Divestment – the decision to voluntarily reduce one’s fossil fuel investments – has been a hot button topic of discussion since 2011, when university students began calling on their institutions to remove fossil fuels from their portfolios. Divestment arguments have often focused on the morality of investments, but the economic value of divestment has recently become hard to ignore. But profitable sustainability is coming of age, at least as far as renewable energy is concerned. With the value of fossil fuel holdings plummeting and the profitability of renewables growing, investors and companies are increasingly looking to sustainable investments for good long term bets. Renewable energy is becoming increasingly viable, a trend that could potentially be a game-changer for investors, particularly large scale, global investors like the ones attending the UN summit.
Guardian 13th Feb 2016 read more »
Ministers have been accused of planning a U-turn that would see consumers fund new onshore wind farms through green levies. The Government confirmed it was “looking carefully” at a wind industry proposal to continue public financial support for new turbines, despite a manifesto pledge to halt expansion. Critics described the proposal as a con, and said the Conservatives’ policy had been “crystal clear” that the subsidies would stop. Under the plan, households would still be forced to pay millions of pounds on their energy bills to fund new wind farms – but the payments would no longer be defined as subsidies. The wind industry’s plan hinges on the fact that no new power plants are commercially viable to build at the moment without extra financial support from bill-payers. If wind farms can be built at lower cost to consumers than alternatives, such as new gas plants, then payments to fund them should no longer be classed as “subsidy”, the industry argues.
Telegraph 13th Feb 2016 read more »
ANUPAM PATRA is the energy industry’s worst nightmare — and a glimpse of its future. The 41-year-old uses three smartphone apps to keep tabs on his household power consumption. He schedules energy-intensive activities for when his rooftop solar panels are pumping out maximum electricity, removing the need to draw expensive power from the grid. When the sun came out on Thursday, at 11am, he started a load of laundry from work with a tap of his touchscreen. The upshot? The annual energy bill for his four-bedroom detached house in Gloucester is £600 — about half the typical rate of £1,100. What’s more, he receives so much money from the government through a hugely generous solar subsidy scheme — which has been dramatically slashed for newcomers — that he does not expect to pay a penny for electricity until 2034, when his deal expires. “I actually got paid £80 last year,” he said. “Unless our consumption goes up, I don’t see that changing.” Patra’s is an extreme case, but he represents a future that has arrived much faster than executives of the big six British energy companies had expected. Keith Anderson, chief corporate officer of Scottish Power, admitted: “In its current form, the utility is dead. It’s a dinosaur.” “There is a transformation going on that may well be like the telecoms revolution of the past 20 years,” said Iain Conn, chief executive of British Gas owner Centrica. “One can envision a future where distributed generation is the main source and large fossil-fuel stations back them up.”
Sunday Times 14th Feb 2016 read more »