£8.6m UK research programme on greenhouse gas removal

20 April 2017New research will investigate ways to remove greenhouse gases from the atmosphere to counteract global warming.The UK is committed to the 2015 Paris Agreement to keep global temperature rise well below 2°C and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1·5°C above pre-industrial levels. Alongside significant emission reductions, large-scale removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere could considerably increase the likelihood of achieving this goal. Researchers know there are ways to approach this challenge but they have yet to be demonstrated on scales that are climatically-significant. Major questions remain around their feasibility, as well as impacts on society and public attitudes.To help answer these questions, the £8·6 million Greenhouse Gas Removal Research Programme will evaluate the potential and wider implications of a variety of options. For example, researchers will investigate the potential for increasing carbon storage in agricultural soil and forests, and new ways to remove methane gas from the air on a local scale. Other researchers will look into using waste materials from mining as a greenhouse gas removal technique, and explore how bioenergy crops could be used in power stations in combination with carbon capture and storage methods. Recognising that the UK alone cannot solve these problems, the research will address the political, socio-economic, technological and environmental issues concerning the potential for greenhouse gas removal on a global scale.The programme is jointly funded by NERC, the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC), the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The Met Office and the Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) are providing in-kind support.Professor Tim Wheeler, Director for Science & Innovation at NERC, said:'The UK research community is addressing the challenges of climate change by providing world-leading, independent research to inform decision-making that will ensure future wellbeing and prosperity for the UK and internationally. This new Greenhouse Gas Removal programme will shed light on how new approaches could be used to prevent the effects of climate change, alongside reducing emissions, aligning with the UK's commitment to the 2015 Paris Agreement. This multi-disciplinary research embodies the research councils' shared commitment to working together to provide vital answers to society's most pressing questions.'Four interdisciplinary, multi-institute consortium and seven topic-specific projects have been awarded funding. Around 100 researchers from 40 UK universities and partner organisations will be involved, and seven research studentships providing PhD training will also be supported.Summaries of the projects can be found in the notes below. Full abstracts can be read on Grants on the Web- external link.

Era of $100 a barrel and Big Oil gone for good warns EU and UK energy adviser

Energy advisor Dieter Helm Energy advisor Dieter Helm

"I usually put a £5 bet on the oil price - and I'm collecting," says Professor Dieter Helm.

It's not difficult to imagine his tally of modest wagers adding up. The highly regarded Oxford University economics professor is a long-time industry observer. During the week he was in London after taking meetings with major oil executives. He is also a familiar face in Whitehall and Brussels, where he advises - both formally and informally - on the trends reshaping global energy markets.

Still, his stakes will be trillions of dollars lower than the energy leaders he advises.

If Helm is to be believed the oil market downturn is only getting started. The latest collapse is the harbinger of a global energy revolution which could spell the end-game for fossil fuels. These theories were laughable less than a decade ago when oil prices grazed highs of more than $140 a barrel. But the burn out of the oil industry is approaching quicker than was first thought, and the most senior leaders within the industry are beginning to take note.

In the past, the International Energy Agency (IEA) has faced down criticism that its global energy market forecasts have overestimated the role of oil and underplayed the boom in renewable energy sources.

But last month the tone changed. The agency warned oil and gas companies that failing to adapt to the climate policy shift away from fossil fuels and towards cleaner energy would leave a total of $1 trillion in oil assets and $300bn in natural gas assets stranded.

For oil companies who heed Helm's advice, the route ahead is a ruthless harvest-and-exit strategy. This would mean an aggressive slashing of capital expenditure, pumping of remaining oil reserves while keeping costs to the floor and paying out very high dividends.

"They'd never do it because no company board would contemplate running a smaller company tomorrow than today. It's not in the zeitgeist of the corporate world we're in, but that's what they should do," Helm says.

BP and Royal Dutch Shell are slowly shifting from oil to gas and making even more tentative steps in the direction of low-carbon energy. But Helm is not entirely convinced that oil giants have grasped the speed with which the industry is undergoing irrevocable change.

