23 June 2013

Energy Supplies

Ofgem is preparing to issue its starkest warning yet over the growing risk of blackouts in Britain as power stations are shut and investment in new plants stalls. The regulator is expected to publish electricity supply and demand forecasts within weeks, showing that spare capacity has fallen as more gas-fired plants have been mothballed. It is likely to reiterate warnings that even if blackouts are avoided, power prices will rise steeply. Britain’s spare power margin will be so narrow by the winters of 2014-15 and 2015-16 that unexpected events such as more plant closures, nuclear reactor outages or unusually cold weather could drive household electricity bills up by as much as 20pc, Peter Atherton, an analyst at Liberum Capital, has warned.

Telegraph 22nd June 2013 read more »

Companies

To reduce reliance on the National Grid, Network Rail has been considering generating its own electricity. Strategists have already conducted one feasibility study, but they have refused publish the details other than to say generating their own electricity is not feasible “for now”.A Network Rail spokesman told the Sunday Express: “We constantly review all elements of our electricity supply including the feasibility of producing our own electricity.

Express 23rd June 2013 read more »

Japan

Shareholders of eight of the nine utilities that operate nuclear power plants will present proposals at shareholders’ meetings next week urging the companies to abandon nuclear power. But with the Abe administration clearly in favor of nuclear power, the utilities are all expected to reject the proposals and press ahead with plans to restart reactors currently offline. All of Japan’s electric power companies will hold their annual shareholders’ meetings on June 26. Similar proposals were made at last year’s meetings for seven of the utilities, which all rejected the proposals.

Asahi Shimbun 22nd June 2013 read more »

France

French public support for nuclear power is rising ahead of recommendations on a new energy policy law for the country, as fears about its dangers fade. Some 36 percent of people surveyed said they favored France’s use of nuclear power with only 14 percent saying they opposed it, an Ifop poll released today for the newspaper Ouest France showed. That compares with 32 percent in favor of nuclear power and 20 percent opposed in July 2011.

Bloomberg 22nd June 2013 read more »

Trident

John Woodcock MP: My parliamentary colleagues and other members of the Labour party urging a return to a policy of unilateral disarmament do so for laudable reasons, but they are mistaken. While pushing for faster and more meaningful progress towards Britain’s ultimate shared goal of a world free from nuclear weapons, Labour leader Ed Miliband has been clear from the outset that he will maintain Britain’s independent nuclear deterrent while other countries have a nuclear capability that could threaten the UK. That is the responsible choice taken by a future prime minister who understands that we cannot possibly know what the threats facing the country will be in 30 or 40 years’ time, the period that the imminent decision to replace the nation’s Vanguard submarines will affect.

Guardian 21st June 2013 read more »

Renewables

Thousands of British homes could soon be heated by, among other things, cow manure after the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) agreed to relax regulations controlling renewable gas plants. Industry experts say that biomethane, produced by the anaerobic digestion (AD) of food and plant waste, crops, slurries and sewage, could make a significant contribution to Britain’s gas needs. The biogas has a higher oxygen content than conventional North Sea gas, and safety regulations have so far prevented it being carried in the pipeline network for fear it could cause corrosion and lead to explosions. Instead, gas from AD plants is generally burnt to produce electricity, with just one commercial-scale plant supplying gas into the grid. The Poundbury plant, opened by biomethane advocate Prince Charles on his estate in Dorset last year, had to gain special exemptions. But the HSE has concluded the higher oxygen content is safe and relaxed the rules, to make it “easier, quicker and less costly” for AD plants to supply gas to the grid.

Telegraph 22nd June 2013 read more »

Greg Barker, the energy and climate change minister, has disclosed that it is his “ambition” for 20GW of energy to be produced by solar panels in 2020 – effectively a ten fold increase in the number of solar farms currently built or being planned. That level of solar power would amount to panels, many up to ten feet tall, covering a total area of land equivalent to more than 100 times the size of London’s Olympic park. However, ministers have been warned that such a steep increase in power could overload Britain’s electricity system. The National Grid, the body responsible for the transmission of electricity across Britain, told Mr Barker’s Department of Energy and Climate Change last year that building more than 10GW of solar panels would make controlling the grid “significantly more challenging in its current form”. The warning suggests that solar farms will, like wind farms, have to be paid not to produce electricity.

Telegraph 22nd June 2013 read more »

Greg Barker says its about industrial rooftops not solarfarms.

Greg Barker 22nd June 2013 read more »

Last week we exposed how few jobs the wind-power industry really generates in exchange for its incredible subsidies: 12,000 positions financed by £1.2 billion, amounting to a cost of effectively £100,000 per job. In today’s newspaper we identify another green industry that relies heavily on subsidies to work: solar power. Greg Barker, the climate change minister, has said that it is his “ambition” to increase the number of solar farms in Britain (already built or in planning) by an astonishing factor of 10. We all want to help to protect the environment and it would be nice to rely entirely on clean energy sources. But solar energy comes with plenty of problems. Its impact upon the landscape is likely to be significant: the level of solar power that Mr Barker wants would necessitate erecting solar panels of up to 10ft tall across an area more than 100 times the size of London’s Olympic Park.

Telegraph 22nd June 2013 read more »

Serious concern has been expressed about the future of a pioneering environmental centre after the company which runs it went into liquidation. The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), at Corris, near Machynlleth, was established 40 years ago.

Western Mail 22nd June 2013 read more »

Biomass

A proposed wood-burning power station will belch as much toxic pollution into the air as two million car exhausts and put public health at serious risk, environmentalists are warning. Controversial plans for a new £325 million plant at the port of Dundee are due to be considered by city councillors tomorrow. But critics say that hazardous emissions from the smokestack could worsen air pollution in the city, which is already at dangerous levels. Like motor vehicles, burning wood produces tiny sooty particles and nitrogen dioxide gas, which can trigger breathing problems, heart attacks and strokes. Estimates by government advisers suggest that air pollution could be responsible for 3,000 premature deaths in Scotland every year. The Dundee plant is one of four originally planned by Forth Energy, which brings the harbour company, Forth Ports, together with the power company, Scottish and Southern Energy. A plant at Leith in Edinburgh was abandoned after protests, a plant at Rosyth in Fife is awaiting a decision by ministers and a plant at Grangemouth in Falkirk was given the go-ahead earlier this month.

Rob Edwards 23rd June 2013 read more »

Energy Efficiency

THE Green Deal, the government’s ambitious scheme to slash household carbon emissions and save energy, has run into a quagmire. It has a target to transform the energy use of 10,000 homes this year. So far, the score is just two. The brainchild of Ed Miliband when he was Labour’s last energy secretary — and relaunched by Chris Huhne when he ran the energy department before he was jailed for perverting the course of justice — the scheme has been bogged down by software problems and has caused a collapse in the home insulation industry. Ministers insist its performance is improving, but critics say it has been exploited by thousands of canny homeowners to subsidise new boilers that they would have bought anyway. Andrew Warren, of the Association for the Conservation of Energy, and an adviser to Barker, said the Green Deal was a sound idea whose introduction had been under-resourced. He added: “Last year we were insulating 50,000 homes a month but that has fallen to below 3,000. Firms have gone bust and thousands of workers have lost their jobs.”

Sunday Times 23rd June 2013 read more »

Climate

President Obama will announce his intention to limit greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants, increase appliance efficiency standards and promote renewable energy development on public lands in a speech Tuesday outlining his plan to use executive powers to address climate change.

Washington Post 23rd June 2013 read more »

Guardian 23rd June 2013 read more »

Think Progress 22nd June 2013 read more »

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Published: 23 June 2013