A legal challenge against the £16bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project brought by Ireland’s equivalent of the National Trust has been rejected by a High Court judge. An Taisce had challenged energy secretary Ed Davey’s April 2012 decision to grant planning permission to the plant. The Irish group argued the decision had been taken without consulting the Irish public, who could be affected by any disaster and any subsequent leakage of radiation because the plant is situated just 150 miles from the Irish coast. It said this was in breach of the European Environmental Impact Assessment Directive and the UK’s own regulations on environmental impacts that stretch across national borders. But Mrs Justice Patterson found that Davey’s decision had been made properly and refused to give An Taisce permission for a judicial review.
Building 3rd Jan 2014 read more »
Planning Resource 3rd Jan 2014 read more »
Jacobs Engineering Group has won a three-year framework contract from Horizon Nuclear Power, to provide engineering support services for two new ABWR nuclear power plants at Wylfa and Oldbury in the United Kingdom. The agreement, announced 16 December, follows the award of three other strategic contracts with AMEC, Atkins and Cavendish Nuclear in December 2013. The value of the contract was not disclosed.
Nuclear Engineering International 2nd Jan 2014 read more »
THE Japanese engineering and electronics giant Toshiba looks set to join the consortium planning a new nuclear power station near Sellafield. Toshiba is poised to replace the Spanish utility firm Iberdrola, which is pulling out. Iberdrola announced last week that it had agreed to sell its 50 per cent stake in the NuGen consortium to Toshiba for $139m (£85m). However, Toshiba Corp CEO Hisao Tanaka said on Thursday that his company was still in talks on buying a stake in the consortium and no deal had been reached yet.
Whitehaven News 31st Dec 2013 read more »
As the increase in building of nuclear power facilities gathers pace, with an agreement reached to construct the first nuclear power station in the UK for nearly 20 years, the Minister of State for Energy, the Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, has announced a multi-million pound collaborative investment by three public bodies, which will ensure that UK-based businesses are well poised to take advantage of the new opportunities. Early in 2014, up to £13 million will be made available jointly by the Technology Strategy Board, the Department of Energy and Climate Change and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to help UK-based businesses take advantage of the opportunities that the growing nuclear market offers. This is part of a drive to grow a robust and sustainable UK supply chain by developing innovative products and services for the nuclear sector. The initiative will focus on key technology areas, such as construction, manufacturing, operation, maintenance and decommissioning and waste.
NDT News 2nd Jan 2014 read more »
The chiefs of Britain’s biggest energy suppliers are back in the dock, facing Labour party claims that they have charged consumers inflated prices for their electricity. A Labour analysis of official figures says consumers have been overcharged by £4bn, £150 a household, over the past three years because energy suppliers are inflating prices to make extra profits from their own power plants, or striking expensive deals that cost more than the average market rate. The conclusions – disputed by the industry and the regulator – have reignited a debate over the rising cost of electricity and gas for British households at a time of high living costs. It has also put the coalition government and the industry regulator on the defensive as they try to regain the initiative on energy policy.
FT 2nd Jan 2014 read more »
Power companies have been forced on to the back foot after the Labour party claimed they were charging customers inflated prices for electricity. An analysis of official figures, which claimed to show households had paid £50 more than the market rate a year over the past three years, also put the industry regulator on the defensive. Ofgem initially said it could not comment on the claims because it had not seen the details, adding there was a lack of transparency in the market. It later said its analysis of the relationship between wholesale and retail prices “does not support this allegation”. Peter Atherton, an analyst at broker Liberum Capital, described Ofgem’s reaction as “lamentable”. “They are not there to defend the industry but this is undermining investor confidence.” Government officials on Thursday resisted being drawn into a debate with the opposition Labour party about energy market transparency. An official at the department of energy said Ofgem already had a review of competition in hand and would report back in March. Energy prices look set to dominate the political agenda in the run-up to the 2015 general election. Labour is keen to press its advantage, after Ed Miliband last year promised a 20-month bill freeze if the party wins power. However, Downing Street is determined the prime minister will not be bounced into action by his Labour rival again – last year Mr Cameron rushed through a rollback of green levies to cut £50 from consumer bills.
FT 2nd Jan 2014 read more »
Changes to energy tariffs that came into force on January 1 should make life “simpler and fairer” for customers, according to the energy regulator, Ofgem. Confusing and complex offers must be simplified and limited to four core tariffs per customer for both gas and electricity. Discounts must also be made easier to understand. The latest reforms follow the introduction in October of new rules for fixed-term tariffs for domestic customers. Further legislation will be introduced in April that will oblige suppliers to tell customers which tariffs are cheapest. A tariff comparison rate will be introduced, also in April, to help customers compare tariffs and bills. It will include a “personal projection” that will forecast customer spending, based on usage or a best estimate. Customers will also be notified about price increases in pounds and pence rather than in percentage terms.
