Politics

Government announces plans to speed up fracking decisions in England + detailed reaction

fracking KM Eddie Thornton

Fracking equipment at Third Energy’s KM8 site at Kirby Misperton. Photo: Eddie Thornton

Ministers are considering taking fracking decisions in England out of local control and allowing shale gas exploration wells to be drilled without the need for planning applications.

A written ministerial statement issued this morning said the government would consult during the summer on whether non-fracking shale gas exploration should be treated as permitted development. This would mean operators would avoid the need to go through the normal local planning system.

The statement, issued by the Energy and Local Government Secretaries, also said there would be a consultation on treating fracking applications as National Significant Infrastructure Projects. This would mean planning applications for fracking schemes would be decided by a government-appointed inspector, rather than local planning authorities.

Greg Clark speaking

Energy Secretary, Greg Clark

In another development, the ministers, Greg Clark and James Brokenshire, said the government was setting up a single shale gas environmental regulator. This would bring together the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive and Oil and Gas Authority, they said.

The statement was welcomed by the shale gas industry. Opponents said it would pervert the planning process and represented an assault on the ability of communities to influence decisions. See Reaction in the second half of this post.

This is the second ministerial statement which has aimed to smooth the way for shale gas through the planning system. A statement in 2015 gave ministers the chance to intervene in planning appeals and to monitor the performance of local authorities in dealing with onshore oil and gas applications.

Today’s statements extended these measures for another two years and repeated the government’s view that shale gas development was of national importance. The ministers said:

“We believe that it is right to utilise our domestic gas resources to the maximum extent and exploring further the potential for onshore gas production from shale rock formations in the UK, where it is economically efficient, and where environment impacts are robustly regulated.”

They said

“We also see an opportunity to work with industry on innovation to create a “UK Model” – the world’s most environmentally robust onshore shale gas sector – and to explore export opportunities from this model, a core theme of our modern industrial strategy.”

They said mineral planning authorities – usually county councils or unitary authorities – should give great weight to the benefits of shale gas extraction. The authorities should take the statement into account when considering shale gas planning applications.

The ministers said the proposed changes would “facilitate timely decisions” on shale gas developments. This was needed because:

“recent decisions on shale exploration planning applications remain disappointingly slow against a statutory time frame of 16 weeks where an Environmental Impact Assessment is required.”

They added that the changes would “support a decision-making regime that meets the future needs of the sector.” The proposals would implement commitments made in the Conservative general election manifesto. They would apply only to England, they said.

On the single regulator, the statement said it would act as “one coherent single face for the public, mineral planning authorities and industry”. The regulator would be established during the summer, it added.

The statement said the government would establish a £1.6 million shale support fund over the next two years to build capacity and capability in local authorities dealing with shale applications.

The government would also “strengthen community engagement by consulting in due course on the potential to make pre-application consultation a statutory requirement”.

It would additionally work with the shale gas industry to improve the offer to local communities that host shale gas sites.

The shale gas industry complained to a committee of MPs last week that decisions on exploration wells were taking too long (DrillOrDrop report). But one local authority planners told the same committee on Monday that it was incorrect to say that councils were dragging their feet (DrillOrDrop report).

Based on evidence to the committee’s inquiry, there does not appear to be much support for the idea of national decision-making on fracking applications. The vast majority of responses had rejected the idea of taking fracking decisions out of local control.

The government has also been consulting on proposed changes to the guidance for how planning applications should be decided.

The ministers said in today’s statement that a revised National Planning Policy Framework would have new guidance on cumulative impact, local plan making and confirmation that planners can rely on the advice of other regulators.

Reaction

Campaign groups

Campaign to Protect Rural England
Senior Infrastructure Campaigner, Daniel Carey-Dawes

“This announcement signals an outright assault on local communities’ ability to exercise their democratic rights in influencing fracking applications. It reads like a wish list from the fracking companies themselves. The government may want to provide ‘sweeteners’ for communities affected, but nothing will change the fact that this will be a bitter pill to swallow.

“Simplifying the shale gas application and exploration process will have disastrous effects for the health and tranquillity of our countryside, landscapes and environment. Our countryside is the breathing space for us all – it must not become an industrial testing ground for a fracking industry that has no environmental, economic or social licence.”

Caroline Lucas, Co-leader of the Green Party

“Britain’s fracking experiment was on life support and now the Government is trying its best to shock it back into life.

