Well, if you strip out the projects that are actually “stand alone” and directly-funded by its members from its latest newsletter – not very much at all – and all funded by money that used to go directly to local authorities (and not a murmer about their biggest project – Hinkley C nuclear power station:
Owl says: Still, no worries, we have that lovely nuclear energy from Hinkley C to look forward to. Oh wait, the Government set the price it will pay to its Chinese and French owners stratospherically high!
“More than one over-65s in five was forced to cut back on their energy use this winter just so they would be able to afford their bills.
Figures from comparethemarket.com also show almost half (48%) of the age group are worried about their the cost of their energy, while one in eight (12%) don’t think they can afford any increase.
One over-65 in 12 said their health suffered because they limit the amount of heating they use while one in 14 said they were considering downsizing their home to reduce their energy bills.
“Nobody should be forced to sacrifice their health in order to heat their home, and especially not some of the most vulnerable members of our society, the elderly,” said Comparethemarket head of energy Peter Earl.
“Cold weather and the resulting financial and health problems are a real issue for older people, who have to worry about cold temperatures every year.
“It should be an absolute priority to ensure that they are able to afford their energy costs and appropriately heat their home.” …”
“MPs are set to review the government’s plans for Britain’s energy sector after a string of major projects were abandoned by international companies”
Owl says: Such a shame that our Local Enterprise Partnership – dominated by people with a vested interest in the nuclear industry – has put all our growth and regional investment eggs in the Hinkley C basket!
“MPs are set to review the government’s plans for Britain’s energy sector after a string of major projects were abandoned by international companies.
The Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy Committee said it would look into the government’s plans to see if they are fit for purpose.
It will examine if the country needs a new approach to speed up investment into low-carbon, low-cost energy and secure supplies in the long term.
The decision comes after Japanese firms Hitachi and Toshiba pulled out of the Wylfa and Moorside nuclear projects, dealing a serious blow to the government’s plans.
The committee also said it will investigate concerns over foreign investors in British nuclear. This comes amid worries about Chinese involvement in major projects.
Committee chair Rachel Reeves said: “In the wake of investment decisions over nuclear plants at sites such as Moorside and Wylfa, a giant hole has developed in UK energy policy. With coal due to go off-line, and the prospects for nuclear looking unclear, the government needs to set out how it will create the right framework to encourage the investment needed to plug the gap.
“In this inquiry, we want to examine the government’s approach to creating the right conditions for investment to deliver the secure energy capacity to meet the nation’s needs. A bigger shift in our energy infrastructure to a low cost, low carbon energy system is necessary.
“As a committee, we will want to consider what more the government needs to do to attract greater investment into financing future energy capacity, including renewables.”
“Britain’s nuclear power stations recorded a 12% decline in their contributions to the country’s energy system over the past month, as outages raised concerns over how long the ageing plants will be able to keep operating.
A temporary closure of two of the country’s eight nuclear plants resulted in a double-digit drop in nuclear generation in January, compared to the same period last year.
Prospects for new nuclear projects have commanded headlines and government attention in recent weeks, with Hitachi and Toshiba scrapping their plans for major new plants.
But the fate of the existing plants, which usually provide about a fifth of the UK’s electricity supplies, has been pulled into focus by outages due to safety checks and engineering works running over schedule. Nuclear outages also push up carbon emissions because any capacity shortfall will typically be replaced by fossil fuel power stations.
Seven of the power stations use an advanced gas reactor (AGR) design, the oldest of which is 43 years old and the youngest 30 years.
Most were built with a lifetime of about 35 years in mind. All are due to be closed in the 2020s after owner EDF Energy extended their lives, but there are now fears that ageing infrastructure may reduce their output or even lead them to shut early.
Iain Staffell, lecturer in sustainable energy at Imperial College, which compiled the nuclear output data, said: “Just as Toshiba and Hitachi have pulled out of building new reactors, we have one third of the existing nuclear capacity unavailable either for maintenance or because their maximum power has been reduced as they get older.
“Many of our reactors were built in the late 70s, and like your typical 40-year-old they aren’t in peak physical condition anymore.” …
Martin Freer, head of nuclear physics at the University of Birmingham and director of the Birmingham Energy Institute, said: “It is clear they are showing their age. When they were originally built they weren’t built to operate as long as they will.”
The issue is not one of safety because of tight regulation of the plants, he said, but it showed the UK’s need to get on and build new nuclear power stations.
By the time Dungeness is hoped to return, another old plant, Hinkley B in Somerset, will have been taken offline for graphite inspections. Any unexpected rate of cracking found there could lead to a longer outage.
Francis Livens, director at the University of Manchester’s Dalton Institute, said the struggle to green-light new nuclear projects had made the need to keep the old ones on more acute.
Freer said he hoped the plants would make it to their planned closure dates rather than retiring early – Hunterston is officially meant to last until 2023 – but feared some would not. “It may just be a run of unfortunate incidents, or it might be a trend of reducing reliability,” he said. “My suspicion is not all of them will make it through to the end.”
EDF said its investments meant the old plants were performing well and it had spent more than £100m over the past six years on the issue of graphite cracking. The company’s figures show generation from the company’s eight plants, including the newer one at Sizewell, growing after it bought them in 2008 before peaking in 2016 and declining since.
Brian Cowell, managing director of generation, said: “EDF Energy’s seven advanced gas-cooled and one pressurised water nuclear power stations [Sizewell C] are delivering at ever better levels thanks to sustained investment and the expertise accumulated over more than 40 years of operation.”
Several of the old plants are also undergoing safety reviews by the Office for Nuclear Regulation. Heysham 1 and Hartlepool both had a periodic safety review in January, with Heysham 2 and Torness to follow next January.”
“Nuclear power plants divide opinion. But on one thing everyone agrees: it’s nice if they’re welded together properly.
EDF still can’t convince France’s nuclear regulator that it can do it at Flamanville: the €10.9 billion nuke that’s years late and oodles over budget.
Still, not to worry. It’s only the prototype for Hinkley Point C.”
Business Commentary – Alistair Osbourne
Yes, all is well.
We know this because our Local Enterprise Partnership is still pumping oodles of Devon’s money into it – and coincidentally into their own pockets too!
So what does it matter if we don’t get it? The multi-billion pound “investment” will have helped a handful of people along the way and we will have had an invaluable (literally) experience!
Hinkley C is leaking out money from Devon via the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, whose board (past and present) includes people with direct and tangential interests in the nuclear industry and that particular site.
Now we hear that Hitachi is suspending work on the nuclear plant it was meant to build in Wales. It is prepared to take a hit of more than £4 billion to walk away.
It begs questions:
How can the French (EDF) and Chinese – who now own Hinkley C – make a business case for Hinkley C even with the massive subsidy for its (eventual) electricity?
Just how much of OUR money is propping up these French and Chinese businesses?
What is the Plan B if one or both of the companies fail; how much of OUR money will be used to plug financial holes?
What effect has this had on renewable energy sources in Devon and Cornwall?
How much more money is our LEP going to divert to this project?
Several members of our Local Enterprise Partnership also have an interest in this nuclear power plant in Wales …..
“Hitachi set to cancel plans for £16bn nuclear power station in Wales”
… Just one new nuclear power station, EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point C in Somerset, has been given the green light and begun construction. The French company and Chinese firm CGN both want to build more.” …