At last a hint of sanity may be appearing according to YAHOO
* Deal fixes 7 percent limit for biofuels from food crops
* Still needs European Parliamentary approval
* New generation biofuels say they need more incentives (Adds reaction)
By Barbara Lewis
LUXEMBOURG, June 13 (Reuters) – EU energy ministers agreed on Friday to limit production of biofuels made from food crops, responding to criticism they stoke inflation and do more environmental harm than good.
The ministers’ endorsement of a compromise deal overcomes a stalemate hit late last year, when European Union governments failed to agree on a proposed 5 percent cap on the use of biofuels based on crops such as maize or rapeseed.
Friday’s agreement would set a 7 percent limit on food-based biofuels in transport fuel.
It still needs the approval of the newly-elected European Parliament, expected to begin considering it later this year.
“We think this proposal is much better than nothing,” European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger told the Luxembourg meeting of ministers.
“We need to support research and development in advanced biofuels so we can move forward from generation one into generation two and generation three,” he added, referring to more sophisticated biofuels that do not compete with growing crops for food.
The proposed 7 percent limit is part of a goal to get 10 percent of transport fuel from renewable sources by 2020.
Initially, the European Union backed biofuels to contribute to efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions and EU dependence on imported oil and gas.
Research has since shown that making fuel out of crops such as maize displaces other crops, forces the clearing of valuable habitats, and can inflate food prices.
The next generation of advanced biofuels, made from waste or algae for example, does not raise the same problems, but does require more investment.
The compromise supported by ministers on Friday includes a 0.5 percent non-binding target for next-generation biofuels, which environment campaigners say is nowhere near enough to make a difference.
The agreement could mean that the overall goal to get 10 percent of transport fuel from renewable sources by 2020 is missed, analysts say. Currently around 5 percent of EU transport fuel comes from renewable sources.
Food-based bio-refiners, which have invested on the basis of the original 10 percent, say a lower target threatens jobs.
And those trying to develop advanced biofuels say they are not been given sufficient incentive.
Manuel Sanchez Ortega, CEO of Spanish renewable and engineering firm Abengoa SA (NasdaqGS: ABGB – news) told Reuters by telephone the deal was positive in that it reduced uncertainty, but Europe was in danger of being left behind.
“In the United States there has been a revolution (in second-generation ethanol),” he said. “To us it seems that Europe is acting timidly.”
Thomas Nagy, executive vice-president of Novozymes , which makes enzymes used in the production of advanced biofuels, said Friday’s decision enabled “a reboot of the decision-making process”.
However, he also said there was an “absence of incentives to allow the conventional biofuel industry to develop sustainably”. He urged the European Parliament to propose amendments when it resumes debate of the draft law. (Additional reporting by Sybille de la Hamaide in Paris and Jose Elias Rodriguez in Madrid; editing by James Macharia and Jason Neely)
BHEAG comment – sustainability is KEY – northern hemisphere forests – the majority of the world’s carbon sinks are being destroyed at an unprecedented rate.
As we leave 2013 behind us the appeal for the Douglas Valley turbine has not yet been decided and Armstrong’s have suffered yet another fire at the Horwich recycling plant
Over the other-side the Birches farm appeal has yet to be considered, with both the applicant and Bolton council objecting to the way the appeal has been handled. The Bury MP – David Nuttall has written to the secretary of state with concerns in the opposite direction – highlighting residents concerns and as a result the application has been called in, to be determined by the Secretary of State. For good measure the applicant has submitted a new application for an even larger turbine, proposing to dismantle the two already present.
Over at Slack lane the applicant has requested an application called in and determined by the Secretary of State- which seems rather strange as the required information to determine the application was clearly not present – unless the strategy was to prevent community involvement – which also seems strange as the secretary of state has emphasised the important of this.
The focus on off shore wind farm was then dealt a massive blow as billions of pounds of investment are shelved and two power houses reduce their plans for off shore wind farms due to “market conditions” as Ed Milliband proposes to freeze energy bills for 20 months – which seems to mean that market forces and exchange rates will be ignored or there needs to be a massive price increase to provide for the contingency.
Biofuelwatch have issued a new report on the devastation being caused by the UK policy on commercial biomass –Biomass – The chain of destruction
UK companies have now announced plans to burn 82 million tonnes of biomass (mainly wood ) in power stations each year – more than 8 times the UK’s annual wood production. – the UK already relies on 80% net wood imports. the land grab in Brazil for eucalyptus plantings is resulting in the loss of forest eco systems.
