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Transitional green power issues- sectorial conflicts

By Dave Elliott

It is often said that, whereas it should be possible to meet electricity needs from renewables, heating was harder and transport harder still. While wind and solar and other renewables can generate electricity, replacing the use of fossil plants, heating and vehicle transport use of fossil fuels are harder to replace. Except possibly by the use of renewable electricity. Although some disagree, there should be enough renewable electricity output to meet all energy needs in time. However, even enthusiasts accept that there may not be enough to go around initially. So there may be sectorial conflicts at some stages.

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Industrial strategy: greening industry

By Dave Elliott

Following on from an earlier Green paper and its Clean Growth Strategy, the UK government has now produced a White Paper on Industrial Strategy. Although examples are provided of specific infrastructure projects and opportunities, it’s mostly couched in very general policy terms, identifying four ‘Grand Challenges’. It says we must put the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution; maximise the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth; become a world leader in shaping the future of mobility; and harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society’.  Continue reading

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Green energy levy freeze

By Dave Elliott

The UK’s Autumn Budget may have backed Electric Vehicles, but it wasn’t too helpful in terms of providing extra support for the green electricity they ought to use, if we want carbon emissions to be reduced. Tucked away in the Budget details was a plan for replacing the Levy Control Framework, which caps spending on green energy projects, with a new ‘Control of Carbon Levies’ system.  It will cover the Renewables Obligation (RO), Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) and the Contracts for Difference (CfD) systems as before, but the bad news is that, to keep future costs down, on the basis of current forecasts, there will be no new low carbon electricity levies until 2025’.

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Renewable innovation – and jobs

By Dave Elliott

IRENA, the International Renewable Energy Agency, has looked at innovation options and potentials in the sustainable energy sector, in terms of what needs to be done to reduce global carbon emissions. It says that ‘energy efficiency and renewable energy have the potential to achieve 90% of the emissions reductions needed by 2050, with renewables accounting for two-thirds of primary energy supply in 2050’. At that point, wind and solar heat will lead at 15% each. However, in most cases, while some technical R&D may still be needed, innovations in business models, market designs, enabling infrastructure and systems operation, are equally crucial to achieve the energy transformation’. Continue reading

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Whatever happened to wave power?

By Dave Elliott

‘The average rated capacity of wave energy devices over the past three years (2015-2017) was 70% lower than (in) the period between 2000 and 2014. In contrast tidal stream saw a 124% increase in the average rated capacity during the same period’. So says a report from Imperial College London and Strathclyde University, looking at what went wrong with the UK wave energy programme.

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Energy transitions in the UK

By Dave Elliott

The UK energy transition is progressing quite well on the electricity side, despite on-shore wind being constrained, but less progress has been made on green heat. A new Energy Research Partnership report on decarbonising heat, Transition to low-carbon heat’, looks at the technical, social, financial and governance aspects and highlights the key actions that need to be taken now and in the next few years. ERP says that ‘supplying natural gas or oil directly into homes will need to be replaced by a decarbonised gas or by electric heating or heat network. But it is not a simple choice: each option has challenges that could limit their deployment. A combination of options is likely to be required; no one option may not dominate, as natural gas currently does. Demand reduction will be an essential part of a cost-effective transition’.

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The Helm energy cost review

By Dave Elliott

In his wide-ranging review of energy costs for the UK government, Dieter Helm says ‘the cost of energy is too high, and higher than necessary to meet the Climate Change Act (CCA) target and the carbon budgets. Households and businesses have not fully benefited from the falling costs of gas and coal, the rapidly falling costs of renewables, or from the efficiency gains to network and supply costs which come from smart technologies. Prices should be falling, and they should go on falling into the medium and longer terms’.  And he sets out his ideas for enabling that to happen.                   Continue reading

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Hydro power: good or bad?

By Dave Elliott

Hydroelectric power is still the largest source of renewable electricity, generating nearly 17% of all global electricity, with over 1,200GW of large and small capacity in use around the world, the small plants (under 10MW) making up over 10% of the total. Most projects involve the construction of large dams and reservoirs, but smaller run-of-the-river schemes are also common, operating on river flows, without reservoirs. More capacity of all types is being added all the time. For example, Brazil recently installed an extra 4GW, and some see hydro use expanding significantly worldwide in the years ahead. Others are less sure, and point to a range of environmental and strategic problems. Continue reading

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The UK’s new Clean Growth Strategy

By Dave Elliott

Given the uncertainties about Brexit – when where, how, why and even if – there had been a striking lack of government policy activity in the energy field over the last few months. Many key issues seemed to be pushed into the future while we waited for the much delayed new Carbon plan and the Helm Price review. But the government has now finally come up with its new Clean Growth Strategy, as well as a (re) commitment (announced at the Tory party Conference) to a temporary energy price cap, though that may not start up until next year. Continue reading

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Energy saving

By Dave Elliott

Efficient energy end-use is a huge and urgent topic. It obviously makes economic and environmental sense to avoid energy waste in all sectors, but it’s often hard to achieve savings effectively. And it’s often difficult to identify which options work well. POST, the UK Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, recently came up with a useful review. But, rather glumly, it concluded that, although energy efficiency improvements can reduce fuel poverty and greenhouse gas emissions and improve comfort, health, wellbeing, energy security and economic productivity…. there is insufficient evidence to identify which types of policy are most effective’.   Continue reading

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