Library filed under Energy Policy from UK
The mining capacity needed for the world to achieve net zero simply doesn't exist
Britain’s bid to build enough offshore windfarms to power every home in the country by 2030 risks being derailed by outdated regulation which is slowing investment in the electricity grid, according to one of the industry’s biggest players.
For all the invocations of harnessing our gusty shores in some ‘green revolution’, the proclamations do not stand up to scrutiny. Even if we cranked up wind power provision to the level the Prime Minister proposes (40 gigawatts), this amount would power only about half the homes in Britain - or 7 percent of the total national energy demand.
But he warned: “It won’t be straightforward. The key challenge is to bring down the cost of future floating farms which are a very long distance from the coast – that’s where most of the untapped wind resource is and that is the one technology which is not yet mature enough, so that would need to be accelerated to meet this challenge.
The government has refused planning permission to a 340MW extension to Vattenfall's Thanet wind farm off the southeast coast of England, dealing a blow to the company's plans to expand the site's renewable power capacity. Business Secretary Alok Sharma refused consent to the project yesterday, citing concerns about the proposed extension's impact on marine navigation, shipping, and ports in the area.
Oversupply of power has meant engineers are working hard to keep system stable
“Transitioning to a zero carbon grid and increasing the penetration of intermittent, renewable generation means that conditions on the grid can become more volatile." ...But this boom in wind has also meant that constraint management is becoming increasingly challenging and expensive. In the first six weeks of 2020, National Grid made £55.7 million worth of payments for constraint management, almost half of the total of £130 million paid in 2019.
The customers who were able to pop on a middle-of-the-night laundry load could have earned a renewables windfall of between 1p and 5p for every kWh of electricity they used, rather than spending double this rate to run appliances for only a few hours later.
The focus shifted to offshore wind farms, and the new Contracts for Difference scheme for their subsidy. A kind of reverse auction, it encouraged operators to put in unfeasibly low bids for the prices at which offshore wind farms would generate. While many have heralded the apparently huge drop in offshore costs, no wind farms have actually begun operating at this rate. Industry experts doubt they ever will, suspecting the low offers were a ruse to lock out competition and then blackmail the government on pain of bankruptcy if the price is not raised. The days where developers saw a prospective wind farm as a licence to print money while policymakers extolled wind energy as clean, green and free are long gone.
Since 2015 there has been a steady erosion of this policy framework: energy efficiency spending has been cut, the cheapest forms of renewables have been locked out of the CfD auctions, support for small scale renewables has been slashed, and plans for renewable heat, new nuclear, and CCS have edged forward at the most glacial of paces.
More than 60 wind farms – most in Scotland – were compensated on October 8. The payouts topped the previous high of £3.4million, sparking fresh criticism of the Scottish Government’s ‘green’ agenda. In very windy conditions, the National Grid cannot cope with the extra energy turbines produce, so firms get ‘constraint payments’ to temporarily shut them down.
'It’s very clear there is a very substantial downward trend in new investment, which is across the board in terms of investment in clean technology ranging from big wind farms right down to the effective collapse of the solar market'
The United Kingdom has has taken steps to reduce the financial burden of supporting renewable energy in the country. The Government introduced its new Low Carbon Levies (LCL) framework which was designed to control the cost of supporting low carbon electricity paid by consumers on their electric bills. The plan addresses the costs of the 'Contracts for Difference' (CFD), the 'Renewable Obligation' (RO) and the 'Feed in Tariff Scheme' (FiTs). The government asserted that it will monitor the total cost of these programs and, "Until the total burden of these costs is forecast to fall in real terms over a sustained period, the Control will not allow for new low carbon electricity levies to be introduced. Based on the current forecast, ...this will rule out new levy spend until 2025." The portion of the Government document is provided below. The full report can be accessed by clicking the links on this page.
Wind farm owners in Scotland are making out like bandits; Since 2010, we’ve paid £328m to wind farms not to generate - most of them in Scotland; Westminster must stop Holyrood from consenting new wind farms and extensions.
Former Environment Secretary and Tory MP Owen Paterson told The Daily Telegraph he would be “very happy” to see the back of the green energy directive. He added: “It's distorting the whole energy market. It's like the Sheriff of Nottingham – it transfers money from my poorest constituents to my wealthiest constituents who are putting up pointless wind turbines heavily subsidised.”
“Our view now is that decarbonisation has a cost to domestic users and businesses and our focus now is on ‘how much can industry bear before it is too much, and decides to go elsewhere?’”
Nervous renewables firms are expecting hundreds of jobs to be lost in Scotland over the coming year as state support for green technology development falls.
Between 2008 and 2015, the average electricity bill rose by 22pc. Over the same period, the price of hydrocarbon fuels used by power stations fell sharply – coal down by 33pc and gas by 13pc. The rise in electricity prices is wholly attributable to government policies.
Oil and gas entrepreneur Algy Cluff has said the Government could provide a multi-billion pound boost to the hard-pressed North Sea industry by cutting the subsidies provided for offshore wind farms.
Incoming Prime Minister Theresa May has driven a stake through the heart of her predecessor David Cameron’s fluffy, faux-Conservative project by scrapping the Department of Energy And Climate Change (DECC).