Biomass – Burning lots of Wood

This is a view on the burning of wood for biomass. Is it a good or bad thing. Is it renewable or as bad as burning coal.

Here’s a 250 year old (minimum) tree. Its dead, but we can see the tree rings, one per year, I believe it was chopped down about 10 years back, so lets assume outer ring is 2010. It can be seen in Tunbridge Wells. I have added a few dates down to 1940, just after WW2 started. treerings (Large)

treerings2

My years aren’t that accurate, the rings are difficult to read from an image, but what I want to show is that they are fairly consistent.

The key thing is, a tree adds about 4mm a year. A tree with a radius of 4mm, ie about a year old, adding another 4mm adds very little in terms of carbon sequestration. A big old tree adding 4mm to a 1 meter radius! Well, I have added some figures below.  The math is very simple, we use the radiius of the tree. I am showing  a consistent growth of about 8mm width – it works with actual observation, I’m not making up these figures, see tree above!

Now, do a search for “how much co2 per cubic metre of wood “Swedish Wood” states:  “Through photosynthesis, a normal tree absorbs an average of 1 tonne carbon dioxide per cubic metre of growth, while at the same time producing and releasing the equivalent of 0.7 tonnes carbon dioxide.”  Its that 1 tonne that is important here as I am looking at stored CO2, not the process.

So, chop down a 1 tonne tree and burn it, there will be 1 tonne of CO2 released – yes, I know its not the same chemical process, and there is lots of water in each tonne of wood and its one carbon atom to 2 oxygen atoms, but the figures are very close !

NB. I’m also being generous with the early growth, however from about 5 years it works.

The key thing is. Chop down a 100 year old tree with a 20 meter trunk, the trunk alone weighs 10 tonnes.

Plant 10 trees to replace it, after 10 years they have a trunk height of say   5 meters  that weighs 25 kilos per tree, a total of 250 kilos

Those 10 trees might be 10 meters trunk height after 30 years, with a 50 kilo weight per meter, so we now have 5 tonnes of wood (plus lots of branches and leaves, but then it gets confusing, the same applies to the 100 year old tree) .

In one year the 100 year old, 20 meter heigh (trunk) tree added about 200 kilos to its weight, just short of the 10 times 10 year old trees weigh in total. Add the branches and almost certainly more!

Once the tree hits 200 years, it is taking a good 1/2 tonne of carbon out of the atmosphere every year.

Interestingly our climate emergency, and the time we have to work in is about 10 years !

Every tree chopped down is a nail in our coffins.

Compared with coal? A tree represents stored CO2 , its also extracting CO2.  Coal is also stored carbon from the atmosphere. It is insane to say its better to burn trees rather than coal.

I will be amending this as I can accumulate more facts / weights / tree rings.

