Renew On-Line 20
Extracts from the news section of Renew 119
May- June 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. Green Budget/DTI review
- 2. SRO-3/wave power wins
- 3. PV Futures: DTI, PV-UK, Forum for the Future
- 4. UK Wind stalled ? Wind roundup
- 5. A Sustainable Energy Agency?
- 6. Green Power trading in USA and UK
- 7. Green Power Euro Battles.
- 8. World Roundup
- 9. Greenpeace on 'Win-win'
- 10. Nuclear news
- 11. In the rest of Renew 119
- 12. Renew/Natta Subscription details
The Department of Trade and Industrys long awaited review of renewables finally emerged in March as a consultation paper - following in the wake of the Governments spring budget. As we report below, the review promises £43m for R&D over the next three years and, in a parallel announcement, wave power was formally welcomed back into the fold. But first, the Budget - which looked quite green, with a new tax on energy, an expanded landfill tax (£10 per tonne plus £1 extra pa subsequently), and various incentives for green transport.
Climate Change Levy
The Chancellor supported Lord Marshalls idea of a revenue neutral business energy tax (see Renew 118), although not until a lot more consultation has been gone through and not until April 2001. The new Climate Change levy, as it is called, will be on all energy used outside the domestic and transport sectors (most transport energy is of course already taxed). Its a primary kWh energy tax, not a carbon tax, since the government felt it would be too difficult to calculate the carbon savings. But it should avoid around 1.5 million tonnes of carbon being emitted each year by 2010.
An energy tax was widely predicted, but its level is higher than expected. The details have yet to be finalised, but, on rough estimates, gas and coal prices will rise by 0.2 p/kWh. This is about 20% for small businesses, but 40% for the big users. Electricity will rise by 0.6 p/kWh - 10% for small users, 20% for large users. Energy intensive users will be eligible for a reduced tax level (about 50%) provided they can agree energy efficiency investment plans with Government.
Nuclear power has not been exempted from the levy, but the consultation exercise will include consideration of mechanisms to exclude renewable electricity. As it stands at present, renewables, including large hydro, will be taxed the same as other sources, because there is no easy way to identify the proportion of renewable power (if any) in the power bought by companies. Although Lord Marshall had suggested that this would be easier for direct sale green power suppliers, since they were trading in 100% renewable power.
The renewable energy community was quick to point out that if changes were not made then, as Nick Goodall from the BWEA put it 'it could strangle the industry (Energy Tax Hurts GreensObserver 14/3/99). Dale Vince from the Renewable Energy Company commented Weve been lobbying for a carbon tax for ages, and here it is and I'm shocked to see were included. Its perverse and counterproductive, a major step backwards. Tony Juniper from Friends of the Earth commented that if this tax does hit renewables, it will miss one of its main targets of encouraging clean energy.
But looking on the bright side, if, after the consultation exercise, the government does decide to exempt green power schemes from the levy, then that would give the green power market an immense boost - since companies would be queuing up for its then much cheaper power. The problem then would be finding enough capacity to meet demand- at present theres only about 200MW on offer.
As it is, renewables will get some extra support: of the £1.75 bn that the levy should raise, £50 m is provisionally allocated to energy saving and renewable energy projects in small and medium businesses. The rest of the revenue will be recycled back to companies via reduced National Insurance charges, which will favour labour-intensive service industries. But energy intensive industries should benefit from the proposed tax rebate. Charities will be exempt.
Taxing the Wind?
As it stands at present, the Climate Change Levy will apply to all energy sources- renewables are not to be exempt.
Here's is how the consultation paper puts it :
'The Government has concluded that excluding electricity generated from nuclear power or large scale hydro-electric schemes from the levy, even when supplied direct to the final consumer, could not be justified as a means of developing renewables generating capacity. The output from other generators tends, under the present pool trading arrangements, not to be supplied direct to final consumers and so could not be directly excluded from the levy. Present trading arrangements are, however, under review, and this position may change allowing for the possible exemption of electricity supplied direct from these smaller scale renewable generators to final consumers.
The situation is made even more complex by the fact that the government is trying, sensibly enough, to use the levy to reflect carbon emissions, and so has decided, in the case of electricity, to calculate the energy content of the input fuels used, so as to take account of the 70% conversion losses with conventional power plants. So the levy on electricity is 2.88 times that for other fuels. But that makes it very unfair on renewables.
It also makes it hard to see how to charge Combined Heat and Power fairly. Most direct heating projects have been exempted from the levy, but the current proposal seems to be to charge the levy on the heat as well as the electricity from CHP plants
The Climate Change Levy consultation document is available from the Environmental Taxes Team 2, HM Customs & Excise, 3rd Floor West, Ralli Quays, 3 Stanley St, SALFORD, M60 9LA (Fax : 0161 827 0300 Tel: 0161 827 0332) or get it via the Web at: http://www.hmce.gov.uk/notices/cc-levy.htm
The deadline for reponse is May 28th.
Petrol tax was put up by 6% again, but the road tax was decreased by £55pa for cars of less than 1,100cc. Subsequently, from 2000, a four tier system is proposed with new cars attracting variable VAT charges depending on their carbon dioxide emissions. And in 2002 emissions will also be reflected in the tax charge for new company cars. But tax on employee benefits will be removed for company bus schemes and workplace cycle parks. And support for rural bus services will be increased by £10m to £60m.
Other Changes: Innovation was the buzzword: the Science budget was expanded by a further £150m, and a new R&D tax exemption scheme, worth £150m, was introduced.
Lost in the noise sroounding the Budget, Energy Minister John Battle announced that the Government will include a clause in a forthcoming Utility Reform Bill to allow allow ministers to provide guidance to the energy regulator on Energy Efficiency Standards of Performance, i.e. to require gas and electricity companies to undertake energy efficiency work. In advance of legislation he will 'strongly exhort' the new energy regulator to use a similar approach.
DTI Renewables Review- at last
In March, almost 2 years after it was launched, the Department of Trade and Industry finally published its review of renewable energy options, as a consultation paper, 'New and Renewable Energy -prospects for the 21st Century'. It sets out the Government's blueprint for the future of renewable energy, and reaffirms its commitment to developing the industry, with an allocation of £43 m for R&D over the next 3 years
Scotching rumours that the DTI was going to abandon the 10% target, Energy Minister John Battle commented "The document shows that producing 10% of UK electricity from renewables appears to be feasible. The Government intends working towards a target of renewable energy providing 10% of UK electricity supplies, cost effectively, as soon as possible. I want to achieve this by 2010. However, this should not be seen as an end in itself, but a step forward on the road to making renewables a strong. world-beating industry".
He added"There are already considerable benefits of the renewables industry. The UK industry employs 3500 people. Through creating an export drive, and by further developing the industry and the UK market, up to 45,000 jobs could be created."
Battle commented on the success of the Non Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO) in encouraging the use of renewables. "NFFO has already provided over £600 million of support for renewables. Support for renewables under NFFO will accelerate in the first decade of the next century and could rise to around £150 million a year. NFFO has played a major part in stimulating the industry and bringing down the costs of renewables. As a result of NFFO, an industry of some 700 organisations, has been developed. This is why the Government want to see how NFFO can evolve, to see how it can help the industry to thrive even more."
The review document therefore presents options for possible ways to support renewables while they are reaching market prices. It looks at both the costs and benefits of moving towards a greater use of renewables. In particular, it looks at options for a revised NFFO.
Battle noted that "in addition, we have now agreed an increased budget for DTI's New and Renewable Energy Support programme. We have allocated £43.5 million over the next three years for R&D to help achieve our aim."
Finally, Battle commented,"the Government is pressing ahead with reform - electricity liberalisation, for instance, is giving consumers the ability to choose their electricity supplier - including green electricity. Suppliers are now offering green tariffs and I hope consumers will take up this opportunity to stimulate growth in renewables".
