Renew On-Line 18
Extracts from the news section of NATTA's journal Renew, issue 117, Jan- Feb 1999.
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.
|1. Still no DTI Renewable Review||7. PRASEG Checks progress|
|2. NFFO Reactions and the Green Power Market||8. Around Europe: Norway, Austria, Sweden, Italy, and Germany|
|3. Storing Carbon: Carbon Sequestration||9. Climate Change: COP 4 Buenos Aires: DETR on Climate Change|
|4. ISLAY WAVE||10. Nuclear Power: Magnox|
|5. UK WHITE PAPER ON ENERGY||11. In the rest of Renew 117|
|6. Severn Tidal Barrage back?||12. NATTA/Renew Contacts and Subscription details|
1. Still no DTI Renewable Review
The Governments Renewable Energy review has been a long time coming because, it seems, of a lot of internal departmental wrangling and objections - not least from the Treasury. A Department of Trade and Industry official was quoted by Stewart Boyle in the FT (26/10/98) as saying that it was in danger of being 'buried by those who want to reduce targets and gut the subsidies, while the Independent on Sunday (11/10/98) claimed that "Treasury civil servants are mounting a determined bid to stop ministerial plans for a rapid increase in the amount of energy Britain generates from the wind, water and the sun... The stand-off threatens to escalate into a row between Gordon Brown, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Peter Mandelson, the new Secretary of State for Trade and Industry."
Worse still, there were rumours that the whole idea of supporting renewables was being reconsidered- since they were not needed to meet the Kyoto target. A leaked confidential DTI paper prepared for the Governments external Energy Panel stated that 'early indications suggest that it may not take very much to meet the Kyoto target of a reduction of 12.5% in emissions of the basket of six greenhouse gasses in the commitment period 2008-2012', according to a report in Energy in Buildings and Industry (Eibi, Oct 1998).
Evidently this was not just because of the 'dash for gas', which in any case has now been slowed if not halted by the Government, but because of other savings, including reduced methane emissions from landfill sites. In addition, according to the Eibi, 'the further extension of life for the elderly MAGNOX nuclear stations is admitted to assist considerably'. We explore that point in more detail later.
But the DTI civil servants more general conclusion is even more startling. According to Eibi the DTI brief concluded 'Given that we may not have to do very much to meet our legal commitments... there is clearly a potential problem - if only presentationaly - in securing widespread agreement to push ahead with measures - particularly energy efficiency and renewables - which may not actually be needed'
Of course, although the UK is only legally obliged to make a 12.5 % cut, it has set it self its own target of a 20% cut - and achieving that would be much more onerous. Indeed some 250 MP's recently signed a motion calling for more action on this, and the DTI paper evidently accepted that 'we are clearly not on the right track to reach the domestic aim of a 20% cut'.
To be charitable, and leaving interdepartmental intrigues and biases aside, there was presumably a real problem in trying to produce a review of renewables when there were so many as yet unresolved issues in UK Energy Policy, not least the future of the pool mechanism. How could the DTI specify the way future NFFOs might be organised if there was no certainty that a pool price could be used as reference point?
As we note later, the White paper proposed radical changes - but no details have yet emerged. And then there was Lord Marshalls report on business and energy tax mechanisms, which suggested that it might be necessary to consider a carbon tax.
All that interacted with the renewables review. The message seems to be if you want an integrated policy, you have to take your time.
Even so the delay is getting a bit embarrassing. In December, the Government published its annual energy review under the titleTransforming Markets, which saw innovation in technology as a key part of the solution to a sustainable energy policy It suggested that improved technologies and processes such as renewable energy and clean coal technologies can give us the jobs of the future through the energy sources for the future - while winning export markets and pushing technologies forward but gave no hint as to when the renewable review might emerge. Nor did Energy Minister John Battle when he addressed the pre-Christmas gathering of the Solar Energy Society (see below) - all he mentioned by way of new commitments was that the new Scottish Renewable Order would be out shortly.
Lord Melchett, Executive Director of Greenpeace, speaking at a wind energy conference in Edinburgh, at which he argued the merits of offshore wind and wave, commented that the continued delay in the renewable energy policy robs the UK of the potential for a sustainable, renewable jobs industry, and thousands of new jobs
David Ross in Tribune- who argued the case for wave energy took up a similar line. But to no avail: the review, initially expected last spring and then promised later in the year, still has not emerged. Maybe they meant the financial year!
Solar heat on Battle
The UK Solar Energy Society gave Energy Minister John Battle a bit of a shock after his invited lecture to the society in December, by pushing the idea of solar heating strongly. Battle seems to have been won over by the solar PV lobby, but evidently had not really appreciated that solar heating was now also a strong contender - indeed it was ready to go immediately, if only it was given the right support.
As we report in our Technology section, there are now some quite large solar heating projects underway, although, as was pointed out forcefully during the discussion period after Battles address to the society, the fact that the full VAT was still charged on solar energy systems, but not on gas, made it very hard for solar to make much progress in the individual domestic house sector.
In his lecture, Battle rehearsed the by now familiar (and as far as it goes very welcome) DTI position on the sustainability revolution, mentioned PV solar and offshore wind and even wavepower- including the idea of hybrid systems. But otherwise there was not much new, and no mention of the Review...
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2. NFFO Reactions
The large allocation under the fifth Non Fossil Fuel Obligation of 1177MW declared net capacity from 261 new renewable energy projects (see Renew 116) was generally welcomed as showing what renewables could do if given a chance - and as indicating that they had become increasingly cost effective.
However, the overall low average figure of 2.71p/kWh was in part due to the inclusion yet again of waste combustion projects, which are now running at an average of 2.43p/kWh, well below the national 'pool price' of 2.67p/kWh. Even leaving aside the fact that many environmentalist object to the inclusion of waste combustion, surely these projects should by now be able to go ahead without NFFO support? Or were they left in to keep the overall average NFFO price low - in effect subsidising some of the more expensive renewable projects? The inclusion of waste combustion, and the cross subsidy effect, would of course help increase the overall scale of the NFFO without incurring excessive costs, and that seems to have been a priority
As it is, the original target of 1500MW by 2000 now seems to have been abandoned. So far there is around 538 MW in place from previous NFFO's, although there may be some more yet to come - e.g. from the remaining yet to be completed NFFO-4 projects. NFFO-4 was set at 843 MW (see Renew 106, 107) but the DTI indicated that only around 400MW might be successfully installed in practice. Similarly, but a bit less pessimistically, it estimated that only about 730MW worth of the 1177MW contracted for in NFFO-5 will actually be installed in practice. So depending on the success rates of NFFO-4 and 5 projects, we might just make it to 1500MW, but not by 2000. The DTI tends to talk in terms of 2002 or 2003 these days.
