Renew On Line (UK) 51

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 151 Sept-Oct 2004

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1.Wind power- problems  offshore, new co-op

2.Photovoltaic solar - mandatory soon?

3.Funding Wave & Tidal Energy- £50m more

4. Biomass Heat Gap- RCEP report

5. Hydrogen Arrives- on the farm

6. New Energy Policy ? Yes please!

7. UK Energy Research Centre- soon

8.UK Government policy news- Energy Bill Passes but targets cut

9. European news- Bonn was good, Denmark gets better

10. US News- Local wind problems, hydrogen plans

11 Other International news- 40GW of wind now in place.... 

12.   Nuclear news'EU needs nuclear'

9. European news

Bonn was good

The International Conference for Renewable Energies,  held June in Bonn, was major conference of governments, sponsored by the German government. It went very well- far better than the Earth Summit at Jo’burg in 2002. The genesis of the conference was the first World Renewable Energy Forum held in June 2002 by the World Council on Renewable Energy (see below), where Hermann Scheer called for a global “conference of the willing” to overcome the vetoes in the UN’s Sustainable Development process. Inspired by this, at the Earth Summit, Chancellor Schroeder called for such a conference. 

In the event the Bonn gathering attracted 3,500 delegates and 130 Ministers- and the run up to it saw a lot of lobbying going on, not least by the European Renewable Energy Coalition.  In April the European Parliament voted unanimously in favour of a resolution, echoing the Coalitions proposal, calling for a 20% renewable energy target to be agreed at the Bonn conference. Germany, France, Austria, and Belgium were the main supporters, some others, including the UK, were less keen.  But a letter jointly signed by the RPA, FoE, Greenpeace, British Biogen, PV UK, British Hydro, BWEA, WWF and Green Alliance was sent to Tony Blair, calling on him to seek a renewable energy target of 25% of all EU primary energy  by 2020- a  target pressed at Bonn by the EU greens.  It no longer seems far-fetched. The European Renewable Energy Council produced a report claiming that renewables could supply almost 50% of world energy by 2040, while the International Sustainable Energy Organisation produced a projection with renewables almost taking over entirely by 2050- we’ll look at both these scenarios in Renew 152.

Not to be outdone, the Bonn conference organisers produced an overview paper which indicated that at present the world only used 1.3% of its renewable energy potential and suggesting that renewables could supply up to 50% of world energy by 2050 (see below- there will also be a full review of that in Renew 152).  The paper then looked at policies on how the achieve this in terms of renewable market development and financing options- setting the scene for the conference discussions.  

The headline events were very positive speeches by  Chancellor Schroeder and (by video link) Tony Blair, while EU environmental commissioner Margot Wallström  linked into the the oil crisis which she said might help ‘awaken interest in renewable sources of energy and electricity conservation’.   There was certainly no shortage of hard headed ethusiasm and commitment around as Godfrey Boyle, who was there, reports in the Forum section of Renew 151.  However, no specific targets were agreed.  The final declaration, backed by all the 154 governmental representatives who attended, simply reaffirmed “their commitment to substantially increase, with a sense of urgency, the global share of renewable energy in the total energy supply”.   Let’s hope that gets turned into action.

The World Bank certainly did its bit by announcing that it would commit to annual growth of 20% for renewables  over the next five years and would double its support for renewables (currently $200m p.a.) by 2010, although some green NGO’s were worried that the emphasis might be on large projects, rather than smaller community  developments.  See:

The World Council for Renewable Energy’s second World Renewable Energy Forum in Bonn in May, three days before the governmental meeting, also went off well- under the heading Renewing Civilization by Renewable Energy. WCRE used the occasion to launch its ‘World Renewable Agenda’. 

Bonn: 50% by 2050?

The official introductory overview paper for the Bonn Renewables Conference, put the technical potential for solar energy globally at 1,570 Exa Joules and 1,401 EJ for geothermal, although only 0.2 EJ and 2 EJ (respectively) are used now. There is no use of the 730 EJ of potential ocean energy, while wind uses 0.2EJ of its 580 EJ potential.  Hydro has the highest current usage, at 10 EJ of its 50 EJ potential, while biomass uses 50 EJ of the global potential of 283 EJ.  It noted that Africa was the continent with the highest total potential at 1,186 EJ, of which solar could provide 783 EJ. Asia-Pacific is next at 827 EJ, Europe at 749 EJ,  North America at 640 EJ and Latin America at 482 EJ. Progress was being made on developing these potentials:   consumption of renewable energy globally was now 62.4 EJ, 15% of total primary energy consumption (420 EJ). But by 2050 it could be 50% - and 90% by 2100!  More in Renew 152. 

