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EU Renewables Policy: mixed reactions

By Dave Elliott

The European Union’s renewable energy policy is one of the most ambitious attempts to facilitate a transition towards a more sustainable energy system. A new book, ‘A Guide to EU Renewable Energy Policy’, edited by Israel Solorio and Helge Jörgens and published by Edward Elgar, provides a comprehensive guide to the policy, its implementation and reactions, with contributions from a range of key academics – 24 in all.

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A ‘gross’ miscalculation

By Dave Elliott

The International Energy Agency (IEA) ‘underreports (the) contribution solar and wind by a factor of three’ compared to fossil fuels, according to a recent report. I and others have been pointing this out regularly, but it’s good to see this methodological anomaly (if that’s what it is) exposed and explored in more detail in an article by Erik Sauar: http://energypost.eu/iea-underreports-contribution-solar-wind-factor-three-compared-fossil-fuels/   Continue reading

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European wind co-operation could benefit all

By Dave Elliott

‘European cooperation could provide more stable wind power’. So says a new Imperial College study. Co-author Dr Iain Staffell, from Imperial’s Centre for Environmental Policy, said: ‘Some weather regimes are characterised by storms rolling in from the Atlantic bringing high winds to northwest or southwest Europe, but these are accompanied by calm conditions in the east. Other regimes see calmer weather from the Atlantic and a huge drop in wind production in Germany, the British Isles and Spain. But at the same time, wind speeds consistently increase in southeast Europe, and this is why countries such as Greece could act as a valuable counterbalance to Europe’s current wind farms.’

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Common concerns about wind power

by Dave Elliott

Wind power is expanding in the UK, offshore especially (now at 5.8GW), but also on land, with 11.4GW installed so far despite the government’s block on Contracts for Difference (CfD) support for on-shore projects, and occasional objections on the grounds of adverse local impacts. So it is good to see the second updated edition of an excellent well-researched study of local impacts and issues from the Centre for Sustainable Energy, with evidence-based analysis drawing on peer-reviewed and publicly-funded studies covering all the aspects in some detail.

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Do batteries and EVs ‘change everything’?

By Dave Elliott

You almost need to draw a line under what has come before and start again. There is no doubt that batteries completely and utterly metamorphose the market in that they make the uncontrollable controllable. It makes the arguments against renewable energy fall away’. Nick Boyle, founder of Europe’s largest solar operator, Lightsource.

And batteries in electric vehicles (EVs) take it to a new level, with IRENA claiming that ‘EVs can be used to enable a higher share of variable renewable energy in the power system’. So does all this add up to technological revolution? Continue reading

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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 is harder and transport harder still. While wind and solar and other renewables can generate electricity and replace 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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