years
old

mm
radius

trunk area in mm2 latest tree ring mm2 cubic meters per 1 meter trunk cubic meters in latest tree ring
1 4 50.272 50.272 0.000050272 0.000050272
2 8 201.088 150.816 0.000201088 0.000150816
3 12 452.448 251.36 0.000452448 0.00025136
4 16 804.352 351.904 0.000804352 0.000351904
5 20 1256.8 452.448 0.0012568 0.000452448
6 24 1809.792 552.992 0.001809792 0.000552992
7 28 2463.328 653.536 0.002463328 0.000653536
8 32 3217.408 754.08 0.003217408 0.00075408
9 36 4072.032 854.624 0.004072032 0.000854624
10 40 5027.2 955.168 0.0050272 0.000955168
11 44 6082.912 1055.712 0.006082912 0.001055712
12 48 7239.168 1156.256 0.007239168 0.001156256
13 52 8495.968 1256.8 0.008495968 0.0012568
14 56 9853.312 1357.344 0.009853312 0.001357344
15 60 11311.2 1457.888 0.0113112 0.001457888
16 64 12869.632 1558.432 0.012869632 0.001558432
17 68 14528.608 1658.976 0.014528608 0.001658976
18 72 16288.128 1759.52 0.016288128 0.00175952
19 76 18148.192 1860.064 0.018148192 0.001860064
20 80 20108.8 1960.608 0.0201088 0.001960608
21 84 22169.952 2061.152 0.022169952 0.002061152
22 88 24331.648 2161.696 0.024331648 0.002161696
23 92 26593.888 2262.24 0.026593888 0.00226224
24 96 28956.672 2362.784 0.028956672 0.002362784
25 100 31420 2463.328 0.03142 0.002463328
26 104 33983.872 2563.872 0.033983872 0.002563872
27 108 36648.288 2664.416 0.036648288 0.002664416
28 112 39413.248 2764.96 0.039413248 0.00276496
29 116 42278.752 2865.504 0.042278752 0.002865504
30 120 45244.8 2966.048 0.0452448 0.002966048
31 124 48311.392 3066.592 0.048311392 0.003066592
32 128 51478.528 3167.136 0.051478528 0.003167136
33 132 54746.208 3267.68 0.054746208 0.00326768
34 136 58114.432 3368.224 0.058114432 0.003368224
35 140 61583.2 3468.768 0.0615832 0.003468768
36 144 65152.512 3569.312 0.065152512 0.003569312
37 148 68822.368 3669.856 0.068822368 0.003669856
38 152 72592.768 3770.4 0.072592768 0.0037704
39 156 76463.712 3870.944 0.076463712 0.003870944
40 160 80435.2 3971.488 0.0804352 0.003971488
41 164 84507.232 4072.032 0.084507232 0.004072032
42 168 88679.808 4172.576 0.088679808 0.004172576
43 172 92952.928 4273.12 0.092952928 0.00427312
44 176 97326.592 4373.664 0.097326592 0.004373664
45 180 101800.8 4474.208 0.1018008 0.004474208
46 184 106375.552 4574.752 0.106375552 0.004574752
47 188 111050.848 4675.296 0.111050848 0.004675296
48 192 115826.688 4775.84 0.115826688 0.00477584
49 196 120703.072 4876.384 0.120703072 0.004876384
50 200 125680 4976.928 0.12568 0.004976928
51 204 130757.472 5077.472 0.130757472 0.005077472
52 208 135935.488 5178.016 0.135935488 0.005178016
53 212 141214.048 5278.56 0.141214048 0.00527856
54 216 146593.152 5379.104 0.146593152 0.005379104
55 220 152072.8 5479.648 0.1520728 0.005479648
56 224 157652.992 5580.192 0.157652992 0.005580192
57 228 163333.728 5680.736 0.163333728 0.005680736
58 232 169115.008 5781.28 0.169115008 0.00578128
59 236 174996.832 5881.824 0.174996832 0.005881824
60 240 180979.2 5982.368 0.1809792 0.005982368
61 244 187062.112 6082.912 0.187062112 0.006082912
62 248 193245.568 6183.456 0.193245568 0.006183456
63 252 199529.568 6284 0.199529568 0.006284
64 256 205914.112 6384.544 0.205914112 0.006384544
65 260 212399.2 6485.088 0.2123992 0.006485088
66 264 218984.832 6585.632 0.218984832 0.006585632
67 268 225671.008 6686.176 0.225671008 0.006686176
68 272 232457.728 6786.72 0.232457728 0.00678672
69 276 239344.992 6887.264 0.239344992 0.006887264
70 280 246332.8 6987.808 0.2463328 0.006987808
71 284 253421.152 7088.352 0.253421152 0.007088352
72 288 260610.048 7188.896 0.260610048 0.007188896
73 292 267899.488 7289.44 0.267899488 0.00728944
74 296 275289.472 7389.984 0.275289472 0.007389984
75 300 282780 7490.528 0.28278 0.007490528
76 304 290371.072 7591.072 0.290371072 0.007591072
77 308 298062.688 7691.616 0.298062688 0.007691616
78 312 305854.848 7792.16 0.305854848 0.00779216
79 316 313747.552 7892.704 0.313747552 0.007892704
80 320 321740.8 7993.248 0.3217408 0.007993248
81 324 329834.592 8093.792 0.329834592 0.008093792
82 328 338028.928 8194.336 0.338028928 0.008194336
83 332 346323.808 8294.88 0.346323808 0.00829488
84 336 354719.232 8395.424 0.354719232 0.008395424
85 340 363215.2 8495.968 0.3632152 0.008495968
86 344 371811.712 8596.512 0.371811712 0.008596512
