UK Government announces backing for 8 major renewable energy projects

Today the United Kingdom Government announced that deals have been agreed to provide financial support for eight major renewable energy projects which will provide enough renewable energy capacity to power millions of homes.

Of the eight renewable energy projects five are offshore wind farms, the remaining 3 are biomass developments. All eight are to be supported by the Government’s Contracts for Difference support scheme. Through this scheme the government has agreed to pay a fixed rate for the power generated by these eight renewable energy developments for a period of fifteen years. The price will be determined by the date on which the developments begin to feed electricity into the grid. The sooner these developments come online the higher the price they receive will be.

The 8 projects combined could add up 4.5GW (gigawatts) of renewable electricity generation capacity to the National Grid. 4.5GW of power represents 4% of the UK’s current electricity capacity or enough electricity to power over three million homes across the UK. According to Government figures the eight projects will provide up to £12 billion of private investment in the UK economy by 2020 and support up to 8,500 jobs. Additionally, once completed, the 8 developments could produce 14% of the renewable energy the UK requires to meet it’s 2020 renewable energy generation targets. The increase in renewable capacity and reduction in the need for fossil fuels is also expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 10 million tonnes a year.

The eight developments are spread across the UK. The largest project approved in terms of capacity is the new 1.2GW Hornsea wind farm which will be located off the Yorkshire coast. Two other entirely new wind farms will also receive funding; the 664MW (megawatt) Beatrice wind farm which will be sited off the Moray coast and the 402MW Dudgeon wind farm which will be sited off the north Norfolk coast. Two extensions for existing offshore wind farms were also approved for funding; a 258MW extension to the Burbo Bank wind farm off the coast of Merseyside and a 660MW extension to the Walney wind farm in the Irish Sea.  The three biomass projects are also located across the country. Lynemouth power station in Northumberland and Drax power station in Yorkshire are to be converted for biomass use. And finally a brand new 229MW dedicated biomass power station will be constructed in Teeside.

Industry trade body Scottish Renewables released a statment following the announcement that the proposed Beatrice wind farm (located in Scottish waters) had been successful in it’s application:

“It is greatly encouraging to see a Scottish offshore wind project selected for an early investment contract by the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

“Having received planning consent from the Scottish Government in March, to now get an early Contract for Difference gives the Beatrice project the certainty of support we’ve been calling for from the UK Government.

“With our huge offshore wind resource, it is not unrealistic to expect to see a number of Scottish offshore wind projects receive planning consent and secure financial support by the end of the year.

“This decision will help kick-start the offshore wind sector in Scotland, which has the potential to provide thousands of jobs and billions of pounds of inward investment to our country, while also making a significant contribution to Scotland’s ambitious 2020 renewable energy targets.”

The eight projects were selected from an original shortlist of 57 applications. A smaller shortlist of 10 was published in December. These ten sites had been chosen on the criteria of cost effectiveness. Further Contracts for Difference are to be made available in the autumn of this year. The UK Government is committed to meeting over 30% of UK electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020.

Announcing the successful projects UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey made the following statement:

“These contracts for major renewable electricity projects mark a new stage in Britain’s green energy investment boom.

“By themselves they will bring green jobs and growth across the UK, but they are a significant part of our efforts to give Britain cleaner and more secure energy.

“These are the first investments from our reforms to build the world’s first low carbon electricity market – reforms which will see competition and markets attract tens of billions of pounds of vital energy investment whilst reducing the costs of clean energy to consumers.

“Record levels of energy investment are at the forefront of the Government’s infrastructure programme and are filling the massive gap we inherited. It’s practical reforms like these that will keep the lights on and tackle climate change, by giving investors more certainty.”

It should be remembered that it is not through offshore wind and biomass alone that Scottish and UK renewable energy targets will be met. All forms of renewable energy generation will have to play their part. Particularly onshore wind; due to it’s nature one of the cheapest and most mature renewable energy technologies. We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) are looking forward to contributing further to meeting the countries binding renewable energy generation targets.

In other news this week it was announced that Scotland could soon be home to new form of floating wind turbine. The BAT (Buoyant Airborne Turbine) has been in development for several years through a collaboration between entrepreneurs and US military personnel.

The BATs (which some have said resemble UFOs in appearance) are filled with helium and are then tethered to the ground. The technology is intended to operate at increased heights in comparison to more traditional wind turbines  allowing power to be generated from higher wind speeds. The tether has the dual function of allowing higher wind speeds to be used and to reduce costs.

Currently 4 prototypes have been developed. The first commercial model is expected to be tested in Alaska in 2015 by American green energy firm Altaeros Energies. This model is expected to produce 30kW from a height of 1,000 feet. Successful testing of this model will then be followed by further testing of higher capacity designs at increased heights. Scotland has been mooted as a suitable location for further testing due to the high wind speeds as well as the large number of isolated rural communities located in the country. The BATs are intended to be used in isolated areas where energy has to be transported in; as is the case on several of the Scottish Isles.

Altaeros business development manager Ryan Holy said: “The real value is that we are generating more electricity because we are capturing stronger, more consistent resource, and that means that the price is going to be lower because the annual kWh produced will be a lot higher.

“In addition to that, the customer doesn’t have to deal with a lot of the logistical headaches of installing a concrete path or a tower, which can take some time and might be dependent on seasons.

“We are looking at remote and rural locations first, and any region that is suffering from high electricity costs, as our product can give that customer more energy independence and lower their price, so it could be some parts of Scotland, or any islands that have to ship their fuel in.”

The development of the BAT demonstrates that despite onshore wind being one of the most mature renewable energy technologies there is still vast room for improvement, innovation and cost reduction.

 

UK renewable generation soars

Last week the Department of Energy and Climate Change published the latest statistics on renewable energy generation in England, Scotland and Wales.

The statistics are available here. They demonstrate dramatic growth in renewable energy generation across all renewable generation technologies and regions of the UK.

These statistics are published quarterly and the latest figures account for the second quarter of 2013. 12.8 TWh (terawatt hours) of renewable electricity was generated over the three month period. As such renewable energy generation was responsible for 15.5% of the total electricity generation in the UK in this time period. This represents a dramstic increase from the same period of 2012 in which renewables contributed 9.7% of total electricity generation. This is proof positive of the dramatic strides that the renewable energy industry is taking in the UK.