The truth is that fracking is a redundant technology that would lock us into climate breakdown, carve up our countryside and put the economy on the wrong track.

“If we’re serious about building an economy fit for the future we need to reprogramme our energy system to one which harnesses the power of the sun, sea and wind – rather than throwing resources at this failed fracking technology.

“These latest measures utterly undermine the government’s green rhetoric – and show that the Tories simply can’t shake their support for fossil fuel firms.”

Frack Free Lancashire

“This ministerial statement shows that the government is prepared to ride roughshod over local democracy. It is hopelessly conflicted over its climate change obligations and is relying on magical thinking about non-existent Carbon Capture and Storage to justify its capitulation to the shale gas lobby.

“Dr Frackenstein’s sickly monster is lying on the operating table and the government is trying to jolt some life into it in spite of huge national opposition and a growing body of scientific evidence against fracking. 79% of the UK public supports renewable energy, whereas only a measly 18% support fracking.

“It can only end badly; either for us or for them.”

Friends of the Earth

“Planned changes to the planning process, including allowing drilling for gas as ‘permitted development’, would mean that fracking companies could drill straight away, minus the need for a planning application, environmental impact assessment or proper local democratic participation.

“This could put 17,820 km² of England’s countryside, which already has shale licences, at immediate risk of drilling – an area nearly the size of Wales.

“Permission to frack would also be the remit of a central government agency and not local councils; the representatives of local people.

“The government initially introduced the concept of permitted development so that home-owners could make modest improvements or extensions to their property without the need for a planning application.”

Friends of the Earth campaigner, Rose Dickinson, added:

“The government’s plans pervert the planning process and could make England’s landscape a wild west for whatever cowboy wants to start drilling and digging up our countryside.

“Permitted development was meant to help people build a fence or a conservatory, not drill for gas.

“With all the inherent risks of fracking anyone would think that the government would at least want the process done properly and fairly, rather than wrestling what modest power local people have to object away from them.

“If there was a referendum on fracking, it would be banished to the dustbin of history – and that’s where these proposals belong. Instead, the Conservatives are planning to railroad it through against the wishes of local people and the wider public.”

Greenpeace UK
Rebecca Newsome, Head of politics

“After seven years of fracking doing less than nothing to help our economy, the government’s still going all out for shale, and still trampling over democracy to prop up this collapsing industry. “Communities and their local councils across the UK have said no in every way they can, but the government have turned a deaf ear to everyone who doesn’t own fossil fuel company. “In their commitment to extract more gas than we can afford to burn, they are trying to remove planning control from everyone who understands their local area and make exploratory drilling as easy as building a garden wall or conservatory.”

Industry

Cuadrilla Resources
Chief Executive, Francis Egan

“We very much welcome the Government’s announcement today highlighting the national importance that shale gas development has in delivering a safe and secure energy source, whilst meeting the country’s Climate Change obligations.

“We are pleased it is also recognised, as we ourselves are proving in Lancashire, that shale gas can and does deliver important economic benefits. In the last two years our exploration operations are responsible for driving almost £9m into the Lancashire local economy and creating 60 local jobs.

“In particular we welcome the measures the Government has introduced on making the planning process “faster and fairer” and providing additional resources to help local authorities. Our planning permission to drill and test just four shale gas exploratory wells in Lancashire was granted after a lengthy and costly three year process. These timelines must improve if the country is to benefit from its own, much needed, indigenous source of gas.”

IGas

“IGas welcomes the Government’s support and commitment to our industry as laid out in the Written Ministerial Statement (“WMS”) from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government today.

“The statement itself constitutes a material consideration in planning decisions and reiterates that shale gas development is of national importance. Government will publish revised planning practice guidance on shale development in the summer alongside the launch of a consultation that will consider allowing exploration wells to be drilled under permitted development (i.e. without the requirement of a planning application) and consult on the inclusion of shale production projects into the Nationally Significant Infrastructure Projects regime.”

Ineos Shale

“We have been discussing these issues with the government, and we appreciate they have taken our concerns seriously and moved quickly to begin to address the issues preventing the UK accessing its own gas.

“The government’s announcement today that they will review the planning processes regarding shale is a step in the right direction and there is much more that needs to be done. We will work with government to try and help them put in place a regulatory environment that makes a UK on-shore gas industry both safe and commercially sustainable.”

