Category Archives: Energy

Natalie Bennett’s Address in Derby 24th September 2013

Natalie Bennett DerbySpeaking to a well attended audience in Derby, Natalie Bennett catalogued the inadequacy of the Labour Party’s response to a range of political issues that are affecting people’s lives.  Contrasting the reality of fuel poverty that is becoming a reality for a growing number of people with the huge profits being made by the big energy companies, she condemned Labours proposal for a two year price freeze as inadequate.

‘After two years, then what?’ she asked. ‘The Green Party proposes a national energy conservation programme funded by the Government.  This will lead to permanently reduced energy bills and to lower carbon emissions.  The insulation programme will create sustainable jobs, taking people out of fuel poverty and off benefit.’ 

‘Labour want to see the minimum wage enforced.’ She said.  ‘We know that people cannot hope to manage on a minimum wage, that is why we want to see it raised to a Living Wage, that enables people to meet their necessary weekly costs.  This policy is supported by 70% of people.

‘Labour have no commitment to re-nationalise the railways to ensure that investment goes where it is needed to build a system that meets demand.  This is Green policy and it is supported by 75% of people.

‘Greens support a publicly funded NHS free at the point of delivery.  Labour has made no commitment to reverse the coalition policy of sell-off of the NHS.  ‘‘Labour is backing fracking, ignoring that we must leave half of all known reserves of fossil fuels in the ground to prevent catastrophic climate change.’

Natalie went on to criticise the economic strategy of the three big parties.  There was she said no evidence of fundamental change in economic strategy from any of them.  They were all supporting the creation of a low wage economy that was only possible with the availability of cheap fossil fuels.  This she explained allowed cheap food and goods to be transported to this country, pricing local production out of the market.  ‘This failed economic strategy has left half a million people in this country, the sixth richest in the world, dependent on food banks.’

She reminded the meeting about the causes of the economic crisis.  ‘The bail out of the banks took huge amounts of public money.  Yet the banks were bailed out with no guarantees that they would reform their activities, stop high risk investments and end the bonus culture.  If the economic strategy proposed by the Green Party in 2010 had been implemented, we would now be seeing investment by the banks in sustainable projects that the country needs, creating long term employment to get and keep people in work and off benefit.’

‘We now need to ‘re-localise’ the economy.’  She said that this process had to be accompanied by the restoration of local political power that could rebalance the economy away from London and the south east.  As evidence of this unbalanced economy she told the meeting that there were a million empty homes in the UK yet there was also a housing shortage.  The power of big corporations was concentrating work in the areas that suit themselves having no regard to where people now live.  As a result these economic hot spots drag people in but do not provide the facilities that workers need, hence a chronic shortage of affordable housing.

‘We need thought out regional development strategies that address both economic and social needs, backed with the necessary political power to deliver those strategies.’

‘With rising transport costs and rising wages in the developing world, we are now seeing a ‘re-shoring’ in production, with companies starting to bring production back to the UK.  This offers great opportunities but we must have the economic and political structures in place to ensure that business properly pays its way.’  Natalie explained that with a clear political determination, big business could be made to address and pay for its impact on the environment and society.  ‘Greens on Bristol Council have helped to bring in a supermarket levy that collects 8% of turnover to reflect the damaging consequences of supermarkets.  This money is ploughed back in to local small business.’

Flanked by the five East Midland European candidates, Natalie concluded with a review of  the Green Party’s electoral prospects.  ‘We are now a Parliamentary Party.  This has been very important in lifting our national profile.  Latest opinion polls are placing the Greens on 12% and show a clear growth in support, by contrast the Liberal Democrats are now on 10% with their support fading.  With our level of support we could have six MEPs, including one here in the East Midlands.’  Natalie said that recent events had shown that the public were turning away from the three main parliamentary parties and looking to the smaller parties to express a dissatisfaction with traditional politics.  ‘We know that a growing number of people are coming to support Green policy.  Our challenge is to get people to vote for what they believe in, because what they believe in is increasingly Green Party policy.’

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Top Ten Reasons to say NO to Fracking

balcombe-fracking

Photo from Brighton and Hove Green Party website

The Green Party is the only Party standing against Fracking.

John Youatt is a member of Derbyshire Green Party and a retired planner and former minerals officer.  He stood in the Derbyshire County Council elections.  He pledged to fight any proposal to approve fracking for gas, which he believes is against the interests of the people of Derbyshire and of our planet.

John has stated ten good reasons why fracking is not the way forward:

  1. It adds to carbon poisoning of the atmosphere globally in breach of EU and UK commitments
  2. Diverts from investment in renewables and breaches the coalition agreement on renewables
  3. Will leak methane CH4 into the atmosphere 30 times more deadly than CO2
  4. Poisons ground waters with undeclared chemicals
  5. Is economically unproven
  6. Demands water resources we don’t have
  7. Generates lorry movements that have not been quantified
  8. Will if carried through destroy thousands of acres of landscape and wildlife
  9. What public support there is is based on mis-information from media and Government that is too close to the industry
  10. Will reduce house prices around every site proposed by far more than the fudged offer of compensation

GIVE A FIRM “NO” TO FRACKING – Please help by signing the Green Party petition http://my.greenparty.org.uk/civicrm/petition/sign?sid=3

Photo is from Brighton and Hove Green Party www.brightonhovegreens.org/news/

Brussels Biofuels Debate coming to a Head

Steven Roddy blogged on the RSPB website that “The next few months will be crucial as the European Union debates a change to EU biofuels law. We know how to fix this problem in a way that will stop the harm being done to nature and the climate, while still allowing innovative industries to bring new, genuinely beneficial, technologies to the market.”

