Can UK power market reform replace the capacity market?

National Grid helicopter inspecting power lines

The UK has just completed another auction for a large amount of backup power capacity. The country’s capacity market scheme will cost ratepayers many billions of pounds. Independent consultant Gerard Wynn wonders if they are really necessary. … [Read more...]

EU energy package: What it means for coal, renewables and efficiency

Commissioners Anna-Kaisa Itkonen, Maroš Šefčovič, Miguel Arias Cañete present Winter Package (photo Europe by Satellite)

The literature on EU energy regulations got longer by about a thousand pages [on 30 November], as the European Commission put forward its vision for achieving a “clean energy transition”, writes Sophie Yeo for Carbon Brief. The vast collection of documents — including revisions to directives, impact assessments, enquiries and new regulations — will determine the future of energy in the EU up to 2030. It touches upon subjects including coal … [Read more...]

Energy crops have been a major flop with farmers – here’s why

short rotation willow (photo SuSanA Secretariat)

In only a few years, biomass has become a major UK power source, supplying 3% of the total electricity supply. However, despite government incentives, UK farmers are largely unwilling to grow the feedstock for the biomass plants. Most of it has to be imported. Charles Warren, Senior Lecturer Geography and Sustainable Development at the University of St. Andrews, tried to find out why – and came to some very instructive conclusions. Courtesy The … [Read more...]

Greener in Europe? Four reasons the EU can’t be trusted on the environment

rapeseed field in Suffolk (photo John Fielding)

Those in favour of Britain’s continued membership of the European Union – although strangely not the UK government’s official campaign to remain in – are increasingly highlighting the contribution Brussels has made to protecting the natural environment. There is some justification for this, writes Professor Steffen Böhm of the University of Exeter, but in several key areas the influence of the EU on UK's environmental policy has been negative … [Read more...]

Can we save the algae biofuel industry?

Algae biofuels research facility at Texas A&M

Over the last decade or so, energy companies, including the likes of Shell and ExxonMobil, have invested large amounts of money in algal biofuels, only to find that the economics didn’t make sense, writes Christian Ridley, Research Associate in Plant Biotechnology at the University of Cambridge. However, according to Ridley, there still is a way forward for the industry, if the production of biodiesel from algae can be combined with production of … [Read more...]

Why EU renewable energy figures are misleading: Europe requires 150% renewable energy to become fossil-free

How much renewable energy is the EU really getting? (photo Europe by Satellite)

The EU is confident it will reach its target of 20% renewable energy by 2020. But according to Martien Visser, professor at the Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen (The Netherlands), this 20% is in reality more like 14%. This is because a large part of our energy consumption is simply ignored in the calculations for renewable energy. “Even with 100% renewables, we would still need a lot of fossil fuels”, Visser notes. … [Read more...]

Wind top new power capacity source in Europe

EP-News-Logo2 (1)-new

In 2015 12,800 MW of new wind power capacity was installed in the EU, an increase of 6.3% over 2014, and more than any other form of power generation, according to recent new figures from the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA). Wind power accounted for over 44% of total power capacity installations in the EU last year. … [Read more...]