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UK Draft Energy Bill Avoids Banning Coal Or Gas Power 153

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the we'll-just-colonize-mars dept.
Bob the Super Hamste writes "The BBC is reporting that the UK's new Draft Energy Bill (PDF) avoids banning coal or gas powered plants. The bill would guarantee profits for new nuclear and offshore wind plants by putting a levy on people's energy bills. The bill does not mandate a statement that minsters had previously made about having totally clean energy within two decades. The government states that provisions within the bill will ensure a balanced diverse energy mix as well has stating that future emissions from gas powered plants will have to be captured and stored. The bill also aims to increase competition in the UK energy market by making it easier for new competitors to become connected to the grid. Joss Garman of Greenpeace states: 'By failing to set a clear goal for carbon-free electricity by 2030, ministers are opening the door to a dangerous new dash for gas that will put up both bills and carbon emissions, and increase our dependence on imported fuel. This means families and business will be exposed to rocketing international gas prices. The fastest and cheapest way to bring down bills and carbon emissions is by ramping up energy efficiency but Ministers have totally failed to deliver on this.' Additionally it would appear that the guarantee of profits for new nuclear power plants may not be legal as there is a ban on subsidies for nuclear power under European law and the UK coalition government agreement." Note that wind projects are getting profit guarantees and not just nuclear.
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UK Draft Energy Bill Avoids Banning Coal Or Gas Power

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  • Should we operate on the assumption that the UK assumes that it won't get built?

    • by RockDoctor (15477)
      I've only heard very vague rumour of this project. Links please (assuming that you do know something about it and can avoit the adverts for Icelandic cable porn).

      Working some of the time out in the North Sea and North Atlantic, I can envisage some of the scale of technology and investment that would be required for a significant power system like this. It's going to be seriously not-cheap for both installation and maintenance. Which begs the question of whether it would be worth it for geothermal (I assume

      • by Rei (128717)

        Residential power here in Iceland is 6-7 US cents per kilowatt hour, so I can only imagine that industrial-scale power is even cheaper. We're really sitting on more power production potential than we know what to do with, it's almost ridiculous. I mean, hot water goes to 90% of houses and people waste it like crazy, there's huge heated pools, etc... and a quarter of this hot water comes just from downtown alone, little sheds mixed in with the buildings. In Öskjuhlíð they drilled a 90 meter

        • by RockDoctor (15477)
          I knew the potential. I'm a geologist.

          I'm following the link to that conference, but the connection here is pretty slow.

          A priori, the problems with an export cable are multi-fold : power losses in the cable ; construction and maintenance of the cable ; environmental impact.

          • Power losses : unless you're going to build a superconducting cable (hmmm, question mark, exclamation mark), it will act as a long resistor heating up the deep Atlantic. Power output = voltage X current = current^2 * resistance = vol
  • by LehiNephi (695428) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @11:55AM (#40077199) Journal
    Uh, perhaps there's some measure in the law which places tariffs on higher-polluting sources, but I can't recall any time when mandatory, arbitrary efficiency/emissions standards have lowered costs. If higher efficiency truly creates savings, then the mandates aren't necessary. Witness the boom in demand for fuel-efficient cars as gas prices go up.
    • by polar red (215081)

      I can't recall any time when mandatory, arbitrary efficiency/emissions standards have lowered costs.

      CFL's ? they are expensive, but they last a lot longer than incandescents.

      • They also have different properties, which makes them not exactly a drop-in replacement. People I know who don't like CFLs tend not to like them due to the nature of the light they product (white rather than slightly coloured) when compared to incandescents (although I believe newer CFLs can ameliorate that). Also, AFAIK, CFLs can't be dimmed.

      • In what way have CFL's lowered costs? Care to give me a citation that actually shows this and not one that does it by projecting based on assumptions.
      • Unless you switch them on/off frequently. Then they don't last as long as incandescents.

        It's a good thing you can get the new round space heaters (that cast off a nice glow). The ban was and is stupid. People can choose.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Depends on your time scale. Some pain now to get us to a stage where when oil prices really start to sky rocket we are not so dependent on it that our economy is wrecked.

