Library filed under Energy Policy from UK
GREEN lobby groups that oppose nuclear energy were accused of "fundamentalism" yesterday as the Government announced a review of whether to build a new generation of nuclear power stations.
The Prime Minister has called for a “mature debate” on energy policy. If the antics of two Greenpeace activists yesterday are any indication, he may struggle to achieve that. This is, as he admitted, a “difficult and challenging” matter. Yet it is precisely because it is difficult and will be challenged in emotive terms, that the question must not be avoided. The “review” of Britain’s energy requirements, which should be completed by the summer, is likely to recommend the development of a new generation of nuclear power stations. The Prime Minister needs to start preparing now for the discussion and the distortions that will surely follow.
Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday signalled a shift away from the Government's stance on wind power when he ordered a wide-ranging review of Britain's energy needs.
In a Question to the Environment Minister in the National Assembly, Elin Jones, Assembly Member for Ceredigion has challenged Carwyn Jones to give priority to the use of Forestry Commission land for windfarm developments.
A DRAMATIC stop has been put on an application to erect 10 of the largest wind turbines in Wales on a site near Pencader.
Our correspondent assesses the options available for those planning Britain’s future energy needs. Generating electricity from nuclear reactors is as effective at combating global warming as any known form of renewable energy and is likely to remain so indefinitely.
Yet the Government (UK) tilts, irrelevantly, at windmills. Why? Because the only way to combine efficient generation with lower CO² emissions involves nuclear power and no one wants to be the first to say so.
Sources at Country Guardian claim that they have stopped or postponed up to 89 per cent of planned wind farms in some years. Ingham has been credited with personally thwarting 80 per cent of applications. His group is currently trying to crush a plan by the Duke of Beaufort to site turbines on land he owns north of Swansea.
If the wind isn't blowing at peak times, the argument goes, then the wind turbines are not contributing to the power in the grid. However, if wind farms could store all the power they generate at off-peak times, during the night for example, and then control the way and time it is released, it would not only enhance the revenue streams they could receive, but also remove the intermittency claims. Now, a Canadian energy management firm claims to be able to do just that. EPOD International has secured two pilot projects with wind power developers in Canada and the US to test their proprietary energy storage system, the EMT.
Wind power supporters have received a boost from a study that shows Britain has the best wind in Europe because it blows all year round and peaks when there is greatest demand for electricity.
The West Danish model clearly shows that the installation of large numbers of wind turbines can lead to severe and expensive problems with power transmission, and seriously degrade wildlife habitats and the aesthetic value of land- and seascapes for little or no reduction in carbon emissions. It is therefore imperative that energy conservation schemes and alternative sources of renewable energy are more thoroughly explored before large swathes of unique UK countryside and coastal scenery are lost to industrial wind stations. Conservation measures alone could reduce UK carbon emissions by 30% (Coppinger, 2003).
Built in 2003, North Hoyle is the UK's first major offshore wind plant.....
"Even its supporters would probably now accept that in its early days nuclear power was oversold – the costs were underestimated (“too cheap to meter”); the practical problems (eg waste disposal) minimised; the benefits overstated; alternatives summarily dismissed; the risks ignored. The legacy of this overselling has been unhelpful – emotions are high on both sides and there is a climate of mistrust. It seems almost impossible to have a sensible debate about the place of nuclear in the energy mix, at a time when the need to look carefully at all non-CO2 emitting sources has never been greater. Have we learned from this experience? It does not always seem so. The current state of the debate about wind power presents many of the same unwelcome symptoms – exaggerated claims; confused arguments; strong emotions; neglect of the practicalities and risks. In this climate an authoritative and neutral examination of the issues would have been a helpful corrective. This is what the latest report of the Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) seems to promise. The Report, entitled “Wind Power in the UK” describes itself as “a guide to the key issues” surrounding wind power development, providing information to help “considered decisions to be made”. Unfortunately, but perhaps predictably, the Report fails to do so. The Commission ends up as just another cheerleader for wind power, using the Report to argue that “wind power must be made to work” because it is a “critically important part of the overall energy mix”. In its bullish (not to say bull-headed) approach, the Commission is repeating the errors of the early advocates of nuclear: underestimating the likely costs; minimising the practical problems; overstating the benefits; and dismissing the alternatives – in a report which, at many points, shows a poor grasp of the issues."
The Scottish Wind Assessment Project is an ongoing programme of research which seeks to collate existing studies and commission new research to promote a thorough investigation of the claims made for and against the use of wind-generated energy. It is supported by private donations.
The Kyoto Protocol is due to come into effect this February and we are already more than half way from the signing of the Protocol to the beginning of its first commitment period (and three quarters of the way there since the baseline date of 1990). The world also needs to look beyond Kyoto. Many countries, including the UK, have set themselves ambitious longer term goals, to reduce emissions by 60% or even 75% by 2050. Meanwhile, a number of recent studies – for instance, the climateprediction.net project based on distributed computing and the International Climate Change Taskforce – have stressed the magnitude of the risks and the need for early and effective action. At first sight, the impression given is that everything is more or less on track. The UK Paper says that “our latest projections on the impact that our policies and measures will have on our emissions suggest that the UK remains on course to comfortably achieve its target under the Kyoto Protocol”, though admitting that more needs to be done to meet the 20% reduction in CO2 emissions set as a national goal. The EEA report is more cautious: it acknowledges that the EU is only a third of the way towards meeting its goal (greenhouse gas emissions in 2002 were 2.9% below the 1990 base, as compared with the target of 8 % for the period 2008-2012). However, it suggests that with policy measures in the pipeline and use of the Kyoto mechanisms, the target could be met. What neither report states is that the evidence contained in them could lead to a much more pessimistic conclusion: that the policy measures favoured in the UK and EU have not delivered significant CO2 reductions and are clearly inadequate to the longer term challenge.
If you really want to cut energy consumption, reduce pollution, improve public health and protect our environment, it’s time to contact your elected officials, educate them about the lessons of Denmark, Germany and elsewhere, and tell them you want tougher energy efficiency measures instead of wind power plants. Otherwise, in the next few years, you’ll be looking at wind turbines in some of your favorite places, with the knowledge that they’re doing little more than funneling your tax dollars to a few lucky corporations and landowners, and away from better solutions.
"The Scottish Wind Assessment Project is an ongoing programme of research which seeks to collate existing studies and commission new research to promote a thorough investigation of the claims made for and against the use of wind-generated energy."
This response to the Dti’s consultation has been prepared by Hugh Sharman of Incoteco (Denmark) ApS, and The Renewable Energy Foundation, working in collaboration. Hugh Sharman is an energy consultant, based in Denmark. Most of Incoteco’s work is done for and with large energy companies seeking innovative environmental solutions to practical problems. An example is its leading role in the formulation and development of the “CO2 for EOR in the North Sea” (CENS) project during 2001. During 2004, Incoteco (Denmark) ApS completed a wind-energy related study for the Danish Energy Agency that was also supported by a number of important Scandinavian energy companies. Its purpose was to find more effective uses for the large wind power surplus that is generated in West Denmark. The Renewable Energy Foundation is a newly created foundation which has arisen from widespread and growing public concern that the current renewables energy policy is in itself unbalanced, and causing subsequent imbalances in the rest of the energy sector. REF encourages the development of renewable energy and energy conservation whilst safeguarding the landscapes of the United Kingdom from unsustainable industrialisation. In pursuit of this goal, REF highlights the need for an overall energy policy that is balanced, ecologically sensitive and effective.