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wind v nuke 29thAug14

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consensus-infographic-finalA new survey reveals important misconceptions on energy and climate change among the UK public. The ComRes poll was commissioned by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), a new non-profit initiative with a high-level Advisory Board including MPs, Peers and leading academics, aiming to support informed debate on energy and climate issues in the UK.

It shows that only one in nine (11 percent) of people are aware of the strength of the scientific consensus on man-made climate change, a finding that the ECIU said carries ‘uncomfortable echoes’ of the MMR controversy of 15 years ago.

Nearly half of the UK population (47 percent) think either that most climate scientists reject the idea that human activities such as fossil fuel burning are the main driver of climate change (11 percent), or that scientists are evenly split on the issue (35 percent). Several recent studies show that more than 90% of climate scientists agree that the main cause of climate change is human activity.

Another major misunderstanding relates to the British public’s preferences for different forms of energy. Only one in twenty (5 percent) of Britons know that renewables such as solar and wind are supported by a significant majority (about 80 percent) of the UK population. Two-thirds (63 percent) estimate support at under 50 percent.

Richard Black, director of the ECIU, said: “This survey shows that there’s a huge gap between reality and perception on some key climate and energy issues. These are important findings given that the UK has crucial decisions to make on our response to climate change and our energy system in the next few years. 

“As a nation we can only make sensible choices if we’re properly informed, so it’s vital that people are aware of what the evidence is and that it’s communicated clearly.

“The breakdown between the views of scientists and the public on climate change is a particular concern. This feels reminiscent of the situation around MMR where most Britons thought the medical profession was split on the safety of the vaccine whereas doctors were virtually unanimous that it was safe.”

In 1998 a scientific paper suggested a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, leading to claims that the vaccine was unsafe.

Four years later a study by Cardiff University researchers showed that most Britons thought the medical profession was split on the issue, because ‘both sides of the debate’ had received roughly equal prominence in media coverage. The paper was subsequently retracted.

Katharine Peacock, managing director of ComRes (a polling and research consultancy) said: “The perceived lack of consensus among climate scientists is striking – particularly as scientists are one of the most trusted groups in society. As outliers of opinion are often memorable and debate among some groups remains, it is for the scientific community to communicate a strong evidence-based message to the media and through them the public.”

Other findings from the ECIU/ComRes survey include:

  • half of the population (50 percent) say the winter floods strengthened their belief that the climate is changing, and a quarter (27 percent) say the floods also strengthened their belief in human activity as the main cause;
  • one in seven (14 percent) think ‘green energy’ policies have increased their energy bills a great deal. Thirty-seven percent think they have increased bills somewhat, and 34 percent think they have made no difference. Analysis by DECC concludes that environmental and social levies add about eight percent to the average household bill for gas and electricity, but that the net result of these measures overall is to reduce the average bill by 5 percent [8], largely because they save energy;
  • about half (46 percent) of the population think shale gas exploitation would make no difference to energy bills. Twenty-seven percent think it will reduce bills, and 16 percent foresee an increase.

The survey also showed that by some distance, the public view the BBC as the most important news organisation for information on energy and climate issues, with 62 percent saying it is one of their top three most used news sources on these topics. ITV and Sky are the second and third most used sources (at 27 percent and 15 percent respectively); the Daily Mail is the most used newspaper, at 14 percent.

climatemodel-nasa-751x500ComRes also asked people to name the three news organisations they most trust on energy and climate issues. Studies show that people generally trust the sources that they use, and this was generally reflected here. However, more people trust the Financial Times, Independent and Channel 4 News than use them. But usage ratings were higher than trust ratings for the BBC, the Daily Mail and The Sun.

The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit has been set up to support informed debate and evidence-based communication in the fields of energy and climate change. A central part of its work will be to provide clear, accessible, up-to-date and expert-reviewed briefings on key topics.

Its Advisory Board reflects the breadth of society’s interest in energy and climate issues. It includes climate scientists, energy policy experts and economists, as well as a range of other stakeholders including MPs and Peers. [9]

ECIU Advisory Board member Lord Howard of Lympne said: “I’ve had an interest in climate change since my term as Environment Secretary in the 1990s, and I’ve also followed progress in low-carbon technologies such as nuclear power with great interest. I decided to lend ECIU my advice because I think it can have a beneficial role in improving communication in the very important areas of energy and climate change.”

