Renew On Line (UK) 41

Extracts from the Jan-Feb 2003 edition of Renew
These extracts only represent about 25% of it

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. Energy Review: White Paper

2. PIU on Waste

3. Green Energy- the good, the bad and the ugly

4. Tidal and Wave Power move ahead

5. EAC takes on PIU- and Wilson

6. Taking the high road: 40% of power from Scottish Renewables ?

7. After ARBRE

8. Wind backlash: Over the sea..

9. Coal use grows: UK Renewables move only slowly

10. Regional Renewable Rivalry

11. World Roundup: WSSD aftermath,

Thailand, China, USA,Australia, Canada ,Germany

12. Nuclear Economics: Wilson, and the public, on Nuclear

10. Regional Renewable Rivalry

As we noted in Renew 137, the DTI has published the results of a survey by OXERA/Arup of regional renewable energy resources. It suggested that the East of England could meet over 13% of the UK’s 10% by 2010 renewable target, the highest in the UK. By contrast Scotland was seen as only at best meeting 11%. This has raised some hackles. For example, during the cross examination of Brian Wilson, the Energy minister, by the House of Commons Environment Audit Committee, Mark Francois MP felt that they have come up with some quite quirky results. For instance, most of the hydro we have at the moment is in Scotland, but according to the results of the assessments, we are going to do better for renewable energy in East Anglia than we are in Scotland’.

He went on How can you actually say that these assessments have any validity when we are suggesting we are going to have more in Norfolk and Suffolk and the rest of the East Anglian region than we are going to have in the whole of Scotland?’ adding that if you look at the success of planning applications, some 66 per cent or better get through in Scotland to date, whereas in England and Wales, the corresponding figure is about 6 per cent. Again, according to the figures, we are going to do better in East Anglia, but we have a one in ten approval rate in East Anglia compared to Scotland, and Scotland starts off with nearly all the renewables that we have and we have 8 years left.’

Brian Wilson responded ‘I do not think we are saying there will be more renewables in East Anglia than in Scotland, I think the factor that maybe you have not taken account of in your scepticism of these figures is offshore wind. For instance, just last week I announced the approval for the first commercial scale offshore wind development at Scroby Sands in East Anglia. That development on its own will account for 100MW of electricity, so we know a small number of large offshore wind projects can actually transform this situation.’

Wilson has of course been very energetic in promoting Scotland as a major renewable energy location- as a Scottish MP that is to be expected. And certainly Scotland has a huge offshore wave resource, whereas the slopping sea bed seems to mean there will fewer offshore wind farms than off the east coast of England, which Greenpeace suggests, might supply 25% of the the UK’s power needs (see Groups in Renew 141).

Interestingly, Wilson subsequently engaged in a promotional exercise for the east of England "The region is blessed with some of the finest energy-rich natural sources in the world." Maybe so, especially in terms of biofuels, but so far there is not much to show, at least in terms of wind projects. The Ecotech windturbine at Swaffham, plus on land wind farm at Blood Hill and Somerton are the main current highlights, but more is on the way, including the offshore wind farm at Scroby Sands.

Certainly there is a lot of local enthusiasm. Vincent Watts, chairman of the East of England Development Agency and vice-chancellor of the University of East Anglia at Norwich, told the FT (22/7/02): "I really don’t see why people shouldn’t be as proud of them as they are of the old windmills- we have got used to thinking of them as a thing of beauty".

That should soon be tested. There are 16 further applications for wind farms in excess of 50 megawatts (which go direct to the DTI) and 46 applications at less than 50 MW before the environment secretary.

Regional rivalry may be no bad thing as a way to put pressure on to meet more ambitious targets, as long as the sums are done right. The areas with the lowest renewable energy resources, at least according to the OXERA/Arup study, were London (0.7 at worst, 1.9 at best) and the North East ( 2.7 at worst, 6.3 at best), both of which could be contested. Certainly Ken Livinstone was not happy with this low ranking for London, and with several offshore wind sites being off the NE coast, that areas low ranking also looks a little odd. You could say the same for the figures for the SW (worst 3.7 and best 7.8) and Yorks and Humberside (3.8 and 11.0) after all, who knows what contributions might emerge from energy crops or tidal current generators in these areas and elsewhere.

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