The consultation report identifies key issues and challenges which the Government and industry would need to pursue, including planning arrangements; opportunities for developing energy crops: and arrangements to ensure that embedded generators receive a fair price for their electricity.
Comments should be made by 28 May 1999, to Neil Hornsby. Energy Technologies Directorate, DTI, Room 1116, 1 Victoria Street, London SWIH 0ET. Copies of the paper may be obtained from DTI Publications Orderline. Admail 518. SW1W 8YT, tel 0870 1507500, fax: 0870 1502333; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
or via the Web at: http://www.dti.gov.uk/renew/condoc
ETSUs back up report (R122) on the current and future status of renewables is available from ETSU, Harwell, Didcot, Oxon OX11 ORA Tel 01235 433601 Fax 433066
50% of UK power by 2025?
Based on the new ETSU scenarios, the DTI report notes that obtaining 10% of electricity from renewables by 2010 appears to be feasible, at a cost of around 3.5p/kWh and adds that in the long run, there is clear potential for renewables technologies to compete on an equal basis with other forms of generation and to need no subsidy.
The report adds that there could be a potential resource equivalent of up to half of todays consumption, at generation costs of up to 3p/kWh by the year 2025' , though it points out that it is not possible to say how much of this it will prove practical to exploit.
It notes that in the short term, renewables face some problems given that, electricity prices do not reflect full costs, including environmental externalities, and there are a number of issues to address in the development of renewables. Furthermore, even if the playing field were to be levelled in respect to externalities, there could still be a need to support individual renewable technologies in the market until they have achieved the necessary economies of scale, technological development and investor confidence. There is therefore an argument for Government support for renewables in order to help establish initial market share and demonstrate the viability of renewables sources after which economies of scale and technological development would take over.
With this in mind the report looks at the way ahead for the NFFO (which is seen as expanding, as planned, up to a ceiling of £150m pa) and at R&D requirements: Total R&D allocation £43m - £9.6m for 1998/99, £11.5m for 1999/2000, £14m for 00/01 and £18m for 01/02.
In addition, the DTI notes that the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has launched an expanded £3.5 million/year programme on renewables.
The DTI report provides an assessment of the technological options, updating the ranking system used in Energy paper 62: see the Table. The DTI notes that Technologies which should be considered as prime candidates to receive assistance under the support programme are those that could contribute significantly to UK or export markets in the near and medium term up to 2010, and those with prospects for the longer term up to 2025 that require R,D& D.
But that means there will be some loosers. Wave power used to fulfill that function, but (see later) now its been redeemed. However, sadly and a bit arbitrarily, it seems tidal streams have now been selected as the fall guy. Heres how the DTI put it Support would not normally be considered for the very long term or inappropriate technologies. Assessment of inadequately understood technologies will be considered periodically which could lead to reclassification and further support. A technology falling into this group could be tidal stream.
Strangely hydrogen is also seen as a long shot option, despite the fact that the DTI says that there are underpinning technologies such as gasification and control relevant to several technologies which it would be advantageous to pursue. Youd think hydrogen, with its fuel cell / system integration links, would fit in there.
More positively, it does push the idea of heat supply renewables, and suggest that these might be suitable candidates for Demonstration programmes. A capital contribution of up to 25 per cent could be considered
* Near Term (by 2000)
Technologies closest to being competitive in UK or with immediate export potential
UK and Export Market
Wastes and some biomass residues, Landfill gas, Onshore wind, Hydro,
Primarily Export Market
Photovoltaics (stand alone), Biomass residues, Active solar
* Medium Term (by 2010)
Additional technologies which could contribute by 2010 and would be needed to meet a 10 % UK target, or with export potential:
UK and Export Market
Some biomass residues, Offshore wind, Energy crops
Primarily Export Market
Photovoltaics, Fuel cells
* Longer Term (after 2010)
Technologies with longer term potential if pursued via R,D&D :
UK and Export Market
Fuel cells, Photovoltaics (building integrated), Wave, Photoconversion
Primarily Export Market
Solar thermal electricity
*Very Long Term (after 2025)
Technologies unlikely to be worth pursuing extensively at this time except at the fundamental research level where this would be perceived as necessary:
UK and Export Market
Tidal barrage, Hydrogen, Geothermal hot dry rock, Ocean thermal currents.
The DTI reports on scenario studies carried out by ETSU, published in R122, a separate ETSU report (which well review in Renew 120), showing which technologies might contribute in the periods up to 2010 and 2025. Wastes (municipal, industrial and agricultural), wind (onshore& offshore), and energy crops could make the dominant contributions with modest contribution coming from the remaining landfill gas and hydro resources.
Other technologies such as photovoltaics have the potential to make major contributions to world energy needs in the longer term if their development continues and energy companies announce their intention of moving into this market on a significant scale. Some technologies including waste-fired combined heat and power, solar and biomass could also contribute to the heat market in the periods to 2010 and 2025, and fuel cells could contribute to both the transport and electricity/heat markets in the longer term.
Finally it notes that some of those technologies which may be needed for the UK market also offer opportunities for export. Other technologies such as solar for which the UK market is expected to be limited over the next decade (because the technologies are some way from being competitive in UK conditions yet) may nevertheless provide rapidly expanding export opportunities.
The DTI note several obstacle to widespread uptake of renewables:
Technological immaturity and high costs The different renewables technologies are at varied stages of development and in some cases need to mature via R&D, demonstration, commercialisation and larger scale manufacture and deployment.
Immature industry The renewables supply industry is immature world wide. In the UK an embryo industry has been stimulated by the historic programme but it does not yet have the resources to undertake, unaided, the necessary technology or market developments in the UK or for export. Much of the industry is composed of SMEs or separate cost centres within larger companies.
Introduction of new technologies some technologies which are likely to be required and have prospects of becoming competitive in the UK are at an early stage of development and face particular difficulties over and above those faced by renewables in general.e.g:
offshore wind the technology has yet to be demonstrated in the UK. An industry is only just beginning to be formed and technical and bidding procedures for early projects are only just being formulated. Legislative and administrative procedures for consents, licences and environmental appraisal which might apply were established for other purposes and are ill understood and extremely complex for application to offshore wind. A consultation document has already been issued on technical and bidding procedures for early projects and work is underway on an approach to consents, licensing and environmental appraisal.
energy crops the commercial growing of the crops and/or the conversion step via combustion, gasification or pyrolysis processes have yet to be demonstrated. The first significant scale power station is under construction now to be fired predominantly by forestry residues in the early years though planting of short rotation coppice is also underway with the assistance of planting grants via Forest Enterprise. Projections of the longer term costs for this technology suggest that it could become competitive. However at present competing agricultural activities receive financial support and it is unrealistic to expect the farming industry to switch to an untested crop for which there is no equivalent financial support. It may therefore be necessary to extend equivalent financial support temporarily to energy crops to pump prime the industry if it is to progress.
photovoltaics photovoltaics is finding commercial application in unsupported markets for stand-alone applications where electricity supplies from remote distribution systems would be more expensive and in financially assisted demonstrations. It is currently far too expensive for more general application though it has huge potential for further cost reduction and could potentially be a major contributor to energy needs more generally in the longer term future. However the large investments necessary to continue to develop the technology and take it to large scale production may only be made if market stimulation on a growing scale is undertaken.'
There are also the more familair problems of getting planning permission. The DTI say that a new Planning Policy Guidance note on waste (PPG 10) should be out soon, but, as we report later, the situation with respect to windpower is getting serious. Maybe the green power market (which the DTI seem quite keen on) could help - since that involves people positively choosing options like wind.
