Sunday, March 1, 2015

Renew On Line 114

Renew on Line 114
March-April 2015
 A bimonthly news service on renewable energy 
 A PDF version with figures, charts and pictures is available from     
1.UK Developments                                    
The state of play                                                                                                      DECCs third quarter energy statistics illustrate the changing pattern:                                                 Primary energy use fell by 5.7%, indigenous energy production by 5.5%, nuclear output fell 16.2% - due to outages. Gas production was up 3.5%, LNG imports doubled. Coal generation fell due to plant closures. Wind generation was up 9.6%. Overall renewable output, which had reached 16.8% of electricity in the Q2, was up by 26% in Q3, led by wind, biomass and PV. It’s good to see electricity use, and in most cases energy use too, is still falling, even if some of that may still be due to the recession and reduced industrial activity: though domestic electricity use has fallen 25% since 2005. Some say we are doing it right at last at home, investing in low energy usage, though maybe just because of higher energy prices!  
See and                                                                                                 
 So is the UK going to meet its 15% by 2020 renewable energy target?  Not given the cut backs, funding caps and planning interventions: the pipeline of new projects has been narrowed and may be blocked. As ever, MP Dr Alan Whitehead’s Blog is a mine of incisive comment:     Looking further into the future, see the Global Calculator produced by DECC and others. It includes a 2050 climate/energy pathway, tested out using this open access system, by Friends of the Earth: The Calculator’s overall message is very positive: global sustainability and  prosperity don't have to conflict:

EU funds UK grid development  The media often focuses on how much the EU costs the UK, but we do get a bit back! The EC has announced  €647m to be invested in key energy infrastructure to enhance security of supply across Europe. This includes €75 m for UK projects with cross-border benefits, including electricity interconnection (enabling electricity to be transferred between countries), smart grid and gas storage projects. UK projects awarded in this round include the longest proposed subsea cable in the world, the NSN interconnector linking us to Norwegian hydro, and 2 interconnectors to France. ElecLink will benefit from using the existing infrastructure of the Channel Tunnel and a further cable, FABLink, holds potential  to connect to future tidal generation being developed off the Alderney coast. Together these projects would almost double the power the UK is able to receive over interconnectors. The Connecting Europe Facility provides grant funding to eligible ‘projects of common interest’. A further window for projects to apply for funds is expected in early 2015. A total of €5.85 bn has been allocated to Trans-European energy infrastructure for 2014-2020.

Technology News                                                   PV price parity by 2020?                                                                                         Solar PV power could be competitive without subsidies in the UK as soon as 2020 claims a new report ‘In Sight: Unsubsidised UK Solar’.  It says that solar hardware costs have ‘fallen relentlessly’ over the last decade, and that the UK market will also benefit from a maturing supply chain. Berlin-based think tank Thema1 predicts all three sectors of the UK solar market - household, business and utility-scale - will be competitive without subsidies by the end of the decade, although ‘strong and consistent’ policy support would be needed to ensure that outcome. It says ‘Increasing cost-competitiveness and capacity growth of solar PV in Britain will impact the British power system, including falls in wholesale power prices, as already seen in Germany. The growth of solar power may threaten electric utilities which fail to transition away from solely supplying electricity, to providing residential energy services.’                                         With capital cost/kW falling, it puts the levelised cost of energy for large solar farms at 9-12p/kWh depending on location, falling to 6-8p/kWh by 2020. The pay back time for unsubsidized domestic roof systems will fall to 16 years by then and to 8 years by 2025.                                                                              

* The 46 MW Landmead solar farm in East Hanney near Abingdon is the largest so far in the UK. It is built on low-grade farmland used for grazing sheep, which will remain along with new wild flowers to be planted to improve the site’s biodiversity.                                                                                              
  Keeping sheep out! There was a nicely phrased Parliamentary Question asking the Minister ‘what estimate he has made of the likely annual reduction in CAP subsidies to farmers arising from the change to disallow grazing under a solar farm’. That implied it’s not PV that’s blocked, but grazing under it! And though some solar farms are being blocked by the UK government, that’s not the case in Scotland. One of Scotland’s largest solar farms has been given planning permission, with 90,000 PV modules on a 153-acre greenfield site at East Ballochy, between Brechin and Montrose, which will continue to be used to graze sheep. All part of meeting Scotland’s 50% by-end-2015 renewable electricity target, with solar making a small but growing contribution, alongside wind; though beware of spin:  
 UK PV overview: 
Wind - still going strong Offshore wind is still moving ahead, though RSPB has dug in over two Scottish projects that had got planning permission:  As we’ve noted, some other big projects   have been pulled, but others continue and RWE may rethink its decision to abandon its 340 MW Galloper project.  On land wind is still struggling on, despite planning resistance. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles
 has called in over 50 wind farm applications in the past 18
 months and rejected nine out of 10 of those proposals on which he has
 decided. Even so, with 2 GW now in Scotland, it’s not yet a case of putting wind turbines in museums, as some Tories might like! Though there is a nice museum for earlier windmill designs:                                                                                               
 *Wind plants saved the UK £579m in fossil fuel imports in 2013, says Cambridge Econometrics e.sflb.ashx                                                                                                                                                                 
Wind on-line   Useful real time guide to UK wind supply:                   
  For overall UK live energy data: and     
Kill bill By just 2 votes the Commons backed a backbench Bill to prohibit the use of public funds to subsidise onshore wind turbines. The Second Reading of the Bill is on 6/3/15 
Swansea Tidal Lagoon progress                                    Wavepower rescue..                                                                                                               
 The government has entered into discussions with the developers of the proposed 240 MW tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay, to see if the project will offer value for money for consumers prior to possibly offering a CfD strike price for the £1bn project, maybe £155-162/MWh, the BBC said, along with the possibility of providing a UK Guarantee for its construction under the Treasury’s National Infrastructure Plans. Next? A lagoon off Cardiff - 1.8-2.8 GW
 Tidal stream has however taken a bit of a knock. Explaining why it decided  to sell off Marine Current Turbines, Siemens said ‘a dedicated tidal power industry of critical size will develop in the near future, but due to the limited resources it would be a niche market for Siemens’.  Hopefully lagoons will be seen differently, as large infrastructure projects, also offering pumped storage options.  But plenty is still happening in tidal stream. As well as the 6 MW 1st stage of the 400 MW Mygen/Atlantis Pentland project, a prototype ATIR floating tidal turbine, developed by Spanish company Magallanes, has been under test at EMEC on the Orkneys at 1:10 scale; TEL’s Delta Stream unit is being tested off Wales; and Minesto’s Tidal Kite has been on test off Ireland. Open Hydro’s project in France has moved on: In the case of wave power, arguably the hardest of the marine renewables to develop, after the demise of Pelamis, and staff cuts at Aquamarine, the Scottish government set up WaveEnergy Scotland as a technology development body. That may take on some of the staff:
Marine renewables - Davey’s locker                 
At last years annual Tidal Summit, Energy Secretary Ed Davey said that ‘despite Government support - for instance through the Marine Energy Array Demonstrator Fund - it remains difficult to attract risk averse funders. We have seen planned array projects which have been shelved or pushed to the right.’ It’s not quite clear what he meant there: MCTs Skerries projects, off Anglesey, lost a £10m Marine Energy Array Demonstration Fund grant last June.  But it was clear that he was unhappy with ‘the sad news about Pelamis Wave Power filing for administration’ which he said ‘shows that risk aversion has real, and potentially devastating, effects on companies, their employees and families. This is always hugely disappointing for all concerned - but we need to secure all the lessons and know-how the fantastic team at Pelamis developed.’ He was ‘equally disappointed about Siemens’ decision not to take forward MCT. Having visited MCT myself, I had felt that the deployment of more of their tidal stream devices was just a matter of time. MCT had gathered the most operational experience of tidal stream in the whole industry. So I sincerely hope Siemens will do their utmost to ensure that MCT’s, expertise and know-how are appropriately managed and transferred so that they can continue to benefit this industry.’ But these developments were ‘stark reminders of how fragile and young the industry is’. Well, the Skerries cut didn’t help too much...                                                           
Looking to the future, he said ‘While there are no bids from the tidal industry in the current (CfD) allocation round, I’m keen to see future bids. That’s why I ring-fenced a protected allocation of contracts worth 100 MW up to 2019, for the industry. This is guaranteed if people come forward. And it’s not a limit or cap! And we continue to believe that post-2020 marine energy will have a much bigger role to play in helping us meet our low-carbon ambition.’  The 100 MW is for wave and tidal projects, but will any be forthcoming? When only one project (MCTs SeaGen) got funding under the more lucrative RO? The news that Aquamarine Power, the developer of the Oyster in-shore hinged-flap wave energy device, is to ‘significantly downsize’ its business, doesn’t help.  Some grim reactions: and    A bit more hopeful:                             Marine Doubts.
