Investment may not flow into the UK energy sector for several years because so much uncertainty remains over new policies, a leading renewable energy investment boutique has warned. Ian Simm, chief executive of Impax Asset Management, which has almost £2bn of assets under management, said it would like to invest in UK wind farms – but the policy framework was currently too complex and unclear. “We are waiting to see what the landscape looks like,” he said.
Telegraph 6th Jan 2013 more »
An inspection of the Dounreay nuclear plant by the European Commission (EC) in 1993 sparked a furious row between Edinburgh and London, newly released official files reveal. The then Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Whitehall accused the Scottish Office of driving a “coach and horses” through a secret agreement limiting the scope of EC inspections. DTI officials were suspicious that EC inspectors were trying to extend their powers to examine radioactive discharges to the environment “by the backdoor”. They urged Scottish officials to take a much tougher line with the EC, and threaten to postpone the inspection. The EC’s demand to inspect discharge and monitoring equipment was “especially disquieting”, wrote a senior DTI official. “The conciliatory approach taken in your draft letter may be of questionable value,“he said. “We would prefer a much stronger reply.” This pressure was, however, resisted by the Scottish Office, and the inspection went ahead as planned on 10-14 May 1993. But when the EC’s draft report was later received by Scottish officials, the row flared up again. Photographs of some of the documents from the national archives can be downloaded here.
RobEdwards 6th Jan 2013 more »
British Gas is set to lose its boss as the energy provider’s parent, Centrica, prepares to announce the outcome of a strategic review. Centrica’s chief executive, Sam Laidlaw, also faces questions over the group’s involvement in the new nuclear power station planned for Hinkley Point in Somerset. It is a junior partner in the project with France’s EDF and a decision on whether to proceed with the £14bn project has already missed its year-end deadline. The decision is heavily dependent on how much financial support the government provides, through underwriting a minimum price for nuclear-powered energy.
Guardian 6th Jan 2013 more »
The change of command at British Gas comes as Centrica is close to a decision about whether to push ahead on investing alongside EDF of France in building nuclear power plants in the UK.
FT 6th Jan 2013 more »
The majority of towns and cities in Japan hosting nuclear plants have said they would agree to the reactors being restarted, as long as the government guarantees their safety, a survey has found. ¬Despite the cloud of controversy over Fukushima, 54 per cent of the 135 mayors in communities located near Japan’s 50 nuclear plants said they would accept reactor restarts, according to the poll for the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper. Only 18 per cent were against the restarts while 28 per cent chose not to clarify their position and two did not give valid answers. The results reflect the harsh economic reality in many of the rural communities which host nuclear plants, which are often major employers, the paper said.
RT 7th Jan 2013 more »
China has begun construction of a CNY3bn ($481m) nuclear power reactor last month, according to the project operator, Huaneng Shandong Shidao Bay Nuclear Power (HSSBNP). The 200MW capacity reactor, which is being built at Shidao Bay in Shandong Province, will start generating power by the end of 2017, reports Xinhua. The company said that it broke ground for the project in December and also poured a portion of the foundation.
Energy Business Review 7th Jan 2013 more »
The Chinese are running away with thorium energy, sharpening a global race for the prize of clean, cheap, and safe nuclear power. Princeling Jiang Mianheng, son of former leader Jiang Zemin, is spearheading a project for China’s National Academy of Sciences with a start-up budget of $350m. He has already recruited 140 PhD scientists, working full-time on thorium power at the Shanghai Institute of Nuclear and Applied Physics. He will have 750 staff by 2015. The aim is to break free of the archaic pressurized-water reactors fueled by uranium — originally designed for US submarines in the 1950s — opting instead for new generation of thorium reactors that produce far less toxic waste and cannot blow their top like Fukushima.
Telegraph 6th Jan 2013 more »
THE Ministry of Defence has said that Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons could not be removed from Scotland to England as they are not safe enough for Devonport.
Scotsman 6th Jan 2013 more »
Solar energy is on the rise in Germany, with a record 1.3 million photovoltaic systems in 2012. The increase comes as new consumer taxes on energy are to take effect in the country. The recent solar boom means the alternative form of energy now reaches 8 million homes in Germany, a 45 percent increase compared to 2011, the German Solar Industry Association (BSW) said.
Deutsche Welle 1st Jan 2013 more »
Upfront charges of up to £150 are likely to put householders off the government’s flagship plan to improve the energy efficiency of 14m homes, MPs and consumer groups have warned. Launching this month, the green deal allows householders to take out a loan with companies who undertake work such as upgrading old boilers and lagging lofts, with the repayments theoretically offset by energy savings. Writing in the Guardian last year, the climate minister Greg Barker said the scheme would improve “draughty homes at no upfront cost” and “become the most ambitious home improvement programme since the second world war”. But a Guardian survey of the 24 companies listed as domestic “assessors” for the scheme found that, of the 18 that were contactable, five will charge between £95 and £150 for an upfront assessment fee. Eleven were not able to answer the question, one (Mark Group) plans to offer the assessment for free and one company had been mistakenly listed as a provider on the government’s website.
Guardian 6th Jan 2013 more »
Soaring energy bills are forcing one in four mothers to turn off their heating in the depths of winter in order to afford food for their children. Fuel poverty is resulting in thousands of families resorting to wearing extra clothes and using blankets in their homes. More than half of families turn off the heating in their houses when the children are out, while 45 per cent of adults keep warm using blankets or duvets during the day, according to a survey.
Daily Mail 6th Jan 2013 more »
Independent 6th Jan 2013 more »
Glaciologists fear they may have seriously underestimated the potential for melting ice sheets to contribute to catastrophic sea-level rises in coming decades which could see increases of a metre or more by 2100.
Independent 7th Jan 2013 more »