The statistical analysis broke the increased renewable generation capacity by technology type. This revealed that wind has seen the most dramatic growth of any form of renewable generation technology with an increase in generation of 62% compared to the same quarter in 2012. Further reading also reveals that onshore wind generation increased by 70%  between the two quarters. This is the biggest increase in generation for any technology type and demonstrates not only the strides being taken by the onshore wind industry but also the suitability of the UK itself for further onshore wind generation.

Additionally, solar, wave and tidal generation saw an increase of 22% whilst hydro power saw a 29% increase in generation. It should perhaps be noted that in the case of hydro power this leap may represent a difference in weather between the two years as much as it does an increase in capacity.

DECC’s analysis also broke down the number of renewable generation sites in England, Scotland,  Wales and Northern Ireland respectively. At the end of the second quarter of 2013 England had 3,752 non-PV (photovoltaic i.e non-solar sites),Scotland had 2,648 non-PV sites, Wales had 493 non-PV sites and Northern Ireland had 203 non-PV sites. The difference between the countries was far more marked in the figures for Photovoltaic sites: England had 311,192, Scotland had 24,360, Wales had 27,173 and Northern Ireland 531. In terms of solar sites much of the difference can be explained by the more clement climate to be found in England, particularly in the South, making solar panels more  attractive to developers and consumers.

The figures also reveal that as of the end of the second quarter of 2013 England had 29% more renewable electrcity capacity than Scotland. However DECC’s own analysis attributes this to the fact that the vast majority (88%) of the UK’s total biomass capacity is to be found in England. This concentration of biomass capacity can be explained by the conversion of the Tilbury B to dedicated biomass in 2011.

The total renewable energy capacity of the United Kingdom as of the start of June 2013 stood at 19.5GW. This represents an increase of 38% compared to June 2012 indicating that the growth of the renewable energy industry  continues apace. Furthermore 48% of the total amount of renewable energy generated in the second quarter of 2013 came from wind power. An indication that the wind industry and companies such as ourselves are working hard to ensure that the UK meets its renewable energy targets.

The Deputy Chief Executive of RenewableUK, Maf Smith welcomed the news with the following comment:

“This confirms what we have been seeing for some time, which is renewables steadily becoming more important in meeting our electricity needs, and wind being responsible for the lion’s share of the progress. That this period coincided with one of the coldest Springs on record means that wind was providing this power at a crucial time.

“The fact that we have seen the record for renewables generation broken twice in the space of a few months shows for itself the progress being made in the race to decarbonise our economy and secure our future electricity supply.”

In further good news this week saw Scotland’s biomass capacity increase! Sky cut the ribbon on four new biomass boilers at its customer contact centre in Livingston. This is the latest renewable energy generation scheme to be completed by Sky following the installation of a wind turbine at the company’s headquarters in Heathrow. The company has publicly committed to reducing its carbon emissions by 25% and improving its energy efficiency by 20%.

The new biomass boilers are expected to provide enough heat and hot water for the sites 2500 staff. Fuel is to be sourced from local forestry offcuts ensuring that carbon emissions as a result of transporting fuel to the site are kept to a minimum. The boilers are expected to reduce the Livingston sites carbon output by approximately 500 tonnes per year.

The publication of these DECC statistics reveals that the UK’s renewable energy industry is continuing to grow; creating jobs and increasing energy security all across the country.

New surveys reveals continuing support for renewable energy

The Department of Energy and Climate Change published it’s sixth quarterly tracker survey yesterday.

The survey is carried out every three months to monitor the public’s attitudes to the government’s energy policies. Face to face interviews were carried out at 2,124 households in early July. The published results confirm that the public’s support for renewable energy remains widespread.

76% of those polled stated that they supported or strongly supported the continuing use and expanding development of the UK’s vast renewable energy resources.

Whilst this represents a very slight decline from previous survey results it should be pointed out that the poll was conducted at the height of the shale gas industry’s media blitz, particularly within the right wing press.

This media campaign does not appear to have had the desired affect. There was no change in the level of people who oppose or strongly oppose renewable energy. Only 5% of those polled gave this opinion; demonstrating that this view remains the preserve of an extremist minority. It is also worth making the point that despite much lobbying those parts of the UK which have been proposed as areas suitable for shale gas exploration, or fracking, have seen widespread and organised protests against the proposals.

18% of those surveyed commented that they had no opinion on renewable energy development. This equals the highest level recorded since the surveys were first carried out. Again this suggests that the campaign against renewables in some parts of the media is failing to have the desired affect.

The poll also revealed further positive news for the renewable energy industry. 71% of the people polled gave the opinion that they believe renewable energy to be economically beneficial to the UK. This is a 2% increase from the 69% of people who gave this opinion in the previous survey. Furthermore, 56% revealed that they would be happy to have a large scale renewable development in their local area. Again this was an increase from the previous poll in which 55% gave this opinion. The upwards trend of these opinions can perhaps be attributed to the fact that more renewable energy developments have came online in the time between the two surveys. More people have had a chance to see the economic benefits of renewable energy development in terms of community contributions and job creation. As the positive impacts of renewable energy are felt more widely one can expect the upwards trend of such opinions to continue.

The survey broke down support levels for individual forms of renewable energy generation: 81% stated their support for solar energy, 72% for wave and tidal energy, 71% for offshore wind generation, 65% for onshore wind generation and 60% for biomass. It has been suggested that the reason  wave and tidal and offshore wind have polled so highly is due their relatively low visual impact as opposed to their cost effectiveness; a standard in which other technologies such as onshore wind rank far higher.

In contrast to the continuing support for renewable energy nuclear power saw its support amongst the public continue to decline. Only 37% of those involved in the poll gave their support to its use in the UK. The level of support for nuclear has declined of several quarterly surveys and one can perhaps expect this trend to continue given the continued presence of the Fukushima disaster in the news. 25% of those polled opposed the use of nuclear power (contrasted with the 5% who did not support nuclear) and 35% had no opinion. The decline in support for nuclear as well as the uncertainty surrounding the prospects of new nuclear plants being built indicates that renewables will very much remain key to UK government energy policy.

DECC has long maintained that it regards the future of UK energy generation to be the use of a variety of different energy sources; what is often referred as the ‘mixed portfolio’. This stance continues to have a strong level of support from the UK public with 81% of those polled giving their backing to this policy.

The poll has revealed some of the issues which DECC is facing in terms of public awareness. 74% of people polled commented that they had thought ‘a fair amount’ or indeed a lot about home energy efficiency. Despite this and the launch of the Green Deal this year 47% revealed that they had never heard of smart meters. More will need to be done in this area but it should be noted that this figure represents an improvement on the 53% who gave the same answer in the previous quarter. Additionally the widespread roll out of smart meters (all homes and businesses are expected to have smart meters installed by 2020) is not scheduled to begin until 2015.

