1. Snips from news@all-energy (Appendix 1) including Energy Bill, Public Spending Review, Renewables, Moving away from wind, distribution price control, power line in Scotland. Enquiries and free subscription via <email@example.com>.
2. Lords Science and Technology Committee report on renewables (Appendix 2).
3. Sunday Telegraph: The truth about global warming - it's the Sun that's to blame (Appendix 3).
4. Although it is a year old, the NGT Public Statement on EMF <http://ww w.ngtgroup.com/about/pdfs/emf_position_statement_Board_approved.pdf> still forms the basis of NGT comments on EMF, such as in its Annual Report 2004 (news165.8). The Annual Report statement uses the objectives at the start of the public statement, which contain the patronising implication that concerns are merely perceptual and not scientific. The seven principles later in the public statement are more balanced and reflect NGT's welcome move to recognising the validity of precaution. Revolt had to contend with a much more brutally dismissive approach from NG over the last decade. Extracts form the public statement are at Appendix 4. .
5. The Renewable Power Association held a conference on biomass, in York on 21.7.04, marking the government's new emphasis on biomass as a "second front" in renewables policy (Appendix 5). A visit to the Drax coal fired power station was included, as Drax also uses co-fired biomass.
6. Notes drawing from Defra's Energy & Environmental Management (EEM) July/Aug 2004:
(a) Remember news161.2(c) reporting: The 2003 annual report of the Environmental Audit Committee (of MPs) claims "combating climate change remains the single most urgent priority facing mankind"? That seemed a bit rash. Now here's a different spin: There is "no bigger long-term question facing the global community" than the threat of climate change, Tony Blair said at the launch of the Climate Group in May. There's the get-out: "bigger long term question". What a change from "single most urgent priority"!
(b) The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) told OECD environment ministers that the US wanted to rejoin the global debate on climate change and are boosting investment in emissions reduction. President Bush's target is to reduce emissions per dollar of GDP by 18% over 10 years 2002 - 2012. But GDP is likely to grow faster than 18% in 10 years, so the plan is for increased US emissions.
(c) Six government departments launch a three-month consultation - finishing 31 July - for a new UK sustainable development strategy up to 2020 and beyond (sic). <www.defra.gov.uk/corporate/sdstrategy/>
(d) New(-ish) Defra reports setting plans up to 2010: Energy Efficiency Action Plan; Strategy for CHP. <www.defra.gov.uk/environment/energy/review/index.htm> <www.defra.gov.uk/environment/energy/chp/index.htm>
(e) A Defra review found no health effects from living near incinerators but did find affects from living near land-fill sites and commercial composting sites. <www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/health-effects/index.htm>
(f) Lord Derek Ezra hailed a home energy revolution, at the inaugural meeting of the Micropower Council. VAT on micro-CHP has been cut to 5%. "With the boiler replacement market alone standing at 1.6m units a year, the potential for microgeneration is enormous. We shall push for microgeneration options to be part of planning guidance for all new builds." A photo shows the AC WhisperGen micro-CHP unit tucked neatly under a kitchen work-top, the size of a small fridge.
(g) A laughably one-sided and misinformed article sets out to "set the record straight" on wind-farms. It is by the magazine's news-desk editor David Thorpe, so there's no hope! Selective comments include "no evidence that wind-farms detract tourists", "some are tourist attractions" and "wind is very predictable" but the problems of intermittence and back-up are not explained, nor are grid costs. It says that if the wind industry cannot meet government targets, financial support may be unplugged and the nuclear option considered, and a proposed review in 2005-6 may decide this even sooner. "The showdown is not far away."
