Tag Archives: renewable energy

Climate Change Summit – Paris 2015

Paris 2015: A Place for Hope

On 5th November, Donald and I were among more than 100 people, who cop21 gathered at Derby Cathedral for a public meeting on climate change,  designed to give people the opportunity to hear about and discuss the issues to be debated at the Paris 2015 Climate Change Summit.

John Selwyn Gummer – now Lord Deben –  addressed the meeting. He chairs the Independent Committee on Climate Change and will represent the UK at the Paris 2015 conference. He began by outlining the three arguments he uses to counter climate change deniers:

  • Risk – the choice between acting on climate change and not acting. If the promoters of climate change are wrong and we act, nothing will have been lost – the atmosphere will be healthier. If the climate deniers are wrong and we do nothing, we shall face catastrophe.
  • Care – he said that as a result of centuries of astronomical exploration planet earth is the only planet to support life as we know it. That does not rule out the possibility of discovering life on another planet; it does mean that for the time being, planet earth is rare and therefore needs to be cared for and treated with respect.
  • Act Responsibly – in other areas of life we do not choose to act stupidly and therefore it is wrong to go on acting stupidly by increasing CO2 emissions. The link between climate change and CO2 emissions was as true as the link between smoking and cancer. We must therefore keep our CO2 emissions down to avoid crossing the critical 2 degree rise in temperature threshold to prevent disaster happening.

Lord Deben went on to describe how we get to that target. He emphasised that the Climate Change Act 2008 was achieved by an All-party consensus in the UK and that was key to its success. He was very optimistic and positive when he talked about his hopes for Paris 2015. He pointed out that in Australia and Canada political changes had meant that both countries were now committed to taking climate change seriously. He remarked on the co-operation that now existed between China and the USA. He pointed out that there is now a scientific basis for the reality of climate change and that all the nations responsible for 85% of carbon emissions now all have climate change legislation.

Lord Deben concluded his talk by stating two key things that he saw as essential to progress being made in Paris.

  1. The need to recognise that Paris will not achieve an answer that is perfect – it may get the best answer that can be had for the time being but it will need to be improved on and modified over time.
  2. The importance of achieving a binding agreement in Paris – something to hold people and nations to, rather as the British Climate Change Act obliged the Government to take carbon emissions into account in any budgetary proposals that were put to parliament.

Apart from this, he said little about his views on the compatibility of economic growth and corporate deregulation with the need to cut net global carbon emissions to zero by mid century or whether corporate lobbying is delaying action to slow down climate change.

He spoke of the stand made by the Pope making a significant difference to worldwide awareness of climate change, not least in the USA, because it made it impossible to ignore the reality of climate change. He stressed that the encyclical also made it clear that you cannot deal with climate change in isolation from other issues such as world poverty and justice for the poor.

Q & A session:

Investment in Renewable Energy

  • Q If Britain, as he stated, is a leader in combating climate change, why have we not put more investment into renewals?
  • A It seems that renewables have been too successful.  For example,  off-shore wind farms were giving a return of 40% not the 29% forecast and this created a problem for the chancellor who presumably then decided they didn’t need investment!

Fracking

  • Q Fracking is raping the earth so why are the government legitimising it?
  • He appeared to imply that Fracking is a separate issue. He believes science and the evidence of science is that it is safe.
    By the mutterings from the audience, I think many people thought he must be looking at different evidence! He talked about the need to ensure that we had our “own” supplies of gas because of the dangers of being dependent upon Putin. He didn’t respond to the heckler who said that fracked gas is a fossil fuel, the implication being that we have to keep all fossil fuels in the ground.

The time for questions was limited as Lord Deben had to catch a train. There wasn’t time to go into the issue of other green-house gases, including methane, with agriculture, notably animal husbandry being currently a major emitter, coupled with the conversion of natural grassland and forest to cultivation of animal fodder or ask whether he still enjoys beef burgers!

Donald and Jean Macdonald
Derbyshire Green Party

This public meeting was organised jointly by the Derby Diocesan Environmental Group and Derby Cathedral Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Committee (JPICC) of which Donald is Chair.

Stand up for climate justice

A Big Thank You!

Kat Boettge writes:

Kat BoettgeThe regional party and I would like to sincerely thank you for your support. These elections and the previous year has created a political momentum that I have not experienced in this country. I have found this exciting and I am hopeful that we can achieve further success in the next five years, enabling us to influence policy locally and nationally.

However, unfortunately due to the unfair voting system, we have not gained any more MPs after Caroline Lucas, who has kept her seat. I am also very concerned about having a Conservative majority government, and many councils which are dominated by either the Conservatives or Labour with little serious oppositions. Sadly the main parties have been compromised by their corporate agenda; only the Green Party recognises and prioritises the need to fight climate change, to reform the banking sector, to challenge corporate power, to address social inequality, to improve animal welfare, stop cuts and austerity, and to invest in renewables.

