Renew On-line 12
Extracts from the News section of NATTA's bimonthly journal 'Renew', issue 111 Jan- Feb 1998, provided free by NATTA as a service to T265 students
NATTA is an independent information service based with the Energy and Environment Research Unit at the Open University. As with all NATTA publications the views expressed should not be taken to necessarily reflect those of EERU or the Open University. This material can be used freely as long as it not for commercial purposes, and as long as proper credit to NATTA is given.
2.Detours on the road to Kyoto
3. The Oil Companies Response
4. Greenpeace Campaign
5. Shell joins PV race
7. DTI Review
8. PRASEG Sustainable Energy Conference
9. Windpower: the UK Wind debate
10. Divisions in the anti wind lobby
11. Green Power Market Opens
12. Irish Wavepower
13. Canada Backs off Nuclear
14. Hot Rock Cafe
15. In the rest of Renew
1. Kyoto Outcomes
COP-3, the third Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change met in Kyoto, Japan, on 1-12 December. The UK had signed up to the EU proposal for Kyoto which was for a 15% reduction in emissions, below 1990 levels, across the basket of greenhouse gases by 2010, and at least a 7.5% reduction by 2005. This was backed up by the UK Government's target of a 20% reduction, below 1990 levels, in CO2 emissions by 2010. Japan had called for up to a 5% cut by 2010 for some countries, while the USA in a surprise announcement, almost wrecked the whole exercise, when it reneged on its agreement to get emissions down to 1990 levels by 2000. But the conference went ahead nevertheless.
When the Kyoto negotiations finally got underway, Canada announced its proposals- for a 3% cut on 1990 levels by 2010, while New Zealand came out with 5%. By contrast, the German Government's Advisory Council on Global Change recommended an 11% cut by 2005; 23% by 2010; and 43% by 2020, arguing that the EU proposal was inadequate for climate protection.
However the views of individual countries clashed with the power of the carbon club- the Global Climate Coalition industrial lobby. As Greenpeace noted, 'if company revenues and country GNPs are compared, Exxon and Shell Oil rank higher than 134 of the Parties to the Convention'. But the carbon lobby didn't have a completely free reign. Ex- Environment Minister John Gummer told the Guardian (5 Dec) that "since BP dropped out of the Climate Coalition and announced its support for solar power its share prices had risen. This is an example of how companies could gain from action on climate change." He added that companies like Exxon were "failing the free enterprise system and stock-holders should be wary of investing in such backward-looking companies."
At a conference organised by the UNEP Insurer's Initiative, there were warnings that the insurance industry might in future be increasingly wary of investing in power companies which ignored Climate change issues. And Tessa Tennant of NPI Global Care Investments made a call for governments world-wide to introduce global health warnings on all oil and petrol advertising.
The mood at Kyoto changed when the Ministers arrived- and Al Gore from the USA was evidently pressured into negotiating. Not everyone will be happy with what emerged - a flexible package of cutbacks averaging 5.2% by 2008-2012, (much as we predicted in Renew 110) with the EU committed to 8%, the US 7% and Japan 6%, but with plenty of loopholes to fudge it all. Greenpeace saw it as ' a tragedy and a farce'. But at least we now have a legally binding set of agreements.
NATTA member Dean Anderson, who was there, reports on the details in our Forum section.
The idea of Emission Trading did not survive the negotiations at Kyoto, although it will be discussed at COP 4, the next Conference of Parties, to be held in Argentina in November. However, the idea of Joint Implementation did survive, at least in terms of JI schemes amongst Annex 1 countries (i.e. the developed nations) and details will be sorted out at COP-4. JI type schemes involving non-Annex 1 countries are also possible via the 'clean development mechanism'- with Western companies investing in environmentally clean technology in developing countries and thereby earning 'pollution credits' to set against Western emissions.
As the World Bank noted in a paper on 'Carbon offset by Investment' produced by its Global Environment Division last July, 'the cost of reducing emissions are assumed to be relatively cheaper in economies in transition (i.e. the ex-Soviet countries) and developing countries' - presumably since in developed countries most of the cheap and easy emission savings will already have been made.
Certainly new 'green field' projects can be initiated in developing countries, and easy savings can be made there and also in the ex- Soviet states. But this could present problems. For example, if emission trading had been agreed at Kyoto, the prospects for so-called 'hot air' emission trading with the ex-Soviet countries could have been significant. As a result of its industrial activity being massively cut back, Russia's emissions are now some 30 per cent below 1990 levels (see our front cover), and with its emissions commitment set relative to 1990 levels, it could have traded in the non produced emissions ! Hence the term 'hot air'.
