Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Renew on Line 117


 Renew On Line 117  Sept - Oct 2015
   Your bimonthly digest of news 
    and views on renewable energy
     For a fuller PDF version with graphics/charts/pictures:

1.UK Developments- cost overview

DECC’s impact assessment said that although the various green energy support schemes (EU-ETS, ECO, RO, EMR, FiTs etc), would add  £286 to typical consumer bills by 2020, they would cut energy use, so that there would be a $452 saving, overall then a net reduction of £166 p.a. or 11%:
However it’s been claimed that in fact UK green energy levies are running ‘out of control’ to £9bn by 2020, £1.5bn more than planned: They were referring to the Levy Control Framework cap for the RO, FiT and CfD schemes, currently set at £7.5bn for 2020, but expected to have to rise. According to the official view, all green schemes (e.g. the CRC isn’t usually seen as a tax) were expected to cost £2.9 bn more than planned - the RO over £1bn more from 2018-19 and the FiTs over £0.5bn more in 2019-20, due to rapid take up.
But that will now be nipped in the bud: access to the RO has ended for solar farms and soon for onshore wind and renewable’s exemption from the climate change levy ends. Even so, prices will rise. The Policy Exchange said up from £89 now to near £120 pa per bill by 2020.

Note that the CfD figures don’t yet include the Hinkley nuclear project, which might start in the mid 2020s. There’s also no hint of nuclear clean up costs in the DECC impact assessment: 96% of DECCs budget:

Technology News                                  

Wind - and PV
Up to 7 GW of onshore wind projects will get halted under the governments new RO cut, allegedly since wind was getting cheap and no longer needs support, though Energy Secretary Amber Rudd suggested that solar PV was even cheaper. Certainly most of the onshore wind farms got CfD contracts at £82.50/MWh while solar got £79.23/MWh, with two PV projects even being awarded £50/MWh (though they are it seems not going ahead). But large solar farms (often the cheapest PV option) are not allowed! Offshore wind however (a more expensive option) is allowed and is speeding ahead, e.g. the 576 MW RWE Gwynt y Môr wind farm, off Wales, with 160 Siemens 3.6MW turbines, is now operational. See this time- lapse construction video: More:
A new Carbon Trust report says floating wind has the potential to reach below £100/MWh in commercial deployments, the leading concepts, at £85-£95MWh, being competitive with fixed-bottom projects, if floating wind reaches commercial scale deployment in the 2020s:
Atlantis buys 
Marine Current Turbines                                   Atlantis Resources has taken over Marine Current Turbines (MCT) from Siemens, in a 100% buyout. Atlantis will operate MCT as a ‘stand-a-lone legal entity’ and will support its turbine development business - based on the SeaGen system. Atlantis says SeaGen is the ‘most proven tidal generation system in the world, having demonstrated exceptional operational performance at Strangford Lough over the past five years. Atlantis is fully committed to fostering this legacy and providing MCT with the platform it needs to commercialise this technology.’ MCT has been awarded six tidal lease agreements for sites around the UK, with a total potential capacity of nearly 200 MW. This brings Atlantis’s tidal capacity portfolio up to nearly 600 MW, including the 400 MW MeyGen Pentland scheme:
Swansea Tidal Lagoon given the go ahead
The £1bn around 250 MW Swansea Tidal Lagoon has been given development consent by DECC, but still has key hurdles to jump, not least getting local environmental clearances and CfD support - it wants a £168/MWh strike price, which is more than offshore wind gets, but less than offered to some other marine renewables. If all that is sorted this year, construction could start next year and it could be running by late 2018. However, media reports say a Chinese construction company may build it, raising some concerns about ‘local content’, but it’s claimed most items will be UK sourced, though getting stone from Cornwall may be tricky - there has been local opposition to large scale quarrying there.  and
Bristol Tidal Fence
Kepler Energy has plans for a series of tidal rotors mounted between supports, creating a 1km tidal fence in the Bristol Channel. It’s based on horizontal axis cross-flow tidal rotor/carbon fibre technology developed by Oxford University Dept of engineering science for use in shallow, low velocity flows. If approved & funded, its claimed that the £143m tidal fence could be operational by 2020/21, maybe in the Aberthaw/Minehead area, with possible extension to 10km. It would be less invasive than a barrage and Kepler Energy chairman Peter Dixon said the 30 MW tidal fence could co-exist with tidal lagoons, but, at between £100-130 per MWh, could be cheaper and also possibly cheaper than offshore wind.  and
RDM’s Capricorn tidal turbine will, the developers say, costs 40% less than its rival, with £128/MWh claimed for the two-way device:  
 Wind-to-gas storage systems win out…   
Capturing surplus wind generated power for later use, via water electrolysers, to make hydrogen gas, may be inefficient in overall energy conversion terms, but a new paper says that even with only a 30% round-trip efficiency, a regenerative hydrogen fuel cell system, with interim hydrogen storage, achieves the same Energy Return on Energy Invested as Li-ion batteries, when storing over-generation from wind turbines: the material for hydrogen storage is much less energy intense than that for battery storage and the high EROEI of wind offsets the low round-trip efficiency.             

And tide to gas in next ... 

In addition to its involvement with RWE’s new 150 kW power-to-gas test plant in Ibbenbüren, Germany, ITM, the pioneering UK energy storage and clean fuel company, has won a competitive tender to supply an integrated hydrogen system for use at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) tidal test site on Eday, Orkney. The system’s main component is a 0.5 MWpolymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) electrolyser with integrated compression and up to 500 kg of storage. It will be used to absorb excess power generated by the tidal turbines testing at EMEC. The hydrogen gas generated will be compressed and stored, with some of the gas being used in (an optional) hydrogen fuel cell to provide backup power to critical EMEC systems. The rest of the hydrogen will be used off-site by a further project being developed separately which plans to absorb output of a local community wind turbine run by Eday Renewable Energy Ltd. and These systems may be small, and have only been used in niche applications so far, including injection of syngas into the grid, but they highlight a possible key way forward for variable renewable grid balancing on a large scale, allowing excess power to be stored to meet later peaks. ITMs PEM system is claimed to have an 86% energy conversion efficiency with heat recovery, and, if the input power is from (effectively free, otherwise dumped) surplus wind output, then the overall operational and economic system viability could be attractive.   

*Shorter-term grid balancing, to cope with small load or supply variations, is mostly done by frequency adjustments, but National Grid ‘estimated that using voltage reduction nationally could reduce demand by 4 GW - greater than the capacity of the proposed new Hinkley Point nuclear power station’, with the impact on users evidently not being noticed in trials: Perhaps a better, and cheaper, idea than smart meters?  

