Shock at the death of a stalwart campaigner

The death of Richard Brown on 3rd July, sent shockwaves through the whole of Labour International and those of us in the GND campaign and UK2Zero especially. Only a short while before we learned of his passing many of us were working with Richard, enjoying his authoritative contributions to meetings and he had seemed in good health. He will be sorely missed and we send sincere condolences to his family and many friends and colleagues.

A memorial celebration of Richard’s life will be held in Basel on 24th September. Details are in the flyer below, but please note the link to register does not work.

Click here if you wish to register to be kept updated.

Colleagues in Labour International have written an obituary for Richard, which you can find below:

Waste Haste?

Energy from Waste is on the rise again. I recall many moons ago publicizing the innovative Wakefield Waste-Derived-Fuel plant. Now London and others are following suit decades later, incinerating non-recyclable wastes in incinerators with waste heat capture. This is certainly done on the continent and conceivably lower carbon than landfill sites and WRAP have given the practice their green seal of approval.

But now big plastic waste generators like Coca Cola are teaming up with cement giants like Holcim. They are dressing up in climate-saviour attire, clearing plastic waste, sometimes being paid to so do, then incinerating it as free fuel in cement kilns.

But lets just think about this – is it really an environmental gain to burn toxic emitting plastic waste?

Local Electricity Bill Campaign Update

Nearly 50% of the House now back the bill. It doesn’t matter
what Party your MP represents. We need their support to reach
50% .
Let’s hold Greg Hands, Minister for Energy, to his words. He told
the House that he and the government ‘support the broad
intentions of the Bill’
Power for People‘ who drafted the bill and head up the campaign
report that Energy Dept. staff are to work with them on the Bill.
Steve asks that we should make Hands ‘ walk the talk’ and
carry-on lobbying for more MP support.
Uk2zero will certainly be asking the Minister about work he
and his staff are doing on the Bill.

Beyond the Local Electricity Bill

Continued Russian aggression against Ukraine intensifies
UK concern over present and future energy security.
Johnson talks of mega wind farms , loans for heat pumps,
dodgy deals with dictators of the Middle East.

We say heat and power are two distinct commodities: –

We say power-up with diverse mixes of locally available
renewables: geothermal, hydro, marine, solar, wind,
low carbon industrial waste combustion; or use waste industrial
heat to power systems for weather-proof generation
distributed in interconnected local grids. All limit damaging disruptions.

Save heat loss via sustainable building design, using both manufactured and
living green insulation, plus recycled. Harness waste heat from
coal mines, underground train and sewer tunnels. Produce it
by non-recyclable waste, low carbon processed sewerage and
wood biomass combustion. Distribute it via local District Heating
networks.

Read our Local Renewable Heat and Power for Britain
discussion paper – out very soon!

The War in Ukraine makes alleviating the Triple Energy Crisis even more urgent

Renewables are the only way forward

The Renewable Route out of our Triple Energy Crisis: Decarbonisation, Affordability and Security in 2022 Britain

There exists an urgent need for progressives to determine and pursue a local green path out of our current Triple Energy Crisis.  We need affordable, sustainable and secure green energy  – yesterday. Britain is locked within a Triple Energy Crisis. Price, insecurity and carbonization. Price hikes breed deepening fuel poverty. Energy insecurity and rising carbon emissions hit headlines.

Domestic dependence upon Russian Energy imports rushed centre stage almost alongside Russian troop invasion of Ukraine. Energy security consideration has been catapulted to the forefront as  Europe’s heavy reliance upon Russian fossil fuel imports has been highlighted.  Once, mere weeks ago, people were alarmed at Putin’s LPG  redirection back into India.  Fears were expressed that Western political clout was being compromised in the face of dependency on Russian energy. Would Russia cut supplies in the face of sanctions protesting hostilities against Ukraine ?  Now Russia has invaded Ukraine.   Sanctions intensify daily. Energy markets are spooked.  She remains one of the world’s largest petrol, natural gas and coal producers and any retaliatory reduction in her energy exports could be catastrophic. 

Presently Russia supplies 70% of Europe’s total oil, gas and coal consumption. She provides 41% of its natural gas, 27% of its crude oil and liquids separated from  natural gas and 41% of the total and 47% of the coal. She exports around 5 billion barrels of crude daily:  20% to China; 60% to Europe.

Sixty million barrels of strategic oil reserves will now be released in answer to Putin’s invasion: 30 million from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve; 30 million from the other thirty International Energy Agency (IEA), countries. It’s been presented both as a response to price instability, and a means of ping- up pre-existing supply shortages distinct from importation. As IEA Director Fatih Birol  recognised ‘global energy security is under threat’.

