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So why aren’t cheap renewables doing more to reduce electricity prices? – Blairite ideology is to blame!

Despite the fact that an increasing proportion of electricity is being generated from cheap renewable energy, electricity bills are still surging upwards to follow the huge increase in natural gas prices. In fact some wind and solar schemes are in fact saving consumers quite a lot of money. But the reason that renewable generation is not saving a hell of lot more for consumers is that the large majority of currently operating wind power has been funded under the inefficient ‘Renewables Obligation’ (RO). This is a so-called market-based mechanism established under New Labour. To give New Labour its due, it was very good at setting the UK on course for the volume of renewable generation we have today, but its so-called market-based energy policy has not aged well.

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French electricity consumers face brownouts and even power cuts after nuclear power plant shutdowns

French electricity consumers face curbs on their electricity supplies following shutdowns at four of EDF’s nuclear power plant. France is highly reliant on its nuclear power plants, obtaining around 70 per cent of its electricity from nuclear on an annual basis. This, along with other various examples of nuclear unreliability, must seriously question the British Government’s determination to plough on with its programme of new nuclear power plant.

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Heat Pump installer calls for ‘exceptionally expensive’ and unnecessary heat pump bureaucracy to be dropped

A major barrier facing the development of a viable heat pumps industry in the UK is the very bureaucracy that the Government has been using to (allegedly) promote it. Despite being safer and certainly a lot more ecologically friendly, heat pump installations are loaded with at least three times the regulatory controls as the gas boiler industry. I asked heat pump installer Brendan Uys from the company Heacol about what steps could be taken to increase the number of MCS accredited heat pump installation personnel. He responded by saying:

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Government (maybe) boosts solar pv but sidelines heat pumps in new homes and building guidelines

The Government has finally published what it calls its ‘Future Homes and Buildings Standard’ that will regulate new homes from June 2022. Amongst a lot of fog generated about lofty future ambitions the reality is that the new building standards are not be strong enough to do more than get 2-3 kW of solar panels installed on  an average new home. That’s all you need to achieve the target reduction in emissions that the Government has set. The rest is pushed into a might-be land of 2025 (safely after the next General Election?). That is easily a long enough delay for the gas industry and laggards in the building industry to postpone radical emissions reductions again.

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The ways that green energy technology is held back by negative prejudice that you don’t even notice

One thing that annoys me greatly when people talk about green energy technologies is the way that they are sidelined by holding them up to absurd standards to which ‘conventional’ patterns of consumer spending are simply not judged. This is something that afflict heat pumps, electric cars and solar panels. How and why does this happen?

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New offshore wind turbine giants expected to last for 35 years – and be subsidy negative

There’s been a lot of surprise at the extent to which prices to be paid to offshore windfarm developers have fallen over the past 4-5 years but one factor is, as reported in the Energy Flux newsletter , simply that the latest offshore wind turbines are expected to last for maybe 35 years. That is around twice as long as the earlier wind turbines were expected to last.

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Energy consumers are likely to spend over £1000 each to complete Sizewell C …..and then pay a high price for the electricity it produces

The Government’s new nuclear power construction financing mechanism, the so-called ‘Regulatory Asset Base’ (RAB), is likely to cost energy consumers an average of well over £1000 each added onto their electricity bills. On top of that energy consumers will have carry on paying on top of this for an as-yet-undecided amount for each kWh generated by Sizewell C.

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Yes, we are likely to head towards a globalised electricity system

One of the key discussions at the COP26 summit in Glasgow has been the practicalities of building a cross-continental electricity interconnector system,  and this may be rather more practical than some of the commentators have implied. It could, indeed, eventually turn into a global energy system where solar pv as well as wind power and other renewables, could supply power 24/7 with a much-reduced need for storage for systems dominated by renewable energy.

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The Government has cut funding support for heat pumps and pumped money into the gas industry instead

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, should be roundly condemned for his statement that ‘the technology (heat pumps) is not quite there yet‘.  Well, there’s plenty of examples of heat pumps working in this country! The point is that Government policy is practically nowhere to be seen! The big factor in the way of further technological development is the Government’s own policies which have seen big cutbacks in the amount of money available for people to install heat pumps.

