Is the Government putting up the cost of offshore wind to pay for Sizewell C?

The cost of offshore wind is being jacked up by Government-mandated ‘auction fees’ just as the Government negotiates with EDF about giving it massive handouts to fund Sizewell C.

The Government has announced the award of leases to build 8 GW of offshore windfarms, but in doing so the Crown Estates (mainly the Government) will earn around £900 million a year from the fees that developers will pay the Government for the leases. This sum is broadly comparable with the annual sums are likely to pay out to EDF for developing Sizewell C.

The Government’s latest leasing round for offshore wind sites has been panned by the trade association RenewableUK  who said ‘too few sites were made available to meet……demand. Any auction run on that basis will inevitably lead to higher fees like this could ultimately mean higher costs for developers and consumers’.

In fact three-quarters of the fees that developers will pay will go into Treasury funds (one quarter to the Crown); these funds will not offset the increase in prices for wind electricity that developers will charge when, in a few years time, they bid for contracts to supply electricity from the sites that have been leased. Indeed the costs of the auction fees will put up the capital costs of the offshore windfarms by at least 13 per cent (using RenewableUK figures).

Meanwhile the Government seems likely to agree a deal with EDF to fund Sizewell C whereby consumers will pay twice, through their electricity bills – once to fund the construction costs of the projects, and then, after it is built, to pay premium prices for the electricity is generated. The connection between the auction fees for offshore wind is twofold. First it will increase the price of the offshore windfarm supply contracts relative to the (heavily subsidised) contract for Sizewell C. Second, BEIS may, in accountancy terms, be able to offset the receipts from offshore windfarm leases against the increased public sector borrowing requirement caused by the subsidies given to EDF for the construction of Sizewell C. BEIS has been lobbying the Treasury to allow it to make consumers pay for the construction of Sizewell C well before any generation from the plant begins, but the Treasury says that this will increase Government debt levels.

Using a series of very dubious conjuring tricks the Government will claim that new nuclear power is much less expensive compared to offshore wind than would otherwise be the case. This is despite the massive subsidies given to Sizewell C and the fact that offshore wind, is in accountancy terms, effectively paying for much of the nuclear subsidies!

An especially pernicious aspect of the Government’s policy is the meagre nature of the leasing round. 8GW of offshore wind will generate around 12 per cent of current UK electricity ( a lot more than Sizewell C of course), but this is a lot less than the value of the last leasing round for offshore wind. The last offshore leasing round was concluded in early 2010 (during the lifetime of the last Labour Government) and constituted some 32 GW of capacity.

The Government is is, in effect, slowing the decarbonisation process so that it can make money out of offshore wind power, and on top of that it will have the mendacity to claim that the gap with nuclear costs is falling.

On top of all of this Sizewell C is most likely to be given a much superior generation contract compared to offshore wind. Despite the fact that nuclear electricity is much more expensive than offshore wind it will be allowed to carry on generating and push the windfarms off the grid.

Altogether the Government’s focus on funding Sizewell C at practically all costs is not only diverting investment funds away from much cheaper renewable energy but it is also associated with what looks (to me) like a deliberate policy of limiting the issue of leases to offshore wind developers in order to generate funds that can be recycled to support nuclear power.

by David Toke

 

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Why nuclear power is a bad way to balance renewable energy

See the YOUTUBE video:

David Toke, Ian Fairlie and Herbert Eppel from 100percentrenewableuk discuss how nuclear power effectively switches off wind and solar power and how a 100percent renewable energy system is much better for the UK than one involving nuclear power

The Government, backed by a lot of public policy reports paid for by pro-nuclear interests, constantly pushes out the view that nuclear power is ‘essential’ to balancing wind and solar power. But what they never mention is the massive waste of renewables that occurs in such a scenario. Under the scenarios planned by the Government nuclear power is paid very high prices to generate power even when there is excess electricity, which pushes renewables to close down. The Government also refuses to undertake serious investigations of how a system that uses excess renewables to create short and long term storage is a much better way of organising our energy needs rather than wasting more money on building nuclear power statitons.

Look at our video which, drawing upon research on the role of nuclear and renewables, discusses these issues.

If you agree the aims of 100percentrenewableuk please join the discussion via our email group.

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Community Solar hits the big time!

Brighton Energy Cooperative is surging ahead to make community energy into big business as it plans big solar power developments. It may herald a wider move of community energy companies into organising projects with local businesses.