However, after reflections, I think we have done very well – such a strong trend is almost impossible to ignore. In the UK 1,1 million people have voted Green, and this is a clear message that there are many who trust and support or aims. Our membership is continuing to increase rapidly. We have several new local parties and many highly motivated activists. And of course we have never had so many candidates, who also were prepared to actively campaign.

Here in the East Midlands we have had some very encouraging results too. Congratulation to Sue and Richard Mallender who held their borough seats in Lady Bay Rushcliffe. I have not seen most of the results, as we are still collecting them. However, I am aware of some, for example, Antonia Zenkevitch has done very well in Nottingham East with almost 10%. We held our deposits in several constituencies. In the local elections we have generally increased our votes (again I have as yet limited results).

I believe we significantly raised our Green Party profile. Voters and members believe in us, they believe in the positive solutions we offer. We must continue to get our message out there. Green activists and candidates have shown that even after disappointments, we just carry on. We reflect and learn regarding election strategies, but continue to fight for our uncompromising values. Because we all believe in our solutions – these are positive and achievable. So thank you again for your support, and we are looking forward to continue to fight for a better future for the common good.

Many thanks
Kat and the regional committee
Kat Boettge
Regional Coordinator

First published on East Midlands Green Party Blog 16 May, 2015

Charlotte Farrell – On the Front Line against Fracking

Charlotte&Peter Barton Moss Jan14The Green Party believes beyond question that climate change is happening right now and if we do not begin to dramatically reduce CO2 emissions very soon, global warming will accelerate beyond any hope of our control.

Green Party members Charlotte Farrell and Peter Alan were on the front line against Fracking at Barton Moss.

Charlotte is standing as Parliamentary Candidate in High Peak and also as Green Party candidate in Hope Valley Ward in the Local Elections.

Quick Quote from Charlotte:  “…17 leading scientists and economists have issued a warning – the ‪#‎EarthStatement‬ about climate change.  Again!?!  Yes, unfortunately, warnings seem to be falling on deaf ears – our current government have increased incentives for oil and gas exploration – including fracking – and decreased incentives for renewables.  It’s time to act.

The earth statement sets out eight essential actions – and they’re ALL Green Party policy.

It’s getting more and more urgent to get our voices heard. ‪#‎VoteGreen‬ – before it’s too late.”

Climate Change – Urgent Action Required

Message from the Green Party Leader, Natalie Bennett

natalie-bennettThis year the most important climate talks in history will take place in Paris.

Leaders from around the world will come together to decide the world’s course of action in addressing the most important issue of modern times.

Yet, despite the looming threat of a climate crisis, during this election you could be forgiven for thinking that the threat had lifted.

The truth is, politicians from the other parties simply aren’t speaking about climate change. In fact I was the only party leader to raise the topic during the three and a half hours of Leaders debates.

You and I know both know that the science is unequivocal – fortunately we have the plan to tackle the crisis.

The Green Party is the only party calling for the urgent action required and at the heart of our pledge to protect the environment is our conviction that we must also reconfigure our world to work better for people.

We will cut public transport fares – because everyone should be able to afford to get to where they want to go – and because the air pollution caused by cars is a crisis that must be tackled.

We will invest in home insulation – because no one should fear family members getting ill or even dying from the cold – and because we want to cut carbon emissions.

We will generate 80% of our energy from renewable sources by 2030 – because we know we must leave four-fifths of known fossil fuel reserves in the ground.

We are using three times as many resources as our planet can sustain – we must change course, and we can.

I, like you, want to leave a better future for our children. I want the next generation to look back on what we did at this time and think ‘my parents generation did something to protect our world’. I want them to be proud of us.

To keep climate change on the agenda and to continue our fight for social justice we must elect more Green MPs.

We can do this if we have a strong Green voice in parliament – but we need your help now more than ever with a Green vote on May 7th.

Thank you,

Natalie Bennett
Leader, Green Party of England and Wales

p.s. Please share this message with someone you know who shares your concerns and urge them to vote Green on May 7th.

David Kesteven – North East Derbyshire Constituency

Personal Candidate Statement for the General Election 2015

David KestevenAs the Green Party candidate for North East Derbyshire, I think that the most important thing for the party is to field as many candidates as possible to give the public a chance to vote Green. Despite supporting Green Party values for as long as I can remember, I have never voted Green because I have never had a candidate to vote for.

I work as Head Gardener at Renishaw Hall.  Working outside I am keenly aware that climate change is actually happening. In the 12 years that I managed the vineyard at Renishaw, harvest dates came forward an average of one week, that is proper scary. My employer has also invested in renewable energy (three wind turbines and a biomass boiler). However, seeing the decision making process that led to this, I can assure you that ‘leaving it up to the market’ will not solve our energy problems.

