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Three perspectives on deal with China to build new reactors in Britain: FoE, IME, WNA

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Friends of the Earth: The UK should invest in green energy solutions for the 21st century, and not the white elephant of nuclear power. Institution of Mechanical Engineers: This development is positive news, which will help put the wheels in motion into developing the new generation of UK nuclear power plants creating capacity in power generation. (But) the UK has been too slow to address nuclear waste. World Nuclear Association: we need to accelerate our deployment of low carbon generation. Nuclear power provides the stable foundation.

Friends of the Earth

The UK should invest in green energy solutions for the 21st century, and not the white elephant of nuclear power, Friends of the Earth said yesterday, ahead of an expected deal with China to build new reactors in Britain.

The deal is expected to lead to Chinese investment in a proposed new reactor at Hinkley in Somerset, in return for allowing China to build a new prototype nuclear power station at Bradwell in Essex.

Solar and wind energy schemes constructed today are already cheaper than new nuclear. The Government has guaranteed state-owned French firm EDF a subsidy price of £92.50 per megawatt hour for 35 years to build a new reactor at Hinkley. This is almost double the current wholesale price of electricity, which is currently around £50 per megawatt hour.

Meanwhile, UK Government proposals to slash financial support for the UK solar industry has already led to over 1,000 job losses, and over 25,000 more are in severe jeopardy.

Ministers are threatening to pull the plug on UK renewable power just as the technology is really starting to deliver. New onshore wind farms are now the cheapest way for a power company to produce electricity in Britain, according to a report earlier this month by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and solar costs are falling fast.

Commenting on the expected deal, Friends of the Earth CEO Craig Bennett said: “George Osborne’s desperation to get Chinese investment at almost any cost means a shockingly bad deal for Britain. And even with eye-wateringly huge cash subsidies, many experts believe a new reactor at Hinkley will never be built. While the nuclear industry is being lavishly wined and dined by David Cameron, the UK renewable industry has been left to survive on crumbs, threatening tens of thousands of jobs.

“The Government’s energy strategy is a complete mess. Ministers are pulling the plug on UK wind and solar just as these new power sources are on the cusp of delivering the clean and affordable energy we need. The Government must end its love affair with nuclear power and fossil fuels, and build a clean energy system fit for the challenges of the 21st century.”

Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said in response to China’s commitment to investment into the Hinkley Point nuclear power station: “This development is positive news, which will help put the wheels in motion into developing the new generation of UK nuclear power plants at Hinkley Point C, Bradwell and Sizewell and creating capacity in power generation.

“Nuclear is currently one of the least CO2-intensive ways to generate base-load electricity. If we are to secure the UK’s energy future, while at the same time meet the country’s challenging emissions target, nuclear must play a part in the electricity mix, in addition to gas-generation and renewables.

“But while it is important to look to secure future energy supplies, the Government also needs to encourage significant investment in the whole nuclear life-cycle. We still need proper research and development into methods for recycling and maximising the energy returns from nuclear waste. We haven’t yet found a way of dealing with the large stockpile of nuclear waste at Sellafield, which is set to include an estimated 140 tonnes of plutonium by 2020.

“It is clear the UK has been too slow to address this issue. Long term deep geological disposal offers a potential solution, however around 20 years of testing is required in the UK for this approach to be used with confidence and we are yet to start this process.”

World Nuclear Association

World Nuclear Association Director General Agneta Rising said “Globally, it is clear we need to accelerate our deployment of low carbon generation. Nuclear power provides the stable foundation to support other climate-friendly technologies.”

The mechanisms that are enabling Hinkley Point C and other low carbon projects in the UK are one way of addressing weakness in deregulated markets. Currently deregulated markets fail to correctly value longer-term benefits such as carbon avoidance, price certainty and reliability of supply.

Agneta Rising said, “New nuclear construction around the world is at the highest level for 25 years, but we need to see more countries learning from the UK’s example to support nuclear energy among a mix of generation technologies that are fit for the future. Governments must act to ensure that markets support new investment in technologies such as nuclear, the UK is showing one way this can be achieved.”

In addition to avoiding up to nine million tonnes of carbon dioxide emission each year the Hinkley Point C project will also support tens of thousands of employment opportunities.

Agneta Rising said, “Hinkley Point C’s international partners and those new nuclear projects planned to follow it will bring investment and jobs for decades to come.”

Energy

7 New Technologies That Could Radically Change Our Energy Consumption

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Energy Consumption
Shutterstock Licensed Photo - By Syda Productions | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/dolgachov

Most of our focus on technological development to lessen our environmental impact has been focused on cleaner, more efficient methods of generating electricity. The cost of solar energy production, for example, is slated to fall more than 75 percent between 2010 and 2020.

This is a massive step forward, and it’s good that engineers and researchers are working for even more advancements in this area. But what about technologies that reduce the amount of energy we demand in the first place?

Though it doesn’t get as much attention in the press, we’re making tremendous progress in this area, too.