ECIU Advisory Board member Lord Puttnam of Queensgate said: “I was fortunate enough to be involved in passage of the Climate Change Act in 2008 – it passed virtually without demur and with support from all parties. Since then, the evidence that climate change presents significant risks to the UK has only strengthened, a fact that’s not always reflected in the wider public conversation. People need every scrap of possible help to inform themselves of the growing body of evidence, because only then will we be in a position to make sensible social and political decisions.”

ECIU Advisory Board member Dr Emily Shuckburgh said: “The scientific evidence that man-made climate change is real and presents significant risks is incredibly robust. But that doesn¹t always come across to the public, as the ECIU survey shows. In my view it¹s vital that we bridge that gap, so that people are able to separate fact from fiction, enabling society as a whole to make informed decisions about our future.”

ECIU Advisory Board member Marylyn Haines Evans said: “The Women’s Institutes have always taken an active interest in issues that affect women both in the UK and all over the world, and few issues are more challenging than climate change. But that’s what it is – a challenge – and we need to deal with it in the same way that women have always dealt with challenges. I’m looking forward to working with ECIU and getting people more involved in finding practical solutions to the problems before us.”

ComRes interviewed 2,021 GB adults online between 1st August and 3rd August 2014. Data were weighted to be representative of all GB adults aged 18+. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data table can be found at www.comres.co.uk. The survey is available here.

Wind Power: The Truth

August 25, 2014

DSCF1134_editedRenewableUK says a record high of 22% of the UK’s electricity was generated by wind on Sunday (17th August), beating the previous 24-hour record of 21% set earlier this month (Monday 11th August). Before that, the record stood at 20%, set on 20th December 2013.

The UK’s onshore and offshore wind turbines generated an average of 5,797 megawatts (MW) on Sunday – enough to power more than 15 million homes at this time of year, according to the statistics from National Grid.

RenewableUK’s Director of External Affairs, Jennifer Webber, said “We’re seeing very high levels of generation from wind throughout August so far, proving yet again that onshore and offshore wind has become an absolutely fundamental component in this country’s energy mix. It also shows that wind is a dependable and reliable source of power in every month of year – including high summer”.

On Sunday 17th August, wind was generating a greater proportion of the UK’s electricity needs than coal (which was providing 13%), solar (3%), biomass (3%) and hydro (1%). Nuclear generated 24% and gas 26%.

Notes:
1 – RenewableUK is the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. Formed in 1978, and with more than 560 corporate members, RenewableUK is the leading renewable energy trade association in the UK.
2 – National Grid statistics supplied to RenewableUK by independent data analysts EnAppSys http://www.enappsys.com/ 22% = 17% metered wind (turbines feeding directly into the high voltage grid) + 5% embedded wind (turbines feeding into local networks).
3 – 22% is the highest proportion of the UK’s electricity needs ever generated from wind over a 24-hour period (5,797MW average over the 24-hour period on Sunday 17th August). The highest ever average amount of electricity generated from wind over a 24-hour period stands at 7,234MW – a record set on 3rd January 2014.

(RenewableUK media release – Monday 18th August 2014)

NatalieOn-shore wind farms are here to stay because they are the cheapest form of renewable energy available, according to the leader of the Green Party.
But Greens would let local communities rather than big business build wind farms – and keep the profits to spend on local services.
Green Party leader Natalie Bennett was speaking to The Journal as she prepares for the party’s annual conference next month.
Greens have enjoyed a surge in support, beating the Liberal Democrats in the European Elections in May, and party membership has grown by 28% so far this year alone.
And supporters of the Greens point out that their fortunes have risen without the type of free publicity enjoyed by UKIP, which has been in the media spotlight this year.
The number of on-shore windfarms applications in Northamptonshire has sparked fierce debate, but Ms Bennett said more wind farms were needed.
While off-shore windfarms could play a role, they could not entirely replace on-shore wind farms, she said.
“The reality is that on-shore wind is now the cheapest renewable we’ve got,” she said. “Off-shore has enormous potential to develop an industry that can then become an export industry.
“We can use the skills and knowledge we have coming out of the dying North Sea Oil industry, and transfer those skills across.
“But on-shore is still cheap, affordable and pretty easy to do.
“The key factor, and what we want to encourage, is community owned on-shore wind and other forms of renewables.”
If communities were able to able to own and receive the profits from wind farms, to spend on local schools or other services, then there would be far more support for them, she said.
Ms Bennett also highlighted the need to cut energy consumption entirely, including by making homes more energy-efficient.
“The great forgotten Cinderella of energy policy is energy conservation,” she said. “We have some of the worst housing in Western Europe.”
Policies set to be discussed at the Green Party conference include plans for a wealth tax of 1% or 2% for people with assets of £3m or more. It would mean they paid £30,000 to £60,000 each year in new taxes.
Greens also want to tax out-of-town supermarkets, with the cash going to support local businesses.

