Britain’s coal plants should be shut down by 2023, two years earlier than proposed by the Government, green Tories including former energy minister Lord Barker have said. The Bright Blue group of Conservatives dismissed fears that plans to end unabated coal power generation by 2025 could lead to supply shortages, insisting the lights would stay on even if the proposed new Hinkley Point C nuclear plant is never built. In a report, they urged ministers to bring forward the planned coal closure date to at least 2023, saying that doing so “would actually provide more certainty for investors in new gas, improving energy security”. Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, announced in November that all unabated coal plants would close by 2025 with their use restricted, in an as-yet-unspecified way, from 2023. However she has repeatedly st ressed this will only be done if gas replacements can be brought on in time to ensure security of supply. Coal lobbyists have suggested this is a risky strategy, especially as the new nuclear programme runs behind schedule. Lord Barker, who served as an energy minister in the Coalition, said the Government should “take maximum advantage” of its coal phase-out plan ad “give investors even greater certainty”.
Telegraph 7th June 2016 read more »
The new report includes analysis by Aurora Energy Research of how closing coal plants early might affect the nation’s se curity of supply. This included a “high stress” scenario in which the expansion of renewables is slow, Hinkley C is cancelled and coal power stations close early. “Despite what some exaggerated claims suggest, a coal phase out even under a ‘high stress’ scenario, will not result in the lights going out,” said Ben Caldecott, author of the report and associate fellow of Bright Blue. “Our analysis shows the significant benefits for pollution and system security of further encouraging renewables, interconnection, storage, demand side response and energy efficiency.” On Hinkley, the report said: “The future of Hinkley Point C nuclear power station appears to be highly uncertain. Should the project not materialise, renewables can easily fill the capacity gap in the late 2020s. This should be ‘Plan B’.” It noted the fast build time and rapidly falling cost of renewable energy and said: “The ability of these technologies to deliver this capacity is already impressive and will be even more so in the mid to late 2020s.”
Guardian 7th June 2016 read more »
Letter Dr Robin Russell-Jones: Janet Russell asks the right question (Letters, May 30). What has happened to the report on shale gas by the UK Climate Change Committee (CCC)? When Professor Cowern and I gave evidence in February, we were assured that the report would be published no later than May. We have also been told unofficially that the CCC has accepted our data on fugitive emissions of methane and that shale gas is two times worse than coal from a climate change perspective. We also submitted a further paper towards the end of March, indicating that over half of the rise in atmospheric levels of methane seen globally since 2007 is due to oil and gas, notably shale extraction in the US, and that this is obscuring the rise in methane emissions from the Arctic. I suppose it would be highly embarrassing for the government if its “dash for gas” was found to be incompatible with our climate change commitments, agreed by the UN but implemented via EU legislation. Embarrassing unless the government accepted the scientific case and announced it was going to abandon fracking and invest in renewables.
Guardian 7th June 2016 read more »