|Editor: Phil Turner
The intention of the the British government is admirable> http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jul/15/low-carbon-transition-white-paper
However, the UK is falling behind in renewables. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2009/jul/19/utilities-energy-marine-power-uk
Despite the advantages that the British Isles enjoy in high tidal variations,
and exposure to wind speeds,
the harnessing of tidal and wind power is not making progress.
Found this on the site of the UK Mapmaker 'Ordnance Survey'...
UK Coal has teamed up with green energy company Peel Energy in a bid to develop a series of wind farm projects on former colliery sites.
The Power of Water
New Mills, in the High Peak area of Derbyshire is an Industrial Revolution textile town. At one time there were 16 mills along the fast-flowing river Goyt, borrowing the massive power of the water to turn the mill wheels.
But the last textile manufacturer closed in 2000; the gritstone mills are derelict and the Victorian weirs that produced this water power are now man-made waterfalls.
All save one. At the old Torr Mill, where the wheel once stood is a gigantic 12-ton steel screw, 2.4 metre in diameter. Powered by the water tumbling over the weir, the ''Reverse Archimedean Screw" makes enough electricity to supply 70 homes. At present a private line provides the New Mills Co-Operative supermarket with electricity and any surplus is sold to the grid.
When conventional power supplies come under pressure this winter, as some commentators are forecasting, the good people of New Mills will still have lights blazing in their supermarket. ''Archie" will even continue turning when power stations run out of coal and gas.
"Archie started turning at the beginning of September and has created enough energy to make the equivalent of a million cups of tea," says Sean Whewell. A director of Torrs Hydro, Sean, an IT director, is taking an unpaid career break to get Archie up and running. The beautiful thing about Archie, is that not only does it create green electricity, but it is owned by residents of New Mills - the first community-owned hydro project in the country.
"There is no major building and no using up of resources - we simply 'borrow' water from the River Goyt for about 10 metres, then put it back," says Sean.
Archie is forecast to earn £24,000 this year, but the now certain introduction of a Feed In Tariff announced by the new Climate Secretary Ed Miliband - where green electricity producers are paid a premium - could see that soar to over £100,000 a year.
The 210 homeowners who have invested in Archie - from £1 a share for a minimum of 250 shares - will receive dividends but much of the income will be ploughed back into community projects, including the conversion of other weirs along the Goyt which could provide enough electricity to power hundreds of homes.
"Up and down the country, riverside communities are turning to relics of our industrial past to provide clean, green power," says Steve Welsh of Water Power Enterprises (H2oPE?), which aims to provide electricity to power the equivalent of 10,000 homes from about 25 weirs by 2015. It's nothing short of revolutionary given that there are about 10,000 weirs on British rivers.
The Torrs Hydro has inspired dozens of nascent hydro projects across the north of England. Next in line is Settle, another old mill town, on the River Ribble in the Yorkshire Dales. Steve Amphlett, owner of the Plough inn at Wigglesworth and chairman of the Settle District Chamber of Trade, says there has been enormous local support. "Our scheme will power around 50 houses and save around 80 tonnes of carbon a year, which doesn't seem that much - but 50 similar schemes will power 25,000 houses, and then you're starting to make a difference." The energy will be pumped into the grid and homeowners will receive money back from the energy companies.
These old weirs are in ''brownfield" sites, often along sections of river badly in need of regeneration, says Steve Welsh. "We're using 2,000-year-old technology, in 200-year-old weirs to help solve a 21st century problem."
Wind or Hydro?
For a prospectus on the Settle project go to: http://www.greensettle.org.uk/hydro
For information on future weir projects visit: http://www.h2ope.co.uk
Archie will produce 250,000 kW/h per year and cost £300,000 to install. This compares to 10,000 kW/h per year for a 12-metre high wind turbine costing £24,000. Twelve 12m wind turbines costing roughly the same as Archie would only produce about half of what Archie can.
UK Environment Minister Phil Woolas said ...
Anaerobic digestion can help farmers clean up the water environment.
Innovative technology which turns organic matter into biogas - a renewable source of energy and a transport fuel - could play an important part in helping farmers meet strict new environmental rules.
From January 2009 farmers will have to step up action to cut the amount of nitrates from fertiliser that gets into rivers.