 Scotland too brave WWF say Scotland could be ~100% renewable by 2030:    But Euan Mearns says that, with  15.8 GW of wind expected on current plans, Scotland will have too much wind capacity by 2020: it can’t store or export enough excess to avoid massive curtailment: 
Capacity Market DECC said the 49 GW of capacity  contracted under the first round of the new capacity market ‘ensures that enough of our existing capacity will remain open at the end of the decade, as well as unlocking new investment, including a large independent gas plant at Trafford’. The existing capacity included nearly all the UK’s nuclear plants (7.9 GW), including oddly those, like Dungeness, that have in the last year been offline for various reasons. Let’s hope they will be available when and if called on for backup. More credibly, Flexitricity got 31 contracts for their various small flexible plants, as did 37 SSE gas plants and 20 RWE plants and 19 E.ON plants including some co-gen. DRAX also got two contracts and the Dinorwig pumped hydro project got 6. Scottish Power also got contracts for some hydro projects. Some CHP got contracts but demand management only got limited support - this time.                                                                                                        
 Local smart power/storage   Community Energy Scotland and its partners have come up with a scheme for avoiding having to shut down Orkney island wind turbines when there is more wind generation than  needed. They are to link homes and other consumers on the islands of Hoy and  Rousay need. They link them into a sophisticated IT scheme that tells storage heating systems when turbines are generating too much power. Users will pay their normal provider for the power used, but local generators will then compensate them, allowing producer and user to share in the benefit of using electricity that would otherwise not be generated.                                                                                                                                           
*DECC’s new infrastructure investment report shows that heat networks are now seen by Government as the UK’s third major energy network, with new investment of up to £800m. It’s also visionary on community power/consumer involvement:  See below
 RHI-big biomass boilers cost too much Some of the larger commercial biomass projects may not be cost effective:
Fracking The Commons Environmental Audit Committee want a halt and published all the
 written submissions to their recent inquiry on its environmental risks.

 On the industry side, Hallibuton says ‘There has never been a confirmed instance of drinking water contamination due to HF throughout its long history’: studies show it’s ‘not technically plausible that HF fluid would migrate upwards from a target formation through several thousand feet of rock to a drinking water aquifer’.  There’s a good response from campaign groups, 
including a major submission from energy activist Paul Mobbs. Meanwhile the Labour Party says it will ban fracking near drinking water aquifers. While some say the US shale gas bubble may burst, precipitating a major global economic crisis:
  Underground coal gasification Welsh exploration targets set:
Policy Developments
The next CfD round                                                                                      
 The Government will provide £25m extra funding for the ‘Pot 2’ less established technologies such as offshore wind in the first full round of the contracts for a difference (CfD) auction process, following ‘high levels of demand’. The Pot 2 allocation was initially £155m, but was expanded by £80m, after worries that this cap would halt new offshore projects. The extra £25m takes the cap to £260m, still tight. A new  DECC report summarises how energy cash has been spent before the Cdf . 
Early Cfd funding not competitive enough    
There have been criticisms of the early CfD round for renewables in 2014, with eight projects being given early contracts to ‘reduce the risk of a delay in investment in renewable electricity projects during the transition to the new scheme’. This was the subject of a recent critical review by the Committee of Public Accounts based on a NAO report. The Committee was not satisfied that sufficient consideration was given to securing value for consumers during the transition from the existing arrangements to the new scheme. It said that DECC were ‘too ready to accept arguments put forward by project developers that consumers should bear the risk of inflation in the prices they paid’ and ‘did not robustly challenge developers who claimed investment would be deferred if the contractors bore more of the risk of inflation’. It also ‘failed to challenge developers’ claims that investors would not come forward if contracts were designed to ensure that consumers shared in higher than expected profits’. Ah well, the government promised to do better in future and certainly the full CfD for renewables is based on very competitive contract auctions. And it pointed out that the CfD did include provisions for automatic clawback if project profits were too high relative to the strike price.
