Evidence from a variety of sources suggest that the world is heading for a serious energy shortage in the years ahead. Rapid economic development in China and India, coupled with consistent energy use in already industrialized nations, will put a huge strain the world’s ability to meet a projected rise in energy demand.
To everyone at BHESCo it seems abundantly clear that a consequence of this global rise in demand will be a huge corresponding rise in cost, unless action is taken now to increase energy efficiency and reduce energy waste.
“One thing is certain,” said Nobuo Tanaka, the IEA’s executive director, “the era of cheap oil is over.”
‘Business Green’ reported that the Government may have to extend financial support to UK industry, as the latest projections from the independent Committee on Climate Change (CCC) confirmed that business energy costs may rise by around a third by 2030.
According to one forecast published by The National Grid, the price of electricity could double over the next two decades. Indeed, this year already oil prices have nearly doubled from their February lows.
And of course, a tremendous increase in energy consumption by industrialising nations like China, India, and Brazil, will lead to an increase in global greenhouse gas emissions.
The IEA believe that this anticipated emissions increase would result in a 6oC rise in the average global temperature by 2100, which would likely devastate many species and coastal communities worldwide.
It is essential that visionary leadership on a national scale is matched by a proactive grassroots movement at the local level to promote a rollout of energy saving measures and habits. Much like communities came together to ‘Dig For Victory’ during the war, we feel that the same ethos is needed now in the battle against climate change.
There are dozens of small changes that households and businesses can make in order to lower their energy use and carbon emissions, ranging from to replacing lights that are frequently on with LEDs, replacing old inefficient appliances and topping up your insulation.
Through our Energy Saving Service, BHESCo is helping our local community to make these essential changes to the way we use energy. The beauty of it is that by initiating energy saving measures in the home and reducing carbon emissions, people are also able to make huge savings on their annual energy bills. Its almost like getting paid to save the planet!
For help reducing your energy use, please view our Energy Saving Tips page or contact BHESCo to book a visit from our Energy Saving Team.
Our government claims that we need fracking in order to provide long-term energy security. They are using fear to convince us that we need to drill beneath our homes and areas of outstanding natural beauty in order to ‘keep the lights on’. This is special interest politics in its most malicious and dangerous form.
Fracking makes zero economic sense for the taxpayer. Climate activist and author of The Winning of the Carbon War, Jeremy Leggett said that it costs $3 to buy $1 worth of gas produced by fracking companies in America.
Lessons from America
You don’t have to be George Osborne to understand that this is not a winning economic model for Britain. Fracking is creating uninhabitable ghost towns all along the Marcellus shale, ground-zero for fracking in Ohio. The water is not fit to drink, you can’t grow anything healthy in the soil, animals can no longer graze without ingesting toxins from the grass, and the air is not fit to breathe. There are reports of increasing numbers of people in the US and Australia who live around fracking sites who are becoming gravely ill.
Fracking also uses a lot of water. The State of California decided that there is no reasonable way of dumping the waste water from offshore drilling, so they decided to dump the 8 billion gallons of contaminated fracking water into the Pacific Ocean. This water becomes poisoned by harmful chemicals such as benzene and chlorine. Fracking companies are not required to disclose the chemical composition of the fluids they use.
Hope Not Lost
We are living in an amazing time with incredible technological capabilities. Today in the UK, there are new business models being developed through partnerships between community energy groups, progressively thinking energy suppliers, renewable energy project developers, and local councils. These business models strive to create local energy generation to serve the communities where they are based, as was the case in the UK in the early 1900s.
For a small island nation the UK is lucky to have such an abundance of alternative energy sources available to us; we have Wind, Solar, Ground Source Heat Pumps, Tidal, Wave, and Anaerobic Digestion, to name a few. Additionally, we have new technologies that can improve the ways that we consume energy, like demand response systems, smart grids and energy efficiency measures.
Community Energy = Real Energy Security
BHESCo is part of a network of 20 Community Energy groups across Sussex and Kent that are devoted to creating local energy generation to provide REAL ENERGY SECURITY. We need to end the idea of short term thinking in our energy network and consider that energy generation projects can provide reliable energy sources for 25 to 30 years and longer.
We need to invest in our electricity grid to create the new distributed energy system that is needed to offer the taxpayer REAL ENERGY SECURITY. Fracking most certainly is not going to provide this in the long term, nor will it reduce prices for the 15,000 people in Brighton & Hove who cannot afford to heat their homes.