The fact that there exists a majority consensus on climate change is also good news for the renewable industry with 66% of the public fairly or very concerned about the issue. 38% of those polled attributed climate change mainly or entirely to human causes. 42% felt that it was being caused by a combination of human and natural causes and only 12% giving the opinion that it was being caused mainly or solely due to natural developments. These results indicate that the debate on the widespread use of renewable energy is far better placed in the UK than it is in a country such as the United States where the climate change debate is far more divisive both publicly and politically. A consensus existing on climate change means that the debate can move forward to how best to address it; which renewable energy generation can play an extremely major part in doing.

Support for renewable energy remains widespread in the UK. It is our hope that we at ILI (Renewable Energy) can do our part to increase it.

 

ILI (Renewable Energy) at the Hypothesis Conference

We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) are delighted to announce that our Chief Executive Officer Mark Wilson will be appearing on the discussion panel of the Opening Plenary Session of the 10th annual Hypothesis Conference at Herriot Watt University on the 11th of June.

The Hypothesis Conference is being held on the 11th and 12th of June.

The Conference, which is being sponsored by the Scottish Government, will bring together attendees from more than 40 different countries to discuss hydrogen and fuel cells in-depth. Particular focus will be given to the role that Hydrogen Energy Storage will have on the Renewable Energy Industry over the next years.

It is expected that hydrogen storage will play an increasingly important role in the renewables industry as economies move away from traditional fossil fuel generation. For example, hydrogen has been touted as the transport fuel of the future. Increased use of hydrogen and battery power in automotive transport will be hugely important to meeting carbon emission reduction targets across Europe and the wider world.

Our CEO, Mark Wilson, will participate in the conference’s opening session alongside several leading political and industrial figures. The session will be chaired by Elizabeth Johnson, Director of the Scottish Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Association and Business Development Manager for Pure Energy. Other participants include Fergus Ewing MSP, Scottish Government Minister for Energy, Enterprise and Tourism, Sue Bruce, Chief Executive Officer for Edinburgh City Council, and Paul Lucchese, President of NERGHY (European Research Association on Hydrogen and Fuel Cells), Project Manager at CEA (Commissariat á l’energie atomique et aux énergies alternatives) and co-author of ‘Hydrogen, the post-oil Fuel?’. A prestigious panel across the board.

We at Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) feel we have a complete familiarity with the issues facing the UK’s renewable energy industry in terms of grid access and capacity. There are renewable energy developments across the country that may not be able to proceed due to there being no available or economically viable grid capacity.  But there are solutions available or being developed. Hydrogen could be a game changer for such developments; whether being produced to store energy for use elsewhere or being used as a transport fuel. Intelligent Land Investments (Renewable Energy) itself has a number of renewable energy sites under development where hydrogen is intended to play a key role. For example; in areas of the country such as the Inner Hebrides where grid access and capacity is severely limited. Such developments will be at the forefront of increasingly utilised off-grid solutions for renewable energy and will be essential to achieving both UK and Scottish Government renewable energy targets.

We are proud not only of our representation at the Hypothesis Conference but also the role we will to play in bringing it’s aims to fruition.

Good News for Scottish Renewables Industry

There was much good news for the Scottish Renewables Industry this week; not only was it revealed that Scotland’s interim renewable energy generation target has been surpassed but also a report was published which revealed the impact the fledgling industry is having on the country’s employment levels.

The Scottish Government had set a target for 31% of the country’s electric energy demand to be met by renewables by this year; currently renewables are providing 35% of the electricity used in the country. The 35% figure has been achieved by an increase in installed capacity in a variety of renewable technologies. For instance, in 2011 there was 7049 GWh (Giga-watt hours) of electricity produced from wind turbines. This was an increase of 45% from 2010 and more than double the amount generated from wind in 2007.

Hydro-electricity also saw it’s best ever year for electricity generation; producing 5310 GWh of energy. This was an increase of 62.6% from 2010 although it should be noted that 2010 was a year of comparatively low rain fall. However it was still an increase of 8.9% compared to 2009 levels; 2009 was hydro-electricity’s previous best year.

The news that the interim generation target had been surpassed was greeted with much enthusiasm. Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing remarked:

“It’s official – 2011 was a record breaker, with enough green electricity being produced in Scotland to comfortably beat our interim target. And Scotland met almost 40% of the UK’s renewable output in 2011, demonstrating how much the rest of the UK needs our energy. We are seeing great progress towards our goal of generating the equivalent of 100% of Scotland’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020.

“Projects representing £750 million of investment were switched on in 2011, with an investment pipeline of £46 billion. And since the turn of the year, we have seen Gamesa invest in Leith creating over 800 new jobs, the Green Investment Bank being head-quartered in Edinburgh and Samsung Heavy Industries announcing it will base its £100 million European offshore wind project in Methil, creating up to 500 jobs.

“Alongside securing those major developments, we have taken real steps to ensure that communities all over Scotland will benefit from the renewable energy generated in their area.

“Scotland is a genuine world leader in green energy and our targets reflect the scale of our natural resources, the strength of our energy capabilities and the value we place on creating new, sustainable industries.”

Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables:

“This is a fantastic achievement for our industry and for Scotland.

“When the interim target of 31 per cent was set it was seen as ambitious but yet again the renewables sector in Scotland has grown further and faster than predicted, achieving 35 per cent, and that’s why we are confident we can meet the 2020 target.

“These figures are further proof that this industry is a major part of our energy sector. As well as supporting 11,000 jobs in Scotland and helping attract massive investment, renewable energy is now delivering more than a third of the electricity consumed by Scottish households and businesses.

“Renewables is now a major part of our energy mix and a major part of our economy, and the sector is making a key contribution to the fight on climate change. Last year the sector displaced over 5 million tonnes of CO2 – around 10 per cent of Scotland’s total carbon emissions.

“There are many challenges ahead if we are to keep growing. Government must continue to focus on delivering grid connections, getting the right balance in the planning system, and supporting investment in clean energy. By doing so we will make further progress in cutting emissions and securing more jobs for the future.

Stan Blackley, chief executive of Friends of the Earth Scotland: “Our research has shown that, with some modest investment in energy efficiency  and demand reduction, Scotland could produce 130% of its electricity demand from renewable sources by 2020 and 180% by 2030. In doing so we could ensure a reliable supply of clean electricity and phase out Scotland’s thermal power stations.”