The DTI spell out a whole series of policies for trying to overcome these obstacles and promote renewables in the new competitive market situation, and asks whether there should be some form of obligation to purchase renewable electricity either on suppliers or distributors. If so, should it be technologically neutral or include a mechanism to bring forward specific, technologies? Should initially more expensive technologies like offshore wind and energy crops be specially supported, and how should the longer term technologies like wave, fuels cells and photovoltaics be supported? Lots of questions then- and your chance to reply!
The third Scottish Renewables Order has now been set at 150MW- 25% larger than originally expected, presumably due to the large number of low price bids, especially from windpower projects, with the lowest windpower bid price being 1.89p/kWh.
Overall 53 projects out of the original 144 were chosen for support under SRO-3, including waste to energy projects as well as wind and biomass schemes. The biomass projects also saw a price drop to an average bid price of 5.41p/kWh, and include a £42m wood burning power plant rated at 12.9MW to be built at Morayhill near Inverness, alongside a timbermill. It will will use wood from around 1million acres of forest and is 2MW larger than the ARBRE project in Yorkshire.
But the big news is that three wave energy projects have been supported, with a total capacity of 2 MW - ART/Wavegen's 'Limpet' on Islay, a novel tubular device called the Whiplash, also on Islay, and a Swedish designed Floating Wave Power vessel (FWPV) to be installed off the Shetlands.
Wavegen (which is the name ART are now trading under) have also got EU support for the 500kW Limpet project and say they will be working with Scottish Hydro-Electric to connect it to the Islay grid this summer. The Whiplash device, the 'Lash' for short, consists of a 100 metre long 3.4 metre diameter steel tube in around 15 jointed sections, each equipped with hydraulic pumps which are driven by the 'snaking' motion of the tube. Two tubes are envisaged, mounted about 1mile off Machir bay on Islay, head on to the waves, generating 750kW. The total cost is expected to be around £2.25 m.
The Swedish FWPV is another novel idea- it's essentially a floating water reservoir which is topped up by waves up to give a head of water so as to drive a 750 kW rated turbine.
Wavegen pointed out that 'wave energy is one of the largest renewable resources in the UK' but they added 'it is unacceptable that wave energy is still not included in the DTI energy research budget or for assistance under the NFFO arrangements in England and Wales'. They also urge the regulator and the government ' to make access to the grid for small energy developments a priority for the future. Currently small generators have to accept very high grid connection costs'.
David Ross reports on the three schemes .
There is widespread pleasure that the Limpet has at last got official recognition. It is a 500kW model, already under construction on the island of Islay in the Inner Hebrides, with Queens University, Belfast and Wavegen, the company which produced the OSPREY, and the European Union, backing it. It is an Oscillating Water Column consisting of three concrete columns, which contain leaping and falling volumes of water, built at an angle of 40°. The water pushes up and sucks in a pocket of air which drives a Wells turbine.
A newcomer, Dr. Richard Yemm, Ph.D. student of Stephen Salter, has won the support of the Scottish Office for a new design called the Lash, to be floated near-shore. It is a set of concrete cylinders strung together like a long snake, with hydraulic rams between each segment of the snake. The cylinders are designed to thrash back and forth in the waves and the energy is extracted by the relative movement between the joints.
It is admired by Salter who told me: "It will survive, I promise you that." That is high praise from Salter who is the engineer who always had the greatest doubts about taking to the sea too soon and about the ill-fated OSPREY. He said of the Lash: "It is designed to use off-the-shelf items, rather than to develop something that would be perfect for the job. It is not meant to be very efficient. It is not making the best use of the sea space, by any means. But survival is the main thing." The remark about efficiency needs to be understood in the context of Salters famous remark that efficiency did not matter when the gods provided the fuel!
Dr. Yemm has made his money out of wind power. He invented a device for damping the vibrations in wind turbine blades. A Danish company ordered five of them, then they wanted 50 and then 500. Yemm put his winnings into a new company devoted to wave power. Everyone who knows him has developed enormous respect for his talent.
The third winner is the most surprising. It is a Swedish invention, officially called the FWPV (Floating Wave Power Vessel) and best described as a floating Tapchan (although it does not come from the Norwegian company which invented the original, on-shore Tapchan). It is a steel box which looks like one of the landing craft used in the D-Day invasion of Normandy (as seen in The Longest Day). The waves ride up a sloping ramp, which can be adjusted to make best use of the waves, and splash down in a reservoir. From there they find their way back to sea through a turbine which is coupled to a generator to produce electricity.
The plant is also intended to be used to filter the sea water to extract uranium and other minerals. And eventually for desalination and fish processing at sea and by electrolysis to produce chlorine, alkali and hydrogen.
Much of that will no doubt come later. For the present, the inventor, Göran Lagström, has opened an accommodation address for his company, Sea Power, at Mu Ness on the westernmost point of the Shetland Islands, facing across 3,000 miles of open sea to the U.S. The initial plant will be of 750 kilowatts.
The selection of this plant by the Office of Electricity Regulation (OFFER) and the Scottish Office has surprised British wave energy researchers. They note that it has been tested in the Baltic but that the Atlantic weather can be considerably fiercer.
It may be a fortunate happening that the Limpet is due for launch first. What wave energy needs most is a successful demonstration and there is every reason to expect its designer, Professor Trevor Whittaker of Queens University, Belfast, and its backer Allan Thomson of OSPREY fame, to know what they are facing on Islay.
DTI GOING SOLAR
Solar energy has real potential, and I want Government and industry to join forces to develop its long-term future. This is why I am asking for the industry's involvement in taking forward three major new initiatives in the field of photovoltaics.
So said Energy Minister John Battle, speaking at a conference on solar photovoltaics (PV) recently, when he outlined the three new projects.
The first project is a field trial for around 100 homes across the country, to test a variety of actual PV installations under real conditions. This, said Battle will help explore options and pave the way for a possible larger programme in the future. The project will look at the size of systems, types of building, and different technologies. A design manual for housebuilders is one of the aims of the project.
The second initiative is a call for proposals for the development of PV components and systems, with the aim of enhancing the competitiveness of UK companies. Battle said that projects could expect to receive between 25% and 50% of the total cost from a budget of £1 million.
Preference would be given to projects involving collaboration between companies, and so take advantage of the widest sources of expertise.
Potential projects could include applications with export potential, especially for developing countries. These could include water treatment, communications, refrigeration, healthcare and solar home systems. Applications could also include building integrated products and services - for example, multi-functional roofing and cladding products, or tools which help in the design, implementation or operation of PV systems; balance of systems components, such as energy storage systems, wiring and connections systems; and manufacturing processes.
The third scheme would develop showcases for UK technology and design by demonstrating the use of PV in large-scale building applications, and to establish best practice for the future. Battle said that he would like to see proposals from as wide a range as possible - commercial offices, large retail outlets, hospitals, leisure centres, or large housing estates. I hope we can fund five or six installations a year, including a proportion of the capital costs as well as the design, monitoring and evaluation of each project.
He concluded This industry has come a long way already, and it has a great future ahead of it. I am determined to support the industry so that it can take its place in this Government's drive for more energy from renewable resources.
Mr Battle was speaking at the DTI/Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Photovoltaics Conference in Manchester in Feb..
Further details from James Marsh, DTI Energy Technologies Directorate, on 0171 215 2652. For further information about EPSRC, call 01793 444000. EPSRC's website can be accessed on http://www.epsrc.ac.uk
The DTIs strategy on PV may be moving ahead at last, but the Forum for the Future feel that more effort is needed. "The UK is in danger of not exploiting the cutting-edge nature of British technological expertise in solar photovoltaics (PV). Without a proactive stance by government the costs of PV will remain too high in the immediate future for widespread deployment to occur. Inaction would not only be detrimental to the environment: there also looms large the prospect of another major lost opportunity for British industry."
