June 5, 2018
Offshore wind: UK defines innovation targets as IRENA calls for global standards
June 5, 2018
The Offshore Wind Innovation Hub (OWIH), a UK government-funded industrial development body, has issued its blueprint for expansion of the country’s offshore wind industry, reports the website Recharge News.
According to the plan offshore wind must be generating one third of Britain’s electricity by 2030.
The OWIH plan, structured as “Innovation Roadmaps”, spotlights four technology areas, notes Recharge: turbines, substructures, operations and maintenance and electrical infrastructure”.
“Innovation is at the heart of developing a strong UK supply chain and capitalising on the global growth of the offshore wind sector,” said Stephen Wyatt, Research & Innovation director at the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult and co-chair of OWIH’s technical advisory group. “The technology challenge roadmaps … clearly signpost where the industry should be focusing its innovation effort to continue to drive down costs and maximise on these opportunities.”
Ray Thompson, head of business development for Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy and technical advisory group co-chair, stated: “The technology challenges are designed to provide an impartial sector-wide view of the priority innovation areas for offshore wind. They add value to the industry, the supply chain, and academia by highlighting where technology innovation efforts should be focused.”
Benj Sykes, co-chair of the Offshore Wind Industry Council, which led development of the UK’s Vision 2030 offshore wind industry economic impact report added the OWIH plan would “help focus innovation activity as we work closely with government to maximise the advantages of our world-leading position and agree a transformational Sector Deal, which will unlock at least 30GW of capacity by the end of the next decade”.
“[This plan will] energise the innovative UK businesses serving our industry at home and abroad, and create skilled UK jobs in the places where they are most needed,” he said.
The OWIH roadmaps are designed to provide government and industry with a “single, validated source of information” on innovation priorities within the UK offshore wind sector, notes Recharge. “OWIH will now work with industry to develop projects in each technology area, outlining routes to market for supply chain companies. Seven specific innovation challenges have been set out so far with two industry partners, according to the body, with a resulting 72 solutions proposed from 53 different UK companies.’
That the OWIH plan is likely to fill a need is confirmed by another new report, from the International Renewable Energy Agency, which says that “detailed standards” are needed to underpin a global expansion of the offshore wind sector.
“Offshore wind has the potential to be inclusive, cost-effective and game-changing,” said Dolf Gielen, director of Irena’s Innovation and Technology Centre. “The time is now for governments to put in place detailed offshore standardisation and quality control strategies to drive the development of domestic offshore wind energy as its costs continue to fall.”
As Recharge News reports, “among the expected benefits of greater international standardisation in offshore wind … are: increased consumer and investor confidence, improved safety, greater reliability and reduced transaction costs for offshore technology.”
“Ultimately, we want countries to have a blueprint, drawing on the experience from leading actors, to explore their full offshore potential”, said the report’s lead author Francisco Boshell.
According to IRENA, offshore wind could become as large as 100 GW by 2030 as costs are falling. For 2050 the potential is 500 GW.
Germany’s difficult coal exit is “one of the defining projects of the coming decades”
June 5, 2018
The German government on 28 May postponed at the last minute “the official launch of the phase-out commission for the third time”.
“The quarrels over the commission’s leadership and remit bear witness to the enormous task ahead, and also foreshadow difficult negotiations”, notes Clean Energy Wire. However, the government insists that its schedule to name an end date for coal by the end of the year will be kept.
The fresh delay of the Commission’s launch would not affect the commission’s schedule, a government spokesperson said. “The commission’s timetable stipulates a first report to the government by October, proposals for closing Germany’s climate gap for 2020 before the COP24 in Poland, and the final report by year-end.”
The coal commission – officially called “Special Commission on Growth, Structural Economic Change and Employment” – is supposed to bring policymakers, industry representatives, labour unions and reportedly also environmental NGOs to the table to decide on a roadmap and a clear end date for coal-fired power production. Germany must exit coal-fired power generation to reach its goal of becoming largely greenhouse gas-neutral by mid-century, as the technology is the country’s single-largest source of carbon emissions.
In the past months, there was intense squabbling about every aspect of the task force, regarding questions such as: What should be the commission’s title? Which ministries should be in charge? Who else should be a member in the commission? What should be its priorities? More details can be found in this article: Germany gears up for official talks on coal phase-out.
Media commentators said the protracted wrangling revealed that the coal exit will have a deep impact on Germany, reports Clean Energy Wire.
“The squabbling before the launch is indicative of the task force’s importance,” wrote Angela Ulrich for public broadcaster ARD. Stefan Schultz and Gerald Traufetter wrote on Spiegel Online that the coal exit is likely to be “one of the defining projects of the coming decades”. It was therefore understandable that so many lobby groups wanted to have a say, resulting in a commission with “monstrous dimensions”.
According to the latest plans, eight ministries will be involved in the task force, which will be headed by four people. Representatives of six German states will also participate. Numerous associations – representing utilities, industry, renewables, employers, and environmentalists – also vie for a say. Some media published a provisional list of task force members, including Michael Vassiliadis, head of the mining union IG BCE, and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.
Environmental NGO WWF said the complicated makeup “will make it very difficult for the commission to arrive at a result”.
The chemical industry has warned that power prices would rise and supply security could be endangered if the exit was too fast.
Meanwhile, the Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) said recently that “Germany can decommission half of its coal power plants by 2030.
“But this hinges on the precondition that the necessary grid extensions are finished by then, and that the planned gas power plants will be built as replacements,” agency head Jochen Hohmann told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “The Coal Commission will have to deal with this issue as well.”
