Jul 2, 2015

After Fukushima-Daichi, why is the European commission subsidizing nuclear plants in the UK?

Tomas H. Lucero
3 min
Greenpeace, a “leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmenta...

Greenpeace, a “leading independent campaigning organization that uses peaceful protest and creative communication to expose global environmental problems and to promote solutions that are essential to a green and peaceful future” (greenpeace.org) and nine German and Austrian utilities selling renewables announced on Thursday that they will be taking legal action against the European commission’s decision to subsidize the Hinkley Point C nuclear project in the United Kingdom.

[Related: [INFOGRAPHIC] Picturing the Complex Nuclear Energy Landscape]

The utilities joining Greenpeace are "Energieversorgung Filstal, municipal utilities (called Stadtwerke) of Aalen, Bietigheim-Bissingen, Bochum, Mainz, Muehlacker, Schwaebisch Hall and Tuebingen and Austria's oekostrom," according to Reuters.

Greenpeace, and companies’, rationale for their lawsuit  is that “billions of euros of subsidies for nuclear energy would distort prices in mainland European power markets, which are linked to those in Britain via a small French interconnector,” reports Reuters.

Price guarantees for Hinkley Point C’s output, calculated over 35 years, would amount to 108 billion euros and state guarantees for construction would be upwards of 20 billion euros.

“Artificially low prices of electricity derived from subsidized nuclear plants would push up prices German consumes were paying for green energy,” said the plaintiffs, quoted by Reuters.

EDF, a French utility, is the entity hired to build the new nuclear facility.

Supporters of the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant project don’t believe that the price of green energy in Europe will be affected.

They argue that nuclear energy is necessary because wind and solar energy cannot provide a reliable energy supply all day and all year round. They also argue that the technology to store excess energy cost-effectively does not exist yet and may cost too much when it is developed.

[Related: EIA: Japan Bringing Limited Nuclear Power Back Online]

Subsidizing the building of more nuclear facilities is a bad idea because nuclear energy is too dangerous.

A clear example of the danger of nuclear energy is the Fukushima-Daichi disaster. Radiation continues to spill into the water and the air. The general population is being kept in the dark about the ultimate effects of the accident.

The money currently destined to subsidize Hinkley Point C can be put to much better use by investing it in green energy R&D. Private enterprise has already made great strides towards developing energy storage batteries that can tide people over nights and winters. A public-private enterprise with high tech may be just the needed push to create cost-effective solutions to energy storage.

Greenpeace and their allies argue that subsidizing nuclear energy will increase the price of green energy in the future in Europe. The laws of economics support this.

EDF and other supporters of the nuclear facility don’t accept that receiving state money to build Hinkley Point C will raise the price of green energy. They believe that sun and wind energy will not be able to power homes and businesses at night and during winters.

[Related: What Does it Cost to Decommission a Nuclear Power Plant?]

If we put a man on the moon we can design batteries that will store wind and solar energy for future use. We can also design more efficient turbines and panels that will increase the energy created from the elements. Nuclear energy needs to be scrapped and monies need to be redirected towards the future, green, renewable energy sources.  

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Jul 26, 2021

Ofwat allows retailers to raise prices from April

Dominic Ellis
3 min
Ofwat confirms levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue

Retailers can recover a portion of excess bad debt by temporarily increasing prices from April 2022, according to an Ofwat statement.

The regulator confirmed its view that levels of bad debt costs across the business retail market are exceeding 2% of non-household revenue, thereby allowing "a temporary increase" in the maximum prices. Adjustments to price caps will apply for a minimum of two years to reduce the step changes in price that customers might experience.

Measures introduced since March 2020 to contain the spread of Covid-19 could lead to retailers facing higher levels of customer bad debt. Retailers’ abilities to respond to this are expected to be constrained by Ofwat strengthening protections for non-household customers during Covid-19 and the presence of price caps.  

In April last year, Ofwat committed to provide additional regulatory protection if bad debt costs across the market exceeded 2% of non-household revenue. 

Georgina Mills, Business Retail Market Director at Ofwat said: “These decisions aim to protect the interests of non-household customers in the short and longer term, including from the risk of systemic Retailer failure as the business retail market continues to feel the impacts of COVID-19. By implementing market-wide adjustments to price caps, we aim to minimise any additional costs for customers in the shorter term by promoting efficiency and supporting competition.”  

There are also three areas where Ofwat has not reached definitive conclusions and is seeking further evidence and views from stakeholders:   

  1. Pooling excess bad debt costs – Ofwat proposes that the recovery of excess bad debt costs is pooled across all non-household customers, via a uniform uplift to price caps. 
  2. Keeping open the option of not pursuing a true up – For example if outturn bad debt costs are not materially higher than the 2% threshold. 
  3. Undertaking the true up – If a 'true up' is required, Ofwat has set out how it expects this to work in practice. 

Further consultation on the proposed adjustments to REC price caps can be expected by December.

Anita Dougall, CEO and Founding Partner at Sagacity, said Ofwat’s decision comes hot on the heels of Ofgem’s price cap rise in April.

"While it’s great that regulators are helping the industry deal with bad debt in the wake of the pandemic, raising prices only treats the symptoms. Instead, water companies should head upstream, using customer data to identify and rectify the causes of bad debt, stop it at source and help prevent it from occurring in the first place," she said.

"While recouping costs is a must, water companies shouldn’t just rely on the regulator. Data can help companies segment customers, identify and assist customers that are struggling financially, avoiding penalising the entire customer in tackling the cause of the issue."

United Utilities picks up pipeline award

A race-against-time plumbing job to connect four huge water pipes into the large Haweswater Aqueduct in Cumbria saw United Utilities awarded Utility Project of the Year by Pipeline Industries Guild.

The Hallbank project, near Kendal, was completed within a tight eight-day deadline, in a storm and during the second COVID lockdown last November – and with three hours to spare. Principal construction manager John Dawson said the project helped boost the resilience of water supplies across the North West.

“I think what made us stand out was the scale, the use of future technology and the fact that we were really just one team, working collaboratively for a common goal," he said.

Camus Energy secures $16m funding

Camus Energy, which provides advanced grid management technology, has secured $16 million in a Series A round, led by Park West Asset Management and joined by Congruent VenturesWave Capital and other investors, including an investor-owned utility. Camus will leverage the operating capital to expand its grid management software platform to meet growing demand from utilities across North America.

As local utilities look to save money and increase their use of clean energy by tapping into low-cost and low-carbon local resources, Camus' grid management platform provides connectivity between the utility's operations team, its grid-connected equipment and customer devices.

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