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Energy firm opens door to the most important market in flexible energy

  • Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands welcomes move
  • First customer to participate named as Gateshead Energy Company

Britain’s leading demand response aggregator, Flexitricity, has launched a new electricity and gas supply service, which will bring the flexibility of industrial and commercial energy users and small generators into the Balancing Mechanism – the real-time electricity market National Grid uses to balance supply and demand.
Today (6 November), Minister for Energy, Connectivity and the Islands, Paul Wheelhouse MSP, welcomed the launch, which will give businesses direct access to both wholesale energy markets and the Balancing Mechanism (BM).
Energy prices in the BM can reach £2,500/MWh, compared to around £50/MWh in wholesale markets. The BM has previously been the preserve of traditional energy suppliers, such as the Big Six. By taking the flexibility of industrial, commercial and public-sector energy users right into the BM, Edinburgh-based Flexitricity will give its customers a slice of this premium market, while cutting the cost for National Grid and all energy users.
Speaking of the launch, Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse, said: “The development of a flexible electricity system is a key aspect of our vision towards achieving greener, more efficient energy.
“Energy ‘aggregators’ play a vital role in helping us to manage our electricity systems as we move towards a more decentralised system, ensuring that many more consumers can benefit from providing flexibility to their local electricity networks.
“By taking advantage of the changing energy market, innovative products and services like Flexitricity+ can help to drive down costs for consumers and industry, champion innovation and growth, and help us to meet the ambitions laid out in the Energy Strategy.”
Rachel Maitland, Flexitricity’s Head of Supply, added: “Today marks a significant day for our customers, as well as bill-payers across the country, by making our electricity system greener, fairer and more efficient. Flexitricity+ is a disruptive new proposition and we’re very proud to be the first to deliver it. Our track record of innovation, strength of existing operations and technical expertise mean that we’re ideally positioned to maximise the revenue our customers can earn from this marketplace.
“We’re currently in discussion with a range of organisations who see the powerful business benefits of using our new service. Community energy schemes, combined heat and power (CHP) generators, cold stores, renewables, gas peaking plant and battery developers are all in a very strong position to benefit from Flexitricity+.”
The first customer contract secured is with Gateshead Energy Company (GEC) – a subsidiary of Gateshead Council, set up in 2016 to serve Gateshead with low cost, low carbon heat and power. GEC operate the Gateshead District Energy Scheme, which in 2017 won the Association for Distributed Energy’s Visionary Project award.
As a participant in the Balancing Mechanism, Gateshead Energy Company will generate revenue through its Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plant – an excellent source of flexible reserve energy – which, as a publicly owned company, ultimately will increase support for community services.
Jim Gillon, Energy Services Manager, acting for Gateshead Energy Company, said: “As a publicly owned, local heat and power generator, Gateshead Energy Company needs to continually look for ways improve its income base in order to support a low-cost energy offer to local customers. Flexitricity has already helped GEC do that since 2017, with access to the Capacity Market and reserve power markets.
“When we went to the market recently to seek a new electricity supplier that could also help us access the Balancing Mechanism, Flextricity’s proposal was clearly the best value solution for GEC, so, we are very pleased to be able to broaden our relationship and to build on the excellent service we have received from Flexitricity to date.”
Earlier this year the Edinburgh firm celebrated its tenth operational birthday by announcing it had surpassed the £20 million mark in benefits for its customers, achieved over a decade of live smart grid operations.
The firm racked up £4.3m in turnover in the year ending March 2017, its best year of trading to date. It now employs 35 people at its Edinburgh headquarters.
Flexitricity’s customers include small generators and business electricity users, including commercial greenhouses, warehouses, NHS hospitals, universities, banks, datacentres, and manufacturers, and the growing pool of district heating schemes which provide low cost energy to help alleviate fuel poverty.