EmissionsPut simply, renewable energies are at least as cheap as their fossil fuel alternatives. Here’s why:

First, some surprising facts that correct myths we’ve all heard about renewable energies: Global fossil fuel subsidies are five times higher than renewable subsidies. Britain’s coal-fired power stations only run at 34 per cent efficiency. And studies have shown that solar technologies can produce ten jobs per unit compared with one in conventional energy.
Climate-sceptic rhetoric leaves aside this pertinent evidence preferring confirmation bias as a basis for policy instead.

The cost of electricity is measured in cents ($) per kilowatt hour (kWh). This is calculated using a system called the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) which accounts for factors such as capital costs, fuel costs, and maintenance, to create comparable figures.

The LCOE includes an assumed utilization rate that allows for intermittent renewable supplies. Critics say that the LCOE doesn’t account for additional costs associated with renewables. But the opposite is true.

LCOE skews estimates in favour of fossil fuels and disguises many of their implications. Illness and mortality due to pollution, environmental monitoring and clean up, and infrastructure damage, all cost the state as a direct result of fossil fuels. We call these costs: externalities.
The US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has projected levelized costs to 2019 for coal (6c), the cheapest gas source (1.4c), and onshore wind (6.4c). However, adding on only the most conservative estimate (p.1669) of externality costs, the prices become: coal (9.6c), gas (2.7c), and wind remains the same (6.4c).

Other studies calculate the cost of externalities to be much higher, between 9 – 27c kWh.
Based on lowest externality estimates and using the cheapest source of natural gas as an example, gas appears as a false alternative to renewables.
Methane leakage during extraction of gas has proved in many cases to negate any benefit. Methane emissions have been assessed between 1-9 per cent of total emissions at extraction. Unless leakage is below 3.2 per cent, the life cycle emissions of a gas plant will be no better than a new coal plant.

Externalities make gas more expensive than onshore wind, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectricity.

The International Renewable Energy Agency reported earlier this year that, such was the burden of externalities on global economies, investment in renewables could save between $123bn – $735bn over a twenty year period.

These figures reflect the scale of the damage caused by fossil fuel-related pollution. In 2012, 3.7 million premature deaths worldwide were linked to outdoor pollution.

The World Health Organization also found in a study that 83 per cent of Europeans were exposed to high levels of PM10 (particulate matter), the most detrimental pollutant to human health. In fact, Europe ranks the second worst polluted region per capita on the planet as a result of fossil fuel reliance.

This catastrophic effect on health translates directly into expenditure. The World Bank reported in 2007 (p.xv) that damage associated with air pollution cost China 3.8 per cent of its GDP. Perhaps that’s why, despite its economy being smaller, China invested more in renewables last year than the entire EU.

The EIA also projected estimates to 2040 for coal (8.7c), the cheapest gas source (7.8c), and onshore wind (7.3c). Even without the costs of externalities, by 2040, gas and coal will be more expensive than renewables.

They calculate a further figure for 2040: the levelized avoided cost of electricity. This calculates whether new production adds value to the system by displacing more expensive generation. The only sources with value-adding potential were advanced conventional combined gas (+2.0c), geothermal (+75.2c), onshore wind (+13.0c), solar (+10.6c), and hydroelectricity (+11.0c).

By 2040, renewables will be cheaper in levelized costs, significantly cheaper when externalities are factored in, and will also be the primary sources for adding value to our energy system.

The fact that fossil fuels are more expensive than renewables is disguised because externality costs of fossil fuels are hidden in ordinary price comparisons. Renewables are not an expense but a saving, a figure that could run into the hundreds of billions.

Written by Matt Bevington, who is a member of the Green Party and a contributor to the Fabian Review.  Source – Left Foot Forward

Stall at the Umbrella Fair

August 10, 2014

Airvolution are taking a stand at the Umbrella Fair in Northampton on 16th-17th August to talk wind generally, with an aim of identifying local people who might want to support our Blakemore project when it gets submitted later this year – show your support and register your interest there. http://www.blakemore-wind.co.uk/

Airvolution have also just started construction on 2 turbines near DIRFT. http://www.m1j18-wind.co.uk/