In the run up to Kyoto, the USA proposed 'hot air' greenhouse gas trading with Russia which could allow an increase in Annex 1 country emissions of 7-11% relative to 1990 levels in 2008-2012, and the USA made similar proposals at Kyoto. But they were vigorously opposed by the European Union and Japan- and the whole notion was dropped from the Protocol.
That's not to say that emission trading is necessarily always a bad idea. After all, if 'hot air' trading can be avoided, emission trading can in principle reduce emissions. Like any market the 'emission trading' system tends to give power to the powerful, but at least what is being traded is pollution reduction.
In the run up to Kyoto, the Climate Action Network expressed fears that 'Hot Air' Emission trading might provide a loophole which would allow emissions to continue to increase - by up to 15%. But although that problem seems to have been avoided, there are other loopholes, including the fact that aviation fuel is exempt from control. These loopholes might mean that, despite whatever the headline emission reductions are supposed to be, overall global emissions might still increase. And if, as threatened, the US Senate wont ratify the Kyoto treaty, the whole exercise could fail.
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2. Detours on the road to Kyoto
In early October, Japan proposed a series of flexible targets for greenhouse gas emission cuts by 2010-with 5% being the top level.
Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, head of the new UK Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions commented "I have to say that I am disappointed that the proposed reductions - which I understand would average some three per cent - are well below that which is necessary to tackle the serious problem of climate change. The world will need to do much better in Kyoto and we will certainly be making all efforts to secure a successful outcome."
Greenpeace went further and described Japan's '5% max' proposal as 'an international disgrace' and questioned the right of Japan to host the Summit "if the Japanese government cannot produce a stronger position."
It noted that the Japanese target was "not only small, it would also not be legally binding, and would not have to be met by the majority of countries. Japan's own commitment, for example, would scarcely be a 2.5% reduction. The proposal was minimal compared to the EU's declared target of 15% by 2010 and the Alliance of Small Island States call for industrialised nations to commit to a minimum 20% reduction of C02 emissions by 2005 based on 1990 emissions levels."
The European Commission was also critical Japan's proposals "This is not nearly ambitious enough", said Commission spokesman Peter Jorgensen.
The ultimate aim of the Kyoto meeting was, he said "to protect the climate for present and future generations and the Commission feels that there is absolutely no time to waste," and he added ' I think it is fair to say that the whole world is looking at Japan and awaiting such an initiative,"
The Japanese proposal would let countries like the United States, Japan and Australia cut emissions by much less than five percent and its targets might not be fully binding. Under the proposal, industrialised countries would be able to trim the five percent target further if their 1990 emissions per unit of gross domestic product were less than other developed nations, if their 1990 emissions per capita were lower or if their population growth rate from 1990 to 1995 was higher. Japanese government spokesman Kanezo Muraoka has termed the EU 15 percent proposal "unfair and unrealistic".
Pressure from heavy industry was blamed for Japan's low emissions target.
The USA renegs
Similar pressure was evident in the USA, where a multi million dollar industry campaign was launched to sway public opinion against any radical changes. The Washington Times (4/10/97) ran an article warning that President Clinton was considering how to achieve a 20% cut in carbon emissions and that there were proposals for an indirect tax of £25-100 per tonne of carbon, which would raise gasoline prices by as much as 25 cents a gallon and add hundreds of dollars a year to the average homeowner's heating and electricity bills. And this "despite the concern among top advisers that the plan would hurt the economy and cause a political explosion".
The Washington Times claimed that a draft study in June by an interagency task force found that a tax on carbon content of $10 per ton could cut economic growth in half by 2005 and cause the loss of millions of jobs in coal mining and other energy-related industries.
The United Mine Workers of America, the conservative Cato Institute think tank and other witnesses told the Senate Energy Committee that the proposed climate treaty could cost the United State more than 1.5 million jobs by 2005, limit the nation's electricity supply, and trim the Gross Domestic Product by up to $17 trillion from 2005 to 2015.
The coal lobby had strong backing: "My own state of Kentucky would be devastated'' said Democrat Senator Wendell Ford, "A climate change treaty that exempts developing countries is an unfair and flawed approach.''
Clinton was clearly under pressure - and the administration evidently decided to back off- and rather than negotiating on new post 2000 targets, it decided to try to get agreement to postpone meeting the existing year 2000 target, of stabilisation at 1990 levels, until 2008-12. A clever move, though even that was seen as too much by the carbon lobby...
The excuse was the claim that the USA simply couldn't meet the year 2000 target. Emissions had risen by 3.4% in 1997, 8% since 1990, and would probably rise by 13% by 2000. But they could try to get back to the 1990 baseline level within at most twelve years, and Clinton allocated $3 billion, mainly in the form of tax concessions, to help. The USA would then try to start cutting back to below 1990 levels. However, this was all conditional on matching support coming from developing countries.
