Renew On Line (UK) 52

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 152 Nov-Dec 2004

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. £50m for wave and tidal

2. Renewables over 5%

3. North Sea -CO2 sink?

4. Biofuels push

5. Solar Worries

6. Deep sea wind

7. The Wind debate : New anti-wind lobby

8. Policy Developments  New Planning Guide

9. Regional Developments: NW, NE, Scotland

10. World Developments : US, China, EU

11. Nuclear News: Nuclear  Economics

9. Regional Developments

SW Renewables

A new plan: ‘REvision 2010- Empowering the region; Renewable electricity targets for the South West,’ produced by the Government Office for the South West and the South West Regional Assembly, outlines draft renewable energy  targets for 2010.  An assessment in 2001 of the potential for renewables had concluded that the region as a whole could obtain 11% to 15% of its electricity from renewables by 2010 (see Renew 146 ). The new plan take this a step forward, outlining  individual targets for each county which have been reached following extensive consultation with stakeholders.  As of June 2004, the report notes that targets had been adopted or approved in Wiltshire, Somerset, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall and the former Avon.   It adds ‘All areas are also now in the process of developing renewable energy/climate change strategies and/or associated action plans, which can also provide added weight to the target. More importantly these strategies provide the mechanism for supporting the target’s successful delivery.’

Mike Twomey from the Government Office commented “The project’s inclusive approach has meant developing renewable energy targets from the bottom up, taking full account of local issues and views.” Gil Streets of the SW Regional Assembly added “The local authorities have played a vital part in developing and agreeing the sub regional targets, and we hope these will be helpful in developing sub regional renewable energy strategies”.

The targets are not technology-specific so as to provide flexibility for each area to respond to local opportunities, but given the 2010 target date, the principal technologies are likely to be onshore wind, biomass and energy from waste. Given that some of these can have controversial local impacts, an assessment was carried out of the landscape sensitivity of the region for onshore wind and biomass.

* Meanwhile, the Combined Universities of Cornwall  network is adding capacity- running a BSc course in Renewables and developing research programmes  at its dramatic  new campus at Falmouth.

Green heat arrives in the NE

Kielder Forest in Northumberland is supplying wood chip  to fire a local district heating scheme in a local village. The £650,000 system supplies heat and hot water to a school, youth hostel, six three-bedroom homes and a visitor centre.  The Forestry Commission is contracted to supply 250 tonnes of wood chip a year.

One North East chairman, Margaret Fay, said: “The North East’s ambition to become the biomass capital of Britain is starting to be realised with schemes such as this coming to fruition. The partners involved in the Kielder project are also part of a wider regional biomass group that is hoping to achieve a target of 50MW of power produced by biomass by the end of the decade. That’s enough to provide hot water for all the homes in Northumberland. This whole area of green energy has huge potential for new employment, new investment and protecting the environment in the North East and this project shows the region is keen to harness this.”

Graham Gill, of the Forestry Commission, added: “Wood fuel is carbon neutral and trees absorb as much carbon when they are growing as they release when they are burned so there is no net emission of carbon from using wood fuel. We replant with new trees the areas that are felled so that there is a never ending sustainable supply of wood from the forest.”

Wood fuel is also the topic of the UK’s first VRQ training course/qualification in renewable energy- via the NE’s ‘Ignite’ Training programme. See:

* Northumberland County Council is among the first authorities in England to be powered completely by green energy. From 1 April 2004, 100% of the council’s electricity has come from renewable sources, via a deal with nPower, with over 500 council-owned buildings being supplied.

Scotland needs more than wind

Wind power is moving ahead in Scotland despite some initial planning battles. The 70 turbine 130MW wind farm at Hadyard Hill near Girvan, in South Ayrshire should be operating later this year, after a long running battle over planning permission- including long negotiation with the Ministry of Defence which was concerned, since it was located in an RAF low-flying zone, has started in South Ayrshire. The go ahead for this £90 million project has been depicted as a heralding the start of  a new era of co-operation from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) which will reduce a backlog in the wind farm planning system.  Ivor Caplin, a junior defence minister, attended a ceremony at Hadyard Hill to mark the start of construction, said: “The Hadyard Hill wind farm is a prime example of the MoD working to resolve issues with other agencies and adopting a positive ‘can-do’ attitude”. 

Meanwhile, Scottish Power said the 30MW wind farm at Cruach Mhor, near Glen Darval in Cowal, their 12th in the UK and Ireland, represented “the next step of planned investment to add a further 800Mw of new renewables by 2010, creating a generation portfolio which comprises 20% renewable sources”.

However looking further ahead, in a report on renewables policy, the Scottish Parliament’s Enterprise Committee claimed that the current renewables policy of the Scottish Parliament is “unintentionally working against the development of renewable energy sources other than onshore wind power,” and that  over-reliance” on one source of renewables is not good energy policy. Although the committee fully supports the Executive’s targets for renewables it noted that the Renewables Obligation (Scotland) has been successful mainly in promoting onshore wind. On the basis of the current approach, it felt that the Executive’s target of 40% of green power by 2020 is likely to be met, “almost entirely through onshore wind power.” and it felt that the approach should be revised to shift the focus from large onshore windfarms to other forms of renewables- which Scotland had in plenty. “The focus on wind power is depriving other technologies such as tidal and wave power of much-needed investment. We must not let this opportunity pass us by.”

Tilting at Hydrogen Tanks in Hornchurch

As we noted in Renew 146, BP’s attempts to show their “green” credentials are being thwarted at the UK’s first public Hydrogen refueling station in Hornchurch, Essex. Due to open in December 2003, it was still at the public enquiry stage in May 2004. Chris Berridge reports.

