One of my pet peeves is the continued inability of many people to distinguish between energy and electricity. Headlines of “100% renewable energy by 2030″ abound when they should say “100% renewable electricity.” This is not a trivial mistake, after all the majority of energy use is not in the form of electricity. And quite remarkably confusion energy and electricity may have resulted in Tony Blair signing up to the EU getting 20% of its energy from renewables by 2020. Apparently, he thought he was signing up to 20% renewable electricity, not energy. Whether this actually occurred has been a point of a little debate, but the evidence seems to indicate that it did.
According to the government’s chief scientist at the time, Sir David King, Blair thought he was signing up to 20% renewable energy. However, some figures such as Blairite commentator John Rentoul have disputed that this occurred. David King’s view however seems to be backed up today by the BBC’s Roger Harrabin, who writes:
When the EU set its 2020 target of sourcing 20% of energy from renewables, some leaders thought the deal referred to electricity. (I know because I spoke to Downing Street on the day of the decision).
In fact, it included energy for transport and heating too, so the bar was set much higher than anticipated. Policies create opportunities and entrepreneurs were quick to exploit the potential of wood power, which will soon create more renewable energy in the UK than wind and solar combined.
The potential for UK ports and harbours to generate their own electricity through small scale wind power has been highlighted by wind developer e-Genas at the UK Harbour Masters’ Association’s recent meeting in Edinburgh.
e-Gen believes that many of the UK’s ports and harbours have the potential to be suitable sites for hosting sub <1MW wind turbines as they feature good wind speeds, a suitable distance from residential properties, and a lack of ecological and landscape constraints.
e-Gen estimates that if just half of the UK’s active freight ports installed a single 800kW turbine they could provide electricity equivalent to the annual demand from over 25,000 houses, while cutting carbon emissions equivalent to those produced by over 13,000 cars on UK roads each year.
The combined wind power capacity of nearly 46 MW would be equivalent to one of the UK’s larger onshore wind farms.
Tom Forsyth director of e-Gen said: “While ports and harbours are gearing up to benefit from the offshore renewables sector, the potential to generate clean electricity themselves remains largely untapped. There is a window of opportunity through financial support from the Feed-in Tariff for businesses to cut their energy costs, secure a 20 year guaranteed income stream and boost green business credentials from small scale wind projects.”
The proportion of UK electricity generated from gas fell to 16-year lows last year as cheaper coal prices spurred generators into increasing coal-fired power to its greatest share of the electricity mix since 1996, government data shows.
The share of gas-fired power within the UK generation mix fell from 39.9% in 2011 to just 27.5% in 2012, according to provisional government data, while coal burn increased from 29.5% to 39.3% over the same period.
The inversion of the UK’s dominant fuel sources represents a radical shift in electricity generation to the highest percentage of coal-fired power within the energy mix since 1996, and the lowest gas-fired power share since the same year.
“This was due to high gas prices, with several gas stations being run at minimal or zero levels as a result,” the Department of Energy and Climate Change said alongside the data.
In outright terms total coal-fired power was at six-year highs of 142.8 TWh in 2012, up from 108.6 TWh in 2011, but outright gas burn fell to 16-year lows of 99.7 TWh from 146.8 TWh in 2011 as nuclear, renewable energy and electricity imports further eroded the need for expensive gas-fired power.
Nuclear generation rose 2.1% on year to its highest level in six years at 70.4 TWh in 2012, while wind and solar power generation surged 31.5% higher to 20.7 TWh.
In addition, the UK almost doubled its imports of electricity from continental Europe to 12.0 TWh as Dutch imports rose to their highest in 12 years. UK EMISSIONS RISE
Soaring coal-fired power generation data comes just one day after estimates from the European Commission showing the UK’s carbon emissions rising despite an overall decrease in emissions across the EU.
via UK gas-fired power hit 16-year lows in 2012: government data – Natural Gas | Platts News Article & Story.
UK households and businesses face electricity blackouts in just a few years say two of the country’s leading energy experts.
‘The situation is really quite serious. We will have to keep our coal-fired power stations open and get fined by the EU’, says Prof Ian Fells, one of the UK’s leading energy experts.
He continued: ‘By 2015 we will be vulnerable. For the last four years the Government has been sitting on its hands doing nothing, and this is really unacceptable’.
via UK’s Lights May Go Out By 2015, Warns Global Energy Expert.
