The Stop Hinkley Campaign has welcomed a speech by a former Tory Energy Secretary. Lord Howell of Guildford described the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station as “by far the biggest future burden on consumers and households”. Although he is “very pro-nuclear” Lord Howell said he “would shed no tears at all if the elephantine Hinkley C Project was abandoned. Lord Howell’s remarks come just one day after the current Secretary of State for Energy, Amber Rudd, said there is a “very good prospect” of a decision to build Britain’s first new nuclear plant finally being taken later this year. Ms Rudd told MPs on the Energy and Climate Change Committee that: Hinkley“… is going to be the first new nuclear plant in over 20 years so it is essential to me that we succeed in it.”
Burnham-on-Sea.com 24th July 2015 read more »
Stop Hinkley 22nd July 2015 read more »
Plans for new nuclear reactors at a site called Moorside next to Sellafield are unlikely to get off the drawing board, says Friends of the Earth, West Cumbria and North Lakes. The group is today submitting its response to a consultation about the plans. The group argues that new reactors are not needed, either in Cumbria or anywhere else. They are not the low-carbon technology they claim to be, they will create more nuclear waste for which there are no plans for disposal, and government targets can be reached with renewables instead. The group’s proposals for how this can be done in Cumbria are here http://www.cumbrianenergyrevolution.org.uk/
FoE West Cumbria & North Lakes 25th July 2015 read more »
A controversial nuclear test site in Caithness has been shut down for the final time. The reactor at the Vulcan Naval Reactor Test Establishment was safely closed down earlier this week – with a major operation to clean-up the site due to start. The site – formerly HMS Vulcan – sits next to, but was operated separately from, the Dounreay nuclear power complex on the north Caithness coast. Vulcan has been the MoD’s facility for testing new designs of nuclear submarine reactors since the 1950s, in order to assess any potential problems before the ships went to sea.
Press & Journal 25th July 2015 read more »
Stretching out into the channel on the border between Kent and East Sussex, the Dungeness headland is Europe’s largest expanse of shingle. This stark, windswept area, with a working nuclear power station as its backdrop, is the UK’s only desert. Formed 10,000 years ago when storm waves from newly rising sea levels threw up pebbles from the ocean floor, Dungeness has ever since been subject to a steady process of easterly drift, as the sea picks up shingle from the west and deposits it around the headland to the east. The latest act of a longstanding battle of man against nature saw EDF Energy, which operates the power station, and the Environment Agency last year win planning permission to shift shingle back from east to west, much to the frustration of residents who will have to put up with dozens of huge stone-carrying trucks passing by daily. But neither the ravages of coastal erosion nor the presence of the power station seem to bother the many buyers seeking one of the 100-odd homes on the Dungeness Estate.
FT 25th July 2015 read more »
Green MEP, Molly Scott Cato, is asking the European Commission whether recent proposed changes to wind and solar subsidies and planning laws that will affect renewable energy generators breach EU competition law. Dr Scott Cato believes that the decision to impose the Climate Change Levy (CCL) on renewable generators is ‘illogical and punitive’ and that enhanced powers to challenge planning for windfarms is not matched by similar powers to challenge fracking. She also questions why subsidies for wind turbines are being removed and subsidies for solar power being reviewed while huge subsidies for nuclear power continue.
Molly Scott Cato MEP 24 July 2015 read more »
Ed Davey, the former energy secretary, has accused the Government of taking Britain “backwards” over energy security after the Green Deal for home insulation and solar subsidies was shelved last week. Freed from the shackles of coalition government and taking full advantage of Labour’s disarray, the Conservatives sneaked out a number of policies that had been held back by their Liberal Democrat partners for the past five years. This included scrapping funding for the Green Deal Financing Company, which lent money for home insulation, on account of low take-up and financial difficulties. The company needed a Â£34m bailout last year. Mr Davey, who was energy secretary in the coalition before losing his s eat in the election, told the Radio 4 Today programme: “The Chancellor’s very keen on saying: ‘We’ve got to fix the roof when the sun’s shining’ when he thinks about the fiscal deficit. He should be saying the same thing when he think about climate change – it’s a real threat, we’ve got to tackle it and we can afford to do that now with renewable energy costs tumbling.”
