Lord Deben: Politicians have finally grasped the reality of climate change. Lord Deben’s former constituency in Suffolk covers EDF’s nuclear plant at Sizewell, which the French company wants to replace. While insisting that he is not opposed to nuclear, which remains a “necessary part of the mix”, he is sceptical about the government’s proposals for applying the regulated asset base mechanism to help finance new projects. “We have to have the same scepticism about costs because in the end the public are going to have to pay for this. “EDF are still quoting figures that are frankly not competitive in today’s world and also figures that one isn’t sure will be met. Like HS2, there’s no harm in having a very close look at the figures, there may be other ways of doing this.” And he says nuclear is a “transitional” power source. “By the time you get to the need for the next nuclear power stations, there will be alternative ways of doing this. If we get better at balancing the grid and the amount of baseload energy, the need becomes smaller. Nuclear isn’t the best way of getting that base energy because you can’t turn it on and off: you have to use it all the time. If you are really concerned about what happens when the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow, you install in people’s homes hybrid boilers that can run on electricity or gas.” These hybrid boilers, which were championed in the CCC’s report on heating at the end of last year, would run off electricity, apart from during periods of peak demand. “Whereas somebody would have required a boiler 100 per cent of the time, they would use it 3 per cent of the time but that 3 per cent would be when the nation needs it. You can have back-up with a million boilers rather than build two new nuclear power stations.”
Utility Week 23rd Sept 2019 read more »
Change is happening and for once the UK has a good story to tell even if, bafflingly, the government is inclined to keep quiet about it. UK emissions have fallen by 40 per cent since 1990, even when increased emissions from aviation and shipping are included. In that period the UK economy has grown by 75 per cent. It is possible to pursue policies that are green and growth-orientated. Becoming wealthier is not an obstacle to green policy; it is a requirement for it. Partly because few people are enthusiastic about national impoverishment but also because, in the absence of widespread enthusiasm for a hair-shirt existence, the problems of climate change cannot be solved without capitalism. Nuclear power remains an insurance policy — albeit an expensive one — against windless days. Even so, the development of battery storage will further reduce our reliance on it. The system, then, has worked: generous subsidies, paid for by government and consumers, have created space and incentives for the industry to grow. Now it has, innovation and capitalism takes over. Governments must lead, and next year’s climate conference in Glasgow is an opportunity for the UK to boost its credentials. But its efforts rely upon capitalism which is, ultimately, about the ever more efficient and innovative use of resources. We are not yet there and we may yet fail in this challenge. But we can also say that we have made a start. Some things are actually getting better and, at least in Britain, this is one of them.
Times 24th Sept 2019 read more »
As many as 37 new majority state-owned offshore wind farms could be built around UK shores under a Labour government, Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey is set to announce, as she unveils the Party’s latest plans to turbocharge investment in clean power over the next decade. Labour said it wants to build 52GW of new offshore wind capacity by 2030 – up from current goals to deliver 30GW by the same date – and intends to take a 51 per cent publicly-owned stake in each new wind farm, with profits reinvested in decarbonising the UK energy system and rejuvenating coastal communities. Offshore wind prices plummeted around 30 per cent during last week’s latest clean energy auction, which saw the government contract 6GW of new capacity from 2025 at prices as low as £39.65 per MWh, surpassing many industry expectations and coming in below the wholesale cost of electricity. The government said it wants offshore wind to provide a third of UK electricity by 2030, eyeing around 30GW of capacity online by the end of the next decade. But Labour argued deployment of offshore wind was still too slow, and that private ownership of offshore wind farms by foreign-owned firms was taking jobs and revenue out of the UK economy. As such the opposition is to unveil a new ‘People’s Power Plan’, which details proposals to deliver 37 new offshore wind farms by 2030, capable of providing enough power for 57 million UK households, the equivalent to 38 new coal power stations.
Business Green 23rd Sept 2019 read more »
Guardian 24th Sept 2019 read more »
Labour is pledging to invest billion of pounds in electric car production and offshore wind generation to accelerate the “green industrial revolution”. A future Labour government would take equity stakes in car producers in return for a £3bn capital investment in new electric models and machinery. Thirty-seven publicly-owned wind farms will be built, with the profits used to regenerate deprived coastal areas. Delegates will also debate the pace of decarbonisation at the conference. Earlier this year, Parliament approved a law requiring the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, a stricter target compared with the previous one of at least an 80% reduction from 1990 levels. But the Momentum campaign group is leading calls for Labour to adopt an even more ambitious timetable, with the aim of reaching zero net emissions by 2030. Some unions are concerned this is too ambitions and want guarantees that it will not lead to massive job losses in the automotive, energy and industrial sectors.
BBC 23rd Sept 2019 read more »
Labour activists are pushing for some very ambitious measures to become official party policy. They include shutting down North Sea oil and gas production, mass retro-fitting of homes with energy-efficient insulation and new boilers and creating a giant fund to buy and scrap the millions of gas-guzzlers on the roads today. The cost? About £500 billion, or 25 per cent of GDP, according to Grace Blakeley, a member of the Labour policy forum and a rising economics star in the Corbyn firmament. The gilt market would blow a gasket at the very thought of extra borrowing of £500 billion, equivalent to £26,000 per household, of course. It would push the UK’s debt-to-GDP ratio from the present 82 per cent to more than 105 per cent and would send the cost of government borrowing soaring. It’s impossible to imagine it being done without a rise in the overall level of taxation. One has to worry, too, about the level of waste and the effectiveness of some of these dirigiste measures. Botched and rushed public interventions can be horribly expensive and of questionable value, as we are seeing with the smart meters campaign, which ministers have just admitted will take four years longer than expected and will cost £13.5 billion, £2 billion over-budget. Taxes are powerful. They are hard to cheat. And they immediately start changing behaviour in the way that targets, fine rhetoric and, yes, even UN climate action summits just don’t. The tax on fizzy drinks has cut sugar consumption ten times more rapidly than the voluntary schemes applied to manufacturers of other sweet products such as biscuits and cakes, according to Public Health England. The notion of fuel at £3 a litre will have petrolheads fuming. But it might be a lot more effective, quicker, liberal and certainly less onerous than the £26,000 per household bill envisaged by Labour’s modern-day New Dealers.
Times 24th Sept 2019 read more »