Electricity Market Reform
Alan Simpson: What a grubby little energy market we have constructed in Britain. As Alistair Buchanan, the head of Ofgem, warns of looming gas and electricity price rises, it is worth a brief look at the politics behind what is going on. It boils down to energy companies “gaming” the energy market and government incompetence hanging the public out to dry. Plus ca change. The Energy Bill currently going through Parliament must be the worst energy Bill I have seen in the last 20 years. It is a shambles from start to finish, Britain’s equivalent of the Maginot Line – a hulking great monster of a Bill that will do nothing for Britain’s energy security, will cost the public a (not so) small fortune, and will be completely unsuited for the energy future the world is already moving into. It looks as though new nuclear will need a price guarantee of twice (three times?) today’s wholesale price of electricity, for 40 years. Ministers do not even bother to ask why their preferred source of energy requires subsidies of so much, for so long. Even less do they question the spiralling cost trajectory that new nuclear is on. For the public, the cost will be paid in bills, other choices – and lives. For less than the cost of a single new nuclear power station, Britain could take seven million households out of fuel poverty. For less than the cost of the bribes that we will pay for reopening mothballed gas power stations we could have a renewable energy programme that would deliver sustainability, and a decentralised system of generation, and distribution that would turn a cartel into an energy democracy. As it stands, hundreds of thousands of the fuel poor will die in this decade, waiting for energy that will not arrive until the next. Millions more will face rising fuel bills for energy set to become less and less affordable, while better choices slide off the table. This is not a programme, it’s a road crash. The only sources of energy with genuinely falling cost curves are all being sidelined.
Morning Star 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has today announced the appointment of a new panel of experts who will play a key role in assessing the government’s plans to support clean energy projects. The new Electricity Market Reform Panel of Technical Experts is designed to “impartially scrutinise and quality assure the analysis carried out by National Grid” that will inform the government’s Electricity Market Reform Delivery Plan.
Business Green 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
The Nuclear Free Local Au(NFLA) is increasingly alarmed with the „backroom deal‟ being undertaken between the UK Government and EDF to find a funding solution to keep on track plans for building new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
Nuclear Free Local Authorities 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
The French utility giant’s plan to build Britain’s first new nuclear plants in a generation is unlikely to go ahead “before 2015 at the earliest and potentially much later” due to hurdles in winning EU state aid approval, according to rival SSE. EDF, which suffered a blow earlier this month when minority partner Centrica pulled out of plans to build reactors at a Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk, had already delayed its final investment decision to this year after scrapping an original deadline of December 2012. The company is currently embroiled in talks with the UK government over a minimum unit price for electricity to ensure profitability, a decision its chief executive warned would make or break EDF’s commitment to the project. However, the European Commission must be satisfied that any resulting deal does not amount to a disproportionate and unlawful level of state aid under EU legislation – a process that could take some years.
Telegraph 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
At least 15 people working for the nuclear energy industry or its consultants have been seconded to Government departments responsible for policy or regulation, with some being paid for by the taxpayer, NuclearSpin has discovered. Law firm Pinsent Masons provides DECC’s ‘Head of waste transfer contract’. The company works for various arms of Government, but also advises Nugeneration Limited, a private consortium that wants to build a new nuclear power station near Sellafield. DECC says it ‘makes a contribution’ to their salaries.
Spinwatch 22nd February 2013 read more »
Geoffrey Lean: Writing exclusively in Tuesday’s Daily Telegraph, Ofgem’s chief executive described the country’s energy security as on a “rollercoaster” about to “head downhill fast”. Within the next three years, he explained, Britain’s reserve electricity generation would shrink from its present around 14 per cent of capacity to an “uncomfortably tight” less than five per cent. This “near crisis”, as he later called it, is being precipitated by shutting down coal-fired power stations to comply with EU pollution law. Cue understandable – if predictable outrage – with one Ukip MEP, Godfrey Bloom, protesting that Europe’s “flawed and dangerous climate change agenda is stripping Britain of self-sufficiency” through the “unnecessary closure of perfectly good” facilities. But he should, perhaps, calm down a little. For a start, the closures have nothing to do with combating global warming. The cumbersomely entitled Large Combustion Plants Directive is about cutting releases of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and particulates from power stations that are calculated to kill some 2,000 Britons a year. With nuclear power stubbornly failing to come onstream and offshore wind slipping back, the proportion of electricity we get from gas is likely to more than double from the present 30 per cent in just seven years, at a time when its price is expected to increase sharply. Successive governments have paid far too little attention to energy efficiency. And yet saving energy, as the Prime Minister said this month, provides a “huge opportunity”. By the Government’s own calculation, simply taking cost-effective measures would avoid the need to build 22 power stations, eliminating the capacity crunch.