In other news, Scottish Renewables released a report detailing the number of jobs that the Scottish Renewables industry is currently supporting.

In total there are around 11,000 people in Scotland employed in jobs supporting the renewables industry. The majority of these jobs are in the direct supply chain; 8701 to be exact. 1526 people are directly employed in renewable energy development and a further 909 people are employed in academia and the wider public sector. When broken down by sector onshore wind is the largest employer with 2235 employees; 943 are employed in offshore wind, and 1410 are employed in bioenergy. A further 3223 are employed in the National Grid and it’s supply chain.

Niall Stuart, chief executive of Scottish Renewables issued the following statement to accompany the report:

“The report shows that renewables are not only a major part of our energy mix, they are now a major part of our economy and our daily working lives, supporting more than 11,000 jobs across Scotland.

“The report also highlights that for every job in renewable energy development, there are around six more in the direct supply chain.

“These numbers are actually just the tip of the iceberg, with many thousands more employees supported indirectly by the growth of the renewables sector which have not been captured by this study.

“Renewable energy development is bringing in much needed investment to the wider economy, which is providing opportunities for businesses and people from a wide range of sectors; whether it be electricians, tradesmen and skippers of work boats, or lawyers, consultants, civil engineers and architects.

“These jobs are spread throughout the country, in both urban and rural areas: Glasgow, Fife and Edinburgh are already established as important centres for offshore wind development; Aberdeen is a major centre for offshore engineering; the Highlands and Islands are leading the development of the emerging wave and tidal sector; and bioenergy is providing jobs across rural Scotland from Lochaber to Morayshire to Dumfries and Galloway.

“A clear pattern emerges from speaking to employers that these numbers are expected to grow over the year ahead and beyond, as the relatively new industry continues to expand. Gamesa’s decision last week to come to Leith reinforces the scale of this opportunity.

“As a growth sector, it also offers new opportunities for the existing workforce and business base in parts of the economy which have been hit by the downturn.

“With continued political support, the right market framework, the right balance in the planning system, and investment in grid and ports and harbour infrastucture, we will ensure the creation of many thousands more jobs in this exciting sector.”

The announcements made this week demonstrate the great strides being made by the Scottish Renewables industry in terms of attracting investment, creating jobs and generating ever greater amounts of electricity.

Chris Huhne comes out fighting for Renewable Energy

Chris Huhne’s speech to the RenewableUK Conference

“Our location is rather appropriate. Manchester was the thumping heart of the industrial revolution. This was the world’s first industrial city. It is home to the first industrial canal, and the world’s oldest railway station.

The foundations for our prosperity were laid here. The engines which drove Britain’s extraordinary economic growth were built here – from the spinning mule to the steam engine.

We could not have picked a better place to discuss their modern equivalents.

Revolution

Renewable energy technologies will deliver a third industrial revolution. Its impact will be every bit as profound as the first two. My argument today is a simple one: the revolution has already begun.

From the Western Isles to the Isle of Wight – across the length and breadth of Britain. New companies are creating new jobs, delivering the technologies that will power our future.

As we look to pull ourselves out of recovery and back to prosperity, renewable energy can light the way.

Today, I want to look at the contribution renewable energy is making to our economy right now. The investment it is sparking, the jobs it is delivering, the growth it is creating.

And I will look at what we can to do encourage that growth – and sustain those jobs.

But first, I want to take aim at the faultfinders and curmudgeons who hold forth on the impossibility of renewables – the unholy alliance of climate sceptics and armchair engineers who are selling Britain’s ingenuity short.

Renewables are too expensive”, they cry. “They cannot deliver energy at scale.

“They are uneconomic, unreliable and unwanted.”

It is time to retire these myths.

Money

Let us start with the most egregious: that renewables are too expensive; that they could not exist without public subsidy; that they are held up by government cash alone.

Last year, global investment in renewable energy rose by 32% to $211 billion. And $142 billion of that was new financial investment, which excludes government and corporate R&D.

Renewables are grabbing a large and growing share of new energy investment.

Yes, some of that investment is attracted by public subsidy. But globally, subsidies for fossil fuels outstrip subsidies for renewables by a factor of five.

We subsidise renewables to bring on deployment and reduce costs. And we’ve seen some remarkable successes.

Right now, support for renewable energy costs the average household less than sixpence a day. But decades of underinvestment in energy efficiency and reliance on fossil fuels costs us much, much more.

About half of the average household bill goes on wholesale gas and electricity costs. These costs are highly volatile, and as Ofgem make clear, the higher gas price is the real reason bills have been going up over the past eight years.

That is why we need a flexible energy portfolio.

And that’s where the counter-argument of the climate sceptics falls down. “Forget wind farms”, they say. “Shale gas will be our saviour. We should abandon everything else.”

I don’t believe government should pick winners. And if you do, I refer you to a Department of Trade and Industry white paper from 2004 that estimated oil would reach $23 per barrel by 2010. Even last year my own Department forecast oil at $80 per barrel. Brent crude is currently trading at $110 per barrel.

Lashing our economy to a single energy source is a risky business.

We don’t yet know the full extent of shale gas here; how economically or environmentally viable it will be to extract, or by when. At best, it is years away.

Unconventional gas has not yet lit a single room nor cooked a single roast dinner in the UK.

Yet those who clamour loudest for “realistic” energy policies would have us hitch our wagon to shale alone. Shale gas may be significant. It is exciting. But we do not yet know enough to bet the farm on it. Faced with such uncertainty we do what any rational investor does with their own pension fund – we spread our risks, we have a portfolio.

Capacity

The second fallacy is that renewables cannot deliver energy reliably or at scale.

But today, more than 10 gigawatts of our electricity capacity is renewable. That’s enough to power six million homes.

And with every passing year, renewable energy takes over another percentage point of global electricity capacity.

In 2007, 5% of the world’s electricity was renewable. In 2008, it was 6%. In 2009, 7%. And last year, 8%. And it’s still growing. More than a third of the new capacity added last year – some 60GW – was from non-hydro renewables. The message is clear: when we build new power plants, increasingly we choose renewables.

In fact, renewable energy can make our system more secure – not less. According to the International Energy Agency, renewables increase the diversity of electricity sources, making energy systems more flexible – and more resistant to shocks.

Yes, some renewable technologies are intermittent. But the Committee on Climate Change estimates that even with 65% of our energy provided by renewables in 2030, intermittency may cost just 1p per kilowatt hour.