The international community was horrified. The European Union saw it as a recipe for an 'environmental disaster'. It came as a particular blow since China seemed to be moving ground. All the complex lobbying efforts now seemed to have been wasted- and the Kyoto negotiations seemed likely to turn into a shambles.
But the lobbyists persevered, with the UK taking a lead: John Prescott was dispatched to the USA, Japan - and also to Australia, which (see our Reviews section), rather than fixed emission reductions, wanted a 'differentiated' approach .
For its part, at the last minute, the European Commission produced a radical new White Paper on Renewables- claiming that a 12% contribution was feasible by 2010, while the Euro Parliament said it would back the EU's 15% CO2 reduction target whatever happened at Kyoto.
But no one else seemed willing to take a strong position...
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3. The Oil Companies Response
Although BP have recognised that Climate Change is an urgent issue (see Renew 109 and 110) most of the other oil companies still remain sceptical. For example in the run up to the Kyoto Climate Conference, Exxon's chief executive commented 'It is highly unlikely that the temperature in the middle of the next century will be significantly affected whether policies are enacted now or 20 years from now', while Mobils view, as presented in a major newspaper advert campaign in the USA, was that 'whatever effect increased concentrations of man-made gases may have, it will develop slowly over decades. Thus, there is time for scientists to refine their understanding of the climate system, while governments, industry and the public work to find practical means to control greenhouse gases, if such measures are called for. Adopting quick-fix measures at this point could pose grave economic risks for the world.'
Shell adopted a somewhat different line. Like BP it is now pushing PV solar (see later) and has accepted that a precautionary approach to climate change was sensible. However, it has focused its attentions not on oil as the culprit, but on the emissions from the 'high carbon fuels' - such as firewood and coal. These it said were significant. According to Shell's U.K. Chairman & Chief Executive Chris Fay, speaking at a CBI ( Confederation of British Industry) seminar on climate change, you could 'burn all the conventional oil and gas in the world- and all we can expect to find - and emissions will still come in well under E.U. recommendations.'
Shell's long-term scenarios (see Renew 110) have carbon dioxide emissions peaking in about 25 years, but at levels far lower than that predicted by other models. This is because, in Shell's view, the use of high-carbon fuels will fall- as it already has. And that process had to be accelerated. So, in effect, Shell is now at war with coal- and the 'carbon club' seems to be fissioning!
Many UK industrialist also seem to be shifting position. Thus the CBI conference also heard the results of a poll which showed that 83 % of the organisation's members supported the European Union's goal of a 15 percent reduction between 1990 and 2010 in emissions linked with global warming. Furthermore, 62% of CBI members believed Europe should unilaterally pursue an ambitious target even if it was not endorsed by the other developed countries.
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4. Greenpeace Campaign
In the run up to the Kyoto conference, Greenpeace took its campaign for cuts in greenhouse gas emissions to the Australian Prime Minister's doorstep. In October, 15 orange-suited activists of Greenpeace's 'Climate Rescue' team climbed onto the verandah of the Prime Minister John Howard's' Sydney residence and installed eight solar power panels on the roof.
Greenpeace says the panels were their gift to Howard to inspire his government to develop renewable energy sources to cut greenhouse gas emission, something that so far Australia, with its huge coal mining interests, has been very slow in doing.
Meanwhile, in Germany, at the pre- Kyoto Negotiation session in Bonn, Greenpeace built a mock dam outside with the slogan "Climate Change Made in USA - U.S. business against the Earth".
And in Nov. they mounted a picket on Esso's HQ in London.
In parallel, Greenpeace published a new report on 'The Potential for Sustainable Energy in the UK' showing that the UK Government's present climate target of reducing CO2 emissions by 20% by 2010 was easily achievable and would bring economic and industrial benefits.
The Greenpeace report looks at energy efficiency (including CHP), renewable energy and transport, and was compiled for Greenpeace by the International Institute for Energy Conservation.
It is essentially a review of existing studies and scenario's, including those from the DTI/ETSU, although, following Greenpeaces policy line, it attempts to exclude waste combustion. According to the report:
* The DTI has shown that energy efficiency measures could save 20-30% of present CO2 emissions.
* The average UK household wastes £278 per year through inefficient energy use - over £6 billion is wasted by households nationally.
* The DTI has shown that renewable sources, such as wind, solar and wave energy, could generate about 30% of the UK's electricity demand by 2010.
* The implementation of a cost-effective energy efficiency programme would create 20,000 new jobs and produce a new industry worth around £1 billion.
Matthew Spencer, Greenpeace Climate & Energy Campaigner, commented 'This report, based largely on Government commissioned findings, shows that in the short term, the UK could reduce its dependence on fossil fuels by up to a third without pain and with much economic gain.'
