The Future of Home Heating?

Did you know that over 80% of UK homes are heated by gas, and that heating accounts for 1/3 of UK CO2 emissions?

The UK is actually doing more than it’s part to reduce carbon emissions – our goal of a 57% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 dwarfs the EU goal of 40%.  Even more ambitiously, we want to reduce them by 80% by 2050.  The plan was, or is, to de-carbonise electricity production which has been happening with the push towards solar and wind energy.

The next step was to electrify heat.  The only problem is that the aggregate peak demand for heat is 300 gigawatts, which is more than five times the demand for electricity.  The problem is that at the moment coal and fossil fuels are proving more practical to store, and there aren’t that many alternatives.

However, there could be one…  Hydrogen could be the key to unlocking a sustainable energy economy.  Its main benefits are that it is next to carbon neutral, and it could be stored in fuel cells.  What’s more, the current gas pipeline is largely compatible with hydrogen, and the only real change consumers may have to make is to change their burners on their equipment.

There are already experiments happening over the UK, such as in Leeds where Northern Gas Networks and Wales & West Utilities are studying the feasibility of converting the existing natural gas networks to transport hydrogen.

They have found that: 1) the gas network has the correct capacity for the conversion, which would reduce emissions by 73%.  2) the network can be converted incrementally to minimise disruption.  Likewise Keele University have trialled blending hydrogen into the existing gas supply to prove that a hybrid could be rolled out to the public without disruption.

Finally, the Hydrogen for Heat programme aims to design and develop new appliances that can be run on hydrogen and explore the practicalities of using hydrogen in homes.  Eventually, they aim to implement a pilot project in a small village or town.

Written by Zak Hurst, Director of Southern Energy Solutions, Hastings.

Offshore Wind Power Cheaper Than New Nuclear

Status

Great news!  I see the Rampion Field offshore from Brighton is progressing – from Brighton Clock Tower looking down West Street, a rig and towers visible on horizon and full extent surprised me recently as it came into view whilst driving along A259 from Eastbourne.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-41220948#_=_

Offshore wind power cheaper than new nuclear.  [ABRIDGED]

By Roger Harrabin,BBC environment analyst.  September 11 2017.

Burbo Bank Offshore Wind Farm, Liverpool.  copyright GETTY IMAGES

Energy from offshore wind in the UK will be cheaper than electricity from new nuclear power for the first time.  The development, revealed in figures from the government, has been seen as a milestone in the advance of renewable energy.

The plummeting cost of offshore wind energy has caught even its most optimistic supporters by surprise.  Nuclear firms said the UK still needed a mix of low-carbon energy, especially for when wind power was not possible.  The figures, from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, for offshore wind were revealed as the result of an auction for subsidies, in which the lowest bidder wins.

Two firms said they were willing to build offshore wind farms for a subsidy of £57.50 per megawatt hour. That compares with new nuclear plants at a subsidy of £92.50 per megawatt hour for 2022-23.

Emma Pinchbeck from the wind energy trade body Renewable UK told the BBC: “These figures are truly astonishing.  “We still think nuclear can be part of the mix – but our industry has shown how to drive costs down, and now they need to do the same.”

‘Energy revolution.’

Onshore wind power and solar energy are already both cost-competitive with gas in some places in the UK.  And the price of energy from offshore wind has now halved in less than five years.

Energy analysts said UK government policy helped to lower the costs by nurturing the fledgling industry, then incentivising it to expand – and then demanding firms should bid in auction for their subsidies.

Michael Grubb, professor of energy policy at University College London, called the cost reduction “a huge step forward in the energy revolution”.  “It shows that Britain’s biggest renewable resource – and least politically problematic – is available at reasonable cost.  It’ll be like the North Sea oil and gas industry: it started off expensive, then as the industry expanded, costs fell. We can expect offshore wind costs to fall more, too,” he said.

