After weeks of mixed signals from the coalition government, investors and consumers could be forgiven for confusion over how Britain’s energy landscape is likely to look in 20 years’ time. Will the country’s electricity supplies be fuelled by clean energy or a plethora of new gas-fired power stations? The answer is likely to be both. There are signs that Britain’s renewed “dash for gas” is taking on greater urgency than previously indicated. Previous government plans had estimated that 10-20 gigawatts of new gas generating capacity would be required by 2030. This has now been raised to 26GW. There is broad recognition that UK will need both renewables and gas to replace the swaths of ageing energy infrastructure due to be decommissioned in coming years. The energy department recently raised its estimate of how much additional electricity the UK will need by 2030 from 64 gigawatts to 84 gigawatts – equivalent to an extra 20 gas-fired power stations. The change, which passed largely unnoticed, reflects in part an increased forecast for demand from the transport network, with the advent of electric cars and the electrification of rail lines. New gas capacity is needed as back-up for renewables given the intermittent nature of wind and solar energy. Yet securing a reliable supply of gas for decades to come will be a challenge as North Sea reserves decline.
FT 9th Dec 2012 more »
Chief Executive of Sita: A sustainable, long-term energy security strategy is still needed that will ensure we can, finally, wean the country off a fossil fuel-centric system of planning to one where fossil fuels are simply part of a mix of energy sources. It is time for so-called alternative and low carbon fuel sources – from turning waste into energy, to nuclear and where possible hydroelectric, wind and solar – to be treated as part of the mainstream mix so that, when fossil fuels do finally run dry again, we do not lurch towards another crisis.
Telegraph 9th Dec 2012 more »
THE Millom community is primed to benefit from the addition of 500 new workers at Sellafield to hasten the clean-up of the nuclear reprocessing plant. This week’s announcement has local politicians confident that the town will reap substantial economic rewards from the influx of employees to the area. Sellafield has also pledged that many of the jobs will be filled by local workers, with some 50 apprentices set to join the company. Martin Forwood, a member of Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment, said he hoped the new jobs would expedite the decommissioning process at the Sellafield site. However, he speculated that the announcement could have been forced by a National Audit Office report released last month that was critical of the company’s lack of progress.
NW Evening Mail 9th Dec 2012 more »
UPF SAB chairman Ernie Richardson said SMEs are facing “a serious shortage of long term funding”, and that contractors needed a change in procurement culture to “encourage the best of those businesses in the supply chain”. He estimated that the sector might only be capable of delivering a quarter of the £100bn potential market due to a lack of bank and institutional lending for SMEs. Speaking at the launch of the government’s Nuclear Supply Chain Action Plan for nuclear new build, he said: “There’s this enormous gap to be filled – it will be filled, by French firms, by German firms, and in this process the UK will have missed out on a wonderful opportunity.
Construction News 10th Dec 2012 more »
What is the true nature of the destruction caused by radioactive contamination in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, an area stretching out in a 31-km radius from the plant? And what can we expect to find in a similar zone in Fukushima Prefecture? After all, it has been estimated that the nuclear accident in Ukraine has made human habitation in the zone impossible for 20,000 years. Will the land in Fukushima be equally condemned?
Japan Times 9th Dec 2012 more »
Greenpeace International and Greenpeace East Asia have launched a legal challenge against the South Korean government seeking a declaration that the government’s prohibiting of key international staff from entering the country was unlawful and an attempt to silence criticism of nuclear policies.
Greenpeace 10th Dec 2012 more »
TONY Blair’s former spymaster has said an independent Scotland would mean the end of the UK as a nuclear power, with the country unable to find an alternative nuclear base to Faslane on the Clyde. Sir David Omand, who was the UK’s first security and intelligence co-ordinator, as well as chief of the GCHQ base, said the cost of moving Faslane nuclear missiles to a site in England could prove impossible. The SNP insists it would force the removal of Trident from the waters of an independent Scotland, with the base gone within two years. Sir David issued the stark warning about Trident’s replacement in evidence to the Commons foreign affairs committee, in response to a question from Labour MP Bob Ainsworth, a former UK defence secretary. He said: “I don’t see a feasible alternative site at reasonable cost. My fear is that it would precipitate the UK out of the nuclear business.”
Scotsman 10th Dec 2012 more »
The Ministry of Defence has announced £2.7bn of contracts to build and maintain its programme of Astute-class attack submarines, the first of which suffered serious problems of flooding and corrosion during sea trials. The latest deals include £1.2bn for the fourth of seven submarines, HMS Audacious, which ministers say will safeguard 3,000 skilled jobs at BAE’s base at Barrow in Cumbria.
FT 10th Dec 2012 more »
When Good Energy raised electricity tariffs last month to take account of higher distribution charges, it was the first price change for four years. In comparison, prices from the leading suppliers — Centrica, EDF Energy, E.ON, RWE npower, ScottishPower and SSE — have rocketed over the same period. Good Energy’s online tariffs may be more expensive than the Big Six but the gap has, at least, narrowed. Besides, Good Energy is not trying to emulate its bigger rivals or compete on price. The company, which floated on the Alternative Investment Market this summer, claims, instead, to offer its 30,000 domestic customers a uniquely “green” proposition. It sources all the electricity it supplies from 500 renewable generators dotted around the UK, mostly from small, onshore wind farms.
Times 10th Dec 2012 more »
No one even knows yet how much shale gas can be profitably extracted. Estimates of the exploitable reserves vary wildly. In fact, no one can be sure whether it will be viable to get any of it at all out of the ground. Firms are only going to invest in shale gas if they will make some money out of it. That means they will want to be certain that the cost of extraction doesn’t make shale gas uncompetitive against alternative forms of gas and other energy sources. Colin Smith, head of energy research at VTB Capital, tells me that there have been some 50 experimental wells across Europe to date. None – not a single one – appears to have flowed at a rate that would make them commercially viable. So while the frack-heads fantasise about a bonanza, the reality is that not so much as one cubic metre of shale gas has been profitably extracted anywhere in Europe.
Observer 9th Dec 2012 more »