“The UK planning system has been targeted by environmental activists, leaving local planning authorities reluctant to allow any shale-related activities.  The vast majority of applications are turned down, even where council officers have recommended they should be approved. In other words, such decisions are political, not evidence-based.

“Every application defeated by anti-shale activists simply means more imported gas from foreign countries. By 2030 the UK is forecast to be importing up to 72% of its gas, with much of this coming from Russia and the Middle East.

“Environmentalists believe that UK shale gas is bad for the environment, but such thinking is misconceived.  The Mackay and Stone report showed that UK shale gas wells drilled over the next 20 years could save 117 million tonnes of CO2 compared to the UK being reliant on LNG imports.

“Environmentalists want us to abandon fossil fuels altogether, but that simply won’t be possible for several decades. Renewable energy from wind and solar is easily and regularly disrupted by ‘acts of god’ – basically the wrong kind of weather. Wind farms are notoriously unreliable, typically only operating at 30% capacity.  The UK also has an extremely limited ability to store energy. If the UK wants to continue to have electricity, lighting and heating available 100% of the time, it simply cannot rely on renewables.”

Commercial director, Lynn Calder, added:

“Some environmentalists inhabit a la-la-land where renewable energy is a magical force that is always available. In the real world that simply isn’t the case.  We’ll need fossil fuels to generate energy for years to come. Environmentalists who really care about our planet should be championing low-emission UK shale gas, which is lower in emissions than coal, oil or LNG.”

“The UK potentially has enough home-grown gas to be self-sufficient for years to come. But labyrinthine planning rules make it next-to-impossible to access the energy right beneath our feet. As a result, the UK is becoming ever more dependent on Russian and Middle Eastern gas, with British money funding foreign powers at the rate of £500m a month instead of generating jobs and tax revenues in this country.”

Lancashire for Shale
Chairman, Lee Petts

“I think it is very welcome news that the Government is still committed to developing a UK shale gas industry.

“The reality is that we’re going to continue using lots of gas, for decades more, and that being the case, it’s better if that’s our own gas that we extract here in the UK rather than being so heavily reliant on imports.

“Lancashire businesses that are eager to play a role in a developing shale gas supply chain will be particularly pleased to hear that this industry still benefits from central Government support.”

Third Energy
Chief Executive, Rasik Valand

“We welcome the Government’s strong support and commitment to the onshore gas industry, as set out in the joint ministerial statement.

Making the already rigorous regulatory framework clearer and removing uncertainties and potential inconsistencies around planning will be beneficial to both local communities as well as operators.

Domestic shale gas production can secure the UK’s energy supply by reversing the increasing reliance on gas imports and ensure that the public has the means to heat and power their homes.”

UK Onshore Oil and Gas

“We welcome the Government’s support and commitment to our industry as laid out in the Written Ministerial Statement today.

“The gas supply disruptions the country experienced this winter highlight the need to increase our home-grown sources of energy. Britain’s physical energy production has decreased significantly over the last 18 years and is set to decline even further – this means ever higher imports, which will result in fewer jobs and tax revenues, are worse for the environment than our own production, and will weaken the UK’s energy security. We can reverse this trend.

“Onshore shale gas production will contribute to energy security, create jobs, pay local and national taxes, support our manufacturing industry and make a significant contribution to local communities.

“A recent study commissioned by the UK Government stated that the UK has access to a diverse supply of gas and should be secure against most potential disruptions, but it warned this would only be the case ‘if GB consumers are willing to pay for it’.

“The Government’s own security of supply document stated: ‘Additional domestic sources (such as shale) would be beneficial to GB. They could reduce reliance on imports, have the potential to bring economic benefits by rebalancing the economy, and would increase the diversity of supply available to the GB market.’”

Chief Executive, Ken Cronin, added:

“This country needs a diverse supply of energy which protects and secures UK jobs and UK taxes. Imported gas currently costs over £13 million a day – money that is not generating jobs or tax revenues in this country.

“To achieve greater homegrown energy production, Britain also needs a policy framework and a planning and permitting system that allows industries like ours to be able to get decisions within timescales that work for all concerned including the local communities we work in. Today’s announcement goes some way to ensuring that our energy security is protected and the benefits we have already seen flowing into communities become much more widespread.”

Union Jack Oil
Executive chairman, David Bramhill

“Being at the forefront of the UK onshore hydrocarbon industry, Union Jack is well positioned to benefit from this revised strategy and look forward to the exciting opportunities that await all of our stakeholders.

