UK, Czechs call for nuclear-friendly 2030 energy policy

  

The United Kingdom and the Czech Republic have opposed calls by eight EU member states to introduce a renewable energy target for 2030, claiming the EU’s future climate and energy framework should be technology neutral and allow nuclear energy among other sources, EurActiv.cz reports.

On 22 January, a blockbuster EU climate and energy package is due to be unveiled, comprising new legislative proposals on subjects ranging from shale gas and tar sands to structural carbon market reform and industrial competitiveness.

Disagreement over an objective for renewable sources of energy (RES) seems to be one of the most controversial parts of the debate on the EU’s 2030 climate and energy package.

The European Commission and Parliament have already clashed over the 2030 framework.

Germany and seven other countries, including France and Italy, have called on the Commission to set robust renewable energy target for 2030, not mentioning whether it should be binding or not. Other states could probably accept a renewable energy target under certain conditions.

>> Read: Big EU guns fire for ‘crucial’ 2030 renewable targets

But there are also two countries explicitly against any such goal – the United Kingdom and the Czech Republic, not to mention Poland which opposes both an RES and CO2 reduction target.

Technology neutral

According to the Czech government, the EU's climate and energy policies should be “based on a neutral approach towards all energy technologies”, including nuclear.

“RES represent just one of the possible ways towards low-carbon economy,” the government says in an official position document which mentions nuclear power as one of the other potential energy sources.

In the current climate package for 2020, there is a target of 20% share for renewables in the energy mix. But it was adopted in a different situation than the EU faces today, according to Edward Davey, the British secretary of state for energy and climate change.

“Most renewables technologies were immature; and we were at the peak of an economic boom,” Davey said during a Brussels speech in June. “Now, six years later, renewable technology is maturing and other technologies like carbon capture and storage and new nuclear are set to contribute to the low-carbon mix,” he added.

New nuclear

Both countries are planning to increase the share of nuclear power in their energy mix. The UK intends to build a two reactor nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, in the west of the country, offering a guaranteed power price for 35 years of the project, awarded to France’s EDF.

The Czech Republic wants to extend the lifespan of its Temelín nuclear power plant. It is also considering a scheme to ensure that the investment will pay back to the investor, the Czech energy group ČEZ.

The move is strongly criticised by green campaign groups in the Czech Republic. They argue the project will carry a heavy price tag for electricity users, recalling the hefty increase in power prices caused by the country’s flawed renewable energy support scheme. The so-called “solar fraud”, as it was called, resulted in a threat to Czech industries, which were punished with higher energy costs.

No support schemes

The very same argument is being used by opponents of binding renewable energy targets, who point out that renewable support schemes in form of feed-in-tariffs caused market distortions and higher electricity prices for European households and industries.

European enterprises have been paying more than twice the electricity price than their American counterparts and four times as much for gas following the US shale gas boom.

“The guaranteed buy-out price paid for by consumers has caused the electricity price to stop expressing real production costs; instead, it now rather expresses political objectives,” Ivo Hlaváč of ČEZ told EurActiv.cz.

“We are asking to stop or dramatically reduce subsidies for renewables in mature technologies, and to concentrate subsidies on R&D for the technologies of tomorrow,” said Gérard Mestrallet, the CEO of GDF Suez, at a press conference in Brussels in October.

On the other hand, Germany and the seven other proponents of renewables stress that such a goal would strengthen European competitiveness, resulting in more so-called ‘green jobs’ and economic growth.

Pushing for a single CO2 target

GDF Suez and ČEZ are part of an initiative by twelve European utilities, which are lobbing for changes to the EU’s climate and energy policy. They advocate for a single 2030 target focused on CO2 emissions reduction rather than focusing on a particular energy source.

Their main argument is that the current system – with a CO2 emissions reduction target, a renewable energy target and an energy efficiency target – is set up in such a way that the three goals clash with each other. For example the carbon market does not function well with the off-market support for renewables and support for energy efficiency, they claim.

In addition, focusing on renewable energy alone does not automatically result in lower CO2 emissions, they argue, citing the example of Germany, which aims for 80% renewables in 2050, but currently burns record amounts of coal.