The subsidies, paid from a levy on consumer bills, will run for 15 years – unlike nuclear subsidies which run for 35 years.  This adds to the cost advantage offshore wind has now established over new nuclear.  Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party, said: “This massive price drop for offshore wind is a huge boost for the renewables industry and should be the nail in the coffin for new nuclear.  “The government’s undying commitment to new nuclear risks locking us into sky high prices for years to come. Put simply, this news should be the death knell for Hinkley C nuclear station.”

Nuclear ‘still needed.’

However, the nuclear industry said that because wind power is intermittent, nuclear energy would still be needed.  Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, said: “It doesn’t matter how low the price of offshore wind is. On last year’s figures it only produced electricity for 36% of the time.”

EDF, which is building the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, said the UK still needed a “diverse, well-balanced” mix of low-carbon energy.  “New nuclear remains competitive for consumers who face extra costs in providing back-up power when the wind doesn’t blow or the sun doesn’t shine,” the French firm said.  “There are also costs of dealing with excess electricity when there is too much wind or sun.”

Construction of the Hinkley Point plant is under way after gaining government approval last year.  EDF added that energy from new nuclear plants would become cheaper as the market matures, as has happened with offshore wind.  Eyes will be raised at this suggestion, as nuclear power has already received subsidies since the 1950s but storage of surplus energy from offshore wind is still a challenge.

Prof Grubb estimated the new offshore wind farms would supply about 2% of UK electricity demand, with a net cost to consumers of under £5 per year.

Experts warn that in order to meet the UK’s long term climate goals, additional sources of low-carbon energy will still be needed.

July Sightings

July 4.  Flock of about 20 oystercatchers perched on one of the reefs that run out here and there along the beach at St.Leonards this afternoon.

July 8.  Trained to Brighton…  Beautiful show of hollyhocks at Berwick station, real cottage flowers!  Scrub is still being allowed to increase in area at a number of locations along the Firle Escarpment Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).  This is one of SE England’s major landscape features and if attitudes, government grants, and funding for Natural England staff do not change before too long, this majestic view will be lost to future generations.    In a field near Firle, saw windrows of straw from an early combined crop of cereal.    People who criticise on aesthetic grounds the Rampion wind farm some 10 miles seaward of Brighton, should turn their gaze 90 degrees and consider the factory chimney (aka i-360 attraction), parked on Brighton’s promenade!    Evening withdrawal of some evening train services meant I was stuck on Lewes station for about an hour from 8-45pm but I was rewarded by one of Nature’s spectacles.  I became aware of lots of jackdaw chatter emanating some 200m away in trees in Southover Road.  Over the next hour, wave upon wave of jackdaws came in low over the station from the south-east, many beginning to chatter on their final approach to their companions already settled amongst the crowns of the tall trees. I was left wondering how they all managed to fit into the the available space. Home at 22-45!

July 9.  Sensible dogs, and Englishmen go out in the midday sun!  Why sit on baking-hot pebbles when you can lay on cool, damp ones or even better, in the water!

July 14.  Buff-tailed bumble bees bottoms-up on artichokes on my allotment.

July 19.  during the evening, I counted some 20-24 swifts over the centre of St.Leonards.  Another couple of weeks and I guess they’ll have largely departed south.

First Floating Windfarm to Take Shape Off Coast of Scotland

Why couldn’t the UK have led this research and we built them?  Instead, a Norwegian state-owned company is leading in this great new technology!

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/jun/27/hywind-project-scotland-worlds-first-floating-windfarm-norway?CMP=twt_a-environment_b-gdneco

World’s first floating windfarm to take shape off coast of Scotland.  [Abridged]

Adam Vaughan in Stord, Norway.  Tuesday 27 June 2017.

Two of the floating turbines are readied off the coast of Norway for the trip to Scotland. Photograph: Bloomberg via Getty

The world’s first floating windfarm has taken to the seas in a sign that a technology once confined to research and development drawing boards is finally ready to unlock expanses of ocean for generating renewable power.

After two turbines were floated this week, five now bob gently in the deep waters of a fjord on the western coast of Norway ready to be tugged across the North Sea to their final destination off north-east Scotland.

