Posts Tagged 'Renewable energy'




Plans for new wind farms to help the UK to meet its renewable energy targets are under threat because of the credit crunch.

Centrica, which owns British Gas, said it is now looking again at proposals for three new farms which it had planned in addition to those off the east coast of England which are due to be in full production by the end of this year.

At the moment, a wind farm can cost up to £3 billion per gigawatt of capacity to build – compared with a gas-fired power station at only £600 million and the cost of a wind farm is even more per gigawatt than a nuclear plant.



New rules are being introduced to make it easier for consumers to choose “green” electricity tariffs that deliver extra benefits.

According to the government, some suppliers don’t offer many benefits other than satisfying their legal obligation to use renewable energy sources – whereas others also make a contribution to environmental projects or the fight against climate change.

So it is planning a new ratings system that will distinguish between the potential benefits of different green tariffs. That way, you’ll know whether you are paying more just because it’s renewable energy or whether the cost includes extra environmental actions by your supplier such as planting trees.

Environment Secretary, Hilary Benn, says: “I want to make sure that the green tariff market is clear for consumers.” 

He has now written to energy companies asking them to provide “the clearest possible information” about the environmental benefits of their green power and has asked energy regulator, Ofgem, to help collect information for the proposed ratings system.  

He said electricity is like any other product – people want to know what they are paying for – and this applies especially to a green tariff because it often costs more than traditional electricity.

The Carbon Trust says it supports the move because the green tariffs market is unclear and some tariffs deliver minimal extra carbon savings.

It says the sector suffers from significant double counting problems – and it’s essential that the benefits of renewables can be accurately reported by businesses towards their carbon reduction targets.

• The government has also just  announced a new round of biomass grants for  farmers and producers.

Grants of up to £200,000 will be available to support the biomass industry in England which ministers say has the potential to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and cut our carbon emissions.

The grants will apply to a range of crops  including willow, poplar, alder, ash, hazel, lime, grass and straw.



Scotland’s first minister claims that Scotland could produce enough power from renewable resources to provide electricity for the whole of the UK.

Speaking at a conference in the USA, Alex Salmond said he wants Scotland to become a global advocate for renewable energy and he announced that the Scottish government is putting an incredible £10 million towards a worldwide prize for innovation in marine-generated power from waves or tides.

But there are strings attached to the huge Saltire Prize – the winning entrant must have developed the solution in Scotland.

Mr Salmond says Scotland may be a small nation but it doesn’t need to think small and it has the potential from renewables to create more than 10 times its peak energy demand.

There are already many renewable projects in Scotland. Check out plans for this one – which people in Fintry are keen to take part in.

Meanwhile, it has just been announced that the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions dropped 2% in 2007, keeping it on track to meet Kyoto Protocol targets.

The reduction has been attributed to lower fossil fuel consumption by both household and industry and the switch from coal to natural gas for electricity generation.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn said: “That’s 11 million tonnes less CO2 from the UK in the atmosphere. But we need to do more, and we need to make absolutely certain that we will deliver the reductions we need.”

He said we still need to see major changes across the whole of the UK economy if we are to meet the ambitious emissions reduction targets set in the Climate Change Bill.

And to help in this, the government will develop carbon markets and promote the development of low carbon technology, while continuing to work to get international agreement on global emissions targets.”
Susan hunt



The World Wildlife Fund is questioning the UK government’s plan for 10 new nuclear power stations.

WWF says the UK can meet its future energy needs and combat climate change without resorting to nuclear power.

Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF says: “The government can’t hide behind the argument that new nuclear power is essential to meet the UK’s climate change targets and energy needs. Nuclear power is being presented as an environmental saviour, when it is unnecessary, unsustainable and unsafe.”

He says WWF has produced its own credible reports to show that Britain can make deep cuts in carbon emissions by other means.

WWF says alternative solutions could lie in energy efficiency and renewable energy, potentially combined with fossil fuel stations equipped with working carbon capture and storage – and it believes this could be achieved far more quickly.

“Renewables have the potential to start producing clean energy right now, while the nuclear industry won’t be able to build the first power station until 2020 at the earliest,” said Mr Allott. “Renewables could be producing up to 20% of all UK energy and 40% of UK electricity before the first nuclear power station is even functional.”




Okay, what do you do when you want a good head of water to drive a turbine for hydro-electric power? You build a dam, of course.

