Decentralised Power To The People Energy Revolution In UK

by Cynthia Shahan

London, UK
London Bridge, London, UK. Photo Credit: Anirudh Koul / CC BY-NC

Greg Barker, the UK’s Energy and Climate Change minister, recently expressed that a “decentralized power to the people energy revolution” is doable. He understands that this developing sector, now half a million local energy systems in UK homes and businesses, will be able to reinvent the power structure of energy.

Instead of “the Big Six,” he believes it is possible for millions of individual consumers and smaller businesses to become producers in the energy network. His vision is authentic power to the people via an energy transition that breaks through the status quo. Everyone can develop into a generator of energy by adopting renewable energy.

BusinessGreen’s Will Nichols shares highlights of a recent Conservative Party conference and Barker’s words:

“I want to unleash a completely new model of competition and enterprise. I want to encourage a vast new army of disruptive new energy players to challenge the Big Six,” Barker said.

From individual consumers to community groups, entrepreneurs, SMEs and FTSE giants, I want them all to consider generating their own energy at real scale, as well as starting to sell their excess energy on a commercial basis. A decentralised power to the people energy revolution – not just a few exemplars but tens of thousands of them. The Big Six need to become the Big 60,000.”

As Barker and others addressed the Conservative Party conference, he expressed his vision of accentuating solar energy, pointing out that the falling costs of solar – as well as technologies such as combined heat and power, geothermal, biomass, energy from waste and hydro power – were driving jobs and growth. The article continues:

…. But Barker added that the government needs to do more to “cut red tape” and eradicate over-complicated policy to drive further growth of the green economy.

“We must also look to do far more to integrate our new policies that help families produce their own renewable electricity with our new incentives to help families generate renewable heat, and make sure they work hand in glove with the range of new Green Deal energy efficiency measures which help hardworking families keep their homes warmer for less,” he said.

Other speakers, highlights, and opinions in this Nichol’s article find Barker in a polarity with Chancellor George Osborne, who has been criticized for his lack of interest in a progressive movement towards a healthier environment and clean energy jobs.

His words contrasted greatly with Chancellor George Osborne, who said prior to the conference that he did not want the UK to be a world-leader in fighting climate change, as environmental commitments damage the country’s competitiveness.

Beyond renewable energy, the topic of high-speed rail — a hot topic in England these days — was also discussed. While acknowledging rising costs, the UK’s Transport Secretary highlighted the tremendous need for the controversial new high-speed rail line:

Also today, Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin reiterated his “proud” support for the much-criticized HS2 high-speed rail line. Costs are spiraling for the £42bn project, but McLoughlin insisted the link from London to Birmingham and then to Manchester and Leeds, is “an essential heart bypass to the clogged arteries of our current transport system” and attacked the “London commentators” deriding the scheme.

“Our current rail system is almost full — there just isn’t the space we need for the future,” he said. “The new line will make more room for freight on rail and take the strain off our roads. And it will have the same capacity as a new 12-lane motorway.

“Now I promise you — I hear the critics. Boy, do I hear the critics. But the truth is we need a new north-south line to make our country stronger.”

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This article, “Decentralised Power To The People Energy Revolution” In UK, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Cynthia Shahan is an Organic Farmer, Classical Homeopath, Art Teacher, Creative Writer, Anthropologist, Natural Medicine Activist, Journalist, and mother of four unconditionally loving spirits, teachers, and environmentally conscious beings who have lit the way for me for decades.

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Clean Energy: How To Get There From Here!

by John Brian Shannon

Everyone knows more electricity is needed in developed nations and electrical needs in developing nations are skyrocketing. No problem there — everyone deserves to live a good lifestyle and enjoy our modern technology to the fullest.

The problem occurs in the means used to generate that electricity. Some kinds of electrical power generation cause huge billowing clouds of pollution 24-hours per day, every day of the year.

All of this adds up to astronomically high costs for electrical power producers and users, which can be measured in several different ways.