The list of the 261 specific contracts under NFFO-5 is dominated by the large number of landfill gas schemes - 142 projects in all, totalling 314MW mostly around 1-2MW with a few larger ones. By contrast the waste combustion allocation might seem quite small -with only 29 projects - but they are larger scale than the landfill projects (typically 10-30MW), so the total capacity comes to 486MW.
The 368MW wind power allocation is dominated by three large National Wind Power windfarms - a 42MW project on Foulness Island, Essex, (contracted by Eastern Electricity), a 22MW project at Withernsea, E. Yorks, (contracted by Yorkshire Electricity) and a 24MW project at Emblehope Moor, Kielder, Northumberland (contracted by Northern Electric). Renewable Development Co. Ltd. and Angold Associates have won contracts for large windfarms in Scotland (28MW and 22MW respectively) though its surprising to see these in the NFFO and not in the Scottish Renewable Order. Presumably its because they are on the borders and the contracts are with Norweb. At the other end of the scale, the wind allocation includes 36 small projects, all less than 1MW - and including 3 in Devon, so far a county that has resisted wind power. Overall NWP has the largest number of wind projects - 10 in all.
While the NFFO has obviously helped stimulate renewables, the competitive bidding mechanism has its problems. According to Dr Catherine Mitchell from the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex, writing in Wind Direction (Oct 1998) it had led to a situation where NFFO contracts, initially obtained by a developer, are then being taken over by a few large companies who are able to obtain finance at the cheapest rates.
Both small generators and smaller sites are pushed out.
In which case its good to see that an independent developer, Huw Smallwood, has succeeded in installing a self funded single 600kW Vesta's windturbine on his family's sheep farm near Bala in N. Wales- with support under NFFO-3. He is now trying for two more under NFFO-4.
Green Power market
The contracts won by some of wind companies in the newly formed Renewable Generators Consortium, which has been set up for ex-NFFO projects, (see Renew 116) illustrate how competitive markets can work. According to a report in Wind Direction (Oct 1998) most of the wind supply companies have agreed tariffs with regional electricity companies in excess of 3p/kWh- which is higher than what they could have obtained under the current round of the NFFO- the average price for wind in NFFO-5 was 2.88p.
The reason is that the REC's are finding it hard to get sufficient non-NFFO green power to supply the direct sale green power market. As Peter Edwards from the Delabole windfarm in Cornwall put it 'the buyers are competing to get the contracts, which must mean they have demand for green electricity which they can't satisfy'
UK Electricity Liberalisation
The process of opening up the UK electricity market to competition is now well underway, with consumers in various areas being offered a chance to choose who to buy power from, on a phased region by region postcode basis. So far the response has been fairly muted despite predictions on one hand of a massive price cut and a switch by consumers to new suppliers, and on the other of market chaos, but no real change given consumers confusion.
But Greg Pulast, former energy adviser to Margaret Beckett, did try to stir things up with a blistering attack on the whole exercise, which he said was a sham (Guardian 3/9/98). Far from offering genuine price cuts and different suppliers, all that was really happening was that consumers were being asked to switch to new billing companies, who simply sold you the same old stuff basically from National Power and Power Gen with a few discounts but no reduction in the actual price of power. Consumers will he said end up having to pay £726m of the £776m the change over has cost for the new computer system. Thats £34 pa for a typical household set against the £30 discount they might expect from the 12% price discount.
What really seemed to worry Pulast is that National Power and Power Gen would continue much as before, earning vast profits. What he seems to have ignored is the newly emerging green energy market. True its small (National Power and Power Gen still control 85% of the hourly bid generation market) but it does offer an alternative source of power.
So far the green power part of the market has been relatively quiet, initially involving just the Renewable Energy Company and SWEBs Green Electron. But Yorkshire Electricity has now launched their scheme which has some innovative features. YEs green tariff is only 8% and this is offset by a package of energy conservation measures offered to consumers, including a free low energy light bulb. See our Groups section for details.
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3. Storing Carbon
As concerns about climate change grow, companies in the fossil fuel extraction business are beginning to look to ways to reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions without having to stop exploitation the reserves. As we discuss in our Technology section, one idea is to separate out the carbon dioxide and then store it back in the oil or gas wells, where it can actually help increase the efficiency of oil or gas extraction.
British Petroleum and Norway's government owned Statoil, the largest integrated oil companies in their respective countries, are working together to find ways of reducing energy consumption and disposing of CO2
According to BP, its project with Statoil would focus on:
"developing technology to separate carbon dioxide from gas turbine exhausts and disposing of it in an environmentally acceptable and economic manner."
BP has already set up its own internal carbon dioxide management project to look at various technological options. One such was to "recycle" carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery. A pilot project is under consideration at Schrader Bluff reservoir in Alaska. Meanwhile, Statoil is working on a project that would involve extracting carbon dioxide at Karstø, Norway, transporting it 240 kilometres by pipeline to the Sleipner area of the North Sea, and injecting it into the seabed. See also our report on Norway later.
Obviously it would be preferable to forget all about fossil fuels and get on with renewables, but while we are working towards that it makes sense to minimize the damage from fossil fuel use. Although sequestration is likely to be expensive, it may help, while, at the same time, its expense will make renewables all the more attractive as an alternative.
BP http://www.bp.com tel: 0171 4962000; Statoil +47 22 962000 http://www.statoil.no
Biomass as a Carbon Sink?
Carbon Sequestration' is a new buzz word in the energy field- it means absorbing or storing carbon dioxide gas so as to reduce global warming- and some people see trees as the obvious answer. However, David Hall from Kings College London is promoting the benefits of biomass not as a sink for carbon dioxide, but rather as a source of renewable power which will avoid the release of carbon dioxide from the combustion of fossil fuel.
At first reading, the Kyoto Protocol appears only to advocate planting and conserving of trees ("afforestation and reforestation") in order to create carbon sinks in the trees themselves and also in soils. Little is said about using the trees (and other) biomass as an energy source to substitute the use of CO2 - emitting fossil fuels. However, it has been recognised for a decade that growing and using biomass on a continuous basis as a substitute for fossil fuels has clear advantages compared to using the biomass solely as a means to sequester carbon to create a carbon sink.
Renewably-grown biomass is a CO2 - neutral fuel with a low sulphur content and can be converted to electricity, heat, and liquid and gaseous fuels. The biomass is grown perennially to generate energy, such that environmental benefits accrue, e.g soil, biodiversity, in comparison to annual crops. In addition rural communities gain jobs, rather than removing land from productive use, to only sequester carbon. Thus, there are numerous environmental & social advantages from growing and producing biomass energy.
