Library filed under Energy Policy from UK
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.
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.
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.
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.