Wyre Tidal Barrage

Natural Energy’s proposed ~90 MW 600 metre Wyre tidal barrage, on the Lancashire coast near Fleetwood (see concept picture), would, if built, generate up to 150 MWh p.a., using the (high) 10 metre average tidal range there. Its cost is put at £200m, with the developer claiming that it would deliver power economically, and that its financial returns would ‘exceed the estimates of the Severn Barrage, the Swansea Lagoon project, or any other similar enterprise’. Eco-impacts would be low, but they will be carefully studied. and
Heat networks - small beginnings
Nine innovative heat network projects are being tested across the UK as part of DECC’s £7m Heat Network Small Business Research Initiative competition. They include Star Refrigeration’s large-scale high temperature heat pump drawing heat from a canal, a CoHeat low-cost micro-pipe District Heating network and a deep geothermal demonstration project. DECC says an estimated 14% of UK heat demand could be cost effectively met by heat networks by 2030 and around 43% by 2050. There are currently around 2,000 heat networks in the UK, supplying heat to 210,000 dwellings and 1,700 commercial and public buildings. A further 150 schemes are under development by local authorities across the UK. e.g. see:
Biomass - ups and downs
A 299MW biomass fired Combined Heat & Power plant is being built on Teesside:
But the UK’s largest biomass CHP plant so far is RWE Innogy’s Markinch Biomass CHP Plant in Glenrothes, Fife. It replaces the coal and gas fired CHP plant on the site of paper & board manufacturer Tullis Russell. The new unit will provide enough electricity and steam to meet its needs with excess power being exported to the grid. But not everyone is happy with projects like this: e.g., Biofuelwatch opposed the continued support for the big DRAX biomass project:  Biofuelwatch has also had a go at gasification and pyrolysis, which many see as less environmentally worrying than simple mass burn. It claims that what has emerged so far has mostly been a series of costly failures, with few benefits: The production of biogas from the anaerobic digestion (AD) of food wastes must surely be acceptable though, and that’s moving ahead, with the UK’s 400th AD plant recently being opened by food waste management company Biogen in South Wales. 1.6 million tonnes of food are being recycled through AD now compared to 0.3-0.4 m tonnes in 2010, with over 100 new plants opening this year. But overall biomass is still constrained: there’s a 400 MW cap on new big projects. And the CCL change (below) has hit DRAX hard.
UK Renewables overview   DECC data for 2014 is now out
A reasonable acceleration curve for renewables – but that may falter soon as the cuts hit.
ODFGEMs data on current FiTs is at:
Next: UK energy vectors An 80% or more renewable mix is viable and can
be cheap, says Imperial College:  Also see this good storage overview:  It says power-to-gas SNG may be a good option, while this article pushes biogas & heat pumps, as shale gas alternatives: But this UCL scenario-based paper suggests that, although biomass may be needed and helpful, geosequestration may be best:

