Brexit & SMRs

The government has set up a new team to spearhead the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom, a senior official said this morning. In a speech at a Nuclear Industry Association conference this morning, Matt Clarke of the civil nuclear and resilience directorate at the department for business, energy and industrial strategy (BEIS) said the new team had been set up within the department. He told delegates at the Nuclear New Build conference that the team would be involved in negotiations with the EU about establishing a nuclear co-operation arrangements with key partner states and establishing a new domestic nuclear safeguarding arrangements. Last week’s Queen’s Speech contained a bill to create a domestic nuclear safeguarding regime to replace the existing pan-European arrangements provided by Euratom. Clarke said: “Exit [from Euratom] does not affect the government’s aims of maintaining close co-operation on civil nuclear safety with Euratom members and the rest of the world.” He also tried to reassure the conference that the government remains committed to its small modular reactors (SMRs) competition despite a lack of progress since its launch last March. Clarke said: “The government recognises the pot of SMRs. There are a number of potential benefits in terms of providing a secure, low carbon energy source as well as broader industrial benefits and high value jobs.” He said that BEIS had met the companies which had submitted entries to the competition and would be “communicating next steps in due course.” He added that deciding how SMRs fit into the government’s wider industrial strategy was one of the “key questions” being addressed by NIA chair Lord Hutton, who is leading work on shaping a tailored “sector deal” for the nuclear industry.

Utility Week 27th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 June 2017

Energy Policy

The Clean Growth Plan is to be published in the autumn when Parliament returns after the summer recess, according to newly appointed climate change minister Claire Perry. Speaking in her first appearance in the role during questions in the House of Commons this morning, the MP for Devizes explained her intention to publish the long overdue document following the return of MPs on 5 September 2017. However, she was not clear how close to this date the CGP would be published, stating only: “My intention is to publish the plan when the House returns from the summer recess.” “I look forward to cross-party discussion and, hopefully, consensus on a document that is hugely important both for Britain’s domestic future and for our international leadership,” she added.

Solar Power Portal 27th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 June 2017

Energy Policy

The UK’s ambitious target of slashing carbon emissions by more than half within 13 years is at risk because of government dithering on energy policy, industry professionals have warned. A survey by the Energy Institute, the professional body for the energy sector, has found that four fifths of its members believe the UK is currently on track to miss the 2030 goal. “The mood among our members is that energy policy is on pause and ministers need to hit the play button,” said Louise Kingham, chief executive of the Energy Institute. Among the list of stalled government decisions are the fate of a multimillion-pound competition to build mini nuclear power plants and whether to strike a subsidy deal for a pioneering tidal lagoon at Swansea. A flagship plan on how to meet the UK’s 2030 target of cutting emissions by 57% compared to 1990 levels, originally expected last year, is now “long overdue,” Kingham added. Jim Skea, the president of the institute, said of the delayed Clean Power Plan: “If we’re going to keep on track [with binding carbon targets] there is an urgent need to get that published.” The group’s members oppose an energy price cap which many thought would hurt investment. But they favoured stronger action on energy efficiency – such as better building standards – as the best way to meet carbon targets and restore trust in the industry. The institute’s leaders also highlighted the need to begin decarbonising heat for homes and business. They said the government had been slow to look at alternatives to natural gas, because alternatives such as hydrogen or electrification were seen as harder than ways for cutting emissions from power, such as windfarms. As a result, the group’s members thought the contribution from gas for heating would only decline modestly by 2030. “It’s this gap on things like energy efficiency and a heat policy – that’s the real thing that will hold back investment and grow the uncertainty,” said Skea.

Guardian 26th June 2017 read more »

The UK’s ambitious target of slashing carbon emissions by more than half within 13 years is at risk because of government dithering on energy policy, industry professionals have warned.

