Investment in green energy in the UK has plummeted to its lowest level in seven years, according to new figures from Bloomberg, with campaigners claiming that much of the blame can be pinned on the Government’s failure to set a target date for cleaning up the power sector. As the Government prepares to put its Energy Bill before MPs this week, the Bloomberg figures show clean energy investment has fallen from £7.2bn in 2009 to under £3bn last year – and is heading below £1.9bn in 2013. Critics claim the analysis fatally undermines the coalition’s claim to be “the greenest government ever” and raises concerns over the UK’s chances of slashing carbon emissions in line with international treaties.The Social Liberal Forum, an internal Lib Dem pressure group, will send a letter to the party’s backbench MPs today urging them to “vote for the inclusion of a clear decarbonisation target”. The shadow Energy Secretary, Caroline Flint, has also contacted all Liberal Democrat MPs urging them to defy their leadership and support the amendment.
Independent 2nd June 2013 read more »
Caroline Flint: To tackle soaring energy bills, improve energy security and stop dangerous climate change, we must decarbonise the power sector by 2030. For all the anti-renewables scare stories, investment in clean energy only accounts for a small fraction of consumers’ bills. The biggest driver of soaring energy bills is rising global gas prices, predicted to increase even further, just when the cost of clean energy, such as solar panels and wind turbines, should fall. Breaking Britain’s dependence on fossil fuels, cleaning up our power supply and investing in energy efficiency would lead to lower, not higher, bills.
Independent 2nd June 2013 read more »
Power cuts will be more likely if Britain does not commit to cleaning up its electricity supply, a leading politician has claimed ahead of a key parliamentary vote this week. Tim Yeo, the Conservative head of the Commons’ energy committee, argued that consumers will also face higher energy bills unless MPs commit to a target for drastically cutting carbon emissions in the power sector by 2030. The plan, which Mr Yeo has proposed in a parliamentary amendment to be voted on this week, would require new wind farms and nuclear power stations and would limit the role of gas and coal. The proposal is backed by the Government’s advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change, which says it is the best way to meet Britain’s legally-binding, long-term green goals and could help save energy consumers between £25bn and £45bn. While the Energy Bill is progressing plans to offer green energy projects billions of pounds in subsidies, the 2030 target has been left out of the legislation, which instead states one may be set in 2016.
Telegraph 1st June 2013 read more »
BRITAIN can hit its targets for reducing carbon emissions and spend £40bn less than envisaged if it embarks on a new “dash for gas”, an influential consultancy has claimed. Pressing ahead with the current plans for investing in renewables and nuclear energy risks burdening the struggling British economy with unnecessarily high energy bills, the report by AT Kearney adds. The research, to be published this week, recommends instead investing in a new fleet of efficient gas-fired power stations. The advice comes at a crucial juncture for the government’s controversial proposed £200bn low-carbon makeover of the power industry. This week the Energy Bill will have its third and final reading in the House of Commons before passing to the Lords. It is expected to receive royal assent by the year-end. Ten gas-fired plants have received planning approval, yet only one is being built. The new plants may just be used as back-up to cover intermittent wind power, so companies are unwilling to commit themselves to going ahead until the government finalises a scheme to ensure they will recoup their investment. This would come in the form of a “capacity payment” system, which would pay the owners a minimum amount to make up for plants that are not running. The wild card in AT Kearney’s projections is how much gas will cost, and the ease of securing supplies, given Britain’s reliance on imports.
