Onshore wind, solar, green homes … we round up the measures that have gone under the knife in what some are calling the worst period for UK environmental policy in 30 years. Amber Rudd has been accused of “grotesque hypocrisy” today for claiming the government is leading on climate change while overseeing a string of attacks on green policies. Some environmentalists say it’s the worst period for environmental policy in three decades. We’ve rounded up the green measures that have been axed or find themselves in the firing line, to show the breadth and scale of the changes.
Guardian 24th July 2015 read more »
The last few months mark the worst period for environmental policy that I have seen in my 30 years’ work in this field. The attacks on renewable energy, the scrapping of zero carbon homes and the resumed use of pesticides that are known to kill birds and beneficial insects are among the policy reversals that confirm we are into a new and troubling period. The basis for the lurch backwards has been predicated on managing public money and the cost of living, when if fact neither are backed by evidence. Take the fact that more than 40% of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (Decc) budget is spent on nuclear waste management, and yet this technology, which will take years to make a material difference to our energy security, remains favoured by policy while renewable technologies that could deliver more quickly and cleanly are being undermined.
Guardian 24th July 2015 read more »
Are you suffering from cognitive dissonance? You should be, writes Oliver Tickell. After the most ferocious attack a UK government has ever mounted on the environment, David Cameron just claimed that his is the ‘greenest government ever’, as Amber Rudd proclaims her commitment to climate action. What’s going on? what a two months it has been! During this time he and his chancellor George Osborne have managed to generate a prodigious trail of environmental wreckage: an end to subsidies for onshore wind; the imposition of onerous planning requirements for onshore wind power; the taxation of low carbon energy by imposing the climate change levy on renewable generators; the failure to raise the ‘subsidy cap’, the so-called ‘levy control framework’ for renewable energy, in line with falls in wholesale power prices; funding cuts to medium scale solar farms following on from last year’s cuts to large scale solar farms; the scrapping of the requirement for new homes to be ‘zero carbon from April 2016; yesterday’s scrapping of the Green New Deal, the UK’s flagship renewable energy programme; breaking earlier promises, permitting fracking on SSSI nature sites, in groundwater source areas, and beneath national parks; the sell-off of a majority stake in the Green Investment Bank; tax breaks for oil and gas exploration and production, announced earlier this month, to be included in the Energy Bill; the imposition of heavy cuts on the energy and climate change department, DECC, which will result in the loss of about 90% of its discretionary spending on greening the UK’s energy supply a renewed commitment to the world’s most expensive ever nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C; Is that enough? There’s probably more. These last few days the pace of the attack on the environment has been dizzying. Announcements have been coming out so thick and fast it’s hard to keep up with them all.
Ecologist 24th July 2015 read more »
The South West’s sole Green MEP has lambasted energy secretary Amber Rudd for cutting renewable subsidies while spending billions of pounds on nuclear. Former professor of economics Dr Molly Scott Cato said Ms Rudd “failed to understand” the renewables sector and needed to take time to “educate herself”. She also suggested the Government is “pandering” to fossil fuel and nuclear industries at the expense of energy security and economic growth. Her criticisms follow an announcement by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) that it will end subsidies to small scale solar farms in 2016. The measure is the latest in a series of cuts to renewables subsidies which the Government said will cut household bills.
Western Morning News 23rd July 2015 read more »
Scrapping solar subsidies could threaten 3,000 jobs in the South-West. Merlin Hyman, Chief Executive of Regen South West said that plans to scrap the subsidies from 2016 should not be made on ‘political whim’
Western Morning News 22nd July 2015 read more »
In her first major speech as Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Amber Rudd today set out the Government’s commitment to tackling climate change while keeping bills down in order to deliver lasting economic security for hardworking families and businesses. She said that the Government’s approach will help to protect the economy because failing to act would risk leading to lower growth, fewer jobs and higher prices. She added that this approach will see action taken in a way that keeps consumer bills down and encourages businesses to innovate, grow and create employment, so it does not come at the expense of prosperity today.
DECC 24th July 2015 read more »
Energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd has defended government decisions to scrap subsidy support for renewables a year earlier than planned, citing the need to tackle climate change in the “most cost-effective way”. But her comments this morning have not sat well with the renewables industry. Juliet Davenport, CEO at utility Good Energy, challenged the secretary’s sentiments that there was a direct need to target onshore wind and solar. “She’s [Rudd] also right to say that bills need to be affordable, so it makes no sense to be pulling the rug under innovative technologies which can deliver both lower bills and energy security in the long term,” Davenport added. And the opposition Labour party’s shadow energy and climate change group took to Twitter to pour scorn over the Conservative’s claims to be committed to low-cost decarbonisation.
