Articles filed under Energy Policy from UK
Some will say that this is a false choice and that we can do without nuclear or fossil fuel burning. But the technologies that everyone hopes will deliver large quantities of renewable power - wave, tidal, offshore wind - are still years away from being proven to reliably deliver large quantities of power. The other less-polluting sources of power - clean coal and gas with carbon capture and storage - are not even at the demonstration stage yet. Even if these technologies do turn out to work in a technical sense, they have still to be shown to be economic. As last week's row about ScottishPower's electricity prices shows, people expect their electricity to be both reliable and cheap. The party manifestos are full of admirable talk about turning Scotland into Europe's green energy power house, how we can be much more energy efficient and how we can turn our homes into little power stations with rooftop turbines, solar panels, etc. None of this answers the really critical question: can enough of this be delivered quickly enough to close the energy gap which looms in 2015? I have yet to see convincing evidence that it can.
The only proven source of the steady base load electricity necessary for a modern society to function is nuclear fission. James Lovelock - deeply pessimistic about the effects of what he calls global heating - recognises this. However, Greenpeace and others stick to their long-established opposition to nuclear power. Some people see bio-fuels as an important component of a lower-carbon future. Others believe they are a distraction and cause more environmental problems than they solve. Of course, these are not the only options, but they illustrate the point that specific technologies should not to be rejected out of hand. It is ludicrous to suggest that we could rely on wind and solar power entirely. And the agenda for some seems to be to eliminate all private transport and scale back international trade enormously, to take us back to smaller, self-contained economic units; the very reverse of a globalisation trend which has been in progress for centuries.
As the integrity of our electrical power supply is "the" essential element if we wish to remain an industrial power, why do we allow the "naive" green movement and our hapless politicians to bend science to fit their preconceived over-simplified analogies?
On sea and land they are sprouting like one legged monsters with propellers. The "windmill", the vehicle for wind power, is becoming a more familiar sight as the government programme for encouraging faster development of renewable energy gathers momentum. They will become even more familiar, commonplace and controversial over the next decade. Wind power is set to make a bigger contribution to the supply of energy. The offshore wind programme alone could be delivering 9 per cent of electricity demand by 2020 on the basis of current plans. Overall the market for tidal and wave energy could be worth £4.2bn a year to the economy by 2050, according to estimates made by the Carbon Trust.
Members of action groups fighting controversial wind farm developments in Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion will travel to Cardiff this weekend to take part in a national anti-turbine protest. Rhos Garn Whilgarn Action Group and the Brechfa Forest Energy Action Group will be among the community groups marching through Cardiff Bay to the Assembly's Senedd home on Sunday.
On the subject of future electricity generation in Scotland, politicians of all the major parties are indulging in hypocrisy and wishful thinking. Labour is promising us 50% renewable generation by 2050, the SNP 60%, the Greens 80% and the LibDems 100%. However, not one of these parties can tell us how they propose to achieve this, other than vague mumblings about wind, which is unreliable, and wave and tidal, both of which are unproven.
.....according to the National Grid, in the period between October 2006 and February 2007 there were 17 days when output from the existing 1,632 windmills was less than ten per cent of capacity. During that period there were five days when output was less than five per cent and one day when it was only 2%. In the whole five months, the wind turbines were operating at only 35% efficiency.
Windpower is nothing more than green tokenism and vast areas of our landscapes are being trashed in the process.
Wind farm proposals for remote and scenic parts of Scotland are always controversial, but the public must now consider the issue of how best to transmit the extra electricity generated. A lot of power is to be generated in the sparsely populated and windy west of Scotland and then transmitted south to consumers. While wind farms may be unsightly to many and are considered to blight the landscape, proposed power pylons needed to carry hundreds of miles of overhead lines across hills and glens are potentially more harmful to the environment and tourism.