The Green Party has been saying this all along.  Jean Lambert commented on the Climate and energy package back in 2009: Jean pointing 501234567“The adoption this week of the new climate and energy package has been hailed as ‘historic’ by some, but it remains to be seen how history will judge this week’s vote. … I sincerely believe that if it were not for the very strong presence of Green MEPs in the intense negotiation process the package may have completely derailed and the outcomes would have been much weaker.”

On 10 March 2013, Molly Scott Cato, the Green Party’s top candidate for the south-west in the 2014 European Elections stated  “The decision by MPs to continue to offer subsidies to crops that can be burned in power stations to create electricity is quite irrational and will cause more environmental harm than good.  … The fundamental problem arises because the government is allowing subsidies for industrial scale burning of biofuels, yet setting a low rate for the Feed in Tariff for new domestic and small-scale generators. This encourages the global market in biofuels rather than supporting local community renewables development.  Read more here:   http://southwest.greenparty.org.uk/news.html/2013/03/10/biofuel-subsidies-irrational-top-euro-green/

Why do Greens oppose biofuels?  In order to satisfy the world’s insatiable demand for fuel in the face of declining oil output and rising oil prices, huge areas of land are being turned over to growing fuel crops.  It is simply not possible to meet current demand for fuel oil with biofuels – there isn’t enough land.  Growing fuel crops in the absence of a determined push to reduce fuel use can only lead to biofuels being used as well as oil, leading to greater carbon emissions. 

Biofuels 800px-Greenpeace_biodiesel_demonstrationThe growing demand for biofuels is leading to massive clearances of land including tropical rain forest, as is currently happening in Indonesia, resulting in the choking smogs of Singapore.  These clearances will lead to the total destruction of rainforest unless strong action is taken.  With rising demand and high profits to be earned, we cannot hope for sufficient strong action to protect this vital ecosystem. 

Sugarcane mechanized harvest operationIn addition thousands of small farmers, the mainstay of local food production, are being forced off the land to make way for industrial scale biofuel plantations.  This will lead directly to the collapse of local food markets and therefore yet more hunger.  Diverting land from food to fuel is simply wrong and is leading to rising global food prices.  This leads to big profits for food companies and starvation for millions. 

A final objection to biofuels is that, on the back of the drive for more fuel crops rides a drive to use GM crops.  This is happening in Argentina, where the Government has been persuaded to embrace GM technology and in its drive to get into the biofuel market.  GM crops will become established in global agriculture, contaminating the whole human food chain with completely unknown consequences.  We also suspect that the biggest drive to develop biofuels is coming from the military, who fully understand the consequences of peak oil.

Every year the UK burns enough food crops in our cars to feed 15 million people. Following action from the IF campaign, for the first time ever, land grabs were put on the G8 agenda. Trial partnerships with a small number of developing countries were also agreed, which show progress towards preventing land grabs that leave poor people hungry. Development Minister Justine Greening also spoke for the first time about biofuels affecting food security.

459px-Rape-seed-field

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds say – “Using food for fuel when millions of people are starving is wrong. But it’s not just people who are suffering because of the global demand for biofuels, nature is too.  What you may not realise is that the UK’s landscape is also changing and our green and pleasant land is becoming covered in ever more yellow rape-seed oil.”

How you can help – A key parliamentary committee, the Environment Committee, will be voting on the biofuels issue on Wednesday 10th July.  The RSPB are asking people to email or write to their MEPs about these concerns.  Read more and take action on the RSPB Community website: http://clicks.dbgi.co.uk/DC/ctr.aspx?6C6164=31393033303233&736272=$$EfwYGGq81T08EEE&747970=6874&66=30

Fair is Worth Fighting ForGreen policy does recognise that biofuels can play a limited part in the supply of liquid fuels in a post oil world, but they must be from either certifiable sustainable crops grown close to the point of use, or be from non-recyclable waste. 

Green SoundBite – Say No to Fracking

New SoundBites

Ministers are hoping to speed up Britain’s shale gas “revolution” by taking away powers from local councils to decide on controversial fracking projects.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/energy/gas/9744917/Local-councils-to-be-stripped-of-right-to-decide-on-fracking.html

People’s Assembly Against Austerity

PA CropThe Tories have unleashed the biggest assault on ordinary people for generations. It needs to be met head-on. The People’s Assembly Against Austerity is a key opportunity to bring together all those who want to stop the cuts and the ­devastation they are bringing to millions of people in the UK, and to launch the next steps in the fightback.

The People’s Assembly Against Austerity was launched with a letter to the Guardian on February 28th 2012.  Two of the initial signatories were Caroline Lucas MP and Natalie Bennett. 

The Green Party had voted at their conference in February to support the event and agreed to send a delegation to the People’s Assembly and to  encourage local parties, regional federations and other GP bodies to also send delegations and to support future local People’s Assemblies.

People’s Assembly Against Austerity – Saturday June 22nd 

GeneralThis gathering is going to be a huge expression of opposition to “austerity” and privatisation involving all the main Trade Unions, local Trades Union Councils, local and national anti-cuts groups, campaign groups focused on NHS, Education, Housing, the People’s Charter, Coalition of Resistance and the Green Party.  Most of the policies that the People’s Assembly are advancing are Green Party policies

Derby People’s Assembly – A new local “networking” group has been formed in Derby made up of individuals and people representing local groups concerned with issues such as Climate Change, Taxation, NHS etc.  Two Green Party Members attended the initial meeting.  The aim of the meeting was twofold: to publicise the national gathering in London on 22nd June and to arrange a follow up event in Derby in the Autumn. 