And providing back-up for intermittent renewables is just not that expensive. We already swing from a low of demand of 40GW to a high of 80GW every day. Peaking plant has long been part of our mix. Without such backup the nation’s kettles would be cold in the Coronation St ad breaks.

Every year, renewable energy is attracting more investment and delivering more capacity. It is also gathering more support. One hundred and nineteen countries have renewable energy targets or policies – up from an estimated 55 just six years ago.

Attractiveness

That brings me to the third great misconception about renewable energy: that it is unwanted.

Earlier this year, Ipsos MORI polled a thousand UK adults on which energy source they preferred. By a clear margin, people favoured renewables.

Eighty-eight per cent of those polled viewed solar power favourably; 82% for wind, 76% for hydroelectric, 57% for biomass.

The highest placed traditional energy source for electricity was gas, at 56%.

Seventy-three per cent of people would support a new wind farm in their area, as opposed to just 21% for a new coal plant.

When you get behind the headlines, you find that support for renewable energy is strong – and growing.

And so is its contribution to our economy.

Economy

Across the United Kingdom, renewables are providing jobs, investment and growth.

And the numbers are really starting to add up.

Over the last financial year, nearly 4,500 new jobs were created in the low-carbon sector, which grew by 4.3%.

Fifty-one thousand and six hundred companies in Britain provide low-carbon and environmental goods and services. Exports are now £11.3 billion, up 3.9%.

By Christmas we will have 3GW of biomass installed, and by Easter 5GW of onshore wind. In the past seven months alone, plans for £1.69 billion of investment and 9,500 jobs have been announced.

Here in the North West, more than 950 jobs: 340 at the Siemens Renewable Energy Engineering Centre, just a few miles down the road; up to 600 over the next decade at Cammell Laird; three new Farmgen developments planned in Cumbria, with hundreds of jobs.

This is the sharp reality of green growth. At a time when closures and cuts dominate the news cycle, next-generation industries are providing jobs just as in the recovery after the last deep depression in 1929 to 1931. It is new and innovative industries that grow fastest.

Renewable energy is surging out across the United Kingdom, blazing a trail of start-ups and jobs.

Across the Pennines, in Yorkshire, 2,250 jobs – £130 million in Real Ventures’ biomass plant, employing up to 285 people.

And in the North East, more than 1,400 jobs – TAG Energy Solutions, delivering up to 400 jobs in the Billingham turbine factory.

North of the border, one of the jewels in our renewable energy crown – £160 million of new investment and more than 420 Scottish jobs.

Across the Irish Sea, 450 jobs in Belfast Harbour thanks to DONG Energy’s Duddon Sands offshore wind farm; 1,400 jobs in Wales.

In the heart of England, 100 jobs in the East Midlands – and 50 in the West; 120 in East Anglia.

Two thousand and two hundred jobs in the South East, supported by £172m – from Vestas, the Green Home Company, and more. And at Tilbury, the first UK coal plant to convert completely to biomass, safeguarding livelihoods.

Across Britain, from the industrial heartlands to the northernmost extremities, new energy technologies are delivering jobs and growth just when we need them most.

Capitalising on our geographical, physical and human advantages; Scotland’s research and natural resources. The Solent’s marine expertise. Manufacturing in the North East. Technology development in the M4 corridor.

Renewable energy doesn’t just have the potential to bring Britain’s economy back to life – it has already started.

Our job now is to allow it to really flourish. How? By setting clear and coherent objectives. And using regulation and closely targeted support to hit them.

Targets

By the end of this decade, we must cut our carbon emissions by 34% on 1990 levels. By the end of the next decade, they must be halved.

To hit our EU renewable energy target, we must generate 30% of our electricity from renewables by 2020. That means a fourfold increase in deployment – turning our back on an inheritance that ranked us as the dunce in class, 25th out of 27 EU countries for renewables.

Growth on that kind of scale will not be easy. It will require tough decisions, clear thinking, and tightly focused support.

And everyone has a part to play.

Industry must carry on making the case for renewables. Engaging with communities – and answering its critics by delivering renewable schemes that save money and save carbon.

Government must break through the barriers that are stopping new schemes being built, overcoming the financial, planning and delivery hurdles that can hold up progress on renewables.

And together we must do a better job of communicating. That means engaging with the communities who stand to benefit, and the investors who don’t yet see the promise that renewable energy holds.

We must ensure the silent majority aren’t drowned out by the vocal minority – those opposed to renewable energy in all its forms.

That means making sure communities that host renewables benefit more directly. That’s what our proposals on business rate retention are for. And that’s why we were pleased to endorse Renewable UK’s Protocol on Community Benefits.

My challenge to you today is this: keep it up. Continue to develop and publicise new ways of rewarding those communities most affected by development.

Opportunities

Because, as the report you are publishing today shows, the opportunities are simply too great to ignore.

Globally, around half a trillion dollars has been earmarked for green stimulus spending. We will need to spend a hundred times that by 2050 to hit our climate targets.

We must be realistic. The pressure on the public finances means we cannot support everything at the level we otherwise would.

So we must ensure we send clear market signals: deploying public finance intelligently, and breaking through barriers to growth.

Our starting point is simple. We have a responsibility to the taxpayer to get the most carbon and cost-effective electricity generation online…

In total, our low-carbon and energy-saving policies will reduce household enegy bills compared with a ‘do nothing policy’.

Markets

Our approach to renewable energy must encourage investment and deliver value for money for consumers.

We are doing three things to help.

First, we are using policy to create new markets that will stimulate new investment – like the Green Deal, our unprecedented energy efficiency programme. It will bring jobs, growth and opportunities right across the country.

Or the world’s first Renewable Heat Incentive. It will create a whole new market in renewable heat. Not just big industrial and commercial installations, but also homes and businesses, too.

We expect green capital investment in heat to rise by £7.5 billion by 2020, supporting 150,000 manufacturing, supply chain and installer jobs.

So the first thing we’re doing is to create new markets; the second is to make existing markets work better.

This is why we published in the summer our plans for the reform of the electricity market, which will deliver secure, low-carbon and affordable electricity.

We’ve listened to the renewables industry in drawing up the reforms. That’s why we support a contract for difference model tailored to renewables and not auctioning in the near future…

By offering certainty and clarity, we can secure the scale of investment we need. And by attracting in new investors, we will also increase competition in the UK energy market.

Benefits

Our third priority is to capture the benefits of the low-carbon revolution. That means ensuring more clean technologies are designed and manufactured here.