Germany indeed burned the highest amount of coal in 20 years last year, according to media reports. The country, which is phasing out all of its nuclear reactors, has suffered from low CO2 prices, putting cleaner gas utilities at a disadvantage against dirtier and cheaper coal resources.

Timeline: 
  • 22 Jan. 2014: EU Commission to publish climate and energy package of legislation for 2030
External links: 
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Comments

Mike Parr's picture

Neutrality is a good thing. In terms of fossil vs renewables vs nuclear the recent un-edited EC Comm on energy markets noted that direct subsidies to fossil fuels were Euro25bn, RES Euro30bn and Nuclear Euro35bn. The EC then identified indirect subsidies (health and envo costs) for fossil fuels at Euro40bn. To restate - these are EC figures from DG Energy.

Here is a suggestion to Davy/Uk and the Czech. Lets pull all subsidies and make sure that the fossil bunch pay for their external costs (which they do not do now). At that point you would have a choice, low cost RES, higher cost nuclear, expensive fossil. Take your pick.

Until this happens, some member states and a significant part of the Commission fall into various categories: liars (are you a liar Mr Davey?) hypocrites (hi Manuel), or the cretinous.

With respect to "renewable support schemes in form of feed-in-tariffs caused market distortions" - not proven. What is proven is that the UK with its £92.5/MWhr pricing for energy from its new nukes is providing a subsidy to nuclear (note: current UK wholesale prices are £45/Mhr). This to a tech that has been around since the 1950s. - but still needs a subsidy? By the way, the UK bung/envelope/bribe/subsidy for Hinkley gives an IRR of 14% and an NPV of around £34bn - not bad for a project costing £16bn (it was £14bn last year - thus staying in tune with the usual nuclear shtick of always escalating project prices).

Concerning higher energy prices. Example: US households vs German households - spending on energy expenditure USA HH 5% of disposable income, German HH 2% of disposable income. EU research shows that the story repeats for industry. By all means compare prices - but they only provide one side of a multi-faceted story.

Peter Weigl's picture

@Mike Parr "Concerning higher energy prices. Example: US households vs German households - spending on energy expenditure USA HH 5% of disposable income, German HH 2% of disposable income. By all means compare prices - but they only provide one side of a multi-faceted story."

Sorry, Mike, but you are mistaken with this argument. Your figures, banded about by renewable industry lobbies in Germany, do not add up:

German households do not use electricity for heating/cooling, US households do. The average electricity use is 3500 kWh/year for a German household vs 11500 kWh/year for at the average US household.
For a German household a considerable additional amount of spending is used for heating with individual oil or gas heating, which you "forget" in your comparison.

And as to your "EU research shows that the story repeats for industry": All figures I am aware of say otherwise.

Mike Parr's picture

Mr Weigl - the data is from the Americans (DOE actually) & if you read my post you would see it was about HOUSEHOLD SPENDING ON ENERGY - not only electricity.

EC (mentioned in one of the Euractiv articles this week) noted that many sectors of EU industry use far less energy per unit of output.

Nice try - you need to try harder.

evad666's picture

At last is this a sign of common sense raising its head in EU Energy matters?

Peter Weigl's picture

@ mike thanks for your reply.

The average German household uses 3500 kWh/year, at € 0.27/$ 0.36 per kWh the monthly household bill is at $ 105:
Assuming an average monthly German income of $ 5000 that is about 2.1% of income for electricity alone.
Add the average bill for heating (by gas or oil) of per household/year € 718/$920, or $ 76 per month, this will add 1.5%, or together 3.6% of household income.

US households with an average use of around 11700 kWh/year at a price of $ 0.125 kWh will pay a bill of around $ 120 per month. Assuming a monthly income of around $ 4500 the share comes out at around 2.7%.

To your 'argument': "EC (mentioned in one of the Euractiv articles this week) noted that many sectors of EU industry use far less energy per unit of output."
What do you mean to say with that?
Wacker Chemie, the big company in my hometown Burghausen, decided to build their new factory in the States, explicitly because the energy cost there are a third of German energy cost, with a 30 year price guarantee. Whether 'many sectors' are more energy efficient in Europe, as the EC would claim, is of secondary importance.