87 348 380508.768 8697.056 0.380508768 0.008697056
88 352 389306.368 8797.6 0.389306368 0.0087976
89 356 398204.512 8898.144 0.398204512 0.008898144
90 360 407203.2 8998.688 0.4072032 0.008998688
91 364 416302.432 9099.232 0.416302432 0.009099232
92 368 425502.208 9199.776 0.425502208 0.009199776
93 372 434802.528 9300.32 0.434802528 0.00930032
94 376 444203.392 9400.864 0.444203392 0.009400864
95 380 453704.8 9501.408 0.4537048 0.009501408
96 384 463306.752 9601.952 0.463306752 0.009601952
97 388 473009.248 9702.496 0.473009248 0.009702496
98 392 482812.288 9803.04 0.482812288 0.00980304
99 396 492715.872 9903.584 0.492715872 0.009903584
100 400 502720 10004.128 0.50272 0.010004128
101 404 512824.672 10104.672 0.512824672 0.010104672
102 408 523029.888 10205.216 0.523029888 0.010205216
103 412 533335.648 10305.76 0.533335648 0.01030576
104 416 543741.952 10406.304 0.543741952 0.010406304
105 420 554248.8 10506.848 0.5542488 0.010506848
106 424 564856.192 10607.392 0.564856192 0.010607392
107 428 575564.128 10707.936 0.575564128 0.010707936
108 432 586372.608 10808.48 0.586372608 0.01080848
109 436 597281.632 10909.024 0.597281632 0.010909024
110 440 608291.2 11009.568 0.6082912 0.011009568
111 444 619401.312 11110.112 0.619401312 0.011110112
112 448 630611.968 11210.656 0.630611968 0.011210656
113 452 641923.168 11311.2 0.641923168 0.0113112
114 456 653334.912 11411.744 0.653334912 0.011411744
115 460 664847.2 11512.288 0.6648472 0.011512288
116 464 676460.032 11612.832 0.676460032 0.011612832
117 468 688173.408 11713.376 0.688173408 0.011713376
118 472 699987.328 11813.92 0.699987328 0.01181392
119 476 711901.792 11914.464 0.711901792 0.011914464
120 480 723916.8 12015.008 0.7239168 0.012015008
121 484 736032.352 12115.552 0.736032352 0.012115552
122 488 748248.448 12216.096 0.748248448 0.012216096
123 492 760565.088 12316.64 0.760565088 0.01231664
124 496 772982.272 12417.184 0.772982272 0.012417184
125 500 785500 12517.728 0.7855 0.012517728
126 504 798118.272 12618.272 0.798118272 0.012618272
127 508 810837.088 12718.816 0.810837088 0.012718816
128 512 823656.448 12819.36 0.823656448 0.01281936
129 516 836576.352 12919.904 0.836576352 0.012919904
130 520 849596.8 13020.448 0.8495968 0.013020448
131 524 862717.792 13120.992 0.862717792 0.013120992
132 528 875939.328 13221.536 0.875939328 0.013221536
133 532 889261.408 13322.08 0.889261408 0.01332208
134 536 902684.032 13422.624 0.902684032 0.013422624
135 540 916207.2 13523.168 0.9162072 0.013523168
136 544 929830.912 13623.712 0.929830912 0.013623712
137 548 943555.168 13724.256 0.943555168 0.013724256
138 552 957379.968 13824.8 0.957379968 0.0138248
139 556 971305.312 13925.344 0.971305312 0.013925344
140 560 985331.2 14025.888 0.9853312 0.014025888
141 564 999457.632 14126.432 0.999457632 0.014126432
142 568 1013684.608 14226.976 1.013684608 0.014226976
143 572 1028012.128 14327.52 1.028012128 0.01432752
144 576 1042440.192 14428.064 1.042440192 0.014428064
145 580 1056968.8 14528.608 1.0569688 0.014528608
146 584 1071597.952 14629.152 1.071597952 0.014629152
147 588 1086327.648 14729.696 1.086327648 0.014729696
148 592 1101157.888 14830.24 1.101157888 0.01483024
149 596 1116088.672 14930.784 1.116088672 0.014930784
150 600 1131120 15031.328 1.13112 0.015031328
151 604 1146251.872 15131.872 1.146251872 0.015131872
152 608 1161484.288 15232.416 1.161484288 0.015232416
153 612 1176817.248 15332.96 1.176817248 0.01533296
154 616 1192250.752 15433.504 1.192250752 0.015433504
155 620 1207784.8 15534.048 1.2077848 0.015534048
156 624 1223419.392 15634.592 1.223419392 0.015634592
157 628 1239154.528 15735.136 1.239154528 0.015735136
158 632 1254990.208 15835.68 1.254990208 0.01583568
159 636 1270926.432 15936.224 1.270926432 0.015936224
160 640 1286963.2 16036.768 1.2869632 0.016036768
161 644 1303100.512 16137.312 1.303100512 0.016137312
162 648 1319338.368 16237.856 1.319338368 0.016237856
163 652 1335676.768 16338.4 1.335676768 0.0163384
164 656 1352115.712 16438.944 1.352115712 0.016438944
165 660 1368655.2 16539.488 1.3686552 0.016539488
166 664 1385295.232 16640.032 1.385295232 0.016640032
167 668 1402035.808 16740.576 1.402035808 0.016740576
168 672 1418876.928 16841.12 1.418876928 0.01684112
169 676 1435818.592 16941.664 1.435818592 0.016941664
