Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Three out of five Britons would not vote for an MP who backs ban of new petrol and diesel cars

BORIS Johnson is facing a voter backlash over plans to ban new petrol and ­diesel cars sales in 2030. Three out of five would not vote for an MP who backs the idea, a survey reveals.

The growing anger is revealed in the study of 41,000 road users, including car, van and taxi drivers, truckers, bikers, cyclists and walkers

There is also overwhelming ­support for a referendum on the Government action to hit its net zero target for harmful emissions.

Most alarming for the PM is hardening opposition to curbs on motorists among voters in the former Red Wall seats.

Some 79 per cent of them say it is unlikely or impossible he will hit a 2050 net zero goal.

The growing anger is revealed in the study of 41,000 road users, including car, van and taxi drivers, truckers, bikers, cyclists and walkers.

Tory Craig Mackinlay, chairman of the Net Zero Scrutiny group of MPs, said: “A big backlash is brewing unless we see a change of direction soon.”

FairfuelUK founder Howard Cox, who organised the survey with the Alliance of British Drivers and the Motorcycle Action Group, accused ministers of “green ­fantasy edicts”.

He warned it could lead to a “massacre at the ballot box” for the Tories.


UK Gas Production Could Plunge 75% By 2030

The UK could become much more vulnerable to price shocks and geopolitical events unless new offshore fields are approved and developed—and the UK’s gas production could plummet by 75 percent by 2030, the offshore energy industry body OGUK said on Thursday.

Without new investment in new gas fields in the North Sea, the UK will be left more vulnerable to crisis, such as the current one between Russia and Ukraine, the industry association noted.

Additional price shocks would add to the ongoing energy crisis in the UK where gas and power suppliers are going bust, while customers face a cost-of-living crisis when the energy market regulator Ofgem raises the price cap on energy bills as of April 1. The worst is yet to come for consumers in April, when millions of households would be thrown into energy poverty, with many people having to choose between eating and heating.

Domestic production currently meets 47 percent of the UK’s gas demand, 31 percent comes from pipeline imports from Europe, mostly from Norway, and 21 percent from LNG imports. In 2020, Russia supplied 3.4 percent of the UK’s gas, OGUK said.

According to the industry body, new fields are needed in the UK North Sea to stave off a predicted 75-percent plunge in domestic supplies if no new fields are approved. Many fields remain to be tapped, according to geological surveys. Such fields are estimated to contain oil and gas equivalent to 10-20 billion barrels of oil—enough to sustain production for 10-20 years, OGUK said.

“In the longer term, if UK gas production is allowed to fall as predicted, then our energy supplies will become ever more vulnerable to global events over which we have no control – as we now see happening with Russia’s threatened invasion of Ukraine,” OGUK Energy Policy Manager Will Webster said on Thursday.


Europe is closing down nuclear power just when it really needs energy

Countries are plunging deeper into an energy crisis, but some governments are still shutting down reactors.

As the Fukushima disaster unfolded in Japan in 2011, then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a dramatic decision that delighted her country’s anti-nuclear movement: all reactors would be ditched.

What couldn’t have been predicted was that Europe would find itself mired in one of the worst energy crises in its history. A decade later, the continent’s biggest economy has shut down almost all its capacity already. The rest will be switched off at the end of 2022 — at the worst possible time.

Wholesale power prices are more than four times what they were at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Governments are having to take emergency action to support domestic and industrial consumers faced with crippling bills, which could rise higher if the tension over Ukraine escalates. The crunch has not only exposed Europe’s supply vulnerabilities, but also the entrenched cultural and political divisions over the nuclear industry and a failure to forge a collective vision.

Other regions meanwhile are cracking on. China is moving fast on nuclear to try to clean up its air quality. Its suite of reactors is on track to surpass that of the U.S., the world’s largest, by as soon as the middle of this decade. Russia is moving forward with new stations at home and has more than 20 reactors confirmed or planned for export construction, according to the World Nuclear Association.

“I don’t think we’re ever going to see consensus across Europe with regards to the continued running of existing assets, let alone the construction of new ones,” said Peter Osbaldstone, research director for power and renewables at Wood Mackenzie Group Ltd. in the U.K. “It’s such a massive polarizer of opinions that national energy policy is required in strength over a sustained period to support new nuclear investment.”

France, Europe’s most prolific nuclear energy producer, is promising an atomic renaissance as its output becomes less reliable. Britain plans to replace aging plants in the quest for cleaner, more reliable energy sources. The Netherlands wants to add more capacity, Poland also is seeking to join the nuclear club, and Finland is starting to produce electricity later this month from its first new plant in four decades.

Belgium and Spain, meanwhile, are following Germany’s lead in abandoning nuclear, albeit on different timeframes. Austria rejected it in a referendum in 1978.

Nuclear power is seen by its proponents as vital to reaching net-zero targets. Once built, reactors supply low-carbon electricity all the time, unlike intermittent wind or solar.