FT 2nd Jan 2013 read more »
Ofgem was yesterday accused of potentially undermining the development of innovative new energy tariffs that could serve to cut bills and carbon emissions, after it brought into effect a raft of new rules designed to simplify the domestic energy market. Good Energy, yesterday warned that concerns over the impact of some of the reforms on emerging clean technologies had been sidelined in the pursuit of simpler tariffs. The company is one of several firms to argue that restricting the number of tariffs on offer to just four could make it harder for energy companies to offer a range of green energy and time of use tariffs, which according to some predictions should become increasingly popular as smart meter technologies become more prevalent.
Good Energy 3rd Jan 2014 read more »
The energy regulator Ofgem claimed yesterday that it could not rule on whether suppliers are ripping off customers because energy markets lack transparency. The independent industry body said that it could not adequately investigate claims by Labour that suppliers are charging inflated prices for wholesale electricity. Labour accused energy companies of overcharging themselves for electricity from their own power plants, then hiking up prices for the consumer. They estimated that customers were overcharged by £4 billion, or £150 a household, since 2010. Ian Marlee, a senior partner at Ofgem, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that the regulator was unable to rule on the claims. He said: “What we identified is there isn’t enough transparency to be able to actually look at that.” A spokesman for the regulator said later that Ofgem’s analysis did “not sup port the allegations” made by Labour, but reiterated the need for drastic reforms in wholesale markets which it has promised to introduce this spring. The regulator’s proposals would force generators to publish the prices at which they will buy and sell contracts for electricity two years in advance and penalise those who failed to trade fairly.
Times 3rd Jan 2013 read more »
Telegraph 2nd Jan 2013 read more »
The Independent’s inquiries show that the Li family empire’s Bermuda, British Virgin Islands and Hong Kong companies pulled out £130m and £135m in dividends from UK Power Networks Holdings in 2011 and 2012 respectively. Analysts said there was nothing to suggest they would not be taking out a similar amount last year. Meanwhile, they have made a loan to UKPN of £774m at an interest rate of nearly 10 per cent – thought to be costing £77m a year in interest repayments. The accounts show how the Li businesses, and UKPN’s £1.7m-a-year chief executive Basil Scarsella, have been making massive profits from the company they bought in October 2010. For the last two months of that takeover year alone, Mr Scarsella was paid £300,000. Accountants said the dividend payments and loans would be extreme ly tax-effective for the Li family empire. A UKPN spokesman declined to comment on the company’s finances but said it paid in full all UK taxes owed. Earlier this week, The Independent revealed how UKPN made an underlying profit of nearly £1bn in 2012, while cutting staff numbers.
Independent 3rd Jan 2014 read more »
Electricity network companies could face fines if they are proven to have taken too long to restore power after the Christmas storms, energy regulator Ofgem said. Ian Marlee, senior partner, said the companies had “questions to answer” over their response to the power cuts, which saw tens of thousands of homes across the south of England left without power in Christmas Day. The regulator said it could “take further action” including possible fines if the companies were found to have failed in their duties.
Telegraph 2nd Jan 2014 read more »
David Smythe: I gave no less than six lectures in West Cumbria as an independent expert, plus two extras to schools in the area. I came over quite a few times from France to England just to give lectures I should add also at my own expense. I got involved in the West Cumbria MRWS consultation starting in 2010 because it was clear from the way it was framed that the government was trying to pretend that the 1995/96 planning inquiry into an underground test laboratory had never happened. They’re trying to airbrush out the past and come to West Cumbria as if it were a clean sheet of paper – as if there were no problems with the geology and that there had never been a planning inquiry finding against the government and so on, and this is fundamentally dishonest.
Cumbria Trust 3rd Jan 2014 read more »
The number of complaints from consumers battling their energy suppliers is rocketing, latest figures show, as bills are pushed up to record levels following price hikes. This follows claims from Labour that suppliers have “deliberately inflated” the price they paid for electricity from their own power stations by as much as £4bn, despite the government removing some of the cost of social and environmental obligations. Consumers made a total of 3,600 complaints to the Ombudsman Services in October and November, up from 2,100 over the same period the previous year. These range from providers issuing gigantic bills after failing to take payment to confusion over complex tariffs. The service said the figure would be even greater if more people knew how to complain.
Guardian 2nd Jan 2014 read more »
In many cases, nations’ continued commitment to maintaining their nuclear arsenals can be attributed to inertia. Veteran nuclear powers have become so accustomed to throwing huge sums of money at their weapons of mass destruction, they now do so without questioning the wisdom of their investment. Such has been the case in the United Kingdom, where the Ministry of Defense just announced the allocation of £79 million in their effort to replace Trident, their submarine-launched nuclear asset. With this most recent outlay, the United Kingdom has invested more than £800 million in the ongoing project since 2011.