Community right to buy                                                                  
Tucked away in the government’s Infrastucture Bill proposal is a section on the ‘Community Electricity Right’. This would create a reserve power to give communities the chance to buy a stake in new commercial renewable electricity schemes in their area. It is seen as a backstop power that if exercised would give individuals resident in a community, and/or groups connected with a community, the right to buy a stake in a renewable electricity development in their local area. However DECC says ‘our strong preference is that the voluntary, industry-led approach to increasing shared ownership is successful’.  It was only exploring the option of ‘requiring all developers to offer the opportunity of a shared ownership element to communities’ as a backstop in case the voluntary process does not deliver.                                       
However, although DECC talks the talk on community energy and energy co-ops (see below), on the ground, co-ops may be undercut since the Financial Conduct Authority has changed the rules under which new energy co-ops could be established:  The Treasury has also cut access to tax breaks for some co-ops:
Heat and Power Networks                                                          
 DECC has published details of its £20bn funding for power grid/gas network development. It includes a look at heat networks and heat stores and says ‘The potential scale of heat network growth is enormous. Some models show technical potential to supply as much as 43% of heat demand for buildings through networks by 2050.’ There’s a £10m 122 project programme. And it waxes lyrical about the future, when ‘consumer choice and technological advances will mean that consumers are no longer the passive recipients of an energy system which only flows in one direction’ and when ‘our electricity mix will no longer be dominated by a small number of large generators’. They ‘expect to see a growth in the deployment of generation at the local level, where generation and heating can be delivered through a more integrated system which will also deliver storage.. At times of excess generation the system will be able to use storage facilities through heat tanks on the heat network, or through the creation of low carbon hydrogen.’ An inspiring vision.. with community projects seen as being central:                                                                                                                                                                     *£7m more for heat networks:
Community Heat &Power                                                                         
 Speaking to PRASEG, the Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group, last Dec, DECC Minister Amber Rudd said ‘It’s clear that community energy projects represent a huge opportunity for people to bring about change in their local areas. The sector has the potential to deliver as much as 3 GW of capacity through solar PV, onshore wind and hydro projects’.  She highlighted the Community Energy Strategy, which she said aimed ‘to deliver a step change in the offer of shared ownership of commercial renewable energy projects’, aided by the new £10m Urban Community Energy Fund to kick-start projects in England and the existing £15m Rural Community Energy Fund. The latter had received ‘more than 70 applications and distributed over £667,000 to help projects get off the ground’. The FiT had already led to 3 GW of power capacity and the RHI would add local heat capacity, with heat networks seen as the next stage, expected to supply up to 14% of heat demand by 2030.
Labour for Community Power The Labour linked Co-operative Party wants German styled local ownership. Labour is keen on it too:
Wind School A UK National Wind Energy College will start up in 2016 near Hull.  
Green deal runs out of cash again:
Farm Power Forum for the Future has a report looking at options for on farm green energy production. Here is their proposed 2020 mix:  Solar PV (ground)   5.9 - 14 GW  Solar PV (rooftop) 1.4 GW                                                      Farm-scale wind  2.5 - 3.6 GW  Anaerobic digestion  1 GW
                                                                           % of UK Total (2013) 10.5- 21%  This issue is real for us in NATTA HQ- Lark Energy plan a 11MW solar farm on low-grade farm land near us in N Bucks!
Election issues With a national election coming up, energy issues are to the fore. This overview was helpful: So was this: The basic Party positions are now familiar, with, notably, the Conservatives aiming to cut new on-land wind back, while all but the Greens and the SNP back nuclear. UKIP may be a protest party, but there’s no sign of the sort of radical grass-roots populism apparent now in parts of continental Europe, with e-democracy initiatives like the Five Star movement in Italy and Podemos in Spain and the triumphant Syriza party in Greece. But, although green policies are emerging to some extent in the UK, support for them is still fairly marginal. However some old certainties are changing: e.g. the Bank of England is to conduct an enquiry into the risk of fossil fuel companies causing a major economic crash if future climate change rules render their coal, oil & gas assets worthless. Though there are other views: e.g. from Civitas.
Civitas doesn’t like wind  The government should ditch plans to invest £1bn in offshore wind and instead boost subsidies for nuclear and ‘aggressively promote’ investment in fracking, according to the Civitas think tank, in a wide ranging review of UK industrial strategy. On off-shore wind it says ‘This sector produces energy in a way that is less reliable and at a price significantly higher than other sources of power generation. The investment of over £1bn by the GIB in the sector should be cancelled. These funds should be directed to less costly and more reliable energy sources.’
On-land wind to be left to sink or swim   
Talking to the Energy and Climate change Select Committee, in December, PM David Cameron said: ‘I take full responsibility for what we are saying about onshore wind, which is that, as with other renewable technologies, there was a subsidy in the early days to give this nascent industry the chance of success. We are heading for around 10% of our electricity coming from onshore wind. In my view, that is enough as part of a balanced energy supply. If you look at what is in the planning system - that has already had planning permission - if all of that is built out, that would get us past 10% of our electricity supply. Frankly, I think that is enough for the reasons of balance in our supply, so we should then take away the subsidy, put it back properly in the planning system and let local communities decide if they want to see any more of these go ahead.’ He was challenged on that by Joan Walley MP: ‘With due respect, they are not deciding, are they? It is being determined centrally by the Secretary of State’. She had earlier noted that ‘DCLG has intervened in 52 wind farm planning applications since as recently as June 2013’. But, despite public opinion studies showing strong support (67% in DECCs last poll) for on-land wind nationally, Cameron was clearly unconcerned: ‘I think the public are frankly fed up with so many wind farms being built that won’t be necessary now we have reached some 10% of our electricity use by onshore wind. We don’t need to have more of these subsidised onshore, so let’s get rid of the subsidy, put them into the planning system and if they can make their case, they will make their case. I suspect that they won’t and that we will have a reasonable amount of onshore wind. We will have safer electricity supplies as a result, but enough is enough. I am very clear about that.’ *Shortly after (on Dec 18th) in response to a PQ, Energy Minister Amber Rudd said ‘Onshore wind has been an important part of the mix and, of course, we have more onshore wind in this country than in the rest of the world, so I think that it may be time for us to spend our scarce resources on other types of renewables to ensure the best return for taxpayers’. Maybe a correction is needed: globally wind is at 360 GW, China has 114 GW, the US 66 GW, Germany 35 GW, the UK 8 GW on land. 
 On nuclear, Cameron accepted that there was a subsidy ‘through the price that is offered to the nuclear power station in practice’. But ‘the price is lower than we offer to, say, offshore wind, so I don’t accept that we are treating nuclear (un)fairly compared to renewables. The price of offshore wind is about 150 per kWh; with nuclear, the deal done with Hinkley is around the 90 point.’ Actually, the strike price for Hinkley is £92.5/MWh, when (and if) it starts, which might be in 2023, by which time on-land wind will beat it easily (the strike price is set at £90 in 2017) and offshore wind could also be lower: the strike price is £150 in 2017 and could well fall below £100 by then. PV solar should do even better: the CfD strike price falls to £100 by 2018. Moreover, while the renewables CfDs are just for 15 years, Hinkley’s CfD is for 35years. Oddly, Cameron talked of a 20-30 year life!                                                                                                  
 A Cumbrian case in point Copeland Borough Council’s planning panel, acting against planning officials’ advice, have rejected an application for a wind turbine near the village of Beckermet, at Peterburgh  Farm, towards the northern border of the 200 acres of greenfield land that is currently being investigated by nuclear developer NuGen who plan to build 3 nuclear plant on the site. Local objections to the wind project had included concerns that ‘the turbine would devastate views, affect wildlife especially local barn owls, bats and starling, devalue property and undermine the enjoyment of walkers in the area’. One wonders how they will feel about the proposed nuclear plants. Copeland Borough Council is well known for backing nuclear projects - at nearby Sellafield.  CORE
Biodiversity, renewables and nuclear Expanding this issue globally, an Open Letter to Environmentalists, originating in Australia, but backed by some big names in the bioscience world, including ex-UK Chief Scientist Prof. May, claims that nuclear will have less impact than wind or solar, and so should not be opposed. Less land-use, so more biodiversity! and  Expect more refutations like this:
UK Nuclear news
Nuclear prospects look poor, with Areva’s finances in a mess and Hinkley looking dubious. EDF seem likely to wait until after the UK elections to decide; will the Saudis come to its rescue, if China wont/can’t?  Will the UK government stall? That could have a knock-on impact on the next in the pipeline - Hitachi’s Horizon project. It aims to build two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors at both its Wylfa site on Anglesey and its Oldbury site on the Severn. It would be the first commercial boiling water reactor in the UK. Horizon hopes to have the required licences/permissions for Wylfa by 2018, to start site work around 2015, and first nuclear construction around 2019.
