Renew On-Line 16
Extracts from the news section of NATTA's journal Renew, issue 115, Sept-Oct 1988.
This material can be freely recycled for non commercial purposes, so long as credit is given to its source. However, the views expressed should not be taken to necessarily reflect those of EERU or of the OU.
|Contents||7. SERA does the Business|
|8. CHP goes for growth|
|2. Wind: Greenpeace offshore wind campaign, EWEA targets, UK battles||9. SRC Energy Crops|
|3. The Green Paper on Utility Regulation||10.Green Power Accreditation|
|4. Waste Not||11.Nuclear News|
|5. European Renewable Policy Floundering?||12. In the Rest of Renew 115|
|6. Japan Subsidises Renewables||13. Renew / NATTA subs|
1.Renewables wait on DTI
The long awaited Department of Trade and Industry review of renewables, initially expected in July, has still not emerged: one rumour is that it's been held up in the Treasury. However, we hear that drafts are around and that they offer few surprises other than more rounds of the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation. If true, that's no bad thing in itself, but it's still a bit depressing, since much was expected of the review- it could have provided an opportunity for a radical commitment to renewables. But the final version may yet surprise us: a leaked DTI memo on the review evidently says that renewables could supply up to 20% of UK electricity by 2020 (New Scientist 15/8/98)
Certainly the Energy Minister, John Battle, continues to be very positive. At a launch of Sun Day, organised back in June by the European section of the International Solar Energy Society, Battle said that the aim of the DTI's review was to 'examine the status of all the new and renewable energy technologies and the UK industry and their future prospects in both the home and export markets.' and that it also reviewed 'what further research and development, and demonstration is needed.'
He summarised his overview as follows: 'Some technologies, such as landfill gas and energy from waste are close to being competitive. These, and other technologies such as offshore wind energy and energy crops would also be needed on a substantial scale to achieve 10 per cent savings'.
He went on 'The use of photovoltaics for supplying power to locations remote from grid supplies is already expanding rapidly overseas where PV is competitive. Applications in buildings where grid supplies are readily available will proceed more slowly - such applications need more development in order to reduce costs before they will become competitive.'
But he added 'the Government recognises the long-term potential of photo-voltaics. For example the first batch of schools participating in the Government backed SCOLAR programme will soon receive their PV canopies. SCOLAR is a Foresight initiative to put PV arrays into 100 schools and colleges across the country by the year 2000.
"The equipment is being designed to be used as a teaching aid, and participating schools will also receive a software package and Internet access. In this way a whole new generation - the generation likely to see the full deployment of PV - will be able to gain first-hand experience of this exciting new technology.'
He concluded that 'We all have a stake in the long-term development of renewable technologies - they offer diverse, secure and sustainable energy sources.'
Battle launched the first SCOLAR scheme in July - at Cardinal Hinsley school in Willesden, West London, with the sentiment "May the sun shine on all of you." See our Groups section.
On Another Planet?
Meanwhile John Redwood MP put in a written parliamentary question in effect calling for the "special treatment offered to renewable energy" to be removed. See Hansard, Column 763 on the 31st July.
The Government has been trying to square a circle by seeking to reform the electricity market to make it more competitive, while also trying to ensure that no one fuel type dominates - and particularly not gas!
Although the Renewables review has yet to be published, the DTI's wider review of the electricity market and energy sources for power generation has been. It found distortions in the electricity market and it hopes to remove them so as to ensure both 'diversity and security in electricity generation', and a level playing field for competition, which, it says, should deliver lower electricity prices for consumers.
In the meantime, while the reforms are being put in place, the Government proposes to operate a stricter policy on consents for gas-fired power stations, in effect giving coal a bit of a breathing space. That led Greenpeace to cry foul - asking what had happened to the commitment to carbon dioxide emissions?
To be fair, Margaret Beckett's announcement did take that on board to some extent. She claimed 'our proposals will encourage environmentally friendly forms of generation such as combined heat and power and take full account of our climate change and environmental objectives.'
And the detailed proposals seem to bear that out. Not only would the proposed stricter consents policy include a 'presumption that new gas-fired stations will normally be inconsistent with the Government's diversity and security of supply concerns' but they would also include a presumption that 'combined heat and power projects have environmental and other benefits which may outweigh these concerns'.
In addition 'other projects supporting the Government's environmental objectives without compromising energy security or diversity would normally be consistent with our energy policy This would be likely to include renewable energy projects, proposals using clean coal technology and those for fitting flue gas desulphurisation equipment to remove sulphur dioxide from waste gasses'. Not bad as far as it goes - although it's hardly a major commitment.
Meanwhile Sir Colin Marshall, from the CBI, has been carrying out a review for the Government of mechanisms to achieve the UK's target of a 20% cut in carbon emissions by 2010-for example comparing the attractions of carbon emission trading systems with the more conventional energy tax approach.
2. Wind power
Greenpeace Offshore Wind Campaign
Greenpeacehas launched a campaign to open up Britain's vast offshore wind resource and create 36,000 new jobs over the next 12 years.