Independent 26th July 2015 read more »
The Government is turning the English language inside out in an effort to dress up drastic cuts in spending on things we need as “cold, hard economic sense”. Ministers seem to be competing in a “Britain’s got austerity” contest with the Chancellor in the role of Simon Cowell. Last week, we heard Amber Rudd, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, indirectly criticise her predecessor, Greg Barker, usually the sharpest pinstriped Tory in the room, of being a socialist and pushing an anti-growth agenda as she chopped support for his flagship Green Deal scheme. However, the Government wants nuclear to be competitive (which has a guaranteed price that rises with inflation from 2020, and perverse incentives for the constructors to take their time getting the thing built so that its price could rise to 40 per cent above the “market” rate). The other alternative is offshore wind, which despite its huge production potential, is still more expensive than nuclear. So Amber Rudd’s competition solution is to subsidise the technologies that are more expensive and undermine the technologies that have used subsidies to reduce their costs to the bill payers. A free-for-all energy market will see capital go where it thinks it can make the best (and easiest) returns in the short term, which, right now, are to the expensive but politically palatable technologies such as offshore wind and nuclear. And, of course, oil and gas. It would be easy to say that energy is too complicated and should be left to the experts to argue it out. But remember that your money, via your energy bills, is paying for the next generation of the energy market to be created. You can choose to let the anti-wind lobby put up your energy bill and push us towards technologies that will get only more expensive with time or you can make your voice heard. The voice of cold, hard democratic finance. Bruce Davis is co-founder of Abundance and visiting research fellow at Bauman Institute, Leeds University
Independent 26th July 2015 read more »
Amber Rudd, secretary of state for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), continues to come under fire this week as it’s revealed that she failed to disclose links to a top lobbyist in official parliamentary records. New rules, introduced after the general election by the parliamentary Committee on Standards, require MPs to disclose all family members engaged in lobbying the public sector. So far, 10 MPs have declared such interests. Rudd, however, does not state on the new Register of Members’ Interests that her brother, Roland Rudd, is the boss and founder of the powerful financial PR and lobbying firm, Finsbury. The news is particularly controversial as this week DECC granted planning permission to a controversial gas storage facility in Lancashire. The gas storage company, Halite Energy Group, is represented by Roland’s Finsbury.
DeSmog 25th July 2015 read more »
Amber Rudd’s speech on how to beat climate change today has been lauded as “trying to win the Tour de France on a bike without wheels”. The Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change addressed business leaders in London this morning where she spoke of her plan of action for getting in place a global deal at climate talks in Paris this December. Industry groups have now voiced concerns on the “change in rhetoric”, claiming the uncertainty is painting the UK in a bad light. RenewableUK’s director of policy Gordon Edge said: “Despite the laudable ambitions expressed by the energy secretary in her speech today, the current trajectory of current government policy on renewables is not an encouraging one, following their announcements on ending support for onshore wind and solar, as well as scrapping the Green Deal and the Zero Carbon Homes objective, and making punitive changes to the Climate Change Levy.
RE News 25th July 2015 read more »
The move left many questioning the UK government’s commitment to the low carbon economy, comings days after support for wind, solar power and zero carbon homes was also cut.But in a thinly veiled attack on previous governments, Rudd will make the case for market-led solutions to cleaning the UK economy, rejecting the “proto-socialism” of left-wing solutions.
RTCC 23rd July 2015 read more »
The energy secretary is entitled to say that tackling climate change shouldn’t just be the preserve of environmentalists and anti-capitalists. There may well be a benefit in claiming the issue back from the ‘left wing’ perspective Amber Rudd believes has begun to dominate the debate. Were voices from across the political spectrum more prominent in calling for change, it might make it harder for climate change deniers to flourish. There is much else in what Ms Rudd has been saying about global warming which is hard to disagree with, too. Unchecked climate change is threat to growth, quality of life and the economy as a whole, she argues. The best way to deliver the low carbon economy is by using free markets and competition to help develop new green technologies, make them cheaper, and show other businesses the benefits of a low carbon economy. The problem is this is simply all talk. There is no evidence that the rhetoric will be backed up by policy. David Cameron insists he lived up to his 2010 pledge to lead the ‘greenest government ever’. But even in coalition with the green-leaning Liberal democrats, this was never true and since being returned with a parliamentary majority, the Conservatives have ploughed up swathes of green policy.
