Eco-cities of the Future

How’s your city’s eco-status?

Eco-cities are urban areas which are sustainable and environmentally friendly. You don’t have to live in a hippy commune to minimise your impact on the planet. With a growing world population, modern cities are adapting to be more eco-friendly.

Since 2009, the number of people living in urban areas has exceeded the number in rural areas . This means that to improve the sustainability of our planet, we need to plan and develop our cities in a way which minimises energy use, waste and emissions.

If you want to find out the world’s current human population, check out this link to see how it fluctuates.

In order to combat the issues caused by a massive growth in population, many cities have aimed to improve their sustainability. Some even aim for the ‘Eco-city’ status.

What are Eco-cities?

Factors influencing sustainable life- from International Eco-city Framework and Standards

Factors influencing sustainable life- from International Eco-city Framework and Standards

According to the International Ecocity Framework and Standards, “An Ecocity is a human settlement modeled on the self-sustaining resilient structure and function of natural ecosystems.”

This means that it provides for the people living there, without consuming more resources than it replaces. It also reduces waste and it recycles when possible.

 

 

Some examples of exciting urban developments:

Curitaba- A functioning eco-city

Curitaba– A functioning eco-city

 

Curitaba

Curitiba in Brazil has become famous for its sustainable transport and low waste levels.

 

 

ReGen Villages:regen villages

ReGen villages in the Netherlands aim to tackle the lack of resources and growing human population by providing a more sustainable living environment. How? ReGen villages plan to provide homes running on renewable energy, sustainable water management, and waste-to-resource systems (Biofuels). The idea is to create a place where families can live happily and with a low environmental impact.

Masdar City:

Masdar City  in the United Arab Emirates is now an established community where people are living and working. The development is based around the idea of sustainability and encouraging business and education in the renewable sector to grow together. Masdar focuses on energy-efficient buildings and has become internationally known for its green technology.

Tianjin:

Tianjin Eco-City is the result of a collaborative agreement between the governments of China and Singapore. It aims to achieve the “Three Harmonies”; social harmony, economic vibrancy and environmental sustainability.

Tianjin

Tianjin eco-city, from BBC news.

Eco-city

 

 

 

 

 

 

Has your city gone eco yet? Visit the crowdmap to see which cities have a sustainable future.

E Is For Europe

E is for Europe

In the beginning E was for Energy. Now that Brexit has begun, E is for Europe. Our Environment may be at further risk due to Brexit– but how will Brexit affect us?

Europe helps our policy decisions

Environmental issues don’t stop at borders. Many issues require sustained action over a long period of time. Cooperation is needed between countries if the UK is to achieve its energy and climate goals. The UK needs to work with others to reduce the pressures on the environment. By working together, we can increase biodiversity and use our resources wisely.

We need agreements between nations to cooperate on protecting our planet from climate change. The question is; will leaving the EU effect the UK’s ability to cooperate with other European countries in reaching our shared goals?

The IEEP hopes E is for Europe

A report from the Institute for European Environmental Policy outlines the importance for the environment of being part of the EU.

Countries which are members of the European Economic Area (EEA) but not the EU are still subject to a large body of EU environmental legislation. But it is uncertain how the UK will negotiate its legislation with the EU in the coming months. This means it is still uncertain how the UK will determine its environmental policies.

Now that the UK is leaving Europe, its parliament may be able to make laws which are more specific to the country and therefore improve the overall environmental policy. But do we trust the UK government to make environment-over-economy based decisions when it comes down to it?  Many have said that there could be detrimental effects of leaving the UK to change its environmental policies without the EU as a moderator.

The possible effects of Brexit were summarised by an expert in EU Environmental policy,

Dr Charlotte Burns, Environment Department, University of York;

“ If the UK exits from the EU but remains part of the European Economic Area the huge progress made in improving the UK environment could be lost… A total withdrawal suggests a much wider erosion of environmental policy, … which risks significant economic damage to the UK.”

Overall, there is a gloomy outlook from the environmental perspective of Brexit.

What can we do?

Contact your local MP to see what they are doing.

– Read about the issue in the news and in reports

– Sign an e-petition, such as this one from the Wildlife Trust, who wish to adopt European environmental legislation.

Protect UK Environment & Wildlife post-Brexit

Protect UK Environment & Wildlife post-Brexit (wildlifetrusts.org)

 

 

A Green New World

Are we entering a Green New World?

A Green New World

A Green New World

I think we are entering a green new world. Many nations of the world are embracing green energy. Green energy is energy from a renewable source. Renewable energy never runs out and is clean to generate and use. During my break from writing, many events have changed the nature of our climate and our global energy sources.

 

All the changes I have seen in the last 8 months have been encouraging. In November 2015 the COP 21 Conference in Paris set a target for carbon emissions at 1.5 – 2.0ppm. This historic agreement is being perused by many nations.

India has approved a massive 200GW of new solar across the country. This will go along way to reducing India’ fossil fuel energy generation.

China’s emissions of CO2 may have dropped in 2015. With as much as a 5% reduction of CO2, this may be the start of something good.

All News Is Not Good

 

A green New World is needed now

The weather outside is frightful

Sadly a new green world is not happening quite fast enough. Global temperatures are still rising. Artic ice melt is still accelerating. Forest fires are larger and occurring more often in places where they never happened before. Severe storms are destroying many communities around the planet.

