Renew On Line (UK) 53

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 153 Jan-Feb2005

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1.     Wave and Tidal move ahead

New Marine Renewables Centre

2.     Biomass Boost

£3.5m more

3. Wind power developments

Largest wind farm yet...      

4. Micro power shows off:

Micro wind boom

5. Funding programmes

£15.5m for Community Energy

£8.5m for Local  renewables

6. Policy Developments

Climate  Review

Emission Trading Review

Party Positions

7. Policy Issues and lobbying

‘Double the Climate Change Levy’

RO costs more than REFIT


8. Around the World

Australia, New Zealand, India ,Canary Isles, EU, US

9. Global Developments

IEA Research on renewables falls…

..but Solar hits 100 million

‘No’ to Large Hydro...

Climate Change 'a real threat'

10. Nuclear News

Ten new nukes? Not yet !

7. Policy Issues and lobbying

RPA wants more

The Renewable Power Association has claimed that current government policies for renewables are self-limiting and will fall far short of the goal for a low-carbon future. Philip Wolfe RPA CEO, commented “The present strategy is to cherry pick: maximize onshore wind, add a bit of cheap co-firing, steamroller through some large offshore wind projects, and hope to hit the 10% target whatever the cost to the wider objectives”. He added that in addition,“we need biomass, wave, solar, micro-hydro and tidal power to share the load if the government’s aspiration of 20% renewables by 2020 is to become a reality”.

* The Governments Pre-budget report in December included commitments to new reviews of energy efficiency and biofuels. Details and analysis in Renew 154

‘Double the Climate Change Levy’

The Climate Change Levy  will have to double in the next five years to have any impact on pollution, according to a report from he Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), entitled ‘The Burning Question’. It recommends an annual increase in the Levy to double the current rate in the next five years. The levy has not risen since its introduction in 2001 and the IPPR says that at current levels it equates to about £37 per tonne of carbon emissions, while the Treasury estimates the social cost of the emissions at £70 per tonne. The tax raises £800m a year, and is offset by a 0.3% cut in employers’ National Insurance contributions.  Any rise would also be matched by a cut in NI Contributions and extra funding for business energy efficiency programmes through the Carbon Trust.

The proposal came as the UK submitted a proposal for a reduced UK emission cap under the EU Emission Trading Scheme, an adjustment which many saw as due to industrial lobbying. Tony Grayling, associate director of the IPPR told the Observer: ‘It is clear that the government has caved in to business’

For its part, the CBI was not happy with the IPPR proposal, or even with the UK’s reduced  EU-ETS requirement. ‘This is a bizarre time to suggest an increase in the levy. The manufacturing recovery is under threat. Raw material costs are spiralling. Energy prices are going through the roof. Oil has risen 70% in price in a year. As if that is not enough, the government has just announced tougher targets for British business under the emissions trading scheme.’

He added: ‘Business is busting a gut to keep up and these people seem completely oblivious to the whole thing’. (Observer Nov.7). And for good measure, the CBI subsequently argued that, to cut emissions, the UK needed to build six new nuclear power plants  over the next decade. But this was rebuffed  by  Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt, who said there was no chance of a new nuclear programme within that timescale if at all. “There isn’t a single company coming to me and asking to build a new nuclear station in the next 10 years or after that”. Oliver Letwin said a Tory government would allow the market to decide whether new nuclear stations were necessary, while Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrats’ Treasury spokesman, argued that if private industry had to pay the clean-up costs, and for decommissioning, it would never be an economic proposition. (Independent, 10 Nov.)

RO costs more than REFIT

With the Renewables Obligation being reviewed by the DTI, views are emerging on whether it should be drastically revamped or basically left alone. Although it has its faults, the DTI and many people in the wind industry seem to want to leave it be, to provide continuity and confidence, and the government is keen on the RO since it is a competitive market approach, replete with a ROC trading element- which keeps costs down.  Others however point to the REFIT guaranteed Renewables Feed-in Tariff system, which has been used so successfully at supporting the installation of 14GW of wind capacity and pushing PV solar ahead in Germany, and  which had now also been adopted by France.

REFITs detractors however argues that it costs more.  In which case it is interesting that, in a forthcoming paper, Dave Toke from the University of Birmingham has claimed that, despite its competitive nature, the RO is not necessarily better at keeping the cost of wind power down than REFIT.  He has calculated that, given the higher wind speeds in the UK, the subsidy per kW of capacity installed provided by the RO may be 30%  higher than that delivered by REFIT in Germany.  The bulk of this difference is accounted for by different tax regimes, because in Germany capital investments can be offset against tax, making wind power investment attractive for high income groups in Germany with high (50% +) marginal tax rates.

However, given that the UK has good wind speeds, Toke says that the corollary is that, in theory, small community projects here might actually be better off with the RO than with REFIT- a reversal of the usual assumption that they only succeed in countries with REFIT. That assumption  has seemed reasonable, since it is what has happened so far (especially in Denmark and also Germany), but Toke argues that this may just be due to differing cultural traditions among the wind industry and energy activists- something he thinks can and should be changed, as he argues in the Features section of Renew 153.  Also see the Groups section in Renew 153.

Grid Power Balances

Last November National Grid released its first annual interim ‘Seven Year Statement’ (SYS) 2004 for Great Britain (GB), outlining future demand, generation and power transfer patterns for the next seven years- and it seems to indicate that there should be no shortages:

* GB system peak demand is expected to rise from 62.7GW in 2004/05 to 68.6GW by 2010/11, an average increase of 1.5%/year (i.e. rising from over 20% to almost 30%)

* over the same time, installed GB generation capacity is expected to increase by 11.7GW from 75.5GW to 87.2GW, based on existing transmission arrangements.

