UK faces winter power rationing as risk of blackouts rises

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The risk of electricity shortages this winter is at its highest level for nearly 10 years, National Grid warned today, with the situation likely to get worse before it gets better.

The company said that in a cold winter, the UK's electricity “margin”, or safety buffer, would be just five per cent - almost half last year’s level and the lowest since early in 2007.

But the company insisted it was wrong to say Britain faced blackouts and was confident extra energy would flow from the Continent if the country risked a supply shortage.

Visit a green super home

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SuperHome Open Days this September will reveal the inside story of 54 of the UK homes most improved for energy use. These are older homes refurbished by their owners to produce a carbon footprint at least 60% smaller. These are real homes where the owners can explain the benefits and challenges involved.

Life in a box

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It looks like, er, a box. But in fact it’s a home – and a comfortable one at that, says Sussex Press.

The Cube has been billed as “an innovative modular living prototype”.

It is likely to attract great interest at the forthcoming Lewes and district Eco Open Houses event, which showcases homes that inspire with ideas for green living and cutting energy bills.

The Cube Project is an initiative of Dr Mike Page, of the University of Hertfordshire, who set out to build a compact, modern home no bigger than 3x3x3 metres on the inside - that’s just shy of 10ft square - in which one person could live a comfortable, modern existence with a minimum impact on the environment.

Zero carbon Britain

Updated renewable energy scenario suggests a promising future for the UK

The Center for Alternative Technology, a leading environmentalist group, has released an update to its Zero Carbon Britain scenario. This scenario models the path that the United Kingdom must take in order to reach carbon neutrality and be accountable for no harmful emissions. The update, called Rethinking the Future, aims to show that carbon neutrality in the United Kingdom is a possibility without the need for innovative technology or exotic new forms of renewable energy.

Cambridge team enters solar race

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The car may look like a space pod that could fly but it’s actually hoping to do something debatably far more impressive: win a marathon desert race powered by solar energy.

The group of Cambridge students who designed and built the teardrop-shaped green car hope it will win the World Solar Challenge in Australia.

The competition pits entrants from across the globe against each other on a 3,000km drive from Darwin to Adelaide, in which the vehicles must be powered purely by the sun.

The Cambridge car called Resolution has a set of moving solar panels which track the path of the sun across the sky. The team claims this gives it 20% more power than it otherwise would get.

Energy saving measures increase UK house prices

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Making energy saving improvements to your property could increase its value by 14 per cent on average - and up to 38 per cent in some parts of England - new research released today by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) reveals.

For an average home in the country, improving its EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) from band G to E, or from band D to B, could mean adding more than £16,000 to the sale price of the property. In the North East, improved energy efficiency from band G to E could increase this value by over £25,000 and the average home in the North West could see £23,000 added to its value.

U.K. energy retailers are picking partners for the first stage of a nationwide smart meter rollout

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Trilliant, the Silicon Valley smart grid networking vendor that’s already working with British Gas on one of the United Kingdom’s biggest initial smart meter deployments, has just landed another big utility partner seeking to win market share in the same competitive market, says Green Tech Media.

RWE npower, the U.K. subsidiary of giant European utility RWE, announced Wednesday that it has picked Trilliant to supply both the underlying networking software platform for its first round of smart meter rollouts, and the communications hubs that sit inside the homes being connected to the smart grid.

It’s all part of RWE npower’s “pre-DCC Foundation smart meter services,” a term of art that applies to the first, competitive stage of the U.K.’s mandated rollout. Between now and the end of 2015, it and competitors like British Gas, E.ON, Scottish & Southern Energy, EDF Energy and First Utility -- the “big six” energy retailers that control the majority of the country’s market -- are expected to deploy as many as 2 million smart meters, out of the eventual 50 million or so mandated for rollout by 2020.

energy efficiency measures that could add 16% to your home's value

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Homeowners planning to sell this summer are being urged to ‘go green’ as research reveals that energy efficiency measures can increase the value of your property, says This Is Money.

Improving a home’s energy efficiency rating could add more than £16,000 to the asking price, according to government analysis released this week. And it need not cost a fortune.

Richard Patterson, at myonline estateagent.com, says: ‘Buyers want measures that will save money on bills. The most common requests are double glazing, an efficient boiler, and loft and cavity wall insulation.

Griff Rhys Jones objects to Tattingstone solar farm plan

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Comedian Griff Rhys Jones said building a £25m solar farm near his Suffolk home would be a "folly" that would ruin the landscape, according to the BBC.

Hive Energy wants to build a 43,000-panel farm at Tattingstone, near Ipswich.

Mr Rhys Jones said he feared a "gigantic change of use to farmland".

Europe on verge of trade war with China over cheap solar panels

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Europe is gearing up for a fresh trade war with China with plans to impose a levy on billions of pounds worth of imports of cheap solar panels, says Emily Gosden.

The European Commission has proposed a tough 47pc “anti-dumping” tariff to penalise the imports, it emerged on Wednesday.

The move would benefit European manufacturers, who allege their Chinese rivals - whose panels are as much as 45pc cheaper - are unfairly subsidised by Beijing.

Chinese solar panel production quadrupled between 2009 and 2011, exceeding global demand, and EU manufacturers say China has now captured 80pc of the European market.

However, action against the Chinese imports is fiercely opposed by European solar panel installation companies which have thrived on the cheap supply and claim that hundreds of thousands of jobs could be at risk.