He added that opinions differ on whether temporary spikes in the power price will be enough to stimulate the construction of new gas power plants. “Much depends on whether one believes in it, regardless of the uncertainties in the market.”
Two more climate cases: against EU and Shell – but flood losses in Europe are decreasing
June 5, 2018
Families from Europe and outside are taking the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union to the European General Court for allowing high level of emissions until 2030 and failing to protect the citizens with the existing inadequate 2030 climate target, reports NGO CAN (climate action network) Europe.
The complaint addressed to the European General Court asserts that the EU’s existing 2030 climate target to reduce domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40% by 2030, as compared to 1990 levels, is inadequate with respect to the real need to prevent dangerous climate change and not enough to protect their fundamental rights of life, health, occupation and property.
“Ten families from Portugal, Germany, France, Italy, Romania, Kenya, Fiji, and the Swedish Sami Youth Association Sáminuorra, underline that climate change is already impacting their livelihoods, homes, traditional family occupation and culture”, CAN Europe says in a press release. “They claim that considering the requirements of higher rank EU and international law, the EU should define higher emission reduction target to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens. They ask the court to rule that climate change is a human rights issue and the EU is responsible to protect their rights, also the rights of today’s children and future generations.”
The plaintiff families are challenging the EU’s 2030 climate target through addressing the three EU emission regulation legal acts (the Emission Trading Scheme Directive, the Effort Sharing Regulation and the Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry Regulation) that have recently been approved by the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union. The families state that the high level of greenhouse gases that are still allowed to be emitted through these three legal acts do not reflect what the EU can do according to its potential to reduce emissions.
The grandfather of the French plaintiff family (72 years), Maurice Feschet explained: “44% in 6 years : it is concretely our loss of harvest in the French Provence due to the impacts of climate change hitting us harder and harder. In European politics, there is a concrete urgency to take a step back and consider the principles of democracy. The EU must now listen to its citizens who are impacted by climate change and implement the necessary measures to protect them.”
Sanna Vannar (22 years), the chairwoman of Youth Association Sáminuorra, said: “If we lose the reindeers, the Saami culture will be lost. Many of the Saami youth want to stay with their families and be reindeer herders, but they cannot see a future. This is mostly due to the threat of climate change. This must be urgently addressed for the safety of our generation and the next generations.“
The families are represented by environmental lawyer Roda Verheyen, Prof. Gerd Winter and Hugo Leith. Roda Verheyen, the lawyer of the families said: “Climate change is already an issue for the courts in the European countries and around the world. The plaintiff families are putting their trust in the EU Courts and legal system to protect their fundamental rights of life, health, occupation and property which are under threat of climate change. The EU courts must now listen to these families and ensure that they are protected.”
Shale gas: UK wants to produce it, Ireland wants to import it
June 5, 2018
Very few European countries still believe in developing their shale gas resources. One exception is the UK.
The UK government, in fact, seems very determined on bringing fracking to Britain. In an outspoken opinion piece for The Sun newspaper, published on 18 May, UK Energy and Clean Growth Minister Claire Perry makes the case for fracking in the UK as few other energy ministers in European countries would dare to do.
Perry writes that “Shale gas extraction could provide a big clean growth boost for local communities as part of our modern Industrial Strategy – bringing thousands of high quality jobs, local investment and financial benefits to many parts of the country. And our world-leading environmental regulations mean we could create even more investment and export opportunities from innovations like recycling waste water.”
“There are those who argue strongly against shale gas”, writes Perry, “using the most colourful and scaremongering language they can find and intimidating local communities and decision makers with lots of protestors from out of town. In my experience, most of these arguments are made by people who actually just don’t want us to use gas at all – now or ever.”
“While we should all be hugely proud of our huge progress on renewables that delivers almost 30 percent of our electricity needs”, notes Perry, “we cannot meet our energy and heat needs now, or for many years to come, at a price we can afford, without using the gas that geography has gifted us.
That is why we committed to support the development of onshore British shale gas and to deliver a clean safe and affordable energy supply for the country. It is why I have set out these changes to the planning and regulation regime to make sure there is support available for all involved in this process.”
Arguably, the UK government’s insistence on developing its domestic shale gas resources, despite the heavy environmental burden this involves, as well as its decision to invest heavily in nuclear power, despite the costs, have a lot to do with Brexit: the government seems to be aiming for a high degree of energy independence. It will be interesting to see how public opinion in the UK will respond once the frackers move in.
Meanwhile, Ireland, which is one of only three countries in Europe to have introduced a total ban on fracking, is considering building an LNG terminal on its west coast to be able to import U.S. LNG. And this is also related to Brexit, according to a report by DeSmog, an environmental NGO.
“Brexit fears played a key role in the reactivation of plans to develop a massive liquid natural gas (LNG) deepwater terminal in the Shannon estuary”, writes DeSmog. “Irish government ministers were alarmed that in a post-Brexit situation, LNG being piped into Ireland from the UK via interconnectors could be subject to tariffs.”
“The proposed terminal, which would be capable of docking the world’s largest LNG carriers, is to include four massive LNGstorage tanks, each with a capacity of 200,000 cubic metres”, writes DeSmog. “Some 23 environmental groups from Ireland, Germany, Belgium and the US have united to oppose the terminal, with the principal objection being that its principal source of LNG would be from fracked gas fields in the US.”
The ironies of energy policy…