So warns the new Forum for the Future publication, UK Electricity: A Brighter Future. Commissioned by BP Solar, this study however goes beyond identifying problems; it also sets out the Forums costed, detailed and timetabled long term strategy for the UK to reap the environmental and economic benefits of solar PV. So it is not simply another call for government spending. Rather, the Forum proposes a parallel set of market education and stimulation proposals to galvanise demand for PV, distilled from the international survey of possible policy instruments contained in the companion Technical Report. It also proposes the creation of a dialogue between diverse stakeholders to refine and underpin the national programme.
The Forum say that the UKs competitors have already acted to establish a large lead in developing the competitiveness of their own PV industries in a market that could be worth £11bn p.a. by 2010, but that there is still an opportunity to close this gap. At an average public cost of around £35m p.a. - matched by money raised from the market, the UK could create an industry that is internationally competitive by 2010. At around £100m p.a. - much less then the billions historically spent subsidising traditional power industries - PV production cost will fall sufficiently for it to be the first choice option in the global non-grid-connected electricity market (involving some 2 billion people). Even for as little as £5m p.a. the UK could make a significant start in exploiting PV, providing a base from which to grow.
They argue that failure to invest politically and financially in support of the UKs technical pre-eminence in PV will be tantamount to exporting jobs and profits, and will make reducing greenhouse gas emissions harder still. The UK government has announced a tiny but important PV initiative. Forum for the Futures proposals, by setting a direction and structured framework for progress, will help ensure that this first step is translated in the long term into a cleaner, more competitive and more profitable Britain.
Forum for a Future, 9 Imperial Sq, Cheltenham, GL50 1QB
The British Photovoltaic Association (PV-UK) has also developed a Strategy for the UK designed to help it to claim a significant share of this dynamic global industry.
It aims to increase UK jobs, skills and revenues, and assist in addressing the UKs commitment to reducing Greenhouse gas emissions. It is also seen as an important way forward in making sure that PV technology has a place in the governments target of getting 10% of electricity from renewables by 2010.
UK companies have a £100 million share of the global photovoltaic market (around 10%). The industry is developing rapidly, with the USA, Germany, Netherlands and Japan taking the lead. All these countries have strategic government/industry programmes to develop both their industry and domestic markets. However, in Britain, government support for PV is minimal.
The British Photovoltaic Association, whose members are drawn from industry and academia, has developed a strategy for industry/government collaboration. The aim is to achieve a 15% market share - worth £1.2 billion - including an installed PV capacity in the UK of 300 MWp by 2010. PV can be integrated into buildings, even in city centres, and does not suffer from the planning problems, which are dogging the wind industry. PV-UK say its strategy will increase jobs, skills and revenues to the UK, and to help address the UKs commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
It adds The UK PV industry is willing to invest, but needs to showcase the technology and develop a sustainable market. There are thousands of PV systems operating successfully in the UK, but, except for around 30 PV buildings, these are a few Watts in size. Lack of visible government commitment or support for industry, in line with competitors, does not give the PV community confidence to invest in the UK.
The PV-UK Strategy is designed to overcome this. If implemented, it would showcase British PV Technology, stimulate the UK Market, support exports for developing country PV Rural Electrification Programmes and increase support for R&D, in line with overseas competitors
PV-UK conclude The potential long-term economic and environmental benefits for the UK are clear. If we act now to create a strong and focused partnership between industry and government, Britain can capitalise on the opportunities presented by this dynamic clean energy industry.
The PV-UK target is to capture 15% of the world photovoltaics market, with an UK installation target of 300 MWp by 2010. This would result in:
The Strategy document (Photovoltaics in the UK, Facing the Challenge), was launched in January at a meeting hosted by the Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group. It can be obtained from the British Photovoltaic Association, Tel: 0118 932 4418
Fax: 0118973 7315 Email: email@example.com
"Since1994, planners and inquiry inspectors have been giving progressively less weight to the clean energy benefits of wind farms and progressively more to their negative and subjective assessment of visual impact". So said Dr Peter Musgrove from National Wind Power, as quoted in the Times 9/1/99.
Between Sept 1991 and Dec. 1993, 12 wind farm proposals went before planning inquiries and 9 of these were approved. But since Jan 1994, only 2 of the 18 proposals called in for planning inquiries have won approval. Of course only a proportion of the wind farm proposal are called in for planning inquiries, but even so the trend seems clear. As the Times put it ,' unless urgent action is taken many firms will leave Britain for windpower opportunities overseas', and the UK will find it hard to meet the target of a 10% electricity contribution from renewables by 2010.
Wind power opponent Sir Bernard Ingham was clearly delighted at the slow down of wind projects. He told the Times ' it is excellent and I am happy to accept credit'. He added that off shore wind was just as bad ' I am not going to support something that will wreck Britains seaside holiday resorts'.
Lobbying by groups like Country Guardian, with which Ingham has been involved, has clearly had an effect, with Planning Inspectors beginning to use the same sort of language. Thus, in the case of NWP's proposal for a 15MW wind farm at High Moor in County Durham, the planning inspector blocked the scheme arguing that the individual contribution to energy generation would be 'insignificant and unreliable and that pollution savings would be both correspondingly small and uncertain'. He also claimed that 'in a global context, its contribution may also be readily overwhelmed by increasing pollution originating in other countries'.
The environmental groups however see it rather differently, although not all are in favour of the way the wind progamme is being handled. For example, Lilli Matson from the Council for the Protection of Rural England commented (Times 19/1/99) that the problem was the NFFO, and the inherent conflicts in a system where 'subsidies were awarded to the cheapest project with no reference made to their environmental impact'. This she said ' has lead developers to focus on the very windiest sites,which frequently coincide with our best upland landscapes' .
Instead she argued we should 'ensure that environmentally damaging schemes are ruled out from the start and encourage a wider range of renewable technologies to be developed. The result would be less controversy over the location of renewable energy projects and more support for their growth'.
She has a point. The NFFO application process is meant to weed out 'no hope' projects, but the level of environmental assessment at this stage is not great, and it certainly does seem inefficient to go to all the bother of competitive bidding for a NFFO contract, before planning permission has been obtained.
Of course, few developers are going to propose projects unlikely to get planning permission, but the system could nevertheless be improved if less emphasis was paced on short term competitiveness.
As CPRE rightly say, then a wider range of options might emerge. In that there is, at least superficially, some common ground with the wind opponents, who regularly argue for the focus to be put on other renewables- and energy conservation. For example, in the same issue of the Times, John Campbell QC, who acted for objectors at the High Moor planning inquiry, claimed that 'wind turbines are useless' but looked to ' the expansion of hydro, the improved cleaning of gas and coal emissions, the development of waste-to-energy projects and greater use of solar' as better bets - along with energy conservation. Anything, it seems, as long as it wasn't wind!
The Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant might be though to present the biggest threat to the environment in Cumbria, but, perhaps surprisingly, controversy rages about whether some wind power schemes nearby will affect the view.
Last December South Lakeland District Council approved a National Wind Power scheme for a smallish windfarm at Lambrigg, but despite the scheme being supported by local conservation groups, the DETR is considering calling in the scheme for a Public Inquiry which might halt it.
In addition, despite strong local support, a scheme organised by The Wind Company at Barkin was refused planning permission, after a narrow vote by South Lakeland District Councillors. The Wind Company organises co-operative schemes (this would be the second) whereby the bulk of the investment in the wind farm comes from local sources. They are considering appealing against this decision, but a full Inquiry will be very expensive, and hard for a small company to take on.
(Extracted from a Green Party Energy Broadsheet March 1999. It says it is very important for these type of co-operative projects to get off the ground in this country and (it) will support the Wind Company if it decides to make an appeal.)
* A 7 turbine Powergen wind farm at Lowca, 5km north of Whitehaven, on an old opencast site, was called in for public inquiry, following a campaign by Country Guardian. But despite opposition by local pro-nuclear MP Jack Cunningham, and after strong support from FoE, the inspector gave it the green light.
One wonders what the wind opponents would make of the latest developments in giant windturbines. As Jackie Jones reported in Renewable Energy World (Jan. Vol.2 No.1), German wind turbine manufacture Sudwind will soon have 1.8MW machines on the market, and NEG Micon are expected to install 70 metre diameter 2MW machines shortly. There are even plans for 5MW machines- with rotors of around 150 metres.
Of course, most of these large machines are being designed for offshore use, but some may find their way on land. There are already many windfarms with 1.5MW machines on land in Europe. NEG Micon has installed 40 so far, Enercon 110 and, according to Jones, 'Vestas 1.65MW is their best seller for inland use' .
These are big machines: Enercon has installed 6 with 98 metre towers on sites in Germany. And in the USA, where the offshore option is less relevant, large machines may prove to be more acceptable in remote areas on land- since the population density is so much lower. The same might apply in parts of the Ukraine and Kazakhstan.
Will they be accepted? The anti-wind farm lobby clearly thinks not. However its worth remembering that the celebrated Tvind windturbine, built at (and by) a school in Denmark in the 1970's, was rated at 2MW, and no one complained about that!
See the revisited issue of an early Wind directions at http://www.ewea.org for an account of the Tvind project.
Just the Job
Greenpeace is promoting the idea of developing the NE of the UK as the base for an offshore wind turbine manufacturing industry - which could generate more than 30,000 jobs. A Greenpeace team has been touring the region, talking to firms, MPs and unions.
Hexham based Border Wind is already active in his field -with its first two experimental offshore turbines scheduled to be installed later this year, 1km out to sea, off Blyth Harbour.
Greenpeace and Border Wind claim if the Government aims for 10% of the UK's power coming from offshore wind by 2010, this will mean 11,300 direct jobs and more than 20,000 indirect.
"There will be considerable environmental benefit in cutting emissions but this is also a jobs issue and we think the North-East is the best place for a turbine manufacturing base" Greenpeace renewable energy expert Simon Reddy told the (Newcastle) Journal Thursday (11th February 1999).
Greenpeace says the North-East, with its heavy industry, shipbuilding and repair and offshore experience, coastal and river facilities, is ideally placed."We have to cash in on the domestic and export turbine market" said Reddy. "The world market is set to take off after Kyoto and the jobs will come. But if we don't make sure we get them they will go overseas. We believe the North-East is the place to do it and we have had a very positive reaction from the region. But the Government is doing a bit here and a bit there and we need a longer-term commitment to offshore wind to encourage manufacturers to set up".
Sandra Painter of Border Wind said "We are very keen for the Government to show a clear commitment but we must move quickly or the manufacturing market will be taken up overseas". Angus Hynd, assistant regional director of the Confederation of British Industry, said "there are obviously good reasons for picking the North-East as a manufacturing base and if it comes it would be good news".
The Danish Government has been supporting its wind industry for a number of years and as a result now controls 60 percent of the global market, employs 15,000 people in Denmark, has exports of over half a billion pounds and provides eight percent of Denmark's electricity.
The Danish Government has set itself a target to provide 40 % of its electricity from offshore wind in the next thirty years. By comparison, so far the UK does not seem to doing very well. Its only large wind turbine manufacture, the Wind Energy Group, was recently taken over my the Danish company NEG Micon. Even so that could provide a base to start from. However, NEG Micon's Managing Director, Peter Hunter, commented: "In order to justify further investments in the UK, we need to know that the Government is committed to a long term offshore wind development programme. We cannot build an industry in the UK on the basis of a stop-start policy commitment."
The Greenpeace campaign was launched with a report Offshore wind, onshore jobs: A new world class British energy industry for the Millennium, researched and written by Energy for Sustainable Development, for Greenpeace UK.
Their analysis strongly supports the message with which the Government launched its climate consultation last year, that action to protect the climate can bring gain not just pain. To protect ecological systems from dangerous climate change requires that, at the most, no more than one quarter of fossil fuel reserves should be burnt, let alone any of the fossil fuel resources which amount to four times those reserves.
The study uses an input-output analysis based on government figures to show how 30,000 new jobs would be created by meeting just 10% of the UK's electricity demand with offshore wind by 2010, and provides further analysis of what type of jobs those would be.
The report also examines the potential for manufacturing wind turbines in the North East of England, and shows that the region is well situated to take advantage of these jobs and become the heart of a new industry manufacturing wind turbines. Its long history of ship building and heavy industry proves that it has the engineering expertise and skill base needed for this high-tech industry. Labour costs are also among the lowest in Northern Europe and are over 40% below those in Denmark, which is responsible for manufacture of over half the world's turbines. Low wages are not something we should be celebrating but the area does need jobs....
Details from Greenpeace UK, Canonbury Villas, London N1 2PN Web: http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/seacha
World Wind Roundup
According to the US Worldwatch Institute, by the year 2000 there is a should be more than 12GW of windpower capacity in place around the world. Nevertheless, windpower continues to have its ups and downs.
In the USA, the imminent demise of the 'production tax credit' is stimulating something of a last minute wind boom, with wind projects emerging across the country, breaking out of California to Wisconsin, Iowa and all points West and East. In California, one of the first windfarms, at Altamont Park, is set for renewal with 127 MW of new, up to date, machines, but this plan has been blocked by windfarm owners in the wind shadow of the site, who fear that the new larger machines will block wind access!
In Germany, now the worlds largest wind energy user, battles continue over the fate of REFIT, the Renewable Electricity Feed In Tariff (see later). The big utilities, no friends to renewables, want it removed, but the independent wind energy producers are more interested in getting better (and cheaper) access to the grid, currently in effect controlled by the utilities. Then maybe they can play a part in the newly emerging green power market- although so far it doesn't seem to have picked up in Germany. But Greenpeace is trying to push things along with its own Clean Power scheme. Meanwhile Enercon is developing a giant 4MW wind turbine, following on from the 3MW Aelus machine at Wilhelmshaven. It is to get DEM 10m from public sources.
Nearer home, Ireland is planning to have 100MW of windpower installed by 2010, and has launched a I£ 100,000 project to investigate the offshore wind option. And in Scotland, there are plans for power from a new a wind farm in Dumfries and Galloway, supported under NFFO-5, to be transmitted to the English grid. However the operator, the Renewable Development Company, disdaining use of the national grid interconnector, is to transmit the power on its own 50km link. Evidently the charge for using the 1.2 GW interconnector (recently upgrade to 1.6GW) was too high.
Meanwhile, the planning battles over windfarms in England continue, with National Wind Power's Peter Musgrove arguing that if the planning inquiry inspectors decision not to give planning permission to NWP's 15 machine project at High Moor in County Durham (see earlier) was not legally challenged 'then we and others might as well quit developing windfarms in the UK'. (Windpower Monthly Dec 1998)
More positively, at last years BWEA conference in Cardiff, Musgrove predicted that by 2010 there would be 10MW of windfarms offshore. On the smaller scale, Dale Vince from Western Windpower is considering setting up a 'wind club' in Norfolk to allow local people to invest in small wind projects. Anglesea Wind and Energy is considering a similar project in Wales.
Overall small projects did quite well in NFFO-5, with 36 out of 45 bids, most of them around 2MW, winning contracts- for a total of 67MW. Evidently the DTI is quite keen to see small projects prosper, and the Wind Fund, who are providing ethical investment services for community based wind projects, are keen to help the idea spread. They supported the Baywind Co-op in Cumbria. Lets hope the idea does catch on- after all if you can own a bit of your local wind farm and benefit form the energy and cash it produces, then maybe you arent going to oppose it!