Martin Sansone's picture

Fukushima has proven that Nuclear Power is uncontrollable. 3 years in and the 'engineers' and scientists have no idea how to stop it continuing to contaminate the world. 3x cores melted through the earth and into the water table. Yeah - sure, lets build more of them around the world because there's plenty that have not exploded.

Einstein and Oppenheimer disagreed with the idea about building nuclear power stations - I see why.

Peter Weigl's picture

@Martin Sansone
And every airplane crash has proven that air traffic is uncontrollable...:)
Nuclear power has actually one of the lowest 'death prints' (deaths per unit of energy produced) of all forms of electricity production.
Einstein had fears about atomic warfare, not energy production. The quote "Nuclear power is a hell of a way to boil water" is falsely attributed to Einstein.
Stop distributing FUD and get real information. Have a read of this article by environmental journalist of the Guardian: "The unpalatable truth is that the anti-nuclear lobby has misled us all"
http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/apr/05/anti-nuclear-lobby-...

Jim Hopf's picture

I agree with Mike's proposal that we should remove the subsidies and mandates (for renewables), make fossil fuels pay their external costs (or better yet, be treated like nuclear and be simply not allowed to pollute), and let the market decide how to respond. That will achieve maximum CO2/pollution reductions at minimum cost.

What I don't understand are his assertions that RE is cheaper than nuclear (contrary to published fact), and his defense of ridiculous market interventions (yes, distorions) on RE's behalf, such as mandates and feed in tarrifs (i.e., you will buy renewables no matter how much it costs, or even if the power is needed).

If RE is cheaper than nuclear, then RE supporters would not object to a CO2 goal only, and elimination of specific RE goals, since no nuclear would be built anyway. But object they do. They insist on specifc mandates for RE, a clear sign that they are afraid of the competition.

Also indefensible are RE only policies such as Germany's which focus only on RE, and don't give any incentive for any other CO2/pollution reduction measures, the result being the use of coal as opposed to gas (let alone nuclear) and CO2 emissions that are actually *increasing*.

Finally, he blasts the price guarantee for nuclear in the UK while ignoring the fact that RE gets an even higher price guarantee (i.e., even higher subsidies), because they are more expensive (contrary to his assertion that they are cheaper). Also, renewables have been around almost as long as nuclear (what, 50 years vs. 60 years?). Nuclear also doesn't suffer from RE's intermittentcy limitations, just ask France.

SteveK9's picture

France would be insane to support this. The only country smart enough to get 75% of electricity from nuclear (another ~ 20% from hydro), wants to prove it can be as stupid as the Germans.

Mike Parr's picture

Responding to Mr Weigl: your data on households was interesting - but you missed out heating in the USA (unless that was included in the elec?) and the DOE comparison was "spending on energy" - including transport.

In the case of Wacker - energy costs or moving because gas as a feedstock was cheaper? (two somewhat different propositions).

Responding to Mr Hopf: Data on subsidies as I mentioned was provided by the European Commission: Nuclear/year in Eu Euro35bn, RES/year Euro30bn. I don't do assertions. BNEF LCOE values for on-shore wind (April 2012) 4.5pence/kWhr. This raises the question: why such generous feed-ins? (for on-shore). PV in Germany now has an LCOE of perhaps 13eurocents/kWhr (Bavaria etc). Again raising the question: why a FiT. Prognos (Dec 2013) LCOEs for PV Med' basin: 5.6 to 6.3eurcoent/kWhr. In the case of off-shore the recent generation of German and Danish farms have LCOEs in the region of 7.5 to 8 eurocents/kWhr (which raises again the question: why such high subsidies.

In the case of a CO2 target, one would then need a functioning market (ETS) and realistic carbon prices. This will not happen due to Polish objections

Moving back to nuclear, one of my business partners was on the original French team (in the early to mid 1970s) responsible for taking a US-designed light-water reactor and making it suitable for France. His comment on the current nukes: the design was not modern in the 1970s, it is antique now - bravo - the UK is in the antiques business. In the case of wind - feel free to compare a 1970 fixed speed WT with what we have now. Wind has seen (and continues to see) intense development. Nuclear has seen little. I don't care if you believe this or not, I get my info from a guy who has forgotten more about nuclear design than all the commentators on this site know.