Policy News
Filling the GAP with $150bn of R&D
A group of UK notables, including Sir David King, Lord Browne, Lord Nicholas Stern and Lord Martin Ryle, has launched a proposal for a 10 year Global Apollo Programme of science-led R&D plus demonstration (RD&D) to develop clean energy technology fast to combat climate change - focused on renewables (PV solar especially), energy storage and transmission systems. The other priority choices, nuclear, CCS and energy efficiency, were, they felt, already well serviced.  They say ‘worldwide, publicly-funded RD&D on renewable energy is under 2% of the total of publicly funded research and development - only around $6 billion in total. This is hardly commensurate with the gravity of the threat we face. So we need a quite new priority for the discovery of new, cheaper ways to produce, store and distribute clean energy. At the same time it is right to subsidise the supply of clean energy until its cost comes down. But the $6 billion that governments spend on renewable RD&D is far too low. It compares poorly with the $101 billion spent worldwide on production subsidies for renewables, not to mention the counterproductive subsidies for fossil fuel energy (totalling $550 bn). Effective cost reduction requires not only the wider deployment of existing clean technology but also, critically, the scientific development of new technologies.’
Ex-UK Chief Scientist Sir David King said ‘what we need to do is create clean energy that is less costly than fossil energy, and once we get to that point, we’re winning all battles’. The aim is to ask governments topledge to spend an annual average of 0.02% of GDP as public expenditure on the Programme from 2016 to 2025. The money will be spent according to the country’s own discretion. We hope all major countries will join.’
Reactions  Not everyone liked the focus on lab R&D (or even RD&D): it gave the impression that renewables were undeveloped, whereas many were now competitive and expanding fast in the market: 
The GAP team agreed that prices were falling, as new options moved down their learning curves, and PV was doing best (with a learning curve slope of 17%, compared to 9% for wind offshore and 7% onshore), and so should be favored. But they say that market-led growth, supported by production subsidies, wasn’t enough: more RD&D was also needed to speed things up: ‘if fundamental break- throughs are added to learning by doing, the combination can produce even more rapid falls in cost’. It’s not clear if RD&D does speed up learning: most innovation theories see the growth of markets as doing that. Prof. Jim Watson from UKERC said ‘the report’s emphasis on diverting funding away from deployment towards R,D&D risks creating a false dichotomy. The evidence on successful low carbon technologies such as wind and solar shows that both forms of support have been essential - and there is often a symbiotic relationship between them.’:  But it’s true that more funding net would be helpful, and is long overdue:
Though some saw it as all fundamentally political- to do with power and who wields it :  Also some say, technological innovation may not be what’s needed. A study of the impact of ‘innovation prizes’ and competitions, albeit in a development context, concluded that ‘in most cases the factors limiting access to cleaner and more efficient energy supply are at the level of market formation, financing and policy. The challenges are not primarily of a technical/engineering nature.’
Could GAP work nevertheless? Carbon Brief was gloomy: Neither making clean energy cheaper than new coal, nor adding more new clean energy capacity than fossil fuels will dent the large existing fleet of dirty power plants. Indeed, even as renewables keep breaking records their global share of power output has barely changed in a quarter-century.’  The GAP report agreed, but simply says ‘this reinforces the need for renewables to expand beyond just contributing to additional capacity. They have to displace a significant fraction of the existing fossil fuel-based capacity. This requires more radical falls in their cost of production.’ Quite a challenge. You could ask why do they have to be cheaper than dirty fuels? Shouldn’t we be imposing carbon costs more effectively on the latter?
On-shore wind attacked
‘With the cost of supplying onshore wind falling, government subsidy is no longer appropriate. We have supported new technologies when they’ve been a good deal for the consumer - providing start-up  funding and certainty about future payments to help them become competitive. However, those subsidies won’t continue when costs come down - that’s not value for money for bill payers in the long run.’  So said DECC, before the details of the new policy emerged. And later, when launching the cut back proposals, which many saw as premature, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd, said onshore wind has deployed successfully to date and is an important part of our energy mix’ but ‘Government support is designed to help technologies to stand on their own two feet, not to encourage a permanent reliance on subsidies. We must continue to take tough judgments about what new projects get subsidies.’
So under the new policy, new on-shore wind projects will no longer be eligible for support via the Renewables Obligation, or (it later transpired) from the Contracts for Difference (CfD) system, which will replace the RO in 2017. Rudd’s way of presenting it (i.e. on-shore wind can now got ahead unsubsidized) attempts to undermine the counter view that, since on-shore wind is the cheapest option, it should be promoted ahead of more expensive options like offshore wind. The reality is that, with the investment climate weakened, fewer on-shore projects may now go ahead, especially since the government is also revising the planning rules, so that local opposition groups will have more say - though that may not in the end change much: only a few projects were over 50 MW and decided on centrally - most went through the local planning system, and local opposition is actually not that widespread. About 5.2 GW of wind farms capacity, around 3,000 turbines, have already been granted planning permission, and some may be allowed RO support under an interim ‘grace’ arrangement. But around 3,000 more, over 7 GW, are seeking planning permission and few of those may now get built. Amber Rudd said ‘around 250 projects totalling around 2,500 turbines are now unlikely to be built’. Critics fear that more expensive projects will have to be promoted to fill the shortfall, pushing up the cost to consumers, but DECC says there will be enough to meet the targets it has set. We shall see. Bloomberg Energy Finance estimated that under half the capacity of onshore wind projects in advanced stages of planning might now get CfDs, but that was before Rudd announced (see later) that none will be allowed under the next CfD. Though surely, if they are now so cheap, why not? Assuming there are no local objections.
*The Committee on Climate Change report, ‘Meeting Carbon Budgets - Progress in Reducing the UK’s emissions’ looked to onshore wind being subsidy free from around 2020 and calls for the Government to be ‘transparent over the cost to consumers if low-cost options like onshore wind are constrained’. RenewableUK’s Dr Gordon Edge said: ‘if we want to keep all our fuel bills as low as possible, the Government shouldn’t be trying its damnedest to kill off the onshore wind industry. The CCC says the current low cost of onshore wind at £80/MWh shows it can be subsidy-free by 2020, matching the cost of new gas. Why on earth would any Government want to stop that happening?’
CCC on offshore wind progress  
but target cut
A report produced for the Committee on Climate Change says the cost of offshore wind energy will fall dramatically, to reach the target of £100/MWh by 2020, and, with improved reliability & capacity increased to 10 MW+, to £80/MWh by 2030. But the Government must set out a clear vision of how much capacity it wants installed and by when, allocating support accordingly with a rolling 5-year horizon. It had set 13 GW+ by 2020 target, but now it’s only looking to ~10 GW, and that’s almost all in train, with 5 GW in place and 4 GW on the way:
Yet more cuts…
Following on from the budget’s RO cuts, DECC now says that onshore wind will also no longer be eligible for CfD support. Amber Rudd, the Energy and Climate Change secretary, passed on this news during hearings of the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee. She also cast doubt on whether there would even be another CfD auction round, as had been expected, later this year, telling the committee she could not confirm it would take place. Asked for a clarification, DECC just said decisions on any further CfD auctions would be taken ‘in due course’. Rudd also said that she could no longer guarantee subsidies for new biomass conversion. And Minister Andrea Leadsom seemed to say that the current Spending Review was looking at redirecting  renewable subsidies towards other low carbon options.
By way of explanation, Amber Rudd said We can’t have a situation where industry has a blank cheque and that cheque is paid for by people’s bills. My priorities are clear. We need
to keep bills as low as possible for hard working families and businesses while reducing our emissions in the most cost-effective way. Our support has driven down the cost of
renewable energy significantly. As costs continue to fall it becomes easier for parts of the renewables industry to  survive without subsidies.’ Well some may, but not many, with support clearly being withdrawn across the board. In the latest move, subject to a consultation, the Feed-in Tariff  is set for major cuts (up to 8% for domestic PV) or even complete closure:
That’s all part of the new FIT review, which will also focus on pre-accreditation- DECC says it forces uptake too much. But it’s ideal for co-ops…
Reactions  The Energy Select Committees new Chair, SNP MP Angus Macneil, said: ‘It is deeply worrying that the Secretary of State has said that onshore wind will not be able to access the Government’s guaranteed price Contracts for Difference.  Onshore wind remains the cheapest form of clean power and consumers may get less new capacity installed for their money if energy levies are used to fund more expensive forms of low carbon power. It is particularly concerning given that the Department admitted in the same hearing that on our present path there could be a shortfall in meeting the fourth carbon budget in the 2020s
Progress halted The cuts have already led the number of planning applications to fall According to DECC, there were only 21 new submissions for renewable projects in June, a 78% drop on the 95 applications lodged in June 2014. Click Green said the estimated capacity if all 21 are successful was just 185 MW, including a 56 MW proposed extension of the Gordonbush onshore wind farm in the Scottish Highlands, which operator SSE is now likely to withdraw following the loss of subsidy for onshore wind. So in the pipeline was 1,750 MW down from the 1,951 MW in June 2014. It added ‘The downward curve of proposed green energy projects now jeopardises the UK’s legally binding target of achieving 15% of its energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020’. * Here’s a simple explanation of why all this is happening - renewables are undercutting utility profits:
Justifications The cuts were prefigured in a report by the right-wing Policy Exchange
In ‘The Customer is Always Right’ it said policymakers ‘have failed to strike the right balance between energy affordability and decarbonising the economy’. While reducing the UK’s carbon emissions remained critical, reducing energy bills must also be at the forefront. It claimed that the average dual-fuel energy bill had risen over the past 5 years (2009-14) by £240 per household, to £1340 p.a. Half of the increase was due to factors controlled by government rather than the energy companies, with energy and climate policies in the form of carbon taxes, subsidies for renewables and energy efficiency grants now making up 7% of the average bill and network costs account for a further 22%, and with policy costs increasing by over 200% between 2009 and 2014, adding more than £60 to the average bill, and increases in network costs adding a further £60. And next, it said, forecasts showed that domestic electricity prices could increase by 18% between now and 2020 in real terms due to further increases in policy costs, while ‘wholesale costs did not contribute to the increase in bills over the period 2009-2014 and are now falling’. So the report called for the 2020 Renewable Targets to be abandoned, and no 2030 target to be set, the Green Deal to be revamped to maximise energy efficiency/reduce bills and for decarbonisation efforts to focus on ‘mature, low cost generation technologies which have the potential to be zero subsidy by 2020 or shortly thereafter’. This seems to be code for nuclear and shale gas with CCS. But neither could be ready by 2020 (even 2025 is unlikely), whereas renewables can be. And the 2020 renewable energy target is a legal EU requirement, signed by the UK, while the (hopeless) Green Deal scheme is now dead...
No RO, FiT, CfD limited - the end of the road?
With Renewables Obligation access halted for solar farms and soon onshore wind, green energy is being squeezed: And (see above) that was just for starters: FiTs may go, and onshore wind will be blocked from the Contacts for Difference. And even the next CfD round does go ahead, the Levy Control Framework cap means that few new projects of any sort could get funded. Nearly all the initial cash may spoken for: and
In any case, the competitive rules for the CfD mean only the cheapest options would survive, although actually one the cheapest (solar farms) is blocked - by the new tighter planning regime, while on-shore wind is barred outright from the CfD. This artificially constrained selection process might still yield a few cheap projects, but at the expense of capacity and of further progress toward price reduction for new entrants. Another premature cull..
It gets worse: 
 Renewables exemption from climate tax cut 
The new Tory Budget means that renewable electricity will no longer be exempt from the Climate Change Levy (CCL) on business energy use. Levy Exemption Certificates (LECs) generated as a result of the CCL, which was originally designed to promote the generation of clean energy, have provided vital financial support for renewable energy producers. The Chancellor said the removal of the exemption will earn the Treasury £450m in 2015/16, rising to £910m in 2020/21, and there were now other support routes for renewables, which didn’t, like the CCL, risk some (about a third) of the benefits going abroad. With the surprise move likely to cost the sector £3.9 bn over the next five years, Renewable UK were totally dismayed: ‘We’re suddenly looking at a substantial amount of lost income for clean energy companies which was totally unexpected. For example, Levy Exemption Certificates account for just over 6% of onshore wind generators’ revenues. It’s another example of this Government’s unfair, illogical and obsessive attacks on renewables.’ Taxing sun and wind!
There was talk of the need to raise the LCF cap from its current £7.6bn by p.a. at 2020 to maybe £9bn, but there was no hint of that in the budget (maybe the new RO/CfD cuts will suffice). Instead in the budget Osborne confirmed the planned £1.3bn tax breaks for the North Sea oil and gas industry announced in the March Budget before the election will go ahead.
Energy Efficiency squeezed…
After an internal DECC reorganisation, the Energy Efficiency Deployment Office has been closed. New DECC Minster Andrea  Leadsom said ‘the work it previously carried out is now undertaken in a number of different directorates, including those focused on home energy use and business and local energy use’. And the already watered down Zero Carbon Homes policy for new build by 2016 has been scrapped entirely - hitting microgen and green ‘allowable solutions’. Unsurprisingly, the cut wasn’t well received: DECCs budget has also been cut by £70m, with energy efficiency spending likely to fall £40m. And an EU ruling means VAT will now be applied in full to insulation materials. So the VAT rate will be: energy use 5%, energy saving 20%:
The Green Deal loan scheme is also closed: no big loss? It was pretty hopeless...
 GIB sell off The Green Investment Bank, one of the few radical ConDem coalition green initiatives, despite being starved of capital, is now to be part-privatized:
Whether DECC can still function, given a reported likely 90% staff budget cut, is less clear: 