Plants, though, take a decade or more to construct at best and the risk is high of running over time and over budget. Finland’s new Olkiluoto-3 unit is coming on line after a 12-year delay and billions of euros in financial overruns.

Then there’s the waste, which stays hazardous for 100,000 years. For those reasons European Union members are still quarreling over whether nuclear even counts as sustainable.

Electorates are also split. Polling by YouGov Plc published in December found that Danes, Germans and Italians were far more nuclear-skeptic than the French, British or Spanish.

“It comes down to politics,” said Vince Zabielski, partner at New York-based law firm Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, who was a nuclear engineer for 15 years. “Everything political ebbs and flows, but when the lights start going off people have a completely different perspective.”

Indeed, there’s a risk of rolling blackouts this winter. Supply concerns plaguing Europe have sent gas and electricity prices to record levels and inflation has ballooned. There’s also mounting tension with Russia over a possible invasion of Ukraine, which could lead to disrupted supplies of gas. All this is strengthening the argument that Europe needs to reduce its dependence on international sources of gas.

Europe will need to invest 500 billion euros ($568 billion) in nuclear over the next 30 years to meet growing demand for electricity and achieve its carbon reduction targets, according to Thierry Breton, the EU’s internal market commissioner. His comments come after the bloc unveiled plans last month to allow certain natural gas and nuclear energy projects to be classified as sustainable investments.


Erratic output from renewables requires Australian government agency to spend a lot on bringing in other electricity supplies

Costs incurred by the body that keeps the lights on across Australia's major electricity systems are skyrocketing as surging levels of renewable energy increasingly challenge the security of the grid.

Following another year in which record amounts of renewable energy were added to the national electricity mix, the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) is pushing for a big hike in funding to oversee one of its key jurisdictions.

The agency wants $156.2 million over three years to 2025 — a 66 per cent jump on the previous period – to operate the main electricity market in Western Australia.

In a submission to WA's economic watchdog, the AEMO said it needed the extra funds to help cope with the increasing complexity and volatility in the market as more and more renewable energy flooded onto the system.

"While the growing level of variable renewable generation is helping the [WA system] transition towards clean, low-cost generation, it can pose operational challenges," it said in its submission.

The proposal mirrors the AEMO's actions in Australia's biggest power system — the National Electricity Market (NEM) – where the organisation has faced steeply rising costs to stabilise a grid that services almost 10 million customers.

As part of its most recent snapshot of the market, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) noted the AEMO was spending tens of millions of dollars on contingency measures to ensure the NEM did not run short of power at vulnerable times.

Much of the outlay was on back-up capacity — provided either by power plants that could generate electricity or major users who could scale back consumption when needed — for times when the grid was "under stress".

The AER noted that the so-called reliability and emergency reserve trader scheme had been in place for a number of years but had rarely been used until recently.

It said the scheme had now been invoked in all the biggest states, including South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, while its total cost between 2017 and 2020 had reached $110m.

On top of this, the regulator said the AEMO was having to intervene in the normal functioning of the market by calling on more expensive power plants that could help with the stability of the grid.

The regulator noted these interventions had "risen sharply in recent years" as the AEMO ordered some generators, such as gas-fired power plants, to stay on while telling others, including wind and solar farms, to back off at certain times.

These interventions had come "at significant cost to consumers", the AER said, with the AEMO shelling out $50m in 2018 and 2019 to compensate affected generators.

Despite efforts to control these costs, the AER noted they were higher still in 2020 at $66m.

"Aside from formal compensation, the use of constraints or directions penalises consumers by driving up wholesale electricity prices," the AER said in its report.

"For example, by restricting wind or solar output that might have zero marginal costs, AEMO directions may lead to dispatch from synchronous (coal- or gas-fired) generators with higher costs."

The AEMO said the growing challenges of keeping the lights on were highlighted in its latest snapshot of the market, which showed record volatility in the three months to December 31.

Minimum demand for electricity from the grid fell to new lows in SA, NSW and Victoria as cooler weather subdued demand and growing amounts of rooftop solar pushed out fossil fuel-fired generators.

Across the NEM, the average output of renewable energy also increased from 31.6 per cent to 34.9 per cent, with maximum output reaching as high as 61.8 per cent for a short time on November 15.

The AEMO said the combination of factors helped to push wholesale power prices into negative territory, where generators have to pay someone to take their electricity, a record number of times.

At the same time, the market body noted its own costs "remained elevated" for the quarter as it scrambled to ensure there was enough back-up to meet demand when renewable generation fell away or when there were other shocks to the system.

Synergy, the WA state-owned power provider that would be up for the biggest share of the AEMO's cost increase in the west, declined to comment.

The Australian Energy Council, which represents big electricity providers, said the AEMO's spending plan reflected the "dramatic shift in the energy mix and significant government reforms".

But the council also said it was critical to ensure the AEMO's spending was transparent to ensure it was kept to a minimum.

"WA's Economic Regulation Authority … plays an important oversight role [in the WA market] and we expect to make a detailed submission once the ERA has released its draft determination," a spokesman said




No comments: