27 April 2014

Energy Policy

Bruce Davis, Abundance Generation: Onshore wind power is cheaper and fairer than the alternatives. It is vote-chasing of the worst kind to abandon it now. Onshore wind is good for our energy infrastructure for two reasons; it is the most efficient and cost effective of the available and scaleable renewable technologies, and it is the best way that the challenger energy brands – Ovo, Co-operative Energy, Ecotricity and Good Energy – can mount a serious attempt to compete with the so-called Big Six on equal terms. They need to be able to build generation capacity to protect themselves against the worst excesses of the Big Six and their market power. Onshore wind is easily the cheapest, most efficient form of renewable energy we have, and we have lots of it, being characterised as the Saudi Arabia of wind. Caroline Lucas, Green MP for Brighton Pavilion, points out the contradictions in the Government’s energy policy: “The coalition Government clearly has a blind spot on energy policy when it promotes fracking and building a new nuclear reactor while ignoring the obvious choices. Onshore wind is one of the cheapest forms of low carbon energy available and will generate sustainable jobs as well as clean, renewable energy. The coalition Government is scrapping plans to build clean, safe, wind farms in Somerset preferring instead to pay twice the market price for electricity from the proposed Hinkley C reactor on the Somerset coast.

Independent 27th April 2014 read more »

Chernobyl

Today marks the 28th anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe, the worst nuclear disaster in world history. Located in the Ukraine, the massive radioactive releases – 100 times more than the Hiroshima atomic bomb – heavily contaminated the 2600 km2 of the exclusion zone and its 76 permanently dead cities, towns, and villages. Due to the power of the explosion, fire, and reactor core meltdown, radioactivity was projected to high enough altitudes that the plume was carried thousands kilometers away, sweeping across the whole Europe and contaminating vast tracts of land. In terms of radioactive caesium (Cs137), a total of at least 1.3 million km2 of land was contaminated to varying degrees – an area roughly twice the size of France. And this contamination will last for many generations, given the 30-year half-life of Cs137. Hundreds of thousands of citizens and cleanup workers were exposed to significant levels of radiation – at least 300,000 of these workers received radiation doses that were 500 times the limit for the public over one year. Twenty-eight years later, people continue to suffer from the affects of the accident, with well-founded scientific estimations in the range of many tens of thousands of cancers and deaths.

Greenpeace 26th Aug 2014 read more »

It was 28 years ago today that Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine ruptured and ignited, sending a massive plume of radiation across Europe. Jim Green assesses the scientific evidence for how many people died as a result of the catastrophe.

Ecologist 26th April 2014 read more »

Marking ‘Chernobyl day’ 2014, a website is launched that calls for the arrest of writer George Monbiot for ‘Nuclear Crimes against Humanity and the Environment’.

Ecologist 26th April 2014 read more »

Barys Piatrovich recalls the tension of unknowing during the days that followed the Chernobyl disaster. Today, barely any of the evacuees are still alive. Dispersed throughout the country, they died alone and unnoticed, statistically insignificant. To put it more precisely: it’s been a long time since we were really alive, now we simply exist … There’s no other explanation.

Ecologist 26th April 2014 read more »

Dungeness

SHEPWAY MP Daman Collins has again reiterated his belief a new nuclear reactor could be built in Dungeness. The government had dismissed the site as a location for a new power station in 2009. But Mr Collins this week says has said the decommissioning of Dungeness A would free up land, which could be used for a third reactor. He said: “I think there are reasons to be very optimistic that we can get a new power station at Dungeness. The government has always said the door remains open.

Folkestone Herald 25th April 2014 read more »

France

Nuclear operator EDF should take “priority action” to deal with the possible safety implications of a “significant increase” in the duration of maintenance shutdowns for French nuclear reactors in 2013, nuclear safety authority ASN (Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire) has said. In its annual report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2013, ASN says “rigour in daily operations” of nuclear stations remains an area for improvement for EDF. The report says 2013 was broadly in line with previous years and ASN found “no new major problems” affecting the country’s fleet of 58 commercial reactor units or its radiation protection regime.

Nucnet 25th April 2014 read more »

Local Authority Action

Glasgow City Council is about to launch a project to identify sites for solar farms on 400 patches of wasteland scattered across the city. The plan is to install arrays of solar panels to generate clean electricity on vacant or derelict sites owned by the council. Despite the sun’s relatively rare appearance in the sky over Scotland’s largest city, experts say tapping its rays for power in this way will play a vital role in ensuring a low-pollution future for Glasgow. The initiative has been enthusiastically welcomed by renewable energy experts and companies, who see a bright future for solar power across Scotland. Edinburgh is looking at putting solar farms in disused quarries and on pit bings or slag heaps, and 16 major solar electricity projects have won planning approval elsewhere in Scotland in the last two years. Scotland already has 116 megawatts of solar capacity from more than 31,000 installations, mostly panels on the roofs of peoples’ homes. But this is seen by many as just the start. Glasgow City Council has teamed up with Strathclyde University to conduct a comprehensive survey of 550 hectares of city land that is currently not being used. Sites will be assessed to see which ones could accommodate mini solar farms. The city’s initiative has been branded exciting by Professor Keith Barnham, a physicist at Imperial College in London and the author of a forthcoming book on solar power. “I am backing Scotland to beat the Danes and the Germans to a cheaper, all-renewable, electricity supply by 2020 – leaving England well behind. PV on brownfield sites is a great idea, particularly if it benefits the neighbourhood through a local electricity grid.” Barnham’s book, The Burning Answer, due to be published in May, points out that Laplanders have managed to reduce their winter heating bills by using stored solar energy. The peak wholesale price of daytime electricity is falling in Germany thanks to the sun, it says. The book contends that a “solar revolution” would enable society to meet its energy needs without risking the environment.

