Energy Policy – Scotland

It’s impossible to know what it will be, but there will be something. It could be a massive storm, a devastating flood or a lethal heatwave. There will be disturbing images too: drowning children, collapsing ice cliffs or staggering and starving polar bears perhaps. And, of course, there will be the deniers saying it’s all a myth. In one way or another climate change will feature big in 2018. Each time an unusually destructive weather event hits, the arguments will run. Is carbon dioxide pollution from burning fossil fuels to blame, and what should we do about it? The battle lines have already been drawn. The Scottish Government is currently committed to reducing carbon emissions 90 per cent by 2050, but campaigners want the target to be zero, and by 2040. They argue this is essential if Scotland wants to live up to the 2015 international Paris Agreement to tackle climate change. “Doing our fair share under the Paris deal would mean we reduce emissions to zero by 2040, along with a 77 per cent cut by 2030,” said Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland. The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has yet to commit herself. She has promised that her government would be “coming to an early decision on when we will aim to reach net zero emissions”. The debates in 2018 will be over what the date should be.

Sunday Herald 31st Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 December 2017


Fusion power plants could provide energy for homes in just 20 years. Fusion power could provide energy to our homes in just over 20 years, according to scientists who are halfway towards proving the technology’s commercial potential. Thirty-five nations are contributing to the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (Iter) being built at Saint-Paul-les-Durance in southern France. In December the Iter team announced that the £16bn reactor, said to be the world’s most complex machine, is now 50 per cent complete.

Independent 30th Dec 2017 read more »

Overcoming a series of setbacks, an international project to build what could be a revolutionary nuclear fusion reactor, which will produce renewable energy, has reached a major milestone. Half of the infrastructure required for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) project has now been completed — seven years after construction officially began in 2010. More than just becoming a major achievement in modern engineering, the ITER project could be a source of clean nuclear fusion energy by 2025. And it all starts on the 180-hectare site in Saint Paul-lez-Durance in southern France.

Futurism 30th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 December 2017

Nuclear Weapons

As a lifelong diplomat whose last foreign post was as Britain’s ambassador to the Kremlin in the Soviet Union’s final years, Rodric Braithwaite acquired decades of insight into UK and US policy on nuclear weapons. In policy debates in Whitehall as well as in meetings with Soviet officials, he took part in numerous discussions on arms control. He has also read a phenomenal amount of the literature on “the bomb” and, unlike most other western researchers, has studied the work of Russian analysts. This includes the memoirs of physicists involved in the Soviet nuclear programme, many of which have not yet been translated into English. Personal experience plus careful study have given him a remarkable platform from which he brilliantly dissects the ethical dilemmas facing the scientists who developed the weapons as well as the policymakers who framed strategies for their potential use, both groups knowing full well that they could bring humankind to Armageddon. There was equivalence on the western and Soviet sides and Braithwaite is absolutely fair in describing this.

Guardian 30th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 December 2017


Big energy players wield ‘too much control’ on future renewable vision. The Micro-Renewable Energy Federation (MREF) has today warned against the “significant influence” major energy companies have over the country’s future renewable strategy. Pat Smith, joint chairman of MREF, has claimed that major utilities want to retain “total control” over the generation, distribution and supply of electricity – a move which he says “dismisses” the potential growth of a micro renewable energy sector in Ireland. This type generation from small-scale wind, solar and hydro energy, could be used as a viable alternative to traditional centralised grid-connected power. “Recently released consultation documents on a new renewable energy support scheme bore all the hallmarks of big energy influence. The micro generation sector is almost totally dismissed as a viable alternative to big energy players,” said Smith. The MREF estimates that there are at least 500,000 homes, 50,000 businesses, and 100,000 farms whose roof space could collectively accommodate at least 5,000MW of electricity generation.

Agriland 29th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 December 2017

Renewables – wind

‘European cooperation could provide more stable wind power’. So says a new Imperial College study. Co-author Dr Iain Staffell, from Imperial’s Centre for Environmental Policy, said: ‘Some weather regimes are characterised by storms rolling in from the Atlantic bringing high winds to northwest or southwest Europe, but these are accompanied by calm conditions in the east. Other regimes see calmer weather from the Atlantic and a huge drop in wind production in Germany, the British Isles and Spain. But at the same time, wind speeds consistently increase in southeast Europe, and this is why countries such as Greece could act as a valuable counterbalance to Europe’s current wind farms.’ The study notes that today’s wind farms are heavily concentrated in countries bordering the North Sea. This results in uneven wind electricity generation, because most capacity is installed in neighbouring countries with similar weather conditions. A further concentration of capacity in the North Sea region is planned in the near future, which will exacerbate the problems for Europe’s power system, say the researchers. However, if European countries were to cooperate and set up future wind farms based on understanding of the continent-scale weather regimes, fluctuations in future wind energy could be reduced.