Herald 25th July 2015 read more »
Centrica chief executive Iain Conn is this week expected to unveil cost-cutting plans as the energy giant faces a political storm over soaring profits at British Gas. Mr Conn, who took the helm of the troubled company at the start of the year, is preparing to set out the results of a five-month strategic review that analysts say will focus on trying to achieve cost savings of hundreds of millions of pounds a year. The former BP executive is expected to use Thursday’s announcement to row back from the expansion in oil and gas pursued by his predecessor Sam Laidlaw, and instead focus on efficiency and growth at British Gas. Centrica’s interim results, due the same day, are expected to show that profits at British Gas’s residential energy supply arm have risen by almost 50pc to £394m in the first half of the year – despite a 5pc price cut in late February.
Telegraph 25th July 2015 read more »
THE new chief executive of Centrica will unveil up to 2,000 job cuts, asset sales and cost reductions this week in one of the biggest shake-ups at the owner of British Gas since the former monopoly was privatised by Margaret Thatcher. Iain Conn has taken drastic action since he took the reins in January. The former BP exec¬utive has slashed the dividend by 30%, warned of a fall in profits and launched a strategic review. He is set to unveil the outcome on Thursday. Peter Atherton, an analyst at Jefferies, said that it promises “to be a pivotal date in the history of Centrica, and by extension the UK energy sector”. The FTSE 100 giant provides electricity and gas to more than 11m homes through British Gas and also operates a large North Sea gas production arm. But it is facing huge shifts in the energy industry, from the dawn of “smart meters” that can help customers cut consumption, to a 30% drop in gas prices that analysts predict will hold for some time. All the big six energy suppliers lost money last year on their gas and coal-fired power stations. Meanwhile solar panels and other “micro-generation” technologies have spread rapidly, portending changes to the old utility model reliant on huge power plants. A new class of low-cost, online rivals, such as First Utility and Ovo Energy, has also emerged, stealing 10% of the market in a few years.
Sunday Times 26th July 2015 read more »
The operator of the Sendai nuclear power plant in southern Japan submitted an application on Friday to the country’s regulator to get final approval for putting one of its reactors online. Kyushu Electric Power Company is hoping to turn on the reactor as early as August 10th.
NHK 25th July 2015 read more »
Boeing has drawn up plans for nuclear-powered engines that could be used to send astronauts into deep space. The company has filed a patent for engines that use lasers to draw energy from nuclear material. They could be used for conventional aircraft, rockets and missiles. Engine manufacturers in the United States began experimenting with nuclear propulsion after the Second World War, but most projects were cancelled before the engines were tested on aircraft. The Cassini space probe orbiting Saturn and the Voyager probes at the edge of the Solar System feature nuclear-powered propulsion systems. However, these systems use heat produced by the decay of nuclear material to create small amounts of electric power. The Boeing engine would use a laser to vaporise a propellant inside the engine. This would trigger a reaction from the nuclear fuel in the engine and the energy would create thrust.
Times 25th July 2015 read more »
From the formative ages of 18 to 21, Jan Bras was a Japanese prisoner of war. After liberation in 1945, he was one of the first to walk through a decimated Nagasaki after the detonation of the atomic bomb. He witnessed unimaginable terror, brutality and death. Throughout it all, Jan Bras survived. In many ways, his is the story of the second world war in the Pacific – a conflict overshadowed by memorialisation of events in Europe. With the 70th anniversary of Victory in Japan Day on 15 August, stories like his are becoming rarer. Bras is one of only a handful of survivors.
Observer 26th July 2015 read more »
Elliott Advisors has capped off a difficult month for renewable energy companies by closing most of its short positions against green stocks. The US hedge fund’s British offshoot, which has made direct investments in several UK solar power farms, set up the bets against other renewable firms last year to hedge these projects. However, Elliott took advantage of a decline in London-listed green shares following the Summer Budget by exiting most of its positions, some of which were losing money before the slump.
