Energy Costs

Onshore windfarms could be built in the UK for the same cost as new gas power stations and would be nearly half as expensive as the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, according to a leading engineering consultant. Arup found that the technology has become so cheap that developers could deliver turbines for a guaranteed price of power so low that it would be effectively subsidy-free in terms of the impact on household energy bills. France’s EDF was awarded a contract for difference – a top-up payment – of £92.50 per megawatt hour over 35 years for Hinkley’s power, or around twice the wholesale price of electricity. By contrast, Arup’s report found that windfarms could be delivered for a maximum of £50-55 per MWh across 15 years. ScottishPower, which commissioned the analysis, hopes to persuade the government to reconsider its stance on onshore windfarms, which the Conservatives effectively blocked in 2015 by banning them from competing for subsidies and imposing new planning hurdles. Keith Anderson, the firm’s chief operating officer, told the Guardian that onshore wind could help the UK meet its climate targets, was proven in terms of being easy to deliver, and was now “phenomenally competitive” on price. The group believes that any political sting for Tory MPs concerned about public opposition to turbines in English shires would be removed because such a low guaranteed price would see only the windiest sites coming in cheap enough – which means windfarms in Scotland. “You put these projects in the right place, you will get the correct level of resource out of them to keep the costs down and you will get public acceptance of people liking them,” Anderson said, citing the example of the company’s huge Whitelee windfarm near Glasgow. Dr Robert Gross, director of the centre for energy policy and technology at Imperial College, said: “Onshore wind has been coming in at remarkably low prices internationally, so a contract for difference price of around £50-60 per MWh looks perfectly feasible for a good location in the UK, one of the windiest countries in Europe. “Windfarms generally need fixed price contracts in order to secure finance, otherwise volatile electricity prices can make investing in wind risky.” The Conservative manifesto was seen by some in industry as softening the party’s stance on onshore wind, saying that it did not believe “more large-scale onshore wind power is right for England” but not mentioning Wales and Scotland, which have some of the best potential sites. The party also promised a review of the cost of energy which the Guardian revealed last week was likely to be led by the University of Oxford economist Dieter Helm, a critic of the cost of today’s renewable and nuclear power technologies. However, Anderson said he saw the report, due in October, as a good opportunity. “I would find it surprising if anybody else doing a costs review of the energy sector comes to a fundamentally different argument [to the Arup report],” he said. Leo Murray, of climate change charity 10:10, said: “It looks increasingly absurd that the Conservatives have effectively banned Britain’s cheapest source of new power.”

Guardian 23rd July 2017 read more »

A move from Government to exempt Britain’s energy-intensive industries from some of the costs associated with renewable energy policies has ignited a debate over whether such a move is necessary for the growth of green business.

Edie 21st July 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 July 2017

Energy Policy

Consumers in the UK could save billions of pounds thanks to major changes in the way electricity is made, used and stored, the government has said. New rules will make it easier for people to generate their own power with solar panels, store it in batteries and sell it to the National Grid. If they work, consumers will save £17bn to £40bn by 2050, according to the government and energy regulator Ofgem. The rules are due to come into effect over the next year. They will reduce costs for someone who allows their washing machine to be turned on by the internet to maximise use of cheap solar power on a sunny afternoon. And they will even support people who agree to have their freezers switched off for a few minutes to smooth demand at peak times. They’ll also benefit a business that allows its air-conditioning to be turned down briefly to help balance a spell of peak energy demand on the National Grid. Thanks to improvements in digital technology, battery storage and renewables, these innovations in flexibility are already under way with millions of people across the UK generating and storing electricity. So instead of predicting peak demand then building power stations to meet it, energy managers will be able to trade in Negawatts – negative electricity. Business Secretary Greg Clark will outline further a £246m investment in the UK’s industrial strategy, with energy at its heart. He will offer details of a competition for innovation in battery technology, which he says will help make the UK a world leader in battery design and manufacture.