This will include restricting the times of year that fertiliser can be spread on land and storing excess manure outside these times.
Treating the manure in on-farm anaerobic digestion plants while it is being stored could produce biogas, which farmers could use as a source of energy. The treated manure can be returned to the soil as fertiliser.
Phil Woolas acknowledged that there are still hurdles to be overcome, saying:
“Tackling pollution from agriculture is central to boosting the quality of our water environment. Left unchecked it can have serious effects on local rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters, and the plant life and wildlife that depend on those.
“Anaerobic digestion is an exciting and innovative technology, and it is clear we are not making full use of its potential.
I know from talking to the farming industry that there are barriers to enabling its wider take up by farmers and that’s something I have promised to look at.”
Defra ministers met around fifty senior industry and non-government organisation executives in July to discuss ways of increasing the use of anaerobic digestion, and delegates agreed to work with government and each other to overcome barriers to increasing its capacity in this country.
A follow up meeting later this year will review progress.
Notes to editors
1. The Nitrate Pollution Prevention Regulations 2008 (SI2349 September 2008) implement the Nitrates Directive in England.
Defra consulted on draft changes to the existing regulations last August.
Defra’s response to the consultation and information on wider nitrates issues can be found at
It requires farmers within Nitrate Vulnerable Zones to follow an Action Programme of measures aimed at controlling when, where, how, and in what amount, nitrogen can be applied to land.
Areas are identified as Nitrate Vulnerable Zones on the basis that they drain to waters which have, or are likely to have, nitrate levels above 50 mg per litre, or that they are eutrophic or likely to become eutrophic.
European Trade Fair for Conservation, Restoration and Old Building Renovation (20–22 November 2008)
will be featuring as major topic this year "making buildings energy-efficient, including in connection with the careful conservation and restoration of listed structures – for example by means of insulating roofs, walls and ceilings as well as thermal insulation glass, heating systems, ventilation systems and lighting."
According to Michael Heide, President of the ZDB Central Federation of the German Building Trade: “The energy-efficient refurbishment of old buildings is the primary future task.”
See TV Channel 4 video clip http://link.brightcove.com/services/link/bcpid1184614595/bctid1653692981
Extract from BBC website news item 08July08 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/7494306.stm
…As the Gallagher Review of biofuels, commissioned by the UK government and just published, puts it, there is "little sign of the developed countries losing their appetite for travel, and millions of new motorists expected in rapidly developing countries such as India, China, Russia and elsewhere…"
Put simply, as long as we continue to see personal transport as meaning riding around in metal boxes on wheels capable of taking us from one end of the country to the other on a single tank of gas, biofuels are technically and economically the only thing that can substitute for petrol and diesel.
Which is why the report from Ed Gallagher, chairman of the UK's Renewable Fuels Agency, continues: "We cannot afford to abandon biofuels as part of a low carbon transport future".
However, he suggests, we should put the brakes on.
"Current evidence suggests that the proposed EU biofuels target for 2020 of 10% by energy is unlikely to be met sustainably," he concludes.
"The introduction of biofuels should therefore be slowed... we therefore propose targets for renewable transport fuels of between 5% and 8% for the EU for 2020."
Trial by science
The UK's domestic target of fuelling 5% of vehicle traffic from plants by 2010 should be put back by three to four years, Professor Gallagher concluded - a recommendation which UK Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly endorsed.
This all stops short of the abrupt end to the biofuel bonanza that some environment and development groups have been advocating. But it does mark a cooling in the policymaker's love affair with the technology.
So what has changed?
For Gallagher, one study stood out from the plethora of reports detailing the climatically crazy felling of tropical forest to grow biofuel crops and the equally large dossier of reports blaming biofuel demand for raising food prices.
It was published in the journal Science in February. And the US academics writing it showed that conventional sums failed to show the whole picture.
Making ethanol from US-grown corn was supposed to bring a 20% saving in greenhouse gas emissions compared to using petrol.
But Timothy Searchinger's group showed the real impact was a doubling of greenhouse emissions, as developing world farmers cleared forests and grasslands for new agricultural fields to grow corn to fill the gap in the food market.
The smiling adolescent on whose shoulders policymakers piled all their desperate hopes had turned into a nasty little climate assassin.