Transport has been arranged for those who would like to attend the London event.  See our events page for details.  A Facebook page has been established (https://www.facebook.com/groups/143367235856170/?fref=ts ) and a blog and website will also be set up 

The time has come for us, the People, to make our voice heard. We are a democracy.  We must demand that the Government uses the power and money we give it to serve our interests, and not just those of the wealthy vested interests that are controlling politics.  Austerity will never succeed because the economic crisis was not caused by public spending. We must demand that the government we elected adopts policies that address the causes of the financial crisis.  We must demand that they invest in our future to build a sustainable economy.  We must make it clear that if this Government will not listen to us, we will elect one that will.

Living with Fracking

First, the exploratory site …Fracking 1http://www.eaem.co.uk

... which will also work at night …Fracking 2http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures

Then there will be a need for more equipment as fracking starts – pumps, compressors, pipes,stores for fracking chemicals, drilling pipes …Fracking 3

https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images

… and somewhere to store the waste frack-chemicals …Fracking 4

http://www.savingwater.co.za

Then, if the field is commercial, many more interlinked sites … To produce as much gas as a large North Sea field would require thousands of wells, covering hundreds of square miles of countrysideFracking 5

www.permacwww.permaculture.co.uk

… connected by pipes…Fracking 6

http://www.entrepreneur.com/dbimages

… to compressor stations…Fracking 7

http://www.encana.com

… to be piped across the countryside …Fracking 8

http://www.marcellus-shale.us/images/

… and sometimes, things go wrongFracking 9

http://www.earthtribe.co

 

ALL GREEN PARTY CANDIDATES IN DERBYSHIRE

OPPOSE FRACKING

 

Nuclear Power is Not the Answer

Cloud_over_Sellafield_(non_radioactive)_-_geograph.org.uk_-_335287I am very concerned about the problem of the storage of nuclear waste.  The government wants to build new nuclear power stations. If their plan succeeds, it will be at the cost of blocking the real solutions to climate change and a reliable future energy supply. It will also result in the continued production of dangerous nuclear waste and an increased risk from terrorism, radioactive accident and nuclear proliferation.

Some environmentalists, faced with the urgent need to combat climate change, have reluctantly decided that nuclear power will have to be part of the energy mix.  However, climate change itself also threatens the safety of nuclear power stations; many reactors are built on coastal sites vulnerable to the impacts of sea level rise, including flooding and erosion.

I am pleased that Cumbria County Council’s Cabinet decided on 30th January 2013 that West Cumbria should no longer be considered as a potential location for a deep geological repository. However, the problem of what to do with radioactive waste already in storage will not go away.

One of the fundamental problems of nuclear power is the hazard posed by the radioactive materials it produces. No one can guarantee that this highly radioactive waste won’t leak back into the environment, contaminating water supplies and the food chain.

To me, the government’s plans to allow ten new reactors to be built are shortsighted to say the least.  This would add threefold to the amount of highly radioactive waste we already have to deal with.

The nuclear industry is hugely expensive. The construction and generating costs of nuclear power are greater than most renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. Added to these are the costs associated with dismantling nuclear stations and waste disposal.

Green Party policy is that nuclear power should be phased out and we should not consider building new plants.

This quote from Clean Technica sums up my view:  “Essentially, renewable clean energy technologies are a better choice than nuclear in every way. They are cheaper, faster to build, don’t create radioactive waste, aren’t as susceptible to environmental disasters, don’t require the same level of safety measures, and have far more public support. At current rates of growth, renewables are predicted to generate more electricity in the UK than nuclear by 2018, and expected to power 1 in every 10 homes in the UK by 2015.”

This is a much more encouraging picture than we are led to believe by the government.  They want us to believe that we cannot do without nuclear power.  It is ironic that the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has the responsibility for the legacy of decommissioning nuclear reactors, roughly £1billion per reactor (averaged international figures). The expenditure on decommissioning in 2012-13 is £1.5 billion which is 42% of DECC’s budget.

The Department for Energy and Climate Change is, of course, having its budget cut by Chancellor George Osborne, and it, in turn, has cut funding to a range of energy conservation and renewable energy schemes.  This is the legacy of nuclear power; every year from now to eternity, the government of these islands, whether Green, Red, Yellow, Blue, Purple or Pink, will have to find funds to safeguard the legacy of the long-ago nuclear power programmes.  This is why I believe the Green Party’s policy to phase out the use of nuclear energy makes sense.

© Jean Macdonald

Information taken from: 

Green Party Policy         http://greenparty.org.uk/policies.html

Greenpeace                   http://www.greenpeace.org.uk/nuclear/problems

Clean Technica                  http://cleantechnica.com/2013/02/14/new-nuclear-power-in-the-uk-looking-increasingly-unlikely/#GXJY9Zi7HREGT86c.99

 

 

Wind Farms – Adam Smith gets wind wrong, say Greens

Fornybar_energiA concerted campaign against wind energy is being conducted in some sections of the press, orchestrated by those with links to fossil fuel interests. It should be of concern to all consumers of energy. The claims made against wind energy are typically distorted or plain wrong. However as a result, potential investors are put off the UK because of what they perceive as a hostile public coupled with a lack of Government support.

The public at large are not hostile, as evidenced by polls.