"As the oil price fell, at each point, oil executives said that the price would go back up again," says Helm. "What the oil companies did was borrow to pay their dividends on the assumption that this is a temporary problem. It's my view that it is permanent," he adds.

For a start, there is scant precedent for the price highs of recent decades. Between 1900 to the late 1960s oil prices fluctuated in a range between $15 a barrel to just above $30 - even through two world wars, population growth and a revolution in transport and industry.

It was geopolitical events which caused oil prices to surge by more than $100 a barrel following the Middle East oil embargoes of the late 1960s and early 1970s. They collapsed back to $20 by the '80s.

So, what drove oil prices to the heady levels of $140 a barrel just less than 10 years ago?

"China," says Helm, barely missing a beat. "If you look at both the rapid growth in emissions and the rapid growth of oil, fossil fuel and all commodity prices, it was while China was doubling its economy every seven years. This is a phenomenal rate."

The global oil market has managed to cling on to a fragile recovery with prices now between $50 and $55 a barrel, but Helm argues that the economic drive to keep producing even as the industry shifts to a low carbon future means prices may continue to fall - forever.

"As prices come down you'd expect producers to supply less - that's normal economics. On the contrary, in oil as output falls the production goes up. Why? Because the marginal cost of production in the Middle East is around $10 and the marginal cost in Russia is $20. So even at $50 you're making a profit. And if you're an authoritarian regime and you need $100 oil to balance the country's budget while surrounded by radicals and insurgents, then you pump as much as you can," Helm says.

"Even if you're getting less per barrel, you must get the money to keep your budgets going. And that's exactly what has happened," he says of the inevitable price collapse. "Slowly companies have adjusted to the idea that maybe we won't see $100 oil again. Then, maybe not even $80 to $90. Now, even $60 oil seems a bit aspirational. But there is still a dominant zeitgeist within the oil majors that there is one last hoorah to come. I don't think there is."

The two major demand centres for oil are petrochemicals and transport fuel. The theory previously held in the corridors of major oil company headquarters is that increasing affluence in Asia means that soon more and more families will own two cars. As population booms, the number of cars on the road could increase exponentially.

But slowly, the oil companies are beginning to come around to Helm's view that the burgeoning market for electric vehicles may have been underestimated and could radically change the outlook for oil demand.

The global dash for gas is a multi-billion-dollar bet that Shell was happy to take last year, when it defied tumbling oil market prices to snap up BG Group for £40bn. The former British Gas subsidiary is now a global leader in producing and transporting gas that is compressed into liquid form to be carried on tankers and sold on the international market.

After the oil market downturn, Shell says the new BG tie-up will be a springboard to profitability in the near term and will help to "future-proof" the company against diminishing demand for oil.

Helm believes: "Short of a nasty war - which itself would bring a price spike but not a recovery - I can't see any reason for oil prices to go up.

"Curiously, I think many of the people in oil companies agree with me on that. What they don't agree with is the short term." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Indo Business

UK Industry Bodies Again Call For Renewable Energy To Be Part Of Industrial Strategy

Clean Power

Published on April 19th, 2017 | by Joshua S Hill

April 19th, 2017 by

Renewable energy trade bodies are again openly calling for the UK Government to prioritize clean technologies as part of its long-awaited Industrial Strategy.

The UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy announced on Monday that consultation for its Industrial Strategy had finally closed, three months after opening. “We want to build an industrial strategy that addresses long-term challenges to the UK economy,” the Department noted at the time.

In response, the country’s wind and marine energy trade body, RenewableUK, published its response to the Government’s green paper, detailing ways in which wind and marine technologies “can meet the challenge of providing affordable energy and clean growth.” The document published by RenewableUK (PDF) demonstrates the ways in which both the wind and marine industries are already providing significant economic benefits to the UK.

“We believe that the diverse, rapidly growing, renewables sector has solutions to the main challenges outlined in the Industrial Strategy,” RenewableUK noted in its response, and outline the opportunities the UK face to build world-leading renewable energy industries.