The problems with growing biomass as a carbon sink are (a) that once the trees/plants reach maturity they start losing their stored carbon and (b) maintenance & protection costs are incurred throughout the lifetime of the trees. However, when growing biomass with defined (short) rotations and using it as a source of fuel, income is generated continuously thereby creating local jobs and other benefits. Indeed, trying to maintain carbon sink forests for long periods of time may be very difficult unless rigid legal and fire protection systems are enforced. People may need to be excluded in order to prevent damage & loss of carbon sinks. This may not be feasible in many countries unless an effective long term infrastructure exists..
Naturally, where mature forests exist they should be conserved as both carbon sinks and deposits of biodiversity. Also, where biomass energy plantations are grown (probably on excess arable and degraded land) they must follow ecological guidelines so as to improve above and below ground biodiversity and carbon sinks. Balancing the short and long term carbon and income benefits of these two approaches (substitution vs. sequestration) on a given piece of land depends on numerous factors such as yield and rotation which can be modelled.
In the EU a recent White Paper on Renewable Energy proposed that Europe could double its renewable contribution from 6% today to 12% by 2010 which would substantially help meet Kyoto Protocol targets. It was proposed that biomass energy in total could contribute an additional 90 Mtoe (million tonnes oil equivalent) per year compared to today's annual contribution of about 47 Mtoe. Of this additional energy, energy crops (trees, woody grasses, etc) are proposed to provide 45 Mtoe/year which could be grown on about 13 Mha of land (4% of total land at a yield of 10t/ha + conversion of 75%).
This extra 45 Mtoe/year of renewable, CO2 - neutral biomass energy would reduce CO2 emissions by 50 Mt carbon/year compared to present EU total CO2 emissions of 890 Mt carbon/year. The contribution of all forms of biomass (137 Mtoe) to reducing CO2 would total about 150 Mt carbon by 2010 i.e. a reduction of 17% which is twice the EU's obligation under the Kyoto Protocol.
A clear point for policy makers is that trees (and other forms of biomass) can act as carbon sinks but at maturity or at their optimum growth rate there must be plans to use the biomass as a source of fuel to offset fossil energies (or as very long-lived timber products). Otherwise the many years of paying to sequester and protect the carbon in trees will simply be lost as they decay and/or burn uncontrollably. Biomass has many advantages for an environmentally-friendly future but to obtain maximum benefit, trees (other than in primary forests) should be used as an energy source ( or long-lived product) at the end of their growing life.
See our Reviews section for some references Contact Prof. David Hall, King's College London, London W8 7AH, Tel (0171)333-4317 email@example.com
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4. Islay Wave
A new wave power station, six times the size of the existing one, is to be built on the island of Islay in the Inner Hebrides off the Atlantic coast of Scotland. David Ross reports on this important breakthrough .
What is particularly significant is that the station is to be built by a combination of academic wave researchers and the private sector: Queen's University, Belfast which invented and built the first 75kW station on Islay, which survived eight winters in the face of Atlantic seas, and Applied Research and Technology (A.R.T.), the company which built the ill-fated OSPREY.
Prof. Trevor Whittaker, the brain behind the plan, said: "We had carried out a great deal of academic research and knew we could make shoreline wave energy viable. A.R.T brought the business know-how and commercial development expertise which has resulted in the projects emergence as an efficient, reliable and cost-effective way of generating electricity."
Financial backing is coming from the European Union in Brussels which is offering 1.44m Ecu (£940,000 sterling). Another £750,000 sterling is coming from private sources which are not being identified for the present. But it is known that the project is being supported by the biggest employer on the island, the Distillers Company which produces Scotch whisky. It is believed that they are ready to come in with money when the scheme is replicated. Professor Whittaker is looking ahead to producing a number of units on lslay alone and, once it demonstrates its efficiency, for other islands and coastal communities. He told me: "We are going for a plant that can be mass-produced - the bottom line is replication."
The new project is for a 500kW model known as a Limpet because it clings to the shoreline cliff. It will face directly into the Atlantic rollers (the previous one, of 75kW, was in a slightly sheltered site). It will be an Oscillating Water Column, which means that, as the waves rise and fall at the entrance, a pocket of air is pushed up and down. It drives an air turbine which is coupled to a generator. Work started last year, and should be completed within a year. That was the good news. At almost the same time, A.R.T. was given the bad news. The Irish Government held a competition for a new wave power station near-shore (which is a step beyond the onshore one on Islay). It was for a 15-year power purchase contract and infrastructure grant. It was judged by the Energy Technology Support Unit (ETSU) at Harwell, with Tom Thorpe as the scientist judging the entries. The winner was A.R.T.
But the European Commission (the civil service of the European Union) discovered a new obstacle: its "Monitoring Committee of the Economic Infrastructure Operational Programme" found a bureaucratic objection. It turned down the project because it would need financial support for a transmission line to take electricity to the grid. This was always a necessary part of the deal. How else did Brussels imagine that the electricity could be delivered?
The managing director of A.R.T., Allan Thomson, said: "This is a Catch-22 situation for us. We are delighted to have won the Irish competition but disappointed that the EU do not share ETSU and the lrish governments view of the technology. It does seem a pity that funding is not available to help with projects which have been independently assessed as able to make a substantial contribution, particularly given the vast and important lrish (wave) resource."
This is mild compared with the remarks being made by wave energy supporters who have encountered strong opposition over the years from vested interests representing other energy sources, particularly nuclear. They do not doubt that this hostility has played a role behind the scenes in Brussels. They intend to continue the fight.
David Ross has recently been widening his campaign for wavepower by getting a series of articles published in the local press and tying in local issues. Thus, last September, when it was announced that Vickers (who manufacture submarines and tanks) was to shed 1,100 jobs, he wrote a piece for the Yorkshire Post pointing out that Vickers had pioneered an oscillating column wave energy system in the 1980's, which if disinterred could revitalise the company. Given that part of it is in John Battle's Leeds constituency and Battle is getting keen on wave energy, maybe he will take note of Ross' points. See our Technology section for other wave energy developments.
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5. UK WHITE PAPER ON ENERGY
The Governments White Paper on Energy, which reviews power producing options and electricity trading arrangements, was published last October, and proposes a radical programme of reform of the the Electricity Pool - with the aim of 'removing distortions in the electricity market and putting downward pressure on prices'.