“The future remains very bright.”

“The statement not only highlights the importance of securing stable domestic gas supplies while minimising harmful environmental impacts but also the substantial economic benefits that the development of onshore gas production can bring to local communities and the UK as a whole.”

Politics

Barry Gardiner, Shadow Energy Secretary

“TYPICAL! Tories make it easier to frack. They can drill test sites WITHOUT planning permission. Your community will have ZERO right to object. It makes a mockery of everything @claireperrymp says about tackling climate change?”

Kevin Hollinrake, Conservative MP for Thirsk and Malton, the seat including Third Energy’s KM8 site

“Have serious concerns about potential new measures on shale gas, particularly permitted development and transfer to national planning system. Have spoken to ministers and will be submitting evidence to consultation and urge others to do same

Caroline Lucas, Co-leader of the Green Party

“Britain’s fracking experiment was on life support and now the Government is trying its best to shock it back into life.

The truth is that fracking is a redundant technology that would lock us into climate breakdown, carve up our countryside and put the economy on the wrong track.

“If we’re serious about building an economy fit for the future we need to reprogramme our energy system to one which harnesses the power of the sun, sea and wind – rather than throwing resources at this failed fracking technology.

“These latest measures utterly undermine the government’s green rhetoric – and show that the Tories simply can’t shake their support for fossil fuel firms.”

Lee Rowley, Conservative MP for North East Derbyshire, which includes proposed Ineos shale gas site

“The Govt is proposing to consult on changes to the planning rules on fracking. Afraid I don’t agree with these proposals and will say so when the consultation opens. Have spoken to Minister briefly this morning and am seeking a fuller meeting with them.”

Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for South East England

“This process has been a sham; the Government can’t claim with any credibility that it has assessed even a handful of the responses to the hefty consultation on these anti-democratic plans that it closed only last week.”

“Ultimately, the Conservative government, for all its empty green promises has proven determined to defy the evidence and local communities and hasten the climate breakdown by fast-tracking a fracking enterprise for which it has been unable to demonstrate either an economic or energy security case. It is with absolute certainty that experts and climate campaigners say: there is no possibility that the UK will meet its legally-binding climate targets if fracking is rolled out across England.”

“The proposals are pure ideology, seeking to blindly promote fracking despite the evidence. The Government has not even made a cursory attempt to balance the contested benefits of a risky industry against the all too real and established disadvantages of environmental degradation and the climate breakdown. The Tories continue to cement their disregard for evidence-based policymaking.”

“The predictable consequences of this anti-democratic move, which seeks to cut local authorities out of the decision-making process, is that the firms that are already failing to mitigate the environmental and social impacts of their activities will continue unabated and without local scrutiny.”

“There is no doubt that our democracy, our communities, our environment, and our planet will suffer.”

91 replies »

  1. There are so many woefully inaccurate quotes from govt and industry that it’s hard to know where to start. However, INEOS commercial director Lyn Calder said quote: “Some environmentalists inhabit a la-la-land where renewable energy is a magical force that is always available. In the real world that simply isn’t the case. We’ll need fossil fuels to generate energy for years to come.”
    Someone in Ms Calder’s position should know better than this – and no doubt does. While renewable energy is not magical and I’ve never heard it described as such, it is indeed always available. In the real word that simply is the case. We only need to harness a small fraction of the solar energy that hits earth on a daily basis to provide all the energy we need (even when it’s cloudy). At other times the wind blows, the rivers flow, the tides come in and out twice a day to a set schedule, the waves constantly move, geothermal is constantly beneath us. What reason could someone have (particularly someone with a senior position in the energy industry) to pretend that these forms of energy are not around us at all times?
    Yes, we are still on a development curve to effectively harness and store them, but a little political will, sensible funding and energy policy would move us forward exponentially in the time it will take to develop a commercial fracking industry, which could still only provide a fairly small percentage of our energy needs. It certainly will need some fossil fuels to generate energy for some years to come, but haven’t we been told by genuine experts that we cannot exploit new forms of hydrocarbons AND keep global warming below 2deg C? Or are all those climate experts living in la la land? The same la la land that representatives of every single country in the world that signed up to the Paris Accord must inhabit too?