As the effects of global climate change take hold, we all see the need for change. The world is waking up to climate change and nations are acting to combat the worst outcomes. Can we change fast enough to stop climate change?

Keep reading E is for energy to find out.

 

Amber Rudd is the Fossil Fuel Energy Secritary!

Amber Rudd is the Fossil Fuel Energy Secritary!

Amber Rudd gives a new twist to David Cameron’s administration, outright support of fossil fuels! Amber Rudd has been misrepresenting our best interests for some time! She has, on several occasions, not told the truth to the people and to Parliament. This is proof that we can not trust our current government. We should request an investigation, criminal charges against Amber Rudd, and the end of Cameron’s government.

Here is the complete article from The Ecologist:

Leaked letter: Rudd admits 25% green energy undershoot, misled Parliament

Oliver Tickell 9th November 2015

A letter from Energy Secretary Amber Rudd leaked to The Ecologist shows that she misled Parliament by promising the UK was ‘on course’ to deliver on its renewable energy targets – when in fact there is a delivery shortfall in 2020 of almost 25%. Her plan to fill the gap relies on more biofuels, buying in green power and ‘credits’ from abroad – everything but wind and solar.

Amber Rudd MP, Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Photo: Association for Decentralised Energy via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

A letter from Energy Secretary Amber Rudd leaked to The Ecologist shows that the UK is on track to miss its legally binding obligation to achieve strict EU targets on renewable energy by an estimated 50TWh (terawatt hours), or 3.5% of its 15% obligation – that is a shortfall of almost 25%.

This stands in stark contrast to her public position. On 17th September she told the House of Commons: “When it became apparent that we were way in excess of [spending limits on renewables], but  were still meeting our renewables targets, it was right to limit the  amount of money we were spending.”

As Rudd warns, this impending failure to meet EU renewables targets puts the UK at a double risk – of legal action taken in the UK, which the government would probably lose; and of enormous fines imposed by the European Court of Justice:

“The absence of a credible plan to meet the target carries the risk of successful judicial review, and failing to meet the overall target in 2020 could lead to on-going fines imposed by the EU Court of Justice (which could take into account avoided costs) until the UK reaches the target level.”

But by misleading the House of Commons in her statement, she is now certain to have a more immediate problem on her hands – demands for her resignation and a full-blown Parliamentary investigation.

Her first test will come tomorrow before the Energy and Climate Change Committee tomorrow (Tuesday 10th November) when its members grill her on her department’s annual report and accounts.

Speaking in advance of the meeting, Labour’s shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy said: “At the very same  time the energy secretary is telling her colleagues in private we’re not  on course to meet our legal target on clean energy, she is cutting wind  and solar schemes that could help us to meet it. It beggars belief.”

The grisly detail of Rudd’s smoke-and-mirrors

The letter, to Cabinet colleagues Philip Hammond (Foreign Secretary), Oliver Letwin (Cabinet Office), Greg Hands (Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and Patrick McLoughlin (Transport Secretary) begins by setting out the scale of what the UK has to achieve:

“The target sets a legally binding obligation on HMG to deliver 15% of the UK’s final energy consumption across electricity, heat and transport from renewable sources in 2020, with a binding sub-target for 10% of transport fuels to be from renewable sources in 2020.
“Beyond a flat rate of renewables for each member state, the effort share for meeting the EU-wide 20% target was based on GDP. As a result of this, and the fact that the UK started from a very low base of renewables deployment, our target requires amongst the most significant annual growth in renewables deployment (16% average annual growth from 2011 to 2020) of any member state.”

And although the UK’s current trajectory is on course for a massive miss of 32-66 TWh (terawatt hours) per year by 2020, with a central estimate of a 50TWh shortfall, the UK’s public position is that there is no problem meeting the target.

Yet her public statements all indicate that everything is on track. As noted above, on 17th September she told the House of Commons: “We had a commitment to limit the levy control framework to £7.6 billion  by 2020. When it became apparent that we were way in excess of that, but  were still meeting our renewables targets, it was right to limit the  amount of money we were spending. That is why we took action quickly to  do so.”

A consistent pattern of concealing the truth

Or as she told Parliament on 22nd June 2015 – ironically in her statement termination subsidies for onshore wind: “This Government is committed to meeting objectives on cutting carbon  emissions and to continue to make progress towards the UK’s 2020  renewable energy targets.

“The renewable electricity programme aims to deliver at least 30%  of the UK’s electricity demand from renewables by 2020. We are on course  to achieve this objective. Renewables already make up  almost 20% of  our electricity generation and there is a strong pipeline  to deliver  the rest.”

Note the subtle switch from ‘energy’ to ‘electricity’ in her second sentence. A DECC spokesman commented: “We do not comment on leaked documents. As the Secretary of  State has set out clearly in the House, renewables made up almost 20%  of our electricity generation in 2014 and there is a strong pipeline to  deliver our ambition of reaching 30% by 2020.  We continue to make progress to meet our overall renewable energy  target.”

However Rudd had also told Parliament a few days before on 18th June, again in the context of the early closure of support for onshore wind, that deployment was set to deliver on the 2020 renewable energy targets: “The Government are committed to meeting objectives on cutting carbon emissions and the UK’s 2020 renewable energy targets …

“My Department’s analysis indicates that, after taking into account an  early closure, onshore wind deployment under the RO [Renewables Obligation] will be in the  region of 11.6 GW … this puts us above the middle of the range set out in the  EMR [Electricity Market Reform] delivery plan, our best estimate of what we would need to meet our  2020 targets. It is therefore appropriate to curtail further deployment  of onshore wind, balancing the interests of onshore wind developers with  those of the wider public.”