He added: 'Tony Blair and John Prescott have a pivotal role in influencing President Clinton to take tougher action to protect the climate. They are in a strong position to reject the US climate proposal if they act on existing recommendations to cut energy waste at home in the UK and start the switch from fossil fuels to solar, wind and wave energy. This report demonstrates that to delay action on fossil fuels, as the US suggests, is economically irresponsible as well as environmentally damaging.'
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5. Shell join PV Race
A race has begun between BP and Shell to commercialise solar photovoltaic energy- and no doubt to pick up some green credits.
As we noted in Renew 109, BP announced last summer that they intended to obtain a $1 billion turnover for their solar business by 2010. BP currently have 10% of the $1 bn annual solar market. Now Shell has announced that it wants to capture 10% of the global solar market by 2005. It has set up a new division, Shell International Renewables, and plans to spend £500 million over the next five years on renewable energy technology - chiefly solar PV, but also some biofuels. It may also get into windpower. They may even get into offshore wind- using their offshore oil rig expertise.
On biofuels Shell is interested in using fuel from sustainable forestry projects in rural areas in the developing world, and plans to have 250 MW worth of plants operating by 2005.
The £500m is of course only small compared to Shells annual investment of £10-11bn in conventional fossil fuel projects, but it is a start. Shell say it is a 'step change' form their previous pattern of funding. It expects the PV market to grow overall to $ 6 bn by 2010. We'll have more details of this welcome move in Renew 112.
Greenpeace, who have been campaigning to get PV solar taken seriously, were clearly overjoyed at the prospect of a race: 'Shell have thrown down the gauntlet to BP. If BP are serious about their solar business they should dramatically increase their planned solar investments and develop the large-scale solar factories they know would make solar economic overnight'.
However they noted that although 'the result of this solar race will be new solar factories and thousands of new jobs' these would not be in Britain. Instead 'Investment is going to Japan and America and now the Netherlands where strong national solar programmes are in place. Unless the British Government acts now and introduces a national solar programme Britain will lose out yet again.'
Greenpeace didn't let Shell off the hook either: 'The key environmental test for Shell is whether they now switch their position on climate change.'
As we noted earlier Shell seem to have shifted a little. Nevertheless, Greenpeace felt that 'Shell should withdraw from the Global Climate Coalition, whose opposition to an international climate treaty is incompatible with Shell's business decision to invest in solar,' and Greenpeace underlined the point by installing some PV cells on Shells admin HQ in Luxembourg- in lieu of damages recently awarded to Shell!
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Almost lost in the noise from Kyoto, the UK Government announced outline proposals of the next, and final, round of the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation- NFFO-5.
The bulk of it is as per normal, with bids to the Regional Electricity Companies now being expected for projects in a series of technology bands covering on-land wind, municipal and industrial waste combustion, landfill gas and micro hydro, but , surprisingly, this time around there is no mention of energy crops, which seem to have been dropped. We had heard that energy crops and offshore wind might be included in a later NFFO-5b, but it seems that idea has been dropped.
Instead, DTI energy minister John Battle said that decisions on other options, 'in addition to those proposed to be supported under NFFO-5', such as energy crops and offshore wind, would emerge later in the year- after the DTI review of renewables (see below) had been completed.
Battle noted that continued cost convergence was expected but that he didn't expect 'such a rapid rate of fall in prices as has happened to date', although he might 'decide to omit a band if the cost or quality of proposals received does not justify its inclusion'. More details in Renew 112.
Overall there are now more than 200 NFFO projects in operation with net generation capacity of nearly 500 MW.
Outline details of the third Scottish Renewable Order have also now emerged. It will be for 110-120MW, and unlike the NFFO-5, includes biofuels - plus, for the first time, a small provision for wave energy projects.
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7. DTI Review
Looking to the future, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) is carrying out a review of the UK's renewable energy programme and has invited comments. NATTA has contributed to this consultation process by feeding material on R&D requirements into the report being produced by SERA. See our Feature for an early version of part of NATTA's contribution.
In ETSU's journal New Review, John Battle commented: 'We propose undertaking a new and strong drive to develop renewable energy sources in line with our Manifesto commitment. One of my earliest actions on taking office was to initiate a review of new and renewable energy policy, including what would be necessary and practicable to provide 10% of the UK's electricity from renewables by 2010. We have set ourselves challenging targets to cut carbon dioxide emissions. While we must be practical about what we can achieve in the short term, new and renewable energy sources, including wind, hydro, waste, biomass, fuel cells and solar, can and will make a significant contribution to achieving these targets, and to longer-term sustainable energy use both in this country and internationally, as we move into the new century.