In fact, it is the abject failure of free market capitalism to deliver anything worthwhile (apart from i pods) that has politicised me even more than imminent climate catastrophe. After all, unprecedented levels of CO2 in the atmosphere may not be that bad, the results from this experiment are not in yet. Also driving at speed down the M1 with your eyes shut may be safe, it’s something else I haven’t tried. But to expect the market to deliver fairness and a more equitable society is just plain silly.

I have read and completely agree with the Green Party manifesto 2010. Here are some bits I’m particularly passionate about:

• Re-nationalise the railways.

• Education: Get rid of SATS, league tables and, Ofsted, while you’re at it; Teachers are professionals who should be allowed to teach – ticking boxes should be reserved for pupils in multiple choice examinations. I also believe that there should be no tax relief for private schools.

• Health: I believe we should get rid of all markets within the NHS; give nurses and staff a decent pay rise then ask them what needs to be done to make the NHS better. Patients should also be fed proper food while in hospital.

• I also personally believe that it would be wise to nationalise the national grid and power generation.

I hope for your support. We have a lot to do.

Green Party candidate contact details

Your Money’s Better on your Roof than in the Bank!

John Youatt 6Three years ago, the cost of a solar electric panel (PV) array on a roof was about £4000 per kW installed. The feed in tariff was 45p per kW generated. The incomes paid off the capital cost within about 8 years. I know, because we installed 12 panels (3 kW) at the time and the returns have been better that predicted. Even better, with local publicity, there are now 10 installations in my small, national park village.

Some say the turning point was when the Daily Mail’s economics editor declared “your money’s better on your roof than in the bank”. Then there were scare stories and jealousy stories. Despite those teething troubles, the industry has now settled down, as demonstrated by the following article in the Solar Power portal:

“In the current talk of power shortages and lack of generating capacity, domestic solar photovoltaic, which could be readily implemented and is now cost-effective, has been overlooked. Prices are now close to the projected viable level of £1 per watt. A 4Kw solar PV domestic system can be bought for under £5,000 installed and can produce 4,000kWh a year with a 20-year guaranteed life. This gives a capital cost of £1,138 per kW, with an amortised annual cost of 5.7p per kWh, with no maintenance or distribution costs. If 10% of existing houses (2.8m) converted at 4kW, it would give 11.1TWh, with 11GW capacity, 12% of current UK capacity, equivalent to 3% of UK production, at an installed cost of some £12bn.”

“The annual value at the current domestic price of £0.15 a unit is £600pa. FIT tariff subsidies give a five-year pay-off. I write as a pensioner user with installed PV, which even at the old prices gives an 8% return guaranteed for 25 years, better than annuities or savings – and I am looking at how to fit in more capacity.” John Read, Clitheroe, Lancashire

The stunning point is that even at John Read’s cautious prediction of only 10% of roofs, solar electricity alone will fill the gaps left by the closures and accidents in the dirty fossil fuel and dangerous nuclear power plants. It can

31Oct sunflower 007• Be clean, secure and home grown.
• Create thousands of jobs in a very well regulated industry of panel makers, scaffolders, roofers and electricians.
• Add some income for hard pressed farmers, who like harvesting the sun’s energy. Harvesting is what they do.
• Spur the search for power storage, such as millions of electric car batteries, among many other storage methods
• Reduce transmission losses on the networks

So get installing
Check for the adverts in the press for your local established installer – beware the non-local companies who aren’t there to mend and maintain. The fault rate with local companies is very low.

John Youatt
Regional Co-ordinator (Derbyshire Dales area)

Green Energy Policy is Practical, Realistic and Popular

600px-Community_turbine_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1234697Far from being wishful thinking, Green Policy is realistic, rooted in evidence and developed to solve real problems that people face. Green Policy does not set out to secure further advantage for powerful elites.

Consider energy, Government policy is unsustainable, protecting the interests of the big energy and fossil fuel companies. As a result of this policy we have spiralling energy costs with one in five households suffering energy poverty. We are seeing the ‘big 6’ making massive profits, and we are reliant on imported fossil fuels that are accelerating global warming. Their policy is to frack the very foundations of these islands to squeeze out the last drops of oil, gas and private profit, making us more reliant on polluting, climate threatening expensive fuels. This is the policy that ConDem and Labour call ‘realistic’.

Greens think differently. For us, access to affordable energy is an essential part of well-being. We will be introducing a new energy policy at the Autumn Conference in Aston. The cornerstone of our policy is to cut waste and make a rapid switch to renewable energy. Our aim is to deliver the energy that people need at a price that they can afford.

