Updated: The UK Government has reversed its decision to effectively ban onshore wind, solar and energy storage from competing in the Contracts for Difference (CfD) rounds, following calls for a review to its renewables policy framework in light of the net-zero target. Since it won the 2015 general election, the Tory government had largely excluded onshore wind and solar energy from support through CfD auctions while removing central government planning backing for such projects. These exclusions have been repeatedly questioned since the UK Government set a legally binding net-zero target for 2050 last year – an aim which the Committee on Climate Change claims will require a quadrupling of domestic renewable energy generation. Critics have ranged from opposition MPs, to businesses with renewable energy interests, to think-tanks-and community groups, to Tory peers themselves. BEIS’s newly appointed secretary of state Alok Sharma responded to these criticisms yesterday (2 March) by confirming that onshore wind, solar, floating offshore wind and certain energy storage projects will be able to bid in the 2021 CfD round – as will floating offshore wind farms, which purport to be capable of supporting larger turbine blades and of avoiding some of the biodiversity risks associated with traditional offshore turbines.
Edie 3rd March 2020 read more »
On Monday, the government did something remarkable. In the windiest country in Europe, it finally ended a five-year block on new onshore wind turbines. It’s a victory for campaigners, and anyone who wants action on the climate crisis and cares about lower energy bills in future. The government has hopefully ended a strategy – begun by David Cameron in 2015 – of making energy policy in direct contradiction to public opinion. No two issues define this tendency more than the government’s seemingly unshakeable support for fracking – and the insistent de facto ban on new onshore wind turbines.
Guardian 3rd March 2020 read more »
Owen Patterson: To meet the Conservatives’ net-zero emissions target, the UK will need around 40GW of new, low-carbon baseload generation by 2050. Technology undoubtedly holds the answer to achieving that. But it is no use setting our hopes on fashionable technologies simply for their superficial appeal. Sadly, however, the Government’s latest decision to revive onshore wind seems to fall into this trap. It is welcome that the plans will still give local people a strong say in new development decisions. Indeed, they should have the final say. But the problems of wind turbines go far beyond their being mere eyesores. Wind turbines are already close to their maximum theoretical efficiency – the Betz limit – and their effectiveness will always be determined by the wind available. Given that, for wind turbines to supply only the annual global growth in demand, nearly 350,000 would need to be built each year. This is 1.5 times as many as have been built since the early 2000s, and would require more land than the area of the British Isles every year. Clearly, we need to do better than onshore wind. Nuclear power is an obvious candidate, but there is a problem in achieving that capacity from large fission plants: there are neither enough suitable sites nor enough time to build them. Reaching the net-zero target would require opening a new Hinkley Point-sized station every four months until 2050. That could cost anything from £6 trillion if we could find enough civil engineers, even without the spiralling costs which similar projects have faced at the Olkiluoto nuclear project in Finland and at Flamanville in France. Both are struggling even to make the technology work. With modular nuclear reactors (SMRs), however, we see a proven technology which can provide power much more reliably than intermittent renewable sources. Rolls Royce estimates that each reactor – small enough to be transported by lorry – could provide the power equivalent of 150 onshore wind turbines. Lower construction costs through economies of series production, short construction time and the potential to use small reactors in Combined Heat and Power systems, make SMRs a technology with enormous potential to provide clean, sustainable and reliable energy.
Telegraph 4th March 2020 read more »