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solar windEurope will likely get more than half of its electricity from renewable sources by the end of the next decade if EU countries meet their climate pledges, according to a draft commission paper.

A planned overhaul of the continent’s electricity grids will now need to be sped up, says the leaked text, seen by the Guardian.

“Reaching the European Union 2030 energy and climate objectives means the share of renewables is likely to reach 50% of installed electricity capacity,” says the consultation paper, due to be published on 15 July. “This means that changes to the electricity system in favour of decarbonisation will have to come even faster.”

The EU has set itself a goal of cutting emissions 40% on 1990 levels by 2030, and an aspiration for a 27% share for renewables across Europe’s full energy mix, which includes sectors such as transport, agriculture and buildings that do not necessarily rely on electricity. Around a quarter of Europe’s electricity currently comes from renewable sources.

Oliver Joy, a spokesman for the European Wind Energy Association welcomed the draft text but noted the 27% goal for 2030 was non-binding, and some countries were looking likely to even miss an earlier goal, for 2020, that is binding.

“Even with a binding provision, we are seeing the Netherlands, UK and France potentially missing their 2020 target [to source a fifth of energy provision from renewables].”

Joy called for the commission to deliver a governance system for renewables that prevented slacker states from hiding behind the more fast-moving ones.

Downing Street would almost certainly resist more stringent oversight from Brussels on renewable energy. Other measures put up for discussion in the paper could be an anathema to the government’s eurosceptic backbenchers.

One question in the consultation document linking market distortions to divergent energy taxes and charges, leaves the door open for proposals to harmonise taxes. These would raise hackles with several countries, the Conservative MEP Ian Duncan warned.

“I can’t believe that common taxes are the right approach for opening up markets,” he told the Guardian. “If we get bogged down in the the notion of common taxes, it will drag the whole thing down – and it won’t be pretty I’m afraid.”

The paper also proposes intraday cross-border power trading between countries so that renewable energy can be instantly dispatched to meet demand, without the need for storage. This kind of trading only takes place on a day-ahead basis at present.

Brussels

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The government has been accused of ‘bias’ over a secretary of state decision to refuse a planning appeal for a five-turbine Northamptonshire wind farm, against a planning inspector’s recommendation of approval.

Developer Broadview Energy Developments, which had its planning appeal against a council’s refusal of the scheme blocked by former communities secretary Eric Pickles last December, is seeking to have the decision overturned at the High Court.

Broadview accuses the government of bias, claiming that the decision to refuse its appeal was made by a minister – against the recommendation of a planning inspector – after “private meetings” with local MP Andrea Leadsom, who led the fight to block the five turbine wind farm at Spring Farm Ridge.

Jeremy Pike, representing Broadview, said that this constituted a breach of “natural justice” and gave rise to “actual or apparent bias”, because the content of the meeting was not disclosed to Broadview and they were not given an equal opportunity to make their own representations in response.

Broadview says it has been “prejudiced” and that the decision should be quashed.

However, Daniel Kolinsky QC argued on behalf of the secretary of state that there was no error of law and that the decision should stand.

He said that the truth behind the alleged meetings is much more prosaic, and that they amounted to conversations in the tea room and lobby of the House of Commons in which Leadsom took the “unscheduled opportunity” to discuss the wind farm proposal.

He said that they added nothing new, and were not taken into account in the decision, therefore giving rise to no breach of natural justice or bias, whether actual or apparent.

Mr Justice Cranston will give his decision in writing at a later date.

Broadview Energy Developments Limited v Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. Case Number: CO/408/2015

SOURCE – http://www.planningresource.co.uk/

Plans to make legislative changes in order to devolve powers to determine major onshore wind farm applications to local authorities are included in an Energy Bill announced in the Queen’s Speech.

Wind power: government to shift decision powers to local councils
Wind power: government to shift decision powers to local councils
A briefing note on the Energy Bill says that the proposed legislation would remove the need for the secretary of state’s consent for any large onshore wind farms over 50MW, in line with the Conservative Party’s manifesto commitment to “give local communities the final say on wind farm applications”.