Meanwhile 2Oc have signed a 20 year deal with Thames water – worth over £200M and construction has started on the CHP plant at Beckton
One thing is clear – the lights in the UK will go out in the next few years and the country is desperate for more generation capacity. It is important that renewable energy, championed by the government, is not confused with sustainable energy. It is important that the implications of loss of forest and land for crops and food in order to grow fuel crops is considered. It is equally important that there is an open debate about how we fuel the future – as the UK closes it coal plants -or converts them to forest destroying biomass plants it is estimated coal will not make a contribution to UK energy supply by 2030 – This year it is estimated china burned 4 billion tonnes (that is 4,000,000,000 tonnes – )of coal – realising about 70% of China’s power production. In the USA the figure is 35%.
– and then we import their products due to cheaper production costs – what price our Planet ?
Happy New Year
BHEAG are generally against biomass energy for several reasons. Biomass energy is often not sustainable – swathes of rain forest being chopped down for palm oil plantations – or even to supply the wood itself – for burning. Many people however burn biomass – in the form of wood in their own home. As Bolton is a smoke control borough this can only be done in stoves, complying to BS standards and this is usually supplemented by another energy source.
The Denton Farm application is different to all the previous applications in Blackrod and Horwich in that it is not designed to produce electricity ie it is not a power plant. It is more like the domestic wood burning stove – only larger – in that the main purpose is to use heat – which should be extremely efficient. Other applications have had no use for the majority of the heat and thus would need to disperse the energy into the environment – possibly even requiring cooling towers, creating significant inefficiency.
The plant is significantly smaller also requires significantly fewer deliveries each week and these will not travel along a public footpath.
Raw materials unlike other applications which have specified vegetable oils or virgin and recycled wood, will use wood pellets. BHEAG have requested that only pellets conforming to EN14961-2 class A1 are used. – the use of chemically treated or recycled wood would result in B classification
Unfortunately it takes a crisis.
The UN has called for a an immediate ban on USA ethanol production to allow more crops to be used for food or feed.
Prices of corn, wheat and soya bean have surged 30 to 50% in the last few weeks due to problems with the crop, caused by drought. America exports half the worlds corn , staple food for many nations – including Mexico.
The news is full of stories about the drought in the USA, and how it is affecting the corn crop – with nearly 50% of the crop now in poor condition.
It may be equally amazing that despite this figure, 40% of the crop is still planned to make bio fuel – that is enough to feed 412 million people for a year Oilprice.com
There are an estimated 1 billion people starving in the world.
How important is corn ? Reuters reports Mexico has just purchased over 1.5 million tonnes of USA corn. mexico is the second largest importer of USA corn after Japan. In Mexico , corn is a food staple used to make tortillas., prices of which have risen 18% since January. In 2008 surging tortilla prices resulted in riots.
We have often written about the madness of using oil seed or destroying our woodlands and carbon sinks in the pursuit of biofuel – especially in the UK where we have the additional issue of needing to import the vast volumes of wood /biofuel required.
Solar power is great, for small domestic use, but needs vast quantities of land to produce significant power. However plans to turn track of desert in Africa into huge solar receptors are expected to provide 15% of Europe’s power supply by 2050 BBC
In the UK our renewable energy focus is left with wind or hydro. One of the main issues with hydro is it tends to change ecosystems, both inland and coastal. Wind therefore is a favoured option – particularly in the UK where 2/3 of Europe’s wind blows over our shore.
Should wind turbines be out at sea – possibly – do we know the effect the noise and sound waves will have on our marine environment – so vital for the survival of our species – probably not.
There is a strong argument for land based turbines, particularly on the West Coast of the UK – one of the big issues is the population densities and the effect on home life.
An open debate is needed in the UK (and around the world) – no energy source is ideal – all have downsides. The big problem at the moment is that there are big winners and many losers – the man with the turbine makes a few million, where the nearby home owners see their property values plummet -and many people reporting health issues. Is one big turbine on Scout Moor better that twenty smaller turbines dotted around our countryside?
In the mean time perhaps the best thing you can do is reduce your own carbon footprint – many energy companies now offer free insulation (roof and cavity wall) upgrades. Lights can be changed to low energy fittings. Don’t use the drier. Turn your radiators down – with the money you save it will go towards paying the renewable energy subsidies or the extra for your corn
Ask most people what they think of renewable energy and generally they will respond positively.
