REVOLT News 146

13/07/2003

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 REVOLT News 146

1. In the government reshuffle (14 June) the Energy Minister announces his resignation (as passed on by Country Guardian, see also item 7a below re. new minister Stephen Timms): Brian Wilson, the MP for Cunnigham North and the Energy Minister, also announced he was to quit in order to change his lifestyle. "After six years as a minister and five ministerial jobs, I am looking forward to a more normal life and different challenges," he announced. He is succeeded as Energy Minister by Stephen Timms (see 7(a) below).

2. More domestic CHP news - this time Powergen doing it and forecasting nearly a third of British households will get their power this way by 2020. (Passed on by Country Guardian - see APPENDIX 1).

3. National Grid Transco (NGT) is the parent group of the National Grid Company (NGC) together with the gas grid company Transco and foreign investments. Its AGM is on 21 July and the annual report for 2002/03 is published. Group turnover is 9.4 billion pounds and operating profit (adjusted) 2.2 billion. The UK gas and electricity transmission operations increased their profit by 65 million to 846 million. The amount of energy consumed through both sectors rose. UK gas throughput was 708 TWh in 2003 compared with 697 in 2001/2, which was also an increase when adjusted for seasonal temperatures. Electricity throughput (England & Wales) on the NG system increased from 305 TWh in 2001/2 to 308.5 in 2002/3, which again was also an increase when adjusted for weather. The electricity figures were not in the NGT annual report but are at Table 2.6 in the NGC Seven Year Statement. Sadly we are not seeing a shift in consumption or transmission from electricity to gas, which would make best economic and environmental sense, just a steady incremental increase in both. Although the energy throughput in gas was about twice that in electricity, the (adjusted) operating profit for transmission was in almost reverse proportions, 551 million pounds from electricity and 274 from gas, plus 21 from inter-connectors. UK turnover from electricity and gas transmission was 1.3 and 0.6 billion pounds respectively. Thus twice as much energy is transmitted in gas as in electricity and at half the cost, making gas transmission about four times cheaper per unit of energy transmitted. Worth remembering!

4. Snips from Microwave News (MWN) May/June 2003. In Revolt news we focus mainly on powerlines EMF and UK residential exposure, but note selected parallel news, e.g. on mobile phones, where there might be relevant implications for policy or research. MWN has much more. 

(a) The WHO story runs on, with a headline "WHO Flip-Flops on EMFs, Precautionary Principle now revoked". I had not read that in the WHO "clarifying statement", see news 145.4 & App.1, but MWN quotes Dr Michael Repacholi, head of WHO EMF project, as saying the Luxembourg draft (invoking the PP) was "purely a discussion draft to provoke comment". Well, it was a draft, but the emphatic declaration that the PP should be invoked was also presented in Luxembourg as firm, and to be worked out in parallel with a generic framework for a precautionary approach. The key change is that these two things will now be worked in series, with the framework first. To that extent, WHO may have "backed off" as MWN suggests. Further Repacholi and Leeka Kheifets from WHO are reported as saying "We have not changed our minds and have not made 180 degree turn, but rather we have developed a comprehensive risk management framework in which precaution plays a role at every stage, thus there is no need to evoke it". Seems fair enough to me!

(b) The UK police communications system TETRA is to have long term health effects investigated in a 5 million pound programme to monitor up to 100,000 police officers over 15 years.

(c) The UK's NRPB is to adopt the exposure guidelines of the international ICNIRP. Not a very big deal! Some ICNIRP limits are stricter than NRPB's, but neither recognise the potential non-thermal effects of concern for public health. However NRPB reported last year that many workplaces exceed ICNIRP levels. MWN gives key excerpts of the NRPB proposals (consultation deadline 28.7.03, see news144.8).

(d) Yvan Touitou et al [Amer. J Physiology - Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiolog, 284, R1529 - 1535, June 2003] conclude that their data "strongly suggest that magnetic fields do not have cumulative effects on melatonin secretion in humans". The study examined 15 men exposed daily over 1 to 20 years in the workplace and at home to 50 Hz fields of 0.1 to 2.6 (T. MWN says for different results see papers by Burch and by Jarupat et al.