Fight back 
UK Solar Independence
The Solar Trade Association’s ‘Solar Independence Plan for Britain’, stresses the local economic & environmental benefits of solar, and the huge potential. It says the new Government could steer rooftop solar electricity to parity with retail prices and utility-scale solar farms to parity with new gas CCGT plant prices by 2020, and outlines a ‘higher ambition’ scenario with a target of 25 GW by 2020. That would mean more than doubling the current 2020 10 TWh target, to 21 TWh. If achieved, it says that would deliver 2.1 million solar homes, 24,000 commercial rooftop/community schemes, 2,300 solar farms and near 57,000 jobs in the solar industry supply chain, at a cost to households of ~ £1 per month. The cuts may save 50p p.a.!
It’s a big jump from 5 GW as now to 25 GW in 5 years time, but consumers like PV and so do farmers: Guy Smith, of the National Farmers Union, said: ‘Many farmers are finding, solar farms can easily be managed to support additional biodiversity such as bees and birds. The government is asking farmers to meet targets on biodiversity, and so we’d urge ministers to support solar farms as part of the solution. Farm economists seem agreed that in the future farm-gate prices will become more volatile. Increased weather volatility is a key factor in this. To help manage this volatility farmers need to spread risk across a number of diverse income streams, and solar power and the other land-based renewables are an excellent way of doing this thus helping secure a robust rural
*Prof. Catherine Mitchell, Exeter University, said ‘we are seeing a profound global transformation in how we think about and build energy systems, and  solar is the technology that is leading it. Where governments enact good policy, healthy industries emerge and costs fall. Citizens become entrepreneurs. As the Solar Independence Plan shows, Britain is potentially just 5 years away from a tipping point in this transformation, and I’d certainly urge ministers to encourage the inevitable rather than fighting it.’                             
 Competition kills  Sadly we’re not headed that way. The Low Carbon Contracts Company the administrator of the Contracts for Difference (CfD) scheme has confirmed that neither of the two solar PV projects that won CfD contracts at £50/MWh in the competitive auctions for projects in the next financial year will in fact go ahead. That had been widely predicted by industry sources - they had bid too low to be viable. And the RO ban on solar farms over 5 MW may be extended to smaller projects, while the FiTs will be cut back or halted.
*Total solar capacity installed in the UK was forecast to exceed 10GW by the end of the first quarter of 2016. Finlay Colville, Head of Market Intelligence at Solar Media said: ‘The UK is currently the most vibrant market for solar installations in Europe. This is due to the attractive investment returns from Renewable Obligation Certificates for large-scale solar projects.’ But that’s now been cut off! With more cuts to come:
Policy views  In June, Scientists for Global Responsibility asked key energy & climate scientists at UK universities to provide roughly 50 words on what policies they would like the government to adopt. Here are their responses. What would the Pope say?!
*Prof. Keith Barnham’s excellent book ‘The Burning Answer’ is now out in paperback:
Jeremy Corbyn enters the scene too:
Save wind   20,000+ signed a 380 petition calling for a tapered phase-out of support for on-land wind, to minimise damage.
Green energy cuts - EU to the rescue? 
The UK governments new policies on renewables may infringe EU fair competition rules, says UK Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, who has asked the European Commission whether the proposed changes to wind and solar subsidies and planning laws breach EU rules. Dr Scott Cato says the decision to impose the Climate Change Levy (CCL) on renewable generators is ‘illogical and punitive’. She also questions why enhanced powers to challenge planning for windfarms are not matched by similar powers to challenge fracking, and why subsidies for wind are being removed and subsidies for solar being reviewed while huge subsidies for nuclear continue: ‘The government’s misinformed and ideological opposition to renewable technologies is destroying thousands of potential jobs. Member states have the right to choose their energy mix, but Treaty law suggests this must be done within a framework of fair competition. I believe that a desire to pander to the fossil fuel and nuclear dinosaur industries is distorting the market and undermining the renewables industry.’ She hoped that ‘these changes can be challenged and reversed through unfair competition rules’.
In a written question to the Competition Commissioner, also signed by Keith Taylor, Green MEP for the SE and Jill Evans Plaid Cymru MEP, she challenges whether the Commission was consulted by the UK government over proposed changes to the CCL and whether the freedom for the government to choose its energy mix is in conflict with its obligations to meet mandatory carbon reduction targets.
*Prof. Catherine Mitchell from iGov, dug in hard: A new progressive alliance was needed.
*In a Lords debate on the new Energy (cuts!) in July, Baroness Worthington argued that the Levy Control Framework, which sets limits to spending on green energy projects and has been at the core of the pressures for the cuts, is poorly conceived. It ‘makes no reference to the counterfactual. We live in a world with infrastructure built in the 1960s that has now served its time, is closing and will need to be replaced. That involves higher capital costs. You cannot replace assets that have already had their capital costs paid and expect energy prices to stay the same: they will not. The counterfactual is that we will have to spend more money on electricity as we build a new infrastructure.’  Mind you she may have been thinking about nucear!
The UK and COP21: 70% fossil energy
Cuts? Not many for fossil fuel!
 The Government is seeking a deal in Paris in December that keeps the goal of limiting average global emissions to below 2°C within reach. The UK has led in taking action to reduce its emissions and has reduced them by 30% since 1990. Our carbon budgets are set to deliver emissions reductions that put us on a pathway to deliver our 2°C consistent 2050 target. They take account of the fact that Britain will still need significant oil and gas supplies while we decarbonise our economy and transition to a low carbon economy, as set out in our 2011 Carbon Plan. Projections show that in 2030 oil and gas will remain a vital part of the energy mix, providing around 70% of the UK’s primary energy requirements. It makes sense to make the most of the UK’s oil and gas resource as any oil and gas that we do not produce ourselves has to be imported, resulting in additional transportation costs and emissions, and increasing levels of production will help maintain security of supply as well as boost growth and jobs.’ Andrea Leadsom, DECC Minister. Here is Amber Rudd’s take on it:
And some preliminary critical reactions to that: and
The Global Warming Policy Forum welcomed Rudd’s statement, but said ‘in the event that the Paris UN climate agreement fails to make its global CO2 pledges legally binding, both the EU and the UK should abandon CO2 unilateralism.’ Meanwhile the government is pushing hard for shale gas:
Modeling failures  DECC’s 2050 Pathways Calculator challenged DECC’s software allegedly gives misleading results for High Renewable scenarios since the level of time resolution is too wide e.g. while variable output and demand may seem to be balanced on a monthly aggregate basis, daily cycles are often not balanced, in winter especially. A test run using CAT’s Zero Carbon Britain scenario data and hourly Gridwatch data produced big shortfall gaps: Then again its been claimed it’s starting assumptions also give misleading results for nuclear.
 Nuclear News                                                          
Hinkley: opposition builds up
EDF has yet to make a final investment decision on the £24bn Hinkley project, though it may emerge soon. However resistance to the European Commission’s backing of the lucrative deal offered by the UK is building up, with Luxembourg and Austria, and 10 utilities, submitting complaints to the European Court of Justice. A 3-4 year delay could result. The Austrian Environment Minister said: Giving preference to nuclear power is unacceptable. Nuclear energy is neither safe nor economical. A lawsuit may also make potential investors hesitant.’
In parallel the EU Greens called on the EC to revisit the decision in light of the news that cash-strapped Areva may pull out (it made a €4.8bn loss in 2014) and the UK Government is seeking a golden share in the project: and  See our Global News for more. And also: Within the UK, some Tories also have doubts about the deal:  The FT suggested that Hinkley can’t go ahead until another EPR is working! But also had an article saying EDF (now having to bail out Areva) should abandon the EPR entirely:  The FT quoted a Treasury view that there were ‘serious questions about the technology’, and a Whitehall source as saying ‘I think Treasury officials would not be disappointed if Hinkley never happened’.
The West Country based Resilience Centre puts Somerset’s potential onshore and marine renewables capacity (including tidal lagoons) at 5.4 GW, which could supply about 60% of Someset-based Hinkley’s output:
DECC official says costs for cleaning up Sellafield can’t be accurately forecast.
The huge range in the current estimate (£88-201bn) illustrated the ‘level of uncertainty’, a DECC official told PAC MPs. It was ‘impossible to know’ the costs of a job that will not be finished until well into the 22nd century: ‘We still do not know by any stretch of the imagination all the technical challenges of the site. The difficulties are pretty much unprecedented.’ Meanwhile, safety limits on the storage of some of the high activity nuclear wastes it is processing have been relaxed after an accident knocked out a treatment plant - it can now store more:  Next up, on site nearby ‘NuGen’s Moorside Project aims to provide approximately 7% of the UK’s current energy requirement..’ So said a NuGen ad. They should have said electricity. It would be ~2% of energy. 
Bradwell fears Linked to its Hinkley deal, it seems China wants to use the Bradwell site. ‘The idea that a Chinese state company will be given a site in the UK, not far from London, where they can use Chinese labour to construct a reactor to be made in China and using Chinese components would in our view constitute economic madness and raises serious safety issues.’ GMB Union National officer Gary Smith, in a letter to Energy Secretary Amber Rudd.                           
Welsh worries A new Trawsfynydd legacy cancer cluster scare- from Prof. Chris Busby:
Hunterson B had to part shut down due to excess seaweed in its water intake
Labour’s nuclear policy has been challenged:  Corbyn is anti nuclear..
Pretty please ‘We’re hoping to build new nuclear plants in the UK over the next few years and I think it is a reasonable ambition to make sure that these big projects have aesthetic appeal as well to help win the public over,’ Amber Rudd, Energy Secretary.
2. Global news and developments
Global investment in renewables in 2014 was $270 billion, 17% up on 2013
2 TW of wind by 2030?
Wind power could reach a total installed global capacity of up to 2,000 GW by 2030, supplying up to 19% of global electricity. That’s a key conclusion of the latest Global Wind Energy Outlook (GWEO) from the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and Greenpeace. 
That’s in the advanced scenario. A more moderate scenario puts it at just under 1,500GW:
The World Wind Energy Association put the global total at 370 GW at the start of the year, led by China at 114.8 GW:
The WWEA, based in Bonn, sometimes seems to have slightly different estimates for wind capacity than the rival EWEA/AWEA linked GWEC, based in Brussels (e.g. EWEA put Germany at 39.2 GW and the UK and 12.4 GW at the end of 2014), but (see left) the pace of change is so great that it’s hard to keep up to date - but wind will probably soon be nearing 400 GW globally:
Cost falls continue: the average cost of developing wind projects will fall by 32% and solar projects by 48% by 2040.
Solar PV may soon hit 200 GW globally.
PV will win  German think tank Agora Energiewende says that solar will be the cheapest form of power within a decade, at 4-6 eurocents/kWh in the EU by 2025, and 2-4 c/kWh by 2050. Or even as low as 1.5c/kWh in countries with more sun.
Solar costs will fall even more  
Investment bank Deutsche Bank says that solar PV systems will be at grid price parity in up to 80% of the global market within 2 years, since grid-based electricity prices are rising
across the world, and PV costs are still falling. Its 2015 solar outlook by leading analyst Vishal Shah predicts that solar module costs will fall another 40% over the next 4-5 years.
See MIT’s major new report on PV: It will be covered in the next Renew
 Not yet, but may be needed soon
Global planetary climate management techniques don’t address the cause of the problem (mainly fossil fuel use), are potentially risky and may be irreversible, but some may have to be considered eventually:   To see if that’s right, look at the
EU News                        

