The Europe we want: Just, Sustainable, Democratic and Inclusive

Posted on 21 March 2017

Europe we want

© We move

This statement was signed by 233 organisation.

As we mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, we have a momentous opportunity to take stock of how far Europe has come – and how far we still have to go in order to offer a sustainable and prosperous future to everyone in Europe. It is an opportunity that we call on you, the leaders of Europe, to seize with both hands. We call on you to show leadership, vision and courage to set Europe on the path to a sustainable future which realises the rights of all people and respects planetary boundaries.

We must not fail to appreciate how far Europe has come since 1957, when we were a handful of nations determined to emerge from the ashes of World War II and to move towards a peaceful and united common future. Today, the European Union is the largest and most successful peace initiative of our time, a place where Europeans find richness in cultural differences and strength in common values and aspirations, enjoying greater stability, safety and prosperity than in many other places in the world.

But we cannot afford to be complacent: much still needs to be done to construct a sustainable world for current and future generations. While we have seen much progress, the promise of those early days has still not been fully achieved and we have entered an era in which the values at the very heart of Europe – democracy and participation, equality and social justice, solidarity and sustainability, respect for the rule of law and human rights – are being undermined. Citizens are questioning the raison d’être of the European Union, the legitimacy of governments and mainstream politics, and the ability of existing governance structures to respond to society’s most pressing challenges. As a result, trust in public institutions is in decline.

In these uncertain times, European citizens seek a stronger focus on those core ‘European values’, not a reduced one. They seek economic, social and environmental well-being.  Economic well-being in the form of prosperity for all and the redistribution of wealth. Social well-being in the provision of quality, affordable services for all and a reinforcing of the social fabric which binds us together. Environmental well-being residing in a healthy natural environment that sustains all life on Earth and protects our clean water and air.

We therefore call on you, leaders of Europe, to move away from an economic model which has widened inequalities and rather to invest in a ‘social market economy’ that works for the benefit of all people. With poverty and social exclusion at unacceptably high levels, we must return to more inclusive economic policies which ensure that Europe’s prosperity is shared, without harming the planet.

We call on you to uphold our core values and invest in employment and education based on critical thinking in order to defend our open, democratic societies and  to address the sense of insecurity felt by many. We call on you, leaders of Europe, to ensure that gender equality, human rights, freedom of religion, democracy and the rule of law are fully implemented and upheld, both at EU and national level. We want to see a more hospitable Europe where everyone’s contribution is welcome and migration is recognised as a boon to society, not a drain.

Europe also needs to play its part in tackling global challenges. Climate change in particular is an existential risk to our world and it must be tackled not only for environmental reasons, but also to prevent the escalation of conflict, hunger, and forced migration.

Building on our call for ‘A New Europe for People, Planet and Prosperity for All’ (September 2016), we are seizing the opportunity of the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome to reaffirm our belief in European integration and to offer concrete proposals for the EU Heads of State and Government as they consider the future of Europe.

United, we call for:

  • A Europe that promotes and protects the civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights of everyone and supports those beyond its borders to realise their rights;
  • The delivery of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, by putting the Sustainable Development Goals and the principles that underpin it at the core of EU and national policy-making;
  • The full implementation of the Paris Agreement by enhancing energy efficiency and accelerating the just and sustainable transition to clean and affordable renewable energy in order to keep global warming well below 2°C and pursuing efforts to keep it to 1.5°C;
  • A strengthening of our representative and participatory democracy, with distinct space for people’s participation beyond elections, enabling a diverse civil society to flourish;
  • A strengthening of education as a public responsibility that offers lifelong learning for all in order to develop active citizenship, critical thinking, social inclusion and an awareness of sustainable development and human rights;
  • A just transition for workers and industrial regions from the current economic model to a modern, vibrant, green and socially just economy in which our human and natural capital is cherished;
  • A European Social Model that provides full protection to all workers, all consumers and all people living in the EU; one that reverses the wealth gap and reduces poverty and social exclusion;
  • A European Union with a strong social rights pillar, which ensures quality employment and fair pay, and addresses inequalities between women and men, discrimination against children and youth or based on race, sexual orientation, gender identity, socio-economic status, age, disability, minority or other status.

In the face of a world that is changing faster than ever before, European unity and solidarity are just as important now as they were 60 years ago. Solidarity brought us together and solidarity is the only way forward.  None of the current challenges can be solved by one nation or one group of people alone.

However, there is an urgent need for the European Union and its institutions to reconnect with the realities, dreams and hopes of its citizens if the long-term relevance and survival of our Union are to be secured. Now is the time to rethink the direction in which we are travelling, build on our achievements and lay the foundations for the next 60 years of European integration.

We expect you, as the leaders of Europe, to do just that: to have the courage and the vision to lead the transition to a just, sustainable, democratic and inclusive Europe. We expect you to listen to the people of Europe and to use the occasion of the Rome Summit to make a strong, joint commitment to a better, more sustainable future. 


