Sunday, November 15, 2009

Exciting Opportunities Arising from UK Government Low Carbon Strategy

The following is an extract from the Enviros Consulting September 2009 Briefing Note on the UK's Low Carbon Strategy:

The UK government has announced a number of financial drivers and measures to remove barriers to deployment of more renewables, as part of their low carbon strategy.

This rapidly growing industry will bring opportunities for many of our customers. Nonfinancial measures include a new planning PPS, measures to improve grid access and a new Office for Renewable Energy Deployment.

However the main drivers announced are the financial ones outlined below.

The Renewables Heat Incentive

- The Renewables Heat Incentive will deliver a staggering 72TWh/yr of heat by 2020 from biomass, solar, heat pumps and biomethane
- The policy to be in place from April 2011
- It will give guaranteed payments to those generating heat from renewables – domestic through to industrial scales
- We should expect a fixed rate paid on energy yield and cost of plant – not on CO2 emissions saved

UK Government will consult at the end of this year on scheme details and on fundamentals including levels of funding and how the levy to fund it will work

Installations from 15 July 2009 onwards will qualify for payments though there will be environmental standards and a qualification scheme for installers.

Measures to support electricity from renewables

The plans for financial support for renewable electricity has been presented in a separate consultation paper

Renewable Electricity Financial Incentives.

There are some detailed changes to the Renewables Obligation (ROC) regime that will impact larger generators and are designed to bolster confidence in this support mechanism.

However, perhaps the most significant announcement is of a new mechanism known as Feed in Tariffs (FIT).

As presented in the consultation paper FITs:

• Will give significant payments to small scale renewables – up to 5MW but with much higher payments for micro-renewables
• Will come into operation from April 2010 with consultation closing Oct 09 (though schemes built from 15 July 2009 will qualify)
• Will support delivery of up to 2% of our electricity by 2020
• Will pay the tariff for every unit of generation (whether used on site or not) aiming to give investors 5-8% internal rate of return (IRR)
• A FIT contract would be for 20 years, index linked and transferable from person to person
• Fix the price that will be paid for power exported at reasonable level (5p/kWh suggested)
• Will be paid by those supplying the site with electricity to the site of generation.

Payments proposed are much higher than anything seen in the UK so far.

For example a householder installing a retrofit domestic scale solar panel would get 36.5p/kWh for all the generation from the panel, would enjoy free electricity from it while using it and would get a suggested 5p/kWh for electricity exported (income tax free).

Other Opportunities

The Low Carbon Transport Strategy and the Low Carbon Industrial Strategy will give other opportunities to those sectors of the industry.

The transport strategy proposes that the proportion of biofuels being blended with petrol and diesel be increased to 10% by 2020 in line with the EU directive.

This is a huge increase in the amount of liquid biofuels required and could offer opportunities for farmers.

However, it is recognised that there are potentially negative food security and environmental issues associated with this policy and we can expect increasingly stringent controls on sourcing of liquid biofuels.

The transport strategy also outlines measures to reduce transport emissions by:

• Improving the efficiency of new vehicles (cars, vans and buses)
• Electrifying more of the rail network
• Facilitating the use of electric vehicles – including the offer of financial support to purchase them
• Encouraging more walking, cycling and low carbon travel habits • Working on international agreements on shipping and aviation.

The Low Carbon Industrial Strategy recognises the opportunities for UK industry and commerce. To maximise the opportunities, the government intends to remove barriers to making the changes and has announced £405 million of support:

• £120 million will be used to develop offshore wind
• £60 million to develop wave and tidal power
• £6 million to contract “60 or more” low carbon affordable homes
• £10 million increase, from £20 million to £30 million, for electric vehicle charging infrastructure and £25 million Low Carbon Vehicle Demonstrator Programme • £4 million expansion of the Manufacturing Advisory Service
• £12 million for green chemicals/sustainable biotechnology
• £15 million nuclear advanced manufacturing research centre
• £150 million for UK Innovation Investment Fund -> £1billion in 10 years.

How Enviros can help

This is an exciting time for initiatives in the low carbon sector and with these recent papers, the Government’s direction and support is now clear.

With the ‘step change’ represented by these papers some projects that were not previously viable now may well be. Enviros have over 30 years of experience in this field so have the skills, knowledge and expertise needed to be able to support you as you work to make the ‘low carbon transition’ needed or capitalise on the opportunities presented, whether you are working in the public or the private sector.

Get your FREE copy of the full Low Carbon Strategy briefing document here.

Scottish Government and Scottish Renewables Calls for UK Treasury to Release Millions to Invest in Renewable Energy

Support for access to renewables cash grows

Scottish Renewables have joined the Scottish Government in calling for the UK Treasury to release up to £174 million to invest in renewable energy.

The money is currently held by Ofgem under the Fossil Fuel Levy arrangements, which mean the Scottish Government is unable to access the cash without a corresponding reduction in its budget.

Finance Secretary John Swinney has argued for the fund to be made available as additional money over and above the Scottish budget since this administration came to office in 2007.

And today the cause will gain the support of Scottish Renewables, when Niall Stuart, chief executive of the green energy trade body, addresses a marine energy conference in Inverness.

Mr Swinney said:

"This is £174 million of Scotland's money that should be invested in developing renewable energy in Scotland right now.

"Instead, the unwillingness of the UK Treasury to change its position means it is sitting unused in an Ofgem bank account in London. Scottish Renewables are absolutely right to be calling on the Chancellor to release this money so that it is additional to the budget already at our disposal.