  • by bigredradio (631970) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @11:58AM (#40077247) Homepage Journal
    Since coal [ucsusa.org] and gas powered plants are the number one cause of pollution and greenhouse gases, this is a pretty big oversight.
  • Better headline. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HornWumpus (783565) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:10PM (#40077373)

    UK draft bill avoids fantasy land. Remains connected to reality.

    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:19PM (#40077465) Journal
      My reaction too. It's subsidising nuclear and wind, makes it easier for small experimental generators to be connected to the grid (yay for getting back some of the R&D investment on your new test plant), requires carbon capture for coal plants, and provides an emissions ceiling for any power plant which is going to be lowered every year. And the Slashdot spin is that it sucks because it doesn't mandate immediately switching to unicorn fart power.
      • Not to mention the fact that there are still large coal reserves under the British Isles which are not being mined much now because it became cheaper to import it.

        With ever increasing fuel costs, at some point it presumably becomes economical to start mining coal here again, I assume the Draft Energy Bill covers that eventuality also.

      • by AmiMoJo (196126)

        Unfortunately it may be illegal. Under EU rules it is illegal for the state to subsidize nuclear power, so the government is forcing consumers to subsidize it through their energy bills. Either way the state requires you to pay.

        More worrying is the enormous cost of nuclear and the fact that all but one energy supplier has pulled out of the running to build them. They will get built on the cheap, run on the cheap and when the next government gets in and decides the subsidy was too much cut back to the absolu

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

      No, no, no.

      That may be a true statement, but this is a headline! It has to be sensational and scandalous, or it'll never get published by a respected journalism outfit like Slashdot!

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:26PM (#40077539)

      UK draft bill fails to outlaw electricity. Lights still work.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:15PM (#40077429)

    As a tree-hugger myself I don't see how a modern economy can just dump a major source of power like coal and gas in less than one generation so I can't blame them for this. However, I would've liked to have seem them at least set a goal with some teeth behind it. My feeling though is that people hate to sacrifice even to save themselves and we'll just have to have a real climate hell before anything changes. Sort of like the guy who ignores his health until he has a heart attack despite all the warnings.

    • My feeling though is that people hate to sacrifice even to save themselves and we'll just have to have a real climate hell before anything changes. Sort of like the guy who ignores his health until he has a heart attack despite all the warnings.

      The guy who pays attention to his health can avoid a heart attack.

      Alas, nothing the UK government can do will have any impact on Global Warming.

      EVERYONE, EVERYWHERE has to do something about AGW, or it won't matter at all.

      Face it, if every country that had an obli

  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:16PM (#40077439)

    Actually, as an American, I wouldn't mind seeing the UK turned into a test platform for green energy (and some social engineering to push it). If it succeeds, they could show the rest of the English speaking world how to do it. And if it turns out to be a hippie pipe dream and fails--well, then we learn a valuable lesson without having to suffer for it in the U.S.

    You're on point, Britain! Watch out for mines, and good luck.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Scotland will be "100% renewable" in a few years time. That doesn't mean they will only have renewables, but rather they produce 200% of what they themselves use and half of it is renewable. The spare capacity is sold to the rest of the UK. For them clean energy is looking like the new oil wealth, and they are proving how reliable and scalable it is.

      You might also be interested in Japan, which was forced to ditch almost all its nuclear power at once (25-30% of total capacity) and somehow wasn't thrown back

  • This bill isn't about efficient energy use, that's another subject which is addressed elsewhere. This is about setting a realistic policy for clean and reliable energy production.
  • Small NUkes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sycodon (149926) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:25PM (#40077535)

    The nuclear industry needs to give up on the large, one off plants and come up with smaller, factory built nukes that can be installed in series, much like batteries.

    These are being worked on and some already designed and in prototype stage, but taking them commercial is a regulatory hell.

    People are always trying to get the federal government to "do something" that they are better off doing themselves or being done by local governments. But clearing the regulatory hurdles and standardizing these products is a perfect example of what the federal government should be doing.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by Zenin (266666)

      Honestly, nuke batteries just have bad idea written all over them.