Norway spearheads Europe’s electric vehicle surge

European electromobility is beginning to take off. The targets set by the Paris climate deal depend on it. The EU’s Nordic neighbour, Norway, is showing the rest of Europe the way forward. EURACTIV’s partner The Guardian reports.

Oslo, Norway’s capital, like most of the Scandinavian country’s cities and towns, boasts bus-lane access for electric vehicles (EVs), recharging stations aplenty, privileged parking, and toll-free travel for electric cars.

The initiative began in the 1990s as an effort to cut pollution, congestion, and noise in urban centres; now its primary rationale is combating climate change. Today, Norway has the highest per capita number of all-electric (battery only) cars in the world: more than 100,000 in a country of 5.2 million people.

Last year, EVs constituted nearly 40% of the nation’s newly registered passenger cars.

And the Norwegian experiment shows every sign of accelerating. Earlier this year, Norway opened the world’s largest fast-charging station, which can charge up to 28 vehicles in about half an hour.

The Nordic country, joined by Europe’s number two in electromobility, the Netherlands, intends to phase out all fossil fuel-powered automobiles by 2025. Elon Musk, CEO of US electric car company Tesla Motors, responded to Norway’s goal by tweeting: “What an amazingly awesome country. You guys rock!”

Norway is the clear electric vehicle pacesetter in Europe, which now has about 500,000 electric vehicles. China leads the world in EV usage, with about 600,000 all-electric vehicles on its roads and an ambitious plan to deploy 5 million EVs by 2020.

Surge in electric cars could strain energy grid, warns EU agency

The large scale roll-out of electric cars on EU roads will help fight climate change but more electricity will have to be generated to power the vehicles which, the European Environment Agency (EEA) has warned, could have its own impact on global warming.

The US ranks third globally, with fewer than 500,000 EVs. But electric vehicle momentum is picking up across the Atlantic, as evidenced by the 400,000 people who have paid $1,000 to be on the waiting list for Tesla’s $35,000 Model 3 car.

The trailblazing achievements of the Norwegians and the Dutch are just one reason that many experts see 2017 as a crucial breakout year for electric mobility in Europe and beyond.

Experts acknowledge that in the past the numbers have never quite lived up to the hype around EVs or other alternative transportation technologies.

Indeed, in 2016, only 2 million electric and hybrid passenger cars were on the road worldwide – about 0.2% of the global fleet; in Europe, significantly less than 1% of new car registrations are battery-electric vehicles (as opposed to hybrid cars).

Big questions still loom, such as whether there will be sufficient renewable energy supplies to power vast new fleets of EVs. If electric vehicles are charged with fossil fuel-generated electricity, the result is more, not fewer, greenhouse gas emissions.

Nevertheless, because of rapid technological advances and strong government support for EVs in Europe and China, experts maintain that a new era in electromobility is dawning – and that this time there’s more to the prediction than industry optimism.

“We’re convinced that Europe and other continents, too, are now turning the corner on e-mobility,” said Lars Mönch of Germany’s Federal Environment Agency. “It’s the aim of all big cities worldwide to ambitiously tackle the climate and urban congestion issues that they all face.”

Referring to the provisions of the Paris agreement on climate change, in which nations pledged emissions cuts aimed at holding temperature increases below 2 degrees Celsius, Mönch added, “There are goals now for the transportation sector that can only be met with alternative forms of mobility.”

Norway illustrates that with incentives that eliminate the price advantage of conventional gas-burning vehicles, many people will go for the electric option. And since 98 % of Norway’s electricity comes from hydropower, the country’s burgeoning EV fleet leaves almost no carbon footprint.

Many European experts and industry representatives see the Norwegian model, minus the whopping subsidies, as a sign of where European electromobility is heading.

Magdalena Jozwicka of the European Environment Agency, a Copenhagen-based EU body, says the EU looks to non-EU member Norway for inspiration. Even though it’s highly subsidised, e-mobility in Norway has caught fire on account of its own virtues, she said, noting its contribution to air quality and the many perks that e-cars enjoy.

Thanks to its lucrative offshore oil and natural gas business, Norway can afford to promote e-mobility with generous incentives, including the considerable bonus of exemption from a 25% sales tax.

Norway’s access to abundant and cheap zero-emission hydroelectric power means it can even offer e-car owners free power charging at public charging stations.

Elsewhere in Europe, the main driver for EV growth isn’t subsidies but legislation, explains Wolfgang Bernhart of the international consulting firm Roland Berger, referring to the EU’s mandatory emissions-reduction targets for new cars.

By 2021, the average emissions of all new cars sold must be 40% less than what the average car on the road emits today – an extremely ambitious goal that can only be met by the rapid, large-scale adoption of electric vehicles.

“Every city in the EU is working toward this,” he says, noting that fine particulate pollution is also an issue in European metropolises. “A certain share of electric mobility of one type or another is really the only solution.”

In Europe, transportation is responsible for a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. And while Europe’s industrial emissions have fallen by 38% since 1990, those in the transportation sector – including aviation – have increased by 9%.

The 2015 Paris climate accord and follow-up agreements stipulate that every signatory country propose national goals for climate protection, including – explicitly for the first time – for the transportation sector.

