Renewables – offshore wind

Benj Sykes, co-chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council and Ørsted UK country manager for offshore: “…offshore wind is set to take its place at the heart of our low-carbon, affordable and reliable electricity system of the future. “This relentlessly innovative sector is revitalising parts of the country with transformational, sustainable opportunities,especially coastal communities, from Wick in the north of Scotland to the Isle of Wight, and from Barrow-in-Furness to the Humber. Companies are burgeoning in clusters, creating new centres of excellence in this clean growth boom. The Sector Deal will ensure that even more of these companies win work not only in the UK, but around the world in a global offshore wind market set to be worth £30bn a year by 2030”. Justin Bowden, GMB National Secretary: “to date the so-called ‘green jobs revolution’ has largely been a figment of the imagination of politicians of all parties and those pushing for an over reliance on renewables – with all the risks to our future energy supply and economic competitiveness. The track record so far has been one of work for foreign companies or poorly paid, casualised employment….“If Claire Perry’s vision is actually to be achieved with decent, well-paid and skilled jobs, then the government will need new rules about renewable energy sources. Companies in receipt of taxpayer subsidy must be required to source the work and jobs in the UK, with a strict condition they cannot be registered in tax havens. The sector will also need to be covered by collective bargaining agreements.”

New Power 7th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 9 March 2019

Renewables – solar

Riding Sunbeams is our world leading project to connect solar panels directly into electrified rail routes to power the trains. Plugging solar power directly into tracks to power trains has never been done, but it has huge potential to cut carbon emissions and running costs of metros, trams and railways in the UK and around the world. For the last few years we’ve been working on making it a reality – and this summer will see the first set of solar panels plugged in!

10:10 8th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 9 March 2019

Renewable Heat

Dave Elliott: Underlying the policy debate on energy is a fault line – a chasm between two basically different approaches. Not the usual one between big centralized and small decentralized energy, although that is part of it. This goes deeper. It concerns the basic, often unspoken, assumption that electricity is the key energy vector. We have the idea that electrification is modernization. It’s not just Lenin who said that, it’s everyone ever since, everywhere. It made sense. Electricity was clean, fast, controllable, and it has become increasingly valuable. However, that means it’s become increasingly expensive, in part since the main ways of producing it involved the use of increasingly scarce fossil fuels. Interestingly that, and the ever-growing environmental impacts of burning those fuels, led to drives to use it more efficiently. We have a polarity of views – essentially between backers of “pipes” and “wires”. Moving the context to the climate debate, the electric wire lobby says the energy system can best be decarbonized by sending power from wind, solar and other renewables to energy users down wires, including for heating and for charging electric vehicles (EVs). The pipe lobby says that, for heating, it makes more sense to stay with the gas grid and standard appliances but switch over to green gas. That way, you don’t have to make many changes whereas to use electricity efficiently you would have to install expensive heat pumps in every house. Green gas can also be used for vehicles, as compressed natural gas already is. So we have something of a stand-off of views. The situation is complicated by the addition of another pipe option — the supply of heat direct to users. In high-density urban environments, district heating can make more sense than individual domestic boilers, and heat networks could supply perhaps half of UK heat. What’s more, local gas-fired Combined Heat and Power (CHP) plants can supply heat much more efficiently than small domestic heat pumps. Heat pumps can have a coefficient of performance (COP) of 3 or 4, i.e. they can get three or four times more useful heat out of the input electricity than using it directly. However, CHP plants have a COP equivalent of maybe 9 or more; they use heat from burning fuel that would otherwise be wasted. The growing interest in so-called “power to gas” (P2G) hydrogen options certainly suggests that a new and large source of green gas could emerge. At present most P2G projects, for example in Germany and the UK, are dedicated to producing vehicle fuels or, to a lesser extent, gas for grid injection. But the grid-balancing role could grow and, neatly, will be made both possible and necessary by the growth of wind and solar generation. It could be a way ahead. The P2G grid-balancing approach essentially offers a way to store power until it is needed, with hydrogen or methane storage being much easier than direct electricity storage, for example in batteries. Large volumes can be stored over long times. However, there is another approach; heat can also be stored in bulk over long periods with low losses. Devotees of CHP argue that, if linked to heat stores, it too can offer a grid-balancing option, given that the ratio of power to heat output can easily be changed. When there is plenty of green power, the power output from a CHP plant can be lowered and the heat output stored, if it too is not needed. When power demand rises, the CHP plant power output can be raised, and if heat is needed, it can be supplied from the store. Integrated systems that cross the boundaries between heat and power may prove to be the way forward. But if we are to seek optimal mixes of heat and power, wires and pipes, we must move away from assuming that electricity is always the best option.