An example of this campaign has just appeared in the form of a report published here by the right wing Adam Smith Institute and written by the oil financed Reason Foundation in America. This report, “The Limits of Wind Power”, tries to warn off investment in wind as a poor option. It claims that the practical upper limit for wind generation is 10% of electricity supply. Yet Germany, Europe’s most successful industrial economy, already generates 15% of its electricity from wind and is aiming for 20% by 2020.

The report says that supporters of wind claim that wind can power the entire grid. No such claim has ever been made – except by the anti-wind lobby, so that they can knock it down.

Their argument that the wind doesn’t always blow only stands up within a limited geographic area. Across the UK the wind almost always blows somewhere. If proper investment was put into a European wide grid, then wind-generated electricity would continually feed in.

The report also says that storage is an ‘expensive problem’.  It isn’t, it’s an issue. CEGB invested heavily in pumped power storage – originally for nuclear back up! (Dinorwig, N. Wales, now a commercial unit).  The impressive “Pumped Storage” system at Dinorwig and a smaller one at Ffestiniog  are still working well; see their website:  http://www.fhc.co.uk/index.asp  There are many possible solutions for storage, including millions of vehicle batteries when we go electric; pumped air; hydrogen from water; and night storage heaters.

Supporters of renewables do not want any one technology to dominate supply. They want to minimise the risk of interruptions of supply due to technical failure in one system, or some disruption to a fuel supply – as we have witnessed in recent history with both coal and oil.

If the vast waste of money on nuclear power, which is swallowing up billions of pounds in waste treatment and disposal, had been invested in renewable energy systems, Britain would now be a world leader in this much sought after technology. It is essential that the Government resists the lobbying of the fossil fuel and nuclear vested interests and puts its full support behind renewables that can deliver to us all a secure and sustainable energy supply.

Based on a letter to the press by John Youatt Hon Sec Derbyshire Green Party http://www.derbyshiregreenparty.org.uk

Renewables in Derbyshire

600px-Community_turbine_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1234697

This article is based mainly on Sustainable Youlgrave (SY) in the Peak Park www.sustainableyoulgrave.org

Summary: main points arising from Sustainable Youlgrave research and practice

  • All property owners or managers (homes, schools, factories, farms) with a suitable south roof or ground space should consider solar panels for electricity or hot water – paybacks are around 8%: or rent the space
  • Many properties especially farms should consider a wind turbine from 5 to 50 KW
  • Many properties should consider air source or ground source heat pumps: government is about to pay for renewable heat
  • After the Christmas rush, it’s a good time to consider a log, chip or pellet burner for room heat / back boiler

Government   There is a constant struggle within the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), and between it and the Treasury and the far right. Climate doubters occupy senior posts in DECC (Ed Milliband’s creation). The Energy Bill is good in parts. The new Green Bank is investing for example in anaerobic digestion (AD), but it seems is only interested so far in big projects. Green loans are on the property not the person, so there is uncertainty regarding the risk, making house moves more difficult, coupled with fear that the repayments might evaporate. The renewables industry and the CBI are seriously unhappy at the deliberate discouragement of renewables (eg the FITS and insulation fiascos). ‘The Carbon Bubble’ explains why renewables are discouraged in many ways, blatantly and surreptitiously.

Peak Park –  Recent cases suggest that its policies and practice continue to give more weight to short term landscape protection than saving the planet. It’s still resisting modest wind turbines and anything but on-farm waste processing for energy by anaerobic digestion (AD). Development plan policies are being reviewed, but so far there is no sign of relaxation. Without that, there is no point in encouraging medium sized wind turbines or mixed waste AD

Biomass – anaerobic digestion (AD)   Sustainable Youlgrave’s £50k study majored on a 20 farm AD plant at Friden that is in limbo, because of the Park’s intransigence.  We note that Derbyshire County Council (DCC) has recorded the need to treat biomass as a resource, not a waste. Taking our lead from the authorities, the best prospects are a farm-based AD plant and a small plant for the village, currently being researched.

Biomass – wood   Sustainable Youlgrave didn’t have the resources to develop a sustainable wood chain and the use of wood in small combined heat and power plants (CHP). A CHP plant would qualify for the recently announced heat incentive – see below. Sales of wood burning room heaters and boilers are still rising. A CHP plant could be appropriate for the eight new social houses at Conksbury, but the capital funding doesn’t allow for renewables. They have to be self funding, with the help of feed-in tariffs and renewables certificates. Deliberately over complicated?

Air and ground source heat pumping (ASHP & GSHP) – Both qualify for the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). Installations after July 2009 can qualify. RHI will (later this year) pay a few pence for each kW generated. A two-unit  ASHP plant is being installed at a large house in Middleton, making it the 4th in our valley.

Solar – feed in tariffs (FITs) – Some in the industry insist that all is well, but the FIT has been reduced more than the costs have fallen. The infant industry has survived the earlier fiasco, but the earlier enthusiasm has taken a knock. Any house with a suitable roof or garden space should seriously consider up to 16 panels = 4kW.  All public buildings should be economically viable – perhaps on the rent-a-roof basis, in which no capital is needed. On my travels I see a few bigger installations on farm roofs and in fields. Perhaps the 40 farms on our database should be canvassed, and public building owners reminded? Any farm or factory with big modern buildings should seriously consider investing.

Wind  – There’s a test case for 2 no. 50 kW (60ft, tree height) windmills at the Peak’s biggest dairy farm, at Parwich, to meet the farm’s needs only. The Park’s CEO spoke in favour of machines up to 50kW on radio. Many influential members didn’t agree, but the excellent news is that the turbines were approved – on the chairman’s casting vote! There are a dozen farms in Sustainable Youlgrave’s area that would justify smaller machines (5 to 20 kW). Any farm with wind above 4m per second should seriously consider investing.

Conclusion – I suppose the political message is that the Lib Dems have failed dismally to deliver the renewables commitment in the Coalition Agreement. It will all continue to be kicked around in the shrubbery until the next election. Our best hopes for change are a Green MEP for our region and, probably, a Lab/Lib coalition, with room in its hearts and minds for advice from Green and green-minded MPs.

© John Youatt for SY December 2012: for DGP February 2013

Please add any local experience or national insights and send to john@youatt.co.uk

and to www.voteforpolicies.org.uk      count @ 3rd feb ….282

Or go to SY’s preferred contractor www.therenewableshop.com or other suppliers

Can renewables meet the UK’s energy demand?

 

Those who are heavily exposed to the Carbon sector are running scared of renewables.  They put out propaganda to say that renewables cannot meet our needs, their favourite target being wind energy.  ‘What happens when the wind doesn’t blow?’ If the wind doesn’t blow, it means that the sun has gone out and the atmosphere has disappeared.  The wind always blows somewhere, a wind-powered grid would be interconnected over a large geographic area, it would also be backed up be other renewable sources such as tidal, solar, biomass and a range of new technologies that, with proper investment, will come available.  We only need nuclear if you want to keep nuclear weapons, we only need coal and oil to protect the financial sector.

A number of studies have shown that the UK could obtain 100% of its electricity from renewable sources.  One such report was by Price Waterhouse Coopers, called ‘100% Renewable Electricity, a roadmap to 2050 for Europe and North Africa’.   [http://www.pwc.co.uk/assets/pdf/100-percent-renewable-electricity.pdf

This report has shown that the electricity supply system of Europe and North Africa can be developed to one that is 100% renewable by 2050 if the right policy framework is put in place today to drive activity in the coming decades, and without nuclear power.  The report concludes that this transition would be invisible to consumers as it should be possible to deliver it without any changes in lifestyle being required or any changes from today’s levels of power reliability.  As we have seen over the Feed in Tariff, this government isn’t prepared to put the right policy framework in place.

Another report by the Centre for Alternative Technology called Zero Carbon Britain, [www.zerocarbonbritain.com ] goes further and shows that the whole energy sector can be de-carbonised, including transport fuels and agriculture.  This would require some changes to lifestyle but it would lead to no reduction to overall well being or quality of life.  If we fail to decarbonise we will experience significant changes to our lifestyle as well as diminished well being and quality of life.  This would be due to the volatility in the carbon market leading to price escalations and scarcities, and to the impact of climate change.
The UK is fortunate in having ample renewable resources.  If developed these could give us energy security from a diverse mix so that we are never reliant on one technology or industry.

Renewable energy sources available in the UK include:

  • Off shore and on shore wind
  • Wave, tidal stream and tidal barrage
  • Biomass
  • Geothermal
  • Solar, thermal and electric
  • Novel sources, eg saline

Although not an energy source, energy efficiency measures and insulation can reduce overall demand, which greatly increases energy security.

UK current final energy demand is about 205GigaWatts (source: the Digest of UK Energy Statistics 2009).  That includes electricity, heat and transport.  With some sensible energy efficiency measures, it could be brought down to about 120GW.  For example, switching from petrol to electric cars would yield 20-25GW of energy savings.  Extensive buildings insulation could save another 25GW, [greater than the current contribution from the nuclear sector].

Renewable energy potential, UK

Wind

Wind energy is the major source of renewable energy in the UK.  By linking renewable generators across Europe with a High Voltage Direct Current transmission, variability in supply in any one region can be smoothed out.  The mean potential of offshore wind around the UK is about 2000GW.  We need to tap less than 10% of this potential.
Estimates for onshore wind vary from 35-120GW mean power.  The high figure is based on all suitable sited being used, which would create great opposition, a figure of between 35 and 50 GW would be more realistic.

Wave

We really don’t know what our technical wave resource is, because the technologies are still in their infancy. From what we know of energy in the waves, we may be able to harness anywhere in the range 5-65GW mean power.

Tidal stream

We don’t have a much clearer ideas about our tidal stream resource, either. Some say 5GW mean. Others put it at 40GW mean, with peaks at times up to 100GW.

Tidal barrage

The total for England & Wales is about 5.5GW mean power. That still leaves scope for more tidal barrages in Scotland that are yet to be unevaluated.  Barrages generate opposition because of the scale of the development and tidal stream developments may be preferred.  On some sites however, barrages may be considered as part of flood control, so would be duel purpose developments.

Biomass

Unlikely to be much above 10GW mean power, given we need to grow food.  Anaerobic digestion of organic waste could add to this figure and give valuable liquid fuels.

Geothermal

Not fully surveyed, estimates by the industry put our geothermal resource at about 4GW.

Solar thermal

Solar thermal could, with 10GW mean power, meet half our water-heating needs.

