A changing of the guard in an organisation is a good time at which to pause and reconsider every aspect of strategy. The mistakes of the past can be admitted, entrenched but outdated positions can be quietly left behind and altered circumstances accepted. That is what should happen now in the UK in relation to energy policy. DECC has been too small to carry weight in Whitehall and, as the mistakes on new nuclear and the Green Deal home energy-saving scheme have shown, it lacked key negotiating skills. In any case, what matters are the policies, not the architecture of Whitehall. There are four key areas where a reappraisal is justified. The first is new nuclear. Hinkley Point is at least eight years behind schedule and billions over budget. The cost estimate seems to rise every month, just as the date for a final investment decision is constantly pushed back. The project is a laughing stock, and ministers and officials have lost confidence in EDF and its management. As the National Audit Office made clear in a devastating report this week, the costs to the UK consumer and taxpayer are extraordinarily high. At the very least the agreement on the price to be paid for power from Hinkley must be renegotiated. The deal was struck three years ago, since when energy prices have dropped dramatically. The UK is locked unnecessarily into high energy prices — a fact reported this week to have been noted by Mrs May’s key adviser Nick Timothy. Rather than just renegotiating, however, it may now suit both the UK and EDF to scrap the project, opening the way for more reliable and cheaper new nuclear suppliers and more natural gas.
FT 18th July 2016 read more »
Since its creation, the energy department had been hobbled by a lack of alignment with broader industrial policy. The Ministry of Magic had a constantly revolving door of incessant ministerial changes that in turn led to frequent zig-zags in policy. Add to that the fact that, as a relatively small department, DECC lacked gravitas and was seen as a stepping stone to a bigger job elsewhere and its travails seem understandable, if not always forgiveable. What the energy industry craves above all are stability and continuity, qualities that underpin the massive long-term investments needed to construct power stations and networks. Conspicuously, precious few are being built. A beefed-up Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy may prove to be a bigger and more powerful beast and therefore better able to fight its corner and to retain talented ministers with the leadership it needs. Greg Clark, its new boss, has been widely praised as a strong appointment and is already on top of the brief, having served previously as shadow energy minister. One of Mr Clark’s first priorities will be to help to seal the long-delayed, oft-criticised plan by EDF, of France, to build an £18 billion nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in the Somerset coast. He will need plenty of beginner’s luck to pull off this particular stunt, given the huge costs and complexities involved, or perhaps a spot of magic. If only making energy policy was as easy as a wave of the boy wizard’s wand.
Times 18th July 2016 read more »
Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse is seeking ‘urgent’ talks with the UK Government following Prime Minister May’s decision to axe the Department of Energy and Climate Change in Whitehall. The decision to scrap DECC as a standalone department and merge it into a combined Dept for Business, Energy and Industry has now led to concerns about the Prime Minister’s commitment to tackling climate change and support for renewable energy. The Scottish Government was already working to safeguard investment in vital renewable energy projects amidst the uncertainty created by the vote in favour of British Independence from the EU-bloc.
Scottish Energy News 18th July 2016 read more »
Brexit uncertainty will increase by a sixth the costs of a Government scheme to keep the lights on, adding more than £350m to consumer energy bills, leading analysts have forecast. Doubts over the future operation of the energy market and increased financing costs will lead energy companies to demand greater subsidies to build and operate power plants, consultancy Cornwall Energy claimed in a report. Under the Government’s “capacity market” scheme, energy companies are offered subsidies to guarantee their power stations will generate electricity when needed in future winters. The policy is intended to encourage the construction of new gas plants to replace Britain’s ageing coal and nuclear power stations.
Telegraph 16th July 2016 read more »
Nuclear power will play an important role in China’s future energy mix for emission reduction and economic growth, said a report issued on Friday. China is ready to undergo a nuclear power revolution, with a targeted annual approval rate of six to eight new reactors under the 13th Five Year Plan, said the report on China’s nuclear energy issued by the China Energy Fund Committee (CEFC), a non-governmental and non-profit organization based in China’s Hong Kong.
China.org 17th July 2016 read more »
In Japan on Sunday morning, an earthquake of a magnitude of 5.0 with the epicenter at a depth of 43km. Suspended operation of nuclear power plant “Tokai-2” around Tokyo to check. The tremors were recorded at 13:24 local time (07:24 MSK). The earthquake lies at a depth of 43 km beneath the earth in Ibaraki Prefecture. The quakes up to 4 points were felt in the prefectures of Ibaraki, Tochigi, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, Gunma and Tokyo. Warnings about the threat of a tsunami has not been discussed.
East Chronicles 17th July 2016 read more »
Nuclear weapons have almost been launched accidentally 13 times – it’s time to stop believing in the fantasy that Trident keeps us safe.