Most people however also confuse the terminology with environmentally friendly or sustainable energy which can be something quite different.
The looming shortage of electricty generation, together with a UK commitment to produce 25% of energy from renenewable energy sources by 2025 has helped drive up domestic energy prices as the government subsidises and incentivises private renewable energy production.
What most people want is sensitive exploitation of renewable energy sources which are sustainable.
The use of biofuels causes problems in many areas of the world. Land clearance has caused many issues in the developing world. One clearance fire resulted in more CO2 emissions than the UK would produce in a single year. People lose their homes, their land their lives.
Food crops are replaced with energy crops and prices anre driven higher, leaving people to starve. Its a global economy, driven by supply and demand – where the rich win and the poor die.
Swaithes of rainforests are being deforested to grow palm oil – for burning. Increasing global CO2 production.
Are biofiels and renewable energy a good thing ? http://www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/
Hydro electric power accounts for nearly 20% of China’s power production. Recently Chinese officials staged a sudden about-face, acknowledging for the first time that the massive Three Georges hydroelectric dam, the world’s largest, sandwiched between breathtaking cliffs on the Yangtze River in central China, may be triggering landslides, altering entire ecosystems and causing other serious environmental problems—and, by extension, endangering the millions who live in its shadow. Three Georges Dam Is hydro electric a good thing ?
Last year, the world’s largest wood fueled biomass plant was approved – in the UK. If built it will use an estimated 60 million tonnes of wood a year – six times the UKs average wood production. The sad thing is that the wood that will be burned does not have to be replaced with new trees. Guess we will be importing even more wood and adding more to world CO2 levels. !The biggest threat to the Mountain Gorillas in the Congo – is the clearance of forest for charcoal production – a renewable energy source. Is renewable energy a good thing ?
Not all renewable energy projects are bad – to the contrary, but nor are they all good. The plan to use solar power, harnessed in the dessert, to supply 15% of Europes power by 2050 . That seems a much better idea than covering arable farmland with solar panels in the UK Desert power.
Admirably the UK leads the way with off shore wind farms but falls behind the curve in small scale domestic renewable energy projects – although these are now starting to have a benefit in the UK.
The UK government is encouraging small scale energy production, solar PV, wind power etc. Bolton’s core startegy encourages the use of CHP (Combined heat and Power) which can be over 90%efficient.
The largest biomass CHP for district heating plant is in Japan – 2MWe.
In Blackrod a plant twice this size has been approved at the Douglas Valley Golf Course, for district heating. It is estimated the plant will burn approximately 5% of the total wooded are in the North West of England each year – and produce enough electric for 11,000 houses and enough heat energy to heat the whole of Blackrod. Unfortunately the plant will only actually heat six houses, and it is likely the rest of the thermal energy will be wasted – possibly making it one of the least efficient CHP plants in the world – estimated at below 20% – wasting valuable energy resources.
The same site has also applied for two industrial wind turbines – despite guidance to the contrary unfortunately the proposed turbine tips will be within 50m of hedgerows and linear field structures. (In fact they are within a few meters). Why is this important ?
Some of Europe’s most endangered species – bats – use these linear structures as highways – they will virtually never fly accross an open field. Turbine blades have been responsible for many bat kills -it is unlawful to deliberately kill a bat – and contributory negligence by ignoring the guidelines is unlikely to provide a defence .
For those who would wish renewable energy at any cost – be careful what you wish for – dont be daft – think – sensitive exploitation of renewable energy sources which are sustainable.
Blind as Bat – Daft as a Brush
Energy efficiency is probably the best way we, as individuals can reduce the demand for energy and help achieve the 25% target. Many domestic energy suppliers now provide free roof insulation and free cavity wall insulation. If you havent yet gone down this route – or at least had a free consultation you to may be commiting an environmental crime. Please help Save the Planet – without costing the Earth.