“This, in effect, would devolve powers out of Whitehall by transferring existing consenting powers, in relation to onshore wind, to local planning authorities,” the briefing note said.

It added: “This will mean that in future the primary decision maker for onshore wind consents in England and Wales will be the local planning authority.

“These changes will be supported by changes to the National Planning Policy Framework to give effect to the manifesto commitment that local communities should have the final say on planning applications for wind farms.”

The briefing note said that the changes would not impact on the planning regime in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Source – http://www.planningresource.co.uk/

DSCF1135_editedThe Midlands gains £520 million of economic benefit from its local onshore wind industry, according to new figures released by RenewableUK. Of that, benefits to the value of £17 million go directly into the local community as a result of installed onshore wind capacity in the area.

There are currently over 360MW of onshore wind installed within the Midlands, powering over 195,791 homes each year. This represents environmental benefits of 352,925 tonnes of CO2 reduced per year due to onshore wind installed in the Midlands alone.

Around 60 organisations in the Midlands involved in the onshore wind sector are listed on the RenewableUK Supply Chain Map. These include offices of onshore wind developers, manufacturers, law firms and consultancies, such as Endurance Wind Power in Worcestershire, Revolvo in Dudley and Infinis Energy Services in Northampton. Endurance Wind Power, for example, manufactures wind turbines for farm wind which generate low voltage, clean energy for farms, businesses, institutions and the local community.

The figures form part of a report, undertaken by BiGGAR Economics for RenewableUK, which shows that the economic benefits of developing onshore wind are strongly felt across the UK, with the onshore wind industry generating a total £906 million in gross value added (GVA) revenue to the UK economy in 2014 alone. Since the beginning of 2012, GVA has risen by £358 million (up 65%) – revealing the increasing contribution that the onshore wind industry and its supply chain makes to the UK economy.

Sophie Moeng, Communications Manager from Airvolution Energy said, “It is a main focus of our company to bring investment to the areas in which we operate.  As such, we are committed to maximising opportunities for the local supply chain, and have demonstrated this by holding Meet the Buyer events to gain awareness of the companies local to our projects that could have a hand in their construction.  We have found getting in touch with local business groups, such as The Chamber of Commerce, a great help in forming this awareness, and we also have a dedicated page on our website for local suppliers to contact us. 

At our M1 J18 project near Crick we were able to achieve 44% local content from the Balance of Plant element. It’s gratifying to see the report show that local level of content has increased in each stage of wind farm development between 2011 and 2014, reflecting our industry’s commitment to ensure benefits are spent locally.”

The largest percentage of local spend comes at the operations and maintenance stage with 42% of the value of contracts (compared to 29% in 2011) being spent in the local area. On a wider level, almost half of the total spend is retained in the region in which a wind farm is located (48%), with this highest at the development stage (59%) and operation and maintenance (58%).

For businesses, investors and other regional stakeholders looking to find out more about the economic impact onshore wind has in their area, RenewableUK has created factsheets outlining the findings for each region: http://www.renewableuk.com/en/publications/index.cfm.

RenewableUK’s Chief Executive, Maria McCaffery, said, “The British onshore wind energy industry is adding £906 million a year to the national economy, so the benefits to the UK are clear to see. This report also shows that onshore wind really does bring benefits to the UK – with £7 in every £10 spent on projects invested in the UK.  Onshore wind powers local economies, bringing £199 million of investment into local areas where communities host wind farms, and creating jobs across the supply chain. The industry is helping to propel Britain to a brighter, cleaner future – onshore wind is already the lowest cost of all low carbon options, with potential to be the least cost form of electricity within the next five years.”

Energy in Demand - Sustainable Energy - Rod Janssen

Achim Steiner, under-secretary general of the United Nations and executive director of the UN environment programme (UNEP), writes in The Guardian about howclean energy has spread to every corner of the globe, with more than 100,000 megawatts of capacity installed last year. Steiner explains how clean energy investment in 2014 rose 17% compared to 2013. Now it would be good to see how energy efficiency could be included since even the IEA considers it now to be the first fuel.