“It’s important that industries in the renewable energy sector work together in initiatives like this to make a joint case to Government demonstrating that low-carbon power is the way ahead,” said RenewableUK’s Executive Director, Emma Pinchbeck.

“RenewableUK’s full response to the Industrial Strategy, which we’ve just submitted to Government, amplifies this with data and case studies. It shows that onshore and offshore wind, wave and tidal energy are key technologies, already delivering for Britain, and ready to power our country for decades with the right framework of support.

“Wind and marine energy tick all the boxes set out in the Industrial Strategy. These are innovative industries, growing exponentially, bringing economic benefits to all energy consumers, as well as creating thousands of jobs and attracting billions in investment.”

RenewableUK was also one of six trade organizations acting as signatories of a joint letter (PDF) sent to the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Greg Clark, urging the Government to embrace a wide range of renewable energy technologies in its final Industrial Strategy. The letter argues that, “Low-carbon sources are now the low-cost energy option — with cost reductions more akin to those seen in electronics than traditional infrastructure,” and that the “nature of renewables infrastructure also guards against inflationary pressures and growing import dependency.”

“If we act early to develop the right frameworks, low-cost, clean energy combined with new storage solutions and the adoption of smart digital technologies will drive innovation and investment across the UK’s regions and potentially enable exceptional export opportunities across the world.”

The letter was signed by RenewableUK, the Solar Trade Association, The Electricity Storage Network, REA, Regen, and Scottish Renewables.

“Renewable energy is now a huge global industry and we can be proud that Britain is a key player,” said Scottish Renewables Director of Policy Jenny Hogan. “Capitalising on our enviable natural resources and energy expertise the sector in Scotland is already producing remarkable industrial benefits, providing affordable energy and clean growth to the UK economy.

“With the right backing from Government, renewable energy can continue to be the driver of our growing low-carbon economy for generations to come.”

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UK Government Admits Natural Gas Is Substituting For Cheap Renewables

Clean Power

Published on April 17th, 2017 | by Guest Contributor

April 17th, 2017 by

Originally published on Dave Toke’s Green Energy Blog.

In the latest Government forward energy projections, the Government implicitly admits that reductions in contracts to be awarded for renewable energy are to be replaced by more generation from natural gas plants.

You can see an analysis by Carbon Brief of the Government’s latest projections. The Government recognizes that the costs of renewables have continued to fall, but for reasons that Carbon Brief has been unable to find out (from Government) the Government has cut back its previous projected growth in renewable energy.

Well, I can tell you why the Government has cut back its projections of renewable energy even though onshore wind and onshore solar have become the cheapest electricity supply sources: the Government prefers more expensive, carbon emitting natural gas for political reasons. They much prefer seeing UK natural gas reserves run down to having windfarms and solar farms built.

However the Government has even let the cat out of the back. Carbon Brief (CB) explains this, taking readings from from the latest political tealeaves (posing as models) generated by the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). So says CB’s Simon Evans:

‘Finally, in the latest BEIS projections, the output of renewables dips in the early 2020s. BEIS says: “This is due to a number of factors, including the temporary increase in gas generation to maintain system flexibility.” Consequently, gas output picks up the slack in the projections. See https://www.carbonbrief.org/analysis-dramatic-shift-uk-government-outlook-gas-clean-energy

I notice that Cornwall Energy Insight is saying that there is a possibility of a ‘technology neutral’ bidding round for renewable energy coming around soon for new renewable energy to be installed after 2020. http://www.cornwall-insight.com/newsroom/all-news/are-you-prepared-for-the-next-contracts-for-difference-allocation-round-

Technology neutral? Well, only in the sense that it’s a bit like a race when you go around and break the legs of the strongest runners before you start. Only technologies like offshore wind and tidal power will be allowed to compete for contracts. Onshore windfarms and solar farms would be barred.