The £200m Hywind project is unusual not just because of the pioneering technology involved, which uses a 78-metre-tall underwater ballast and three mooring lines that will be attached to the seabed to keep the turbines upright. It is also notable because the developer is not a renewable energy firm but Norway’s Statoil, which is looking to diversify away from carbon-based fuels.

Irene Rummelhoff, head of the oil firm’s low-carbon division, said the technology opened up an enormous new resource of wind power.  “It’s almost unlimited. Currently we are saying [floating windfarms will work in] water depths of between 100 and 700 metres, but I think we can go deeper than that. It opens up ocean that was unavailable,” she said.

Offshore windfarms are springing up across the North Sea for a reason – its waters are uniquely shallow enough to allow turbines to be mounted atop steel poles fixed to the seabed.  However, such fixed-bottom turbines can only be installed at water depths down to 40 metres, making them little use for the steeply shelved coastlines of the US west coast or Japan.

“If you look at coastlines around the world, there’s few that have sufficient area at depths down to 40 metres so if they want to deploy offshore wind, they need to introduce floating wind,” said Rummelhoff.

As well as opening up new frontiers such as the Atlantic and the Mediterranean, floating windfarms could be placed farther out to sea to avoid the sort of aesthetic objections that scuppered a £3.5b windfarm off the Dorset coast.

While Hywind is a minnow among modern offshore wind projects – it will power just 20,000 homes compared with the 800,000 by one being built off the Yorkshire coast – proponents say floating turbines could eclipse fixed-bottom ones in the long run.

Bruno Geschier, chief marketing officer at Ideol, a French company hoping to build floating windfarms in Japan, France and elsewhere, said he expected floating farms to begin to take off in the next decade, “reaching cruising altitude in the mid-2020s and a big boom in 2030-35. Floating wind is an opportunity for France to step on to the podium.”

The commercialisation also means a chance for new countries to emerge as renewable energy leaders. The UK has the most offshore wind capacity in the world, with Germany not far behind, but France, which has none, wants to become a market leader.

For Statoil, the ambitions go well beyond Peterhead in Scotland, where Hywind will be moored and providing power from October at the latest.

Rummelhoff said floating windfarms will come of age in the areas where conventional ones have been established, as countries such as the UK run out of suitable sites in shallower waters.  It is also talking with state governments in Hawaii and California about projects, and eyeing Japan and the new, pro-renewables government in Seoul.

Like many new technologies, the biggest challenge will be cost. Behind the turbines at the deepwater port of Stord in Norway sits a huge lifting vessel usually used in the oil and gas industry. It is the second biggest of its kind, very expensive to hire – and, for now, essential in the process of lifting the turbines off the quayside and floating them.  A generous subsidy deal from the Scottish government made the project viable.

Trump Pulls Out of Climate Deal

Trump yesterday has confirmed what most sensible people feared.  This man is arrogant, selfish and shows himself to be ignorant and stupid!  He is putting mankind and this beautiful planet in serious jeopardy.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-40128266#

June 1 2017.  [Abridged]

Trump climate deal pullout: The global reaction.  President Donald Trump’s announcement that the US is withdrawing from the 2015 Paris climate agreement has drawn strong reaction from supporters and opponents inside America and from around the world…

Former President Barack Obama, who negotiated the deal for Paris the US:

“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created. I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack. But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this Administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect I’m confident for future generations the one planet we’ve got.”

French President Emmanuel Macron:

“I tell you firmly tonight: We will not renegotiate a less ambitious accord. There is no way. Don’t be mistaken on climate; there is no plan B because there is no planet B.”

Elon Musk, entrepreneur and Tesla Inc CEO who had served on a White House advisory council:

“Am departing presidential councils. Climate change is real. Leaving Paris is not good for America or the world,”

US Senator Bernie Sanders, former Democratic presidential candidate:

“At this moment, when climate change is already causing devastating harm around the world, we do not have the moral right to turn our backs on efforts to preserve this planet for future generations.”

Democratic Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio:

“President Trump can turn his back on the world, but the world cannot ignore the very real threat of climate change. This decision is an immoral assault on the public health, safety and security of everyone on this planet. On behalf of the people of New York City, and alongside mayors across the country, I am committing to honour the goals of the Paris agreement with an executive order in the coming days, so our city can remain a home for generations to come.”