Energy Suppliers Fears of Energy Deficit
The energy market’s ‘Big Six’ players have heaped pressure on the government today to endures and support gas-fired power or face a shortfall in the amount of energy the UK needs. EnergyUK – which represents EDF Energy, Centrica and more – Angela Knight, head of EnergyUK warned energy secretary Ed Davey that the government needs to reach a decision on a capacity mechanism to determine the UK’s commercial energy usage, describing the matter as ‘urgent’.
via Energy Suppliers Urge UK Back to Gas Amidst Fears of Energy Deficit.
UK energy sector emissions rose in 2012 in contrast with the majority of other EU countries, new data shows. The news comes as MPs in the UK get ready for the latest round of debates over the forthcoming energy bill, with key questions still looming over how the government will secure a low carbon future.
Bucking the trend
New European Commission data shows emissions fell by two per cent across the EU, with 23 countries reducing their emissions. But of the five largest economies, two – Germany and the UK – saw emissions increase.
via UK emissions rise while most of Europe’s fall | Carbon Brief.
The Treasury closed down a 900 million-pound tax loophole on Wednesday by preventing energy firms from claiming money off their tax bills against installation costs dating back decades.The move is the latest step in Britain’s drive to maximise tax receipts as it tries to reduce the country’s budget deficit and lead a global clampdown on aggressive tax avoidance and evasion by multinational firms and wealthy individuals.New legislation will stop gas and electricity distributors from making new claims for tax relief against the cost of providing new or improved supply to commercial premises in cases where the bill has already been met by the company.
A £10 MILLION waste plant near Benson was officially opened on Friday.
The ribbon-cutting ceremony was performed by Lord de Mauley, parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
The anaerobic digestion plant in Benson Lane began commissioning waste in January and is currently running at about 75 per cent capacity.
It is able to process up to 45,000 tonnes of waste a year and create enough electrity to power 4,000 households and bio-fertilizer for 2,500 acres of local farm land.
Oxfordshire County Council has a 20-year waste contract with the operator Agrivert.
Lord de Mauley said: “Turning what was once automatically sent to landfill into renewable energy not only makes environment sense, it makes business sense too.
“The waste and recycling sector represents a huge opportunity for UK businesses and will help grow our economy.”
Alexander Maddan, chief executive of Agrivert, said: “The plant will help increase national recycling rates and reduce the volume of material going to landfill while reducing the financial burden on the taxpayer.
“The plant will give the local economy and the agricultural sector a valuable boost during a difficult economic period.” Guests at the opening ceremony included South Oxfordshire District Councillor David Dodds, who is responsible for waste, and Benson parish councillor Patricia Bayliss.
About 120 tonnes of waste are delivered to the plant each day. This waste is decontaminated and processed into a thick soup.
It is then pumped into digesters, where bacteria breaks down the organic material in the absence of oxygen to produce methane.
via Henley on Thames News | Opening of £10m plant that turns waste into renewable energy.
In south London, Viridor has finally got the go-ahead to build an energy recovery facility next to its landfill site in Beddington.The incinerator will provide South London Waste Partnership and businesses with a cost-effective alternative to landfill and also bring forward the completion and restoration of the existing landfill into green spaces and wildlife habitats.Viridor’s head of development projects Robert Ryan said the ERF was “the right solution for South London’s waste challenge and is one that will deliver real economic, social and environmental benefits”.Further north, Peel Environmental has received the green light from City of York Council to build an anaerobic digestion AD and horticultural glasshouse facility on a former mining site in the region.The AD plant will recover heat and electricity from up to 60,000 tonnes of organic waste per year, generating renewable electricity to power around 3,500 homes.A horticultural glasshouse, which will use some of the heat produced, will be developed alongside the facility and operated by Howden-based specialist Plant Raisers to propagate mainly tomato plants.Peel Environmental director Myles Kitcher said that co-locating waste infrastructure was central to the company’s growth strategy.
EDF Energy was handed £1.45 million between April 29 and May 15 to shut down turbines on the Fallago Rig wind farm, which is on land owned by the Duke of Roxburghe in Scottish Borders.
The “constraint payments”, which ultimately come from electricity bills, are given to wind farm companies to compensate them for not producing power during periods of high generation and low demand.
This can happen when it is too windy, in order not to overload the National Grid, or when maintenance work on the Grid is being carried out.
But the 48-turbine development in the Lammermuir Hills only completed testing and came fully online on May 17, two days after the final tranche of the money.
The Conservatives said the payments for not producing electricity – which spiked at more than £320,000 per day – demonstrated the ludicrous consequences for consumers of Alex Salmond’s drive for wind energy in Scotland.