Brighton Energy Cooperative (BEC) has already organised 62 different solar pv arrays in a variety of different businesses, schools and churches, but its latest project is to organise a big project at Shoreham Port.

Brighton Energy Cooperative (BEC) has been going for ten years and its three paid members of staff have developed an effective knack of persuading local businesses to source cheap, green electricity by installing solar pv on its roofs. Matt Brown, one of the three full-time BEC workers explained:

‘’We get some enquries through the website and we also look at rooftops on google earth and follow up good prospects. It’s hard work – it’s a sales job – we have to do a lot of talking to different people and we end up with a 10 per cent success rate interms of converting our initial enquiries into actual projects.People are suspicious of somebody offering something for nothing! We aim for companies with a high onsite power demand such as warehouses, refrigeration companies and manufacturers or processors’. BEC have also set up 10 school rooftop projects as part of the Brighton and Hove Solar for Schools project.

But now BEC is planning some much bigger projects, and the first in the queue is likely to be a 15MW array at Shoreham Port, with whom BEC has worked previously. The port already has various renewable energy projects, but the latest project will include wind, solar and hydrogen developments. BEC is also planning projects with SMEs without the support of feed-in tariffs. Hitherto all of BEC’s 62 projects have been funded through the solar feed-in-tariff (FIT), but with just four of these left in the pipeline, BEC is looking to start projects on a subsidy-free basis – that is apart from some megaprojects like Shoreham where there will be other partners from the energy sector.

Matt Brown adds: ‘BEC raises equity funds from its 700 members to fund the solar arrays which are owned by BEC. We then sell power to the site hosts. We’re offering to sell them power at 10-11 p/kWh now that the FIT has ended. It means that we won’t be able to raise so much for community purposes. So far we are heading towards raising around £1million for community purposes on the basis of the FIT schemes. But even without the FIT local businesses will still be able to access green energy and lower their electricity bills at the same time’. So far BEC has raised around £3.5 million from the members of the cooperative to pay for the projects to be installed. BEC sub-contracts with solar pv installers to implement the projects.

There are other community energy companies in Brighton, let alone the hundreds throughout the rest of the country. But recently a national initiative, the Big Solar Coop, has been launched which hopes to help local community energy projects by infusing expertise of various types to help local projects get going. They are offering training sessions to people so that they can go out and find sites in their area and work with Big Solar Coop to develop them.

by David Toke

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Cover-up! how consumers will be forced to pay for cost-overruns for Sizewell C construction

In a historic change of policy the Conservatives have  announced that consumers, not EDF, will pay for cost overruns in building Sizewell C. The crucial phrase in the Government’s document on the so-called ‘Regulated Asset Base’ (RAB) model is ‘Cost overruns that were not excluded from the RAB would be shared between investors and consumers through suppliers’ (para 47 page 14). Note: ‘consumers’ means electricity consumers who will have to pay twice for Sizewell C; extra on their bills long before any power is generated and for many years after generation begins. The inclusion of cost overruns on consumers’ bills means that their bills will rocket upwards even before they receive even a single kWh in supply from Sizewell C .

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How regulations designed to suit the gas industry are strangling heat pumps in the UK

The main reason that the UK is falling behind countries like Germany and Denmark in rolling out heat pumps is because building regulations and other regulations are suited to support gas boilers not heat pumps. This claim has been made by a heat pump installer attempting to develop a cheaper heat pump programme.

This contradicts the story emerging from the Environmental Audit Committee which blames high electricity prices relative to gas as being the biggest problem facing the heat pump programme in the UK.

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Consumers to be forced to bail out EDF over failing nuclear reactor

As EDF’s losses on building Hinkley C EPR nuclear plant mount, a leading energy expert says that energy consumers will have to pay twice to pay for a new ‘EPR’ nuclear power plant at Sizewell C. EDF, who is likely to be offered unlimited cash from UK electricity consumers to fund the power plant, is facing a financial meltdown following disastrous cost overruns building other EPRs in Finland and France – and now at Hinkley C as well.
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Ever bigger wind turbines will lead to power price plunge

Ever bigger offshore wind turbines will plunge wind power prices below wholesale power prices. Even as a contract was being announced for GE Renewables to supply 14 MW wind turbines to SSE/Equinor’s Dogger Bank C site, plans were being progressed to test even larger machines, perhaps 20MW by a German research company.

