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Posts Tagged ‘nuclear’

Sometimes a tweet just won’t do. Yesterday I tweeted this:

DECC cnsltn out on gas gen. Um, 25% of UK elec gen lost by 2020. 20 yrs to new nuclear. No coherent RE strat. #DoneDeal #Fracking #3Degrees

…but somehow it doesn’t immediately convey the whole point. So here’s an expanded version:

DECC has today published its call for evidence  to “to inform a gas generation strategy to deliver a secure and affordable route to a low carbon economy.”
It’s lovely of them to ask. But consider the backdrop to this consultation:

  • Between a quarter and a third of current UK electricity generation capacity will come offline by the end of the decade. (It’s worth reading that sentence again – the implications are massive.)
  • New nuclear will not fill the gap. It will take at least 8 years to build each new nuclear power station and the stable of new UK nukes is struggling get out of the gates – that 8 year clock hasn’t even started ticking. In a massive setback to new nuclear, last month RWE and Npower abandoned plans for two new power stations in the wake of the collapse of the German nuclear market.
  • Without a radical change in policy, Renewables and energy storage will not grow at a sufficient rate to fill the gap.

So what does that leave us?

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A Poyry report out today finds that by installing new CHP at just nine industrial sites around the country we could meet the electricity demand of 2/3 of the UK households and reduce gas imports by half. CHP is cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient than nuclear with no toxic legacy. It’s also much much faster to deploy. So shall we?

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Listening to Radio 4 on my phone on the way home I heard the evening news: Gordon Brown, keen to show he’s doing all he can to ease the fuel crisis, has taken two decisive actions.

First he’s met with North Sea oil producers to urge them to pump more petroleum from their fields, which have been in decline since 1999. He apparently managed to persuade these producers to up their output by promising them a tax break (i.e. subsidy), which will make costly enhanced recovery techniques economically viable.

The total additional output is expected to amount to about 50 million barrels, enough to keep the world running for about 13 hours. Given that petroleum is a fungible globally traded commodity (there’s no such thing as local prices as the oil price is entirely determined by global factors), this tiny drop in the bucket won’t do anything to lower the price of fuel here in the UK or anywhere else. And you’ve got to think that if $130 a barrel wasn’t enough to stimulate recovery, maybe that subsidy would be better spent elsewhere. After all, given the record profits posted by oil companies this year, I think we could find one or two other technologies more deserving of a break.

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