Chris Huhne, the energy secretary, last week used Scottish Power’s decision to raise electricity bills by 10pc to tout the wisdom of building wind farms instead of fossil fuel plants. But Mr Huhne neglected to mention that electricity from wind turbines costs twice as much to produce as that from coal or gas stations and will need to be expensively subsidised by green taxes. The Government may feel this is a fair price for security of supply and cleaner energy. But heavy dependence on wind turbines is going to come with tricky problems for our energy infrastructure that are still far from being sorted out. As Mark Powell, UK head of energy consulting at KPMG, warns, the current price rises based on higher wholesale costs of gas are nothing compared with the costs of green energy. “While new nuclear represents the cheapest form of low carbon energy generation at an estimated cost of £55 to £85 per Megawatt (MW) compared with £120 to £180 per Megawatt for offshore wind any post-Fukushima delays could also hike consumers’ electricity bills. With ambitious low carbon targets which include renewable energy generation such as solar, construction of the new nuclear fleet and a new energy infrastructure needing to be funded, the consumer is invariably going to end up paying one way or another.”
Telegraph 13th June 2011 more >>
FINANCE Secretary John Swinney will this week demand an explanation from Scottish Power on the firms huge price increases which could cost families up to £1400 a year. Swinney is expected to meet senior officials from the energy giant and company executives may also be asked to explain their decision before a Holyrood committee. Scottish Power is at the centre of a row after announcing an average 19% increase on gas bills and an extra 10% for electricity. The rises, due to come into force in August, have prompted cross-party condemnation and fears that other energy firms may follow suit.
Sunday Herald 12th June 2011 more >>
NOBUO Tanaka, executive director of the International Energy Agency, presented a report into the future of natural gas in London last Monday. Gas demand was set to grow to more than a quarter of global energy demand by 2035, he pronounced. Surely that would qualify as a golden age, he said. The following morning UK domestic gas consumers were left reeling when they awoke to news that Scottish Power was set to increase gas and electricity prices by 19% and 10% respectively. Following steep price hikes in November, consumers could have been forgiven for imagining that the words of Tanaka were to be taken quite literally. That keeping the lights on and staying warm would in the future be the preserve of those fortunate enough to own a store of gold bullion.
Sunday Herald 12th June 2011 more >>
The convoluted drama has exposed the underlying rifts behind Japans handling of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, which eventually resulted in explosions at four of the plants six reactors. Mutually suspicious relations between the prime ministers aides, government bureaucrats and company officials obstructed smooth decision-making.
New York Times 13th June 2011 more >>
Three months after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami struck north-eastern Japan, the Tokyo Electric Company (TEPCO) is still struggling to stabilise badly damaged reactors at its Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant. The latest update posted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) continues to describe the situation as very serious. A detailed government report to the IAEA, leaked to the Japanese media last week, indicated that the nuclear disaster was far worse than previously acknowledged. TEPCO had admitted that the cores of three reactorsunits 1, 2 and 3underwent a meltdown after power supplies at the plant failed. However, the report indicated for the first time that a melt-through may have occurred.
World Socialist Web 13th June 2011 more >>
Protesters in Tokyo have staged mass demonstrations against the use of atomic power just three months after a powerful earthquake and tsunami triggered one of the world’s worst nuclear disasters. Crowds of people banging drums and shouting anti-nuclear slogans poured through the streets of the capital and descended on the head offices of Tokyo Electric Power Co, which operates the stricken Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.
Daily Mail 11th June 2011 more >>
Morning Star 12th June 2011 more >>
The government has called on companies and households in eastern Japan to reduce electricity consumption by 15 per cent this summer, as Tokyo Electric Power struggles to contain the nuclear crisis at its Fukushima power plant. Kansai Electric is also urging customers in western Japan to cut their electricity consumption by the same amount amid concerns that its nuclear plants might face delays in receiving approval to restart.
FT 12th June 2011 more >>
Slovenia will produce energy at its nuclear power plant for at least 20 more years despite the Fukushima disaster, Economy Minister Darja Radic said Friday.
AFP 10th June 2011 more >>
Italians have begun voting in the world’s first nuclear power referendum since Japan’s Fukushima disaster, a vital ballot that represents a trial of strength between Italy’s increasingly beleaguered prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi and his critics. A majority yes vote could block his dream of generating a quarter of Italy’s electricity needs with nuclear power. But the outcome of the ballot will only be valid if there is a turnout of at least 50% and Berlusconi’s rightwing government has been doing all it can to limit participation.
Guardian 12th June 2011 more >>
BBC 12th June 2011 more >>
Politicians are demanding answers from the Ministry of Defence after documents revealed fears over safety at Faslane nuclear base on the Clyde as a result of spending cuts. A report by the MoD’s internal watchdog, the Defence Nuclear Environment Safety Board, released under Freedom of Information warned of the dificulty of maintaining safety of staff, the public and the environment in the face of continuing defence cuts. Ministers are now facing calls to give safety guarantees.
Scotsman 13th June 2011 more >>
Express 13th June 2011 more >>
Sunday Post 12th June 2011 more >>
MOD Documents available here.
Caledonian Mercury 6th June 2011 more >>
Facing Loch Indaal on the coast of Islay, the southernmost island of the Inner Hebrides, a small whisky distillery is one of the last places you might expect to find a revolutionary green energy project. But Bruichladdich, a small privately owned distillery founded in 1881, is pioneering a system which is converting thousands of tons of yeasty waste into green energy. Bruichladdich is leading the way with a pioneering process called anaerobic digester, which uses microbes to convert thousands of tons of pot ale (the yeasty by-product of producing 46,000 cases of single malt whisky a year) into methane gas, which is burned to make energy for the site.
Independent 13th June 2011 more >>