By Mathew Carr – Apr 19, 2013 9:53 AM PT European Union carbon permits for December had their biggest-ever weekly decline after lawmakers voted against a plan to ease a supply glut and resuscitate prices in the world’s biggest cap-and-trade emissions market. The allowances dropped 34 percent this week and closed at 3.16 euros ($4.13) a metric ton […]
By Sally Bakewell – Apr 18, 2013 4:01 PM PT Investors in carbon-intensive business could see $6 trillion wasted as policies limiting global warming stop them from exploiting their coal, oil and gas reserves, according to a report. The top 200 oil, gas and mining companies spent $674 billion last year finding and developing fossil fuel resources, according […]
Producing and charging electric cars means heavy carbon-dioxide emissions. By Bjorn Lomborg Electric cars are promoted as the chic harbinger of an environmentally benign future. Ads assure us of “zero emissions,” and President Obama has promised a million on the road by 2015. With sales for 2012 coming in at about 50,000, that million-car figure […]
By Lynn Doan – Mar 8, 2013 4:27 PM MT California, the second-largest carbon-polluting state in the U.S. behind Texas, will decide whether to award its first carbon offset credits for 25 projects designed to cut greenhouse-gas emissions. The candidates for offset credits include a project to improve forest management practices to avoid emissions related to timber harvesting and […]
“The Carbon Crunch: How We’re Getting Climate Change Wrong — and How to Fix It.”: The Angry Economist
Q and A: The Angry Economist By LISA PALMER Dieter Helm has long been frustrated that, despite more than two decades of international negotiations, the world has failed to tackle climate change. So he got angry, he said, and decided to write a book about it: “The Carbon Crunch: How We’re Getting Climate Change Wrong — and How to […]
By DIANE CARDWELL Automakers have long resorted to incentives like zero-percent financing, rewards points and rebates to inspire customer loyalty. Now Honda is offering a different deal: inexpensive home solar power systems for customers. Through a partnership with SolarCity, a residential and commercial installer, Honda and Acura will offer their customers home solar systems at little or no upfront cost, […]
By JOHN M. BRODER World Resources InstituteUnder a “go-getter” regulatory scenario, the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions could be reduced by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020, a new analysis suggests. In his second inaugural address, President Obama promised to take on climate change as a priority in his second term. “We will respond to the threat […]
By FELICITY BARRINGER The regional group proposed a 45 percent reduction next year in the total carbon dioxide emissions allowed. The cut is not as draconian as that number suggests, however, because the new total of 91 million tons reflects the current emissions level after five years of a slumping economy and increases in renewable energy […]
LOS BANOS, Calif. — The Morning Star Company’s three plants in California emit roughly 200,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere each year — about the same amount as the Pacific Island nation of Palau — as they turn tomatoes into ketchup, spaghetti sauce and juice used by millions of consumers around the world. Ramin Rahimian […]
By STANLEY REED
LONDON — The British government announced on Friday far-reaching changes in energy regulation intended to encourage development of renewable energy and nuclear power while ensuring that the country can still meet its electricity needs.
The changes will gradually quadruple the charges levied on consumers and businesses to help support electricity generation from low-carbon sources, to a total of about £9.8 billion, or $15.7 billion, in the 2020-21 fiscal year, from £2.35 billion now.
The government forecasts that the new price supports will add 7 percent, or about £95 a year, to the average household electricity bill. Such charges add 2 percent to energy bills, or £20 a year.
The effort shows that Britain, despite an ailing economy, is sticking to the ambitious goals for renewable energy and emissions reductions set in 2008 under the Labour government of Gordon Brown.
Britain is also shifting its approach toward energy. In the 1990s, Britain led Europe in deregulation of its energy markets. Now it is returning to a system of greater market intervention to fulfill what the government considers to be an imperative to reduce greenhouse gases.
Electricity generated from cleaner sources like nuclear and offshore wind is much more expensive than power generated by coal- or gas-fired plants. Companies will invest in clean energy only if given substantial incentives. The government hopes to attract £110 billion in energy investment through 2020.
The proposed regulatory changes will be incorporated in an energy bill that is to be approved next year, with the new rules phased in starting in 2014.
“In the 1990s there was a real move to make the U.K. power market a kind of liberalized, supply-demand, price-driven market,” said Howard V. Rogers, director of the gas program at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies, a research group. “As soon as you introduce subsidies for wind, you undermine that principle.”