New Technologies to Watch

These are some of the top emerging technologies that have the power to reduce our energy demands:

  1. Self-driving cars. Self-driving cars are still in development, but they’re already being hailed as potential ways to eliminate a number of problems on the road, including the epidemic of distracted driving ironically driven by other new technologies. However, even autonomous vehicle proponents often miss the tremendous energy savings that self-driving cars could have on the world. With a fleet of autonomous vehicles at our beck and call, consumers will spend less time driving themselves and more time carpooling, dramatically reducing overall fuel consumption once it’s fully adopted.
  2. Magnetocaloric tech. The magnetocaloric effect isn’t exactly new—it was actually discovered in 1881—but it’s only recently being studied and applied to commercial appliances. Essentially, this technology relies on changing magnetic fields to produce a cooling effect, which could be used in refrigerators and air conditioners to significantly reduce the amount of electricity required.
  3. New types of insulation. Insulation is the best asset we have to keep our homes thermoregulated; they keep cold or warm air in (depending on the season) and keep warm or cold air out (again, depending on the season). New insulation technology has the power to improve this efficiency many times over, decreasing our need for heating and cooling entirely. For example, some new automated sealing technologies can seal gaps between 0.5 inches wide and the width of a human hair.
  4. Better lights. Fluorescent bulbs were a dramatic improvement over incandescent bulbs, and LEDs were a dramatic improvement over fluorescent bulbs—but the improvements may not end there. Scientists are currently researching even better types of light bulbs, and more efficient applications of LEDs while they’re at it.
  5. Better heat pumps. Heat pumps are built to transfer heat from one location to another, and can be used to efficiently manage temperatures—keeping homes warm while requiring less energy expenditure. For example, some heat pumps are built for residential heating and cooling, while others are being used to make more efficient appliances, like dryers.
  6. The internet of things. The internet of things and “smart” devices is another development that can significantly reduce our energy demands. For example, “smart” windows may be able to respond dynamically to changing light conditions to heat or cool the house more efficiently, and “smart” refrigerators may be able to respond dynamically to new conditions. There are several reasons for this improvement. First, smart devices automate things, so it’s easier to control your energy consumption. Second, they track your consumption patterns, so it’s easier to conceptualize your impact. Third, they’re often designed with efficiency in mind from the beginning, reducing energy demands, even without the high-tech interfaces.
  7. Machine learning. Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have the power to improve almost every other item on this list. By studying consumer patterns and recommending new strategies, or automatically controlling certain features, machine learning algorithms have the power to fundamentally change how we use energy in our homes and businesses.

Making the Investment

All technologies need time, money, and consumer acceptance to be developed. Fortunately, a growing number of consumers are becoming enthusiastic about finding new ways to reduce their energy consumption and overall environmental impact. As long as we keep making the investment, our tools to create cleaner energy and demand less energy in the first place should have a massive positive effect on our environment—and even our daily lives.

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Energy

Responsible Energy Investments Could Solve Retirement Funding Crisis

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Energy Investments
Shutterstock / By Sergey Nivens | https://www.shutterstock.com/g/nivens

Retiring baby-boomers are facing a retirement cliff, at the same time as mother nature unleashes her fury with devastating storms tied to the impact of global warming. There could be a unique solution to the challenges associated with climate change – investments in clean energy from retirement funds.

Financial savings play a very important role in everyone’s life and one must start planning for it as soon as possible. It’s shocking how quickly seniors can burn through their nest egg – leaving many wondering, “How long your retirement savings will last?

Let’s take a closer look at how seniors can take baby steps on the path to retiring with dignity, while helping to clean up our environment.

Tip #1: Focus & Determination

Like in other work, it is very important to focus and be determined. If retirement is around the corner, then make sure to start putting some money away for retirement. No one can ever achieve anything without dedication and focus – whether it’s saving the planet, or saving for retirement.

Tip #2: Minimize Spending

One of the most important things that you need to do is to minimize your expenditures. Reducing consumption is good for the planet too!

Tip #3: Visualize Your Goal

You can achieve more if you have a clearly defined goal in life. This about how your money can be used to better the planet – imagine cleaner air, water and a healthier environment to leave to your grandchildren.

Investing in Clean Energy

One of the hottest and most popular industries for investment today is the energy market – the trading of energy commodities. Clean energy commodities are traded alongside dirty energy supplies. You might be surprised to learn that clean energy is becoming much more competitive.

With green biz becoming more popular, it is quickly becoming a powerful tool for diversified retirement investing.

The Future of Green Biz

As far as the future is concerned, energy businesses are going to continue getting bigger and better. There are many leading energy companies in the market that already have very high stock prices, yet people are continuing to investing in them.

Green initiatives are impacting every industry. Go Green campaigns are a PR staple of every modern brand. For the energy-sector in the US, solar energy investments are considered to be the most accessible form of clean energy investment. Though investing in any energy business comes with some risks, the demand for energy isn’t going anywhere.

In conclusion, if you want to start saving for your retirement, then clean energy stocks and commodity trading are some of the best options for wallets and the planet. Investing in clean energy products, like solar power, is a more long-term investment. It’s quite stable and comes with a significant profit margin. And it’s amazing for the planet!

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