REVOLT News 144

29/05/2003

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 REVOLT News 144

1. From Professional Engineering 7.5.03: An article "Heading off a gridlock" starts off "Although the government's renewable energy targets look likely to be met, they will amount to nothing without a substantial modification of our national grid". Revolt has long held (following revelations in the 1996 transmission price control review) that there would be knock-on grid developments throughout England as a result of NG's new Yorkshire line. Now the government's rush to windfarms, particularly in Scotland, is doubly exacerbating the problem, as windfarms are both remote and intermittent. Last year NG approached Ofgem, together with Scottish power companies, with the result of a joint Renewable Energy Transmission Study. The Study looks at increasing grid capacity by 6GW at a likely cost of 1.5 to 1.7 billion pounds. The Yorkshire line has maximum capacity about 5GW (but efficient operation would be at less than half that), is about 50 miles long and the whole project cost about 220 million pounds. So it seems NG and the government are planning for grid development equivalent to about 7 or 8 Yorkshire lines!

2. Snips from DEFRA's Energy & Environmental Management May/June 2003:

(a) Continuing the above theme, consultants ILEX estimate a 1.3 billion pound bill for upgrading the grid to meet renewables targets by 2010 and 2.3 billion pounds by 2020. So much for a free market, with hidden subsidies on that scale!

(b) The stage is now set for an EU-wide energy tax, but not in the short term as it is "saturated with derogations and transition periods".

See  http://europa.eu.int/comm/taxation_customs/taxation/energy/energy_en.htm 

(c) Michael Meacher on the Energy White Paper says energy efficiency is the most cost-effective way to tackle all our energy goals and we expect to achieve about half the carbon savings by 2020 through this route. Each year Britain wastes 12 billion pounds' worth of energy, a third of total consumption, says government agency Action Energy.

(d) Danish leading Micro-CHP provider EC Power has announced its UK launch. It's generators are 95% fuel efficient, compared with 30 to 40% for traditional power stations. They are designed for about 15 households, a school, a farm or small to medium sized companies, and can reduce fuel bills by as much as 60%. At the same time they reduce use of the grid. Installation is simple and fast. The largest system takes only 2 square metres of floor space. An example already installed produces 17kW electricity and 28kW heat saving some 4,400 in energy bills and charges, a saving of over 60% and payback period of just over 3 years. Capital cost was 12,500 plus 2,000 for installation.

3. News@all-energy issue 23 covers a range of renewable energy news items, as usual. The contents list is at Appendix 1 below. I notice the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) is spinning against hydrogen power; well it would, wouldn't it?

4. Prof Denis Henshaw continues to send papers relevant to the EMF and health issue, especially on the protective powers of melatonin, which can be disrupted by EMF. There is also evidence of a more direct effect of EMF, stimulating gene expression in human glioma cells in a similar way to X-Rays. Although the EMF in the experiments was 5mT, a thousand times higher than you get near powerlines, the demonstration of such an effect for these low-frequency fields shows that such things are possible, and strengthens the plausibility of the evidence that powerlines can cause cancer, whether by inhibiting melatonin or by other more direct effects. [G-R Ding et al, Exposure to power frequency magnetic fields and X-Rays Induces GAP-43 Gene Expression in Human Glioma M054 Cells, Bioelectromagnetics 23, 586-591, 2002]

5. An interesting and fairly encyclopaedic article on Sir Richard Doll [M Walker, The Ecologist, 28(2), 82-92, 1998] is of timely interest as the British Medical Journal publishes results suggesting the risks of passive smoking have been exaggerated. I have long pointed to the relatively weak evidence relating passive smoking to lung cancer when compared with that relating EMFs to childhood leukaemia. Apart from active and passive smoking, the article (I think it is better described as such rather than a scientific paper, although it is well referenced) outline's Doll's role in organo-phosphates (e.g. in sheep dip poisoning), Gulf War syndrome, diet, air pollution, dioxins, agent orange, low-level radiation, asbestos, anaesthetics, fluoridation and lead in petrol, with his transformation from the side of the public in his early days to the side of corporate business in the last two or three of decades. Of course, over that period, living conditions (in the west at least) have changed radically, as have expectations and litigation, but the case of Doll's personal transformation is well made. Walker describes two paradigms, "lifestyle" (blaming the individual lifestyle) versus "dissident" (blaming corporate environmental effects), threading the many different controversies. While I don't like the blame-and-claim culture, and I share Doll's caution in attributing cause, in the cases I am more familiar with it does seem Doll has failed to take proper account of evidence, short of proof of a cause, which gives reasonable grounds for concern. This is the problem on uncertain evidence so well tackled by the California Department of Health over EMFs. There can be little doubt that Doll's many interventions on the side of big business and government have been used very effectively to avoid responsibility for serious and genuine concerns with severe impacts on powerless individuals. Shame on him for engaging so one- sidedly with such brutal effect.

6. The WHO working group which met in Luxembourg (News141.6 and Appx 4) is presently working on a generic Precautionary Framework document. It doesn't address EMF specifically - that is to come later. I have contributed my comments, but it would be premature to publish detail of the working drafts.

7. Selections from Microwave News March/April 2003 < www.microwavenews.com >

(a) The Luxembourg conference and WHO group are reported under the headline "WHO invokes Precautionary Principle for high and low-frequency EMFs" and subhead "What's next is far from clear". That's all fair comment to me, and what's next for EMFs is not any clearer yet.