The message is clear, in statement after statement, she told Parliament that everything was going to plan towards meeting renewable energy targets. But she sets out the truth in her leaked letter. Until 2017 / 2018 the UK will be achieving its milestones, she writes, but after that

“The trajectory then increases substantially, and currently leads to a shortfall against the target in 2020 of around 50 TWh (with a range of 32 – 67TWh) or 3.5% points (with a range of 2.1 – 4.5% points) in our internal central forecasts (which are not public). Publically we are clear that the UK continues to make progress to meet the target.”

 

The cuts that are destroying a once booming British industry

Since its election to power in May 2015, the Conservative government has unleashed an astonishing series of attacks on the UK’s renewable energy sector which has included:

The government’s claim is that this has been motivated by the need to save money allocated under the ‘Levy Control Framework’ which allocates funds for renewable energy, however the depth and extent of the cuts betrays a strong ideological agenda to destroy the UK renewables industry.

Following her re-election in May, Rudd promised: “I want to unleash a new solar  revolution – we have a million people  living under roofs with solar  panels and that number needs to  increase.” However in office she has done the precise reverse. This letter now shows the desperate position those cuts have put the UK into.

Rudd’s plan to meet target without new wind and solar

The first element in Rudd’s plan to meet the UK’s target is by “Maintaining and improving existing policy performance towards the target”, she writes. “This would require us:

  • “to maintain our commitment to achieving at least 30% of electricity generation from renewables;
  • “to meet the 10% sub-target for renewable fuels in transport;
  • “and to continue support for the deployment of new renewable heating installations after the current funding settlement ends in 2015/16.”

Spot the lack of mention of anything to do with new wind and solar power? Her plan is based entirely on other means of achieving the target – even though wind is by far the lowest cost form of renewable energy, and solar is likely to become cheaper by 2020 with continued support to the point where it competes directly against fossil fuel generation.

The renewable heat incentive alone, Rudd writes, could deliver 20TWh (with a range of 15 – 32TWh), leaving a ‘central shortfall’ of around 30TWh. However she adds that “These forecasts are subject to significant uncertainty as the market for renewable heat is at an early stage and as a result of market and technical performance factors relating to renewable electricity.”

The next element is “Additional UK renewables deployment”, she writes. “Officials across Whitehall are reviewing policy options open to us to address this c.30TWh shortfall through additional deployment of renewables in heat, electricity and transport.”

Current levels of ‘renewable fuels’ derived from crops are already set to be doubled between 2017 and 2020, adding around 2 pence per litre on pump prices, but Rudd suggests that a further increase would be possible.

“An additional 12.9TWh or 0.9% points could theoretically be delivered above the sub target, at an estimated cost of £850m/year (adding a further 2.1 pence per litre on pump prices).”

But she warns that the move would be counter-productive in climate terms: “Due to limited availability of sustainable feedstocks, supply beyond the sub target appears likely to increase carbon emissions by increasing deforestation through new demand for agricultural land.”

There’s also potential to increase additional bio-methane production produced from organic wastes and some specially grown crops, however two thirds of the 6TWh this could produce have already been counted:

“The highest potential for additional renewable heat is from bio-methane injection into the gas grid, which could deliver up to 6TWh (or 0.4% points) by 2020. However a significant proportion of this (up to 4TWh) is already included in the proposals for continuing support for renewable heat post 2015/16.”

The ‘third way’ – buy it in from Norway

Rudd’s third step is certain to cause huge anger in the UK’s renewable energy industry as it involves simply buying it in from abroad, specifically from Norway’s hydroelectric dams. But it comes with one big problem – the required electrical connection to Norway won’t be ready on time:

“Additional deployment of electricity focuses on importing renewable electricity from Norway via the planned interconnector. This could deliver a maximum of 10TWh, depending on market forces. However, my officials do not expect the interconnector to be in operation until late 2021 at the earliest, and therefore would not strictly help the UK to reach its 2020 target.”

But that’s not the only problem: if the renewable power is generated in Norway then how can it be made to count as British just be importing it?

“Should this change, we believe that an intergovernmental agreement would be necessary, under which the UK would be required to make payment(s) to the Norwegian government (on top of that which would be paid for the electricity supplied through normal market mechanisms).”

Which is all very well, but it will cost the Uk money that should be going into our own renewables programme., Moreover there’s no guarantee that the arrangement would be considered valid by the European Commission or by the European Court.

So why not just buy in ‘statistical credits’ from other countries?

Nonetheless Rudd goers on to consider further “Use of co-operation mechanisms” that would allow the UK to finance renewable energy projects in other EU states.

Which raises the question: when the UK has Europe’s richest wind power resource, why would we want to do that? In the process exporting the jobs, expertise and industrial investment to other countries?

“In the absence of other measures to increase renewable energy consumption in the UK, a strategy to meet the target (and to ensure that the target is met in the most cost-effective way) would need to involve the UK purchasing renewables deployment later in the decade from other EU Member States which have over-achieved their target.