An important part of the drive to affordable energy is to foster community owned generating systems, designed to tap into renewable energy sources to meet local needs. Unrealistic? No not at all, this is happening right here in Derbyshire. 4Winds Energy Cooperative has been awarded planning permission by Chesterfield Council to build a wind turbine at Duckmanton. Most of the necessary investment has been raised locally, through a modestly priced share offer, enabling people to invest in their local energy infrastructure, keeping money in the local economy. This is the model of investment used in Germany where the growth of renewable energy has been much more rapid than here, through a much greater level of local engagement minimising opposition.

Central Government has failed to encourage the growth of renewable energy, in marked contrast to its support for fracking and nuclear power. Powerful pro-fossil interests have manipulated policy and also public opinion. The popular press have maintained a ridiculous campaign of opposition to both wind and solar power, leading to planning applications for renewable schemes being refused.

This has happened too often in Derbyshire. This summer Derbyshire Green Party became involved in an appeal against a refusal by Derbyshire Dales District Council for a modest wind turbine on a farm near to Ashbourne. Considering the application DGP looked at the wider context as well as the specific site, as we believe planning decisions must. We pointed out that the Government has a legally binding obligation to reduce carbon emissions and to do this, renewable schemes have to be encouraged. We said that Climate Change, driven by carbon emissions is a real and present danger, recognised by the Ministry of Defence that warns of Catastrophic Climate Shock in its 5th Strategic Trends report. We pointed out that this turbine would help to cut the farm’s reliance on imported diesel and cut its carbon footprint. Surplus electricity would to sold to the grid to help the financial viability of the farm at a time when incomes are under great pressure. We recognised that harvesting energy from wind and sun is a legitimate part of a farm business helping to maintain this vital sector in the rural economy.

We also challenged the claim that there is deep public hostility to renewable energy. An IPSOS-MORI poll in 2012 found that two thirds of people thought the impact of turbines on the landscape ‘acceptable’. A study carried out by Sheffield University for Sustainable Youlgrave found that over 60% of residents would not oppose reasonable turbines in view from their homes. The latest public survey by the Department of Energy and Climate Change found that 70% of the public support onshore wind, compared to 29% supporting fracking.

Despite all the propaganda from the fossil fuel interests, the public is supportive of renewable energy. What they do object to is huge developments by remote companies being dumped on their doorstep. This is why, in our energy policy, we say that local Councils need to have the power and resources to develop local energy plans, designed to match local needs with generation and to address energy efficiency. Councils need the resources to ensure that all homes, including the ‘hard to treat’ properties so often found in rural areas, are brought up to modern standards of energy efficiency. This is an investment in the housing stock that will lower energy demand. It will leave householders with more money in their pockets to spend in the local economy, it will cut the nations fuel import bill so helping the balance of payments. This is practical realistic policy.

Mike Shipley

The Carbon Bubble

In 2010, the Climate Change conference in Cancun adopted an agreement that carbon emissions should be limited so that the rise in global mean temperature should not exceed 2°C. In addition, it was recognised that this rise might need to be reduced to 1•5°C. Although the sceptics didn’t notice, that conference accepted the science of Climate Change. What it didn’t do was to understand the economic implications of restricting temperature rise. It’s not simply calculating the cost, Nicholas Stern did that, it’s around 2% of global GDP and rising. We now have to understand the grip carbon assets have on the global economy and find ways of loosening it.

serious_about_climate_change_splash_860x305If we are to limit temperature rise to 2°C, the Potsdam Institute has calculated that global carbon emissions in the period 2000 to 2050 will need to be limited to 884Gt CO². In the first eleven years of this century, thanks to the inaction of political, economic and business leaders, the world has emitted 321 GtCO², leaving a carbon budget of 565 GtCO² up to 2050. At present, despite the global recession, emissions are rising and the 2°C carbon budget will have been ‘spent’ by 2027. After then, we leave the 2° world and enter 3°+. At the last Climate Change conference in Durban in January, there was a behind the scenes acceptance that we will have to adapt to 3°C of warming, and probably more. That is not a comfortable prospect and millions of people will suffer as a consequence.

The reason why global leaders find it so difficult to implement the policies that will limit temperature rise to less than 2°C is not due to scepticism but because the global economic structure is built on unsustainable practices and resources, notably carbon based fuels. Limiting temperature rise to 2°C or less requires a switch to sustainable practice, and a switch away from fossil fuels. We know this, so why isn’t this happening?

A report called Unburnable Carbon, by the Carbon Tracker Initiative showed that the top 200 oil, coal, and gas companies have reserves that will emit 745 GtCO², these reserves represent their market value, and the market naturally assumes that these fuels will be burned. In addition, these companies continue to prospect aggressively, needing to replace reserves that underpin share price. Around 50% of the valuation of a fossil fuel company lies in its declared reserves. When Shell announced a 20% reduction in its reserves its market value fell by £3 billion in a week. Naturally, these companies try to secure new finds as a buffer to maintain their value, profits and dividends. In the oil and gas sector, this now means ‘unconventional’ sources like tar sands and shale gas. To finance these explorations, investors continue to pour money in to the carbon sector, assuming that this investment will yield burnable reserves that will secure a return on their investments.