The latest information on the Douglas Valley Golf Course Turbines, can be found
Having stated ” we have had no other option but to shelve this project for the time being, around the 17 October 2011, http://www.planning.bolton.gov.uk/Documents/110598_23.pdf
Within a month the development has commenced – although the information was not available until after the due decision date for the turbines, in which the above statement was made,
” turbines will ‘compromise’ golf”
see aslo http://www.golfclubmanagement.net/2011/09/wind-turbines-they-dont-have-to-be-big-but-they-are-clever/
Closer to home,
(http://www.planning.bolton.gov.uk/Documents/111580_6.pdf) may misrepresent the appearance of the 2 turbines. The location from where the photograph was taken is 149m ASL (above sea level) and the left turbine tip height is 157m ASL (the ground level appears to be 112m ASL). The extract below of the montage highlights Roscoe Lowe (Red box) which is 160m ASL. Therefore the top of the rotor will be in line with this feature.
- Meanwhile the 45m high, 700m squared sweep (x2) of the turbine blades was represented by a yellow balloon flying on a 30m length (in slight wind). Unsurprisingly this cannot be seen on two of the submitted photographs (even though one is in close proximity) – how strange. http://www.planning.bolton.gov.uk/Documents/110598_56.pdf
If anyone does spot the balloon perhaps they can let us know (or is that the whole purpose – the agent wants residents to believe nobody is actually going to see the turbines ?) How very bizarre – almost unbelievable
- Then I suppose the high energy use of the golf course, the reason for the biomass plant and two turbines, which will produce 36 GWh of electric per year, enough electric for almost 11,000 houses (each using 3,300Kwh) is also unbelievable
A link to the most recent (draft) report can be found here
There is overwhelming evidence that wind turbines cause serious health problems in nearby
residents, usually stress-disorder type diseases, at a nontrivial rate. The bulk of the evidence
takes the form of thousands of adverse event reports. There is also a small amount of
systematically-gathered data. The adverse event reports provide compelling evidence of the
seriousness of the problems and of causation in this case because of their volume, the ease of
observing exposure and outcome incidence, and case-crossover data. Proponents of turbines
have sought to deny these problems by making a collection of contradictory claims including that
the evidence does not “count”, the outcomes are not “real” diseases, the outcomes are the victims’
own fault, and that acoustical models cannot explain why there are health problems so the
problems must not exist. These claims appeared to have swayed many non-expert observers,
though they are easily debunked. Moreover, though the failure of models to explain the
observed problems does not deny the problems, it does mean that we do not know what, other
than kilometers of distance, could sufficiently mitigate the effects. There has been no policy
analysis that justifies imposing these effects on local residents. The attempts to deny the
evidence cannot be seen as honest scientific disagreement, and represent either gross
incompetence or intentional bias.
A recent Canadian court case concluded “
This case has successfully shown that the debate should not be simplified to one about whether wind turbines can cause harm to humans.The evidence presented to the Tribunal demonstrates that they can, if facilities are placed too close to residents. The debate has now evolved to one of degree.”
A summary of new evidence can be found here
A big thank you from Blackrod residents to the army of helpers who delivered nearly two thousand leaflets, concerning the Douglas Valley Turbine development today – in wind and hail.
Reluctantly the group has decided to object to the application for two turbines at Douglas Valley Golf Course.
The reasons can be found here Objection to Douglas Valley Turbines
Wind Turbines – minimum distances from residential premises-bill This is the bill which has now had it’s “Second Reading” in the House of Lords and sets a minimum setback distance of 2km for a turbine of 120m. This is at a very early stage, which is reflected in the brief content of the bill itself. None-the-less, this clearly demonstrates that there is genuine and real concern about the effects of wind turbines sited too close to populated areas. The presentation of this bill forces the question:
The legislation proposes, if the height of the wind turbine generator is— (measured from the ground to the end of the blade tip at its highest point.)
(a) greater than 25m, but does not exceed 50m, the minimum distance requirement is 1000m;
(b) greater than 50m, but does not exceed 100m, the minimum distance requirement is 1500m;
(c) greater than 100m, but does not exceed 150m, the minimum distance requirement is 2000m;
A similar bill Onshore Wind Turbines (Proximity of Habitation) Bill 2010-11 is winding its way through the House of Commons, with the next reading expected JAnuary 2012
Why – simply put healths concerns and masses of law suits in various countries. It appears it is not just the audible noise and visual impacts that effects people but also infrasound (frequency less than 20 Hz).
Many countries have already acted on concerns and introduced appropriate legislation – similar to that proposed in the rest of the UK.