“There are two ways to do this The first would see HMG directly support a specific renewables project in another EU or European Economic Area Member State or third country, with an agreed proportion of the renewable energy generated being transmitted to the EU where the project occurs in a third country.”

And another problem then strikes: “However, at this stage there are no projects we have identified with the potential to deploy in the right time frames.” Which leads Rudd to attempt to invent a whole new market mechanism in ‘statistical credits’ for renewable energy from other EU countries.

“The alternative is to reach an agreement with an EU or EEA Member  State, which is likely to over-achieve on its target, to buy  ‘statistical credits’ from it in 2020. The market for such transactions  does not yet exist, and there is a low likelihood that sufficient  credits will be available to meet the total UK shortfall of 50TWh.”

Just one small problem there: there is currently no such thing as a  ‘statistical credit’ that the Commission or the European Court would recognise. In addition, adds Rudd,

“We believe there is a medium – low likelihood that sufficient credits will be available to meet a shortfall of 30TWh. Costs are, however, also highly uncertain. Nevertheless, trading has the potential to make a cost effective contribution towards meeting the target alongside a package of domestic action.”

Next step – try to win over other EU states

Which makes it all the more important to get other EU states on side. Not that the time is propitious – just as UK Prime Minister David Cameron is trying to win concessions from them on a host of other issues.

“In tandem with this emerging strategy, officials will seek to build a consensus with other EU Member States which we believe to be in a similar position to the UK, in particular in relation to their renewables target but also to other 2020 targets for greenhouse gas emissions or energy efficiency. This may allow us to negotiate some flexibility in meeting the target.”

The other EU countries Rudd refers to include Germany, France, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands and Ireland who are also “currently off track to meet the target to varying degrees.”

However Rudd clearly has little confidence that these negotiations will be fruitful: “entrenched positions in Brussels and the need to defend broader HMG policy objectives mean that we cannot rely on this to deliver anything to significantly improve UK progress against the target.”

Nor is there ‘strength in numbers’ with other EU target-missers: “Whilst it may be tempting from a UK perspective to take comfort from  this list, it should be noted that Germany in particular sees the target  as a cornerstone of the EU’s climate agenda and has a strong domestic  policy framework in place which may well allow it to make up any  shortfall.

“In addition, the failure of other Member States to meet their  target would not provide the UK with a formal defence in legal  proceedings.”

Transport Minister warns – biofuels costly, unsustainable

In another problem for Amber Rudd’s plan Andrew Jones, minister at the Transport Department in charge of environment and innovation, wrote to Amber  Rudd in a second leaked letter, warning against further increases in biofuel use in transport on cost, food security and ecological grounds:

“I concur with you, however, that meeting the 10% sub-target for renewable energy in 2020 is  challenging. It requires a doubling of current biofuel inclusion rates  right up to the limits allowed for by fuel standards in regular petrol  and diesel in just a few years, and it will also require great care to  secure sustainable sources of biomass supply and avoid consumer  opposition …

“I should highlight that I do not consider it appropriate to go  beyond the transport sub target. As you point out, we understand that  demand at such levels appears likely to cause deforestation through new  demand for agricultural land, and it could also increase food as well as  fuel prices.

“This is why the UK Government argued strongly for the  introduction of recently adopted measures to limit food based biofuels  at EU level. As a consequence, environmental and social NGOs would be  expected to campaign strongly against it.

“I believe such campaigning would be likely to win public support,  not least given the estimated total increase of around 3 pence per  litre on fuel costs that could result.”

Between a rock and a hard place

This all leaves Amber Rudd in an increasingly untenable position. First, she has effectively admitted to having deceived Parliament. That’s something she will surely struggle to justify to the Energy and Climate Change Committee tomorrow.

Second, she has revealed the disastrous outcome of her policy to destroy the UK’s renewable energy industry. The fact that the UK is seriously considering buying in actual power and non-existent ‘statistical credits’ for renewable energy from other European countries also speaks volumes for her policy failure.

As for the idea of supporting renewable energy projects abroad instead of here in the UK, it’s not hard to imagine how that will go down with the UK’s renewable industry. The solar industry alone is set to lose 27,000 jobs as a result of cuts to solar power subsidies.

And her idea to increase the volume of biofuels in petrol and diesel has rightly been shot out of the water by transport minister Andrew Jones.

There is of course one eminently sensible and achievable solution – to restore sustainable levels of support for wind and solar energy and roll it out in bulk for 2020 at ever diminishing cost.

Rudd, clearly, has lost all credibity at this stage, both politically and with the renewable energy industry that ultimately has to deliver the UK’s targets. The obvious choice for Cameron is to bring back Greg Barker, who as an MP was a respected energy minister from 2010 to 2014, and remains honorary president of the British Photovoltaic Association. He now sits in the House of Lords.

Loss of face before Paris climate talks

​Greenpeace Head of Energy, Daisy Sands commented: “This letter shows us the dark side of the government’s incoherent  energy policy in full technicolour. For the first time, we learn that  the government is expecting to miss the EU’s legally binding renewables  target. This is hugely shocking.

“More deplorably, it is wilfully  hiding this from public scrutiny. The government is planning on cutting  support for the solar and wind subsidies in the name of affordability.  But perversely, we see that the government  believes investing in  renewable energy projects involving buying power from abroad is more  desirable than supporting home grown renewable energy industries.