For a full report on small scale wind in the UK see Windpower Monthly, Jan. 1999
The UK should create an independent sustainable energy agency, according to a report published by the Green Alliance. The group argues that, with several government departments and agencies involved in energy strategy, there is "institutional incoherence," which will prevent the UK from reaching its renewable energy and carbon reduction targets.
The group argues that such an agency could take a similar form to the Dutch agency for energy and environment, Novem, supporting the development and take-up of the renewable energy and CHP, promoting energy efficiency, administering green electricity markets and acting as the national body marketing the sustainable energy industry.
One of its principal aims, the Green Alliance says, should be to consider the effects of inaction as well as the costs of action in the field. The report backs up its call for a "non-departmental public body" working at "arm's length" from the government by quoting a UK parliamentary select committee which last year highlighted a "crying need" in the UK for the integration of environmental priorities with energy policy. It anticipates that an "expected" UK energy tax on industry could be used to fund the creation and running of the agency.
For details of the Green Alliance report "The Case for a Sustainable Energy Agency", contact 0 171 8360341.
Also see http://www.green-alliance.demon.co.uk
In his talk to the IEE in March, Prof Ian Fells was skeptical about the Governments target of getting 10% of electricity from renewables by 2010. He thought that, unless other measures were introduced beside the NFFO, only about 5% was likely. He was skeptical about offshore wind, since conditions in the North Sea were too extreme, but favoured the Severn Tidal Barrage. We'll have to wait and see if hes right. But surely, 2% at present, 5% by 2005 and 10% by 2010 is not too much of an acceleration?
British Wind farm developer National Wind Power (NWP) and Energie Noord West (ENW) of the Netherlands have announced the first international trade in Green Certificates.
The contract is based on the Dutch "Greenlabel" system, which guarantees the generation of electricity from renewable sources. NWP and ENW are the first to expand the Dutch system outside Dutch borders. The Green Certificates will be used by ENW to help meet their voluntary commitment to purchase an agreed percentage (3%) of their electricity from renewable sources.
ENW will use these Green Certificates in their Green Pricing Programme whereby electricity consumers can buy Green energy products. The Green Certificates guarantee to the customer that a renewable source has produced emission free electricity and that this has been delivered to the electricity network.
In the Netherlands, Green Certificates are actively traded, under the supervision of Dutch electricity suppliers organisation, EnergieNed. There is currently no equivalent Green Certificate system in the UK but it is expected that one will rapidly evolve over coming months, depending on what happens in response to the draft EU Renewables Directive.
For Further Information Contact:
Peter Musgrove, Head of Development, National Wind Power. Tel: +44(0) 1628 532300
Willem-Frederik Metzelaar, Consultant Strategy and Business Development, Energie Noor West. Tel: +31(0) 20 312 26 33
Ecotricity - a joint venture between the Renewable Energy Company and Thames Water - is a green tariff using electricity generated principally by renewable energy projects previously supported under NFFO 1- and 2.
Ecotricity's generation mix will include sewage gas, waste to energy, landfill gas, hydro, solar and wind power. The scheme will initially apply to the commercial sub-100kW market, with plans to extend this to the domestic market at a later date.
For further information on Ecotricity, contact Clare Summers at the Renewable Energy Company on 01453 756111
US Green Power
After a slow start, the green power market has picked up a bit more in the USA - with about half of the 70,000 consumers who have switched suppliers following market deregulation in California last year, having switched to green energy suppliers.
However, according to 'Green Buyers Beware', a report by Public Citizen, one of the consumer pressure groups set up by Ralph Nader, some of the green power suppliers are selling less than green power at rip off premiums.
Renewable Energy Accreditation Scheme
Consumers who sign up for one of the green power schemes will want to be certain that the supplier really does balance the power delivered to them with power from renewable energy sources- and many would also like to know exactly which sources are being used. So there is a need for source accreditation by some independent body, who will check that the company has bought in the requisite amount of green power (presumably on a kWh pa basis) to cover the power sold under green power schemes.
The Department of Trade and Industry has been developing proposals for an accreditation agency and the Energy Saving Trust has got the contract for setting up a Renewable Energy Accreditation Scheme. Its not going to be a large operation, since it will only have to deal with a few schemes at least initially. But its an interesting development.
Many details remain to be sorted out (for example can large hydro be included in such schemes), and some key issues have surfaced from the debate over accreditation. Firstly, what is a green source? The simplest definition in administrative terms is something that has been accepted under an NFFO contract. Not everyone would be happy with that since it includes power from waste combustion which some environmental groups, and also presumably some consumers, don't like.
So should the accreditation agency set up a sliding scale of 'green-ness'? You can see why bureaucrats shudder at the thought of opening up that particular can of worms. Instead the usual argument is that it ought to be left to the consumer to choose amongst the green sources, if they so wish. Obviously, that means that consumers will have to know which sources are being used- so source disclosure (by type and percentage) is a key issue. Companies will then spot which sources are popular and which are not, and modify their power purchasing contracts accordingly. That way consumers can exert some influence on the way the technology is developed.
In fact, in practice, retail companies are likely to do some market assessment before they make contracts- to avoid consumers rejecting what they have on offer. Its interesting that, so far, none of the green power schemes have involved waste combustion.
Another key issue concerns the difference between the 'direct sale' green power schemes like SWE's Green Electron, REC's Ecotricity and Yorkshire's Green Tariff scheme which offer actual power, and the 'donation' schemes, like Easterns Eco-power, which offer consumers a chance to contribute to the companies renewable energy development funds- but do not offer green power as such. Presumably the Accreditation Agency should monitor the latter to make sure the money is spent as promised on green projects, but you could argue that this approach should be differentiated in some way from the direct power approach. For example, if the accreditation agency allows participating companies to use a Green Power logo of some sort, shouldn't there be different ones for these two types of scheme?
It will be interesting to see what EST come up with when the scheme gets sorted out. But of course, not all aspects of the green power market will be subject to their overview. For example the question of price levels and policies. Currently there is quite a range of premium prices being asked for green power- from 0 to 15%. As renewables get cheaper, will these decrease? Or will, and should, companies keep the prices high but provide support for newer renewable options to help them along? Or is that really the role of the NFFO?
The Energy Saving Trust 21 Dartmouth Street London SW1H 9BP (0171 931 8401).
Green power trading schemes are emerging across Europe and, as in the UK, look like providing a way for renewable energy companies to sell their power, via retailers, to consumers, using the utility grids. In countries like Germany and Denmark, where the utility companies have not always been keen to support independent renewables , this is seen as good news.
As Windpower Monthly (Jan 1999) put it the owners and operators of wind power plant are getting a taste of the freedom which lies ahead. Access to the grid for small independent power producers in Germany - the largest wind market in the world - looks as if it could be achieved as a spin-off to the liberalisation process.
However, as we report later (see REFIT), not everyone sees it this way- some fear that the utilities will continue to be obstructive.
Meanwhile, the Danish government is planning to require all power distributors to buy fixed amounts of green power to meet nationally set renewable energy quotas. Green credits for supplying this power will be auctioned to the highest bidder to provide an incentive. In parallel, as we noted in Renew 118, the European Commission has been trying to promote a Renewables Directive, which would have imposed an obligation on each EU member state to meet a fixed percentage of its electricity needs from renewables by 2005. The aim was to begin to create a standardised form of support for renewables across Europe.
However, there were problems with this attempt at harmonisation, since at present there are significant differences in approach in some countries. The EC favours the UKs competitive NFFO type approach as opposed to the German and Danish REFIT subsidy approach. As Windpower Monthly (Dec 1999) put it the legislation outlines the framework for a protected market for renewables, but based on competition and trade, not subsidies. That was strongly opposed by many of the independent wind power companies - who owe their success to REFIT type subsidy systems, particularly in Germany.
The NFFO approach certainly has helped push prices down, but at the cost of limiting the amount of renewable capacity installed- for example, despite its poor wind regime, Germany has nearly 3000MW of wind power installed compared to just over 300MW in the UK.