As Energy Minister John Battle had already indicated in the consultation document (see Renew 113) the new mechanisms would be designed to ensure security of supplies, transparent prices, and a market which is competitive. However, as Battle pointed out at the launch of the White paper, 'further work is needed on these during the implementation stage' and 'the Government will bring forward legislation to support the changes'. He added: "Our review estimates wholesale electricity price cuts of 10 per cent and more are possible. And we need a market which gives a fair chance to competing fuels."
As foreshadowed in an earlier announcement (see Renew 115) Combined Heat and Power came out well from the review, and renewables are not forgotten, although the details of how they are to be treated in future were left to the DTI's renewables review. The clamp on the dash for gas remains. As the DTI noted , otherwise we could end up with gas supplying 60% of electricity by 2003.
The White Paper "Conclusions of The Review of Energy Sources for Power Generation and Government response to fourth and fifth Reports of the Trade and Industry Committee", Cm 4071, cost £17.85, and is available from The Stationery Office, The Publications Centre, PO Box 276, London SW8 5DT. Tel:0171 873 0011. The full text is at http://www.dti.gov.uk We will be reviewing it in Renew 118.
The Government has appointed Callum McCarthy as the new energy regulator, taking over from the separate gas and electricity regulators and overseeing the combined work of OFFER and OFGAS.
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6. Severn Barrage back?
The Severn Tidal Power Group, a consortium of major UK construction firms, has been trying to resuscitate the idea of building a tidal barrage on the Severn Estuary. STPG submitted evidence on this to the Government Power Station review, arguing that the large capital cost (£10 billion) could be offset by the non-energy benefits carbon dioxide abatement, employment and the enablement of new marine leisure activities and tourism.
A similar line was taken by Steve Taylor from Sir Robert McAlpine, one of the main companies in the STPG industrial consortium. Writing in Civil Engineering, the Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers 126 (August 1998), he calls on the Government to support a private-public funding scheme, with the public element being justified by the social benefits.
He is concerned about global warming and fears that, with the collapse of the UK nuclear expansion programme, there will be a shortfall in non-fossil power which wind, solar and biomass will not be able to fill in which case gas/CCGT will increasingly dominate. He sees wind power as likely to be limited by environmental objections and its inherent intermittence. Even hydro is seen as variable the lack of rainfall in 1996 evidently reduced output by nearly 40%, and this could get worse if and when global warming lifts off seriously.
So the answer is the 8.6 GW tidal barrage which could supply 17,000 Gwh pa or about 6% of UK electricity. That, and a return to nuclear which he seems to see as the most environmentally sound option if not in the UK then elsewhere. The world cannot afford to be without it, even if, at present, the UK cannot afford it.
One of the reasons why both the Severn tidal barrage and further nuclear plants were ruled out under the Conservative Government was, of course, the privatisation of the electricity supply industry. This made public investment in projects like this unlikely, and provided more lucrative options for the private sector namely gas/CCGT.
Its a little amusing to see someone from McAlpines, a company well known in the past for its support of the Conservatives, now asking new Labour to undo some of the damage by reconsidering public investment. As Taylor notes, prior to privatisation, Nuclear Electric were asking for a £1bn subsidy for the construction of second (double sized) Pressurised Water Reactor at Sizewell, while the STPG suggested that a 1p/kWh green penny subsidy would be sufficient to support a viable public-private joint venture on the Severn Barrage. Big technologies like this clearly appeal to Civil Engineers, and companies like McAlpines have been the mainstay of the nuclear programme in the past as well as advocates of the Barrage. It seems unlikely that nuclear will make a come back, but it is conceivable that the barrage could.
After all it would be the UKs single largest non-fossil fuel plant. Of course, quite apart from the economics, there are environmental problems - blocking off an estuary with an eleven mile long barrage is bound to have an impact, although some of the impacts could be positive. Strong opposition from some environmental groups is however likely, and certainly the pros and cons would need careful analysis once again! The Barrage concept is probably one of the most assessed technological proposals of all time. But perhaps more important is the matching of the Barrages output to the grid and to energy demand patterns. Since privatisation, the whole emphasis in energy supply has shifted away from large power stations meeting base load, backed up by spinning reserve and a few peak demand plants, to a more decentralised system of smaller plants embedded in the power system.
Some power engineers are less than confident that the latter system will prove robust and keep the light on all the time. But equally some power engineers point out that the Severn Barrage would only produce great slabs of power (8.6 GW flat out) on a lunar cyclic pattern unrelated to the regular daily and yearly patterns of consumer demand. Most of the time its output would not be needed, and some of the time it would not be able to produce power when it was needed. Two-way turbines, and pumped storage are options which could help improve the matching of supply output to consumer load to some extent. But not that much - low lead pumped storage is not very efficient.
Longer term it might be possible to use spare output power to generate hydrogen for storage or use as an alternative to, or and mixed with, natural gas. But for the moment for most people large barrage schemes sound like a blast from the past. At some point, the argument goes, they may be a worthwhile addition to the renewable portfolio, but for the present the money could probably be better spent on the other renewables including tidal current technology, and on energy conservation.
What do you think? NATTA has a wealth of material on the Severn Barrage, dating from the previous round of debates, including the pioneering 1982 OU study of public attitudes.Back to Contents
7. PRASEG Checks progress
PRASEG,the Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group, held a Conference on Sustainable Energy on Nov 5th, asking what progress is the government making? Alexi Clarke reports.
Will the Government achieve the 10% renewables by 2010 target ? Not at this rate it seems. Michael Meacher and John Battle spoke for the government and, while their hearts are in the right place, they seem unwilling to take the necessary tough measures, such as an energy tax / credits trading.
In contrast to the focussed and pertinent presentations on policy options by speakers, the ministers fell back on old ground, citing achievements and failing to answer such direct questions as when the Renewables Review would finally appear. A worrying tendency to review everything simultaneously and endlessly, while hoping that it can all be done without spending much money, was displayed. The much vaunted win-win of a policy shift to renewables and energy efficiency can be overplayed.
Apparently bogged down in the overwhelming complexity of deregulation, and responses to climate change, they may end up with too little too late. However, Battle seemed to accept Greenpeace's view when he called the 10% target relatively modest, though even this target won't be reached without action.
We will be reporting on the Conference in detail in Renew 118.
Dr David Carless from ETSU presented a short paper which concluded that the 2010 targets were achievable, but only just and would require a sustained major effort led by a coherent set of government initiatives.
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8. Around Europe
It all seems to be happening in Norway at the moment. Norway has massive hydro resources as well as a large share of North Sea gas, but it is beginning to get worried about the future, security of supply and over reliance on single sources. Hence its interest in the past in wave energy, and its more recent interest in wind power. However not every one is convinced about the merits of the latter.