The current Government’s energy strategy makes no economic or environmental sense, and we say loud and clear No to Fracking! We want to leave behind a long-term legacy of clean, locally owned renewable energy that serves the community and preserves the environment.
The Conservative budget announcement in July was not good news for the renewables industry, nor for members of the public who are concerned about climate change, rising energy prices and the impact that extreme methods of extracting oil and gas will have on our air, water and soil (1,2). Support for the renewable industry and tackling climate change appears be drying up at a time when we need them more than ever (3).
We see that there are cuts ahead, so that even large coal–fired power stations like Drax, who were seen as the UK’s worst carbon dioxide polluter, are complaining about how their transition to biomass is being undermined(4,5). Instead there is massive funding of taxpayers money pouring into the nuclear industry to support the construction of new nuclear power plants, decommissioning and the long-term management of its toxic waste legacy (6). We know that nuclear is not a solution for climate change or keeping the lights on as the problems are looming and it takes 15 years to build a nuclear power station. Then there’s tax breaks for the shale gas extraction industry(7), although most of us oppose “fracking” which creates numerous problems for local communities, wastes more taxpayers money because the protests against fracking in areas that are precious to us will not abate. Besides the obvious detriment to our environment, the untold clean-up costs after it’s sucked the last drop of ‘fracked’ gas from the ground beneath us (8,9) and the impact on our water supply.
We need to ask some questions; who benefits from these subsidies? How are the investments made by this government going to benefit us, the taxpayer, in the long-term? Are we receiving value for money on governments investment of our taxes and finally – Why aren’t they listening to us? Already we are paying too much for our energy. Even the Prime Minister, has moved on to the former Labour leader’s territory, and is considering a temporary cap on our fuel bills as a result of the monopolising power of just 6 big energy corporations controlling over 90% of the UK energy market (10). Unfortunately, this is only a plaster for the bigger problem, which is that our energy strategy that is not fit for purpose.
There are solutions to these problems. There is a growing movement of local community energy groups across the UK, particularly, social enterprises and co-operatives like BHESCo here in Brighton and Hove. By building our own renewable energy generation and improving the thermal efficiency of our built environment, we can take some of the power out of the hands of the big corporations inflicting price increases and reduce our energy costs, improve the energy efficiency of our homes, stimulate the local economy, tackle fuel poverty and contribute to mitigating the biggest global threat to our existence, climate change. We can join other successful communities across Europe and all across the globe who are turning to more democratic, decentralised, community-owned, renewable energy solutions, controlled by us and for us (11).
After the success of the last 2 years, the Big Energy Saving Network (BESN) BHESCo is part of a consortium of community energy groups that has applied for support for two energy champions starting again this autumn/winter (12). We will be encouraging vulnerable customers to make themselves known to us because we can help them save money by reviewing their energy bills, offering impartial switching advice to the cheapest tariffs, general advice on energy efficiency in the home and how to keep warm this winter. We will also be taking action to help people be more energy efficient through small measures that we will implement in home visits.
We really can reclaim the power. It’s up to us to do it together. That’s what Community Energy is all about.
1. Budget 2015: Key climate and energy announcements: http://www.carbonbrief.org/blog/2015/07/summer-budget-2015-key-climate-and-energy-announcements/
2. Chancellor to push up renewable energy taxes in Budget with ‘climate shaped hole’: http://www.businessgreen.com/bg/news/2416918/chancellor-to-push-up-renewable-energy-taxes-in-budget-with-climate-shaped-hole
3. Former BP geologist: peak oil is here and it will ‘break economies’: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2013/dec/23/british-petroleum-geologist-peak-oil-break-economy-recession
4. End of climate levy exemption dents Drax: http://nicosiamoneynews.com/2015/07/08/end-of-climate-levy-exemption-dents-drax/
5. End support for Drax: stop subsidies for biomass power and phase out coal! http://www.theecologist.org/campaigning/2840617/end_support_for_drax_stop_subsidies_for_biomass_power_and_phase_out_coal.html
6. County councils sidelined from nuclear waste dump site decisions: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/12/county-councils-nuclear-waste-dump-sites
7. UK’s shale gas revolution falls flat with just 11 new wells planned for 2015: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/jan/19/uk-shale-gas-revolution-falls-flat-just-11-new-wells-planned-2015
8. Fracking plans rejected: Lancashire council throws out Cuadrilla proposal – at it happened: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/energy/fracking/11705333/Fracking-decision-Lancashire-live.html
9. No fracking at Balcombe, says energy company Cuadrilla: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/no-fracking-at-balcombe-says-energy-company-cuadrilla-9081875.html
10. PM ‘to consider’ temporary cap on high UK energy bills (July 7th, 2015 5:50 pm): http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/843585e6-2474-11e5-9c4e-a775d2b173ca.html
11. Tory ‘blue crap’ means UK is falling behind in global switch to clean energy:
12. Big Energy Saving Network 2015/16: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/big-energy-saving-network-grant-offer-fund
21 Apr 2015
French state owned EDF Energy is still negotiating with our government about the level of subsidy that will be needed in order to build the two new EPR water pressure reactors at Hinkley Point and another two at Sizewell in Suffolk. The EPR is new third generation reactor that has been developed by Areva, EDF Energy and Siemens. There are a number of these reactors being built in France and China, however no single reactor is currently operational. Not only has this reactor not established a track record for performance, it’s most notorious failure is still going on in Olkiluoto, Finland where construction began in 2005 and ten years later the power plant has still not been completed at a cost of billions in overruns to their taxpayers. The capacity of the Olkiluoto EPR plant is half of the generation capacity of the planned site at Hinkley Point, in Somerset.
