Energy crisis: £3m boost for revolutionary power station to make other sources ‘redundant’

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng announced last month that projects collecting solar power with satellites in the Earth’s orbit will be able to apply for a funding grant worth £3million. These projects have been tipped to provide an ”affordable, clean and reliable source of energy” by the Business Minister. This could prove vital in improving the UK’s energy security and may play a huge role in preventing another crisis further down the line.

It comes as wholesale gas prices have been soaring, exposing the volatile nature of the markets and the dangers of relying on the fossil fuel to provide energy.

Speaking on the Government announcement, Mark Boggett, CEO of Seraphim Space told Express.co.uk: “The UK Government is focused on the big prize.

“Being able to provide clean energy from space is going to be a game-changer and is the kind of thing that we need to do in order to address the giant problems we are facing from the climate perspective.”

And he said that further down the line, it may change the complete nature of the UK energy mix.

While the projects are still in the pipeline and will not provide any immediate relief to the current energy crisis sending bills soaring, these projects are “partly” a response to soaring gas prices.

Mr Boggett told Express.co.uk: “These are long-term projects and a lot needs to be developed and proven in space before this is going to have an impact on energy.

“What this is about is the first step on a long path to align all of the technologies so we can enable this.

“This is partly in response to the global energy crisis, but this has been a focus that has been building over the last 12-18 months.

“The UK has tried to identify a range of areas where we have got technical expertise and the ability to create game-changing technologies.

“Over an extended period of time, it could make all other forms of energy redundant, and I truly believe that we can get there in the end.

“The Sun and its power has far more energy than the world will ever need. If we can harness that in a safe and effective way, that is really going to be a game-changer.”

While the Government grant is available for any British space-based solar project to apply to, there is currently just one initiative that has been set up.

Space Energy Initiative (SEI) is the project which could see Britain set up the first power station in space by 2035.

It is made up of satellites with lightweight solar panels and a system of mirrors to concentrate sunlight onto the panels, generating around 3.4 GW of electricity on the satellite.

By the mid-2040s, the power generated from the space station could reach 30GW, accounting for up to 30 percent of the UK’s electricity demand.

The SEI was “delighted” with the Government funding announcement and highlighted that it built on recommendations of a study by the Frazer-Nash Consultancy, published in September 2021.

The study revealed that Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) are only technologically viable and can bring strong economic benefit to the UK.

It also claimed that it can help the UK race to its net zero target if it is developed quickly enough.

Commenting on the Government funding announcement, Martin Soltau, Co-Chair of the Space Energy Initiative said: “I am delighted that the findings of the Frazer-Nash study have been responded to in this positive way.

The SEI was “delighted” with the Government funding announcement.

and highlighted that it built on recommendations of a study by the Frazer-Nash Consultancy, published in September 2021.

The study revealed that Space-Based Solar Power (SBSP) are only technologically viable and can bring strong economic benefit to the UK.

It also claimed that it can help the UK race to its net zero target if it is developed quickly enough.

Commenting on the Government funding announcement, Martin Soltau, Co-Chair of the Space Energy Initiative said: “I am delighted that the findings of the Frazer-Nash study have been responded to in this positive way.

“This announcement is the first important step on a journey which will ultimately lead us to clean, green energy from space that can be beamed to earth day and night, through all seasons and weather. It’s the most forward-looking solution we have today to the UK’s future energy needs.”

Sam Adlen, Co-Chair of the Space Energy Initiative said: “The Space-Based Solar Power concept has today been given a stamp of approval by the UK Government.

“The announcement will focus the brightest minds in the space and energy industries on this technology and I look forward to seeing what innovative UK companies, working closely together, will be able to develop.”

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  • 7 минут назад 07.08.2022Science
    ‘Norway first!’ Panic as UK’s BIGGEST importer of gas poised to cut supplies off

    The cost of gas and electricity in the UK is at an eye-watering level, despite the fact that Britain imports very little energy from Russia. This is because both the UK and its major gas supplier Norway, are part of the open market, meaning that prices in the rest of Europe affect the UK. Britain is connected to Norway via a 450-mile interconnector that joins Blyth, Northumberland to Kvilldal power station through cables that run through the North Sea.

