UK renewable electricity generation increased by 28% in 2013 to 52.8 terawatt-hours (TWh), up from the 41.3 TWh recorded in 2012, according to official figures. Statistics from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC), show that offshore and onshore wind, solar and bioenergy all recorded significant increases in 2013 from 2012. Offshore wind generation rose by 45.8%, with onshore wind increasing by 36.4%, due to increased capacity, as well as higher wind speeds. Generation from bioenergy was up 22.8% due to increased capacity from conversions. Liquid biofuels represented 3.5% of petrol and diesel consumed in road transport in 2013, a 0.4 percentage point rise on the share in 2012. The only form of renewable energy that generated less electricity in 2013 from 2012 was hydro, which decreased by 10.7% due to lower rainfall in catchment areas. As renewables generation increased, fossil fuel production fell, with coal, oil and gas all recording lower production levels in 2013 from the previous year.
Good news and bad news for the future of wind power: The UK Green Investment Bank is investing £241m to jointly purchase, alongside Japan’s Marubeni Corporation, a 50% stake in the Westermost Rough offshore wind farm, from DONG Energy. The deal is estimated to be around £500m. Once operational, Westermost Rough will generate more than 800GWh of net renewable electricity, equivalent to the electricity consumption of around 200,000 homes, a city the size of York. But Edie.net reports that major energy firm SSE is pulling back plans, and “significantly narrowing” its focus, on offshore wind development. As part of its streamlining programme, SSE will scale back plans for four offshore wind developments and cut 500 jobs. At present, the projects represent potentially up to 4,970MW of offshore wind farm capacity for SSE. The decision is part of the company’s plan to streamline its operations to offset the cost of the recently announced freeze on its domestic gas and electricity prices for two years.
Edie.net also reports that DIY and garden centre retailer B&Q is harnessing “teabag technology” to help increase peat-free gardening products and remove 15 million polystyrene trays from a range of plant products. From April 2014, B&Q will replace all polystyrene packaging across its range of bedding plants with a new teabag technology that is 100% recyclable and up to 95% peat-free. As well as tackling the issue of non-recyclable polystyrene trays, which end up as non-degradable waste in UK landfills, the new teabag Technology, called easyGrow, will see each bedding plant rooted in up to 95% peat-free compost.
Retailers are producing “viable volumes” of surplus food that arise at the back of store which could be redistributed direct to charity and provide social benefit, according to new report from the Waste and Resources Action Programme(WRAP). The trials, detailed in the new report entitled ‘The Food Connection Programme’, is the UK’s first piece of quantitative research on store-level surplus food redistribution. The research found that while tonnages of surplus food at store level are small in comparison to the whole supply chain, the volumes are sufficient and viable to deliver real benefit to those who need it. http://www.wrap.org.uk/sites/files/wrap/Food%20Connection%20Programme%20Final%20Published%20Report.pdf
Despite claims that the fashion industry is starting to adopt more sustainable practices, the majority of brands are failing to back this up with hard evidence, new research has shown. Less than 10% of companies operating within this sector are performing at a high level in terms of sustainability, according to brand comparison website, Rank A Brand. Its latest FeelGoodFashion report found that just 34 of the 368 fashion brands researched were leading by example in this field: Whilst 50% of brands are reporting on the implementation of climate protection measures, only 4% of were able to show that they have significantly reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
A botched attempt by Shell to avoid a $6 million tax bill in Alaska by towing the Kulluk oil rig to Seattle cost the oil giant an estimated $200 million after the rig ran aground near Kodiak Island in predicted bad weather in December 2012. A report by the Alaskan Coat Guard, which prompted fears of an environmental disaster, also severely criticised the Anglo-Dutch company’s planning.
Two of the UK’s last three deep coal mines are set to close . The two collieries, Kellingley in Yorkshire and Thoresby in Nottinghamshire employ 1,300 people. Job losses at UK Coal’s Doncaster headquarters would also be likely. UK Coal said it had been hot by low international coal prices, partly called by the boom in US shale gas.
The smog like conditions that brought haze and air pollution to large areas on the United Kingdom last week will become even more frequent as diesel car ownership soars a leading expert from Kings College MRC-PHE Centre for the Environment has warned. The haze, blamed on Sahara ‘dust’, power station emissions and diesel engine, has been problematic for people with breathing difficulties and many schools kept pupils inside in lunchtime and other breaks. Light winds have concentrated carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone and tiny particles (PM10 and PM25) and DEFRA said the pollutant had topped its Air Quality Index.
The boss of Unilever, Paul Polman, has urged fellow business leaders to stop dragging their feet on climate change, In a speech to Imperial College’s Grantham Institute for Climate Change Mr Polman said that the ‘cost of inaction is now starting to outweigh the cost of action” and that “continuing flows of capital to high carbon
The Times reports that Innospec, the company that makes the fuel additive Tetraethyl Lead, linked to premature death and violent crime, has continued to export the toxic chemical despite twice saying it would stop. The Times says the company is still exporting TEL to Algeria. It is banned in most countries including the UK which have moved to unleaded petrol, but the chemical is still made at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire for export.
A comprehensive new study by the European Commission suggests that bees, Earth’s busiest pollinator, are not dying quite as rapidly as was previously feared, at least in Europe .The study found that death rates among 32,000 bee colonies across 17 EU member states were, as a whole, lower than researchers expected. Between late 2012 and the summer of 2013, honeybees’ winter mortality rates ranged from 3.5 percent to 33.6 percent. During the beekeeping season, when bees are more active, their rates of death ranged from 0.3 percent and 13.6 percent. “While overwintering honeybee colony losses in Europe are variable and sometimes considered unacceptable, on the whole they are still much lower than in the U.S.,” Simon Potts, a professor at the University of Reading in England, told The Guardian. During the winter, honeybees suffered the greatest losses in Belgium and the U.K. Researchers noted a 34 percent and a 29 percent decline in honeybee colonies in those countries, respectively. Winter death rates for honeybees were lowest in Italy, where just 5 percent of colonies were lost. Greece, Italy, Spain, Hungary and Slovakia also saw less than 10 percent of their bees.