The Ecologist


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Prime Minister David Cameron, Chancellor George Osborne map out their planned destruction of the UK renewable energy industry. Photo: Number 10 via Fliclr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Government cuts tax relief for community green energy

Aisha Gani / the Guardian Environment

30th October 2015

Another week, another renewable energy cut. This time George Osborne is swinging the axe at tax breaks for community renewable energy schemes, writes Aisha Gani - even though previous cuts have already made 90% of projects unviable. more...
New building in Masdar City with an old twist. Photo: André Diogo Moecke via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Traditional architecture offers relief from soaring temperatures in the Gulf

Amin Al-Habaibeh, Nottingham Trent University

8th November 2015

As temperatures soar in the Persian Gulf, modern buildings rely on energy-guzzling air-conditioning to maintain tolerable temperatures, writes Amin Al-Habaibeh. But traditional buildings stay cool passively using shade; wind and thermally driven ventilation; and naturally insulating, reflective materials. For a sustainable future, modern architects must revive the ancient knowledge. more...
Tigyit coal mine. Photo: Carole Oudot / Matthieu Baudey.

Burma goes for coal - but at what cost in pollution, disease and land grabs?

Carole Oudot & Matthieu Baudey

29th October 2015

The president of Burma has decided that coal is the way to future wealth and prosperity, write Carole Oudot & Matthieu Baudey. But if the experiences of farmers and village people near Tigyit, site of the country's biggest coal mine and coal-fired power plant is anything to go by, it will bring only poverty, pollution, ill-health and land grabs to rural communities across the country. more...
Smoke rises above the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, 24th March 2011. Photo: deedavee easyflow via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Fukuzilla? China's nuclear boom threatens global catastrophe

Oliver Tickell

28th October 2015

China's plans for 400 nuclear reactors threaten global catastrophe, writes Oliver Tickell. In the normal way of things we could expect major accidents every few years, but with 300 reactors along China's seismically active coast, a major tsunami would be a Fukushima on steroids - wiping out much of China and contaminating the whole planet. more...
Natural gas flares from a flare-head at the Orvis State oil well in McKenzie County, North Dakota, east of Arnegard and west of Watford City. Photo: Tim Evanson via Flickr (CC BY-SA).

Are the fracking vampires going bust? That's how it looks

Joshua Frank

26th October 2015

The high oil prices that turned North Dakota into a boom state have turned, writes Joshua Frank. Now high-cost oil and gas are in the doldrums everywhere, production is falling - and even if prices do pick up one day, risk aversion and the relentless advance of renewables will leave lakes of oil and caverns of gas underground where they belong. Folks, the oil party really is over! more...
Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom taking questions from MPs last week on the cuts to renewable energy generation. Photo: still from Parliament TV.

Minister: 'solar companies back support cuts'

Joe Sandler Clarke & Zachary Davies Boren / Greenpeace Energydesk

25th October 2015

Just as the UK's entire renewable energy industry is up in arms against fierce cuts to support for the sector, energy Minister Andrea Leadsom suggested to MPs that the measures were supported by solar firms in her constituency. They beg to differ. more...
Even though the Baram dam is on hold, logging of the reservoir area and surrounding forest is proceeding apace. Photo: Rod Harbinson.

Indigenous activists celebrate bitter victory over rainforest dam moratorium

Rod Harbinson / Mongabay

22nd October 2015

As indigenous activists opposing hydropower dams on their territories gather this weekend in the rainforests of Sarawak, Malaysia, they have good news to celebrate, writes Rod Harbinson: a giant dam on the Baram river has been put on hold. But the forests are still being logged, local people have been stripped of land rights, and a programme of 12 giant dams is still official policy. more...
Years late, billions over budget: construction of two AP1000 reactors at Vogtle, South Carolina, October 2011. Photo: Charles C Watson Jr / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA).

