2010 Energy Saving News from Somar International Limited

This site has been restored from the original as required reading for Greg Will's 2 semester course Factors Causing Global Climate Change. Greg is a very strong advocate for policies addressing moves away from petroleum based energy sources as well as for finding ways to simply live more efficiently in general. This course covers a wide range of proposals to accomplish this goal.

For my final paper for the course I chose to investigate energy saving tips for efficient cooking. My wife had just given money via a KickStarter campaign created by a young company called Nest Homeware. They were raising money to put into production the next pan in the Nest Homeware cast iron products. For my wife's $120 pledge she received two 4.5" cast iron egg skillets, a cast iron recipe cookbook and a cute tea towel. We had a large typical cast iron skillet, but the skillets, braising pan and dutch oven that were part of the cast iron products from Nest Homeware took cast iron design to a whole new level. All the cookware was actually been designed with ergonomics in mind. For instance the 9 inch skillet is meticulously sculpted from an abstracted cherry branch to fit both left and right hands. The interiors of all their cast iron cookware are machined smooth, including the side, which makes for an incredible cooking experience. And as we found out when out egg skillets arrived, all their cast iron products are pre-season with two rounds of organic flaxseed oil, so that the cast iron skillet (in our case) was ready to cook with, right out of the box. The high temperatures that are reached during the seasoning process gives a beautiful lustrous bronzy hue that will change, deepening and darkening over time as layers of seasoning build, eventually reaching a rich black. Talk about cast iron skillets! These were the real thing, not your grandma's ordinary black, staid cast iron cookware.

In my research for finding ways to simply live more efficiently, I learned that cast iron cookware are energy efficient, and offer an awesome, toxin-free non-stick surface. My paper wasn't just about cast iron cookware. I discussed the efficient ways to use energy to heat a pan on the stove. FYI:  the most energy efficient cookware has a flat bottom. The size of the cookware, preferably cast iron, should properly fit the burner size. I then discussed energy efficient cooking techniques such as light ovens, induction cooking, and solar cookers.

Well, you get the point. Although Somar International focused its resources in the field of energy saving technology for commercial and industrial enterprises, I feel that even individuals can adapt to a lifestyle that can be more energy efficient and less dependent upon petroleum based energy sources.


Somar International Ltd was a leading business in the field of energy saving technology for commercial and industrial enterprises. This was their news website.

In 2012 Leicestershire-headquartered energy efficiency company Mark Group bought Somar International out of administration.
The company's dissolution date was 12 November 2013.
Somar's managing director Ian Hambly will remain with the business and now report directly to Mark Group's chief commercial officer Bill Rumble. Hambly said: "Mark Group is a well run, ambitious and entrepreneurial business with established market share of the energy saving sector across the UK, Australia, New Zealand and North America.
Content is from the site's 2010 archived pages.

Take a trip back to see what was important in the field of energy saving technology in 2011.


2010 About Somar International Limited

Somar International Limited provides operational cost- and energy-saving solutions to Commerce and Industry where the solutions satisfy the needs of various personnel within the businesses. With nearly two decades of experience in the energy-efficiency business, Somar International Ltd give companies the opportunity to reduce carbon emissions, save money and create a better working environment for staff, all with projects which cause the absolute minimum of disruption to ongoing operations. Key points of sale to various departments of any company include:

  • Financial Management: Guaranteed Return On Investment within 24 months. Bottom line increase with no risk of direct annual net profit contribution
  • Production / Facilities Management : Reduced Maintenance, improved working conditions, pleace of mind of complete solution
  • Energy / Environmental Management: Reduced Carbon Output, ISO 14001 contribution
  • Marketing Management: Green Message
  • Health & Safety Management: Legal Compliance
  • User / Union: Improved working conditions, Legal Compliance


5 Things To Consider When Costing Your Business’s Energy Efficiency Project

5 Things To Consider When Costing Your Business’s Energy Efficiency Project

Posted on 17. Dec, 2010 by Ross

Energy efficiency isn’t just about energy saving.
Although that statement on face value comes across as a bit daft, installing energy efficient technology in your business can bring a raft of other benefits and/or costs which add more to the financial case than just the raw energy savings. Here’s a quick five-point checklist to look out for when costing and comparing energy efficiency projects.
1) Maintenance Savings
Does the new technology last longer than your current solution? Does it reduce the amount of maintenance required (costed in terms of parts and labour)? Will the warranty also save on maintenance costs?
When you dig into the detail, maintaining business infrastructure is a real expense and a new technology should help towards the goal of minimising those costs too. Try to quantify current maintenance costs and find projected maintenance costs from your energy efficiency suppliers, and work those into your calculations accordingly.
2) Downtime Costs
Reducing maintenance also reduces potential operation downtime and productivity lapses, which even just over a few hours a year can provide a boost to profits which makes a difference to your decision-making.
However, you also need to factor in any potential disruption to your operation during the energy efficient technology installation. Get a firm idea about installation times and disruptions from your contractors, and factor these costs into your equations too.
3) Tax Benefits and Funding
This is one factor that the energy efficiency vendors will probably shout from the high heavens about: there are various tax benefits which companies in various countries can tap into for energy efficiency projects (the Extended Capital Allowance in the UK, for example). Whilst not minimising the initial cash flow burden, recouping additional finance further down the line impacts on your investment calculations.
There also might be ways of avoiding any upfront costs at all! Schemes such as the Carbon Trust Big Business Refit in the UK offer interest-free loans for energy efficiency projects, whilst some projects offer pay-as-you-save pricing. Again, this is an area where your technology supplier is likely to be most aware of your eligibility for relevant loans, so find out what you might be able to take advantage of before doing your final number-crunching and decision-making.4) Carbon Taxes and Trading Schemes
They’re sprouting up everywhere. Europe’s ETS, the UK’s CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme, California’s new cap-and-trade scheme and a bundle of emerging carbon taxes all over the world. These will all directly affect your business’s finances, so a reduction in energy usage will equate to a reduction in your carbon tax or carbon credit liabilities. Find out the likely price for carbon across the project evaluation period: most schemes seem to be opting for a floor price so opt for this at the very minimum.5) Cost of Delay
Still not approved the project 6 months down the line? Every day’s delay is a day in which you’re not saving more money. Sometimes proposed projects spend so long on a manager’s desk that they could have paid for themselves by the time they go ahead. Factor the cost of delay into your planning and decision-making: can you afford to do it, or can you afford not to?