We have a blossoming low-carbon goods and services sector, which seems to be thriving even in tough times.

But China leads the world in solar photovoltaic panel production; Germany on energy efficient housing design.

We’re missing a trick unless we start supporting low-carbon manufacturing here in Britain – and grow the green supply chain: locking in profits and expertise, and creating the exports that will keep Britain competitive.

Yes, climate change is a manmade disaster. Yes, the UK is only 2% of global carbon emissions. But if we grasp the opportunity now our businesses and economy can be much more than 2% of the solution.

We are not going to save our economy by turning our back on renewable energy.

This has been at the heart of Liberal Democrat policy for decades and it is something the Deputy Prime Minister, the Business Secretary, and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury instinctively understand.

But this goes beyond any one party. I know the Prime Minister agrees, which is why he is putting so much effort in to securing offshore wind manufacturing in the UK. And it is something I know my predecessor Ed Miliband understands.

It is this three-party consensus that makes the UK such a good place to invest.

It wasn’t always like that. It is nothing short of a national disgrace that in the 1980s the UK lost our leading wind research position to Denmark, because government refused to support the industry.

It is a mistake I am determined that this Coalition Government will not make again.

So I can today assure you that this Government has resolved that we will be the largest market in Europe for offshore wind.

We already have more installed offshore wind than anywhere else in the world and we are determined to remain at the forefront.

That’s why we set aside £200 million for the development of low-carbon technologies, including £60m for supporting major new manufacturing projects on the English coast.

We will be the best place to invest in marine power, and we will be the fastest growing country in the EU when it comes to renewable deployment.

That’s why the Green Investment Bank has been capitalised with three billion pounds, to help unlock private sector investment at scale. For the first time ever, Britain will join every other leading developed economy in having a public development bank focused on key economic goals…

Non-financial

So from the structure of the electricity market to research funding, we’re breaking through the economic barriers. But we’re also focusing on non-financial obstacles.

We’re reforming the planning system, to ensure it’s no longer a brake on sustainable development.

The energy National Policy Statements set out the national need for new renewable energy infrastructure. We have introduced a fast-track process for consents. And we will close the Infrastructure Planning Commission and return decisions on major energy infrastructure to democratically elected ministers.

Over 1,000 pages of local planning policy for England are being replaced by clearer and more streamlined National Planning Policy Framework. And the Government will consult on measures for a ‘planning guarantee’.

We’re also working to improve grid connections. The connect and manage regime is now up and running. Network companies are now looking much further ahead in their planning and engaging more effectively with stakeholders. Together, this will help the network acts as a facilitator rather than an obstacle to renewable generation.

And a few months ago, we published the Renewables Roadmap – setting out for the first time how we will overcome barriers to deployment.

It’s a comprehensive action plan to accelerate the UK’s deployment and use of renewable energy.

Conclusion

In many ways, Britain can lay claim to be the home of renewable energy.

It is thought that the oldest tidal mill in the world once stood across the river Fleet, in London. The white cliffs of Dover looked over a tide mill that was recorded in the Domesday Book.

And 130 years ago, we connected the world’s first public electricity supply, in Godalming, Surrey.

It did not burn coal, or gas.

No, the power plant in question was a Siemens generator driven by 100% clean, renewable power: a watermill on the River Wey.

When Britain began its journey towards electrification, renewable energy was the future.

But we ended up choosing another path. This time, things will be different.

We will not heed the naysayers or the green economy deniers.

With over £200 billion worth of energy infrastructure needed by the end of the decade, this is our golden chance to deliver a greener future.”

Aviation Biofuels: A Future Necessity

Aviation is an industry which is coming under increasing pressure from the ever rising costs of fossil fuels and the politics of carbon emission reduction and taxation. Given that the aviation industry is currently completely dependent on fossil fuels and that solutions to land based transport problems such as electricity and hydrogen cannot apply there is an increasing interest in the development of new forms of biofuel.

At 2:25pm on the 6th of October more than 230 passengers departed from Birmingham Airport with Lanzarote as their destination. This flight was notable as it was part-powered by biofuel. One of the planes engines was running on a newly developed aviation biofuel – a 50/50 mix of standard Jet A1 fuel and “Hydroprocessed Esters and Fatty Acids” (produced using cooking oil). No modification to the engine was required to allow it to run on the biofuel. This biofuel was supplied to TUI Travel UK and Ireland by the Dutch company SkyNRG. This new biofuel has been approved as sustainable by both the WWF (Worldwide Wildlife Fund) and the Roundtable on Sustainable ‘Biofuels (an international monitoring group for alternative fuels). However the problems lingering on the horizon for aviation have not yet dispersed. This biofuel is significantly more expensive than standard aviation fuel and it is difficult to see how cooking oil could ever be produced in enough quantities to supply worldwide air travel. This is without even broaching the subject of the damage increased biofuel production could inflict on world markets and the price of food.

However TUI Travel insists that biofuels derived from cooking oil are only being used as a demonstration of how biofuels can be used in aviation; with other biofuels produced from sources such as algae expected to hold more long term potential. Never the less it has been announced that daily flights using this biofuel will begin in 2012.

Reactions to this test flight were somewhat mixed. Captain Phil Copnall, who piloted the flight, commented that: “The flight landed on schedule and the reaction from our customers on the flight was overwhelmingly positive.”

Christian Cull, Communications Director of TUI UK & Ireland remarked:

“We realise that we won’t please everyone, and that at present the aviation biofuel supply chain is not perfect.

“We are sincere in our commitment and are proud to be flying with biofuel. Whilst these are early days, we are in this for the long haul because we believe it is the right thing to do.”

The company released the following official statement:

“The aviation industry fully supports the move for all modes of transport to more sustainable energy sources.

“Whilst we are in a transition phase, Thomson Airways [a subsidiary of TUI Travel] believes that sustainable liquid fuel should be prioritised for aviation as there is no near term alternative, such as electric or hydrogen for ground-based vehicles.”

Aviation Minister Theresa Villiers:

“The British government believes that sustainable biofuels have a role to play in efforts to tackle climate change, particularly in sectors where no other viable low carbon energy source has been identified – as is the case with aviation.”

The Biofuels Campaigner at Friends of the Earth UK, Kenneth Richter reacted:

Biofuels won’t make flying any greener – their production is wrecking rainforests, pushing up food prices and causing yet more climate-changing emissions.

“The government must curb future demand for flights by halting airport expansion, promoting video conferencing, and developing faster, better and affordable rail services.”