UK-China nuclear deal won't keep our lights on

Oliver Tickell

21st October 2015

The UK's plan to get China to build and finance new nuclear power stations is based on a wish and a prayer, writes Oliver Tickell. There is no reactor design, including new Chinese ones, that we can depend on to fill our impending power generation gap. This time, the last one out won't even have to turn out the lights. more...
It costs a lot less than we are told: erection of a wind turbine at Alltwalis Wind Farm in Wales, set in operation December 2009. Photo: Aslak Øverås / Statkraft via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Wind and solar's £1.5 billion electricity price cut

Oliver Tickell

19th October 2015

The effect of wind and solar generation in the UK is to push down wholesale power prices, writes Oliver Tickell, taking over £1.5 billion off our bills in 2014 - that's 58% of the subsidies paid to renewable generators. Keep it up and the benefit will rise to over 100% of cost. more...
George Monbiot at TEDGlobal 2013 in Edinburgh, Scotland. June 12-15, 2013. Photo: James Duncan Davidson / TED Conference via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

China syndrome: meltdown time for pro-nuclear 'greens'

Jonathon Porritt

19th October 2015

The love affair of the 'pro-nuclear greens' with a failed technology has paved the way to the UK's destruction of its renewable energy industry, writes Jonathon Porritt, and to the imminent deal with Chinese parastatal corporations to build a new fleet of already obsolete nuclear power plants at massive cost to us all. more...
Proposed rig for Statoil's Aasta Hansteen gas field in the Arctic waters of the Norwegian Sea. A pipeline to Norway's coast is now under construction. Photo: Statoil Image Bank / ASA.

Norway's dash for Arctic oil violates its own Constitution

Aleksander Melli, Pål W. Lorentzen, Mari Seilskjær, Hans Morten Haugen &...

16th October 2015

Large-scale oil extraction in the Arctic is irreconcilable with the 2C global warming limit, write Aleksander Melli, Pål W. Lorentzen, Mari Seilskjær, Hans Morten Haugen & Truls Gulowsen. And that puts Norway's dash to develop Arctic oil into direct conflict with its Constitution, which requires the state to try and secure climate stability for its citizens, present and future. A lawsuit is imminent. more...
Reduced to one meagre bar; old lady fighting to keep warm in Perth, Scotland. Photo: Ninian Reid via Flickr (CC BY).

As tens of thousands die, the UK must act on fuel poverty

Mari Martiskainen, University of Sussex

16th October 2015

Fuel poverty is a complex problem with many causes, writes Mari Martiskainen, but it is also a deadly one for some 25,000 thousand people every year. And there is one surprisingly simple solution: a huge upgrade in the energy efficiency of our housing stock. more...

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Smog Alert in Peoples Square, Beijing, China, on 15th February 2014. Photo: Lei Han via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

China's smog kills over a million each year - but there's blue skies ahead

Oliver Wild, Lancaster University

19th October 2015

China's smog is an increasing cause of public discontent, writes Oliver Wild - and no wonder! New research shows that the country's air pollution is killing over a million people every year. Thanks to China's geography the problem is hard to solve, but the rapid rise of renewables and the slow demise of coal do offer the promise of cleaner, healthier future. more...
Platinum Catalyst in Aqueous Solution: the oxygen atoms, in water, are red; the hydrogen molecules are white, and platinum atoms are blue-gray. High-level details of the structure can be seen in the reflections of each atom surface. Photo: Argonne Nationa

Hydrogen car price breakthrough: it's the platinum

The Ecologist

14th October 2015

Hydrogen cars - and the fuel cells that drive them - are about to get a whole lot cheaper thanks to a redesign of the platinum catalyst that makes them work, writes Oliver Tickell. By inserting atom-sized holes into the precious metal's surface, its activity can be trebled. more...
The UK nuclear-armed submarine HMS Vigilant returns to port. Photo: Defence Images (CC BY-NC).

Making sense of the UK's muddled energy policy - is it all about nuclear weapons?

Philip Johnstone & Andy Stirling

14th October 2015

On the face of it, the UK's policy to pursue nuclear power at all costs, while destroying the renewable energy sector, is totally illogical, write Philip Johnstone & Andy Stirling. But then it may make perfect sense - if only you accept that it's really all about maintaining the country's role as a nuclear weapons state for generations to come. And the 'deep state' has a way of getting its way. more...
Wind turbines at Rossendale, England. Photo: reway2007 via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).

Wind turbines and solar panels into nuclear weapons: the UK's new industrial strategy?

