The government is looking at ways it can cut household energy bills as energy companies continue to hike prices. One option is to move the cost of some government policies off energy bills and onto tax bills. The plan would allow the government to show it cares about the politically salient ‘cost of living crisis’ through a potentially headline-making energy policy. The plan could cut energy bills in the short term, and could help lower income households. But if it means rolling back energy efficiency measures which cut costs in the long run, it isn’t guaranteed to save people money. It raises the prospect of a funding cut for energy saving schemes. If that were to happen, the government’s plan could spell an uncertain future for energy efficiency schemes.
Carbon Brief 4th Nov 2013 read more »
David Cameron has threatened Government intervention on energy transmission costs as a third line of attack on rising energy bills. The Prime Minister told the CBI conference that there “may be some changes” the Government can make to reduce the charges consumers pay for energy distribution. Mr Cameron repeated the problem that, of the four elements that make up energy bills, just two – green taxes and company profitability – are the ones most open to change. He said the Government “needs to look at” both of these areas. He said ministers had to “make sure the green charges, levies and taxes are appropriate and in my view they’ve got too high and we’ve got to roll back the cost of them.” He said “we’re not in control” of the price of energy in the wholesale markets. But he added: “There’s the cost of distributing that energy to people’s homes, the national grid and all the rest of it – there may be some changes we can make there.”
Telegraph 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Gas and electricity price increases have dominated the news for weeks – but what of the 1.5 million households reliant on oil for their heating? Many have seen their costs double in the past five years, far more of a rise than gas and electricity customers have suffered. But growing numbers of people who rely on oil to heat their homes are clubbing together in a bid to bring down their fuel bills by bulk-buying. And it can make a substantial difference.
Telegraph 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Sam Laidlaw, the chief executive of Centrica, has pledged to give up his bonus in the wake of the row over fuel bills. The boss of Britain’s energy supplier, which owns British Gas, told the CBI conference he had “already decided” to withdraw from consideration for a bonus by the remuneration committee as he admitted that trust in his sector had reached an “all time low”.
Telegraph 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Times 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Nuclear vs Climate
Nuclear power is back in the climate headlines. Over the weekend, influential climate scientist James Hansen was joined by three others in posting a public letter in which they jointly urge environmental organizations to stop opposing nuclear power. In the letter they say that more nuclear energy is urgently needed and essential in the fight against global warming -because, in their opinion, wind and solar “cannot scale up fast enough to deliver cheap and reliable power at the scale the global economy requires.” Mark Jacobson however, finds that perspective to be “without foundation or factual support.” Research by Mark Jacobson paints a completely opposite picture and says that wind, water, and solar can replace fossil fuels quickly, without nuclear. In email correspondence earlier today, he said that nuclear power actually takes “10-19 years to plan, permit, and install, compared with 2-5 years for a solar or wind farm.” Regarding next generation nuclear power, Jacobson said that it “does not even exist, except in theory and in the lab, and there is no guarantee it will ever exist at the commercial scale.”
Fairfax Climate Watch 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Four eminent climate and energy scientists have issued a plea for world leaders to support the development and deployment of nuclear energy in an open letter that has achieved global coverage in news media.
World Nuclear News 4th Nov 2013 read more »
The Register 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Dr Daniel Kammen is co-director of the Berkeley Institute of the Environment at the University of California. He told the Climate News Network: “Nuclear power is certainly low-carbon in the use phase, but the problems with the nuclear fuel cycle, as managed today, are of: cost and extreme accidents. “Today, nuclear power plants can cost as much as $10 billion for a 1500 MW plant and take a decade to construct. Neither needs to be the case, but at present both are part of the data of plants that are and have been built. “The call by Hansen et al is for safe and economic nuclear power. If those conditions can be reliably met, it indeed makes a great deal of sense. So far, however, new plants do not meet these thresholds consistently.
RTCC 4th Nov 2013 read more »
In October 2013 Areva’s MELOX fuel fabrication facility began production of MOX fuel for the Borssele power plant in the Netherlands. The plant is operated by the Dutch utility EPZ. According to Areva, its La Hague plant reprocessed about 375 tonnes of spent fuel that belongs to EPZ.