"I welcome their position and can assure them we speak as one on this issue. It simply makes no sense that, at a time when the parlous state of the UK's public finances is well documented, and when Scotland is facing a 500 million pounds cut in its budget next year, this money is withheld and only available if we accept a corresponding reduction in Scotland's budget.

"Scotland has a flourishing renewable energy sector that could benefit hugely from this additional money.

"This Government is doing all it can to help - but with access to this funding we could do even more. That would not only bring the clear benefits of developing cutting edge renewable technologies, but would also support green jobs and help stimulate a strong economic recovery."

The Fossil Fuel Levy (FFL) is used to compensate power companies for the higher costs involved in meeting the terms of contracts to purchase renewable electricity, awarded during the 1990s under the previous support mechanism, the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation (NFFO).

Changes introduced in 2005, which allowed the proceeds from the sale of Renewables Obligation Certificates (ROCs) attributable to Scottish NFFO contracts to be used to meet the FFL costs have led to the development of a rapidly accumulating surplus in Ofgem's bank accounts (the Scotland and England/Wales accounts being held separately).

Scottish Ministers and officials have raised this matter with UK Government counterparts on a continuous basis since May 2007. Treasury rules on Departmental Expenditure Limits (DEL) mean that FFL surplus resources, if released to Scotland, would not be additional to Scotland's block grant. To enable FFL funds to be used for additional activity in Scotland would require the Treasury's agreement to increase Scottish DEL equivalent to the amount being drawn down from the FFL. The Treasury remains adamant that should Scottish Ministers choose to draw down this money, a corresponding reduction would be made in the Scottish block grant.

Full articles at the Scottish Government web site.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Waste Produces Gas for Cooking in Kenya Using Anaerobic Digestion

This item shows how anaerobic digestion can be such a power for good. It brightened my day and I hope it does the same for yours as well. It explains how biogas is being used to solve a number of problems simultaneously in Kenyan slums.

Harnessing Waste Produces Gas for Cooking in Kenya
By Cathy Majtenyi
From Voice of America News - 07 November 2009

The scourge of so-called "flying toilets" - where human waste is put into a plastic bag and tossed into the air, landing on roads or in gutters - has plagued the slums of Kenya's capital Nairobi for decades. But an innovative project in the slum of Kibera has dramatically cut down on the problem by converting human waste into gas that can be used to fuel cookers and other devices.

Roseline Amondi is cooking up a storm. Today's menu for the tiny restaurant she runs is githeri, a traditional dish consisting of beans and maize.

Amondi cooks every day in this community kitchen. She will then take the food back to her kiosk to sell to her customers. She says the community stove saves her a lot of money that she would otherwise spend on charcoal or wood.

"Before the gas started working, I was using almost 100 or 200 [shillings] per day for cooking any meal in the house, but right now, it is only 10 bob [shillings] per meal," she said. "It is very cheap. If I cook two different types of food, I may use only 30 shillings for the whole day. That is wonderful."

The gas that Amondi uses comes from an unlikely source, the community toilet. This is a rare sight in Kibera, where up to 200 people can share a single latrine in neighborhoods that have no electricity or running water.

The toilet and kitchen are run by a coalition of five community groups calling themselves TOSHA (Total Sanitation and Hygiene Access). "Tosha" also means "enough" in the national language Ki'Swahili.

Some 600 people a day use the toilets for a small fee.

The human waste is transported via pipes into an underground tank, where it is converted into bio-gas.

The gas is then piped up to the community kitchen, where members can use the stove for pennies per pot.

Groups often rent out the facility's top floor for meetings and functions. TOSHA earns some $400 each month renting out the facility, the community kitchen and use of the toilets.

Aidah Binale is a coordinator with Umande Trust, a development group that partnered with TOSHA to formulate the project.

She says it was difficult at first for community members to accept the gas.

"People will have the idea of, 'Ah, no, I can't cook from there, it is from [human] waste.' Right now we are still trying to capacity build, we are trying to tell them [there is] nothing wrong," she explained. "We get to have more visitors from different countries coming to visit us. We make sure that when they come to the office, we tell them, 'Let's go down there and have tea.' So when the community comes and sees us drinking tea, they are thinking, 'Ah, this is a foreigner taking tea. These people are taking tea, we can also cook.'"

Running water and sanitation facilities are virtually non-existent in slums like Kibera, where most people earn less than $1 a day. Human waste in plastic bags is often dumped on roads, alleys and gutters.

But locals say there has been a dramatic reduction in these so-called "flying toilets" since the bio-gas center was constructed two years ago.

Roseline Amondi is also secretary of TOSHA.

"At the time we were using flying toilets, there were so many diseases around us like cholera," she noted. "Once an outbreak of cholera occurs, we are the sufferer. Many of us died, some got into the hospitals. But right now, for the last three months, there was an outbreak [of cholera] within Nairobi, but we were safe because of the bio-center."

Project supporters say the TOSHA Bio-Gas Centre is a model for communities everywhere, especially those dealing with power shortages.

Paul Muchire, communication manager with Umande Trust.

"We have the problem of [supplying enough] energy. Poverty levels are going up. Sanitation is a problem in the developing world. We have the issue of pollution from the oil and diesel. There is need to go into other sources of energy, adapt other sources of energy that would be environmentally friendly," he said.

Muchire says there are about 10 bio-gas centers in Kibera under construction and that an engineer is looking at how the gas can be piped into peoples' homes.

Anaerobic Digestion Community Website