Matt Partridge, who sells Gamesa wind turbines in return for an outlandishly large subsidy, is circularising Welsh newspapers with various bits of evidence for global warming (Have Your Say, March 29). What has global warming got to do with the need, or otherwise, for wind turbines? Nothing - because the Government's own figure for saving the UK's CO2 emission by renewable power generation, mainly wind, is just 9.2 million tonnes per year by 2010. This is less than the emission from a single, medium-sized coal-fired power station, and is less than four ten-thousandths (0.0004) of global CO2 emission, and stands no chance of altering atmospheric CO2 concentration, still less deflecting climate change, as Mr Partridge's advertising spiel implies.
You only have to examine the letters pages of this newspaper to appreciate that the wind farm issue is one that will run and run. Both sides in the debate are firmly entrenched in their positions. But, while they continue lobbing verbal hand grenades at each other, bit by bit, wind farms are starting to sprout like mushrooms across West Wales. Mushrooms is probably an ill-considered word to use; there is nothing organic about wind farms. They do not blend into the countryside. Rather, they stand there stark against the hillsides, defiant to any local opposition. We are told hundreds of 400ft metal and concrete towers will provide Wales with renewable energy. Dissenters are accused of not wanting to save the planet. We are presented with the picture of evil nuclear or fossil-fuelled energy on the one hand and cute windmill-like wind power on the other. Oh, that it was that simple. Wind turbines are not cute: they are monstrous and noisy. Sometimes, as in the case of Llanmiloe, Pendine, bits fall off. They do not provide enough energy to slow down global warming and the energy they provide costs more per unit. Great for the energy company shareholders. Not so great for the rest of us. And there is a fatal flaw in wind turbines - when the wind stops, they stop. In other words, every wind farm needs some sort of back-up. If there is a message being carried on this (ill) wind, it is that a new Assembly (after the elections) must reconsider how it is to meet Government renewable energy targets.
Britain's energy plans have been thrown into disarray by ambitious European Union targets, the BBC has learned. Ministers had intended to aim to produce 20% of Britain's electricity from renewable sources by 2020. But a recently-published EU strategy demands that 20% of all energy should come from such sources - four times more renewables than the UK intended. BBC environment correspondent Roger Harrabin said a forthcoming white paper will cover over the policy gaps. Exact share The government will flesh out more detailed ideas when the legislation is proposed in the autumn, our correspondent said. The UK's exact share of the EU's energy obligation is still being debated. Renewable energy sources include wind and solar power and it is hoped that promoting them will help cut greenhouse gases. Under the EU's strategy, these will have to meet 20% of all energy, including fuel for cars, heating, domestic aviation and industry.
ELVIS is not still alive and living in Brazil. The Royal Family had nothing whatsoever to do with Princess Diana's death. And Marilyn Monroe died of nothing more sinister than a drugs overdose. All of which will convey to you that I am not normally one who believes in conspiracy theories. In the absence of evidence to the contrary, the dullest and most obvious explanation is usually the right one. However, I am beginning to join that rebellious group of people who - whisper it - are becoming less, rather than more, convinced of global warming. An enormous industry is growing up and some people are doing very nicely thank-you on the back of climatic change. One can only wonder at the scale of scientific grants. One thing we don't have to wonder about is taxes - any excuse. And the business to be in today is undoubtedly the manufacture of wind turbines and hybrid cars. The most recent alarming report, by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, tells us Glasgow will need 1344 wind turbines by 2050 and Edinburgh's cars will have to be cut by a third. Inverness will have to be a model of eco-brilliance and will have to be forbidden from its planned expansion
SCOTLAND'S cities face an uphill battle to cut their carbon emissions and meet government targets, a report claimed yesterday. In theory, Edinburgh would need to reduce the number of cars on the road by more than a third, Glasgow would have to erect more than 1,300 wind turbines and every building in Inverness would need to be carbon neutral if the country is to reach the recently-set government targets of a 60 per cent cut by 2050. The suggestions are made in a new report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in Scotland (RICS) which looked at aspects of climate change across the country. The report, City Climate Challenge: your city, your responsibility, examines the key challenges for Edinburgh's transport network, Glasgow's energy supply and energy demand in Inverness.
