News January 2016

3 January 2016

Utilities

Until now, Engie (which owns 40% of a joint venture with struggling Toshiba-Westinghouse to build 3 reactors at Moorside – Ed) and EDF have barely competed directly in Britain. That could be about to change because Mr Petrie, who joined Engie in 1999 and has worked in a string of roles in Europe and North America, is preparing to launch a range of new energy services aimed at commercial and retail customers. This will not involve necessarily building big pieces of new kit. “It’s very difficult today to build a new power plant [in the UK] with current market conditions,” he says. Instead, Mr Petrie wants Engie to offer localised services that could include installing insulation, district heating and solar panels on existing buildings as well as supplying gas and electricity. “We see the emergence of a new type of organisation within cities,” he says. Engie, he believes, can build on its relationships with councils and other commercial customers to expand its British business by developing local, decentralised energy in urban areas, where demand is high. “We don’t want to sell a huge amount of energy. Our big focus is on the demand side. The future is going to be much more about decentralized energy,” he says.

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Posted: 3 January 2016

2 January 2016

Utilities

A French government-backed company is planning to launch a new retail energy business in Britain, in a move that would mean that it competes directly with EDF Energy and other members of the Big Six. Engie, the newly rebranded company formed from GDF Suez, the energy conglomerate one third owned by the French state, is in talks with a string of British local authorities about the initiative, which could be announced this year. Engie, which employs 20,000 people in the UK and is the country’s top independent electricity generator with 5,000 megawatts of gas, coal and hydro power stations, is a leading supplier of energy to business and wholesale customers. Wilfrid Petrie, the new chief executive of Engie, said he wanted to expand the group’s focus on B2B to include services aimed at domestic households. “We think the time is right for a more integrated offering ,” he said. “Today we don’t have a supply business – a gas and power business – for B2C, but we will review that. Maybe we should – we are looking at different options.” Mr Petrie said that the new business would be unlike existing competitors in the British energy market as it would be offered to consumers through joint ventures with local councils in big urban areas such as London, Birmingham, Southampton and Coventry. As well as gas and electricity, Engie would provide consumers with bundled energy services, which could include district heating from a centralised location, or piped hot and cold water for heating and cooling, as well as insulation, energy-efficiency products and small-scale generation in the form of solar panels or wind turbines.

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Posted: 2 January 2016

1 January 2016

Nukes vs Climate

In Paris, in early December, the advocates of nuclear power made yet another appeal to world leaders to adopt their technology as central to saving the planet from dangerous climate change. Yet analysis of the plans of 195 governments that signed up to the Paris agreement, each with their own individual schemes on how to reduce national carbon emissions, show that nearly all of them exclude nuclear power. Only a few big players—China, Russia, India, South Korea and the United Kingdom—still want an extensive program of new–build reactors. To try to understand why this is so the U.S.-based Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists asked eight experts in the field to look at the future of nuclear power in the context of climate change. One believed that large-scale new-build nuclear power “could and should” be used to combat climate change and another thought nuclear could play a role, although a small one. The rest thought new nuclear stations were too expensive, too slow to construct and had too many inherent disadvantages to compete with renewables. Amory Lovins, co-founder and chief scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, produced a devastating analysis saying that the slow-motion decline of the nuclear industry was simply down to the lack of a business case.

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Posted: 1 January 2016