When you respond to the above Mr Hopf - perhaps a few numbers would be helpful - my posts tend to have a fair few - you posts have no numbers - suggesting that it is you making the assertions - not I.

Mike Parr's picture

Responding to Mr Weigl on the Economist "article" - yet another Economist article mixing half truths and lazy journalism: e.g. windmills "mill" things, I have not noticed wind turbines (or wind generators) providing such a function. Perhaps the Economist wanted to make us laugh? I laughed - at their stupidity.

“storage technologies that convert power to gas and back again to electricity—on a scale sufficient to supply a city are years away.

Not so & one does not need just power to gas: Norway has a potential for new pumped storage of around 16GW, Germany has not even started to address demand response (low/zero cost and with great potential) hydrogen/methanisation is being explored - if only to provide the hydrogen for Dailmer-Benz' fuel cell cars. Electrolysers exist now which are highly cost effective (I know I have just specified one). The Economist is highly conservative and does not really buy into Renewables. Hence the article.

Peter Weigl's picture

@ Mike Parr (Responding to Mr Weigl: your data on households was interesting - but you missed out heating in the USA (unless that was included in the elec?) and the DOE comparison was "spending on energy" - including transport.)

Mike, the figures are clear: American households pay, according to official figures (not just my calculations, which came out at the same share) around 2.7% of income for home energy bills (tendency declining).
German households pay around 3.6% of income for household energy bills (tendency rising).
Look it up yourself at http://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.cfm?id=10891

How inclusion of transport energy would change that picture is hard to imagine: just have a look at German gas/diesel pricing at the pumps!

As to your comment on the Economy article I linked to: You have no arguments: you can't hit the ball, so you hit the man!
The article is spot on, and the Economist is quite favourable to Renewables and not at all that favourable to nuclear.

Mike Parr's picture

Mr Weigl the quote from the DOE:
"the share of energy expenses on disposable income. In the US, power costs accounts for 5% of disposable income; in Germany, the figure is 2.2%"
Economist article - windmills = lazy journalism. His comments on storage - that's part of the business I'm in, the guy does not know what he is talking about - far from attacking the man I cited a range of example - as a power engineering professional I know what I am talking about - unlike Economist amateurs. That you seem to think the Economist article is good likewise raises questions as to your own knowledge.

Peter Weigl's picture

@Mike Parr
Parr: "the share of energy expenses on disposable income. In the US, power costs accounts for 5% of disposable income; in Germany, the figure is 2.2%"

As shown in my previous posts, those figures are incorrect. Can you please link to the DOE source?

Look, Mike:
'household net adjusted disposable income' (OECD):

US: $ 38001/year; 5% (suggested share for power) equals $ 1900/year or $ 158 month

Germany: $ 28729/year; 2.2% (suggested share for power) equals $632/year or $52 month

Whom are you kidding? An average German household has monthly energy costs of $105 for electricity and $ 76 for heating alone.

To include transport would not make sense and if done, would not change the result: Americans do not pay a higher share of their disposable income for energy than Germans. Quite the opposite.

You might have noticed that the situation has got to a point where the new German SPD Minster for Energy S. Gabriel and his green junior minister R.Baake have realised that they have to make massive changes to the expensive policy of grant aiding wind and solar.

As to "your argumentation" with the Economist article: Quote "I laughed - at their stupidity." In the context of you calling the governing party in the Uk "Tory-vermin" and the UK Prime Minister Cameron "Cam-moron" in other postings I suggest you don't seem to have much belief in the strength of your "arguments".
(http://www.energypost.eu/state-aid-for-nuclear-are-you-kidding/)

Peter Weigl's picture

@Mike Parr
Quote: "Not so & one does not need just power to gas: Norway has a potential for new pumped storage of around 16GW,

Norway has a potential, that is easily said and meaningless. Norway has currently a bit more than 0 pumped storage capacity. They are rich enough not to spoil their county with pumped storage, which means ecologically dead top and bottom reservoirs. They provide currently some buffering with their hydro for Denmark: 'buying' Denmarks 'surplus' wind for next to nothing or at negative prices and selling it back when Denmark needs it.
Sure enough Norway will provide similar services to others at a small scale - but thats it. To use Norway's 'potential' pumped storage capacity is a pipe dream of some German Renewable Lobbies - and it will not happen.

