REVOLT News 158

2/02/2003

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1. My response to the government consultation on the renewables planning statement PPS22 is at Appendix 1. Responses were due in by 30 Jan. Apparently there is an extension to 5th or 6th Feb.

2. Snips from the DEFRA magazine Energy & Environmental Management Jan/Feb 2004:

(a) Ceres Power Ltd has won the Carbon Trust Innovation Award 2003 and a 1 million investment for its fuel cell design. The 1 to 25 kW units can be powered by natural gas, PV or LPG and are suitable for domestic electricity and CHP. They will be on stream in 2006. <www.cerespower.com>

(b) Environment Minister Elliott Morley has targeted at least 15% of government-usage electricity from Good Quality CHP by 2010. The Sustainable Energy Act is at <www.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts2003/20030030.htm>

(c) Leicester is to host the first city community heating scheme under the government's Community Energy Programme with 5.1 million towards heating university buildings, four housing estates and 16 council buildings in a 70 million CHP project. <www.est.org.uk/communityenergy>

(d) Windsave's new micro-wind-turbine for domestic use costs only 750 and fixes on the roof like a TV aerial. It generates 750 W at 240 V a.c.

(e) Baxi Technologies has been forging ahead with its "DACHS" mini-CHP unit with 8,000 installations in operation in Europe. The market in the UK, with low electricity prices, has not helped CHP, as UK investors expect 5-year pay-back but are adjusting to 10.

3. Simon Best's magazine Electromagnetic Hazard & Therapy

 < www.em-hazard-therapy.com > Vol. 14 No. 2, 2003 (just out) carries several items on mobile phone masts and the TETRA system adopted by the police. New research by the Dutch Ministry of Health is cited showing ill-health effects (headaches and nausea) from signals at 1 V/m for the next generation (3G) of phones. I think this is quite important for the uncertain areas of EMF health effects, whether from power systems or telecoms, as most research has concentrated on cancer, but this shows that other ill-health effects may be demonstrable below the thresholds of scientifically established cause. The full report is at

 < www.ez.nl/beleid/home_ond/gsm/docs/TNO-FEL_REPORT_03148_Definitief.pdf >

4. Anne McIntosh MP met CE Electric directors recently to take up issues from the loss of power to 51,000 customers in Yorkshire & Northumbria at New Year. The faults were due to wet snow building up on overhead lines and causing the wires to break in high winds. I should stress that these breakages are on the lower voltage distribution lines, on wood poles, not usually on the national grid carried on pylons. In the bad weather there were so many breakages scattered around the north east that they couldn't all be fixed immediately. The other, larger, sort of blackout of international concern is when remote generation is lost and the main grid fails; it is rare, but UK energy policy is probably increasing the risk.

5. Anne McIntosh is also raising a number of Parliamentary Questions on wind power, not least relating to its threat to national grid stability and the risk of large-scale blackouts. Watch this space!

6. Martin Collins sends an update on the "bogalanche" in County Galway (Appendix 2).

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APPENDIX 1. Response to PPS22.

PPS22 Renewable Energy

Response to ODPM consultation

from Professor M J O'Carroll 27.1.04

1. Background

I am an applied mathematician and retired academic, with experience in energy industries and environmental issues. For the last ten years I have been chairman of REVOLT (Rural England Versus Overhead Line Transmission), a group campaigning for a more rational energy distribution policy and against the unnecessary development of transmission lines. I have been a member of The Northern Energy and Environmental Management Group and the TNEI Renewables Focus Group.

REVOLT has represented some thousands of objectors to the Yorkshire line and has over a thousand members. This is a personal response but it reflects the views of REVOLT on energy policy. I have read the PIU Energy Review, the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution (RCEP) report "Energy - the Changing Climate", the Planning Green Paper and Energy White Paper and other documents, and have held discussions with the then Energy Minister Brian Wilson in 2002. I have responded to a number of government consultations on planning and energy policy. More detailed papers have been submitted to the DTI and Ministers over the years.

I recognise the limited scope of PPS22.

2. National objectives

National objectives, policy and targets will be set outside the scope of PPS22, which must respond to them. Nevertheless it will be important not to overstate or over-interpret the national objectives.

For example, on page 9 of the consultation document the four elements of the Government's sustainable development strategy are set out, the first including "providing new sources of energy in remote areas". This should not be taken to promote large-scale generation remote from demand when there are better placed alternatives. It should not be used to presume in favour of large remote wind-farms, for remoteness per se is not a justifiable criterion for renewable generation. It may more reasonably be interpreted to support local generation to meet local demand in remote areas.