Independent 17th July 2016 read more »
Theresa May will lead the call to renew Trident today before a Commons vote that could provoke another split in the Labour Party. The Prime Minister has dismissed SNP pleas to delay the parliamentary debate on the UK’s nuclear deterrent. And in her first statement to the Commons as PM, May will open the Trident debate and make it clear she feels there is no greater responsibility than ensuring the safety and security of the nation.
Daily Record 18th July 2016 read more »
Theresa May will on Monday warn that the threat of a nuclear attack has “increased” as she calls on all MPs to back Trident, calling it the “ultimate safeguard” for British national security. In a major intervention designed to cement her as a Prime Minister fully committed to protecting national security, Mrs May will warn that it would be a “reckless gamble” to abandon the nuclear deterrent.
Telegraph 17th July 2016 read more »
THERESA May will today claim that scrapping Trident would be a “reckless gamble” likely to embolden the UK’s enemies ahead of a key vote on renewal of the nuclear deterrent. The Prime Minister, in her first Commons statement since replacing David Cameron, will attack the “misplaced idealism” of those who would abandon what she described as the “ultimate safeguard”. A Government motion in favour of commissioning four new nuclear-armed submarines is expected to win support of a majority of MPs tonight.
Herald 18th May 2016 read more »
Jeremy Corbyn insisted he would put nuclear disarmament at the heart of his leadership re-election campaign as he promised to vote against the renewal of Trident in a Commons debate that will expose deep divisions within the Labour party. In an interview with the Guardian at the Tolpuddle festival in Dorset, the party leader added that he would like Labour to switch to supporting unilateralism ahead of the motion that will likely cause MPs to split three ways on the future of the deterrent.
Guardian 17th July 2016 read more »
The attempted coup in Turkey on Friday and the subsequent closure of the Incirlik airbase in the south of the country have raised fresh questions about the wisdom of the US stationing the biggest stockpile of nuclear weapons in Europe at such a vulnerable site.
Guardian 17th July 2016 read more »
The Labour Party has voiced its support for the continued use of gas grids in the future through the use of secure and sustainable green gas. It said that “ripping up all our gas mains and throwing everyone’s boilers out” is not a sensible approach to decarbonising heat in the UK. The party’s Parliamentary Labour Party Energy and Climate Change Committee has set out the policy changes a future government would need to adopt to allow gas to be decarbonised in a way that would use the gas networks in its Green Gas Book. The book, which was launched in the House of Commons yesterday, is sponsored by the Energy Networks Association (ENA) and promotes the use of low carbon gases such as biomethane and hydrogen.
Utility Week 15th July 2016 read more »
Renewables – tidal
The head of one of Ireland’s biggest renewable energy companies – which has licences for two tidal marine energy parcs in Scotland – has highlighted the growing importance of the EU’s West European seaboard (WES) for future development. Simon De Pietro, Chief Executive of DP Energy, is a key stakeholder in the design of the proposed new EU Investment Platform for marine renewables, which will have a very positive impact on the overall industry. Based in County Cork, Republic of Ireland, DP Energy is currently developing 339MW of tidal projects along the coasts of Canada, Scotland and Ireland. It also operates four wind farms in Dumfries-shire, as well as utility-scale solar power in Ireland.
Scottish Energy News 18th July 2016 read more »
Sam Laidlaw, the former Centrica boss, has invested in a British home battery company with two other veteran UK energy executives in a sign of surging interest in disruptive solar power storage. Mr Laidlaw has backed Moixa Technology, a small London-based company that makes briefcase-sized battery systems that can store electricity from solar panels and sell it to the grid. Separately, Ian Marchant, former chief executive of SSE, another big six energy company, and Brian Count, previously CEO of Innogy, have also invested in Moixa, the Financial Times has learnt. The trio are among the most high-profile UK backers of energy storage, a technology that threatens to disrupt the big, centralised electricity systems the three men once helped to run.
FT 17th July 2016 read more »
Renew Economy 18th July 2016 read more »
Ban Ki-moon’s climate change envoy has accused the UK and Germany of backtracking on the spirit of the Paris climate deal by financing the fossil fuel industry through subsidies. Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland and UN special envoy on climate change and El Niño, said she had to speak out after Germany promised compensation for coal power and the UK provided tax breaks for oil and gas. Governments in Paris last year not only pledged to phase out fossil fuels in the long-term but to make flows of finance consistent with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.
Guardian 18th July 2016 read more »
Plans to build Britain’s first opencast coalmine for three years at a coastal site in Northumberland are set to move ahead this month, despite intense local opposition to the scheme. Banks Group, a privately-owned mining company, secured planning approval from Northumberland county council on July 5 to develop the site at Highthorn, near Druridge Bay, 30 miles north of Newcastle. Banks Group claims the scheme, which it hopes will go into service by 2018, will create 100 jobs and inject £120 million into the northeast’s economy. The proposal is opposed by climate activists, local residents, and campaigners including Bill Oddie, the television wildlife expert. They claim that it will lead to increased emissions, heavy traffic, pollution and would hurt regional tourism.
Times 18th July 2016 read more »