch on their website.
At BHESCo, we are working hard to alleviate this problem by inviting the Brighton and Hove community to reduce their consumption and therefore expenditure on energy, making their homes more comfortable and energy efficient. Monetary savings can be made on energy bills by switching supplier, ensuring that you are on the tariff that meets your requirements. If you are in debt to your energy supplier and cannot switch, we may be able to help through BHESCo’s Fuel Poverty Fund.
Homes can also be made more energy efficient by installing simple energy saving initiatives, such as draught excluders and energy saving light bulbs. The Green Deal Home Improvement Fund is a way that you can reduce your energy bills for less! Find out more about this programme here.
Cost: Tickets cost £5 on the door (£3 concessions).
Time: Drinks & informal networking at 19.00. Talk runs from 19.30-21.00. Time for further networking afterwards.
Location: Brighthelm Centre, North Road, Brighton BN1 1YD.
Refreshments: Delicious free snacks and nibbles.
If you wish to attend, please reserve a place via the Community Energy South events webpage’s.
09 Apr 2014
The long awaited announcement came from the Department of Energy and Climate Change today. The renewable heat incentive (RHI) for domestic properties has come into effect on 9 April 2014. This subsidy makes solar thermal and biomass (wood pellet) burners financially attractive alternatives to fossil fuels for home heating. The scheme is open to social and private landlords, their tenants and home owners.
BHESCo is a community energy supplier helping people lower their energy bills by installing renewable energy generation systems and energy efficiency measures. Contact us if you are interested in our risk free service offering for the Brighton & Hove community.
On Saturday, The Independent’s Environment Editor, Tom Bawden, weighed the evidence on Fracking, without mentioning the Shale Gas Report undertaken by the researchers at the Tyndall Centre, commissioned by the Co-operative Bank.
We can stop extreme methods like shale gas and coal bed methane extraction now. We have a choice. We don’t have to wreck the environment to maintain our standard of living. Express your choice. Please tell your MP that you are against extreme methods of fossil fuel extraction.
Shale gas and coal bed methane extraction methods now threaten communities across the UK. In the government’s drive to incentivise the fossil fuel industry, feeding our addiction to oil and gas instead of investing in a renewable energy alternative, the taxpayer continues to finance tax allowances for smaller fields like shale gas and coal bed methane. These incentives can cost hundreds of millions of pounds. The tax breaks for the gas industry make £500 million of profit exempt from tax, at 32%, this creates a toxic subsidy of £160 million. This doesn’t include the subsidy that the gas industry receives for the cost of decommissioning their drilling sites. According to HMRC, it is the UK Government’s aim to“maximise the economic production of hydrocarbon reserves” working with industry to increase its subsidy for marginal fields and projects.
In their report concluded almost two years ago, the Tyndall Centre described in detail the dangers of fracking, from its contribution to increasing harmful release of methane (a concentrated greenhouse gas contributing to climate change 20 times more effective in trapping heat than carbon) as well as the danger to the water aquifers in the areas where drilling takes place. Water is essential to life itself and cannot be tainted.
Treasury has done little to disguise its disdain for supporting the renewable industry by creating a volatile and uncertain investment climate in continuously decreasing the amount of Feed in tariff for wind and solar. The tariffs have a different effect on the taxpayer, as it is not direct tax relief, like the subsidy for oil and gas. The Feed in tariffs are actually paid by the energy suppliers, eventually passed onto the consumer in their energy tariff. It can be seen as a form of investment in our clean energy future.
According to OFGEM, from the inception of the Feed in Tariff in April 2010 to June 2012, 248,000 renewable energy systems have been installed, creating more than 1GW of clean generation capacity – enough to power about 213,000 homes. Since 99% of these systems are solar photovoltaic (PV), this means that for the next 25 years, the sun will generate 1 GW of electricity for free! Were the government to support investment in the energy infrastructure, the electricity transmission system, energy suppliers may be incentivised to invest in renewables in order to reap the benefit of increased distributed generation. Unfortunately, this has not been the case.
The burgeoning community energy movement has already started to make a real difference to our clean energy generation capacity. In the Southeast alone, about 235kW of solar electricity has been added to the grid by local community initiatives – enough to power about 50 homes. In Oxfordshire, the ambitious community group will replace the dirty Didcot power station by applying a power up and power down strategy – building renewable energy generation and transforming residential and commercial energy consumption. These strategies have been recommended by knowledgeable, reputable groups ranging from the Centre for Alternative technologies, Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and Ecofys. Any one of these reports is an interesting depiction of our future with 100% renewable energy generation.