A new report for Greenpeace, 'Offshore Wind Energy - Building a New Industry for Britain' by leading wind energy developer Border Wind, shows that Britain has the best offshore wind resource in Europe capable of meeting the country's electricity needs three times over.
The report shows that offshore wind energy alone could meet the Government's present renewable energy target of 10% electricity provision by 2010. It also shows that offshore wind energy could meet 40% of the country's needs by 2030.
In the light of these findings Greenpeace has called on Energy Minister John Battle to increase the UK's renewable energy target and commit Britain to begin the phase out of fossil fuels within the next 30-40 years to protect the climate.
Greenpeace also challenged Battle to match the plans of Denmark and commit the UK to generating 40% of our electricity needs from offshore wind energy by 2030.
This would result in a £2.5 billion annual market, the development of a major UK based manufacturing industry and the creation 36,000 new jobs by 2010. It would also result in annual savings of 96 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent to a 21% cut in present UK emissions.
Marcus Rand, Greenpeace Renewable Campaigner said: "We have the best offshore wind resource in Europe which, if developed, could create a new world class industry and 36,000 new jobs for Britain. This report shows that John Battle is constraining the true potential for renewable energy and that his present target is scandalously low."
Generating 40% of our electricity needs from offshore wind would require the Government licensing some 5,000 km2 of seabed. The Government has to date licensed five times this area at the Atlantic Frontier for new oil exploration.
Rand added: 'This is the way to tackle climate change, John Battle should be licensing the sea bed for offshore wind development not new oil exploration which will wreck the climate."
Border Wind is developing the UK's first offshore wind farm at Blyth in Northumbria. Contact David Still - 01434 601224
For Further Information contact Greenpeace Press Office on 0171865 8255/6/7/8.
PRASEG on Offshore Wind
Greenpeace and the BWEA made presentations on offshore wind at a special session of the Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group in July in the House of Commons. Industrial interest is evidently quite strong.
An Eastern Generation representative commented that 'one of the major benefits of going down the offshore wind route is the possibility for introducing (wind) manufacturing industry back into the UK'. However he noted that it would take time to get offshore schemes going and 'in the interim there is a risk that the emergence of the offshore market may be used as grounds for refusing planning permission for onshore schemes'.
Greenpeace Want More Renewables
It's not just more offshore wind that Greenpeace want- they are also calling for more wave and solar. In a new campaign brochure they claim that wind wave and solar resources could meet the UK's entire energy needs many times over, and yet the country is at the bottom of the EU renewable energy league table, according to Greenpeace. They claimed that 'Narrow thinking' on renewable energy was responsible for the UK's 0.7% share of renewable energy - the smallest in Europe.
The 0.7% energy contribution (in 1995) comes from the EC White paper on renewables, which, as we noted in Renew 114, also indicates that the renewable contribution in 1995 was 24% in Austria, 25% in Sweden and 21% in Finland. Of course, these large contributions reflect the fact that in these countries extensive use is already made of 'traditional' renewables, such as hydro and biomass. By contrast, hydro is a relatively small source in the UK, and we've only just started thinking seriously about biomass. Even so, the UK is lagging far behind. Or to put it more positively, given that the UK's renewable resource is actually very large, we can only do better!
The current plan is for the UK to generate 10% of its electricity from renewables by 2010. That translates to a 4% energy contribution- still well below the European target: the White Paper called for a 12% EU energy contribution by 2010. Maybe the UK could not hope to achieve that, but Greenpeace wants the UK's 10% electricity / 4% energy target to be raised, and has called for further renewable energy targets to be set for 2020 and 2030, and for the UK to set a goal of phasing out fossil fuel use in the next 30 to 40 years.
In particular it calls on the government to permit the development of offshore wind farms, to invest in wave energy research and to set a target to install solar panels on 70,000 roofs by 2010. Without a more proactive policy, it claims that the government will miss out on export and job opportunities being generated by EU programmes.
The new Greenpeace brochure is entitled 'New Power for Britain: a strategy for a Renewable Energy Industry' and looks in particular at the energy and employment potential for PV solar, offshore wind and wave energy.
Greenpeace are at Cannonbury Villas, London, N1 2PN.
Wind Power still struggling in the UK
Windpower is booming around the world, with nearly 8000 megawatts of capacity now installed. However, in the UK progress has been much slower: so far we have only managed to install 310 MW.
One of the key problems has been that, although the vast majority of people asked support wind power, there is a minority who don't and they have been backed by a small but noisy anti-wind power lobby. Derek Taylor, from the OU Energy and Environment Research Unit, reports on the current state of play.
Since 1990 some twelve independent public opinion surveys have canvassed the opinion of over 3,000 people in the UK, the majority of whom live close to existing or proposed wind farm sites.
Each of these surveys has shown that a substantial majority of the residents who live in an area which contains a wind farm are in favour of wind power, both intellectually by supporting the idea of developing renewable energy sources in theory, but also directly by supporting the construction of wind turbines within their locality.