Democratic former US Secretary of State John Kerry:

“The president who promised “America First” has taken a self-destructive step that puts our nation last. This is an unprecedented forfeiture of American leadership which will cost us influence, cost us jobs, and invite other countries to walk away from solving humanity’s most existential crisis. It isolates the United States after we had united the world.”

Republican US House Speaker Paul Ryan:

“The Paris climate agreement was simply a raw deal for America. Signed by President Obama without Senate ratification, it would have driven up the cost of energy, hitting middle-class and low-income Americans the hardest. I commend President Trump for fulfilling his commitment to the American people and withdrawing from this bad deal.”

US Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer:

“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement is a devastating failure of historic proportions. Future generations will look back on President Trump’s decision as one of the worst policy moves made in the 21st century because of the huge damage to our economy, our environment and our geopolitical standing.”

Peabody Energy, largest coal mining firm in the US:

“Peabody supports the administration’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. We believe that abiding by the accord, without significant changes, would have substantially impacted the US economy, increased electricity costs and required the power sector to rely on less diverse and more intermittent energy. Peabody continues to advocate for greater use of technology to meet the world’s need for energy security, economic growth and energy solutions through high efficiency low emissions coal-fuelled power plants and research and development funding for carbon capture.”

UK Prime Minister Theresa May – a Downing Street statement:

“The Prime Minister expressed her disappointment with the decision and stressed that the UK remained committed to the Paris Agreement. The Paris Agreement provides the right global framework for protecting the prosperity and security of future generations, while keeping energy affordable and secure for our citizens and businesses.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres (via spokesman Stephane Dujarric):

“The decision by the United States to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change is a major disappointment for global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote global security. It is crucial that the United States remains a leader on environmental issues.”

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau:

“We are deeply disappointed that the United States federal government has decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change and support clean economic growth.”

European Commission climate action commissioner Miguel Arias Cañete:

“Today is a sad day for the global community, as a key partner turns its back on the fight against climate change. The EU deeply regrets the unilateral decision by the Trump administration to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement.”

President Frank Bainimarama of Fiji, which is organising the next UN annual climate meeting, COP23:

“The decision by the Trump Administration to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change is deeply disappointing, especially for the citizens of vulnerable nations throughout the world. As incoming President of COP23, I did what I could – along with many leaders around the world – to try to persuade President Trump to remain standing shoulder-to-shoulder with us as, together, we tackle the greatest challenge our planet has ever faced. While the loss of America’s leadership is unfortunate, this is a struggle that is far from over.”

Wind Turbine Manufacture

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/dec/01/hull-siemens-factory-wind-turbine-blades

Hull’s Siemens factory produces first batch of wind turbine blades

turbine-bladeEach wind turbine blade weighs 28 tonnes and is made of balsa wood and fibreglass. Photograph: Paul Langrock/Agentur Zenit/Siemens AG

Adam Vaughan, Thursday 1 December 2016.

A new £310m factory in Hull that makes wind turbine blades has been hailed by ministers as proof that manufacturing has a “glittering” future in the UK.  The first batch of 75-metre blades have emerged from the plant, part of a vast “green port” built by Siemens and partners at docks that used to export Yorkshire coal.  The facility, which started operating in September, is due to employ 1,000 by the new year, up from 700.

The investment is considered a huge boost for a port area that had declined into a wasteland and a city with one of the UK’s highest unemployment rates.  Stephen Brady, the city council’s leader, said the plant, combined with Hull being named city of culture for 2017, was a positive “perfect storm”.

“This place is proof that manufacturing in this country and in this great city has a glittering, hi-tech future,” said the business and energy secretary, Greg Clark, at the site’s inauguration on Thursday.

Siemens’ £310m Hull plant will take windfarm technology to new level.  Everything about Alexandra Docks is big, from the 90-metre turbine towers that stand waiting to be floated out in January to a windfarm off the coast of Cromer, Norfolk, to the blade factory itself, which spans an area the size of seven football pitches.

