Renew On Line (UK) 67

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 167 May-June 2007
   Welcome   Archives   Bulletin         

1. UK-2GW of wind and more
2. Energy White Paper delayed
3. Climate Bill emerges
4. £13m Scottish Marine Energy programme
5. Low Carbon Buildings Programme
6. Carbon Emissions and Offset Code
7. More RO squabbles: OFGEM opposes RO
8 UK roundup: Bio-energy
9. EU roundup
10 World roundup
11. Nuclear News

8 UK roundup

UK Bio-energy progress

Asked in Feb. about progress with the bio-energy capital grants scheme, Science and Innovation Minister Malcolm Wicks reported that, in addition to the original £66m scheme, joint-funded by DTI and the National Lottery’s New Opportunities Fund, in 2006, the National Lottery-now the Big Lottery Fund- used unallocated funds of £2.2m to provide a second competitive round of funding and awarded 7 more grants last Sept. And that, in Dec.2006, Defra announced a five-year continuation of the scheme to support the installation of biomass-fuelled heat and combined heat and power (CHP) projects in the industrial, commercial & community sectors in England, with £10-£15m available for the first 2 years: this funding round is currently open for applications. Results: So far there have been 30 or so projects supported at various scales, but in the event the funding offer for the £10m 22MWe United Utilities/Herefordshire Biomass Project was declined, as was the £3.8m offer for Bronzeoak 6.9MWe/1.5MWTh Biomass Combined Cycle Gasification CHP Plant in Somerset. And Peninsula Powers 22MW Winkleigh Biomass project in Devon had its £11m offer withdrawn. Amongst the larger successes are Enron’s Teeside £12m 30MWe project (now run by SembCorp Utilities), the £18m Powergen (now E.ON Renewables) 30MWe Biomass Fuelled Electricity plant at Killingholme, Lincs (then moved to Lockerbie), the £4.5m 10MWe Port Talbot Bio-Energy Plant, and the £2m 2MWe/10MWth Balcas wood fired CHP plant in N. Ireland. EPRL’s £5m 5MWe/26MWth Corpach Biomass Plant at Fort William is at the planning stage.

There were also some smaller projects getting up to £1m including local ‘biomass cluster’ projects from Econergy (Ecoheat Clusters) and Wood Energy (SW/Lincs), Rural Energy (East Midlands Wood Heating Network). The SE Regional Wood Heat Supply Company, Biomass for Sustainable Development, Buccleuch Bioenergy and Welsh Biofuels Ltd. also got funds. In addition there are several projects for industrial and commercial biomass heating including Econergys Industrial Ecoheat Development Project, RENU’s Nottinghamshire Woodheat Project and Torren Energy’s Scottish Biomass Heat Clusters. Following round 2 in 2006 there are a further seven projects that are being supported by the National Lottery Big Lottery Fund. And seven heat only projects have been recommended for funding, plus one further CHP plant.

All in all, with the above coming to around 100MW, biomass is beginning to move, though most of these project use residues/wastes rather than energy crops.

* DRAX The Drax coal fired power plant in Yorkshire- focus of anti-carbon protests- made a large profit last year, but has promised to expand co-firing with biomass to 10%. That would require up to 400,000 hectrares of energy crop plantations.

Mersey Tidal power

The Mersey river’s strong tides and currents could be used to produce significant amounts of renewable energy in the future, according to study led by consultants Buro Happold which over the last year has been evaluating a variety of possible technologies. Although tidal turbines are being looked at, another option being considered is a updated version of the traditional waterwheel.

Peter Guthrie, Cambridge University Professor of Engineering for Sustainable Development commented: ‘The whole principle of the study is that the technologies under consideration must be proven, but they would be used in a new environment. We are trying to be innovative and novel but also reduce the risk to a minimum. A staged approach is appealing in terms of speed, practicality and affordability. Waterwheels produce less energy than marine current turbines, but they are robust and require low maintenance.’

According to the study, which is co-sponsored by Peel Holdings, owner of Mersey Docks & Harbour Company and Liverpool John Lennon airport, and the NW Regional Development Agency, the Mersey is one of the best locations for marine energy given its 8-10 metre tidal range and powerful tidal currents.