      • Well it’s a beautiful sunny Sunday morning folks!
        The morning staff have arrived so I can go for a walk then home to rest.
        Considering this latest government betrayal taking away our civil rights of consultation and local democracy, I thought this song from Leonard Cohen is appropriate.
        It needs no alterations.

        “Everybody Knows”

        Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
        Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
        Everybody knows that the war is over
        Everybody knows the good guys lost
        Everybody knows the fight was fixed
        The poor stay poor, the rich get rich
        That’s how it goes
        Everybody knows
        Everybody knows that the boat is leaking
        Everybody knows that the captain lied
        Everybody got this broken feeling
        Like their father or their dog just died

        Everybody talking to their pockets
        Everybody wants a box of chocolates
        And a long stem rose
        Everybody knows

        Everybody knows that you love me baby
        Everybody knows that you really do
        Everybody knows that you’ve been faithful
        Ah give or take a night or two
        Everybody knows you’ve been discreet
        But there were so many people you just had to meet
        Without your clothes
        And everybody knows

        Everybody knows, everybody knows
        That’s how it goes
        Everybody knows

        Everybody knows, everybody knows
        That’s how it goes
        Everybody knows

        And everybody knows that it’s now or never
        Everybody knows that it’s me or you
        And everybody knows that you live forever
        Ah when you’ve done a line or two
        Everybody knows the deal is rotten
        Old Black Joe’s still pickin’ cotton
        For your ribbons and bows
        And everybody knows

        And everybody knows that the Plague is coming
        Everybody knows that it’s moving fast
        Everybody knows that the naked man and woman
        Are just a shining artifact of the past
        Everybody knows the scene is dead
        But there’s gonna be a meter on your bed
        That will disclose
        What everybody knows

        And everybody knows that you’re in trouble
        Everybody knows what you’ve been through
        From the bloody cross on top of Calvary
        To the beach of Malibu
        Everybody knows it’s coming apart
        Take one last look at this Sacred Heart
        Before it blows
        And everybody knows

        Everybody knows, everybody knows
        That’s how it goes
        Everybody knows

        Oh everybody knows, everybody knows
        That’s how it goes
        Everybody knows

        Everybody knows

        Have a great Sunday with family and friends and for all those on their honeymoon,
        Enjoy!
        Enjoy!

    • Mike your statement that renewables are always available is wrong…

      When the wind doesn’t blow generally three months of the year in total, the sun doesn’t shine at night, when the tide isn’t coming in or out… Think that covers it…

      When intermittent renewables are not in action they have to be backed up. That’s were gas comes in…

      It is people like you that are in la la land…

      Please feel free to answer this as to how intermittent renewables are always available???

      Please don’t come back with the old, well we can just charge big batteries that will work when there is no wind. How big do you think the batteries will have to be to power the U.K to last even an hour on a winters night with no wind. Not possible…

      Your second statement of we are still on a development curve is an understatement. What do you consider sensible funding? I think we’re talking £Billions in subsidies. 10% of our energy bills are already paid in green subsidies.

      • Please consider your statement carefully Kisheny. And also this question… how long is shale gas profitably available from each frack job? Answer: 18 months to 3 years. Beyond that it’s a long tail of diminishing returns. Do you understand decline curves?

        Modern solar panels are guaranteed for around 30 years. Yes the challenge is intermittency, we all know that (as it is for wind turbines). But storage technology is advancing in leaps and bounds and prices are tumbling. New developments will render the need for cobalt and lithium redundant before long also.

        Your gas dream is blighted by the need for a never ending ‘viral’ spread of gas wells across the land (due to their short lived outputs per frack/well). The raw infrastructure costs and the environmental impact costs will never beat the cost of gas from those operations tapping into huge reservoirs like the Azeeri and other fields being developed (a subject you consistently avoid I’ve noticed). They can underpin future supply needs while the renewables sector gets better established and upgraded (which it will if attention and subsidies stop getting diverted towards this fracking insanity).

        • and the small matter of when you light the gas; whoosh, up in a puff of toxic gas; a few million more years to replace, dinosaurs permitting…..

          • Ridiculous and quite wrong Kish.

            It seems a physics lesson is in order? OK pin back your blinkers and read this
            (I know you won’t, and that is sooo funny!)

            The sun “shines” or more technically radiates energy through nuclear fusion in all directions all the time, it never stops, and has not stopped bor billions of years, and hopefully will continue to do so, at all wavelengths from x-ray gamma right up to infra red and ultra violet and beyond, we only use a tiny narrow band and much much more is available if we were intelligent enough to use it..