Solar electric

Our photovoltaic (PV) power potential is immense, but at present, it is an expensive way to get electricity. PV panels across 10% of the country (yes, that is a humungous area) would provide more energy each year than we demand, but most of the supply would be in the summer months, of course, whereas energy demand peaks in winter.
Summary

Offshore:                     200GW

Onshore:                      50                   conservative

Wave                             5                    minimum

Tidal Stream                 5                    minimum

Tidal Barrage                5                    England & Wales

Biomass                       10                  no food competition or use of waste to energy

Geothermal                    4

Solar thermal               10                   for heating

—–

total                             289GW

Current final demand   205GW

Reducible to:  120GW  with insulation, efficiency, electric transport

No figures available for:

  • Solar electric, immense potential but seasonal and currently expensive.
  • Saline: very early research stage,
  • Biomass waste: arguably should be used for compost
  • Algal biofuel: early R&D, environmental impact unknown
  • Hydro and micro-hydro, could be of regional importance, linked to water supply.

[Thanks to Andrew Smith at London Analytics for providing referenced figures.]

We have the renewable resource, it needs the Government to create the policy framework that will allow it to develop.  Until they have deflated the Carbon bubble, they will choose not do this and continue to claim that renewables can only make a limited contribution to our energy supply.

Mike Shipley

GREENS CONDEMN GOVERNMENT’S SHORT SIGHTEDNESS

Derbyshire Green Party Chair urges people to install solar panels before Government slashes Feed-In Tariff payment

David Foster, Chair of Derbyshire Green Party, has urged householders to install solar panels as soon as they can. Following newspaper reports and mistakenly leaked documents, it has become clear that the Government has plans to halve the Feed-In Tariffs for solar photovoltaic panels.

Currently people can claim 43 pence for every kilowatt of electricity they generate off their roof but the government now plans to cut this to around 21p from the beginning of December, with the possibility of even deeper cuts to follow.  The feed-in tariff scheme was introduced in April 2010 and has seen over 80,000 solar installations, the creation of more than 22,000 jobs and almost 4,000 new businesses.

David Foster  said,

“If people install solar panels now before the cut is due to take place in December then they will get the 43p rate for the next 25 years if they were to install them after that they would get less than half that.”

The Green Party claims that this cut will jeopardise currently planned free solar schemes for people unable to afford the upfront costs of solar panels as well as planned schemes for council properties. These are set up to be self-funding under current Feed-In Tariff arrangements but, the Greens say, they may no longer be so after the proposed cut.

Mr. Foster went on to say, “These cuts by the government are nonsensical. Over 25,000 people are employed in the solar industry and these cuts are a threat to these jobs.  The cost of the Feed-In Tariff is very small, less than 50p/year on the average fuel bill and a fraction of the cost of government subsidies of nuclear power stations.   As always, it is those on the lowest incomes who will suffer the most since they will be unable to participate in low-cost solar schemes.  As a result of this cut, it is now almost certain that the Coalition Government will miss the legally binding carbon reduction target for the UK set in the 2008 Climate Change Act.  This government’s claim to be the Greenest Government ever is looking increasingly hollow and lacking in substance.”

John Youatt, the Greens convener in Derbyshire Dales and a founder member of Sustainable Youlgrave said,

“No matter how many Ministers try to justify this cut to the renewable energy programme, it makes no sense either financially or environmentally. The Green Party is unable to understand the logic of this decision. By investing in renewable technologies, not only does the Coalition Government help combat climate change and create jobs, but also it gives Councils a further incentive to help the fuel poor as well as increasing local authority revenue. In my locality, we held a forum and people signed up for panels, but only because the rate was right at under 10 years pay back. At over 15years, people will not invest. “

The Least Green Government Ever?

At a time when the effects of climate change are beginning to hit home around the globe, and even the US Government is beginning to acknowledge its seriousness, it is unfortunate to say the least that the British public has elected such a climate sceptic Parliament. This is what the corporate owned popular media intended when they focused public attention on the economic crisis which, they lead people to believe, was caused by the Labour Government’s wasteful social and welfare policies and not on the irresponsible behaviour of the financial institutions. Corporate finance and big business is not interested in climate change, it does not see enough profit in it, it thinks that it can weather the storm and come out of the crisis in total control of the planet, its governments, and its remaining assets.

David Cameron has tried to mask the climate scepticism of his party by labeling his government ‘the greenest ever.’ Empty words we might suspect. The early actions of this ‘greenest government’ show the influence of scepticism and denial.  On taking office, it abolished the Sustainable Development Commission, even though this body was able to save government more than it cost. The Environment Agency is at risk, the Environmental Transformation Fund, which supports the development of low carbon technologies, has had its budget cut by 22% to £120 million. The Low Carbon Building Programme, which provided grants for renewable energy instalations, has been scrapped. A pledge to incorporate pioneer installers of solar power into the new Feed In Tarrifs [FIT’s] has been dumped. Energy Minister Charles Hendry has even hinted that the FIT payments will be slashed.

Not looking so green, but here’s todays victory for the deniers. The idea of scrapping the Department of Energy and Climate Change [Decc] is now being floated as a ‘cost saving’ measure. Decc provides the strategic overview of the UK’s commitments to both Climate Change and to renewable energy policy, ensuring that our international obligations are met. Already Decc has had its modest budget of £3.2 billion cut by £85 million. The irony is that half of its funding, £1.7 billion, goes to the decommissioning of nuclear facilities, a subsidy to the nuclear industry of which Chris Hune, LD Minister incharge, must be unaware, since he proclaims that a new generation of nuclear power stations can be built without subsidy.

So, the fledgling dedicated Department charged with preparing and implementing our countries response to the biggest crisis the world has faced since the ice sheets started advancing, must get by on £1.5 billion per year; and its very existence together with the Carbon Trust and the Energy Saving Trust, is under threat.

