A special extended bumper New Year edition
By Dave Elliott
The UK starts 2015 with a big new year headache- the Hinkley nuclear project. It is a huge uncertain project, and it is far from clear, if goes ahead, whether it will prove to be a wise investment, given the fall in energy costs and the emergence of cheaper renewable alternatives. (more…)
By Dave Elliott
The development of wind power has provided many examples of divergent views and conflicts. For some it is the best way forward for dealing with climate change, for others it is an environmental disaster. Some wind supporters see objectors as retrogressive NIMBY’s, while some objectors see developers as evil despoilers of scenic views. Aesthetic issues and landscape preservation are important, but perhaps more substantially some objectors claim the wind power cannot make much of a significant contribution to dealing with climate change or energy security.
With wind now at over 230 GW globally, it is good time to take stock and see how (and if) some of these issues have impacted on its development and how wind power might be expected to develop in future. Palgrave’s new book ‘Learning from Wind Power’ edited by Joseph Szarka et al, attempts an overview. It says that the technology seems basically unproblematic, apart from the issue of intermittency, which is really just an operational and economic problem – it costs money to provide balancing services, and as the proportion of wind on the grid expands, more balancing has to be arranged. Less tractable are some of the institutional issues. As this book illustrates, in the UK, the planning permission processes and local objections have led to major delays, and the financial support system has arguably not been effective at creating the right investment climate, compared to that in other countries. Nevertheless wind is moving ahead in the UK, offshore especially, and it is likely to remain the dominant renewable source for some while in the UK and elsewhere.