Wednesday 16 March 2011

Where is Labour on Nuclear Power?

Who is Meg Hillier? Anyone? She is the Labour shadow for Energy and Climate Change.

A quick review of her recent pronouncements is very revealing about the current lack of strategy within the Labour party and their total unreadiness for returning to power at all.

She is to be seen running around the country promoting worthy green, expounding on purely 'Green' issues. having nice conversations about how nasty the Coalition is with media like 'Business Green.' Or wittering on about the creation of 'Green' Jobs - a term where being polite you could say the meaning is somewhat ambiguous.

And that is it. No comment on the events in Japan, which is very telling. Labour had a terrible record on  Nuclear power in Government. it lefty sandal wearers dead against and Blairites all for corporatism and supporting the big energy companies who were lobbying for it.

The mess, as my co-author Nick Drew has said many times, has left the UK with no energy strategy and facing the potential for either the lights going out in 2014/15 or huge bills from France.

None of this is currently acknowledged as Meg Hillier stays on the safe ground of appealing to emotions only and refusing to address any real macro issues; just like the Labour Government's record on Energy when in power.


rwendland said...

Hopefully Labour is in the process of a U turn, but does not have the ducks aligned yet.

I think this news article is the bell ringing on new nuclear for the next few years at least:

"China freezes nuclear power approvals after Japan crisis"

(Reuters) - China is suspending approvals for planned nuclear power plants and is undertaking a comprehensive safety check of plants in operation or under construction, the country's State Council, or cabinet, said on Wednesday.

"We will temporarily suspend approval of nuclear power projects, including those in the preliminary stages of development," said a statement from a State Council meeting on the central government website.

China has the largest new build underway, possibly larger than the rest of the world combined.

Anonymous said...

Re: The France issue. France is 76% nuclear as they do have a strategy.

We're not getting rid of nuclear power as such - just moving the supply a few hundred miles south and then paying for the privilege.

Plus ├ža change

Electro-Kevin said...

I think Labour are unclear on nuclear.

(Anon - it wouldn't be the first time we've merely outsourced the unpleasant and then pretended it's gone away)

rwendland said...

Anon, unfortunately the cross-channel cable (HVDC Cross-Channel) does not have the capacity for that much power. It is a 2GW cable, about 2 old nuclear power station's worth, or just over 1 new EPR station.

Also the power flows both ways in that cable. EDF 2010 accounts[*] say average peakload elec price in 2010, in Euros/MWh, were:

France UK Italy
59 55.6 75.7

So at French peaktime (roughly ours as well), we will usually export leccy to France, and France will export power to Italy.

So when demand is roughly the highest in the UK, we usually fire up extra power stations to export to France as well! That is Capitalism@Work in action.

[*] page 7 "Management Report 2010" for the record

alan said...

I see this as being symptomatic of a larger problem. Politicians today have a poor understanding of the issues they champion. My political history is poor, so this may have always been the case.

Today's world is complex and we should demand that our politicians have a good grounding in the issues.

I also find it very strange that energy and climate change have been lumped together. Yes there is some overlap in the issues, but climate change is an environmental issue and can only be solved with global cooperation. Energy is a national security/economic issue and is largely domestic.

Nick Drew said...

So when demand is roughly the highest in the UK, we usually fire up extra power stations to export to France as well! That is Capitalism@Work in action

it certainly is, Mr W, you can only play the team that's in front of you !

in my humble way I am trying to get HMG to understand that all their 'electricity market reforms' (sic) will come to naught (in terms of their stated aims, viz reducing emissions / enhanced security of supply / renewables targets / ultimate reduction in electricity prices "when we have de-carbonised") while we are connected to the continent - any soi-disant 'gains' will all be 'exported'

not that I advocate severing the interconnections, au contraire, the more the better (so long as they are not subsidised ...)

James Higham said...

Where is Labour on anything? Formulating policy on the run of course.

rwendland said...

ND, I'm pro the HVDC links as well. They do improve utilisation of capital, but at some security of supply risk if poltical or technical factors caused them to fail.

As the French have too much nuclear power, forcing them into an inefficient load-following regime rather than baseload, they gain the most from HVDC Cross-Channel. I wouldn't be bothered if they subsidised another HVDC Trans-Manche!

The HVDC links make it tricky for Huhne's new proposals - it will have to be very carefully drafted to avoid subsidy abuse on imported/exported power.

Anonymous said...

@rwebdland re: the HVDC. I think we are all in agreement that energy policy is a mess.

The comment about too much nuclear is an example of OTT energy security i.e there is a capital cost. It is perhaps a subsidy of a different genre, to our fetish for PV and Biomass.

..and don't forget carbon credits and subsidy abuse.

Nick Drew said...

don't mention PV on this blog it's a dirty word

& i never forget subsidy abuse, as weary readers know ...