Moreover, the International Energy Agency (IEA) forecasts that greenhouse gas emissions from transportation will “increase by 120% from 2000 to 2050 as a result of a projected three-fold increase” in the number of cars worldwide.

Some industry and advocacy groups have set a global deployment target of 100 million electric cars and 400 million electric motorcycles and scooters by 2030.

The upbeat assessments about e-mobility’s future are grounded in recent developments, including rapid advances in EV technology and China’s new-found commitment to decarbonisation.

Moreover, 2016 saw a surge in EV sales globally, 30% more than in 2015, and an expansion of charging infrastructure, both trends that will carry into 2017 and probably beyond.

Falling prices for EVs and recent technological developments have changed the game. For one, the cost of lithium-ion batteries, which account for about 40% of an EV or hybrid vehicle’s cost, has fallen by two-thirds since 2010 — much faster than experts had anticipated and with further steep reductions expected in the near future.

Six years ago, the average EV battery sold for more than $1,000 per kilowatt-hour; now it goes for less than $350. It could drop to as low as $125 in the near future, industry experts say.

China’s sudden and muscular emergence in the world of electromobility has internationalised momentum for electric vehicles.

What’s more, as battery technology develops — in particular the improving “energy density” of lithium-ion batteries, enabling them to store more power with less weight — the range of EVs is rising dramatically from the under 100-miles-per-charge of the first generation of e-cars.

A second generation of EVs is in production now and they are considerably lighter, longer-range automobiles than those launched five years ago. With the shock of Tesla’s unexpected advances, European car manufacturers have invested heavily in the forthcoming EVs, convinced that they either do so or lose out in the long run.

“We’re now flipping the switch,” said Daimler’s CEO Dieter Zetsche last year. “We’re ready for the launch of an electric product offensive that will cover all vehicle segments, from the compact to the luxury class.” European car makers have also lobbied forcefully for governments to provide bigger rebates and tax incentives in different forms to stimulate the domestic markets.

However, even a range exceeding 200 miles doesn’t alleviate the necessity for periodically recharging. The frequency of – and distance between– charging facilities has long been, and remains, one of the key sticking points that make potential buyers hesitate.

Charging infrastructure in Europe has grown since 2013 at a rate of 30% to 60% a year. The continent now has more than 100,000 charging spots, all but a few thousand of them “slow chargers”, which take as long as eight hours to juice up a battery.

Significantly reducing charging times is essential to the widespread adoption of EVs, and Europe has recently added 1,300 DC “fast chargers” to the network, namely stations that repower EVs in little more time that it takes to fill up with gas. But, unless you’re in Scandinavia, it’s still difficult to travel long distances in Europe with an all-electric plug-in vehicle.

The EU appears newly determined to get behind the push for more charging points by stipulating that as of 2019, every newly built or refurbished house from Cyprus to Lapland will have to have an EV charging station.

By 2023, 10% of all buildings’ parking spaces must have EV chargers. Europe’s automakers now recognise their own interest in finally outfitting the continent with the chargers that their electric fleets require.

But as the EEA’s Jozwicka notes, EVs “are only as clean as their source of power. The e-mobility revolution has to go hand-in-hand with a transition to clean energy or it doesn’t make any sense.”


David Scrimgeour: Scotland has much to gain from Bavaria

Bavaria and Scotland are old friends who have not seen much of each other over the years.

That is about to change with a 40-strong delegation from the “Free State” visiting Glasgow and Edinburgh later this week. The mission, led by the Bavarian Economic Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Ilse Aigner, will be in Scotland to promote business co-operation and closer government relations.

Bavaria has plenty to offer a Scotland that is in urgent need of European partners

• READ MORE: Diary of a tech trade mission to Bavaria

The 17 town twinnings between the two regions are the bedrock of the relationship, with the oldest of these dating back to 1954 when a group of Munich schoolchildren was invited to Edinburgh by the city council. Since the 1950s, hundreds of schoolchildren and other Scots have enjoyed Bavarian hospitality and vice versa. Now the plan of both governments is to build on these civic and cultural connections and stimulate business activity in the energy, technology and research sectors.

Bavaria has plenty to offer a Scotland that in 2017 and all of its political ramifications is in urgent need of European partners. With a population of over 12 million and a GDP of €550 billion, the southern German region of Bavaria has a larger economy than 21 of the 28 EU member states. Much of this success can be attributed to political stability and a strategic partnership between government and industry.

200 Voices: find out more about the people who have shaped Scotland

So why are Minister Aigner and some 30 companies and organisations taking the time to travel to Scotland – in reality, a relatively small market on the fringes of Europe and, from a trading perspective, prone to political risks and a the currency volatility that comes with the territory? In my view, there are two reasons.

The first is that the Scottish Government and industry have combined in an impressive manner to develop renewable energy projects. This reputation has already attracted numerous German developers and equipment manufacturers, a couple of them from Bavaria, and that gives Scotland a track record for being a place to do business.