Edie 26th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 27 June 2017

Brexit

The 2017 Energy Industry Barometer surveyed 939 members of the Energy Institute. They said access to a skilled workforce after Brexit should be prioritised, and that EU energy and climate laws should be retained to ensure no disruption in supply or prices. “Workforce availability and the smooth transition of energy and climate change laws need to be priorities,” said Jim Skea, president of the Energy Institute. “The stakes are high for the UK’s energy economy,” commented Steve Halliday, former CEO of the National Grid. “The potential is there for significant industrial benefit and emission reduction at least cost to consumers and taxpayers, but sound policy making should not be drowned out by Brexit or other political upheavals.” Nuclear power stood out as the only area where respondents thought the government’s policies had created a positive impact in the last twelve months, thanks to the green light being given for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. However, there is a backdrop of uncertainty for the UK’s nuclear industry, with the government committed to withdrawing from Euratom, the continent wide regulatory association.

Institute of Mechanical Engineers 26th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 27 June 2017

Brexit

Britain’s Brexit plan will plunge its nuclear power plants, cancer treatment centres and leading research facilities into chaos within two years, according to a secret government assessment. The UK plans to pull out of Euratom, Europe’s nuclear body, at the same time as it leaves the EU in 2019. A bill to replace European safeguards with a British system of oversight was published in last week’s Queen’s Speech. However, experts say that this would not match the regime provided by the EU body, meaning that plants, research facilities and hospitals may be unable to import radioactive material after Brexit. Officials from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Industrial Strategy have warned that it will take seven years to replace the current set of agreements, The Times has been told. The delay would partly be caused by the fact that work on new international treaties, for example with the US and Japan, cannot start until new inspections standards are approved. Ministers have suggested that, as with financial regulations, there could be a transition period after Brexit to allow a new regime to be put in place, but experts say that the complexity of the task is still not sufficiently realised. The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) will today step up calls for David Davis, the Brexit secretary, to consider asking for Britain to remain an associate member of Euratom instead. That option will worry some Tory MPs, because some lawyers believe that it would require oversight by the European Court of Justice or even for Britain to continue to take part in elections to the European parliament. Tom Greatrex, the NIA chief executive, said the plans did not “come anywhere close” to matching the scale of the problem.

Times 26th June 2017 read more »

A high-level discussion on the theme of Brexit and Energy is being held this week in Scotland by the UK Energy Law and Policy Association. The event will include a presentation on the Scottish Energy Strategy by Chris Stark, Head of the Scottish Government’s Energy and Climate Change Division, Chris Stark. Other speakers include Peter Styles from the European Federation of Energy Traders, and Theo Bull from Wood Mackenzie. There will be two sessions of 90 minutes, with an hour of debate in each session, involving participants from industry, academia, professions and government on Friday 30 June in Edinburgh. Subsequently, a panel discussion will be led by Professor Peter Cameron, Director of the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law & Policy – which is celebrating 40 years of energy law education – at Dundee University.

Scottish Energy News 26th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 26 June 2017

Brexit

Antony Froggatt : Vote paid too little attention to energy Access to clean and affordable energy is a vital component of any modern society. But little attention was given to the implications of Brexit for energy during the EU referendum. The UK, Scotland and the EU-27 face important choices that could determine the extent of short to medium-term energy disruption from Brexit and the degree to which future co-operation in this field might be possible. Article 50 specifies that Brexit negotiations must be completed by April 2019, two years after the UK’s formal notification to leave. In addition, the European Commission has said three issues (the financial or ‘divorce’ settlement; the fate of EU nationals in the UK and visa-versa; and the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland) must be settled before formal discussions can begin. What the agreement, including on energy, will look like is yet uncle ar. The UK Government has said Britain will be leaving the European single market, but a February 2017 white paper stated that the UK was “considering all options” on the energy relationship with the EU. Maintaining reliable and affordable emergy, and in particular electricity supplies, is essential for society and the economy. The UK’s decarbonisation will also need changes to the energy system in the EU, which will require significant and harmonised policy intervention across the whole of Europe. The UK is linked to both the Irish and continental electricity markets through 3 GW of electricity interconnection. The UK’s net electricity imports are expected to rise to 80 TWh in the mid-2020s. This includes a proposal for an electricity cable between Scotland and Norway. Britain had also planned to further harmonise its operating regimes with those of other member states to enable electricity cables or interconnectors between countries to operate wit h more flexibility. Increased interconnection will also be necessary. to accommodate the increasing deployment of variable renewables such as solar and wind in an efficient and cost-effective manner, otherwise known as market coupling. It is unclear what will happen post-Brexit . Remaining part of the market coupling system may require adherence to common European rules and operational codes, which the UK will no longer have as much of a say in. Energy access and trade is of course vital for Scotland’s fossil fuel industry as it receives gas from Norway – both directly and indirectly – via three pipelines. Three of the UK’s four major oil pipeline terminals are also in Scotland where they receive oil both from North Sea fields and Norway. The main point of concern for companies focused on production is the oil price and the impact of Brexit on currency exchanges, particularly since production costs in UK waters are already relatively high.