On Tuesday the 11th of October Sir Richard Branson announced that Virgin Atlantic planes will be using a newly developed “green” aviation fuel. The proposed fuel – which will be produced in partnership with the New Zealand based biofuel company Lanzatech – will be manufactured from waste gases produced during the industrial production of steel. These waste gases will be extracted, fermented and then put through a process of chemical conversion. Currently such gases are burned up during steel production and released into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide. Lanzatech indicated that they estimated that their process could be applied to 65% of the worlds steel mills and could possibly also be used in metals processing and and chemicals industries.

The necessary technology is currently being piloted in New Zealand with demo flights expected to be carried out within the next 12 to 18 months. Lanzatech chief executive Jennifer Holmgren announced that she was “confident” that commercial production would be up and running in China by 2014. Virgin Atlantic plans to initially use this form of biofuel on it’s routes from Heathrow to Delhi and Shanghai before eventually rolling it out across the rest of its fleet.

During the announcement of his plans Sir Richard Branson stated:

“We were the first commercial airline to test a biofuel flight and we continue to lead the airline industry as the pioneer of sustainable aviation.

“This partnership to produce a next generation low-carbon aviation fuel is a major step towards radically reducing our carbon footprint, and we are excited about the savings that this technology could help us achieve.

“With oil running out, it is important that new fuel solutions are sustainable and, with the steel industry alone able to deliver over 15 billion gallons of jet fuel annually, the potential is very exciting.

“This new technology is scalable, sustainable and can be commercially introduced at a cost comparable to conventional jet fuel.”

Friends of the Earth’s transport campaigner Richard Dyer released the following statement:

“On the face of it, it does look promising in that they are getting round the issues of biofuels and land use. It is a very long way from commercial use. It has got to be very safe and cheap enough for airlines to be interested in using it.”

The potential biofuels hold for the aviation industry is obvious.

As Sir Richard Branson observed on his blog biofuels could “turn aviation from a dirty industry to one of the cleanest”. However, there are numerous challenges to come. The fuel proposed by Virgin Atlantic appears to hold huge potential but at this point in time it remains just that; potential. Other more developed biofuels are problematic for the worlds food supply as they compete for the same arable land. But if such problems can be overcome then a major reduction in greenhouse gas emissions can be achieved.

Sustainability, Waste and Whisky

Scotch whisky is not only Scotland’s biggest export it is now being used to power some of the country’s homes. Diageo, the global alcohol conglomerate, has announced plans to consturct a biomass power plant at it’s distillery complex in Glenlossie. This follows investments in similar schemes at other Diageo sites in Fife and Roseisle.

This new plant will be fueled by a combination of wood-chip pellets and graff. Graff is spent grain; a waste product from the distilling process. The use of graff to produce more whisky will reduce money spent on power for the distiller as well as making operations at the Glenlossie site sustainable. It is expected that the plant will use 30,000 tons of graff per annum which will be left over from the production of approximately 3.2 million gallons of whisky. Diageo has stated that this will result in a reduction in carbon emissions of 6,000 tons a year which is equivalent to removing 1,600 family cars from the road.

Brian Higgs, Diageo director of malt distilling released the following statement: “With Roseisle distillery we showed what can be achieved in using the natural by-products of our industry to produce green energy.

“Diageo is committed to reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and to reducing its reliance on fossil fuels and to reducing our overall impact on the environment. The plan for Glenlossie is another significant step in our journey towards that sustainable future for Scotch whisky production.”

Neill Stuart, the Chief Executive of Scottish Renewables stated that Scotland’s “world famous whisky industry is now increasingly looking to renewable fuel sources to power its operations with Diageo very much leading the way.

“Renewable heat and small-scale renewables have the potential to help all sorts of businesses generate new revenue or reduce costs while cutting carbon emissions.”

Additionally the Combination of Rothes Distillers announced earlier in the year that they will be working in partnership with Helius Energy (a British Biomass company) to build a biofuel power plant in Speyside (one of Scotland’s traditional whisky heartlands ) which will be the first such facility in the country to provide power to both industry and to the public. The planned facility is intended to power 9,000 homes in the local area by burning a combination of draff and wood pellets.

This news has not met with an entirely positive reaction. WWF (Worldwide Wildlife Fund) Scotland have questioned how the wood pellets will be sourced, arguing that unless the pellets were obtained from a local and sustainable source then any carbon reductions achieved from reduced usage of fossil fuels would be cancelled out by emissions produced by importing them. Sam Gardner, the organisations climate policy officer said: “It is using waste products from our whisky industry which is an eminently sensible thing to do, and is producing heat both for whisky production and for the local community. We would want to see assurance, however, that the biomass was sustainably sourced.”

The shift to renewable power comes at a time when the whisky industry is seeing strong growth in exports. For the first half of the year exports reached a value of £1.8 billion, an increase of 22% on the first half of 2010. The US is the industry’s top export market by value, shipments to this market were up 14% to £276.6 million. France was the biggest market by volume, importing 94.8 million 70cl bottles which was an increase of 18%.

However the biggest rises were seen in emerging markets such as Central and Southern America (which saw an increase of 49% to £214.4 million), Taiwan (increased by 45% to £70.3 million) and Singapore (increased by 64% to £148.5 million). The chief executive of the Scotch Whisky Association, Gavin Hewitt attributed these large increases to “a growing mixture of affluence and aspiration” amongst an emerging middle class as well as “recent breakthroughs in trade relations”.

It is right then that Scotland’s biggest exporting industry should be involved in the country’s renewable revolution.Such a key part of the Scottish economy should and is insulating itself against the increasingly volatile fossil fuel markets.

 

Unsustainable Biofuels

The ongoing famine in the Horn of Africa has raised a number of questions for the international community on issues such as aid dependence, population growth, neo-colonialism and, perhaps most relevant to us, the increasingly unsustainable nature of biofuels. As discussed previously on this blog biofuels have been partly responsible for the ever increasing price of food worldwide. Indeed the World Bank identified biofuels as one of the causes in food price rises in a recent report as more and more arable land, in both the developed and developing world, is turned over to the production of biofuels: “Another factor that adds to the potential upward pressure on the price of maize is the diversion into production of biofuels.”

America is currently the world’s largest single producer of corn. But an increasing amount of this corn is not entering the food markets but being diverted to domestic ethanol production. Indeed current projections estimate American corn ethanol production at 14billion gallons (53 billion litres) for the year. More corn is being grown, US Department of Agriculture figures show that 92 million acres of corn have been planted this year, an increase of 4 million acres from last year, but this increased production is not being felt in the food markets.

