Friday, January 30, 2009

Age of Stupid's fantastic trailer

Age of Stupid is set to make its impact on March 15th with a London premier and then general release.

Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father, Brassed Off) stars as a man living alone in the devasted world of 2055, looking back at “archive” footage from 2007 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?

> Read my article and interview with the director.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Climate change, George Monbiot, Agas, oil, blame, and guilt

Unusually for this blog, I'm directing you to a poem - on my other blog - about climate change - I like playing games - but not the Blame Game . The attitudes of some greenies really pisses me off. So this is about climate change, George Monbiot, Agas, oil, blame, guilt and so on.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Emission allowance auction to be held as price crashes

The second auction in Phase II of the European Union's Emissions Trading System will be held on behalf of the government on 24th March.

But the scheme has come under attack again, as the owners of registered installations - large energy generators, cement manufacturers, chemical plants and the like - have been selling off credits which they are not using on account of the recession - to the tune of 75 to 150 million euros a day - to raise funds to balance their books.

Big polluters must purchase allowances corresponding to the tonnes of carbon they expect to emit. 7% of the UK's allowance cap is auctioned - about 86 million allowances over Phase II.

West European iron and steel output is expected to fall by at least 14% this year compared to 2008, and EU cement production by 20-25%, meaning there will be a surplus of carbon allowances of 66 million tons for those two sectors alone. This is worth about 750 million euros. But the sell-off is causing a glut and a price collapse - by up to a third in January. Analysts said it could drop as low as 5 euros from a peak of 31 euros last summer.

"This was not designed as a scheme to give corporates cheap short-term funding options in a credit crunch meltdown," said Mark Lewis, Deutsche Bank carbon analyst. "But that appears to be what's happening."

A low price undermines incentives for companies to cut emissions. "It demonstrates that the targets after 2012 (to 2020) are too lax, especially in combination with a large use of carbon offsets," said Cambridge University's Karsten Neuhoff. But Barbara Helfferich, EU Commission environment spokeswoman brushed off criticism, saying "If those companies were smart they would take those profits and invest them in greener technology". But will they?

The allowances are one of the worst investments so far in 2009, falling more than almost any other energy commodity or index of global stocks. Only the energy guzzlers have benefited - so it looks as if this auction won't raise nearly as much cash for the government as the first one.

This is yet another reason why the ETS needs a complete overhaul - it is just not fit for purpose.

Monday, January 26, 2009

"5,000 to 7,000 more offshore wind turbines" - report

Environmental study to inform location of future offshore energy developments

A new Government study of the UK's shores has recommended that between 5,000 to 7,000 more offshore wind turbines could be installed. This would be enough to power the equivalent of almost all the homes in the UK (assuming 3.6MW to 5MW turbines).

An Offshore Energy Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), produced by Hartley Anderson Ltd, assesses the potential for further development in offshore wind, as well as oil and gas licensing and natural gas storage. The environmental report, the bulk of it, records vital information on bird populations, mammals, plankton and more. Following a twelve week consultation on this report, the Government will propose an "acceptable" level of offshore wind development, as well as offshore oil and gas licensing.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said: "This report provides a real advance in our understanding of the ecology and geology of the UK marine environment so we can continue to ensure that projects like wind farms are built in the most suitable places and that we will also protect the natural environment."

The Government has already proposed increases in the financial incentives to make the UK an attractive place for offshore wind development. Seven wind farms (North Hoyle, Scroby Sands, Kentish Flats, Barrow, Burbo Bank, Lynn and Inner Dowsing) are already operating off the UK coast, five more are being built, nine have been approved and two are in the planning process.

> DECC's offshore wind pages

Severn tidal power shortlist contains two lagoon proposals

Up to 5% of UK electricity could be generated

Both controversial barrages and innovative tidal lagoons favoured by conservationists have made it onto the shortlist of schemes to generate electricity in the Severn estuary. If the largest were to go ahead, it could produce enough electricity to supply all of Wales' needs.

New funding of £500,000 has also been announced to further develop new technologies like tidal reefs and fences. Their progress will be taken into account before a final decision is made. The tides in the Severn estuary are the second highest in the world.

A year-long feasibility study has been investigating ten options that are now whittled down to five. A consultation is now underway until 23 April on which projects to take forwards (which includes the five schemes that didn't make the shortlist). The five schemes are:
  • Cardiff Weston Barrage: crossing the estuary from Brean Down, near Weston-super-Mare to Lavernock Point, near Cardiff. Estimated capacity: over 8.6 gigawatts - nearly 5% of UK electricity
  • Shoots Barrage: further upstream of the Cardiff Weston scheme. Capacity: 1.05GW (similar to a large fossil fuel plant)
  • Beachley Barrage: just above the Wye River. Capacity: 625MW
  • Bridgwater Bay Lagoon: on the English shore between east of Hinkley Point and Weston-super-Mare. Capacity: 1.36GW
  • Fleming Lagoon: on the Welsh shore between Newport and the Severn road crossings. Capacity: 1.36GW.
The projected costs range from £2.1bn to £21bn. PricewaterhouseCoopers is reporting on financing options.

Rare habitat

The estuary is designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA), under the European Union Birds Directive, in recognition of its internationally important overwintering bird populations.

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband said: "We have tough choices to make. Failing to act on climate change could see catastrophic effects on the environment and its wildlife, but the estuary itself is a protected environment, home to vulnerable species including birds and fish.

"We need to think about how to balance the value of this unique natural environment against the long-term threat of global climate change," Miliband concluded.

Under the Habitats laws a development can proceed if it is within the overriding public interest to do so, even if it may damage protected sites, but only if it can ensure that the appropriate compensatory measures to secure the coherence of the Natura 2000 network of sites and replace lost habitats before the project proceeds.

The study has considered this up to a point but come to no firm conclusion yet on whether it would be possible to deliver compensation on the scale required, calling it "a significant challenge".

The shortlisted schemes are based on relatively well understood hydroelectric technologies, with a mix of existing and new engineering structures.

The scope of the Strategic Environmental Assessment has also been published to ensure a detailed understanding.

> Severn Tidal Power Consultation