May 20th, 2008
In Britain nuclear power stations provide 19 percent of our electricity and account for 3.5 percent of our total energy use. What you may not know is that all but one of those reactors is due to close down by 2023.
Some groups oppose nuclear power stations because they produce radioactive waste and could release radioactive material if there was an accident. But what they may not know, is that nuclear power plants do not release greenhouse gases, which cause coal and gas-fired power plants and does not contribute to global warming. Without nuclear power stations, UK’s carbon emissions would be 5 to 12 percent higher than they are today.
The world’s first large-scale nuclear power plant opened at Calder Hall in Cumbria, England, in 1956 and produced electricity for 47 years.
Nuclear power is generated using uranium, a metal that is mined as an ore in large quantities, with Canada, Australia and Kazakhstan providing more than half of the world’s supplies. Reactors work in a similar way to other power plants, but instead of using coal or gas to generate heat, they use nuclear fission reactions. In most cases, heat from the nuclear reactions convert water into steam, which drives turbines that produce electricity.
In January of 2008 the government reaffirmed their plans to expand nuclear power in Britain to help it meet stringent targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
One of the challenges facing officials; Britain already has more than 100,000 tons of radioactive waste that needs to be stored. Large amounts of low-level waste are already stored in concrete vaults in Drigg in Cumbria. Other plans for disposing of nuclear waste have included dumping it at sea and blasting it into space.
May 20th, 2008
RWE, a German utility, has attempted to take over British Energy, according to reports. The approach, for £11bn, is valued at almost 700p per share for the UK’s struggling nuclear operator. Further, the offer would value the UK government’s 35% stake in the firm at £4bn.
Racked with mounting costs and plant closures, British Energy has found several suitors and RWE is one of several companies said to be interested in purchasing the company. The company needs financial backing to clean up reactor sites and construct new nuclear power stations. British Energy declined to comment on the reports.
Reports state that RWE made the offer several weeks ago and is now in the process of investigating British Energy’s books. The nuclear operator stated on March 17 that it was in discussions that might lead to a takeover.
Additional newspaper reports state that British Gas parent Centrica has been approached by both RWE and France’s EDF about possible joint bids.
The government has expressed its commitment to production of new nuclear plants as a means to address climate change. However, opposition has arisen over the prospect of the firm ending up in foreign hands, resulting in employment losses in the UK.
British Energy profits decreased 4% for the last nine months of 2007 in contrast with rising costs. Among these was the company’s attempt to minimize environmental impact. The company had to shut down four reactors at the end of 2007 after problems with boiler closure units arose.
May 19th, 2008
Grants handed out by the government to people desiring to install green energy implements to their homes declined by more than half in 2007, according to a BBC report. This drop, from 5,104 to 2,339 grants given, follows the cutting of maximum grant offered from £7, 500 to £2,500.
The numbers show Britain to be the third worst performer in EU for utilization of renewable sources for production of energy. As of now, 2% of Britain’s energy is produced in this manner. By comparison, Germany has 200 times the number of homes fitted with solar panels.
Critics of the grants say that the low carbon emissions plan is stingy and confusing, providing minimal incentive for people to go green. Andrew Cooper, from the Renewable Energy Association, says that the plan, which was recently extended by a year, to April 2010, is a matter of making a failing programme fail over a long period and that it’s not a solution. “Government has totally ignored the advice of the renewable energy industry and the blindingly obvious evidence of their own statistics,” says Cooper.
Supporters of the plan say that it offers more individuals the opportunity to apply for grants. Says a spokesman for the department of Business Enterprises and Regulatory Reform, “More and more people are applying.” He states that in the last month, a total of 293 households successfully applied for funds, the largest number since May last year. “In total, 71 of these were applications for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on homes, which is around a 100% increase compared to last year’s monthly average.” He further stated that they would continue to monitor the take up of the scheme.
May 19th, 2008
Despite the fact that British Energy has only raised one bid, the Government is refusing to allow any one entity to hold sole ownership. Even if that means splitting up the reactor sites, the Government still finds this preferable, since it will allow for another company to claim ownership of the two left-over reactor sites. EDF, based in France is responsible for the one bid of interest.