Telegraph 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
SALARIES for senior staff in the nuclear industry have rocketed by as much as 58 per cent in the last year. The going rate for key nuclear jobs is being pushed up by a skills shortage, according to a pay survey of the industry carried out by Emma-Jayne Gooch, of West Cumbria-based NuExec Consulting. The survey took information from 64 companies and analysed recruitment data in Cumbria and the North and found: Starting salaries for senior planners had risen 45 per cent between 2011 and 2012 so they were now being hired for between £56,957 and £80,000; Senior engineers’ salaries have increased by up to 23 per cent to £67,875 and the top project manager salaries are up 10 per cent to £71,500; The best paid senior project managers are now being hired on salaries of £103,000 – a rise of 58 per cent.
In Cumbria 12th Feb 2013 read more »
MATERIAL from 1950s nuclear reactors will be transported from the Scottish highlands to be stored in West Cumbria, a government agency has confirmed. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority yesterday said around 26 tonnes of high security material, known as ‘exotics’, will be moved from Dounreay to Sellafield, while a further 100 tonnes of material would remain at the Dounreay site. Exotics is a range of nuclear fuels used in test reactors at the Dounreay site in the 1950s. The exotics could be transferred in up to 40 journeys over a six-year period – made by sea and rail, depending on the exact type of material being transported according to rules set by the Office for Nuclear Regulation.However, exact details of the movements are yet to be finalised.
in-Cumbria 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
NW Evening Mail 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
Through today’s publication of its Preferred Option paper the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has now completed its strategic review of the options for the management of the remaining nuclear materials at Dounreay referred to as ‘exotics’.
Cumbria Crack 21st Feb 2013 read more »
The first of 10 remaining boilers from the former Berkeley nuclear power station are due to be removed later. A £15m deal to recycle the giant steel tanks was agreed in December with Swedish firm Studsvik. The same company has already spent £8m on removing and recycling five boilers from the Gloucestershire site, each of which weighs some 300 tonnes. The Magnox Berkeley site is the first commercial nuclear power station in the UK to be decommissioned. Each redundant heat exchanger is 22m (72ft) long and was used as part of the electricity production at the nuclear power station, which ceased operation in 1989. The boilers are shipped – via Sharpness Dock – to Studsvik’s processing facility near Nyköping in Sweden. Five other boilers were removed from the site in 2012. The final boiler will be moved from the site in the middle of March.
BBC 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
Five items that will doom nuclear power in the long term: Nuclear isn’t cost effective; Gov’t subsidies save nuclear power from extinction; Bill Gates won’t save nuclear; no one wants it built or stored in their backyard; But the people near Chernobyl, Three Mile Island, and Fukushima never thought their homes or their health were in danger simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. That’s what scares people about nuclear power, not the total death toll but who these risks affect. New plants aren’t the answer to cheaper energy, cleaner energy, or safer energy. The U.S., Europe, and Japan are rethinking nuclear altogether and countries like China are putting their full weight behind solar and wind, not nuclear power.
Motley Fool 21st Feb 2013 read more »
After Fukushima, many governments decided to reconsider their dealings with nuclear stuff. It seems that nuclear waste has turned into a major problem for Germany. The news magazine Der Spiegel released on 21 February a report about Asse II- an old mine in the German state of Lower Saxony, claiming that its condition and the works being done there have turned not only into a technical, but also into ecological and political problem.
New Europe 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
Some 126,000 barrels of nuclear waste have been dumped in the Asse II salt mine over the last 50 years. German politicians are pushing for a law promising their removal. But the safety, technical and financial hurdles are enormous, and experts warn that removal is more dangerous than leaving them put.
