The number of new solar power installations in the UK has dropped for the second year in a row, according to a new study published by Solar Power Europe this week.
The decline has been so steep that is has brought the entire EU average down to practically zero, despite several European countries installing record-breaking numbers of panels last year.
The UK installed 4.1GW worth of new solar panels in 2015
In 2016, the figure was down to just under 2GW
Last year, we installed just0.95GW
Lack of government support
The sharp drop has been blamed on government cuts to solar panel subsidies, making them a less attractive financial investment to homeowners and businesses.
The Labour party have called the government’s commitment to green energy “nothing but an empty PR move”, while the chief executive of Solar Power Europe said “Solar power has been voted the most popular energy source in the UK, it is therefore sad to see the UK government not take advantage of the huge potential of solar.”
Energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd challenged the criticism, stating that the cuts were necessary to keep energy bills down “whilst ensuring there is a sensible level of support for low carbon technologies that represent value for money.”
Still a world leader
Despite the recent slow growth, Britain is still ranked sixth internationally in terms of installed solar capacity, and third in Europe behind Germany and Italy. China are now the biggest, with a total of 130GW installed capacity providing 1.07% of the country’s consumption.
Have you noticed that your energy tariff includes a standing charge, but you’re unsure what it means? In this article we’ll answer some of the most commonly asked questions about standing charges on your gas & electricity bills.
Standing charge definition
First things first, what is a standing charge?
Quite simply, a standing charge is the fixed cost you pay for having access to a gas and/or electricity supply.
It works a little bit like the line rental on your phone bill – you always pay it no matter what, and then you pay for individual calls on top.
The standing charge pays for things like network maintenance, meter readings, and in some cases government energy saving initiatives.
What is a typical standing charge?
It varies depending on who supplies your energy and which tariff you are on. As a very rough guide, it can range from 10p-80p per day for gas, and 5p-60p per day for electricity.
Eversmart Energy offers one of the lowest standing charges in the industry – 10.5 pence per day on most of our tariffs. You can enter your details and get a quote here.
What’s the difference between standing charge and unit rate?
Whilst the standing charge is a flat fee that stays the same from month to month, the unit rate is the cost you pay per unit of gas or electricity consumed. Going back to our phone comparison – if the standing charge is like your line rental, the unit rate is a bit like paying for individual calls.
Your unit rate is measured in pence per kilowatt-hour (p/kWh) for both gas and electricity. Again, the price per unit depends on your supplier and tariff. Together, the standing charge and the unit rate make up your energy bill.
Is there such thing as a zero standing charge tariff?
Yes. They’re not very common, but some suppliers do offer tariffs with no standing charge – including Eversmart Energy.
However… just because you don’t pay a standing charge, it doesn’t necessarily mean your bills will be cheaper.
Most people are actually better off paying a standing charge. The only people that will really benefit from a ‘no standing charge’ tariff are those who own properties that are empty for long periods of time – for example if you are away from home for several months of the year, or if you own a garage or workshop that is completely separate from your main property.
If your tariff has a higher standing charge, your unit rate will probably be cheaper and vice versa. If you pay no standing charge at all, your unit rate could be considerably more expensive. The best thing to do is find a tariff that strikes the right balance for your usage and circumstances.
If you think you would be better off on a no standing charge tariff, you can contact us to discuss your options.
Do standing charges apply on a prepayment meter?
Yes. The standing charge is subtracted from your credit every day. If you’re going away on holiday, it’s important that you leave enough credit on your meter to cover the standing charge.
Also be aware that if you run out of credit the standing charge will still be applied, building up a debt if you don’t pay it back.
Do standing charges apply on a smart meter?
The standing charge is determined by your tariff, not the type of meter you have – so it doesn’t make any difference if you have a standard meter or a smart meter. We have answered some common questions about smart meters in this article.
Do you feel you are paying too much for your gas and electricity? Eversmart offer some of the most competitive energy prices in the industry – you can get a quote in under 2 minutes here.
Luxury car maker Rolls Royce has promised to ditch petrol engines and only produce electric cars by 2040.
The move was announced to bring Rolls Royce in line with new legislation in the UK and France. Both countries have promised to ban cars that aren’t at least partly powered by electricity by 2040. The luxury vehicle brand believes that other markets, such as North America and the Middle-East, will soon follow suit.