UK Transport Secretary Ruth Kelly has vowed to take Ed Gallagher's message to Brussels. But signs are that the European Commission, which is really the engine and steering rack of EU policy, will not want to listen.
Commission energy spokesman Ferran Tarradellas told BBC News that the 10% target can be met sustainably.
And rather than the biofuel rush automatically driving food prices up and making life more miserable in poorer countries, he said the demand could bring economic gains in tropical countries with a conducive climate.
"African countries have a comparative advantage for biofuel production, in particular sugar cane and other high-energy crops," he said.
"So if these countries get the necessary assistance, this could be used as a tool to increase the productivity of their agricultural sectors, and that is badly needed in these countries."
The Gallagher Review is equivocal on this. "There is some potential for the poor to benefit from biofuel production," it says - but only where land is plentiful and where the crops are grown according to a set of social and environmental criteria.
It contains much in this vein - biofuels can do x and y, but only if z. The basic message is that if you get the science right - doing all the sums, not just the convenient ones - then biofuels can be positive for the climate.
That may be especially true of so-called "second generation" fuels, a term that encompasses a variety of technologies in gestation such as fermenting agents that digest waste plant material, genetically-modified trees that melt to ethanol at the touch of a catalytic wand, and algal vats that pump out fuels on demand.
As concerns have mounted over existing fuels, these new technologies have donned some of the shining armour. But Gallagher has a cautionary note - they can take more land than the crops currently used - so beware the tarnish.
The key issue is really sustainability; can regulations be drawn up and agreed internationally, bearing in mind the rules of the World Trade Organization, that guarantee crops will only be grown and harvested and distributed and owned in such a way that the climate and local societies benefit?
Looking at history, it is hard to be too optimistic. We did not manage whales, humanity's first global industrial-scale source of oils, very sustainably; and it is hard to argue that in countries such as Nigeria, the oil industry has developed with the needs and rights of the entire population in mind, or that on a global basis we are using it in such a way as to maximise its availability.
But there it is; we need some liquid to put in our cars other than water and brake fluid. Otherwise we might have to walk.
So far, biofuels are all there is. And the wheels have to be kept turning.
Story from BBC NEWS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/sci/tech/7494306.stm
Published: 2008/07/07 19:01:24 GMT
© BBC MMVIII
The CRC - Commission for Rural Communities (England) is a government agency (and a member of ECOVAST)
Rural Advocate welcomes UK Renewable Energy Strategy Consultation
Stuart Burgess, CRC chair and the Government's Rural Advocate, welcomes the launch of BERR's UK Renewable Energy Strategy Consultation: "We fully support the government's renewable energy targets and we believe that the proposed renewable energy strategy is fundamental to reducing climate change.But we also passionately believe that renewable energy schemes must strike the right balance between competing interests. We wish to see rural communities contributing positively to international and national targets to reduce greenhouse gases. However, we must consider appropriateness of scale and impacts to the social, economic and environmental fabric of the countryside. We're passionate about moving toward sustainable rural communities. In my meetings across England I have met little resistance to Government efforts aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed rural communities are enthusiastic supporters of Government's proactive stance on renewable energy. The only - and consistent - caveat that communities cite is in relation to scale and accruing benefit. "
Focus: UK Tags: Rural, Environment, Energy Web: http://xpressdigest.org.uk/2008/06/30/rural-advocate-welcomes-uk-renewable-energy-strategy-consultation/?=xpdmail
30 June 2008 © Commission for Rural Communities (National)
Natural England is a government agency that works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas.
The Campaign to Protect of Rural England is a charity dedicated to the protection of rural England - protecting local countryside where there is threat, enhancing it where there is opportunity.