In response to this threat, Caroline Lucas said, “nobody who undestands the urgency and seriousness of the climate crisis could even contemplate decimating the department that leads the effort to deal with it.”  John Sauven, head of Greenpeace described the proposal as “sheer insanity.”

Just to put this £1.5 billion budget for implementing energy and climate policy into context, total Government spending for 2010 will be £661 billion. Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs is planning to write off £1.5 billion of tax revenue owed over the last 2 years. Reward the tax evaders, penalise the planet.

Gives some idea of the priorities of this ‘greenest government ever.’

The Price of Oil Addiction


This is the price we are paying for our near total dependence on oil.

Global consumption is approaching 86 million barrels per day, 2% up on 2009. Reserves are dwindling; new finds are becoming rare.  This is why the “Deepwater Horizon” exploration rig was drilling in mile deep water, stretching its technology to breaking point.

The ‘easy’ oil has gone.  Exploration and development has to turn to difficult and hazardous fields, some in politically unstable areas, others in ecologically sensitive areas.  Areas like the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico, or off the coast of Brazil in mile and a half deep water.  Off Newfoundland amid icebergs and storms.  In the Niger Delta where civil war threatens.  In Iraq.  All of this is a symptom of ‘peak oil’.

And what is the response of our politicians and economists?  Consume, increase demand, burn more in the relentless pursuit of profit and power.

And the price we pay for this madness?  More ecological and human disasters.  More wars over resources.  More release of Carbon dioxide driving climate change.  Higher global temperatures.  All bad news for the future, just so we can cling on to our convenient lifestyle for a few years longer, just so today’s politicians can cling to power.

It doesn’t have to be like this.

The Green Party has proposed a series of policies that can deliver a good life-style for all, that will not cost the Earth.

•    Invest in demand reduction, insulation and energy efficiency.
•    Invest in renewable energy.
•    Invest in reuse and recycling.

All of this will create sustainable jobs, will help build a sustainable economy that is not held to ransom by the oil-men.

Help end our addiction nightmare, help build a sustainable society.

Support the Greens!

Please download and distribute our leaflet

Create Jobs By Investing In Green Technology

The Green Party would create jobs by investing in green technology. It is instructive to compare the records of Britain and Germany in this area. When the Greens in Germany joined the coalition government, they forced through a series of measures on renewable energy including:

  • Support for research and development of renewable energy systems.
  • A feed-in-tariff [FIT] that guaranteed for 20 years the price of electricity sold to the grid
  • A commitment to close the nuclear power stations.
  • Business was required to source renewable power in preference to conventional power.
  • The FIT encouraged many small and domestic generators to invest in renewable systems.

As a result of all these measures Germany raised its renewable output from 6% in 2000 to 15% in 2010, exceeding this year’s European target of 12%. In that time the UK raised its renewable electricity generation from below 2% to 5% and is aiming for 15% by 2020.

Through its investment in R & D, Germany has created 300,000 jobs in the renewable sector, increasing employment in this sector by 8% through the recession. It is now investing heavily in photovoltaics and is aiming to become a world leader in this technology.

The UK’s more tentative investment strategy, determined as it is to protect and promote coal and nuclear power, created probably 70,000 jobs. There is not a wind turbine factory in the country, despite having the greatest wind resource in Europe. We have some centres of excellence, but these are likely to face budget cuts.

The main financial support mechanism for renewable electricity is the Renewable Obligation. This requires industry to source a proportion of its electricity from renewables. It guarantees an above market price to renewable generators. The UK has recently introduces a FIT scheme designed for small generators.

The Tories plan to scrap the Renewable Obligation. Although it is a complex scheme, the Green Party does not support scrapping it. The industry needs security of investment, and that includes knowing what price electricity will fetch during the investment life of a project, usually 20 years. Uncertainty stops investment. Better to maintain the commitment under the RO and phase in the FIT scheme for new developments while keeping the FIT commitment to small and domestic generators.

The Tories will expand nuclear power, following the policies produced by the big energy companies like EDF who want to invest in big ‘base load’ plant. They claim that the variable nature of renewables, they mean wind and solar only, makes these plants essential to guarantee supply in all climatic conditions.

The Green Party opposes nuclear. Base load can be provided by a combination of sustainable biomass, wave and tidal schemes. Also, we support the development of the trans-Europe High Voltage Direct Current grid to link solar arrays in North Africa, [bringing much needed revenue to the Saharan states], wind farms across Europe and Hydro-plant. This grid will supply base-load.

Couple the above strategy with efficiency, reduction in demand and insulation and we can do without nuclear with its long-term heritage of waste and inherent security risk, without fear that the lights will go out.

Note: the output of UK nuclear stations has increased in the last quarter to 20%, running above the contribution from coal for the first time. This is to enable the Government meet its carbon reduction targets with out actually doing anything, and adding strength to their [and the civil servants at the dept of Energys’] argument that we need nuclear power.

The Need For Wind Power On Matlock Moor

The moral imperative:  We need all the energy we can get — it will be a mixture. Anyone who expects the lights to come on at the flick of a switch has a moral duty to accept renewable energy in all but the most exceptional circumstances. There’s a government planning policy statement that says as much (PPS1 CC supplement)

Green Party policy #1:  Renewable energy is the most beneficial to the planet and the human race. Wind power is one of the lowest carbon sources; its ultra safe and it’s our own energy resource. The more wind energy, the less need for carbon rich sources and unsafe import-dependent nuclear energy, which isn’t low carbon. Storage is an issue that we’ve been slow to address but there are several technical solutions. The Green Party is urging massive investment in renewable energy. Renewable energy is part of the Green Party’s drive for a million green jobs (go to http://www.greenparty.org.uk/policies.html) selected quote:-

“A massive increase in the proportion of electricity that comes from renewable sources – raising wind energy production to the same level as Denmark by 2020 would alone create 200,000 jobs.”

