Utility Week

UTILITY Week 27th February 2015

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utILIty WeeK | 27th February - 5th March 2015 | 31 Community Disconnector Editor: Ellen Bennett, t: 01342 332084, e: ellen.bennett@fav-house.com; News editor: Jillian Ambrose, t: 01342 332061, e: jillian.ambrose@fav-house.com; Associate news editor: Mathew Beech, t: 01342 332082, e: mathew.beech@fav-house.com; Insights editor: Jane Gray, t: 01342 332087, e: jane.gray@fav-house.com; Research analyst: Vidhu Dutt, t: 01342 332026, e: vidhu. dutt@fav-house.com; Reporter: Lois Vallely, t: 01342 332083; e: lois.vallely@fav-house.com; Business development manager: ed roberts, t: 01342 332067, e: ed.roberts@fav-house.com; Business development executive: Sarah Wood, t: 01342 332077, e: sarah.wood@fav-house.com; Publisher: amanda barnes, e: amanda.barnes@fav-house.com. General enquiries: 01342 332000; Membership subscriptions: : uK £577 per year, overseas £689 per year, t: 020 8955 7045 or email membership sales manager Paul Tweedale: PaulTweedale@fav-house.com. ISSN: 1356-5532. Registered as a newspaper at the Post Office. Printed by: buxton Press, Palace road, buxton, Derbyshire SK17 6ae. Published by: Faversham house Ltd, Windsor court, Wood Street, east Grinstead, West Sussex rh19 1uZ For the birds When economists and social scientists refer to black swan events, they mean developments or incidents that have a signifi- cant impact but which can't be predicted in advance. Classic examples might be the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre or the invention of the internet. It's slowly dawning on developers of large-scale solar projects in the US that birds themselves could prove to be a black swan event for their nascent industry – and not in a positive way. Testing has just been com- pleted on the 110MW Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project in Nevada, due to go live next month, and even though it involved just a third of the pro- ject's 10,000 mirrors, the tests killed an estimated 130 birds. These pioneering US solar plants do not use photovoltaics to absorb the sun's rays – they use thousands of mirrors to concentrate sunlight above a tower placed at their centre, which in turn heats water, which drives a steam turbine. Unfortu- nately, the bright sunlight from the tower attracts insects, which in turn attract birds, that burst into flames when they hit the superheated air. It took scientists on the ground only an hour and half Disconnector to notice the first "streamer", so called because that's what the smoking birds look like as they drop from the sky. And Crescent Dunes isn't the biggest plant of its type in the US. That honour goes to Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California. The £1.3 billion plant was fully commissioned last year and uses 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door, to reflect the sun's rays onto three boiling towers rising 40 storeys from the desert floor. Environmental group the Centre for Biological Diversity says the Ivanpah plant is vapor- ising up to 28,000 birds a year. Nothing lasts forever We don't use concentrated solar energy technology in this country. We don't enjoy the same amount of sunshine as Califor- nia and Nevada, and people work themselves into a lather when a farmer tries to stick 200 panels the size of dinner trays in a field. You'd never get planning permission for 300,000 mirrors the size of garage doors, even if frying the local wildlife wasn't an objection in its own right. All the arguing to and fro about the merits or otherwise of solar farms and wind turbines would be brushed aside if Ukip got into power. It's against renewables, full stop. They're useless and unsightly and we'd be far better off getting back to something we Brits know about: coal. European direc- tives ban the building of una- bated coal plants, of course, but then Europe wouldn't be a problem any more if Ukip got in. Ukip is renowned for having a very, ahem, single- minded view of the universe, but even the most ardent anti-wind campaigner must have been puzzled by the assertion of Ukip councillor and prospective parliamentary candidate for Great Grimsby Victoria Ayling, who asked an auditorium of business leaders in a local Question Time-style debate: "What happens when renewable energy runs out?" Her remark was met with "guffaws" from attendees, according to local newspa- per The Grimsby Telegraph, which further accused her of "spouting fiction and scientific incompetence". The unfortunate Ms Ayling later explained that she meant to ask "what will happen when the subsidies for renewable energy run out?", but this was too late to save her from a mer- ciless roasting on Twitter. The whole episode got Disconnector thinking. What if the controversial Ukipper has accidentally stumbled on to the truth and the world does run out of wind? That really would be a black swan event. 3,580 average circulation Jan–Dec 2014 Membership subscriptions: uK £577 per year. Overseas £689 per year. email: PaulTweedale@fav-house.com 3WhitehallPlace @3WhitehallPlace Hinkley Point C update. These songs are banned on radio: Ultravox's 'Vienna', 'Rock Me Amadeus' by Falco & 'Bring Me Edelweiss' by Edelweiss. Simon Moore @SMoore1984 All in all, #CMA seem pretty sanguine about upstream issues. The retail end is where the big fight is to be had. Caroline Flint @CarolineFlintMP Note to @SkyNews, Labour will freeze prices for 20 months to stop bills rising AND give regulator power to cut them when wholesale prices fall. Marc Height @March8eight 'If we keep discussing climate change at such a rate… the world's stock weather footage will be exhausted by 2050.' William Marchant @richonlyinname Centrica share price is marginally up on the day. SSE, marginally down. Market appears not particularly arsed by the CMA report. #cmabants Ben Jackson @BenJacksonSun One big six insider today: "More people switch energy tariffs than vote, but we're not investigating the government for stopping voting." Mark Gordon @brandmidwife White paper on white label energy providers published by Ofgem (found on the White Album?): Jim Pickard @PickardJE I'm sure it's just coincidence that Labour turning up dial on green issues as Greens hit 7% in polls." David Mclean @DavidMcleanGP Renewable energy WILL run out... in about 5 - 10 billion years when the Sun reaches end-of-life. What are ConDems doing about THAT? ;-) Top Tweets

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