Photograph: Annie Griffiths Belt/Corbis

Photograph: Annie Griffiths Belt/Corbis

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[1] 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.

DECC generation table
DECC 2012

Nuclear power produced 19% of our electricity production in 2011[2].  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.


[1] A low carbon nuclear future: Economic assessment of nuclear materials and spent nuclear fuel management in the UK, Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, University of Oxford, March 2011

[2] Digest of United Kingdom energy Statistics 2012 – Department of Energy and Climate Change

Witoffshore wind daily mailh 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[1] 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.

Register your interest in Brighton & Hove Energy Services and help to create a more efficient energy market.  Take the power into your own hands.

12 Dec 2012

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Radio free brighton image smallestBHESCo hosts a weekly ECO show on Radio Free Brighton.  Each week, we interview fascinating people discussing cleantech issues around energy generation, energy efficiency and the circular economy.

Our first guest is Alex Hunt, Director of BHESCo and founder of Bright Green Homes and the Green Building Partnership answers your questions about energy efficiency:

Cat Fletcher, an environmental representative for the Community and Voluntary Sector, Founder of Freegle UK and founding partner along with University of Brighton and BBM architects discusses the circular economy and opportunities for reducing waste in the city.

 

 

03 Dec 2012

Zero Cost Energy Park launched

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The UK’s first business park designed to save its nine tenants an average of £2 per square foot on their rental charges was launched in Wigan last week.  The renewable energy micro-generation systems installed were a 90 kWp solar PV system, a 6kW wind turbine, nine solar thermal systems and nine heat pumps.  These proven technologies combined provide tenants of the Hindley Green business park  with no overhead for energy costs.

The site was developed by Eco Environments and Kingspan in cooperation with Armstrong Properties.  The business park will create 65 jobs.  55 jobs were created for the construction and development of the site.  Source: Edie Energy

“A long term investment is a short term bet gone wrong.”

 

This quote from a city banker epitomises the mentality of the bankers that gambled us into an economic crisis.   Has government also adopted a short term view?

The current emphasis on switching energy suppliers and the recently released consultation on increased regulation of energy suppliers to be included in the Energy Bill raises questions about the benefits of more regulation and less focus on energy transmission, energy storage and the need for a long term sustainable energy strategy.

Some of the aspects of switching are good, for example:

  • Tariffs structures are too complicated – essentially energy companies sell units of heat and electricity,
  • According to DECC, customers who have never switched can save up to £200 per year by switching supplier and paying by direct debit.

However, the legislation contemplated doesn’t solve the fundamental problem with rising energy prices and could actually create overall higher prices through standardisation of tariffs, by creating higher administrative costs for energy suppliers and by creating excessive disclosure.  The Energy Bill does not stimulate investment in two fundamental areas that we need to lower energy prices forever:

  1. Move away from fossil fuel generation to renewable energy lowering our vulnerability to rising wholesale prices,
  2. lower consumption by improving energy efficiency.

Once consumption is balanced against measureable consumption patterns and weather, a clear view is presented on which energy companies can plan their supply requirements.  An improved energy bill would break up the National Grid to encourage new investment in electricity transmission and encourage investment in energy storage.

At BHESCo we take a long term view of energy prices, working with an energy supplier to help them lower their costs, reinvesting those savings in the community – providing energy as a service, because everyone is different.

 


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