Inside its cavernous halls sit the 28-tonne blades under construction, made of balsa wood and fibreglass. Hundreds will be built there each year, destined for bigger, more powerful offshore windfarms in deeper waters up and down the UK’s coast.

Energy First as UK Successfully Transmits Data via National Electricity Grid

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/oct/11/energy-first-as-uk-successfully-transmits-data-via-national-electricity-grid?CMP=share_btn_tw

An energy first as UK successfully transmits data via national electricity grid. [Abridged]national-gridPhotograph: Ben Cawthra/REX

Damian Carrington, The Guardian, Tuesday 11 October 2016.

Data has been transmitted across a national electricity grid for the first time, in what could be a significant step towards the creation of virtual power stations, where many thousands of homes and businesses combine to manage electricity use more smartly.

The new technology could lead to lower energy bills for consumers who allow small variations in the energy consumption of their appliances, such as water heaters or freezers.

The flexibility provided by thousands of appliances combined could reduce peaks in energy use and remove the need for some large new gas or nuclear power stations or polluting diesel generator farms that are started up in times of short supply.

The new data system, created using telecoms technology by Reactive Technologies (RT) and now successfully tested on the UK’s National Grid, could also allow the optimum use of intermittent renewable energy, an important feature given the fast-rising proportion of green energy on the grid.

The system uses new technology to send messages through national electricity cables to any appliances with a smart plug connected to the mains, asking it to adjust its energy use. In the home, this could mean allowing the temperature of a freezer to increase by 0.5C to cut demand or turning up a water heater at 1am to utilise spare renewable energy.

The development is part of a wholesale change taking place in the energy industry, in which large, centralised fossil-fuel power stations are being replaced by decentralised renewable energy and smart grids. The government’s own National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), the National Grid and industry group Energy UK have all said an energy “revolution” is taking place, delivering a low-carbon system that is more secure, cheaper and faster to build.

The NIC recently estimated that UK consumers could save £8bn a year by 2030 by adopting smart power technology, while also helping the nation meet its climate change targets. Numerous companies are working on smart grid concepts.

“The old mindset would be, we need to build more power stations,” said Jens Madrian, at RT and former CFO at “big six” utility RWE npower. “We disagree with that. There are other ways of managing electricity, one of which is carrying knowledge from the telecommunications and software engineering side into the energy sector.”

Marc Borrett, RT’s CEO said: “What is better? Building a Hinkley, which if it goes down you have lost 7% of the national electricity generation, or building up capacity from many hundreds of thousands of smaller devices around the UK? It needs quite a cultural shift: smaller is better, distributed is better.”

A spokesman for big six energy company SSE, which was also involved in the trial, said: “Innovation milestones, such as this, will help keep the lights on and offer significant cost savings.”

Electricity wires have previously been used to transmit information within homes and local networks, such as rows of street lights, by sending very high frequency data alongside the standard 50Hz signal. But sending messages across the country means going through sub-station transformers, which contain an air gap that cannot pass on the high-frequency data. Instead, using technology developed by former Nokia engineers in Finland, the RT system inserts the data as small changes in the 50Hz signal itself, which does jump the air gap.

When electricity demand needs to be ramped up or down, the system broadcasts a message through the grid which is received by the connected appliances. One advantage of the system over the internet and mobile phone networks is that the grid already reaches all electrical devices, even those in remote locations.

UK Poorly Prepared for Climate Change Impacts, Government Advisers Warn

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/jul/12/uk-poorly-prepared-for-climate-change-impacts-government-advisers-warn?CMP=share_btn_tw

UK poorly prepared for climate change impacts, government advisers warn.

Damian Carrington, Tuesday 12 July 2016.

climate

A Cumbria road destroyed in floods during storm Desmond, which scientists found had been made more likely by climate change. Photograph: Ashley Cooper / Barcroft Media

The UK is poorly prepared for the inevitable impacts of global warming in coming decades, including deadly annual heatwaves, water shortages and difficulties in producing food, according the government’s official advisers.