    This power station, which is Norway’s largest hydroelectric plant, is crucial to the National Grid’s ability to keep the lights on in the UK when domestic electricity generation is low.

    Norway is responsible for over 60 percent of the total gas demand, being the single biggest supplier of gas to the UK.

    However, this link is now under threat as politicians in Norway face pressure on account of soaring energy prices.

    Oslo generates nearly all of its electricity through hydropower, thanks to its abundance of mountain plateaus, natural lakes and fjords.

    The country is also the third largest exporter of natural gas in the world, trailing behind Russia and Qatar, which is why it was dubbed the “battery of Europe”.

    However, as Russian supplies to Europe are squeezed, increased demand for Oslo’s power has led prices in Norway to reach 10 to 20 times higher than before, according to Morten Frisch, a Norwegian energy consultant based in the UK.

    Given that most interconnectors are in the south of Norway, both ends of the country face extreme disparities when it comes to energy prices.

    While electricity in northern households can cost €2 per megawatt (£1.69), families in the southwest of the country can pay a staggering €550 per megawatt (£464).

    Furthermore, Norway is also facing low water reservoir levels, following a dry spell during spring and summer, meaning its hydroelectric power plants have low supplies.

    Mr Frisch told the Telegraph “This is not something you can just fill up at will.

    “When they run dry, they run dry, and it’s likely to take a minimum of three months, possibly six months, before they can be refilled by rain.

    This has led to Olso’s government facing pressure from campaigners, calling on Norway to cut itself off from Europe.

    In a 600,000-strong Facebook group named Vi som krever billigere strøm (meaning “we who demand cheaper electricity”), users have expressed outrage over a “price contagion” that has spread from Britain and Germany, and demanded that Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre take action.

  • 7 минут назад 07.08.2022Science
    Archaeology discovery: Humans and neanderthals were engaged in 100,000 year battle

    Homo neanderthalensis, or neanderthals, and Homo sapiens, which are us, both sprung from the same evolutionary branch. Around 600,000 years ago, humanity split in two. The people were refer to as cavemen headed up to Europe and Asia while Homo sapiens stayed put in Africa.

    However, it was this split which ultimately led to war for the top spot between the two species.

    Both Homo sapiens and neanderthals were extremely adept at hunting, fighting and organising – three traits key to warfare.

    While neanderthals boomed out across the world, humans were forced to stay in Africa.

    However, it was because of the immense breeding power of humans that we eventually had to move out of Africa in search for new habitats and food.

    Unfortunately for humans, neanderthals had already made their mark on the planet and occupied the placed humans wanted to make their own.

    This led to a battle for dominance between the two species which your ancestors won.

    Humans and neanderthals share very similar anatomy and they also had 99.7 percent the same DNA.

    As you can imagine, this means they were virtually the same as us; which included being extremely territorial and to take whatever is there for the taking.

    According to Nicholas Longrich, senior lecturer in evolutionary biology and palaeontology at the University of Bath, said it was their resistance and humans need to conquer which led to a 100,000-year war to determine who was top dog. Ultimately, humanity won out.

    Mr Longrich said: “War leaves a subtler mark in the form of territorial boundaries. The best evidence that Neanderthals not only fought but excelled at war, is that they met us and weren’t immediately overrun.

    “Instead, for around 100,000 years, Neanderthals resisted modern human expansion.

    “Why else would we take so long to leave Africa? Not because the environment was hostile but because Neanderthals were already thriving in Europe and Asia.

    “It’s exceedingly unlikely that modern humans met the Neanderthals and decided to just live and let live.

    “If nothing else, population growth inevitably forces humans to acquire more land, to ensure sufficient territory to hunt and forage food for their children.

    “Instead, for thousands of years, we must have tested their fighters, and for thousands of years, we kept losing. In weapons, tactics, strategy, we were fairly evenly matched.

    “Finally, the stalemate broke, and the tide shifted. We don’t know why. It’s possible the invention of superior ranged weapons – bows, spear-throwers, throwing clubs – let lightly-built Homo sapiens harass the stocky Neanderthals from a distance using hit-and-run tactics.

