Nick Butler: The transition to a lower carbon economy has been long promised but the reality remains elusive. There is no doubt that the costs of renewables – led by solar and onshore wind – are now materially cheaper than they ever have been, having fallen respectively to the point at which the International Energy Agency in its latest short term outlook sees prices falling to between $20 and $50 per megawatt hour. That means they can compete with other fuels, even if some of the costs of providing back up to cover the intermittency of renewable supplies are included. In some markets, neither subsidies nor protected market shares will be necessary. Why then is the pace of change in the sector, especially in the developed world, so slow? Hydrocarbons continue to dominate with oil, gas and coal providing over 80 per cent of energy supply. Most serious long term forecasts suggest that dominance will decline only slowly and that renewables will still be providing little more than 15 per cent of the world’s electricity needs in 20 years’ time.
FT 22nd Jan 2019 read more »
ADAM VAN COEVORDEN argues the aborted deal to build a nuclear power plant exemplifies everything that’s wrong with our approach to energy – and only nationalised renewables are the way forward. Undoubtedly, the loss of jobs is a serious and regrettable thing, but something not explored here is what harm would be caused if the building of these plants were to go ahead. The issues here are a microcosm of this government’s failings: lack of action on protecting our environment; private companies receiving generous taxpayer subsidy; the continuing failure of Britain’s energy market. As with other failed privatisation deals, the taxpayer was to take on the risk and provide subsidy, while the commercial enterprise was to take home any profits. Despite the headlines, the move away from building expensive, subsidised nuclear plants is a positive one. The febrile political atmosphere could soon see the election of a transformative Labour government. One where jobs are not lost because deals are not “generous” enough for the private sector, but one where jobs are created as Labour spearheads an economic revolution focused on tackling climate chaos. Renewable investment is needed, and this investment can be realised in the towns and cities that have been neglected for so long. In contrast to this latest Conservative debacle, Labour plans to create jobs, tackle climate change and invest in our communities, rather than merely propping up the profits of multinational corporations.
Morning Star 21st Jan 2019 read more »
Fylde MP Mark Menzies has said Britain should seriously think about constructing its own nuclear power stations, rather than relying on foreign private sector firms who are failing to deliver. Mr Menzies is concerned as more than 1,000 people in his constituency are employed in nuclear fuel production and could have seen jobs safeguarded by the new schemes.
Blackpool Gazette 21st Jan 2019 read more »
Chris Goodall, who has written a series of books on meeting Britain’s energy needs, believes that renewable energy such as solar and wind power can play a greater role. He says the falling cost of renewable energy sources is one of the reasons that HItachi could not make Wylfa viable. Wind is now the third biggest source of power in the UK, and solar power – such as the council-owned solar farm in Telford – are gradually playing a more important role. The problem with renewable energy is its intermittent nature. Last year’s heatwave saw a major spike in carbon emissions while the wind turbines stood still, and Mr Goodall says finding way to store excess energy at peak periods is key to solving the problem. George Day, head of policy at Birmingham-based research organisation Energy Systems Catapult, says it would be extremely difficult for the UK to meet its clean energy targets without the use of nuclear power. “It’s difficult to see a low-carbon energy system in the future which has no nuclear,” he says. “If you try to rely on just renewables and storage, without carbon capture and storage or nuclear, you are looking at a very challenging transition and one that is more costly than a balanced mix.” Former environment secretary and North Shropshire MP Owen Paterson calls for a rethink of energy policy, moving away from the giant power plants of the past He believes that in the immediate future Britain will need to concentrate its efforts on gas, including the exploitation of Britain’s shale-gas reserves through the controversial process known as ‘fracking’. But he says the long-term solution will need to be based around a large number of smaller nuclear plants serving their immediate communities.
Shropshire Star 22nd Jan 2019 read more »