More money The UK government signed a co-operation agreement two years ago with Horizon/Hitachi designed to enable access to the UK Guarantee Scheme, introduced in 2012 to support infrastructure projects seeking finance and investment. The Hinkley project has been promised access to £10bn in loan guarantees under the scheme. NuGen has now also been offered access to the scheme for the Moorside nuclear plant in Cumbria. The UK’s Nuclear Industry Association, said that this was ‘excellent news and shows there is now unstoppable momentum behind the UK’s nuclear new build program. The Guarantee Scheme designed to accelerate private sector investment is a crucial component of this project, and further reinforces nuclear as the lead technology in the UK’s low carbon energy revolution.’
NuGen, a 60%/40% Toshiba/GDF Suez joint venture, plans to build 3 Westinghouse AP1000 pressurized water reactors at Moorside by the end of 2026 - total capacity 3.4 GW. It expects the first unit to be operating by the end of 2024: pretty optimistic that! A final investment decision is expected to be taken by the end of 2018. It would be the first AP1000 in Europe and has still to complete the final parts of generic design assessment by the UK’s regulatory bodies. Not everyone is convinced it will be viable:

Meanwhile, EDF has asked the Scottish Environment Protection
 Agency to allow it to transport intermediate-level radioactive
 waste from other sites to the N. Ayrshire Hunterston B power station to be stored there. Is Scotland to become a home for UK n-waste?
*Peter Atherton of Liberum Capital, speaking at the Spectator Energy Forum, said the Hinkley plant may be the most expensive object ever built- at £24bn, possibly much more. But 45% of those asked in a Nuclear Industry Association opinion poll backed building new UK reactors. Trying to push it on, Malcolm Grimston promoted nuclear over renewables: e.g. he said wind farms get huge curtailment fees. But many plants get curtailment fees, much more overall than wind:  This was arguably better:
 A funding promise When backing the ABWR, the UK government reiterated its promise:‘New nuclear operators will receive no levy, direct payment or market support for electricity supplied or capacity provided unless similar support is also made available more widely to other types of generation’. How will this work for renewables, given the 15 year CfD on offer to them, compared to the 35 year CfD for Hinkley? And since so far only the Swansea lagoon is in the running for a loan guarantee, whereas Hinkley’s £10bn offer has been matched by similar offers to NuGen & Hitachi: *The UK has bid for €46bn from the EU Investment programme to help pay for nuclear projects like those above
 Next: The cross-party Energy and Climate Change Select Committee says Small Modular Reactors could potentially have a key role to play in delivering low-carbon energy at lower upfront capital cost compared to large conventional nuclear reactors, although commercial viability remains unclear. It wants the government to use existing nuclear sites for the deployment of trial SMRs.
2. Global Developments
Global Renewables: 26% by 2030                                        Wind, solar and other renewables now produce 22% of global electricity, the International Energy Agency third annual Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report says, adding that it could rise to 26% by 2020. Though some worried about costs, Maria van der Hoeven, IEA executive director, said governments should hold their nerve: ‘Renewables are a necessary part of energy security. However, just when they are becoming a cost-competitive option in an increasing number of cases, policy and regulatory uncertainty is rising in some key markets. This stems from concerns about the costs of deploying renewables. Governments must distinguish more clearly between the past, present and future, as costs are falling over time. Many renewables no longer need high incentive levels. Rather, given their capital-intensive nature, renewables require a market context that assures a reasonable and predictable return for investors.’ She said solar could dominate by 2050, with PV supplying up to 16% of global power, CSP perhaps 11%. Good news, but the recent oil price cuts may hurt: though that’s mainly about market shares, speculation and profits, not resource reserves.
Wind heads for 400 GW   The World Wind Energy Association said global wind capacity reached 370 MW in 2014, China has 114 GW, the US 66GW, Germany 39GW, India 22GW

 Global Marine renewables
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) has released a package of work on ocean energy (tidal range and tidal stream, wave, ocean current, salinity gradient  and ocean thermal gradient) consisting of an overview report and four technology briefs on ocean energy technologies, patents, deployment status, and market outlook. It says the energy potential in world oceans is ‘more than sufficient to meet present and projected global electricity demand well into the future. Estimates for this potential range from 20 000 terawatt-hours (TWh) to 80 000 TWh of electricity a year, which is 100% to 400% of current global demand for electricity.’ But it notes that, so far only, about 530 MW is in place (mainly the ~250 MW tidal barrages in Brittany and Korea), though there are many tidal stream and wave projects underway and these are seen as having the ‘highest potential for significant commercial applications globally in the near to medium terms’. Even so, ‘key ocean energy technologies are still only at development and demonstration phases’, with commercial maturity expected ‘from the 2020s onwards’. But it offers some  positive wave and tidal stream projections: ‘Taking into account the current “bottom-up” potential pipeline, and government aspirations, as well as considering barriers, new commissioned capacity in wave energy deployment is expected to be in the range of 5-90 MW globally from 2014-2018, and tidal stream deployment in the range of 10-200 MW globally from 2014-2018’, while ‘the deployment of ocean energy technologies is expected to ramp up to multi-GW scale in the 2020s’. On top of ~12 MW wave,14 MW tidal now.                                                                                                                                                      
 IRENA points out that cost reductions largely depend on deployment, investment, learning and innovation, rather than just time. Moreover, patents and announced projects on ocean energy so far are truly global, with activity hotspots in Australia,US, Canada, France, Japan, S. Korea and especially the UK. The report notes the rising involvement of manufacturers and utilities in RD&D of ocean energy technologies, as a vital step towards commercialisation, since only the larger players have the capabilities & resources to deliver utility-scale, bankable projects. But it says there are technical, economic, environmental, social and infrastructural hurdles to overcome: a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not viable. Policy makers need to apply different measures and tailor deployment strategies based on local resources & technology maturity, as well as development priorities and alignments with other objectives. Crucially, policy makers need to be realistic with the time scales associated with any policy support measures for ocean energy.
CSP Concentrated Solar A helpful 2014 review:
Google ‘renewables not enough’  Google hoped to develop options that were cheaper than coal, but  says costs are too high for markets alone to bring about the transition. But who said they would- without cash kick starts?