Solar Portal 24thJuly 2015 read more »
Speech in full.
Business Green 24thJuly 2015 read more »
The challenge of how best to tackle climate change must not solely be the preserve of leftwing politicians, according to the UK’s energy and climate secretary. Amber Rudd, who was promoted to secretary of state in May, is to use her first major speech on climate change to argue that the Conservative party’s legacy of action on global warming dates back to Margaret Thatcher. Craig Bennett, chief executive at Friends of the Earth, said: “The government’s credibility on tackling climate change is hanging in tatters. Amber Rudd appears to have been wheeled out to say a few warm word on tackling climate change as window dressing for a vicious Treasury assault on the environment.”
Guardian 24th July 2015 read more »
A reactor at a Scottish nuclear test site at the centre of a political row has been shut down as planned, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said. The Shore Test Facility reactor at Vulcan in Caithness will now been cleaned up and taken apart. Last year, the Scottish government criticised UK ministers and the MoD for its handling of a radioactive discharge at Vulcan. The incident happened in 2012 but was not made public until early 2014. The UK government said there were no safety concerns following the incident.
BBC 24th July 2015 read more »
The leader of Cumbria County Council says significant investment is needed in the area to support the construction of three new nuclear reactors.
Whitehaven News 24th July 2015 read more »
ITV 24th July 2015 read more »
Lying on the remote northwest coast of England is one of the most controversial places in Britain: the nuclear facility known as Sellafield. In this one-off documentary, BBC Four have been given unprecedented access to some of the country’s most secret buildings, revealing the extraordinary experiments, the jaw-dropping technology, and the costly science behind Britain’s attempts to harness the power of the atom. Nuclear physicist Jim Al-Khalili uncovers the story of Sellafield: from the headlong rush to develop nuclear weapons and nuclear power to terrifying accidents, like the Windscale fire and leaks of radioactive material into the sea; from public opposition to the latest reprocessing techniques. Jim examines the ways waste and spend fuel rods have been stored here over the last 70 years and the latest attempts to try and clean some of it up, from storage in vast open air ponds to encasing pieces of old reactors in concrete blocks.
Cumbria Trust 24th July 2015 read more »
Belfast Telegraph 24th July 2015 read more »
A Wylfa Newydd supply chain event was attended by more than 100 Welsh firms. Representatives from businesses across the region came to Venue Cymru in Llandudno to learn more about the supply chain opportunities that will be unlocked by the multi-billion pound project. More than 100 Welsh businesses were there with 65 of those coming from Anglesey, Gwynedd or Conwy.
Daily Post 23rd July 2015 read more »
Horizon Nuclear Power has begun engaging with hundreds of potential suppliers for its £14bn Wylfa Newydd nuclear power plant in Anglesey, Wales. The client said it has met with its supply chain today to discuss opportunities available on the project during construction and when operational, with 250 firms attending the event.
Building 23rd July 2015 read more »
The relatively recent decision by the European Commission to approve roughly €100 billion in subsidies for the Hinkley Point C nuclear energy project in the UK is already being legally challenged, according to recent reports. The legal challenge is coming via an alliance of 10 companies — which includes various renewable energy suppliers and municipal utility companies, as well as Greenpeace Energy. The plea for an annulment of the approval is being made via the European Union Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
Clean Technica 23rd July 2015 read more »
Letter to Silloth Councillors from SPAND – the dump is back. The people of Silloth remain opposed and expect our councillors to oppose resolutely.
Cumbria Trust 25th July 2015 read more »
The problems with the two reactors under construction at Taishan in China have received comparatively little coverage. The Taishan reactors are now predicted to enter operation around two years behind schedule (end of 2015/early 2016).
Exeter Energy Blog 23rd July 2015 read more »
Some scientists are calling for 100 percent renewable energy. That’s the wrong approach.
Mother Jones 24th July 2015 read more »
New Reactor Types
Much about the tech-savvy push to reboot nuclear power bucks tradition. Many U.S.-based startups with advanced reactor designs are backed by venture capitalists, not the U.S. government. Their impetus differs, too. Unlike American scientists of the 1950s and 1960s, who were locked in an atom-splitting Cold War race with the Soviet Union, they aim to combat climate change.
