The Ecologist


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The UK government is lavishing billions of pounds of subsidies on North Sea gas and oil - while cutting renewable energy to the bone. Photo: Thistle Alpha oil rig in the North Sea roughly halfway between the Shetland islands and Norway by snapper via Flic

COP21: Time to end fossil fuel subsidies!

Tony Juniper

30th November 2015

The theme at COP21 today has been the urgent need to cut fossil fuel subsidies that favour dirty energy over renewables, writes Tony Juniper. Sadly the UK is setting all the wrong examples - ramping up its spending on fossil fuels, while slashing its much smaller renewable energy budgets. more...
Responding to climate change is all about replacing or adapting our established energy infrastructure. Photo: Jes via Fliclr (CC BY-SA).

How fast can the world transition to a low-carbon energy system?

Paul N Edwards, University of Michigan

30th November 2015

As world leaders convene in Paris for the COP21 climate summit, the major task before them is to replace fossil energy generation with renewables, writes Paul N Edwards - and with the right incentives, it could happen fast. For developing countries it's different: they could skip over fossil fuels much as they have gone straight for mobile telephony. But will they seize the opportunity? more...
HM Chancellor George Osborne gazing happily at his vision of the future, courtesy of Ealing Studios. Sadly, the device has a fault - and it's actually taking him back to the 1950s. Photo: PA / HM Treasury via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Osborne's systematic devastation of the UK's sustainable future

David Lowry & Oliver Tickell

26th November 2015

The 'Autumn Statement' delivered with such aplomb by the Chancellor is yet another attack on the UK's sustainable future, write David Lowry & Oliver Tickell - cutting energy efficiency funds just as tens of thousands are set to die of cold this winter, betting £250m on pointless nuclear research, and raiding the renewables budget to fund subsidies to nuclear power and fossil fuels. more...
The UK's pioneering community energy project, Westmill Solar Park and Wind Farm in Oxfordshire, England. Photo: Richard Peat via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Osborne's community renewables tax 'unlawful'

The Ecologist

27th November 2015

The surprise removal of tax benefits for investors in community renewable energy schemes - effective from Monday - is unlawful and must be reversed, states a legal letter to the Treasury. But meanwhile, investments in the sector have hit record levels, with two days still to go. more...
With lithium-air batteries, this Tesla EV could travel from Boston to Washington DC, or from London to Edinburgh, on a single charge. Photo: Niall Kennedy via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Li-air battery could make oil obsolete in ten years

The Ecologist

23rd November 2015

Sooner than it takes to build a nuclear power station, lithium-air batteries could be helping wind and solar to make coal, oil and nuclear obsolete, say Cambridge scientists. Five times lighter and five times cheaper than current lithium batteries, Li-air would open the way to our 100% renewable future. more...
Solar cell charging a battery. Lukolela, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photo: Ollivier Girard / Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Powering the world with renewables - we can do it!

Dipti Bhatnagar & Sam Cossar-Gilbert

23rd November 2015

An energy revolution that would take the world to 100% renewables in 15 years is possible, write Sam Cossar-Gilbert and Dipti Bhatnagar. We have the technology, and we even have the money - only it's currently being spent to subsidise fossil fuels. The time has come to tackle two hugely destructive and closely entwined crises - growing inequality and climate change. more...
Ed Miliband still has a plan for a better future. On the campaign trail in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, 30th April 2015. Photo: Din Mk Photography via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

COP21 - the UK must lead to world to 'net zero' emissions

Ed Miliband

23rd November 2015

Earth's temperature is heading towards its highest for three million years, writes Ed Miliband. The world must move as fast as possible to 'net zero' carbon emissions - and the UK should take a lead in this global effort, enshrining the target in law, and driving a technological renewal that will assure our future prosperity. more...
Where to get the money from to finance the transition to a low carbon economy? Simple: 'QE for climate' by the world's central banks. Photo: Pictures of Money via Flickr (CC BY).

'QE for climate' is the win-win solution for COP21

Dr. Matthias Kroll

25th November 2015

The governor of the Bank of England recently argued that the risk to the stability of the financial system from climate change is a responsibility of central banks, writes Matthias Kroll. They can begin by using QE - 'quantitative easing' - to finance the Green Climate Fund, and so stimulate the economy, rescue the climate, and save the global financial system. more...
Photo: Rachel Melton via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Lights out? Amber Rudd's disastrous absence of an energy strategy

Oliver Tickell

18th November 2015

Amber Rudd's speech today exposes her total failure to assemble a coherent energy strategy, writes Oliver Tickell. It reveals the increasingly certain failure to meet EU renewable energy targets, proposes a new tax on wind and solar generation, and leaves the country facing the real prospect of lights going out in the next decade. The one hard policy? To maximise oil and gas recovery. more...
A large solar installation at Arico, Canary islands, Tenerife, Spain. Photo: Jose Mesa via FDlickr (CC BY).