Moreover, 6GW of the 11.7GW of contracted future generation relates to onshore and offshore wind farm capacity, and the bulk of this capacity will be located in the north. 

However, that presents some problems since there are currently constraints on new grid links there. Richard Ford from the BWEA noted that :

* Contracted generation in the North of Scotland must wait for completion of the Beauly Denny Upgrade.

* Any application received, for connection in Scotland, after 31 December will also be conditional on completion of the uprating of the interconnectors

* Further reinforcement will be required in the  grid.

As a result, any applications for connection in Yorkshire or any points north are unlikely to be connected before 2010 at the earliest.

UK Energy Research Centre

John Loughhead, former Vice-President of Technology for the energy giant Alstom, has been appointed Executive Director of the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC), to help co-ordinate research in Britain’s drive to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60% by 2050. He will have overall responsibility for UKERC operation and will work closely with the Research Director, Prof. Jim Skea, who is responsible for the centre’s research programme.

UKERC, founded in April 2004, is a distributed centre, based on a consortium of institutions across the UK, with an administrative hub based in South Kensington, London, within the campus of Imperial College. It is funded by the Research Councils with £13m allocated.

The UKERC research programme began in October and  it says that its activities ‘will ramp up during the first quarter of  2005’.  It aims to be ‘at the heart of the UK’s sustainable energy initiative, looking at new ways of reducing our reliance on fossil fuels by introducing an integrated whole systems approach to energy research, taking account of environmental, social, economic and technological factors’ and  it says it hopes to ‘provide leadership in energy research within the UK, assist in giving coherence and co-ordination to the UK energy research agenda, and provide a basis for international collaboration’. 

As part of this remit it will act as the “hub” of the National Energy Research Network, co-ordinating scientists working in the environmental, engineering, economic and social aspects of the energy field- drawing in all key players in this area by developing partnerships with researchers, the government and industry. Public engagement is another part of the remit.  The UKERC will also provide opportunities for networking, training and exploitation of new technologies covering a wide range of energy issues, from energy demand and future energy sources through to systems modelling and environmental sustainability. And it will work with the government and inform energy policy, helping the UK to meet the targets set out in the 2003 Energy White Paper, including a 60% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions in the long-term.

John Lawton, Chief Executive of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), said, “Government, industry and scientists must provide realistic solutions to this problem. We will get them all working together. These targets are tough but we think, with the right team in place, we will meet them.”

The initial research priorities of UKERC are: demand reduction; future sources of energy; energy infrastructure and supply; energy systems and modelling; environmental sustainability; and materials for advanced energy systems.

For more see:

Regional Renewables

A special feature in the September 2004 issue of the DTI’s   booklet on ‘Energy Trends’ looks at renewable energy in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the regions of England in 2003. The article covers all renewables including those that are not eligible for the Renewables Obligation. It updates a similar article in  the September 2003 issue. The main features of the latest statistics are:

* Scotland has greater renewables generating capacity than England, but England generates more electricity from renewables than Scotland. This is because biofuels based capacity (the most common source in England) is used more intensively than hydro (which predominates in Scotland). Hydro is subject to seasonal variation in precipitation in the catchment areas and 2003 was a particularly “dry” year.

* In Wales wind generated 88% more electricity than hydro.  In 2003 Scotland generated 22% more from wind than Wales.

* In England, the region with the largest generation and capacity is the East and this is almost entirely biofuels. The NE generates least. In England the regions with the largest generation from wind in 2003 were the NW, SW, Yorkshire and the Humber.

* Meanwhile, final UK energy consumption in the second quarter of 2004 was 0.4 % higher than in the second quarter of 2003, with, on seasonally adjusted and temperature corrected annualised rates, between the second quarters of 2003 and 2004, oil consumption increasing by 1.4%, Gas consumption rising by 3.9% but the consumption of coal and other solid fuel falling by 10.4 per cent. In terms of electricity generation, coal use during the quarter was 9.4% lower than a year earlier, while gas use was up by 14.5% and hydro sources by 10%, but nuclear sources were down by 12.3 %.

Total electricity supplied by all generators in second quarter of 2004 was 2.1% higher than a year earlier, while final consumption of electricity rose by 2.8 % with domestic use up 4.2% services sector use up 2.0 % and industrial use 2.3 % higher. For more see:

Greening the Home Counties

First it was Woking, with its ambitious private wire/solar/ fuel cell/micro-CHP system. Now Bracknell aims to become one of the greenest town centres in the country.  As part of a £175m regeneration programme part funded by the EU’s pioneering ‘Renaissance’ programme, it aims to expand the use of renewables and support energy efficiency. The Energy Saving Trust has provide an extra £1.85m to help install a heating, cooling and power generation system using local waste wood chippings- to service the council offices and possibly other buildings such as the new library and the police station. There are also plans to incorporate wind turbines, solar panels on roofs, or wood fuel replacing oil and gas for heating. The project is due to be finished by 2009. Bracknell Forest Borough Council has teamed up with TV Energy and partners including Waitrose, the SE England Development Agency and the University of Reading to work on the scheme.

Not to be outdone, HRH the Queen,who recently opened the major UK-German conference on climate change (“Meeting The Challenge Together”), has been greening some of her properties.  There are plans to install two new turbines, rated at 200kW, in the Thames to provide electricity for Windsor Castle, at a cost of £900,000. And further afield, a new 1MW run of the river hydro plant is being installed on her Balmoral estate in Scotland, which will sell excess electricity to the national grid.

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