APPENDIX 1 Snips from news@all-energy
The remaining stages of the Energy Bill were debated in the House of Commons on 13 July, Ministers offered concessions to the energy bill after Lords defeats http://politics.guardian.co.uk/commons/story/0,9061, 1261036,00.html and www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200304/cmhansrd/ cm040713/debtext/40713-13.htm#40713-13_head2
1.2.The Spending Review - DTI
"Funding for sustainable energy and security of energy supply of £85 million by 2007-
08, in addition to a total of £60 million allocated in the Energy White Paper, will help the UK meet its Energy White Paper goal of putting itself on a path to cut UK carbon dioxide emissions by some 60 per cent by about 2050, with real progress by 2020. It will also put DTI on track to meet the Government's aim for renewables, which is to supply 10 per cent of UK electricity in 2010, subject to the costs being acceptable to the consumer. Spending here will be in line with the evidence base produced as part of the Renewables Innovation Review " (Para 16.8) www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/media//E3BE2/sr2004_ch16.pdf See also the Treasury press release: "The DTI will continue existing levels of support to the development of renewable energy and will receive £60 million in each year up to 2007-08 to deliver projects identified under the Renewables Innovation Review. £20 million has also been allocated in each year towards future energy research and development, which will allow the DTI to fund fuel cells, cleaner fossil fuels, CO2 capture and storage, and hydrogen research" www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/spending_review/s pend_sr04/press/spend_sr04_press24.cfm
1.4.UK must spend £1bn pa on RE
Britain must spend £1 billion a year on renewable energy, the Energy Minister said on the BBC Radio 4 Today programme. Stephen Timms said a massive programme of investment was needed to protect the environment and to make sure Britain was energy self-sufficient. http://news.scotsma n.com/latest.cfm?id=3086357
1.5.'Switch power source' say MSPs
Scotland's green-energy policy must move away from wind power towards wave and tidal power, according to a Scottish Parliament committee www.thisisnorthscotland.co.uk/displayNode.jsp?nodeId=149235&command=disp layContent&sourceNode=149218&contentPK=10498320 "We need a mix of renewable energy to enable us to meet our ambitious 40 per cent target of electricity generated in Scotland from renewable energy sources by 2020. This approach will also help make sure that Scotland makes the most of opportunities for new jobs and business" - Lewis Macdonald responds to the MSP's report www.scotland.gov.uk/pages/news/2004/06/SEel 357.aspx Former Energy Minister, Brian Wilson's view: http://news.scotsm an.com/columnists.cfm?id=795862004
3.1.Ofgem's five year plan
Initial proposals for the next five year electricity distribution price control, due to take effect from April 2005 announced by energy regulator Ofgem. http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/temp/ofgem/cache/cmsattach/7605 _r4604_28june.pdf
3.4.Power line pluses and minuses
Plans to build a giant power line through the heart of Scotland would endanger the country's ancient woodlands - some date back to the last Ice Age, according to conservationists .....Supporters say the 400,000-volt line is essential for Scotland to meet its renewable energy commitment www.theherald.co.uk/news/19863.html New route identified www.scottish-southern.co.uk/news/selectcurrent.asp
APPENDIX 2 Lords Science and Technology Committee report on renewables
The full report is a big pdf download (quite fast) at
The press release follows: -
EMBARGOED UNTIL 00.01 THURSDAY 15 JULY 2004
ATTENTION: NEWS EDITORS/ SCIENCE/ ENERGY/ ENVIRONMENT/ TECHNOLOGY/ BUSINESS/ POLITICAL CORRESPONDENTS
GOVERNMENT WILL NOT HIT TARGETS FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY, SAY LORDS
Government targets to produce ten per cent of the UK?s electricity from renewable energy by 2010 are unlikely to be met because of insufficient long-term incentives for investors in the sector.
This is a major conclusion of a Lords Science and Technology Committee report on the practical implementation of the Government?s policy on renewables.
The Committee examined the potential of a wide range of ways to produce renewable energy, from wind and energy crops to tidal power and biomass.
The Chairman of the Committee, Lord Oxburgh, said:
?The Government?s drive to cut greenhouse gas emissions and secure our energy supply should be applauded, but it?s not going about it the right way.
?Energy from renewable sources is expensive ? if the Government wants the private sector to invest in renewables so as to achieve its targets, it needs to provide more reassurance about long-term returns. The current support arrangements favour only those developments that will give a quick return ? in effect onshore wind farms.
?Wind is the UK?s most abundant source of renewable energy. Wind farms can be built quickly, but there has to be backup from conventional plant for times when demand is high and there is little wind. The difficulties caused by such intermittency would be eased with a more diverse range of renewables.
?The Government is not giving energy the priority it deserves. It should improve co-ordination between Departments; it should push on with establishing a UK Energy Research Centre, where progress so far has been disappointingly slow; it should ensure that the Regulator, Ofgem, takes a long-term view of its responsibilities. The Government seems to believe that market forces alone will prevent the lights going out ? we?re not so sure.?
