Energy Policy

On 2 May, the Committee on Climate Change will publish new advice to the UK Government and the Devolved Administrations on the UK’s long-term climate change targets. Ahead of that report, the CCC’s Chief Executive, Chris Stark, addressed the Business Green Leaders Briefing to share his observations about the ‘climate choices’ that lie ahead, the scale and feasibility of the net zero challenge, and the importance of effective governance and leadership for long-term UK climate action. In 2008, the first action of the newly-independent Committee on Climate Change was to advise on the appropriate 2050 target for emissions. At the time, there was no globally agreed temperature goal. So we judged, based on the available climate science, that an appropriate global climate objective would be 2°C, and to avoid an extreme danger threshold of 4°C. An 80% reduction in greenhouse gases by 2050, from their 1990 level, was our best estimate of the appropriate UK contribution to that goal. We said it was “challenging but feasible” and that it carried a cost – of 1-2% of GDP – which was affordable to avoid a much greater economic cost in the future. Parliament agreed – and since then we have been advising on the best, most cost-effective route to get there under the framework of carbon budgets and government plans that are required. But a great deal has changed since 2008. The UK has signed the Paris Agreement, which expects greater ambition from developed countries – and references 1.5 degrees as a global temperature goal. Global emissions have continued to rise – making one of our 2008 scenarios for peak global emissions in 2016 look very optimistic. And other shifts have occurred too – crucially, our understanding of the path to full decarbonisation and the costs of some the key technologies.

Committee on Climate Change 19th March 2019 read more »

Chief executive of Climate Change Committee Chris Stark tells business leaders to ‘take the leap’ on decarbonisation ahead of net zero report publication. Businesses should “embrace” the low-carbon transition and start investing now to prepare for the decarbonisation of the UK’s economy, the chief executive of the government’s climate watchdog said today. Speaking at BusinessGreen’s Leader’s Briefing on Net Zero Transport, Chris Stark warned governments and businesses no longer have any choice over whether to act on climate change – the only choice on offer is when to make the investment. “It’s a choice to act now, to invest in that new paradigm of carbon-neutral economic growth, or a choice to wait, and spend more,” he said. “Very, very much more in adapting to the higher temperatures and the associated destructive climate impacts.”

Business Green 19th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 20 March 2019

Energy Policy – Scotland

This report, by the CCC’s Adaptation Committee, is the second independent assessment of the Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme (SCCAP), required under the Climate Change (Scotland) Act 2009. The assessment focuses on what has changed since the Committee’s first assessment in 2016, in implementing policies and actions set out in the SCCAP and in managing Scotland’s vulnerability to climate risks. The key findings are: The most notable progress since the first assessment includes peatland restoration, increasing marine resilience and an improved understanding of flood risk in Scotland. The areas of greatest continued concern include increases in pests and diseases in Scottish forests, declines in seabird populations and soil health. Key data and evidence gaps remain that make it difficult to assess progress for a number of adaptation priorities, including the extent of housing and other infrastructure development in flood risk areas and health impacts from climate change.The Committee expects its findings to be considered in the next iteration of the Scottish Government’s SCCAP, which is due to be published later in 2019.

CCC 19th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 20 March 2019

Utilities

It will celebrate its 20th birthday next year but Simon Rogerson, co-founder of one of Britain’s fastest growing private companies, says that the financial services group Octopus has its work cut out for years to come. Its bread and butter is investing in small and medium-sized companies but the diverse group has six divisions including Octopus Energy, a rapidly expanding renewable power supplier, as well as a venture capital arm and a healthcare unit that invests in care homes and retirement villages. Octopus picks areas of expansion based on where it believes customers are poorly served. “Financial services and energy are the least two trusted sectors in the world so they’re ripe for disruption,” Mr Rogerson says. The company is making a concerted effort to try to attract more institutions such as pension funds to invest in areas such as venture capital and renewable energy infrastructure. However, there are no plans for Octopus to grow more limbs. “These are giant sectors,” Mr Hulatt says.

Times 20th March 2019 read more »

Green energy supplier Octopus has this week announced a new partnership with Amazon’s Alexa device, which will provide consumers with the chance to take advantage of time of use energy tariffs using voice automation. In what the companies describe as a first of a kind service, consumers will be able to use the Alexa hub to adjust energy usage based on half-hourly price changes offered by Octopus’ recently launched time of use tariff.

Business Green 19th March 2019 read more »

Oil companies want to become power utilities to meet rising demand from electricity in transport and from growing populations. The strategy makes perfect sense but could be risky for regulators and consumers if it results in a new breed of gigantic energy-controlling monopolies. On one hand, watchdogs in developed markets such as the UK should welcome the introduction of relatively new players such as Shell and BP to challenge the Big Six conventional utilities. On the other, electricity markets are politically sensitive and oil majors would make easy targets for politicians keen to look like they are protecting consumers if profits become too inflated. The Labour Party has threatened to nationalise parts of the electricity industry if it gains power in Britain. Meanwhile, regulator Ofgem was forced last year to introduce price caps to reduce household energy costs in response to political pressure. Introducing big oil into the debate could further fan the flames. There is also the question of shareholder value for oil industry leaders to consider. Can Shell and other oil majors afford to lift spending in their embryonic electricity businesses and still maintain adequate levels of expenditure on their conventional oil and gas divisions, which remain the main drivers of profits and investor returns?