Action must be taken now, according to the report from the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) published on Tuesday, with more widespread flooding and new diseases among the risks in most urgent need of addressing.

The CCC further warns that climate-stoked wars and migration around the world could have very significant consequences for the UK, through disrupted trade and more military intervention overseas.

The 2,000-page report is a comprehensive assessment of the dangers of climate change to the UK, produced over three years by 80 experts and reviewed by many more. The main analysis is based on the temperature rise expected if the global climate agreement signed in Paris in 2015 is fully delivered and also takes account of plans already in place to cope with impacts.

The worst case scenarios in the CCC report – if action to tackle climate change completely fails – foresees searing heatwaves reaching temperatures of 48C in London and the high-30s across the nation.

“We are not sufficiently prepared and we need to do more now, even for the [Paris deal] scenario of 2.7C of warming,” said Lord John Krebs, chair of the CCC’s adaptation sub-committee. “Many impacts are affecting us now, as climate change is already happening.”

“What we now think of as an extremely hot summer, where people are dying of heat stress and it is extremely uncomfortable in homes, hospitals and much of transport, that is likely to be a typical summer by the middle of the century and would be a cool summer in the 2080s,” he said.

Krebs said critical facilities, such as hospitals and care homes, are particularly at risk: “Many are not designed to be resilient in terms of overheating.” Many are also in already flood prone areas, the report noted, with the risk of flooding set to rise further.

While most of the key risks are fairly well understood, the dangers posed by new diseases and pests invading the UK as the climate gets warmer requires urgent research, the CCC said.

“The impacts are potentially high for otherwise healthy people, animals and plants,” the report states. “Higher temperatures will lead to an increased risk of the Asian tiger mosquito, the vector of

Chikungunya virus, dengue fever and Zika virus. The current risk remains low, but may increase in the future.”

There could be some benefits to the UK from climate change including exports of products and services such as flood defence expertise, the CCC said, and UK tourism may also increase. A longer growing season could boost crops, the report said, but only if the impact of climate change on water supplies and soil fertility can be overcome.

“Already 85% of the rich peat topsoils of East Anglia has disappeared,” said Krebs, due to drainage and erosion. “We have lost a lot of the natural asset that allows us to grow cereals and climate change will accelerate the rate of loss. We could lose the remaining fertile soil within the next 30-60 years and that would be a huge negative impact on the food production capacity of the UK.”

Food supplies will also be affected by the impact of global warming around the planet, as the UK imports 40% of its food. “But it is not an expectation that there will be supermarket shelves with nothing on,” said Matthew Bell, CCC chief executive. “It is more likely that food becomes more expensive, particularly with spikes in prices as some supply chains are affected.”

The report warns of other overseas risks to the UK, including a rising need for military intervention: “There are uncertain but potentially very significant international risks arising from climate-related human [migration], and the possibility of violent inter‑state conflict over scarce natural resources.”

“These impacts are transported to the UK through the movement of people and capital, through international supply chains and also through the demands upon the UK in terms of overseas military effort,” said Daniel Johns, the CCC’s head of adaptation.

Climate change is becoming more apparent today, with temperature records being smashed amid a succession of record hot years. Amber Rudd, energy and climate change secretary, said at the end of June that global warming is “one of the most serious long-term risks to our economic and national security”.

A government spokesman said: “We are committed to making sure the UK is prepared for the challenges of climate change. That is why we are investing record amounts in flood defences and developing a long-term plan for the environment.”

UK law requires the government to use the CCC report to develop its adaptation plan, although spending on the issue halved under the coalition government.

“The CCC report is a tour de force,” said Prof Chris Rapley, a climate scientist at University College London. “It is a hugely valuable instrument for seeking to keep our government honest and true to its responsibilities of protecting the interests of UK citizens and businesses now and in the future.”

Climate change increased the chance of last winter’s devastating floods by 40%, noted Prof Joanna Haigh, at Imperial College London: “That is why this report is so important, as it starkly sets out the challenges we face and the urgency of addressing them. Some impacts are now inevitable.”

