UK ministers are warning their Austrian counterparts that an arsenal of retaliatory measures will be launched if Vienna goes ahead with plans to challenge an EU state aid decision approving subsidies for new nuclear reactors at Hinkley point in Somerset. A diplomatic cable from the Austrian embassy in London to Vienna, seen by the Guardian, says that the Foreign Office’s Europe director, Vijay Rangarajan, conveyed a message that “the UK will take in the future every opportunity to sue or damage Austria in areas that have strong internal political effects,” unless the lawsuit was dropped. Initial measures would include: a complaint to the Europ ean Court about Austrian electricity labelling rules, pressure for Austria to contribute more to EU effort – sharing funds when it does not accept nuclear power as a “sustainable energy source”, and an investigation into whether Austria’s suit violated the Euratom treaty. “Further steps and escalation cannot be excluded after the complaint has been submitted,” the cable says.
Guardian 11th Feb 2015 read more »
David Cameron has threatened retaliation over Austria’s plans to mount a legal challenge to the Hinkley Point nuclear project, according to a document written by Vienna’s ambassador to London. Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace, criticised the government for bullying the Austrians for daring to question the “huge and wasteful energy project”, which would raise bills for British consumers.
FT 11th Feb 2015 read more »
The UK will take “every opportunity to sue or damage Austria” if Vienna does not drop a legal challenge to the construction of a £24.5bn nuclear power station in Somerset, according to a leaked memo. Austria is staunchly anti-nuclear and will soon formalise an appeal against the EU’s decision to allow the UK government to pay subsidies to the French energy giant EDF to build Hinkley Point C, the first in a new generation of civil reactors. David Lowry, an environmental consultant, said: “It’s extraordinary that the Foreign Office has gone to this level of diplomatic incident in order to protect the unsustainable.” A Whitehall source said the UK there was no “bullying” involved. A government spokeswoman said: “We have no reason to believe that Austria, or any other party, is preparing a case which has any merit.”
Independent 12th Feb 2015 read more »
On the face of it is hard to see how providing energy users with information on the source of the electricity they use would violate internal market rules, but as Greenpeace’s Christine Ottery explains: “As nuclear is so unpopular in Austria this could in effect mean Austria would go nuclear free.” Faced with this onslaught of threats, the un-named Austrian diplomat insisted that “Austria was not under any circumstances interfering with the UK’s sovereign right to choose its own energy mix.” Rather, they said, “the present case concerns a state aid-related complaint given that the Contract for Difference approved by the EC violates EU State Aid rules. It would be in the interest of rule of law principles that such a decision of the EC be appealed before the ECJ.” The diplomat also “referred to the consensus of the Federal Government on the issue and to the respective resolution which was passed by parliament.” Austrian Chancellor (equivalent to prime minister) Werner Faymann came out against the European Commission approval of the Hinkley subsidy deal, saying: “Alternative forms of energy are worthy of subsidies, not nuclear energy.” As for the efficacy of the UK’s threats, Fayman said last week that he will not back down over the legal action as nuclear is not “not an eligible new technology” eligible for State Aid, according to the Austrian newspaper Kronen Zeitung.
Ecologist 11th Feb 2015 read more »
Greenpeace Energy Desk 11th Feb 2015 read more »
Leaked memo, sent from the Austrian Embassy in London to the Austrian government.
Energy Desk 11th Feb 2015 read more »
The Stop Hinkley Campaign has today welcomed news that the final investment decision for the Hinkley Point C proposal has been delayed at least until the Autumn this year, and possibly by as much as five years. “Any further guarantees being sought by the Chinese Companies or EDF energy would need to be notified to the European Competition Commissioner. We also know that the financial arrangements for dealing with radioactive waste have still not been notified to the Commission. The whole project appears to be unravelling before our eyes”.
Stop Hinkley 9th Feb 2015 read more »
UK energy bills are starting to fall after a decade of rising prices. Energy firms have cut prices since the start of 2015 because of falling wholesale gas markets. This directly benefits energy-bill payers and begins to ease the political pressure that has built up on energy bills over the past three years. But what does it mean for UK climate policy? Carbon Brief takes you through the arguments around cheap gas, cold homes, energy bills and the green levies that pay for efficiency measures and support for low-carbon energy. For the 2020 target, a lot of renewable capacity is already baked in. Problems start post-2020 because the UK’s carbon budgets will get much more challenging. A key concern is how much renewables capacity can be procured in the auctions that started this week
Carbon Brief 11th Feb 2015 read more »
Germanys green goals have profound consequences for Eon and RWE. Thousands of ordinary Germans have scrambled to invest in renewable power as Germany pursues one of the most radical sets of energy policies in the world — which are having enormous repercussions for the country’s two main utilities, Eon and RWE. Germany is shifting from a situation where electricity is supplied by a few dominant utilities led by Eon and RWE to a more splintered market in which many smaller players also generate power — and analysts say this scenario could be replicated in many other countries. Some argue the utilities’ longstanding business model of operating fossil fuel and nuclear power stations is in terminal decline, and that they must embrace sweeping change. For some analysts, Eon’s intention to focus on renewable power generation, coupled with offering households and companies advice on energy efficiency, is a logical future business model for utilities. But experts question whether utilities have the entrepreneurial flair to sell new services to the public. Stephen Woodhouse, a director at Pöyry, a consultancy, says: “Whenever there is a revolution like this it is the companies that stay closest to the customers that end up surviving the change — and that would be where I wonder whether utilities are capable of riding this wave or whether it will swamp them.”
FT 11th Feb 2015 read more »
The Czech Republic and Jordan have agreed to cooperate in the peaceful development of nuclear power with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) during Czech President Miloš Zeman’s visit to the Middle Eastern country.
World Nuclear News 11th Feb 2015 read more »
US – radwaste
New Mexico’s top environment officials and the U.S. Energy Department are wrangling over more than $54 million in fines levied in the wake of a radiological leak at the federal government’s underground nuclear waste repository. Now, state officials are threatening even more fines if the Energy Department doesn’t accept responsibility for numerous violations outlined in compliance orders issued by the state last year. The New Mexico Environment Department is working on a new compliance order that could include fines of more than $100 million. Because negotiations with the federal government are ongoing, officials said the total penalties that could be assessed remains unclear.
Star Tribune 10th Feb 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
Network Rail could save £30m on electricity costs by installing solar panels on unused trackside land, as well as cutting nearly 900 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year, according to a new report. The report, from engineering consulting firm WSP, examines how National Rail assets could be utilised to add widespread long-term value while helping to tackle the current challenges faced by the UK’s rail network. Electricity used to run trains comes at a huge cost for Network Rail – one that is set to increase as the company moves towards electric trains making up 75% of the fleet by 2020. Network Rail is expected to spend almost £360m a year on electricity until 2020 by which time its electricity use will have increased by 25% in real terms.
Edie 11th Feb 2015 read more »
Last month saw the opening of a unique solar heat plant in the Danish village of Tars, 30Km from Aalborg. It combines parabolic trough collectors and flat plate collectors in order to cover 30 % of the heat demand by the village’s district heating network, without the need for seasonal storage. Solar Thermal World website reports that the system is expected to come into operation during the second quarter of 2015.
Cogeneration & On-Site Power Production 6th Feb 2015 read more »