Daily News Roundup

31 March 2013

Carbon Floor Price

The government’s new carbon levy is effectively a “stealth poll tax” that will only work to put up household electricity bills and hand a windfall to old nuclear plants, the head of energy giant E.ON has warned. The Treasury’s “carbon price floor” comes into effect on Monday and official estimates say it will add £5 to household bills this year, rising to about £50 by 2020. The tax is intended to provide an incentive to invest in new wind farms and nuclear plants by making it more expensive to run coal and gas plants that emit carbon. Tony Cocker, chief executive of E.ON UK, attacked the policy on the eve of its implementation, arguing that it simply “pushes up the price for electricity” and should be scrapped. He told The Sunday Telegraph: “The carbon price floor is a tax and it’s pretty close to a stealth poll tax. It’s not based on ability to pay, it’s based on the requirement to keep warm and light your house. It was put in place with the stated objective of encouraging investment in low-carbon energy but it certainly doesn’t achieve that objective – it’s just a tax for the Exchequer.” The carbon tax would also provide an unintended “windfall” subsidy for existing old nuclear and hydro plants, which is “completely unnecessary because it’s already been paid for”, he said. The Daily Telegraph revealed that newly appointed energy minister Michael Fallon had called the tax “absurd”. Mr Fallon has taken on a new role, as joint energy and business minister, working across the departments of Business and Energy in the hope of creating a unified approach.

Telegraph 30th March 2013 read more »

ENERGY-intensive industries are bracing themselves for a renewed surge in utility bills tomorrow when the UK government’s highly controversial Carbon Price Floor starts feeding through into energy costs. Lambasted by business and environmental groups as a “stealth tax”, the price floor is expected to raise up to £3.2 billion over the next three years. Although critics say the funds should be ploughed back into the green energy technologies that the price floor is intended to support, the money will instead be absorbed for general use by the cash-strapped Exchequer.

Scotland on Sunday 31st March 2013 read more »

Energy Bill

BIG business has forged a powerful new alliance with consumer groups to stop “absurd” coalition energy policies that they claim will send Britain “sleepwalking into blackouts”. The cross-industry group, called the Powerline, will undermine the government’s beleaguered plan for a £200bn low-carbon overhaul of the nation’s energy supplies. The group, assembled behind the scenes in recent months, will break cover next week with the launch of a website and a national advertising and social media campaign. An internal memo obtained by The Sunday Times said the Powerline would “start applying logic” to the power debate. Its immediate target is the energy bill, which had its second reading in parliament in December and is to be given royal assent this year. The law represents the biggest overhaul of the energy industry since privatisation under Margaret Thatcher. A mix of pollution penalties and generous subsidies is designed to kill coal-fired power stations and replace them with more expensive low-carbon alternatives. The emergence of the deep-pocketed lobby group comes at a crucial time. The government is locked in negotiations with EDF Energy over subsidies for Britain’s first atomic reactor in two decades, to be built at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The French have threatened to walk away from the £14bn project unless Whitehall guarantees that it will be able sell power at roughly twice the current price for up to 40 years. Talks over the figure have dragged on for more than a year and EDF set a deadline that expires today. Sources said the government and EDF are still far apart and that the entire project could collapse.

Sunday Times 31st March 2013 read more »

Energy Policy

Boss of trade body Energy UK urges government to get public on board with its energy policy.

Telegraph 31st March 2013 read more »

Protest

This Tuesday, 2nd April 2013, london anti-nuke types will demonstrate at the Teasury from 08.30 till 09.30 in solidarity with the Treasury and its hard line in the negotiations with EDF over the nuclear electricity strike price. The text of their flyer to Treasury workers follows. Hold The Hard Line, Treasury. We stand here today in solidarity with the hard-pressed Treasury and its hard line in the negotiations with E.D.F. over subsidies and the strike price for nuclear-powered electricity. Only the level-headed realism of the Treasury stands between us and the 40 year abyss of paying double for our electricity, paying straight to the French government.

Stop Nuclear Network 30th March 2013 read more »

Korea

North Korea stepped up its pugnacious rhetoric still further yesterday by warning Seoul that the Korean Peninsula was entering “a state of war”. The statement comes in the wake of some of Pyongyang’s strongest ever threats, including a willingness to launch missiles against US bases.

Independent 31st March 2013 read more »

The rising tension between North and South Korea escalated further on Saturday as Pyongyang threatened to shut down a vital factory complex run jointly by the two countries. North Korea has been engaged in a massive display of sabre-rattling in recent days, declaring that it was in a “state of war” with its far wealthier and more powerful southern neighbour. It has also cut a military hotline between the two countries that was one of the few ways that senior North and South Korean officials could talk to each other, adding to a sharp sense of unease about events on the Korean peninsula.

Observer 30th March 2013 read more »

Submarines

THE Ministry of Defence will dismantle its first nuclear submarine at the Rosyth base in Fife, it emerged yesterday, prompting a backlash from politicians and campaigners. A new MoD report reveals seven nuclear ves sels at the base will be the first of its mothballed fleet to be taken apart. The disclosure has raised fears that Rosyth could become home to a radioactive dump site. Douglas Chapman, a Scottish National party councillor for Rosyth, said the base was being used as an “experimental dockyard” and described the risks as “too high to accept”. Anti-nuclear campaigner Lorraine Mann said the MoD’s decision would spark “outrage, the length and breadth of Scotland”. She said: “There will be alarm that Rosyth should be used as the testbed for an untested high-risk procedure.”