The proposed changes come after months of debate within the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government. The Liberal Democrats favor tough goals to reduce emissions. The Conservatives, led by Prime Minister David Cameron, lean more toward promoting the use of natural gas. They also worry that wind farms will spoil the countryside, where many Conservative voters reside.
The government proposal “will allow us to meet our legally binding carbon reduction and renewable energy obligations and bring on the investment required to keep the lights on and bills affordable for consumers,” Edward Davey, the energy and climate changesecretary, said in a statement.
Mr. Davey added that the proportion of electricity coming from renewable sources would increase to 30 percent by 2020, from 11 percent today.
Businesses are likely to welcome the bill because, if nothing else, it reduces the uncertainty that has made big investment decisions difficult.
“This package will send a strong signal to investors that the government is serious about providing firms with the certainty they need to invest in affordable, secure, low-carbon energy,” John Cridland, director general of the Confederation of British Industry, the country’s main business group, said in a statement.
The renewable energy industry said it would welcome increased government support. “This is a crucial announcement for the renewable energy sector,” said Maria McCaffery, chief executive of RenewableUK, a trade association. “This blows the last few months of political infighting completely out of the water.”
Some environmental groups, however, said that the government should set stricter emission targets for power companies.
“By failing to agree to any carbon target for the power sector until after the next election, David Cameron has allowed a militant tendency within his own ranks to derail the energy bill,” John Sauven, executive director of Greenpeace, said in a statement. “It’s a blatant assault on the greening of the U.K. economy that leaves consumers vulnerable to rising gas prices, and sends billions of pounds of clean-tech investment to our economic rivals.”
Others said they were appalled by support for new nuclear installations. While nuclear plants are low carbon emitters, they bring risks of accidents as well as the unresolved problem of what to do with spent fuel.
Stephan Singer, head of energy policy in Brussels for the World Wildlife Fund, said his organization was “fundamentally opposed” to price supports for nuclear power.
With energy costs already a major source of complaint, consumers are unlikely to be happy with the government plan.
“These higher energy costs are likely to hit low-income consumers hard,” said Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch.com, which sells consumers electricity online at favorable rates.
Britain intends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. Until now, wind power has been the main beneficiary of government intervention. Now the government has come to believe that while building more nuclear plants would be costly and contentious, they will be necessary to reach emission targets.
At present there is likely to be only one new plant in operation by 2020, said Kirsty Alexander, a spokeswoman for the Nuclear Industry Association, a trade group.
Additional government support is likely to benefit EDF, the utility that owns most of the nuclear plants in Britain. EDF, with the British utility Centrica as a partner, wants to build a series of new reactors, starting with two at Hinkley Point in Somerset in southwest England.
“We recognize the government’s continued commitment to deliver the timetable for electricity market reform, including legally robust arrangements for much-needed projects during the transition,” Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, said in a statement. “This is good news and a significant step toward providing secure, low-carbon energy for the U.K. for many years to come.”
About 18 percent of Britain’s power comes from nuclear sources, but that figure may decline. The last nuclear plant to open in Britain was Sizewell B in 1995, and several nuclear plants are scheduled to shut down in the next few years. The government has identified eight sites suitable for new reactors, all at the sites of existing power plants.
The government said it would promote development of nuclear and wind power through a new mechanism called a contract for difference. Under the program, a new government-owned entity would guarantee companies that produce power from nuclear or wind a certain price for the electricity they produce. The companies will be compensated if actual prices fall below that “strike price.”
“It will manage the payments under the contract,” said Fiona Reilly, head of the nuclear services practice at Norton Rose, a London law firm. “That might mean paying money to generators and it might mean taking money from generators if power prices are higher than the strike price.”
EDF’s decision to go ahead at Hinkley Point still depends on where the government sets that strike price. The opinion among utility companies is that it will need to be at least £100 per megawatt hour, roughly double the current price of electricity.
Another open question is whether Britain would violate European Union rules on state aid by supporting nuclear power, a mature technology. Britain “is heading for trouble with the E.U.,” said Mr. Singer of the World Wildlife Fund. “State aid regulations rule out any support for mature technologies.”
Nick Turton, a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change, said the government was working with Brussels to ensure that Britain conformed to European rules.