Under the RHI people were able to claim funding support of between around £6000 and £11000 over 7 years, depending on the size of their homes, for an air source heat pump. But now, under the new clean heat grant scheme starting in April 2022, people will only be able to claim a one-off payment of £500o. Moreover support is limited to just 30,000 applicants a year, little more than the current annual uptake.

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US military blazes trail for 100 per cent renewable energy economy with carbon neutral synthetic fuel

Carbon neutral synthetic fuel whose production is powered by renewable energy is a practical way of long-term storage of renewable energy. But it is no surprise that the big energy corporations with their fossil fuel and nuclear power interests don’t advise Governments to support this – but when it can help the US military, well, it’s just chocks away chaps! The irony is that this system was researched in the UK only a few years ago at a pilot stage, and then……you’ve guessed it…….completely ignored by the UK Government in favour of kooky ideas like small nuclear reactors and blue hydrogen – not to mention large nuclear power plant that take forever to be built incredible cost!

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Why the gas crisis has not been caused by the climate transition

Now that we’ve had a gas price spike the ever-behind-the-curve mouthpieces of the average suited conservative like the Economist magazine are blaming the politics of climate transition for the problem. But their story is exposed as nonsense by the exposition of some rather simple facts.

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Government cuts incentives for heat pumps and gives oil and gas industry money for nothing

The much-trumpeted ‘new’ £5000 grant for installation of domestic heat pumps is in fact a cut in the incentives available for heat pumps compared to the existing heat pump support scheme. This is the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) under which heat pumps are currently funded. Under the RHI homeowners who install heat pumps receive £1000 each year for seven years – £7000 in all. True, a lot of people will prefer getting the £5000 upfront (especially if they are relatively short of money), but the notion, apparent in today’s media that this is some new, expanded low carbon funding programme is simply not the case. It is a cut in support!

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Renewable overcapacity or increasing interconnectors will dramatically reduce storage needs in a 100% renewable energy UK say UCL academics

As part of a study of how a 100 per cent renewable energy system in the UK could work academics from UCL have found that EITHER doubling the amount of increasing international electricity interconnectors OR having one third overcapacity of renewable energy generating capacity will reduce the need for storage to support a 100 per cent renewable energy system for the UK by up to half. In a paper just published in the leading Applied Energy  journal they say: ”we find that, compared to the reference scenario, increasing renewable capacity by 33%, or interconnections by 200%, can lower system storage capacity by up to 50%”. They also found that delivering heating through heat pumps is half the cost of delivering the same heating using green hydrogen.

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How the Government’s drunken nuclear binge will threaten renewables

Drunk on the latest fossil fuel energy crisis, the UK Government has handed the British public a giant nuclear hangover that will leave the country scrabbling for renewable energy solutions.

Boris Johnson has promised 40 GW of offshore wind by the end of the decade, which, when added to other renewable energy sources, will generate over three-quarters of current levels of UK electricity consumption. But this growth could be threatened by the nuked-up knee jerk reaction to the current natural gas price crisis that will plunge the energy budget into a massive deficit and leave the electricity system dangerously unbalanced. After fossil fuel prices subside back towards their more usual levels, this will constitute a giant hangover.

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Gas Crisis – The only thing wrong with renewables is that we’ve not built nearly enough of them!

Amidst a global shortfall of gas supplies in relation to demand (and a global increase in gas prices) the anti-renewables lobbies are busy blaming a lack of wind and solar (wot solar too?) for the soaring energy prices. It’s nonsense of course to pin the blame on renewables for a combination of a global oil and gas crisis and the UK’s unique market vulnerability to natural gas supply squeezes on renewables, but that’s precisely what is happening. The truth is we’d be much more secure and greener with a much higher proportion of energy coming from renewables backed up with a revived storage network that successive UK Governments have allowed to run down.

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