The EU’s new Energy Union
The European Union is to set up an ‘Energy Union’ to integrate energy markets and increase security of supply: ‘Our vision is of an integrated continent-wide energy system where energy flows freely across borders, based on competition and best possible use of resources, and with effective regulation of energy markets at EU level where necessary’.

It’s not meant to be just a top-down corporate exercise, but also be socially transformative, enabling citizens to ‘take ownership’ on their energy use via smart meters, domestic self generation, and the ability to choose energy suppliers from across the entire EU. The Euro Commission says this will require more grid integration (it aims for 10% minimum by 2020) and that this is also vital to balance the increasing amount of renewable energy it wants to see being used (27% of all EU energy by 2030): ‘Market integration of renewable electricity generation requires flexible markets, both on the supply and demand side, within and beyond a member state’s borders. There is a need to expand the possibilities for distributed generation and demand-side management, including intraday markets, to develop new high-voltage long distance connections and new storage technologies. The Commission will prepare an ambitious legislative proposal to redesign the electricity market linking wholesale and retail.’ It will cover gas as well as electricity, though creating a single market for energy won’t be easy given the near-monopolies of some big energy utilities and the technological lock-in to often inflexible energy options. World Nuclear News complained that ‘nuclear power was barely mentioned’ in the launch documents, but consoled readers by saying that ‘the Euratom Treaty predates most of the agreement texts of the European Union’. The Energy Union is a flagship project of the new EC president Jean-Claude Juncker, whose vice president Maroš Šefčovič is in charge of it. Investments of €200 bn p.a. are expected over the next decade. The EC says that, in terms of competitiveness and innovation, it wants to be ‘the world number one’ in renewables, but also says being in ‘the forefront of smart grid and smart home technology, clean transport, as well as clean fossil fuel and the world’s safest nuclear generation, is central to the aim of turning the Energy Union into a motor of growth, jobs and competitiveness’. Since the energy sector is changing fast as new techs and active consumers challenge the market power of the old order, it’s not clear if the Energy Unions standard ‘all thing to all people’ formulae will be enough. But it’s a start. 
But all may not be as simple as hoped: 92% of Swiss reject a carbon tax..
EU energy supply options The Euro Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) report ‘Energy Technology Reference Indicator projections for 2010-2050’ reviews cost and performance data for EU energy supply options for 2010 to 2050. It focuses on wind, solar, coal, gas, nuclear, but it also covers electrical grids, energy storage systems, and heat pumps. It doesn’t look at levelised generation costs/kWh (LCOE), but, in capital cost/kW (CAPEX) terms, puts PV ahead of other renewables, even hydro, and also in terms of the ‘learning curve’ capital cost reduction rate - 16% now (zero for hydro), through falling each year down to 10% by 2050. By contrast on-land wind and CSP are put at 10%, (over the whole period), and offshore wind 7%. Tidal and wave have much higher starting capital costs, but their (unchanging) learning rate is higher -12%. Nuclear fission does much worse - only an (unchanging) 3.5% for Gen III reactors, while the report won’t even hazard a guess at fast breeder costs or rates. Also see JRCs roadmap review, which has more technical and strategic info, including on LCOEs: CCGTs do well!
EU energy saving  EU energy use has fallen near 10% below a 2006 peak. It has returned to levels last seen a quarter century ago in the early 1990s. The aim is to drive energy use to 20 % below the level in 2007 and 27% down by 2030.

