Electricity Supplies

Electric car emissions depend on the source of the electricity used to charge their batteries. In summer much less of it comes from coal and gas-fired power stations and more from solar panels and nuclear reactors. In the year to June coal produced only 7 per cent of UK electricity, wind produced 12 per cent and solar produced 4 per cent. In the year to June 2013 coal accounted for 41 per cent, wind for 7 per cent and solar for 1 per cent. The amount of CO2 produced per kWh of electricity fell over that period from 496g to 250g, according to the study commissioned by Drax, a power generation company.

Times 17th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 17 August 2017

Gas Supplies

SSE has cast doubt on the future of its British gas storage sites, warning that their economics were “extremely challenging” and could deteriorate further. The energy company also joined mounting calls for the government to address the future of gas storage amid concerns that consumers could be left exposed to supply shocks after the closure of Rough, Britain’s biggest storage facility. Centrica, Rough’s owner, said in June that it would permanently shut the site, a disused North Sea gasfield, because repairing its ageing infrastructure was no longer commercially viable. SSE, which owns two of the biggest remaining storage sites, in salt caverns in Yorkshire, urged ministers to provide “some clarity on the future role of gas storage”. Such storage sites across Europe are struggling to make money as the market is generally well supplied, reducing the volatility in gas prices and so limiting potential profits.

Times 17th Aug 2017 read more »

FT 16th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 17 August 2017

Energy Costs

The man in charge of policing Britain’s energy sector admitted he is “concerned” at the slew of electricity and gas price rises this year but stressed that legislation would be required for the government to deliver on its promises of lower household bills. Dermot Nolan, chief executive of Ofgem, has faced criticism for proposing a limited safeguard tariff that would extend protections to only about 2.2m vulnerable” customers. The move in July angered campaigners lobbying for a more extensive cap on energy prices following a pre-election pledge by prime minister Theresa May to cut annual bills by £100 for 17m UK families.

FT 17th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 17 August 2017

Grid Connections

Plans for an undersea electricity cable linking France and the UK will go ahead despite claims the proper planning procedures were not followed, the government has confirmed. The cable will run 120 miles under the English Channel from Caen, Normandy, to Solent Airport in Hampshire. Fareham Borough Council owns the airfield and approved National Grid’s outline plans earlier this year.

BBC 15th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 17 August 2017

Energy Policy – Scotland

Scottish Green MSPs demand Holyrood targets zero emissions by 2040 to fight climate change. They claim the forthcoming Climate Bill isn’t ambitious enough and are pressing ministers to do more. Under current plans Scotland has a target to reduce emissions by 80 per cent come 2050. The Scottish Government has made moves to improve that and raise the target to 90 per cent. But the Green MSPs say that could prove too little too late and are demanding a zero emissions target be included in the new draft with a target a whole decade earlier than planned in 2040. WWF Scotland are among the groups currently running petitions urging First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to do more to strengthen the bill. In a web statement, they say: “We have the chance now to play our part in tackling this global challenge.” Friends of the Earth Scotland are close to gathering 2000 signatures for their own campaign to get the government to commit to more action. They are calling for a 77 per cent reduction by 2030 and zero emissions by 2040, saying: “Without much tougher action from all the world’s wealthy nations we are facing unstoppable temperature increases.”

The Sun 16th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 16 August 2017

Brexit

The implications of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union are particularly significant for the energy sector. This uncertainty surrounding Brexit negotiations in turn raises specific regional concerns. The North as a whole boasts 48 per cent of the UK’s renewable power, including 71 per cent of England’s biomass generation, 41 per cent of UK wind power and 40 per cent of UK installed nuclear capacity. Concerns over the retention of mechanisms and legislation that support the energy sector are therefore particularly pressing for businesses and other energy stakeholders in the North.

IPPR 16th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 16 August 2017

Energy Costs

Six ways in which the energy costs review could reduce consumer costs and deliver green energy. The Government’s review of energy costs is obviously a set-up designed to argue against a major emphasis on funding currently commercialised renewables and energy efficiency technologies, so here I critique this viewpoint and suggest some ideas for what a genuinely far-sighted clean energy effort to reduce costs might involve. Ideas which, I suspect, will be comprehensively ignored by the review. The Government has given its review of energy costs to Dieter Helm whose opinions are hostile to promoting ‘current’ generation renewables and who is anyway excluded from considering the Hinkley C contract or other issues such as the smart meter roll-out which are pushing up electricity prices. Six ways that the Government could reduce costs to the consumer, none of which are likely to be recommended by the Helm review. 1. Encourage the French Government to reconsider the Hinkley C project; 2. Instead issue power purchase agreements to onshore wind, offshore wind and solar pv for projects in the £60-£80 range, using 15-20 year contracts by the end of which costs of renewables will have fallen further; 3. Abolish stamp duty for houses which incorporate energy efficiency, solar power and storage technologies which involve buildings which can generate more energy than they consume; 4. Take the disastrously implemented ‘smart energy meter’ rollout out of the hands of the electricity suppliers and put it into the hands of the Distribution Network Operators who are now becoming Distribution System Operators. 5. Abolish price competition in the domestic retail sector and replace it with competition between suppliers to supply energy efficiency; 6. Identify new sites for offshore wind deployment as well as quickly bringing forward the issue of power purchase agreements to existing projects with planning consent.

