European Commission statistics published today as part of the EurObserv’ER project show the share of renewable energy in the UK’s final energy consumption was just 3.3%, slightly ahead of only Malta and Luxembourg. The report also shows the UK has the biggest gap to bridge to achieve the legally binding 2020 target of sourcing 15% of the country’s energy mix from renewables. Sweden tops the league with 46.9% of the national energy mix sourced from renewables. Across Europe renewables are 12.4% of overall gross final energy consumption, compared to 11.5% in 2009 – a 0.9 point year-on-year increase compared to 2009.
£2.5bn is the latest DECC figure. The developing world is now surging ahead of Britain, which fell out of the top 10 in 2010. 3.3% of UK energy now comes from renewables.
Rebuilding the UK’s energy system by 2050: costs about the same for clean or conventional energy, DECC says.
Every person in Britain will need to pay about £5,000 a year between now and 2050 on rebuilding and using the nation’s entire energy system, new DECC figures suggest. The cost of developing clean and sustainable electricity, heating and transport will be very similar to replacing today’s conventional power stations. The forecasts come from a unique open-source analysis package, called the 2050 pathways calculator, created by Professor David MacKay, DECC chief scientific adviser. Guardian: “However, the cost of the “do nothing” option does not include the damage to the economy expected as a result of climate change, and the calculator notes that, according to the landmark Stern review: “This is the equivalent of up to £6,500 per person per year on average, on top of the cost of the energy system”.”
“Sudden lurches in policy and support send a bad signal,” say the groups in a letter protesting their lost community projects.
The joint report of the Environmental Audit Committee and the Energy and Climate Change Committee on DECC’s handling of the solar feed-in tariff cuts is damning. Guardian: “The MPs described the quick tariff change as “panicky”, and said it “smacks of retrospective regulation, which undermines confidence in the government’s management of other energy policies”.”
My message to BBC Radio’s The World Tonight: let us turn this humiliation for HMG into something positive and get back to where we were: creating jobs the nation needs in these hard times. And to Business Green: “We encourage the Secretary of State to accept the judge’s very clear ruling, to not plunge the industry into a further period of uncertainty by considering going to appeal, and to conduct the remainder of the current consultation process properly with constructive conversations with the industry.”
Seeking £10 million of funding from customers and the public to help accelerate the building of new renewables projects, more than 2,000 people had between them applied for £16.2 million worth of ecobonds by the deadline, exceeding the success of ecobond one last year. The bond had a minimum investment of £500 and an initial term of four years. Ecotricity also offered a preferential rate to its customers – 6.5% as opposed to the 6% for non customers.
A YouGov poll of 1,696 people commissioned by The Sunday Times shows 56% want to see more wind energy capacity in the UK and 74% think solar energy capacity should be increased. Only 19% want wind power to be scaled back, and just 12% think the rollout of solar panels should be blocked.
My view in the Huffington Post: “There are only two possibilities, given the absence of a credible savings narrative and the seemingly lethal intent of the six week warning and the market-shrivelling energy-efficiency pre-qualification. One is breathtaking collective incompetence. The other is conspiracy.
The answer is conspiracy. So I have been told in recent weeks by insiders in Whitehall, Westminster, and in the relevant parts of the energy, PR, and financial industries.”
Consumer Focus says complaints against ‘Big Six’ suppliers have risen by 26% over the last three months despite their promises to rebuild trust. EDF, RWE and E.On fared worst.
Why is a Keynesian solution so difficult to sell when it is clear that austerity is worsening the economic downturn?
Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian: The seemingly counter-intuitive argument must be better framed. “A quick look at the record of British debt going back to 1830 shows that, by historical standards, our current indebtedness is no more than a modest uptick compared with, say, the late 1940s, when debt was five times as great as it is now – and yet it was precisely then, when the country really was drowning in red ink, that Keynes was advocating a fiscal stimulus.”
Guardian: “The government’s hopes of rebuilding the economy with a “march of the makers” risks being derailed by energy companies that are demanding huge upfront payments to power new factories. Soaring energy prices, which are already hitting homeowners, are also forcing manufacturers to shut down plants or relocate their factories to other countries. The British Ceramic Confederation said some members have been asked to pay deposits of up to £200,000 – the equivalent of four months’ worth of power – before energy firms are willing to take them on as customers.”
Guardian: “The Big Six energy companies have walked into a political storm over executive pay amid revelations that their bosses are earning up to £4m a year as an increasing number of their customers are being pushed into fuel poverty.”
The Guardian reveals that at least 50 employees of companies including the Big 6 have been placed within government to work on energy issues in the past four years: free of charge and working within the departments for secondments of up to two years. “There have also been 195 meetings between ministers from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) and the energy industry between the 2010 general election and March 2011, according to a Guardian analysis of declared meetings with Decc.” Caroline Lucas: “Companies such as the big six energy firms do not lend their staff to government for nothing – they expect a certain degree of influence, insider knowledge and preferential treatment in return. … None of the staff on secondment in Decc work for renewable energy companies. … Secondments also work in reverse, with civil servants going to work in the energy industry, such as a two-year secondment to Shell and another to Horizon Nuclear Power, a joint venture of E.ON and RWE npower that aims to build nuclear power stations in the UK.”
In an extended interview in India, I talk about the similarities between the credit crunch and the peak oil issue, and the power of renewables and why clean-energy industries are being held back.
Badly-redacted documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that DECC passed sensitive documents on government policy to the Nuclear Industries Association. They also passed Greenpeace’s court documents (from the case against HMG) to the lobby group. in which EDF features prominently among 260 member companies.
Will Hutton in the Observer: “The last time Britain endured such an extended period of depression and falling living standards – the 1870s and 1880s – saw the mushrooming of the co-operative movement and the emergence of the Labour party as the more moderate expressions of anger that wanted to challenge the very basis of capitalism. Be sure that British civil society will not accept its grim fate as if nothing is happening. There will be organised and angry responses – and rightly. We are about to experience economic, social and political tectonic plates on the move.”
Guardian: “The construction of new renewable energy generation capacity has fallen dramatically, as the big six energy suppliers pursue a “dash for gas” policy that could put the UK’s climate change targets out of reach and leave households with higher bills.” Wind projects are down by half on last year. Less than a GW of wind has been approved and 30 GW of gas is at planning stage.
As the Telegraph puts it: “The first of the new plants will not be built until 2019 because of extra safety checks following Japan’s atomic disaster. Ministers originally hoped to get the first nuclear power station built by 2017, before revising this to 2018. Now there has been a further slippage, after an updated timetable showed the first station in Somerset is not expected until nearer the end of the decade.”
New analysis for the Guardian by Manchester University shows a progressive widening between wholesale and retail prices.
Mervyn King: “The crisis in the euro area is one of solvency not liquidity. And the interconnectedness of major banks means the banking systems and economies around the world are all affected. Only the governments directly involved can find a way out of this crisis.” The Financial Policy Committee urges banks to continue building up their capital stock and urges them to limit bonuses and dividend payouts rather than cutting back on lending to businesses and households.