‘The world is finally producing renewable energy at an industrial scale’

Renewables are finally becoming a globally significant source of power, according to a United Nations Environment Programme report released in March by Frankfurt School UNEP Centre and Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Driven by rapid expansion in developing countries, new installations of carbon-free renewable power plants in 2014 surpassed 100,000 megawatts of capacity for the first time, according to…

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Energy in Demand - Sustainable Energy - Rod Janssen

Chris Mooney writes in the Washington Post about important developments that will see batteries combined with rooftop solar panels deployed more widely. This could lead to a “load defection” away from the traditional electricity grid.

Experts: Powering your home with batteries is going to get cheaper and cheaper

In the past few weeks, there’s been a battery of new studies on batteries. Not the kind in your cellphone, but a much more revolutionary make – the kind that is already powering many cars, and that might someday help power your home.

A recent study in Energy Policy, for instance, found that the cost of batteries for home systems (to store the energy collected by rooftop solar panels) is starting to decline – although even with these systems, it probably won’t be economically optimal for most people to ditch the grid entirely. Another report by the Rocky Mountain Institute similarly…

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DSCF1246_editedNew research published by the industry-led Onshore Wind Cost Reduction Taskforce, set up by RenewableUK, shows that onshore wind can become the most cost effective new electricity source by 2020, driving down fuel bills for households throughout the UK.

The recommendations put forward fall into four main categories: further innovation by industry, improvement to the grid connection system, ensuring the UK consenting system is functioning as it should and monitoring and sharing best practice within industry. If these changes are implemented they will make onshore wind cheaper than gas, its nearest competitor. The Taskforce’s report takes new gas power stations (combined cycle gas turbine plant) as the expected baseline for cheapest new technology in 2020 with a predicted levelised cost of energy (LCOE) of £65-75 per megawatt hour by this date. The research has shown that without the measures outlined in this report, onshore wind would struggle to get its costs below this level, though would still be the cheapest source of low carbon electricity.

The taskforce looked at three different types of site with different wind speeds and found that if their recommendations were followed, up to £21 per megawatt hour could be shaved off onshore wind’s costs. Across the three types of sites anticipated reductions from today’s costs average 22%.  These reductions would mean that even the higher cost new wind farms would generate at a lower cost than the anticipated marginal new gas power stations, with the lowest cost onshore wind sites being £3 per megawatt hour cheaper than new gas power stations, at £62 per megawatt hour.

Chair of the taskforce Colin Morgan, business manager from DNV-GL Energy, said: “With this report we highlight that it is possible for onshore wind to be the cheapest new electricity capacity by 2020, and exactly how industry and government can work together to deliver this consumer benefit. We hope to be able to take these programmes forward over the next few months to enable onshore wind to grow its role providing low carbon power for millions of homes”.

Chief Executive of RenewableUK Maria McCaffery commented: “This work definitively shows the value of continuing the role of onshore wind in the UK. It’s already the most cost effective way to generate low carbon power, and this report shows that within the next five years onshore wind can be the most cost effective of all forms of power generation, driving down all our fuel bills. We have already seen evidence of the falling cost of onshore wind in the most recent auctions for low carbon power. However, further cost reductions won’t happen if this technology is cut off at the knees by a premature withdrawal of support. We urge politicians to work with us and support onshore wind, to help the UK to cut fuel imports, rather than imposing arbitrary caps on this technology”.

Notes:

  1. RenewableUK is the trade and professional body for the UK wind and marine renewables industries. Formed in 1978, and with more than 500 corporate members, RenewableUK is the leading renewable energy trade association in the UK.
  2. The Cost Reduction Task Force report will be available from http://www.renewableuk.com/en/publications/reports.cfm
  3. The Cost Reduction Task Force was established in June 2014 in order to take forward RenewableUK’s manifesto aim for onshore wind to be the cheapest new form of technology by 2020. http://www.renewableuk.com/en/news/press-releases.cfm/2014-06-25-wind-wave-and-tidal-industry-lays-out-general-election-asks-alongside-bold-cost-cutting-agenda-and-new-onshore-cost-reduction-taskforce
  4. The Cost Reduction Task Force was made up of members of the industry and chaired by Colin Morgan, Business Development Manager, DNV-GL Energy.