Denmark gets better

After the political retrenchment of the last few years, the Danish government has now revised its approach a little and  approved construction of two new offshore windfarms, each of 200 MW capacity. Following lobbying from opposition parties and the renewable energy sector, the conservative government has, in effect, ended the moratorium it imposed on new renewable projects in January 2002. The new plan also includes the replacement of 900 turbines of under 450 kW capacity in favourable on-shore locations, with 150 to 200 new turbines of megawatt size. In the period 2005-2008, Denmark will increase its total capacity of renewables to 4,000 MW from the current 3,200 MW, so that the share of green power in national electricity supply will rise to 25% in 2008, from the current level of 19%. One offshore windfarm will be installed in the North Sea next to the existing Horns Rev facility; the second will be in the inlet of the Baltic Sea in Great Belt near the island of Omoe. For turbines, the first 12,000 hours of full load operation will receive guaranteed feed-in tariffs, and the agreement will support 40 new biogas plants with tariffs that are guaranteed for ten years. However, no reference to quotas is contained in the agreement, nor does it contain green certificates which Denmark was pioneering five years ago to meet expected EU policies that did not come into force.

But a 30% increase in research and demonstration funding for advanced renewable energy technologies is also included in the new agreement. The agreement also includes the nationalization of the high-voltage power transmission system to allow all users equal access to the grid, and will abolish the obligation to purchase power from independent power producers.  However the agreement does not address the financial problems at 25 independent energy offices and the Folkecenter for Renewable Energy. When the moratorium was imposed, it cancelled state support that had been provided to the centres for 20 years.

Old wind for new Russia ...

Second hand windturbines from Denmark, replaced there with newer larger versions, are being installed in the St Petersburg-Lenningrad area.  It’s cheaper than buying new machines and the older machines are still viable. A 13 year old  75kW Windmatic was installed  in 2001, with help from the Danish Folkcentre for Renewable Energy, and a 90kW Vestas machine was installed in 2003. A third machine is to be installed soon.    Source: Sustainable Energy News 44/ INforSE

...but problems at Horns Rev

Faults with the transformers of the Vestas turbines in the Horns Reef wind farm off the coast from Denmark have forced Vestas to bring all 80 nacelle units ashore for repair.

EU Wind Subsidies

According to a report on support mechanisms for renewables by Eurelectric, in 2001 a total of Euro 3.3 billion was given to support renewables in Europe.  Writing in Wind Directions March/April 2004, Christian Kjaer, from the European Wind Energy Association, argued that these figures were inflated and in error. For example he notes that Eurelectric assumed that the German wind Feed-In Tariff subsidy was 9.1 cents/kWh and that it would continue at that level throughout the next decade, whereas in fact payments for wind start at 8.7 cents/kWh and, in line with the ‘degresssion’ arrangement introduced to take account of subsequent cost reductions, it would decrease to 5.5 cents/kWh.   He also noted that a report commissioned by the European Parliament’s DG for Research put the total subsidy for renewables in the EU at only Euro 2.4 billion, while that for fossil fuel and nuclear was estimated at Euro 25 billion. Kjaer comments that ‘subsidies to fully competitive conventional technologies are highly unproductive, seriously distort the markets and increase the need to support renewables’, and noted that between 1997-2001 more than Euro 33 billion was paid in subsidies to coal in the EU.  Some interim subsidies were needed to help new energy technologies to get established but, he concludes, ‘removing subsidies to conventional electricity would not only save taxpayers money... it would also dramatically reduce the need for renewables support’.

NATTA/Renew Subscription Details

Renew is the bi-monthly 30 plus page newsletter of NATTA, the Network for Alternative Technology and Technology Assessment. NATTA members gets Renew free. NATTA membership cost £18 pa (waged) £12pa (unwaged), £6 pa airmail supplement (Please make cheques payable to 'The Open University', NOT to 'NATTA')

Details from NATTA , c/o EERU,
The Open University,
Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA
Tel: 01908 65 4638 (24 hrs)

The full 32 (plus) page journal can be obtained on subscription
The extracts here only represent about 25% of it.

This material can be freely used as long as it is not for commercial purposes and full credit is given to its source.

The views expressed should not be taken to necessarily reflect the views of all NATTA members, EERU or the Open University.