The Viridian Design Movement

Sent: Tuesday, November 26, 2002 9:29 PM

Subject: Viridian Note 00350: Renewable Energy

Key concepts
renewable energy, energy gluts, Greenhouse effect on hydroelectricity, British overcapacity, power markets
Attention Conservation Notice:
Of particular interest to green energy wonks.

Glamorous pics of tourist-friendly Spain submerged in tanker oil. You can click on these and get big desktop versions.

"Oil Kills." In too many ways to count, really. 2002/story.htm

(((Some rather counterintuitive news stories here. The more I learn about the energy business, the more eccentric it becomes. Also sordid, crooked, dirty and increasingly violent! The energy biz is as resistant to sensible reform as prostitution, drugs and human trafficking. In fact it's harder and harder to tell them apart.)))

(((Britain has too much wind energy. It's hurting the energy business.)))

Source: Reuters, Margaret Orgill

"Wind farms may make UK overcapacity worse – Ofgem

UK: November 25, 2002

"LONDON – Britain's push to to build new wind farms could exacerbate current problems of overcapacity in the electricity industry, energy regulator Callum McCarthy said.

"The crisis in the sector, triggered by low power prices, sent TXU Europe – once one of the UK's main electricity suppliers – into administration on Tuesday and has left nuclear generator British Energy on the verge of bankruptcy.

"'The outlook is for the capacity surplus to grow as more wind and CHP (combined heat and power) plant is connected in response to the government's incentives for renewable energy sources,' McCarthy, chief executive of Ofgem told a Standard and Poor's seminar on the power industry this week.

"Ofgem's calculations show that if the government's targets to expand renewable energy are met and all existing power stations run to the end of their projected lives, then the surplus capacity would grow to around 60 percent in 2010. (((They can use it to build dikes and repair flood-shattered cities.)))

"'That is a simplistic calculation, which I doubt many would expect to happen in reality. But the probability of continuing spare capacity is one that seems very high,' said McCarthy.

"A rush to build new power stations in the 1990s when electricity prices were much higher, has left Britain's generators struggling with a capacity surplus of 25 percent of peak demand compared with a more usual level of 15 percent. (((Oh, I'm sure if Enron were still around, they could engineer some blackouts for you.)))

"Now companies are gearing up to build dozens of wind farms, encouraged by the government which has a target of boosting renewables to 10 percent of the UK's electricity supplies by 2010 from three percent of presently.

"The government is to publish its white paper on energy policy early next year which is expected to underline the need to encourage renewables as part of its stategy to cut greenhouse gas emissions.


"Cash-strapped generators have mothballed traditional power stations with two gigawatts of capacity but this has made little difference to prices levels.

"UK electricity prices have fallen 40 percent over the last four years in the build-up to and after the launch of a more competitive trading market last year.

"According to Standard & Poor's, it could take up to a decade for prices to start rising as it will be years before older power stations are closed down and demand is growing slowly at between one and two percent a year. (...)"

(((US renewable energy plunges as Greenhouse Effect alters rain patterns, destroying hydroelectric power.)))

Source: Reuters, Tom Doggett

"US renewable energy use falls to 12-year low
USA: November 25, 2002

"WASHINGTON – U.S. consumption of energy produced by solar, wind and other renewable sources last year hit its lowest level in 12 years, supporting the Bush administration's claims that America can't rely on such sources for a big chunk of its energy supplies for a long time. (((Uh, sort of.)))

"Renewable use fell 12 percent as its share of U.S. energy consumption dropped to 6 percent, mainly because of a 23 percent decline in hydropower, according to a new report from the Energy Information Administration.

"Hydropower was down due to a steep drop in snowpack levels and rainfall in the West.

"'Consumption of all principal renewable energy resources decreased in 2001, except for wind,' said the Energy Department's independent analytical arm.

"Environmentalists have criticized the Bush administration for not doing enough to promote renewable energy sources in the White House's national energy plan. (((Grafitti is sprouting in my Austin neighborhood, reading "WAR = OIL." I didn't put it there. Must be pixies.)))

"While the administration encouraged more renewable energy production in its plan, it said the United States realistically will have to depend on traditional sources like oil and natural gas to fill most of its energy needs for the foreseeable future. (...) (((And since fossil fuels ruin hydropower, we need fossil fuels even more! To pump water into the drought-stricken Western US, for instance!)))

"Oil accounted for 39 percent of U.S. energy use last year, while natural gas represented 24 percent, coal 23 percent and nuclear power 8 percent, EIA said. (((Since nuclear power has big water-cooling problems, it is also remarkably vulnerable to Greenhouse flooding and droughts.)))

"For renewable energy use, biomass (ethanol, wood waste, garbage and landfill gas) had the largest share at 50 percent, followed by hydropower at 42 percent and geothermal at 6 percent. Wind and solar each accounted for 1 percent of total renewable energy consumption. (...) (((Yes, but wind and solar are the green-energy white hopes. Pretty much everything dammable is already dammed, and there is intense NIMBY resistance to more of them. Until really unstable climate hits, that is, in which case dams and levees will be the order of the day in every nation that can still pour concrete.)))

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