Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Future of Energy Conference at University of Aberdeen

Some of the conference presentations and also recordings of contributions can be seen at: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/energy/events/the-future-of-energy-222.php

Details of Conference:

The Future of Energy

A Conference presented by the MSc in Energy Politics and Law, University of Aberdeen on Wednesday March 28th. Venue: Linklater Rooms, University of Aberdeen.
9.45-10.15 Tea/Coffee and Registration 
10.15 A few words from Dr David Toke, Programme Co-ordinator of MSc in Energy Politics and Law 
10.20 Opening Address by John Scrimgeour, Director of the Energy Institute of Aberdeen University 
10.30 Rebecca Williams, Policy Manager for RenewableUK who will talk about onshore wind and other priorities for RenewableUK 
11.00 Morag McCorkindale from Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group who will talk about low carbon based transport policy in Aberdeen and the opportunities for existing oil and gas businesses in the new energy economy 
11.30 Dr David Toke, Programme Leader, MSc in Energy Politics and Law. ‘So why has offshore wind now become so much cheaper and easier to build than nuclear power?’ 
12.00 Sam Gomersall from Pale Blue Dot Energy will give a presentation about how Aberdeen is leading the hydrogen revolution  
12.30 – 1.15 LUNCH 
1.15 -1.45 Caroline Bragg from the Association of Decentralised Energy  who will talk about developing heat networks 
1.45-2.15 Professor Alex Kemp from the Economics Department at the University of Aberdeen who will talk about the issue of oil revenues. 

2.15- 2.45 David Ritchie, Head of Energy Industries in the Scottish Government’s Energy and Climate Directorate will talk about his work at the Scottish Government 

2.45-3.15 Thomas Mcmillan representing the Solar Trade Association (he is Director of Renewables at Savills) will talk about issues facing the solar pv industry 
3.15- 3.30 TEA and COFFEE 
3.30-4pm Professor John Patterson from the Law Dept at Aberdeen University who will talk about decommissioning of oil platforms 

4-4.30   Adam Ezzamel, the Project Director of the Aberdeen Offshore Windfarm (European Offshore Wind Demonstration Project) will talk about the project. 

4.30-5.15pm Expert Panel. Four experts will introduce themselves and a point of view and then answer questions raised  by the audience. These include Professor Peter Strachan, Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University and Dr Daria Sharapolova, Aberdeen University Centre for Energy Law 

The Conference will be held in the Linklater Rooms of Aberdeen University https://www.abdn.ac.uk/confevents/venues/linklater-rooms-50.php, We would expect speakers to talk for 20 minutes leaving 10 minutes for discussion.

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

EDF launch so-called 'cheap nuclear' plan that will ruin taxpayers

EDF are about to persuade the Government to sign a blank cheque for another one of their failing European Pressurised Reactors at Sizewell C.  The plan is to get taxpayers to pay for a large chunk of the the 'equity' financing of the plant and get the Government to guarantee the bulk of the rest of the costs. EDF will say at the start that the plant would be 'cheap', but, magically, the cost would gradually escalate over time. But meanwhile the Government would be committed to foot the bill. This will lead to the biggest black hole in the nation's finances since the financial crash.

However, this will get around the humiliation of EDF having to be paid the high price per MWh that Hinkley C is to be paid. A lower price might be agreed. But instead the taxpayers will foot a bill that is likely to rise to well over £10 billion pounds. The plant will not be any cheaper than Hinkley C, its just that the cost will be hidden on Treasury books. But this will have a catastrophic effect on public finances and deprive the Exchequer of many billions £s that could otherwise be spent on public services. This will be the subsidy to top all subsidies!

It is a gross distortion to claim that in this way nuclear power can be made cheaper than any sources. Of course if the Government takes out its chequebook and promises any power generator to pay whatever it likes then the power price will be much lower. With the Government effectively promising to pay for any and all cost overruns on such a project, what is to stop EDF from racking up virtually any bill it wants? 

One might think that such a transparently biased scheme (towards nuclear companies, away from the taxpayer and renewable energy) would be dismissed by any Government. Yet energy minister Tom Harrington has already signed up to a generally similar type of plan full of fantasies of how the costs of the projects would be kept under control (as usual). 

Hinkley C was supposed to be online now, yet even by EDF's projections it will not be working before 2027. Yet we are now to believe that the next power plant at Sizewell C will be built on time. Of course EDF can promise that this will be happening, because they will not have to pay for the consequences. The taxpayer will, in time, as the loans guaranteed by the Government have to be paid by the Government -as well as the equity stake - and no doubt extra to ensure that the plant is finally built.

EDF are claiming that Sizewell C will cost '£5bn less' than Hinkley C. Of course EDF hasn't even begun the serious construction of Hinkley C, so how do they know how much it will cost anyway!!

Of course, with rumours circulating that Boris Johnson could be appointed Business Secretary, the nuclear industry could have just the right person to front its raid on the nation's finances. Boris Johnson is not known for his attention to detail, but he's a breeze at giving rhetorical backing to all sorts of fanciful ideas. He's just the guy nuclear power needs!

You can read about EDF's latest cunning plan at https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/business/cut-price-nuclear-power-plant-possible-says-edf-cmq37xm8q

The National Audit report in the summer of 2017, in their annexes, effectively backed the 'Government pays' option (ie blank cheque). See https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Hinkley-Point-C.pdf

You can see the nuclear industry's general thrust at: