01 Feb 2013
Cumbria County Council has taken the pivotal decision to reject the placement of a nuclear spent fuel storage site in the Lake District, an area of outstanding national beauty and importance. In a report prepared in March 2011 by Sir David King, the storage facility would cost about £14 billion and create about 500 jobs in construction and about 300 jobs to operate. Ed Davey, the Energy and Climate Secretary, said “there will be a substantial community benefits package, worth hundreds of millions of pounds. That is in addition to the hundreds of jobs and major investment that such a huge infrastructure project could bring.” We congratulate the Council for their courage and sensibility in rejecting a proposal that would only bring more hazardous waste to the region.
Sellafield is already the unfortunate repository of 6,000 tonnes of heavy metal (radioactive materials) being stored in ponds. This storage is estimated to be viable until 2075 when this material will have to be stored again safely in some kind of newly constructed deep geological storage facility – costing billions – all financed by the taxpayer.
Nuclear power produced 19% of our electricity production in 2011. This was the total portion of generation, although 67% of that electricity is lost in transmission and distribution across high voltage wires that traverse the land. The government insists that nuclear power is an important part of our energy mix. One must question the logic of building new nuclear power plants when there are so many alternatives available that do not poison our environment and cost the taxpayer absurd sums of money to maintain. The nuclear power legacy will cost the taxpayer billions to ensure that the toxic waste is safely decommissioned and stored. None of this money contributed to the generation of electricity. The renewables contribution increased 3% in one year. This is attributed to the success of the Feed in Tariff for Solar electricity.
At Brighton & Hove Energy Services, we are dedicated to providing the people with low cost energy now and in the future. By joining BHESCo, you can participate in the creation of a new energy future, one that is powered by the sun, wind and biomass. We are starting now, so that you can rest assured that as nuclear power plants are shut down, the lights will stay on and you will stay warm in winter without paying a fortune for the privilege. Go on, join us.
17 Jan 2013
With the media warning that wind farms will cost the taxpayers £17 billion in energy costs, its time to put some reality into the spin. J.K. Galbraith, the esteemed economist, wrote in The New Industrial State that the social cost of monopolistic industrial power is a decrease in efficiency. It impacts the equity of income distribution. Achieving efficiency in electricity generation and transmission is what saves us money. Efficiency creates value by saving time, effort and resources.
Cambridge Econometrics has estimated that offshore wind will be only slightly more expensive than gas by 2030. An important factor in these calculations is that the cost of generating electricity from gas is dependent on the availability of gas resource into the future. Fracking, should drilling be undertaken, will only resolve supply constraints in the short term. As supply declines, the cost will increase. Offshore wind has the potential to provide us with 80% of our electricity needs. The fuel is the wind, which costs us nothing. The costs to maintain these whirling wind catchers are coming down each year as the turbines improve in design and power output. The Telegraph claims that offshore wind will add an additional £35 per year to our energy bills. Their maths were based on household consumption only. As Greenpeace’s EnergyDesk points out, households account for only 30 per cent of electricity consumption, so it is unlikely that they will bear all the cost directly. According to Greenpeace the figure is closer to £9.80.
Nuclear power uses uranium processed into fuel rods to power a steam turbine. The turbine generates electricity at up to 38% efficiency. This electricity is transmitted over the national grid where up to 67% of the electricity is lost before it is delivered to the end consumer, making nuclear power about 25% efficient. The heat generated by nuclear power is completed wasted, it is emitted though the stacks into the air and through pipes into the sea, including other particles including small quantities of radioactive isotopes that are harmful to human health. When the fuel rods are spent, they must be stored safely for thousands of years. This can be on site, or transported across the country to another location. Since transportation of radioactive materials is a matter of national security, the process is closely policed until the material is stored. These processes cost dear and are funded by the taxpayer. Nuclear power continues monopolistic industrial power and prolongs an inefficient power supply system.
So what are the alternatives? Were the investment required to support the nuclear industry spent on creating a sustainable, reasonable and economical energy infrastructure, we would be looking at a completely different future. Energy generation would be decentralised. Communities would become energy generators, taking the provision of electricity and heating into their own hands by owning their own energy supply and receiving the benefit of the efficiency created.
In 2008, when Solar PV efficiencies averaged about 16%, the total estimated capacity for solar electricity in the UK was 460 TWh per year. In 2010, the UK produced 381 TWh of electricity. Today solar PV efficiencies have increased to 21% and costs have cut in half due to increasing international production, making solar PV a low cost alternative to fossil fuels.
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06 Dec 2012
The Chancellor announced his plans to create growth yesterday promoting the Dash for Gas despite the fact that the UK Geological survey estimates that our technically recoverable reserves range between 150 billion cubic metres (bcm) and 570 bcm. According to BP’s review of the World 2012, this reserve is the equivalent to 2-7 years of UK gas demand in 2011. Insufficient to resolve our long term energy needs, or to fuel the lifetime of the 30 gas powered plants that Mr. Osborne proposes to build.
Frack off presents an interesting assessment of why its so important to provide a tax subsidy for shale gas drilling, or “Fracking” – an extreme method of blasting for gas through shale rock. Although we haven’t seen the details of our Chancellor’s growth plan, we feel confident that any additional monies to promote growth in our transmission infrastructure will be missing. These plans are all about subsidising certain types of generation capacity.
Our government is borrowing more to finance their austerity plans. The budget includes another £5 billion of mandatory cuts. The New Economic Foundation has announced their upcoming release of an economic strategy that “tackles unemployment, delivers good jobs and a sustainable future”. According to the Public and Commercial Services Union, these 13,500 civil servant job cuts are additional to the 50,000 jobs due to be cut in the next two years and the 63,000 already cut. You may be relieved to know that budgets in nuclear decommissioning will be spared because we have no choice. We have to invest to ensure that the stockpile of radiocative waste from old nuclear power plants is treated properly. No need to fret about our future, the new nuclear power plants that are in the pipeline along with the 30 gas fired plants, should ensure that the lights don’t go out.
If this blog is depressing you, consider the alternative, where we save 30% of our energy use by retrofitting thermally inefficient properties and replacing inefficient kit. We can build energy generation from local, renewable energy resources in a way that creates jobs and economic growth. Where we engage the newest technologies in wind, biomass, biofuels, tidal, wave and hydrogen to generate sufficient local generation to meet our needs. And best of all, we, the community, own it.
If this is how you like to think, think community energy suppliers, join BHESCo.