Tag Archives: Britain

#UK’s new #energy and #environment #ministers opposed #green energy


Matthew Hancock called for cuts to wind power subsidies while Liz Truss claimed renewable power was damaging the economy.

Britain's new minister for energy, business and enterprise, Matthew Hancock, at 10 Downing Street.Britain’s new minister for energy, business and enterprise, Matthew Hancock, at 10 Downing Street. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/Reuters

The new set of Conservative environment and energy ministers announced on Tuesday bring a track record of opposing renewable energy, having fought against wind and solar farms, enthusiastically backed fracking and argued that green subsidies damage the economy.

New energy minister, Matthew Hancock, signed a letter to David Cameron in 2012 demanding that subsidies for onshore windfarms were slashed. “I support renewable energy but we need to do it in a way that gives the most value for money and that does not destroy our natural environment,” he said at the time.

Hancock, who takes over from Michael Fallon, also opposed new turbines in his Suffolk constituency, arguing: “The visual and other impact of the proposed turbines is completely unacceptable in this attractive rural corner of Suffolk.”

New environment secretary and former Shell employee, Liz Truss, dismissed clean renewable energy as “extremely expensive” and said it was damaging the economy during an appearance on BBC Question Time last October.

“We do need to look at the green taxes because at the moment they are incentivising particular forms of energy that are extremely expensive,” she said. “I would like to see the rolling back of green taxes because it is wrong that we are implementing green taxes faster than other countries. We may be potentially exporting jobs out of the country as our energy is so expensive.”

In 2009, as deputy director of the free-market thinktank Reform, Truss said energy infrastructure in Britain was being damaged by politicians’ obsession with green technology: “Vast amounts of taxpayers’ money are being spent subsidising uneconomic activity,” she said. Research from the London School of Economics recently concluded that green policies were not harming economic growth. Continue reading

The #Telegraph: #Shell sails ahead without UK #shale


Oil and gas giant Shell is not tempted by fracking in Britain.

Shell’s Prelude floating liquefied natural gas vessel destined for Australia. Shell sees really strong LNG growth in the longer terms but little gain from fracking in BritainShell’s Prelude floating liquefied natural gas vessel destined for Australia. Shell sees really strong LNG growth in the longer terms but little gain from fracking in Britain. Photo: SEOKYONG LEE

Shale gas is likely to play an increasingly important role in powering Britain’s growth but don’t expect the country’s largest oil and gas company, Royal Dutch Shell, to help create a fracking-led energy revolution.

Andrew Brown, director of upstream international business and the man responsible for the main revenue-generating side of Britain’s most valuable company, is sceptical about the potential for shale oil and gas development in Britain.

“At the moment the UK position, you know, is not ranking for us,” Brown tells The Sunday Telegraph in an interview in his office overlooking the Thames. “This is a matter of just being disciplined about where we expect to get returns if our exploration is successful.

“It’s a matter of geology, costs, access, you know, it’s a combination of factors that would mean it’s not yet somewhere we would focus on.

“Capital is tight and we need to be very clear about where we want to spend that discretional dollar.”

Read the full story here.

Fracking is not a threat to water supplies in the South Downs


South Downs, Telscombe

A GLOBAL survey states deep fracking is ‘not’ a threat to water supplies in the South Downs.

The British Geological Survey states the risk of water supplies being contaminated in Britain is much lower than in the United States because almost all shale oil and gas is at least 650m below groundwater layers.

Many US homeowners have claimed that their water supply has been contaminated by methane leaks from fracked wells.

But companies in the US targeted shale less than 100m from chalk aquifers, which store water.

The distance to chalk water supply aquifers at the Weald basin in the South Downs is at least 650m.

The survey states that water supplies under the Downs should not be at risk from deep fracking, as long as vertical wells were drilled and ‘sealed safely’.

Dr Alwyn Hart, head of the air, land, and water research team at the Environment Agency, said: “We have strong regulatory controls in place to protect groundwater, and will not permit activity that threatens water and drinking supplies.”

Groundwater from the aquifers in the South Downs provide up to 70 per cent of the drinking water in the South East, making it one of the most important natural resources in the region.

Brighton Pavilion MP Caroline Lucas was among 25 people arrested at Balcombe in August 2013 during anti-fracking protests.

At court she was found not guilty of obstructing a public highway and a public order offence.