The fourth element refers to job creation. This is subject to misrepresentation with some wind-farm projects. In assessing their impact on the local economy it will be important to distinguish between (a) jobs, (b) job-years and (c) local-job-years. Short term construction jobs for non-local workers have less local benefit than local long-term jobs. There is also negative economic impact, for example in tourism and property value. PPS should avoid encouraging such misrepresentation and should positively steer towards a more complete, balanced and accurate assessment.

It will be important to keep government targets in proper perspective. PPS22 may be seen as a device to over-ride local considerations so as to impose wind-farms on a large scale. The draft does not invite confidence in a balanced perspective. In my response to the energy review I said: "Climate change is not the only environmental consideration. The RCEP report makes good sense but the effect of human activity in climate change is uncertain, the most striking evidence being increased carbon dioxide. A precautionary policy is justified, but should be measured rather than "at all costs". Covering the country with windfarms and connecting power lines, thereby degrading heritage and quality of life, for a very limited and unreliable energy source is not justified".

There are further difficulties with the present trend of interpretation and implementation of government policy, which should have a bearing on PPS22 and the extent of enforcement of a crude interpretation of policy over consideration of local and regional impact. In particular, the impact of large-scale intermittent generation upon electricity infrastructure involves high cost (Ofgem has estimated a billion pounds for transmission reinforcement) and security and stability (the Irish regulator CER, on the advice of its national grid, recently imposed a moratorium on new wind farms). The MD of ESB-NG explained in an article in Times online January 04, 2004, "Personal View: Wind power is not a quick fix". This is a view from a key industry authority, not a public objector, and is the sort of consideration which should not be evaded by PPS22. It should not be exclusively a matter for national government policy, but should impact upon implementation decisions as part of a properly balanced consideration.

3. Key principles

In 1 (i) The words "capable of being accommodated throughout England in locations where" could be ambiguous. To avoid a false impression the words "That does not mean every part of England can accommodate every form of renewable generation" could usefully be added.

4. Regional targets and plans

Paragraph 3 suggests targets "as a percentage of total generation within the region". I cannot see the justification for that comparator. It would place the most strenuous demands on regions which have large conventional generation as a result of historical factors. A much more suitable comparator would be electricity consumption in the region. That would encourage renewable generation closer to demand, with the advantages of reduced infrastructure and energy savings and opportunities for CHP. It would promote both reduced consumption (through energy efficiency) and appropriate local renewable generation, such as biomass and waste incineration (coupled with improved waste management). Joined up thinking! The target percentage need not be uniform nationally of course. It can reflect regional variations. But gearing the target to consumption offers many benefits.

Paragraph 6 has the appearance of making the developers call the tune, by giving them a veto on sites while forcing the local authority to meet targets. Developers are interested parties, so it seems contrary to proper justice that they should be given such a power. If viability is to be a pre-requisite, it should be determined by independent assessors according to approved criteria.

5. Location

There are such disadvantages (infrastructure, security, stability, losses, cost) of large-scale intermittent generation remote from net demand that it should be actively discouraged. However, government policy is ambiguous in recognising the advantages of local generation and CHP but not recognising the disadvantages and indirect environmental impact and carbon cost of remote generation. These locational factors should be considered in local and regional assessment.

6. Regulatory impact

I accept the preferred Option 4, provided this is not to exclude wider considerations from particular project evaluations. Evaluations should take account of other energy issues, such as efficiency, security and infrastructure, and not be restricted to PPS22.

There is a potential competitive impact which paragraph 18 overlooks. PPS22 will have the effect of promoting remote large-scale wind generation, through regional targets, even when it would not be competitive with other developments such as better-located wind generation and local CHP schemes which might achieve the same national objectives. The impact of infrastructure costs should be internalised into remote projects to make them properly competitive. The remedy to this problem would be to take these issues into account in determining regional targets and to base the targets on percentages of regional consumption, not generation.

MJOC 27.1.04

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APPENDIX 2 Update on the Derrybrien "bogalanche", from Martin Collins in County Galway.

We understand that the report commissioned by ESB International the developers of the windfarm may be published this coming week. Construction work on the windfarm site has ceased since the slide on 16/10/03. However the developers are continuing to work at what they describe as "housekeeping and safety operations" which consist of drainage of the blanket bog, repairing and replacing damaged roads and bridges along with backfilling excavations where turbine bases are set in concrete foundations. The procedure at this stage seem to be that our group will be presented with a copy of the report and the local authority Galway County Council will also receive a copy which they will then carry out an assessment on by their own technical personnel and employed consultants. As you can understand we are sceptical as to the outcome of both reports. I hope we are proven wrong. The peat slide has stabilized to date. However recent heavy rain continued to wash down polluted black brown peaty water. A deputation travelled to Brussels recently and met with Mr Liam Cashman in DG Environment. WE are hopeful of a positive outcome

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Mike O'Carroll

 

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