Carbon Floor Price
Consumers groups claimed the Chancellor has introduced a new “stealth tax” on energy bills which will cost every household an extra £34 a year and raise £2 billion for the Treasury. The Government’s so-called carbon tax, which penalises dirty coal and gas power stations but passes costs on to household bills, is being introduced on April 1. But yesterday it emerged that the tax would increase almost fourfold by 2015, adding about 6.5 per cent, or £34, to the average annual household electricity bill of £530, according to the IHS Energy consultancy. The tax was announced three years ago to encourage energy companies to build “low-carbon” nuclear reactors, by penalising dirtier forms of power generation for their carbon emissions. It “tops up” payments dirty power generators already make under a European carbon trading scheme to guarantee they pay a high-carbon penalty. But since the tax was announced, carbon prices under the European scheme have collapsed to almost zero. As a result, the level of the top-up tax levied by the Government is far higher than anticipated to make up the difference, resulting in an even bigger windfall for the Treasury. Two years ago, the Government expected the tax to raise £740 million in its first year and £1.4 billion in two years’ time. The tax is forecast to raise £975 million in 2013-14 and £2 billion in two years’ time.
Times 21st March 2013 read more »
The Government has made a belated attempt to kick-start infrastructure spending with the promise of an extra £3bn a year from 2015-16 and the potential use of guarantees to fund new nuclear power plants. George Osborne said savings from departmental budgets would be used to rebuild Britain’s energy, transport and digital infrastructure and hinted that the Government’s £40bn guarantee scheme to help finance riskier projects could be extended to nuclear power. But the extra public money was widely criticised as too little, too late, while industry cautioned that the deadlock in negotiations between France’s EDF Energy and the Government over the planned £14bn Hinkley Point C power plant was unlikely to be broken by a guarantee on upfront financing costs.
Telgraph 20th March 2013 read more »
Letter: There will be absolutely no subsidy for nuclear power has been the constant reassurance from ministers for at least the past year. Now two new reactors are to be built at Hinkley Point and guess what – with the aid of massive subsidies. Yet again the government has caved in to relentless lobbying from multinational corporations. Is it any wonder that ever more people despise the promises of politicians?
Guardian 20th March 2013 read more »
Emma Gibson: New nuclear power stations fail every possible test – economic, consumer, environmental and arguably legal. Hinkley C will lock a generation of consumers into higher energy bills and distort energy policy by displacing newer, cheaper, cleaner technologies. It’s rumoured that the government is about to agree a ‘strike price’ with Hinkley’s operators EDF which is twice the current market price of electricity and will be fixed for 40 years. And to think we’re always being told that wind farm push up energy bills up. British taxpayers will be footing this colossal bill for the next four decades. Nuclear is a mature technology as it has been operating for over 50 years – it should no longer need this kind of leg-up.
Left Foot Forward 19th March 2013 read more »
Today’s ‘second coming’ for planning consent for a third nuclear power station at Hinkley Point probably means no more than the first consent for ‘Hinkley C’ given in 1990. The main difference is that there is a bit more hype about its prospects this time. But there are a lot of similarities between the two consents. In 1990 the electricity industry was privatised and set up for liberalisation which meant that the newly privatised electricity companies could not pass on the investment risks and costs of building the power plant onto consumers. The planning consent for Hinkley C in September 1990 came shortly after the new electricity companies had said they could not afford to build more nuclear power stations under liberalised, competitive, conditions. The state directed blank cheque which had previously funded nuclear power and hid its immense costs had disappeared. The commercial basis for the power station disappeared with this. Despite planning consent being given Hinkley C was never built. History looks like being repeated. Now, under Electricity Market Reform nuclear power is being allowed access to the same subsidy stream as renewable energy. Yet, the Government is now finding that this is not enough. You can see in earlier blog posts how high strike prices, incredibly long contracts to pay them and ‘underwriting’ guarantees (entrees to another blank cheque) are being demanded by EDF as the price for building the power station. The exact orchestration of how EDF and the Government will attempt to divert attention from the fact that Hinkley C will not be built in the forseeable future (at least) is still open to doubt, but not the outcome that the scheme is a dead duck.