Telegraph 19th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 20 March 2019

Fukushima

The crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant reached an undesired milestone on March 18: Storage tanks at the site now contain more than 1 million tons of radiation-contaminated water. The announcement by the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., came as the utility and the central government continue to weigh water-disposal methods while hearing the concerns of fishermen who fear for their livelihoods. Toyoshi Fuketa, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, has repeatedly said a decision must be made soon on how to deal with the contaminated water. “We are entering a period in which further delays in deciding what measure to implement will no longer be tolerable,” Fuketa recently said. The government has spent about 34.5 billion yen ($309 million) to build a frozen underground earth wall around the three reactor buildings to divert the groundwater to the ocean. The “ice wall” has cut down the flow of groundwater, which at one time reached about 500 tons a day. But still, groundwater continues to flow into the three reactor buildings at a rate of about 100 tons daily.

Asahi 19th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 20 March 2019

Chernobyl

Book Review by Ian Fairlie: Kate Brown’s excellent new book is valuable because of her lengthy, painstaking research into the Soviet archives after the accident. In many of these, she was the first to examine their contents. She spent many years in Russia and Ukraine and learned to speak both languages in order to carry out her research. Not many researchers do that, so kudos to the author. The best parts of her book describe the citizen-scientists, independent doctors, health officials, journalists, and activists who started to unravel the truth about the long-term ill-health caused by Chernobyl’s radioactive fallout. Importantly, the book casts a powerful light not only on mendacious, and/or negligent Soviet authorities, but also at Western governments and international agencies, such as the IAEA and WHO, who for decades downplayed or concealed the human health effects of Chernobyl. Sadly, in my experience, they continue to do so to this day. Rather than attributing the cover up of Chernobyl’s effects solely to authoritarian regimes, the book points to similarities in the willingnesses of both Soviet and Western governments to sacrifice the healths of workers, the public, and the environment to the perceived need to protect nuclear power. It is a highly readable book too.

Amazon 19th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 20 March 2019

US

Independent watchdogs are raising alarm about the nuclear power industry’s ongoing efforts to convince federal regulators to scale back safety inspections and limit what “lower-level” issues are reported to the public. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)—an agency dominated by President Donald Trump’s appointees—is currently reviewing its enforcement policies and is set to put forth recommendations for updating the nationwide rules in June. As part of that process, it sought input from plant operators and industry groups. In September, one of those groups, the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), outlined the industry’s wish list in a letter (pdf). Requests include shifting to more “self-assessments,” cutting back on public disclosures for problems at plants, and reducing the “burden of radiation-protection and emergency-preparedness inspections.”

Common Dreams 15th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 20 March 2019

France

The abundance of nuclear energy in France hampers the development of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), the number of which has more than doubled in Europe in 2018, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance ( BNEF). “It is unlikely [in France] the contract market PPP satisfies the appetite of a buyer in terms of price coverage or commercial advantage,” explained in an interview with Montel Helen Dewhurst, partner in the sustainable development sector at BNEF. According to her, the price of electricity in France should remain “low” in the coming years “due in particular to the proliferation of nuclear energy.”

Montel 19th March 2019 read more »

EDF noted “significant safety events” at 37 reactors – ASN.

Montel 18th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 20 March 2019

Brazil

Gunmen have attacked a convoy of trucks carrying uranium fuel to a nuclear power plant near the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, police say. The convoy came under attack as it drove past a community controlled by drug traffickers in Angra dos Reis, a tourist city 145km (90 miles) from Rio. Police escorting the convoy responded and a shootout followed. No-one was injured or detained. The convoy reached the Angra 2 plant safely 20 minutes after the attack.

BBC 20th March 2019 read more »

Guardian 20th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 20 March 2019

Nuclear Convoy

A ‘NUCLEAR CONVOY’ forced drivers to divert this morning as it closed off a slip road onto the A34. The four-strong convoy, believed to be warhead carriers, was spotted about 9am today travelling through the county having previously left AWE in Burghfield, Berkshire. It is believed to have made its way from the Atomic Weapons Establishment at 8am and through heavy traffic travelled along the A4, M4 and onto the A34 up to the county.

Oxford Mail 19th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 20 March 2019

Fusion

UK pledges to fully fund EU nuclear-fusion facility. Britain will pay £60 million to keep the Joint European Torus near Oxford running if negotiations to continue EU funding stall.

Nature 19th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 20 March 2019