EU does well Renewables supplied 15% of the EU's total energy in 2013, according to new data published by Eurostat, the EU’s official statistical body. The figures suggest that the EU is on track to meet its 20% renewables target in 2020. Transport and heat are lagging behind electricity, where wind and solar remain relatively small inputs..  Also:
Sweden is ahead of its 2020 target, UK trails far behind, but overtook the Dutch!
Also see the 2014 Ecofys report ‘Renewable energy progress and biofuel sustainability’: greport -November 2014.pdf
Germany spent 0.22-0.27% of its GDP in 2013 on renewables - 4 times more than the UK (0.06%). Denmark spent 0.09%. For more see this comparison:
Germany OK  
Renewables- 27.8% of German electricity use in 2014
Contrary to some mocking assertions by opponents of the Enegiewende nuclear phase out/renewables expansion programme, the use of coal generated power has now fallen in Germany, but more coal has been used to generate power for export, since that’s lucrative. That, and coal use in Germany, now needs to be squeezed out, says a new report:  One domestic approach is to upgrade energy saving, and Germany is doing that, with a range of new energy efficiency projects launched in January - as part of the effort to cut energy use by 50% by 2050. In parallel, a study by German university researchers for German company Siemens found that the renewables investment programme had not affected retail price rates, but have brought down wholesale rates considerably. Energy-intensive industry has benefited the most. But Craig Morris says that it plays down the fact that, as the last nuclear plants are closed, extra backup capacity or storage will be needed, which will push prices back up:
Denmark Wind at 40% of electricity - and, briefly, 140%: And it has bold targets for 2050:  Meanwhile it is burying some of its grid links - 900 km of cable  so far. Its National Cable Action Plan involves dismantling 2,900 km of overhead lines by 2030, replacing them with underground cable, including links to wind projects e.g., 57 km of 400 kV cross-linked polyethylene cables are being laid as part of an underground onshore system that will link the Kriegers Flak offshore wind farm to the Danish grid.  The success of renewables, and the subsidies for them, inevitably reduces demand for power from Denmark’s Combined Heat and Power plants, although CHP/cogen linked to district heating networks, with heat storage, play a vital role in grid balancing, so all may not be lost, if that is properly valued. It's the same for the Dutch:    
Netherland Climate Action  A Dutch court has ordered the government to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25% by 2020. Campaigners brought the case on behalf of almost 900 citizens. They argued the government had a legal obligation to protect its citizens from the dangers of climate change. The current target is 17%, less than many other countries.
France backs wind - 9.3 GW so far
The offshore wind programme has slowed a bit, with a delay in setting zones, but symbolically the Eiffel Tower has become self-sufficient in terms of electricity thanks to 2 Vision AIR5 vertical axis Darius wind turbines 400ft up in the intricate steelwork. They will generate 10,000 kWh p.a. Solar panels also supply hot water:           
 *France now has a ‘green roof’ requirement for commercial buildings - solar or grass!

Around the world
China. China now has over 115GW of wind capacity, this overtaking its nuclear output, on top of a huge hydro input and growing PV, putting China in the lead globally: But coal is still dominant and still growing. CCS might help a bit, but if energy demand and coal continue to expand, net emissions will grow. and   However, coal use fell 2.9% in 2014, partly due to a growth slow down, and Greenpeace is hopeful:
India  Earlier this year Obama visited India but failed to get a climate policy agreement. India wants to push ahead with coal, nuclear and renewables to meet its growth targets:   Coal is bad news. So is nuclear. The Washington Post wrote, re Obama’s pro-nuclear negotiations with India: ‘It no longer makes sense for any country to install a technology that can create a catastrophe such as Chernobyl or Fukushima- especially when far better alternatives are available. Technologies such as solar and wind are advancing so rapidly that by the time the first new nuclear reactors are installed in India, they will be less costly than nuclear energy. Most importantly, the alternative technologies are cleaner and safer.’ Certainly there are some exciting plans for renewables, with a new target set of 170 GW of wind, solar and biomass projects by 2022, supplying 15% of power, led by 100 GW of PV: But some say the very rapid expansion of PV (to 100 GW from 3 GW) is too ambitious - a growth rate of over 60% p.a.:  Though the social benefits could be significant. One analysis claimed that achieving 100 GW PV goal could create one million jobs, while greatly improving energy access. And Bridge to India thinks the target should be 1000 GW of PV by 2035!  See for practical support options.    The 60 GW of wind by 2022 target would also generate an additional 180,000 jobs:  
USA Wind could supply 10% of US electricity by 2020, 20% by 2030, and 35% by 2050. So says a new Dept of Energy report: Also, carbon negative Biomass Energy with Carbon Capture and Storage (BECCs) could be a big US option, says a UC Berkeley study: And CSP’s bird-frying crisis is fixed. It’s simple - don’t cross the beams:  But best of all, the revised EPA Clean Power Plan is now out - the US aims to cut power plant emission by 32% by 2030, with renewables strongly to the fore.  More on that soon. 100% -Jacobson’s latest plan:
Grid defection? RMI says it will hit US hard
The Rocky Mountain Institute says power utilities in the NE USA may lose up to half of their customers as domestic PV + batteries catch on. But a regional grid company said ‘Larger scale solar installations and wind are much more economic when done at utility scale’.  

AustraliaiA fossil haven, it has pledged $25m for Carbon Capture & Storage research in Victoria. But PV is also expanding. The 25MW first part of a 141MW array has opened in New South Wales: This despite the governments tough line on climate issues.  
Japan  22-24% renewables by 2030  Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), has produced a long term draft plan for energy. It looks to renewables to supply 22%-24% of electricity by 2030, nuclear 20%-22%, while coal’s share would be cut from 30% in 2013 to 26%, Liquid Natural Gas from 43% to 27% and oil from 15% to just 3%. Total energy demand was expected to rise from 940 TWh in 2013 to 980.8 TWh in 2030. With the cost of importing LNG to replace its shut nuclear plants hurting the economy, there had been speculation that Japan might shift to coal, which, though LNG prices have fallen, is still cheaper than LNG. Its coal share had already risen from a 25% pre-Fukushima level and Bloomberg reported that 43 coal plants were being built or planned, 21 GW in all. Though more efficient than older units, none of 7 new plants had CCS, so CO2 output would rise:   Before Fukushima, Japan had pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas output by 25% by 2020 from 1990 levels. But after Fukushima that target was cut to a 3.8% cut from 2005 levels. With the Paris COP 21 approaching, there were indications that it would offer a 20% cut from 2013 levels (or 25% from 1990 levels) by 2030, though now 26% is quoted, but that seems to depend on a lot of nuclear restarts - as does the new 20-22% target. Is that realistic? Bloomberg says 10% is more likely! And it means renewables must grow fast. It’s claimed they could triple by 2030, to 356 TWh, albeit from a low initial level. A draft of the 2030 plan saw hydro supplying up to 9.2%, PV 7%, wind 1.7%, biomass 4.6%, geothermal 1.1% - that’s 23.6% in all. Could it do better? By pushing floating offshore wind & PV harder?                                                                   
METI’s cost estimates:  
S.Korea aims to expand its renewables, but some of its large tidal barrage projects (~3.5GW worth have been outlined) have been opposed:  ms/ See this useful review:  
Saudi Arabia  slows its ambitious $109bn solar plan It had a 2032 target for 41 GW of solar (25 GW CSP, 16 GW PV). That’s  now put back to 2040. Solar is well matched to its growing daytime air con load and would avoid diverting oil supplies to meet it, and protect its vital export income. But with oil prices low, that’s fallen, so maybe it had to slow down. Though, with PV prices falling, a new low-cost bid for a 200 MW extension of an existing 100 MW array in Dubai got accepted.  and  IRENA says the Saudis can get 10% of their electric power from renewables by 2030 and save up to $3.7bn: Concentrating on CSP in Morocco 
The 160 MW Noor 1 Concentrated Solar Power plant in Morocco is the first tranche of a 500 MW solar complex under the 2020 solar plan aiming at 2 GW each of solar, wind and hydro. An excellent German study of the social impacts found much to praise in the development approach adopted, and the CSP project, which employed 700 local people, was viewed very positively in the region, with a widespread sense of patriotic pride in the project. There were some quibbles about water use, but they were only 0.7% of the average annual volume of the region’s water reservoir. The report concludes ‘for the future CSP roll-out to follow a socially robust path, it should be embedded in the livelihood context of local communities with a strong commitment to participatory decision- making and by taking into account the interests, rights and needs of affected communities throughout the project's entire lifespan’.  