Perhaps the potential for conflict on this issue explains why the draft EC directive was given a low priority by the EU - which is currently presided over by Germany, and why the draft directive was subsequently withdrawn, or rather, recast as a working paper. Windpower Monthly saw this as a disaster and unnecessary, since the draft directive included transitional provisions for leaving REFIT schemes in place until 2005 and maybe beyond. But that clearly failed to satisfy the opponents.
Back in the UK, the House of Lords Select Committee on the European Communities has been looking at the implications of these proposed changes. Dave Elliott, from NATTA/EERU, submitted evidence in Feb., stressing the need to support the development of longer term as yet non commercial options like offshore wind, wave and tidal streams.
For the full text of his submission see: http://www-tec.open.ac.uk/eeru/natta/eu_draft.html
Some people see economic liberalisation as the best way forward for renewables. For example the journal Windpower Monthly has consistently championed this cause and often seems to portray the supporters of REFIT type subsidy schemes as myopic, and only concerned with remaining 'safe within the sheltering arms of the Electricity Feed Law' (WPM editorial Oct 1998). But one of the REFIT supporters has commented, the real issue in Germany is "the opposition of the utilities to renewable energies' due to the utilities excess generation capacity (Ralph Bischof Naturstrom AG, WPM Letters, Dec. 1998). That may well be the case, but you would think that the fact that REFIT requires the utilities to take all the renewable power offered and pay a government defined premium price for it, could also be a factor.
Windpower Monthly's view is that it would be better to let the market set the price. However, in a completely open market, under present conditions, that could wipe renewables out, but in any case, there is no chance of a genuinely free market emerging: coal and nuclear (the utilities main interests) are still very heavily subsidised in Germany.
The EU proposed something of a compromise in its ill-fated draft Directive on harmonising support schemes for renewable energy across Europe (see earlier): a competitive market for renewables ring fenced (i.e protected) from wider competition- a bit like the UK's NFFO.
Even so, the shift to competitive mechanisms proposed in the draft Directive was clearly not going to be accepted without a struggle. By contrast, renewable energy interests are likely to welcome the proposal in the draft Directive that barriers to access to the grid by independent renewable suppliers should be reduced. Grid access has become an increasingly relevant issue, particularly in Germany, when the utilities, who in effect control the grid, are seen as blocking renewable development by denying easy and cheap access. This will become even more important in Germany and elsewhere as and when green power markets gets going. It is already becoming an issue in the UK in the case of very small generators, who at present face daunting grid connection charges and unattractive power buy back rates when they try to sell power via the grid.
Renewable energy interests should also welcome the proposals in the draft Directive for a 'zoning' approach to planning permission for renewable projects. This has been used in Denmark and involves designating areas as either suitable for development (e.g. for wind farms), inappropriate, or undetermined. Such a system could reduce delays and conflicts in the planning process, although it would be something of a novelty in the UK, which has a somewhat more ad hoc approach.
With the draft directive now recast as a working paper, all this is back in the melting pot. Maybe a new compromise will emerge. As Dave Elliott commented to the House of Lords Select Committee who are looking at thee issues, although so far the price/ capacity conflation process in the setting of the NFFO has been used to get prices down rather than capacity up, in principle, these priorities could be reversed to make the NFFO more like REFIT.
Landfillsites should be seen as carbon sinks, according to a recent US report. Burying waste paper and wood traps most of the carbon that would otherwise be emitted as carbon dioxide if these materials were burnt or allowed to decay. Around 70% of the carbon in paper and 97% of the carbon in wood is evidently trapped by burial in landfill sites. The result is that carbon dioxide emission in the USA are about 2% less then they would otherwise have been and the US government is keen for landfill to be seen as a carbon saving measure allowing the US to attain the 7% reduction target set at Kyoto.
The idea of moving towards a hydrogen based energy system using renewable sources has moved a step closer following the launch of a new initiative in Iceland.
Daimler Chrysler, Norsk Hydro, the Royal Dutch/Shell Group and Icelandic company Orkis hf. have created the Icelandic Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Company to explore the possibility of hydrogen and to implement some development projects. Ultimately the joint venture aims to convert public and private transportation, including fishing vessels, to fuel cells. Work will also be carried out towards the production, storage and distribution of hydrogen. The first project will bring fuel cell powered bus service to Reykjavik. The other projects will be introduced between 2000 and 2002, according to the new company.
The companies are well placed to push things on: Daimler Chrysler has been carrying out research in fuel cell powered vehicles; Norsk Hydro has expertise in hydrogen production and carriers; Royal Dutch/Shell has the technology to convert liquid fuels to hydrogen-rich gas.
Iceland is well known for its renewable energy sources. Some 67 % of its energy comes from geothermal and hydro-electric power. Iceland has one of the highest per capita living standards in the world. Source: ENERGIES electronic newsletter Feb 14.
Japanese companies back Carbon Tax
A recent survey of 1,300 major Japanese companies, by Nihon Keizai Shimbun, Inc., has found that 63% of the respondents conditionally supported the idea of a carbon tax on fossil fuels, with many seeing this not as a problem but rather as likely to be a stimulus for innovation and improved efficiency.
Respondents looked to R&D for effective control of carbon-dioxide emissions through hybrid cars (51.1%), new fuel sources such as solar batteries and wind power (43.5%), energy-saving consumer electronics (35.4%), and more efficient distribution systems (34.2%).
Source: NIKKEI WEEKLY 21/12/1998
In Jan. Greenpeace submitted evidence to the House of Commons Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Select Committee, arguing that current international and UK policy processes on climate and energy policy are severely inadequate when viewed in terms of the planet's ecological limits.
Greenpeace considers that the UK should actively seek means to ensure that international policy discussions are connected to and driven by ecological limits, rather than just political expediency, and should give a lead by adopting appropriate policies at home.
Greenpeace make use of their carbon logic analysis to calculate how much carbon can be burnt and released into the atmosphere, based on the aim of limiting global warming to a 1 degree C long term temperature rise above pre-industrial levels and 0.1 degree C per decade rate of temperature rise. Even under optimistic assumptions, the answer is -much less than the amount of fossil fuel reserves, let alone total resources
However, they do seem willing to make use of the win- win argument- the pragmatically attractive idea that the environmental policies needed to respond to climate change will bring about economic benefits, rather than harm the economy. This is very much the flavour of the month. As the DETR consultation paper on Climate Change put it, the climate change avoidance policies 'can bring gain not pain...and business opportunities in the important global environmental technology market.'
Although this can be true in some circumstances, this argument can be overstated. Some changes may involve pain: indeed some of the more pessimistic observers argue that it may be that the easiest win- win options may have mostly been taken up, leaving us with the harder, less attractive, options.
Greenpeace nevertheless believes that renewable energy sources are striking examples of opportunities waiting to be gained (or missed), and that certainly can be true, especially in the longer term. But we have to be a bit careful not to oversell the short term economic benefits. As Greenpeace recognize, it all depends on how yo do it. John Prescott, launching the climate consultation paper, said 'there could also be new jobs and new opportunities for UK firms in the emerging environmental technology market'.
Greenpeace note,this is certainly true, but more than ministerial rhetoric is required to make it reality. Despite a history of UK leadership in renewable energy research, it is other countries who - right now - are scooping the rapidly growing markets for power renewable resources like solar and wind.
It also argues that the 10% by 2101 renewable target, combined with more-of-the-same non fossil fuel obligation orders, is an inadequate starting point for serious discussion of how to develop renewable energy.. Climate protection demands a much more ambitious target, as do economic and business considerations. The tranche-by-tranche approach of NFFO, whilst much better than nothing, does in practice give stop-start signals to the renewables industry. Clear long-term governmental commitments are required, backed up with decade-by-decade targets such as those set by Denmark. If the UK does not act very soon, it will be left behind.