Biomass: 60% of global renewable energy by 2030    Biomass has an auspicious future in the world’s supply of renewable energy, according to the  roadmap developed by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). It foresees a major role for modern, sustainable biomass technologies in efforts to double the share of renewables in the global energy mix. A new report, “Global Bioenergy Supply and Demand Projections for the Year 2030,” examines the biomass potential in world regions and with different technologies for rapid and sustainable scale-up of this vital renewable energy resource. If all the technology options envisaged in the REmap analysis are deployed, total biomass demand could reach 108 exajoules worldwide by 2030 (including biofuels for vehicles) representing 60% of total global renewable energy use. That would be equal to 20% of the total primary energy supply.  IRENA says that renewables overall could supply up to 36% of global primary energy by 2030, so clearly biomass is seen as an important element. ‘Sustainable bioenergy has the potential to be a game-changer in the global energy mix,’ said IRENA Director of Innovation and Technology Dolf Gielen. He added: ‘Sustainably sourced biomass, such as residues, and the use of more efficient technology and processes can shift biomass energy production from traditional to modern and sustainable forms, simultaneously reducing air pollution and saving lives’. 
The new IRENA report says that ~40% of the total global biomass supply potential could come from agricultural residues and waste, with another 30% originating from sustainable forestry products. Some green NGOs will object to the use of wood from forest for power production, and will also object to large biofuel plantations for vehicle fuels, but IRENA says these biomass sources do not compete with the resources needed for food production, such as land and water, and can make a significant contribution to reducing global CO2 emissions:                   
 Mckinsey consultants think it can replace coal. They say the levelized cost of  bioenergy has the potential to be reduced by almost half by 2025, making bio- based electricity close to competitive with coal depending on the type of plant.
 EU News
Power balancing in Germany                                   
Although not everyone agrees, it looks like Germany will be able to balance the grid well even when the remainder of the nuclear plants finally shut down in 2022, given the increased wind, PV and (in some case firm) biomass inputs, but it will still need coal and gas and reduced demand. New and upgraded grid links would make it all easier. But plans for a new grid network to distribute green power round the country had met intense local opposition: the government had to scrap a proposed line. That’s a problem as most of the wind resource is in the north (e.g. all the off-shore sites) and much of the energy demand in the south, though, to compensate, that’s where PV is best.           
Germany is also looking at a capacity market to support plants that can provide backup, as is now being developed in the UK. But there can be problems with market-based systems - they may just offer a lifeline to old cheap fossil plants, rather than better grid balancing options like demand management and smart grids. Though whichever, it will cost: see below. But the exciting Power to gas programme is now on-line                                                                                              
 *This is a good review from a German/EU perspective:  and this is an excellent overview of  the issues: Some options may cost less.. But some complain that wind isn’t profitable enough!  Though locally it’s apparently going well:  and  
*For a different view:  and
 Balancing costs   In a paper to the World Renewable Energy Congress in London last year, Reinhard Haas, Energy Economics Group, Vienna University of Technology, looked at a hypothetical scenario with high levels of wind, PV and run-of-river hydro over a week in summer using synthetic hourly data for an average year in Germany. He found significant volatilities in electricity market prices with total charged for conventional capacities (black solid line) ranging from zero to 14 cents/kWh, resulting from full load hours of about 1,000 h/yr within very short-term time intervals. So he foresees price volatility from hour-to-hour and day-to-day, increasing relevance of intra-day markets, higher prices for fossil capacities and storage technologies for balancing the intermittent renewable generation; and growth of balancing markets and intensified competition at the level of decentralized balancing organizations.

Germany at 100% Renewables? A Fraunhofer institute-led study of a 100% renewable German  energy supply strategy concludes it would be credible by 2050 to supply industry, trade, commerce, and households throughout Germany with power derived exclusively from wind and sunlight, given new transmissions links and wind-to-gas storage, along with smart grid dynamic demand management.  The work is based on ‘Combined Power plant’ studies, which show that ‘it is possible to provide balancing power using 100% renewable sources. The crucial factor is a power control system for decentralized plants that is active, intelligent, and accurate to the nearest second.’ See this animation:                                                                                                                
And the cost? Prof. Hoffmann, head of the Fraunhofer IWES in Kassel, said ‘the current costs of fossil primary energy in Germany - €83 bn p.a. for oil, coal, and gas - can be lowered to practically zero over a period of 40 years. According to our calculations, the break-even point will be reached in 15 to 20 years - the point at which the costs for the expansion of renewable energies and the purchase costs for fossil energy will, when taken together, be less than today’s primary energy costs.’                           
 Sounds good, but  capacity factors are low: PV~10% Wind ~16%. For the massive set of data see: www.ise.fraunhofer.gde/en/downloads-englisch/pdf-files-englisch/news/electricity-production-from-solar-and-wind-in-germany-in-2013.pdf
Energy storage: battery storage ‘wont be needed’, or economic, in Germany for 10-20 years:  Also see:  But battery systems are going ahead even so:
Eon is to spin off fossil & nuclear into a new company and focus on renewables, in a radical move…  A big positive  change…
Grid balancing - nuclear tries to muscle in                                    Nuclear plants have to try to run 24/7 at, ideally, full power, in order to recoup their high capital costs. They don’t always succeed (the plant availability achieved by UK nuclear was only 65%, averaged across 2008-2012) and they are not good at varying output regularly and rapidly: there are problems with thermal stresses and with radioactive xenon poisoning, which takes time to clear.  But some plants in France do load follow to some extent: they have to, since the potential nuclear output is much larger than demand at night. It was claimed at last years World Renewable Energy Congress that the French plants could help balance variable renewables, at least up to maybe 5 GWs worth. That’s hard to see if we are talking about the frequent but irregular short term variations from wind and solar, but for longer lulls it may be possible, with the nukes throttled back most of the rest the time. However that would undermine their economics. At present there are no plans for the proposed new UK nuclear plants to load follow, but if they could they might be eligible for extra support under the new capacity payment scheme, along with gas plants. (The existing plants have already been given support in the first round, presumably just a reserve capacity). It could be the same elsewhere in the EU. Nuclear may have found a new source of funding - the balancing market! That seems to be implied by nuclear consultant Ron Cameron’s analysis:‘European wholesale electricity markets are currently not favourable to nuclear power…  because the role of nuclear in offsetting the negative effect on price of feed-in tariffs and grid priorities for renewable forms of energy is not adequately recognised. The cost to the system of having intermittency of supply is often borne by the nuclear plants through their role in providing back-up generating capacity or otherwise by the consumer through higher electricity prices, subsidies or taxes. With no level playing field for nuclear in liberalised electricity markets, there is a real difficulty in seeing where nuclear new build is going to come from in Europe, without government action. We need to explicitly recognise the advantages that nuclear power provides to stabilise these markets long term, to support the move to a low carbon economy and to help with security of supply.’         This analysis seems to elide long-term reserve capacity with short-term balancing (backup). If nuclear wants to get full access to the balancing market it has to show that it really can meet varying demand fast and often, not just the short daily demand cycles, or occasional longer periods of low wind/PV.