            It is the earth that revolves around the sun on an elliptical orbit, that gives the impression of night and day, its an illusion, a shadow, nothing more. Our moon revolves around the earth on a near circular orbit and keeps the earth tilted over at 24 degrees and gives us our tides and our seasons.

            Most of that radiation is reflected or absorbed, or rather was, since industrialisation we have decimated the protective ozone layer, ionised gas that reflects radiation. So actually more radiation is now on the surface.

            The wind speed is lower down at ground level due to surface friction, the “ground effect” is well known, a denser layer of air about 1 or 2 metres off the ground. However higher up the wind rarely if ever stops and is mostly many times faster than on ground. Jet streams and air currents are practically constant.

            The moon provides tides twice a day, and varies in timing due to location and coastal complexity, islands etc.

            Deeper off the continental shelves, ocean currents course around on well known paths, whales and fish shoals use these all the time.

            Deep in the mid ocean there are geothermal vents that pour out hot water and natural elements at 300 degrees or more. Geothermal heat is also under every continent and is most obvious at places like Iceland, volcanic regions like Yellowstone. These also exist in England Ireland Wales and Scotland.

            The atmosphere is positively charged, the earth is negatively charged, when the potential difference reaches a certain point, the atmosphere, through storms and moisture discharges to the ground. Lightening, millions of volts in a split second.

            There is also the generator effect of the earths iron core spinning at a different speed to the mantle and crust, combined with the suns massive electromagnetic field the earth generates a massive electrical field tunning south pole positive to north pole negative. If you were to look at an electromagnetic image of the earth it would resemble the suns solar storms but not incandescent and many many times smaller.

            All these are natural energy systems, they are free, they can be collected without high tech and they are available everywhere all the time. A combination from various sources at once could easily provide all our energy needs and more, it just needs co operation and intelligence.

            If we were intelligent enough we would be utilising these free energy sources right now. Countries need to bury their differences, probably by burying their politicians and get together to solve all these problems collectively.

            But locally in UK we could be doing many of these things right now it really is not rocket science.

            The fact that we are not doing these things except in small deliberately minimised and technically and financially and politically crippled instances, is frankly criminal and more to do with established monopolistic jealously guarded rice bowls than any intelligent policies. Wind generators are old tech, new designs don’t have blades and turbines are hidden in toroids, same for tidal and solar, we are using decades old tech to judge these things, modern tech removes all the problems, but as usual it is stifled to keep the price of centrally produced energy high.

            So, let’s recap, the sun shines all the time, we just need to be clever enough to share with other countries, the tides flow somewhere all the time, same proviso, the wind blows all the time somewhere, same proviso, ocean currents flow all the time, same proviso, geothermal vents and continental hot spots are hot all the time, same proviso, electromagnetic energy flows all the time, same proviso.

            Simples, just political and corporate motivation required. And that can be achieved simply enough.

            [Typo corrected at poster’s request]

      • Thanks Phil C for the lesson to Kisheny. That saved me a lot of wasted effort responding. So Kisheny, I will be benevolent and merely assume that your comment was based on the industry shills playbook of ignoring what is actually written and responding to suit a predetermined agenda. I will also assume you actually read the whole post and just ignored most of it in your response, critically the climate change stuff. I’ll also assume you really do know the definition of renewables and how/when they work, but prefer to ignore that as it’s hardly compatible with promoting new sources of hydrocarbons. My apologies – in the list that you only picked out solar and wind from, plus talking total nonsense about tidal, I forgot to mention air source and ground source heat pumps.

        • No problem Mike, Kish and I are relatively recent sparring partners, i would save you the tedium of a detailed response that would only be ignored and sidestepped or is that sidetracked?
          And to be honest, I quite enjoyed it!

          • Ps Mike I would like to hear about air source and ground source heat pumps. Not everything we post need be fire fighting flamers, it’s better to inform each other isn’t it?

            • Not really my area of expertise so probably more info online, but I do know that like other sources of renewables, they’re improving fast. GSHP’s take heat from the ground or from water (yes even in this country and in winter) via a network of pipes to produce usable heat. Needs a fair amount of groundworks and enough ground for the pipework so not ideal for every location, but should work efficiently for years. Also needs energy input for pumping, but I believe that on balance it’s very efficient. ASHPs have improved greatly in recent years too. Fairly big unit resembling an air handling unit, which pulls heat from the surrounding air (again, even in winter, but obviously less then). Used to be rather noisy, but much less so now. Same thing with the energy input to output ratio. I assume they’re just like ‘reverse fridges’ moving moderate levels of ambient heat through a heat exchanger, therefore ‘free’ heat for a limited input of electricity. True experts welcome to improve on that description.