Climate targets… 
  See CAN’s good new report:      
With the COP21 climate talks coming up in Paris, INDCs (Intended Nationally Determined Contributions) are emerging. Leading the pack, the EU has a 40% GHG emission cut target for 2030 (from1990 levels), conditional on others also adopting high targets. The US target is a 26-28% cut on 2005 levels by 2025, while China says it will halt emission growth by 2030. Russia has offered to make a 30% cut by then, Japan 26%, Australia 26-28%. Those may not be enough to meet the EU conditions, but Norway has offered a 40% cut by 2030, from1990 levels, and like Denmark, aims to be CO2 neutral by 2050. Mexico will cut emissions by at least 22%, maybe up to 40%. 
More INDC’s are due soon. But few expect major breakthoughs.  
.. and climate action eco-problems: birds 
‘There is no habitat that benefits from coal pollution’, says David Roberts, commenting on an article in New Yorker by Jonathan Franzen, who was worried that, in the rush to deal with climate change, local impacts on birds would get ignored, given the argument that global climate change would hurt them much more than wind farms etc:  Franzen had taken exception to the US Audubon Society’s estimates that roughly half of all North American bird species faced serious and possibly existential threats from global warming in this century. He says ‘What upset me was how a dire prophecy like Audubon’s could lead to indifference toward birds in the present’. He argues ‘not every species will manage to adapt. But the larger and healthier and more diverse our bird populations are, the greater the chances that many species will survive, even thrive. To prevent extinctions in the future, it’s not enough to curb our carbon emissions. We also have to keep a whole lot of wild birds alive right now.’        Fair enough. But, in the face of the threat of wildlife extinction from human activities, he goes further and backs an eco-centric deep green view, ‘choosing to preserve nature at potential human expense’. It is a big jump from climate impacts to impacts from mitigation, but he seems to see them as just as bad: ‘We can dam every river and blight every landscape with biofuel agriculture, solar farms, and wind turbines, to buy some extra years of moderated warming. Or we can settle for a shorter life of higher quality, protecting the areas where wild animals and plants are hanging on, at the cost of slightly hastening the human catastrophe. One advantage of the latter approach is that, if a miracle cure like fusion energy should come along, there might still be some intact ecosystems for it to save.’   Here is some basic data on bird impacts: Annual bird deaths in US from energy production/use-US News & World Report chart: Also see: Not as horrific as sometimes portrayed   Howver, some mitigation measures may have significant local impacts, and may need to be reconsidered: e.g. there is a debate on large-scale biomass use and biodiversity. And large hydro: see But in general, the impacts of using renewables are small and local, very different from the large and global, as well as local, impacts of burning fossil fuel. The Audubon Society responded to Franzen, insisting that there was no question of ignoring local impacts: it was active on all fronts, and saying he had misread the situation, perhaps willfully: *Franzen and the Audubon Society were both concerned about the large number of bird deaths due to them flying into windows. On that see:
UK RSPB: climate change is the ‘biggest single threat’ to birds- well sited windfarms OK
Global Nuclear News
The 2015 technology roadmap for nuclear energy, published by the Nuclear Energy and the International Energy Agencies, suggests that nuclear power capacity needs to more than double by 2050 to help limit global warming to 2O. It says nuclear capacity will need to reach 930 GW by 2050-much less optimistic than IEA’s 2010 nuclear roadmap, which put it at 1.2 GW. This is because nuclear new build is estimated now to cost 20% more and competing options like PV and wind have become much cheaper. Even if the IEA’s very ambitious
target for nuclear was achieved, it would only cut emissions by 2.5 gigatonnes of CO2 p.a., against current global emissions of around 50 GT p.a.. And that’s ignoring increased emissions from fuel production as high-grade uranium ore gets scarcer.
Japan bows out- but restarts one plant
Kansai Electric Power Co and Japan Atomic Power Co are to retire three nuclear plants shut down after Fukushima, rather than apply to restart them. More may follow.  A court has blocked two- Takahama 3 &4. But Sendai has got the go ahead. 
New US delays  ‘Who in their right mind would want to build a nuclear power plant?’ So said an investment analyst when the news broke that Georgia’s Vogtle plant, one of the few new projects, was to be delayed by 18 months, with at least $700m in cost overruns. And the VC Summer ABWR has been delayed 6 months, with a near $700m cost excess, while plans for Unistar’s Calvert Cliff 3 have halted after Avera decided not to build EPRs in the US. But the new EPA fossil emission cut rules may help them a bit. And in a Nuclear Energy Institute poll in the US, 68% backed nuclear..
Belgium cracks up  Thousands of
 additional cracks have been found in critical components of two Belgian nuclear 
reactors, which had been shut down last year when the first cracks were noticed. They relate in particular to the pressure vessel containment. The Director-General of the Belgian
 nuclear regulator said that this could be a problem for the nuclear 
industry globally, and if so, 430 old nuclear plants worldwide may need checking and  With the new much delayed EPR proving costly, and French nuclear construction company Areva also reporting losses of near €4bn, even before the new faults at Flamanville, the nuclear industry’s future in Europe doesn’t look good. But India has allocated $8 m for a prototype Fast Breeder Reactor as part of its $1.76 bn 2015-16 nuclear budget…Though Russia has slowed  its new build programme: NM805, WISE
Opposition to Hinkley deal rises across the EU                         . Luxembourg joined Austria in taking exception to the Euro Commissions backing of
the lucrative deal offered by the UK to EDF for the Hinkley project. So did Greenpeace Energy, a German energy co-op founded by Greenpeace, along with a group of 9 German and Austrian utilities.
And the Greens in Europe have asked the Commissioner in charge of competition to revisit the decision following the news that the UK Government is seeking a ‘golden share’ in the project: ‘It is now clear that there are fundamental changes to the basis on which the state aid determination was made by the Commission in Oct. 2014’. It’s all part of a wider EU policy split. To China’s gain?  See News
Next? Few think that Small Modular Reactors are likely to help that much:
3. Forum Odds and ends for you to chew on
 Comments welcome!
Wind v PV solar 
The PV industry is not in competition with other RES- based electricity generation industries.’  EC JRC, 2014
Really? We need all the options, but there are pros and cons
Wind can supply the grid the year round, especially in winter, and at night! PV is best in summer around noon. Do they fit?
Some say yes: they mostly are compatible. You can use PV, with low transmission loses, daytime (for summer aircon loads especially), and if that offsets wind, then convert the surplus wind derived power to hydrogen and store it for when there is no sun or wind.
Some say no: wind is cheaper, even given transmission costs, offsetting it is wasteful and conversion/storage of surplus is expensive. PV in most of the North EU eats into wind power’s market, making it less economic. PV only makes sense in sunny countries. That’s a summary of a Claverton Energy Group debate. What do you think? Some say that since PV can be run and owned by consumers, seeing off utilities, it trumps all. But wind is still currently mostly cheaper - see:
Though that may change- PV costs are falling fast.  Faster maybe than wind - and CSP
PV fire risks   Wind turbines can catch light, but so can PV!
There are fire risks with PV systems, as with all electrical devices. But they are small, says a Fraunhofer report on PV in Germany. PV roof arrays, as a second roof covering, can hinder fire brigades’ ability to put out fires, as the water just drains away rather than penetrating the roof.  But, the fire brigade says, objects damaged by a fire that needs to be extinguished in this way can rarely be saved, i.e. the damage has to a large extent already been done before the PV array impedes the fire fighters’ ability to put out the fire. The toxic materials in some PV cells do present a hazard, though they, and it, are small, but the larger amounts of non-toxic fluoro polymers can yield poisonous gasses at high temps. konzeptpapiere/recent-facts-about-photovoltaics-in-germany.pdf
PV  v biomass
‘Commercially available photovoltaic cells already possess a conversion efficiency for sunlight of more than 15%, the electric energy produced can be stored in electric batteries without major losses. This is about 150 times better than the storage of the energy from sunlight in biofuels. In addition, 80% of the energy stored in the battery is used for the propulsion of a car by an electric engine, whereas a combustion engine uses only around 20% of the energy of the gasoline for driving the wheels. Both facts together lead to the conclusion that the combination photovoltaic cells/ electric battery/electric engine uses the available land 600 times better than the combination biomass/biofuels/combustion engine.’ Certainly PV gives more kWh/ in real time, but biomass is storable sun! ‘The Nonsense of Biofuels’, Hartmut, M, Angew Chem. Int. Ed. 2012, 51, 2516-18.