    “Or perhaps better hunting and gathering techniques let sapiens feed bigger tribes, creating numerical superiority in battle.

    “Even after primitive Homo sapiens broke out of Africa 200,000 years ago, it took over 150,000 years to conquer Neanderthal lands.

    “In Israel and Greece, archaic Homo sapiens took ground only to fall back against Neanderthal counteroffensives, before a final offensive by modern Homo sapiens, starting 125,000 years ago, eliminated them.

    “This wasn’t a blitzkrieg, as one would expect if Neanderthals were either pacifists or inferior warriors, but a long war of attrition.

    “Ultimately, we won. But this wasn’t because they were less inclined to fight. In the end, we likely just became better at war than they were.”

  • 7 минут назад 07.08.2022Science
    Scientists baffled: Earth’s rotation ‘wobbles’ as it moves further away from Sun

    On Tuesday, July 26, researchers recorded a new world record which shows the planet is rotating faster than ever before, causing the days to get shorter. Using precise calculations and atomic clocks, scientists noted the change in time with the shortest day so far. However, scientists then noted that despite this record, the Earth may actually be slowing down, causing days to get longer.

    Matt King and Christopher Watson from the University of Tasmania wrote: “But despite this record, since 2020 that steady speedup has curiously switched to a slowdown – days are getting longer again, and the reason is so far a mystery.”

    The Earth doesn’t take exactly 24 hours to spin around its axis, it usually varies ever so slightly, with even events like earthquakes influencing this time.

    Professors King and Watson said: “Over millions of years, Earth’s rotation has been slowing down due to friction effects associated with the tides driven by the Moon.

    “That process adds about 2.3 milliseconds to the length of each day every century.

    “A few billion years ago an Earth day was only about 19 hours.”

    However, over the past 20,000 years since the last ice age, melting polar ice sheets have reduced the surface pressure on the Earth, causing the mantle to steadily move towards the poles.

    The researchers wrote: “Just as a ballet dancer spins faster as they bring their arms toward their body – the axis around which they spin – so our planet’s spin rate increases when this mass of mantle moves closer to Earth’s axis.

    “And this process shortens each day by about 0.6 milliseconds each century.”

    Once scientists account for minor rotation speed fluctuations we know happen due to the tides and seasonal effects, they were baffled by the findings.

    They discovered that despite breaking a record for the shortest day, “the long-term trajectory seems to have shifted from shortening to lengthening since 2020”, marking an “unprecedented shift” over the last five decades.

    Researchers have come up with a number of different theories about why this is taking place, with some suggesting that weather events like melting ice caps or back-to-back la Nina may have played a role.

    Some even hypothesised that it could be related to the huge volcano explosion in Tonga injecting huge amounts of water into the atmosphere, however, that seems unlikely given that the eruption took place in January this year.

    Professors King and Watson added: “Scientists have speculated this recent, mysterious change in the planet’s rotational speed is related to a phenomenon called the “Chandler wobble” – a small deviation in Earth’s rotation axis with a period of about 430 days.

    “Observations from radio telescopes also show that the wobble has diminished in recent years; the two may be linked.”

    While the Earth appears to be suddenly slowing down, it is also moving further away from the Sun.

    According to NASA, the Earth is on average about 150 million kilometers away from the giant fiery ball of flames, spinning around in an elliptical orbit.

    However, the average distance between Earth and the sun has been slowly increasing over time, particularly as the Sun loses mass.

    Nuclear fusion, which involve converting mass into energy, is what powers the Sun.

  • 2 часа, 7 минут назад 07.08.2022Science
    ‘Doesn’t make sense!’ Truss’ energy reform plan could send bills soaring higher

    UK households currently face the crippling effects of an energy crisis brought about by the skyrocketing costs of wholesale gas over the past year. With millions of Britons facing fuel poverty this winter as energy bills are set to reach £3,400 a year, tackling this crisis will be at the forefront of the next prime minister’s agenda. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has repeatedly announced her plans to help families by “immediately” scrapping the green levies applied on bills.

