Monday, 5 October 2015

Can renewable energy create a Western Powerhouse? >>> >>> report launch: Exeter: Friday 16th October

The problem with locally-produced energy is that you might be permanently plugged into that source - and that source only:
District heating: questions raised | East Devon Watch

Many local communities 'own' their power generation, on the other hand:
Futures Forum: "In most other countries, renewable energy projects are owned by local communities: and so there's a huge groundswell of support for them."

To what extent can the South-West produce - and be in control of - all its own power?
Futures Forum: "Renewables generate more than a quarter of UK electricity, beating coal and nuclear"
Futures Forum: “There will definitely be a slowdown in the renewable energy sector in the South West. It may, however, drive innovation for new approaches and energy solutions.
Futures Forum: "More Power to the South West - a BBC Spotlight Special" - give BBC Radio Devon a call...
Futures Forum: The South-West now generates enough renewable electricity to power over one quarter of all homes in the region

This question will be looked at by one of the region's MEPs next week:

Can renewable energy create a Western Powerhouse?

Friday 16th October, 7-9pm, Mint Methodist Church, Fore Street, Exeter 

Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, will launch a report she commissioned which demonstrates how the South West can produce 100+% of its energy needs from renewables alone. This will be followed by a panel debate and questions and answers session exploring the politics of energy, the implications of creating a renewable energy revolution and how communities can play an important part in that revolution.

Contact 01392 410624

Can renewable energy create a Western Powerhouse? | Transition Exeter

This is also from Molly Scott Cato, from the WMN earlier in the summer:

Go green to turn South West into an economic powerhouse

By Western Morning News | Posted: June 22, 2015

Committing to 100% renewable energy would transform

the region, says Molly Scott Cato

An exciting bit of news on energy may have slipped your notice. Saturday June 6 saw a new record for wind and solar energy generation in the UK. Strong winds and a sunny day resulted in wind and solar power peaking at 12GW, equal to 40 per cent of power generation on the grid. The figures, provided by independent analysts, showed that wind alone beat all sources of fossil fuel generation and was second only to nuclear power (www. carboncommentary.com/blog/2015/6/7/new-record-for-uk-renewables-output). Rightly, the renewables industry has seized on this event to argue that the government should retain subsidies for onshore wind, rather than scrap them as planned.

Critics will claim that the sun doesn’t always shine and that wind speed is highly variable. Neither fact can be denied, but what we do know is that solar and wind energy are not the only renewables. The South West has some of the world’s best renewable energy resources, in great abundance and great variety. This mix includes as-yet unexploited resources such as tidal lagoons, wave power and off-shore wind power, including floating offshore wind which would allow turbines to be deployed in deeper water, reduce costs and be less environmentally damaging. To this abundance we can add geo-thermal power and biomass, as well as ground- and air-source heat pumps, all of which could meet the region’s heating and cooling energy requirements. This region can become a showcase of how we can meet baseload demand and sudden demand spikes.

Recently I commissioned a report from the Resilience Centre in Gloucestershire to examine the potential for renewable energy in the South West (mollymep.org.uk/2015/04/17/power-to-transform). This concluded that our region has the potential to meet more than 100% of its energy needs through renewables, without dangerous and expensive nuclear new-build at Hinkley. This includes replacing liquid fuels used, for example, in transport. Of course there are caveats.

Firstly, this 100% self-reliance assumes a reduction in demand of 40% over the next 30 years. But that is the Government’s own target, set in order to meet its climate change obligations.

Secondly, a transformation will require a major upgrade of the national grid. We will need to see the development of smart grid energy storage systems to balance the intermittency of some renewables. Such an upgrade would reduce the need for unsightly pylons and transmission systems.

Thirdly, there would be a cost of £60 billion. When compared to nuclear, it looks like extremely good value. The equivalent cost of delivering 100% of energy needs from nuclear would be around £83 billion. The Hinkley deal is a scandal with people in Britain asked to pay twice the market price for nuclear electricity to subsidise failed French energy companies and Chinese financiers. Renewables offer much better opportunities for local control, local jobs and economic gains than nuclear.

Finally, and fundamentally, a renewable energy revolution will require political will. Given the natural, technological and human resources with which our region is so tremendously endowed, this is the only thing that is holding us back. Our politicians are too easily swayed by the arguments of those who lack vision and fail to understand the opportunities that renewables can bring and succumb too easily to the all-powerful fossil fuel and nuclear lobbies; the fossil fuel industry is subsidised to the tune of US$10m (£6.4m) a minute every day, according to the International Monetary Fund (www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/18/fossil-fuel-companies-getting-10m-a-minute-in-subsidies-says-imf).

The right environmental choice will also ensure greater economic justice and help us build flourishing local economies. Locally produced renewable energy will bring a huge economic boost and new jobs and benefit in particular some of our more deprived rural economies. The Resilience Centre report concludes that a move to a renewable energy economy has the potential to create 122,000 jobs across the South West, an increase in employment of 4.5%, and boost the regional economy by £11 billion a year. This is equivalent to 130% of the value of the tourism industry and 238% of the aerospace and defence industry here.

Then there are the enormous benefits that renewable energy projects can bring to communities, and people tend to support them when they have a stake. The Germany Energy Transition programme has shown the transformation that can occur given political backing (http://energytransition.de/2012/10/key-findings). The German government has legislated to prioritise grid access for all electricity generated from renewables. By 2013, more than half of investments in renewables had been made by small investors. The share of renewable electricity in Germany rose from 6% to nearly 25% in ten years. On sunny and windy days, solar and wind increasingly supply up to half the country’s electricity demand. Through this, communities have been empowered to generate their own renewable energy and have reaped the rewards of jobs and community income.

There has been much discussion about a northern powerhouse. In the South West we have the potential for our own powerhouse, driven not by large foreign-owned corporations, sucking money out of the region, but by community owned and run renewable energy, keeping money circulating locally. The power is in our own hands – we just need to be provided opportunities to utilise the resources and skills the South West has in abundance.

Dr Molly Scott Cato is Member of the European Parliament for the South West

Go green to turn South West into an economic powerhouse | Western Morning News

See also:
Futures Forum: The aesthetics of development: power plants and windfarms

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