Exactly how much carbon, and therefore warming potential, private companies have on their books is difficult to estimate because of confidentiality. Further, the private sector accounts for only about one third of global carbon stocks, add in state enterprises and total reserves would yield 2,795 gigatonnes. Steve Waygood of Aviva Investors has estimated that if all proven and probable oil and gas reserves are burned, CO² levels will rise beyond 700ppm, leading to 3.5°C to 5°C of warming. Add in the proven coal stocks and the planet becomes uninhabitable.

The problem lies not with science but with economics, and all the human failings that are associated with it. The world economic system is built on carbon. This is not simply our reliance on carbon fuels to drive economic activity; global assets are built on the value of fossil fuel companies. Between 20% and 30% of the value of the London Stock Exchange is based on fossil fuel. Fund managers invest heavily in fossil fuel companies, seeing them as a safe haven for investment with above average returns in the short term. The funds invested in fossil fuel assets include pensions, life assurance schemes, and personal savings plans. A majority of people in the western world have their future security tied to the fortunes of these carbon rich companies. We are indeed all in this together.

If we are to restrict the rise in average global temperature to less than 2°C, the rate of burning of fossil fuel will have to be restricted. Sequestration technology is not going to be ready in time. To achieve this target, only 20% of known reserves can be burned over the next 40 years, and this might have to be reduced further if feedback loops begin to kick in. That means that 80% of the assets of fossil fuel companies are un-burnable. None of the unproven and unconventional reserves that are now being prospected for at great expense can be burned. There can be no return on the investment in 80% of reserves and in all new prospecting. This is the carbon bubble. Depletion of fossil reserves isn’t the issue, it’s the fact that they can not be used if we are to save the planet from dangerous climate change. The wealth of some of the worlds biggest and most powerful companies, and therefore of stock exchanges, is based on an unusable asset. If these companies had to devalue their reserves by 80% the carbon bubble would burst – remember what happened to Shell with a mere 20% downgrade.

The heavy investment in carbon assets also explains the reluctance of governments to back renewable energy. Renewables coupled with efficiency measures can replace fossil fuels, and without nuclear power. 120px-EnergiaberriztagarriakWith a range of technologies like wave power waiting in the wings, existing technologies can more than cope with efficient demand. But if governments promoted these technologies, the value of carbon rich companies would decline. It isn’t just scepticism that stops the deployment of renewables, or that stops agreements to limit temperature rise, it’s vested interests and their control over the political process. We can suppose that those who profess scepticism, like many MP’s of the ruling Coalition, have heavy investments in carbon rich assets.

Denial of climate change is a smokescreen that hides the real denial that lies at the heart of global economics: the denial of long-term consequences. Economics does not think in the long term, profit today is the mantra, tomorrow is somebody else’s problem. Greens keep focusing on the scientific argument, refining their arguments with ever more facts, trying to convince the so-called sceptics with the sheer weight of the evidence. Apart from the lunatic fringe, most of these sceptics may well accept the science, however, they are not interested in science and statistics, what they are interested in is how they maintain their position of wealth and privilege in a warming world.

There are ways to break out of this carbon strangle hold. To do so we need:

 political action to require long-term accounting.
 investors to take the decision to begin the switch to low carbon assets.
 everyone who can afford it, to accept lower returns in order to secure the only long-term investment that matters: the future health of our planet and all who live on her.

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King has responded to the concern expressed by Carbon Tracker and others and is considering whether over exposure to carbon assets represents a risk to market stability. A small step and it remains to be seen whether investors will similarly take note. However, a globalised economy needs international agreement to require climate change to be factored into market valuation. The markets will not do this until it is too late.

10356153_10152396653039522_7330862721074206686_nA strong political lead is required. We can help this process by being informed about the dangers of another asset bubble bursting, by being aware of our own exposure to this danger, and by demanding effective preventative action. We can also work to help the Greens promote a new, low carbon and sustainable economics.

Mike Shipley
First published 17/3/12

Candidates – European elections 2014

Green Party Candidates for the East Midlands Region

Lead Candidate: Kat Boettge
Second on list: Sue Mallender
Third: Peter Allen
Fourth: Richard Mallender
Fifth: Simon Hales

For photos and brief biographies of the candidates see Elections page of this site.

cropped-gplogostrapwhitegreenforweb.jpg

 

Fracking on Trial

serious_about_climate_change_splash_860x305

Speaking after the first day in court, Caroline said:

“We were moved by the support shown for us at Brighton Magistrates Court on Monday and I would like to thank everyone who wrote and tweeted in support. I am pleased that this has put the focus firmly on the dangers around Fracking.