The second and more important reason is that it is vitally important in these turbulent times in Europe that friends with similar values stick closely together. The Government and the electorate in Scotland have demonstrated unequivocal support for the European idea of peace and solidarity and this is highly valued by our German friends. The world is really the Bavarian “Mittelstand’s” oyster and these companies are trading and exporting in every corner of the world.

Bavaria has form in this mixing of commerce and diplomacy. In the 1980s, a co-operation was started with the Canadian province of Quebec and fast forward 30 years and over 600 commercial, research and cultural projects have been delivered by representatives based in Munich and Montreal. A real balance has been achieved in that universities, SMEs, major corporations and local communities have all had the opportunity to engage, a fantastic example of effective economic development at its best.

In 2003, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the Scottish and Bavarian governments but Scotland failed to follow up on the offer.

Reassuringly, there are signs though that the same mistake will not be made twice. Supported by government funding, Scotland’s chambers of commerce are currently forging partnerships with their Bavarian counterparts.

Most encouraging of all, is that the overall Scottish response to the planned two-day mission which I am helping to organise has been overwhelmingly positive. Government agencies, local authorities, chambers of commerce, universities and companies are all pitching in to ensure that this, to paraphrase Rick in Casablanca, is the new beginning of a beautiful friendship.

David Scrimgeour MBE, who was the Scottish Government’s investment representative in Germany and Austria in the 1990s, is the founder of the British-German Business Network

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Scotland grants planning consent for 12MW Dounreay Tri floating wind farm

EBR Staff Writer Published 20 March 2017

The Scottish government has granted planning consent for the 12MW Dounreay Tri floating wind farm demonstrator project off the Caithness coast.

Located about 9km off Dounreay, the project is being developed by Swedish engineering company Hexicon. It is planned to be commissioned in June 2018.

Featuring two turbines, the project aims to demonstrate Hexicon's semi-submersible foundation for offshore wind power.

Scottish Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy, Paul Wheelhouse said: “Once operational, this demonstrator project will help to develop this pioneering technology and cement Scotland’s reputation at the forefront of innovation in the renewables sector.”

Wheelhouse noted that the latest consent for project increases the Scottish Government’s approved floating offshore wind capacity to 92MW, which is enough to power almost 60,000 homes.

“The Scottish Government’s commitment to supporting low carbon energy is outlined in our draft Energy Strategy which sets out next steps and how we will continue to transition to a low carbon economy, with the offshore wind sector – developed with due regard to our natural environment - playing an increasingly influential role.”

The Dounreay project is expected to generate clean electricity required to power almost 8,000 homes. It will also help in creating 100 jobs during assembly, installation and through ongoing operations and maintenance activities.

The project comprises a semi-submersible platform fitted with two wind turbines, each with 5MW capacity, as well as mooring lines or chains, and drag-embedment anchors.

Recently, the Scottish government approved the Kincardine floating offshore wind farm followed by consent of the Hywind Scotland Pilot in 2016.


Lightsource adds 50MW in UK

14 projects grid connected ahead of 31 March 1.2 ROC deadline

Lightsource adds 50MW in UK image

Lightsource Renewable Energy has connected 14 new solar plants in the UK with combined capacity of over 50MW, ahead of the 31 March deadline for the 1.2 Renewables Obligation Certificate (ROC).

EPC contractors Biosar, Egnatia and Grupotec worked with Lightsource to deliver the projects.

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The developer said it is looking to add more 1.2 ROC projects to its portfolio through acquisitions.

Lightsource chief operating officer Kareen Boutonnat said: “While we have now connected all Lightsource developed 1.2 ROC projects, we are still looking to connect additional 1.4 ROC projects this March and next year in Northern Ireland.”

Image: Lightsource Renewable Energy


German solar power association: Europe far from being energy pioneer

Solar energy will be critical to German and European efforts to decarbonise their economies. EURACTIV Germany reports on what contribution local schemes can make to European energy policy.

Jörg Mayer is managing director of the German solar industry association (BSW-Solar).

Mayer spoke to EURACTIV.de Editor-in-Chief Ama Lorenz.

After years of overcapacity, bankruptcies and falling prices, where does the European solar market stand today?

We think that Europe’s solar market is unsatisfactory. In the last few years, a sharp decline has been seen. Although the low numbers have stabilised thanks to expansion in the United Kingdom, we are still, overall, far from being an energy transition pioneer at a global level. That role has been taken on by other continents.

What is to blame for this stagnation?

So far, construction of new photovoltaic (PV) systems have been dealt with under national law. Certainly, there are some reasonable harmonisation efforts at EU level, like cross-border tenders or in terms of energy networks. But, like I said, legislative power over renewable energies lies at national level. Last year, PV expansion was still primarily funded through feed-in-tariffs. But they were lowered too quickly by some countries to an unfeasible level. In addition, other business models have been limited and fossil fuels are still preferred. That’s why we shouldn’t be surprised that the construction of new renewable energy capacity has slumped.

The European Parliament, at the same time, ratified the Paris climate agreement in autumn 2016…

It isn’t just a question of being a frontrunner in terms of the markets. In Europe, we have committed ourselves to meeting specific climate goals. We can only meet them through using renewable energies like PV systems. But we are not going to reach these targets if unambitious policies on energy transition continue to prevail in most European countries.

