Library filed under Energy Policy from UK
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.
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.
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.
EON is set for a showdown with the Ministry of Defence after it submitted a planning application for a £700m ($1.4 billion USD) offshore wind farm despite objections from the ministry. The energy company's move to push ahead with the Humber Gateway wind farm, which would be one of the largest in the UK, is the first new project to have been proposed since John Hutton, the Secretary of State for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) revealed a plan to install 33 gigawatts of wind energy by 2020. That is up from the 1gw that is generated from wind power in the country today. The MoD has objected to the project, set to be located about 5 miles off the East Yorkshire coast, because it could interfere with radar equipment.
Without any public discussion Eamonn Ryan and the ESB unveiled plans to spend €22bn of our money on a madcap proposal which will seriously damage our ability to meet future energy needs. The plans include a massive increase in wind power which can never supply dependable power when needed. ...ESB Chief Padraic McManus said that he did not see nuclear power "being an issue" before 2035 thereby ending the nuclear debate promised by Minister Ryan, before it even started. So at a stroke this country has been effectively condemned to almost total dependence on imported fossil fuels for the foreseeable future.
A Campaign to halt a proposed wind farm on Sheffield parkland is picking up speed. Protesters this week lobbied leading councillors in their attempts to blow away the plans for Westwood Country Park at High Green. And they pointed to opposition from their local MP, Angela Smith, who says the park is "totally unsuitable" for a wind farm, partly because it would be near hundreds of homes. Andy Redfern, who chairs the action group, Save Westwood Country Park, said: "The storm that this has elicited in local people is quite tangible. ...Mr Redfern asked councillors: "Given this is a piece of green belt land and Hillsborough MP Angela Smith opposes these plans, as do local residents, will you abandon the plans? No other windfarms are near so many homes. Please stop this madness."
If you have a hankering to see Britain's green and pleasant countryside or its rugged coastline, you shouldn't wait too long. They are both likely to disappear soon under thousands of massive, swirling, 400-foot wind turbines. Recently, U.K. Industry Secretary John Hutton announced that the British government is planning 25 gigawatts of offshore wind power capacity, adding to the 8 GW already in development. A grand plan that could, in theory anyway, power all of Britain's 25 million homes by as early as 2020. Wind seems to be blowing in the minds of the politically correct and those on the environmentalist bandwagon. But the cost is going to be huge, no companies will plunge into it without massive government subsidies, and should the turbines actually be built, power reliability will almost certainly take a nosedive. ...The bottom line is that the debate about renewables, and investment in them, is as much about ideology and political belief as about economics and environmental issues. When the real cost of wind power as a major player in our future power needs is assessed, the answer won't be found just "blowin' in the wind."
The SNP Government intends to do nothing about the number of speculative planning applications for onshore wind farms being made in Perthshire, it was revealed in a parliamentary answer to MSP Murdo Fraser. In a parliamentary question, Murdo asked the SNP Government how it intends to reduce the number of speculative planning applications for onshore wind farms. In response, the Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Stewart Stevenson stated: "Under planning legislation there are no powers to prevent planning applications being made. ..."It is disappointing that the SNP Government is not prepared to create ‘no go' areas for applications. I believe that large parts of Perthshire should be automatically ruled out for a wind farm application due to their natural beauty and importance to the local tourism industry."
Scottish & Southern Energy is advocating more hydro-electricity projects because wind farms need instant back-up when the wind abates (Scrutineer, 27 March). This is most interesting to those of us endowed with memory, for we've come around a full circle ...
It will cost every household in the UK at least £2,000 to comply with the new European Union target of producing 15 per cent of all energy from renewable sources by 2020, according to a report commissioned by the government. ...According to energy consultancy Pöyry, the bill for the UK to meet the target would be at least €5bn a year for more than a decade, compared with just over €3bn a year for France and Germany, and well under €500m for most other countries.
Another area where the French have emphatically got it right is in power generation. After the oil shocks of 1973, France, with no significant oil or gas reserves of its own, embarked on a massive expansion of nuclear power, completely ignoring the doom-mongerers such as Greenpeace. The result has been an unqualified success story. Today, France has 59 nuclear power plants producing 78 per cent of its electricity needs. Electricity is so cheap and abundant that much of it is exported to the UK and Germany, earning the French economy about three billion euros a year. ...And because nuclear emits no carbon or pollutants, France is also one of the "greenest" countries in the industrialised world.
More wind turbines may need to be built off the Lincolnshire coast if the UK is to meet tough targets on renewable energy. Experts have claimed there is little chance of Britain meeting its goal of getting 15 per cent of all its energy from green sources by 2020. To do so, it is thought up to 12,500 new off-shore wind turbines will be needed over the next decade.