To avoid catastrophic climate change we need a rapid shift to a zero carbon economy, matched with policies to keep the majority of known fossil fuels in the ground. The window for action is closing fast.”

Today, we are calling on the Prime Minister to redirect the billions of UK fossil fuel subsidies into flood relief and adequate flood protection.

Add your voice to Caroline’s and the other protesters by taking action today.  http://my.greenparty.org.uk/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=46629&qid=1556466

If you want to learn more about fracking and how you can help prevent runaway climate change each day we will share more ways you can take action here.  http://my.greenparty.org.uk/sites/all/modules/civicrm/extern/url.php?u=46638&qid=1556466

Open Letter Against Fracking

Subject: Unconventional fossil fuels / Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Directive & other projects from the European Institutions

kat-gp-1

Kat Boettge – Candidate for the European Elections

The Green Party is the only party opposing Fracking.  As some of you may know the European Commission is to announce non-binding guidance for the shale gas industry this Wednesday 23rd January, 2014. This is very bad news for our campaign against fracking.

In protest over the Commission’s stance and the lack of leadership on this issue from the EU in general, East Midlands Green Party and Derbyshire Green Party have signed an Open Letter along with some 290 civil society groups and NGOs who have outlined their concerns in a joint open letter to the EU institutions.

The letter states that many groups of concerned citizens and environmental organizations are against the development in Europe of unconventional fossil fuels (UFFs) and are concerned about the multiple and unavoidable impacts on the environment, on climate, on people’s health and on a number of fundamental freedoms and human rights.

It goes on to state the main reasons why we oppose this industry; one of which is that the extraction of these hydrocarbons will worsen our GHG footprint and will divert or even jeopardize European energy and climate objectives.

Instead of moving away from fossil fuel energy sources, developing more sources of renewable energy, and improving energy efficiency policies, this industry would lock us into another dirty fossil fuel cycle.  You can find the full version of the letter here.  

You can hear more of our concerns on The Sunday Politics show http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esjNP_Acwi4&feature=youtube_gdata

Katharina Boettge – Green Party Candidate for the European Elections

Political Point-scoring won’t solve the energy bill crisis

East Mikat-gp-1dland Green Party candidate in the European Elections, Katarina Boettge has accused both the Coalition and Labour of “political point-scoring” in the energy bill debate to duck the real problems.  She claims that meaningful measures to address the problems of cold homes, fuel poverty, and soaring bills are being sidelined.  As a result she claims that 1.5 million children are being brought up in cold homes and that more people in the UK are struggling to pay their energy bills than any other European country than Estonia.

The Green Party is calling for a major nationwide programme to make all homes energy efficient.  They want this funded through ‘recycled’ carbon taxes, saying that this could bring an estimated nine out of ten homes out of fuel poverty, quadruple carbon savings, and create up to 200,000 jobs across the UK.

Ms Boettge said: “It’s a scandal that the big energy companies are making large profits, which doubled between 2008 and 2010, whilst many people are struggling with high bills and cold homes. 

The Government’s own advisers are saying that the reason that bills have been rising is because of the wholesale price of gas and not because of Green Tariffs.  These, if properly used for home insulation will help households reduce their energy use and therefore their bills.

‘We need a nationwide programme to make all homes super-energy efficient – with full insulation, modern boilers, and renewable energy sources.  These measures could save households up to £500 per year, far more that any of the other Parties are offering with their short term measures.’

 

Nuclear Legacy – When will they ever learn?

ButterflyI have just read a report that the Fukushima leak is much worse than we were led to believe.  The Japan News / October 3, 2013 reported that the former Prime Minister of Japan, Junichiro Koizume, said that Japan should abandon nuclear power.    In his speech in Nagoya he said “I’m calling for zero nuclear power … The 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which triggered a nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 plant, should be taken as an opportunity to build a resource-recycling society without nuclear power”

Since the reactor cores melted down in 2011, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) has been struggling to deal with the consequences.   In August this year, the Japanese nuclear energy watchdog raised the incident level from one to three on the international scale after Tepco admitted that around 300 tonnes of highly radioactive water had leaked from a storage tank on the site.

According to the BBC (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-23779561) Dr Ken Buesseler, a senior scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has examined the waterButterflys around Fukushima and is quoted as saying:   “Once it gets into the ground water, like a river flowing to the sea, you can’t really stop a ground water flow”.  