Sluggish renewables investment poses challenge to EU energy plans

European investment in renewables has dropped by half since 2011 but the EU remains “well on track” to hit its 2020 target of boosting the sector by 20%, the European Commission said today (1 February) as it launched its second report on its Energy Union strategy.

Do you count Germany among those?

It looks like Germany will make progress in 2017 actually. In 2016, PV took a 7.4% share of electricity consumption, no mean feat, and more than we had hoped for. Together with other energy sources like wind power, over 30% of electricity consumption in Germany came from renewables. That makes 2016 a huge success. In principle, Germany’s Energiewende in terms of electricity production is on the right track. Even though construction of new PV systems has been at a worryingly low level over the past year, we have reason to believe that new installations will be put in place in the future.

What makes you so optimistic?

Firstly, the repair job done on the so-called degression mechanism for solar subsidies. The German government-approved Renewable Energy Sources Act (EGG) for 2017 means that support for PV systems could be profitable again. Coupled with falling system prices, more and more investors are realising that it’s a financially viable option. We hope that it 2017 we can add 2 GW of capacity. Even if we are not as successful as we were in 2010, it would still be a turnaround.

There’s another trend of note too: over the past five years, solar companies have started to fund their own projects. Your association has been leading Project PV Financing, which examined alternative business models in six other European countries. What results did those investigations yield?

The project started back in 2015 with the aim of analysing European business models that work without or largely without subsidies. Looking to the future, we are looking for a solution that will allow PV to stand on its own two feet. In addition to Germany, we have identified appropriate models in France, Italy, Austria, Spain, the UK and also in Turkey. As well as finding recommendations that allow users to overcome barriers that still hinder business models.

What barriers, in particular?

Well, for example, certain types of internal consumption are not legally permissible in countries like Austria, Spain, Turkey and, yes, Germany too. For us, the EEG levy affects the profitability of these models. In particular, the neighbourhood supply (Mieterstrommodell). This currently only works when proprietors and consumers of the electricity are the same entity. It applies to the owner of a detached house but not for the tenants of a block of flats. Regarding the latter, it would automatically come under the rules governing a classic supplier relationship. If the owner of a block of flats put a PV cell on the roof, the tenants would have to pay taxes and fees on top of paying for consumption. This would mean a kilowatt hour would cost 28-29 cents.

So this model would not only fight social imbalances but also bring the energy transition into urban spaces then.

Exactly, the political idea behind this is to provide those who participate, and who cannot afford their own homes, to be able to produce their own lost cost PV electricity. That is why the owner of the roof and the PV system itself must be able to provide power to tenants without incurring the usual taxes and fees. These costs could be compensated by a special subsidy, probably in the form of a special tariff for these neighbourhood schemes.

So in terms of European Commissioner Maroš Šefčovič’s plans in the Winter Package…

We see a big problem in the Winter Package, in that PV systems and private consumption are still undervalued. The member states must be more clearly prompted to promote these models and to be prevented from introducing retroactive measures, like those in the Czech Republic or Spain, that have completely destroyed investor confidence in those markets.

Maybe there is a chance that Germany can champion PV systems’ cause at EU level?

We are going to come up with some appropriate recommendations in the remaining months of this project, which we will submit to the EU and we are holding talks with the German government. There is huge potential in the Energiewende and citizen participation behind business models like the ones we have talked about. It’s not just a question of reducing the burden on energy systems, solar energy can also become an even more important pillar of the transition.


Statkraft commissions Andershaw wind farm in Scotland

Published 10 March 2017

Andershaw Wind Farm, Statkraft's 36.3MW onshore wind project located in South Lanarkshire, Scotland, is now fully operational.

Construction of Andershaw began in late 2015. The civils infrastructure works were completed by Scottish contractor R J McLeod and the electrical infrastructure works were delivered by Powersystems UK.

The wind farm consists of 11 Vestas V117 wind turbines which were delivered in parts to Inchgreen Dock near Greenock and King V Dock near Braehead. The various components were then transported as separate loads and assembled at site between July and October 2016.

The construction of the wind farm has been a boost to the local economy with around £2.5 million being spent in the region on items ranging from aggregates, to steel, transport and local plant and machinery hire.

Around a third of the workforce on site during construction came from South Lanarkshire and 3 full time jobs have been created in the region to support operations.

Now fully operational, Andershaw Wind Farm will make a valuable contribution to Scotland's ambitious renewable energy targets, providing clean electricity to meet the needs of approximately 23,400 homes annually.

David Flood, Vice President of Asset Ownership UK at Statkraft, said: "We're delighted to see this important project reach completion with all turbines now fully operational."

"The completion of Andershaw Wind Farm marks the culmination of several years of effort to safely and responsibly deliver this large energy project. I'm especially pleased at the success we've had delivering regional economic benefits from the construction activity."

During the life of the wind farm Statkraft will pay £2.2 million into the South Lanarkshire Renewable Energy Fund as a way for the project to provide meaningful financial assistance to local projects and initiatives. The fund is already open for applications from nearby groups, societies and organisations.

