Daily News Roundup

26 March 2013

Energy Policy

The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is considering extending the life of coal-fired plants because of concerns surrounding the expected capacity squeeze in the UK. “We are looking at keeping existing plants alive,” Jonathan Brearley, director of energy strategy and futures at DECC, said at a World Energy Council (WEC) workshop for energy market reform strategy. Brearley’s statement came in response to a challenge from Ronan O’Regan, a PricewaterhouseCoopers utilities consultant, who suggested that contract for difference (CfDs) subsidy mechanisms will not be established in time for low-carbon generation to bridge the capacity deficit. “I have reservations over whether developers will be able to get the right capital into a project early enough [to fend off the expected capacity squeeze],” O’Regan told the workshop. “There needs to be a plan B. It will be highly challenging to have to CfDs in place by mid 2014.” Brearley did not dispute the concern. “We need to go to the European Commission to get state aid approval and we cannot put a firm deadline on that,” he said. “A [CfD] strategy for CHP [combined heat and power] plants still needs carving out.” O’Regan also expressed doubts that the 2020 decarbonisation target could be achieved under the current £7.6bn (€8.9bn) levy control framework a treasury-run model designed to keep the renewable subsidy pool in check. “Is £7.6bn enough to fund the roll out of the renewables needed to hit the 2020 target? Even in an optimistic scenario it is likely that there will be a shortfall,” he said. “The majority of developers will not be able to access CfDs.”

ICIS 20th March 2013 read more »

Nuclear R&D

The UK government is to commit more than £20m towards research and development into nuclear power as part of an industrial strategy that aims to help the country compete in the global market. The funding, to be announced on Tuesday, will be topped up with an additional £13m of private sector investment and comes just days after planning consent was given for the first new atomic reactor in the UK since 1995. The strategy, to be unveiled jointly by business secretary Vince Cable and Ed Davey, the energy secretary, will cover all aspects of the market, from waste management and decommissioning to new build. The strategy is expected to include details of 35 new R&D projects awarded £18m of support from a competition run by the Technology Strategy Board, the UK innovations agency. One of the beneficiaries is OC Robotics in Bristol, which has received close to £6m to develop a robot-controlled laser cutting tool that can be used as part of nuclear decommissioning projects.

FT 26th March 2013 read more »

Nuclear Costs

Letter: Mike Wharton states (Letters: Struggling against reason, 11 March) that nuclear is less expensive than renewables. I would argue that even putting one segment of the nuclear power industry under the spotlight we can see that this is not the case. We can also see that the taxpayers’ subsidies are going to the nuclear industry even when they do not produce energy.

Holyrood Magazine 25th March 2013 read more »

Energy Supply

Gas imported from the US is to heat as many as 1.8m British homes under a £10bn supply deal unveiled by Centrica. The British Gas owner said the 20-year contract for commercial deliveries from the Sabine Pass liquefaction plant in Louisiana would play an important role in ensuring the UK’s energy security. With gas reserves currently strained by Britain’s prolonged winter, however, the bad news is that the first shipments are not due until September 2018.

Guardian 25th March 2013 read more »

Guardian 25th March 2013 read more »

Independent 25th March 2013 read more »

Times 26th March 2013 read more »

Energy bills are set to jump by as much as £200 over the next year as a result of continuing gas shortages, potentially forcing more than a third of households to switch off their heating entirely, energy consultants warn. As emergency deliveries of liquefied natural gas from Qatar brought some relief to Britain’s rapidly diminishing gas reserves, specialists cautioned that supplies remained strained and would lead utility companies to raise gas and electricity bills. “If we become more and more dependent on gas, this is a glimpse of the future that we will face. We will be at the behest of the international gas market, and companies like Centrica that buy and sell on that market,” said Friends of the Earth’s head of campaigns, Andrew Pendleton.

Independent 26th March 2013 read more »

Household energy bills could rise again, consumer groups warned last night, as the freezing weather was forecast to last until Easter. Wholesale electricity prices increased by 11.5 per cent as a result of the soaring cost of gas, which is burnt to generate power. Gas prices have risen by half since the cold snap pushed up demand for heating. With the wholesale cost of electricity and gas making up about half of energy bills, households could be forced to pay an extra £200 a year if the situation persists.

Times 26th March 2013 read more »

Centrica’s deal to buy liquified natural gas (LNG) export capacity from Cheniere Energy’s facility in Louisiana shows how much the global energy industry has changed. The US is moving from an energy importer to an energy exporter and it’s all down to the ingenious exploitation of shale gas.

Telegraph 26th March 2013 read more »

Westinghouse

Westinghouse, a unit of Japan’s Toshiba Corp, has taken the lead over a Russian-led consortium in a tender to expand the Temelin nuclear power plant, the biggest-ever Czech industrial project, company officials said on Monday.

Reuters 25th March 2013 read more »

Israel

Dr David Lowry: President Obama reaffirmed his opposition to Iran’s nuclear programme during his recent visit to Israel (“If it’s peace he wants, Obama is far too late”, Comment, March 22). But of course, unmentioned by Mr Obama, Israel is already nuclear-armed, with around 200 warheads. The rulers in Tehran are worried about such an atomic arsenal within a few minutes’ flight time of their nation. Israel might achieve the national security it understandably seeks in the region by divesting itself of its own nuclear weapons in multilateral regional negotiations. In fact, the Israeli government actually agreed to such talks at the Paris Summit of Mediterranean countries, held on July 13 2008, when the then prime minister, Ehud Olmert, signed a document agreeing to pursue non-proliferation. Following the Arab Spring, this breakthrough should now be built upon by President Obama with his diplomatic initiative this week in Jerusalem. All efforts should be made to bring Iran to this huge peacemaking opportunity.