Chief executive of Rolls Royce Torsten Müller-Ӧtvӧs said in an interview “When you see what happens in Saudi, when you see what happens in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, they are all looking into alternative energy. Electrification will also happen in these countries, sooner or later… we will definitely offer 12-cylinder engines as long as we can, as long as it is legally allowed to offer them.”
Plans for the Future
At present, Rolls Royce offer 12-cylinder petrol engines in most of their cars. They plan to unveil a new electric car within the next 10 years, and gradually phase-out their petrol offerings over the next decades.
“Electrification actually fits extremely well with Rolls-Royce because it’s silent, it’s powerful, it’s torquey, so in that sense it’s a very good fit.”
Although France and the UK are the only countries so far to set solid deadlines, Germany have indicated that they are considering similar legislation, and China want one fifth of all new cars to be powered by electricity by 2025.
For the first 3 months of 2018 the UK’s combined wind farms generated more electricity than its 8 nuclear power stations, setting a new milestone for renewable energy.
Wind power provided 18.8% of the country’s electricity during the first three months of 2018, with only gas power providing more. This is the first time that wind power alone has beaten nuclear – wind and solar combined did overtake nuclear during the final quarter of 2017. This is the latest in a long line of positive steps for cheap electricity from renewable sources.
It is thought that the recently built Western Link played a big role in achieving this milestone. The 262-mile long cable connects wind farms in Hunterston, Western Scotland to Connah’s Quay in North Wales, allowing electricity to be efficiently distributed throughout England & Wales as well as Scotland. Before the link was developed, Scottish wind farms often had to shut down as the National Grid couldn’t cope with the excess power.
Emma Pinchbeck, executive director at RenewableUK said “It is great news for everyone that rather than turning turbines off to manage our ageing grid, the new cable instead will make best use of wind energy.”
The UK is a world leader in wind power, with over 8,000 wind turbines in various onshore and offshore locations around the country – the largest being Whitelee Wind Farm in western Scotland, with its 215 turbines and a total capacity of 539MW. As of the beginning of May 2018, UK wind farms had a total capacity of 19.2 gigawatts.
Top image: Sheringham Shoal Offshore Wind Farm (source).
Large-scale power outages are thankfully rare in the UK. In an uncertain world it’s the job of organisations like Ofgem, The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, and The National Grid to keep our energy supplies secure and reliable.
Ofgem recently released a detailed infographic explaining where our energy comes from, how it’s kept stable during periods of high demand, and which other countries we cooperate with in order to improve energy security & save costs. Factors such as unusual weather, the cost of fossil fuels, the availability of renewable power and economic activity can all affect demand and put strain on the National Grid.
Did you know?…
Energy demand can triple on a cold winters day
Britain is able to import electricity from France, Ireland and the Netherlands when demand is high
We can also sell electricity to a number of European countries when demand in Britain is low
Around half of Britain’s natural gas comes from the North Sea
Gas can be imported from continental Europe via pipelines or shipped in from further away in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
The government are also rolling out Smart Meters and attempting to create a Smart Grid, which will make it easier to understand energy usage and anticipate periods of high demand.
The full Ofgem infographic can be seen below. Click or tap on the image for a better view.
Experts predict that the world will run out of traditional fossil fuels within fifty to one hundred years from now.
Renewable energy sources – such as wind, solar, wave, tidal and geothermal energy – have been steadily growing in popularity around the world for well over a decade, and as resources like coal and gas become more scarce,the world will need to up its renewable capacity.
Have you ever been confused by renewable energy? This excellent short video from National Geographic explains what it is, the advantages and disadvantages of alternative energy, and the challenges the world still needs to overcome in order to let go of our fossil fuel dependency.
The video answers questions such as:
What is renewable energy?
What are the most common sources of renewable power?
Hello and welcome to the brand new Eversmart Blog!
Over the coming weeks and months you will see this area of our website filling up with useful advice, news from the energy industry, stories from our customers and announcements from our team.
There isn’t much to see yet, but please be sure to check back very soon! You can also keep up-to-date by following us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We love hearing from our customers – if you have a question to ask our team or a story you would like to tell us about, please let us know in the comments section below or via one of our social media channels.
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