“Even  more worryingly, it seems the government is seeking to haggle with the  EU to revise down our legal commitments. This policy makes no  environmental or economic sense as the UK is losing jobs and affordable  clean, renewable energy sources.

“The government’s claim to leadership in  the Paris climate negotiations requires us to have targets, but we must  meet them too.”

Green MEP Molly Scott Cato told the Guardian that Rudd had “serious questions  to answer about why she has reported something to parliament which  appears inconsistent with what she has been telling other ministers.

“The UK’s energy policy is bound by European law which Rudd appears  to be flouting. I have already raised with the European Commission my concerns about the fact that the government’s changes to  energy policy make it unlikely we will meet our renewables target.

“The  evidence in this letter shows the secretary of state is aware of this  serious situation and I will now be following this up with further  questions as a matter of urgency.”

My thanks to The Ecologist for outing this important information.

Fuel for the future today – Carbon neutral and made from air and water.

Fuel for the future, todayCarbon neutral from air and water.

Fuels of the future will be made using renewable energy water and CO2 captured from the air. This new form of carbon neutral fuel will be used to drive IC engines and run steam generation plants. Soon all those diesel truck polluting our atmosphere will be using this fuel for the future.   From Audi who invented this amazing fuel:

After a commissioning phase of just four months, [Audi’s] research facility in Dresden started producing its first batches of high‑quality diesel fuel a few days ago. To demonstrate its suitability for everyday use, Federal Minister of Education and Research Prof. Dr. Johanna Wanka put the first five liters into her official car, an Audi A8 3.0 TDI clean diesel quattro*, this Tuesday. “This synthetic diesel, made using CO2, is a huge success for our sustainability research. If we can make widespread use of CO2 as a raw material, we will make a crucial contribution to climate protection and the efficient use of resources, and put the fundamentals of the “green economy” in place,” declared Wanka. – Excerpt ends.

 

Fuel for the future today

Johanna Wanka, and Reiner Mangold in front of the carbon neutral car(Audi Photo)

 

 Fuel for the future is made from the sun and will drive your car clean.

This concept moves us in a better direction than fracking. By using renewable energy sources to make carbon-neutral fuel, we are not destroying the environment. Fracking destroys the environment in many ways. By capturing CO2 in our atmosphere and turning it into fuel we will be much closer to saving our planet. This is very similar to using biomass to heat your home. The carbon being released by burning wood was captured from our atmosphere as the bio-life grew.

Fuel for the future today

Audi makes clean diesel from air and water.(Audi Photo)

Fuels for the future will change the planet.

We can make fuel out of the carbon in our atmosphere. Capturing then using carbon to make clean diesel fuel removes oil and gas from the equation. Renewable energy from the sun the wind is produced in surplus. This energy needs to be stored to make all renewable energy viable. Making diesel fuel that is clean and clear of dirty oil by-products will clean up our environment. It will store energy for later use. We no have the ability to make clean fuels with out using any oil or gas. This means we can finally stop burning fossil fuels.

Council blocks Little Plumpton fracking application

Council blocks Little Plumpton fracking application

The people have spoke again! The Lancashire Council blocks Cuadrilla’s fracking application for Little Plumpton. This is  another success in the UK peoples movement to ban fracking forever. Here is a photo from the BBC’s article about the victory:

Council blocks Little Plumpton fracking application

Victory In Little Plumpton

 

Fracking banned again!

 

It is encouraging to see the will of the people taking precedence over the greed of corporations. Our work is not over yet though. We need to keep a clear focus on the real prize – a total ban on fracking in the UK forever.

 

Here is a link to, and the entirety of, the BBC article:

An application to start fracking at a site on the Fylde coast in Lancashire has been rejected by councillors.

Energy firm Cuadrilla wanted to extract shale gas at the Little Plumpton site between Preston and Blackpool.

Lancashire County Council rejected the bid on the grounds of “unacceptable noise impact” and the “adverse urbanising effect on the landscape”.

Cuadrilla said it was “surprised and disappointed” and would consider its “options” regarding an appeal.

A spokesman added: “We remain committed to the responsible exploration of the huge quantity of natural gas locked up in the shale rock deep underneath Lancashire.”

    ‘Triumph for democracy’

Council blocks Little Plumpton fracking application

Anti-fracking campaigners celebrated outside Lancashire County Hall in Preston

The Little Plumpton bid had been recommended for approval by the county council’s planning officials, subject to working hours, noise control and highway matters.

But councillors rejected the advice and voted 10-4 to refuse the application.

Councillor Marcus Johnstone described the deliberation as “one of the biggest planning decisions ever” for the council.

He said the committee had rejected the application after “listening carefully to many hours of evidence”.

A legal adviser had said any attempt to block fracking at the site on environmental grounds would be “unreasonable” and costly.

Dr Adam Marshall, from the British Chambers of Commerce, said the decision was “perverse, short-sighted and timid” and said “the government now needs to step in”.

A related application for a monitoring array, to study seismic activity and water quality, was also rejected.

An application to start a fracking operation at Roseacre Wood was also rejected on Thursday.

Anti-fracking protests were held outside the hearing in Preston, which began on 23 June.

Fracking – or hydraulic fracturing – was suspended in the UK in 2011 following earth tremors in Blackpool where Cuadrilla previously drilled.

