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.

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50% Emissions Cuts by 2027

So a cut of 50% based on 1990s emissions by 2027, that’s 16 years from now.

The graph shows the emissions reductions as we approach the 2020 target of a 20% reduction, the provisional figures for 2010 are almost certainly due to the recession which will be  replicated in 2011.

But, I do wonder how much of these emissions reductions are due to the export of industry to China and how much to increased efficiency and the use of renewable energy.

Certainly, while we have boosted the numbers of wind turbines and solar panels, these only represent perhaps 1 or 2 % of generated electricity, the headline figures of a 100MW wind farm realistically equating to maybe 20MW actually generated.  Solar panels  don’t yet make much of an impact.

Emisions are indicated as coming down, but is that because we are doing good things or simply moving our factories abroad?

What is clear is that the emissions reductions are almost certainly down to the shifting of industry to other countries, potentially with a higher level of emissions due to lowered efficiency.

Where the consumption of lets say a “tyre” for a car might have cost .2 tonnes of carbon where it was made in the UK, that tyre made in China and with the electricity generated from a coal power plant, equates to .3 tonnes, then it has to be shipped round the world (though perhaps we have saved some of the raw material shipping costs?).

So, there is more carbon in the form of CO2 generated but Britain claims a reduction!

Its the same as carbon offsetting or perhaps nearer the knuckle, getting somebody to accept a speeding fine so you can retain a clean licence?

To have any chance of showing an honest reduction in CO2, the 1st thing DECC needs to do is totally review the way Britain’s contribution to Global CO2 production is counted. Not based on what is generated in the UK, but what is gereated as a result of UK consumption of goods and services.

On the plus side this means we can remove the carbon associated with exports, but add those associated with imports. What about shipping and international travel ?

Do an honest measure and we might find that CO2 production that is attributed to the UK  has gone up since 1990. I think this is the more likely outcome.

Feed in Tariffs

The Feed-in Tariff scheme  as defined by this government is ill conceived. It does not tackle the problem of energy conservation nor CO2 reduction and appears to be more suited as an investment that will make wealthy people richer. It does not help the fuel poor, nor does it help the householder who simply wants to do their bit for the environment, rather it will make energy cost more, particularly for those who are currently struggling to pay their bills.

Below I have proposed an alternative that will encourage and reward conservation, will mean cheaper bills for the lower energy user and will support the homeowner who wants to generate their own electricity.

The Spanish FIT scheme has just closed, it proved to be too costly. Germany’s has been seriously scaled back, for the same reason. Experience shows they are not sustainable.

Our FIT scheme is going to favour the large investor taking over large plots and setting up large scale arrays, the householder is going to be sidelined – though they will ultimately pay through higher tariffs!. Basically the Labour Govt’s scheme, which you will inherit, is not at all focused on saving energy, or reducing carbon, it seems to be about developing an alternative investment.

Even now it is being touted as providing an 8% return on investment, that is so wrong, isn’t this about saving the planet?

FITs favour the investor with money and ultimately are paid for by the consumer, the energy poor, at the bottom of the heap

An Alternative?

What follows is simple and I hope innovative, solving many problems.

I would like to suggest an alternative scheme that will encourage both renewable energy generation, reduction in consumption and address fuel poverty.

Current Situation

When you purchase your electricity – as we all do – the 1st 1,000 units or so are charged at a premium. This is the alternative to paying a standing charge. In my case with Eon my current quarterly bill shows 242 units at 22.84p  then 1982 units at 8.71p.

The more I use, the cheaper (average cost per unit) it gets.

Anybody on a low income or trying to save electricity will pay a higher average cost per unit as they lower their consumption.

Here’s an alternative (domestic only).

Through OFGEN, Energy companies will be directed to reverse their charging scheme, charging a low tariff, lets say 10p per unit up to the UK average consumption for a domestic property. Any consumption above that is charged at a higher rate, I would propose a sliding scale that I have detailed below.

Immediately we have clear incentives.

  • The less energy used, the lower the average cost of each unit.
  • Those who are on lower incomes and lower energy use will immediately benefit with lower cost energy.
  • Higher users of energy will pay more and have a clear incentive to reduce energy consumption.
  • Higher users will also have a clear incentive to invest in microgeneration. Anything they generate, by definition will be saving money at the higher rate.
  • Surplus energy exported to the grid is used to reduce the overall consumption bringing the consumer / generator nearer to, or below the average.

Going forward, the average energy use will decline, there is now a clear incentive. As the average goes down, that point at which the higher tariff starts kicking in also declines, hence there is a simple process that will reinforce the incentive to keep reducing consumption. The average consumption being publicised and re-set each year. (we are all, as a nation now part of this drive to save energy)

Identifying the average UK consumption is relatively easy, the data exists and it is only numbers.

In numbers.

An average consumption of say 8,000 units per year, a baseline cost of 10p per unit, any consumption above 8,000 but less than 12,000 charged at 20p

Above 12,000 charged at 40p (sounds high?)

Low income, energy poor benefits: A low income consumer immediately benefits, their cost is 10p per unit. Considering a 6,000 unit consumption compared to now (1,000 at 23p + 5,000 at 9p = an average of  11.3p) their energy cost comes down.