The official Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Administration (NVE), recently sent a delegation to Denmark to study "the lessons of experience" in relation to windpower, and some of their findings have been reported in the NVE house magazine Vann & Energi (Water & Energy). They are none too flattering.
The report states that the Danish initiative, launched 15 years ago, has suffered from "inadequate controls" and "massive and unrestrained funding," which in turn have led to "serious environmental effects, insufficient production, high production costs" and wind parks built at insufficiently windy locations.
According to the NVE, the main success of Danish investment in windpower would appear to be "the foundation of an industry producing wind mills".
NVE's main focus is hydropower, but it has nevertheless supported a Norwegian windpower initiative by a local power company, which was awarded state funding to build a 90-metre-high wind turbine, Norway's largest, on the island of Nærøy.
The NVE's Asle Sefors says: "If Norway is now to enter an era of windpower, the goal must be to produce the most possible energy for the lowest possible cost and with minimal environmental effects. Even if wind turbines can be less environmentally harmful than other forms of power production that does not mean they are positively environment-friendly.
The aesthetic blight of one windmill is on a par with that of a 420kV power line mast. However, the aesthetic effects per kilowatt-hour produced become less as the park becomes larger. Avoiding areas of natural beauty, outdoor recreation or housing will be a central concern."
Contacts: NVE ( http://webben.nve.no ), tel: +47 22 95 95 95.
Meanwhile, a newspaper advertisement in the Norwegian national newspaper Aftenposten raised a few eyebrows by offering CO2 emissions quota for sale, in return for financial help in modernising a coal-fired power installation in an eastern European country. This is believed to be the first such offer to be made in Europe.
The newspaper ad claimed that: "For Norway and Norwegian businesses, quota trading will be one way of fulfilling the Kyoto agreement's goal of reductions in the emissions of six climate gases from 2008-2012."
According to an expert quoted by Aftenposten, one-third of Norwegian emissions reductions could be achieved through buying quotas from other countries.
Contacts: Aftenposten ( http://www.aftenposten.no ),tel: +47 22 86 30 00.
Emission trading and carbon taxes are currently very controversial issues in Norway
(nearly as controversial as the radioactive pollution from Sellafield!). Last June that even led to resignation threats by the Norwegian prime minister and a vote of confidence in Norway's parliament, which resuscitated a controversial plan to extend the country's system of carbon dioxide taxes.
Contacts: Office of the Norwegian prime minister ( http://odin.dep.no/smk/eng ), tel: +47 22 24 90 90.
And finally, Norsk Hydro have come up with a novel $1.3billion plan to build two power stations in Norway which will take natural gas from the North sea, convert this methane gas by conventional chemical reformation, to CO2 and Hydrogen. The hydrogen will then be used to run a gas turbine to produce electricity, while the CO2 will be pumped back down bore-holes into Oil reservoirs in order to drive oil up the production wells and improve the production ratios of existing oil fields. The net result should be to significantly reduce overall CO2 emissions compared with just burning the methane to generate power.
"This new technology may change both the way Norwegian goals for reducing CO2 emissions are met as well as the future electricity supply outlook for the country," according to Norsk Hydro's president and CEO, Egil Myklebust.
For details of the scheme see:
http://www.mhv.net/~hfcletter/letter/may98/feature.html Also see our Technology section for a discussion of carbon sequestration issues
There's also a lot going on in Austria these days- particularly since it now has the Presidency of the EU Council of Ministers. Austria is at the top of the league in terms of renewable energy use in Europe - with more than 24% of its gross primary energy coming from renewable sources. Much of this is from biomass, but it also many direct solar projects, including plans for 1500 solar houses in the Pitchling area of Linz.
Austria is strongly anti-nuclear and seems keen to press ahead with programme outlined in the EC's White Paper on renewables.
Sweden is developing what will, they say, be the worlds largest offshore wind farm, near the site of the giant new bridge linking Copenhagen and Malmo. It will have 37 of the new 1.5 MW wind turbines - enough to provide 210GWh pa, 13% of Malmo's power.
Sweden gets nearly half of its power from hydro and biomass, but with further hydro expansion constrained and nuclear plants being phased out, it will need all the renewables it can get. However, if current plans go ahead it will have 150 MW of offshore wind capacity in place by 2000 and 650MW by 2005.
Italy Goes Renewable
Italy currently obtains around 6% of its energy from renewable sources, mostly hydro (72%) and biomass (17%), and in compliance with the EU target of a 12% contribution by 2010, it is planning to expand the scale significantly, and in some areas some very ambitious targets seem credible. For example, the Regional Energy Plan for Tuscany is aiming at 23%, taking into account the geothermal potential in the region.
Italy's first National Conference on Renewable Energy Sources was held in June, organised by the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and the Environment (ENEA). It was designed as one of the preliminary events preceding the National Energy and Environment Conference in Rome in November, and the development of a National White Paper on Renewable Energy Sources.
Some 3,800 MW of renewables was authorised by the Government between 1992 and 1995, but only a third has actually been installed. So setting things going was seen as the first priority, and a new programme is planned, aiming to install 2800 MW. There will, it seems, be a series of staged sub programmes or "packages": the first "package" will be for wind power, which foresees the installation of 650 MW for an estimated investment of 1,200 billion Lire. Currently, there is only 100 MW of wind power installed in Italy, but ENEL maintains that the potential exists for the installation of around 2000 - 3000MW. An NFFO type mechanism is likely to be adopted to push things on.
Secondly the aim is to also push on with technologies, such as thermal solar and photovoltaics, not covered in the existing programme.
The overall aim was to install 7-9,000 MW by 2010, which would cost 25-30,000 billion lire, (12-15 billion ECU). 3 billion lire has already been allocated for experimentation with integrated photovoltaic systems for buildings.
More details were put on these plans when in Oct., the Italian Government unveiled a consultative Green paper on renewables, which suggested that renewable contribution could be doubled by 2010, and outlined a programme of state funding of up to IL1,100bn by 2010, supported from a new carbon tax, as part of a IL40 trillion programme drawing in private sector funding, with the end result being the creation of some 100,000 new jobs.
The carbon tax, or 'CO2 emissions tax', had already been announced in the Italian budget, and involves fuel excise duties being raised every year by, possibly, up to a cumulative 10% over the next five years, as part of a new effort to meet the threat of global warming. 20m tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions should be saved over the period 1999-2004.
Following in the same style as the UK DETR's plan in the new White paper on Transport, revenues from the tax will not simply go into the treasury, but will be earmarked to support environmental projects, including both transport projects, and it seems renewable energy projects.