Not only are renewable energy technologies beneficial to the environment, they will enhance our future engineering and manufacturing industries, through a whole chain of vital components. We have a stake in the long-term development of these technologies - they will provide the work of the future.' (New Review 33)
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8. PRASEG Sustainable Energy Conference
The Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group (PRASEG) held a one day conference in London in Nov. designed as a shop window for the UK's sustainable energy industry in the run up to Kyoto- allowing it to show that it could help meet the Governments target of a 20% cut back in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010.
PRASEG claimed that the industry could meet over half this target (52%) - with speakers from the Energy Saving Trust, the Combined Heat and Power Association and the newly formed Confederation of Renewable Energy Associations, backing its claim that energy conservation could make 17% savings, Combined Heat and Power 18% and renewables 17%. And that ignored savings in the industrial sector.
ETSU, the Energy Technology Support Unit was a little less optimistic about renewables, putting the figure at 8% of the Government target, but it was confident that other savings, for example from CHP and efficiency measures in the industrial sector and from transport, could deliver the full 100%.
However, even with Sainsbury's new PV solar cooled container truck (see Renew 110) on display outside, not everyone was convinced that making big savings would be easy in the transport sector. Andrew Warren from the Association for the Conservation of Energy felt that domestic energy efficiency could take a larger role, while the Energy Minister John Battle, seemed very enthusiastic about the contribution renewables could make: they were 'the key to long-term, sustainable energy supply'. And is wasn't just the environment they would help, but also the economy: the UK renewables industry already had a £150m pa turnover, with £60-75m worth of exports. All of which helped create jobs- a point which had been hammered home by a presentation on Friends of the Earth's new study(see Renew 110) which suggested that the 20% savings target could create 220,000 jobs. All in all, it was, Battle said, a 'win-win-win' situation.
One time Environment Minister John Gummer, who chaired the morning session, clearly felt similarly- although he warned Battle that changing the DTI's approach would be hard!
Overall then, it was a very positive meeting, optimistic without being anodyne: thanks for example to Greenpeaces lively interventions on the need for more DTI support for PV solar - and even for wavepower. And to round it all off Michael Meacher, Minister for Environmental Protection, outlined the UK's position on the Kyoto negotiations- and won the strong backing of the conference.
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Windpowers Rapid growth
There may be some problems in the UK with local opposition, as we report later, but, overall, Wind power is now the world's fastest growing energy source, according to the Worldwatch Institute.
Since 1990, wind power has risen 150% representing an annual growth rate of 20%. By contrast, nuclear power is growing at a rate of less than 1 percent per year, while coal combustion has not grown at all since 1990.
Worldwatch add that, in many regions, wind power is competitive with new fossil fuel-fired plants. In windy areas, it now costs 5-7 cents per kilowatt-hour, similar or slightly lower than the range for new coal plants.
They put the global wind energy potential at roughly five times current global electricity use, and note that wind power is one of the world's most widely distributed energy resources: more countries have sizeable wind power potential than have large resources of hydro or coal.
Worldwatch Institute 1776 Mass. Ave., Washington, DC. 20036. 202-452-1999; fax: 202-296-7365
The UK Wind Debate
'The protection of Wales' greatest natural asset outweighs the few benefits of a misapplication of a fundamentally sound concept'. So said Merfyn Williams, Director of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales (CPRW) in an article in Green Futures magazine, which, in its August/September issue last year, ran a pro- and anti- windpower debate.
The pro-side was put by Nick Goodall from the British Wind Energy Association, who talked lyrically of well planned wind farms as 'a perfect synthesis of humanity in harmony with nature' and a 'rare example of environmentally harmless technology'.
But while Goodhall saw wind turbines as 'no more than a benign example in a long line of countryside-features that are now fought for as passionately as some resist wind turbines', Merfyn Williams rejected them as 'industrial' intrusions. Worse still he felt that the planning system had abandoned impartiality for a clear partisan stance in favour of indiscriminate wind turbine development.
However he said CPRW wasn't against wind power as such, but 'is adamantly opposed to its application as developed with the NFFO system'. Instead he wanted the NFFO contracts to be modified so that less windy sites could be used, and industrial areas used. And in general smaller scale renewable energy developments should be promoted - together with a major energy conservation push. 'Small scale is what is appropriate in scarcely populated rural areas'.
But this view and Williams' insistence that windfarms generated little power, was undermined to some extent by a fact box printed with the Green Futures article, which noted that the 36 600kw wind turbines on the new Windy Standard windfarm in Scotland produced roughly the equivalent of 25% of the annual consumption of the town of Ayr and its immediate surrounding area. And FoE Scotland's new Planning Guidelines (see Renew 110) could hardly be seen as condoning indiscriminate development.