Renewable costs It’s sometimes argued that the cost figures quoted for renewables ignore connection and grid balancing costs. In the UK, generators sell on the wholesale market as a normal supplier and get CfDs based on a reference price from the market, so most of these extra system costs are reflected back in their cost. The rest show up in the Capacity Market consumer surcharges.
The look of wind
The appearance of turbine towers in any landscape is different for a tapering annular column, a space frame and a guyed parallel sided column. The latter may be fine for small mills and some like see-through   lattice towers. Though for big  ones, some say they should be solid, but in a bright colour. What do you think? Thanks to Geoff White who raised this issue.  
Decentralised community/consumer power   In his chapter in one-time environment minister Michael Meacher’s pre-election book ‘What the Political Parties aren’t Telling You: the Radical Way out of Stagnation and Inequality’, Alan Simpson, one-time Labour MP, argues powerfully for decentralised community owned renewable energy generation. He said Labour should back local power markets: ‘Labour must pioneer markets where people can pool the energy they generate, without incurring full Grid Access and balancing charges. These would make the public part of the solution, not just those who pay for the problems’.  Similar decentralists arguments have come from other sources, including companies like Tempus Energy, who gave evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee inquiry on the Capacity Market. They said it was vital that ‘in order to avoid paying for expensive generation capacity that may not be needed in the future, the government ensure a level playing field by offering the same terms to customers as generators. In the first year alone, by making a fair system, customers would save £359m. There would also be progressively more savings, due to the avoided costs of building more power stations than we need. We would also have a cleaner and more efficient electricity system. We believe that customers using innovations in Demand Flexibility should have fair access to Capacity Market rewards. That is why we are taking legal action to secure this on behalf of UK energy users.’ DECC mentioned ideas like this before the election. The Tories say they like local power. So maybe they could pick it up.. If not, Corbyn certainly is keen!  
Fact free In a letter to the Times (4/3/15) Prof. Ian Fells of Newcastle University says: ‘Nuclear power provides about 20% of UK electricity, twice what renewables provide, even on a good wind day’. In fact in 2014 renewables overtook nuclear in terms of  annual total output, delivering nearly 19.2% of UK electricity as against 19% for nuclear. Both can and do vary: nuclear was at 18.3% in 2013 according to the WNA and in some years renewables may do badly. But renewables should soon move ahead overall in annual output terms as new plants come on line. DECC data
Green free Canadian environmental groups are worried about new anti-terrorism laws. It seems a report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police specifically mentions the dangers of green activism. The report, obtained by Greenpeace, evidently says ‘anti-petrol’ environmental advocacy groups pose a threat to Canadian security. The Indian Government has banned 13 foreign activists from Greenpeace International from entering India - it was said they might damage India’s energy security interests. If they and others are really worried e.g., about nuclear plant security, as they should be, then drones are perhaps more of an immediate threat. Greenpeace denies any involvement. But someone is doing it! See this drone-eye-view of a German nuclear plant: Naughty!  
Progressive Energy Policy new e-book series from IGov/UEC Palgrave have a new Pivot e-book series on Progressive Energy Policy, with series editor Dr Caroline Kuzemko in Prof. Catherine Mitchell’s iGov Energy Group at Exeter University. It will run in parallel with the longer books in its existing Energy, Climate and Environment series, edited by Prof. Dave Elliott at the OU: 35 so far! ‘Pivots’ are 25-50,000 words books produced fast in e-format. See   
The Climate debate Conservative MP Peter Lilley’s contribution:           
 I entirely accept that if we double the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, we will, according to science, raise the temperature of the earth by one degree - but so what? It was 10 degrees cooler last night than it is now and we’ve all survived that bit of climate change without too much difficulty. On average it’s 10 degrees warmer in Singapore than it is in Helsinki, but they’re both very pleasant places to live.  Since 1997, a third of all the carbon dioxide ever emitted by mankind since the industrial revolution has been pumped into the atmosphere. Since that time, there’s been no significant perceptible change in the average temperature of the world. That doesn’t mean to say that global warming isn’t happening, it just means that it’s of the same order of magnitude as other natural factors which have offset it.’  At Ecobuild:           *The International Energy Agency says that global emissions of CO2 frm the energy sector stabilised in 2014, the first time it’s stayed still or gone down in 40 years outside a recession. 
*Matt Ridley’s fossil view:   
No peak oil in Russia - ever! Some Russians believe the abiogenic theory.       
Oil is not ancient biomass and fossil-derived, nor is gas, and there are huge primordial hydro- carbon resources (very) deep down. But that’s not widely accepted outside Russia, and, even if true, they would be very expensive to get at. 
More Oil   There’s been oil company backing for carbon pricing, which seems a break through… Until you look at past attempts to use markets to squeeze out carbon. The EU Emission Trading system doesn’t work - the carbon caps couldn’t be set low enough to make carbon trades worthwhile. Some say that even across-the-board carbon price impositions would not change the relative costs of fuel or goods much, so consumption patterns would not change much - everything just gets more pricey. And unless targeted otherwise, the money raised would likely just be used to keep fossil fuel use going by investing in CCS, though, being costly, it won’t help much:   
Maybe less oil will be extracted, as more efficient technologies emerged to cut costs, but the oil giants say that it will all eventually get used, just at a slower rate. So they need to keep on drilling!   
Mao lives! ‘Let a thousand flowers bloom’ was an old Maoist revolutionary slogan.     
 It was used during the expansive, experimental (and chaotic) period of China’s 1970s cultural revolution, and that concept is recycled in the new Thousand Flowers UK 2050 low carbon decentralised energy pathway produced by the EPSRC-funded Realising Transition Pathways Research Consortium of 9 UK universities. The approach is certainly radical, looking to new patterns of local ownership and control, as well as new decentral technology. Does that imply a socialistic transition - to local community, consumer and municipal control? Or will big powerful companies and global markets continue to dominate? Or at least resist. Stay tuned!  Nuclear exchanges: the endless debate continues  
German DW view:
 UK policy:
Fukushima Protests continue, as many of the 160,000 dispossessed residents still can’t go home:  And Japans nuclear waste? There’s still evidently no idea where it is to go: - .VXiamYX1uv9
And finally: A big change for the good - Green energy futures’
Dave Elliott’s latest Pivot e-book, available soon from Palgrave, distilling much from recent issues of Renew but developing a new analysis of the green energy options ahead.

No comments:

Post a Comment