80% of those surveyed supported their local wind farm. In fact those who live near an operating wind farm were more positive than those who did not. When public attitude projects included two-stage surveys, the first at the time of construction and the second some time after the wind farm had been installed, those interviewed were generally more positive at the time of the second survey. This is thought to be due to the fact that they had been able to see for themselves what an operating wind farm was like. When there were concerns these were generally about noise and/or visual impact.
Again, where the projects included a two-stage survey, concern about these issues was less in the second survey, indicating that actual experience of an operating wind farm appears to reduce a respondents concerns about these effects.
And the problem is, in any case, diminishing: wind turbines continue to become quieter even with increasing size, a trend enhanced by gear-less turbines.
Although some opposition continues, the rate of wind farm planning consent is actually gradually improving, with more wind power projects emerging with approval at the end of the long planning process The Energy Technology Support Unit has been monitoring the passage through the planning approval system of wind energy projects supported by the third Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFF0-3), the first Scottish Renewables Order (SRO-1) and the Northern Ireland Obligation (NI-NFFO-1).
The results of this exercise indicates that some of the larger developers are taking advantage of the five year 'lead in' window provided in current NFFO contracts. This procedure helps to avoid one of the shortcomings of previous orders in which projects were rushed through in order to satisfy tight timetables. The resulting measured pace resulted - at least in these renewable orders - in a more successful rate of planning consent.
However, the process of obtaining planning permission has become more protracted and can take over two years and, according to the British Wind Energy Association (BWEA), can cost developers over £100,000. This period can be more than doubled if a planning refusal is then appealed. The BWEA has expressed concern that the delays and uncertainty inherent in the planning process may start to reduce interest in developing wind power in the UK, while the increased planning approval costs will affect the cost of wind power.
Certainly the risks can be high. Not all applications are called in for public inquiry, but the rate of refusals of wind farm applications which do go to public inquiries has been rising, and analysis of 36 inquiry decisions found that government inspectors are increasingly putting possible visual impact before the national need for clean energy. Before March 1994, 67% of inquiry decisions found in favour of the wind projects, but since that date only 22% of applications were successful and only wind farms consisting of less than ten wind turbines were successful.
Wind - 10% of EU power by 2010
Wind power could and should supply one-tenth of EU electricity by 2020, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) says in its new assessment of the industry's prospects. A target set in 1991 of achieving 4,000 MW of installed capacity by 2000 and 100,000 MW by 2030 (equivalent to 10% of the EU's electricity requirement) had been overtaken by events, it said. Installed wind energy capacity in Europe has grown by 40% annually since 1991, to reach 4,500 MW in 1997. As a result of this success, EWEA is now looking to achieve a capacity of 8,000 MW by 2000 and the 100,000 MW target ten years earlier than before.
EWEA chief Christophe Bourillon claimed that wind power had now entered "the major league of energy" and said that it could "rival coal, oil and gas". Wind turbine prices fell by a factor of at least three from 1981 to 1991, and "the latest megawatt machines are competitive with other electricity generation methods," the report concludes.
It also points towards growing economic and employment benefits of increasing wind turbine manufacturing and stresses wind power's environmental contribution. Wind energy could reduce EU power sector carbon dioxide emissions by over 11% by 2040.
Contacts: EWEA (http://www.ewea.org), tel: +44 171 402 7122. References: "Wind Energy in Europe: The Facts."
UK 'Must do better' on wind
Environment Minister Michael Meacher promised to follow "world leader" Denmark in embracing wind power.
Speaking on board MV Greenpeace, which visited Denmarks offshore wind farm with a party of invited VIP's, prior to the start of the "Environment for Europe" Conference, Mr Meacher pointed out that Britain is one of Europe's windiest countries but it trails in the race to harness wind energy. "Wind energy currently provides around 8% of Denmark's energy against less than 1% for the UK. The UK Government has committed itself to a new and strong drive to promote renewables. One of our first acts in government was to initiate a review of what needs to be done in the UK to achieve 10% of electricity generation from renewables by 2010. I will be taking back details of this offshore wind farm to my colleague - Energy Minister John Battle."
3.The Green Paper on Utility Regulation
OFFER and OFGAS to combine
Although it generally seemed to duck the key issue of how to marry competition and environmental protection, the Green Paper that emerged as part of the Governments review of utility regulation threw up a few new ideas.
It proposed that OFFER, the Electricity Regulator, and OFGAS, the gas regulator, be combined- and this is now being implemented. It certainly make sense given the fact that the two energy sectors, gas and electricity are now so intertwined- for example British Gas sells electricity as well as gas.
In the meantime however the current Gas Regulator, Claire Spottiswoode, has been sticking to her guns by arguing that the Green Papers proposal to reduce bills for the energy poor was 'uncompetitive' and 'unworkable'. She commented 'we are against any form of cross subsidy, which we believe hinders competition'. Certainly devotees of free markets can claim with some credibility that competition reduces prices: prices have certainly dropped since privatisation. They also claim that this is the best way to help the energy poor, so that nothing should be done to distort market processes. This is less clear.