 French offshore wind in the Med An offshore wind farm using 2 MW Vertiwind vertical axis turbines, is to be built by EDF at Fos-sur-Mer on the Mediterranean coast near Marseilles. It’s due to begin operating by 2016, with 13 turbines, 26 GW in all. Though a recent upgrade to 2.6 MW devices may change that. A prototype, developed with the help of £2m from the Euro-Commission, is currently being tested on land in Fos-sur-Mer. Vertical axis mills are less efficient than horizontal designs but the tower height is lower and they may be more robust for offshore use. The Daily Telegraph thought it was ugly! Would they prefer the tilting 5 MW German Aerodyn design. It’s said to cut costs 40%. 
                                                                                                                                                                Denmark aims for 100% by 2050 Denmark has a goal of getting 50% of electricity from wind by 2020, with an unofficial but stated goal of reaching 100% renewable electricity by 2035 and then moving to a totally fossil fuel energy (transport, heat, electricity) by 2050. Here’s a useful summary:   As it notes, a new DEA study agrees that it can be done:    Its review of the various scenarios notes that they include extensive heat storage facilities, which play an important role in the intelligent electricity system for balancing wind power. Interestingly the scenarios do not assume that electricity storage in used in Denmark. The preliminary assessment is that the ‘use of the electricity market (including hydropower storage facilities abroad) and flexible electricity consumption are cheaper solutions’. Also ‘in order to keep the consumption of bioenergy low, hydrogen is produced and used to upgrade bio-mass and biogas to make it last longer’. So surplus wind is converted   to hydrogen to upgrade biomass, some being used as fuel for vehicles.
 European Commission changes There’s now a new tier of EC Vice Presidents to oversee, ‘streamline’  and ‘integrate’ policies. Slovenia’s ex-Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek  was to lead the EU's energy policy as Vice President for Energy Union, but was rejected as a candidate. So now Maroš Šefčovič has taken it on, tasked to bring about ‘a resilient EU, with a forward-looking climate change policy’. The previously separate Commissioner portfolios of Climate Action and Energy have been merged and given to the former conservative Spanish environment minister Miguel Arias Cañete, who will report to VPEU. Some green groups were concerned about his ties to the oil industry in Spain and his role in removing subsidies for renewables. But Dr. Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Forum, said ‘The EU is signaling a historical shift away from its green priority towards a new focus on economic recovery, competitiveness and energy cost’.           We shall see - prospects for upgrading the EU-ETS seem limited! But some want more carbon taxes. One of the agenda items is of course the nuclear ‘state aid’ issue - should EDF be allowed to get high level CfD funding for 35 years along with £10bn loan guarantees for Hinkley. The case against was put well in this submission last year to the EC: And of course much hung on it - the fate of the other proposed new UK nuclear plants and any that follow across the EU. But in Oct, some say rather hastily, just before the new team took over, a tiny majority of the existing EC members said it was fine. So now the door is wide open to more projects.
Global roundup
 US renewables hit over 14%                                           
According to a U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) ‘Electric Power Monthly’ report, with data for the first six months of 2014, renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, hydro, geothermal, solar, wind) provided 14.3 % of net U.S. electrical generation. Hydro accounted for 7%, while non-hydro renewables together provided 7.3%. The 14.3% figure does not fully reflect distributed and ‘off-grid’ generation. Wind leads new renewables at over 60 GW (see Box below) but PV is catching up nearing 16 GW, and that too may under estimate the total:    The new ‘26-28% cut by 2025’ emission policy was seen as keeping the US ‘on the right trajectory to achieve deep economy-wide reductions on the order of 80% by 2050’. It should benefit renewables.
EIA view challenged   The US EIA projections for further ahead are however a little conservative, as has been pointed out in various blogs: It seems the EIA assumes a slow down and indeed a halt for some renewables, with no new policies pushing them on.  
US wind power gets cheap                                                                     
Wind energy prices are at an all-time low in the USA, according to a U.S. Dept. of Energy report prepared by Lawrence Berkeley National Labs, and, enabled by technology advancements, wind projects have increasingly been built in lower wind speed areas. Wind turbine prices have fallen 20-40% from their highs in 2008, and in a sample of 2013 projects, installed costs averaged $1,630/kW. The prices offered by projects to utility purchasers averaged $25/MWh for contracts in 2013, spurring demand for wind energy, wind contributing more than 4% of US electricity supply, more than 12% of total electricity generation in nine states, and more than 25% in two states.  2013 was actually not a very good year for the wind industry, with policy and funding uncertainties e.g. the report noted that the wind sector employed 50, 500 full-time workers in the US at the end of 2013, down from 80, 700 in 2012. But its projections were for solid growth in 2014/2015, though it said in 2016 and beyond, there were policy uncertainties again.     One thing is clear, as wind and also PV expand in the US as elsewhere, grid balancing issues will present more challenges, as we try to limit the costs of using variable energy sources.  Lawrence Berkeley Labs have also looked at this:   Also see the Hass Institutes Blog: Texas seems to have cracked curtailment of surplus wind output, at least for now, by grid upgrades:  But Fisherman Energy’s 25 MW demonstration offshore wind farm off New Jersey (precursor to a 330 MW scheme) has been turned down by the PUC as uneconomic. Will the US ever get offshore?                                                                                                                                                    
 A useful US Energy Storage overview:
Japan’s floating PV  Kyocera is to develop and operate utility- scale floating solar power plants using Ciel et Terre’s Hydrelio© floating solar platforms on two reservoirs, a 1.7 MW array on Nishihira Pond and a 1.2 MW array on Higashihira Pond, in Hyogo Prefecture. It aims to install 30 project of up to 2 MW each i.e. 60 MW in all.   It also plans a 70 MW mega floating PV scheme offshore at Kagoshima in south Japan, near Sakurajima volcano :                
 Kazakhstan The Kazakh government aims to add 3 GW of new renewables by 2020. According to a new federal plan, that would meet around 3% of the country’s power needs. Around 713 MW would be from 28 PV plants. It’s been suggested that solar could rise to 50% by 2050: 
Iran is keen to expand nuclear, from 1 GW now to 8 GW. That would generate ~60 TWh/y. CSP could supply that from 400km2. A better idea? CPV too.  Mexico has a 40 GW wind resource and may become one of the world’s fastest growing wind energy producers. Though Bent Sorensen’s new book has PV (at 2,500PJ) just beating wind (at 2,000PJ) by 2050. But biomass wins at ~8,000PJ. 
India goes for solar  India has set a new target of getting 100GW of PV solar in place by 2020, plus 60GW of wind and 170GW for electricity supplying renewables overall. Lobby group Bridge to India was optimistic; it put the realizable solar potential in India even higher at 110-144 GW by 2024. See its reports including, crucially, one on PV& grids:  Better than the coal plants that India also plans:  Given that, and despite the new renewables targets, with the US and China now adopting new emission targets (see below), India may still be something of a global outsider: it seems to be rowing back on its climate policies: Although some say that it, and others, have a case for expecting more climate action from the rich countries:   India is also of course still pushing ahead with a nuclear programme, despite much local opposition. 