            • This looks interesting Mike, in spite of the screams of rage about crackpot science from the gas guzzlers, sea water may actually be the source of cheap easily available energy to replace natural gas? No hydrogen or oxygen storage required, energy is produced at the point of use.

              ( https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3wwdmwv0zk )

              Cue Kish!

    • Mike Potter, It is estimated that Germany has spent somewhere on the order of $1 trillion USD developing its wind and solar capabilities yet these power sources are certainly not always available to the country. How much money would you suggest spending to make this power “always available”? How do you propose to make solar and wind “always available” during those cold winter months when a high pressure system sits atop the land accompanied by fog and clouds for weeks on end? If your solution involves fixed battery storage, how will you source the required minerals for the massive installations required given that these minerals are already in short supply as EV manufacturing begins to ramp (and fixed energy storage would demand many times the resources)? And finally, what will you offer to those who are destined to perish because of your policies? As it is now, energy poverty is a serious and deadly issue for most of the world’s poor and your policies make this situation much worse (we have plenty of evidence of this!). Perhaps replacing capitalism with socialism would help for a short time? Please put some thought to your answers. Thank you!

      • What nonsense EKT… If you want to quote a source for the one trillion then please do so. After that please provide a figure for how much the German public has saved in using energy from wind and solar including the times of reverse tariffs from feed-ins and from over-supply scenarios. Renewables have (relatively speaking) zero fuel and operational costs once installed. . Germany has spent a large amount getting to where they are with the good will of the majority of the German population. The challenge of scaling down the (lignite) coal plants has been extended only because they shortened the operational life of some of their nuclear baseload capacity, but they’re working on that now, including burning the coal more cleanly. Meanwhile wholesale operational costs of energy there are low because of renewables.https://www.cleanenergywire.org/factsheets/coal-germany . Europe-wide smart grids will help meet renewable supplies overall when renewables generation dips in some areas, and a continued commitment to lowering energy needs for housing along with time shifting battery systems, including cars (absorbing off-peak power and releasing during peak periods) will stabilize grid demand and lower baseload supply needs overall. Gas peakers will be needed for unusual demand periods undoubtedly.

        Elsewhere – non Cobalt and Lithium-dependent (large scale) battery systems are already being trialed so rare minerals should not be a major issue in the medium term. Lithium is not that rare actually , it’s a matter of access and supply, and in some cases (eg Bolivia) politics.

        If you’re one of those who equate getting your facts straight and telling the truth as anti-capitalism then you can count yourself as contributing to its demise.

  2. Well, Mike, unlike some posters on here I have an ASHP, so I can talk from experience!

    Mine is a very simple version not connected to underfloor heating etc. like many are, but simply to heat our conservatory in the winter. Our conservatory is attached to our kitchen so it means we can have that as our main source of heat in the winter with only low heating to other rooms. Very cheap to run as only energy input is for running the pump and fans (inside and outside units.) It can be reversed in summer to provide air conditioning that solves the problem of a conservatory too hot to use in the summer and allows for cooking a Sunday roast even on a hot summers day. The other big advantage is that moisture is removed from the atmosphere so our dog which lives in the conservatory soon dries out after a winter’s day walk and the conservatory furniture doesn’t become damp in the winter.

    Only downside is it does struggle a bit when outside temperature is below minus 5 degrees as it keeps having to automatically defrost the outside unit, and whilst it does that cycle it is not producing heat inside. Also, a bit more difficult calculating capacity required for a conservatory rather than a “standard” room, as obviously a lot more exposed to direct sunlight/ cold winds.

    Still like my gas, though! One of the two thirds, and the 85%.

    • Meanwhile, back in the real world, here is Ian R Cranes video tribute for today which addresses the subject in hand, rather than rambling tangents, and actually does refer to the anti democratic attempt at railroading through the fracking invasion over the poisoned corpse of local democracy and local planning authority representation.

      ( https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=em-lbcastemail&v=xePTikob5fw )

      As always Share and Enjoy! Enjoy!

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