Npower customers have expressed serious doubts about the energy giant’s ability to correct its backlog of billing errors and turn around its “abysmal” customer service standards. In a major victory for the Telegraph, this week Ofgem, the energy regulator, gave npower two months to put right its “major” billing errors affecting 400,000 customers or suffer a ban on telephone sales. But on the very day the company issued a grovelling apology, its customers were still complaining to our office about long waits on the telephone, fresh errors and “generally abysmal service”.
Telegraph 22nd June 2014 read more »
Students from Wiltshire College have prepared welcome boxes for a visit by a group of eight children who live in an area of the Ukraine contaminated by the Chernobyl disaster. The annual visit, organised by the Chernobyl Children’s Life Line charity, brings youngsters affected by radiation from the 1986 nuclear accident at the power station to Britain. The students from the work skills group at the Trowbridge campus made goodie boxes for the children to help them settle in when they visit their host families in Westbury in July.
Wiltshire Times 22nd June 2014 read more »
Germany – solar
Germany produced a record 50 percent of its electricity needs through solar panel at the start of June, breaking a huge milestone on its march to renewable energy. “German solar demonstrated just what it is capable of in the first two weeks of June,” said Tobias Rothacher, expert for renewable energies at Germany Trade & Invest, the country’s economic development agency. Analysis from the Fraunhofer ISE research institute showed solar panels in Germany generated a record 24.24 GW of electricity between 1pm and 2pm on Friday, June 6th. And on Monday June 9th, which was a national holiday, solar power production peaked at 23.1 GW, which equalled 50.6 percent of total electricity demand – setting another milestone.
The Local 19th June 2014 read more »
UK – China
£53m of joint innovative research programmes to tackle major global issues were agreed this week at the UK-China Summit. Universities and Science Minister, David Willetts, and Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, signed an agreement at the Summit for the first programmes of the joint UK-China Research and Innovation Partnership Fund. The fund was established after China’s Premier, Li Keqiang, and UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, witnessed the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding at the UK-China Summit in December 2013.
Technology Strategy Board 20th June 2014 read more »
India – reprocessing
India has the right to reprocess the spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from the Russian built Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KNPP) by a supplementary agreement with Russia, which relieved the builders from the responsibility to take over the discharged SNF as originally envisaged.
India TV 10th June 2014 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
Some 39 months after the multiple explosions at Fukushima, thyroid cancer rates among nearby children have skyrocketed to more than forty times (40x) normal. More than 48 percent of some 375,000 young people—nearly 200,000 kids—tested by the Fukushima Medical University near the smoldering reactors now suffer from pre-cancerous thyroid abnormalities, primarily nodules and cysts. The rate is accelerating. More than 120 childhood cancers have been indicated where just three would be expected, says Joseph Mangano, executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project.
Ecowatch 14th June 2014 read more »
British Gas faces a record fine for failing to install enough insulation and other energy efficiency measures in thousands of homes. Ogem launched an investigation into British Gas, which is owned by Centrica, in May last year after it carried out only 62.4 per cent of the mea sures required under a household insulation scheme called Cert. The £5.5 billion scheme, which ended in 2012, was replaced by a scheme called Eco and both were funded by levies on consumer bills. Under the old scheme, companies were ordered to help households to save energy, with the priority being the elderly and those on low incomes. As well as loft and cavity wall insulation, the measures include installing double glazing, new boilers, solar panels and draught-proofing. British Gas said that “The particularly adverse weather conditions throughout the 2012 winter” had forced it to delay many solid wall insulation works. It said they were completed last summer. As well as missing its Cert target, the company also failed to hit its target under a separate £350 million community insulation scheme. British Gas was the only Big Six energy company to miss its targets under both schemes.
Times 21st June 2014 read more »
“You have to wonder what they are smoking at Nato HQ”, retorted Greenpeace to charges by Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the secretary general of the treaty organisation, that Russia was “engaged actively” with environmental groups to stop fracking in Europe. And indeed it does seem a bit far-fetched to envisage Putin financing – as industry sources were quick to suggest – the very greenies he locked up last year. Yet – though Nato distanced itself from his allegation – the former Danish prime minister raised an important point. Energy security is much the best argument for fracking, which few believe will bring down gas prices here as it has in the US. No fewer than 21 European countries depend on Russian gas – though not the UK, which gets its imports from Norway, the Netherlands and Qatar – and Putin has made clear his opposition to the technology. Unfortunately, however, fracking doesn’t seem likely to help much. Even by 2030, says the International Energy Agency, shale will only meet 3 per cent of EU gas demand. Energy efficiency – and maybe renewables – offer better potential for cutting gas imports. Perhaps Putin would get more for his money by working to restrict them.
Telegraph 20th June 2014 read more »
Green Investment Bank
The UK Government’s new Green Investment Bank in Edinburgh is facing its first protests for backing the burning of millions of tonnes of wood from abroad in power stations. MSPs from three political parties, environmental groups and community representatives have written to the bank this weekend saying they are “deeply concerned” that it is supporting big biomass plants. Demonstrations are also planned at its annual meetings in Edinburgh and London this week. The bank has loaned £50 million to help the UK’s largest power station, Drax in North Yorkshire, switch from burning coal to burning wood. But critics say this will mean having to import up to 15 million tonnes of trees a year from North America and is a “false solution” to climate pollution. There are also fears that the bank could rescue floundering plans for wood-burning plants at Grangemouth and Rosyth. The controversial proposals have planning permission, but the developers, Forth Ports and the energy company SSE, pulled out in March.
Herald 22nd June 2014 read more »
THE Green Investment Bank is expected to unveil a new fund this week that could give it access to as much as £500 million to help kickstart more renewables projects. The fund, to be announced on Tuesday alongside its first full-year results, will be backed by British and overseas investors and will give the bank greater scope for supporting growth in the sector. Sources in the industry have told Scotland on Sunday that the new facility is neither a loan nor equity but will enlarge the balance sheet of the bank which was set up 18 months ago with bases in Edinburgh and London. Until now, the taxpayer-funded bank has provided support on a project by project basis from an initial funding pot of £3 billion which was raised by a further £800m this time last year.
Scotland on Sunday 22nd June 2014 read more »