Electricity Market Reform draft legislation needs strengthening

April 8, 2013

The Electricity Market Reform (EMR) process is designed to prepare the UK Electricity Market for a shift to Low Carbon generation and in the process correct certain failings in the current renewable support schemes. It is continuing the liberalisation process started in the 1980s with the privatisation of the electricity utilities.   It seeks to encourage further competition in the electricity generation sector. The Contracts For Difference Feed in Tariff ...

Grid parity and solar PV

March 6, 2013

In my last blog we explored the question about grid parity for wind power.  As the question seems to have been invented by consultants for solar PV, we deal with it here. I suppose the amazing thing is that the question can be posed at all.  5 years ago PV was 3 or 4 times as expensive as it is now. A new law has even been invented to describe PV price reduction.  ...

How cheap is new wind energy?

February 14, 2013

It seems to be a fashionable question to ask these days:  “when will renewable energy reach grid parity?” (Q1) The answer, usually coming from the same people who asked the question is “sometime in the future” It is of course the wrong question.  The cost of electricity on any grid is a the sum of the capital servicing costs (which includes the repayment ...

Wind as a continental phenomenon: the need for a single electricity market in Europe

November 26, 2012

Why treating wind energy as a national – and not a continental – resource limits its effectiveness and opens the door to critics of the technology. Most endeavours in renewable energy, in Northern Europe, began with wind energy.  Wind turbines were small.  They were local, in that they were connected to the distribution wires. They made little impact on the electricity system.  They were strictly seen as an environmental contrivance.  They produced electricity without CO2. They ...

Subsidies! What’s in the best interest of the consumer?

October 23, 2012

Energy subsidies always court controversy. The anti-renewables lobby never misses an opportunity to point at the $66 billion spent on renewable energy subsidies globally in 2010. In this blog I will look at the bigger picture and examine two very different types of support mechanisms for renewables and give you my view on which is in the best interest of the consumer. All forms of energy are subsidised. Some are subsidised directly, ie. in a visible manner like ...

The most effective support mechanism

September 5, 2012

Support mechanisms for renewables are crucial for successful deployment. They come in all shapes and sizes.  The most common ones are: 1.    Tax based mechanisms; 2.    Obligation systems; 3.    Fixed price feed-in systems. Even before any of these systems come to be meaningful there are a raft of other issues that control deployment of renewable energy (RE). For instance:  how open is the electricity system?  Is there adequate grid to allow ...

Creative Energy policy formulation

August 22, 2012

It is hereby accepted that for fossil price, environmental and availability of sustainable sources of power, that it would be desirable to make the transition to sustainability. Such a transition represents a revolution.  Since industrialisation, primary energy has been extracted, processed and used in a definite series of ways.  All this is changing. As energy is central to everything Government has always taken a keen interest in it.  It is an intriguing ...

Energy policy formulation

August 15, 2012

Energy insecurity is now a fact.  The world has been relying on its long term stored reserves of sunlight since the beginning of the industrial era.  Sunlight causes Photosynthesis.  Photosynthesis fixes carbon from the atmosphere.  The fixed carbon in plants, trees, grass and bogs become fossil fuels over geological time. Fossil fuels are limited.  The market is telling us that.  A price of $1 – 2/barrel from 1900 – 1973 was replaced by a ...

Present day flat earthers

June 19, 2012

The laws of science are fixed.  They can be invisible for centuries, because they have not been discovered yet. Nevertheless they govern our reality with a relentless power. We may not even be able to explain how they work at the basic level, like gravity, but we know that gravity pulls masses towards each other.  To plan on a world that ignores gravity would be foolish.  It would be costly.  Any project which assumes no gravity is doomed to failure. ...

Playing the Trump Card

April 25, 2012

Donald, thanks for the great new golf course.  I look forward to playing it one day soon.  It will remind me of playing at the European Golf club in Brittas Bay in Co Wicklow, where for all of the 18 holes golfers have a splendid view of the wind turbines I built offshore in 2003.  The Arklow Bank wind farm, built with GE, was the first offshore windfarm in these islands. It was built without a subsidy from ...