The Committee recommends:
Appointing a Minister with sole responsibility for Energy
Producing greater long-term stability in renewable electricity prices
Re-opening the debate on the potential of large-scale tidal power
Creating a more sympathetic regulatory framework for biomass generation
Reviewing Ofgem?s duties to ensure that it defends the long-term interest of consumers in secure and reliable electricity supplies
Providing better incentives for ?distributed?, small-scale or domestic generation
Co-ordinating and planning the development of renewables, taking into account such issues as cost, environmental impacts and reliability of supply
Involving the public and local communities in debate on the issues
NOTES FOR EDITORS
1. The members of Sub-Committee II of the Science and Technology Committee who conducted this inquiry were:
Lord Flowers, Lord Lewis of Newnham, Lord Methuen, Lord Oxburgh (Chairman), Lord Patel, Baroness Perry of Southwark, Baroness Platt of Writtle, Baroness Sharp of Guildford, Lord Sutherland of Houndwood, Lord Tombs, Lord Turnberg, Lord Wade of Chorlton, Lord Winston, Lord Young of Graffham
2. The report is published by the Stationery Office: Renewable Energy: Practicalities, Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology, 4th Report, Session 2003-04, HL Paper 126, ISBN 010 400506 8, price £18.50. The full text of the report will be available shortly after publication on www.parliament.uk/hlscience/ < http://www.parliament.uk/parliamentary_committees/lords_press_notices/ww w.parliament.uk/hlscience/ > .
3. The Committee is about to conduct a short examination of the work of the Government?s Committee on Radioactive Waste Management. It has also established a new Sub-Committee (chaired by Baroness Perry of Southwark) to examine energy efficiency.
4. Biomass generation is the combustion of biodegradable plant or animal material (e.g straw, woodchips or chicken manure) to create energy.
For further information contact:
Christopher Johnson (Clerk of the Committee), on 020 7219 6072
For embargoed copies of the report or requests for interviews with Lord Oxburgh, contact:
Jillian Bailey (Press and Publicity Officer, Committees) on 020 7219 8659
APPENDIX 3 Sunday Telegraph: The truth about global warming - it's the Sun that's to blame
By Michael Leidig and Roya Nikkhah (Filed: 18/07/2004)
Global warming has finally been explained: the Earth is getting hotter because the Sun is burning more brightly than at any time during the past 1,000 years, according to new research.
A study by Swiss and German scientists suggests that increasing radiation from the sun is responsible for recent global climate changes.
Dr Sami Solanki, the director of the renowned Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Gottingen, Germany, who led the research, said: "The Sun has been at its strongest over the past 60 years and may now be affecting global temperatures.
"The Sun is in a changed state. It is brighter than it was a few hundred years ago and this brightening started relatively recently - in the last 100 to 150 years."
Dr Solanki said that the brighter Sun and higher levels of "greenhouse gases", such as carbon dioxide, both contributed to the change in the Earth's temperature but it was impossible to say which had the greater impact.
Average global temperatures have increased < http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/03/05/wheat05. xml> by about 0.2 deg Celsius over the past 20 years and are widely believed to be responsible for new extremes in weather patterns. After pressure from environmentalists, politicians agreed the Kyoto Protocol in 1997, promising to limit greenhouse gas emissions between 2008 and 2012. Britain ratified the protocol in 2002 and said it would cut emissions by 12.5 per cent from 1990 levels.
Globally, 1997, 1998 and 2002 were the hottest years since worldwide weather records were first collated in 1860.
Most scientists agree that greenhouse gases from fossil fuels have contributed to the warming of the planet in the past few decades but have questioned whether a brighter Sun is also responsible for rising temperatures.
To determine the Sun's role in global warming, Dr Solanki's research team measured magnetic zones on the Sun's surface known as sunspots, which are believed to intensify the Sun's energy output.
The team studied sunspot data going back several hundred years. They found that a dearth of sunspots signalled a cold period - which could last up to 50 years - but that over the past century their numbers had increased as the Earth's climate grew steadily warmer. The scientists also compared data from ice samples collected during an expedition to Greenland in 1991. The most recent samples contained the lowest recorded levels of beryllium 10 for more than 1,000 years. Beryllium 10 is a particle created by cosmic rays that decreases in the Earth's atmosphere as the magnetic energy from the Sun increases. Scientists can currently trace beryllium 10 levels back 1,150 years.
Dr Solanki does not know what is causing the Sun to burn brighter now or how long this cycle would last.
He says that the increased solar brightness over the past 20 years has not been enough to cause the observed climate changes but believes that the impact of more intense sunshine on the ozone layer and on cloud cover could be affecting the climate more than the sunlight itself.
Dr Bill Burrows, a climatologist and a member of the Royal Meteorological Society, welcomed Dr Solanki's research. "While the established view remains that the sun cannot be responsible for all the climate changes we have seen in the past 50 years or so, this study is certainly significant," he said.
"It shows that there is enough happening on the solar front to merit further research. Perhaps we are devoting too many resources to correcting human effects on the climate without being sure that we are the major contributor."