After all, at present consumers with pre-payment meters pay a higher tariff than those who can afford to pay by direct debit or quarterly. Surely, quite apart from being unfair, that's a market distortion.
SERA, Labours green group, has produced a detailed response to the Green Paper in which it welcomes the recognition that the utility industries have major environmental impacts and that these need to be addressed in the framework of economic regulation. At the same time SERA agrees that it 'should not be the responsibility of an unelected economic regulator to judge the value of social and environmental benefits and that government should provide statutory guidance on these matters'.
However, SERA says this does not mean that environmental concerns should be marginal to economic regulation: 'sustainable development is critical to achieving the long term benefits for consumers which the Green Paper seeks and is a key government objective'.
SERA argues that 'by any definition of sustainable development, energy efficiency is an important issue', and that the long term interests of consumers therefore require that energy efficiency is a central concern of energy regulation.
SERA note that the last government argued that competition in energy supply would automatically resolve this problem, because energy suppliers would find it commercially advantageous to assist customers use their product with maximum efficiency. Unfortunately, SERA say, there is no evidence to support this contention. 'Most of the barriers to energy efficiency which cause the problem are unaffected by energy market liberalisation. In the markets which have already been opened up to competition (in the UK and elsewhere) there has been little or no evidence of increased energy service marketing.'
On both theoretical and empirical grounds, SERA therefore concludes that 'energy efficiency levels will remain seriously sub-optimal unless additional policy measures put in place'.
The UK's waste management strategy is being reviewed by the Government, initially via a process of public consultation. A final report is expected next year. It is unlikely to involve radical changes on the existing policy - which calls for the proportion of waste, going to landfill sites to be reduced from 70% to 60% by 2005 and has to recover value from 40% of municipal solid wastes by then. There's still a long way to go: a recent study found that only 12% of the useful value of household waste was recovered via materials recycling, composting and energy recovery.
Cutting back on post consumer waste is clearly a major issue. But it is as well to remember that a vast amount of waste also gets regenerated in the process of production of goods for consumers.
One study by Robert Ayres suggested that 94% of the materials extracted for use in manufacturing durable products becomes waste before the product is even manufactured. Not surprisingly the idea of material resource use efficiency has now caught on - it's central to the 'Factor Four' thesis put forward by Lovins et al.
For an interesting discussion of resource efficiency see Guy Dauncey's essay 'Life Beyond the Wasteland' in the Warmer Bulletin 59 March 1998. We will be looking a these issues in more detail in Renew 116.
Warmer is the Journal of the World Resources Foundation. Details from WRF, Bridge House, High Street, Tonbridge, Kent, TN19 1DP.
5.EU Renewable Policy Floundering?
The European Energy Ministers have so far failed to agree on how to support the ambitious strategy for renewable energy development spelt out in the recent EC White Paper on Renewables - which called for Europe to increase the contribution of renewables from 6% to 12% of total primary energy by 2010: see below.
Charges and counter charges abound, but according to Windpower Monthly, it seems that Germany and the UK along with France, the Netherlands and Austria were less than enthusiastic about offering total support for the programme- whereas Spain, Denmark, Portugal and Greece wanted a firm commitment. So now the '12%' target is more of a generalised aim than a firm policy backed by a detailed set of commitments. The hoped for 'action plan' still looks very vague. A proposed new Euro- directive on renewables put forward by CERT, the Committee for Energy Research and Technology Development, failed to break the deadlock - it was rejected by the Euro-Parliament.
But at least specific commitments have now been accepted by each EU country on their share of the 8% overall CO2 reduction agreed by the EU at the Kyoto Climate Change Conference. The UK's share is to be a 12.5% reduction by 2010, while Germany and Denmark are going for 21%. Some others however are being allowed to increase their emissions- e.g Ireland (by 13%), Greece (25%) and Portugal (27%).
The next stage is the Climate Change conference in Buenos Aires in Nov., which will look at, amongst other things, details of emission trading plans. The EU(with of course the UK) has now formally signed up to the Kyoto agreement, as has Japan, but until the USA does, then the whole thing is still really on hold. And opposition to - and disbelief in- the Kyoto agreement, is strong in the USA, with 'contrarian' arguments much in evidence.
The poor start to the opening up of the Green Power market in California has not helped boost morale- it's now sometimes being referred to there as 'Gucci power', implying that it's only for the rich and trendy. Ah, well, lets hope it goes better in the UK.
More Renewables to Come...
The European Commissions White Paper on Renewables was certainly very optimistic about the future. As we reported in Renew 112, it outlined an ambitious programme of expansion to a 12% contribution by 2010, via an initial 'Campaign take-off' programme, based on wind (10GW), biomass/CHP (10GW thermal) and photovoltaic solar (IGW peak). But this is just for starters: the White Paper sees the full programme involving 40GW of wind, 60GW thermal of biomass/CHP and 3GWp of PV, plus 105GW (compared to 92GW at present) of hydro, all by 2010.
