Christopher Booker: Two bizarre interviews last week again highlighted how woeful has been much reporting on the costliest engineering project Britain has ever embarked on. Their cue was George Osborne’s announcement that UK taxpayers are to “guarantee” £2 billion of the money paid to firms owned by the Chinese and French governments, to build in Somerset the most expensive nuclear power station in the world. Although it was originally claimed that Hinkley Point C would cost only £10 billion and be “cooking Christmas dinners by 2017”, its completion date is now likely to be well after 2023, and its cost has spiralled so fast it will be way over the current figure of £24.5 billion. This would already make it more expensive than the Channel Tunnel and half the estimated cost of the vast, as-yet unapproved HS2 rail project. At least when John Humphrys interviewed the Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, that morning on the Today programme, he began by gabbling some of the more obvious objections to Hinkley. But he then gave Rudd a free run to babble about how thankful we should be to the Chinese and the French for helping to give us “low-carbon energy security”. Please, guys, we know you are besotted with climate change and “low-carbon” energy. But even in your own terms, can you not recognise a truly massive national scandal when it is staring you in the face?
Telegraph 26th Sept 2015 read more »
Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has defended the Tory Government’s controversial green policies, claiming they are designed to deliver climate action in a way that is “pro-growth, pro-business”. Speaking at a climate change conference hosted by UK insurer Aviva, Rudd reiterated that the Conservative Party’s current approach to energy and climate change would keep the costs of bills down and “encourage businesses to innovate, grow and create jobs”. She pointed out that the UK is on track to breach the Levy Control Framework – the pot of money for green subsidies – by £1.5bn by 2020. However, industry insiders were quick to warn that the progress of renewable energy technologies would be short-live under current punitive policy conditions. RenewableUK chief executive Maria McCaffery said: “If Ministers want to see good statistics like we’ve had today continuing into the years ahead, they have to knuckle down, listen to the high level of public support we enjoy, and start making positive announcements on wind, wave and tidal energy.”
Edie 25th Sept 2015 read more »
Energy Supply Scotland
Letter: I thought that our electricity generation was now entirely in private ownership, so am grateful to Councillor Butler (Letters, 26 September) for informing me that fuel poverty is largely due to the UK Government “spending billions on new nuclear power stations”. Most of us who actually know something about energy production would be more inclined to think that it was largely due to failure to invest in new nuclear energy a decade or so ago. Indeed, when Longannet closes next year and it is lack of supply, as much as cost, which will be the pr oblem, then we will be more than ever grateful that our two aged nuclear stations are still in operation.
Scotsman 28th Sept 2015 read more »
Poland intends to build two nuclear power stations with a total of four to five units by the mid-2030s, the president of the country’s National Atomic Energy Agency said. Janusz Wlodarski told the 59th session of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s general conference in Vienna that the combined output of the units will be around 6,000 megawatts with the first unit scheduled to begin commercial operation in the mid-2020s. Mr Wlodarski said Poland’s government will adopt a national plan on radioactive waste management by the end of the year. He said a development plan for human resources for the nuclear power industry is in the final stages of preparation.
NucNet 16th Sept 2015 read more »
In a move that will spare Labour a potentially divisive debate, delegates voted not to include Trident on the list of topics for discussion at the party conference in the southern English city of Brighton. “Is it so disastrous that politics has two opinions?” Corbyn asked his interviewer when probed on the difference of opinion within the party over Trident.
Reuters 28th Sept 2015 read more »
The party voted against debating scrapping the nuclear deterrent at their annual conference in Brighton.
Mirror 27th Sept 2015 read more »
Jeremy Corbyn has suffered a major blow to his authority after a bid by the Labour leadership to press for a vote on the renewal of the Trident nuclear programme was overwhelmingly rejected at the party’s conference. Hours after the opening of the event in Brighton, Britain’s largest trade unions and the party membership spurned a call for the conference to hold a debate and a vote on Wednesday about whether Britain should renew Trident.
Guardian 28th Sept 2015 read more »
A new campaign has been launched by the Solar Trade Association and Renewable UK opposing the Government’s plans to cut financial support to small-scale renewables, including wind turbines and solar panels. The People Power campaign is calling for members of the public, as well as thousands of renewable energy workers, to petition the Government to provide more stable support to these maturing sectors by writing to their local MP and harnessing the power of social media.