Dr David Viner, the senior research scientist at the University of East Anglia's climatic research unit, said the research showed that the sun did have an effect on global warming.
He added, however, that the study also showed that over the past 20 years the number of sunspots had remained roughly constant, while the Earth's temperature had continued to increase.
This suggested that over the past 20 years, human activities such as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation had begun to dominate "the natural factors involved in climate change", he said.
Dr Gareth Jones, a climate researcher at the Met Office, said that Dr Solanki's findings were inconclusive because the study had not incorporated other potential climate change factors.
"The Sun's radiance may well have an impact on climate change but it needs to be looked at in conjunction with other factors such as greenhouse gases, sulphate aerosols and volcano activity," he said. The research adds weight to the views of David Bellamy, the conservationist. "Global warming - at least the modern nightmare version - is a myth," he said. "I am sure of it and so are a growing number of scientists. But what is really worrying is that the world's politicians and policy-makers are not.
"Instead, they have an unshakeable faith in what has, unfortunately, become one of the central credos of the environmental movement: humans burn fossil fuels, which release increased levels of carbon dioxide - the principal so-called greenhouse gas - into the atmosphere, causing the atmosphere to heat up. They say this is global warming: I say this is poppycock."
APPENDIX 4 Extracts from NGT public position statement on EMF
1. Objective 1.1. Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMFs) can be generated from a wide variety of sources, including our distribution and transmission power lines and the telecommunications infrastructure on our assets. The balance of scientific evidence is against EMFs resulting in adverse health effects. However, the perception that EMF may result in adverse health effects has been evident in parts of society, and National Grid Transco Group (NGT) takes this very seriously. 1.2. This public position statement provides a framework for managing the EMF issues facing NGT. The public position statement helps set the framework within which we will continually assess the scientific evidence in this area, determine any implications for the business, and explain to society what the science is telling us.
3.3. Our public position statement as regards EMF has seven central principles · We recognise that the societies in which we both operate and live, hold a variety of views on EMF. In view of the scientific debate and the fact that EMF is of concern to some, we take the issue of EMF very seriously. · We support the view of regulators and governments that the EMF issue warrants consideration for a precautionary approach and we look to them to decide on any precautionary measures that may be necessary, as they can evaluate the science and weigh up costs and benefits on behalf of society as a whole. · In all our operations, as a minimum we comply with EMF regulations, guidelines or practices in force in the countries and different jurisdictions in which we operate. Where other companies (such as telecommunications operators) use our assets, we expect them similarly to comply with the relevant regulations, guidelines or practices. · To mitigate the amenity impact of new overhead transmission lines, we always endeavour: - to route them along formal Rights of Way in countries where they exist; or - to route them away from existing buildings where they do not. To ensure safety clearances and to help us maintain our network, we do not encourage built development immediately beneath our lines. We will work with planning bodies to ensure the sustainable use of land under our lines. · These steps will usually result in EMF exposures being lower than would otherwise be the case. · We recognise that scientific understanding of the effects of EMF is improving. We review all relevant scientific developments in this area from across the world and assess any implications for the way in which we operate. · We support high-quality research into EMF, and make the results available for scientific review. · We communicate in an open manner with those who have an interest in EMF matters, and make available information that will help society's understanding of EMF. We will participate openly and constructively in debate on precautionary approaches appropriate to the EMF issue.
APPENDIX 5 Renewable Power Association conference on biomass.
>From the conference programme leaflet:
Although project development has been slow in the sector, Government policy towards biomass appears to shift rapidly. Although expectations for dedicated biomass deployment were initially high, the eligibility criteria for ROCs for biomass was driven by the objective of not stimulating municipal solid waste combustion. Pyrolsis, gasification or AD are the only current routes to gaining ROCs from MSW. The initial rationale of co-firing was as an interim measure aimed at establishing fuel supply chains, which could then be exploited by a generation of dedicated biomass gasification and pyrolysis plants as co-firing is phased out. The Renewables Order was amended in April this year, as there was plainly not enough time to bring forward energy crops by the original date of 2006, nor were the initial percentages of energy crops required realistic. However, the amendment was not entirely what co-firers had been seeking as tighter limits have been introduced on the total proportion of the obligation that can be met by co-fired ROCs. Co-firers have a range of regulatory uncertainties to weigh up, whilst being under pressure to contract now with farmers to deliver crops in time for 2009. Dedicated biomass generators are competing for fuel with the co-firers, plus facing the introduction of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme. Finally, the Innovation Review has also suggested a fundamental re-think of how biomass should be supported.
-- Mike O'Carroll