Physics World 6th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 9 March 2019


There is already a lot of experimenting with hydrogen in the Netherlands, by large and small parties. Gasunie has started a pilot project near Veendam in Groningen. An installation is being built in which, for the first time on a larger scale, sustainably generated electricity, originating from 8500 solar panels, is converted into hydrogen (and energy for the installation itself). The realization that hydrogen can play a role in the future energy supply is growing in the Netherlands. The Hydrogen Coalition, a group of 27 environmental organizations, knowledge institutions, governments and companies – including network operators and heavy industry (including Tata Steel and AkzoNobel) – called on the government last year to ‘give priority to hydrogen as an essential building block for the energy transition’. The message: invest big in development and innovation of the entire hydrogen chain: hydrogen is an indispensable part of a (necessary) delta plan for Dutch energy supply. There are a lot of ideas, for instance to create a large island in the North Sea and put windmills down there. The hydrogen produced on site can be pumped to the mainland via existing gas pipelines, where it is stored underground and further distributed, to industry, to petrol stations, to homes.

Whatsorb 27th Feb 2019 read more »

Posted: 9 March 2019

Energy Storage

In the last couple of weeks three developments led by independent companies herald the beginning of the renewables-plus-storage revolution in the UK. Slowly but surely companies using battery technology are edging the forward towards what will be a means of balancing very high levels of renewable energy generation without the need of fossil fuel reserve. But it is independent companies that are leading the way in this – with the big companies and utilities issuing little more than PR gestures while their business model is gradually undermined. Three developments in the past couple of weeks indicate great progress is being made. One was the start of the installation of a subsidy free solar plus battery project by the independent sustainable energy company Gridserve. Second is the opening up, by OFGEM, of the electricity balancing market to ‘aggregators’ who can put together solar pv and battery units in houses to provide balancing services. This will allow companies like Social Energy to use digital technology to link together home solar energy and storage systems to provide not only energy but services that will be equivalent to capacity to increasing portions of the electricity market. The third development was the start of a programme to build storage systems to substitute for electricity distribution upgrades to provide power for bus depots, again, something being done by an independent company. This is being done by Zenobe. All these developments will not only reduce the need for extra grid and distribution capacity, but also they will reduce the need for peak generating capacity.

Dave Toke’s Blog 8th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 9 March 2019

Fossil Fuels

Norway’s $1 trillion sovereign wealth fund is expected to sell some of its oil and gas holdings. The world’s largest sovereign wealth fund owns $37bn of shares in oil companies such as BP, Shell and France’s Total. Selling the shares means it would not be as reliant on oil prices, it says. But Norway’s finance ministry said oil will still be central to Norway’s economy.

BBC 8th March 2019 read more »

Norway has watered down plans for its sovereign wealth fund to shun investing in all oil and gas companies, announcing that it will boycott only pure oil explorers. The change of plan means that the $1 trillion fund will be allowed to keep its huge stakes in integrated oil groups such as Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Total and Exxon Mobil. The finance ministry said that pure oil and gas explorers would still be sold, but that integrated groups, which also refine crude oil and operate petrol stations, would not be included in the ban. Norway has the biggest sovereign fund in the world.

Times 9th March 2019 read more »

Telegraph 8th March 2019 read more »

The National 9th March 2019 read more »

Guardian 8th March 2019 read more »

FT 8th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 9 March 2019


Climate change could bring Zika and malaria to Britain, the Department of Health fears, and has announced a multi-million pound research fund to tackle the health effects of global warming. Currently deadly diseases spread by mosquitoes are confined to warmer climates, because the insects cannot survive in chillier northern areas. But temperatures are rising and by 2040 the average daily temperature in the UK is expected to by between 0.5C and 1C hotter than today. In February conditions hit 69.8F (21C) in West London, making it the first British winter to have ever passed 68F (20C). Now the Department of Health has announced up to £56 million for research into issues such as the potential health impacts of climate change, air pollution, and global pandemics. The department is concerned that climate change will lead to more extremes of hot and cold weather which could have a serious impact on the health of the nation.