Dave Toke’s Blog 14th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 15 August 2017

Energy Costs

A five-strong advisory panel assisting Dieter Helm with a UK government-commissioned review into energy costs will only have time to meet a handful of times because of a tight deadline. One member of the panel said participants had little idea of what the structure of these meetings would be, or how they were expected to contribute to the final report. The review’s stated objective is to “reduce costs in each element and consider the implications of the changing demand of electricity, including the role of innovative technologies such as electric vehicles, storage robotics and artificial intelligence”. But such claims contrast starkly with the nature of the review reported by insiders. Observers have also questioned whether Prof Helm, an economist at Oxford university, and his team can fulfil such a wide-ranging agenda given its staffing and the limited time the government has allotted to the task. The report is due to be delivered by the end of October, and Prof Helm has been paid for only 30 days’ work. “A review by one man backed by an unpaid challenge panel and operating against a rushed timetable seems a way of simply finding out what Dieter Helm thinks,” said Doug Parr of Greenpeace. “It is unambitious compared to the review we were expecting.” Helm has a reputation as a vocal sceptic of nuclear and renewable energy technologies on grounds of their cost and economics, although he is thought to have moderated his views. He is backed by a panel including Terry Scuoler, head of the manufacturing organisation EEF, Richard Nourse, managing partner of Greencoat Capital, an investor in renewable technologies, and Laura Sandys, the former MP. Ms Sandys has argued that the parliamentary pension fund should disinvest from fossil fuels. Mr Parr of Greenpeace questioned why there was no consumer representative on the panel, given the involvement of Mr Scuoler as an apparent industry advocate, and the fact that the review was supposed to consider both household and industrial costs. The government has mandated that the review should consider only “system issues” and should not comment on the status of individual projects. Critics have queried the sense of this, given the technological choices the UK faces over pursuing a new nuclear fleet or enlarging the renewables sector. “How you can consider the cost issues facing UK energy without looking at the £20bn Hinkley Point reactor project defeats me,” said an energy consultant. “We didn’t want Prof Helm to spend two months simply arguing against the Hinkley project as that doesn’t meet the task in hand,” said a government spokesperson for BEIS, the business department.

FT 14th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 August 2017

Euratom

Since the 1950s, the Euratom Treaty has encouraged large investments into nuclear energy projects and funding for nuclear research. In all this time, the treaty was never revised to suit present-day demands. The trend towards cheaper renewable energy is ignored, while millions of euros that go towards nuclear research are legitimated. Cordula Büsch takes a look at why the Euratom treaty needs to be reformed, if not abolished. Theresa May has explicitly mentioned in her letter to the EU Council which officially triggered article 50 in March that the UK will leave the Euratom treaty, despite Euratom membership not being connected to EU membership. Perhaps this can be taken as an opportunity, a wake-up call, to finally discuss the dissolving of Euratom altogether. Just like the Brexit negotiations, this will bear many challenges and open questions, such as the future of the long-term ITER project to build a fusion reactor. In 2012-2013 Euratom funded the ITER project with the substantial amount of EUR 2.2 billion. Nonetheless, it should be a necessity to discuss the future of Euratom, especially now at a time when demands to reform the EU are voiced by the remaining 27 members. The current trend shows that more European countries are thriving to shut down their nuclear power plants. There are also more countries without nuclear power plants among the EU27 than those keeping up their support of nuclear energy. With Belgium and Germany joining the group of countries without nuclear power plants within the next 8 years, this group will entail 15 member states. The support for nuclear energy is steadily shrinking and with the UK, a nuclear power nation is soon leaving the EU, which changes proportionalities within the union. Even France has issued the Energy Transition for Green Growth bill preparing to cut down nuclear energy to 50% by 2025.

Energy Transition 11th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 August 2017

Energy Storage

Claims that Cornwall is sitting on a multibillion-pound lithium bonanza are due to be tested after a start-up ¬project that plans to drill for the metal raised £1m from a trio of experienced mining investors. Cornish Lithium aims to extract the resource, which is in increasing ¬demand for batteries, from hot underground salt water. Its new investors include Norwegian financier Peter Smedvig, founder of Smedvig Capital, whose net worth has been estimated at more than £900m.

Telegraph 13th Aug 2017 read more »

Times 14th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 August 2017