Articles filed under Energy Policy from UK
Britain will be forced to build thousands more wind turbines in the countryside under a Brussels edict to be announced tomorrow. Energy experts say new EU climate change targets mean the UK will have to generate 40 per cent of its electricity from green sources within 12 years. In order to meet that target, the number of wind turbines on the land would have to rise fourfold. Thousands more would be needed at sea. The move would be one of the greatest engineering projects in years - and dramatically change the skyline of Britain and its coastal waters.
Once we were offered an easy way to help save the planet: ask an electricity provider to supply you with power from renewable sources and you would reduce carbon emissions and so tackle climate change. But doing the right thing has turned out to be more complicated. There are growing concerns that 'green tariffs' reduce carbon emissions by far less than promised - a point accepted even by government. Supporters still argue they are worthwhile because they boost demand for renewable energy in future. But even that is now being questioned: demand is already massively outstripping supply, leading providers to turn away big customers. ...But, surveying 12 tariffs offered by nine companies in 2006, the National Consumer Council (NCC) found many were not delivering the environmental benefits they claimed. Worryingly, even the better tariffs 'only reduce CO2 emissions by around 100kg a year - just 6 per cent of the average household's CO2 emissions', the NCC said. Since then, Ofgem, the energy regulator, and the government's Energy Saving Trust have launched consultations into accreditation schemes to reassure customers. ...Meanwhile, many campaigners are reserving judgment - afraid to deter consumers from doing something to help, but worried that if green tariffs are seen as a sham there could be a backlash.
When the history of modern Britain comes to be written, one of the most catastrophic failures of successive governments will be seen to have been their grotesque mishandling of our national energy policy. ...around 2000, came two further twists to the tale. First it became clear to all the experts that, as North Sea gas ran out and the bulk of our most productive coal and nuclear power plants would reach the end of their lives after 2010, Britain would face a grave energy crisis. But also alarm over global warming had by now hit the top of the agenda. Politicians in London and Brussels had become hypnotised by Green fantasies about "carbon-free renewables" and shut their eyes to the real crisis that was now fast approaching. The nadir of this unreality was the 2003 Energy White Paper, which blethered on about wind turbines but made no attempt to address the gravity of Britain' s impending energy gap.
Yesterday's announcement that the Government has given the go-ahead to a new generation of nuclear power plants drew predictable howls of outrage from the green lobby. One minute they are complaining that the Government is not taking the threat of global warming seriously enough, the next they complain even louder when the Government takes the issue seriously and pledges to do something about it. There's just no pleasing some people. Let's make this absolutely plain for the seriously hard of thinking - nuclear power is the only proven and cost-effective way of producing the large amounts of electricity we need, without massively increasing carbon emissions.
Surprisingly, the Government has yet to respond. Dr Ion admits her frustration: “The science on climate change is clear but people have forgotten that engineers have to apply that science. It’s all very well to say that we’ll have 20 per cent of our energy coming from wind power by 2020, but that’s useless if nobody’s done any studies on how that’s going to be delivered. If people continue to set unrealisable targets, Government policy will begin to lose credibility.” I have an idea: a year ago the Environment Agency fined four British companies £750,000 for breaking EU rules on carbon emissions trading. You can see where I’m heading . . .
There must be a shake-up of the application system for wind farms to prevent time and money being wasted, it was claimed today. Tory deputy leader Murdo Fraser said that there were "no real guidelines" to show developers which sites were appropriate. This has led to a "barrage" of applications being submitted for sites in Perthshire and the Stirling area that should not be considered, the mid-Scotland and Fife MSP claimed. Much time and money were then wasted by both the developers and anti-wind farm campaigners confronting each other, when no application should have been made in the first place, he said.
A controversial 23-turbine wind farm is to be built at Achany in Sutherland after Scottish and Southern Energy was granted planning permission. The decision follows a public inquiry into the proposals in August. Highland Council had originally opposed the £55m wind farm but withdrew its objections as the inquiry concluded. Construction of the 40 megawatt capacity wind farm will begin in the new year. It is expected to be operational in 2010. When Achany is commissioned, SSE will have 275 MW of installed wind farm capacity. This includes the Drumderg and Toddleburn wind farms, which are expected to be commissioned in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
The greens favour high oil prices because consumers use less of the stuff when it costs more, and because high prices for oil make other forms of energy more competitive. Nuclear power, solar energy, wind power or any of the other substitutes for fossil fuels can become more economically viable only if oil prices stay about where they are - and politicians stump up some generous subsidies, sceptics would add. Meanwhile, the hunt for the proverbial free lunch is on. The most efficient way to cut the use of fossil fuels is to make them more expensive by taxing them, or the emissions they create. But politicians are as unenthusiastic about transparency in the cost of cleaning up the environment as they are about increasing the transparency of the funding of political parties. So most proposals to cut carbon emissions are built around a single proposition: hide their cost from voters. ...Even the emerging favourite in the United States and Europe, a cap on emissions followed by a trading of permits, is a hide-the-cost device: costs of compliance will be passed on as higher prices. So the blame will go to car makers, supermarkets, electricity utilities, and oil companies, the applause to politicians. All so politicians can avoid the transparent device of a tax on carbon or carbon emissions.
Last week, amid the clouds of self-righteous humbug billowing out from Bali, Gordon Brown committed us to what I do not hesitate to call the maddest single decision ever made by British ministers. It was announced by John Hutton, Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, that we are to build 7,000 giant offshore wind turbines round Britain's coast by 2020, to meet our EU target on renewable energy. It will be the largest concentration of such industrial monsters in the world, enough, claimed Mr Hutton, to power every home in the country. No matter that Mr Hutton's officials warned him in August it was not conceivable that we could achieve even a much lower target. So keen was Mr Brown that Britain should "lead Europe on climate change" that Mr Hutton was told to ignore his officials - and the media reported his claims without questioning whether such a megalomaniac project was remotely feasible. ...Nothing better illustrates the fatuity of windpower than the fact that Denmark, with the highest concentration of turbines in the world, must export more than 80 per cent of its wind-generated electricity to Norway, to prevent its grid being swamped when the wind is blowing, while remaining heavily reliant the rest of the time on power from Sweden and Germany. The Danes, who decided in 2002 to build no more turbines, have learnt their lesson.
The government was accused yesterday of unveiling plans for a significant expansion of offshore wind power that were very similar to an announcement it made five years ago. Industry secretary John Hutton announced in Berlin that Britain wanted to expand offshore wind power to provide about a fifth of the country's electricity by 2020. This would mark a big increase from the current level of less than 1%. Five years ago the then energy minister, Brian Wilson, announced that vast areas of shallow sea around Britain would be earmarked for an expansion of wind power that theoretically could power Britain three times over. Tory shadow industry secretary Alan Duncan accused Hutton of "rushing out a rehashed proposal announced five years ago" ...Dan Lewis, research director at the Economic Research Council, said: "According to the world offshore wind report 2008-2012, published a week ago, only 4.5gW will be installed in the whole world over that period. Maybe the government should have paid attention to the supply constraints the report highlights before it takes a stand on something it can't possibly deliver. "The government is deluding itself on a grand scale.
John Hutton, the UK business secretary, announced plans yesterday to increase Britain's production of electricity from wind. According to Hutton, by 2020 the UK will produce 33 gigawatts (GW) from wind power, mainly from offshore turbines ...The reaction of environmentalists to these developments shows how apparently strong principles can be set aside in favour of certain right-on technologies. ...Because wind generation is immensely erratic and hard to forecast it is almost impossible to incorporate it into the grid without compromising reliability. Detailed study of inflow and outflow between Germany and Scandanavia demonstrates that as much as 84 per cent of west Denmark's wind power is exported to Norway (at a loss to Danish consumers of about £100million) (4). Norway's electrical supply is 100 per cent hydro, generated by water falling through turbines in river dams, and the Danish wind power is simply used to pump water back up into reservoirs - in effect, storing the electricity (and currently the only practical way to store power). Hydro and wind are extremely complementary, but the people of Denmark are paying the compliment and the people of Norway being flattered. Currently, the Danish Wind Industry Association (DWIA) admits: ‘Danish wind power only contributes to adequacy [of supply] with a capacity value of zero.'