I think it is quite funny when economists at large call for ‘technology neutral’ bidding auctions to supply electricity. It was only a few years ago it was assumed that this would lead to gas-fired power stations followed by nuclear power with renewable energy having to have a separate rather larger subsidy scheme for them to be economic. The wise consultants hired by the power industry establishment to justify their own existence would sneer at the alleged green fantasists like me for suggesting that this was not what would happen in the future! Now, though reality has turned out to be different from all those glossy consultants’ reports that the industry paid so much money for (note, I’m not talking about Cornwall Energy here!).

Today, separate, rather larger, subsidy schemes are reserved for nuclear power and ‘capacity markets’ for fossil fuel power schemes. These people need the subsidies, so much in the case of Hinkley C that not only is EDF to be paid loads more than onshore wind is getting paid per MWh (under the Renewables Obligation) but EDF, the developers, is also getting handouts from the French Government!

In fact, all onshore wind and solar need now is a level playing field with the rest. But instead they get nothing. Nix. Not a sausage. In fact, they are banned from being given any government contracts to supply electricity!

It rather reminds me of Ken Livingstone’s saying, ‘If voting changed anything they’d abolish it’. In this case of course you can read a parallel saying that ‘if technology neutral auctions of electricity contracts gave lots of opportunities to onshore wind and solar they would abolish them’ (for onshore wind and solar).

That’s precisely what they have done!

Reprinted with permission.

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Viridor names contractor for England waste-to-energy plant

Viridor, one of the U.K.’s largest recycling and renewable energy companies, has appointed CNIM S.A. and Clugston Construction Ltd to build a new £252 million Energy Recovery Facility on an industrial site in Avonmouth on the outskirts of Bristol.

Industrial engineering contractor CNIM will provide the established technology for the new, consented facility and Clugston has been appointed as the building and civils contractor.  Construction will start this summer, with more than 600 people working on site during peak construction, and 45 permanent roles created during operations.

The facility will enable local authorities and business to transform 320,000 tonnes of nonrecyclable residual waste each year into renewable energy, which would otherwise go to landfill.  As part of that transition Viridor recently signed a 25-year contract with Somerset County Council, brokered by Somerset Waste Partnership, which will see about a third of the available capacity at Avonmouth being taken up, by diverting waste that is currently transported to three landfill sites.

Once operational in 2020, the new ERF at Avonmouth will generate 34MW of low carbon energy, supplying National Grid with enough electricity to power 44,000 homes.

The project is committed to delivering local economic benefit including construction roles and supply chain opportunities.  CNIM and Clugston, in partnership with Viridor, will be organizing local job fairs and meet the buyer events in due course.

The new facility will become Viridor’s 12th ERF and is the fourth to be developed with CNIM.  The new-build project is part of a £1.5 billion investment by Viridor in the UK’s national social infrastructure, supporting the Government’s industrial strategy.

The decision to proceed with the Avonmouth investment was made in November 2016 by Viridor’s parent company Pennon Group Plc, one of the largest environmental infrastructure companies in the UK.

Toshiba's US nuclear problems provide cautionary tale for UK

The roots of Toshiba’s admission this week that it has serious doubts over its “ability to continue as a going concern” can be found near two small US towns.

It is the four reactors being built for nuclear power stations outside Waynesboro, in Georgia, and Jenkinsville, South Carolina, by the company’s US subsidiary Westinghouse that have left the Japanese corporation facing an annual loss of £7.37bn.

Construction work on the units has run hugely over budget and over schedule, casting a shadow over two of the biggest new nuclear power station projects in the US for years.

Events came to a head last month when Westinghouse was forced to file for bankruptcy protection to limit Toshiba’s losses.

Westinghouse’s problems in Waynesboro and Jenkinsville could provide a cautionary tale for the UK, which is also embarking on a nuclear power station-building programme.

Experts said the delays and cost problems were due to America’s lack of recent experience in building atomic power plants.

“I don’t think it is necessarily because of an inherent issue of US skills but rather the lack of practice,” said Richard Nephew, a professor at the Centre on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University. “There simply have not been as many new reactor builds in the US and this has reduced the overall pool of skilled labor, no question.”

