REVOLT News 166

21/07/2003

Text Version 

 

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 <info@all-energy.co.uk>. 
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
1.1.Energy Bill
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
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200304/ldselect/ldsctech/126/
126.pdf
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
[ENDS]
*********************************************************************
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

 

Text Version