BBC 24th July 2017 read more »

The Government is poised to invest £246m in battery technology that it says will be a key pillar in helping to power its industrial strategy. In its first major move to support the nascent battery revolution, the Government will set up a “battery institute” to award hundreds of millions of pounds to companies on the brink of major research and development breakthroughs. Greg Clarke, the business secretary, is travelling to Birmingham today to deliver his first public address on the Government’s industrial strategy since the snap general election. He is set to underline the importance of “cutting -edge energy plans”, which include battery power and electric, driverless vehicles. Mr Clarke is expected to say that the Government’s co-ordinated programme of battery funding competitions, dubbed the Faraday Challenge, “w ill – quite literally – power the automotive and energy revolution.”

Telegraph 23rd July 2017 read more »

Old-style renationalisation of the energy system, whereby the state buys all existing assets, would be a “monumental misuse of public money,” according to shadow energy minister Alan Whitehead. Speaking at the Energy Network Association’s annual Well Connected reception in Whitehall last night (Thursday July 20), Whitehead outlined a vision of renationalisation whereby parts of the energy system would be “municipalised and localised and under accountable control,” but the government would not buy up existing asset bases. He said: “The fact that the process is municipalised and localised and under accountable control is to my mind a way of talking about nationalisation but a very different process indeed.”

Utility Week 21st July 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 July 2017

Utilities

Two of the country’s largest green energy providers will be at loggerheads this week over an attempt by Dale Vince, the founder of Ecotricity, to get on to the board of Good Energy, an Aim-quoted rival. Ecotricity snapped up 25 per cent of Good Energy last year and has requisitioned a general meeting to appoint Mr Vince and Simon Crowfoot, an Ecotricity executive, to the Good Energy board. Good Energy’s board has come out strongly against the proposal, likening it to a stealth takeover. Good Energy will write to shareholders detailing its concerns and urging them to vote against Ecotricity’s proposal next month. John Maltby, Good Energy’s chairman, said this month that having the “owner and senior management of a competitor on our board would be unworkable”. He claims that the presence of Ecotricity executives on the board represents a conflict o f interest. Ecotricity must win the support of investors representing 50 per cent of Good Energy’s shares. Mr Vince told The Sunday Telegraph: “We have the biggest stake in the company and are entitled to a presence on the board.”

Times 24th July 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 July 2017

Euratom

In the current UK debate about Euratom, there are three common errors. First that Membership of Euratom is possible outside of EU membership; Second that Associate membership is an alternative option, and thirdly Trade in medical isotopes will be impacted by the UK’s departure.

Mark Johnson’s Blog 23rd July 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 July 2017

Vanunu

On 10 July 2017, Mordechai Vanunu was given a two-month suspended jail sentence by Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court. Vanunu is a former nuclear technician at the Negev Nuclear Research Centre in Dimona, Israel, who served an 18-year prison sentence for revealing information about Israel’s atomic program in 1986. He was sentenced earlier this month for violating the conditions of his release from prison, having met with foreigners in recent years. After his release from jail in 2004, Israel banned Vanunu from travelling abroad or speaking with foreigners without approval, alleging he has more details to divulge on the Dimona atomic reactor. Billy Briggs has been to Jerusalem twice to interview Vanunu. In 2005, Vanunu was arrested three days after they met and charged with speaking to foreigners and violating the conditions of his parole.

The Ferret 18th July 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 July 2017

Nuclear Weapons

New questions are being raised about the UK’s £41bn programme to replace its Trident nuclear deterrent after the cost of building the reactors that will power the submarine fleet soared. An extra £235m of taxpayers’ money is needed for the £1.465bn scheme to make and maintain the reactor cores for the navy’s existing nuclear submarines and the four Dreadnought-class ballistic missile submarines, the first of which is expected to enter service in 2028. Last week a government watchdog gave the project a damning “red” warning. The rating – the severest possible – by officials at the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA), which reports to the Cabinet Office and Treasury, means a successful delivery of the project “appe ars to be unachievable” under the original budget and that “there are major issues on project definition, schedule, budget, quality and/or benefits delivery, which at this stage do not appear to be manageable or resolvable.”