In Scotland, Scottish planning guidance contains an advisory, rather than mandatory, limit of two kilometres, although the Scottish border Council has a presumption against any turbine within 2 KM of a residential property. In Wales there is a “typical seperation distance” of 500m – although Carmarthanshire County Council will not permit wind farms within 1500m of a residential dwelling. ( The 500m separation distance is intended to assist local planning authorities refine the boundaries of the Strategic Search Areas and not as a minimum separation distance for individual wind turbines. )
Proposed Scottish legislation goes further, in suggesting that two blade turbines be limited to industrial sitings, due to the faster sweep ( a 30m turbine (45m including blades), would have an area sweep of c 700m2)
Aberdeenshire Council Local Plan Infrastructure Policy states
“In order to protect residential amenity, wind energy developments should generally be not less than 400m from dwellings. The actual desirable separation distance will be dependent on a range of factors including topography, safety issues, noise, shadow flicker, shadow throw and the size of the turbines.
A separation distance of at least 10 rotor diameters between the wind turbines and nearby dwellings is required, in accordance with good practice identified in PAN 45 to minimise shadow flicker.”
Similarly Torridge district Council, in Devon, has made an extensive study and limits developments to within 600m, The full policy (with a summary page 6/7 ) can be found CHttpHandler
It is important to look at the Bill’s effects. The figure is that if there was an exclusion around dwellings of two kilometres, 0.5 per cent of the UK landmass would be able to take wind turbines. Effectively, we would end that industry completely
The revised Draft National Policy Statement for Renewable Energy Infrastructure (EN-3), which is currently before Parliament, says,
“appropriate distances should be maintained between wind turbines and residential properties to protect residential amenity”.
In the circumstances it would seem rather prudent to introduce more “targeted” planning guidance and we will be seeking to encourage a half way house –
A Presumption against development within 1 KM of a residential house
B minimum distance of 500m from a residential house
A copy of the bill can be found here: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201011/ldbills/017/11017.1-i.html
A copy of the second reading can be found here: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/lords/?id=2011-06-10a.488.4&s=%22global+warming+policy+foundation%22
Small and groups of small turbines http://www.snh.gov.uk/docs/A516125.pdf
THE CURRENT DOUGLAS VALLEY GOLF COURSE APPLICATION, FOR TWO 45 m TURBINES, APPROXIMATELY 350m from BLACKROD VILLAGE CAN BE FOUND HERE
Protest against biofuels fuelling climate meltdown
Where: DECC – Department of Energy & Climate Change, 3 Whitehall Place, SW1A 2AW. Nearest tube stations, Embankment & Charing Cross.
When: Saturday 22nd October, 12.00 noon
Who is the protest for? – for anyone concerned about environment and social justice.
Why: The protest coincides with a DECC public consultation on Renewable Obligation Certificates – ROCs, which are subsidies for ‘renewable electricity’. Yet instead of rewarding only true renewable energy, such as sustainable wind and solar power, a large and growing share of ROCs goes to biomass (wood) and biofuel power stations. Those are paid for by all of us, through a surcharge on our fuel bills. At a time when health, education, social welfare and environmental programmes are being cut drastically, the government is planning to reward biomass and biofuel power stations with £3 billion a year!
Biomass and biofuel production causes deforestation and adversely affects the climate, food sovereignty and human rights. Nearly all of the biomass and biofuels burned in UK power stations will be imported from countries including Indonesia, Brazil, Ghana or Kenya. Burning biomass and biofuel causes air pollution causing health problems for those who live nearby. This protest will show DECC that people don’t want to subsidise bioenergy.
Corporations like Drax, one of Europe’s biggest climate change contributors, are lobbying DECC to increase their profits from burning the biosphere. If UK citizens who pay for ROCs tell DECC yes to true renewable power from wind, wave, tidal, solar & geothermal and no to bioenergy we can stop this destructive industry overnight.
Supported by Campaign Against Climate Change
Let’s cut-back on bioenergy instead of cutting libraries or rainforests.
Let’s have people power instead of plant power!
Bring a friend, your banners and placards to the Department of Environment & Climate Change on the 22nd.
Please click here
Many of BHEAG’s campaigns are centred around projects which have been made to look environmentally friendly – but the devil is in the detail (or usually the lack of it)
Many readers will be familiar with the name Blue NG – a company formed several years ago, which has still failed to build a single plant or produce a single unit of electricity.
The story is here: http://www.corporatewatch.org/?lid=4053