Energy Secretary Ed Davey has said it is vital the UK “get to grips with [its] national nuclear legacy” despite difficulties finding an underground nuclear waste store. On January 30, Cumbria County Council rejected plans to site a radioactive waste facility, prompting HMG to announce a new drive to encourage other communities to come forward. Davey said the decision by Cumbria Council was “disappointing” but he was “confident” that the program to manage radioactive waste safely will be successful and “not undermine prospects for new nuclear power stations.”
A public attitudes survey published by DECC has found that 79% of people support the UK using renewable energy to generate electricity. Solar energy had the highest level of support (at 82%), while 72% supported off shore wind and 71% supported wave and tidal energy. 64% supported on-shore wind, despite controversy over the expansion of on-shore wind farms in the UK. While only 37% of respondents supported the use of nuclear energy to generate electricity in the UK, this outweighed the 25% who signalled their opposition.
The launch of HMG’s Green Deal, a summit on climate change legislation, and the Prime Minister’s defence of his Government’s green growth agenda has marked the first few weeks of 2013. In other news, the Government has responded to a report by MPs on protecting the Artic, the UK has signalled support for greater protection for polar bears, and experts have called for a plan to protect the UK against a solar superstorm.
California’s Olinda Alpha Landfill may have contributed to observed reductions in carbon emissions. Olinda Alpha Landfill, a methane utilization projects that was recognized on January 31, by the EPA at its Annual Landfill Methane Outreach Program, in conjunction with 7 other projects, contributed to the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) equal to the annual GHG emitted by 52,000 passenger vehicles. The EPA’s Landfill Methane Outreach Program is a voluntary program that has proven to be environmentally beneficial and economically viable. Olinda Alpha Landfill garners $2.75milion dollars a year for its municipal owner, provides 400 jobs and generates 37.5 megawatts of electricity. http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/58C95FEFB11E4C6D85257B04006FF1C6.
On December 11, Prime Minister Cameron gave evidence to the House of Commons Liaison Committee on the issue of “green government.” The Prime Minister said his Government has the “most incredibly green set of energy policies and I think we can be very, very proud of them. I think there are few countries in the world that come anywhere close to what Britain has done and is proposing to do.”
On November 29, HMG published the Energy Bill, “to power low carbon economic growth, to protect consumers, and to keep the lights on.” HMG believes the legislation will bring forward up to £110 billion of investment in new infrastructure to meet the UK’s energy needs. The Bill was debated by MPs on December 19 when the legislation received its Second Reading and amendments will be considered in Committee in the New Year. Subject to Parliament, HMG expects the Bill to receive Royal Assent in 2013, so that Electricity Market Reform will be “up and running” in 2014.
U.S. Highlights: President Obama’s Continued Commitment to Clean Energy Investment and Climate Change
Earlier this week, President Obama held his first press conference following his reelection during which he emphasized his ongoing priority to keep the U.S. “at the forefront of research, technology, and clean energy.” He pointed to some recent success stories where the U.S. has now doubled its fuel efficiency standards on cars and trucks, doubled the U.S. production of clean energy, and continued national investment in “potential breakthrough technologies that could further remove carbon from our atmosphere.” In the weeks ahead, the President announced plans to hold a “wide-ranging conversation with scientists, engineers, and elected officials to find out what… we can do to make a short-term progress in reducing carbon…” Acknowledging that the process will be difficult, requiring “tough political decisions,” he reaffirmed that “there’s no doubt… for us to take on climate change in a serious way.” Watch his full press conference below.
In this week’s U.S. highlights, I focus on successes seen over the past couple of weeks in American clean energy investment. For example, the Department of Energy (DOE) released data showing that American energy use dropped from 2010-2011 due mainly to investment in higher-efficiency energy technologies. Read more
With the Energy Bill due to be published, conflicting comments by UK Ministers over the role of onshore wind farms has put renewable energy policy at the center of political debate. Meanwhile, Scotland’s First Minister has announced plans to generate half of Scotland’s electricity needs by renewable energy by 2015. The Department of Energy and Climate Change has published the shortlist for the UK’s Carbon Capture and Storage Competition and it has been announced that Hitachi has acquired Horizon Nuclear Power and intends to progress with new nuclear plants in the UK.
U.S. Highlights: Wind Capacity Up 40%, Wyoming Wind Farm, $296 Million for Clean Water, Climate Change Set to Harm U.S. Forests
President Obama has designated October as Energy Action month, a time to catalyze U.S. efforts on clean energy and make continued headway on the President’s All-of-the Above energy strategy (pdf). This week’s blog highlights some of the recent success stories in this area, including a 40% rise in U.S. wind capacity during the first three quarters of 2012, achievement of President Obama’s goal to authorize 10,000 MW in new renewable energy projects, and the Department of Energy’s recent Datapalooza event on advancing technologies toward a secure, clean energy future. Additionally, federal agencies awarded $296 million in clean water projects, $30 million in new grants to reduce diesel emissions, $13 million in nuclear energy research, $10 million for Climate Science Research studies, and $214,000 for cleaning up plastics in the ocean environment. Finally, the U.S. Geological Survey released research showing climate change threats to American southwestern forests, and NASA discovered a new black hole at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.