170 680 1452860.8 17042.208 1.4528608 0.017042208
171 684 1470003.552 17142.752 1.470003552 0.017142752
172 688 1487246.848 17243.296 1.487246848 0.017243296
173 692 1504590.688 17343.84 1.504590688 0.01734384
174 696 1522035.072 17444.384 1.522035072 0.017444384
175 700 1539580 17544.928 1.53958 0.017544928
176 704 1557225.472 17645.472 1.557225472 0.017645472
177 708 1574971.488 17746.016 1.574971488 0.017746016
178 712 1592818.048 17846.56 1.592818048 0.01784656
179 716 1610765.152 17947.104 1.610765152 0.017947104
180 720 1628812.8 18047.648 1.6288128 0.018047648
181 724 1646960.992 18148.192 1.646960992 0.018148192
182 728 1665209.728 18248.736 1.665209728 0.018248736
183 732 1683559.008 18349.28 1.683559008 0.01834928
184 736 1702008.832 18449.824 1.702008832 0.018449824
185 740 1720559.2 18550.368 1.7205592 0.018550368
186 744 1739210.112 18650.912 1.739210112 0.018650912
187 748 1757961.568 18751.456 1.757961568 0.018751456
188 752 1776813.568 18852 1.776813568 0.018852
189 756 1795766.112 18952.544 1.795766112 0.018952544
190 760 1814819.2 19053.088 1.8148192 0.019053088
191 764 1833972.832 19153.632 1.833972832 0.019153632
192 768 1853227.008 19254.176 1.853227008 0.019254176
193 772 1872581.728 19354.72 1.872581728 0.01935472
194 776 1892036.992 19455.264 1.892036992 0.019455264
195 780 1911592.8 19555.808 1.9115928 0.019555808
196 784 1931249.152 19656.352 1.931249152 0.019656352
197 788 1951006.048 19756.896 1.951006048 0.019756896
198 792 1970863.488 19857.44 1.970863488 0.01985744
199 796 1990821.472 19957.984 1.990821472 0.019957984
200 800 2010880 20058.528 2.01088 0.020058528
201 804 2031039.072 20159.072 2.031039072 0.020159072
202 808 2051298.688 20259.616 2.051298688 0.020259616
203 812 2071658.848 20360.16 2.071658848 0.02036016
204 816 2092119.552 20460.704 2.092119552 0.020460704
205 820 2112680.8 20561.248 2.1126808 0.020561248
206 824 2133342.592 20661.792 2.133342592 0.020661792
207 828 2154104.928 20762.336 2.154104928 0.020762336
208 832 2174967.808 20862.88 2.174967808 0.02086288
209 836 2195931.232 20963.424 2.195931232 0.020963424
210 840 2216995.2 21063.968 2.2169952 0.021063968
211 844 2238159.712 21164.512 2.238159712 0.021164512
212 848 2259424.768 21265.056 2.259424768 0.021265056
213 852 2280790.368 21365.6 2.280790368 0.0213656
214 856 2302256.512 21466.144 2.302256512 0.021466144
215 860 2323823.2 21566.688 2.3238232 0.021566688
216 864 2345490.432 21667.232 2.345490432 0.021667232
217 868 2367258.208 21767.776 2.367258208 0.021767776
218 872 2389126.528 21868.32 2.389126528 0.02186832
219 876 2411095.392 21968.864 2.411095392 0.021968864
220 880 2433164.8 22069.408 2.4331648 0.022069408
221 884 2455334.752 22169.952 2.455334752 0.022169952
222 888 2477605.248 22270.496 2.477605248 0.022270496
223 892 2499976.288 22371.04 2.499976288 0.02237104
224 896 2522447.872 22471.584 2.522447872 0.022471584
225 900 2545020 22572.128 2.54502 0.022572128
226 904 2567692.672 22672.672 2.567692672 0.022672672
227 908 2590465.888 22773.216 2.590465888 0.022773216
228 912 2613339.648 22873.76 2.613339648 0.02287376
229 916 2636313.952 22974.304 2.636313952 0.022974304
230 920 2659388.8 23074.848 2.6593888 0.023074848
231 924 2682564.192 23175.392 2.682564192 0.023175392
232 928 2705840.128 23275.936 2.705840128 0.023275936
233 932 2729216.608 23376.48 2.729216608 0.02337648
234 936 2752693.632 23477.024 2.752693632 0.023477024
235 940 2776271.2 23577.568 2.7762712 0.023577568
236 944 2799949.312 23678.112 2.799949312 0.023678112
237 948 2823727.968 23778.656 2.823727968 0.023778656
238 952 2847607.168 23879.2 2.847607168 0.0238792
239 956 2871586.912 23979.744 2.871586912 0.023979744
240 960 2895667.2 24080.288 2.8956672 0.024080288
241 964 2919848.032 24180.832 2.919848032 0.024180832
242 968 2944129.408 24281.376 2.944129408 0.024281376
243 972 2968511.328 24381.92 2.968511328 0.02438192
244 976 2992993.792 24482.464 2.992993792 0.024482464
245 980 3017576.8 24583.008 3.0175768 0.024583008
246 984 3042260.352 24683.552 3.042260352 0.024683552
247 988 3067044.448 24784.096 3.067044448 0.024784096
248 992 3091929.088 24884.64 3.091929088 0.02488464
249 996 3116914.272 24985.184 3.116914272 0.024985184
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Biomass or Coal?

