Monthly Archives: February 2015

Offshore Wind

vertical axis turbines

vertical axis wind turbines

In September 2010 I blogged about the opening of the Thanet Offshore Wind Farm, which was at that time the world’s largest offshore wind farm with 100 x 3 MW turbines giving total capacity of 300 MW. This week planning consent has just been given for the giant Dogger Bank Creyke Beck which will have a total capacity of 2.4 GW, or eight times the size of the Thanet one. The wind turbines are getting bigger too: Dong Energy has just placed orders for the new 8.0 MW Vestas wind turbine for the Burbo Bank wind farm off the coast of North Wales. Also in 2010 I blogged about the increasing size of individual wind turbines and the scale of wind farms; both trends continue apace. Britain is a world leader in terms of offshore deployment, although as we did not invest sufficiently in the early stages of development, the companies making the turbines are mainly German and Danish, who were the early investors and established their industries and are now reaping the rewards of global expansion. All this investment is however bringing huge numbers of jobs to Britain, especially to areas such as Humberside and the Isle of Wight and providing a rapidly growing source of zero carbon electricity.

What of the future? Many engineers suggest that if individual wind turbines are to get very much bigger, and they probably will, the look of them will change considerably. The ones we are used to seeing are horizontal axis turbines and 8 to 10 MW is probably the upper limit for such structures. For many years vertical axis turbines have been suggested as a better design for the next generation of super large turbines. Lots of experimentation has been going on and it is probable that development and deployment will soon commence in several countries. At the same time wind farms are being developed in ever deeper water, and beyond about 50 metres floating turbines will become necessary, and are currently being developed by several countries and companies. Japan is developing a very interesting floating hybrid vertical axis wind turbine and vertical axis tidal current turbine.

Currently the cost of floating wind turbines is quite high, but a recent report by the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) suggests that by the 2020’s it is likely to be one of the cheapest forms of low carbon electricity, or indeed of any electricity. Early investors in this technology will be best placed to be at the forefront of rapid global expansion during the 2020’s.

Burbo Bank

Creyke Beck

For more on this whole topic

ETI report

Japanese hybrid wind/tidal

Political Change is in the Air

Diana Toynbee

Diana Toynbee, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hereford City and South

Political change is in the air. For the last 35 years a neo-liberal economic orthodoxy has held sway, and the right of centre parties that support it have dominated politics globally, and locally. A couple of political landslides over the last few weeks indicate the new openness and unpredictability of politics. Syriza’s victory in Greece has been much written about: more recent and perhaps more interesting has been the victory of the Arvind Kejriwal’s anti-corruption AAP in Delhi, and Annastacia Palaszczuk’s pro-renewables Labour group in the Queensland elections.

The Green Surge continues, with the membership of the England and Wales party up at 53,276, and our local Hereford City and South branch up at 136 as of this morning. People are joining for a wide range of reasons. Many ex Labour and LibDems have joined, fed-up with the ever rightward drift of those parties. Many Tories, especially the old One Nation type, are appalled by the extreme inequality that now exists, and in many areas fears over fracking are driving former Tories to join the Greens. Perhaps the biggest group of those joining are people who previously were not really involved in politics and didn’t bother voting: now they see that if they want change they do need to get stuck-in politically. The Green Party really does have a well thought out and popular range of policies across the whole spectrum: see the Vote for Policies link below.

Locally here in Hereford we have a really excellent candidate who’d make a great MP: Diana Toynbee. The local party is buzzing. Come along to our first new Members Forum type meeting at the Riverside Centre in Vicarage Road, St James, Hereford, 7.00pm Monday 16th February. And if you’re not already a member, why not join today? (Just click link below, Join the Green Party.)

Queensland elections,_2015

Delhi elections

Vote for Policies

Join the Green Party

Local Green Party news, plus some great fun fundraisers

Arts for Greens auction

China: renewables and emissions

Co2 emissions

The world hangs in the balance. Countless reports keep reminding us that all the main indicators of ecological sustainability continue to get worse. Global atmospheric Co2 levels are now 398.78 and are still rising. All countries need to reduce Co2 emissions. The graph above shows how Chinese emissions have skyrocketed. There is however hope: China may be on the verge of a rapid reduction in emissions.

In 2014 China’s coal production fell for the first time in ages. Its emissions per unit of GDP are falling, and it seems conceivable that overall emissions may soon start to fall. In 2014 China invested $89.5 billion in renewable energy technology, a 32% year on year increase. China is extremely vulnerable to climate change: its water security depends on Himalayan glaciers and its main cities are located on the low lying eastern seaboard. Also the atrocious air quality in many cities is a focal point for political protest. China is struggling to improve things, and it has vast financial reserves to invest in clean technology. If over the next few years we see continuing increases in investment in the best clean technologies, and increasing cracking down on pollution, then it is possible Chinese emissions may soon start to rapidly fall, and local air quality improve.

solar roofs in China

The above picture shows new housing in the village of Qingnan. Note that each house is orientated to maximize solar gain utilizing plenty of south facing windows for passive solar space heating, solar photovoltaic panels for electricity and solar water heaters.

Globally 2014 was a very good year for new investment renewable energy technologies, particularly solar and wind: solar seeing a 25% year on year increase, to $150 billion, and wind an 11% increase to $100 billion. These are hopeful indicators that global carbon emissions may soon start to make the increasingly steep reductions necessary to avert climatic catastrophe.