A further £800,000 will be spent on a Forestry Habitat Management Plan to restock the site with mixture of conifers and native woodland to encourage local biodiversity.

The project is Statkraft’s third onshore wind development in Scotland, and follows on from the successful construction of the 52.5 megawatt Baillie Wind Farm and the 66MW Berry Burn Wind Farm, which became operational in 2013 and 2014.

Source: Company Press Release


UK sets stage for CfD2

BEIS publishes allocation framework and other documentation

UK sets stage for CfD2 image

The UK government has set the stage for the second Contract for Difference auction kicking off on 3 April.

BEIS (pictured) published a series of documents to pave the way for CfD2, which remains pegged at an overall budget of £290m for projects delivering in 2021-22 and 2022-23.

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Paperwork published on Monday includes the allocation framework, standard terms and conditions and series of statutory notices.

CfDs will be allocated to the cheapest projects first, regardless of the delivery year.

Load factors for offshore wind have been set at 47.7%, while wave and tidal are 30.8% and 30%.

The strike price for offshore wind is £105/MWh in the first delivery period and £100 in the second. Wave is £310/300 and tidal is £300/295.

Geothermal has been included following a period of industry consulation at a strike price of £140 for both years.

Image: BEIS


How to beat UK energy price rises

SSE has become the last of the big six energy companies to raise its prices – and the news isn’t good. Dual fuel prices will go up by 6.9% or £73 a year for the dual fuel bills of 2.8 million standard tariff customers from the end of April. While it’s not the worst out of the five suppliers who have declared a rise – that accolade goes to Npower – comparison sites have still condemned it as “hammer blow” for householders.

British Gas has frozen its prices, but only until August when it is expected to raise them, and experts say its standard tariff deal isn’t good value anyway. “The picture is grim – everyone on a standard tariff from the big six, including British Gas, is being ripped off,” says Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com. Given this parlous state of affairs, what can be done?

Introduce a relative price cap

John Penrose, a former minister at the Cabinet Office and a Conservative MP, has called on the government to introduce a relative price cap, where the worst-value standard variable tariffs are no more than a certain percentage more expensive than the best-value fixed deals. “We still get lots of competition, lots of choice, but it does mean the most vulnerable of us or those of us with least time to switch suppliers don’t get ripped off,” said Penrose.

Penrose has secured a House of Commons debate on Thursday on energy bills. “In most things in life if you are a loyal customer you are valued and rewarded. But apparently for your energy bill, loyal customers in the view of big energy firms are there to be exploited and not rewarded – and that doesn’t seem fair,” he said.

Impose a price cap

After the Npower price rise, the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell, suggested he would cap price rises if he came to office, but Labour has yet to flesh out the details. The chancellor, Philip Hammond, used his budget to reiterate the government’s promise to intervene if markets failed people. Industry figures have said that, despite the tough talk, there is little appetite among ministers for a cap in the green paper out in April. There are also fears it would kill off competition.

“Tinkering with ideas like price caps as a magic bullet to bring down energy bills is a knee-jerk reaction that will leave consumers even more out of pocket in the long term,” said Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at uSwitch.com. Investment bank Jefferies has calculated that capping standard tariffs £50 below their current level would knock British Gas hard, denting profitability per customer from £50 to £35.

A cap, but just for vulnerable customers

Energy regulator Ofgem announced an energy price cap last month from 1 April for about 4m households on prepayment meters. Such coin- and token-operated meters are mostly used in rental properties and for customers who have fallen behind on their payments. Consumer group Citizens Advice is calling for that cap to be extended to people on the Warm Homes Discount, a scheme for those who find it difficult to pay their energy bills.

Energy price rises graph

Switch more

This is the solution favoured by industry and, unsurprisingly, comparison sites. Moneysupermarket says the best value deals are £229 cheaper than the standard tariffs that many people are on. But even those cheaper, fixed deals are heading north: in March 2016 the site said the best fix was £751, which has jumped to £834 at present.

But the main problem with switching, as an investigation by the competition watchdog concluded last year, is that not enough people do it. Although the number of people switching rose by 30% last year, around two-thirds of billpayers are still on the worst-value standard tariffs. Trials are under way this year on how best to encourage those “hard to reach” people to switch.

Energy efficiency

The government abolished the green deal, its flagship scheme for bringing down household energy bills through insulation and more efficient boilers, shortly after coming to power in 2015. There are no signs that ministers have any plans to replace it this parliament. Energy efficiency advocates said the recent rises showed that switching was “little more than a short-term fix.” Julie Hirigoyen, chief executive at the UK Green Building Council, which is urging ministers to establish a new national energy efficiency programme, said: “Improving our draughty and poorly insulated housing stock should be an urgent national priority.”

More renewable energy - or less?

SSE blamed its hike on the increasing cost of government policy, much of which involves subsidies for renewable energy projects such as windfarms. A recent Lords committee report blamed such support for recent price rises. However, green energy payments only accounted for 10% of the rise in bills between 2003 and 2016. Most of the increase was due to rising wholesale electricity and gas prices.