Telegraph 25th July 2015 read more »
FOREIGN investors in Scotland’s renewable energy sector could launch multi-million pound compensation claims against the UK government over the ending of subsidies for new onshore wind farms, legal experts believe. Trade body Scottish Renewables has already predicted the axing of the Renewables Obligation support mechanism for new projects could result in the loss of Â£3 billion of investment in the sector. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd is proposing that projects which have already secÂ¬ured planning consent, grid connection acceptance and land rights, should be allowed a grace period which would entitle them to support up to the original deadline. But Pinsent Masons’ dispute resolution expert, John Gilbert, believes some investors in projects which fall outside that grace period will be looking at the potential for multi-million pound compensation claims under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT).
Scotland on Sunday 26th July 2015 read more »
Renewables – Heat Pumps
Glasgow-based Star Renewable Energy has won a £350,000 contract to supply heat pumps for a pioneering renewable energy scheme which will, for the first time in the UK, see solar thermal panels being used to power a district heating scheme. Under the contract Star will design and build a large-scale heat pump system connected to a solar energy farm to be built in the new town of Cranbrook, now under construction near Exeter. The system will provide heat and hot water to the town’s district heating scheme, one of the largest in the country, operated by German energy giant E.On. David Pearson, director of Star Renewable Energy, told the Sunday Herald that the demonstrator project – awarded a Â£1.3 million research grant from the Department of Energy and Climate Change earlier this month – would help prove that heat pumps can be used effectively with low carbon solar panels. A successful system would allow Crankbrook’s currently gas-fired system to lower its emissions.”The aim of the project is to improve the performance of heat networks and to demonstrate how the combined technologies can replace or work alongside the existing combined heat and power district heating scheme to provide lower cost and significantly lower carbon heating and hot water,” Pearson said.
Sunday Herald 26th July 2015 read more »
Climate action advocates are increasingly touting the potential of community energy. In contrast with lumbering, complex international negotiations to lower global fossil fuel emissions, neighbors have been able to move relatively quickly on local solar or wind energy projects. They even have backing from the Vatican.
National Geographic 18th July 2015 read more »
In a huge blow to Britain’s Green industry, the Conservatives have announced they will end all Government funding to the Green Deal – a programme set up by the Liberal Democrats in Coalition that helps people make their homes more energy efficient. Tim Farron has condemned the new policy, saying: “Today’s news is yet another blow for green industry and British jobs. The Conservatives claim they want to tackle climate change, but this is further evidence they don’t care about the environment.
Lib Dems 24th July 2015 read more »
Opposition parties have called on the Scottish government to make its position on fracking clear after it was accused of not enforcing its own moratorium. An energy company says that it could begin work to establish an onshore facility connected to underground coal gasification (UCG) beneath the River Forth as soon as November, despite a ban on onshore fracking. Correspondence between Alex Neil, the communities secretary, and the chairman of Cluff Natural Resources, seen by anti-fracking campaigners, reveals that Algy Cluff was given assurances that his plans could go ahead. Ministers claim they are unable to act to stop companies pursuing UCG beneath the Forth because the necessary powers are reserved to Westminster. However, Mr Neil revealed in response to a parliamentary question that applications for onshore facilities connected to UCG would be subject to planning law, giving the Scottish government ultimate control. With no indication that ministers plan to intervene to stop Cluff’s plans, Lewis Macdonald, Scottish Labour’s energy spokesman called on the Scottish government to be honest over its stance on fracking and unconventional energy. “SNP ministers have been dodging the important questions on the unconventional oil and gas moratorium for months,” he said.
Times 25th July 2015 read more »
Lesley Laird, the Labour deputy leader at Fife Council, which is one of the areas in which Cluff may submit its planning application, said the Scottish Government may also be able to block the development as permission for offshore activity would have to be granted by Marine Scotland. “This lack of clarity and transparency is simply not good enough,” Ms Laird, also spokesperson for economy and planning at the authority, said. “The Scottish Government have had repeated requests to bring UCG into the scope of the moratorium and they have simply been trying to avoid doing so. Why?” She added tha t the statements from Cluff Natural Resources and Jim Ratcliffe, the boss of chemical giant Ineos which wants to establish a fracking industry in Scotland, were cause for “considerable concern” in Fife. “What is even more concerning is that as a local authority who could potentially be affected by these plans we have not been consulted or contacted for our views,” she said. “It is still not evident what this consultation will look like and the longer this rumbles on then quite rightly the more concerned people should be.
Herald 25th July 2015 read more »