It adds ' There are a number of other renewable energy technologies, such as solar thermal power (by which it means steam raising electricity generation plant), tidal power, ocean currents, wave energy, hot dry rock, ocean thermal energy conversion, for which the current market in the European Union is non-existent'. However it adds 'it is reasonable to expect that at least one of these renewable sources will have started to be commercially exploited over the coming decade or so, which justifies a marginal contribution (as assumed on the White Paper)) of 1GW by 2010'.
In addition, it looks to a 5GW thermal contribution from low temperature geothermal and heat pumps and 1GW of electricity from geothermal sources, plus a 10% saving from passive solar. Active solar heat collectors are also seen as likely to be increasingly relevant.
Source: Commission of the European Communities, White Paper: 'Energy for the Future: Renewable Sources of Energy' 1997.
6. Japan Subsidises Renewables
Just when the market liberalisers thought they had removed the word subsidy from the political agenda, Japans New Energy Development Organisation, NEDO, has pledged at least JPY 2.2 billion (around £10m) in subsidies for renewables this year.
NEDO will provide a subsidy of up to 33% of the cost of private sector projects and 50% of public sector costs for projects of 800 kW or more. Ten new windfarms are expected to be supported in this way. There is also a parallel JPY 1.5 bn NEDO supported wind field test programme, designed to support the development of new designs
The on land wind regime in mainland Japan is not generally as favourable as that in Europe or the USA, so wind is generally seen as being in need of subsidy to expand. Japan already has 77 wind projects with a total of 17MW of capacity, and a further 156 (60MW) should be operating by 1999, some enjoying NEDO support. The current target is 20MW of wind by 2000 and 150 MW by 2010.
But as F. Satofuka et al noted in their recent report on 'Renewable Energy Strategy in Japan', produced for the OU Technology Policy Group, the potential is much larger than that, especially when all the outlying island sites are taken into account.
One recent study put it at 13.5 GW and suggested that the government target should be raised to 100MW in 2000 and then 3000MW in 2010.
The OU TPG report can be obtained from NATTA for £3
7.SERA does the Business
Labours Environment Campaign group, SERA, held a major conference 'An Environment for Business', in London in June, looking at how the business sector might support the governments Climate Change policy.
Energy Minister John Battle gave an upbeat introduction stressing that green policies presented business with opportunities not problems: he wanted to see an 'array of indigenous renewable energy industries' emerging and a 'shift from the carbon economy to the hydrogen economy'
Environment Minister Michael Meacher outlined the next range of issues in the Climate Change negotiations- to be held in Buenos Aires in Nov. A key issue was the problem of 'hot air' trading: rather than investing in clean up projects at home, western companies might buy unused emission credits from Russia, who had lots spare. One solution would be to set a ceiling on emission trading to ensure it was only a small 'supplement' to domestic/ national level emission reduction activities.
As for the UK, Catherine Mitchell from SPRU called for the renewable energy R&D budget to be increased, and there were suggestions that the UK's overall target of '10% from renewables by 2010' could be increased.
Underscoring some of the benefits, Charles Secrett from Friends of the Earth reported on the new FoE / Energy for Sustainable Development study of the employment implications of investing in sustainable energy: we will review it later.
The Conference attracted a wide range of business interests- from generation companies like Eastern Electricity, and public service organisations like the Royal Mail through to insurers like General Accident. It was also supported by UNISON and the EST.
SERA, the Socialist Environment and Resources Association, is at 11 Goodwin St, London, N4 3HQ (0171 263 7389)
8.CHP goes for growth
Despite the recent tendency of both the private and public sector to lose interest in energy efficiency in the face of the downward movement in energy prices, things are looking up for combined heat and power. A clutch of proposals for local authority based schemes is seeing to that. Dave Toke reports.
Combined heat and power (CHP), involves simultaneous production of electricity and heat, as opposed to the conventional, and wasteful, separate production. The latest gas fired CHP schemes can reach energy efficiencies of 90%. Some in Denmark, the capital of CHP (and of course wind power) boast efficiencies of 95%. Indeed 60 per cent of the electricity made in Denmark comes from CHP and a further 7 per cent from wind power. Even the relatively efficient electricity-only combined cycle gas turbines that have sprung up in recent years only have energy efficiencies of around 50 per cent.
The new and proposed schemes in the UK, coming from local authorities such as Glasgow, Tower Hamlets, Woking, Manchester and Liverpool, are being developed along Danish lines, generally involving Scandinavian companies as well. In Glasgow, for example, the first step is to install community heating in some 40,000 dwellings. The next stage will be to connect the community heating to small gas fired engines, so creating the CHP systems. Ultimately, again following the Danish pattern, these small power units will be replaced by large gas fired combined cycle plants that will supply both electricity and heat.
But the key to the success and growth of such schemes will be their ability to use their base in the domestic energy sector to enable them to sell cheap energy to local commerce and industry. There are some very big juicy markets out there waiting to be picked.