Even the latest round of rises is primarily to do with fossil fuel prices, according to Ofgem. Figures published by the regulator last week show costs to energy suppliers have continued to increase since January, mainly due to wholesale prices going up. So there is also a school of thought that says extending the amount of electricity the UK gets from renewables – currently at 25% – would be the best way to protect billpayers from fluctuating wholesale prices.

Ditch smart meters

Under government plans, every home will have a smart meter by the end of 2020, doing away with the need for estimated bills. The cost of installing the meters was one of the reasons cited by ScottishPower for its 7.8% price hike. While no major figures or companies are currently calling for the end of 2020 deadline to be abolished or postponed, there is grumbling within the industry about the costs of the project – both for fitting them and maintaining the Capita-run body that will look after the data. Unions also complain that the companies are not training enough people or putting enough money into the upgraded programme.


Artificial North Sea island to power Europe

A huge artificial island with its own airstrip and harbour could be built in the North Sea to power Europe by 2050, if plans are approved later this month.

The 2.5 square mile (6.5 square km) island could serve as a 'crazy and science fiction-like' energy plant that would be surrounded by fields of offshore wind turbines.

The 'North Sea Wind Power Hub' would house a small team of permanent staff and generate power for more than 80 million people across Europe.

 

An artificial island (artist's impression pictured) with an airstrip and harbour could be built in the North Sea to help power Europe by 2050. Energinet, the Danish state-owned energy operator, said it hoped that the offshore power plant would be completed by 2050

An artificial island (artist's impression pictured) with an airstrip and harbour could be built in the North Sea to help power Europe by 2050. Energinet, the Danish state-owned energy operator, said it hoped that the offshore power plant would be completed by 2050

THE NORTH SEA WIND POWER HUB ISLAND

- Could be built by 2050

- Cover an area of 2.5 square miles (6.5 square km)

- Provide power to 80 million people

- Cost over £1.1 billion ($1.3 billion)

- The plans have been drawn by a series of energy companies from Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany, including Energinet

- Discussions with other energy companies and industrial partners, who together will pay for the project, are ongoing

- Power homes in Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Belgium

- Comes with an airstrip, harbour, buildings for housing and workshops, an artificial lake and even a park

The island would serve a vast network of solar panels and wind turbines spanning across Dogger Bank, a large sandbank 62 miles (100km) off the east coast of England.

It would supply energy to six European countries through underwater cables – Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Belgium.

Dogger Bank is relatively shallow with depths of between 15 and 36 metres, which is expected to reduce the cost of the project.

The Copenhagen Post reported that the island, if approved, would cost just over £1.1 billion ($1.3 billion).

Energinet, the Danish state-owned energy operator, said it hoped that the offshore power plant would be completed by 2050.

The plans have been drawn by a series of energy companies from Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany, including Energinet.

Discussions with other energy companies and industrial partners, who together will pay for the project, are ongoing.

They are expected to be agreed in Brussels on March 23.

Torben Glar Nielsen, Energinet's technical director, told the Independent: 'Maybe it sounds a bit crazy and science fiction-like but an island on Dogger Bank could make the wind power of the future a lot cheaper and more effective.'

Dutch power grid operator TenneT announced on Wednesday that Energinet was the first partner for its plan to create the offshore energy hub.

The Copenhagen Post reported that the island would cost just over £1.1 billion ($1.3 billion), if the green light is given to the project. It would include a harbour (artist's impression pictured) for the delivery of supplies to the small workforce stationed on the island

The Copenhagen Post reported that the island would cost just over £1.1 billion ($1.3 billion), if the green light is given to the project. It would include a harbour (artist's impression pictured) for the delivery of supplies to the small workforce stationed on the island

The Copenhagen Post reported that the island would cost just over £1.1 billion ($1.3 billion), if the green light is given to the project. It would include a harbour (artist's impression pictured) for the delivery of supplies to the small workforce stationed on the island

The plans have been drawn by a series of energy companies from Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany and are expected to be agreed in Brussels on March 23. This artist's impression shows a section of the island's airstrip, which would allow small passenger aircraft to take staff to and from the island

The plans have been drawn by a series of energy companies from Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany and are expected to be agreed in Brussels on March 23. This artist's impression shows a section of the island's airstrip, which would allow small passenger aircraft to take staff to and from the island

The plans have been drawn by a series of energy companies from Denmark, the Netherlands and Germany and are expected to be agreed in Brussels on March 23. This artist's impression shows a section of the island's airstrip, which would allow small passenger aircraft to take staff to and from the island

The 2.5 square mile (6.5 square km) island is part of ambitious plans for a huge new offshore energy project that could supply power to Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Belgium. This artist's impression shows the route that the plant's undersea electric cabling would make back to each country

The 2.5 square mile (6.5 square km) island is part of ambitious plans for a huge new offshore energy project that could supply power to Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Belgium. This artist's impression shows the route that the plant's undersea electric cabling would make back to each country

The 2.5 square mile (6.5 square km) island is part of ambitious plans for a huge new offshore energy project that could supply power to Britain, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Norway and Belgium. This artist's impression shows the route that the plant's undersea electric cabling would make back to each country

ORIGINS OF THE IDEA

The company says that the idea for the island came in response to the European Union's need to meet CO2 emission targets in the wake of rising international pressure to combat climate change.

