Renew On Line (UK) 61

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 161 May-June2006
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         


The Energy Review

Climate Policy arrives

Tidal and wave power

Micro CHP Results

Policy developments

Where the money goes.

UK round up

Climate Threats

Global News

EU News

News around the world

Nuclear News

5. Policy overview

Decentral Tories

In Feb., with the Tories in ‘green’ mode, the Conservative Environment team, led by Shadow Environment Secretary Peter Ainsworth, with Shadow Environment Minister Greg Barker, made a submission to the Party’s ‘Quality of Life Policy Group’ on the potential of decentralised power.

David Cameron commented: ‘Achieving a sustainable world and combating the threat of climate change will require some really fresh ideas and radical thinking. We cannot expect to meet the challenges of this century by toying with the structures and technologies we have inherited from the past, and the concept of Decentralised Energy should to be taken seriously.

Peter Ainsworth added: ‘The existing system of remote generation in large power plants and long distance transmission is inherently wasteful. Just as we want to promote energy efficiency in the home, so we need to look at ways of improving the efficiency of energy supply’.

And Greg Barker said: ‘the long term possibilities of Decentralised Energy and Microgeneration are huge’.

Green Tories

With the Tory party, under its new leader David Cameron, painting itself green, Alan Duncan made his debut speech as the Conservative shadow trade and industry secretary on 12 Jan. during a debate on energy. He commented ‘Unfortunately, the current raft of measures designed to encourage diversity is failing; for example, the costs imposed on generating companies by the Government’s renewables obligation are passed on to consumers, who will end up subsidising renewable energy by as much as £1 bn a year by 2010 and £1.5 bn by 2015. However, although the renewables obligation provides enough subsidy to make onshore wind profitable, it does not do enough for any of the other technologies, and a viable and significant renewables sector depends on a range of renewable generation technologies. Those technologies face the gap between the grant funding available for early stage development and the price support available through the renewables obligation. Until the gap is bridged, offshore wind, biomass, wave, tidal and solar power will be largely or wholly confined to demonstration projects, unable to complement and compete with onshore wind.’

Borrowing it seems from the recent Geenpeace report on decentral energy (see Renew 158), he added ‘the current centralised infrastructure of energy production and distribution is an area for further study. An astonishing 65% of the energy available from the fossil fuels burnt never reaches the homes and businesses that pay the bills. Some is lost in the inefficient generation process, but yet more is lost in transmitting electricity over great distances. Decentralised models, including combined heat and power systems, substantially reduce that loss.’ and he quoted Woking as an example of good practice ‘Woking council’s decentralised energy system has reduced its energy consumption by 44%’.

* Cameron has also called on all his colleagues to sign up to green power tariff schemes, as he has done. He is even evidently planning to install a micro-wind turbine on his house.

Efficiency Review

In the 2004 Pre-Budget Report, HM Treasury and Defra announced an Energy Efficiency Innovation Review to examine how a step change in energy efficiency in the domestic, business and public sectors in the UK could be delivered cost effectively. In his pre-budget speech last Dec., Gordon Brown reported that the ‘evidence base for the review’ had been developed by the Carbon Trust and the Energy Saving Trust who had produced independent reports to the Government. He noted that ‘Work for the Review found that the current policy mix was delivering significant carbon savings by improving energy efficiency but that the uptake of energy efficiency could be enhanced by a number of measures, including raising awareness and support for innovative technologies’.

He said that the Government welcomed these reports and that ‘a number of findings from the Review have already fed into the wider Review of the UK Climate Change Programme’.

He also announced new measures to improve energy efficiency, through the proposed Green Landlord Scheme (giving landlords an incentive to invest in energy efficiency in their rental properties), and £35m for the Carbon Trust, to provide interest free loans for energy-saving in the business & public sectors.

The ODPM have published a consultation paper on proposals for a Code for Sustainable Homes which include energy efficiency minimum standards, based on the Building Regs. But it does not specifically mention CHP, Micropower or renewables and following many critical reactions on this and other aspects, ODPM have revised the final version- full details in Renew 162.