The absence of a mass production supply chain, due to the small number of the Westinghouse-designed reactors being built, played a part too, he added. Regulatory issues had also delayed construction.

Two nuclear containment buildings for Westinghouse reactors at Plant Vogtle.

Two nuclear containment buildings for Westinghouse reactors at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Georgia. Photograph: Erik S Lesser/EPA

Toshiba’s losses stem from Westinghouse’s acquisition in 2015 of the nuclear construction business CB&I Stone & Webster, which it hoped would solve the delays on the two sites. That deal has now backfired spectacularly, pushing Westinghouse and its parent company to the brink of financial collapse.

The regulator for one of the projects, Plant Vogtle, in Georgia, has said Westinghouse’s bankruptcy means the project will require more “time and money”.

Meanwhile the utility company paying for the Virgil C Summer Nuclear Generating Station, near Jenkinsville, South Carolina, warned this week that abandonment of the project was one of the options it was now considering.

Nephew said: “This experience may push the US into a different model, perhaps focused on smaller modular reactors, or less complicated designs.”

The US energy secretary, Rick Perry, signalled the Trump administration’s support for nuclear this week, issuing a statement at the G7 summit in which he said the US backed “advanced civil-nuclear technologies”. That suggested support for next-generation reactors rather than the sort being built by Westinghouse.

Richard Morningstar, chairman of the Global Energy Centre at the international affairs thinktank Atlantic Council, said: “What is happening to Westinghouse and Toshiba only emphasises the need to double down on research on new, safe, nuclear technologies, such as small modular reactors. If we do not do so in the US, leadership will be ceded to other countries.”

New nuclear plans in UK

One such aspiring atomic leader is the UK, where the government wants to build a new generation of nuclear power stations to help satisfy the country’s power needs for decades to come.

But there are obvious parallels between the two countries on the issues of recent experience and supply chains. The UK has not completed a new nuclear power station since Sizewell B on the Suffolk coast started generating power in 1995.

EDF, the French state-owned company which has started pouring concrete at Hinkley Point in Somerset, where it plans to have two reactors operational by 2025, maintains it has had plenty of recent practice.

The EPR reactor design for Hinkley is the same as that for the reactors it is building in Finland, and at Flamanville, in France, though both of those are running late and over budget.

The other new nuclear projects proposed around the UK, all by foreign companies, look less certain and all are still years from construction starting in earnest.

Toshiba said this week it would consider selling its shares in the consortium behind another plant planned at Moorside, in Cumbria, which would utilise three of the same AP1000 Westinghouse reactors being built for the two crisis-hit US plants.

The South Korean power company Kepco last month expressed an interest in buying into the project, and the business secretary , Greg Clark, went to South Korea last week for talks on collaboration on nuclear power.

However, any rescue by Seoul is far from certain. The two leading candidates in South Korea’s elections in May said this week that they favoured rowing back on nuclear power and switching to renewable energy. Kepco would also face a regulatory delay of several years if it wanted to use its own technology at Moorside.

Unions in the UK said the uncertainty showed that the government should intervene more directly, by taking a stake in Moorside.

Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary, said: “The big moral of the story is what on earth we are doing as a country, leaving our fundamental energy requirements to foreign companies or foreign governments?”

While the government has argued that it has plans in place to keep the lights on if new nuclear projects do not materialise, others said the deepening crisis at Toshiba this week showed the need for ministers to consider a new energy policy.

“It’s time to come up with a new plan A,” said Paul Dorfman, of the Energy Institute, at University College London, who believes the Moorside project is dead. “It’s time for a viable strategy that talks about grid upgrades, solar, energy efficiency, and energy management.”

A report published on Thursday highlighted another alternative: a U-turn on the Conservative party’s manifesto commitment to block new onshore windfarms. Analysis for the trade body Scottish Renewables suggested wind turbines on land had become so cheap they could be built for little or no subsidy, compared to the lucrative contract awarded to EDF for Hinkley.