The Green paper, which was drafted by ENEA, concludes that Italy could double renewable energy production from 12.7 million tonnes oil equivalent (mtoe) currently to 24 mtoe by 2010, although doubling production would not double the share of renewable energies due to projected growth in total energy consumption. But it would help Italy to meet the 7% emission reduction target set under the Kyoto protocol.
The green paper strongly supports the new renewable energy technologies, and particularly wind power. The green paper, proposes that this should increase to 3,000MW by 2010, which is equivalent to over half the total currently installed across Europe.
There are also proposals for a major move to biomass electricity production, from 172MW of capacity to 2,500MW in 2010. But hydroelectric power, would be more or less left at its current levels.
Solar PV is surprisingly, given Italy's climate, treated with some caution.
Contacts: ENEA ( http://www.sede.enea.it ), tel: +39 0636271; Italian environment ministry, tel: +39 06 57221.
Italy was host to the World Renewable Energy Congress held in Florence last September: see our Review section.
German Solar Campaign 2000
Solar Campaign 2000 is a new German industry-led initiative aiming to increase the use of passive solar water heating in domestic and public buildings. Its target is to double the German passive solar market by 2003, and by 2010, it is hoped that annual carbon dioxide emission savings of 2.5m tonnes could be achieved by displacing electric or fossil fuel powered water heating.
Several manufacturers of passive solar equipment have joined the group, as well as Baum, a network for environmentally conscious firms.
The campaign should benefit from a recent decision by the government to extend an existing tax incentive for purchasers of passive solar water heaters until the end of 2000.
Contacts: Baum, tel: +49 40 810 101; Eurosolar http://www.eurosolar.org, tel: +49 228 362 373.
Germany is also pushing ahead with its massive wind programme - and is expected to have 4GW installed soon after the year 2000. But the progress of renewables generally will depend on the resolution of the current battles over the REFIT tariff/subsidy system- which is being challenged by the drive to market liberalisation. Optimists see liberalisation as breaking the hold of the big utilities, but many wind enthusiasts are less sure: see Windpower Monthly Oct 98 for an overview.
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9. Climate Change
COP 4 Buenos Aires
The follow up to the 1997 UN Climate Change Conference in Kyoto, was held in Buenos Aires in November. The main focus of this new meeting officially called the Fourth Conference of Parties or COP-4, was expected to be on the details of theprotocol agreed at COP-3 at Kyoto and in particular the idea of emission trading. But it wasn't just the technical details that were at stake. The whole Kyoto agreement looked imperiled by the continued opposition of the US Congress.
In the run up to the Buenos Aires meeting, the US Congress became increasingly hostile to anything that seemed related to the Kyoto agreement on Climate Change, and even seemed to be trying to undermine existing commitments to renewable energy. Ken Bossong, Executive Director of the SUN DAY Campaign."Blind, ideological opposition to the Kyoto protocol has made many in Congress willing to lash out at anything even remotely associated with it regardless of the consequences for human health and the environment."
Meanwhile in Europe it was a different story altogether. The EU remains strongly committed to the Kyoto protocol, and has been resisting any watering down of its provisions. In particular it has been concerned to block up any loopholes - like the so called 'hot air trading' problem. Countries like the USA could buy emission permits from Russia, which has lots to spare because its industrial activity has been much reduced since the 1990 base line year used in the Kyoto protocol. So there would then be no need for the USA to make many actual cuts in emissions. To try to avoid this, the EU proposed a limit to international emission trading- or rather it proposed that a minimum domestic reduction be set which all developed (Annex 1) countries must achieve without resorting to emissions trading - these should only be supplementary to domestic action. At one stage Austria, who had the EU Presidency, wanted the so called concrete ceiling on international emissions trading to be set at 50% for countries committed to reducing emissions and just 2.5% for countries stabilising or allowed to increase.
However, the European Union gradually moved to a more flexible approach, in part because there were fears that, if they did not, then there would be no way of getting US support of Kyoto. Certainly the USA was pretty intransigent, arguing at one stage that supplemental could mean anything up to 99%! Other US commentators were slightly more subtle - adopting essentially a ' free market' line. Writing in the Financial Times (20/10/98) two US Government Officials argued in favour of unrestricted international emission trading as a key method for reaching the Kyoto targets, and claimed that 'limits on trading would greatly increase administrative costs, be extremely difficult to implement and generally make it much more expensive to address climate change'.
However how 'hot air trading' and other loop holes are to be avoided was less clear. One idea was to shift the datum year from 1990 to 1995, presumably to avoid the hot air trading problem, and also to give the USA a bit more leeway. But that would put the UK on the spot, by neutralising some of the gains made since 1990 in terms of emission cuts as a result of the dash for gas.
On the other side of the debate, the developing world lobby argued that, far from being let off the hook by the fact that the Kyoto agreement only covered developed countries, the developed world has voluntarily embarked on major carbon saving programmes. China has cut subsidies to coal with the result that emissions had dropped by 155m tonnes a year - about the same as the UK's total emissions. India's subsidies to wind power has made it the third largest wind energy producer in the world. And Brazil, Argentina and S. Korea are setting, or planning to set their own voluntary emissions limits. The key group of developing countries (G77 and China) had insisted that COP4 must not be distracted from carrying out the review (of agreed mechanisms) by the introduction of any extraneous matters such as the consideration of new commitments for Parties not included in Annex 1"
Wind plan campaign
Greenpeace, the European Wind Energy Association and the Danish Forum for Energy and Development launched a report outlining an ambitious new proposal for obtaining 10% of the worlds electricity from windturbines by 2017 at the Buenos Aires Conference.
The report, by BTM Consult Aps, concluded that 844,000MW of wind power can be installed by 2017 which would produce 2,071 Terawatt hours (TWh) pa, at the same cost as fossil fuels.We will be looking at the report in more detail in Renew 118.
Trees save USA
The US looked like it might be able to get off the hook in terms of greenhouse emissions as a result of a bit of research published by Princeton University, who found that forests in the USA actually absorbed about the same amount of carbon dioxide as the USA produced (1.7 billion tonnes pa). Forests in Eurasia by contrast were far less effective.
This startling conclusion might be put down to errors in the data and in the statistical analysis, but equally it could be because many of the trees in the USA are new and growing- replacing forests torn down in previous periods- and trees absorb most carbon dioxide when they are growing. By contrast rainforest are fairly static in terms of new tree growth. Even so it certainly raised some eyebrows at Buenos Aires.
Fudge and Delay
So what finally emerged at Buenos Aires? With a recession underway, both in the West and in some of the key newly developed countries, perhaps unsurprisingly in the end the result of the negotiations was something of a fudge.