Dave Toke’s Blog 19th March 2013 read more »
Ed Davey: Yesterday, I gave planning permission for the construction of the first new nuclear power station for a generation. It is planned that Hinkley Point C in Somerset will host two new reactors generating low carbon electricity for up to five million homes; sustain around 25,000 jobs during construction, and play an important role in cutting climate change emissions. With nuclear, we can’t afford to repeat the mistakes of the past. It is not nuclear power at any price. New nuclear must be safe, we must have a plan to deal with the waste, and it must produce affordable energy. This means getting the best deal for consumers and British business when negotiating with the power companies. New nuclear will receive no levy, direct payment or market support for electricity supplied or capacity provided, unless similar support is also made available more widely to other types of generation. And the cost of clean-up and disposal of nuclear waste will, for the first time in the UK, be met by the industry in the future.
Huffington Post 20th March 2013 read more »
Geoffrey Lean: At last there’s some good news for nuclear power. Energy Secretary, Ed Davey – no doubt suppressing his own long history of scepticism over the atom – has given EDF planning permission to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset. If it does finally get built, its twin reactors would be capable of providing seven per cent of Britain’s electricity, enough to power five million homes. But that is still an ‘if’. EDF – which once insisted it would need no subsidies – clearly has no intention of building it without substantial help from the Government to make it pay. The French state company is deep in negotiations with Mr Davey to guarantee a inflated price for the power it produces, and thus ensure a profitable return on the huge capital cost of construction: it looks as if agreement may be reached on about double today’s electricity price – something that we have so far heard little about from those attacking the relatively small increases brought about by subsidies for renewables. Even assuming that the market is rigged in this way, that may not be the end of the matter. EDF still seems to want a partner to help shoulder the risk after Centrica pulled out earlier this year. Another state-owned – but this time Chinese – company is in its sights, but any new participant will understandably want to assess the deal with ministers before deciding whether to jump in. The EU may well wish to assess whether the deal with the Government falls foul of its subsidy rules, which will cause further delays, uncertainties – and thus costs – even if it does eventually give the arrangement the all clear.
Telegraph 20th March 2013 read more »
Letter NFLAs: You say new nuclear reactors at Hink ley Point in Somerset could provide electricity for 5 million people (Hinkley Point go-ahead kickstarts nuclear drive, 20 March). If the proposed new reactors do generate 3.2GW, it should be noted that this is still only about 1.6% of UK energy, rather than electricity, needs. Though 3.2GW is not an inconsequential figure, there are three key weaknesses with new nuclear: cost, waste and long-term low-carbon goals. In terms of cost, it should be remembered that just five years ago the Department of Energy confidently asserted new nuclear would come in at around £33 to £41 per MWh. As your report has noted, EDF is seeking a £100 per MWh “strike price”, locked in for 40 years, costing tens of billions to the taxpayer in subsidy. In addition, the planning inquiry did not have the opportunity to take into account that there is now no part of the country volunteering to host a deep-underground radioactive waste repository. This means neither the existing radioactive waste legacy, nor new Hinkley waste, has an effective long-term storage solution. The government can’t simply ignore this fact. Finally, if we do spend so much money on a project lasting just 60 years, with such significant environmental risks, are we really pursuing long-term sustainable goals to reduce carbon emissions?
Guardian 20th March 2013 read more »
Letter Pete Wilkinson: scrutiny of the design safety (generic design assessment) remains uncompleted, when the location, design, safety, cost or even the availability of a final repository for the high-level waste it produces remain huge uncertainties, when the spent fuel from the plant will remain on the site for over a century, way past the date by which EDF will have faded from memory, when electricity demand is falling, when the links between ill-health in local children and routine emissions are being more strongly identified, when the emergency plans designed to evacuate large numbers of people in the event of a major off-site radiological accident remain unimplementable and when the ability to meet the two goals upon which nuclear’s reintroduction were based – a reduction in climate change impacts and the bolstering of energy security – look increasingly thin.