Such turbines could have total blade rotor diameters of around 250 metres.
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Heating bills set for threefold increase to pay for blue hydrogen

Reports suggest that domestic heating bills are likely to soar upwards to around three times their current average rate in order to pay for so-called ‘blue hydrogen’ supplies.

Blue hydrogen is produced from natural gas with a large proportion of the carbon dioxide captured and stored. As a technology it is competing for public funding resources with other more efficient low carbon solutions such as heat pumps. The fact that blue hydrogen will be such an expensive solution to decarbonise heating is likely to tip the scales in favour of strategies that place more emphasis on fitting heat pumps to heat buildings.
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Webinar on how and why the Scottish Govt should set a target to achieve 100 per cent of ALL energy from renewables

Click here to watch a video recording of the webinar, held on December 3rd, of our first webinar (held in collaboration with Commonweal), about achieving 100 per cent of ALL Scottish energy from renewable energy.

The recording here comprises the first 45 minutes of the video featuring the main speakers.
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How much of the UK’s area will be taken up with 100 per cent renewable energy?

Most, if not all, of UK energy supplied under a 100 per cent renewable scenario could be generated using less than 7 per cent of the UK’s surrounding waters for offshore wind farms.

Estimates of the annual amount of energy needed under a (2050)  net zero carbon scenario vary from around 1200 TWh (Friends of the Earth) to around 1700 TWh (Chris Goodwin). Both these estimates assume that energy is delivered mainly in the form of electricity with some green hydrogen and derivatives such as ammonia used for storage and other purposes.
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Government slashes energy efficiency spending to pay for small nuclear power and hydrogen

A leading energy efficiency champion, Andrew Warren, has alleged that the Government is slashing its energy efficiency programme by 80 per cent.

The Government’s ten point plan to tackle the climate emergency includes large amounts of money to pave the way for a programme of ‘small modular reactors’ (SMRs) and payments to gas interests to establish pilot schemes for producing hydrogen from gas with carbon capture and storage (ccs). Finance will also be available to support hydrogen production from windfarms.

What is becoming clear, amidst the low cost pledges to ban petroleum based cars and install 40 GW of offshore wind by 2030, is that the funding package will be dominated by large payments to nuclear and gas industry interests, and largescale cutbacks to the energy efficiency programme.

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Leading experts opt for 100 per cent renewables and reject nuclear power

The undersigned believe that a future based on 100 per cent renewable energy underpinned by traditional and advanced energy efficiency and storage techniques is not only practicable, affordable, but immensely preferable to one that involves nuclear power. Renewable energy offers us a rapid path to net zero carbon transition that, unlike nuclear power, does not involve the need for decommissioning of radioactive plant, nuclear waste or concerns about safety or security threats. With this in mind we regard the prospect of the Government effectively offering unlimited sources of funding to EDF to build Sizewell C nuclear power plant with dismay and urge people to send in their objections to their MPs at this prospect.

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European Marine Energy Centre heralds a triple first project – flow battery, tidal power and hydrogen!

Just how many innovations can you pack into a project? Well not many more than the tidal power-flow battery hydrogen project that is set to be deployed at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney! But perhaps newest of all, it is an important step forward towards developing techniques, in this case flow batteries, to store renewable energy in the long term.

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Green hydrogen sidelined as blue hydrogen is set for green light

The oil and gas industry is poised to gain several tens of millions of pounds for what will turn out to be mainly a license to carry on generating carbon dioxide. A flagship ‘blue hydrogen’ scheme, that is one involving production of hydrogen from natural gas and removing part of the carbon dioxide, is to be launched on Humberside if a consortium receives £75 million from the Government. Yet, for all this money, less than 30 per cent of the carbon dioxide produced on the site will actually be captured.

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Sign our petition for Scotland to set 100 per cent renewable energy target!

It should be obvious now that Scotland can supply 100 per cent of ALL of its energy by renewables. Yet the Scottish Government has not pledged to do this yet. So let’s campaign for this commitment now!

We are asking you to sign the petition which has the following wording (in italics)

‘The Scottish Parliament should commit to a target of sourcing 100 per cent of all energy used in Scotland (not just electricity) from renewable energy by 2045 or earlier to complement the established legal goal of achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions in Scotland by 2045. This would be assumed to be achieved when a) the annual Scottish renewable energy production is a least as much as total annual Scottish energy consumption and b) all non electricity consumption in Scotland is sourced from renewable energy.’ This is necessary because:
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