China: carbon intensity cuts –                       
 and a 2030 peak Emissions are still rising, but China says it hopes they will peak at around 2030.                                        
 It’s new national climate change plan aims to cut carbon intensity (emissions per unit of GDP) by 40-45% by 2020 from 2005 levels (a 29% cut has already been achieved) and to raise the proportion of non-fossil fuels used from 9.8% (at the end of    2013) to 20% of total primary energy use by 2030. By the end of 2013 it had 280 GW of hydro, 100 GW of solar heat, 91 GW of wind, 12 GW of PV + 17 GW of nukes.  It aims to have 100 GW of PV and 200 GW of wind by 2020. The joint announcement of its emissions policy alongside the USA’s proposals for a 26-28% emission cut by 2025, raised hopes that the rest of world might now adopt progressive policies, Chinese President Xi JinPing said ‘we agreed to make sure that international climate change negotiations will reach an agreement in Paris’. Though it had not yet set a specific target, it would seek to cap its emissions by 2030 and would make ‘best efforts to peak early’. However some saw the Chinese commitment as minimal, given that it was now a major emitter: Indeed some US Republicans felt that China was being let off the hook, while the US made punishing commitments: Though surely it’s a step forward for China, especially given its worries about global imbalance issues:
Low Carbon Future Cities project in China After over 3 years of in-depth research on how to foster and achieve a low carbon urban development in the pilot city of Wuxi, the Sino-German team of the Low Carbon Future Cities project has compiled a report titled ‘Lessons Learnt from a Sino-German Low Carbon City Project - A Manual’. It offers information and recommendations on how to get an intercultural low carbon city project on track, how to build a profound foundation of scientific knowledge for planning low carbon urban development and how to identify business opportunities deriving from a low carbon development in a Chinese cities. Within this framework, the LCFC team offers both detailed advice on key methodologies, for example for conducting a status quo assessment of greenhouse gas emissions and resource use at the urban level, and procedural steps, such as suitable interactive formats for international exchange and learning. The report is available in English and Chinese. 
*The situation in Australia goes from bad to worse, with fossil fuel backed, emissions rising fast, climate polices in tatters, renewable targets/support being downgraded, and even talk of nuclear. CSP for example is on hold:
Nuclear News
 Global decline continues.. ‘The share of nuclear power in total global electricity generation decreased for the tenth year in a row, to less than 11% in 2013, the lowest value since 1982’- International Atomic Energy Authority:                                
The independent World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2014 similarly noted that nuclear’s  share of global commercial primary energy production fell from the 2012 low of 4.5%, ‘a level last seen in 1984’, to a new low of 4.4%. In terms of electricity, ‘the nuclear share in the world’s power generation declined steadily from a historic peak of 17.6% in 1996 to 10.8% in 2013’.  But unlike the IAEA, it didn’t see it getting better anytime soon. At least 49 of the total of 69 new reactor construction projects, including 75% of China’s projects, have encountered delays, of 18-30 months in the case of China’s AP1000 reactors, and of 13-15 months with its two EPR reactors, and in the EU (the French and Finnish EPRs) of several years. Phase-outs continue and construction of two units in Taiwan was halted while several projects have been delayed indefinitely, e.g. in the Czech Republic and Vietnam. The report gives a detailed breakdown by country.                                                                                                            
The nuclear lobby inevitably sees it very differently, at least longer term. The IAEA low projection is an expansion from 372 GW in 2103 to 401 GW in 2030. Their high 2030 projection is 699 GW! In an Ecologist article last year, Paul Brown cited World Nuclear Association figures: although over the period 1996 to 2013, 66 reactors retired, 71 started operation, and between now and 2030, while another 74 will close, 272 new ones should come on line. The ‘retired plant’ figure apparently doesn’t include the 48 then off-line plants in Japan, and the future projections look very optimistic, given the already clear financial problems and delays e.g. Areva cited deteriorating nuclear market conditions as a reason for its net €694m loss for the first half of 2014. But it’s not dead yet. And, perversely, Spain’s finance regulator fined the Garoña plant for its early shutdown!
..but Japan tries for a partial restart                                                    A nationwide poll by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper last July found that 59% of voters disagreed with reactor restarts, whereas only 23% agreed. But 19 reactors, out of the surviving but still off-line 48, applied to Japans Nuclear Regulation Authority for safety assessments, the first two of which - Sendai units 1 and 2 - got through and are to be restarted. Pressing for more, the Institute of Energy Economics of Japan claimed that ‘The extent to which nuclear power plants can restart and operate has huge impacts on the Japanese economy, with serious implications regarding the environment and energy security’.  It noted that, even if all 19 units that have applied for assessments could be restarted, Japan’s use of nuclear would still be under half of that in 2010: supplying 15% of Japan’s electricity, compared with 31% then. 13 other plants are old and would have to close by 2020, unless extensions were allowed.
But it’s also looking elsewhere. A demonstration high-temperature gas-cooled reactor could be built in Indonesia in a joint project.
South Africa has allocated $81m, over 10% of its energy budgeto nuclear R&D, mainly on safety. There’s a 9.6 GW nuclear target for 2030, as set out in the 2012 Integrated Electricity Resource Plan, on top of the existing 1830 MW capacity at Koeberg.
Sweden may ditch nuclear, after a SD/Green election win. But 64% of Poles back new nuclear. However, Belgium’s phase out, planned for 2015-25, has started early -with 3 plants, off line due to faults. And many more being found:
 *The radiation and health debate continues:  See this key contribution on radiation spikes during refueling:  And the IEA says global n-plant decommissioning will cost $100bn by 2040. And in some places it could be more: it seems that most of the fuel in Fukushima No. 3 reactor melted through the reactor core and is resting at the bottom of the outer containment vessel.
 It had been thought that at least some of the fuel was still inside the reactor. So 
clearing it up could be even harder than thought.

 3. Forum Odds and ends for you to chew on  
 Optimism Oil prices: Virgin’s Richard Branson said now was the time for a carbon tax- its impact would be cushioned by the oil price fall. But will it stay low? Pessimism  Google says renewables aren’t enough - or they wont be cheap enough to be taken up widely by markets but what it’s really saying is that markets don’t work. See our points in their comments.