They both have views on renewable energy:
Natural England challenges conservation sector to make space for renewables
Conservationists, industry and government must work together to find the right places for renewables, said Natural England today (26 June 2008) welcoming the Government's Renewable Energy Strategy. Sir Martin Doughty, Chair of Natural England said: "Climate change is the most significant long term threat facing the natural environment. This strategy provides a welcome stepping stone on the path to a low carbon future. The conservation sector must now work with industry and government to find space for renewables and to develop a longer term blueprint for a low carbon economy by 2050." England has some of the best resources for wind, wave and tidal energy in Europe. But these resources are often found where our landscapes are at their most valued and where nature thrives. Sir Martin continued: "We don't know what the relative impacts of this energy revolution will be so we cannot afford to simply take a least cost route to delivering it. We urgently need a strategic assessment of the options for achieving the renewable energy target. Only the government can ensure that this assessment happens in time and to the high standards that are required." Sir Martin concluded: "To turn this strategy into reality, the conservation sector may in some cases have to accept short term pain for long term gain. Difficult decisions need to be taken if we are going to get serious about tackling climate change."
Focus: UK Tags: Environment, Social Enterprise Web: http://xpressdigest.org.uk/2008/06/27/natural-england-challenges-conservation-sector-to-make-space-for-renewables/?=xpdmail
26 June 2008 © Natural England
Don't Sacrifice the Landscape to Save the Environment
"Climate change is the overwhelming threat to the environment. But it would be madness to desecrate the countryside, one of the nation's most valued environmental assets, in tackling it. Protecting the landscape from damaging change must be at the heart of the renewable energy strategy if it is to command widespread public support." This is CPRE's reaction today (Thursday) to the Government's consultation on a UK Renewable Energy Strategy. Neil Sinden, CPRE's Policy Director, said: "The proposed strategy is a bold attempt to get to grips with the challenge of moving to a low carbon future. Public support is essential if we are to deliver the energy revolution we need. Proper use of the planning system is key to securing that support, yet the Government appears intent on perverting the planning process in ways which will only encourage public opposition and risk undermining the protection of our most valued landscapes." Neil Sinden concluded: "Planning should be centre stage in helping deliver development which minimises our energy needs, reduces the need to travel and protects the landscape. We will seek to persuade the Government to see planning as an opportunity rather than an obstacle in delivering its renewable energy strategy."
Focus: UK Tags: Rural, Environment, Planning Web: http://xpressdigest.org.uk/2008/06/27/dont-sacrifice-the-landscape-to-save-the-environment/?=xpdmail
26 June 2008 © CPRE
Low Carbon Communities: A study of community energy projects in the UK
New research identifies gaps in funding for community energy projects
Supported by Carnegie UK Trust, ruralnet|uk have been undertaking mapping and research work into community energy projects.
This work has 'mapped' community energy initiatives all over the UK - take a look - and provides a 'snapshot' of current activity and included case studies from Ashton Hayes, Knoydart Renewables, Transition Forest Row and FREE.
The main research findings are:
projects is good but this does not necessarily reflect how successful the project will be long-term
projects; particularly project-to-project networking support
infrastructures and general awareness-raising activities at a local level
Waste wood – the untapped resource for Biomass Fuel
The huge potential of reusing waste wood as fuel is being wasted, UK Environment Minister Joan Ruddock has warned. The significant carbon and energy benefits of recovering energy from waste wood are detailed in a new information report on the sector that surveys the activities of producers, aggregators and users of waste wood.
Recycling and energy markets for clean, virgin wood have been growing in recent years; however waste wood has been a largely overlooked resource. Currently up to 10 million tonnes of waste wood is being produced in the UK each year, most of which goes to landfill.
Joan Ruddock, Minister for Climate Change and Waste, said:
“It has been estimated that recovering energy from 2 million tonnes of waste wood could generate 2600GWh electricity and save 1.15 million tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions, with greater benefits available by recovering heat as well as power. This is a huge potential resource that is being wasted.”
With the majority of waste wood arisings being contaminated, the key to realising this potential is more, geographically dispersed, Waste Incineration Directive compliant combustion facilities delivering both energy and heat recovery.
The publication of the Waste Wood Information Report fits well with the intended convergence of energy and waste policy by creating greater awareness of this substantial, indigenous and largely untapped biomass resource available in municipal, construction and demolition and commercial and industrial waste streams. This coincides with the banding of the Renewables Obligation which will significantly increase support for electricity generated from biomass and combined heat and power (CHP). Notes to editors
Further information is available at www.defra.gov.uk/environment/waste/topics/woodwaste.htm
The carbon and energy benefits from waste wood have been highlighted in a number of recent publications, including the Waste Strategy for England 2007, the UK Biomass Strategy and the Energy White Paper.