    Writing in the Sunday Telegraph today, Ms Truss noted that she wanted to “immediately tackle the cost-of-living crisis by cutting taxes, reversing the rise on National Insurance and suspending the green levy on energy bills.”

    However, Will Hodson, the consumer champion from the How To Save It campaign has urged the next prime minister to avoid “short-sighted” cuts, arguing that they will only worsen the energy crisis.

    Speaking to Express.co.uk, he said: “It’s difficult to know exactly what the overall position is for either of the candidates if they assume different ones at different times.

    “Taking the most important thing first, [Ms Truss] is taking on the green levies.

    “I don’t think any aspiring prime minister should be ditching green levies.

    “So much of energy feels complicated and hard to understand and at times its quite simple- we’re in the mess that we’re in because we’re reliant on expensive fossil fuels from overseas and because we use too much energy because our homes are largely inefficient.”

    According to Full Fact, green levies on UK energy households make up about eight percent of the energy bills, which means that under the current price cap, a maximum of £157 was taken from consumers as for environmental projects.

    Mr Hodson noted that the green levies on consumer bills served two crucial objectives, developing alternative sources of energy to fossil fuels like oil and gas, and supporting energy efficiency measures that would help households use less energy.

    He added: “in order words, that’s precisely how we get away from spending as much as we are on our energy right now, and I think scrapping it is the wrong thing to do and short-sighted.”

    He had “no doubt” it would worsen the energy crisis adding “let’s start with what candidates can do to alleviate the suffering of households in the middle of a cost of living crisis.

    “You have a £400 off everyone’s bills in the country, you’ve got targetted support in the form of £150 off council taxes.

    “You’ve got winter fuel payments being increased, so there are targeted ways to help people with the winter ahead that we’re already doing.

    “What we don’t need from any candidate is ideological swipes, what we need is pragmatism

    “Getting rid of green levies doesn’t make sense in any meaningful timeframe.”

    He compared these promises to green levies cuts made by former Prime Minister David Cameron in 2013 when he pledged to end “green crap” policies.

    Mr Hodson said: “As a matter of fact it’s been shown that when David Cameron cut the ‘green crap’ famously, the decision he took led to British bills going up by hundreds of pounds because of that short-sighted cut.

    “We need to support British households and the way to do is largely in the forms we’ve seen emerging already.

    “We don’t need to destroy our hopes of developing alternatives to gas and improving our energy efficiency so we use less of it.”

  • 4 часа, 7 минут назад 07.08.2022Science
    Musk primed to snub EU ‘bureaucracy’ and build new Tesla gigafactory in the UK

    At a shareholder conference last week, the Tesla CEO unveils plans to build an additional 10-12 large-scale electric vehicle manufacturing facilities, known as gigafactories. Mr Musk noted that these new plants will “really be Gigafactories,” and would aim for output of between one and a half to two million units per factory. He also noted that the EV giant may be able to announce an additional factory this year, with Canada seemingly being the frontrunner.

    However, Britain is not ready to count itself out just yet, as Ben Houchen, the Conservative Mayor for Tees Valley, urged the world’s richest man to build a factory in the North East of England.

    In a letter seen by The Telegraph, Mr Houchen wrote: “In the UK, where we have an £82billion automobile industry which leads the world in the production of high-end vehicles, it would surely make sense for Tesla to develop a serious presence, with Teesside being the best possible location to do this.”

    The Tees Valley mayor promised that the region could offer Mr Musk “hundreds of acres of ideal developable land” while avoiding “the bureaucratic entanglements seen at other sites”.

    This appears to be a dig at Germany, which hosted Tesla’s most recent gigafactory, which opened earlier this year.

    The EV manufacturer experienced major delays in firing up the gigafactory in Berlin and repeatedly took to Twitter to complain about red tape in Germany.

    “Sigh,” Mr Musk tweeted in response to an article posted about a consultation process for local citizens to express objections.

    In a second tweet, he added, “What they are doing is just not right” as the plant faced protests from union workers and climate activists.

    Tesla is currently looking to manufacture 1.5 million EVs this year alone and plans to produce as many as 20 million cars a year in the future.

