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REVOLT Newsletter 178

Revolt news 24.12.04


 Season's Greetings to all our readers! Here's wishing for an improved world in 2005, especially for those suffering involuntary and uncompensated impositions for private profit masquerading as public good. 


1. The Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive has forwarded some correspondence relating to the moved pylon and Sale Golf Club (news177.4). The GMPTE claims, in effect, that it did not use compulsory purchase but acquired the land by voluntary agreement following Blight Notices, and further that the pylon was relocated within an area permitted by a transport Order. Revolt news awaits with interest the final outcome of the dispute and negotiations.

2. Elizabeth Mann's chronicle of wind power objection in the north of England, Force 10, can be downloaded free from www.wind-farm.org.uk 

3. A useful report Reduction in CO2 Emissions: Estimating the Potential Contribution from Wind Power, by David White, is published by the Renewable Energy Foundation, December 2004. It is a technically expert report, well researched and well referenced, with important data. It compares the differing approaches and data used by different government departments and by leading industrial reports. An Appendix on experiences from other countries constitutes a large chunk of the document and illuminates the technical detail. The publishers REF are, I think, the anti-wind group fronted by Noel Edmonds et al, but the report, though it presents a case cautioning against uncritical use of wind power, is technically reliable and detailed. I can email the report in pdf form (510kb) on request.

4. Reflecting further on the REF report (above) and our previous notes (e.g. news171.7), it is important to remember that wind alone cannot be used in a public electricity network because of its intermittence and volatility which is out of sync with demand. For the sake of the non- technical, I would describe the problem by a simple equation for energy averaged over the year:

1 unit wind + 2 units back-up + X = 3 units in-feed to grid.

That is roughly what you get from 4 units of installed wind capacity together with its necessary back-up, which is necessarily fossil- fuelled. Only about a quarter of the declared wind capacity is delivered on average, because of intermittence. The other three-quarters don't need total back-up because, across the country in a typical year, full output from all wind-farms would never be achieved. Generously (to wind power) allow that just 2 units of back up are needed on average; it's probably a bit more. To maintain this combined generation to balance instantaneous demand also requires X, the additional energy of dynamic start-up and run-down and off-design operation, which is not transparent but makes disproportionately large CO2 emissions. In summary, the left hand side of the equation represents a lot of work, cost and emissions in getting the wind power with its necessary back-up into the electricity system. After that, the 3 units in-feed to the electricity grid will be reduced by system losses; that can be disproportionately large for remote wind- farms, reducing the 3 units to less than 2.5, but set that aside. You could put (3 - Y) units on the right of the equation if you wish. The key question now is, what sort of energy does this wind + back-up combination displace? The answer is a mix, depending on the market. If it displaces nuclear (and maybe even gas), the net effect is to increase CO2 emissions. In the short term, if it displaces unclean coal and oil, then there is a limited CO2 saving. The above description is for wind at 5 to 10 % of the electricity market. It gets worse with increasing market penetration, with likely saturation around 20%.

5. The Guardian 20.12.04 reports Ofgem permitting more expenditure on the transmission network to accommodate remote wind farms (APPENDIX 1)

6. News@all-energy issue 46 arrived 23.12.04 with its usual wide-ranging news of all kinds of renewable generation (and nuclear). Nothing earth- shattering yet, though the new experimental fusion facility might potentially open up a viable alternative. For more see www.all-energy.co.uk  or email info@all-energy.co.uk with subject "subscribe" to receive the free email.

Here is just one item: 3.1.Transmission upgrade given the OK. ScottishPower and Scottish & Southern Energy have been given the green light to spend 560 million on upgrading their transmission networks.  http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/business.cfm?id=1449922004 

7. Microwave News is back. That candid and revealing widespread coverage of developments in EMF and health is back in operation at www.microwavenews.com 

8. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM) is the government department responsible for planning. It has issued a companion guide to the controversial PPS22 statement on renewable energy. Recall the new statement emerged from a set of radical proposed radical planning reforms designed to cut the time for planning processes (and to cut local democratic involvement). It was widely thought PPS22 was to help force wind farms through against local opposition. The new companion guide is expected to assist. It is a large file (2.6 MB) via
http://www.odpm.gov.uk/pns/displaypn.cgi?pn_id=2004_0316 

9. More on the REFLEX project on mobile phones (APPENDIX 2). See news 177.8. The BBC report highlights the laboratory results that "radio waves from mobile phones do harm body cells and damage DNA". Predictable NRPB response is "this research is no reason for people to be worried". They could have said it's no reason not to be worried. Although replication is needed, and although the cell and DNA damage may not in themselves be direct harm to health, the results increase grounds for concern and suspicion. NRPB spent years emphasising that such radiation could not damage DNA, as part of its systematic and persistent dismissal of concerns - concerns which were rational and evidence-based, although unproven, and which are increasingly supported as more evidence emerges despite the strenuous efforts of some key authorities to block research. The REFLEX results should be seen alongside the epidemiological results of Ahlbom this year (news175.3 attachment refers), which found, after ten years use, a quadrupling of the incidence of acoustic neuroma on the side of the head where the phone is used. Such long-term results are only just becoming available.


