Renew On Line (UK) 58

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue 158 Nov-Dec 2005

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. Decentral power:
Greenpeace  proposals

2. Farm Power:
Biofuels delays

CHP to backup wind

4. Welsh Renewables: 
Wind plan

5.  BETTA hurts Scotland:
but H2 CCS project emerges 

 6. Going for Micro power:
the Low Carbon programme

7. UK Energy Roundup:
getting there slowly

8. UK Climate Policy:
Blair changes tune?

9. UK Energy Policy Developments:
How not the cut carbon

10. News  from around the world:
US beats EU?

11.World Policy Roundup:
G8 on Climate change

12. Nuclear News:
US, UK, Australia and Russia

2. Farm Power

Farmers could and should grow more energy crops according to the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), which has launched a ‘homegrown fuels’ campaign- backed by a survey conducted by ICM that found that 78% of people asked favoured the use of renewable energy rather than fossil fuels to run cars and power homes and about 84% were against importing green fuel.  The CLA has produced a report, ‘Renewable Energy: More Than Wind?’ which examines the opportunities presented by various UK sources of renewable energy including biomass, ground source heat, hydro, solar and wind. It sees the potential for wind as limited by the cost of providing backup and by landuse constraints, but it says that many farmers could easily grow green, clean, renewable energy crops such as oil seed rape for bio-diesel, and wheat, sugarbeet and maize for bio-ethanol. Power can also be generated from biomass energy crops such as fast-growing willow and elephant grass. The report calls for changes to tax, planning rules and funding schemes- with a technology band system rather than the existing technology-neutral Renewable Obligation, plus a Renewable Heat Obligation and a Renewable Transport Obligation. 

CLA President Mark Hudson said, ‘All of us are confronted by a stark challenge- on current trends, the UK will miss its national greenhouse gas targets, unless energy efficiency improves and there is a significant and sustained development in renewable energy sources. We call on the Government to give practical help to a much broader-based renewable energy sector: wind power is not enough. At this turning point for UK agriculture there is an enormous opportunity, both for the economy and the environment, to boost our embryonic ‘grown fuels’ sector and to reduce our reliance on wind power to meet Kyoto targets.’

·        The CLA claim that wind has been overemphasised. They say that, while wind faces land use constraints, there is no limit to the potential production of biomass feedstock. Clearly biomass does have a significant, so far mostly untapped, potential, not least since it can be stored, but the CLA seem to ignore that fact that energy crops take up far more space per kWh eventually produced than wind, and wind is far cheaper per kWh. The CLA also claim that providing backup for wind generation will cost at least 1p/kWh for a 10% wind contribution- which contradicts the figures provided by the 2002 Cabinet Office PIU study, which put the cost at only 0.1p/kWh for a 10% wind contribution & only 0.3p/kWh for even a 45% wind input. The CLA’s  report is at:

Biofuels Delay

In response to a question, during an energy debate back in June, about the UK’s position on the European Union’s 2% year 2005 target for renewable transport fuels, DEFRA Minister   Margaret Beckett, noted that the UK had set a target for renewable transport fuels at 0.3 % use of biofuels by 2005. She added ‘That amounts to about 12 million litres a month, which is a significant increase over current sales. It reflects the situation as the Government expect it to be with the current support. The key issue is not the 2005 target but the long-term development of the industry’.

Replying to charges of a ‘Sir Humphrey-like delay in instituting a renewable transport fuel order’, she commented ‘I hardly think that it is consistent with evidence-based or sensible policy making to impose such an obligation without carrying out a feasibility study and consulting stakeholders’, which was what the Government were doing.

However, writing in the Observer June 12, Labours former energy minister Brian Wilson seemed to argue for more rapid action. He noted that Brazil, ‘puts 100% sugar-based fuel into more than half its new cars’ adding that by contrast, ‘the European record is abysmal- with the exception of the Swedes’ with the ‘pretty disgraceful result’  being that ‘98% of transport fuels used in Europe are oil-based, while carbon emissions from the EU transport sector have risen by 20% in the past decade’.  He added ‘The technology is not in doubt and the capital costs relatively low. The main missing ingredient has been political impetus. Even the EU Directive which sets a target of 2% transport energy from biofuels by 2005 and 5.75% by 2010 is non-mandatory.’

He concluded ‘In reality, Britain will be lucky to get to 0.3% this year and the prospects for 2010 hang largely on a decision the government is expected to take soon- whether to introduce an ‘Obligation’, similar to the Renewables Obligation in the power sector, which would mean fuel suppliers must meet the Brussels target by 2010. That is what the embryonic industry is lobbying for in preference to subsidies or tax advantages which should become unnecessary in an era of high oil prices.’ 

And, on a positive note, he added that ‘in a little-noticed development, this country’s largest non-producing petrol retailer, Tesco, has gone a significant step further. Since the start of the year, 150 Tesco filling stations in the south-east of England have been selling a blend of 95% petrol and 5% bioethanol derived from sugar cane and imported from Brazil’. 

That of course reinforced the point that as Wilson noted, ‘the great bulk of bioethanol will come from countries with hot climates’.  However, this could be seen as a beneficial economic option for developing countries. While he was keen on a UK Biodiesel Obligation, he noted that Per Carstedt, chair of the BioAlcohol Fuel Foundation estimate that, by 2020, at least 100m cubic metres of bioethanol will be imported into Europe, mainly from Africa, Latin America & the Caribbean.

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