(b) Under the headline "US NIEHS advises: it's ok for children to live next to power lines" there is a report of a statement on the NIEHS website, later withdrawn, which aroused strong protest. The statement is reproduced in full. It quotes its own director's report to Congress that there was no problem "warranting aggressive regulatory action". In my view, elements of the NIEHS website statement could be described as aggressive denial. The statement says that a NIEHS booklet currently being printed "says flatly that in terms of children's health it doesn't matter whether or not a house is close to power lines. There is no valid association between power lines and any cancer - including childhood leukaemia, the booklet says". As the NIEHS is a professional body (National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) this scientifically wrong advice is worrying. At least they have withdrawn the statement from the website. Will they withdraw the booklet "currently being printed"?

(c) Ironically the US industry body EPRI, from which aggressive denials might be less surprising, gives 7 reasons why EMF research must continue.

(d) The UK's Mobile Telephone and Health Research (MTHR) programme is outlined, including projects on effects of base stations and TETRA (the police system). Details: <www.mthr.org.uk>

 (e) Sir William Stewart, having resigned as chair of the UK's MTHR programme, is to head the new Health Protection Agency (HPA) and he replaces Sir Walter Bodmer as chairman of NRPB. (Good!)

(f) The Swedish Radiation Protection Authority (SSI), which gave an early lead in precautionary policy for powerline EMFs, has come under fire since criticising Hardell & Mild's findings that mobile phones can promote brain tumours. In a TV investigation programme, SSI research director Ulf Baverstam "after much badgering" agreed it would be appropriate to apply the precautionary principle to mobile phone radiation. But it's not official SSI policy. Hardell was also the victim of a character attack by Sir Richard Doll, defending agent-orange, according to Walker's article (item 5 above), quoting Doll "his work should no longer be cited as scientific evidence".

(g) Two new papers by Hardell & Mild et al continue to see a cancer risk from mobile phones: Int J Oncology 22, 399-407, 2003; Neuroepidemiology 22, 124-129, March-April 2003.

(h) Motorola research says hands-free sets do reduce exposures.

(i) The Russian National Committee on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (RNCNIRP) adopts a precautionary approach, including "1.1 Children under the age of 16 should not use mobile phones". Some chance!

8. NRPB has issued a 171-page document "Proposals for Limiting Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (0-300 GHz)", available in pdf format from < http://www.nrpb.org > or on paper from NRPB, Chilton, Didcot OX11 0RQ.

The Preface says careful consideration has been given to aspects of precaution that might be applied, including the possible application of the Precautionary Principle, and that proposals are set out to bring together all the stakeholders including the general public to facilitate open discussion. Sounds good so far! Comments are invited preferably by electronic mail to emfconsult@nrpb.org or by post to NRPB (EMF Guidelines) at the above address up to the closing date of Monday 28 July 2003. Revolt intends to submit a response after studying the document.

9. From Professional Engineering 21 May, Norway's grid company Statnett has applied for a licence to build the world's longest undersea electricity cable, from Suldal in southern Norway to Easington, County Durham. NG is due to announce its approval of the plan shortly. It is expected to be 750 km and to cost 722 million pounds, with a capacity of 1,200 MW. That is equivalent to a large power station, about the capacity of the Blyth power stations which closed in 2001, and about two-thirds of that of the Enron Teesside Power Station. Such a move would add to the load to be carried on the new Yorkshire line now being built.

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APPENDIX 1 Contents of news@all-energy 23.

CONTENTS

1.GENERAL
1.1.Call for R&D proposals - GBP11m on offer
1.2.'Step up research' says EU consortium
1.3.UK on track to meet Kyoto goals says UN
1.4.The view from Norway
1.5.Movers and Shapers looks at renewables
1.6.50m urgently needed for renewables
1.7.Huge support for renewables from SW
1.8.Kyoto - the key to an export business for Denmark?
1.9.Renewable group for Black & Veatch

2.WIND
2.1.40m on offer for Round 3 Capital Grants
2.2.Wind industry calls for an early review of Renewable Obligation
2.3.Tax may damage windfarm expansion
2.4.EWEA issues a hydrogen warning
2.5.Investment of 1bn+ in UK's wind industry
2.6.EHN makes major investment in wind turbine plant
2.7.Elsam puts turbines to the test
2.8.US wind on track for 25per cent growth in 2003
2.9.SEA's 'Future Offshore' Report
2.10.Don't put jobs at risk!
2.11.Good luck FT Technologies!
2.12.Largest windfarm in Oz - all systems go!
2.13.Getting behind the Zilkha name
2.14.Britain's tallest turbine
2.15.And now a commercial break
2.16.AEP leads e7 project for wind turbines for the Galapagos
2.17.Nordex builds Colombia's first windfarm
2.18.Support building for Cape Wind

3.WET
3.1.MCT's crossed fingers pay dividends
3.2.Wave Dragon testing under way
3.3.AquaBuOYs for Denmark and USA
3.4.Help steer a new UK ocean energy resource group

4.HYDRO
4.1.Big plans for hydro in Scotland -1-2-3
4.2.Hydro for River Avon at Bradford?
4.3.Making its mark in the renewables industry

5.HYDROGEN
5.1.International partnership to develop hydrogen energy proposed
5.2.Shell's Icelandic hydrogen station opened
5.3.And it's Norsk Hydro technology behind it
5.4.Hydrogen + wind power for remote communities
5.5.FCUK launched by DTI
5.6.DOE turns its attention to hydrogen vehicles

6.BIOFUELS
6.1.Bio-plant for Schleswig
6.2.Biofuel for Le Mans 24-hour race
6.3.Question mark over Arbre???
6.4.Need 30,000 tonnes of feathers a day?
6.5.Olive power

7.PV/SOLAR
7.1.PV cell production increases globally
7.2.Largest solar field on US East Coast
7.3.BIG solar installation from Shell for Toyota
7.4.Solar-powered traffic signs for Wales

8.EVENTS
9.KEEPING UP TO DATE

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Mike O'Carroll

 

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