Centrica may be interested in taking over the remaining two sites. They hope to make a deal with the owning entity after the auction has been completed. The Government presently owns approximately one third of
British Energy. This puts it in a position to wieild it’s power to pressure other interested parties to do it’s bidding. The source of the debate? The key issue is planning control. With several upcoming power stations on the horizon, the Government wants to have it’s say as to what sites are chosen. Not one to be daunted, the Government is confident that other energy companies will express interest in buying British Energy’s sites, despite the fact that they missed the auction deadline.
Potential interest may still come from companies such as Iberdrola, RWE and possibly Suez, based in Spain, Germany and France, respectively. It’s thought that late bids may be accepted as long as they’re filed within the week. Within a relatively short period of time, British Energy’s reactors will be scheduled for decomissioning. Rebuilding takes time, so getting the real estate transactions out of the way is very desirable.
May 18th, 2008
In efforts to benefit from the Royal Navy’s engineering and nuclear expertise, British Energy has signed a deal, sending 50 apprentices to it’s facility for training. They will learn about the similarities between ship propulsion and power stations, and nuclear submarines and reactors. The Royal Navy’s training facilities are located in Gosport, Hampshire at the HMS Sultan. British Energy operates several nuclear and coal energy stations, so their need for apprentices is constant. In addition, they hope to have manpower to work on some large government projects slated for the future.
Apprentices will be sent in five rotations throughout the year. The Royal Navy has room to spare at it’s training facilities, since these were built during a time when their demand for space was much greater. The project is worth £10m and is being headed up by a company called Flagship Training. The Flagship Training venture was created through a partnership between two companies - VT Group and BAE Systems. Flagship Training fulfills a similar contract for Network Rail. They train 250 of Network’s apprentices every year.
British Energy feels that the Royal Navy facilities are ideal for training their apprentices since there is so much cross-over between what the Royal Navy facilities offer and the power stations being run at British Energy.
British Energy hopes to benefit from the partnership between the Royal Navy and Flagship Training in fulfilling their apprenticeship training requirements. Apprentices receiving training will be housed at the HMS Collingwood which is within close proximity to the HMS Sultan in Gosport. The deal has been signed for a period of 7 years.
May 18th, 2008
The UK’s Energy Saving Day, known as E-Day to many, did not live up to expectations. E-Day is a 24 hour period when consumers were asked to turn off electricity-guzzling equipment while not in use. Energy consumption was monitored by the National Grid. To the disappointment of many, energy usage was on par with what’s typical during a regular 24-hour period. No real impact was made. In fact, usage was actually 0.1p higher than projected for a typical time period.
Some believe this was due to colder-than-expected cold weather increasing heating usage. Others feel that lack of publicity was to blame for low levels of participation. In other words, the public was simply not made aware of the event and participation suffered.
The project was backed by several organizations such as Greenpeace and Christian Aid. It was also supported by major energy suppliers who are obligated to promote energy-saving initiatives to their consumers.
Experts were hoping that E-Day would have made a measurable impact on energy usage, ideally in the range of two to three p. It was hoped that consumers could see for themselves what can be achieved by small energy-saving efforts on a large scale. For the event to be successful in the future, concerted effort will have to be made to inform consumers about the benefits of participating in the event. An accurate weather forecast would also be helpful in choosing a date for the event.
The effects of global warming are already being noticed in the Ganges delta region. Impacts on sea levels and climate range have been recorded.
May 17th, 2008
British Gas is handing out light bulbs to UK households. This is part of a huge campaign to raise awareness about energy-saving initiatives.
Households receiving the light bulbs are encouraged to swap out their old light bulbs in an effort to reduce carbon emissions. This is one of the largest campaigns of it’s kind that the UK has ever seen.
The free light bulb campaign will be accompanied by a variety of television, print and outdoor advertising promoting the benefits of trading in old bulbs for new low energy models. Coupons will not be issued for redemption. Instead, households will receive actual light bulbs in the post.
Along with green-friendly light bulbs, energy saving fact sheets will be issued as well, giving consumers helpful tips on saving energy around the house. Each household is scheduled to receive their four low-emission light bulbs during the month of may. By distributing over fifty-two million bulbs, British Gas hopes to reduce CO2 emissions by as much as nine million tonnes through this endeavour.
By installing all four of the light bulbs, consumers can hope to save approximately £17 per household. If all thirteen million households serviced by British Gas participate, that translates into enough energy to light up over 100,000 homes for the span of a year. New and existing customers are encouraged to go paperless by signing up for British Gas’s ebill service, eliminating the need for a paper bill. Everyone who signs up will receive their four free energy-efficient light bulbs in the post.
