News April 2014

13 April 2014

Hinkley

WEST Somerset Council has welcomed the news that EDF Energy (EDFE) will undertake further preparatory work on the Hinkley Point C site. Although a final investment decision on whether to start work to construct the new Hinkley Point C power station is not expected until later this year, EDFE has confirmed that it will undertake further preparatory works at the site over the coming months.

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Posted: 13 April 2014

12 April 2014

Sizewell

Fears have been voiced that the proposed £14billion Sizewell C project will create few jobs for the people of east Suffolk – except the most menial. Leiston-cum-Sizewell town councillor Bill Howard said he was worried the jobs for local people would be low-skilled and amount to little more than “concrete pourers or cleaners”. He said at peak construction for the plant there would be 5,600 workers – 3,000 of them would live on a campus nearby, suggesting they would not be local, while up to 1,700 would be put up in lodgings, and only around 1,000 would commute each day from Suffolk.

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Posted: 12 April 2014

11 April 2014

Hinkley/Scotland

Hinkley Point C has become a battleground in the Scottish independence debate, with first minister Alex Salmond accusing Westminster of stifling Scottish views on nuclear power. UK energy minister Michael Fallon reportedly warned Scottish counterpart Fergus Ewing in February against making any representations to Brussels over the UK’s proposed support for the new nuclear plant. Such an intervention would be viewed as a “hostile act”, Fallon said. The Scottish Government has made no secret of its opposition to subsidies for nuclear. It said in a November white paper an independent Scotland would not allow Scottish generation to be “compromised” by “expensive, long-term contracts for new nuclear generation”.

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Posted: 11 April 2014

10 April 2014

Nuclear Subsidies

The UK has moved to block Scotland taking part in a European Commission investigation into No 10 plans to subsidise a new nuclear plant in England. A UK minister has warned his opposite number at Holyrood that any representation to Brussels on controversial plans to support a power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset would be viewed as a “hostile act”. In a potentially explosive row, Tory energy minister Michael Fallon is understood to have approached his SNP counterpart Fergus Ewing to “discourage” him from co-operating with European Commission (EC) investigators. Mr Fallon’s move came after the EC signalled that a deal with French firm EDF to build a new plant at Hinkley – designed British officials said to “keep the lights on” – may amount to illegal state aid. The Scottish Government, which opposes nuclear energy, is understood to be concerned about the project, not least because it could pose competition to renewable exports from north of the Border. Alex Salmond has now written to Prime Minister David Cameron accusing Mr Fallon to trying to silence Mr Ewing in a February phone call. In a letter seen by The Herald, the First Minister said: “I am deeply concerned to learn that Mr Fallon made clear the purpose of his call was to discourage any direct representation from the Scottish Government to the EC concerning these issues. “Mr Fallon stated such direct representation would be interpreted by the UK Government as a ‘hostile act’. “I would invite you to explain exactly what the UK Government would do if we choose to express our views to the Commission. At best, this could be interpreted as an inept attempt to stifle legitimate views from the Scottish Government. At worst, it is a direct threat with implied retribution”.

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Posted: 10 April 2014

9 April 2014

Hinkley

As the European Commission considers the £100 billion subsidy package the UK has offered EDF to build and operate Hinkley C nuclear power station, Paul Dorfman explains why the ‘deal’ is illegal, anti-renewables, and ruinous to energy users and tax payers.

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Posted: 9 April 2014

8 April 2014

Nuclear Subsidies

The United Kingdom’s plans to build heavily subsidised nuclear power stations have come under withering attack from a coalition of Members of Parliament, academics, energy industry experts and environmental groups. Evidence has poured into the European Commission, which is investigating whether the deal with the giant French nuclear company EDF breaks EU competition rules. The evidence from many objectors, whose submissions had to be made by today, claims that if the contract goes through it will wreck Europe’s chance of building up renewable energies to avert the worst impacts of climate change. They say renewables will have to compete in an unfair market where one generator, nuclear, is guaranteed to be able to sell all its electricity at a stable price and with a built-in profit until 2058.

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Posted: 8 April 2014

7 April 2014

Energy Costs

Chris Huhne: The current row between the coalition partners about energy bills and onshore wind is a case in point. George Osborne and the Conservatives have made a great play of trying to cut energy bills by axing the green levies that fund exactly the measures – energy-saving and cheap renewables – that will do most to protect households long term. In theory, the cuts will save about £50 this year if fully passed on by the big six energy companies. That may or may not happen. Add to this bizarrely short-termist decision the desire of the Conservatives to put every possible obstacle – planning controls and subsidy cuts – in the way of onshore windfarms, which is being blocked thankfully by my successor, Ed Davey. David Cameron is now being urged to declare an onshore wind moratorium in the Tories’ 2015 manifesto. Onshore wind enjoys more than 60% support in polls, and offshore wind is even more popular (presumably because fish do not yet have the vote). But I even had a delegation of Conservative MPs complain about offshore wind turbines spoiling the sea vista from Bournemouth guest houses. Given that we have an EU legal commitment, which the last Labour government agreed in 2009, to meet 15% of all our energy consumption from renewable sources by 2020, we should be installing as much onshore wind as we can. Every obstacle that boosts more expensive solutions will add to consumer costs: going offshore costs £155 per MWh or 63% more than onshore. Conservative policy – cheaper bills by axing energy saving and pushing for luxury renewables – does not add up.

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Posted: 7 April 2014

6 April 2014

Hinkley

Publishers of a report commissioned by the UK Parliament about the financing of new nuclear power have updated a report about Hinkley Point C, Power from Nuclear, after a response from EDF Energy. The original report, published mid-March, gave a breakdown of possible project costs based on EDF Energy’s estimate of £16 billion for the two-unit, 1650MW-capacity EPR plant. That figure included an assumed £1.6 billion of interest on borrowing during construction, but EDF Energy has now clarified that this estimate does not include interest during construction. As a result, Carbon Connect’s estimate of the project’s overnight costs has risen from £12.4 billion to £14 billion. The report suggested that shareholders in Hinkley Point C could see returns of 20%, significantly higher than other private finance initiatives (12-15%), and said that EDF Energy’s negotiations with the government were neither transparent nor competitive. Now it has published a late March response from EDF Energy and revised the report.

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Posted: 6 April 2014

5 April 2014

ABWR

The UK Government is seeking to ‘Justify’ the Hitachi ABWR reactor type for new nuclear build at Wylfa and Oldbury. But as Mark Hackett reveals, the design is a dismal failure in Japan, costs more than alternatives, and brings serious health hazards.

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Posted: 5 April 2014

4 April 2014

Energy Policy

Last week, the twin pressures of pushing down energy prices and ensuring sufficient investment in capacity came into sharp tension. Centrica threatened that the competition investigation into energy markets would slow down investment in new capacity, potentially causing blackouts. Probably a situation that our politicians want to avoid. This week, the SMF hosted Professor Dieter Helm, expert economist on energy at the University of Oxford to talk about the state of energy policy. Professor Helm firstly showed how the energy market and energy policy as it stands is failing all on three of its key objectives: Despite wanting a reduction, our carbon emissions are actually increasing, due to coal-fired power stations; Energy bills have been rising, with trust in the market so low that the CMA is being called in to investigate the market; Investment in future energy capacity is insufficient to cope with demand. Only the “good luck” of an economic downturn has bought us an extra few years.

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Posted: 4 April 2014