 

APPENDIX 1 from Guardian 20.12.04

http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,3604,1377277,00.html 

Ofgem pump primer for renewables

Mark Milner, Monday December 20, 2004, The Guardian

Energy industry regulator Ofgem is giving electricity transmission companies in Scotland and the north of England the green light to boost spending to allow more renewable sources to be hooked up to the network.

Today's decision means the companies will be able to start spending the money now, subject to planning permission, for individual schemes rather than having to wait for the next pricing review - which also sets investment levels - in 2007. It will increase the money that can be spent from an initial 360m to 560m to cope with plans for new windfarms.

Ofgem chief executive Alistair Buchanan said: "We remain committed to enabling transmission companies to make the right investment to respond to the growth in renewable generation - but it must be made in the most efficient way and not place an un due burden on customers." Ofgem said the new arrangements would protect customers by allowing transmission companies - Scottish and Southern, ScottishPower and National Grid Company - to invest "in an efficient and timely way".

Windfarms tend to be built in remote locations, which means their output has to be "exported" to other areas of higher consumer density, making access to the high voltage transmission network es sential. Some of the money is expected to be spent on improving the transmission link between Scotland and England and Wales.

By allowing more spending, Ofgem says the development of renewable generation would not be held back unnecessarily. It would also allow renewable generators to plug into the electricity market in a cost- effective way. Transmission charges account for about 3% of household electricity bills on average.


 APPENDIX 2 BBC news on REFLEX mobile phones research.

Radio waves from mobile phones do harm body cells and damage DNA, a laboratory study has shown. But the European Union-funded Reflex research did not prove such changes were a risk to human health. The scientists behind the study, which has not been published in a journal, said more work was needed to see the actual effect of the phones on health. But the UK National Radiological Protection Board said people should not be worried by the study's findings. A spokesman said the study had not shown the biological changes led to disease. He added that even research looking at the effects of radiowaves on cells and DNA did not consistently find evidence of damage. Around 1.5 billion people around the world use mobile phones. There is an ongoing debate over their safety, with fears over potential dangers linked to mobile phone masts and the handsets themselves. But the UK government-commissioned Stewart report in 2000 concluded there was no evidence of harm associated with using mobile phones. However, the report did recommend a precautionary approach and said children should only use mobile phones in emergencies. The mobile phone industry maintains there is no scientific evidence of harmful effects from electromagnetic radiation. 'Precautions' The four-year Reflex study, co-ordinated by the German research group Verum, studied the effects of radiation on animal and human cells in a laboratory. They found that, after being exposed to electromagnetic fields, the cells showed a significant increase in DNA damage which could not always be repaired by the cell. Damage was also seen in the next generation of cells. Mutated cells are seen as a possible cause of cancer. The study, which has not been published in a journal, also reported other harmful effects on cells. The radiation used in the study was at Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) levels of between 0.3 and 2 watts per kilogram. The SAR is the rate at which the body absorbs emissions from the phone handset. Most phones emit radio signals at SAR levels of between 0.5 and 1 W/kg. Mobile phones cannot be sold to unless they fall within the SAR of 2 watts per kg. Franz Adlkofer, who led the Reflex study, said people should use landlines, rather than mobiles, wherever possible. He added: "We don't want to create a panic, but it is good to take precautions." He said definitive research would take another four to five years. Other studies have suggested mobile phone radiation may have some effect on the body, such as heating up body tissue and causing headaches and nausea, but no study that could be independently repeated has proved that radiation had permanent harmful effects. 'No conclusions possible' Dr Zenon Sienkiewicz, principal scientific officer at the UK's National Radiological Protection Board, said: "This research is no reason for people to be worried. "It is an interesting study, but its conclusions should not be over- emphasised." He added: "The bottom line is that more research looking at whether mobile phones do have a measurable effect on health is needed." A spokeswoman for the Mobile Operators Association said: "Independent scientific review bodies in the UK and around the world have consistently concluded that the weight of scientific evidence to date suggests that exposure to radiowaves from mobile phone handsets and base stations operating within international guidelines do not cause adverse health effects. "The results of this study are preliminary, not yet published or peer- reviewed and require further replication by other groups." She added: "It is not possible to draw conclusions from this preliminary data. "The authors of this unpublished study acknowledge that this work will need to be repeated by independent laboratories."


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