Guardian 20th March 2013 read more »
The government’s announcement yesterday that it is granting planning consent to the French firm EDF to build 2 new nuclear power stations at Hinckley Point in Somerset is a sign of panic. The price of these reactors has risen inexorably to £14bn apiece, and it is this exorbitant capital cost together with market uncertainties over dithering government energy policy that has frightened off a whole stream of potential partners making any bid themselves or collaborating with EDF – including both Chinese and British (Centrica) partners. The government now finds itself in the extremely uncomfortable, not to say desperate, position where it is utterly dependent on new nuclear because it has failed to promote the only real long-term answer of renewables on anything like the scale and speed required, but it is now held hostage by two forces it cannot control and which work strongly against each other – the demand by the in effect monopoly provide EDF for vastly extended subsidies and the requirement to get approval from the EU Competition Directorate which is seeking to lower or eliminate subsidies.The UK will have to pass 2 tests in the investigation into these subsidies: is it in the common interest of member states? and will the benefits outweigh the distortion of competition? The answers are anyone’s guess, and the EU inquiries will probably take 12-18 months. Either way, government’s unforgiveable failure to address long-term energy needs till far too late means the lights will very likely go out in the ‘energy gap’ around 2017-8, if not before.
Michael Meacher 20th March 2013 read more »
The UK’s energy secretary has granted planning permission for two new reactors at the Hinkley Point nuclear plant. While critical power price negotiations are ongoing, the approval represents the last go-ahead from the government required for EDF to build the units.
Nuclear Street 20th March 2013 read more »
Concerns have been raised over the height of pylons between Hinkley Point and Avonmouth by North Somerset MP Dr Liam Fox. On Wednesday, the government gave planning consent for the nuclear plant to be built in Somerset. Dr Fox welcomed the announcement but said pylons twice the current height would be needed to transmit electricity to the national grid.
BBC 20th March 2013 read more »
Bridgwater and West Somerset MP Ian Liddell-Grainger says that the decision to approve Hinkley C is a welcome one. Welcome to the new industrial revolution. The official go-ahead for Hinkley C power station heralds a huge boost to the local, regional and national economy.
Western Daily Press 20th March 2013 read more »
Commenting on the decision to grant planning permission for a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset, WWF-UK said that, although Government scenarios tended to rely heavily on the future availability of nuclear power, the UK should instead focus on decarbonising its economy through a major focus on renewable energy and energy efficiency. The group argued that continued cost escalations and construction delays facing the nuclear industry should not be allowed to undermine the UK’s ambitions to decarbonise its economy. WWF argued that that renewable energy technologies such as onshore wind and solar PV ARE falling rapidly in cost, and major new contenders such as offshore wind are set to deliver substantial cost reductions over by the end of this decade and beyond.
WWF 19th March 2013 read more »
Hinkley Point C could be “transformational” for the British nuclear industry, Rolls Royce’s President for Nuclear New Build predicted today. As the new nuclear power station won approval from the Government yesterday, Gordon Waddington (pictured) said a “burden of responsibility” came with providing “thousands and thousands of jobs”. Engineering firm Rolls Royce is making parts for the first of two new reactors at EDF Energy’s Somerset power plant.
Energy Live 20th March 2013 read more »
Top Gear budget leaves Osborne in slow lane of economic growth: Like a petrol-head deafened by the roar of his own engines, the chancellor ignored the large and fast-growing green sector in favour of fossil fuels. He used the budget to fuel a UK shale gas boom with tax breaks, despite no-one bar the frackers actually believing it can happen. At the same time, he refused take even a small detour in his speech to boost the UK’s green economy, which boasts far greater horsepower.
Guardian 20th March 2013 read more »
Councillors accused of failing to understand the process to find an underground nuclear dump site in west Cumbria have hit back – and attempted to finally draw a line under the row. Energy Minister Baroness Verma raised eyebrows when she made the claim in a letter to county council leader Eddie Martin. But now Mr Martin and his deputy Stewart Young have answered the criticism with a letter of their own. Mr Martin said the authority had been praised by parish councils across the county and members of the public for the “clarity and cogency” of its written explanation to the Government of why Cumbria will not continue to investigate a possible underground site for higher level nuclear waste. The letter states: “It was the cumulative weight of evidence against proceeding that led to our final decision. “We hold strongly to the view that there was no misunderstanding and there were no errors in our interpretation or comprehensive and thorough analysis.