Environmental Research Web 30th Dec 2017 read more »

Europe’s renewable energy industry is used to breaking records for generating more power from low carbon sources. Yet two recent milestones stand out. Vattenfall, the Swedish energy group, and Norway’s Statoil were among the companies that took the market by surprise before Christmas when they bid in the world’s first exclusively subsidy-free offshore wind auction, held by the Dutch government. There were similar landmark bids in a German offshore wind auction in April, when Orsted, the Danish energy giant previously known as Dong Energy, and Germany’s Energie Baden-Württemberg became the first companies to offer to build schemes by 2024 that would rely on market power prices alone. The German and Dutch auctions have given policymakers across the continent hope that the industry’s reliance on government-guaranteed electricity prices could soon come to an end. Such subsidies are funded through consumer and industry energy bills. In markets such as the UK, subsidy-free bids are further off because developers have to meet certain costs, such as connecting projects to the electricity grid. This is met by the grid operator in Holland. But optimists argue that, while subsidy-free offshore wind may still be the exception rather than the rule, the break with government funding is finally in sight, even if it may come for other forms of renewable energy first. The first solar power farm in the UK to be built without government support was opened in September and analysts suggest subsidy-free onshore wind projects in Britain are close.

FT 31st Dec 2017 read more »

TenneT, the Dutch equivalent of the UK’s National Grid, is thinking about future offshore wind power for a decade or more from now. It proposes to construct a man-made island on Dogger Bank in the middle of the North Sea to act as a distribution hub for electricity generated by a massive offshore wind farm. The island would be used to convert the AC current received from the wind turbines to DC current, which would then be sent via undersea cable to the Netherlands and the UK. Eventually, additional cables could send power to any country bordering the North Sea.

Clean Technica 30th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 December 2017

Fossil Fuels

For frackers and environmentalists 2018 could bring the biggest battle yet. Ineos, the chemicals and energy giant, is to announce plans to drill for shale gas under one of Britain’s most treasured national parks. It will lodge planning applications to drill up to 10 exploratory boreholes around the southern edge of the North York Moors, familiar to millions as the setting for the Heartbeat TV drama series, and which has the largest tracts of heather moor in England and Wales. “We can’t frack in national parks but we can frack under them by drilling sideways from points around the edges,” said Tom Pickering, of Ineos Shale, which will make the planning applications. “In 2018 we want to do a geological survey to build a 3D picture of the rock strata before drilling test wells.”

Times 31st Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 December 2017


Hartlepool Power Station is set to at least double its workforce as it begins 2018 with a project worth £60 million. The EDF nuclear power plant is set to stage a planned shut down of one of its two reactors in January for two months to allow vital work to be done.

Hartlepool Mail 29th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 30 December 2017


UK rejected Irish minister’s nuclear power complaints. In 1987 Ray Burke, then environment minister, received a firm reply from his British counterpart after calling for the closure of the Sellafield nuclear processing plant. State papers showed that Peter Walker, the UK energy secretary, rejected what he claimed were the Fianna Fáil TD’s unfounded allegations about the safety of British nuclear energy facilities, including Sellafield. Walker, who died in 2010, said that the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate, the British nuclear watchdog at the time, was satisfied that closure of the plant would be “out of all proportion to the very low risks which arose from a few minor incidents”. Mr Burke wrote to Walker on March 24, 1987 to raise concerns about the threat posed to Irish citizens by nuclear installations in Britain. He also criticised the British government’s decision to proceed with the construction of another nuclear reactor at Sizewell in Suffolk given the number of incidents at British nuclear plants.

Times 29th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 30 December 2017

Energy Costs

Cheap renewables are mounting a serious challenge to nuclear power, which in 2017 has had a difficult year. Key projects have been abandoned, costs are rising, and politicians in countries which previously championed the industry are withdrawing their support. Renewables, on the other hand, especially wind and solar power, have continued to expand at an enormous rate. Most importantly, they have got significantly cheaper. And newer technologies like large-scale battery storage and production of hydrogen are becoming economic, because they harness cheap power from excess renewable capacity.

Climate News Network 29th Dec 2017 read more »

Ecowatch 29th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 30 December 2017

Energy Policy – Scotland

A zero-emission Scotland is achievable – will you help in 2018? Caroline Rance, Climate and energy campaigner, Friends of the Earth Scotland. We expect the Scottish Government’s draft Climate Change Bill to be published in the spring, and we need your help to keep the pressure on, to meet your MSPs and join us in demanding more action. We’ve been disappointed with the government’s proposals so far, and we’re campaigning to strengthen them so that we can reach a zero-emissions, fossil-free Scotland by 2040. Last summer, almost 20,000 people responded to the Government’s consultation on the bill. An incredible 99 per cent of them said they want to see a zero-carbon Scotland by 2050 at the latest, and urgent action to cut emissions in the vital next decade. This is not an unrealistic goal. The governments of Catalonia, Sweden and Norway have already committed to reaching net-zero emissions before 2050, with our Icelandic neighbours aiming for 2040. In the European Parliament, the Industry Committee has recommended that EU emissions fall to zero by 2050. Scotland can and must follow suit, but the current proposals show a real lack of ambition, with only the slightest of increases in action before 2030, and only a 90 per cent cut emissions by 2050. This isn’t good enough for the Paris Agreement, or to do our fair share in tackling this global crisis.

The National 30th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 30 December 2017