Scotland could do it

A report by Edinburgh University confirms it will be possible to generate 40% of Scotland’s electricity from sources such as wind and wave by 2020, but warns that renewable sources will not meet peak demand and other sources will be needed to fill the gap. The report, ‘Matching Renewable Energy Generation with Demand,’ says renewable sources can easily match demand, but not on an hour-by-hour basis.'Due to the variability of the renewable energy output, 40% of the actual demand level will only be met or exceeded for a fraction of the hours in a year’. During times of peak demand and insufficient production, electricity would have to be imported or come from other sources of generation. ‘Diversification of energy sources and their geographical dispersion improves the hour-by-hour matching with demand. Nevertheless there will be many hours in a year when renewable output from wind, waves and tidal currents falls below demand targets and balancing plant would be needed.’

Deputy Enterprise Minister Allan Wilson accepted that there would still be a place for conventional methods of generating electricity, and added that he was delighted to hear that ‘Scottish Power are undertaking work to extend the life of the Longannet plant in Fife, as plants such as this will play a vital role in meeting and balancing demand’. Friends of the Earth Scotland agreed that ‘peaks in demand will need additional flexible generating capacity’ but suggested that these ‘could be provided by other renewable resources like biomass or hydro power, but not by nuclear’ which could not act as variable back up. Source:

...but there is a grid crisis

Wind farm projects in Scotland have been delayed by problems in getting grid access agreed. The Sunday Times (Scotland) Feb 05, reported that some faced delays ‘of more than 10 years before they can sell any of the electricity that they produce’, which in reality meant that they would probably be abandoned. Given that connecting the new capacity required costly grid enhancement in some areas, the national grid was, it said, also demanding substantial financial guarantees from companies. Richard Ford, head of grid technical affairs at the British Wind Energy Association, told the Times that the national grid ‘is building up a queue in northern Scotland which means long delays and we have concerns over the large sums of security being demanded. It’s possible that some wind farm proposals will collapse.’

The Times reported that ‘among the 170 companies in the queue are Farm Energy, a Devon-based company that has planning consent for six turbines on the Western Isles. It has been given a connection date of 2013 and must pay a fee of more than £10m.’

A spokesman for the national grid told the Times: ‘We have had an unprecedented level of new connection applications. Combined with the growth of renewable projects across the country, there is a need to upgrade capacity. We are fully aware that some of the dates are a little later than some people would like. We will try to work with developers to bring the dates forward wherever possible.’

The Scottish executive told the Times: ‘We are concerned that the current system for offering grid connection to new projects is not working as effectively as it might. We hope that the grid queuing system can be revised to assist advanced projects in getting connected to the grid.’

Local Gains & Pains

A survey by the Energy Saving Trust found that 82% of 300 local councils surveyed believe they are making little progress in tackling climate change. EST says stretched finances, limited resources and, crucially, lack of support from councillors are the key barriers- almost half of the council officials surveyed blamed their political masters for a lack of support, while 34% reported local resistance to environmental schemes.

However there are notable exceptions including the south London borough of Merton. The Guardian (Feb 8th) reported that rather than simply ‘encouraging’ developers to incorporate renewable energy sources into new buildings, Merton said it would ‘expect’ them to do so, an approach which initially raised objection from the government. But once accepted it led to the development of 10 small industrial units fitted with micro-wind turbines and one solar panel and now a development has been approved with bigger turbines on 15-metre high poles and 100 sq m of solar panels. Merton requires all new business developments to show that at least 10% of energy requirements will come from renewable sources. In a further stage of the green initiative, combined heat and power plants are being encouraged around the borough, which has set a target of cutting greenhouse emissions by 15% in 2015. It has been suggested that if 250 councils adopted Merton’s positive planning policy, a £750m market in renewable energy could be unleashed. The current UK market for these technologies is £35m.

‘40% Nuclear’

According to the Financial Times (March 27), Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser, believes 40% of UK electricity should come from nuclear generation, twice its current contribution. Sir David told the Financial Times that an ‘optimal’ scenario would see Britain’s entire ‘baseload’ capacity coming from nuclear, with renewables offering a further 10-20%.

The usual reason for down-grading renewables is the claim that that they won’t deliver in time. But that took a bit of a knock from the new BWEA report ‘Onshore Wind: Powering Ahead’, which says that onshore wind farm construction is actually ‘ahead of predictions’ and will provide about 5% of Britain’s electricity by 2010- half the UK renewables target. Projects already constructed and those already approved will, it says, give a capacity of 3GW by 2010, and taking into account potential barriers such as planning consent and grid capability, a further 3GW capacity is ‘forecast to be consented and built’ by 2010.

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.

We are now offering to e-mail subscribers a PDF version of the complete Renew, instead  of sending them the printed version, should they wish.