Renew On Line (UK) 48

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 148 March-April 2004

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. Even more offshore wind

2. BETTA , RO and Carbon trading

3. Wind - in the city and in the forests

4. Green Alliance : PSI report on Funding

5. Solar, Tidal, Hydro and biomass

6. Throwing caution at the wind

7. CHP gap confirmed

8. Long-life energy deal 

9. EU News

10. US News

11. World Renewables Roundup

12. Nuclear News

6. Throwing caution at the wind

Wind power is currently the most successful of the new renewables.  According to a study Risoe National Laboratory in Denmark, reported at  the recent Conference  on  technology for dealing with Climate Change held at the Royal Institute of International Affairs in London, wind power will become competitive with conventional gas and coal power plants in seven to ten years. And Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, a joint organiser of the conference, said that offshore wind plant would be especially competitive, creating enough power for domestic use and for export.  However, there were some calls for caution about a rapid a shift to new technology. Nebojasa Nakicenovic of the Vienna University of Technology, who is the former head of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s scientific team, predicted that, globally, some conventional coal-fired plant was still likely to be in operation until 2055, especially in countries like China where there was huge demand and lots of coal. He added that premature deployment of new technologies would be costly.  And nearer to home, this note of caution has been paralleled by comments from Scottish Power, one of the UK’s largest wind power developers. According to a report in the Guardian (Nov 5th), Ian Russell, chief executive of Scottish Power, felt that Britain “needed to be careful” as it moved from old sources of energy to new. Although he believed that there were enough developments under way to meet the UK target of producing 10% of the country’s electricity from renewables by 2010, Britain should not “shut old stations before we have got new ones ready”. 

A review by Standard & Poor, the investment analysts, added further fuel to the widespread belief that actually, the U.K. renewable energy industry may not reach the government-set target  of 10% by 2010. It suggests that windpower, which is expected to be the main means of reaching this target, may suffer from under investment.  “The Renewables Obligation scheme, introduced in April 2002, may not  provide sufficient incentives for investments in renewables. The U.K. scheme appears less supportive than in other EU countries. This and other factors mean that the U.K. lags considerably behind countries such as Denmark, Spain, and Germany, despite having a greater abundance of windy weather.”

Matters have not been helped by the economic caution exhibited by investors. Japan’s Nichimen Corp recently pulled out of wind power operations abroad, including those in the UK. Evidently it does not anticipate sufficient profits in the area. It will dissolve four UK-based companies, including Ecowind Ltd. 

However, in its new report ‘Power Switch: Impacts of Climate Policy on the Power Sector’ WWF suggests that power companies that don’t engage with renewables could miss out on considerable profits and could face costs equivalent to over 10% of 2002 earnings as they are hit by global and national climate policies. The most-affected companies in the European Union were seen as E.ON and Scottish Power, with possible cost increases of up to 9% of their 2002 earnings.

Although it is clearly not doing too well at present, with symbolically, Germany, shutting down the first nuclear plant in its closure programme in November, the nuclear industry is still positive about the future- and seems to see its fate and that of renewables as being linked. At the RIIA conference, Richard Mayson, technology director for British Nuclear Fuels, claimed that after 2020, nuclear energy would make a major comeback at the expense of traditional gas turbines. From 2030 onwards, nuclear energy and energy from renewables would dominate, he said. ‘Nuclear power is already exceeding the Kyoto Protocol carbon targets,’  and newer, safer plant was under development and would be commercially deployed from 2010.

Sources: RIIA, Utility Week, Standard & Poor, AFX-Focus, WWF

WWF report downloadable from:

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