Mine goes up. I use 9,000 units, about £950 or an average cost of 10.5p ie less than the person on a low income and low consumption. My cost goes up to and average of 11.1p per unit, as I use more, my average cost goes up.

Now, I have wind turbines and solar PV so my consumption is already low compared to similar families / houses. If I didn’t have these, my consumption would be higher, my average cost would be higher.

Note, the costs per unit remain in the same ball park figure as existing costs.

The process and impact

The break points for doubling and quadrupling the cost per unit above are at average consumption, 1.5 times average and twice average. (keeping it simple)

A high consumer will have a clearer incentive to reduce consumption, ie their average cost goes up the more they use rather than down! 40p per unit means I will certainly switch my lights off and choose a more fuel efficient fridge.

40p per unit means Mr Average will also have an incentive to install microgeneration. I would see a simple additional reward in that exported electricity can bring down the net overall use. If my use is 9,000 units, I export 1,200, I pay for 7,800. While the average consumption is 8,000 units I pay at the 10p rate. As the average goes down, I must in turn look for other ways to save energy if I want to keep my per unit cost at 10p!

Feed in tariffs become an irrelevance.

There is no need whatsoever for the complexity of Feed-in Tariffs, nor can the money to finance Feed-in Tariffs run out, nor, with the utilities paying for the Feed-in Tariffs will we see ever higher electricity costs being passed on to the lower income consumer to benefit the wealthy investor!

Every year the average will come down as there is more microgeneration and energy saving. That means the point at which the higher costs start kicking in will be at a lower baseline, it is self sustaining towards ever lower consumption!

The lower income, lower users of electricity are generally well below average consumption so for some years remain insulated from this process.

The energy companies?

Well, they will be free to set their rates, I have used 10p as an example, they can be  as competitive as they wish. All they have to do is follow a formula of less than average consumption is charged at X, Average to 1.5 times average is 2X , more than 1.5 times average is 4X. These figures could be fine tuned but that would give an opportunity to procrastinate for the next 5 years.

I can see tariff packages where there is a standing charge then a lower X, No standing charge but a higher X.

NB. This is workable. I have worked within the regulated Water industry and am currently working within the energy sector, in particular energy switching so am very aware of how energy companies try to differentiate and compete.

Also, consider this. There are only 500 people qualified to install microgeneration systems that might be eligible for FITs. Compare this with 60,000 Gas Safe (Corgi) qualified engineers.

Requiring an MCE (Microgeneration Certified Engineer) in order to qualify for a FIT simply duplicates existing quality schemes.

Feed in Tariffs, a kick in the teeth!

Feed in tariffs will NOT apply to ANY system that has already been installed.

If you have a renewable energy system, your system, as with mine will continue to receive the same, pittance, a minimal financial return on generated and exported electricity. This will apply to all systems, all the schools, community halls, the public everybody who has put their money where their mouth is!

Only systems that have been installed under the new MCS (Microgeneration Certification Scheme) will be able to claim the much publicized 35p per unit generated. The MCS has yet to be finalized and though it replicates the IEC regulations that your system (and mine) will certainly comply with, the MCS is an additional layer of bureaucracy that seems to function only to sideline us. (Us being all the people who have created this industry, lobbied for feed in tariffs and changes in the planning law and who have (for whatever reasons) coped with the high cost of installation).

This MCS will severely curtail the number of companies able to install solar PV, retaining a very tight club of installers and almost certainly allowing for a ‘cartel’ pricing structure. Solar systems are already twice teh price in the UK as Germany! It does not add to the quality of equipment or installation as Part P and IEC (IEC is the recognised international certification scheme) already have that function.  The cost of management of MCS and the quango that will be created will almost certainly be higher than the money saved in alienating us through avoiding payment for solar generated electricity.

I would expect that the negative publicity associated with the sidelining and effective alienation of all early adopters who would otherwise be actively promoting this technology will also represent a cost in that the scheme must now be publicized at a cost to the taxpayer.

I am an early generator of solar energy with a professionally installed Solar Century system. It is grid connected and the Highest power station in Kent. I was part of the EAMA study and have and expect to continue exporting renewable electricity. My electricity and system seems to be perfectly adequate, the system will be exactly the same as new systems!

This twist to the Feed in Tariffs whereby only new systems can apply is a slap in the face to all of us who have facilitated the creation of the renewable microgeneration industry in the UK. Without us investing in this new technology, there would be no industry, no installers, nothing!

I do not understand the Governments atitude in alienating so many people. people who should have been supported as they would have been fantatsic free publicity. EVERYBODY with a system is going to be ‘hurt’ by this. There will be NOBODY with an installed system who will be out there actively promoting – we won’t be saying, get a system, we will be saying, “I’ve been utterly let down, don’t trust these people”.

Worse than this, it will be financially beneficial for me to scrap my existing system and install what will almost certainly be an identical system, just 5 years newer (with the same 25 year and more lifespan). Whoever came up with this incompetent system, well, words fail me!

This Government should hang its head in shame!

Also see: http://www.yougen.co.uk/equal/: Join our Campaign for Equal Cashback with petition.

Shock Horror, Govt Scientist has revelation!

I am not the only blogger who has commented that when estimating our carbon emmissions we must take into account emmissions that have been generated overseas in manufacturing products that we use.

Go back a few years and the consumer durable that you bought, a TV, computer, clothes etc was almost certainly made in the UK. That TV caused a certain volume of emmissions, both carbon and other pollutants. Now the TV is made in another country, we seem to think the emmissions don’t count!!

CO2, methane or any greenhouse gas along with most pollutants don’t obey national boundaries, it is a global problem!

Briton has a long way to go to get to an 80% (by 2050) or even a 20% reduction by 2020.  Unless Govt start to take it seriously – like when the Nazis were going to invade –  we will fail.

I note that the recent speech by Gordon Brown didn’t mention Climate Change, realistically the only thing of any importance for the next 50 years, and that just days after another relevant science report says we should expect 4 degrees of warming perhaps by 2060 – I’ll be 103!

Feed In Tariffs – More Government Hot Air

A Feed in Tariff is considered to be a special rate that is applied to electricity that is generated and or exported to the grid. ie If I generate 1unit, I am paid at a certain rate by somebody, usually my electricity supplier.

It was expected to be included in the April 2008 Budget, but Alistair Darling simply promised to investigate over the summer.  In October Milliband anounced he would be bringing in a Feed in Tariff, in November the new energy bill confirmed this, but no date, no detail, just a promise.

In Germany (Guardian: Germany sets shining example in providing a harvest for the world) there are Feed in Tariffs set by the state which is set at 4 times the market rate for electricity. This is not just for the amount exported to the grid, but for all energy generated!

By setting this beneficial rate, the amount of solar energy generated in Germany is  200 times greater than the UK. A decent payment totally transforms the economics of domestically generated renewable energy, the payback time then becomes realistic and it takes the installation and generation on from ‘trailblazers’ like me to the mainstream.

Would it make that much of a difference? Yes! With a return on investment of maybe 8% – 9%, it immediately makes sense to extend a mortgage or invest in renewables rather than saving! As to the impact to Britain’s commitment to 20% renewables by 2020, look at the rate of change of consumer goods, the spread of digital TV, or earlier the take up of satellite dishes.

Implementing Feed in Tariffs will make it practical to invest in the development and sale of more innovative microgeneration. Perhaps sterling engined heaters (Microgen).  Or cheap VAWTs (Vertical Axis Wind Turbines) for the domestic market.  These are the far more attracitive turbines that spin on a vertical axis. They are far more suited to chimney or wall mounting as the gyroscopic effect of their spinning will act to stabilise, while the traditional wind turbine places stress on the mountings, the more wind the more stress.

With Feed in Tariff’s the UK has a chance of developing a renewable energy economy.  Without? well all the statements from Govt etc are just hot air!

The Govt has now anounced (Nov 2008) that it intends to introduce Feed in Tariffs, but no timetable! I intend to do more excercise, eat better… a meaningless statement until it happens. What we have had from this Government is been nothing but promises and words. Also see:  Government urged to improve ‘feed in tariff’ scheme for renewable energy again from the Guardian, but sums it up well.

But do read the Guardian article mentioned above: it was written a year ago and still nothing has changed. Also see the FOE statement.

A suggestion. If it is so difficult to implement these Feed in Tariffs, why not simply start by stating that Microgenerated Electricity will be purchased at a rate the same as the highest tariff charged to the consumer! My exported electricity is paid for at about 8p by e.on but I pay about 30p each for the 1st 900 units! Then it dips to just over 9p.

Also please sign my petition http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/Feed-in-Tariffs/

The EU is Bottling out of its CO2 Reduction Commitment!

The EU is about to anounce that half of the commitment to reduce emissions by 20% by 2020 can be made up with carbon offsets!

Shame on the EU and its constituant governments, all those fine words devoted to showing how committed they were to the environment and the future of the planet, our children’s future seem to be for nothing!

It seems that rather than have a policy that states “We will have a 20% cut in Emissions by 2020” What they are now going to say is “We are going to give some money to some 3rd world country and ask them to promise not to emit too much CO2”. Then all we have to do is cut emissions by 10%, which is an easier number to lie about and then claim its 20% becuase we think our voters are stupid enough to believe us!

So, rather than actually doing what they had committed to, they are going to set up some administrative smoke and mirrors where they can claim to have cut emissions while feeding our taxpayers money to some tin pot corrupt dictator.

Shame on the lot of them!

From the bbc “Stavros Dimas told BBC News that governments should be able to achieve more than half of their target carbon cuts by paying developing countries to invest in clean energy projects on their behalf.”

Can you imagine the likes of Churchill in 1940 saying, “well, its a bit awkward fighting the Nazi’s at the moment, we’ll promise not to fight them for a bit, if they do likewise.”   And then returning with a piece of paper?

We need brave peope leading us, not this gutless rabble!

See: My comments on Carbon Offsetting – bbc Money Box

Report on corruption within the UN’s Carbon Offsetting programme

Is Your Couch a Carbon Offset?