Christopher Booker: Just when we think the world can’t get any madder, along comes something to show that we haven’t yet seen the half of it (who, three years ago, could have predicted the rise of Isil or Donald Trump?). Another such moment came last Monday when our energy minister Andrea Leadsom told MPs that the Government now believes that we should “enshrine” in law the “Paris goal” of cutting our emissions of CO2 to “zero”. So carried away into cloud cuckoo land have been all those responsible for our energy policy that Mrs Leadsom now proposes that we should go literally for broke. If our existing policy is like committing suicide by taking ever larger doses of paracetamol, she now wants us to make doubly sure by knocking back a cup of cyanide. China, India and many other countries are planning to build hundreds more coal-fired power stations (of which we will soon have none at all), in a way that will guarantee a further huge leap in the world’s “carbon emissions”, to which our own contribution is now only 1.2 per cent. At least when lemmings jump over a cliff, they are all supposed to do it together. Mrs Leadsom and the rest of our politicians seem happy that we should be the only one.
Telegraph 20th March 2016 read more »
Dave Elliott: The UK may be island based, but, as renewables expand, it will need more grid links to the continent for balancing and trade. It may have a net surplus and so could do very well selling it over supergrid interconnector links to EU countries less well endowed with renewables. The UK’s National Infrastructure Commission (NIC), which seems to be taking a leading role in energy system planning, said in its recent report ‘Smart Power’, that interconnection, along with storage and demand flexibility ‘could save consumers up to £8 billion a year by 2030, help the UK meet its 2050 carbon targets, and secure the UK’s energy supply for generations’. However, if the Hinkley project collapses, there are also those who say we should look to other nuclear options to replace it, including perhaps Small Modular Reactors. That seems a bit of a long shot. SMRs are in their infancy, as are most of the other Generation 4 reactor ideas and it’s far from clear if they would be any cheaper. By contrast, the UK is in a good position to develop its huge renewable resource rapidly, with already available technology. Costs are falling rapidly: onshore wind and PV projects are already going ahead with CfD strike prices under £80/MWh, well below the £92.5/MWh offered to Hinkley when and if it starts up, which at best won’t be until after 2025. By then, offshore wind will also be cheaper. Indeed the Budget announcement included a plan to support offshore wind at £85/MWh for projects starting up in 2026. But that set of renewable options would arguably be easier to balance if the UK stayed in the EU!
Environmental Research Web 19th March 2016 read more »