Times 23rd July 2017 read more »

THE UK Government’s £43 billion plans to replace the Trident nuclear weapons system and build a new fleet of nuclear-powered submarines for the Clyde are “in doubt” or “unachievable”, according to a high-powered Westminster spending watchdog. A new report from the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) to the Cabinet Office and the Treasury in London has condemned three major nuclear projects run by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) for being poorly managed, over-budget and beset bytechnical problems.

Herald 23rd July 2017 read more »

Bite the bullet and call a halt to Trident. YOU can always tell when a big public scheme turns seriously sour. Managers reorganise and the product is rebranded, as if changing the process and the name will solve the fundamental problems. Famously in the nuclear sphere, the reputation of the Windscale reprocessing plant in Cumbria became so bad we all had to learn to call it Sellafield. Now it seems the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is trying to pull the same trick with Trident. The programme to replace Trident nuclear submarines has been so dogged with technical problems and costs overruns, they have decided to rename it. From now on, we should call it Dreadnought – also the name of the UK’s first nuclear submarine now languishing at Rosyth dockyard.

Herald 23rd July 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 July 2017

Companies

Football isn’t particularly known for its progressive thinking, but Ecotricity’s collaboration with Forest Green Rovers could shift the goalposts. Welcome to the most sustainable football club in the world – probably.

Positive News 19th July 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 July 2017

Renewables & Jobs

The pace of green jobs growth in the UK has plunged to its lowest level in five years as ministers dither over a raft of decisions on the future of a renewable energy industry battered by subsidy cuts. The number of jobs in wind, solar, biofuel and other clean power companies rose to just under 126,000 last year, new figures show, a record amount for a sector that barely existed 20 years ago. However, this is only a 2.5 per cent rise from the previous year, the smallest increase since 2012 and well below the 9 per cent jump recorded in 2014. Businesses across the UK energy sector have grown increasingly frustrated by delays on a slew of policy decisions affecting future investments, as ministers grapple with Brexit and the fallout from the second general election in two years. Renewables companies are still waiting for the energy department to publish a much-delayed “clean growth plan” setting out how the UK will meet targets to cut carbon emissions. Ministers said in 2015 it would be published by the end of 2016 but now say it will not come out until autumn 2017.

FT 24th July 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 July 2017

Renewables – Scotland

In the first six months of 2017 enough power was generated to supply more than all of Scotland’s national demand for six days. Wind power output in Scotland has helped set a new record for the first half of the year, according to an independent conservation group. Analysis by WWF Scotland of data provided by WeatherEnergy found wind turbines provided around 1,039,001MWh of electricity to the National Grid during June. Renewable energy figures show the power generated last month was enough to supply the electrical needs equivalent to 118 per cent of Scottish households or nearly three million homes. In the first six months of 2017 enough power was generated to supply more than all of Scotland’s national demand for six days. Turbines provided 6,634,585MWh of electricity to the National Grid, which analysts say could on average supply the electrical needs of 124 per cent of Scottish households, or more than three million homes. Dr Sam Gardner, acting director of WWF Scotland, said: “The first six months of 2017 have certainly been incredible for renewables, with wind turbines alone helping to ensure millions of tonnes of climate-damaging carbon emissions were avoided. “Scotland is continuing to break records on renewable electricity, attracting investment, creating jobs and tackling climate change.

Independent 24th July 2017 read more »

The National 24th July 2017 read more »

Scotsman 24th July 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 July 2017

Island Energy

The company behind plans to build a large wind farm in the central mainland of Shetland has made half of its staff redundant after it became clear that the project would not progress before early 2019. Viking Energy, a partnership between Scottish and Southern Energy and the Shetland Charitable Trust, has planning consent to build a 103-turbine wind farm in the Lang Kames and around South Nesting. The project has been in limbo for a number of years as it awaits confirmation from the UK government whether or not it can bid for financial support under the Contracts for Difference (CfD) programme. A decision on whether to build a subsea cable to connect Shetland with the national grid is also pending. Earlier this week, western isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil said that energy minister Richard Harrington had confirmed to him his determination to ensure that island wind projects would be included in the CfD bidding process. Should such an approach get state aid clearance from Europe then island wind projects are expected to be able to bid for the CfD subsidy by early 2019, the MP said.

Energy Voice 24th July 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 July 2017