      Here's the problem with nuclear in a nutshell:

      • In theory it can be perfectly safe and extremely efficient.
      • In practice it is nothing but a ticking time bomb easily capable of effectively wiping a large cities right off the map with additional affects world wide. And it's the poster child for inefficient.

      A battery of nukes? Again, in theory it could be even safer and more efficient...in practice however, it's just massively compounding the dan

      • by Firethorn (177587)

        In practice it is nothing but a ticking time bomb easily capable of effectively wiping a large cities right off the map with additional affects world wide. And it's the poster child for inefficient.

        We're to the point that we've had 2 disasters with major nuclear material contamination. One was a reactor that wouldn't have been certified in the rest of the world and lacked a containment dome, the other was basically one of the oldest operational plants in the world, hit by a huge natural disaster that killed far more people than what the nuclear relases are going to.

        If I was Evil Overlord over an area(POTUS doesn't have enough power), I'd be embarking on a campaign of nuclear plant production - Step 1

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      These are being worked on and some already designed and in prototype stage, but taking them commercial is a regulatory hell.

      What do you expect? Any new technology needs to be safe. Proving a nuclear reactor is safe is technically difficult and takes a long time, and involves the destructive testing of expensive gear. Hardly unique or unusual, things like jet engines and aircraft have the same problem.

      Another major problem will be insurance. Currently the entire US nuclear industry is only insured for $10bn. To give you an idea of scale Fukushima is going to cost hundreds of billions to sort out, and Japan isn't as lawsuit happy

  • Pointless. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642)

    reporting that the UK's new Draft Energy Bill (PDF) avoids banning ... gas powered plants.

    Given the staggering decline in north sea production, because its all gone, I don't think this is terribly relevant.

    The fastest and cheapest way to bring down ... carbon emissions is by

    is by burning up all the gas? Can't emit carbon if there's none to burn.

    I follow the energy business and the UK is in serious danger of disaster in the next decade or so. They don't have the technical equipment or the economic strength or the installed capital (like insulated buildings) to survive the transition from a fossil fuel exporter to pretty much having to import everything. The lig

    • by 0123456 (636235)

      Given the staggering decline in north sea production, because its all gone, I don't think this is terribly relevant.

      Considering that Britain appears to have enough shale gas to power it for centuries, that doesn't seem to be a problem.

      • Re:Pointless. (Score:4, Informative)

        by vlm (69642) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:41PM (#40077747)

        shale gas is primarily a way to turn two barrels of crude into one barrel equivalent of natgas. Sometimes its described as a way to turn millions of dollars of capital investment into thousands of dollars of gas.
        It is very similar to ethanol as a primary energy source, in that in rare and unusual geography and situations it is occasionally net positive, but by in large its not gonna work.

        • Parent exactly nailed it. Shale gas is a scam. The 'hundreds of years of supply' meme is completely false, and is part of a paid social networking and general marketing campaign put on by a few US Fracking companies. Shale gas has poor net energy, making it not worthwhile from an energy source perspective, AND has the bonus of permanently poisoning the local water supply.
  • Guaranteed Profits (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wildclaw (15718) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:34PM (#40077663)

    I guess it was just a matter of time.

    1: Government builds the infrastructure.
    Problem: Not profitable enough.

    2: Make the government pay private companies to build infrastructure.
    Problem: Not profitable enough.

    3: Steal..err...privatize the infrastructure.
    Problem: You still have to pay those damn progressive taxes, and what happens when you have to build new infrastructure?

    4: Guarantee profits on new infrastructure and not via taxes. Instead just force the citizens to buy it so that it works like a regressive tax.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126)

      Actually this is just no. 2 on the sly. EU rules don't allow governments to subsidize building new nuclear plants, but the government thinks it can get around that by forcing the consumer to pay the subsidy directly instead of via taxation.

      Even so there seems to be little interest from energy companies. All but one have dropped out and it looks unlikely that all the plants the government wants will get built now. Probably because the companies know that as soon as a different government gets in they will tr

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