Posts Tagged UK energy

>> Everything’s Going Green – slowly but surely >>

In terms of renewables, it looks like the UK is surely moving in the right direction. While government policy on renewables hasn’t (so far, at least) been exactly what you’d call ‘radical’, there have been some encouraging signs that the main parties are united in their commitment to getting the country where it needs to be, or to the starting line, at least. The UK electorate (as if anyone needs reminding) even returned a Green member of parliament for one of its constituencies way back last month (how long ago the general election seems now…!)

And while much good work has been done, there are always reminders around us that there is still the majority of the progress yet to be made. So it was with mixed emotions that I read the latest findings by Cambridge Econometrics, who have forecast that renewables will account for seven percent of elecricity sales to final users by the end of 2010.  While this is a move in the right direction, it actually falls pretty far short of the ten percent target. Assuming that certain economic conditions are as expected, the figure is predicted to rise to 11 percent by 2015 – but since the 2015 target is fifteen percent, we will still be wide of the target.

There is always a good news/ bad news element to this type of forecast, and this one’s no exception. The good news? Carbon emissions are predicted to continue fallling. The bad news? They’re going to fall only by a fraction of a single percent, and even only then because of changes to coal-fired power station equipment. The obverse of the good news v. bad news scenario is the bad news v. good news one – and so it has been predicted that the knock-on effects from the economic downturn of 2008 will provide a significant drop in CO2 emissions, rendering the figure lower than initial projections. And the UK will as a result be likely to meet its Kyoto target without much difficulty.

UK Green Energy policy - going in the right direction.

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Kites exploiting high-altitude winds

Alternative Green Gas and Electricity Resources

Energy Flying kite

Energy Flying kite

Knowing that oil reserves are fast running out it seems that the penny has finally dropped with leaders of the world who are now scrambling around for alternative energy resources. With the practical ideas like wind farms and hydro damns leading the way there is a lot of impractical and odd ideas flirting around with investors who think that some of these ideas might just be the way forward in the future. One of these wacky ideas is kites flying above New York City utilizing the near constant wind power that swirls around the state. This is just one of the wacky ideas and not only is these designs meant to reduce our carbon footprint; they are also being designed so that residents can benefit from greener and cheaper energy and could see the price of their utility bill fall, Cheap Gas and Electricity bills all year round for all.

Scientist have done some research into this and the plan is to capture high altitude winds that if done properly could supply the world’s energy needs 100 times over. The research suggests that the best places on earth to harvest high altitude wind power would be the eastern United States and East Asia.

A lot of questions still need to be answered on this alternative energy source, one popular question being is how will it affect air travel when there is massive kites flying at 30,000ft? Although this sounds like something from a Sci-Fi film it is actually being seriously looked at and a lot of investment has already went into researching this idea!

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Ecotricity Award

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Europe’s largest ever green electricity business “Ecotricity” has won a well deserved environmental achievement award.  The company set up in 1996 in Gloucestershire founded the green electricity market. Firstly set up to provide market places with environmental friendly electricity by Dale Vince.

Later on in 2009 Ecotricity will be rolled out to domestic customers who can join in on the environmentally friendly energy with some such company’s such as Thames Water, The Millennium Dome and The co-Operative bank.

In the last four years Ecotricity has went from a turnover of around £13000 to £50,000,000, most people are led to believe that many green electricity products and services are more costly and in many cases they are, but here at Ecotricity we succeed in challenging this issue.

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Debunking Green Power Myths

Ten Technologies to Save the Planet‘ author Chris Goodall posted an excellent article in his Guardian Blog last week. Titled ‘The 10 big energy myths‘, Goodall tackles each ‘myth’ with his usual degree of insight and provides compelling reasons to debunk each. The ten myths that he focussed on are:

  1. Solar power is too expensive to be of much use
  2. Wind power is too unreliable
  3. Marine energy is a dead-end
  4. Nuclear power is cheaper than other low-carbon sources of electricity
  5. Electric cars are slow and ugly
  6. Biofuels are always destructive to the environment
  7. Climate change means we need more organic agriculture
  8. Zero carbon homes are the best way of dealing with greenhouse gas emissions from buildings
  9. The most efficient power stations are big
  10. All proposed solutions to climate change need to be hi-tech

The article is a very refreshing read. It is great to have someone as eloquent as Goodall fighting for the green energy cause. Enjoy.

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Is Green Electricity Worth It?

We’ve recently came across this extremely cynical post on green electricity from Fred Pearce over at The Guardian. He slaughters the majority of the UK biggest energy suppliers, claiming that the green and clean electricity and gas tariffs that they offer are nothing more than a smokescreen.

We tend to feel that in some cases Mr Pearce may indeed have a point. However, you cannot possibly blame green conscious consumers for signing up to these tariffs – many of them will have no idea as to the technical aspects of the energy generation process. They simply wish to lower their carbon footprint and increase the energy efficiency of their homes.

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EU Green Energy Q and A

Required Reading – BBC/Channel 4 Green Energy Q&A – EU Energy Policy

The complexities of EU bureaucracy can be difficult for anyone to comprehend, particularly when it comes to the issue of climate change. Thankfully, good old Auntie Beeb and Channel 4 have recently published excellent Q&A pages regarding the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). I have struggled with the comncept of this scheme for ages – therefore it was interesting to have it clarified by these two sources. Many of the issues regarding the function of the ETS are covered, including:

  • What is the ETS?
  • How will the ETS develop?
  • Is the ETS working?
  • What is carbon capture?
  • What about CO2 emissions not covered by the ETS?
  • What are carbon offsets?
  • What role does the EU envisage for renewables?

Included in the BBC report are EEA Graphs which detail the scale of the task ahead for the new UK Deptartment of Energy and Climate Change. Due to starting from a low initial renewable energy base, the UK has to increase its capacity more than any country in th EU in order to meet the EU 20% renewable energy target by 2020. Good luck, Mr Milliband.

UK Energy - Sobering Graph

UK Energy - Sobering Graph

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A Greener Future – TED Talks

For the unititated TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a conference which brings together some of the world’s greatest minds and challenges them to deliver the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (no pressure then!). The best of these are available online. Obviously the theme most relevant to us at Greener Power is ‘A Greener Future’. There are a total of 28 talks here on green issues and climate change, including big hitters such as Al Gore and Norman Foster. Our favourites include Juan Enriquez on ‘growing energy’, Edward Burtynsky’s photography and Marjora Carter’s heartfelt speech on greening her neighbourhood in the South Bronx-inspiring stuff. It would be great if the movers and shakers in the UK Energy industry could be influenced by these. There is also a great blog on TED, which is regularly updated with the latest happenings in Science and Technology. We haven’t had the time to go through the entire site yet, are there any others we should be watching?

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