Sunday Times 31st March 2013 read more »

Trident

Veteran peace activist Bruce Kent visits Bradford next month as part of a national speaking tour rallying the public to urge the Government to cancel its plans to spend over £100bn on new nuclear weapons.

Bradford Telegraph & Argus 30th March 2013 read more »

Why I’ll be protesting against a Trident replacement at Aldermaston, Natalie Bennett.

Guardian 29th March 2013 read more »

Renewables

U.K. renewable power generation surged 20 percent last year, boosted by new offshore wind farms, the Department of Energy and Climate Change said. Power from waste, biomass, the wind, the sun and hydro plants rose to 41.1 terawatt-hours in 2012 from 34.4 terawatt- hours a year earlier, the department said today in a report on its website. The proportion of total electricity from renewables rose to 11.3 percent from 9.4 percent.

Renewable Energy World 28th March 2013 read more »

Another day another strategy. This time it’s ‘the Future of Heating: `Meeting the Challenge’, published by DECC on Tuesday last. It’s all pretty good stuff, to be honest, and claims, as Ed Davey writes in the forward, that ‘there has been a historic failure to get to grips with one part of the energy jigsaw: the supply of low carbon heat… this document plugs that hole’. And in plugging that hole, the document announces that ‘in November 2011, the Government launched the world’s first renewable heat incentive, paying tariffs to non-domestic heating systems that use renewable sources of heating’ … and … ‘has consulted on Renewable Heat Incentive tariffs for domestic buildings’ … ‘Details of tariff levels and eligibility are expected to be published this summer.’ So there you are then. The ‘world’s first’ RHI is to be extended to domestic properties, and we’re going to find out soon what the exact programme will consist of, so that we can gear up for the scheme coming to a property near us (or maybe even our own properties). Sounds like a winner. the domestic properties Renewable Heat Incentive was supposed to have started last year, alongside the Green Deal. And that, in itself was a considerable delay on the legislative passage of the Renewable Heat Incentive, passed into law in the Energy Act 2009, alongside the Feed in Tariff for renewable electricity which it was supposed to have been introduced alongside.

Alan Whitehead Blog 30th March 2013 read more »

BRITAIN’S solar power sector faces a “triple whammy” of attacks from the European Commission and the Treasury. The EC is threatening to introduce a tax on the €21 billion (£18bn) worth of solar panels imported from China, where British firms source much of their product, which could apply retrospectively. European commissioners are also taking the UK government to the European Court of Justice over its refusal to charge 20 per cent value- added tax on solar panels instead of its present 5 per cent.

Scotland on Sunday 31st March 2013 read more »

Fossil Fuels

Britain has just closed three giant coal power plants and the remaining fleet is under a sentence of death. But, as Emily Gosden reports, there is major uncertainty over the manner of its execution. The cause of death has been well documented: the EU Large Combustion Plant Directive (LCPD), which forced Europe’s dirtiest power stations to either clean up or shut up. Some 8GW of plants in Britain chose the latter, agreeing to close by 2015 or when they used up an allotted number of operating hours. Kingsnorth, Didcot and Cockenzie ran flat-out on cheap coal to avoid Britain’s new carbon tax, which comes in tomorrow, using up their hours early. The other opted-out plants will go over the next two years. For Peter Atherton, energy analyst at Liberum Capital, the ending for the remaining coal plants under one key current policy seems obvious: they are also under “sentence of death”. A stringent new EU policy, the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED), designed to make Europe cleaner and greener, is likely to see them close by 2023 at the latest, he explains. The precise way this works is, to quote one industry expert, “horrendously complicated”. But in crude terms, the IED, like the LCPD before it, will give the coal plants a choice: from 2016 they must either become even cleaner, or opt to limit their running hours while still closing by the early 2020s.

Telegraph 31st March 2013 read more »

Fracking

An Australian energy firm has been accused of hiding plans to use the controversial technique of fracking to exploit shale gas under central Scotland. Dart Energy has insisted that it has “no plans” to mine shale gas in Scotland. But in a submission to the Australian Stock Exchange, it highlighted two major shale fields near Falkirk containing more than two trillion cubic feet of gas as “prospective” developments. The company also has an agreement with UK gas group BG for the rights to one of the shale fields, and has been promoting its Scottish shale gas assets to potential investors. Dart has applied for planning permission to sink 22 wells at 14 sites at Airth, near Falkirk to extract another type of underground gas, known as coalbed methane. But it has tried to distance itself from fracking and insists it isn’t planning to exploit shale gas. Critics allege that the company has either been misleading the public or its shareholders over its shale gas fracking plans. Mary Church, campaigns co-ordinator with Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “What it has said to the local community and what company reports say to shareholders simply can’t both be true. “In an effort to get the Airth coalbed methane project past the local community and planners, Dart is being extremely economical with the truth and hiding its real plans to exploit shale gas in the area.” Dart’s coalbed methane applications have prompted more than 600 objections to Falkirk and Stirling councils, and were the target of protesters in Stirling yesterday. The applications are due to be considered in May at the earliest.

Herald 31st March 2013 read more »

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Published: 31 March 2013