After the final all night session almost collapsed in disarray, discussion of many of the most contentious issues was postponed to the next meeting next year - and we will evidently have to wait until COP-6 in two years time for resolution of the issues surrounding emission trading, Joint Implementation and the Clean Development Mechanisn. The key issue of whether existing commitments to cut emissions are sufficient to protect the climate was avoided and the final agreement, after two weeks of negotiations, was essentially a list of 142 unresolved items and an outline agreement on a workplan for further work.
There was minor progress on some details (e.g there will be a workshop on the reduction of emissions of HFCs - powerful greenhouse gases) and there were discussions on compensation for countries effected by Climate Change and the cost of responding to it. But otherwise it was all pretty depressing.
Greenpeace complained that short term economic interests had dominated, and warned that it was frustrating for businesses keen to take advantage of the opportunities to be had in the switch from fossils fuels to renewable energy technologies.
Friends of the Earth called it an inaction plan, while WWF though it had been a trade fair wrangling over how to keep the fossil fuel industry alive and burning.
The international pressure group GLOBE put a lot of work in trying to rescue the situation - pressing for the so-called 'Contract and Converge' approach, but it seems to no avail, all we've got is fudge and delay. The Kyoto Protocol still lives, and the fudge did allow the US to sign the Treaty at long last - but the US Senate still has to ratify it.
And for the moment the only concerted action seems to be at national level - with the EU, and, as we report below, the UK, taking something of a lead.
The Kyoto Protocol
The Protocol sets an overall total reduction target for developed countries of 5.2%, compared to 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions in the period 2008-2012, with the EU and 11 others (mostly Eastern Europe) to reduce by 8% on 1990 levels, US by 7%, Japan and Canada by 6%, Russia, Ukraine and New Zealand to stabilise emissions, Norway to increase emissions by 1%, Australia to increase by 8% and Iceland to increase by 10%.
The Protocol will enter into force once 55 countries have ratified it, and providing these countries represent at least 55% of 1990 emissions by annex 1 countries. Countries have until the end of 1999 to sign the Kyoto Protocol.
The UK Programme
Although the EUs overall emission reduction target is 8%, some EU countries have been allowed to go for far less, while others have opted for more. The UK has agreed to cut emissions by 12.5% by 2008 to 2012, but it also has a national target of a 20% cut in carbon dioxide emissions by 2010.
The overall aim of the Governments strategy is 'to develop a balanced package of measures which shares responsibility between all sectors of the economy and builds on other Government reviews and initiatives - the Integrated Transport White Paper, review of energy sources for power generation and the work of Lord Marshall's Task Force on the use of economic instruments to improve the use of energy by business.'
One of the Government's key aims is to 'focus efforts on those measures which will bring wider benefits: warmer homes, a more sustainable transport system, more energy efficient industry and the opportunities and advantages for jobs and business from developing and marketing new technologies and processes. This aim has been endorsed by business.'
As we noted in Renew 114, the Advisory Committee on Business and the Environment has said it is confident that if business responds to the climate change challenge now, it can manage and control the process in a cost-effective way with long term solutions which maximise the gains.
And as evidence that this sort of commitment may emerge, in Sept. last year, in the run up to the Buenos Aires meeting, BP announced an initiative to help tackle the threat of climate change. The initiative, announced by BP Chairman Sir John Browne in a speech at Yale commits BP to cut their emissions of carbon dioxide worldwide by 10% and launches a system of emissions trading within the company.
Responding to the speech, Environment Protection Minister Mr Meacher said: "It is very encouraging to see a major multi-national oil company take up the climate change challenge in this way. This initiative by BP challenges industry to clean up their act and, just as importantly, allows politicians, due to meet in Buenos Aires in November, to provide the framework industry will need to reduce climate change gases."
Not to be outdone, Shell also joined in, with a commitment to cut its global emissions of greenhouse gases by at least 10% from 1990 levels by 2002. Shell say that the initiative is intended to give the company a leading position in the post-Kyoto process. Shell says it has already shaved 5% off its estimated 1990 emissions and it now hopes to double the reduction by 2002. Subsequently it hopes to be able to constrain emission, although it warns that that would depend on factors such as business performance, divestments or acquisitions. Even so, it intends to ensure that emissions in 2010 will not be above the average Kyoto commitment of a 5.2% cut on 1990 levels.
Contacts: Shell ( http://www.shell.com ), tel: 0171 9341234.
Also see: http://www.shell.com/c/take_act.html
DETR on Climate Change
In the run up to Buenos Aires the DETR produced a new consultation paper on Climate Change. Warmer homes, better transport and more efficient companies were some of the benefits the UK would reap if we met our targets, according to John Prescott, who said that he wanted to start a national debate on how the UK can meet both the legally binding target from Kyoto and the domestic goal of a 20 % cut by 2010.
Mr Prescott said: "The UK has set the pace in international discussions on climate change. Now we are demonstrating our commitment to action at home." He added "There has been far too much talk of the burdens associated with meeting our targets and far too little about the opportunities. The debate I am initiating today is about gain, not pain! Energy efficient companies are more competitive. Better transport systems will only be good for our economy, and our society. And well-insulated homes will be more comfortable and cheaper to live in. There could also be new jobs and new opportunities for UK firms in the emerging environmental technology market. In future, it's the businesses that gain the edge in producing quality lean and clean products that will be winners in the global market place."
However, although he felt that we can and must achieve our climate change targets, he was 'determined that we will not introduce measures that will damage our competitiveness, nor take action that will have unacceptable social costs.'
The consultation document claims that the legally binding 12.5% target is well within reach and that a 20% reduction in CO2 is achievable and outlines the main policy options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the energy supply, business, transport, domestic, agriculture and public sectors.
On current projections it says that the UK is forecast to be about 10% below 1990 emission levels in 2010. This includes the impact of some policies introduced since the election and the new National Road Traffic Forecasts, which imply a reduction of up to about 3% on previous projections. Even so, about 40% of the overall savings needed would have to come from the transport sector.
Emissions from most sectors are, it says, currently on a downward trend. This is partly because of the switch to less carbon intensive fuels in the electricity generation sector, but also due to measures in the current climate change programme. However, after 2000 emissions of carbon dioxide start to rise again. The DTIs new projections, reflecting other developments, including the conclusions of the White Paper on Power Generation, these will be published in an new DTI Energy paper EP 67, which will update EP 65.
Comments on the DETR Climate Change paper are invited by 12 Feb. Copies of the paper are available from DETR Free Literature, PO Box No 236, Wetherby S3 7NB, tel: 0870 1226 236, fax: 0870 1226 237. It is also available on the internet at: http://www.detr.gov.uk
We will be reviewing it in Renew 118.