They say that renewable energy will be key to achieving these targets, and that both sun and wind will be needed to provide consistent levels of energy through every season.

The summer months will bring more sun, while the colder months will bring more wind, meaning that the plant will have both solar panels and wind turbines.

TenneT claim that the levels of renewable energy production needed by the EU is too much for individual Member States to cope with, and so say that a cooperative system is needed between several countries.

The North Sea boasts a higher and more stable wind speed than wind farms experience on land, and the farms will provide energy without taking up any land space that could be used for housing or farming.

TenneT plans to creates a basis, or point of departure, for a joint European approach up to 2050 and focus on developing the North Sea as a source and distribution hub for Europe’s energy transition.

TenneT says that the large European electricity network is based on a 'hub and spoke' principle, and was designed to help the European Union to meet targets for cuts in its carbon dioxide emissions.

TenneT will formally sign a deal with Energinet on March 23.

'Discussions with other potential partners are ongoing, which not only include other North Sea transmission system operators, but also other infrastructure companies,' TenneT said in a statement.

Energinet.dk CEO Peder Østermark Andreasen said the project has the potential to lead to a 'further reduction in prices of grid connections and interconnections.'

Dutch power grid operator TenneT announced on Wednesday that Energinet was the first partner for its plan to create an offshore energy hub in the North Sea. The island could include green spaces and parks for the staff, as shown in this artist's impression

Dutch power grid operator TenneT announced on Wednesday that Energinet was the first partner for its plan to create an offshore energy hub in the North Sea. The island could include green spaces and parks for the staff, as shown in this artist's impression

Dutch power grid operator TenneT announced on Wednesday that Energinet was the first partner for its plan to create an offshore energy hub in the North Sea. The island could include green spaces and parks for the staff, as shown in this artist's impression

Torben Glar Nielsen, Energinet's technical director, told the Independent: 'Maybe it sounds a bit crazy and science fiction-like but an island on Dogger Bank could make the wind power of the future a lot cheaper and more effective'. Pictured is an artist's impression of the island with its large bank of offshore wind turbines stationed behind it

Torben Glar Nielsen, Energinet's technical director, told the Independent: 'Maybe it sounds a bit crazy and science fiction-like but an island on Dogger Bank could make the wind power of the future a lot cheaper and more effective'. Pictured is an artist's impression of the island with its large bank of offshore wind turbines stationed behind it

Torben Glar Nielsen, Energinet's technical director, told the Independent: 'Maybe it sounds a bit crazy and science fiction-like but an island on Dogger Bank could make the wind power of the future a lot cheaper and more effective'. Pictured is an artist's impression of the island with its large bank of offshore wind turbines stationed behind it

This artist's impression shows a bird's eye view of the island, which would provide power to more than 80 million people. the airstrip and artificial lake can be seen on the lower half of the island, while the harbour and park are in the upper half

This artist's impression shows a bird's eye view of the island, which would provide power to more than 80 million people. the airstrip and artificial lake can be seen on the lower half of the island, while the harbour and park are in the upper half

This artist's impression shows a bird's eye view of the island, which would provide power to more than 80 million people. the airstrip and artificial lake can be seen on the lower half of the island, while the harbour and park are in the upper half

Separately on Wednesday, TenneT said it would invest £21 billion ($26 billion) in new transmission capacity over the coming decade to support a number of offshore wind and onshore renewable projects currently in the pipeline.

The company also wishes to improve interconnections between the Netherlands and Germany.

The amount is an increase from the £19 billion ($23 billion) in a March 2016 forecast, after the Dutch government announced plans last autumn for a major acceleration in funding for renewable energy projects.

The 'North Sea Wind Power Hub' would serve a vast network of solar panels and wind turbines spanning across Dogger Bank, a large sandbank 62 miles (100km) off the east coast of England

The 'North Sea Wind Power Hub' would serve a vast network of solar panels and wind turbines spanning across Dogger Bank, a large sandbank 62 miles (100km) off the east coast of England

The 'North Sea Wind Power Hub' would serve a vast network of solar panels and wind turbines spanning across Dogger Bank, a large sandbank 62 miles (100km) off the east coast of England

The plans included permitting 5 gigawatts of new offshore turbine farms.

TenneT will provide infrastructure for the new farms.

'If we want to exploit all this green electricity in our Northwest European region to the full, we cannot do so without new power transmission links, both onshore and offshore,' CEO Mel Kroon said in a statement.

'The ongoing coupling of the European energy markets will lead to more convergence of electricity prices in the various European countries, and will make electricity more affordable for end users,' he said.

TenneT reported 2016 underlying operating profit of 701 million euros on revenue of 3.23 billion euros ($3.41 billion), both down slightly from 2015, due to lower reimbursements for its services.