With regard to solar PV, Greenpeace quote BPs estimate that 'given the right support and incentives, it could be competitive in supplying peak load capacity within the next 10 to 15 years.
Greenpeace see this as an extremely significant timescale, falling as it does in the middle of the Kyoto commitment period for emissions reductions. If BP is correct that solar will by then be competitive, then it follows that it should be given far more major consideration as part of the means to meeting the UK Kyoto Protocol commitments.
In summary, Greenpeace argue that the UK renewable energy industry requires the Government to set a series of ambitious targets over an extended timescale, in line with the imperatives of climate protection.- and they then want serious support to be given to reach these targets. Specific mechanisms include:
It will be interesting to see what the Select Committee comes up with in its final report.
With Thorp being shut down (yet again) due to technical problems, and France, Belgium and Germany all backing off nuclear in various ways, you might think nuclear power was finished, but the energy establishment doesn't see it that way.
The World Energy Congress held in Houston last year provided a good sounding board. Outrageously pro-nuclear and frighteningly conventional was how Windpower Monthly reported it (Nov 1999), adding that it provided a sharp reminder of both the intransigence and the ignorance of the established power sector when it comes to renewable energy technologies....
While WEC allocated renewables no more than a "potential" role for off-grid supply in the developing world, nuclear was being promoted as a panacea to the environmental ills of energy production in the West.
To be fair WEC, has looked at renewables in some detail and their ecological scenario suggests that renewables might supply more than 80% of world energy by 2100. However, it seems that for many of WECs members in the energy establishment, that is a nightmare scenario, which, fortunately, they feel they do not have to take seriously since nuclear power can be disinterred to save the day.
In the Guardian recently (30/1/99) Paul Brown argued that nuclear power wouldn't go away and indeed might may a comeback. Quite part from the waste problem, that seems unlikely on economic grounds.
In its 1995 Nuclear Review, the then Conservative government concluded that there was 'no case' for new nuclear plants on the grounds of emission savings. A recent report from the Trade and Industry Select Committee (see Renew 116) concluded that the situation had not changed significantly, but suggested it was worth at least considering the possibility for the future. What would it take economically for nuclear power to get back in the game?
Here is the view of the Chief Executive of British Energy, the UK's nuclear company."What is required is tradeable carbon permits which would have the effect of stimulating sources of electricity which do not release carbon dioxide, i.e. nuclear and renewables, without severely damaging economic growth. Under these conditions new nuclear build would rapidly become economic' (P.Hollins at the IEA Conference, Nov. 1998)
Not so, say COLA the Consortium of Opposing Local Authorities in a briefing note (No 34) on 'the Prospects for New Nuclear Build'.
Basically the gap between the cost of nuclear electricity and current (and projected) electricity costs was too great to be compensated for by carbon permit trading. The cost of nuclear power has been much debated, but the DTI has put it in the range 3.5-5.75p.kWh for lifetime generation. costs, and mentioned a levelised cost figure of 4.4p/kWh for a new plant That compares with the current pool price (for all traded electricity) of 2.6p/kWh, and the projected cost of 2.2-2.5p/kWh. So nuclear needs to find about 2p/kWh from somewhere.
Can carbon trading provide it? No way, says COLA. Obviously, since the international carbon emission permit trading scheme discussed at Kyoto does no yet exist, and wont even start if it ever does until 2008, its hard to come up with figures for how much could be earnt in the way of carbon credits by plants that did not produce carbon dioxide. Its also far from certain that the scheme will actually include nuclear power- its really seen as a way for supporting renewables. But some idea of the likely figures can be obtained by proxy- by looking at the cost of 'sink enhancement' by tree planting in the developing world (around £15 per tonne of Carbon) and then calculating the cost of compensating for the emissions (typically 120gC/kWh) from a Combined Cycle Gas Turbine, by planting trees. The answer is about 0.2p/kWhs. That's far short of the 2p needed to make nuclear viable.
Even if a straightforward carbon tax was imposed that would not be much better. The EU's aborted carbon/energy tax back in 1992 was planned to be set at around £50 per tonne of carbon, while the scheme currently operated in Sweden only involves a charge of £25/tC. These figures translate to 0.3-0.6p/kWh for a CCGT seeking to buy permits for its emissions. So once again nuclear plants couldn't make much of a killing by providing them. Even with both carbon trading and a carbon tax, it still comes nowhere near 2p/kWh
COLA go on to look at other ways in which the industry could cut costs for new plants- for example by using standard mass produced designs, for which it might be easier to get panning and other licensing permission quickly - and discount them as unlikely to succeed. There were no designs available that could be taken off the shelf without having to go through major modifications to suit UK legislation, and a streamlined consents process, forced on an unwilling public, could generate more rather than less opposition, delay and cost.
Finally, COLA go on the attack and say that actually, the nuclear industry had to take on board a greater number of its external costs', including the full 'liabilities' cost (of decommissioning etc.) and more of the accident insurance cost. So that would make it even harder to balance the books. New Nuclear? Forget it! That is basically their final verdict.
COLA initially came together to oppose the planned Hinkley Point 'C' nuclear plant on the Severn Estuary. It was actually given planning permission, following a lengthy public inquirey, but the project was subsequently abandoned after the nuclear industry was privatised.
COLA can be contacted on 01935 462576
According to a report from the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate the UKs stored nuclear waste is a disaster waiting to happen. Potential risks evidently include fires, explosions, leaks of radioactive materials including plutonium and an uncontrolled nuclear reaction that could injure workers. The NII warns that it is "increasingly concerned" about more than half of the 70,000 cubic metres of intermediate level waste stored at 22 locations around the UK.
This situation contrasted strongly with the impression given in the advertising campaign mounted by BNFL last year, which asserted that it had perfected ways to deal with all types of nuclear waste. Following a complaint by he Nuclear Free Local Authorities, the Advertising Standards Watchdog (ASA) ruled that BNFLs claim was both exagerated and could not be supported by the facts.
The UKAEA, however, recently had some good news to report: it seems it hadnt, as initially reported, lost 170kg of uranium 235 at Dounreay between 1965-68. They now say that, recalculated using current accounting techniques, the amount of MUF (Material Unaccounted For) would be significantly less that 86kg, or 1%, and that would be considered acceptable against present day international standards of nuclear materials accountancy.
A new pressure group, SONE, Supporters of Nuclear Energy, are trying to encourage the Government to adopt a more realistic approach to the threat of global warming and climatic change. Writing in the Times (Feb 2 1998) Sir Christopher Harding and Sir Bernard Ingham, accept that substantial reductions in energy use could be achieved if energy conservation were taken seriously and that renewable sources of energy have a part to play , although, they add, our Government, like others, grossly overestimates their potential.
But they, go on the Government's successive writing-off of nuclear power in recent reports and consultative documents seems to us a failure to face up to the implications of the problem. Nuclear power is the only known, tried and tested and non-polluting means of generating the large amounts of electricity which modern, growing economies require.We are confident that it is safe, reliable and economic as well as essential to the world's continued development, and we believe that the Government should embrace it as part of a serious, practical response to the economic/ environmental challenge of our times.
SONE, 1 Great George St, PO Box 25124, London SW1 P3Z
The Feature in Renew 119 looks at NATTA's submission to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution, and there are also extracts from it in the Technology section - which also looks at the slow growth of energy crops. The reviews sections looks at Friends of the Earth's new book 'Saving the World' and at WWF's views on renewables. The Groups section includes a report on the Hockerton Housing project and various local d-i-y solar projects.
The full printed 30 page (plus) bimonthly Renew journal can be obtained from NATTA, the Network for Alternative Technology and Technology Assessment, on subscription for £12 pa for students/unwaged (including T265 students), 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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