Friends of the Earth’s Guy Shrubsole said: “This is a stern warning for squabbling politicians that the biggest threat to our future is from massive climate disruption. Theresa May must make climate change a top priority.”

“The CCC’s analysis shows red and yellow lights flashing all over the dashboard,” said Tom Viita, at Christian Aid. “The new Prime Minister [May] must chair a Climate Cobra Committee to handle these risks more effectively and with the urgency required.”

Marylyn Haines Evans, at the National Federation of Women’s Institutes said: “This report is worrying because it shows just how close the risks of climate change really are for all of us. We cannot leave this problem as a legacy for our children and grandchildren.”

Five ways that climate change will affect Britain:

Heatwaves

The deadly heatwave of 2003, which peaked at 38.5C in the UK, will be a normal summer by the 2040s, leading to related deaths more than tripling. There are currently no policies to ensure homes, schools, hospitals and offices remain tolerable in high heat.

Floods and coastal erosion

Flooding already causes £1bn of damage every year on average but the risks will rise yet further as climate change leads to more intense rainfall, bringing floods to places not currently in danger. The number of households at significant risk of flooding will more than double to 1.9m by 2050, if the global temperature rises by 4C.

Water shortages

Severe water shortages are expected as summers get drier and, by the 2050s, will extend across the UK. If temperatures are driven up significantly, many places in the UK will have a demand for water 2.5 times greater than that available.

Natural environment

The proportion of prime farmland is expected to fall from 38% to 9% with significant warming and crop growing in eastern England and Scotland could be ended by degraded soil and water shortages. Warming seas are pushing key species northwards, which may affect the entire marine food chain.

Food

Climate change is likely to drive food prices up, with extreme weather leading to lost crops and price shocks. About 40% of UK food is imported, making the UK vulnerable to droughts and floods driven by climate change around the world.

 

Offshore Wind Farm That Can Store Generated Energy

http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14550977.First_offshore_wind_farm___39_to_save_energy__39__creates_ripple_effect/

First offshore wind farm ‘to save energy’ creates ripple effect

Brian Donnelly, Senior News Reporter /  @BrianDonnellyHT

THE world’s first offshore windfarm that can store generated energy equal to the capacity of 2 million iPhones is set to be installed off the coast of Scotland. Dubbed ‘Batwind’, the project will see five floating turbines positioned in waters north of Aberdeen acting as a windfarm battery system which could prove revolutionary to the industry,

Statoil, the [Norwegian] gas and oil firm behind the innovative project, is installing the floating turbine project about 15 miles off the coast of Peterhead,

Higher costs required to store energy have prevented feasible schemes being set up until now.

But it has been claimed that 55 out of the 420 Renewable UK group members are now investing millions in similar plans.

Stephen Bull, the senior vice-president for offshore wind at Statoil, said that including a storage option to increasing renewable supplies could give renewable firms a firmer footing to challenge conventional power stations.

“We are going into a brave new world of energy in the UK,” he said. “For coal this knocks them out and potentially old nuclear as well.”

And he added: “By developing innovative battery storage solutions, we can improve the value of wind energy for both Statoil and customers.

“With Batwind, we can optimise the energy system from wind park to grid. Battery storage represents a new application in our offshore wind portfolio, contributing to realising our ambition of profitable growth in this area.”

A structured programme is now being established to support and fund innovation in battery storage areas between Statoil and Scottish industry and academia.

This programme will be managed by ORE Catapult and Scottish Enterprise.

“We are very pleased to develop and demonstrate this concept in Scotland, which has a huge wind resource, strong academic institutions and an experienced supply chain,” said Mr Bull.

“The agreement between Statoil, the Scottish Government, ORE Catapult and Scottish Enterprise represents a unique opportunity for government, researchers and industry to work together to develop new energy solutions for the global market.”

Fergus Ewing, Scotland’s Energy Minister, said earlier that “the signing of this Memorandum of Understanding will allow the signatories to work together in the development of the Batwind battery storage solution. This will help maximise the renewable generation of the Hywind offshore wind farm, whilst informing the case for energy storage and demonstrating the technology’s ability to support renewables in Scotland and internationally.”

