Renew On Line (UK) 70

Extracts from NATTA's journal
Renew, Issue 170 Nov-Dec 2007
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1. Dodging the EU Target: or room to grow?

2. Scottish green power cut off? or growing with the Marine Obligation

3. SCD on Tidal Barrage: 4.4%, or 25% from tidal current power?

4. Renewables progress: 4.6% but could be much more with a UK REFIT?

5. The Nuclear decision: wind a better bet? New Energy Bill

6. CAT s Zero carbon plan: 474TWh or wind by 2027!

7. Energy and Climate Policy: Carbon tax messes

8. EU News: New German plan

9. Global News: Biofuels v Food

10. Nuclear News: UK problems

11. In the rest of Renew 170


4. Renewables progress

UK Renewables reach 4.6%

The governments regular Energy Trends survey earlier this year included a special feature on Renewable energy in 2006 which reported that:

* Electricity generated from all renewables as a percentage of total UK electricity generation rose to 4.6% in 2006 using the international definition of renewables. In 2005 it was 4.2%.

* In 2006 the percentage of UK electricity sales that were from sources eligible for the Renewables Obligation (RO) was 4.4%, up from 4.0% in 2005.

* Total electricity generation from all renewable sources in 2006 was 18,133 GWh, 7.5% up on 2005.

* Generation from biofuels grew by 3%, with landfill gas the main contributor. There was no growth in co-firing of biomass with fossil fuels.

* Generation from offshore wind grew by 49%; and from offshore wind by 27%.

As at 31 Dec. 2006, 449 projects contracted under the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO), the Scottish Renewables Orders (SRO) and the Northern Ireland NFFO had been commissioned and were generating electricity, with a total capacity of 1,200 MW. Total UK renewables capacity then was 3,613 MW (DNC).

Renewables: a UK REFIT?

The World Futures Council commissioned a review of the case for a feed-in tariff and the feasibility of a renewable energy feed-in tariff (REFIT) for small renewables, which was carried out by Dr David Toke from Birmingham University. He concludes that the Renewables Obligation is an expensive way of funding renewables, compared to a REFIT, which can deliver higher levels of capacity for the same cost to the consumer of funding the renewables programme under the RO . This he said was because REFIT systems offer much greater certainty to investors about future returns, thus lowering the risk premium payments compared to the RO. By contrast the RO is actually constructed on the basis of uncertainty about future returns leading to much higher costs of raising capital. He adds Although the Government is proposing reform the ROC values, and this will help the more expensive technologies, the reforms will do very little to reduce the uncertainty about future ROC values, and do nothing to affect the uncertainty over future electricity price changes .

Toke says that on a conservative estimate the current levels of renewable deployment have been achieved at a cost to the consumer that is over 40 % higher compared to what could have been achieved with a REFIT organised in a way that is broadly similar to that operating in Germany . He then looks at how smaller renewable projects (mostly under 5MW) which occupy technology bands such as wave power, tidal stream, biomass and solar photovoltaic would fare under a REFIT and the RO under the Government s proposed reforms. He concludes that significantly more volumes of these technologies would be deployed for a given consumer outlay compared to the RO arrangements and he sets out how a scheme for a small renewables REFIT could be implemented, and to harmonised with existing RO arrangements. He claims that that a transition for some or all renewable technologies from the RO to a REFIT would not in fact disrupt the renewables programme as some fear. Much of the machinery already exists to harmonise a REFIT with the RO via the operations of the Non-Fossil Purchasing Agency .