Summing up, Goodhall asked whether 'a view today is worth more than the legacy we create for others tomorrow', while for Williams 'wind is ubiquitous but the landscape is site specific'- and rural Wales was special.
For a good source of info on windpower see the various items pasted by Klaus Kaiso of the Aerospace Institute at the Technical University of Berlin:
Particularly interesting are the items on public opinion on windfarms
(http://keynes.fb12. tu-berlin/luftraum/konst/tillfing.windmills.html) and on the use of wind farm images in advertising including the use in Germany of beer mats
Now there's a way to win hearts and minds!
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10. Divisions in anti-wind power lobby
Lots of wind farm proposals may be getting a battering at the planning stage, but there are visible divisions among those opposing wind farm developments, says Dave Toke.
One at least theoretical division in the anti-wind lobby is over whether to oppose all wind power developments or just to oppose those which are deemed unacceptable. For example Brian Cullinan, the Press Officer for the Flaight Hill opposition group (who successfully organised against a National Wind Power proposal in Flaight Hill in Yorkshire) says: ' I think that the Country Guardians have got the wrong tactics by saying that they are against wind power full stop. There is a role for wind energy. The industry has to find suitable sites. They should be saying to the Government that the financial system should be changed so that they don't have to go for the more sensitive sites. Nobody is opposed to developments such as those at Haverigg and Blyth Harbour.'
Of course cynics might suggest that some organisations who put forward such a line in practice oppose just about all wind farm proposals - is it an alternative, or death by a thousand cuts? In fact countryside protection organisations have been lobbying for wind turbines to be kept out of locally designated zones as well as nationally designated ones. But what is to stop councils merely declaring their entire areas 'wind power free zones' ?
What is for sure is that some proposals who you would have thought nobody could be against end up being rejected. One such case is the proposal for six turbines put forward by Windcluster Ltd at Seaforth Docks on Merseyside.
Despite the fact that the turbines would be a long way from housing and would be surrounded by massive cranes, Sefton Council still threw out the proposal.
Although this decision has been overturned on appeal, actions like this encourage the view that NIMBY rather than environmental attitudes predominate in at least some councils.
If we are to take the more moderate critics of wind power at their word, we ought to be able to devise a system whereby local councils can plan windfarms on a more rational basis. One means could be the system being implemented in Denmark and Germany whereby local councils have to designate areas in their localities where wind power development is allowed.
This can be done by surveys being conducted of potential wind power sites in a locality. Then the Council can earmark a proportion of these as places where wind turbines could be put up. Such a system would not satisfy those opposed to onshore wind power in principle, but it would increase certainty both for the developers and also for the councils who could decide on their own local priorities.
The anti-wind power lobby is also divided on the subject of offshore wind schemes. Such schemes are declining in likely cost, with David Milborrow estimating that schemes could realistically bid at around 4.5 p/kWh at the moment. However the Country Guardians have been rather silent about whether to encourage them or damn them. So far they have restricted themselves to opposing schemes that might be seen from the shore.
A lot of wind energy developers are worried about promoting offshore wind power too much for fear of the anti-onshore wind lobby picking up on this and using it as an excuse to stop onshore developments. But it is open to doubt whether the Country Guardians are sufficiently pragmatic to adopt this posture.
The summer 1997 issue of the Country Guardian Newsletter noted that Joseph Lythgoe, the founder and former President of the Country Guardians, had attended a one day Conference on small scale wind clusters. He apparently told the gathering that a cluster of small wind projects would wreak more damage than one big one. One of the projects discussed at the Conference was the Bay Wind Co-operative's scheme in Harlock Hill in Cumbria.
Lythgoe later commented that he found it 'disturbing' that the Harlock Hill project had resulted in 5000 responses from the public 'apathetic' on the 'environmental aspect'.
Apparently Joseph Lythgoe had attempted to stir up opposition to the project at the outset, but had no success in this endeavour. Now he says 'If small projects are to be based on co-operatives this must give some indication that Country Guardian's task in opposing them will be all the harder.'
The bulk of ecologists (as opposed to people solely interested in landscape protection) will no doubt take the view that those investing in co-operative wind power schemes are being active, not apathetic, in an environmental sense, by supporting a clean energy technology. Those who have been arguing for a greater effort to organise co-operative schemes on the lines of the Bay Wind Company and the many similar schemes in Denmark and Germany, will take heart from Mr Lythgoe's backhanded compliment.
A report on wind power and planning policy written by Dave Toke and Nick Eyre and published by the Socialist Environment and Resources Association is available from SERA, 11 Goodwin Street, London N4 3HQ. NATTA members can get copies at reduced prices: contact 0171 263 7389 for details.
