The announcement by the German Government that their hydrogen strategy will include support for so-called blue hydrogen as a transitional measure must be regarded as a huge setback for a sustainable energy transition. Essentally what is being proposed is the propping up of oil and gas rather than the alternative – an energy efficient decentralised system based on renewable energy.
The danger is that the British Government will now follow suit.
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Here we publish a summary of our new, first, report:
How nuclear power is switching off windfarms in Scotland – The truth about wind power compensation payments
This report investigates the extent to which the operation of nuclear power plant in Scotland can be blamed for the large amounts spent on compensating windfarms for being asked by the National Grid to shut down production. These shutdowns are done in order to stop the electricity network from being overloaded and the payments to windfarms are called ‘constraint payments’. This is an important issue as these constraint sums are large and are borne by electricity consumers.
Unfortunately, compensation payments paid to windfarm operators are regularly highlighted in anti-windfarm media reports. The practice of paying windfarms to cut back their energy production exists for several reasons. These are principally because of the inability of nuclear facilities to operate flexibly, because the electricity network in Scotland is currently unable to support rapidly increasing amounts of wind power, and because enhancements of electricity interconnections with other countries have not kept pace with these developments or have broken down.
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Blue Hydrogen – an implausible alternative to renewable energy
Blue hydrogen, that is hydrogen produced from fossil fuels (in practice usually natural gas), is hydrogen produced in circumstances where the carbon in the fossil fuel feedstock is captured and stored (carbon capture and storage, or ccs).
But this is not a substitute for energy from renewable energy, for a number of reasons. It is inferior to hydrogen produced from renewable electricity through hydrolysis. It is even more inferior to renewable energy used directly to power heat pumps to heat energy efficient buildings (see the section on heat pumps). Indeed the gas industry would love to scrap the Government’s commitment to end gas heating in new buildings by 2025 and instead carry on fossil fuel business in a new ‘blue hydrogen’ guise.Continue reading full article…
How we can supply all UK energy needs from renewables
by David Toke
A recent report from the International Energy Agency  has demonstrated how offshore wind power alone can supply 18 times more energy than the current world supply of electricity, including 16 times the electricity supply of Europe – with the UK better placed than any country to marshall this resource. The need to supply ALL UK energy (not just electricity) by 2050 (or sooner) under the ‘net zero carbon’ target could increase UK electricity production between approximately 2.5-4 times (see later section on this). But this appears to be easily obtainable from offshore wind resources alone – and of course there’s plenty of solar power and other renewable energy sources to add to this potential. Of course supplying less rather than more renewable energy to meet the 100 per cent target is preferable – hence the need to choose the most energy efficient systems!
Renewable energy is cheaper than other options
The cost of renewable energy has been hurtling downwards. Around the world solar pv and wind power are now the cheapest widely available sources of electricity. For example, last Autumn the UK Government auctioned off some contracts to supply electricity from some big proposed offshore windfarms, and the prices came in at £40 per MWh (2012 prices) – that’s less than half the cost of power from Hinkley C nuclear power station (£92.50 per MWh) and also less than what it would cost to build a large scale gas fired power station. Although developers have stopped building big fossil fuel power plant (despite getting incentives to provide ‘capacity’) onshore wind and solar pv farms are being built without any subsidies .Continue reading full article…