    Such a staggering figure would put Tesla’s output as over two much as Toyota, the world’s largest car manufacturer, which sold 9.6 million cars last year.

    Mr Houchen noted that through the Teesside Freeport, the region would be able to offer Mr Musk access to customs incentives.

    Industry figures show that Britons have already purchased a total of 21,000 new Teslas this year alone, and this number is only expected to grow as the UK looks to ban new petrol vehicle sales from 2030.

  • 4 часа, 7 минут назад 07.08.2022Science
    ‘War an issue’ Chinese political expert warns of long-term impact of Pelosi Taiwan visit

    The news comes following Ms Pelosi’s controversial trip to the disputed island which China claims belongs to the nation under the “One China” policy. Already, the diplomatic fallout of the visit has begun with China restricting commerce with Taiwan, as well as seeing Beijing perform live-fire exercises in the Straits of Taiwan during Ms Pelosi’s visit. Yet it is the long-term impact of the trip which will dictate the future of ties between Washington and Beijing.

    Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Senior Fellow at the Taihe Institute in China, Einar Tangen was asked about why the US ignored the warnings issued to the US prior to the visit of the House Speaker, the first since the 1990s when Newt Gingrich attended the island.

    Mr Tanger said: “There are two different narratives from the US side, and one narrative from the Chinese side.

    “US narrative 1: Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, decided on her own to visit Taiwan while on a trip to Asia.

    “US Narrative 2: Joe Biden and Anthony Blinken wanted to have plausible deniability while pursuing a campaign aimed a pressuring China.

    “The fact that the plane carrying the Speaker is a US air force plane, and the visit required 40 fighter jets, refuelling planes and the redirection of a nuclear aircraft carrier indicates a high level of planning and involvement.

    “There is no apparent pluses for Taiwan, just verbal support, prior to an election Tai Yingwei is facing.”

    Mr Tangen continued: “The Chinese narrative: Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has broken the basis of the diplomatic relationship that was set up in the early ’70s and ’80s, with the Three Joint Communiqués between the US and China where is was expressly agreed that there was only one China, that Taiwan would be removed from the United Nations and replaced on the Security Council, by the Peoples Republic of China.”

    Mr Tangen then spoke of the long-term impact on ties between the two nations.

    He said: “China has military, diplomatic and economic options against the US.

    “Given the severity of the breach, militarily, China is already using live fire exercises around the island to send a message, diplomatically, either a downgrading of relations or the removal of Chinese and US Consulates could be an option; economically, additional duties on Chinese goods going to America could add to the existing inflation.

    “Current actions make war an issue, but would require an additional step by Taiwan, such as a declaration of independence.”

    Finally, Mr Tangen spoke of the relationship China will have with Taiwan following the visit.

    He ended: “40 percent of the Taiwanese economy depends on Mainland China, there is no practical way to unravel the markets or investments.

    “Beijing has shown consistent restraint on economic issues involving Taiwan, choosing instead to offer investment and working incentives.

    “The people of Taiwan are Chinese, punishing the people of Taiwan for what they see as misguided steps if its leadership has not been an option, up to now.”

    In spite of pressure applied by China before, during and after the trip, the US has stated it would remain in strong support of Taiwan.

    Ms Pelosi said of her trip: “We are proud of our enduring friendship.

    “Now more than ever, America’s solidarity with Taiwan is crucial and that is the message we are bringing here today.”

    Speaking of the Chinese exercises coinciding with the trip, Taiwan’s Defence Ministry described the military exercises as “irrational” and tantamount to a “blockade.”

    It said the planned drills would violate Taiwan’s territorial waters, “threaten an international waterway, challenge the international order, undermine the cross-strait status quo and endanger regional security.”

    President Tsai, like Ms Pelosi, appeared unshaken by China’s warnings.

    She said: “Facing deliberately heightened military threats, Taiwan will not back down.

    “We will firmly uphold our nation’s sovereignty and continue to hold the line of defence for democracy.

    “At the same time, we wish to cooperate and work in unity with all democracies around the world to jointly safeguard democratic values.”

    Follow me on Twitter @JamesLee_DE for more Defence and Security News

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