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11. UK Power Market Opens
With the open power market about to lift off in the UK, the existing 12 regional electricity companies in England and Wales and their equivalents in Scotland and N. Ireland, will obviously hope that most consumers will stick with what they know- and will not want to face the bother of switching to other suppliers.
But a recent public opinion study by Mintel found that 37% of those asked would consider changing suppliers, while a study by Bossard Consultants suggested that the popular image of the existing power companies was poor: they were seen by half of those responding as being run by 'fat cats'. And more than half of consumers surveyed indicated that they would be prepared to switch to established and trusted names like M&S and Virgin if these companies were ever to enter the electricity market.
They aren't yet, but there may still be an opportunity for concerned consumers to make a change. Quite apart from British Gas, who are making a big push, a whole series of independent companies seem likely to emerge, some with special markets in mind, like the TUC backed initiative Union Power. In addition there are a number of companies who will be selling 'green' power- power from renewable sources
'Green-e' in the USA
The Green power market is already operating in the USA. Californians can now be assured of at least 50% renewable energy content if they choose a utility sporting the Green-e Logo. Pilot power deregulation programs in New Hampshire and Massachusetts showed that a high percentage of participants, about a third in Massachusetts, wanted to purchase "green"energy. However, there was no standard as to what was green. The Green-e Renewable Electricity Branding Program creates guidelines for providers and certification by the use of the Logo. From Jan 1st, some 13 million California households have had the opportunity to choose their electricity supplier as well as its source. And some 100 companies have be looking for a share of the $20 bn. California consumer electric market.
Companies who wish to participate in the Green-e program, and use the Green-e Logo, must meet the program's strict requirements. Aside from offering at least 50% renewable energy for a specific electricity product, companies must abide by a Code of Conduct governing business practices and provide customers with regular information about the sources of the electricity they purchase. An oversight committee, the Green Power Board, will monitor participating companies. The program was developed by the Center for Resource Solutions with input from Independent Energy Producers Association and the Environmental Defense Fund.
In parallel, several "green marketers" have been compiling lists of customers who want to buy power from companies willing to meet exacting environmental standards. For details of some of whats on offer in the USA see: http://www.forenergy.com http://www.choosewisely.com
Green Power in the UK
As we have noted before some prototype green power schemes already exist in the UK, but so far they have been limited to consumers of over 100kW.
As part of a trial for the next phase, which starts in April, when individual consumers will be offered green electricity, the South Western Electricity subsidiary Green Electron has been supplying Stroud District Council with power from landfill gas and hydro sources, under a tariff scheme which imposes a 10% surcharge.
In parallel the Stroud based Renewable Energy Company has been selling power to 11 customers from landfill gas- but without imposing a premium price. Interestingly Stroud District Council decided to switch over to them when their contract with Green Electron ended in April last year. The Council told Windpower Monthly 'We were pleased to be involved with the Green Electron scheme, but there was never any doubt that we would have to go to tender in April for our electricity supply contract. The Renewable Energy Company is based in Stroud and basically it came up with the cheapest price.'
However, Green Electron argued that its premium helped to 'support renewable generators who find it difficult to compete in the open market'.
Green Electron nevertheless admitted that the premium dampened demand, but argued that for the moment this was fortunate since, at present, there simply wasn't enough renewable energy capacity to supply a large market. Neil Humphreys from South Western Power told Windpower Monthly 'We have to be very careful about raising a level of expectation that simply cannot be fulfilled'.
You might say this was a little sad and that we really ought to be letting consumer demand drive the pace of investment in new plant, but it does take time to get new systems up and running....
Meanwhile Scottish Power is adopting a slightly different approach, given that it is both a generator and a distribution company- and has lots a cheap hydro and wind projects to work with. It plans to earmark the income from its premium price to fund the development of new renewable projects.
Eastern Electricity have introduced an Ecopower scheme, involving a voluntary 10% surcharge to support renewable energy development, and other regional electricity companies and renewable suppliers, for example those involved in the Green Pool/ Green Consortium Group, may come up with other schemes. The only problem could be that with a wide range of different schemes, potential consumers could get confused.
The Renewable Energy Company can be contacted on: 01453 756111, the Green Consortium is on: 0171-229 9252 and Ecopower is on 01473 553403.
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12. Irish Waves
The Irish Government has decided to invest in wave energy and subsidise the building of a power station in the sea, close to the west coast where the breakers roll in from across a fetch of 3,000 miles. The government is to contribute approximately £1 million (Irish) provided that private backers contribute about the same amount. In addition, there is to be a NFFO-type subsidy of up to 5p a unit to the price of the electricity. Ten groups have entered proposals, two of them from the UK.
Among them is a consortium based in Cork University which is planning a one-megawatt Oscillating Water Column, probably a stand-alone unit surrounded by sea like the ill-fated OSPREY which was overwhelmed by a storm off the north of Scotland two years ago.