250 Solar low cost Houses

The UK housing group, Places For People, is to install solar panels on 250 of its affordable homes. It has linked with solar panel manufacturer,Viridian Solar, in the single largest commitment to installing solar by a UK housing group. The first 50 systems will be installed this summer at McCutcheon Court in Newcastle. Places for People is responsible for 60,000 properties across Britain, and warns that the threat posed by climate change can be tackled only if greater financial incentives are made available to housing groups and people on low incomes.

Lords all at Sea

A House of Lords debate on 22 Jan. focussed on the dangers to navigation posed by the now consented wind farm development off the Kent and Essex coasts. Lord Truscott, for the DTI, claimed that the relevant issues ‘were discussed with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and have either been addressed or will be further addressed as part of a consent condition’.

Lord Higgins however was not reassured ‘Why are the Government determined to add to the dangers of navigation in the channel by ignoring the risk that supertankers and other vessels, often sailing under flags of convenience with masters who are not familiar with the channel and whose radar is distorted by the wind turbines, will crash into the turbines and create repeated environmental disasters? Why were consultations not completed before a decision was reached? What distance between the 98 square mile wind farm and the navigational channels do the Government regard as safe in view of the present circumstances?’

Lord Truscott responded: ‘The Government consulted the MCA on radar reflection, and I am satisfied that the issue can be managed’ adding that in relation to the London Array ‘very few vessels currently cross the wind farm site, so its presence should not add significantly to navigation congestion. The north-west boundary of the wind farm, facing Black Deep, will be in the shallower areas, so mariners will seek to avoid it. There is a minimum of 650 metres between turbines, so we cannot rule out the possibility that some vessels may be able to turn in the wind farm itself, should that be necessary.’

Lord Redesdale waded in on this, suggesting that ‘one of the reasons for siting the London Array in its present position was because the water is so shallow and the cost of constructing wind turbines in shallow water is a great deal lower’. In which case ‘would not a captain of a supertanker who dared to try and cross the area at the moment be prosecuted for putting his vessel in danger, because he would ground it?’

Lord Truscott replied ‘large vessels can use the Black Deep channel so there is no danger of them running aground. Moreover, the fact that mariners can see the wind farm helps them not to get into difficulties, as they would wish to avoid it. They would also wish to avoid the sandbank in that part of the channel, so I do not see this as a major obstacle.’

Defra’s Marine Bill White Paper is now out- it includes offshore Renewables. Details in Renew 168

UK Energy R&D funding

A recent reply to a Parliamentary question reported that Government R&D spending on renewable energy for 1997-98 was around £7m via the Research councils and around £6.2m via Government Departments (DTI, DEFRA, DfT). For 2005-06 it had risen to £15.8m and £11. 8m respectively. However it was noted that the Research Councils also spent £16.6 million in 1997-98 and £20.6m in 2005-06 on nuclear fusion research. They are also providing funding of £13.88m over the period 2004-09 for the UK Energy Research Centre (which undertakes a range of research relating to sustainable and renewable energy) and £15.8m over the period 2000-08 to the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change research (which includes some research on renewable energy). In addition ‘the Council for the Central Laboratory of the Research Councils estimate that access for energy research to its facilities accounted for £4.5m in 2005-06,’ and the Government ‘also funds the Carbon Trust, which provides support for research into low carbon energy activities amongst other activities’.
However, in its latest funding round the DTI has cut support for the Research Councils by £68m to compensate for unexpected other expenditure- including it seems the bail out of nuclear generator British Energy and the NDA’s shortfall (see section 11) . The biggest cut is £29m for EPSRC but NERC also loses £9.7m.

UK Climate Research funding
In 2005-06, total DEFRA climate science research spending, on the risk of human-induced climate change and assessing its potential impacts and means of adaptation and mitigation, was £15.7 million.
Source: Parliamentary Answer, Jan 8th
Meanwhile though, Sir Richard Branson is offering a $25m prize for the best way of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

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