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Friday, 25 September 2015

An elevated mancave: The Skysphere

Jono Williams is an enterprising Graphics Designer and Plastics Engineer in New Zealand. He's just built a comfortable and innovative dwelling with solar power and facilities run by mobile phone apps positioned on top of an iron column. It's an idea that's catching on....

Tocardo and Huisman install tidal energy plant in Dutch Eastern Scheldt

Tidal turbine manufacturer Tocardo Tidal Turbines and manufacturing company Huisman have installed five tidal turbines in the Eastern Scheldt storm surge barrier to generate clean energy.

Thursday, 24 September 2015

A Tidal Energy Fence for Bristol

Several months ago Kepler Energy announced it was bringing forward plans for a 30 megawatt (MW) tidal energy fence which will ultimately be located in the Bristol Channel. The plan is for it to be deployed in the stretch of water between Aberthaw and Minehead and it could be operational by 2021, subject to planning approval and financing.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

The government's nuclear lies exposed

This first appeared in The Ecologist

By Oliver Tickell

The UK government and its Chancellor George Osborne are grossly misleading the public over the relative costs of renewable energy and nuclear power, writes Oliver Tickell. Osborne's claim that nuclear is the 'cheapest low carbon technology' is the very reverse of the truth. He and his nuclear plans must be stopped.

There's no doubt about it. The Government is spreading untruths about the price of renewable energy.
Is it deliberate? One can only assume so owing to the consistency of the pattern and the equally consistent refusal to explain or correct its misleading statements.

The context is also significant: it's always in the context of supporting nuclear power over renewable energy sources.

One example came a few weeks ago when the Chancellor told the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee in their 'annual evidence session' that the agreed 'strike price' of £92.50 per MWh (in 2012 money, RPI indexed) is "substantially cheaper than other low-carbon technology like offshore wind or onshore wind."

This statement is palpably untrue. After RPI indexation £92.50 is actually £96.24 today's money. Onshore wind and ground-based solar projects have bid for 'contracts for difference' (the main current support mechanism) and been awarded them at a price of around £80 per MWh.

Hello?? Is anyone at home?
 Pressed on the justification for the claim the Treasury issued a statement: "Nuclear energy is an important part of the UK's energy mix as we move towards a low carbon future. It is also the cheapest low carbon technology that can reliably generate electricity at such a large scale."
Was this a genuine retraction or correction? No. Did the Treasury contact the Lords Commitee to correct any false impression given to its noble members? We asked, but received no reply. Did anyone care? Apparently not.

Because on Monday George Osborne made a very similar claim when accouncing a £2 billion finance guarantee for planned Hinkley C nuclear plant: "Nuclear power is cost competitive with other low carbon technology and is a crucial part of our energy mix, along with new sources of power such as shale gas."

Come again? "Nuclear power is cost competitive with other low carbon technology". Alright, so it might be cost-competitive with some low carbon technologies - but only the more expensive ones like offshore wind. But it clearly is not competitive with either onshore wind or field scale solar PV.
So back to the Treasury. What is the justification for the claim? Another statement: "A new generation of nuclear power stations is a key part of our future low carbon energy mix providing safe, reliable and affordable energy for the future. As one of the cheaper forms of low carbon electricity, new nuclear will have a key role meeting our goal to cut carbon emissions."
So now nuclear is "one of the the cheaper forms of low carbon electricity" - a somewhat weaker claim. But equally untrue. It is no such thing.

It's a whole lot worse than you think
Take that figure of £80 per MWh for the bids to build onshore wind farms in the UK earlier this year. It's actually a whole lot higher than it should be, for reasons set out in June by Andrew ZP Smith of UCL.

In Germany, wind farms are being built for between £36 and £79 per MWh, although the UK is much windier, providing - in principle - much cheaper power. So why does it cost more here? Because the UK's unfavourable policy environment is putting off investors and forcing them to seek higher returns:

"Many years of policy uncertainty and persistent meddling with the revenue schemes presents higher risks to investors. Planning regulations in England and Wales have created further uncertainty, with unpredictable local decisions. Often, rulings will be reversed on appeal, only for the energy secretary to step and reject the application. Investors, faced with higher risk, will require higher rewards ...
"Even more significantly, investors in wind farm supply chains can choose to locate instead in jurisdictions which offer far greater long-term clarity and security. This is why both Denmark and Germany have strong wind supply chains, and Britain's is still nascent."

With a committed and supportive government, onshore wind prices should drop well below the German level - in the region of £30 to £60 per MWh - making the lowest cost wind directly competitive in the wholesale power market, where current prices average just below £40.
This is broadly in line with the findings of IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency, whose UK-specific calculation (page 42) indicates a raw cost of about £55 per MWh for UK wind. That rises to £80 with the additional costs of managing intermittency and grid integration at a penetration level of 30-40%. "For lower shares", IRENA notes, "integration costs would be much less."

Nuclear power, by contrast, 'socialises' its considerable integration costs onto the grid as a whole. For Hinkley C this will require the commissioning of a full 3.2GW of spinning reserve in case the whole power station suddenly drops out - something nuclear stations are prone to do.

The forgotten dimension: time
But the biggest fiddle the Treasury is trying to pull on us is in the fourth dimension - time. EDF recently announced that it will be unable to complete Hinkley C in 2023 as planned, and has given no new target date. Let's assume a completion year of 2025 - bearing in mind that it could well take until 2030 given the abysmal example of other EPR sites in France and Finland.
So we should not be comparing Hinkley C's £96.28 per MWh cost in today's money against today's renewable power prices. We should be looking at renewables prices in 2025 and through the full 35 years of its CFD period to 2060.

