Articles filed under Energy Policy from Europe
John Constable, director of policy and research at the Renewable Energy Foundation, told a conference in Swaffham that the current mechanism is a very expensive way of reducing carbon emissions. He said lavish subsidies and high electricity prices have turned Britain's onshore windfarms into a moneyspinner, with a single turbine capable of generating £500,000 a year. According to industry figures, a typical 2 megawatt (2MW) turbine can now generate power worth £200,000 on the wholesale markets - plus another £300,000 of subsidy from taxpayers.
The Scottish Government has set a target to produce 31 per cent of electricity demand from renewable sources by 2011, and 50 per cent by 2020. Any proposal to construct, extend or operate an onshore wind farm in Scotland with a generation capacity in excess of 50 Megawatts (MW) requires the consent of Scottish Ministers under Section 36 of the Electricity Act 1989. The Scottish Government's Energy Consents Unit is currently processing 37 renewable project applications - 28 wind farms, eight hydro projects and one wave project.
One of Britain's leading energy providers warned yesterday that Britain will need substantial fossil fuel generation to back up the renewable energy it needs to meet European Union targets. The UK has to meet a target of 15% of energy from renewables by 2020. E.ON said that it could take 50 gigawatts of renewable electricity generation to meet the EU target. But it would require up to 90% of this amount as backup from coal and gas plants to ensure supply when intermittent renewable supplies were not available.
The British government opened a major new phase on Wednesday in its drive for renewable energy, calling for bids to build up to 25 gigawatts of offshore wind turbines, triple the amount already in the pipeline, by 2020. The announcement by the Crown Estate, which manages all property owned by the monarch including the seabed around Britain, was welcomed by British Wind Energy Association chairman Adam Bruce as "impressively bold." Under rounds one and two of offshore renewable power generation leasing program a total of eight gigawatts of wind turbines are under development.
A wind farm has been given the go-ahead despite a local campaign to keep the turbines out of an area of unspoilt countryside. Plans to build the £25 million development at Langhope Rig, an area of countryside three miles west of Ashkirk in the Borders, were cleared following a five-day public inquiry. There were about 350 letters against siting the wind farm in an area described as a tranquil spot popular with walkers and tourists. ...But a Scottish Government planning reporter reversed the decision following an appeal by Airtricity. Carolyn Riddell-Carre, the environment and planning representative on Scottish Borders Council, said rural areas were expected to take too many wind farms. "It's like fly-tipping," she said. "People think of open space and think they'll heap things on it, whether it's rubbish or a bunch of turbines."
Government promises to speed up planning inquiries to ensure that wind farms play a valuable role in providing clean energy are not being fulfilled, with many schemes waiting up to five years for the go-ahead. Ministers have pledged to remove or reduce barriers faced by companies that want to build sustainable power projects, but this is proving difficult. ...The fragility of the wind power business was highlighted recently when Shell pulled out of the world's biggest offshore wind farm - the London Array, off Kent - because of spiralling costs associated with planning delays. Britain is already struggling to meet the EU target of producing 20% of the country's total energy from renewables by 2020. That target has been reduced to 15% but even that is a major leap given the current level of 2% - a figure that has not risen for several years.
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.
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.
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.
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.