It won’t happen here – You might think that what happened in Japan can’t happen in the UK.  But according to an article in the Guardian, as many as 12 of Britain’s 19 civil nuclear sites are at risk of flooding and coastal erosion because of climate change.  Nine of the sites have been assessed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) as being vulnerable now, while others are in danger from rising sea levels and storms in the future.  http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2012/mar/07/uk-nuclear-risk-flooding

The sites include all of the eight proposed for new nuclear power stations around the coast, as well as numerous radioactive waste stores, operating reactors and defunct nuclear facilities.  According to David Crichton, a flood specialist and honorary professor at the hazard research centre at University College London, sea level rise, especially in the south-east of England, will mean some of these sites will be under water within 100 years.

Radioactive waste, especially “high-level waste” is one of the biggest problems the nuclear industry faces.  No man-made container can survive the tens of thousands of years it will take for high-level waste to decay to safe levels.  No country has yet implemented a long-term solution to this problem, although Finland and the US have plans to build repositories deep underground in areas identified for their geological stability. This solution is one of those under consideration in the UK. 

ButterflyThe Government’s proposal to build more nuclear power stations is leaving a dangerous legacy for future generations.  It is inevitable that radioactive waste will leak into ground water at some point over the thousands of years that it will take the radioactivity to decay to safe levels.  And to top it all, the Government also wants to add fracking to its bag of risks!

Green Party policy is against building new nuclear power stations and in favour of investing in sustainable renewable energy.  Some people complain about wind farms and solar panels being a blot on the countryside.  Personally, I would much rather live with a wind or solar farm on my doorstep than an unseen risk of radioactive or polluted water under my house, or even worse, like the residents of Fukushima and Chernobyl, to have to leave my house and all my possessions behind in a radioactive wasteland.  If in 50 years time a better/cheaper way of creating sustainable energy is found then it would be easy to take down the wind pylons and take out the solar panels.  There would be no lasting damage to the countryside.   The same cannot be said for nuclear power plants or fracking sites. There would still be a lasting risk and an ongoing need to contain the unseen for thousands of years.

I was inspired to write the following poem when I read about the mutations in butterflies caused by exposure to radioactive material released into the environment from the Fukushima disaster.

Butterfly’s Wings

Blue butterfly’s mutated wings
Fukushima’s legacy sings
Sea levels rise on Britain’s shores
Posing threats to nuclear cores
Nature’s powers of erosion and flood
Hammer the nuclear ark’s hot crud
 
Sanctum’s sought for a deadly stash
Cathedral for a cryptic cache
Miles of aisles in underground tomb
An epoch-lasting toxic womb
To trap a nuclear god obscene
Behind bare hermetic chancel screen
 
One slight fault in this granite vault
Leeching life-blood is hard to halt
Slowly seeping, creeping unseen
Seeking subterranean streamButterfly
Filtering up through strata’s blue veins
Earth-changing ripple of a butterfly’s wings

© Jean Macdonald

Helen Caldicott, a long standing opponent of Nuclear power, has a very interesting site on this subject:   http://nuclearfreeplanet.org/categories/fukushima.html 

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.’

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.’

True Eco Scandal – A Coalition of Wealth is undermining the Green Economy

The right wing press’s animosity towards renewable energy has now extended to the whole idea of the green economy, judging by an article in the Daily Mail.     We might have thought that in true patriotic style they might rejoice at the prospects of energy self sufficiency based on home grown, British owned manufacturing businesses, commercialising the world-leading researches of British Universities.  The fact that they don’t is, we might presume, due to the heavy exposure of the paper’s proprietors to carbon investments that would be under threat if renewables began to undermine the supremacy of fossil fuel.

You can read what they say here http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2362762/The-dirty-secret-Britains-power-madness-Polluting-diesel-generators-built-secret-foreign-companies-kick-theres-wind-turbines–insane-true-eco-scandals.html

In its latest broadside against wind energy, the Mail reveals that thousands of ‘dirty diesel’ generators are being deployed ‘in secret’ to back up the grid when ‘the wind fails’.  In order to give this claim credibility the paper over estimates the contribution of wind power to the grid. It states that 10% of electricity is gen120px-Energiaberriztagarriakerated by wind where as the real figure is nearer to 5%.  What they are doing is using ‘wind’ as a euphemism for ‘renewable’, a polysyllabic word deemed incomprehensible to their readership. They also claim that the Government plans to increase this to 25% by 2020.  They may have inside information on the thinking of the Government, but in truth the EU Energy Directive requires the UK to source 15% of its energy from all renewables by 2020.  Note this figure is for energy and not just electricity, it might be the case that the % of renewable electricity is raised to compensate for the current difficulties in supplying renewable fuels.

The Mail reveals this ‘secret network’ of generators as ‘STOR’, the Short Term Operating Reserve. On its far from secret website the National Grid explains why it needs  STOR: At certain times of the day National Grid needs reserve power in the form of either generation or demand reduction to be able to deal with actual demand being greater than forecast demand and plant breakdowns.  That is, demand surges like at half time in the Cup Final, or when there is an alert at a nuclear power station, there is no mention of the wind.