Scrabbling around for other natural gas suppliers is only a partial solution. Little thought went into constructing a planned energy future to succeed north sea oil and natural gas and so we are becoming trapped in a viscous circle.  Carbonisation triggers more and  more extreme weather events, disrupting our centralised energy grid, disconnecting rising numbers of consumers; increasing prices and fuel  poverty and therefore ill-health and NHS demand.

Renewables are now seen as inescapably integral to energy security and reliability as well as a sustainable energy future. Luckily we have under-sung energy resources.    Cork University has just published a report which reveals extensive roof-top solar potential that can be developed without reducing supplies of cropland.  The greater part exists in ‘The South’; but much remains untouched in ‘The North’. Extensive wind power potential, especially offshore, remains. Marine wave and short-range tidal has yet to be fully exploited.  Geothermal is deep drilled in Southampton, found  in granite in the South—West; and more widely distributed limestone karst, determinedly harnessed in Basel.  

These can go further than is commonly believed. Fifty percent  of the demand for energy is for heat not power and enormous quantities of heat still escape from domestic and industrial buildings. Retrofitting can’t happen quickly enough. Nor can recycling energy presently wasted in industrial buildings, hospitals, sports centres and data centres. Disused coal mine tunnels are flooded with warmed water, sewer waste heat is being harnessed in Kingston, Surrey; hi-energy industries waste heat energy at their fingertips.

Local renewable energy has much to offer: heat, power, skilled jobs, local enterprise, enriching local wealth, improving local health, enhancing community wealth building and democratic opportunities. Community and municipal energy projects expand to meet the demand for affordable heat and power, to cut carbon emissions, to enhance local energy security and resilience. 

Legislative proposals slowly gain support – one-third of MPs in the House, so far, for a community energy enterprise renewable Local Electricity Bill, now ,attracting department of Energy interest. Its new national grid charges and responsibilities –  proportionate to enterprise size, would enable local energy enterprises to invest and expand, become community electricity suppliers, even diversify into other non-weather dependent renewable energy.

More ambitious futures present: mixed weather and  non- weather-dependent renewables, distributed via local interconnected electricity grids to enhance resilience and security. As one grid ‘goes down’, it can be isolated so as not to disrupt supply in others.

Conversations  about local grids have already begun in Australia where extreme weather events like bushfires seriously disrupt their supplies just as storm,  snow and flood disrupts ours. Sturmberg  talks about “lots of local small-scale generators, many  microgrids, interconnected but able to operate independently when necessary” and renewable to break the negative cycle sustained by fossil fuel generation. (Bjorn Sturmberg.  Microgrids: How to Keep the Power On when Disaster Strikes. The Conversation. 10th Feb 2020 ) .

Inter-connected local grids invert our current centralised supply system into a decentralised renewable energy system effecting much decarbonisation and price reduction whilst raising energy resilience and security.

Triple Energy Crisis

We are right in the middle of a Triple Energy Crisis: Price, Security and
Carbon Emissions.
Last October energy prices multiplied the numbers of families
choosing between food and bills. Millions, it’s widely believed, will be
pushed into Fuel Poverty this April, despite Sunak’s support, by an
energy bill rise of nearly £700.
Big energy companies enjoy record profits. But low-income earners in
houses valued above tax bands A-D, won’t even qualify for Sunak’s
£200 loan. Those who qualify will make £40 yearly repayments that
could increase future, even higher bills.

IPPR thinktank estimates show 44% of the highest British income
households will effectively enjoy a tax cut. Yet low income households
won’t see it, just when spending cuts have enforced 32 council crisis
centre closures.

Energy security is poor. Energy imports leave us vulnerable.
Transmitting electricity long distances makes end of the line
communities from The Isle of Wight to Northern Scotland experience
supply cuts. Extreme weather events damage transmission
equipment, causing further disruption. Carbon Emissions rise instead
of fall, meaning even greater extreme weather event disruption.

Local Affordable and Renewable Community Energy could help keep
prices and carbon emissions down. Schemes are increasing, across
England. They deliver on price, security and decarbonisation. Solar
and wind still have substantial undeveloped potential whilst wave,
geothermal and biomass renewables can offset their weather
dependence.

Local energy enterprises are accountable to communities and build up
local wealth, jobs and future prospects.
But they’re held back by their inability to shoulder National Grid Costs
and operational responsibilities. So they cannot sell surplus
electricity to the National Grid at proper rates; become Energy
Suppliers enabled to prosper, invest and expand.

The Local Electricity Bill, 2nd reading in the House of Commons on
February 25th proposes Grid costs and responsibilities
proportionate to enterprise size so that community enterprises
like the many in the West could thrive.
Already enjoying cross-Party support it still needs 100 more MP votes.
Will your MP vote for it? Why not ask!