'This ambitious project was intended to be a flagship development- a BP fuelling station with both conventional and cleaner fuels. This would include providing a hydrogen refueling facility for the three fuel cell buses now operating between Ilford & Oxford Circus on route 25. These are part of a pan-European CEC-funded trial called CUTE (Clean Urban Transport for Europe) to test out fuel cell powered buses in several major cities.

The Hornchurch station planned underground storage of liquid hydrogen, complemented by electricity from renewable sources using solar panels and wind turbines and also included an environmentally friendly natural waste water management system. The hydrogen storage was subject to exceptionally stringent safety tests, which it passed with flying colours. The work ran to schedule until the turbines appeared and local residents and politicians started looking into what BP were doing on the site. They didn’t like what they found. Objections started to be raised, mostly over the noise and visual intrusion of the wind turbines but they also started to use perceived hazards of liquid hydrogen storage as a weapon against the site.

In retrospect, BP realised that the standard development procedures they had used were not working. They had fulfilled all the requirements of the planning authority, but these were treated with skepticism by local residents and councilors. This was not a technical process- it was a political one, and one for which BP was not prepared. The safety procedures counted for nothing. Hydrogen was what ‘bombs were made out of’ and what ‘blew up the Hindenburg’. The fact that an underground liquid hydrogen tank was many times safer than a petrol tank was not relevant in such a debate.

The lack of public consultation by BP compounded the poor awareness and knowledge of the fuel in question. It got too far for BP to placate the local residents. Despite having fulfilled all planning requirements, the planning application was rejected and eventually a public enquiry called. This delay has seriously affected the CUTE project for fuel cell buses in London. The three fuel cell buses are in service and are a quarter of the way into the two year trial period, but they are having to use a temporary refueling system. This uses compressed gaseous hydrogen, which is transported by road tanker to a facility near the bus depot. Unfortunately, transporting Hydrogen in gaseous requires a ten fold increase in road tanker journeys compared to liquid form, due to the different storage densities. Thus local residents objections have led to more tanker traffic and increased pollution negating the aims of the project on the first place.

Whilst Londoners may be experiencing the benefits of pollution free transport at the point of use, the locals at Hornchurch do not seem to care for the environmentally friendly qualities of the fuel station with wind turbines seen as eyesores and a whole welter of perceptions against storing hydrogen to safety standards well above that for conventional transport fuels.

It seems lessons are still not being learnt by technologists and corporations. Clearly, if London is to have a hydrogen future, then the public will need to be convinced as much as the politicians of the benefits of technology change.'

Local Councils try hard- but lack backup

A survey backed by the Energy Saving Trust and the Improvement and Development Agency, shows that 71% of local councils are exceeding government targets for procuring green electricity and 65% use clean fuel or low carbon vehicles. It found that energy efficiency is now a core consideration for the vast majority of councils- 93% have a specific strategy in place to improve home energy conservation and 65% have set out plans to tackle the causes of climate change in their area.

However, it is not all good news.  The results also show that more than 80% of local authorities are prevented from making progress in key areas due to a shortage of funding, too few staff and green issues being pushed down the agenda by government priority areas. The survey also shows that 80% have no current plans to set up an energy services company to supply power in the council’s area and just 20% have targets for the development of renewable energy in their area. 74% admit they have not been very effective in tackling climate change in their area. Just 14% of councils have access to energy consumption data from utility companies to enable them to focus help where it is needed most.

Councillor Sir Ron Watson, chairman of the Local Government Associations environment and regeneration executive said: “We cannot gloss over the facts, in many areas local authorities are failing to make real progress in driving forward the green agenda. But the reasons are equally clear, and this survey has put the spotlight firmly on the cocktail of obstacles and contradictions holding councils back in the fight against climate change. Local councils have huge potential in this area and can make a real difference, even exceeding government targets, if they are enabled to do so. Many of the changes that need to be delivered in housing, transport and planning, to reduce harmful emissions, improve security of energy supply and improve energy efficiency, will depend on local authorities.”

* The West Midlands Regional Assembly has urged industry in the region to make the most of commercial opportunities driven by climate change in its draft Regional Energy Strategy. at:

Consumers  keen on green

Consumers say they are prepared to accept price rises from companies that comply with new requirements to reduce carbon dioxide emissions under the EU wide Emissions Trading Scheme, set to be introduced next year.  According to the study by LogicaCMG, 90% of consumers  asked were in favour of the new regulations and 54% said if prices increased by 10% they would still support the regulations, while one in six consumers said they would be happy to accept price rises of up to 25%.

The research suggested that consumers will “vote with their feet” if companies fail to comply with new “green” legislation. One in three respondents said they would switch brand allegiance on environmental grounds if a company they regularly buy goods and services from, failed to comply. Furthermore, 8% said they would complain to friends and family about any company that failed to meet the deadline whilst 10% said they would protest against the offending company. By contrast, 35%  of businesses didn’t think that consumers will care if they comply with new CO2 regulations and many have not yet made plans for adjusting to them .   Source:

But not all are green...

A majority of Britons accept human activity is responsible for changing the climate of the planet, a new BBC poll suggests, but many are unsure of the costs of climate change, and barely half of more than 1,000 people polled thought they themselves would feel any significant impact. Moreover almost half of those interviewed thought changing their behaviour would make no difference to climate change. Although most were willing to take some action, nearly two out of three rejected paying more for petrol

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