Global Zero 2nd Jan 2014 read more »
If all goes according to plan, sometime during 2014 Iran will sign a comprehensive final agreement to end a nuclear crisis that, over the course of a decade, has threatened to escalate into a war in the Middle East. But in light of the unresolved issues that must be addressed, it would be unwise to bet that events will unfold as planned. Unrealistic expectations about the Iran deal need to be revised downward.
Carnegie Endowment 30th Dec 2013 read more »
A £1m hydro-electric scheme will generate more than 1,100MWh of renewable energy each year on the Allt Achadh na Moine watercourse on the east coast of Mull with profits benefitting local island charitable, environmental and education projects. The scheme will be built and operated by a newly formed Community Benefit Society, Green Energy Mull, which has seen almost £150,000 of money flow in after launching a community share offer with support from The Co-operative Enterprise Hub. It is hoped that construction will start in Spring with the scheme operational by the end of 2014.
Guardian 2nd Jan 2014 read more »
Renewables – Targets
Questions were sparked this morning over the Opposition’s commitment to new EU renewable energy and efficiency targets, after Shadow Energy Minister Tom Greatrex appeared to signal the Labour could oppose European Commission plans to introduce a new renewable energy target for 2030. “Tackling the complex challenge of climate change requires policies and targets which are sufficiently flexible to accommodate ever-evolving solutions,” he told the Guardian, in response to news that a European Commission report is to show that blocking the proposed target could put half a million new green jobs at risk. “We remain unconvinced that a 2030 renewables target provides this necessary optionality, since it overlooks a number of low carbon but non-renewable technologies, such as carbon capture and storage (CCS),” he added.
Business Green 2nd Jan 2014 read more »
Over half a million new jobs over the next two decades could be at risk from the UK’s opposition to new EU targets for green energy, according to a leaked official report from the European commission. Since last spring, European countries have been battling over what new climate change targets should be set to follow the existing ones for greenhouse gas emissions, renewable energy and energy efficiency, which run out in 2020. The UK, along with the Czech Republic, is strongly opposed to setting a new renewable energy goal for 2030, favouring an overall target for greenhouse gas emissions instead – which would entail an ambitious cut of 50% on 1990 levels. They want countries to be allowed the freedom to reach the target as they choose to, for example by relying heavily on nuclear power.
Guardian 2nd Jan 2013 read more »
Renewables – Wind
December 2013 was a record-breaking period for wind power in the UK, with more electricity generated from wind than in any other month. A slew of other records were shattered too, including the amount of electricity generated in a week and the percentage of electricity supplied by wind in a single month compared to other forms of power generation, which was higher than ever before.
Renewable UK 2nd Jan 2014 read more »
The wife of Ed Miliband, the Labour leader, is representing a wind farm company in a test case that could lead to hundreds of turbines being built close to historic houses and other heritage sites. Justine Thornton, a barrister specialising in environmental law, is advising Barnwell Manor Wind Energy, which wants to build four 400ft-high turbines on land in Northamptonshire belonging to the Duke of Gloucester, the Queen’s cousin. The case, due to be heard at the Court of Appeal on January 23, is being watched closely by the wind-power industry because it is expected to set a precedent on how much protection heritage sites have from the visual intrusion of turbines. The wind farm company is bringing the case against the National Trust, English Heritage and East Northamptonshire Council, which jointly won a landmark High Court ruling against the erection of the turbines in March last year.
Times 3rd Jan 2014 read more »
Renewables – Subsidies
The European Commission is to order Britain to end wind farm subsidies. Officials have told ministers that the current level of state support for renewable energy sources must be phased out by the end of the decade. Taxpayer support for solar energy must also be cut, the commission will say. The commission, which oversees the European single market, is preparing to argue that the onshore wind and solar power industries are “mature” and should be allowed to operate without support from taxpayers. Under the single market rules, European Union governments are forbidden from providing long-term “state aid” to domestic industries that can function without support. A Government s ource said European officials have privately warned ministers that they must reduce public support for onshore wind and solar generators.
Telegraph 2nd Jan 2014 read more »
With lifetimes of technologies typically in excess of 15-20 years, and our inability to forecast energy costs accurately more than a year or two in advance, we need to rethink how we communicate energy issues to the wider public. Instead of focusing on what is the current cheapest option (currently gas), we need to consider what energy system will deliver the energy services we require but with the resilience to cope with unknown future energy costs. We need to focus on the productive use of energy in households and businesses rather than the unit price of electricity or gas. This will allow us to reclaim “low carbon” to its proper meaning, which is to deliver the energy services we need as individuals, businesses or communities, far more productively, and with less dependence on fossil fuels. Low carbon does not mean high cost.
Scotsman 3rd Jan 2014 read more »