May 16th, 2008
Britain is failing miserably when it comes to using renewable resources to generate energy. And another step backward was taken when funding for green incentives was recently cut in half.
Already, Britain’s low-carbon building incentive has been described as ’stingy’ and ‘confusing’. In general, very little is offered in the way of incentives for households to make ‘going green’ a priority. And yet, the number of households applying for the grant has been on the increase, so it’s very unfortunate that the number of grants to be issued has been cut by 50 pc.
Government complacency has been mentioned as one reason the programme has virtually failed, a fact that cannot be blamed on lack of interest by consumers. Much interest has been expressed in installing solar panelling and renewable energy systems. The support is just not there.
For the meagre few who have been fortunate enough to have their applications approved through the low-carbon building programme, there is still a £2,500 cap in place. This really limits the scope of solar powered energy that people can feasibly build into their homes.
As an example of how far behind Britain really is when it comes to going green, take Germany as an example. Germany has over 200 times the number of homes using solar-energy than Britain can boast. The weakness of their support programmes for households wishing to go green is at the root of the problem.
Governments are urged to look at the statistics and set up efficient programmes to support efforts to use renewable energy sources in homes. Close collaboration with the renewable energy industry is key to the success of any such project.
May 15th, 2008
Higher energy and food costs are some of the causes of the Consumer Price Index annual inflation in the United Kingdom. In April it was up to 3 percent while in March (just a month earlier) it was at 2.5 percent.
The prices for electricity, gas and oil has went up to record high and these three things are the main cause for the price rice states the Office of National Statistics. Also adding to this inflation is the rising prices for computer games, furniture and food such as mean and fruit are also what has added to the inflation. One other that is to blame for this increase is the increase in excise duty because it has raised the prices of alcohol and tobacco.
The Office of National Statistics stated the following: “The decrease in air fares that was followed by price increases in March has helped limit the increase in the Consumer Price Index inflation”.
When the oil prices had continued to make headlines in the month of April, the petrol prices are the ones that actually had a downward effect when it came to the inflation figures. Between the months of March and April this year the general price of petrol has went up by 1.9p a litre to 108.2p and this is in comparison to the rise of 3.4p last year
The factors that have been contributing to the Consumer Price Index inflation is also what has pushed up the Retail Price Index Inflation.
May 15th, 2008
Warnings have been issued stating that energy bills are on the rise for households in the UK. The largest hikes are expected during the winter months, hitting an all-time high when 2008 comes to a close. Future increases are expected well into 2009. When wholesale costs increase this translates into bigger bills for consumers. So far, the biggest increase in pricing was seen in 2006 when prices increased by 38 pc. In 2008, the increase may be as much as 46 pc.
On average, prices have increased from £343 in 2004 to a whopping £557, and it’s not over yet. These increases have been across the board, with reports from suppliers such as British Gas, EDF Energy, npower, Scottish Power and others.
In 2008, consumers can expect to see an initial increase of about 10 pc in their bills. This will be followed by subsequent increases over the next year. These increases are in addition to the average increase of 15 pc typically seen at the beginning of the year. Interestingly, suppliers have noticed a decrease in new customers since the most recent price increase.
Many companies have large profits to report. These suppliers have recently been criticized for gouging consumers, while households are struggling with an increased cost of living.
Dwindling supplies in the North Sea are cited as one of the reasons for the increase in prices. Suppliers are paying higher rates and these are being passed on to consumers.
Although, most suppliers are keeping their future plans to increase prices rather quiet, the shortage in supply translates into higher costs for suppliers and consumers alike.
May 15th, 2008
After fuel, electricity is the main target for increasing the cost. For a long time the consumers were used to a flat rate but the time has come where prices are going to fluctuate. After the increment in the rate of 2008, the new rate is 10.64 cent per Kilowatt hrs which was 8.4 per kilowatt hrs last year.
The rate of increment differs from state to state. There are some states, which are facing problem of double digits increment. There is 33 percent increase in Illinois whereas Hawaii has increment less than 30 percent.
According to Steve Nadel, belongs to American causal, Rising of gas or fuel price is the main factor that is working behind the rise in the electricity rate. Actually, a power plant uses the fuel in order to produce electricity that is why price hike of fuel is resulted in increase in the rate of electricity.
Along with the rising price of fuel, cost of raw material used to build power plants is also going up and it is considered as one of the various factors that have contributed to the increase in electricity prices.