Times 2nd June 2013 read more »
Tim Yeo plans to cause a bit of trouble tomorrow. The Conservative MP and chairman of the energy and climate change select committee wants to shoehorn a late tweak into the Energy Bill. It has its third and final reading in the Commons this week. The bill hardly needs further complication. Weighing in at 208 pages, it is the blueprint for a revolution. The government wants to replace Britain’s decrepit fossil fuel energy system with a shiny new low-carbon one. To guide the £200bn makeover, ministers have cooked up a melange of huge subsidies for low-carbon technologies and penalties for polluters. And they want most of the overhaul done within seven years. Predicting the gas price 10 or 20 years from now is impossible. Yet the mere potential for cheap fuel has changed the terms of the debate. Yeo’s attempt this week to include the decarbonisation target in the bill is a tactical move against other Tories who want to build cheap gas now and get back on the renewables train in a decade, when they are cheaper to build. He said: “There is a clear degree of confusion in the minds of prospective investors as to how committed the government is to supporting renewables, especially after the new gas strategy was published last year. The advantage of this amendment is that it would remove that doubt.”
Times 2nd June 2013 read more »
There is no case for subsidising nuclear power. Existing subsidies should be withdrawn and no new ones should be introduced. These are the conclusions of a submission to the parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee by Energy Fair, a think-tank that has conducted detailed research on the economics of nuclear power. Nuclear power is already heavily subsidised and the Government is proposing to introduce new ones. But withdrawal of just one of those subsidies-the cap on liabilities for nuclear disasters-would raise the price of nuclear electricity to at least £200 per MWh, much more than the unsubsidised cost of offshore wind power at about £140 per MWh.
PR Newswire 31st May 2013 read more »
Although I have talked about this topic previously here is another attempt of explaining a big misconception about radiation risk by comparing it to drink driving. If you drink and drive the probability that you will end up killing yourself or someone else is extremely small (say 1 in 10,000 per year)1. So why is drink driving seen as a problem? The answer is obvious. Just because the individual risk is small when this is multiplied up by the number of people doing it a large number of unnecessary deaths occur. Unfortunately, for some reason, when it comes to radiation risk it is not so obvious for many people. For example Jim Al-Khalili in the BBC documentary Is Nuclear Power safe? – Horizon – BBC (there are also many other problems with this programme which I will not go into here). I have also talked to people who have been health physicists who were taught how to calculate individual risk for workers but never how to extend this to a larger population. Many of the ‘experts’ that appear in the media explaining that the ‘anti-nuclear lobby’ overestimate the risks of radiation seem to have not looked or understand what they call the ‘anti-nuclear lobby’ (such as Ian Fairlie http://www.ianfairlie.org/) are saying. As with drink driving individual risk and collective risk are very different things.
Peter Lux (accessed) 2nd June 2013 read more »
The United Nations said last week it did not expect to see elevated rates of cancer from Fukushima, but recommended continued monitoring. The report by the UN Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation said prompt evacuation meant the dose inhaled by most people was low. Tokyo Electric Power Co, operator of the Daiichi plant, estimates the final tally for escaped radiation at 900,000 terabecquerels, about one-fifth the amount released by the Chernobyl accident in 1986. Most was vented in the first three weeks. The precise impact of this radiation is bitterly contested, but at least one finding from Chernobyl seems consistent – elevated rates of thyroid cancer in children. The Chernobyl Forum, a 2003-05 UN-led study, cited close to 5,000 cases of thyroid cancers among those exposed under the age of 18 in the most affected areas, probably from drinking contaminated milk. Many scientists believe it takes four to five years for the cancers to develop. Although rumours of a spike in cancers, birth defects and abnormalities have swirled in the quarter of a century since Chernobyl, the UN found “no clearly demonstrated” rise in other cancers among affected populations. But that assessment has been questioned. “There is extensive documentation of other effects,” says Steve Wing, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina.
Independent 2nd June 2013 read more »
SEVEN out of ten consumers still cannot work out the cheapest deals for gas and electricity despite proposals to simplify the tariff system. A new survey by consumer watchdog Which? reveals that when homeowners were asked to find the cheapest tariffs using the proposed new system, 72 per cent picked the wrong one. The findings, published today, come as MPs prepare to debate the proposed reforms in the Energy Bill in the Commons tomorrow.