Many farmers are now selling the majority of their corn harvests to ethanol production plants. 58% of the corn grown in Iowa (the biggest corn producing state in the US) this year is expected to be used to produce ethanol. Some farmers, such as Arlyn Schipper who owns a 1,619 hectare farm, expect to sell as much as 70% of their crop to these plants.

As a result of this ethanol boom there is less of crops such as soy-beans and wheat being grown as more and more farmers decide to cash in on the high price of corn, adding further pressures to global food markets. Marie Brill, an analyst at ActionAid remarked that”Farmers are tearing up any little bit of land they have and going to corn.”

In the near future even less corn could be entering world food markets from the US. A Swiss company, Syngent, has developed a genetically modified strain of corn, which is already in use in America, that is more easily and efficiently converted to ethanol. However, this comes at the cost of rendering the corn unsuitable for use in food production. A gene has been added to the strain which quickens the breakdown of corn starches to ethanol (normally a process which has to be induced in the factory) but which means that these starches can no longer be used as a thickener in food, or that corn chips can be produced. Brill commented that: “It’s going to put even more pressure on a really tight market. It will be really tempting to farmers to take on this new, more effective ethanol form of corn.” What is more worrying is that some farmers have raised the possibility of cross-contamination  of the new strain with regular strains of corn.

It could be argued, however, that the problems corn ethanol presents for world food markets may be addressed in the future. There is a growing consensus among environmentalists and development charities that biofuels such as corn ethanol are counter-productive to the shift to a more sustainable form of both agriculture and energy generation. Corn is rather impactful on the environment; it requires more pesticides and fertilisers than a crop such as soy beans and uses large amounts of water and energy whilst it is being converted to ethanol. Some groups, due to these facts, have argued that corn ethanol does not offer a meaningful or significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions Bill Frees of the US Centre for Food Safety commented that: “The research is very clear by now. Turning corn into ethanol is not environmentally sound. It’s really an environmental disaster.” Frees also argued that corn ethanol could only replace, at most, 7% of energy supplied in the US by oil by 2020.

Corn ethanol production has been subsidised by the American Government for around 30 years. Indeed it was Jimmy Carter, in his term as President, that originally introduced the policy. Although the production of corn ethanol was slow to take off it has now developed into a boom. One that is possibly coming to an end, an opinion voiced by Jeremy Martin a member of the Union of Concerned Scientists: “I think we are at a turning point. We are full to the gills with corn ethanol.” Some campaign groups have argued that corn ethanol and its subsidies are now holding back better and more sustainable biofuels. This was an opinion voiced by Shelia Karpf, an analyst for the Environmental Working Group: “Corn ethanol continues to eat up the market and even eat up grant money that could be used to spur the development of cellulose and advanced biofuels.”

Subsidies may well be scrapped but more as a result of the US Governments current financial problems than a change of energy policy. Some expect $6 billion worth of corn ethanol subsidies to be scrapped by Congress as part of the sovereign debt negotiations. Such a move could reduce worldwide food prices slightly: “It won’t make a big difference for American farmers but it could make a huge difference for impoverished countries.” – Marie Brill

Corn ethanol has raised a number of questions about biofuels. Corn ethanol is increasingly looking like an unsustainable biofuel due to the impact it has on world food markets and it’s perhaps questionable status as a renewable source of energy. Biofuels are taking arable land away from food production at a time when the world population is expanding rapidly and more arable land and more efficient agricultural practises are needed. It is clear that biofuels can only have a limited role to play in an renewable energy market. Other forms of generation, such as wind and solar, have far less impact on the quality of life, even the viability of life, for many of the worlds population.

The cost of bioenergy: food or fuel

The price of food is soaring. Despite deforestation and improvements in fertilization, irrigation and other farming practices the price of feeding oneself continues to rise. A number of reasons have been offered for this: the rise in the global population, large shifts to a western diet – heavy meat consumption (which is far more intensive to produce due to the need for animal feed etc), extreme weather, misguided government policy, panic buying by importers, speculation on the financial markets, pro-longed under-investment in the agricultural sector. All, undoubtedly play their part. But, so does the shift to renewable energy supplies. Biofuels are in increasing demand, which means more land that could be used to grow food is being devoted to them.

This year it is estimated that 40% of the United State’s corn crop will go into car engines after it is turned to ethanol. Considering that the US is the worlds largest producer and exporter of corn this is huge amount of produce that is being lost to the food markets. The, subsidized, production of biofuel from corn is increasing rapidly. Ten years ago only 7% of the corn crop was being used to make biofuels. The rapid increase in biofuel production and consumption has had a direct impact on the price of the weekly food shop.

This rapid increase is also being seen in the United Kingdom. 18% of biofuels used in the UK are being produced from corn and wheat. Two staple foods, particularly in the developing world. Just over a year ago hardly any of these types of biofuel were being used in the UK and just over a year ago the cost of food was far cheaper.

The International Monetary Fund observed in 2008 that biofuels accounted for 1.5% of the global liquid fuel supply for the year but also nearly half of the increase in food crop consumption. It is is important to understand where the majority of these crops are being produced; the developing world. Increasing amounts of arable land in areas such as Africa are being turned over to biofuels; which are invariably being produced for export to the developed world, frequently by multinational corporations from the developed world. Less food being planted leads to an increase in food imports and an increase in the global market prices for foodstuffs.

Increased prices for food and an increase in the demand for biofuels are occurring at the same time. The European Union has set a target for 10% of transport fuels to be biofuels by 2020 whilst the World Bank has estimated that between June and December 2010 an additional 44 million people fell below the poverty line because of food price rises. The World Bank President Robert Zoellick has called for the world to “put food first”. It is clear that biofuels cannot be relied upon as a large scale fuel source in the future. Increased demand will lead to increased prices for both biofuels and food.

However, this is a problem that is beginning to be acknowledged by the governments of the world. The Global Bioenergy Partnership has been formed by the G8 Countries, 5 emerging economies and 13 International organisations and has agreed guidelines for the production of biofuel that doesn’t affect food prices or contribute to climate change. The formation of such an organisation indicates that currently the biofuel industry is unsustainable.

It is clear that the biofuels currently being produced and consumed are having a negative impact on the price of food. Because of this it would be a mistake to rely on them as a source of energy. Other renewable sources, such as wind or solar do not come with such a heavy price.