Green Party policy #2: “Fair is worth fighting for”  It is essential that no-one in the local community suffers unfairly from these machines. Neighbours should be compensated appropriately within a fair and transparent system. The local community, whose local assets are being used, should benefit from a share in the venture, ideally through an opportunity to own or part own machines or by some other contribution.

Peak District National Park Authority: The Matlock turbines are not in specially protected countryside. I live in and used to work for the Peak National Park Authority. My LPA, the PDNPA, has now twice spent significant resources on objections to wind farms and even on a legal challenge. The basic case against wind farms inside the Park is that on entering and being in the Park, it should visibly be a special place. The converse surely applies. Once inside the Park and looking out, one should expect a difference. I believe it is inappropriate for the PDNPA to oppose wind farms outside the Park on the basis of distant views from a small area in the Park. It should learn from the Carsington decisions.

Local opinion: For the last 5 years I have worked for Sustainable Youlgrave (SY)*. The PDNPA urged SY to assess local support for SY’s proposals for a limited number of individual wind turbines. We agreed; and carried out opinion polls. A significant majority of those polled are in favour of wind turbines in our valley, even where seen from the interviewees’ homes. I’m aware of no such poll before resources were spent opposing the Carsington and Matlock installations.

by John Youatt, electoral agent for Cllr Josh Stockell, the Green Party parliamentary candidate for the Derbyshire Dales. (* SY is strictly apolitical. I resigned my chairmanship of SY on taking up a role for the Green Party)

Tory MP for West Derbyshire Opposes Wind Farm

In case anyone believes David Cameron’s greenwash, we suggest they take a look at the attached letter by Patrick McLoughlin MP, objecting to the proposed Carsington wind farm.

Patrick McLoughlin letter of objection 18th August 2009

Support the Green Party if you actually care about renewable energy!

Carsington Wind Project

The Derbyshire Times published a letter from John Riddall, a representative of the Ramblers Association, claiming the proposed wind farm at Carsington would destroy the peace and tranquillity that existed at Carsington reservoir.  He also went on to criticise the High Court for upholding the Planning Inspector’s grant of permission to go ahead with the scheme.  As the appeal could only be on points of law, apparently the correspondent was more knowledgeable on the law than the High Court! In response to that letter the DT has published our letter this week.

The Derbyshire Green Party objects to the narrow view John Riddall takes in his support of those opposing the turbines at Carsington  (hardly a ‘Wind Farm’). Carsington reservoir itself has made a far bigger and longer lasting change to the landscape than this relatively small wind project will do.

The “peace and tranquility” he refers to is news to us, as it must be to others.  Visitors are frequently subjected to the noise of bikers showing off the speed and power of their machines.  In addition the Visitor Centre attracts thousands of people who travel there by cars that create noise, danger and pollution on a scale that will dwarf anything created by the wind project.  All partly offset by the joy of sailing — and the sailors  won’t hear the turbines!

Carsington reservoir was built to provide for our ever-increasing consumption (and waste) of water.  Wind power is needed to meet our continuing demand for (and waste) of electricity. When we learn to live within what our island can provide on a truly sustainable basis, then we will find that wind and water power will again become essential to the maintenance of a lifestyle free of the drudgery experienced before the development of electricity.

Wind and Water Power in Derbyshire

It is right to draw attention to the possibilities of water power as a source of renewable energy. Both water and wind power have been used for millenia to take the manual labour out of simple tasks such as grinding. The suggestion that water power should be used before we resort to large windmills results from falling into the trap of failing to include figures in the argument.

If we take the example of Arkwright’s mill at Cromford: a visit there will show that the machines were powered with two water wheels that generated around 20 horse power. Arkwright soon ran out of power and moved round the corner to a weir on the Derwent where he built Masson Mill with a further two water wheels that generated around 30HP. Whilst these pioneers showed the way for the industrial revolution, it did not happen until steam engines where improved to the stage that they could generate substantially higher powers and for 150 years our energy came from coal, the start of the human cause of global warming.

The advent of electrical technology provided a more efficient way of converting energy and Masson Mills installed their first water turbine driven alternator of 100kW in the 1920s and added a further one of 160kW in the 1950s. They now have the ability to produce 260kW but are unable to do so on a continuous basis as there is not enough water in the Derwent. Nevertheless they continue to supply electricity to the grid as they have done for many years.

Let me put these power levels on a practical level: a modern car has an engine of 50 – 100 HP (37 – 75 kW) which is as much or more power than Arkwright had to run his two mills. A modern house will be wired to consume 25kW and if supplied with gas and a modest boiler to take another 20kW (a total of 60HP). Masson Mill’s alternators would perhaps be able to supply electricity for around 20 houses.

The generators proposed for Matlock Moor will be rated at 2,500kW each, a total of 12,500kW, eighty times the output of Masson Mill. An output that would be both difficult and very expensive to collect from all the rivers in Derbyshire. The choice is ours. We either accept the relatively benign modern wind generators (and other forms or renewable energy sources) or we will have to go without our cars and other high energy consuming devices that we have come to rely on in recent years.

Charles Brown
Derbyshire Green Party