Another reason why many public and private bodies are installing diesel generators is over fears of cyber-security. As the sales blurb for Power Continuity Systems Ltd says, ‘The security of supply can no longer be taken for granted ‘.  This company has been providing energy backup for decades and they are responding to fears over cyber attacks on power utilities rather than the risk of calm days.  The now infamous Stuxnet virus was targeted on a control system made by Siemens that is used to manage pipelines, energy grids and nuclear power stations.  Globally more than 45,000 companies have been affected.  It is not surprising that companies and bodies like the NHS are installing back up power systems to protect valuable hardware, processes, and in some cases lives. There is also concern that the sun is entering a new active phase, big solar storms can knock out electric grids as happened in Canada in 1989.  Installing off-grid backup is prudent.  What we need is a way of doing this that doesn’t use ‘dirty diesel’; solar panels and battery storage for example. 

The variability of wind has been a fall back argument for the anti wind lobby for many years, and in 2009 the National Grid answered this argument in its consultation report Operating the Electricity Transmission Networks in 2020 .  In this report they demonstrated that the grid could be successfully operated with a major contribution from renewable, including wind, without the need for extensive fossil fuel backup.  We presume that the National Grid knows what it is talking about.

In its crusade against wind, the Mail cites a report written for the Global Warming Policy Foundation that says that it would be much cheaper to meet our Carbon Reduction targets using gas generators.  Well now they would wouldn’t they.  This is a climate sceptic organisation operating from a room in the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining, headed by a Social Anthropologist and Chaired by Nigel Lawson, Thatcher’s Chancellor in the 1980’s boom and bust days.  Hardly experts on Climatology, this group will be campaigning hard for fracking, and since they don’t accept that burning fossil fuels contributes to global warming, they won’t see the idiocy of trying to meet our Climate Change obligations by using fossil gas.  Their report claims that using wind to meet this obligation will cost £124Billion by 2020 where as using gas generators will only cost £13 Billion.  The only problem with the calculation of costs is that the figure for gas generation does not include the cost of the gas!  As we humble payers of gas bills know, gas is not cheap, and frack-gas will be expensive because of the high costs of extraction. And no mention of what happens when the gas runs out, doubtless they will turn to nuclear, another option mired in dodgy accounting.

The article then tries to scare its readers off wind with the noise scare, citing a 1989 study from America that it claims has been buried  by the industry.  Buried largely because it has become irrelevant, since it was referring to the old generation of turbines operating in the USA in the 1980’s.  In 1994 the Scottish Office published figures for noise levels for turbines operating in the UK.  This gave the noise level from a wind turbine at 350 metres as 35 to 45 dB[A], equivalent to the ‘noise’ of the rural night-time background, 20-40 dB[A] and that of a quiet bedroom, 35 dB[A].  Since then turbines have become quieter.

Warming to its anti-green rant, the Mail continued in the same article to denounce the Green Economy, claiming that Ministers – by whom they mean the Liberal Democrat component of the Cabinet – have made a £100 Billion mistake in calculating the value of the Green Economy.  The Government claims that this is worth £122 Billion, and the paper claims that this is over inflated to justify handing out hefty subsidies to renewable energy generators in the form of Feed In Tariffs. I don’t quite follow this argument but their source of information to counter the Governments figures is interesting.  They claim to have obtained documents under the Freedom of Information Act to show that the true figure is between £16 and £27 Billion.  The needn’t have bothered to use the Act, the information comes from a report from a researcher working for UKIP MEP Godfrey Bloom, and it is on the researchers climate sceptic website ClimateResistance. 

UKIP of course take a sceptical view of all things Green and we can’t put too much weight behind their analysis, but some of the points made are valid.  The Government does inflate its figures for the value of the Green Economy by including such activities as landfill and nuclear power. The Government has massaged the figures to give them bragging rightsin International conferences enabling them to claim that the Conservative way of leaving things to the market works and that State intervention is not necessary. We know that the truth is different. Because of under-investment and a lack of leadership from the Government, the UK green economy is seriously under-performing and we are missing a huge opportunity to boost sustainable employment and to create valuable overseas markets for the British low carbon manufacturing sector. 

PrintWe need a Green Economy.  It is the only sustainable economy that can deliver a good lifestyle to everyone while operating within the natural limits of the Earth.  Green economic policies do not focus on growth and wealth but on fairness and well-being for all.  Health is just as important as wealth, personal development as important as business development.  Right wing economics is not interested in fairness or the well-being of the majority.  Its total focus is on growth to make the already rich even richer and therefore more powerful.  Green policies will undermine the supremacy of wealth.  This is why the right wing press will broaden its attack to all aspects of Green policy.

 Mike Shipley

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

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

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.