As far as solar power is concerned, the UK's Solar Trade Association believes that UK solar generation can be fully cost competitive with fossil fuels, with no subsidy at all, by 2020.
According to its Solar Independence Plan, domestic rooftop solar installations could, by 2020, be as cheap as buying power off the grid, while large solar farms will compete directly on wholesale power markets. All with no subsidy at all. And after 2020 as the scale of worldwide solar deployment keeps on increasing, the cost will only continue to plummet.

With onshore wind, prices will also continue to fall, but less dramatically. For example BVG Associates estimate a 5-6% price fall from 2014 levels by 2025.
As for offshore wind, BVG estimate that prices will drop to about 73% of current levels by 2025. Offshore wind prices in the last CFD auction in February were between £114 and £120 per MWh. And 73% of that means prices of £83.22 to £87.60 by 2025 - considerably less than Hinkley C's £96.24.

The way is renewable!
So the four main sources of renewable energy that the UK can quickly bring on stream - onshore and offshore wind, domestic and field-scale solar - are all going to be much cheaper than nuclear power by 2025, and some will even be undercutting fossil fuels as well. While Hinkley C - if it is ever built - will be forcing its overpriced power on UK energy consumers for another 35 years.
Nuclear power benefits from government largesse in another ways too. Hinkley C is being promised a 35-year CFD contract when renewable technologies get just 15 years. It's also getting £17 billion in Treasury guarantees for bondholders in the project. Renewable energy financiers get none.
What does all this add up to? The government, its Treasury department, its Chancellor George Osborne and its energy department, DECC, are grossly and presumably knowingly misrepresenting the relative costs of renewable energy and nuclear power.

And it's all part of plan to force upon us a new generation of hyper-expensive nuclear power plants that will cost energy users through the nose until 2060 and beyond, putting the country on a 'back to the future' path to the 1950's, while wiser nations reap the benefits of cheap, clean renewable energy.

They must be stopped. And shame upon them!

Thursday, 17 September 2015

The solar powered sea slug

The really interesting thing about the Leaf Sheep, and certain other sea slugs, is that it has the ability to steal photosynthesizing chloroplasts from the algae it eats in order to generate energy, a process called kleptoplasty.

The Most Exciting Power Market in The World – An Interview With Bob Smith of Mytrah Energy

Independent power producer Mytrah Energy was formed in 2010 with its main focus specifically on India, aiming to develop 5000 MW of renewable power. It is already enjoying a competitive advantage in the country with 120 wind turbines already in operation and a large ‘shovel ready’ project pipeline.

New global analysis reveals extent of trend to cleaner energy

Latin American and European cities are the least reliant on fossil fuels to power their electricity, new analysis of major cities around the world by the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) and AECOM has found.

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

Thursday, 10 September 2015

"Exploding the German coal myth – Is Germany really developing more coal power stations?"

Let's have no more of this nonsense about Germany building new coal plants

It’s a popular tale, regularly pounced upon by critics of renewable energy, and it goes something like this: Germany is having to construct more coal-fuelled power stations in order to balance power as the country’s ‘energy transition’ (energiewende) advances. However, is this entirely accurate?

POD Idladla: South Africa’s solar powered nano-home

Pod Idladla is a modular, prefabricated nano-home designed and manufactured in South Africa by architect Clara da Cruz Almeida (concept and architectural design) and product design company Dokter and Misses (interior and product design).

Thursday, 3 September 2015

Renewable Energy: The Australian Experience

“The RET was working brilliantly until Tony Abbott realised renewables were undermining the profits of the coal-fired generators and that’s why he decided to smash it. He’s removed all certainty from the renewable energy sector and handed it over to his mates in the fossil fuel sector.”
- Australian Green Party Leader, Senator Christine Milne

Advancing the Solar Revolution: An interview with Assaad Razzouk

In an article for Eco-Business this week, the Group Chief Executive for Sindicatum Sustainable Resources, Assaad Razzouk, argued that the recent proposed cuts in solar energy subsidies announced by the UK government would in fact speed up the clean energy revolution, rather than destroying it. In an invigorating and very thought-provoking interview, Renewable Energy Magazine (REM) talked to Mr Razzouk via Skype to hear what he had to say. 

Assaad Razzouk is the Group Chief Executive Officer of Sindicatum Sustainable Resources     . He is also an award-winning developer, owner and operator of clean energy projects worldwide and a producer of sustainable resources from natural products and waste. Mr Razzouk additionally founded the Sana Gallery in Singapore, the first Middle Eastern contemporary art gallery in South East Asia, is affiliated with the Middle East Institute in Washington DC as an Expert at the Middle East-Asia Project, serves on the Advisory Board of the Hong Kong-based Association for Sustainable & Responsible Investment in Asia (ASrIA), is a Board Member of the Climate Markets & Investment Association and is an independent Board Member of Cedrus Invest Bank s.a.l.

Mr Razzouk was also an investment banker at Nomura International PLC in London from 1993 to 2002, where he was successively Head of the Middle East Group (1993-1997), Head of Corporate Finance – Emerging Markets (1997-1999), Head of Corporate Finance – Financial Institutions, Communications and Technology (1999-2001) and Deputy Head, Global Corporate Finance (2001-2002)

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

The Climate Change Movement Has Failed - Assaad Razzouk

In his captivating talk Assaad, a clean energy entrepreneur, evaluates climate change as a movement, and suggests why risks associated with climate change needs to be incorporated into asset pricing.

Assaad is the Chief Executive of a global sustainable resource developer and operator, Sindicatum Sustainable Resources and a leading international voice on climate change policy. Believing the current climate change movement to have failed, he has become a leading campaigner for decarbonisation and international responsibility for the environment, proposing new ways to tackle the critical issues we face.

Energy & Environment Dates 2012