Now, what about when you need a good, strong wind to drive your wind turbines? A wind dam! You’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s not all that intuitive to apply the same principles to wind as to water, after all, as they say, “you might as well try and catch the wind”.


A British company is going to try and do just that, though. Architects Chetwood Associates have applied for planning permission to build a £2.5 million wind dam across a gorge on the famously windy Lake Ladoga in Karelia, North West Russia. The futuristic vision would be the first wind dam in the world. It comprises a cup-shaped spinnaker sail, which is similar to the main sail of a yacht, and widely accepted as being one of the most efficient ways of channelling wind. By funnelling the existing air flow through the gorge into the spinnaker, they hope to maximise the available drive across the attached turbine, and generate renewable energy.


If the application is successful, Chetwood Associates would hope to build it in situ next year. They are already considering a further application for another dam higher up the lake. The first dam, which will be 25 metres across and 75 metres high, was conceived by project architect, Laurie Chetwood, as a shape that combined functionality with aesthetics. He views his design as being somewhat sculptural, and likens its appearance to “a bird dipping its beak into the water”. “But it is also highly effective at capturing the wind”, he says, “because it replicates the work of a dam and doesn’t let the wind escape in the way it does using traditional propellers.”


Chetwood Associates has a very good pedigree in developing designs that deviate from the commonplace. This is the architecture firm responsible for the London Oasis, a beautiful and interactive sculpture in Clerkenwell, London.

I love the design of the wind dam. I think it echoes the beauty the lake and its scenery, and echoes the small sails of the boats and windsurfers frequently found enjoying the unusual breeze in this valley.




“We need to ensure the market delivers enough energy supply in five years’ time, ten years’ time, and in fifteen year’s time,” said Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks, as a new report was published into security of energy supplies.

The Energy Markets Outlook Report provided information, looking over a fifteen year time period, to help develop a shared understanding of the long-term outlook for energy supply and demand and explore and understand emerging risks that could affect the security of supply.

“Security of energy supply is one of the fundamental challenges this country faces.” stated Minister Wicks.

“We have one of the strongest and most diverse energy markets in the world which has seen many billions of investment. This includes proposals on the table for more than 14 gigawatts of new electricity generation capacity and quadrupling of our gas import capacity over the last few years. Decisions are being taken, the market is delivering investment, but we cannot let our guard down,” continued Wicks.

“Underpinning this is the need to move as quickly as reasonable possible towards a low-carbon economy. The sooner the world tackles climate change the better, both economically and environmentally. The best way of reducing emissions from energy is to use less. But whatever the exact composition of the future energy mix is, it must clearly involve a far greater role for renewable energy,” concluded Wicks.

The report highlighted key signals to the market including constructing electricity generation capacity, delivery of new gas capacity and planned new infrastructure and the ability to access additional sources of gas on a more flexible basis, the future use of other fuels- coal, oil and nuclear fuels is unlikely to be limited by resource availability, a continued need for skills and resources in the engineering and construction sectors, increases in the price of carbon to encourage investment in new low-carbon generating capacity in the long term, and greater deployment of renewable will have an important role to play in cutting carbon emissions.

The Energy Markets Outlook report was developed in conjunction with the energy regulator, Ofgem.

“The past couple of years have shown that competitive markets can deliver substantial investment in new and diverse energy supplies. But if investment is too late customers can suffer by having to cut production or deal with much higher prices to manage temporary shortages. We hope this report will help the energy industry and customers understand the risks and the need for investment in the future so they can take appropriate actions,” said Alistair Buchanan, Ofgem Chief Executive.

The report and an online resource can be found here.



The United States House of Representatives passed a resolution this week setting a goal to expand renewable energy production in the US by 25% by the year 2025.

American Electric Power has agreed to spend $4.6 billion to reduce harmful air emissions from 16 coal-fired power plants.

The Weather Channel recently announced a $25 million donation to the National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF) for the creation of American High School environmental education programs.’

Former US Vice-President Al Gore and the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared the Nobel Peace Prize Award “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”

October 26-November 3rd, The European Road Transport Show will be held in Amsterdam. The MODEC team will be there showing their line of zero emission vehicles.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) will provide a $500,000 grant to assist the People’s Republic of China in developing a system to manage water pollution. The project is estimated to cost $650,000. The balance will be covered by the government.

The Corporate Responsibility Reporting and Communications Conference will be held the 13-14 of November in London.