Record supporters for Fire Door Safety Week campaign

•    Fire Door Safety Week reaches campaign high with over 350 supporters
•    Five powerful videos sharing Fire Door Safety Week key messages watched by more than 5,000 viewers
•    Nearly 30,000 visits to the campaign website so far this year – up 44% from 2017
The award-winning Fire Door Safety Week campaign reached a new high in 2018, gaining support from more than 350 individuals, organisations and businesses, and reaching millions through press coverage and social media activity.
The week is run by the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), the Fire Door Alliance and the Fire Door Inspection Scheme, in partnership with the Home Office’s National Fire Safety campaign. It aims to stamp out the legacy of neglect of fire doors across the UK, while raising awareness of the crucial role that fire doors play in protecting lives.
This year’s campaign was particularly successful online, where the Fire Door Safety Week website traffic increased by 44% to nearly 30,000 visits to date. On Twitter, posts sharing vital campaign messages reached over 1.5 million users and the hashtag #FireDoorSafetyWeek achieved 500k impressions through impressive user engagement which resulted in more than 550 mentions and 1,000 retweets.
As part of the campaign, a poll of 1,000 UK adults in rented accommodation was conducted to highlight attitudes towards fire safety – and results demonstrated that there is still much more to do to ensure that standards within the industry are raised. The shocking responses showed that only a quarter of tenants have been reassured or had discussions with their landlord about fire safety in their building. With so little done to address the concerns of tenants, landlords still have a long way to go meet their fire safety responsibilities. In addition, almost three quarters of flat tenants would ignore the guidance to ‘stay put’ if there was a fire in their building and their particular flat was not affected, indicating a lack of confidence in their building’s ability to stop the spread of fire or smoke.
Supported widely by the media, the campaign has so far resulted in more than 90 national, regional and trade pieces of news coverage including an article on page two of The Times on the first day of the campaign. In addition, 12 radio interviews with campaign spokesperson Hannah Mansell reached a potential audience of 31.7 million through outlets including Sky News Radio.
A series of five powerful films formed part of the week, one of which was a tribute to the victims, survivors and bereaved of Grenfell. So far, the films achieved over 5,000 plays.
Hannah Mansell, spokesperson for the Fire Door Safety Week campaign, as well as BWF Head of Technical Research and Insight, Chair of the Passive Fire Protection Forum and a Trustee of the Children’s Burns Trust, said “This year’s campaign reached a new high. Gaining our largest number of supporters to date, it brought together supporters from the construction supply chain, housing associations, fire and rescue services, action groups as well as members of the public.
“But even with this year’s reach and engagement, it’s clear that our work is not done. It’s easy to see that fire doors remain an area of neglect across the UK, with poorly installed and maintained doors regularly reported to us.
“Fire doors play a critical role in protecting occupants and the emergency services in a fire. It’s disgraceful that such a low number of occupants have been informed by their landlords about the fire safety plan for their building. We are talking basic information, but information that could make the difference between life and death.
“Over the next 12 months, the BWF will continue to raise awareness of the lifesaving role of fire doors and importance of third-party certification to help improve building fire safety as we move into 2019 and begin planning for next September’s campaign.


Insulation can help landlords meet their energy performance obligations and lower energy bills

Private sector landlords of the coldest properties in England and Wales will be required to bring their buildings up to property energy rating Band E, saving their tenants £180 on average per annum. Since April 2018 landlords have been expected to reach this level when support such as grant funding has been available to cover the cost.
However, the Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry announced (November 5th) further support for tenants in 2019. Landlords will be required to contribute to the cost of the energy efficiency measures to bring their properties up to Energy Performance Certificate Band E, or apply for exemption when upgrades cost more than £3500. This follows publication in November 2018 of the UK Government’s response to the consultation to amend the Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Sector) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015.
When looking at ongoing tenancies, residential landlords should be thinking longer term in any case. By making homes energy efficient with lower running costs, the attractiveness of the property in terms of comfort, property value and ongoing energy savings can be raised and often helps with tenant retention.
After all, high tenancy turnover is costly with lost income between tenancies, together with fees for sourcing new tenants and the associated legal or contractual costs. Property values and rental income may also increase when compared to more inefficient buildings.
According to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy these new regulations will cost landlords £1200 on average and will affect 290,000 properties, which represents around 6% of the overall domestic market.
Claire Perry said: “While the vast majority of landlords take great pride in the properties they own, a minority still rent out housing that is difficult to keep warm. Upgrading these homes so they are more energy efficient is one of the most effective ways to tackle fuel poverty and help bring down bills for their tenants, saving them £180 a year.”
Existing buildings can easily be brought up to high standards of thermal efficiency resulting in the lowering of fuel bills and a reduction in carbon emissions. The use of a high performance spray applied or injected polyurethane foam can substantially increase thermal performance. Polyurethane foam can be installed in the form of wall insulation, roof insulation, floor insulation or to fill voids and other areas to provide a seamless, thermal insulation barrier.
The polyurethane insulant is a two-component liquid system which produces a highly-efficient blanket of insulation with an exceptional thermal conductivity figure. It is particularly cost-effective and easy to apply to a wide variety of substrates. Its closed-cell nature renders it very resistant to moisture ingress and grades are available which achieve both Class 1 and Class 0 fire ratings when tested to BS 476 Part 7 and 6 respectively. The urethane foam can be applied in any thickness to suit the insulation requirements of the building.
For cavity walls injected polyurethane foam offers high thermal performance in comparison with other insulants. The addition of cavity wall insulation should bring the walls up to current Building Regulations. The insulant acts as a barrier to heat loss, prevents draughts, and can also help with the reduction of airborne sound. This form of cavity wall insulation can be used in flood-plain areas to provide an additional barrier against water ingress through the walls.
Spray-applied polyurethane foam is used in roofing applications to insulate or stabilise the roof. The insulant bonds tiles where nail fatigue exists, but where the roof is otherwise sound. The foam acts as a protective barrier, preventing the ingress of wind-driven rain and snow, and will provide more resistance against storm or impact damage.

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