Renew On Line (UK) 60

Extracts from NATTA's journal
, issue160 March-April2006

   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


1. Intermittency- not a big issue?

2. Marine renewables- tidal and wave progress

3. Wind power- problems and successes

4. The Energy Review- UK split on nuclear power

5. NFFO fund raided – Treasury helps itself

6. Microgen for all – micro CHP in action

7. LCBP gets £30m  - Skills gap? 

8. UK roundup – local wind and solar projects

9. Global Developments - Clinton Global Initiative

10. Europe - France, Spain, Portugal, Germany

11. Around the World - USA, Canada, China

12. Nuclear News- Chernobyl revisited, US Safety

2. Marine renewables 

1MW MCT Tidal Turbine

Marine Current Turbines is to install a 1 megawatt  Seagen tidal current turbine in Northern Ireland’s Strangford Lough following  approval by Northern Irelands’ Environment & Heritage Service. Strangford Lough has one of the strongest tidal currents in the UK and Ireland.  The project is being supported by a £4.27m grant from the DTI’s Technology programme. The turbine will be installed later this year and will be linked to the local grid.  Queens University Belfast will manage the monitoring programme. The 5 year pre-commercial pilot project follows sea trials of the DTI supported 300kW SeaFlow  which has been running off the N. Devon coast at Lynmouth for nearly three years. In parallel, EDF Energy recently announced that it has increased its investment in Marine Current Turbines by £2m in order to back the commercial development of the SeaGen. EDF said that it is keen to develop the new technology to gauge its potential future commercial application as a tidal farm with up to 30 turbines. 

Prof. Peter Fraenkel, MCT’s Technical Director, said that their work with the  SeaFlow had ‘shown that it is possible to generate power in a hostile marine environment and to have a negligible effect on marine life. Strangford Lough will demonstrate whether SeaGen has the commercial potential whilst safeguarding the marine environment.’

MCT’s Martin Wright added: ‘As a company dedicated to developing a benign, sustainable form of power generation for the future, we take our responsibilities towards the environment very seriously. Consequently, together with Royal Haskoning, we have carried out one of the most comprehensive and exacting environmental assessments ever done for SeaGen’s installation in Strangford Lough.’

Royal Haskoning, said: ‘We recognise the sensitivity of the location, and so have worked with EHS and conservation bodies to agree an adaptive and extensive approach to the management and environmental monitoring of SeaGen’s installation and operation’.

As follow-up tidal farm projects, MCT is looking at sites for 10MW arrays off the N.Devon (Lynmouth again) and Welsh coasts.

*The Carbon Trusts new report on Marine Energy claims that ultimately wave and tidal current technology could supply up to 20% of UK electricity.

Wave Dragon for Wales

The Danish Wave dragon device may be used for a wave energy project off Pembrokeshire near Milford Haven in the spring of 2007, if a bid to the Welsh European Funding Office by KP Renewables and Wave Dragon Limited, for £5m in EU Objective 1 funding for the first stage of the scheme, is successful.  Wave dragon is a Danish floating device, moored to the sea bed, that channels waves into a reservoir above sea level and uses the head of water to drive turbines to generate power. Under phase one of the scheme, which will cost around £12m, one 7MW unit capable of generating enough electricity for up to 6,000 homes would be tested at West Dale Bay. If it passes environmental impact and other regulatory assessments, the aim is to locate up to 11 units, with a total of 70MW generating capacity, in deeper water 10 miles off the west Wales coast, hopefully in 2008/9.  Source: BBCnews/Modern Power Systems

Wave/tidal consents

The government has outlined the consents process for wave and tidal demonstration projects in England & Wales which it says should ‘create the conditions that will allow the sector-leading UK marine industry to demonstrate and fulfill the renewable energy potential of our seas’.

Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks said: ‘This consenting guidance together with the previously announced £50m package of financial support gives the marine renewables sector an opportunity to develop. We look forward to the evolution of a world-class U.K. industry and the clean energy and economic benefits that would go with it. In order to help produce this energy from our marine resource my department has ring-fenced elements of the £50m Marine Renewables Deployment Fund. Up to £2m will be used for impact monitoring and research funding over the life of the demonstration projects. We have set aside up to £6m for infrastructure projects. The remaining £42m will be allocated through a new scheme that will support the first multi-device demonstration projects.’ 

The DTI says it has ‘worked intensively with industry, stakeholders and across Government in the last six months to produce guidance that meet the needs of business by promoting progress while allowing concerns about the possible impact of devices on other users of the sea and on the environment to be properly monitored and evaluated’.