California Shows The World (Some Of) America Is Serious About Climate Change

California Shows The World (Some Of) America Is Serious About Climate Change

Posted on 17. Dec, 2010 by Ross

he plans for a US-wide cap-and-trade scheme for carbon emissions might be dead in the water, but California is charging ahead regardless with its plans to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

Although still playing catch-up with Europe, with the long-established ETS and 2020 emission targets of 20-30% reductions from 1990, Californians aims to return to 1990 levels over the next decade through their own cap-and-trade scheme after state regulators approved its framework this week.

After successfully repelling Clause 23 at the ballot box recently, which sought to shackle the proposed legislation under terms which would mean it would almost never become active, California’s Air Resources Board adopted the new rules which - although originally passed into legislation in 2006 - had to be approved before the 1st January 2011.

The laws allow California to allocate pollution permits to companies to be traded from 2012 onwards, with an initial price of $10 per tonne of CO2 expected to rise to $18 four years later.

It might not be long until California is joined by other states too. The other member states of the Western Climate Initiative - Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Washington - all intend to join California in the near future, along with the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec. Other pro-cap-and-trade states in the north-east which form the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative will also be following progress closely as they try to achieve the same goals.

Sceptical states will be hoping that the additional financial burden of carbon trading will prove them right, hurting California’s economy and damaging its competitiveness. If not, it is likely to massively stimulate the Californian green-tech revolution, and other states looking to join in much later will probably find that the eco-innovation ship has already sailed without them.


Is LEED Certification Greenwash?


Is LEED Certification Greenwash?

Posted on 09. Nov, 2010 by Ross

The United States Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification scheme is the world’s most high profile green label for buildings. Companies are quick to trumpet the LEED status of their premises, green commentators are quick to applaud the erection of each new low-carbon building and the USGBC is also prone to helping promote the profile of the LEED brand.

However, a new lawsuit brought by Gifford Fuel Saving’s Henry Gifford has cast an analytical spotlight onto the LEED certification scheme, and an obvious question quickly springs to mind.

Are LEED certificates greenwash?

The class action lawsuit accuses the USGBC of monopolizing “the market through fraudulent and intentionally misleading representations in the marketing and promotion of their LEED product line.” The primary bone of contention are the claims that LEED-certified properties are 25% more energy efficient, offer a smaller carbon footprint, and feature improved air quality and water efficiency in comparison to non LEED-certified buildings.

Gifford shines the legal spotlight on the fact that LEED certification does not require energy use verification, and that the USGBC doesn’t require the submission or review of facility plans either. The effect of this is that architects can - to all intents and purposes - self-certify their buildings with the LEED certificate.

Whilst the case doesn’t suggest that LEED-certified buildings are being dishonest, it certainly opens the door to abuse and allows LEED certification to be used as corporate greenwash.

The new focus on the LEED certification process will sit uneasily with many green advocates. Whilst a huge amount of criticism has been doled out to green labelling in many sectors, especially with respect to consumer-facing products where greenwash is routinely called out, LEED certificates have received far less although the points system has come in for previous criticism, as has the way buildings have been used after construction.

This is partially because press releases for LEED buildings often catalogue a raft of internal energy-efficient technologies which form the basis for the award of the certificate. To complain about LEED could also dent many emerging energy-saving technologies which sometimes struggle to generate much interest on their own but gain a better collective spotlight through the LEED certification.

However, this latest challenge is less about the imperfections of measuring ‘green’ and more about a process which is open to abuse. Whilst some commentators believe the case is destined to failure, only time will tell whether LEED certification announcements continue to command quite such high profiles in the green media.

5 Ways In Which Evil Supervillains Go Green

5 Ways In Which Evil Supervillains Go Green

Posted on 09. Nov, 2010 by Ross

Evil supervillains have more reasons than most to go green. Typically pursuing goals of world domination of astronomical propotions, your average evil genius needs to squeeze every source of available power to fuel their space-satellite-laserbeam-cannons-of-doom, their legions-of-the-apocalypse-mutant-super-armies and - in the case of the insane genius of Pinky and the Brain - their massive-clothes-dryer-to-generate-global-static-cling-to-use-the-power-of-static-electricity-to-take-over-the-world.

Such nefarious plans to subjugate the world or universe into eternal subservience tend to need the deployment of vast amounts of power not generally available on the national grid, and an approach to energy efficiency with a clear understanding of the business/armageddon case it lower energy use. Darth Vader doesn’t leave the television on all day, since he might need to blow up a planet at a moment’s notice (that, and hunting Jedi/ruling the universe requires the sort of drive and determination which doesn’t lend itself to watching daytime chat shows).

