News May 2015

12 May 2015


Hinkley Point protest group calls for re-think by new Tory government. Campaigners fighting the proposed expansion of Hinkley Point nuclear power station near Burnham-On-Sea have this week issued a call for a fresh approach from a new Conservative Government.

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Posted: 12 May 2015

11 May 2015


A number of looming issues are already obvious and the government will have no control over most of them. The first is the further postponement of the plans for nuclear development starting at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Two new reactors capable of supplying some 7 per cent of total UK electricity demand are planned. The first was originally supposed to be on stream in time to cook Christmas dinner in 2017. But despite the prospect of a lavish price — index linked for 35 years regardless of what happens to global energy prices – and £10bn of even more generous financial guarantees, funding for the investment required is not in place. The reluctance of investors to commit will not be helped by the technical problems in the reactor vessels, which are now under investigation by the French nuclear regulator. This problem has widespread implications for the companies involved (Areva and EDF) and for nuclear development in many countries across the world, starting with France itself. In the UK, the challenge for the new government is that development that is already seven years behind schedule will be further delayed (no station here can go ahead until at least one EPR reactor is working somewhere in the world). The new problems are likely to increase still further the amount of financial guarantees required. This will all push up the final price consumers will have to pay. At worst, the current regulatory tests could require the reactor vessels to be redesigned and rebuilt. That could extend the delay well into the 2020s, leaving a gap in supplies that the government will have to fill by approving either more expensive off-shore wind capacity or a new series of gas-fired stations and sacrificing some of the more ambitious targets for reducing emissions. A decision on that choice will have to be taken within the next year.The handover of Sellafield to new management under the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is not going well; nor is the programme to introduce smart meters. The retail market for both gas and electricity has lost consumer trust, and some of the companies involved may have lost the will to remain in business.

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Posted: 11 May 2015

10 May 2015


The Stop Hinkley Campaign has called on the new Government to raise its ambitions on energy policy and transform the South-West England economy. “First the new Government needs to recognise that nuclear power is a dead duck. Then it should jump on the local energy revolution bandwagon and draw up plans for a 100% renewable energy system for the South-West by 2050”, said campaign spokesperson Allan Jeffery. “Such a programme would deliver more jobs, and cheaper energy, at a lower cost and without all the local disruption which Hinkley implies. What are we waiting for?” The new Government has a choice – go-ahead with the financial millstone of nuclear power with consumers paying for decades to come with much of the expenditure flowing out of the region, or develop a sustainable energy programme which will boost local jobs and the local economy. We urge them to choose the latter,” said Jeffery (includes summary of problems with Hinkley project and latest reports on renewables for South West).

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Posted: 10 May 2015

9 May 2015

Energy Supply

Britain’s energy industry has cause to celebrate the resounding Conservative victory in the general election. Under an ill-conceived, Labour-led coalition government — backed by the Scottish nationalists and Greens — the lights would have been in danger of going out across the land before Christmas. More than any other sector, energy would have felt the full force of Ed Miliband’s socialist quest to hammer free enterprise by virtually making “profit” a prohibited word in the English language. The now ex-leader of Labour had placed freezing energy prices — in effect choking off private investment — at the top of his party’s agenda without any consideration for the massive shortfall in energy supply that Britain faces. David Cameron’s choice to lead the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will now be critical in ensuring a competitive environment for energy utilities to make a fair profit. It will need to make sure investment is encouraged to generate the new electricity capacity that is vital to power the growing economy that will come from another five years of Conservative government. With spare energy capacity expected to drop to around 4pc again this winter, Britain must urgently build more conventional and nuclear power plants without delay. Forget ill-conceived commitments to generate 15pc of the UK’s power from renewables by the end of the decade by building even more useless windmills and solar parks. The construction of the Hinkley Point nuclear plant and several new gas-fired stations is now vital. the country cannot afford to fall into the trap set by the climate change zealots who would see our great oil and gas companies bankrupted on the evidence of some questionable scientific assumptions. As Tony Hayward, the former chief executive of BP, recently pointed out when asked about the “carbon bubble” theory, the solution to reducing emissions doesn’t have to be financial Armageddon that would follow divestment from the industry. According to Mr Hayward, if much of the billions invested into renewables over the past 20 years had instead been directed towards technologies such as carbon capture, which can mitigate pollution, then climate change might not be such as issue. Ed Davey – who lost his seat in the election and saw his party wiped out in the polls – DECC lurched too far towards pandering to the green lobby and arguably made itself the enemy of an industry that it is intended to nurture and oversee.

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Posted: 9 May 2015

8 May 2015

Local Energy

Alan Simpson: During the election campaign Elon Musk launched his domestic-scale battery storage system for home-produced electricity. It doesn’t matter whether this turns out to be the ultimate answer or not. It is a game changer. Marketed in conjunction with WalMart in the US, and partnering with Lichtblick in Germany, Musk aims to turn “storage” into the same mass-market product that solar has become. No less significant was the Fraunhofer Institute’s launch of its “plug and play” solar roofs, that can be installed in an hour and at a cost of around £1/watt. Sod your everlasting subsidies to nuclear. Sod your obsessions with oil and fracking. Sod the market mechanisms that (expensively) prop up old energy cartels. This is already a past more likely to turn up in car boot sales than in successful economies. The biggest changes in tomorrow’s energy systems aren’t even waiting for politicians. Soon homes will have generation and storage systems that are as “normal” as central heating. We will be heading away from today’s centralised energy cartels and into a different era of energy democracies. Add to this the technology partnerships across Germany (and in Manchester!) that are creating local power “systems” (virtual power plants) to serve whole towns and cities, and you begin to get a picture of a different energy economics — one that will deliver massive increases in employment, energy security and interconnectedness. Clean “heat” networks will follow next. And within it all, communities will compete around reduced carbon footprints and lower consumption. At a lower-tech level, we will also begin to grasp what Oxford researchers recently told us — that the best carbon capture and storage technologies already exist. They are called soil and trees.

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Posted: 8 May 2015

7 May 2015


Horizon Nuclear Power announced appointment of former Wylfa site director Greg Evans as its new operations director for Wylfa Newydd. Wylfa Newydd will help keep generations of young people on Anglesey says the adopted lslander who will build the near 1,000 strong team that will run the nuclear plant.

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Posted: 7 May 2015

6 May 2015


The outgoing U.K. energy minister said a 24.5 billion-pound ($37 billion) plan to build nuclear reactors in southwest England is being delayed by commercial issues involving the project’s main French and Chinese investors. “The reason it’s dragging on isn’t to do with the U.K. government,” Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey said in an interview in his Kingston & Surbiton constituency in southwest London. “It’s commercial reasons. The French have got to get their Chinese backers.”

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Posted: 6 May 2015

5 May 2015


100% Green Power is now possible for Somerset. Theo Simon explores how, from Hydro to Biogas, we can start moving towards a zero-carbon economy NOW, with huge benefits for work and for local communities.

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Posted: 5 May 2015

4 May 2015


Stop Moorside Now! Demo – Outside Whitehaven Civic Hall 16th May from 11am – bring music, bring yourselves and let’s stop this nuclear madness. This is the first day of the CONsultation. The only response is NO!

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Posted: 4 May 2015

3 May 2015


On behalf of Cumbria Trust, director Rod Donington-Smith sent a questionnaire asking for the views of the electoral candidates in Cumbria. Not all of them replied and we will not speculate on the reason for their lack of response, maybe you as a Trust member should ask them personally. However, if yours did and you would like to read what they said, please download the relevant document as a pdf to peruse at your leisure!

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Posted: 3 May 2015