Yearly Archives: 2013


The IPCC Climate report

“Our assessment of the science finds that the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and that concentration of greenhouse gases have increased”, Qin Dahe, co-chair of IPCC working group one.

On Friday 27th September the UN sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the first part of a trilogy, which is due over the next 12 months, reporting on the physical evidence behind climate change.

The report states that each of the last three decades has been successively warmer at the Earth’s surface, and warmer than any period since 1850, and probably warmer than any time in the past 1,400 years.  The panel warns that in order to prevent further warming and changes to the climate system, substantial and sustained reductions of greenhouse gases must occur, proving how valuable renewable energy is.

The report plays down a plateau in temperatures in the period since 1998. The scientists highlight that this began with a very hot El Niño year and that 15 years is too short to reflect long-term trends.

The 36-page document has 209 lead authors and 50 review editors from 39 countries and is based on around 9,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers and 50,000 comments from the expert reviewers.


Royal Assent granted to the Crofting Act

Royal Assent granted to the Crofting (Amendment)(Scotland) Act 2013 meaning that owner occupiers of croft land can now ‘de-croft’ their land for wind turbines and other uses. Previous legislation allowed only crofting tenants the right to change the status of the land.

A recent turbine installation: Let the good times begin!

One of our recent turbine installations: A twenty year rental period begins for a farmer in Cornwall who leased 10m x 10m of his land to Fine Energy. Happy times indeed!

Is this the start of tidal power?

A tidal lagoon scheme is set to offer the local community a chance to buy up to £2million of shares, in order to raise finance for the £10million for the development phase of the project. The proposed tidal lagoon is set to cost between £650 million and £750 million and would have a capacity of 250MW, creating energy to supply 121,000 homes over approximately 120 years and saving over 216,000 tonnes of CO2 annually. This scheme shows how expensive tidal power can be, as even at the lower end of the cost estimates 1MW of electricity would need approximately £2.6 million of capital costs, whist according to the Department of Energy and Climate Change, wind energy costs £824,ooo of capital costs per 1MW of electricity.

The scheme is to have all planning applications in by October and once a decision has been made, which will be by the UK government as it is over 100MW, if the scheme is consented it would be operational by 2017. Mark Shorrock, Chief Executive of Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon stated that “the share offer is a high risk investment” due to the funds being used in the development phase. The remainder of the financial backing will come from mainly large scale investors and the Enterprise Investor Scheme.

The tidal lagoon will take approximately 2 years to build and the impounding breakwater or seawall will be about 10.5km (6.5miles) long and the lagoon will be able to hold 11sqkm (4sqmiles) of water. The tidal lagoon will generate electricity by holding water back whilst the tides change and creating a sufficient head of water, which is then let out through turbines and this high pressure creates electricity. At low tide, water from the lagoon will be let out to sea and at high tide water from the sea will flow in to the lagoon.

The battle to 2°C

The International Energy Agency (IEA) have expressed grave concerns with regards to the 2020 target for less than 2°C rise in global temperature, saying that at current rates it is moving further away from its target, in the report ‘Re-drawing the Energy Climate Map’.

In 2012 CO2 levels rose by 1.4%, equating to 31 billion tonnes of emissions, despite the economic downturn. This confirms that solutions to combat CO2 emissions are urgently needed whether the world economy is growing or not, which some critics of climate change have not agreed with in the past. The chief economist at IEA, Faith Birol stated “the chance of keeping to 2◦C is still technically there, but it is not very great. It is becoming extremely challenging”. The IEA has calculated that in order to reach 2020 targets, if governments act now, the new clean energy investments would cost close to $1.5 trillion, whereas if governments wait until after 2020 it would be closer to $5 trillion. The report pushes for more implementations of ways in order to meet climate change targets, particularly as they gave a warning that 2/3 of the existing fossil fuel reserves cannot be burned if emissions are due to within the projected danger threshold of a 2◦C rise. The IEA gave suggestions to governments, suggesting small focused measures including that of energy efficiency, limiting the use of coal-powered energy stations and a partial phase out of fossil fuel subsidies.

The report states that the rise in CO2 levels is also seen in relationship to a 6%rise in emissions from Japan, equalling 70 million extra tonnes of emissions, due to its phasing out of nuclear power. However, the report does show some positive aspects. Whilst emissions from China rose by approximately 300 tonnes, it was the smallest increase in two decades, reflecting China’s efforts in energy efficiency, stated Birol. Furthermore, the US decreased their emissions in 2012 by 3.8%, meaning the new levels emulated those of the mid-1990s.  The decrease in emissions is a reflection of the shale gas boom, which has led to the US replacing coal. Whilst shale gas is being pushed forward as a positive new energy, Birol makes it clear that shale gas alone is not the way forward, stating “shale gas can only be helpful if we see other low-carbon technologies if we are serious about 2◦C”. This shows that renewable energy will play an ever increasing role in the battle to keep climate change to a minimum.