More pessimism For a standard establishment view, ex Chief Scientist Prof. Sir David King is hard to beat: he told the WNA annual conference last year that nuclear energy ‘has a key role to play in most regions of the world’, though he added that some areas of the world with large population growth might find renewable energy sources more suitable than nuclear.  For example, South Africa has a large desert area and therefore a large capacity for solar energy, he suggested. But, for other countries, like the UK, with high population densities and not enough land for large-scale deployment of wind and solar, nuclear may bemore suitable. Denmark, Austria and Germany wouldn’t agree we suspect! But then to confuse things he later told the media that he thought we could cope with just renewables, if storage was available: a man for all seasons?  But anyway it’s going over old ground - or rather not necessarily using much ground. PV on roofs takes no extra space. Solar Century have calculated that, based on the 4,000 available km2 of roofs and facades on UK buildings, the absolute potential is 460 TWh, 116% of current UK electricity consumption.  Though they said a more sensible figure might be 140 TWh, 35% of use, based on south-facing roofs and facades only. That roughly agrees with estimates of the maximum reasonably available on buildings by Mackay (2008), of 111 TWh and IEA (2002) of 105 TWh, both based on south facing roofs only. Solar Century also quote an E-S-W arc figure of 374 TWh. They add that though they don’t favour ground-mounted PV in the UK so much, it would provide much more: 407 GWp for each 1% of UK land area. This would generate 346 TWh p.a., since ground-mounted PV can be optimally orientated. Wind turbines take up less land/kWh generated than PV arrays and of course offshore wind takes up no land. The land around the on shore wind turbines can be farmed as usual, and, if roof tops are not enough, the Solar Trade Association has pointed much the land taken up by solar farms can be grazed and/or used for wild flower growth, aiding biodiversity: STA BRENSC Biodiversity Gudelines Final.pdf        Of course there will be disputes about costs. But nuclear and on-land wind costs are similar, and the later are falling, as are offshore wind and PV costs, whereas few see nuclear getting cheap. Though for a reliably contrarian view on that, going over old ground yet again, see:   For a positive counter view:    *This is good and very thought provoking:        So is this, if pessimistic:
Grid defection The glossy high and middle brow magazines have woken up to renewables over the last year or so, with, for example, the US Times magazine (25/9/14) running a sensible article pointing out that although offgrid solar plus batteries might be viable for some homeowners, the grid was still needed and in fact was invaluable e.g. to link in big supply projects for bulk energy and help with balancing. Quite. The parallel is not so much with personal mobile phones as with the shared internet and server/cloud access.
CfD The UK’s Prospect magazine (Oct 2014) ran a piece by Mark Dolley, of Macquarie Capital, focused on the electricity market reforms, arguing that ‘it is hard to fault the shift to competitive tender’ for the renewables CfD, although noting that ‘the impact of the new regime feels a little retrospective for those carrying legacy development costs’, with an uncertain future as the process of future ‘price discovery’ went ahead.  Just so.  
Nukes for nukes  Less heard these days as an argument (Iran apart), but is the UK push for nuclear power due to the need to support its nuclear weapons technology? A bit of a long shot, but maybe an element in the mix of strategic factors. However, there are plenty more reason to be opposed. The emphasis these days is often less on safety risks than the economics, but despite consequent rumours last year that Friends of the Earth had changed position of nuclear, that was quickly scotched: and Also Crucially, FoE are not calling for existing plants to close: there’s no need - they’re closing anyway. But FoE opposes new plants: and  What next?  Here’s almost an obituary from Bloomberg - security costs too much:
FREE  If you want a short course on renewables, check out the free OU offering at Also see the even shorter version at 
Right Hook? At the World Renewable Energy Congress in London last year, long time wind power supporter Prof Donald Swift-Hook recycled his argument that climate issues like sea level rise had been over-hyped, and that climate change was not  the main driver for renewables: ‘Renewables are to save fuel, not to provide reliable capacity and most countries pursue them with that in mind. Conveniently, renewables save emissions and the 20% minority of countries who are committed to limiting their emissions say they are subsidising renewables for that reason, although they do not have carbon taxes or much support for carbon capture and sequestration. The majority of countries, led by China, USA and India on both fronts, burn increasing amounts of coal and install wind power and other renewables to save the coal they need to burn and stretch it further. That is why wind and solar and other renewables are surging ahead.’                                                                                  
 In similarly contrarian style he also argued that, since wind energy was so cheap, when available it would always be the first choice for grid use and the last choice for storage. That seems to ignore the problem of there being surplus wind energy output occasionally, at times when demand is low. And this will get worse when there’s more wind on the grid. Then storage, or wind-to-gas conversion, may make more sense than curtailment. But Swift-Hook says this will only be the case when there is just wind on the grid: ‘Wind power always has the lowest running costs. Therefore, even when storage is available, wind generation will never normally be the power that is stored unless the highest (cost) is also the lowest and there is only wind left on the system. So wind is the last to be stored.’ It is true that storage is expensive and inefficient, as is wind-to-gas conversion, especially given the fact that such plants would only operate occasionally when there was an excess. But this excess power is free..                             
Climate change - all at sea?   The World Meteorological Organisation says global concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere rose in 2013 at the fastest rate for nearly 30 years   Also see: The debate on what that means goes on.. and on. Here’s some nicely contrarian input challenging some of the basics of climate modeling: and And two more or less diametrically opposed accounts of  the impacts of water vapour on warming. One says humidity levels in the upper atmosphere are increasing, as predicted by the climate models, the other say they are falling and disprove the models:  and The latter view might explain why the continuing temperature rise predicted by the models has leveled off for the last 15 years or more.  A more common view (assuming the models are right) is that the heat energy has been absorbed in the depth of the oceans rather than in the global atmosphere, maybe due to the complex interactions between the huge cyclic sea water flows around the planet and changing salinity due to the melting of (fresh water) ice caps. This may last another 10 or 20 years! But there are other views:   However the vast majority of climate scientists - up to 97% - are said to believe in human induced climate change: (though see: This contrast strongly with a opinion survey by ComRes for the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a new non-profit initiative backed by  MPs, Peers and leading academics, which found that only 11% of their sample were aware of the strength of the scientific consensus. 47% thought either that most climate scientists reject the idea that human activities are the main driver of climate change (11%), or were evenly split on it (35%). For its part though, the UK based Global Warming Policy Foundation, clearly delighted at the possibility of a 30 year pause and divergences over its possible cause (e.g. Atlantic or Pacific deep sea warming?), quoted an American Meteorological Society poll of their membership which showed only 52% felt that global warming was mostly man-made.   And nearly three-quarters of UK Conservative MPs do not accept that climate change has been proven to be caused by human activity, in a Populus poll of 119 MPs from all parties.                                                                                                              
So what next? The Global Warming Policy Foundation has set up a new campaigning arm, the Global Warming Policy Forum, which it notes ‘will be able to conduct campaigns and activities which do not fall squarely within the Foundation’s remit as an educational charity’.  Well that won’t make much of a dent on the 500,000 or so who took part in climate protests around the world last year… including 300,000 in the USA (NYC left), and big marches in London and Melbourne. In a Populus UK public opinion poll, 73% wanted world leaders to agree a global deal and 66% thought action must happen now, only 20% felt it could wait a few years.
* Renew On Line is produced by NATTA, the independent Network for Alternative Technology and Technology Assessment:

No comments:

Post a Comment