Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Labour price freeze pledge will mean cancelling carbon tax increase

Ed Miliband's headline grabbing pledge to freeze energy prices unti 2017 must mean the cancellation of the planned increase in the 'carbon floor price' brought in by the Coalition Government.

The carbon floor price is set to increase sharply. The carbon floor price, a Treasury tax that keeps up carbon prices in the UK, effectively pushes up electricity prices because the increased price of carbon allowances (associated with the EU's Emissions Trading System (ETS) makes electricity from gas and especially coal more expensive. According to the Government's plans it will increase prices significantly by the likely general election date in 2015. But it is set to increase thereafter as well. If Ed wants to freeze electricity prices he will have little alternative but to cancel the proposed increase. See details of the projected price rises at:


But what is in doubt also is that George Osborne will be able to sustain the increase until then anyway. A fall in energy prices may make this politically possible, but otherwise pressure will mount against what is really a carbon tax. The majority of the proceeds go to the Treasury. You may ask why I, as a green energy supporter, might not be too upset that this increase is cancelled. Well, the truth is that the carbon floor price does next to nothing to encourage new green energy investments because of the uncertainty about the future levels of the tax. All the carbon floor price does is, for the most part, keep old nuclear power stations running and give EDF a financial boost.

Offshore wind, energy efficiency, solar pv  loses out in favour of more tax receipts

Really it would be much better to have a smaller tax and target it to be spent on energy efficiency, offshore windfarms and solar pv. See Transform UK for their programme on energy efficiency and the failings of Treasury policies at http://www.transformuk.org/en/articles/932/budget-chancellor-gives-no-help-to-households-to-bring-down-/

Feed-in tariffs for offshore windfarms are set to fall to £135 per MWh after 2018. This sounds a lot, but the small print on the Government's EMR programme is that the government's version of feed-in tariffs aren't anything like as high as they appear when compared to the effective payments available under the existing Renewables Obligation (RO). That is because the Government's terms for the new feed-in tariff are very inferior to the RO. For a start the premium prices will only run for 15 years as opposed to 20 under the RO. Secondly there will only be a partial inflation adjustment since the 'consumer price index' (CPI) will be used which simply fails to keep pace with inflation that is more accurately measured by the Retail Price Index (used to uprate inflation under the RO). So £135 per MWh is more like £115 per MWh when compared on the same terms as the RO.

The Government are using smoke and mirrors to engineer a policy that claims to deliver green energy but in fact delivers little but higher tax income and more  money for EDF.

Can Ed think of a better policy than this? I hope so, because for offshore wind after 2015, and solar pv and energy efficiency even now,  it could not be much worse under current Government plans

Monday, 23 September 2013

Eurosolar co-operative prizewinner to speak at event discussing what makes for success in community renewable energy schemes

How can community renewable energy schemes be successful?

A half day seminar at Aberdeen University – sponsored by the School of Social Science, University of Aberdeen

This seminar will look into factors that affect the success of community renewable energy schemes, and innovative means of achieving this. Attendance is free of charge. Henning Davidsen, organiser of the prizewinning 'Hvide Sande' cooperative wind power project will be among the speakers.

Date and time: Wednesday November 20th, 12-5pm, University of Aberdeen, King St, in room NK14, New  Kings College Building on the main University (Kings College) campus. If you want to attend,  register with David Toke by sending an email to d.toke@abdn.ac.uk and you will receive further details.

Schedule and Speakers:

12.10-12.30 – tea and coffee

12.30 – 12.50  -Dr David Toke, Reader in Energy Politics, University of Aberdeen
‘An overview –accounting for success in renewable energy cooperatives’

12.50 – 1.30 - Felix Wright, Policy and Innovation Manager, Community Energy Scotland,  – ‘Reflections on Community Renewables programmes in Scotland’

1.30- 2.10pm-  Henning Davidsen – Coordinator of the Holmsland Tourism Association in Hvide Sande, Denmark, which acted to establish a 9 MW wind power project using an innovative Trust Fund mechanism to underpin a cooperative. The project has been awarded the European Solar Prize by Eurosolar 2013. -
'How Hvide Sande got its windmills through a cooperative effort'

2.10- 2.35 Dr Richard Cowell – Reader in Environmental Policy and Planning, University of Cardiff, 'Community Renewables in Wales and Beyond'

2.35-3.15 Professor Frede Hvelplund - Aalborg University, Denmark,  'How community renewable energy schemes help integrate fluctuating renewable energy sources into the grid'

3.15-3.30 coffee break

3.30 –  3.55 Dr Claire Haggett, Lecturer in Sociology of Sustainability, University of Edinburgh  ‘Social factors that influence the success (or not) or community energy projects’

3.55 – 4.20 Professor Peter Strachan, Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University, ‘How can the mainstream industry help renewable energy cooperatives?’

4.20 – 4.45pm Community Energy in Aberdeen 

4.20-4.30 - Laurie Robertson (PhD student, Department of Scoiology), Aberdeen University 'Pitmedden Community Wind Turbine - how did it come about?'

4.30-4.45 - Nick Carroll, farmer and wind power planning consultant (recently gained consent for a 800 KW machine on his land): 'Farmers and Wind Power'.

4.45 – 5pm – Discussion and close

Monday, 16 September 2013

Greens now only anti-nuclear party as Lib Dems go radioactive

So now the only anti-nuclear British political party is the Green Party, or two to be precise since the Scottish Green Party and the Green Party of England and Wales are separate. The Lib Dems leadership, in making an issue of this topic is clearly placing what it sees as a priority of looking like a 'centre party' ahead of appealing to radical interest groups, including the anti-nuclear movement. It is ironic that the Lib Dems are doing this at a time when the chances of any new nuclear power stations have receded into near oblivion. The only possibility for them being built is for the Government to put the interests of nuclear power before all other energy interests (including renewable energy and energy efficiency) and re-nationalise the building of new nuclear power stations (why not nationalise funding of offshore windfarms and solar farms instead?). Even the Tories don't seem keen on this, so why does the Lib Dem leadership seem so keen on advertising its backwardness on this issue?

The Guardian editorial made some good points on this:


 But this is good news for the Green Party(ies). They can now campaign on the basis that they are the only party with a future-looking sustainable energy strategy. As Caroline Lucas said after planning consent was given for Hinkley C:

 "Nuclear is a dangerous distraction from the truly ambitious energy policy we need – one which focuses on renewable energy and energy efficiency, and which would deliver more jobs, faster carbon reductions and a fundamentally more democratic energy system fit for the future."

 See: http://www.carolinelucas.com/media.html/2013/03/19/nuclear-green-light-for-hinkley-is-bad-news-for-the-taxpayer-and-bad-news-for-our-energy-future/

 What continues to be odd is how the mainstream press continue to describe nuclear power as a 'green' option in the context of nuclear power being opposed by the policies of the main green NGOs (FOE, Greenpeace, RSPB etc) and the Green Party itself. I think that green activists ought to be shouting that nuclear is the very ungreen 'dirty-expensive-industry-as-usual' option that is supported by the ungreen political establishment. The Conference decision by the Lib Dems to back nuclear only emphasises this cleavage between the green movement and the establishment parties on this issue and makes the continued efforts by the political and industrial establishment to call nuclear a 'green' option banal.

So let us write in and object when newspapers call nuclear power green. How can nuclear power be called 'green' since they are not 'green' in a political sense since they are completely at odds with what the representatives of green movement organisations are actually saying?

 The Green Party clearly has the only green policy which embraces clean energy sources and opposes dirty energy such as nuclear power, and of course the Government’s promotion of fracking for methane. It certainly gets my vote. Why not yours?