IPFM 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Energy Business Review 5th Nov 2013 read more »
Written evidence submitted by CORE [Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment] to the Public Accounts Committee was raised in the Committee hearing today on the activities of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) at Sellafield. Submitted last month, CORE’s evidence related to Sellafield’s commercial operations, the inability of the facilities to meet annual performance targets, and the chronic failure year on year by the NDA and site licence company Sellafield Ltd –despite the expertise available – to set realistic targets for the facilities.CORE’s evidence, relating specifically to the performance of the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP) the Magnox Reprocessing Plant and the Waste Vitrification Plant, showed that since 2000/01, 72% of the targets set for the three facilities had been missed and that, since 2005/06 when the NDA took ownership of the facilities, that failure rate had spiralled to 92%.
CORE 4th Nov 2013 read more »
The Government has the answer – nuclear-power stations. The ones proposed for Hinkley C and Oldbury will be built by EDF which is a French nationalised company already building Westinghouse nuclear plants in Finland and two other countries. All of these plants are way over budget, behind schedule, and fraught with constructional problems. To add to those problems, it will be aided and abetted by China.
Bristol Post 5th Nov 2013 read more »
Nuclear construction costs are now so large that they are beyond the financial capability of one of Europe’s largest utility company. Future projects in the UK or many countries will most likely require large international engagement at the level of the constructor, utility or financing. Furthermore, the multinational engagement of these projects requires financial and political support from a number of governments. Despite the announcement significant hurdles remain, such as securing EU approval. Earlier this month the European Commission said that it had ruled out revising the state aid rules of energy and environment to include nuclear power. While this is not a final decision, and a consultation process will be launched shortly, this is a reversal of its previous position, which would have put nuclear power on the same legal footing as renewables and thus except it from state aid review. If the commission’s new position remains, it will mean a lengthy assessment of up to 18 months. If the proposed deal is rejected it will fall foul of EU competition law which is why EDF has stated that this needs to be clarified before the final investment decision can be taken. Nuclear contribution to global electricity has fallen from 17% in the 1990s to 10% today, as a result of declining nuclear production and rising demand. Under current trends, its contribution will continue to diminish as investment flows into fossil fuels and renewable energy projects, where in the latter sector prices continue to fall – in the case of solar PV by 80% in the last three years. Supporters of the industry had hoped that the UK project would signal a revival in the fortunes of nuclear power. However, the Hinkley project has highlighted the costs of nuclear new-build and the extent to which multiple government support and guarantees are required, conditions that may be difficult to replicate in other parts of the world.
Chatham House 21st Oct 2013 read more »
BBC 21st Oct 2013 read more »
There have been a few media stories placed by those interested in selling the plan to bury the UK’s nuclear waste in Cumbria, which have suggested that the scheme would create a vast number of jobs and bring economic wealth to West Cumbria. Cumbria Trust has analysed the plans and compared them with international experience of building a repository to identify the types and likely number of jobs that would be created. The long term employment from the repository is likely to be in the region of 200 workers by comparison with equivalent operations abroad, i.e. those who are not trying to sell the scheme to Cumbrians. This is similar to a large supermarket.
Cumbria Trust 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Annual Energy Statement.
DECC 31st Oct 2013 read more »
FTSE 100-listed engineering firm Amec yesterday said it has bought a US nuclear services company for $29m (£18.2m). Automated Engineering Services Corporation (AES) is a professional design engineering nuclear services firm based in Illinois, with 175 staff and posts annual revenues in excess of $30m.“Consistent with Amec’s strategy, this acquisition builds on our nuclear position in the US, allows us to better serve our clients and provides a solid platform from which to achieve further growth,” said Tim Gelbar, president of Amec’s power & process business in the Americas. “It is an important addition to our strong positions in the nuclear markets in Canada and Europe.”