Although the local authority backed schemes, generally organised jointly with the electricity utilities, have small beginnings, they are projected to build up over the coming years to be a major force in the energy market. They are likely to provide the backbone to the target of 10 GW of electricity capacity by 2010 that represents the target set by the Labour Party while in opposition. This would represent around 20 per cent of electricity production in the UK. In fact the economic potential is far larger than this, as Government studies show. Currently CHP represents around 3.5 GW of UK generating capacity.
A number of factors are promoting the growth of local authority based CHP schemes. One is the fact that local authorities are being allowed to pay for the energy services that the schemes will provide without such payments being counted as part of their public sector spending stream. Thus they will not need to cut other things in order to become involved in CHP.
Local authorities are being pressed to invest in public sector housing stock and the Department of the Environment is encouraging energy investments. But perhaps the biggest single institutional factor promoting these developments is market liberalisation, formerly called deregulation. Not only can CHP schemes sell their electricity to who they like, but the regional electricity companies (RECs) now see their interests as lying in helping these projects. Before the average REC did not want CHP schemes cutting down their share of the electricity market. But now they are all for 'embedded generation' if they have a finger or two in the financial pie. This is because with all the fierce competition in electricity supplies there is more money in developing and operating local electricity production schemes than there is in competing to sell electricity at rock bottom prices that someone else has produced.
Woking Council probably receives the prize for the most innovative approach so far. It has already put a few CHP schemes into operation. In Woking's case the CHP schemes have been installed in middle class areas and Alan Jones, the Energy Services Manager says that each dwelling saves around £120 a year in energy costs as a result. Woking are building a city centre scheme which is likely to expand to quite large proportions. Among Woking's other innovative projects is a scheme, called National Energy Services, to market a range of 'green' electricity options ranging from CHP to small hydro.
Jones' scheme for selling gas condensing boiler systems for domestic properties (condensing boilers are 30% more efficient than conventional boilers) is innovative and breathtakingly simple. He has overcome the problem that gas condensing boilers are significantly more expensive than conventional ones by having Woking Council buying condensing boilers in bulk. This has virtually eliminated the capital cost difference while retaining the fuel cost savings. Why cannot other people think of these things? Dave Toke
'In theory we could all save about a third of what we use by using more cost-effective and efficient lighting', according to Energy Efficiency Minister Angela Eagle launching a discussion paper on Energy Efficient Lighting as part of the Governments new Market Transformation Programme. It notes that lighting accounts for about 20% of the UK's electricity consumption and over 6 % of CO2 emissions.
It is to be followed by discussion papers on domestic appliances and office equipment, electronics, heating and cooking.
"Energy Efficient UK Lighting" is available from BRECSU, BRE, Garston, Watford, Herts WD2 7JR.
For a more general review of energy conservation options see "Energy Efficient Consumer Products" available from DETR's Market Transformation Unit (Zone 6/C10, Ashdown House, 123 Victoria Street, London SW1E 6DE), BRECSU
or on DETR's Web site at: http:// www.environment.detr.gov.uk/greening/gghome.htm
9. SRC Energy Crops
It looks like short rotation coppicing (SRC) may not go ahead as rapidly as had been hoped.
Of the three projects supported under NFFO- 3, only one (the £28m ARBRE project at Eggborough in Yorkshire) is now still live, and as noted in Renew 114, that is only progressing slowly, with so far only one farmer having signed up to supply wood chips.
It was always a bit of a gamble: the economics looked uncertain- given that the approach chosen in the UK involved the development of advanced gasification technology, rather than conventional combustion. The Department of Trade and Industry evidently judged that the most likely way to achieve competitiveness was to opt for the more complex and efficient technology. You can see the point. But that judgement may not have worked out in practice. The gasification/turbine technology is still very new and untried in this context- and potential wood chip suppliers may have been nervous about committing themselves some years ahead to planting SRC.
It may even be that the whole saga will end up as a textbook repeat of the mistake that the DTI (and its predecessor, the Department of Energy) is generally felt to have made with regard to the development of wind turbines. The initial R&D emphasis was heavily on large multi megawatt hi- tech machines, only one of which (the 3 MW Orkney turbine) was ever built- at a cost of £17m- only to be retired and sold off. What the newly emerging wind power industry opted for instead was smaller machines (around 300kW) of tried and tested designs, as developed on an incremental basis in Denmark.
Larger machines are of course now emerging - 1-1.5 MW - but they have been able to do so because of a relatively slow process of incremental development. You might argue that the earlier megawatt machine experiments in the UK- and in the USA- provided some help in the overall development process, but it does seem clear that the countries, like Denmark, that adopted an incremental approach have created more successful wind power industries.
Will the same be true of SRC/gasification? Some countries are sticking with conventional combustion/boiler technology - and in some case the emphasis is on quite small projects, as in Ireland. They may not be as commercially viable as big high tech gasification turbine systems, but they can be easily implemented and they can service local energy needs.
Its still probably too early to say for certain, but maybe that will be the way forward, rather than the big integrated flagship projects that the NFFO has attempted to promote in the UK. We will be looking at SRC in more detail in Renew 116.