Telegraph 9th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 9 March 2019


The first pictures have emerged of cracking in the graphite bricks which make up the core of nuclear reactors at Hunterston B Power Station in Ayrshire. Reactor three has not produced electricity since cracks were found to be forming quicker than expected. About 370 hairline fractures have been discovered which equates to about one in every 10 bricks in the reactor core. Owner EDF Energy says it does intend to seek permission from the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to restart. It first has to prove it can still shut down the North Ayrshire reactor, which has not produced electricity for a year, in all circumstances. Over 350 cracks found in Hunterston B nuclear reactor. The graphite bricks form the vertical channels within the reactor where the nuclear fuel is housed. They sit alongside narrower channels where control rods can be dropped into place to counteract the nuclear reaction. Tests and modelling have been undertaken to ensure that an earthquake would not distort the control channels and prevent the power station being shut down. Station Director Colin Weir told BBC Scotland: “Nuclear safety is our overriding priority and reactor three has been off for the year so that we can do further inspections. “We’ve carried out one of our biggest ever inspection campaigns on reactor three, we’ve renewed our modelling, we’ve done experiments and tests and we’ve analysed all the data from this to produce our safety case that we will submit to the ONR. Nuclear expert Prof Neil Hyatt from Sheffield University said: “The structural integrity of the graphite core has always been known to be the ultimate limiting factor to the lifetime of these reactors. So, ultimately there may come a point in time where those reactors have to come offline and are not able to restart.” Hunterston B is expected to continue producing electricity until 2023. If it were forced into decommissioning early because of the cracks – with others following suit – it could cause serious energy supply problems. With construction of a wave of new nuclear power stations running into difficulties, it would probably mean more of our power coming from fossil fuels such as gas. Concerns have also been raised about the consequences for local jobs if Hunterston closed early. It supports around 700 posts. Councillor Tom Marshall said: “Most of the large employers round about here have disappeared – from Greenock all the way down to Kilmarnock – and this is one of the last major employers. So, if it is safe to run most people locally would be happy to see it running.”

BBC 8th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 8 March 2019


MP ALBERT Owen MP is upbeat after leading an Anglesey delegation at Westminster to discuss the Wylfa Newydd and the Amlwch factory REHAU. Mr Owen met with Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy BEIS Secretary Greg Clark, BEIS Under Secretary of State Richard Harrington and Welsh secretary Alun Cairns. He was accompanied by a delegation, which included Anglesey AM Rhun ap Iorwerth, Guto Bebb MP, Anglesey Council Leader Llinos Medi Huws, local members and industry experts. He said: “I am extremely pleased three senior ministers from the UK Government accepted my invitation to meet with the Anglesey delegation and that we were able to focus on the serious challenges facing Anglesey, particularly in the north of the Island and to look at the wider North Wales economy I was also delighted that a senior management representative from REHAU was able to take the opportunity to update the delegation on the consultation process relating to the future of the Amlwch site.

North Wales Chronicle 6th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 8 March 2019


A proposal that Highland Council should join the Nuclear-Free Local Authorities (NFLA) group set tempers and emotions running at fever pitch yesterday. Opposition environment spokesman and Ness-side councillor Ron McWilliam’s motion that the council should join NFLA, and accept ‘there will never be a business case that is either financially or environmentally competent for new nuclear energy plants in Highlands’ suffered a resounding defeat. Caithness and Sutherland councillors trounced the idea as ‘ludicrous’, ‘shaming’ and ‘simplistic.’ In his motion Mr MacWilliam described the Highland Council area as having the potential, with support and investment, to generate significant renewable energy for both industry and export, and ‘lead the world in developing technologies for carbon-free energy solution.’ A livid Struan Mackie, councillor for Thurso and North West Caithness, tabled an amendment describing civil and naval nuclear as the ‘single largest catalyst to the re-population of Highland region’. He then called on the Scottish Government to send a message to the nuclear industry that Highland has the ‘skill, public support and pro-active partnership working’ to embrace the next generation of energy production such as small modular reactors. Mr Mackie said: “The motion attacks my constituents and their community. The nuclear industry has been the life blood across Thurso and Caithness for six decades. “It’s been at the forefront of technology. My nuclear community has kept this country safe.”

Press and Journal 8th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 8 March 2019