For instance, new conventional nuclear  power plants can cost up to $20 billion dollars each. Added to that cost, is the cost incurred to store thousands of tons of (so-called) spent nuclear fuel. Some spent fuels must be stored in air-conditioned bunkers for up to 20,000 years, with never more than 36 hours of A/C interruption. The costs of that are so high, they can’t even be calculated.

New coal plants cost about $250 million dollars/per hundred megawatts. A hundred megawatts isn’t much, by the way – enough to power 16,000 power-hungry A/C homes in the U.S. or about 29,000 homes in China. Some coal-fired power plants cost upwards of $1 billion dollars. The cost of the coal must be added to the equation from day one – the price of which rises and falls typically between $80.00 and $160.00 per ton, plus the significant transportation costs. It may interest you to know that China burned 3 billion tons of coal last year, emitting 7.2 billion tons of CO2 and other toxic gasses. Approximately 410,000 Chinese people die every year as a result of pollution-related deaths.

Natural gas power plants are clean, they cost a little more than comparable coal plants and the only real drawback is they emit huge volumes of CO2. Unlike coal, they emit little in the way of other toxic gasses or soot. Again, a costly and continuous and supply of natural gas must be available every day of the year.

No matter which choice is made, the construction of electrical generation power plants incurs high costs to nations — and the cheapest options come with the highest fuel and health-care costs.

In the United States, nuclear power receives significant subsidies on the order of $3.50 billion per year on average and oil and gas receive $4.86 billion subsidy dollars per year on average.

fossil-fuel-subsidies-490x407

We can see from the chart above that in the United States most forms of electrical power generation are heavily subsidized. Who could afford electricity otherwise?

If solar, wind and geothermal energy were subsidized at the same per kilowatt rate as Oil & Gas, Coal, or Nuclear — total U.S. emission levels would drop dramatically and Americans would be breathing much cleaner air.

National health-care costs would drop, acid rain damage would decrease to near zero, crop damage from power plants would become a thing of the past and meeting international agreements such as the Kyoto Protocol would become boringly simple.

To have the enjoyment of breathing clean air and the other benefits listed above, all governments should calculate the highest subsidy they pay per kilowatt hour and then begin paying ALL electricity providers that same per kilowatt hour subsidy.

Solar power, wind power and geothermal would then become ultra-competitive with coal, N-power and Oil & Gas. Every large rooftop area, such as big box retail outlets like IKEA stores for one good example, could assist national power production and air-quality goals by lowering demand on the grid and potentially adding power to it, while helping to enhance the health of citizens.

One nation has already begun such a program and is right on schedule. Denmark has decided that all energy, including transportation energy(!) will come from renewable sources by 2050 and they have made substantial progress in only a few short years.

Even with the patchwork and grossly unlevel subsidy regimes in place in the United States, this transition is already occurring. Organizations from the U.S. Navy, to IKEA and WalMart, some cities and towns, the Big Three auto manufacturers and many more businesses and organizations, are converting their unused rooftop spaces and vacant land into clean power stations — thereby tapering the need for behemoth, pollution-spewing power plants.

If governments standardized the subsidies they already pay for Oil & Gas, Coal and Nuclear power (instead of paying billions of dollars to some power providers — whilst paying pennies to others) we would all breathe a lot easier.

We need oil & gas, coal, natural gas and conventional nuclear power to feed our grids, what I’m  advocating for is directly comparable subsidies for all electricity providers, including green energy — and there are no real reasons why such subsidy levelization couldn’t soon happen in every country.

ABOUT JOHN BRIAN SHANNON

I write about green energy, sustainable development and economics. My blogs appear in the Arabian Gazette, EcoPoint, EnergyBoom, Huffington Post, United Nations Development Programme, WACSI — and other quality publications.

“It is important to assist all levels of government and the business community to find sustainable ways forward for industry and consumers.”

Green Energy blog: http://johnbrianshannon.com
Economics blog: https://jbsnews.wordpress.com
Twitter: @JBSCanada