10. Green Power Accreditation
As far as consumers are concerned, a key point about green electricity will be where it comes from. First they will want to be assured that it really is 'green' power and not disguised fossil or nuclear power. Second, there is the question of how green it is. For example, if the NATTA survey reported in Renew 114 is anything to go by, the majority of green power consumers are unlikely to accept power from waste combustion pants, on environmental grounds. So far no-one is actually offering that, but, despite the environmental question marks, waste is the largest and cheapest source available to the green market, so eventually its bound to be marketed.
As argued in NATTA's submission to the Foresight 2000 consultation (see Renew 114) what is needed is an independent accreditation organisation. The Department of Trade and Industry is, it seems, trying to set one up, but this has led to some objections from pressure groups. According to Energy Action Scotlands 'Energy Review' journal, 'the DTI is facing opposition from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) over its attempt to set up a green accreditation scheme for electricity generation schemes. Both groups object to the proposed inclusion of waste-to-energy and landfill gas schemes, which they regard as not being truly renewable, and (they) may go ahead with their own independent accreditation scheme.'
Opposition to landfill gas is perhaps less clearly justified- as we argued in Renew 114, obviously we don't want to promote landfilling as opposed to waste minimisation and recycling, but since landfill sites already exist then it makes sense to use the methane gas they produce, rather than letting it escape into the atmosphere, where it plays a major role in global warming. So we checked with WWF and in fact they share a similar view. Even so there seems to be plenty of room for conflicts. Both SWEB's Green Electron and the Renewable Energy Company in Stroud are retailing power from landfill gas plants. The World Wide Fund for Nature(WWF) were initially going to provide Green Electron with accreditation of their sources. However, according to 'Energy Review', WWF have now withdrawn support, because of concerns over the sources being used and the environmental record of SWEB's US owners, the Southern Group.
Clearly then, the environmental groups generally are reserving their right to make critical assessments. Friends of the Earth have backed the Eco-power scheme set up by Eastern Electricity, but, like Greenpeace, they are opposed to waste combustion. Instead they support wind, wave and solar. But what about the other big group, the Council for the Protection of Rural England? As we noted in Renew 114, CPRE are much less keen on wind- they prefer energy conservation and biomass. And then there's the anti wind group, Country Guardian....
All in all, perhaps its going to be hard for any one group to come up with an impartial assessment- everyone has their own bias. As Alexi Clarke argued in an article entitled provocatively 'Buyer Beware' in New Scientist (13/7/98), instead of one-off, ad hoc, reactions to individual renewable technologies, what was needed was a comprehensive assessment of all the options, carried out by an independent body. He suggested that a tripartite agency, made up of government, industry and environmental group representatives, might be best. Maybe so. Certainly if it comes into being, NATTA would be well placed to help!
While debates on accreditation rage, the Renewable Energy Company seems to be doing well in finding customers for power from its existing range of sources. The carpet manufacturer Interface UK has signed up, and is getting 5% of its entire UK electricity requirements via a 1 million kWh/year contract with REC, delivered at the same price as its previous non-green power supplies. See NATTA member Cathy Hough's useful article in Green Futures 11.
Scottish Green Power
Scottish Power's proposal to invite consumers to add 5% to their electricity bills to support the development of renewable energy (see Renew 113) has not gone down well with Friends of the Earth Scotland.
Although the Friends of the Earth England has supported the similar Eco-Power scheme being run by Eastern Electricity, Dr John Green, FoE Scotland's renewable energy campaigner commented:
"I am particularly concerned about Scottish Power because its cheapest electricity comes from hydro schemes. This is giving the wrong image to green power - that green electricity is more expensive. It means only better-off customers will be able to afford it. The extra tariff for electricity from renewables is basically a donation which will be used to build new renewable energy developments. Alternatively, people who want to invest in green electricity could get a return on their investment through such programmes as the Wind Fund operated by Tridos Bank'.
With some hydro schemes generating at about 1p/kWh you can see his point.
Meanwhile, Scottish energy analysts are pondering the implications of the proposal from the Dutch and Icelandic governments that Scotland could become a staging post in a new undersea power link fed by cheap electricity generated from the extensive geothermal energy sources in Iceland.
Scottish Enterprise executive Blair Armstrong said that when he first heard of the idea he thought it was a practical joke, but subsequently he became convinced that what has become called 'Icenet' could be viable. As he sees it, the big advantage for Scotland is that the new link to Holland could also be used to export some of Scotland's large renewable power potential. 'Bearing in mind Scotland has more than enough energy to meet its needs, the development of renewable energy has so far been restricted. A new market like this would be a godsend for the sector.' Source: 'Energy Review', Energy Action Scotland, June 1998
11. Nuclear News
THORP 'could lose £2 Million Per Week'
The first independent post operation economic study of BNFL's flagship THORP nuclear reprocessing plant at Sellafield shows it could fail to cover future running costs. The report was commissioned by the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLAs) and analyses a wide range of THORP operational parameters. It concludes that on 'prudent' criteria, with throughput as little as 400 tonnes of heavy metal per year (thm/y), THORP would stand to lose over £100 million annually, while on mid range 'central' criteria, with throughput at 700 thm/y, THORP still loses £7 m per year. The only way losses can be significantly reversed is by making optimistic assumptions about key parameters.