City AM 5th Nov 2013 read more »
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party has thrashed out plans to deal with the consequences of the Fukushima nuclear disaster and take care of affected areas, but many questions remain unanswered. The most important feature of the LDP proposal calls for using money in state coffers to finance future decontamination work and the construction of interim storage facilities for contaminated soil and other radioactive materials. The Abe administration is set to take responsibility for meeting this formidable challenge. In our editorials, we have consistently pointed out that Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, cannot be expected to fully bear the costs of cleaning up the mess. Public funds will have to be used. But the government’s financial commitment is not sufficient to ensure that the work to decommission the reactors at the plant will go smoothly. We cannot be optimistic, especially considering how the government has been responding to the leaks of contaminated water at the plant on an ad hoc basis. The government should unveil, as soon as possible, a clear and convincing road map toward phasing out nuclear power generation, showing details about systems and procedures for decommissioning all nuclear reactors in Japan. This is vital for making sure that taxpayer money will not be used simply for bailing out TEPCO.
Asahi Shimbun 2nd Nov 2013 read more »
Latest NIS newsletter includes: Environment Agency warns Atomic Weapons Establishment following radioactive effluent investigation; Enforcement action follows power loss at Devonport submarine base; Local councils block proposal to cut AWE Aldermaston emergency planning zone; Cabinet Office investigates Serco government contracts; FOI release sheds new light on nuclear missile submarine collision; Video interview with ‘Command and Control’ author Eric Schlosser
Nuclear Information Service Newsletter Oct 2013 read more »
Alex Salmond’s vision of Scotland as the “Saudi Arabia of renewables” is under threat from new UK legislation to stop the SNP from granting multimillion-pound green energy subsidies, supporters and critics claimed yesterday. A late amendment to the UK Energy Bill proposed by Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, strips the Scottish government of its powers to set financial support for renewable technology across Scotland. The last-minute change, which was debated in the House of Lords yesterday as the Bill passed through Parliament, was made amid growing pressure on ministers to reduce rising fuel prices which the “Big Six” power companies have blamed on green levies. Industry leaders and anti-wind farm campaigners were, unusually, united, if only in their belief that the proposal puts the SNP’s flagship green energy policy at risk. Scottish Renewables, which represent s the sector, warned that without a clear commitment from the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to provide similar support to that currently given by the SNP, the industry would fail.
Times 5th Nov 2013 read more »
Co-operative Energy kindly invited me to speak about policy issues at its Community Energy Conference on 19 October. The main areas I focused on were grid connection, including a summary of Cornwall Energy’s recent paper Overcoming Grid Connection Issues for Community Energy Projects, routes to market for power generated by community schemes and why there is a need optionality of support mechanisms after 2017. The report was commissioned by the Co-operative Group and identifies a number of barriers in the connection process, including high connection costs and grid reinforcement charges.
Co-operative Energy 30th Oct 2013 read more »
Two British entrepreneurs have been awarded a share of over £5million to spur on innovation in energy storage, Energy and Climate Change Minister Baroness Verma announced today. Contracts have been awarded to REDT UK Ltd and Moixa Technology Ltd, as part of the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s innovation competition to support energy storage research and demonstration. REDT UK Ltd has developed a technology to store electricity from wind turbines, and Moixa Energy Ltd has developed small battery-based storage units which could be installed directly into people’s homes to store power and re-use it at times of peak demand.
DECC 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Energy companies will be forced to wind down coal-fired power stations more rapidly after a rare pincer movement in the House of Lords by the Liberal Democrats and Labour. Peers voted by 237 to 193 in favour of a joint amendment to the energy bill compelling old coal-power stations to cut their greenhouse gas emissions. The defeat came despite Baroness Verma, energy minister, warning it could undermine energy security and increase fuel prices. But Baroness Worthington, shadow energy minister, said the country risked missing decarbonisation targets if there was not a “tool in our armoury” to tackle the emissions produced by old coal-fired power stations. The vote could still be reversed when the bill returns to the House of Commons in the coming weeks. If it remains in the legislation it will add to the pressure o n the government which is already struggling to get enough new energy infrastructure built ahead of an expected capacity crunch in the next decade.
FT 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Guardian 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Scientists involved in carbon capture and storage (CCS) are said to be “angry and depressed” at the UK government’s slow progress on the issue. A UK-wide £1bn competition to design and build commercial CCS systems has been beset with problems and delays. A leading Scottish expert in the field, Prof Stuart Haszeldine, has claimed urgent progress is needed as part of the fight against global warming. The UK government said it remains committed to CCS. It is understood a decision on the next stage of the competition is likely to be made at the turn of the year.
BBC 4th Nov 2013 read more »
Herald 5th Nov 2013 read more »