Considering that most investors won’t put their money into unproven technologies, One has to wonder who does think that this kind of investment is sensible for Britain?
The plant at Hinkley Point was first projected to cost £16 billion. Now the price has been set at £24.5 billion, including the millions of finance that will be needed for neighbouring communities to keep them sweet so they agree to play host to such dangerous radioactive toxins in their backyard in what is otherwise a pristine area of natural beauty in Somerset. This government has just overseen the first round of contracts under their new Contracts for Difference. One of the envisioned contracts for this new program involves the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. The contract guarantees a strike price of up to £92.50 per MWh for the electricity generated by the plant. This guarantee appeases the shareholders, of which 40% will be Chinese and the rest French, who have no special interest in the well being of the British people.
In order to secure the construction of this nuclear power plant, the UK consumer is being forced to accept a deal where the price of electricity generated will be fixed at twice the current price, applying the export tariff for solar photovoltaics (PV) of 4.5p per kWh as our measurement. BHESCo believes that we should be concerned that this government is entering into contracts which will insure that energy prices will increase. Our argument is that EDF will not be able to compete if its prices have to be that high to support its fleet of new nuclear power stations. We have more confidence that the renewable electricity generated from the fleet of offshore windfarms will be half that price. So, if EDF is to offer its price on the market at twice the price, no one would buy it, except the taxpayer. We are concerned that the costs of nuclear power will most likely be spread to all of our purses, including our most vulnerable people.
Hinkley Point is projected to produce sufficient electricity to power 5 million homes, year in, year out, without breakdowns in performance for the next 25 years. This, we know from experience with the current nuclear power stations, is not true. They are periodically taken out of commission for maintenance that can last for months. The Dogger Bank wind farm in Yorkshire that was approved last February, will be one of the largest offshore wind farm in the world, generating enough electricity to power 2 million homes. The costs to the ratepayer after the plant is built are minimal and predictable, including maintenance and a small subsidy. Compare that to a nuclear power plant where the costs are spiraling ever higher. Nuclear power plants must be decommissioned at the end of their lives, which takes 100 years, a cost traditionally financed by the taxpayer. Nuclear waste must be stored. Then, it must be transported securely to a processing plant where it is then put into canisters for storage over the next 10,000 years, although there is no long term solution for storing highly toxic radioactive waste. We estimate that at least 50% of the budget for the Department of Energy and Climate Change is attributed to the management of these types of issues around our nuclear legacy. We cannot cut this budget, it would pose too much of a national security threat. So we cut other public services.
Does this make any sense to you?
A Zero Carbon Society
Thursday, 26 February 2015
6 – 8:30pm
registration starts at 5:30pm
Sallis Benney Theatre, Grand Parade, University of Brighton
Introductions and keynote speech will be made by Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion
Come watch the presentation and Q&A by Paul Allen, contributing author to the Zero Carbon Britain report, the Centre for Alternative Technology’s (CAT) flagship project that details how a modern, zero emissions society is possible using technologies that are available today.
Roundtable discussions will be lead by local experts in the field of Transport, Energy, Housing and Food from the Food Partnership, the Science Policy Research Unit from the University of Sussex, C Change sustainability group from the University of Brighton and the Bike Train.
The discussions will be followed by networking with drinks and nibbles to fuel your discussions. This is a great opportunity to meet and speak to people who are on the frontlines of the transition to a zero carbon society. Create links and share best practice with the local community during this inspiring event. Book your place for free to avoid disappointment.