I grow trees, I also burn wood for heat and am very interested in renewable energy and global climate change.

I am very worried about the growth in the use of biomass as an energy source and trees in particular. Locally at Discovery Park they are building a Biomass energy plant, I wondered how valid this was as a means of generating renewable energy in the context of Global Climate Change plant .

Biomass power plant in Discovery Park in Sandwich to go ahead after £160 million investment

I have started with some very broad assumptions and propose to look further into the numbers to see if they are valid.

1Kg of wood is equivalent to 1.7Kg of CO2. So a tree that adds 1Kg to its mass, takes 1.7 Kg of CO2 out of the atmosphere. Equally, burning 1 Kg of wood generates 1.7Kg of CO2

The wood variously sourced from:  Virgin forest, that is where an area of existing forest that has grown naturally is cut down; Plantations where the trees have been planted specifically for commercial use; Waste Wood where the wood is regarded as unusable except for burning.

So, considering the three types of wood

Virgin Forest

These trees will be alive and growing and potentially some hundreds of years old. The mass of wood will take years, equal to the age of the tree to replace if a sapling replaces the cut wood. A living tree, in particular a large one, is also growing and taking CO2 from the atmosphere. (Follows is a guestimate) If a mature but growing tree adds say 5% to its mass each year, a 50 tonne tree will add 2.5 tonnes of wood per year. Burning that tree will add the 50 tonnes.

A sapling will grow faster, but even if it doubles in size year on year for say 5 years, that 1/2 Kg year old sapling will sequester another 1/2Kg the following year, maybe weigh 20 Kg after 10 years. As an example, think of how heavy your Christmas tree is.

Forestry Commission:Mitigation: Planting more trees

The Biomass plant at Discovery park proposes to use Virgin wood and save 100,000 Tonnes of CO2 per year. One has to assume that what they are actually saying is they are replacing 100,000 tonnes of CO2 generated from coal or gas (very old trees) with 100,000 tonnes generated from not so old trees. If the average age of the trees being burnt is say 100 years and these burnt trees are replaced by saplings to be burnt at a similar rate, ie when they are 100 years old, this plant will only reach a state of being carbon neutral in 100 years having added 10 million Tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere.

New Scientist: The renewable energy scam making global warming worse

Plantations

A lot of forestry commission land is planted with conifer in serried ranks, often on moorland which hasn’t seen trees for millennia, but that aside. A commercial planted forest or coppiced woodland that is maintained and cut and replanted has to be regarded as sustainable in the same way as a farmer’s field that is used to grow crops. Virgin forest that is cut and replaced with commercial trees becomes a plantation. The main problem is the mono species, the lack of variety. Of course this can be mitigated with careful management, with islands of mixed native trees that might be left standing when the bulk of the wood is taken.   Realistically that is down to the forestry manager.

An additional concern is that the majority of plantations were established to feed the paper industry. Even with the move towards electronic publishing, there is still a massive use of paper and card. Just think of the growth in the use of cardboard simply to deliver mail order goods that used to be collected personally.

Waste Wood

There appears to be two types of waste wood. What we would regard as waste wood, old pallets, waste from manufacturing plants that use wood as a raw material, cuttings from the forestry industry. Then there is the other type where a wood or forest might be cut for commercial wood, only the best trees are usable, all other trees are thus regarded as waste. So a virgin forest might be cleared, one or two trees per acre used for the stated purpose, the rest is waste.   So, a company claiming to use waste wood and thus assuming heightened environmental standing, might well be clear felling virgin forest.

Coal / Oil or Gas versus Wood Biomass – To save the planet

Its 2018 and Global Climate Change is regarded as a NOW problem. Not in 100 years or 50 years, but NOW.  We have to work to reduce emissions now.

So, put very simply, chopping down trees and burning for energy is no more sustainable than burning coal! In fact I would suggest it is the worst possible solution as it removes an effective carbon sink that, in its mature form is removing far more CO2 than 2 foot saplings ever will – within the time-scales that are relevant.

Accuracy of the data

The data you will see on RM (Renewables Map) is certainly the most accurate available as a discrete set of data.

Sources of the Data

I use the following main sources to identify the existence of a project and then the details associated with that project.  Considering Wind Farms which generally get most attention.

The fact of a wind farm, proposed, agreed or being built will come from any of:  the developers website; DECC REPD; a news item; the planning portal (any of hundreds of Council’s portals)

Identifying the fact of an active wind farm or turbines is easier, the OFGEM list is pretty complete, but that’s where it stops, while it has an address, that only gives a clue to the correct location.

Exact Location: In all cases, the challenge is then identifying the exact location. All other resources appear to rely on the grid reference associated with the postcode, a simple look up. With RM, I will use the location shown on the planning application, or where I am adding an older project, maybe a satellite view from Google or Bing. (sometimes triangulating a series of street views). Some developers will include detailed information on location, maybe an aerial shot of a solar farm, most don’t.

Technology: With Wind Farms, I aim to include the make and model along with a cross reference to specs of the wind turbines used.  Over 99% of active wind farms or individual turbines listed (over 6,000) show the correct turbine along with hub height and exact location

Cross Reference RM / DECC / OFGEM : As each project is added, the corresponding REPD and OFGEM data is linked to it.  In the case of REPD, this only applies to projects over 1MW.

Detective Work

Throughout RM you will see a cross reference between RM data, DECC and OFGEM. Each data set can refer to energy projects by different names and capacities. Add to that challenge, when the same project is referred to as one name by DECC and totally different and multiple names by OFGEM.  The 50MW Drayton Manor Solar Farm is one of many examples, DECC calls it Drayton Manor, OFGEM  – actually its not OFGEM but the operating company – breaks the project down into The Oaks; The Beeches;  The Rushes; The Leys etc. Very confusing at 1st glance.

In all cases, I treat OFGEM data as definitive as it comes from the operator – otherwise they don’t get their ROCs

Availability of this data: The non paying user will now see only the fact of a project and an approximate location.  Currently unlinked DECC (REPD ) data and OFGEM data is available.

The subscribed user will see projects with all data visible and normally, local projects shown visually on the displayed map.

There is an option to subscribe to csv downloads. This allows the user to download data in bulk.