Renewables offer clean prosperity for Southern Europe

Helle Abelvik-Lawson / Greenpeace Energydesk

17th November 2015

New reports show the huge potential of renewables in Southern Europe to rekindle prosperity, writes Helle Abelvik-Lawson, using clean, low cost energy from wind, solar and geothermal sources backed up with pumped storage hydro, displacing dirty lignite and oil fired generation. more...
'Whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad.' Prometheus Brings Fire by Heinrich Friedrich Füger.

Britain's race for the climate abyss - only we can stop it now!

Alan Simpson

13th November 2015

The government's policies on climate, energy and industry are not merely stupid, writes Alan Simpson. The repeated cuts to renewables and energy efficiency, combined with limitless largesse to fossil fuels, has reached the point of insanity in the face of the UK's legal obligations and the growing climate crisis. Only we, the people, can end the madness. more...
Thanks to the sudden withdrawal of tax benefits for community energy projects, these waters at Abingdon Lock, Oxfordshire, will remain unharnessed for many years to come. Photo: Victor Bayon (CC BY-NC-SA).

George Osborne must back down on community energy tax

Georgina Matthews

11th November 2015

Surprise changes to the Finance Bill in its third reading have withdrawn tax benefits for investors in community renewable energy projects, writes Georgina Matthews. While some societies are rushing to complete their fund-raising by the end of the month, others have been forced to close. If these measures are not withdrawn, a small but flourishing sector will be at risk. more...

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Energy Secretary Amber Radd fielding questions in the Energy and Climate Change Committee today, 10th November 2015. Photo: still from

Facing legal action, strong support for solar and wind, Rudd refuses to reverse cuts

Oliver Tickell

10th November 2015

Despite strong public support for wind and solar power in an official survey published today, the UK's likely failure to meet its EU renewable energy target, and an impending legal challenge, Energy Secretary Amber Rudd today told MPs she would not be reversing recent cuts, writes Oliver Tickell. more...
DCNS and Nass&Wind designed this 'Winflo' floating wind turbine.

With floating platforms, offshore wind cost set to plunge

Paul Brown

11th November 2015

Floating wind turbines offer huge falls in the cost of offshore wind power, writes Paul Brown, and could be generating power in UK waters at well under the cost of new nuclear by 2020, provided adequate support. more...
Amber Rudd MP, Secretary of State at the Department of Energy and Climate Change. Photo: Association for Decentralised Energy via Flickr (CC BY-ND).

Leaked letter: Rudd admits 25% green energy undershoot, misled Parliament

Oliver Tickell

9th November 2015

A letter from Energy Secretary Amber Rudd leaked to The Ecologist shows that she misled Parliament by promising the UK was 'on course' to deliver on its renewable energy targets - when in fact there is a delivery shortfall in 2020 of almost 25%. Her plan to fill the gap relies on more biofuels, buying in green power and 'credits' from abroad - everything but wind and solar. more...
A new dawn beckons for renewable energy. Photo: winter sun in Joppa, Massachusetts by Russ Seidel via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

A clean, green energy future beckons!

Dave Elliott

5th November 2015

The world could soon be generating all its electricity from renewable sources, writes Dave Elliott, by harnessing diverse technologies for generation, grid balancing and energy storage. Add to that the use of power surpluses to make fuels, and it could even be feasible to make all our energy - not just electricity - renewable. A clean green future beckons. more...
Solar panels, and the price we pay for them, have already fallen to earth. Coming up next, batteries. Photo: International Space Station, 2011, by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center via Flickr (CC BY-NC).

Batteries and renewables - believe the hype!

Helle Abelvik-Lawson / Greenpeace Energydesk

5th November 2015

What's the new 'big thing' in energy? Of course, cheap, abundant solar power is very new and very big. But to make it work on a really large scale we need to be able to store its energy to use when we need it, not just when the sun is shining. Soon the batteries will be there to make that possible - at a price we can afford. And that will be a very big thing, indeed. more...
With 50 times more solar power on a 'net metering' basis than now (5% vs 0.1%), electricity costs in Pennsylvania would fall by $25 per customer. Business with solar panels in Harleysville, PA. Photo: Montgomery County Planning Commission via Flickr (CC B

Solar power is good for consumers, good for utilities

Richard Flarend, Pennsylvania State University

30th October 2015

An analysis of power prices in the US state of Pennsylvania shows that if solar power increased from the 0.1% of electricity it supplies now, to 5%, then all customers would save $25 a year. Far from 'net metering' for solar being a 'burden' as utilities claim, it makes money for them, and their customers! more...
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...
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...
The £1 plan garnered cross-party support from over 30 MPs from all parties yesterday at an action outside the House of Commons including Sir David Amess MP (Con), Mims Davies MP (Con), Kevin Hollinrake MP (Con), Caroline Flint MP (Lab), Caroline Lucas MP

Back our emergency £1 solar rescue plan

Sonia Dunlop / Solar Trade Association

22nd October 2015

Massive government cuts in solar 'feed in tariffs' threaten to wipe out our highly successful solar industry, writes Sonia Dunlop - and all to save £1 year off our fuel bills. Yes, that's all it would cost to keep the sector in business, employing tens of thousands of expert solar installers all over the UK. 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...
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...


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