Now, here's where profit pushes its ugly snout into the trough ahead of the needs of the environment: to encourage renewable energy generation, the Government (using our money) pays the generator a guaranteed subsidy, currently around £35 per megawatt hour (MWh). With the scramble among suppliers to buy these ROCs to fulfil their obligation, the most recent price at auction - yes, there's even an eBay-style auction site selling packets of renewable power - was a whopping £46. Now, given that the wholesale price of all electricity is currently about £45, that plus the subsidy doubles the value of wind electricity to more than £90 per MWh. Given that sort of return, those generator boys are - if you'll pardon the expression - cooking with gas. After all, at that price the sort of 120m high mast mooted for dozens of Northumberland sites currently seeking planning permission is calculated to be worth £400,000 a year per turbine to the generating company. Perhaps something more practical than the prospect of quick and plentiful profits should be proffered before we kiss goodbye to the most beautiful landscape in England?
People living close to the site of a proposed major wind farm in North Sutherland have voted to oppose the development. Two-thirds of those who responded in a local ballot were against Scottish and Southern Energy's 35-turbine venture on the north side of Strathy Forest. The poll was undertaken by Strathy and Armadale Community Council, which will now be lodging a formal objection. Officials from the power company travelled north to spell out their plans at a public meeting in the village hall last month. Several local people then claimed the turbines - which would stand 110 metres to the tip of their blades - would desecrate the area. The ballot revealed 68 per cent against the £90 million development and 32 per cent in favour. A total of 103 households were surveyed, with just over 60 per cent responding. Thirty-five people voted for and 78 against.
Gordon Brown will unveil tax breaks for households generating their own green energy as he uses his eleventh budget to challenge the environmental credentials of David Cameron's Conservatives by proposing incentives to tackle climate change. Whitehall sources said last night that Mr Brown is likely to encourage people to install solar panels, wind turbines and other carbon-free sources of energy in their homes by exempting from income tax any money made by selling excess power back to the national grid.
Ministers are planning to boost efforts to establish large numbers of windfarms off the Westcountry coast in a bid to massively increase the amount of renewable energy that the region produces. Rules for licensing offshore turbines and tidal power generators are expected to be relaxed as part of a series of measures to tackle the threat of global warming. But the moves will be coupled with extra protection for the most endangered marine habitats, with up to 90 "no-go" zones across the country. Falmouth Bay in Cornwall and Lyme Bay in Devon are among the areas which could be considered for the new protections.
Britain published new plans on Thursday to streamline the development of offshore wind, wave and tidal power projects, while still protecting wildlife, as part of the fight against global warming. While onshore wind farms are sprouting up all over Britain in the race to develop clean sources of power, offshore wind - which is much more expensive - is only now starting to develop. Wave and tidal are even further behind. "Protecting our seas is one of the biggest environmental challenges after climate change and the two are closely linked," Environment Secretary, David Miliband said. "The proposals in the Marine Bill White Paper are a first for the UK and would raise planning for the management and protection of our seas to a world-leading level." The white paper policy document, which is open for public consultation until June, proposes a strategic marine planning system to set national objectives and priorities for offshore developments.
Renewed calls have been made for a public inquiry to determine wind farm plans in north Northumberland after the prospect of creating the country's biggest development north of Alnwick moved a step closer. Northumberland County Council this week backed proposals to build ten turbines at Wandylaw Moor, next to the planned 18-turbine development at Middlemoor. RidgeWind Ltd's Wandylaw application is to be decided by Berwick Borough Council while a public inquiry is to be held for Middlemoor after Alnwick District Council voted to object. The county council's planning committee had also back the Middlemoor bid. After the meeting, Coun John Taylor said: "All applications should come together at a public inquiry to test the policies that are supporting these developments that are effectively conflicting existing policies. "The impact of both applications, if they are agreed, would produce the biggest wind farm in England and that would have a huge impact on the landscape." MP Alan Beith first called for a single public inquiry in September 2005. This week, he said: "There should be a public inquiry to look at all of them together to assess cumulative impact." Opponent Rob Thorp, of Charlton Hall, said: "It is the piece meal of doing it. For a development as big as this to be developer-led and determined by different authorities on either side of a fence on a hill is not an acceptable way forward, it's totally crass. Wind farm policies in Northumberland are out of hand."