But the prospect of a rethink by the government on wind power looks about as likely as new nuclear power stations being built on time.

UK wholesale energy prices start to fall from two-year highs

The ICIS Power Index Q1 2017 analysis shows UK energy values reversing their upward trend
London, UK, 11th April 2017 - UK wholesale energy prices averaged their highest level in two years in Q1 2017, although long-term contract values began to slide from February.Energy prices were boosted over 2016 by concerns over supply availability, as older loss-making electricity generation has switched off, and technical issues with gas storage meant that the UK imported record levels of gas.
This alarm pushed the ICIS Power Index (IPI) average over Q1 2017 up 32% year on year to £46.192 per megawatthour (MWh) - the highest quarterly average since Q4 2014.
Gas for delivery over the next year was even more pronounced, up 42% to average 46.071 pence per therm (p/th), the highest since Q2 2015.
However, both gas and power supply continued uninterrupted throughout the winter, so long-term energy prices dropped.
'Additional supply from Norway and imports of gas from Europe via the Interconnector helped to ensure that Britain managed its demand, despite lower levels of liquefied natural gas,' said Ben Wetherall, Head of Gas at ICIS. 'Technical issues with long-range storage remain, but the system has shown its flexibility.''Market participants have been reassured by the electricity system coping during the winter, despite tight supply margins,' said Zoe Double, Head of Power at ICIS. 'There are still concerns as to whether payments to generators under a new capacity market will incentivise plants remaining online next winter, but more renewable energy is likely to be available as well.'The ICIS Power Index delivers independent insight into the complex world of wholesale power prices for both households and industrial electricity consumers, based on real market trading.
The ICIS Power Index is updated every working day and is freely available from the ICIS website, along with ICIS' quarterly analysis of price trends and volumes.
About ICIS
ICIS is an independent price reporting agency focusing on global energy, petrochemical and fertilizer markets, and we have covered the complex UK electricity market for nearly two decades. Every day, we assess electricity contracts for more than 40 different delivery periods in the UK market alone. The analysis and data that we produce is widely used as a reference price in energy contracts.
It is our aim to give companies in global commodities markets a competitive advantage by delivering trusted pricing data, high-value news, analysis and independent consulting, enabling our customers to make better-informed trading and planning decisions.
With a global staff of more than 800, ICIS has employees based in Houston, Washington, New York, London, Montpellier, Dusseldorf, Karlsruhe, Milan, Mumbai, Singapore, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, Yantai, Tokyo and Perth. ICIS is a division of Reed Business Information, part of RELX Group.
About Reed Business Information
Reed Business Information provides information, analytics and data to business professionals worldwide. Our strong global products and services hold market-leading positions across a wide range of industry sectors including banking, petrochemicals and aviation where we help customers make key strategic decisions every day. RBI is part of RELX Group, a world-leading provider of information and analytics for professional customers across industries. www.reedbusiness.com
About RELX Group
RELX Group is a world‐leading provider of information and analytics for professional and business customers across industries. The group serves customers in more than 180 countries and has offices in about 40 countries. It employs approximately 30,000 people of whom half are in North America. RELX PLC is a London listed holding company which owns 52.9% of RELX Group. RELX NV is an Amsterdam listed holding company which owns 47.1% of RELX Group. The shares are traded on the London, Amsterdam and New York Stock Exchanges using the following ticker symbols: London: REL; Amsterdam: REN; New York: RELX and RENX. The total market capitalisation is approximately 31.2bn GBP / 36.5bn Euro / 38.8bn USD.
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Email: [email protected]
Direct: +44 (0) 207 911 1713Reed Business Information Ltd. published this content on 11 April 2017 and is solely responsible for the information contained herein.
Distributed by Public, unedited and unaltered, on 13 April 2017 09:08:12 UTC.Original documenthttp://www.reedbusiness.com/news/uk-wholesale-energy-prices-start-to-fall-from-two-year-highs/

Scottish and UK ministers meet to discuss islands renewables

The Westminster Government must recognise the “vital importance” of island renewables to the UK energy market, Scotland’s energy minister said today ahead of talks with his UK counterpart.