It is a technique in which water and chemicals are pumped into shale rock at high pressure to extract gas.

Helen Carter, BBC News reporter

For a moment, there was silence as the planning committee voted on a motion to turn down the Little Plumpton planning application.

That was followed by a huge roar of approval and a boo as two councillors had abstained.

People wept openly but they were tears of joy, not disappointment.

A chorus of “Frack free Lancashire” sounded outside County Hall. Then “Frack free world.”

Fylde deputy mayor Heather Speak said she felt like she had won the lottery.

Jamie Peters of Friends of the Earth wept and said it “shows people power has worked.” He said it had been grassroots campaigning. “The councillors have listened to what people want,” he said.

Chris Riley from Kirkham said it was brilliant they had overturned both decisions, adding: “We were hoping they would, but they couldn’t possibly go ahead with the damage it would cause.”

Council blocks Little Plumpton fracking application

Anti-fracking signs were put up in the village of Little Plumpton

Another protester said: “It is brilliant. But this is just round one.”

The jubilant anti-fracking campaigners marched through Preston for a spontaneous rally outside Lloyds Bank in Fishergate.

They were told: “Keep up the fight,” amid cheers.

Katherine Seary, from Bipsham, with her dog Molly, who was wearing an anti-fracking T-shirt feels “ecstatic.”

She said: “[I] couldn’t believe my ears” initially, “It took me a second listen to take it in.”

“I am sure Cuadrilla will appeal, but it is a good start.”

Although there was a strong police presence, one said: “Well done, ladies,” to a group of protesters.

Greenpeace UK energy and climate campaigner Daisy Sands said the decision was “a Waterloo for the fracking industry” and a “triumph for local democracy”.

She said: “Their decision sends a powerful signal to other councils that the fracking juggernaut can indeed be stopped.”

Furqan Naeem, from Friends of the Earth North West, said campaigners will “breathe a sigh of relief – safe in the knowledge that this dirty industry… has been stopped in its tracks once again”.

“The stakes for local people, for democracy and for the environment could not be higher. The fight against fracking and dirty energy is far from over.”

 

Plant Closures =/= Energy Deficit

Plant Closures =/= Energy Deficit

The UK government and DECC have decided that the best way to prop up the Big 6 energy companies is to give them billions to build more polluting fossil fuel plants.

Plant Closures =/= Energy Deficit

Billions in new subsidies for failing energy companies

The reprint of a PV Magazine article:

UK auctions capacity, sparks controversy

A capacity market auction last week led to the procurement of 49.26 GW of new capacity, mainly from fossil and nuclear fuels, at a clearing price which will cost U.K. households nearly £1 billion. The government said the capacity market is necessary to ensure the lights stay on, specifically as power from renewables increases, but the policy has sparked controversy.

National Grid, the company that owns and manages the United Kingdom’s electricity grids, has been commissioned by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to run the country’s first capacity market auction. The auction ran for four days last week, leading to the procurement of 49.26 GW of fossil fuels-based capacity at a clearing price of £19.40 per kilowatt a year a day ahead of schedule. The auction’s gross cost is £990 million and will need to be paid after 2018, according to the DECC.

U.K. capacity market: The first round

According to the Department of Energy, the purpose of last week’s auction was to estimate how much capacity will be needed in 2018/19, which is the first year the Capacity Market will be running. “Electricity providers have then bid into this capacity auction, promising if they win a contract that they will be available to provide electricity when needed. In return, they will receive a steady payment on top of the electricity that they sell”, the DECC said.

Referring to the price bids, DECC Secretary of State Ed Davey said, “This is fantastic news for bill-payers and businesses. We are guaranteeing security at the lowest cost for consumers. We’ve done this by ensuring that we get the best out of our existing power stations and unlocking new investment in flexible plant.”

Not everyone is equally optimistic though. Last week’s auction price is near the lower end of the range of prices DECC’s financial modelling had predicted could prevail under a rolling auction scheme that aims to ensure the U.K.’s lights stay on after 2018 to 2030 and beyond. However, the billions of subsidies expected to flow to power groups in the coming years could also rise.Furthermore, the list of new investments triggered by the capacity market mechanism disappoints. The main bulk of winners in the auction are existing gas (22.3 GW), coal/biomass (9.2 GW) and nuclear (7.9 GW) power plants, while new installations will only form 2.6 GW or 5% of the capacity auctioned, including a new 1.8 GW gas plant in Trafford Park, Greater Manchester, by independent supplier Carlton Power under a 15-year contract.The DECC notes that auction results are provisional until confirmed by an independent auction monitor. Publication of confirmed results are expected on January 2, and approved bidders will need to have refurbished or built the auctioned capacity in three years. Should successful bidders not make their capacity available when needed, they will be penalized.

Capacity market: An excuse for fossil fuels?

Internationally, capacity markets have sprung out of the need to compensate utilities for the loss of their power market share due to the dynamic increase of renewable energies. Traditional power market incumbents have argued their income has been severely cut, leaving them unable to build new power plants or keep operational ones alive. Responding to this, some governments have introduced capacity markets aiming to encourage new, mainly fossil-based plants that guarantee reliability of the power system when renewable plants do not generate adequate capacity.

The U.K. is the first European country to run such a market. DECC’s main argument in favor of a capacity market is that the country is facing a looming energy supply gap as old nuclear power plants and many of its polluting coal-fired stations are due to close by the end of the decade and a capacity market will make it affordable to replace them. Otherwise, DECC argues, the country risks black-outs by as soon as 2018.