Dr Stuart Parkinson

15th October 2015

The UK government is punishing renewable energy for its success in generating 25% of the country's electricity, writes Stuart Parkinson. But there's no austerity when it comes to the bloated military-nuclear industrial sector, no matter how egregious its failures or extreme its cost overruns. Our future prosperity is being sacrificed - and its costing taxpayers billions. more...
For a problem-free pregnancy, don't live near here. Marcellus Shale rig and gas well operation on Ridge Road in Jackson Township, PA, operated by Rex Energy. Photo: WCN 24/7 via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Premature birth and problem pregnancies near fracking wells

The Ecologist

9th October 2015

A new study in the US's 'fracking capital' Pennsylvania has found that pregnant women who live near gas fracking wells are far more likely to give birth prematurely or develop problems during their pregnancies. more...
An Ecotricity wind turbine in Swaffham, Norfolk. Photo: Nick Ford via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

UK rigging power market against clean energy

Alex Kirby

7th October 2015

Ecotricity boss Dale Vince has accused the government of rigging the electricity market, writes Alex Kirby, by showering fossil fuels and nuclear power with huge subsidies, while taxing renewables and insisting they must 'stand on their own two feet'. more...
Opencast coal mine at Pont Neddfechan, Wales, UK. Photo: Ben Salter via Flickr (CC BY).

Global South campaigners tell UK planners: no new opencast coal mines!

Anne Harris & Hal Rhoades

7th October 2015

Campaign groups from Indonesia, Kenya and Peru have called on planners in the UK to turn down opencast coal mines in Co Durham and Derbyshire, write Anne Harris & Hal Rhoades. Not only do the mines damage local health and environment, say the activists. They also threaten global climate stability - and all countries must play their part in ending the world's coal addiction. more...
Look, no pollution! The 2016 Toyota Fuel Cell Vehicle. Photo: Toyota UK via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Dieselgate - our wake-up call for new car technologies

Harry Hoster, Lancaster University

8th October 2015

The real lesson of Volkswagen's 'dieselgate' scandal is that we must ditch petroleum fuels, writes Harry Hoster. There's new, clean technologies just waiting to take off - and the most promising is fuel cells. They will also fit right into the new world of renewables, with surplus power from wind and solar making the hydrogen they burn. more...
Meet the man Osborne just put in charge of the UK's energy policy: Lord Andrew Adonis. Photo: makeroadssafe via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

UK's energy revolution - DECC's role usurped by new Infrastructure Commission

Oliver Tickell

7th October 2015

This week George Osborne took the entire energy policy brief out of the department for energy and climate change, and handed it to the new National Infrastructure Commission. It could mean a swift end to the Hinkley C nuclear plant and a new wave of renewables - but don't count on it. NIC chairman Lord Adonis is no green dreamer. But at least he takes energy seriously. more...
Aerial view of the Amazon rainforest, near Manaus, an area affected by fracking licences. Photo: Neil Palmer / CIAT for CIFOR on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Brazil to auction Amazon fracking licences

The Ecologist

6th October 2015

Brazil is about to auction hundreds of fracking blocks across the country - extending deep into the Amazon forest including the territories of remote and vulnerable indigenous peoples. Registered bidders include BP, Shell and ExxonMobil. more...
When China General Nuclear Power Corporation (under its former name of China Guangdong Nuclear Power) built China's first nuclear power station at Daya Bay near Hong Kong, they left out reinforcement rods from the concrete base under the reactor. Photo: P

Serious issues for George Osborne on China's role in the UK's nuclear future

Jeffrey Henderson, University of Bristol

6th October 2015

George Osborne's silence over nuclear power in his conference speech yesterday speaks volumes, writes Jeffrey Henderson. Fresh from his trip to China to put together deals worth tens of billions with state-owned Chinese corporations to get Hinkley C and Bradwell nuclear plants built, he had nothing to say on the matter. Is it because too many serious questions remain unanswered? more...
EDF puts in place the reactor dome on the Flamville 3 EPR reactor in July 2013. But sadly it failed to make sure the reactor vessel that sits at its heart was up to scratch first. And it's not - it has serious metallurgical flaws that could end up sinking

Flamanville nuclear safety fail sounds death knell for Hinkley C

Oliver Tickell

2nd October 2015

Just as George Osborne is hoping to get China to invest billions in EDF's Hinkley C nuclear plant in Somerset, news from EDF's Flamanville nuclear site threatens to sink the project. French regulators are to demand another lengthy round of tests on its flawed reactor vessel. And if Flamanville isn't working by 2020, £17 billion of UK finance guarantees for Hinkley C will collapse. more...
Artists impression of the finished Hinkley C reactor. Image: EDF.

Hinkley C's claimed benefits evaporate under scrutiny

Paul Dorfman

6th October 2015

To explain their desperation to commit an estimated £76 billion of public money to the Hinkley C nuclear project, writes Paul Dorfman, the Treasury and its Chancellor, George Osborne, claim there are other benefits that justify this vast expenditure. So what exactly are they? And do the claims survive critical examination? more...


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