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Davey announces long-awaited energy agreement

Picture of Edward Davey for your Expert Witness storyOn 23 November the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) published its proposals for the long-delayed Energy Bill. The bill was dogged by arguments between the DECC and the Treasury. Secretary of State Ed Davey called the bill "a landmark agreement on energy policy that will deliver a clear, durable signal to investors".

Mr Davey said in a statement: "This is a durable agreement across the coalition against which companies can invest and support jobs and our economic recovery. The decisions we've reached are true to the coalition agreement; they mean we can introduce the Energy Bill next week and have essential electricity market reforms up and running by 2014 as planned.

"They will allow us to meet our legally binding carbon reduction and renewable energy obligations and will bring on the investment required to keep the lights on and bills affordable for consumers."

Last Updated on Friday, 23 November 2012 18:33


Carbon capture competition: shortlist announced

Picture of Drax for Your Expert Witness storyFour bidders have been shortlisted for the next phase of the UK's £1bn carbon capture and storage (CCS) competition. The four were selected from eight bids received after an evaluation process that considered project deliverability, value for money and the Government's timetable to deliver a cost-competitive CCS industry in the 2020s.

The four short listed bids – all full-chain capture, transport and storage projects – are:
• Captain Clean Energy Project, a proposal for a 570MW project in Grangemouth, Scotland, with storage in offshore depleted gas fields. It is led by Summit Power, involving Petrofac (CO2 Deepstore), National Grid and Siemens.
• Peterhead, a 340MW post-combustion capture retrofitted to part of an existing 1,180MW power station at Peterhead, Scotland. It is led by Shell and SSE.
• Teesside Low Carbon Project, a pre-combustion coal gasification project on Teesside, with storage in depleted oil field and saline aquifer. It is a consortium led by Progressive Energy and involving GDF SUEZ, Premier Oil, and BOC.
• White Rose Project, an oxyfuel capture project at a proposed new 304MW coal-fired power station on the Drax site in North Yorkshire. It is led by Alstom and involves Drax, BOC and National Grid.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 October 2012 18:47


FoE campaigner calls for halt to shale gas fracking

Picture of an anti-fracking campaign poster for Your Expert Witness storyWith the European Gas Policy Forum 2012 addressing the issue of shale gas and its potential impact on both security of supply in Europe and on climate change, a leading campaigner against shale gas extraction has called for Europe to "slam the door shut on shale gas", drawing attention to three reports issued by the European Commission on the subject.

According to a release issued by the Commission: "The studies look at the potential effects of these fuels on energy markets, the potential climate impact of shale gas production, and the potential risks shale gas developments and associated hydraulic fracturing ('fracking') may present to human health and the environment."

Referring to one of them, Antoine Simon of Friends of the Earth Europe wrote in, published on 3 October: "A report published last month by the environment directorate general identified a number of high risks for health and the environment."

The EC release had this to say on the issue: "The study on environmental impacts shows that extracting shale gas generally imposes a larger environmental footprint than conventional gas development. Risks of surface and ground water contamination, water resource depletion, air and noise emissions, land take, disturbance to biodiversity and impacts related to traffic are deemed to be high in the case of cumulative projects."

The other two reports – on energy market impact and climate impact – are less critical but not commendatory.

The EC release says of the energy market report: "Drawing on the US experience and reviewing potential EU resources, it suggests that under a best case scenario, future shale gas production in Europe could help the EU maintain energy import dependency at around 60%. But it also reveals sometimes considerable uncertainty about recoverable volumes, technological developments, public acceptance and access to land and markets."

Furthermore: "The study on climate impacts shows that shale gas produced in the EU causes more GHG emissions than conventional natural gas produced in the EU, but – if well managed – less than imported gas from outside the EU, be it via pipeline or by LNG due to the impacts on emissions from long-distance gas transport."

Antoine Simon is in no doubt about what needs to be done. He concluded: "The dangers of shale gas will have to be recognised and the brakes put on this high-risk, unnecessary technology. Our latest report recommends that Europe permanently closes its doors to unconventional and unwanted fossil fuels like shale gas, and embraces a low-carbon energy model, based on renewable energy and improved energy savings."

Last Updated on Wednesday, 03 October 2012 13:54

Climate change committee outlines concerns over gas statements

On 13 September the Committee on Climate Change, an independent committee of leading academic experts and peers, published a letter it has sent to Energy Secretary Ed Davey expressing concern over a recent statement on the continued use of gas as a primary energy source beyond 2030.

The letter, which is 'CC'd' to, among other Government leaders, the Chancellor George Osborne, states: "Extensive use of unabated gas-fired capacity (ie without carbon capture and storage technology (CCS)) in 2030 and beyond would be incompatible with meeting legislated carbon budgets."

The letter goes on to say: "Unabated gas-fired generation could therefore not form the basis for Government policy, given the need under the Climate Change Act to set policies to meet carbon budgets and the 2050 target."

Last Updated on Friday, 14 September 2012 14:42


Water Bill raises more hackles than spirits

Picture for Expert Witness water storyIn July the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (defra) published the Draft Water Bill. Under the proposals, which have been published for pre-legislative scrutiny, all businesses and public sector bodies in England will be able to switch their water and sewerage suppliers, allowing them to obtain more competitive prices, improve their efficiency and tender for services better suited to meet their individual needs.

According to defra, evidence suggests that opening up the water market and allowing businesses to switch supplier could deliver benefits to the economy of £2bn over 30 years. In Scotland, after similar reforms were introduced, the public sector alone is set to save around £20m over the following three years.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 21 August 2012 12:54