Scottish Energy News 28th Sept 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
Advances in solar power are happening so quickly that they could herald the end of the era of large coal-fired or nuclear power stations in Britain, according to senior executives at National Grid. “From a consumer’s point of view, the solar on the rooftop is going to be the baseload,” Steve Holliday, the transmission network’s chief executive, said. “Centralised power stations will be increasingly used to provide peak demand.” His finance chief went even further. Andrew Bonfield said that solar panel costs were falling so rapidly that energy from the Sun was expected to be one of the most cost-effective ways to power homes within 18 months. With home storage of electricity and using battery technology fast advancing in the United States, he said that the prospect of pulling the plug on a power company and going “off grid” could become a reality within five years. Mr Holliday, who is scheduled to leave National Grid next year after 15 years with the business, said that energy markets were “clearly moving towards much more distributed production and towards microgrids” – a big break from the past, when big power stations delivered centralised power to consumers and businesses on demand. Mr Bonfield said: “The UK installed more than 4GW of solar power in just one quarter this year. Look around the countryside, you see these huge solar farms. The subsidy being cut will reduce growth, but prices are dropping. Grid parity is the average cost of generation on the network and solar could be there in 18 to 24 months if the drop in panel costs continues.”
Times 28th Sept 2015 read more »
The days of bulky, expensive solar panels that were heavy and required harsh chemicals to produce and a lot of labor to install may be coming to an end. Scientists in Australia have been able to produce the largest ever printed solar cells using a newly developed solar cell printer. Yes, they are printing solar cells. The cells are flexible, cheap, and made from organic plastics and materials. According to scientist Dr Scott Watkins, printing cells on such a large scale opens up a huge range of possibilities for pilot applications: “There are so many things we can do with cells this size[…]We can set them into advertising signage, powering lights and other interactive elements. We can even embed them into laptop cases to provide backup power for the machine inside.”
My Science Academy 20th Sept 2015 read more »
Renewables – AD
One of the UK’s biggest food manufacturers is turning to the power of the potato as it seeks new sources of energy to run its factory. In what it says is a world first, 2 Sisters Food Group has installed a £50m plant that allows surplus mash from its production line to be converted into electricity, in a move that should cut carbon emissions by a fifth – and prove that you really can cash in your chips. The company claims its plant in Carlisle should produce 3,500 megawatt hours per year of electricity, or enough to power around 850 homes, and generate a further 5,000 MWh per year in heat for its manufacturing processes. The anaerobic digestion plant takes peelings, unused potato and even whole cottage pies if they would otherwise go to waste. It is the size of a five-storey building and will produce gas that can be used to generate electricity and heat.
FT 27th Sept 2015 read more »
If the world leapfrogged to LED lamps in all sectors, global electricity consumption for lighting would be reduced by more than half (52%), with 735 million tons of CO2 emissions avoided each year. That’s according to a new report, titled ‘Support The Big Switch’, which has been launched this week by The Climate Group, as it hosts its annual Climate Week NYC in New York. The report refers to The Climate Group’s ‘LED = Lower Emissions Delivered’ campaign, which encourages cities to realise the carbon and cost benefits that come with switching to LED.
Edie 25th Sept 2015 read more »
Many words have been devoted to fracking in the UK and beyond, but few have concentrated on the substantial benefits this revolutionary technology is bringing to millions of people. Just consider its impact on household transport costs, one of the larger expenses incurred by families. The Department of Energy and Climate Change estimates that forecourt petrol prices, after the effects of tax are removed, have fallen by 25 per cent in the past year, while diesel prices have reduced by more than a third. The impact on the economy is substantial, considering that 17 billion litres of petrol and 27 billion litres of diesel were sold last year. The reduction in motor fuel prices was cited by the ONS as one of the main reasons why UK inflation fell to zero last month. Motorists should thank fracking. The technology has unlocked vast reserves of oil and gas in shale form ations underground, transformed the energy industry and fuelled the fortunes of families. In the United States, where most of the world’s shale gas and tight oil are produced, low fuel prices have increased energy demand. The success of the technology has led to a surge in global oil supply and a collapse in prices. The result is a reduction in capital spending by oil companies, with projects cancelled or delayed.
Times 28th Sept 2015 read more »
The UK Government has reiterated its support for carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology, after energy giant Drax pulled out the UK’s flagship project.
Edie 25th Sept 2015 read more »