Tag Archives: wind power

Winds of energy change blow through Germany and China

By David Bicknell

Change in government priorities and policies can drive structural change that generates significant investment and growth. That is now particularly the case in energy production projects in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster.

From this article on Business Green, it appears that Germany  is set for a significant investment in wind power with the setting up of a number of offshore wind farms with new hydroelectric power plants in the offing too.

German energy companies and investors are ready to plough up to €60bn into overhauling the country’s power infrastructure, following the government’s pledge to phase out nuclear reactors.

The energy and water industry association BDEW issued a report on the first day of the Hanover industrial fair revealing that plans are underway to build or modernise 84 power stations with a combined capacity of 42GW.

As Business Green says, the report also provides one of the most detailed insights to date on how the German energy sector plans to cope with the government’s commitment to phase out nuclear capacity in the country post-Fukushima.

Another recent article shows that China is making similar investments in wind energy, spending the equivalent of £4bn in the North-Western Gansu region.

As Jonathan Watts reports, “Wind turbines, which were almost unknown five years ago, stretch into the distance, competing only with far mountains and new pylons for space on the horizon. Jiuquan alone now has the capacity to generate 6GW of wind energy – roughly equivalent to that of the whole UK. The plan is to more than triple that by 2015, when this area could become the biggest wind farm in the world.

“Although it is the world’s biggest CO2 emitter and notorious for building the equivalent of a 400MW coal-fired power station every three days, it is also erecting 36 wind turbines a day and building a robust new electricity grid to send this power thousands of miles across the country from the deserts of the west to the cities of the east.

“It is part of a long-term plan to supply 15 per cent of the country’s energy from renewable sources by 2020. Most of that will come from nuclear and hydropower, but the government is also tapping the wind and solar potential of the deserts, mountain plateaus and coastlines.”

Meanwhile, Britain could pump £13bn into the economy and create up to 10,000 jobs by upgrading its power distribution network with smart grid technology, according to a Reuters report.

The technology has the potential to transform the way electricity is generated, distributed and consumed just as the Internet transformed the way the world communicates.

The idea is to create a communication network to maximise efficiency in supply and demand and to cut costs for homes and businesses.

Related Reading

UK smart grid could create jobs, help economy

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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.