The bleak economic outlook is the result of BNFL's loss of income from domestic reprocessing work. At the time of nuclear privatisation British Energy renegotiated its contracts and stopped BNFL passing on cost escalations.
Nuclear Free Local Authorities, Town Hall Manchester M60 2LA UK Tel: + 44 (0) 161 831 9108 Fax: + 44 (0) 161 835 3645 Email: email@example.com
Web Site: http://www.gn.apc.org/nfznsc/
According to Greenpeace, data on plutonium stockpiles reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) in Vienna reveal that the stockpile of weapon-usable plutonium continues to grow dramatically and that controls to stem such growth are virtually non-existent. Greenpeace has obtained copies of the figures reported to the IAEA in December 1997 and is providing them on request.
The plutonium stockpile information shows that the amount of plutonium in Britain, France and Japan, all countries engaged in the reprocessing of spent commercial fuel, grew to 141 metric tonnes as of December 31, 1996. Given that 5 kg of plutonium is enough for a nuclear weapon, this amount is sufficient for almost 28,200 weapons.
Japan - 20.1 Metric Tonnes (up from 16.1 MT in 1995)
Belgium - 2.7 MT
United Kingdom - 55.7 MT
France - 65.6 MT (up from 55.5 MT in 1995).
Switzerland and Germany did not report actual figures
but rather reported general trends in use.
The US report of 45 MT includes material recently
taken out of military use.
Russia failed to report any figures.
The detailed figures are available on the Web at:
IAEA's INFIRC/549 is available at
According to Greenpeace, "While the US, UK and other countries are engaged in projects to secure fissile materials in the former Soviet Union, nothing is being done to halt the global spread of plutonium in other countries. New reprocessing contracts under consideration between Japanese utilities and BNFL and COGEMA will only result in more plutonium stockpiling'.
More Nuclear Mishaps
The UK Governments decision to halt reprocessing at Dounreay came as no surprise, at least in retrospect, when you look some of the problems that had emerged. there. Quite apart from concerns about leaks of radioactive material on the beach, at one point a sub contractor had cut the main power supply to the nuclear plant's fuel cycle area. The accident exposed what seems to be a fundamental design flaw; there is evidently only one main power source to the plant, and, in the case of an accident, the emergency safety system could fail.
Things don't look much better at Sellafield. As if it didn't have enough problems with culling its radioactive seagulls, Greenpeace has published the results of a report suggesting that levels of radioactivity in some Irish Sea seafood was now '42 times higher than European standards for contamination of food after a nuclear accident'.
In addition Greenpeaces divers have been taking samples from the outlet pipe 2km offshore and the first results of analysis carried out by the University of Wales in Bangor showed a mixture of radioactive isotopes at levels which, according to European and British regulations, should earn the seabed the classification of nuclear waste.
British Nuclear Fuels Ltd commented that 'the Greenpeace figures are entirely consistent with our own results and those of the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, all of which are published on a regular basis and therefore are not a surprise.'
They added 'We would expect a concentration of radionuclides at the end of the pipeline, the levels reduce significantly as you move further from the end of the line. The important thing is the effect of the discharge i.e. the dose to the local population rather than the concentration of the discharge at the end of the pipeline. Monitoring and research by BNFL and MAFF examines the effect that discharges from the plant have on the environment. This shows that the most exposed people (who consume very large quantities of locally caught seafood), receive less than 10% of the background does that everyone receives from natural sources.' However Greenpeace claim that the plume from the plant is also spreading around the Scottish coast contaminating lobsters, other shellfish and seaweed before moving out into the North Sea. It says that it has found that Lobsters in the Solway Firth are already more radioactive that the EC intervention level for food in the event of a nuclear accident.
Its not much better elsewhere. France recently had to suspend rail transport of nuclear waste, following a report that some trains taking nuclear waste from EDF reactors in France and plants in Germany and Switzerland for reprocessing, had been contaminated. However the official line was that, although the norms had been exceeded, they were very strict and there was 'no risk to health'.
12. In the Rest of Renew 115
With the development of on-land wind being constrained in the UK, Renew 115 looks at some of the other sustainable energy options, including offshore wind and tidal streams.
It also takes a somewhat heretical look (in its Feature article) at energy conservation, asking whether the adoption of energy saving measures do in fact lead to overall reduction in energy demand.
The Groups section looks at the SCOLAR PV programme amongst other things, while the Technology section includes coverage of CHP. The Reviews section covers the new Worldwatch State of the World report and also various reports on hydro and biomass.
13. 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 £12 pa for students/unwaged, otherwise its £18pa, payable to 'NATTA'.
Further details from NATTA, c/o EERU, Open University, Milton Keynes, MK 7 6AA
Tel: 01908 65 4638 (24 hrs) Fax: 01908 65 4052 (24 hrs)
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