Carlisle News & Star 20th March 2013 read more »
Sellafield Executive Director Rory O’Neill had some strong words for the tourism industry at last night’s Times business forum. He stated that ‘without the nuclear industry in Cumbria there wouldn’t be a tourism industry in Cumbria’, bringing gasps from the audience. He added: “If you go into Keswick on a Saturday in winter it’s like being in a Sellafield canteen.” Peter Frost-Pennington, who owns Muncaster Castle, was quick to defend the tourism industry, pointing out that his castle had been a tourist attraction long before the nuclear industry existed.
In-Cumbria 20th March 2013 read more »
The slow motion disasters caused by making US and Soviet nuclear bombs: ‘Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities, and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters’ by Kate Brown. Making plutonium for nuclear bombs takes balls, but not in the way you might think. In 1965 scientists at the Hanford nuclear weapons complex in Washington State wanted to investigate the impact of radiation on fertility – and they weren’t hidebound by ethics. In a specially fortified room in the basement of Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla, volunteer prisoners were asked to lie face down on a trapezoid-shaped bed. They put their legs into stirrups, and let their testicles drop into a plastic box of water where they were zapped by x-rays. The experiments, which lasted for a decade and involved 131 prisoners, came up with some unsurprising results. Even at the lowest dose – 0.1 gray – sperm was damaged, and at twice that the prisoners became sterile. They were paid five dollars a month for their trouble, plus $25 per biopsy and $100 for a compulsory vasectomy at the end so they didn’t father children with mutations. The testicle tests are just one of many disturbing details Kate Brown has unearthed from the official archives in her fascinating nuclear history. She also tells how tunnelling muskrats undermined one of Hanford’s storage ponds, causing 16 million gallons of radioactive effluent to pour into the Columbia river.
New Scientist 18th March 2013 read more »
Rob Edwards 18th March 2013 read more »
There’s going to be a “shift towards Asia” in the world’s nuclear power industry. This despite the region’s previous nuclear powerhouse Japan scaling down its operations in the sector after its Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011. In particular more power stations are being built in China according to Steve Kidd, Deputy Director General of the World Nuclear Association.
Energy Live 21st March 2013 read more »
Global nuclear energy generation will climb by almost 30% by the end of the decade, thanks in part to an influx of new nations developing nuclear programs, says research and consulting firm GlobalData. The company’s new report predicts worldwide nuclear energy generation to jump from 2,386,449 GWh in 2012 to 3,078,130 GWh in 2020, with 198 nuclear reactors scheduled to begin commercial operations within the forecast window.
Oil Price 20th March 2013 read more »
A power cut at Japan’s tsunami-crippled nuclear plant this week may have been caused by a rat, according to officials. Masayuki Ono, spokesman for Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company), the utility that runs the Fukushima Daiichi plant, said a 6-inch rodent was found dead near a switchboard. He said the rat might be linked to the power failure, but further investigations were needed. Cooling systems at the plant for four storage pools for nuclear fuel were knocked out on Monday. Power was restored two days later at all nine affected facilities.
Guardian 20th March 2013 read more »
The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant sustained its worst power outage over the past two days since a blackout in 2011 sent its reactors spinning out of control—in a reminder of how the situation, two years after one of the world’s worst atomic accidents, remains precarious. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Co., said it lost power on Monday evening to systems pumping water to cool several pools where it stores used nuclear-fuel rods.
Wall St Journal 19th March 2013 read more »
President Barack Obama yesterday promised that the US would work closely with Israel and do whatever was necessary to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear arms.