Telegraph 25th March 2013 read more »

Iran

For more than a decade, Iran has been doggedly accused without evidence of developing nuclear weapons. The Islamic Republic is relentlessly portrayed by Western media as a threat to the security of Israel and of the Western World. In a bitter irony, the assessment of America’s Intelligence Community concerning Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons capabilities refutes the barrage of media disinformation as well as the bellicose statements emanating from the White House. First formulated in the Bush administration’s 2002 ‘Nuclear Posture Review’, the pre-emptive nuclear war doctrine -integrated into the Global War on Terrorism – started to take shape in the immediate wake of the war on Iraq. A pre-emptive‘defensive’ nuclear attack on Iran using tactical nuclear weapons was envisaged to annihilate the Islamic Republic’s non-existent nuclear weapons program.

RT 25th March 2013 read more »

North Korea

While North Korea’s nuclear threats towards the US remain in the realm of the absurd, the government’s latest denunciation of the armistice agreement dangerously raises tensions between an inexperienced leader in Pyongyang and an untested president in Seoul.

Open Democracy 25th March 2013 read more »

Submarines

A proposal to put the dismantling of redundant nuclear submarines to the test at Rosyth in Fife is the “right decision”, the local MP Thomas Docherty has said. Defence Minister Philip Dunne has announced that redundant nuclear submarine dismantling would be trialled in Rosyth. If the process works, the remainder of the UK’s retired nuclear fleet will be cut up in both Plymouth and Rosyth. But he announced a further consultation on where intermediate-level nuclear waste would be stored, widening the choice to include commercial and other defence sites. SNP Lochgelly and Cardenden Fife councillor Ian Chisholm said he was concerned Rosyth could be left as a nuclear dump for 20 years. “I had hoped the hulks would be towed complete, down to Devonport where they belong and where they were serviced when Rosyth lost out on the work and kobs. It is now the MoD’s decision to dismantle one sub’s radioactive pressure vessel on site at Rosyth. The only plus point is they have decided the pressure vessel should be removed in one piece but the fly in the ointment is where that piece should be stored.”

Dundee Courier 25th March 2013 read more »

Renewables

Mainstream media finally admits renewable energy is viable.

Energy Media Societty 26th March 2013 read more »

The most potent weapon in the hands of status-quo defenders is an aura of inevitability: We’re stuck with fossil fuels for the rest of the century whether we like it or not; it’s impossible to change any faster. That aura is an enormous advantage, but it’s fairly brittle. Once rapid, positive change becomes (or becomes seen as) a live possibility, the question shifts from “can we do it?” to “should we do it?” “We can’t do it” — always delivered in a tone of world-weary realism — becomes “we shouldn’t do it,” which is much more difficult to defend. When people get the sense that a better future for their children is possible, is real, is there for the taking, they are willing to fight and sacrifice for it, in a way that few will for a lost cause.

Grist 25th March 2013 read more »

Panasonic, the Japanese electronics maker forecasting an annual loss, said its solar-panel operation will probably remain profitable amid growing demand from Japanese homeowners. Shipments in February reached a record level as Japan’s feed-in-tariff system for electricity triggered demand for rooftop systems. Japan added 1,119 megawatts of solar energy capacity in the nine months ended Dec. 31 to the 4,800 megawatts already installed, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said March 13. The country will probably be one of the top three markets this year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

Sydney Morning Herald 26th March 2013 read more »

Fossil Fuels

Conventional wisdom amongst those who follow the debate over UK energy policy says that many of the country’s ageing and often very dirty coal-fired power stations are soon to close – and that the race is on to replace those power stations. The debate then centres on what these new power stations should be, where they should be, and how much they should cost – and crucially, who should pay. There is now a wild amount of uncertainty about the whole direction of the coalition’s energy policy. This political paralysis is being blamed for deterring investment in any new power stations at all. Now a senior official in John Hayes’ department has been quoted by an energy industry news outlet saying that the government is looking at coal plant life extension. “We are looking at keeping existing (coal) plants alive,” Jonathan Brearley, director of energy strategy and futures at DECC, said at a World Energy Council (WEC) workshop. Any move to allow more coal-burning without technology to capture the emissions (CCS) would remove the possibility of the UK hitting the legal carbon targets set out in the Climate Change Act. As the government’s advisers – the Committee on Climate Change – have warned Ministers: there must be no role for unabated coal beyond the early 2020s if we are to get on course with cutting emissions.

Energy Desk 25th March 2013 read more »

Sustainable Development

We’re now full steam ahead in Friends of the Earth’s mind-blowingly ambitious three year research project that aims to map a route from a planet in peril to a world of well-being. As the leader of the project – alongside communications guru Joanna Watson – I’m fascinated, thrilled and petrified in equal measure. Just what are the 30 or so key changes needed to dig us out of the mighty hole we’ve dug ourselves into? By looking at the world afresh, and celebrating humans’ capacity to be ingenious, collaborative and empathetic, we hope to come up with smart ideas that could lead to a bright future. That’s why we’ve called the project Big Ideas Change the World.

Friends of the Earth 25th March 2013 read more »

Bristol, Brussels, Glasgow and Ljubljana have been chosen as the four finalists to proceed to the next stage of the European Green Capital 2015 Award organised by the European Commission. The European Green Capital Award is an annual prize that goes to one city every year, singling out its environmental performance. Bristol, Brussels, Glasgow and Ljubljana have been shortlisted from 8 entries across Europe. An independent panel of 12 experts assessed each entry on the basis of 12 indicators.

European Commission 25th March 2013 read more »

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Published: 26 March 2013