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10. Cro - magnox
The Government evidently plans to further extend the operating life of its MAGNOX reactors to 2011, in order to keep to its carbon dioxide emission reduction targets and also presumably so as to save money. British Nuclear Fuels (BNF), the new owners, are understandably keen (see Guardian 4/9/98) especially since that they can presumably continue to earn money reprocessing the fuel.
The MAGNOX reactors were the so called 'workhorses of the nuclear industry', supplying 8% of UK electricity, but they are now seriously old, dating from the 1960s. However, that means that they have long since paid off their construction costs, so that any further power they can produce is cheap, at least by nuclear standards. Not surprisingly, their original 'use by' dates have already been extended, although some are now being shut down and a decommissioning programme is underway.
The first to be shut down was Calder Hall at Sellafield (ne Wind scale) which was the first MAGNOX design to operate, but was set up, in 1956, primarily to produce plutonium for the bomb, as was Chaplecross (1958) in Scotland. The first of the 9 (more or less) civil MAGNOX, was at Berkeley on the Severn estuary. It started up in 1962. It is now being decommissioned, but just down the river there's Oldbury, which was one of the last, commissioned in 1968. Although, like all the others, downrated, it's still ticking over, producing (when we visited last summer) 320 MW or so. That interestingly is about the same as the total wind power generation capacity now installed in the UK. Obviously the wind turbines won't produce 320MW continuously, but then again neither will Oldbury: there were an awful lot of signs around Oldbury imploring staff to try to avoid plant 'outages' i.e unplanned shutdowns.
And of course power is not all Olbury produces. Like all the MAGNOX reactors, the magnesium alloy canister used to contain the uranium fuel rods adds to the problems of reprocessing - when the spent fuel ends up at Sellafield, the cans have to be stripped off before work can begin separating the plutonium from the other radioactive materials (which is what, for good or ill, reprocessing is all about). That generates a lot of waste. Indeed reprocessing MAGNOX fuel is by far the largest source of nuclear waste, much more than that from the next generation Advanced Gas-cooled Reactors, despite the fact that MAGNOX plants generate less power.
A visit to Oldbury is well worth the effort - the visitors centre is free, glossy and well resourced (at taxpayers expense presumably, since the MAGOX have remained in the public sector). It's full of high tech displays including video's which dismiss renewables as unlikely to be very relevant because of their space requirements. There is also much talk of the nuclear waste repository under Sellafield as the final answer- although of course this project is now on hold, and there is still no plan for the long term storage of nuclear waste.
After all the glossy hi-tech images, the MAGNOX plant itself comes as something of a shock: it is showing its age, with peeling paintwork and an antique atmosphere pervading the 1960's neo-modern architecture. 1960's nostalgia may have its place, but somehow they seem unlikely to be candidates for preservation as industrial archaeological exhibitions. Take a look yourself.
In addition to Olbury there are MAGNOX at Bradwell, Hunterson, Hinkley, Dungeness, Sizewell, and Wyfa.
BNF now runs the plants on the governments behalf, but there have recently been suggestions that BNF would be privatised. That would make it even more commercially attractive to keep them running longer.
However, there are problems looming for BNF. The new OSPAR agreement on emissions, accepted after pressure was put on the UK government, implies that emissions from Sellafield will have to be cut dramatically - the aim being to get levels 'to near zero' by 2010. One result could be that reprocessing of MAGNOX fuel will have to be halted, or at least completed, by 2010. That in turn means that the MAGNOX plants will have to close by 2009, if there is to be sufficient time for their fuel to be dealt with.
And even after closure, problems still remain. The Trawsfynydd Magnox plant, on the shores of a lake in Snowdonia, has been shut down following concerns about the reliability of welds and it is to be decommisioned. As part of this process there are plans for a 'temporary' shed (a 'reduced height safestore') to be constructed to contain the rump of the reactor - once the ancillary equipment and buildings have been removed. Then, in 135 years time, when the core has cooled a bit more, it will be removed and, in theory at least, the site will be returned to its original state. However, some opponents of this scheme fear that, when it comes to 2136, it will simply be entombed - covered over and left.
The delayed dismantling approach obviously saves money - evidently it would cost £700m to fully dismantle it straight away as opposed to £200m if it is left for 135 years, in part because its easier (and of course safer) to work with lower levels of radioactivity. And you don't have to be an expert in discounting future costs to realise that a relatively small amount of money put aside regularly over 135 years can easily provide the sum needed. Delay also seeks to avoid potentially contentious issues of long term waste storage. But WANA, the Welsh Anti Nuclear Alliance, argue that, if it is actually going to be entombed rather than removed fully, then in effect the site is now being designated as a long term nuclear waste disposal facility- and the geology is completely wrong for that. WANA are also concerned with the levels of radioactivity in the lake- especially since there are plans for it to be re- opened up to leisure use.
WANA, PO Box 1 LLandrid Wells, Powys LD1 5AA
Sellafied v Chernobyl!
Greenpeace have claimed that some of the land around the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant at Sellafield in Cumbia is as radioactive as land in the 'exclusion' zone around the stricken Chernobyl nuclear reactor in the Ukraine. While an area of 30km radius around Chernobyl is prohibited for people and any agricultural activity, there are no such restrictions around Sellafield.
"Sellafield is a slow-motion Chernobyl, an accident played out over the last four decades," said Greenpeace . Samples of mud and soil taken 7 miles from Sellafield by Greenpeace were analysed by the University of Bremen and the Hamburg Environment Office. The University also analysed samples from within the Chernobyl exclusion zone, from distances between 800 metres to 2 kms from the nuclear reactor. Some levels of contamination were comparable , others were found to be higher at Sellafield, by 23 times for americium-241 - a highly radioactive, carcinogenic substance.
But, according to BNF Greenpeace were just scaremongering and had compared the least contaminated parts of Chernobyl with the most contaminated parts of Sellafield. (The Scotsman 10/10/98).
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11. In the Rest of Renew 117
Renew 117 takes a look at sustainable innovation, with a Feature article by Dave Elliott based on a paper presented to the 'Constructing Tomorrow' Conference organised by UWE in Bristol last year.
It also looks in detail at some recent innovation in the marine renewables field (offshore wind, wave and tidal stream) and provides an overview by Godfrey Boyle of current developments in the photovoltaic solar field. There is also a review of the 1998 World Renewable Energy Congress in Florence, as well as all the usual editorial , groups, and forum sections.
12. 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). Also see http://www-tec.open.ac.uk/eeru/natta/rol.html
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