Paul Wheelhouse and the UK Energy Secretary Greg Clark co-chaired the fifth meeting of the Scottish Islands Renewables Delivery Forum today in Stornoway.

Discussions focused on the UK Government’s recent consultation on support for wind projects on the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland. The development of proposed major projects alone would trigger initial investment of £2.5 billion.

“Our position on island wind is both consistent and very clear – we must do all we can to enable our island communities to benefit from this substantial resource, large enough to meet 5% of total UK electricity demand, provide significant boost to decarbonising our electricity supply, and would be worth up to £725 million to local economies,” Mr Wheelhouse said.

READ MORE: Scottish solar firm AES wins EU project backing

“The planned projects on the Western and Shetland Isles would face extremely high locational transmission charges to provide electricity to the mainland. That is why an appropriate support mechanism is so important to help unlock very significant capital investment from the private sector and community-owned developers as well as, in turn, underpinning the investment case to National Grid for vital islands grid connections. Bringing this positive scenario about, as quickly as possible, will be at the heart of my discussions with Mr Clark.

“Responses to the UK Government’s consultation show the case for supporting island wind projects is stronger than ever - our own submission was robust and credible. The projects under discussion would deliver tangible economic benefits to the communities involved while helping to ensure resilience in GB market electricity supplies. I look forward to making this positive case during our meeting with the Secretary of State.”

The Scottish Government said Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles between them possess the ability to produce high-quality renewable energy from wind and marine resources – with the potential to meet up to 5% of total GB electricity demand.

Solar sets new UK record in March

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Something unexpected happened in England last weekend. For the first time ever, National Grid, the countries primary utility company, reported that the demanded for electricity for homes and businesses was lower last Saturday afternoon that it was that night. That was because the power available from solar panels was so high, thanks to a beautifully sunny Spring day.

wind-and-solar-by-real-infrastructure-capital-projectsLet’s be clear. National Grid isn’t saying the citizens of the British Isles used less electricity that day. What they are saying it that supply from solar was so high that there was less need for electricity from fossil fuel or nuclear power plants.

It sees the solar power generated on the distribution networks — the parts of the grid that benefit from the input of localized solar power — as reduced electricity demand. National Grid called what happened a “huge milestone”. The sunshine meant that solar power produced six times more electricity than the country’s coal fired power stations on Saturday.

Duncan Burt, who manages daily operations at National Grid, said: “Demand being lower in the afternoon than overnight really is turning the hard and fast rules of the past upside down. It’s another fascinating sign of the huge changes we are seeing in Britain’s energy scene.” Electricity demand usually peaks between 4 and 6 pm at this time of year when people return home from work.

According to Chris Goodall, who has written a book about how solar power is transforming energy systems, says March is a good time for solar panels in the UK, due to the angle the sun is hitting them and because they operate better in lower temperatures.

“A sunny day between the equinoxes can now produce a peak of around 9.5GW. At weekends, when demand is low, this will frequently mean solar is producing well over 25% of the UK power need. This drives coal almost completely out of the mix, as it did at the weekend, and depresses gas use,” he said.

Goodall claims that on summer weekends this year, when electricity demand is lowest, the grid will need less than 15% of its power supply from fossil fuel sources. As offshore wind farms are completed and brought online in coming years, he thinks the need for convention electrical generation could fall to zero on windy and/or sunny days during the week when demand is higher.

The solar industry hailed the landmark, saying the government has repeatedly underestimated the technology’s potential. A spokesperson for the Solar Trade Association said: “This milestone shows the balance of power is shifting, quite literally, away from the old centralized ‘coal-by-wire’ model into the hands of householders, businesses and communities all over the UK who want their own clean solar power.”