However, Michael Pollitt, professor of business economics and assistant director of the Energy Policy Research Group (EPRG) at the University of Cambridge, told pv magazine that “the whole idea of a capacity market for Great Britain was based on scare mongering about electricity supply shortages, which would not have materialized. There was no serious evidence of capacity shortages developing in the light of the anticipated evolution of supply and demand. Given the actual evolution of supply (where, if anything, renewables have been added quite quickly) and demand, which has remained flat, there would have been even less of a problem that might have been anticipated.”

Asked about the anticipated closure of large nuclear and coal power plants, Pollitt said that “large power plants are built on a replacement cycle. The fact that old
plants are due to close as planned can easily be handled by the market. This
process has been going on for nearly 25 years, since liberalization [of the British energy market in 1980s].”

Therefore, Pollitt argued, “papers which show the planned closures of power plants leading to a projected deficit in capacity are economically illiterate, because they ignore how this would lead to incentives to build new plants if these are needed.”

Renewables Energy Association (REA) Chief Executive Nina Skorupska told the audience at October’s Solar Energy UK event in England that the U.K. government is planning to auction 50 GW of fossil fuel capacity via the capacity payments mechanism, while it could have plugged the capacity gap with all kinds of renewable energy and energy storage technology that replaces fossil fuels.

Instead, the British government has chosen to devise a policy that clearly intervenes in the market. Paradoxically, this is the country that first among Europeans liberalized its domestic energy market 30 years ago and — many would say rightly — pushed Europe towards an open energy market.

Arizona is the definition of Insanity

Arizona is the definition of insanity

Arizona shares a rare and enviable place in the USA list of  ‘states with highest insolation.’   Arizona is also a state with few water resources. These two facts combined make Arizona the perfect candidate state for solar PV energy generation. Arizona is also the perfect place for concentrated solar energy production. This idea as described in DeserTec’s outline will help the world to move away from oil and nuclear power.

So why has Arizona passing laws that discourage solar PV on houses?

Why has Arizona just passed a law that calls nuclear energy renewable?

The full article from Clean Technica is here. Re-posted below:

February 6th, 2015 by

Who would ever consider nuclear power to be a “renewable” means of power generation?

Well, the Arizona Senate Committee on Water and Energy, for one — there might be someone else, but off the top of my head, I can’t think of any other person or entity….

Arizona is the definition of insanity

Not a solar panel in sight!

The aforementioned bill that the Senate Committee on Water and Energy just passed (narrowly) is SB 1134 — a bill classifying “nuclear energy from sources fueled by uranium fuel rods that include 80% or more of recycled nuclear fuel, and natural thorium reactor resources under development” as renewable energy sources.

The approval is especially funny considering the fact that Arizona is fast approaching some serious water-sourcing issues, and nuclear power plants require huge quantities of water in order to function.

Someplace like coastal Texas or California, you could kind of understand (despite the other issues with nuclear — such as very long-lived, hard to clean up pollution), but Arizona? Right in the middle of a desert, and almost completely reliant on just a few small river systems and fossil groundwater laid down during the last ice age? Hmm…

Regardless of the water issues, though, how does one go about classifying nuclear power as a renewable energy source anyway?

This difficulty in conceptualizing nuclear power as a renewable power source was actually shared by many of the senators on the committee, though — which is why the bill passed by only one vote. One vote — that right there sums up one of the primary issues with democracy (to my eyes). All that it takes is a one-vote disparity to discount the opinions of the losing half of a near 50–50 split…

As far as the senators’ comments, here you go (Phoenix New Times):
Senator Lynne Pancrazi said she considers nuclear an “alternative energy,” but “can’t agree that nuclear is renewable;” Senator David Bradley said he “(appreciates) the fact that technology is allowing us to use rods a few times, but that doesn’t make it a renewable;” and Senator Sylvia Allen said they could argue back and forth about the definitions of renewable and recyclable, but that it isn’t the point of the bill.”

The senator behind the bill, Senator Steve Smith, didn’t really address these issues, having merely stated (while referencing “recycling” fuel rods): “Basically we just want to burn that energy twice.”

“Burn the energy twice” doesn’t sound to me like someone talking about a renewable energy resource. Perhaps that’s just me, though.

While the bill was passed by the committee, it still has to make its way through: the rules committee, the Senate, and the House of Representatives — which a similar bill last year was unable to do.

One last comment from the bill’s backer, Senator Smith, before ending this article: when asked about the differences between nuclear and renewables, he stated that when it comes to nuclear material, “we have so much that can be reused that it’s almost renewable.”

What? Do the bill’s supporters/backers really not have a better argument than that?

Image Credit: Public Domain

Scotland’s Biggest Power Source Is Renewables!

Scotland’s biggest power source is renewables

Scotland's bigest energy source is renewables

WIND BEATS NUCLEAR, COAL, AND GAS!

 

Scotland’s renewable energy generators have moved into 1st place. Scotland produced more energy from renewables than any other source including nuclear power. This is another milestone on the road to 100% sustainable renewable energy generation in Scotland. It will be how we in England will respond to this obvious challenge.

BBC article:

Renewable power has overtaken nuclear to become the main source of electricity in Scotland, the latest figures have suggested.