So below are five films in which the powers of darkness go green before being thwarted by the pesky energy-intensive do-gooders…

1) Geothermal power - Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me

Evil super-villains have a long and glorious history of situating their secret evil bases in the bowels of a volcano, and Austin Powers’ nemesis Dr Evil is no different. As well as the obvious diabolical potential of fresh on-site liquid hot magma, the volcano provides central heating during the cold winter months and a limitless supply of energy to power the various time machines, space rockets and lasers which Dr Evil requires to defeat the British super-spy and extort billions rather than trillions from the worlds’ leaders.

There’s an extra special benefit of geothermal power to the budding global dictator. Don’t want to have your remote evil supervillain hideaway to be given away by giant cooling towers, wind turbines or tidal barrages? Geothermal power is the choice of all supervillain ninjas - it can be made comparatively invisible more easily than other power sources except ocean-floor tidal generators. However, given the fact that Dr Evil had his face carved into the side of the volcano it can be surmised that secrecy what not the over-riding factor in his choice of evil lair.

2) Hydroelectric power - X-Men 2

Note to governments - do not leave old power plants abandoned, since they provide fantastic bases for evil supervillains with their ready-made energy-generating capacities. General William Stryker and his Weapon X project are to be found holed up in the abandoned hydroelectric power station at Alkali Lake, where they are able to use the sluice gate as a secret entrance as well as being able to generate power for their experiments on mutant-kind, including the manipulation of adamantium.

3) Solar power - The Man With The Golden Gun

If there’s one good guy responsible for destroying more potentially world-saving technology than any other, then it’s James Bond. In The Man With The Golden Gun, super-assassin Francisco Scaramanga has stolen an amazingly efficient solar power technology which could entirely remove the need for fossil fuels. Understanding the business case for clean technology, he aimed to sell the technology to the highest bidder - namely the Gulf States who would be blackmailed into removing the unwelcome competition against their oil. Scaramanga also harnessed the power into an powerful solar gun - clean, green and mean all at once. However, rather than rescuing the technology and liberating mankind from the clutches of fossil fuel dependancy, Bond manages to ensure that the dirty status quo continued by letting love interest Mary Goodnight tip a henchman into a pool of liquid helium, overloading the solar plant and destroying the island.

4) Intelligent lighting - The Incredibles

So you’re an evil super-villain with an army of well-equipped goons, flying machines, robot parrots and a waterfall-curtained uber-base. Trouble is, you’ve just got to add a psychotic super-hero-killing robot and a giant rocket to your roster to complete your evil plans and you need to make a little extra room in your power consumption for the new hardware.

Well, after an energy efficiency audit and a brief with his eco-consultant, Mr Incredible’s nemesis Syndrome decided to plump for some bare-bones lighting for his evil supervillain computer desk, along with occupancy sensors to only turn them on when in use. Full lighting was reserved only for intruder alarms, so the massive expanding-glue guns can hit their targets more accurately. How very practical.

5) Sustainable warfare - Starship Troopers

Sometimes it pays to steer away from the energy-intensive super-high-tech armies which most supervillains promote and go for something a little more organic and sustainable instead. The Arachnids of Klendathu display a low-carbon interstellar warfare capacity beyond the wildest dreams of the US armed forces, which are currently exploring just about every green trick under the sun in an effort to decouple their dependence upon strategically risky fuel sources.

The pesky Arachnids, led by their evil supervillain ‘brain bugs’ boast formidable natural infantry and air force capabilities, but it is the giant weapon-platform beetles with flame-throwing heads which boast the biggest punch. Their ability to shoot giant bursts of plasma from their behinds enables them not only to shoot down enemy spacecraft, but to blast huge colonisation asteroids across space too. Interstellar imperialism without a sniff of oil, coal or gas, thereby minimising logistical support and deployment costs. Evil geniuses with a penchant for genetic modification take note; villains aiming for technological supremacy beware!


CFL Life-Cycle Declared Greenest, Ignores LED Lighting

CFL Life-Cycle Declared Greenest, Ignores LED Lighting

Posted on 26. Oct, 2010 by Ross

A recent Swiss study claiming CFL light bulbs to be the greenest form of generic household lighting has failed to include LED lighting in the comparison, and despite attempting to placate fears over mercury content also falls short of a convincing defence.

As shown by this website recently based on current market prices, LED lighting is more expensive than CFL light bulbs across the (proposed) lifetime of the bulbs, with energy usage between the two almost identical. However, carbon footprints are not the be-all-and-end-all of environmental concerns, and the mercury content of CFL light bulbs continues to be a primary concern for many potential purchasers, especially in Europe where traditional incandescent bulbs are being banned.

Supporters of CFL light bulbs will doubtless start to cite new research from the Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology which declares that CFLs have less of an environmental impact than halogen lamps, incandescent bulbs and fluorescent tubes. The researchers completed life-cycle analyses for the four types of lighting and found that, when all factors from cradle to grave are considered, CFLs leave a smaller environmental footprint than the alternatives.

However, the summary press information of the conclusions leaves a lot to be desired. In particular, it claims that the mercury in a CFL should be ignored upon disposal because the majority of mercury in the environment comes from fossil fuel power stations. This is like excusing leaving the lights on because the television uses more energy.

Not only that, though, but the numbers that are presented are deliberately misleading in an effort to make the impact seem more insignificant: the conclusion designed to grab attention and headlines is that “a coal fired power station emits the same quantity of mercury every hour as is contained in 8400 to 9000 energy saving lamps”. This is calculated from a power station emitting 0.042-0.045 milligrams of mercury for every kilowatt-hour of energy it produces, and from the fact that since 2005 compact fluorescent lamps sold in Europe may contain a maximum of only 5mg of mercury.

However, these figures can easily be looked at another way. The report cites an average lifetime for CFLs of around 10,000 hours, so the 40W-equivalent CFL bulb used in the LED-CFL financial comparison which drew 9W of power would use 90kWh over it’s lifetime. Even if the bulb was then used in Australia, which is supplied a stomach-churning 80% of it’s energy from coal power stations, then it would only be responsible for another 3-3.2mg of mercury. Most other countries have a lower level of coal power usage than that making the comparison worse still.

The report fails therefore to encourage proper disposal of CFL light bulbs in order to prevent the mercury entering the environment, instead promoting a nonchalant approach of “well, coal’s a bigger problem”. All electrical goods should be recycled/disposed of properly since all contain potentially harmful components, and LED lighting is no exception.

LED lighting was the elephant in the room with regards to this report. The most important comparison to make at the moment is between CFL and LED technologies since they are both vying for the energy-saving eco-crown at the moment, and at first glance the omission of LED lighting from the research would seem ludicrous.

The problem lies with a lack of understanding of the full environmental costs of LED lighting, however. Whilst the materials-, energy- and water-intensive manufacture of LED lighting’s semiconductor components is understood (if under-reported) and the energy efficiency laudable, the lifetime of LED lighting is often hotly disputed and the consequences of improper disposal is totally unknown, making a proper comparison with other lighting technologies currently impossible.

Therein lies a real difference between CFL and LED bulbs. The dangers and consequences of mercury in the environment is something which the public - especially in the USA - has a tangible understanding of, and so CFL bulbs have a massive PR issue. However, the effects of the breakdown of LED semiconductors made from gallium, arsenic, indium etc is unknown and unfortunately encourages a complacency with the possible repercussions. In this argument, the LED better-the-devil-you-don’t-know scenario is often most persuasive to the public, especially for environmentalists who have campaigned against mercury levels previously. By comparison e-waste danger, especially in Asian communities paid to recycle components involving combinations of powerful acids and heavy metals in their own back yards, is a fight that a few are only just starting to take on.

There is also a NIMBYism issue here too: at a time when the West consumes at the price of the developing world’s environment, and companies have incentives to outsource their emissions to less regulated nations, outsourcing the developed world’s waste is a natural companion to the globalisation of pollution.

Irrespective of what could happen to either technology in landfills, the best way forward is to establish effective recycling systems for light bulbs. The same would be practical for incandescents too - the hidden blessing of their retirement is a protection for our dwindling stocks of tungsten.

CRC Recycling Payments Scrapped In Spending Review

CRC Recycling Payments Scrapped In Spending Review

Posted on 20. Oct, 2010 by Ross

In a move that will outrage business leaders, the UK government has switched the goalposts on participants of the CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme less than a month after the registration deadline expired.
In a piece of news buried in the Spending Review (point 2.108) and somehow avoiding being leaked in the run-up to the report, the money gained by the government from carbon credit sales will no longer be recycled back to participants in the scheme based on their performance in the CRC league tables, but will go directly into the public purse.

The size of these ex-recycling payments will increase from £715m in 2011-2012 to over £1bn in 2014-2015, a projection mostly due to both an expected increase in the price of carbon and the growth of emissions as the economy climbs out of recession. It creates a clear incentive to government to increase the number of participants in the second phase of the scheme in order to gain more from the CRC Energy Efficiency scheme: the qualification period for the second phase is April 2010-2011 (right now) and with a general decrease in emissions due to the recession, we can expect a lower emissions threshold for qualification than was used for the first phase.

Year 2011-12 2012-13 2013-14 2014-15
Projected annual CRC income (£million) 715 730 995 1,020

The move to scrap CRC carbon credit recycling payments will also undermine the effectiveness of the CRC league tables. Until now, competition between companies to reduce emissions was not just reputational but financial too, with the best performers set to profit from the scheme whilst the worst performers were set to foot the bill. Now, the CRC league table will only represent a reputation challenge, which will doubtless devalue the importance of the exercise in the absence of cold hard cash rewards.

Of course there are still strong business reasons to take strong action under the CRC scheme: lowering your CRC cash flow burden, topping the CRC league table, cutting energy costs and minimising risk for example. There’s little doubt that the scheme will been seen more negatively now though due to it being a carbon tax rather than a carbon opportunity, though.

Update 1: Somar’s Art of CRC - Sample Success Strategies for a CRC Samurai has been updated regarding the latest changes. Expect additional strategy updates to emerge soon as a result of the scrapping of recycling payments.

Carbon Trust Survives The Spending Review: Waits For Another Review

Carbon Trust Survives The Spending Review: Waits For Another Review

Posted on 20. Oct, 2010 by Ross

After months of speculation, the Carbon Trust learnt it’s fate today in the UK coalition government’s Spending Review: that it was up for review.

Firstly, the fears that the Carbon Trust would be axed today proved unfounded, as recently predicted here at Energy-Saving News. With a raft of business support services all axed from the Department of Business, including the previously announced death of vital organisations such as Business Link and the Regional Development Agencies, the natural assumption was that the Carbon Trust’s business support role was of a similar ilk and therefore stood it in the same row in front of the firing squad.

However, the Carbon Trust lives to fight another day. On top the valuable work it carries out in driving the UK’s green agenda into businesses, it is registered as a private and is outside of the remit of the Cabinet Office to close down, unlike all off the other quangos thrown on today’s bonfire. Instead, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has announced that ‘the Government will review the work delivered at arm’s length by bodies such as the Carbon Trust, Energy Saving Trust, the Coal Authority and the delivery arm of Ofgem’.

Watch this space: the saga continues…

How To Create Marginal Abatement Cost Curves In Excel

How To Create Marginal Abatement Cost Curves In Excel

Posted on 15. Oct, 2010 by Ross

Marginal abatement cost curves are beginning to gain traction as a financial tools to compare the merits of competing carbon reduction projects and technologies. However, actually creating one is laced with problems when using standard office tools like Excel or OpenOffice due to inadequacies with their charting abilities.

A marginal abatement cost itself is the cost of a particular low-carbon technology. ‘Abatement’ means that the project lowers a country’s or business’s carbon footprint rather than increasing, whilst ‘marginal’ refers to it being the cost per unit produced (or in this case, per unit of carbon saved).

Marginal abatement cost curves (abbreviated to MAC curves here, although some sources will abbreviate the whole phrase to MACC) are variable-width histograms which plot the marginal abatement cost - project net present value (NPV) per tonne of carbon against the amount of carbon saved, with data sorted by ascending MAC value. More concisely, MAC curves enable a visual comparison between different projects regarding their cost to implement and the amount of carbon they can save.

They are also useful for determining what the price of carbon needs to be for actioning a project to become more financially viable than inaction, and what combination of projects need to be employed to reach a specific carbon reduction goal. As a result, MAC curves are just as valuable to businesses as they are to governments, helping both to make informed decisions on how best to meet their carbon reduction targets or obligations.

On a national level, the decisions are between renewable power, nuclear power, carbon capture and storage technology on fossil fuel power stations, electric cars, residential and commercial energy efficiency drives, insulation programmes and so on. At a company level, projects could include more efficient manufacturing equipment, low-energy lighting, out-of-hours IT shutdowns, etc.

In particular, the use of MAC charts in business is growing rapidly as more and more companies get drawn in to cap-and-trade schemes such as the UK’s CRC Energy Efficiency scheme, and under the advice of organisations like the Carbon Trust. As companies begin to focus more strongly on the financial costs and opportunities of the carbon markets and their own carbon footprints, MAC charts are becoming a tool which every environmental officer needs to bring to their boardroom battles.

Here’s how to go about crunching the numbers in Excel, and then using it to chart the data effectively. Alternatively, here’s a free-to-use MAC curve chart template for Excel available for download.

Calculating the Marginal Abatement Costs

Marginal abatement costs can be formed around different investment criteria depending on a company’s preferences, but the most widely-used approach is to use projects’ NPVs. This provides a better weighted insight as to how the technology will perform financially over an evaluation timespan rather than just the immediate project implementation.

NPVs for low-carbon projects can be tricky calculations when everything is taken into account fully, such as differing cost increases for energy, carbon and maintenance. However, rough calculations can be made simply and easily using Excel’s in-built present value PV() function. The syntax for this is simply:

NPV = Project cost + PV(discount rate,evaluation period,annual benefit/cost)

The discount rate is the only unintuitive element to the lay person here: it is the minimum level of return on investment the company deems acceptable. If a company wished investments only to keep track with inflation, then the value of inflation would be used as the discount rate: however, most companies will look to substantially exceed such a figure.

The marginal abatement cost is then simply the NPV divided by the carbon saved by the project over the same period (the annual carbon savings multiplied by the evaluation period). The only proviso here is if the carbon is being traded on a carbon market: in such as scenario the carbon has direct monetary value and needs to be discounted prior to calculating the MAC in the same way and with the same rate as with the NPV calculation.

Negative marginal abatement cost values signal a project which pays for itself over the evaluation period, whilst positive MACs cost money over the period and need to be compared to the cost of inaction/carbon price or ethical/marketing valuations to judge whether to proceed or not.

The Tricky Bit: Displaying a MAC Curve Using Excel

By now you should all the data you need for a MAC curve chart: the marginal abatement cost and carbon savings for each project. You then need to sort the projects by ascending MAC to achieve the correct ordering, then calculate the cumulative carbon savings across the spectrum of projects.

Then comes the tricky bit. Excel doesn’t give you the ability to plot a variable-width histogram. Nor does OpenOffice Calc, Excel’s main open-source competitor. At this point most advice would be to purchase a specialist graph-plotting package instead.

However, you can plot MAC curve charts using Excel with a little bit of creative improvisation. There are a couple of good ways to attempt this, both of which use XY scattergraphs instead of column charts.

The first method is to use a lined scattergraph to essentially draw the columns on. With the first data point starting at (0,0), each project contributes 3 data points: (previous cumulative carbon, this MAC), (this cumulative carbon, this MAC), (this cumulative carbon, 0). This can then be done as a single scattergraph dataset, or can be done with a separate dataset for each project. This works in both Excel and OpenOffice.

The second method is to use both x- and y-error bars to form the sides of the column. Use a negative x-error bar to draw back to the previous cumulative carbon value, a positive y-error bar to draw up to the next MAC value, and a negative y-error bar to draw down to 0. The error bars can be set to be a row of data, so these can all be calculated alongside the rest of the project data. A dummy scatter point is then needed to draw the left side of the first column; scatter point markers and error marker bar tops need setting to none. This method works in Excel but not in OpenOffice, which doesn’t support x-error bars.

Your chart will still need labels applied, but the donkey-work of drawing can be done effectively by Excel using one of the two techniques above.

To stop you from wasting too much time replicating what others have done before, energy efficiency experts Somar International have created a handy MAC curve chart template for Excel here. It is set up to handle up to ten projects immediately, and has three different charts to pick from or customise, and is available for free for you to use without restriction. Enjoy!

Energy Saving Sweets: Carbon Trust Funds Confectionery Cuts

Energy Saving Sweets: Carbon Trust Funds Confectionery Cuts

Posted on 01. Oct, 2010 by Ross

The carbon footprint of Britain’s sweets could soon be cut (without sacrificing all those yummy calories!), thanks to a new energy-saving investment drive by the Carbon Trust in partnership with Dairy UK and the Food and Drink Federation.

In an eye-catching piece of publicity which will remind people that the Carbon Trust is still alive and kicking, the organisation is funnelling £15m of funds into the sweets, baking and dairy industries in order to increase the energy efficiency of common food manufacturing processes.

Projects can be up to the value of £500,000, with the Carbon Trust funding 60% of the investment. The scheme is part of the organisation’s Industrial Energy Efficiency Accelerator.

After initial trials at Allied Bakeries, Dairy Crest, Cadbury and Nestlé, sample projects could include:

  • Microwave ovens to dry gums, jellies and similar sweets
  • Cleaning dairy pipes using ice instead of hot water
  • Cutting the weight of baking tins
  • Waste heat recycling

One eager applicant is David Prosser, operations director at Tangerine Confectionery (most famous for the totally deliciously retro Barratt’s sherbet fountains sweets):

The possibility of using microwave technology to generate heat for our stoving cycles to help reduce product turnaround times, as well as reducing cost, is an exciting prospect which would, if successful, provide huge benefits for our particular industry.

We look forward to being part of this exciting venture and hope that our original trials using microwave ovens can be scaled up and a microwave process can be installed at one of our production sites.

Carbon Trust Not Axed - Yet

Carbon Trust Not Axed - Yet

Posted on 24. Sep, 2010 by Ross

Want to know if you can still apply for those fantastic Carbon Trust interest-free loans for your business’s energy efficiency projects? Need to know if the Carbon Trust is facing the axe under the UK government’s planned spending cuts?

Today a list of quangos facing the axe was leaked by the Cabinet Office, showing almost half of the country’s quangos were either to be axed (180 quangos) or merged (124 quangos). The casualty list included big name quangos such as the Health Protection Agency, the Audit Commission and the UK Film Council as well as smaller bodies such as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Committee on Agricultural Valuation.

Crucially, there are still 100 government bodies on the ‘Still to be Decided’ list and the Carbon Trust is one of these. In fact, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has a greater percentage of quangos whose cuts are still undecided compared to most departments. Unlike it’s sister Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which has seen 50% of all quangos axed, the DECC has yet to agree a provisional budget with the Treasury.

The fate of the Carbon Trust is likely to remain shaky until this is done, but there is real potential for it to turn into a battleground between the DECC’s Liberal secretary Chris Huhne and the Conservative chancellor George Osbourne, with the later having to weigh fiscal prudence and traditional Conservative scepticism against the party’s new green mantra and the eco-evangelism of the Liberals.

With no Liberal voice currently represented in the Star Chamber - the new council of MPs set up to grill departments on their spending plans - the chance of the Carbon Trust avoiding the axe is not just down to the DECC.

The Carbon Trust does have one ace up it’s sleeve, though. The workings and structure of the new green investment bank is to be decided by a committee which has barely started it’s proceedings, and the Carbon Trust is unlikely to be wrapped up before the green investment bank is ready to roll out.

This is because the green bank is biggest threat to the Carbon Trust since it is widely expected to steal the Trust’s investment operations. The experience and expertise built up by the Carbon Trust is a valuable asset for the green investment bank to capitalise on, and to risk losing this due to a gap between the operations of the green bank and the Carbon Trust would be truly disastrous for the new investment entity.

The bottom line? Expect the Carbon Trust to continue for now, but with a slightly reduced pot of money, and expect another decision later on after the time line for the green investment bank becomes clearer.

Which Companies Are In The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme?

Which Companies Are In The CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme?

Posted on 07. Sep, 2010 by Ross

Posted on 07. Sep, 2010 by Ross in Cement, Bricks & Ceramics, Food Production, Heavy Industry, Manufacturing, Metal Stamping & Steel, Mining & Quarrying, Oil, Plastics, Printing, Public Facilities, Retail & Commercial, Textiles, Timber Production, Transport, United Kingdom, Warehousing, Distribution & Logistics

With the CRC deadline fast approaching, and thousands of companies still yet to register for the UK government’s new flagship cap-and-trade scheme, one of the biggest questions which is still to be answered is which companies are in the CRC Energy Efficiency scheme? Without a full list being available, let’s look instead at what we do know.

Originally it was expected that around 5,000 companies were expected to be included in the mandatory scheme, with the qualification criteria for CRC inclusion being over 6,000MWh of half-hourly metered electricity usage in the first phase qualification period: between April 2008 and April 2009. (Warning: the second phase qualification period is now, so check out our CRC strategy guide today).

Recently the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has been back-pedalling, either because they over-estimated the number of companies involved, underestimated the resourcefulness of companies to avoid the CRC scheme, or just to save embarrassment in the face of the huge number of companies yet to register and facing hefty fines should they miss the deadline. They now expect 3000-4000 companies to be involved, and we’re unlikely to know every single participant until the first league table is published next year.

Aside from the numbers involved, we can add some company names to the mix - companies which are not only very likely to be in the CRC Energy Efficiency scheme, but are also very likely to be sitting at the top of the first league table.

That’s because we can assume that all the companies which have currently attained the Carbon Trust Standard will be involved. This assumption comes from the fact that since the scheme’s inception, attaining the Carbon Trust Standard contributed as much of 50% of the total mark for the first year’s CRC league table, and there appears to be very little other reason for a company to submit itself through the process unless they are seeking a way of maximising their score for the CRC’s early action metric.

As a result, we can assume that all 350+ companies which have attained the Carbon Trust Standard will feature in the CRC Energy Efficiency scheme. They are all switched on the the challenges ahead, and many of them have also begun taking major steps towards reducing their carbon footprint through projects such as energy-efficient lighting.

Who are they? Well, here’s the list held at http://www.carbontruststandard.com/, correct as of today and segmented by market sector. (Ironically, whilst a third of the list are public sector organisations, the DECC seems to have not got it’s own memo and isn’t on the list).

Carbon Trust Standard Holders

Beverages, Brewing and Tobacco

Diageo Scotland Supply
Marston’s Plc


DSM Nutritional Products (UK) Ltd.
FIS Chemicals Ltd

Construction and Building Management

9-13 Grosvenor Street (Gp) Ltd.
99 Bishopsgate Management Ltd.
Babcock Support Services Ltd
Barr Holdings Limited
Capital Shopping Centres Plc
Foster Wheeler Energy Ltd
H+H UK Limited Organisation
Kellogg Brown & Root (U.K.) Ltd
Land Securities - London
Land Securities - Retail
Lend Lease Europe Holdings Limited
Peel Holdings (Management) Ltd.
Polypipe Building Products
The Mall Corporation Ltd
The West Quay Limited Partnership

Extraction Industries

Aggregate Industries UK Ltd
De Beers UK Ltd
Lafarge Aggregates Ltd.
Marshalls Plc
Midland Quarry Products Ltd
Sibelco UK
Tarmac Northern Ltd
UK COAL Mining Limited

Financial Services

Aviva PLC
Barclays Capital
Commerzbank AG
Credit Suisse Securities (Europe) LTD
Friends Provident Group PLC
HSBC Bank plc
Invesco UK Ltd
Leeds Building Society
National Australia Group Europe Ltd.
Schroder Investment Management Ltd
The Financial Services Authority
first direct

Food Production and Agriculture

Branston Ltd
International Cuisine Ltd
Natures Way Foods Ltd
Pritchitts A Lakeland Dairies Company
Tillery Valley Foods Limited

Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals

Bio Products Laboratory
Eli Lilly and Company Limited
Fillcare Limited
Genzyme Therapeutics Limited
GlaxoSmithKline plc
Johnson & Johnson Medical Limited
LifeScan Scotland Ltd
Merck Sharp & Dohme Ltd
Moorfields Pharmaceuticals

High-Tech and Professional Services

AECOM Design Build Ltd
Allen & Overy LLP
Clifford Chance LLP
Fishburn Hedges Group
Fujitsu Services Holdings PLC
Hewlett-Packard Ltd
High Wycombe Property Management Ltd
Hotelscene Ltd
Invensys plc
Keystone Law
Kyocera Mita UK Limited
Linklaters LLP
Microsoft Corporation
Oxford Instruments Plc
Premier Farnell Plc
Pricewaterhouse Coopers LLP
Reed Elsevier Group plc
Regus Management UK Ltd
Ricoh UK Ltd
Sharp Electronics (U.K.) Ltd.
Shields Environmental plc
Siemens Holdings Plc
Slaughter and May
Taylor Young Ltd
TelecityGroup UK Ltd
The Capita Group Plc
The Mileage Company
Tyco Electronics UK Ltd

Hospitality and Leisure

Betfair Ltd
Bolton Wanderers Football & Athletic Company Ltd
Bourne Leisure Holdings Ltd
CenterParcs Ltd
Fenland Leisure Products Ltd
Fitness First Clubs Limited
Football Association Limited
GLL (Greenwich Leisure Limited)
Gala Group Finance Ltd
Greene King plc
Hilton International Hotels (UK) Limited
Leisure Connection Ltd
Little Chef
Manchester United Ltd
Marriott Hotels Ltd.
Maybourne Hotels Ltd
McDonalds Restaurants Ltd
Mitchells & Butlers Retail Ltd.
Sports and Leisure Management Ltd
The Lancaster Landmark Hotel Company Ltd
The National Exhibition Centre Ltd
Whitbread Group plc

Household and Consumer Goods

AkzoNobel Decorative Paints UK
Dyson Ltd
Skopos Design Limited
Ulster Carpet Mills Ltd

Industrial and Manufacturing

3M UK Holdings Limited
Abbey Corrugated
CGGVeritas Services (UK) Ltd
ConocoPhillips Petroleum Company UK Ltd
Cummins Ltd
D S Smith Packaging
Delphi Diesel Systems Ltd
EcoWater Systems
Filtrona United Kingdom Ltd
Filtrona United Kingdom Ltd
Foster Refrigerator (UK)
GE Water & Process Technologies (UK) Limited Partnership
Grange Door Systems
IMI plc
Ideal Boilers Ltd
J C Atkinson & Son Ltd
J C Bamford Excavators Limited
Knauf Insulation Ltd
Lucas Industries Ltd
Lucite International UK Ltd
M.W. Kellogg Ltd
Michelin Tyre plc
Pall Europe Ltd
QinetiQ Ltd
Raytheon Systems Limited
Rolls Royce Marine Power Operations Ltd
Selex Galileo Limited
Tyco Fire Products Manufacturing Ltd
VT Group
e2v Technologies Ltd

Manufacture of Basic Materials

Cemex UK Operations Ltd
Corus UK Ltd
Easibind International Ltd
FloPlast Ltd
Guardian Print Centre Manchester Limited
Smurfit Kappa UK Ltd
St Ives PLC

Public Sector

Aberdeen City Council
Aberystwyth University
Anglia Ruskin University
Angus Council
Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council
Birmingham City University
Blackpool Fylde & Wyre Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
British Museum
Calderdale Council
Canterbury Christ Church University
Cardiff University
Carmarthenshire Council
City of Hasselt
City of London Corporation
College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise
Communities and Local Government
Countryside Council for Wales
Cranfield University
Defence Equipment & Support, Ministry of Defence
Defence Estates, Ministry of Defence
Department for International Development
Department for Work and Pensions
Downing College
Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency
Durham Constabulary
Durham County Council
Edinburgh Napier University
Environment Agency
Falkirk Council
Fife Council
Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council
Glasgow City Council
Gloucestershire County Council
Government Car and Despatch Agency
Greater London Authority
Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust
HM Prison Service
HM Treasury
Haringey Council
Harper Adams University College
Highland Council
Humberside Police
Keele University
Kent County Council
King’s College London
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service
Lancaster University
Leeds City Council
Leeds Metropolitan University
Liverpool City Council
Liverpool John Moores University
London Borough of Bromley
London Borough of Croydon
London Borough of Lewisham
London Borough of Sutton
London Fire Brigade
London School of Economics and Political Science
Manchester Metropolitan University
Mersey Care NHS Trust
Merseyside Police
NHS Fife
Natural England
Natural Environment Research Council
Neath Port Talbot County Borough Council
Newcastle City Council
Newham University Hospital NHS Trust
North Lanarkshire Council
North Somerset Council
North Wales NHS Trust
North Yorkshire County Council
Northamptonshire County Council
Nottingham Trent University
Orkney Islands Council
Perth & Kinross Council
Preston City Council
Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Salford Royal Hospitals NHS Trust
Sanctuary Group
South Ayrshire Council
South Lanarkshire Council
South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
South Tyneside Metropolitan Borough Council
Stockport NHS Foundation Trust
Stockton on Tees Borough Council
Suffolk County Council
Tate Galleries
Thames Valley University
The Coal Authority
The Crown Prosecution Service
The Moray Council
The National Archives
The National Gallery
The Open University
The Scottish Court Service
The University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust
University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
University Of Aberdeen
University Of Leeds
University Of Teesside
University of Bath
University of Birmingham
University of Cambridge
University of Central Lancashire
University of Edinburgh
University of Exeter
University of Glasgow
University of Kent
University of Leicester
University of Manchester
University of Sheffield
University of St Andrews
University of Stirling
University of Sunderland
University of Ulster
University of Worcester
University of the West of England Bristol
Uttlesford District Council
Wakefield Council
Walsall Council
Wandsworth Borough Council
West Mercia Police
West Midlands Police
Woking Borough Council
Wolverhampton City Council
Wrightington Wigan & Leigh NHS Foundation Trust

Retail and Distribution

3663 First for Foodservice Limited
Asda Stores Ltd
Booker Group plc
Boots UK
Burberry Limited
Co-operative Group Limited
Comet Group plc
Iceland Foods Ltd
J Sainsbury plc
John Lewis Partnership Plc
Makro Self Service Wholesalers Ltd
Marks & Spencer
Menzies Distribution Ltd
Next Retail Ltd
Q C Supplies
RS Components Ltd
Shop Direct Home Shopping Ltd
Sports Direct International Plc
Sunlight Service Group Ltd.
TJX Europe
Tesco plc
The Henderson Group
Unipart Group Limited
Wiles Greenworld
Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC

Telecomms and Media

British Broadcasting Corporation
British Telecommunications plc
Ericsson Ltd
Johnston Press Plc
Newsquest Media Group LTD
One House Communications
Orange Personal Communications Services Ltd
Telefonica O2 UK Limited
Trinity Mirror plc
United Business Media Group Ltd

Transport and Infrastructure

Associated British Ports Holdings Ltd
Birmingham International Airport Ltd
British Airways PLC
Gatwick Airport Limited
Groupe Eurotunnel
Heathrow Airport Ltd
Hutchison Ports UK
Kuehne + Nagel (UK) Ltd
London Underground Ltd
Manchester Airport
Royal Mail Group
Stagecoach Group
Stena Line Ports Limited
The Go-Ahead Group plc
Transport for London
Vopak Holding Logistics UK Ltd

Utilities and Waste

Bournemouth and West Hampshire Water Company
Bristol Water plc
Centrica plc
Datec Technologies Limited
ERS Europe Ltd
Edf Energy PLC
National Grid plc
Northumbrian Water Ltd
RWE npower plc
Sellafield Ltd
Severn Trent Water Ltd
Sims Group UK Ltd
Southern Water
Thames Water Utilities Ltd
United Utilities Water PLC
Waste Recycling Group Ltd
Welsh Water (Dwr Cymru)