Tag Archives: renewables

There’s Always an Alternative View on Climate Change…..

I suppose that on the day the Government outlines new targets for addressing climate change, it’s inevitable that there would be an alternative view – and there is: from Lord Turnbull in the Daily Telegraph today.

We’ve heard many of these arguments before, but Lord Turnbull discusses them like this:

“First, the science is nowhere near as conclusive as it is presented. Though there is no disagreement that CO₂ is a greenhouse gas, there is no consensus on the relationship between CO2 and temperature. Many scientists also challenge the dominant role assigned to man-made CO2, arguing that other variables such as the sun, cosmic rays, oceans and clouds have been underplayed. Given this, it is unwise of the Government to have placed such heavy bets on just one interpretation of the evidence

Second, there have been failings in the governance of science. Senior figures in our scientific establishment, rather than promoting challenge, have sought to close the debate down and tell us the science is settled. The gap between the IPCC’s huge responsibilities to advise on one of the biggest issues of the day, and its competence to do so, is now so vast that it should be scrapped and replaced.

Third, the framework provided by the Climate Change Act takes no account of what other nations are doing. For a country like the UK, which produces only 2-3 per cent of global man-made emissions, this makes no sense. If we push too hard on decarbonisation, we will suffer double jeopardy: our energy-using industries will migrate and we may still need to invest heavily in adapting our infrastructure.

Fourth, the way in which the policy responses are being prioritised makes no sense. In a logical world, one would start with those technologies that are most effective in terms of cost per ton of CO₂ abated. But the EU renewables policy denies this logic. One set of technologies – in particular, wind – is guaranteed a market share and an indexed price regardless of how competitive it really is. Taking account of wind’s intermittency, its cost per kilowatt hour (kwh) exceeds that of other low carbon sources. Wind capacity should not be confused with output.

Fifth, current policies are hugely unfair. Those with large properties or landholdings on which to install solar panels or wind turbines can earn 30p-40p per kwh, which is retailed at around 11p. The loss is paid for by a levy on all households and businesses. If you live in a tower block in Lambeth, you don’t have much opportunity to share in this.

Finally, policies are failing to adapt to change, notably the impact of shale gas, which can make a huge contribution to carbon reduction with little extra cost.”

Lord Turnbull suggests that “in responding to the advice from the Committee on Climate Change on the next set of targets, the Government has an opportunity for a rethink. Instead, it seems likely that the requirements of keeping the Coalition together will take precedence.”

I don’t agree with Lord Turnbull’s analysis on climate change, though I do agree that there are probably some Coalition politics involved in today’s announcement. It will be interesting to see how the Coalition puts its argument later today.

DECC faces Renewable Sources Challenge

By David Bicknell

Interesting story from Reuters today saying Britain will miss its 2010 goal of making 10 percent of electricity from renewable sources, according to a Public Accounts Committee report.

According to the PAC report into the funding of renewable energy, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has admitted it will not meet the government’s own target of increasing the share of low-carbon renewable energy in Britain’s electricity supply to 10 percent by the end of 2010.

DECC estimates that over 30 percent of electricity will have to come from renewable sources by 2020 in order to meet the target set by the EU to get 15 percent of all Britain’s energy from renewables by the end of the decade.

The share of renewables crept slowly up from 2.7 percent in 2000 to 6.7 percent at the end of 2009, leaving Britain lagging in performance for green energy growth and making it a challenge to reach the 2020 goals.

According to PAC chairman Margaret Hodge, DECC will have to have a “greater sense of urgency and purpose if it is to achieve the dramatic increase in renewable energy supplies needed to meet the goals.”

The PAC went on, “We are concerned that the Department agreed to the legally binding EU-target to supply 15 percent of the UK’s energy from renewable sources by 2020, without clear plans, targets for each renewable energy technology, estimates of funding required or understanding how the rate at which planning applications for onshore wind turbines were being rejected might affect progress.”

Although the DECC is responsible for ensuring Britain reaches the targets, which are aimed at cutting emissions of climate warming gases from the energy sector, funding is actually delivered through a number of routes that DECC does not control.

Potential developers of renewable energy projects have said they could delay projects until it is clear what level of funding the different technologies – from offshore wind to solar and wave power – will get.

The report says some 40 percent of renewable schemes in England do not get planning approval, while others fail to get adequate funding.