Wind and hydro power produced 10.3 terawatt-hours (TWh) of electricity in the first six months of this year, UK government statistics showed.

Meanwhile, National Grid figures showed nuclear power stations generated 7.8TWh over the same period.

Environmental campaigners said it was a “significant landmark”.

National Grid said 5.6TWh of electricity came from coal-fired power stations in the first half of this year, with a further 1.4TWh from gas-fired stations.

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said the figures showed that the country was continuing to make “good progress” towards its target of generating the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s electricity demand from renewable sources.

‘Vast potential’

He added: “The fact that energy from renewables has exceeded that from nuclear in the first half of 2014 highlights the vast potential of renewable generation to provide a safe, secure and cost-effective means of electricity generation for this country, together with appropriate levels of thermal generation.

“It is vital that appropriate support for renewables in Scotland is maintained following the introduction of electricity market reform in the UK.”

Niall Stuart, chief executive of the industry body Scottish Renewables, said there was still “plenty of potential” for more to come from renewable power, with offshore wind and marine energy still in the early stages of development.

Mr Stuart added: “This important milestone is good news for anyone who cares about Scotland’s economy, our energy security and our efforts to tackle climate change.

“Every unit of power generated from renewables means less carbon emitted from the burning of fossil fuels, decreases our reliance on imported energy and supports jobs and investment in communities across Scotland.”

He added: “The renewables industry has come a long way in a short space of time but there is still plenty of potential for further growth.

“Offshore wind and marine energy are still in the early stages of development but could make a big contribution to our future energy needs if they get the right support from government. That support includes the delivery of grid connections to the islands, home to the UK’s very best wind, wave and tidal sites.”

Sense of perspective

Lang Banks, director of the environmental group WWF Scotland, said: “Last month, while nuclear reactors were forced to shut because of cracks, Scotland’s renewables were quietly and cleanly helping to keep the lights on in homes across the country.

“Wind turbines in Scotland alone generated enough electricity to supply three millions homes in the UK – equivalent to 126% of the electricity needs of every home north of the border.”

But Paul Younger, professor of Energy Engineering at the University of Glasgow, said it was important to keep a sense of perspective.

He added: “It’s true that we’ve seen an increase in both the installed capacity and output of wind generation over the last year or so, but the 2013 closure of the coal-fired power station at Cockenzie and the downgrading of the gas-fired power station at Peterhead have had a much more dramatic effect on the percentage balance of generation sources.

“What we are seeing is a loss of capability in Scotland to generate on demand. Basically, nuclear generates steadily, 24/7 and we can increase generation from coal and gas as and when we need it. We desperately need not to lose sight of that.

“Otherwise, we will be relying on importing power from England, or else facing blackouts. That would bring a backlash against renewables which I do not want to see.”

 

 

A fracking video you must watch

A Fracking video you must watch.

A fracking video you must watch

Stop fracking or we will die

Here is a fracking video you must watch: From an article in ProPublica.  For years, environmentalists and the gas drilling industry have been in a pitched battle over the possible health implications of hydro fracking. But to a great extent, the debate — as well as the emerging lawsuits and the various proposed regulations in numerous states — has been hampered by a shortage of science.

A video that explains the unbelievable truth about fracking effects on the people of Colorado is HERE.

A Fracking video you must watch.

The industry, by and large, has regarded the studies done to date — a number of which claim to have found higher rates of illness among residents living close to drilling wells — as largely anecdotal and less than convincing.

“The public health sector has been absent from this debate,” said Nadia Steinzor, a researcher on the Oil and Gas Accountability Project at the environmental nonprofit, Earthworks.

Studies performed have found damaging chemicals in humans

1.    An Exploratory Study of Air Quality near Natural Gas Operations. Human and Ecological Risk Assessment, 2012.

The study, performed in Garfield County, Colo., between July 2010 and October 2011, was done by researchers at The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, a non-profit organization that examines the impact of low-level exposure to chemicals on the environment and human health.

In the study, researchers set up a sampling station close to a well and collected air samples every week for 11 months, from when the gas wells were drilled to after it began production. The samples produced evidence of 57 different chemicals, 45 of which they believe have some potential for affecting human health.

In almost 75 percent of all samples collected, researchers discovered methylene chloride, a toxic solvent that the industry had not previously disclosed as present in drilling operations. The researchers noted that the greatest number of chemicals were detected during the initial drilling phase.

The second part of this video is HERE.

This is the most disturbing truth about fracking I have seen so far.

While this study did catalogue the different chemicals found in air emissions from gas drilling operations, it did not address exposure levels and their potential effects. The levels found did not exceed current safety standards, but there has been much debate about whether the current standards adequately address potential health threats to women, children and the elderly.

The researchers admitted their work was compromised by their lack of full access to the drilling site. The air samples were collected from a station close to what is known as the well pad, but not the pad itself.

The gas drilling industry has sought to limit the disclosure of information about its operations to researchers. They have refused to publicly disclose the chemicals that are used in fracking, won gag orders in legal cases and restricted the ability of scientists to get close to their work sites. In a highly publicized case last year, a lifelong gag order was imposed on two children who were parties to a legal case that accused one gas company of unsafe fracking operations that caused them to fall sick.

 

Clearly more research is need. We should not allow fracking in the UK. We must start building the renewable energy systems of the future now.