Express 2nd June 2013 read more »
Solar’s Rise, Nuclear’s Demise, forecasts the extraordinary gains solar power will make, in the lead up to the year 2020. Meanwhile, as solar takes an increasing portion of market share in global electricity markets, nuclear’s decade long stagnation is set to continue:
On Solar: Over the past 5 years, growth of power consumption from solar has run at a compound annual growth rate of 63.2%. Solar can easily maintain its current fast growth rate through the year 2020. Assuming this is the case, and also projecting strong annual growth in overall global power consumption at 3.4% per year, solar will be making a meaningful contribution to total global power supply by 2020. On Nuclear: For the past 15 years, the contribution to global power supply from nuclear has been roughly flat, between 2400 and 2700 TWh per year. In 2011, its contribution of 2649 KWh was nearly identical to its 2655 TWh contribution, in 2001. However, with the steady growth in total power consumption, this has meant nuclear’s share has actually been in long-term decline.
Terrajoules 1st June 2013 read more »
Floodwater from the Aare river flows past the nuclear power plant near the northern Swiss village of Beznau, Zurich June 1, 2013. Heavy rainfall caused a rise in water levels in the rivers in northern Switzerland.
Trust 1st June 2013 read more »
It has become an article of popular faith that building wind farms also involves constructing fossil-fuelled power stations for back up when the weather is calm. As a result, some opponents go on to say, wind turbines do little or nothing to cut carbon dioxide emissions. Now the National Grid has studied what actually happens in practice, with explosive, if surprising, results. Between April 2011 and September 2012 – its head of energy strategy, Richard Smith, told the Hay Festival – wind produced some 23,700 gigawatt hours (GWh) of power. Only 22GWh of power from fossil fuels was needed to fill the gaps when the wind didn’t blow. That’s less than a thousandth of the turbines’ output – and, as it happens, less than a tenth of what was needed to back up conventional power stations. It proved to be much the same with emissions. Wind saved nearly 11 million tonnes of carbon dioxide over that 18 months; standby burning of fossil fuels only reduced this by 8,800 tonnes, or 0.081 per cent. Not surprisingly, given these figures, no new fossil fuel power station has been built to provide back up for wind farms, and none is in prospect.
Telegraph 31st May 2013 read more »
The report from the Committee on Climate Change arguing that investing in renewable energy would eventually save consumers a lot of money is spot on. We are regularly told by conventional utility companies, many politicians and commentators that energies such as solar and wind are hopelessly expensive and reliant on enormous subsidy. But this is simply wrong. Renewables have seen such dramatic price falls in the past few years that they are threatening to upset the world as we know it and usher in an almost unprecedented boom in the spread of cheap, clean, home-produced energy. Solar will be the cheapest form of power in many countries within just a few years. In places such as California and Italy it has already reached so-called “grid parity”. Onshore wind, on a piece of land not constrained by years of planning delays, is already the cheapest form of energy on earth. These are not wild claims – those are figures from General Electric, Citibank and others. Solar PV, the area in which my company operates, is a case in point. Three years ago firms like ours were paying about €3,600 per installed kilowatt of solar capacity on barn roofs in Germany. Today it can be done for just over €1,000 – a staggering 70% fall. That is seriously cheap and will just keep getting cheaper. Just to be clear – Germany (Europe’s biggest economy) now gets 25% of its electricity from renewables – a proportion that is increasing by the month. This is twice the level of the UK, although, interestingly, similar to that of Scotland on its own. Germany is also leading on figuring out how to overcome the problems of “intermittency” by storing renewable energy.
Guardian 1st June 2013 read more »
PETERHEAD power station is to slash its electricity capacity by two-thirds from next year, raising difficult questions for the Scottish Government about the security of supply in an independent Scotland. From next March, Perth-based utility SSE will cut the Aberdeenshire gas-fired station’s capacity from 1.1GW back to just 400MW – smaller than the largest wind farms. It is blaming the uncertainty around reforms to the UK electricity market and a transmission charging system that disadvantages stations further north – the same reason that prompted a previous reduction from 1.8GW three years ago. Equally important to its decision is likely to be the high gas price.
Sunday Herald 2nd June 2013 read more »