Shell, the oil company that recently trumpeted its commitment to a low carbon future by signing a pre-Bali conference communique, has quietly sold off most of its solar business. The move, taken with rival BP's decision last week to invest in the world's dirtiest oil production in Canada's tar sands, indicates that Big Oil might be giving up its flirtation with renewables and going back to its roots. ...The oil group said it was continuing to move its renewables interests into a mainstream business and hoped to find one new power source that would "achieve materiality" for it. Shell continues to invest in a number of wind farm schemes, such as the London Array offshore scheme, which has government approval. Shell has also been concentrating its efforts on biofuels, but declined to say whether it had given up on solar power even though many smaller rivals continue to believe the technology has a bright future.
Offshore wind farms cost significantly more to build and maintain than their onshore equivalent. And because they involve new and untested technology they also suffer from "first of a kind" costs. But the industry is confident that those costs will fall over time. It is difficult to compare the cost of electricity obtained from a wind farm rather than a conventional energy source like gas. This is because it involves assumptions about future construction costs, the cost of carbon emissions, and the cost of gas. However, right now offshore wind farms are significantly more expensive than thermal generation and require a government subsidy to make them economic.
Business Secretary John Hutton says he wants to open up British seas to allow enough new turbines - up to 7,000 - to power all UK homes by the year 2020. He acknowledged "it is going to change our coastline", but said the issue of climate change was "not going away". The thrust of the idea was backed by Tory Alan Duncan: "We're an island nation. There's a lot of wind around." ...The other choice was, he said, whether it was "easier to have these developments offshore rather than onshore". Asked what would happen if there was no wind for a few days, Mr Hutton said that was why there had to be a mix of energy sources - including nuclear power - to cover for calmer weather periods.
The Independent on Sunday has learnt that, in an astonishing U-turn, the Secretary of State for Business, John Hutton, will announce that he is opening up the seas around Britain to wind farms in the biggest ever renewable energy initiative. Only weeks ago he was resisting a major expansion of renewable sources, on the grounds that it would interfere with plans to build new nuclear power stations. ...The announcement is the first step in implementing the offshore wind power revolution, which is likely to run into far less environmental opposition than proposals to build wind farms on land.
One of Britain's largest green energy companies has damned the MoD as being "biggest single obstacle to wind power in the UK" after it opposed a second Norfolk wind farm. The future of wind energy in the county was thrown into doubt last night after it emerged that the MoD has raised concerns over Ecotricity's plans for six turbines between Sporle and Swaffham. The MoD says that trials conducted in 2004 and 2005 on the effects of wind turbines on radar systems identified that even solitary turbines can significantly reduce operational effectiveness when in line of sight.
"Wind turbines, by their scale and movement, are the most visually intrusive of all developments. "The applicant has chosen a site visible from a wide range of the most sensitive and valued locations in Northumberland, and has elected to apply for a number and scale of turbines which are inappropriate for this landscape." On the matter of MoD objections over the impact on radar at RAF Brizlee Wood, she added: "Unless the laws of physics are overturned, this development cannot go ahead and permit Brizlee Wood air defence radar to function. "Such immutable laws are not overturned.
According to the Daily Mail, government advisers believe the environmental cost of making, transporting and installing domestic turbines usually outweighs their benefits in built-up areas. They say that wind speeds in towns and cities are simply too low to produce enough energy to justify their installation. It is the latest finding to show how apparently "green" lifestyles can be less environmentally friendly than they seem. The latest finding comes from the Building Research Establishment Trust, which advises the Government and the private sector on energy efficiency.
Derek Gilpin, who owns a shop on Arlecdon Road, said villagers would be rallying around to get more information about the effects of windfarms and what they can do to oppose the plans. He said: “Everyone who I spoke to was 100 per cent against it. I have not found anyone for it. They are a blot on the landscape and they don’t work for the small amount they put in. “Everyone is against them here. If they go up they are likely to be on the crest of the hill at Moresby Moss. We will be able to see them from our house. It will be about three- quarters of a mile away. “The meeting was the company’s way of trying to sell them to people. Local people have been meeting with scientists to get more information.”
Villagers who have already fought plans to build three wind farms near their homes are preparing for another battle. Protesters in Gedney Hill are holding a public meeting today to discuss the possibility of another wind farm application near their homes. Spanish firm IBERDROLA UK has sent a scoping report to South Holland District Council to find out about the viability of building up to ten turbines at Langary Gate, near Gedney Hill.