Press & Journal 21st March 2013 read more »
US nuclear power plants must upgrade the ventilation systems at 31 reactors with designs similar to those that melted down at Fukushima in Japan, the country’s nuclear regulatory commission (NRC) ordered yesterday. But the commission stopped short of requiring filtered vents, as NRC staff had urged in their initial report. The filters are required in Japan and much of Europe but US utilities complain that, at prices ranging from $16 million (£10.5m) to $40m (£26.3m) for each reactor, the cost is too high. The order requires US operators to upgrade vents to ensure they remain operable during accidents.
Morning Star 21st March 2013 read more »
The United States and three other big powers this week argued for allowing nuclear-armed India into an atomic export control group, but China and several European states appeared doubtful about the move, diplomats said on Wednesday. They said the divisions were in evidence during closed-door talks of the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group on the sensitive issue of whether India could join and become the NSG’s only member that is outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Reuters 20th March 2013 read more »
North Korea has once again ramped up its rhetoric, threatening to use nuclear weapons against the United States in response to the participation of U.S. bombers and nuclear submarines in a joint military drill with South Korea on the peninsula earlier this week.
Express 21st March 2013 read more »
While I’ve been out campaigning for the Scrap Trident Coalition, a fairly commonly voiced objection to the elimination of nuclear weapons from Scotland is that; “It’ll cost jobs at Faslane.” Thankfully, this objection is very easily countered. Firstly, by pointing out the simple to grasp concept that the £100 billion earmarked to be spent on replacing Trident could, in fact, be used to create jobs where they are desperately needed elsewhere in the UK economy. Secondly, if my questioner remains persistent on the issue, and very few do given the facts above, I point out that according to the then Defence Secretary, Des Browne, in 2009, only 589 jobs at the Clyde Naval base were directly dependent on Trident. These jobs, and others like them in defence-dependent communities, could be transferred into other areas of the economy with suitable resource allocation.
Ekklesia 21st March 2013 read more »
With all eyes focused on the Budget at Westminster, there was very little media attention on proceedings at Holyrood, which was a great pity as, yet again, we saw the outright hypocrisy of the SNP’s stance on defence. Additionally, we also saw easily the best speech Ruth Davidson has made since she became leader of the Scottish Conservatives 15 months ago. And as someone who’s criticised her efforts often enough, I’m happy to offer this different opinion now. With their commanding majority in the Scottish Parliament, there was no doubt that the SNP would win the vote last night but it was a hollow victory for the simple reason that try as they might, their ministers and MSPs could not reconcile their opposition to Trident and nuclear weapons in general with their wholly opportunistic decision to join Nato if they succeed in taking Scotland out of the UK.
Telegraph 20th March 2013 read more »
Earlier this month, more then 130 governments, UN agencies and the global Red Cross Movement met in Oslo at the invitation of the Norwegian government, to discuss the humanitarian, environmental and developmental consequences of nuclear explosions. Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace International executive director, contributed to a video submission screened to government delegates on behalf of civil society. The video sets out how nuclear weapons represent an unacceptable and uncontrollable risk to us all.
Greenpeace 20th March 2013 read more »
RenewableUK has pointed to the huge economic opportunities offered by renewable energy infrastructure projects such as offshore wind. RenewableUK Director of Policy Dr Gordon Edge pointed to projects like the proposed Siemens offshore wind turbine factory in Hull, which could bring hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of investment to that area.
Renewable UK 20th March 2013 read more »
Plans for a carbon capture scheme in the north-east of Scotland have reached the final stage of a UK Government competition for funding, George Osborne said yesterday. The Peterhead Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) Project, from Shell and SSE, has have been named as one of the preferred bidders for the £1 billion Westminster investment, along with the Drax scheme in North Yorkshire. The Scottish project is expected to capture ten million tonnes of CO2 over ten years from SSE’s Peterhead gas-fired power station. Shell will store the CO2 in the depleted Goldeneye gas reservoir, 102km off the coast of Scotland.
Times 21st March 2013 read more »
George Osborne has brushed aside concerns over shale gas by committing to an exploration drive in the UK with generous tax breaks for fracking companies and promises to hand financial incentives to local communities.
Guardian 20th March 2013 read more »