ED DAVEY, the energy secretary, will travel to Beijing this month to lay the groundwork for a sweeping new partnership that could lead to Chinese-designed nuclear reactors being built in Britain. The trip is the latest sign of the government’s desperation to find backers for its troubled £200bn low-carbon overhaul of the energy industry. Last week Michael Fallon, Davey’s No2, signed a memorandum of understanding to co-operate on civil power with Rosatom, the Russian state nuclear monopoly. Davey’s talks with China are aimed at striking a deeper relationship, which could be formalised in a memorandum by the end of the year. Among the priorities for Beijing would be assurances that its state-owned companies would be given access to new development sites, all of which have already been snapped up by other companies. It is also likely to seek Whitehall assistance to shepherd Chinese reactor technology through the arduous regulatory process. EDF is in negotiations with one of Beijing’s state giants, China General Nuclear Power Group, to invest at Hinkley. It is understood that the company is willing to take up to a 50% stake, but only if it is granted some operational control, as opposed to being a passive financial investor.
Sunday Times 8th Sept 2013 read more »
Concerned about a possible dividend cut, top shareholders of RWE are piling pressure on Germany’s No.2 utility to present a convincing strategy on how to position itself as the country experiences a renewable energy boom.Europe’s largest economy has seen its energy sector slide into crisis following its decision to abandon nuclear power by 2022, as a massive expansion of solar energy has dealt a heavy blow to traditional utilities, forcing them to close plants generating thousands of megawatts.This, as well as wholesale power prices plunging by about 15 percent since the start of the year, drove utilities’ shares to 10-year lows last month.
Reuters 6th Sept 2013 read more »
No modern company would organise itself around rigid departmental structures which have their roots in the 19th century. Take the main energy policy issues – energy security, climate change, energy costs and competitiveness and then the detailed questions which flow from that agenda – the negotiations on new nuclear, electricity regulation, the setting of standards for shale gas developments, the environmental issues around wind farms and so on. All of these topics cut across Whitehall. They all need multidisciplinary teams but not all of those teams need to be permanent. They certainly do not all sit in one department. Much of government consists of a series of projects which conclude once a policy question is resolved. The projects require a mixture of specialist and general skills but those skills can be applied in many different areas. The civil service should be organised around skills applied to projects, rather than around departments.
FT 6th Sept 2013 read more »
South Korea has banned all fish imports from a large area of Japan in response to growing concern over the possible environmental impact of recent leaks of highly toxic water at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. In Japan, the row over the plant operator’s handling of the leaks deepened on Friday when the head of the country’s nuclear watchdog issued a stern rebuke to Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) for causing unnecessary alarm overseas by releasing “scientifically unacceptable” information about radiation levels.
Guardian 6th Sept 2013 read more »
For most cricketers, a green pitch might conjure worries of a sticky wicket. But for one British Embassy team, the phrase may have taken on a different meaning as they played a match near the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. Shrugging off recent reports of soaring radiation levels at the earthquake-hit plant, a team from the British Embassy in Tokyo played a cricket match on Saturday on the edge of the exclusion zone.
Telegraph 7th Sept 2013 read more »
The nuclear safety watchdog has blocked the launch of the Royal Navy’s newest reactor-driven submarine because of a risk that a dockside could collapse. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has barred the launch of HMS Artful, the third of Britain’s Astute-class hunter-killer submarines, because of doubts about the structural integrity of the wet dock quay at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. The submarine’s manufacturer, BAE Systems, had previously planned for a launch this year but now says it will be early next year. It said the problem with the dock would not cause further delays.
Guardian 4th Sept 2013 read more »
Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP Jim Sheridan has signed a petition demanding recognition for the thousands of soldiers who were given the unenviable task of helping to develop the bombs back in the 1950s and 1960s. The Labour man wants Prime Minister David Cameron to thank veterans for their service and commit to providing £25million to establish a benevolent fund.
Paisley Daily Express 7th Sept 2013 read more »
Green New Deal
Campaigners have warned that Britain is hurtling towards a new economic crisis, and call for a £50bn “Green New Deal” to create more sustainable growth and better-paid jobs and equip the country for a low-carbon future. After two quarters of better-than-expected GDP growth and a batch of positive economic indicators – including rising house prices and upbeat business surveys – the coalition is hoping the summer economic bounce will turn into a longer-term recovery. But five years on from their first demands for a radical reworking of Britain’s business model, the Green New Deal group, which includes Green party MP Caroline Lucas, economist Ann Pettifor and tax expert Richard Murphy, says the need for an alternative approach is greater than ever. In a report published on Monday, and seen by the Observer, it argues that recent growth has been based on unsustainable rises in consumer spending and house prices and could end in “the mother of all credit busts”.
Observer 8th Sept 2013 read more »
David Cameron faces increasing isolation within his own government over fracking after it emerged the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is avoiding backing his claim that gas prices will fall as a result of shale gas development. Internal DECC memos – seen by the Ecologist – reveal unwillingness within the department to reinforce the Prime Minister’s appeal to energy consumers to tolerate fracking in return for the possibility of lower gas prices.
Ecologists 6th Sept 2013 read more »
ED DAVEY, the energy secretary, is to deliver a warning against “hype” that shale gas could revolutionise Britain’s energy supplies. In a speech tomorrow Davey will warn that the country is unlikely to see benefits from shale gas until the next decade, adding: “We can’t bank on shale gas to solve our energy challenges today or this decade.” The comments will set him at odds with supporters of shale gas, including George Osborne, the chancellor, who believe it has the potential to reduce electricity bills and ensure energy security.
Sunday Times 8th Sept 2013 read more »
Ministers were last night accused of misleading consumers by “fudging” evidence, and ignoring a “black and white” case for incentives. Michael Fallon, the energy minister, last week said he would “save bill-payers around £750m over 10 years” by ruling out gas storage subsidies, declaring that the UK has ample supply. Ministers cited independent analysis commissioned from consultancy Redpoint, saying this had “concluded that the costs of intervention would far outweigh any benefit to security of supply” and the “potential benefits to consumers”. Yet Redpoint’s cost-benefit analysis in fact estimates that subsidies would bring net benefits for consumers of almost £1bn over 10 years if gas demand is high, while the odds of homes and small businesses having gas supplies cut off would widen from one in 31 to one in 150.
Telegraph 7th Sept 2013 read more »