No wonder the big energy companies are spooked by the green dream. Have you seen their share prices lately? Witness npower last week, which warned that green policies will drive a 20% rise in energy bills by 2020. Npower is owned by the German utility RWE. In 2008, RWE’s shares traded at a whopping €100 each. Today they are worth less than €20. EDF and E.ON, which have 5.5 million and 4.8 million UK customers respectively, have seen a similar drop. It’s a precipitous 80% fall triggered by investors alarmed at the prospect of losing an effective oligopoly of supply and with it a healthy stream of profits. These are the companies that want to supply us with natural gas from Norway, liquid petroleum gas from Qatar and electricity from imported coal and oil. Some want to build a new generation of nuclear reactors, though given the parlous state of their share prices, they want massive subsidies and cast-iron guarantees from any government willing to commission them.
Guardian 21st July 2013 read more »
With the coalition government’s decision to back a third nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point on Somerset’s coast and the ongoing debate over Trident replacement, it’s interesting to take a look back at the origins of Britain’s nuclear programme. When the British nuclear power and weapons programmes were born, a different foreign power, the United States, was intimately involved in the planning. The first public hint came with an MoD announcement in June 1958 on “the production of plutonium suitable for weapons in the new [nuclear] power stations programme as an insurance against future defence needs” at Britain’s first-generation Magnox reactor (named after the fuel type, magnesium oxide). A week later in Parliament, Labour’s Roy Mason asked why the government had “decided to modify atomic power stations, primarily planned for peaceful purposes, to produce high-grade plutonium for war weapons.” He was informed by paymaster general Reginald Maudling: “At the request of the government, the Central Electricity Generating Board has agreed to a small modification in the design of Hinkley Point and of the next two stations in its programme so as to enable plutonium suitable for military purposes to be extracted should the need arise.
Morning Star 21st July 2013 read more »
Cllr Duncan McGinty, the Leader of Sedgemoor District Council, on winning over a local community to a nuclear power station. For years communities and councils have been bystanders as decisions impacting their lives have been taken far away in Whitehall. When our Party entered government in 2010 it was clear that localising power would be a priority. Over the last week localism has become a reality for my community, Sedgemoor in Somerset, which covers Bridgwater and the other communities surrounding Hinkley Point C. Our community is set to host the country’s first second generation new nuclear power station and, on Wednesday, the Department for Energy and Climate Change’s announced that it will introduce community benefit in recognition of the impact these proposals will have on those living in the surrounding areas. My council has been campaigning on community benefit contributions for five years, negotiating with Ministers, MPs and civil servants and consistently raising this issue in Parliament, and we are delighted to see all this hard work pay off. Our local community will now receive £1,000 per Megawatt of power produced by Hinkley Point C for the entire operation of the plant. With an expected lifespan of 40 years, this could amount to £128 million for local residents, realised at first by retaining 50% of the business rates generated by the plant.
Conservative Home 22nd July 2013 read more »
The German parliament has passed a law which begins the formal procedure for a site to be found for a national repository for the country’s high-level radioactive waste. After approval by the Bundestag, the law also passed the Bundesrat, which represents Germany’s 16 federal states at national level. The law creates a 33-member commission to develop “basic principles” for site selection such as safety and economic requirements as well as selection criteria for rock formations.
NucNet 18th July 2013 read more »
Rob Green: Why I believe sinking of Belgrano made MI5 murder my crusading aunt: A death surrounded by dark coincidences, and the disturbing belief of former intelligence chief who helped mastermind Falklands campaign
Daily Mail 20th July 2013 read more »
THREE years ago the Liberal Democrats demanded a review of Britain’s nuclear weapons system as a condition of joining a coalition government. Their Tory partners were committed to replacing the four Trafalgar-class Trident ballistic missile submarines that have been on patrol since 1994 with a similar system when the current boats reach the end of their operational life, at a cost of about £20 billion ($31 billion). A decision must be taken by 2016. The Lib Dems have now got their review. It does not flatter them.
Economist 20th July 2013 read more »
Letter: “The ability to inflict unacceptable damage on a potential aggressor is the ultimate guarantee that Britain will not be invaded or destroyed.” We Americans routinely demonstrate such chutzpah (it runs in our DNA), but you British are usually more circumspect and constrained from such bold, aggressive global commentary. My point is, if you British are willing to announce this type of reasoning as perfectly acceptable for you, then a logical, reasoning, non-hypocritical person might ask, is it then OK for other sovereign nations (which might also be concerned about being “invaded or destroyed”) to have a similar perspective – and act accordingly?
FT 21st July 2013 read more »
Why should the most northerly parts of Scotland with the most potential for renewable energy pay up to 10 times more to connect to the national grid than southern England? The islands off the north and west of Scotland hold the UK’s best renewable resources, yet for more than a decade energy policies have prevented them from realising their full potential. Due to long out-of-date doctrines from a previous era still in place today, those generating energy in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles are charged about five times as much per unit for access to the national grid as those generating power elsewhere in northern Scotland.If the UK Government provides the right incentives and levels the playing field so that energy from areas further from the south-east of England can compete, the country could benefit from up to 15GW of the best renewable energy available, and the islands will benefit from rare economic opportunities. Rather than waiting for it to happen, the people of these communities have been at the forefront of driving for change and investing in their own future. Were policy-makers to show the same zeal, the UK electricity market would be cleaner, greener and probably cheaper.
Herald 21st July 2013 read more »
Britain’s dirtiest coal power stations are to be allowed to bid for hundreds of millions of pounds’ worth of subsidies that could allow them to stay open well into the 2020s. Senior ministers are so worried about the possibility that the UK could suffer electricity blackouts over the next few years they have agreed to let Britain’s coal stations bid for “capacity payment” handouts – paid for through people’s energy bills – which could allow them to upgrade their facilities. If successful, the money would help make coal generation economic well into the 2020s – but significantly reduce the UK’s ability to cut its carbon emissions.
Independent 22nd July 2013 read more »
It has been decades since coal was paramount in the energy sector in Britain. In most people’s minds, obviously excluding miners, its decline is a blessing. Coal may have made Britain rich but when it was king, our towns and cities were coated in thick black soot and the effect of all those emissions on people’s health was devastating. With a government committed to meeting Britain’s obligations to continue cutting CO2 emissions, and only 18 coal power stations left, it seemed as if these relics of the past were soon to go the same way as the steam engine. But the vagaries of international pricing have since intervened, and, as the gas price spirals upwards and that of coal tumbles, a reprieve for Britain’s remaining coal power stations appears in sight. As we report today, instead of shutting them down, as green environmentalists until recently expected, a loophole in the Government’s Energy Bill may allow them to upgrade their facilities so that they can remain open into the next decade.
Independent 21st July 2013 read more »
Mark Lynas: Humanity is currently on course to double or even triple the carbon dioxide content of the Earth’s atmosphere by the end of this century. Our current level of about 400 parts per million of CO2 is already higher than at any time during the evolutionary history of humans. By 2100 the carbon content of the air could reach levels not seen for as long as 50 million years, pushing up global temperatures by 4 to 6 degrees Celsius (7.2-10.8 F) and transforming our planet beyond all recognition.
Independent 22nd July 2013 read more »