National Geographic 24th July 2015 read more »
US – PLEX
Last week, CNBC ran a story sure to elevate the blood pressure of clean energy activists everywhere: No more nukes? How about another 80 years of them. The article discussed the hopes of some in the nuclear industry that reactors will be able to be re- re-licensed and operate for 80 years instead of the original 40-year license period as well as beyond the 60 year license most U.S. reactors (75 of the 99 operating) already have received. CNBC named names too: it said that Exelon, Duke Power and Dominion Resources are all considering applying for an additional 20-year extension to be able to operate for 80 years. Exelon is thinking about it for its Fukushima-clone Peach Bottom reactors in Pennsylvania, Dominion for its Surry reactors in Virginia and Duke Power for its Three Mile Island-clone three-unit Oconee plant in South Carolina.
Green World 24th July 2015 read more »
French lawmakers adopted a new law on Wednesday that will halve the country’s energy consumption by 2050 and slash its reliance on nuclear energy. Under the new law approved by the National Assembly, nuclear energy will provide only 50 percent of France’s electricity by 2025, down from 75 percent currently.
Nuclear Power Daily 22nd July 2015 read more »
Last night, the French Parliament adopted a law to do what President Hollande proposed years ago: reduce the share of nuclear power from 75 to 50 percent by 2025 and double the share of renewables in the next 25 years. But the devil is in the detail.
Renew Economy 24th July 2015 read more »
Iran hit out on Friday against the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, accusing him of threatening military action against Tehran if it fails to respect a historic nuclear deal sealed on 14 July.
Guardian 25th July 2015 read more »
This week’s micro power news: cuts cuts & cuts plus Cumbrian Community Energy.
Microgen Scotland 24th July 2014 read more »
Renewables – solar
Can the industry survive without these subsidies? The arrival yesterday of the Renewable Energy Association’s (REA) latest report, UK solar beyond subsidy: the transition, feels perfectly timed. Written by KPMG, the report suggests a range of policy options that can help the industry transition towards a sustainable, subsidy-free future. REA would like to see solar panels made mandatory for all new buildings. “Why not ensure that all new build properties have solar integrated into their roofs?” asks Nina Skorupska, chief executive of the REA. “It is so much more cost effective to do this at the build stage rather than address it on the retrofit.” Such a move would drive innovation and efficiency in the sector, the paper argues, and help address fuel poverty by bringing energy bills down. Other policy suggestions in the report include alleviating the tax burdens on businesses installing commercial solar on rooftops. A range of relief measures are proposed to incentivise take up, including allowing businesses to claim solar PV income as Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) rather than as capital allowance. This would provide 100 per cent tax relief rather than a 20 per cent reducing balance. Other suggestions include providing relief from Stamp Duty or Council Tax for properties fitted with solar.
Business Green 24thJuly 2015 read more »
Business Green 23rd July 2015 read more »
Solar Portal 23rdJuly 2015 read more »
The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has announced that the government will no longer fund the Green Deal scheme, which provided loans designed to help homeowners improve the energy efficiency of their property. The department said that the latest target in its cull of green policies was aimed at protecting taxpayers, and was the result of low take-up of the scheme and concerns about industry standards. But the government has yet to announce how it will fill the gap in its energy efficiency policies left by the Green Deal. With the price of gas still fluctuating, it remains difficult to predict what energy bills will look like in 2020 and beyond. Until Rudd’s autumn announcement, no one will know exactly what the Conservative’s energy efficiency policy will look like either, much to the frustration of the green buildings industry. What could these measures look like? Based on Rudd’s comments earlier this week, it appears that it will involve energy companies, and some sort of continuation of the “pay as you save” method. The Green Deal itself will not be sorely missed, and a well-designed new framework could be an opportunity for the government to prove that it is serious about reducing emissions and improving the UK’s housing stock.
Carbon Brief 24th July 2015 read more »
Scientists and engineers from the nuclear fusion research community have rallied against an attack from a member of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee that accused them of being in “cloud cuckoo land”. Speaking at a meeting at the House of Lords earlier this week, Lord Peston slammed Professor Steven Cowley, head of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, for asserting that fusion research would produce “a commercially sustainable outcome” within the next 40 to 80 years.
Professional Engineer 24th July 2015 read more »