 

DECC and their RESTATS map. You couldn’t make it up.

Well, having been advised that the Parliamentary Library recommend Renewables Map for information on Solar Farms, See: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7434  I wrote to my MP Helen Whately and raised two issues.

Why was   Parliament  advised to use Renewables Map rather than the £160,000 DECC equivalent? Actually no real question as RESTATS / REPD is unusable as a ready resource.

And when providing a map was one of the requirements of the tender, also a requirement under INSPIRE,  was there still no interactive map?

The questions were passed to Amber Rudd who ignored the first question entirely and regurgitated the same pat answers about why I didn’t get a look in on the tender. Basically: We are the Government, we always follow the rules and do no wrong.

My question:

“So, here we have the Government paying Eunomia for renewable energy project data collection and delivery. Being a joined up government I would be very interested in why “Renewables Map” my free resource is now being used as a reference within the House of Commons Library: http://researchbriefings.parliament.uk/ResearchBriefing/Summary/CBP-7434 (para heading “Converting solar to energy”).

I am more than happy for  parliament, their library and MPs etc to use it, I see that as a fantastic pat on the back  and would happily give even greater access, not all my data is visible. I do this already for very many students who base PhDs and MScs on my data and a growing number of schools who treat it as a core resource.

But what I would really appreciate is some understanding as to why DECC chose a company that is still failing to deliver when I had a track record going back 7 years at that time and had been previously used by DECC as their resource, but for free.   “

No mention whatever in her reply.

As to the non existent map, see: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/renewable-energy-planning-data and scroll down to:

On-line Interactive Maps

Please note that this facility has been removed while we update it.

But Ms Rudd says there is a map !  At last, well done.

Oh, actually there isn’t a map. I have attached Ms Rudd’s letter, but here is the relevant text:

However, Mr Mallett may also be referring to the publication of an interactive map. This is a requirement under the European Directive 2007/2/EC, known as ‘INSPIRE’. The aim of INSPIRE is to facilitate better environmental policy across the EU and requires Member States to make available, in a consistent format, spatial datasets which come within the scope of the Directive and create network web services for accessing the datasets.

I can confirm that the REPD service has been developed to meet these aims and objectives. Users are directed to a web map service where they can download and ultimately use the REPD information to build their own maps or applications. I agree that the sign posting to this resource is not as clear as it might be, so I have asked for the web pages to be updated with this information

Well, I have tried to find this but have failed miserably. I have tried the option: GIS data is also available on data.gov.  and that doesn’t work.  For heavens sake, this is 18 months since the contract was awarded and a basic part of the system is still not available!  Ms Rudd, I trust that you didn’t write that letter to me, simply signed it, they are taking the micky and making you look stupid!

INSPIRE is a requirement, DECC have failed to deliver.

There is no map, even the DIY map doesn’t work. How easy is it to add a map? Well, in the absence of a MAP for the REPD data, that has been paid for from Govt funds but not delivered, I included an additional location map for the REPD data I show as a convenient service to Parliament, and everybody else. It took about an hour to implement.  There are no restrictions as I am simply providing a service that is otherwise  missing – clearly welcomed by Parliament.  I do add a proviso that this is not my data, and the location accuracy is a bit dodgy.

Scan-160310-0006

Operation Stack: A combined Lorry Park and Solar Farm Solution

Can I suggest what has to be a practical solution to the chaos of Operation Stack.

I think it might be initially dismissed as a bit “off the wall” but I will also cover why it is practical.

Operation Stack is the parking of lorries on the M20 normally from junction 8 onwards depending on the number of lorries, potentially taking the whole M20 through to junction 10 or 11. Most recently this has involved over 4,000 lorries though might normally range from 1,500 to 2,500.

P&O ferries estimate operation stack costs the UK £250 million per day. That will be the impact on the closure of Dover, not the storage of lorries, but even if that part had a cost impact of say £10 million
The proposal below is based on 2,500 lorries though clearly scale-able.
The alternative to using the M20 for emergency lorry parking is to have a an area set aside as a dedicated lorry park.  The challenges then are how can you have a large area which is left empty and unused apart from rare events such as a storm or fog in the channel or less rare, a strike. Additionally the lorry park would need some kind of surface that mitigates against mud and of course provides services for lorry drivers. Access is of course a requirement though that is needed whatever.
Having listened to operationstackarguments for or against a lorry park over many years, the killer remains the reluctance to have a large land area just doing nothing. This proposal deals with that.

First off, how big will a park need to be. My estimate based on 2,500 lorries is between 40 and 50 acres, realistically a large industrial farming field. I have estimated this by taking a juggernaut length as  16 metres and a width of about 3 metres, That’s 48 square metres, say an allocation of 60 square metres per lorry allowing for parking etc.

A 10 MW solar farm is usually associated with an area of 40 to 50 acres, this normally represents 1/3 coverage by solar panels, the whole field is not covered so as to allow for sunshine to reach the ground and allows for wild flowers and sheep grazing.