It adds ‘The guidance contains no explicit constraints on site choice, duration and scale of demonstration projects. Pre-commercial or demonstration project managers will be required to follow the normal process for energy developments. They will be asked to produce project-specific Environmental Impact Assessments. The level of detail of the EIA will be proportionate to the risk and scale of potential impacts. There will be no need for a Strategic Environment Assessment (SEA) for the time being. DTI believes that knowledge gained from monitoring & research in the demonstration phase will allow a thorough & more valuable SEA to be conducted prior to a commercial phase.’

Marine Juice

npower is to provide £50,000 funding via its ‘Juice’ scheme to the BWEA for a project that will provide a ‘route map’ for the future of wave and tidal stream development around the UK. The project, entitled ‘The npower Juice Path to Power’, will examine the technical resource, environmental and regulatory constraints, grid capacity, and financing requirements for the marine renewables sector. The aim is to help ‘to provide the basis for a flexible strategic plan for commercial development of the sector, taking into account the needs of industry, regulators and environmental stakeholders’.

The project funding will be provided through the npower Juice Fund, which is backed by Greenpeace and has been set up specifically to aid the development of emerging renewable technologies such as wave and tidal power. The hope is that it can help to move from prototype deployment to commercial reality.

Michael Hay, the BWEA’s Marine Renewables Development Manager, said: “This project will be vital in ensuring that we reach a consensus on the location requirements for marine renewables over the coming years whilst highlighting what measures will need to be put in place to bring projects towards commercial reality. In doing this it will also set out the requirements for the marine renewables sector at a critical time in the debate surrounding the Marine Bill and Marine Spatial Planning.”

Wayne Cranstone of npower said: “This study is exactly the type of initiative the npower Juice Fund was designed to support, as it will help bring this exciting new industry another step closer to commercial reality. npower is proud to be funding this project and we look forward to seeing the results next spring.  It is important to us and to our Juice customers to encourage the development of new renewable technologies, such as wave and tidal power, to help in the fight against climate change. The Government has set challenging targets for the development of renewable energy. Onshore wind farms, hydroelectric power stations and biomass projects will help us meet the short term targets of supplying 10% of our electricity from renewable sources by 2010. We also need large scale offshore wind farms and marine technologies to be developed as quickly as possible in order to help meet long term renewables targets.”

* npower is on the the UK’s big three power producers, and its offshoot, npower renewables, is  one of the UK’s leading renewable energy developers and operators with a portfolio of 15 wind farms and 12 hydroelectric projects. 


Eco-gains: Severn Barrage

A reappraisal of the Severn Tidal barrage concept has suggested that, far from being an ecological problem, the Barrage could dramatically improve the estuarine environment. According to a report in the latest issue (158 ES1) of the Institution of Civil Engineers’ Engineering Sustainability journal, construction of a 16 km long tidal power barrage across the Severn Estuary  would dramatically improve what is currently a barren and inhospitable estuarine environment.

The 1989 plans for a 8.6 GW tidal power plant- capable of providing 7% of the UK’s electricity needs and 50% of its 2015 renewable energy target- are still being dismissed by the UK Government on environmental grounds. Even its 2003 energy white paper states: ‘It is clear that plans for a Severn Barrage would raise strong environmental concerns and we doubt if it would be fruitful to pursue it at this stage’.

However, UK environmental experts Rob Kirby and Tom Shaw say their latest research shows that the Severn Estuary is now so dynamic and turbulent that it is beyond tolerance of most species. ‘The foreshores have an exceptionally low carrying capacity for shorebirds and provide poor feeding and nursery areas for fish’. And they say that Climate change and sea-level rise are now adding to a ‘downward spiral of ecosystem biodiversity’ and that the ‘the Severn Estuary is evolving towards a barren system, a process aided by rising mean sea level, accelerating foreshore erosion, increasing turbidity and expanding areas of abiotic pure mud deposits’.

They point out that ‘The estuary is designated a proposed Special Area of Conservation because of its extreme and unproductive environment. The barrage would destroy those characteristics, instead making it ecologically habitable while realising 50% of the Government’s renewable energy target for the year 2015.’ 

They claim that ‘should a barrage be built, mean water levels and shelter would increase and current strengths would diminish,’ so that  ‘mixed substrates would develop, leading to biodiverse and abundant invertebrate and vertebrate communities’.

They conclude ‘the Government’s hesitation towards the Severn Barrage on environmental grounds is hard to comprehend. In the interests of all affected parties, and there is a large number of these with diverse backgrounds and life-forms, the authors believe this reservation must either be justified or withdrawn.’


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