Brenda Pollack, south east campaigner for Friends of the Earth, said: “The survey is very interesting but we don’t think that it will eliminate the risk to the contamination of water.

“We believe the regulatory system is not strong enough.

“We don’t need to be trying to extract increasingly difficult fossil fuels when we need to be reducing our carbon emissions.”  Continue reading

Wind and other renewables generated a fifth of Britain’s electricity in early 2014


New windfarms, strong winds and a good winter for hydropower plants sent renewable energy generation surging to 19.4% of all electricity from January to March.

Wind and other renewables generated a fifth of Britain's electricity in early 2014A ship passes the windfarm just off the beach at Crosby, Merseyside. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA

One fifth of all electricity was generated in Britain by windfarms or other green technologies in the first three months of the year, according to new statistics released by the Department of Energy and Climate change (DECC).

New windfarms coming online, strong winds and a good winter for hydropower plants sent renewable energy generation surging to 19.4% of all electricity from January to March 2014, up from about 12% for the same period last year. The power produced was enough for about 15m homes during the quarter. It was hailed as a breakthrough by the wind industry, which alone provided 12% of the overall power produced, and a rebuff to critics who have said that renewables would never account for such a large proportion of the energy mix.

However, the DECC data could stoke a new price row with energy suppliers because it shows gas prices to domestic customers rising in the first quarter with prices to businesses in decline at the same time.

The cost of gas to householders, including VAT, rose by 4.8% in real terms between the first quarter of 2013 and the same period of this year, while average gas prices to business customers, including the climate change levy, were 5.2% lower.  Continue reading

UK summer flash floods to become more frequent, study shows


Met Office and Newcastle University study is first to draw direct link between climate change and rise in summer downpours.

Flood damage in Boscastle, Cornwall, in 2004.Flood damage in Boscastle, Cornwall, in 2004. Photograph: Graeme Robertson/Getty Images

Flash flooding in summer is likely to become much more frequent across the UK as a result of climate change, with potentially devastating results in vulnerable areas, according to new research.

The study, published in the peer-review journal Nature Climate Change, is the first to draw a direct link between climate change and an increase in summer downpours.

The research, a result of a collaboration between the Met Office and Newcastle University, used climate change computer models and standard weather prediction models of the type used for short-term weather forecasts. It found that summers would be drier overall, but punctuated by more extreme downpours.

These can have a much worse effect than the steady rainfall typical of winter, because the dry land is less capable of absorbing water, and when too much falls in a short period it runs off, causing flash floods of the type that struck Boscastle in 2004, one of the worst examples of sudden localised flooding in recent years.

Whether any given area is subject to flash flooding will depend heavily on its topography, such as the proximity of uplands and rivers, but vulnerable areas are likely to experience far more incidents than they did in the past.

It is not possible to say exactly how many more floods are likely, but the researchers said instances of particularly heavy summer rainfall – defined as more than 28mm in an hour – would be about five times more probable.

Elizabeth Kendon of the Met Office, the lead author of the study, said that the research was groundbreaking in using a high-resolution weather forecasting model to translate the likely effects of climate change into a detailed prediction of future UK summer weather.

“Until now, we haven’t been able to do it in this way,” she said. “This should help people to understand what is likely to happen in the summer in future. It’s very important that we’ve detected this signal for heavier downpours in the UK. It’s now for policymakers to decide what to do about it.”

Some of the worst results could still be a few decades away, but the effects are already being felt and are likely to grow more severe, according to the models. But Kendon said more accurate predictions would depend on more scientific research being undertaken.

Summer rainfall is different to that typical of winter, when long-lasting steady bouts of heavy rain are common. These can cause their own flooding problems, as seen early this year when heavy rain caused widespread devastation in the UK with thousands of people forced to flee their homes.

Climate models suggest heavier winter rainfall for the UK. Summer downpours, such as those seen in 2012 when heavy rainfall followed a long period of drought, with disastrous results, are harder to predict but can take a greater toll as they are more sudden, and crops are ruined and tourism disrupted.

Kendon said: “It’s the hourly rainfall rates that you look at in summer.” The rain tends to fall in shorter but more intense bursts, caused by convective storms, but this has been difficult for climate models to simulate, because they lack the ability to home in on such brief events. It took the Met Office supercomputer, one of the most powerful in the world, nine months to run the necessary simulations.

The Guardian

Editors Note: This will either push insurance premiums through the roof or else make it impossible to get any kind of insurance cover for your property.