Der Spiegel 21st Feb 2013 read more »
Six underground tanks holding radioactive waste are leaking at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in eastern Washington, Gov. Jay Inslee said on Friday after a meeting with federal officials overseeing the cleanup of the nation’s most polluted nuclear site.
New York Times 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
Huffington Post 23rd Feb 2013 read more »
Independent 23rd Feb 2013 read more »
Evening Standard 23rd Feb 2013 read more »
ITV 23rd Feb 2013 read more »
BBC 23rd Feb 2013 read more »
Sky News 23rd Feb 2013 read more »
Fukushima Crisis update 19th to 21st Feb.
Greenpeace International 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
What safe conclusions can be drawn from the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran’s nuclear programme? The new fact that has gained most attention is that Iran has finally begun installing more advanced centrifuges inside its enrichment facility at Natanz.
Telegraph 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
Fitch believes the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) agreement with Babcock & Wilcox (B&W) to develop the first small modular nuclear reactor in the U.S. could eventually provide affordable access to an alternative to gas-fired generation for public and cooperative power providers. The joint effort between TVA and B&W will include remaining design work, preparation of a license application for Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) review, as well as an evaluation of TVA’s Clinch River site in Oak Ridge, TN. The U.S. Department of Energy is expected to fund nearly 50% of the total cost of design and licensing which could approach $900 million pursuant to a pending agreement. TVA and B&W would fund the remaining costs.
Reuters 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
There’s more than one way to spark a star. Although the world’s biggest laser missed a key target date on the road to producing clean energy via nuclear fusion, an independent review panel says the technology holds enough promise to continue the quest – with a few modifications.
New Scientists 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
A new printing medium could be a game-changer as 3D solar cells, despite advances in energy storage, can capture more sunlight than conventional PV models. How? They are more precise (using copper, indium, gallium, selenide: CIGS), less complex and weigh less. Greater efficiency in lieu of not having direct sunlight overhead is something I believe is extremely encouraging for 3D solar considering many pessimists who continue to question the longevity of solar power produced in a day by ordinary flat PV cells.
Guardian 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
He has already found success as a purveyor of biscuits and his own line of fine food, but the Prince of Wales is carving out a role as an energy entrepreneur, pioneering the use of waste to generate power. A biogas plant on land owned by his Duchy of Cornwall estate in Dorset is among the first commercial projects to feed gas back into the national grid. Poundbury, the Prince’s experimental new town on the outskirts of Dorchester, has been able to draw power from organic waste produced by nearby chocolate, potato and cereal factories, using micro-organisms to break down the material though a process called anaerobic digestion. At peak capacity the plant will provide gas for about 4,000 homes during the winter and up to 56,000 homes during the summer. The project is the tip of a diverse industry that has become big business as investors and corporates have recognised that waste – from food to municipal sewage – has a role to play in the evolution of the energy sector.
FT 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
The chief executive of the coal power station that generates about 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity is speculating about the global demand for wooden chests of drawers. It is not, Dorothy Thompson admits, a subject that she has spent much time pondering — until now. Drax intends to transform itself into the country’s biggest green power generator by burning millions of tonnes of wood each year, instead of coal. Its £700 million biomass conversion plan involves importing huge quantities of wood from forests in the United States, Europe and Africa to its sprawling site in North Yorkshire. It also finds itself in the unusual position of competing with businesses from construction to furniture makers for the country’s newest energy source.
Times 23rd Feb 2013 read more »
The Growth and Infrastructure Bill, currently going through the House of Lords, could allow exploration for shale gas to be considered as of “national significance”, meaning the Government can override local authorities to grant planning permission. The National Trust, Campaign to Protect Rural England, Friends of the Earth, the Town & Country Planning Association, Wildlife Trusts and Greenpeace have joined up to fight the change in the law. Baroness Young of Old Scone, an independent peer, said a number of members of the House of Lords are also concerned. She pointed out that the Government would not be changing the law unless they expected a lot of cases to use the new provision to get through controversial projects.
Telegraph 23rd Feb 2013 read more »