Saturday, 18 April 2015

Energy round-up: what are the UK parties’ policies?

What are the energy policies of the political parties in the run-up to the May elections?
General Election 2015: Energy policies explained - BBC News
Analysis: UK political parties' wind plans light on detail | Windpower Monthly
Environment: Election 2015 party policies - Telegraph
No one is talking about our utterly mad energy policy - Telegraph
Expert views: What the general election means for UK climate and energy policy | Carbon Brief

This is the latest newsletter from the New Economics Foundation:

New Economics Foundation

Good morning,

Energy policy was more prominent than usual in the UK parties’ manifestos published this week. The main parties pledged to, at a minimum, stick to Britain’s existing climate change commitments, but all differ in the focus of their specific policies.

The Conservatives stress the need to meet existing climate commitments as cheaply as possible and to avoid distortions, while Labour focuses on social objectives – highlighting the cost of energy as a key issue and promising to freeze prices until 2017. Liberal Democrat policies are more focused on environmental objectives – matching the Greens’ 2050 zero carbon target.

There are some flaws and inconsistencies with each of their policies. The Conservatives will have difficulty achieving climate change targets cheaply given their headline pledge is to halt the spread of onshore windfarms – currently the one of the least expensive forms of low carbon power. Labour’s energy freeze has lost appeal since prices have fallen. Their promise to reform the big six energy companies and to insulate 5 million homes by 2020 still has merits: for comparison the Conservatives have only promised to insulate 1 million homes. The Liberal Democrats are looking at expanding the Green Investment Bank and giving it the power to borrow, as well as introducing a Green Buildings Act which would include Council Tax discounts for completing home efficiency improvements. The Liberal Democrats, like the other main parties, would allow fracking, but are at least proposing that 50% of tax revenues from shale go into a fund for energy efficiency and low carbon innovation.

UKIP propose to bin the Climate Change Act and axe the Department for Energy and Climate Change, while the Green Party promises to spend £90 billion on renewables and energy efficiency over the next five years, cutting energy demand by a third and reducing the level of emissions by 2030 to 90% below the 1990 levels.

Away from the election, news that Sussex could become the next Dallas looks to have been premature. Last Thursday small oil company UKOG claimed it could be sitting on 100 billion barrels of oil. Industry analysts were immediately sceptical – some entirely dismissive – and Wednesday saw UKOG admit it didn’t know how much was in place let alone recoverable. The exact amount is a bit irrelevant given the larger climate point: our blog tells you why new fossil fuels discoveries – bonanza or not – are a move in the wrong direction.

Best wishes,
Simone Osborn
Co-editor, Energy Crunch

Ps. You may have missed Energy Crunch co-editor and NEF economist Sandra Bernick talking renewables on yesterday’s Today Programme, you listen again here from the 2hr 32m mark.

Three things you shouldn't miss this week

  1. Chart: Plummeting prices are boosting renewables, even as subsidies fall
    Plummeting costs of renewables chart
    The Economist’s chart compares the cost of power generation from fossil-fuels with solar, demonstrating how cost-competitive it has become as investment in renewables reaches new highs 
  2. Article: Scrap fossil fuel subsidies now and bring in carbon tax, says World Bank chief - A five-point plan to deliver low-carbon growth, including removal of incentives to exploit oil, gas and coal.
  3. Chart: Buried fuels and a much warmer world
    Buried fuels chart
    The New York Times featured a chart illustrating the associated warming of fossil fuel extraction, highlighting the dangers from exploiting all known reserves.

Energy Transition

Vancouver commits to run on 100% renewable energy - Canadian city of 600,000 people is the latest to announce it will use only green energy for electricity, transportation, heating and air conditioning within 20 years.
New energy storage plant could 'revolutionise' renewable sector - Foundations for an energy storage plant in Ireland that could “revolutionise” the integration of renewable power into electricity supplies will be laid within weeks.
Off-Grid Solar Threatens Utilities In The Next Decade - A new report from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) finds that solar photovoltaics combined with battery storage could become cost competitive with grid electricity in key parts of the United States within a decade.
Fossil fuel-free funds outperformed conventional ones, analysis shows - Investors who dumped holdings in coal, oil and gas earned an average return of 1.2% more a year over last five years, data from the world’s leading stock market index reveals.
China's coal imports fall nearly half in 12 months as anti-pollution drive bites - A slowing economy and tougher environmental checks to curb chronic air pollution problems are behind the 42% drop in imports.
German backlash grows against coal power clampdown - Energy companies and unions warn that planned emissions limits will spark mass plant closures and redundancies.

Oil & Gas

Outlook for Oil Prices ‘Only Getting Murkier,’ Energy Agency Says - The outlook for oil prices is still uncertain after the sharp fall that began last summer, the International Energy Agency said on Wednesday.
Shale Oil Boom Could End in May After Price Collapse - The shale oil boom that pushed U.S. crude production to the highest level in four decades is grinding to a halt.
Shell to buy BG for £47bn in largest ever British deal - The second-biggest oil and gas deal ever on record will ignite a wave of deals.
New study raises possible link between gas drilling and radon levels - Radon levels in buildings near unconventional natural gas development in Pennsylvania are higher than those in other areas of the state.


Law changed so nuclear waste dumps can be forced on local communities - Legislation rushed through in the final hours of parliament allows local planning laws to be bypassed, seriously alarming anti-nuclear campaigners.
EDF cuts workers at Hinkley nuclear project pending deal - French utility says it expects a final investment decision to be made on UK nuclear plant in months


Gatwick oil gusher claims 'wildly optimistic' warns expert - UK Oil & Gas Investments accused of making 'misleading' statements about scale of oil held on the Weald near Gatwick Airport.
Election 2015: What the manifestos say on climate and energy - Carbon Brief will be tracking the climate and energy content of the parties' manifestos as they are launched over the coming week.
Should the Gatwick oil stay in the ground? - The discovery of potentially 100 billion barrels of oil near Gatwick airport has been making headlines this week.
Five ways the UK's electricity grid is changing - Solar and wind up, falling domestic electricity demand.
Lib Dems pledge to put environment 'at heart' of government - Nick Clegg insists low carbon economy and skills are a top priority for party at launch of election manifesto.
Labour ready to go green, but remains grey on detail - Labour’s energy and climate policies appear to be based around two main ideas: more government oversight of energy markets to ensure a fairer deal for customers and greater direction to efforts to tackle climate change.
Contradictory, cautious and incoherent - Tory manifesto offers confusion for the green economy - The Conservative manifesto provides as many questions as answers for the green economy
'Boiler on prescription' scheme transforms lives and saves NHS money - Pilot project in Sunderland hailed a success with GP and outpatient visits reduced by a third and heating bills cut by £30 a month.

Energy round-up: what are the UK parties’ policies? | New Economics Foundation

No comments: