Library filed under Energy Policy from Europe
Environmental campaigners last night condemned the sale of a proposed wind farm site to a French company planning to build a nuclear power plant on the plot. The site at West Hinkley, Somerset, has been bought by Electricite de France (EDF), one of the world's largest nuclear power generators. Your Energy, which tried for five years to win planning permission to build a wind farm there, confirmed it had sold the project rights to EDF. Jim Duffy, spokesman for the Stop Hinkley campaign, said objectors like British Energy had thwarted the wind farm plans by arguing nuclear power was a better use of the land.
Central Government has extended an off-shore exclusion area in the Strait of Gibraltar. ...Central Government, acting on a request from the regional Junta de Andalucía, has ordered that there will be no new wind farms off the coast of Zahara or Barbate. A previous exclusion zone there has now been extended, prohibiting the windmills along the entire Strait of Gibraltar, from Algeciras to Trafalgar.
"Wind-mapping shows that ... Norway is among the (world's) most ideal locations for wind power, both on the coast and offshore," said Norwegian Deputy Petroleum and Energy Minister Liv Monica Stubholdt. Yet the Scandinavian country, one of the world's leading oil and gas exporters, today lags far behind others in taking advantage of this natural resource. ..."Of course, we don't want to fill our entire coast with wind turbines but even a fraction of that would be good," ...A major reason for the slow uptake is Norway's virtually unlimited access to renewable hydro power, which today covers about 99 percent of its domestic energy consumption, Deputy Minister Stubholdt explained.
Centrica, one of the UK's biggest energy generators, has warned that the prospect of making money from wind farms is looking "marginal". The company says that the rising cost of off-shore wind farms could end up ruining the government's renewable energy targets. The comments come a week after Shell withdrew from a project that was set to become the world's largest wind farm. The government wants 33 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity built by 2020.
The future of the world's largest offshore wind farm and a symbol of Britain's renewable energy future was thrown into doubt last night after it emerged that Shell was backing out of the project and indicated it would prefer to invest in more lucrative oil schemes. Shell said the decision to sell its 33% stake in the £2bn London Array off the coast of Kent was part of an "ongoing review of projects and investment choices" and was not part of any major rethink about renewables versus other oil and gas projects.
It is a question of nature versus need, and livelihood versus landscape. The Scottish Government's rejection this week of plans for Europe's largest wind farm on Barvas Moor, on Lewis, has shown there are many shades of green. Only a few years ago, the merits of the Lewis Wind Power (LWP) scheme were trumpeted high and wide. ...Since then, however, environmentalism has come in for increasing questioning and paradoxes have been revealed. The rejection of LWP - to protect the fragile ecosystem of the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area - may be a taste of things to come. ..."Given the 'green on green' nature of the debate, opinion will doubtless remain divided over whether such a development would be a good, bad or indifferent development in Scotland."
Plans for Britain's biggest land-based wind farm were turned down by the Scottish government yesterday, in a landmark decision with wide implications for the future development of renewable energy in the UK. The 181-turbine development on the Hebridean island of Lewis was vetoed by Scottish ministers because it was at odds with tough protection for wildlife sites afforded by European law. The site was designated as the Lewis Peatlands special protection area under the EU's birds directive to protect its rare breeding birds including the golden eagle, merlin, red-throated diver, black-throated diver, golden plover, dunlin and greenshank. ..."This is an extremely commendable decision ... that is absolutely right for Scotland," said Stuart Housden, director of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in Scotland. "It sends a very strong message that in meeting our ambitious and welcome renewable targets, we do not have to sacrifice our most important environmental resources."
The SNP faced claims last night that its energy policy is "in meltdown" after it rejected plans for Europe's largest wind farm to be built on Lewis. Ministers said they could not approve the proposal because of the impact on the Lewis Peatlands Special Protection Area, protected by European law. Energy Minister Jim Mather stressed it did not mean other wind farms could not proceed in the islands. ...The announcement delighted opponents and environmental groups. But it dismayed Western Isles Council, which saw it as key to future economic prosperity, creating 400 jobs and bringing investment. The developer, Lewis Wind Power, said it was "bitterly disappointed" by the decision.
The increase, which would see the price achieved for a kilowatt hour of power output rise from 6.2c to 10c, is needed to offset higher capital and financing costs, the Irish Wind Energy Association (IWEA) chief executive Dr Michael Walsh said. ..."A price level of 10c for on-shore wind is necessary to reflect market conditions, including increasing capital and financing costs for projects, and critical in underpinning private sector investment of €6bn needed to deliver our national targets," he said.
The Crown Estate yesterday signalled its growing ambition to become a key player in Britain's booming offshore renewable energy industry by agreeing to buy a prototype of the world's largest wind turbine. The estate, which manages land and assets owned by the Queen, said that it had agreed to buy the 7.5 megawatt Britannia turbine, specifically designed for offshore use, from Clipper Windpower. The deal with Clipper represents a subtle shift in strategy by the Crown Estate, which owns the seabed around the UK and is thus set to benefit from a vast planned expansion of offshore wind power in Britain.
Only George Orwell could have invented - and named - the British Government's Renewable Transport Fuel Obligation (RTFO) that came into operation yesterday. It is the latest in a long line of measures intended to ease the conscience of the rich while keeping the poor miserable, in this case spectacularly so. ...The British Government has been persuaded by the wind turbine manufacturers to commit a third of its annual renewables subsidy to this uniquely inefficient energy source, advertising over hill and dale the cabinet's horror of making a decision on nuclear power. ...If all these fancy subsidies and market manipulations were withdrawn tomorrow and government action confined to energy-saving regulation, I am convinced the world would be a cheaper and a safer place, and the poor would not be threatened with starvation. Just now, for reasons not all of which are "green", commodity prices are soaring. Leave them. Send food parcels to the starving, but let demand evoke supply and stop curbing trade. The marketplace is never perfect, but in this matter it could not be worse than government action. Playing these games has so far made a few people very rich at the cost of the taxpayer. Now the cost is in famine and starvation. This is no longer a game.
German utilities and wind turbine manufacturers have expressed concerns over the government's offshore wind energy target capacity of 15,000MW by 2020, deeming it technologically and economically unrealistic. The German government's target corresponds to the installation of around 3,000 large offshore wind turbines. Industry sources have voiced their concern by saying that the necessary infrastructure and servicing firms needed for the installation of these offshore wind turbines are scarce.
German utilities and wind turbine makers have dismissed the government's goal of boosting off-shore wind power capacity to 15,000 megawatts by 2020, citing a lack of resources and transmission lines, Financial Times Deutschland said. The goal, which is equivalent to 3,000 high-capacity wind turbines, is 'not viable, neither from an economic nor a technological point of view,' the paper quoted a spokesman from German utility E.ON AG (NYSE:EONGY) as saying. ...The legal reimbursement of 14 euro cents per kilowatt hour of off-shore wind power is sufficient but building transmission lines from the wind parks to consumers on the continent is not profitable enough to encourage investments, BWE managing director Ralf Bischof said.
A major wind farm developer has asked European Commissioners to acknowledge support for its 181-turbine proposal for Barvas Moor on Lewis. Lewis Wind Power (LWP) will be one group at a European Parliament event discussing the Europe-wide Natura 2000 network of protected areas. Sites covered by the Natura 2000 designation include Lewis peat bogs. LWP said the designation should not hinder developments which could bring benefits to remote communities. ...The Natura 2000 event is to be held on Wednesday by the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). European Commissioners are expected to attend.
Economy minister Glos over the weekend accused the SPD's environment minister Sigmar Gabriel of looking at energy supply through "ideological goggles." Glos warned of a supply shortage by 2012 and rejected a thesis paper from the environment ministry which stated that supply in Germany was secure. Glos told weekly business magazine Wirtschaftswoche that "one could rather trust a hungry dog [guarding] sausage stocks" than trust the environment ministry with watching over the safety of power supply. It was therefore good, said Glos, that the security of energy supply is under the responsibility of the economy ministry. Gabriel, meanwhile, said lobbying against new coal units was putting secure supply in danger and that blocking new coal units may actually support longer lives for nuclear units.
Protesters have labelled the decision to give the go-ahead for a £90 million wind farm in east Sutherland as a disaster. The Scottish Government announced this week that it had approved the 35-turbine wind farm at Gordonbush, Strath Brora, which will generate 87.5 megawatts of electricity ...Energy minister Jim Mather called it "a good example of a sensitively scaled and sited wind farm operating in harmony with the environment". But opponents pointed out that approval had been granted even though no habitat management plan had been agreed and the access route was still uncertain. Sutherland landowner Edward Reeves of Suisgill Estate, a supporter of local anti-wind farm action group Landscape, claimed the decision represented a failure in democracy. "This is a disastrous decision for Brora and Helmsdale and for the few remaining stretches of wild land in the Highland," he said. "When democracy fails, where do you turn?"
Senior energy executives have called on ministers to come clean about the costs of the Government's ambitious plans for a green energy revolution. Government ministers have eagerly publicised in recent months tough new carbon reduction targets and an array of initiatives that will be needed to meet those demands, such as biomass and wind power generation and carbon capture and sequestration technology - "green" measures that play well with the electorate. ...But signs are emerging that energy companies are tiring of taking the flak for higher tariffs that are increasingly a direct result of government policy. Paul Golby, the head of E.ON UK, said: "We need our politicians to stand up to the mark a bit more and be honest about the costs. It doesn't come for free. Energy is going to cost more in the future."
Wind developers are to be warned to stop ignoring airports and fully consult before putting in plans for turbines in parts of Northumberland. The North East Assembly has written to the Government insisting that when the region's planning master plan is produced this summer it includes a line forcing developers to check there are no radar objections likely to scupper proposals. The NEA is producing a Regional Spatial Strategy (RSS) which has to first be approved by the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The final version will be used as a legal guide underpinning every planning decision made in the North East.
The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (DBERR) - which heads up the drive to ensure 15 per cent of the UK's energy comes from renewables by 2020 - has also been working hard on finding ways around the objections. Military fears over the impact of the turbines creating blackspots on radar has seen more than 40 proposals blocked, while agencies of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have used the threat of flooding and the impact on wildlife to put forward objections to both onshore and offshore wind farms. But the British Wind Energy Association insisted Government departments had to work harder to overcome the objections to pursue the higher goal of cutting carbon emissions. Charles Anglin, BWEA director of communications, told the WMN: "If the UK is going to meet its tough new targets for renewable energy and tackle climate change, then the Government agencies like the Ministry of Defence and the Environment Agency have to play their part.
What's telling is that the European interest hasn't wavered even though U.S. federal subsidies for clean energy are slated to expire this year and have yet to be extended. Historically, the federal tax-credits have been make-or-break for the industry. Now, though, it appears other factors weigh more heavily. EDP is so anxious to expand in the U.S. that it ordered more wind turbines from India's Suzlon this week, even though those Suzlon machines have had technical glitches. The big drivers? State incentives for renewable energy, like those in Texas; a slow but inexorable shift in the U.S. toward cleaner energy; and the high-quality wind resources in the U.S., which dwarf those of Europe (and other parts of the world.)