Sunday Herald 27th April 2014 read more »

RobEdwards 27th April 2014 read more »

University Action

Three Scottish universities are to receive £20m as part of a scheme to help Scotland meet its carbon emission reduction targets. Strathclyde, Stirling and St Andrews universities will be given the Scottish government funding to build a number of new projects. It is hoped the work will encourage other bodies to develop low carbon heating technologies. The money has been allocated through the Scottish Funding Council (SFC). St Andrews University will receive £10m for a wood-fuelled biomass project at Guardbridge in Fife. The plant will produce hot water to be pumped four miles underground to heat and cool laboratories and residences in the university. Strathclyde University will receive £8m to construct a combined heat, power and district energy network, linking Strathclyde’s campus with major energy users in the area. A further £2m will be given to Stirling University for the installation of a combined heat and power plant to serve its main campus.

BBC 27th April 2014 read more »

Renewables – solar

No doubt about it: solar power has given German utilities a lashing. They cut wholesale electricity prices, which cuts into utility profits, and they also reduce electricity demand, further cutting into utility profits. Unfortunately (for utilities), they didn’t see it coming. They were caught in the same position many other companies have been caught when a disruptive technology came along — flat on their feat, complacent, and overconfident in their reigning power (no pun intended). RWE, a German utility founded in 1898, has been one of the hardest hit. With a German policy move away from nuclear, RWE started burning even more coal (52% of its electricity supply in 2013 compared to 45% in 2011). It got only 6.4% of its energy from renewables in 2013. It didn’t think, “let’s get into this solar future now.” Largely as a result, in 2013, RWE posted its first annual loss since World War II. Since 1998, it has dropped 30,000 employees (net). (Note: RWE wasn’t the only European utility to get hit by the move towards renewables. While the broader stock market has grown 60% in the past 5 years, European utility stocks have fallen 12%.)

Clean Technica 26th April 2014 read more »

Renewables – wind

Christopher Booker: Two examples of this last week again brought home just what a dishonest and disastrous mess Britain’s leaders are making of our national energy policy. The first was the announcement by Ed Davey, who runs the Department of Energy and Climate Change, of eight flagship projects he has chosen to play a leading role in helping to meet the European Union’s requirement that, within six years, we produce 32 per cent of our electricity from “renewables”. Five of these are giant offshore wind farms. Three more are power stations burning what is known as “biomass”. And most commentators seemed happy to take at face value Davey’s claims that these will bring in £12 billion of private investment, to generate “4.5 gigawatts” of electricity, create “8,500 green jobs”, help give us “energy security”, and enable us to lead the world in the heroic fight against climate change. Let us look, however, at what Mr Davey carefully didn’t say. For a start, of course, because the wind only blows intermittently, his five wind farms – covering, incidentally, 200 square miles of sea – will not provide anything like the 3GW of power he mentions. He is playing the old trick of confusing “capacity” with actual output.

Telegraph 26th April 2014 read more »

SIR JAMES DYSON has been drawn into a row over plans to build Britain’s biggest onshore wind turbines on his land. The plans have infuriated local people, who say the 500ft machines will damage one of Britain’s most precious landscapes, threaten birds and make the area less attractive to tourists. The billionaire inventor bought 17,000 acres of farmland in Lincolnshire for £150m, through his company Beeswax, in 2012.

Sunday Times 27th April 2014 read more »

Renewables – heat pumps

Renewable technology first envisaged by the physicist Lord Kelvin 150 years ago could use the country’s damp climate to save Scottish businesses £250 million annually. The results of a study suggest heat pumps could be used to turn cold water from rivers, lochs and sewage plants into cheap, green energy for thousands of businesses. The new report, commissioned by Glasgow University and due out in June, estimates that heat pumps could shrink the nation’s carbon footprint by the equivalent of 260,000 around-the-world car journeys every year.

Scotsman 25th April 2014 read more »

Energy Efficiency

HOUSEHOLDS must move fast to avoid missing out on millions of pounds of grants to make their homes more energy efficient. The government launched a £125m cashback scheme in January 2013 to encourage take-up of its Green Deal initiative, which was struggling to attract takers. Under the scheme, households in England and Wales are able to borrow money from government- approved lenders to install energy-efficiency measures such as insulation. However, the Department of Energy and Climate Change last week revealed that fewer than 500 cashback vouchers were issued last month — a fraction of the 3,300 issued last June, when the government made a big push to promote the scheme.

Sunday Times 27th April 2014 read more »

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Published: 27 April 2014