Herald 24th June 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 June 2017

Brexit

The government has signalled its determination to withdraw from Euratom when it quits the EU by publishing plans for legislation to set up a new UK nuclear safeguard regime. The Queen’s Speech, delivered earlier today, outlined proposals for a Nuclear Safeguards Bill. The bill proposes that the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) should be given new powers, allowing it to take over Euratom’s responsibilities for verifying and reporting that civil atomic power materials are not diverted from their intended use. It will also take on the responsibility for ensuring that the UK meets its nuclear weapons non-proliferation obligations. The Queen’s Speech background notes said that the bill was designed to ensure that the UK continued to meet its International Atomic Energy Agency obligations to safeguard civil nuclear materials and protect the supply of UK electricity by nuclear power. Responding to the publication of the bill, Tom Greatrex, chief executive of the Nuclear Industry Association, urged ministers not to give up on negotiating to remain a member of Euratom, which he said remained an “infinitely preferable outcome” to establishing a home-grown safeguarding regime.

Utility Week 21st June 2017 read more »

One of the more obscure new bills unveiled in the Queen’s speech is one covering “nuclear safeguards” as part of repatriation of legislation post Brexit. When your energy correspondent reported earlier on the implications of the UK leaving Euratom, an anonymous government spokeswoman was quoted as asserting that the UK wanted to see a continuity of cooperation and standards. “We remain absolutely committed to the highest standards of nuclear safety, safeguards and support for the industry. Our aim is clear – we want to maintain our mutually successful civil nuclear cooperation with the EU.” It is now time energy and foreign ministers and their advisors turn their attention to what they are going to do to ensure nuclear safeguards continuity in the UK post Brexit. But to give the new oversight role to our national nuclear regulator (ONR), as the bill proposes, will surely be unacceptable to other nations, as it would de facto be self-regulation.

David Lowry’s Blog 21st June 2017 read more »

Posted: 22 June 2017

Energy Supplies

The trend towards “decentralised” power continues. Centrica is offloading two large gas power plants for £318m in cash as the owner of British Gas continues to focus on what it believes will be a growing trend for energy in the UK: the generation of power at a smaller local and community level. The installation of solar panels on the roofs of homes and businesses plus new technologies such as battery storage threatens the traditional model of large, centralised power plants.

FT 21st June 2017 read more »

Posted: 22 June 2017

Energy Costs

Shares in gas and electricity suppliers rose yesterday after two key pledges on the energy market were kicked into the long grass. The Queen’s Speech failed to include the Conservatives’ manifesto commitment to cap energy prices for the 17 million households languishing on expensive standard-rate tariffs. Before the election, Theresa May promised to intervene in the “broken” energy market by introducing a cap that would save some customers £100 a year. But yesterday the government made only a vague pledge to “tackle unfair practices to help reduce energy bills”. Greg Clark, the energy secretary, appeared to outsource the problem to Ofgem, the energy regulator, by asking it to “consider the future of standard variable tariffs” and report back. The government also delayed by five years the date by which every home should have a smart meter. The meters, which will allow customers better to understand their energy consumption, are considered by many to be the key to increasing switching. Pushing them back also reduces the likelihood of suppliers being fined for not introducing enough of the devices on time. About seven million smart meters have been fitted but every home was due to have one by 2020, which would have required an installation rate of more than 20,000 a day. Yesterday the government said it would extend the deadline to 2025. Shares in Centrica, the owner of British Gas, jumped more than 2 per cent while the value of SSE closed up almost 1 per cent.

Times 22nd June 2017 read more »

Posted: 22 June 2017

Politics

Today it emerged energy policy adviser Georgia Berry had also moved on — casting further doubt over the PM’s manifesto pledge to shake up energy markets.

The Sun 22nd June 2017 read more »

Posted: 22 June 2017