An alternative is of course to allocate a 50 to 100 acre field as a lorry park and cover it with concrete so it is a proper lorry park, we could have another 50 to 100 acres next to it as a solar farm, There are many who would consider this the sensible normal solution. “Cover a field with concrete, take up twice as much space, then most likely add shade for the lorries. Later on some bright spark will suggest putting solar panels on the shade / roofs!

There are an increasing number of car parks with solar panels acting as shade and providing an additional use for the land. The panels are simply placed high acting as the car port roof – its not rocket science.

A lorry car port would simply mean raising the panels by an additional 2 metres or so. Possibly providing additional width. Not difficult.

So, if a field is suitable for and has planning permission for a solar farm, by modifying the design of the panel supporting structure, possibly also increasing the panel density (the field is not shared with sheep or wild-flowers so we don’t need to worry about excess shade) we have a solar  farm that can also take operation stack lorries.

lorryshade

Why is this an increasingly sensible solution?

The reluctance to assign a large field or fields to operation stack is possibly the aversion to seeing an area laying fallow for in a sense, ever.  But we are happy to cover a field with solar panels.

The panel structures can be set out so that lorries can park in rows, that’s easy. There would need to be a marshalling area on the entry and exit of the rows, again, just allocation of space.

Would we need hard surface? Actually no, the panels can be installed with guttering, thus a minimal risk of mud even in the heaviest rain storm, thus the only managed surface might be in the marshalling area.

The panels will provide shade both against rain and sun

Power will be relatively easy. While the panels individually generate at 12 volts DC , combined and inverted to higher AC voltage, adding mains voltage outlets would be straightforward.

Of course the field retains its primary function as a solar farm, operation stack or not.

Who pays?  Well, solar farms are installed anyway and make money through RO (being phased out) and FIT. I have no doubt that a grant could be made available to cover the additional installation costs, the biggest cost will most likely be access to and from the road network, however that is a cost whatever solution is selected. The additional costs might be funded by using the site – along with the solar farm – as an overnight lorry park.

Other impacts? Well, the lorry park is all but hidden, the main planning will be focused on a high level solar farm, and ad-hoc lorry access, not as a lorry park per se.

Actually there is an ideal location already and maybe just needs an approach to the landowner:

http://www.renewables-map.co.uk/details3.asp?pageid=3533&pagename=Guston

(NB. This is my suggestion, I have no connection to Guston Court) Guston Court Farm has planning permission to build a solar farm, I cannot think of a better location.
Other locations would be wherever it is appropriate to build a solar farm and has a proximity to the M20. Oaklands Solar Farm at Hothfield. This solar farm has been built but could be re-established as a solar lorry port, but would need a link to the M20. .

But what about any existing solar installations?  Surly the challenge these days is getting permission / making a decision!  Retrofitting with a revised solar panel mounting system is realistically not that big a deal.

Whatever solution, the risk remains that as soon as “Stack” is a short term memory, there are other pressing issues, so an empty lorry park is not a sensible priority.  This solution, its a Solar Farm! Tends to avoid that.

How on earth to get some support?

Well, Renewables Map is now about to support the Dusk till Dawn air event. Its being regularly used by all universities and in an increasing number of PhDs and degree projects, all the major energy companies use it, as does the bbc and other media including  such as Bloomberg, Associated Newspapers, Just about every Council, schools, industrials and of course I get the “consultancies” trying to data mine.

I think it not unreasonable to write to them for support, certainly when they email to praise the service, often following the praise with: and can you send me all your data.

Here’s an example from Ecotricity / Ecotricity Group Ltd –  “Hello, Thanks so much – this is a great resource! Would the information be available to download at all? It would be much appreciated. Kind regards, ” an ideal opportunity to reply with a hint that maybe a bit of support might be in order. NO RESPONSE from Ecotricity.  Later a direct approach, again NO RESPONSE!

The same for Bloomberg:

