31 October 2016

Hinkley

The Government is facing fresh criticism over the Hinkley Point nuclear deal after it emerged a condition supposed to ensure the £18bn plant was being built on schedule had already been met before contract was signed. A clause in the subsidy deal gives ministers the right to cancel the contract if EDF, which has been plagued by delays building reactors elsewhere, has not hit a construction “milestone” within 33 months of taking its final investment decision. The milestone requires the “commissioning of the main concrete batching plant” at the Somerset site. But the Telegraph can disclose that EDF believes it has already “achieved that milestone”, after two concrete batching plants were commissioned earlier this year, months before the deal was inked in September. While the meeting of the condition still has to be officially signed off by the Government agency handling the contract, EDF expects this to be “completed shortly”. This renders the milestone clause largely pointless and leaves no other lever to ensure construction is proceeding as planned in coming years. Ministers argue EDF has an incentive to build Hinkley by its 2025 target date because it will not receive any income until it starts generating. However, the contract, which has been widely criticised as too generous, allows EDF to retain the same subsidy deal if Hinkley is up to four years late and only lets the Government cancel if it is still not running by 2033. Alan Whitehead MP, Labour’s shadow energy minister, said ministers must confirm whether they knew the concrete plants has already been built when the subsidy contract was signed.

Telegraph 30th Oct 2016 read more »

National Grid

National Grid attempted to keep up to £87m of consumers’ cash it had collected to fund new gas pipelines despite deciding not to build them after all. The utility giant was criticised for the “unjustified” move by consumer group Citizens Advice, which highlighted the claim as part of a damning critique of the way energy networks are paid for. Energy regulator Ofgem determines the amount National Grid can charge bill-payers for maintaining and upgrading its networks, through eight year “price control” settlements.

Telegraph 30th Oct 2016 read more »

Renewables – Community Hydro

The largest community-owned hydro power project in Scotland has been officially opened by Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse. The 500kW project at Rumbling Bridge, near Kinross, is powered by the River Devon. The village is named after an unusual double bridge, which gives off a distinctive rumbling reverberation at lower levels. Wheelhouse said: “I am delighted to formally open the Rumbling Bridge Community Hydro Scheme. This project will generate community benefit funds of £5,000 plus per year, and the community are currently consulting on how this can best be directed to the benefit of local people.

Scottish Energy News 31st Oct 2016 read more »

Renewables – solar

They call it the solarcoaster. Since the first silicon photovoltaic cells were developed in the 1950s, the solar power industry has been on a switchback of highs and lows, driven by shifts in energy markets and government policy. In the US, the rooftop solar market has conformed to that pattern. Shares in Vivint Solar, Sunrun and Elon Musk’s SolarCity have slumped over the past year, even though installations of new solar panels on homes are on course to be about 20 per cent higher this year than in 2015. Panels are appearing on the roofs of homes all over the US, and about 1m now have solar systems. But the industry is another victim of the perennial curse of renewable energy: although the market is growing fast, it is proving hard for companies to find a reliable way to make a profit.

FT 30th Oct 2016 read more »

Tesla has taken a major step towards delivering on its vision of providing integrated solar, energy storage, and electric vehicle technologies with the unveiling yesterday of its new solar glass roof tile and Powerwall energy storage system. At an event on the lot for the TV show Desperate Housewives at Universal Studio in Los Angeles, the company showcased its Tuscan solar roof tile for the first time.

Business Green 29th Oct 2016 read more »

Renewables

One of the claims often advanced for renewable energy is that it will lead to a bonanza of what are called “green jobs”. It is a way of justifying the upfront costs involved in switching the nation’s energy production to these low carbon sources. The idea is that Britain will ultimately earn squillions from the exciting new technologies that its green entrepreneurs will forge and sell. The sting, of course, is that to secure these benefits, the British public must first sluice the industry with buckets of subsidies, expected to reach £9bn a year by 2020. Recent events in the renewables sector — including attempts to reduce the burden of this support — have sparked concern among participants over consumers’ declining willingness to fund this enormous exercise in job creation. It is why the industry is so keen to insert itself into primeminister Theresa May’s newly proposed — but as yet unexplained —industrial strategy. Promoters see it as a way of ensuring the cash does not dry up. Ministers should treat these tales of untold industrial benefits with considerable caution. No one denies that green technologies create employment. Figures from the Renewable Energy Association, a trade body, suggest that 117,000 people are already beavering away in the sector and its supply chain. But job creation alone does not equate to a benefit for the economy. What ultimately matters is the extra output produced by these new workers. For the exercise to be worthwhile, its value must exceed the wider costs, including the impact on alternative production and employment.

FT 30th Oct 2016 read more »

Energy Efficiency

It is estimated that up to 35% of properties in the UK could be unlettable by April 2018 if action is not taken to improve energy efficiency ratings. The Energy Act 2011 contains a provision for minimum energy standards, and from 1st April 2018 it will be unlawful for a landlord to lease a non-domestic property with an EPC Rating of less than E. It is not just those properties that are currently rated F/G that will be impacted by these new regulations. EPCs have a validity of 10 years. A property with an EPC from 2008 may last through three building regulations updates before the owner is legally required to produce another. In which time, the EPC could have dropped by a whole three rating bands. It is possible for a C-rated building to decline dangerously close to, or below, the E threshold by 2018.

Edie 26th Oct 2016 read more »

Smart Meters

Labour’s Alan Whitehead wonders if new technology is eroding the promised benefits of the smart meter rollout.

Business Green 28th Oct 2016 read more »

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Published: 31 October 2016