An independent report commissioned by the STA found the UK’s power network could handle four times more solar capacity than what is avialable today without increasing costs for the grid. Other studies have also concluded that a significant expansion of renewable energy would impose only “relatively modest” costs to integrate into the electricity system.

A government spokesman said: “This government wants Britain to be one of the best places in the world to invest in clean, flexible energy. Solar power is a great success, with over 11 gigawatts of capacity installed in the last five years. That’s enough to power more than 2.6 million homes with clean electricity.” That may be so, but it doesn’t explain why government incentives for the solar power industry have been slashed, leading to a sharp decline in the amount of newly installed solar power since the middle of 2016.

Source: SolarLove. Reproduced with permission.  

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Number Of UK Low Carbon & Renewable Energy Jobs Nears Quarter-Million


Published on April 7th, 2017 | by Joshua S Hill

April 7th, 2017 by

New figures from the UK government reveal that an estimated 234,000 full-time equivalent employees were working directly for low-carbon and renewable energy activities in 2015.

These are the results from the latest UK Low Carbon and Renewable Energy Economy Survey (UK LCRE) published this week by the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS) for the year 2015, providing a detailed look at the low-carbon and renewable energy economy in the UK.

The survey also found that LCRE activities generated a total £43.1 billion turnover in 2015, accounting for 1.3% of the UK’s non-financial turnover. The renewable energy sectors generated £14.9 billion in turnover in 2015, accounting for 34.7% of all LCRE turnover. Meanwhile, the energy efficiency products sector generated £13.9 billion in turnover and accounted for almost half of all LCRE employment, with 102,500 full-time equivalent jobs.

Looking at the renewable energy sector more specifically, the UK’s bioenergy sector accounted for the largest proportion of the sector’s turnover, 34.9% in total. The solar sector generated £3.2 billion, or 7.3% of all LCRE turnover in 2015, and employed a total of 16,000, or 6.8%. Meanwhile, the offshore wind and onshore wind sectors accounted for 5.1% and 6.7% of all LCRE turnover respectively, and employed 1.3% and 3.4% of all LCRE full-time equivalent jobs.

Contribution of the solar and wind sectors to the UK low carbon and renewable energy economy

The figures were also good news for Scotland, highlighting just how important the country is to the UK’s overall LCRE sector. While obviously England’s renewable energy sector generated larger figures overall — a total of £11.3 billion in turnover and 31,500 jobs — due to its larger population base and geographical area, Scotland really overperformed with £2.7 billion in turnover and 14,500 jobs. To put that into perspective, England has a population of just over 53 million, while Scotland only has a population of 5.2 million.

In the end, Scotland’s renewable energy sector generated almost half of all LCRE turnover generated in the country in 2015, with more than half of this turnover being generated by the onshore wind sector.

Proportion of low carbon and renewable energy economy turnover and employment accounted for by the renewable energy group, UK and UK country

“These new figures once again clearly show the important economic impact of Scotland’s renewable energy sector,” said Lindsay Roberts, Senior Policy Manager at Scottish Renewables. “Technologies like wind, hydro, renewable heat and solar are delivering significant levels of employment and investment across the country and it’s crucial that renewed ambitions for the sector, set out in Scotland’s draft Energy Strategy, are complemented by the right support from government, both at Westminster and in Edinburgh.”

“It’s fantastic to see the number of renewable and low-carbon jobs continuing to rise in Scotland,” added WWF Scotland director Lang Banks.

“This growth in green jobs has mainly been driven by stretching government targets followed up by enabling policies and other support. If Scotland is to secure all the benefits that a zero-carbon society would bring, it’s vital Scottish ministers continue to put in place the policies and support mechanisms needed as well as giving businesses the signals they need to commit to investment and skills training.

“These figures also underline the importance of onshore wind to Scotland, both in terms of our economy and in creating jobs. It’s therefore disappointing that the UK Government has ended its support for onshore wind, especially if that results in these jobs figures going down in future. Undermining onshore wind in Scotland will make it far more expensive for the entire UK to meet its climate change obligations.”

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