Good day Simon,
I am a researcher with Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a premier data, news and analytics provider to the renewable energy sector.
We are currently updating our global database of all projects and investments in the clean energy sector. We have found that your data coverage of the UK market will help us accurately update our projects database, thus we would like to request permission to use the data as well as any derivatives of the data.
Please refer to the following link:http://www.renewables-map.co.uk/default.asp
This information will be utilized by senior decision makers in the clean energy sector and we would therefore like to provide accurate information regarding the United Kingdom’s renewable energy sector.
Should you need any clarity regarding my request please feel free to email me.
I did email, including a suggestion – very polite – that maybe they might support Renewables Map. NO RESPONSE.
For heavens sake Bloomberg, the price you charge for your data terminals, you will be selling my data and you expect a free service from me. You are taking the mickey!
Siemens, Vestas, Ainscough Cranes, National Grid,  the list goes on.
The biggest council user, my own council, Kent County Council, when approached, well after a great many emails being ignored, finally I get a response saying that they don’t use Renewables Map, they use DECC.  NO YOU DON’T! You use Renewables Map, almost on a daily basis.
Scottish Power, well read my blog entry on Scottish Power about a month ago. Being the biggest user I happened to write to them asking for a contribution. Well done SP, they replied, but said that they had their own resource. Coincidentally I get an email from Scottish Power telling me they are relying on my dataset to populate their internal resource!  You couldn’t make it up!
So, as in other cases I mark their IP to divert to a page asking for assistance. The result, well have a look at the Scottish Power access record and you can see a concerted attempt to crash Renewables Map.  Have a look at 26/05/2015, about 3,000 key-presses. Clearly somebody is frustrated at not being able to data mine and wanted to damage Renewables Map..
A note to Scottish Power. You are a global power with £billions of turnover. I have had a single donation of £50 in 8 years and sold sets of data to a total of about £800 to very nice companies who have had the professionalism to ask and pay.
Eunomia who got the contract to provide a competing “renewable energy database and map for DECC, yes, they try to data-mine.  DECC used to use Renewables Map as if it was their resource, I bid to provide it officially, no, I wasn’t even considered. So where is DECC’s map?  They are paying Eunomia up to £160K for that service.  I provide Renewables Map for free.
Other requests for data, they are very very welcome and I bend over backwards to support them, PhD students, schools, private individuals, voluntary organisations, all get it free and my only request is often just a citation or link.  And these are the overwhelming number of users who actively support Renewables Map, telling me about projects I have missed, more recently offering active support.
The dusk till Dawn challenge asked for the data. Not only was the answer yes, but I converted the lat / long into a format that they could use.
Have I ever received a comment from a major energy company offering information, after all, they have the data from the horses mouth?   Now let me see …  Ah, NO!
But what is wrong with the major companies? Why are they actively against supporting a resource that they clearly value and use routinely?
They all claim to be increasingly sustainable, but when it come to information, well its not like the wind, somebody has to be behind it!

Scottish Power – An Unethical and Unsustainable Approach?

Any regular user of Renewables Map will have seen that I am trying to get funding. As a resource used by just about everybody in the industry almost on a daily basis, it clearly satisfies a need. It is unfunded, non profit and with regard to being a charity, well, charities or trusts cost money to set up and time to administer.  Chicken and Egg comes to mind.

But, lets consider Scottish Power’s attitude.

Where a company is clearly using Renewables Map as if it was an internal resource, its time to contact them to enquire about  funding. After all, they are a multinational, I’m an individual, they seem to be expecting me to work for them for free. And no, I’m not a charity supporting multinationals .

This is how much Scottish Power uses Renewables Map: http://www.renewables-map.co.uk/scripts/visit_listing.asp?Status=1&visitor_rec=112

The use is shown over about 6 months, That’s almost 2,000 page views almost 200 during April 2015. They are one of my biggest users.

So a polite email, after a great deal of research to try to find the most suitable contact, to save yourself a good hour or so,  try scottishpowerfoundation@scottishpower.com asking about support for Renewable Map. I included links to pages that show Scottish Power how much they used Renewables Map and general use of the resource.

Coincidentally I get an email from Scottish Power


Hi Simon,

Do you have a list of all windfarms currently in operation in the SPEN Scotland

These regions are Ayrshire and Clyde South, Borders, Central and Fife, Dumfries and Galloway, Edinburgh and Lothians, Glasgow and Clyde North, Lanarkshire.

I am just new to the company so any information you can provide me with would be a great help

Thanks for your time

Kind Regards


Which gets a polite response from me explaining much the same as I say on the website, that I am trying to get Renewables Map to pay for itself and am unwilling to work for free.

The response was equally polite, well done that employee, I hope you go far.


Thanks for your time and I think it is fair enough that you do not want to be used as a unpaid resource when you have obviously put a lot of time and effort into developing this website.

From my own perspective, I feel the tool you have developed is very useful and Scottish Power should take advantage of it. I had been set a task to compile a database very similar to the one you have prepared and I feel what I produced wasn’t as up to date as it could have been.


So, Scottish Power want to create their own version of Renewables Map and of course the simplest way is to copy it!

Actually I have been here before with Ainscough Cranes,  they actually employed a student to copy Renewables Map project by project.

Then I get a response from Scottish Power Foundation


Dear Simon,

Thank-you for your email detailing the website you have created. ScottishPower Foundation as you will see from our web page www.scottishpowerfoundation.com  is an independent charity that supports  5 different categories. However applications for  funding is only available to  charities and not for profit organisations.

 I did pass your e-mail to the relevant department within ScottishPower and the reply received was that it was obvious that Renewable Map is a real passion of yours and while it looks like a good resource, albeit with some notable gaps, this is not something ScottishPower can financially support at this time. We have a range of products which fulfil this purpose in house.

Best wishes in all your future endeavours.

Kind regards,


Yes, Scottish Power,  I know you have a range of similar products in house, the person who is copying Renewables Map to create them has just written to me asking me to make it easier for him to take the data I have collected, to create these internal products!

At least they had the decency to write back.

So, a resource used by every energy company in the UK, Every University, Every Council ….

Pretty soul destroying if this attitude is going to be repeated.  I should note that my concern is not the lack of funding as such, more the blatant criticism of a resource that they use on a daily basis and have clearly used / copied to create their own!

So, Scottish Power, a note.  This is not an ethical approach. Equally it is not sustainable. The whole concept of sustainability is that the resource that is being used remains, it applies to more than just the wind!