The co-ordinator of the Cork project, Dr Tony Lewis, was closely connected with the OSPREY and he said that he believed the new design would be more stable because it was to be built entirely in concrete. The OSPREY, built largely of steel, collapsed because the storm struck before there had been time to pump in the ballast, which would have given it greater resistance to the sea. The new design, Dr Lewis said, would have some residual stability even without ballast.
He said that they might add sand or rock or concrete - "We are not sure yet. We do not know how much ballast will be required."
The projects have been sent for assessment to ETSU, the Energy Technology Support Unit.
The scientist co-ordinating the programme for ETSU is Tom Thorpe, who produced a detailed report on wave power in 1992 (see Renew 82). Following the DTI's classification of wave power as at best a `long shot', Thorpe was demoted (see Renew 86) but now he's back. A leading wave energy engineer commented: "They had to pick Tom because he is the only person there who knows anything about it." Thorpe enjoys the respect and confidence of all the wave energy "family" and his selection is the best assurance there can be that the Irish scheme will be a success.
The UK government has not yet taken any new decisions about wave power, although Energy Minister John Battle has said that the potential of wave power had not been "properly explored." However the third round of the Scottish Renewable Order includes a commitment to making 'limited capacity' available to wave power projects, so maybe things are changing!
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13. Canada Backs off Nuclear
Canada's Ontario Hydro has decided to shut down seven CANDU reactors within the next year, due to their performance being 'below standard', and following a long series of minor accidents and leaks, including the release of radioactive tritium. They are also shutting down Canada's last remaining heavy water plant at the Bruce site. CANDU reactors need heavy water for both coolant and moderator.
Dave Martin, Research Director of the Nuclear Awareness Project, stated, "This is the largest single nuclear shutdown anywhere in the world. It's the beginning of the end for nuclear power in Canada."
The Bruce "A" reactors, near Kincardine, lasted less than half of their expected 40-year lifetime. The Pickering "A" reactors, near Toronto, lasted only 25 years, despite having been re-tubed at cost of $1 bn (Cdn) following a Loss of Coolant accident.
Now a new battle looms, given that Ontario Hydro has decided to increase the use of coal and oil-fired stations to compensate for the closed nuclear reactors.
The Ontario environmental community is rallying to demand a truly sustainable energy future based on demand management and renewable energy, with the use of gas-fired cogeneration as a transition technology.
However, it is going to be a struggle: in the last four years, the giant utility has decimated its conservation programmes, and recently cancelled its first tentative efforts at a renewable energy programme for independent power producers.
For further information contact the Nuclear Awareness Project, whose newsletter,"Nuclear Awareness News", can be obtained free from Nuclear Awareness Project, Box 104, 34 Church Street, Uxbridge, Ontario, Canada L9P 1M6
Tel & fax: 905-852-0571 e-mail: email@example.com
The list of accidents at the CANDU plants seems almost unbelievable. To pick just one example, in July 1995, two technicians carried out work on the wrong reactor (reactor 5 instead of reactor 6), disabling the second fast shutdown system on reactor 5, which was operating at full power.
As one wag noted on the Internet the other day, it may be no accident that the creator of Homer Simpson, the character who works as a somewhat careless operative in a nuclear power plant in the TV Cartoon 'The Simpsons', comes from Toronto.
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14. Hot Rock Cafe?
Finally we couldn't resist reporting on the following breakthrough. Construction has started on a new MacDonald's restaurant in Westland, Michigan that will have heat, hot water and air conditioning courtesy of geothermal energy from the earth's constant below-ground temperatures.
The geothermal powered 3600 sq. ft. restaurant will be the first of its kind in the company's fleet and will serve as a study project for future MacDonald's restaurants.
Energy efficiency will also be enhanced through lighting systems, insulation values, triple glazed windows and high-efficiency motors.
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15. In the rest of Renew 111
In addition to Editorial, Letters , groups and reveiews sections , Renew 111 includes a feature outlining what is needed for the next phase of the UK renewable energy R&D programme, a review of pressure group activity in the run up to Kyoto, a look at hydro electricity large and small, reviews of Scotland's sustainable energy options, plus hot from the front details of what happened at Kyoto.
Renew/ NATTA subs
The full printed 30 page bimonthly Renew journal can be obtained from NATTA, the Network for Alternative Technology and Technology Assessment, on subscription for the special price of £12 pa for students on T265 (otherwise its £18pa) payable to 'NATTA'.
Further details from NATTA, c/o EERU, Open University, Milton Keynes, MK 7 6AA
Phone: 01908 65 4638 (24 hrs) e-mail S.J.Dougan@open.ac.uk
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