5. Fuel cell update (selections) from Angela Ovenston:

(a) Almost 2,800 employees are working in more than 350 organisations in Germany on fuel cell related activities <www.fuelcelltoday.com/surveys>.

(b) At a Conference of the EU High Level Group on Hydrogen and Fuel Cell (HLG-HFC), the EU and the United States formally agreed to launch cooperative projects in the field of fuel cell technologies. <http://europa.eu.int/rapid/start/cgi/guesten.ksh?p_action.gettxt=gt&doc=IP/03/846|0|RAPID&lg=EN&display=

(c) Grove Fuel Cell Symposium in London, England, on September 24-26, 2003.
< http://www.grovefuelcell.com > or < sm.wilkinson@elsevier.com >.

6. Just out: News@All-Energy Issue 25, June-July 2003. This monthly free emailed newsletter, with wide-ranging cover of renewable energy news and lots of web links, comes from Media Generation Events Ltd and Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, the organisers of the annual All-Energy Opportunities Conference and Exhibition (next year's event will be held in Aberdeen 25-27 May 2004). To subscribe, email info@all-energy.co.uk with "subscribe" in the subject line.

7. Snips from News@All-Energy as above:

(a) In Aberdeen on his first full day in office, Stephen Timms MP, the new UK Energy Minister said that his number one priority would be renewables. < http://www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=84092&command=displayContent&sourceNode=83929&contentPK=6058592  >

(b) THE GRID. Remember too that http://www.ofgem.gov.uk  provides links in plenty to grid related publications/press releases, e.g. 'High Court rejects judicial review of Ofgem's decision to introduce cost-reflective charging arrangements for transmission losses'; and their factsheet: 'Ofgem and the low carbon economy'. 

(c) The DTI announced it is not minded to include average zonal transmission losses (AZTL) in the GB Balancing and Settlement Code (GB BSC) that will be established under British Electricity Trading and Transmission Arrangements (BETTA). 
 http://www.gnn.gov.uk/gnn/national.nsf/TI/808611A36372116E80256D52004F9C4A?opendocument  

8. Report from Reuters 9.7.03 passed on by Country Guardian says UK may have up to 7.5 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2010. The government has earmarked three areas as the most suitable for offshore wind - the Wash off the east coast of England, the Thames Estuary east of London and the north-west coast of England and Wales. At least are well placed to serve the high demand areas, so their burden on the grid will be confined to those areas.

9. Another report sent on by Country Guardian: http://www.planetark.org/dailynewsstory.cfm/newsid/21478/story.htm  FERC targets 17 Enron wind farms, cogen plants. WASHINGTON, July 10 - Staff lawyers with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission yesterday urged the agency to investigate 17 wind farms and cogeneration plants that may have been improperly used by Enron Corp. to boost its profits. Last month, California energy officials announced that 10 wind energy plants owned by affiliates of bankrupt Enron agreed to refund the state nearly $634,000. The refunds are linked to production incentives the state gave the plants to encourage renewable energy projects.

10. Regional Planning Guidance for Yorkshire and the Humber (RPG12) is under revision, in part. A public consultation draft at June 2003 is at http://www.yhassembly.gov.uk  and available from <mail@yhassembly.gov.uk> with a response deadline26.9.03. Similar consultations may be going on in other regions. Proposed changes include the sections on Climate Change and on Renewable Energy. The latter section, amended Policy R6, proposes renewable generating capacity targets of Humber 280 MW, North Yorkshire 183 MW, South Yorkshire 94 MW, West Yorkshire 64 MW. That seems to mean windfarms concentrated in Humber (offshore?) and North Yorkshire whereas population and demand are concentrated in West and South Yorkshire. See APPENDIX 2 below.