“A recent industry and government report, produced by the Carbon Trust, concluded that if the energy market was adapted to appropriately recognise the benefits of electricity storage to the wider system, this could lead to savings of up to £50 a year on an average energy bill and a system wide saving of up to £2.4bn a year by 2030.”

Maggie McGinlay, of Scottish Enterprise, said: “We’ve worked with Statoil for a number of years to deliver the Hywind project, so it’s fantastic to remain involved in this next stage of battery storage innovation.

“This is exactly the kind of innovation in the energy sector we’re keen to encourage and support as it may have potential to advance industry growth in Scotland.”

The Connection Between Nitrogen Fertilizer and Air Pollution

Good article explaining the connection between nitrogen fertilizer and manure, and air pollution.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/may/17/farming-is-single-biggest-cause-of-worst-air-pollution-in-europe?CMP=share_btn_tw

Farming is ‘single biggest cause’ of worst air pollution in Europe

Fiona Harvey, Tuesday 17 May 2016.

Farming is the biggest single cause of the worst air pollution in Europe, a new study has found, as nitrogen compounds from fertilisers and animal waste drift over industrial regions.

When the nitrogen compounds are mixed with air already polluted from industry, they combine to form solid particles that can stick in the fine lung tissue of children and adults, causing breathing difficulties, impaired lungs and heart function, and eventually even premature death.

The compounds come from nitrogen-rich fertilisers, which have been in common use for decades. Nitrogen, the major content of the air we breathe, is essential for plant growth, and enhancing that growth has led to a massive industry in putting nitrogen – already naturally present in soils – back into the ground in greater quantities.

Ammonia, whose chemical composition is nitrogen and hydrogen (NH3), is a by-product both of fertilised fields and of animal waste, as it can come from the breakdown of livestock excretions.

Links between fine particulate pollution and ammonia from agricultural sources have been slow to be firmly established, but an increasing body of research suggests that this is now a leading source of air pollution.

Europe, much of the US, Russia and China have been found to suffer from the problem, in the latest research from the Earth Institute at Columbia University, in the US, published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

When ammonia in the atmosphere reaches areas of industry, the pollutants from combustion, which include nitrogen oxides produced by diesel vehicles, and sulphur compounds from power plants and some other industrial processes, the chemicals combine to create very small particles, about 2.5 micrometres across.

Although invisible to human eyes, their tiny size means these particles penetrate deep into people’s lungs when they are breathed in. Not only can they cause breathing problems, particularly in the young, the elderly and people more vulnerable, but they can even cause heart disease.

More than 40,000 people a year have been found to die prematurely in the UK alone because of air pollution, prompting MPs to declare the problem a “public health emergency”.

But while MPs have called for remedies such as scrapping diesel cars in favour of petrol models, and excluding the most polluting vehicles from large parts of cities, the problem of how to control pollution from agriculture has been left largely alone.

That is partly because such diffuse pollution – which by its nature travels easily across long distances and international borders – is so hard to deal with.

Counselling farmers to use less fertiliser is one way, but it will not solve the problem. Susanne Bauer, an atmospheric scientist at Columbia, said: “This is not against fertiliser. There are many places, including Africa, that need more of it. We expect population to go up, and to produce more food, we will need more fertiliser.”

She said that controlling other sources of industrial pollution, which are the agents that turn agricultural pollution into its harmful forms, should be the priority. Cutting down on coal-fired power stations and their sulphur emissions, using more efficient vehicles and potentially electric cars, and regulating polluting industries more tightly would all have an effect, she suggested.

However, other tiny particulates can also combine with ammonia, including dust such as the Saharan desert sands that contributed to a major pollution event in the UK two years ago.

Excess fertiliser use is also one of the biggest causes of pollution in the oceans, as run-off creates “dead zones” in the seas where oxygen is virtually eliminated and fish and other marine life can no longer exist. The fertiliser that runs off or reaches the air is no longer helping the crops it was intended to grow, so if farmers were forced or encouraged to use less fertiliser, but use it more efficiently, the amounts that find their way into the seas and air might be reduced.