REFIT The benefits of Feed In Tariffs have featured a lot in the media recently see:,,2132527,00.html

Biofuels are go

BP, Associated British Foods and DuPont are to invest around $440 million in a world scale bioethanol plant alongside a high technology demonstration plant to advance development work on the next generation of biofuels. The new plant will be built on BP s existing chemicals site at Saltend, Hull. Due to be commissioned in late 2009, it will have a production capacity of 420m litres p.a. from wheat feedstock. Meanwhile some big biomass projects are also moving ahead. Scottish Power is to buy 250,000 tonnes of energy crops from farmers in Scotland to be burned at Scotlands two coal-fired power stations, to displace coal. They will use 12% of Scotland s total agricultural land (35,000 hectares) with 5% of the utility s coal requirement displaced by energy crops by 2013. The energy crops will include cereal crops and short rotational crop such as willow coppice. It s still just a plan but Eon UK has submitted a scoping statement to build a 25MW £60m biomass power plant at Blackburn Meadows in Sheffield which would burn a combination of recycled wood and specially grown crops such as willow and elephant grass. If it gets the green light, construction should start early in 2009, with the first power being produced in 2011.

Costing the wind

BBC Radio 4 s Costing the Earth recently claimed that wind power was unreliable, inefficient and costly, especially at low wind speed sites, the result being that consumer bills might rise by 50%- drawing on contributions from Michael Jefferson, Policies Chairman of the World Renewable Energy Network (his views were reviewed in Renew 167) and Jim Oswald, who has recently produced a report for the Renewable Energy Foundation (see Renew 169). It was also suggested that companies were making profits from projects that didn t work, but which got massive subsidies .


The British Wind Energy Association came back claiming that there were no government subsidies for wind, which is true for on-land projects, and that Renewable Obligations Certificates were only awarded for electricity that wind farms have already produced and supplied to utilities , which is also true, although it has to be said that, under the ROC system, some mature projects on good sites may get more than they need. But in terms of allegedly poor sites, the BWEA added that No-one in their right mind would build turbines where they wouldn t produce a viable amount of electricity and it s worth pointing out that even very low wind speed sites produce more carbon saving per £ invested than any of the other new renewables (offshore wind, wave, tidal, biomass, PV etc), at their present state of development.

Most of Germany s 20 GW of wind projects are on sites that would be considered low wind speed in the UK, but they benefit from the REFIT system which avoids high project investment costs and overpayment risks, by having guaranteed prices which are tailored to the state of development of the project.

Costing the Earth should perhaps have focused instead on the unreliability, inefficiency and cost of the RO competitive market system, which is arguably the main reason why the UK only has 2GW of wind capacity so far, and high prices, despite having the world best wind resource.

* Prof. Ali Sayigh, Director-General of the World Renewable Energy Network, indicated that the remarks were made by a WREN member, but did not represent WREN s views. I am outraged that this statement has been made. I apologise on behalf of WREN and wish to make clear that we are wholeheartedly in support of wind energy in our own efforts to promote renewable energy projects in the third world.

Wind ahoy

Offshore wind may be the next big thing, and there are some amazing hybrid wind-tidal ideas around: see Cornwall-based Freeflow idea

But on-land wind is still in there- even in low-wind speed areas like the SE of England: e.g Ecotricty s 2MW turbine near M4 junction 11 at Reading. Urban siting is catching on. Ecotricity already have 2 turbines at the Ford plant in Dagenham, East London, and another three have just been commissoned in Avonmouth port, near Bristol, to supply, it s claimed, 75% of its power.

* Humber plan E.ON plans to build a 300MW 83 turbine wind farm off the East Yorks coast, five miles off the Humber estuary.

Micropower slows

The Renewable Energy Association says suppliers of small residential wind turbines and solar panels have reported declines of 70% in customer enquiries since the government cut the level of household subsidies in the Low Carbon Building Programme in May. The changes in May mean homeowners can only receive a maximum of £2,500 for the installation of PV solar systems, down from £15,000, and the grants available for wind turbines was also halved to £2,500. Subsidies for solar water heating and ground source heat pumps were not changed.

See the Feature in Renew 170 for new micro wind developments


The hub of the new £1bn Energy Technology Institute will be at Loughborough University- see the Groups section. in Renew.

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