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Triple Crunch Log                                                                                                            

the end of this year, that will be key to the regulator’s decision on whether to allow the French reactor to start working. EDF hopes to start it up in October next year.”631

Nuclear energy loses its cost advantage compared to solar PV. “Solar photovoltaics have joined the ranks of lower-cost alternatives to new nuclear plants,” says John O. Blackburn, a professor of economics at Duke University.  This crossover occurred at 16 cents per kilowatt hour, has occurred at 16 cents a kWh, he says. Estimates of nuclear construction costs — about $3 billion per reactor in 2002 — have ballooned to to an average of about $10 billion per reactor.  NYT: “In 1985, Forbes magazine dubbed the construction of the first generation of U.S. nuclear plants “the largest managerial disaster in business history.” The first round of plants resulted in write-offs through bankruptcies and “stranded costs” — investments in existing power plants made uncompetitive by deregulation — which essentially transferred nearly $100 billion in liabilities to electricity users, said Doug Koplow, an economist and founder of Earth Track, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which campaigns against subsidies it considers environmentally harmful. “Although the industry frequently points to its low operating costs as evidence of its market competitiveness, this economic structure is an artifact of large subsidies to capital, historical write-offs of capital, and ongoing subsidies to operating costs,” Mr. Koplow said.632

27.7.10. Domestic energy bills should rise by only £13 by 2020 because of carbon-cutting measures, the UK government says in its first annual energy statement to parliament.633 Businesses face much steeper increases. The government publishes 32 measures, mostly previous commitments by the Labour government or the from the Coalition agreement. Targets remain greenhouse gas emissions reductions from fossil fuel use by 34% by 2020 and 80% by the middle of the century. Gdn: “By the end of the decade, average households bills for both gas and electricity would be £1,239 a year, just £13 higher than estimated bills without the policies, though nearly £200 a year higher than current combined bills. ….Energy prices would rise much more steeply, but most of the increases for households would be offset by improvements to insulation and grants to encourage more home generation of renewable energy such as solar and wind power, some of which can also be sold to the National Grid.”634 635

“The lights are not going to go out on my watch”, says Chris Huhne. In addition to the reports above, a third shows six "pathways" with different mixes of renewable energy such as wind and solar power, nuclear generation, and carbon capture and storage for gas and coal plants.636 FT: “Despite Huhne telling parliament he was confident new nuclear reactors would be built, one option shows that the targets could be met even without any new nuclear power plants to replace the current reactors when they go out of service by 2035.” The projections assumed fossil fuel prices remain level at approximately US$80 (£51.46) a barrel of oil.637

The low carbon-route can be less expensive than status-quo route, DECC concludes. e-mail to stakeholders about the annual energy statement: “The analysis is upfront about the potential costs – nobody has ever said that a move to a low carbon future would be cheap but our initial analysis suggests it can actually be less expensive than conventional energy generation under the highest fossil fuel price scenarios and may better protect us from fossil fuel price shocks.”

Decc releases a carbon calculator website showing the effects of different energy policies on the UK's carbon emissions.638 639

UK government bans new coal-fired power plants without CCS. Charles Hendry, energy minister, says it is “already clear” that coal-fired stations without CCS technology would not be acceptable. At the same time, the government changed the rules on burning biomass to give a boost to the emerging industry.640

US renewable energy industry in call for action, saying it has stalled in absence of federal policy. Installations of wind power so far this year have dropped by 71 per cent from 2009 levels, says the American Wind Energy Association, such that more coal and natural gas power plants than wind and other renewable energy sources have been constructed. Industry groups have sent a letter to Harry Reid, Senate majority leader, urging the inclusion in the energy bill of a National Renewable Energy Standard - requiring energy producers to use a certain percentage of renewables. “Without immediate passage, hundreds of thousands of future jobs in the clean energy sector could be lost and surrendered to other countries forever,’’ the letter says.641 Sheila McNulty in the FT: “The Obama Administration will have to act now, if does not want its green energy agenda and stimulus funding to go down in history as empty promises. This means speeding up approvals for stimulus funding for solar, wind and so on, and working with Congress to get a national RES passed. Time is running out.”642

A federal 'BP squad' is assembled by the FBI and other agencies for a criminal investigation. They will focus on at BP, Transocean and Haliburton at minimum, examining whether their cozy relations with federal regulators contributed to the oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, according to law-enforcement and other sources. FT: “While it had been known that investigators are examining potential violations of environmental laws, it is now clear that they also are looking into whether company officials made false statements to regulators, obstructed justice or falsified test results for devices such as the rig's failed blowout preventer. It is unclear whether any such evidence has surfaced.” Also on the scope is possible bribery of the MMS.643

The era of global oil giants is over, writes Nick Butler, former BP exec, in the FT. “Major oil companies, with BP prominent among them, have spent 20 years trying to demonstrate their social responsibility. For the moment negative images will predominate, particularly in the United States, a country going through a spasm of paranoid hostility to big business, and foreign oil companies in particular, comparable in intensity to the campaign that broke up Standard Oil a hundred years ago.” … “Measured on a ten year basis the value of shares in BP, Shell, and Total has fallen respectively by 28, 30 and 3 per cent. Over the same period Exxon, whose acquisitions have retained the cultural unity of the company, saw its share price rise by 134 per cent. The problem lies not in the pursuit of diversity itself, but failed attempts to marry this with a global corporate model in which all roads lead back to a head office in London or The Hague. Political considerations are now encouraging a rethink of centralised structures.” …. “The result is that, from necessity, a new model is emerging with a patchwork quilt of activities in which smaller national and larger international oil companies must work together in new partnerships.” The resulting new entities will be local in nature, but with access to global skills and capital.”644

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