11. Rosalind Craven continues her lone and brave battle against NG, claiming deep flaws in their application and wayleave processes. While there do seem to be flaws, Revolt's legal advice suggests that NG get the benefit of the doubt and imprecision of the law, and can get away with flaws. But Rosalind is putting her new detailed analysis to a barrister whose opinion is expected soon. Meanwhile it seems NG is holding her to ransom with the heavy costs against her arising from NG's injunction at Leeds High Court last year.

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APPENDIX 1 Powergen launches mini power plant for UK homes

UK: June 13, 2003

LONDON - Mini generators small enough to fit into a kitchen could soon be heating and powering hundreds of British homes, utility Powergen said.

A limited number of micro combined-heat-and-power plants will go on sale in the UK this winter and Powergen, the joint developers of the device, estimated that nearly a third of British households could be using it by 2020.

If it proved popular, Powergen said it would launch the product across Britain in 2004.

"This world first represents a huge step forward for the industry, the consumer and the environment and is part of our ongoing drive to help our customers reduce their bills and use energy more efficiently," said Powergen's chief executive Paul Golby in a statement.

Powergen said trials of the gas-fired generator, which provides homes with heating and hot water as well as power, had shown it could save households an average 150 pounds ($249.6) a year on their energy bills.

The technology could also cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, creating 20 percent less carbon dioxide per household than a conventional boiler and separate power supply, it said.

Powergen said it developed the technology jointly with New Zealand company Whisper Tech. in a project costing over 14 million pounds.

REUTERS NEWS SERVICE

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APPENDIX 2 - response to consultation re. RPG 12

Thank you for the consultation summary on the draft revised RPG12, which I have read.

By and large I support the proposed changes, although I have not yet looked at the detail, e.g. on transport priorities. I am pleased to note the twin-track approach to climate change.

A point of particular concern is Renewable Energy. While renewable sources are important, the idea of large-scale generation of electricity by windfarms remote from demand is fundamentally flawed, for the following general reasons. (a) The severe intermittence of such generation (achieving on average typically only one third of installed capacity) requires part-time back- up conventional generation capacity and infrastructure, yet places upon it the diseconomy of part-time operation. The impact of this diseconomy has not been adequately addressed or solved, and could potentially lead to the collapse of the electricity system. (b) The severe intermittence also creates additional infrastructure problems and costs, especially to the transmission grid and distribution systems. (c) The windfarm industry has preferred to seek development in areas of high landscape value, where the impact of windfarms, together with the additional power lines and other infrastructure, weighs heavily against them. Off-shore developments may reduce this adverse impact in part, but still require additional power lines. (d) The north of England is grossly in surplus for electricity generating capacity, so that the pattern of transmission is of a large surplus flow through England from north to south. Additional generation in the north would add to the already large costs of losses and infrastructure in bulk long-distance transmission.

In Yorkshire and the Humber, the draft revised RPG12 has sub-regional capacity targets of Humber 280 MW, North Yorkshire 183 MW, South Yorkshire 94 MW and West Yorkshire 64 MW. The intermittent generation so created will in effect be destined for the south of England. Government has already designated priority areas for offshore wind off the Thames, East Anglia and Lancashire, which are better placed to serve actual demand.

A moderate development off the Humber, within the capacity of existing infrastructure through Lincolnshire, would be reasonable, and the 280 MW renewables target for Humber may reasonably reflect that.

However, the 183 MW for North Yorkshire, alongside the much lower targets for South and West Yorkshire, which have much more demand, is unreasonable, and would seem to reflect an ill-considered assumption that the greater space in North Yorkshire would accommodate more windfarms. Much of North Yorkshire's uplands are National Parks. The idea of targeting North Yorkshire for windfarm development is seriously flawed and needs to be reviewed.

On the other hand, renewables development through incineration and biomass, such as willow coppice, would be more appropriate for Yorkshire. Incineration should be concentrated in South and West Yorkshire (but not close to homes), where most waste is generated which would otherwise go to landfill. Biomass opportunities may exist in wet flat lands in the Humber catchment.

I would be grateful for a considered reply to these points.

MJOC 13.7.03

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-- Mike O'Carroll

Mike O'Carroll

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