Quote Parr: "Germany has not even started to address demand response (low/zero cost and with great potential)"
Oh Mike, another red herring: Germanys industry has long started to use electricity that way, where it is feasible. The dreamed up 'potential' of that (my smart system switches on the washing machine next week when strong winds are forecast!) for household use is minuscule.

Mike Parr's picture

Me Weigl: Norway is considering pumped storage, it has a capacity for around 16GW - fact.

Germany, Industry & commerce, potential (note that word) for demand response (source - Entelios):
5minute: 9GW
15 minute: 4.5GW
1hr: 2.4GW
4Hr 1GW
As the German DR market develops it is likely that more potential will be identified. If/when German households move from gas to electric heating this will also provide a source for DR. I did not claim that households were a source of DR - you implied I did.

Peter Weigl's picture

@Mike Parr
Quote:" Norway is considering pumped storage, it has a capacity for around 16GW - fact."
Well Mike, I am considering fathering one million kids, I have the capacity - fact."

Norway is considering making room for some pumped storage to cream off a nice profit from Denmark, Germany and other's ideological but not technically driven overindulgence in fluctuating renewables. Using Norway as the storage solution for surplus wind is a pipe dream.

Quote: "I did not claim that households were a source of DR - you implied I did."

I did not imply. I answered your claim that demand side regulation would be an important solution. I explained that contrary to your claims German industry already is into that, and that on the domestic side there is very little realistic potential.

Your figures for potential from one of the companies who are to gain from it are to be taken with at least two pinches of salt. Sure they will be able to make some inroads, heavily subsidised by the taxpayer. Usually things that make economic or technical sense have a knack of developing at their own pace.

And even taking Entelios figures at face value: 1 GW /4 hours does next to nothing to solve the problems the German "Energiewende" with its reliance on stochastic generation is creating. And at what price?

Mike Parr's picture

Mr Weigl - as usual assertions, straw men & no numbers. Demand response does not need "heavy subsidies" from "tax payers" why would it? What have "tax payers" got to do with this? So what if Entelios gains - are they subsidised by the "tax payer" (I don't think so). 1GW for 4 hours - is an estimate - there is probably more out there. your problem is that you tend to look to the past for solutions coupled to a desire for the status quo ante - feel free to dream on.

Peter Weigl's picture

@Mike, your 'friendliness' "as usual assertions, straw men & no numbers" does not help your arguments!

Quote Parr:" If/when German households move from gas to electric heating this will also provide a source for DR."
Look, that is a suggestion that does just not make sense, because it is nothing but wishful thinking. In Germany electrical heating is ferociously discouraged. The last one million or so existing night storage heating systems are getting outlawed.

Demand side regulation is already incentivised through tax and other schemes for industry (part of the rules to get exception status from paying the 6 cent/kWh EEG fee (fee to fund the payments to wind/pv/biogas producers).
As paying for capacity provision is on the books - made necessary by the senseless over subsidising of stochastic production, DR wants and will get a piece of that cake.

As to your figures from smart grid etc provider Entelios: privately - they hope for a figure of 5 GW within 10 years. That will do not a lot for buffering stochastic production.

My point: smart grid is massively overhyped; "smart" usually is the keyword when it comes to selling something to people who are the opposite of smart: most of our politicians.

Mike Parr's picture

Weigl, I never even mentioned "smart grids" I leave that to idiots and politicos. Still, you raised it - not me.

If you are going to de-carbonise to 80 or 90% that means de-carb heating. Power to gas might get you part of the way (possibly using fuel cells - round trip ain't too good though) - probably heat pumps have a role as well - and it all will need to have some element of DR - like it or not.

Buffering stochastic production - 5GW not enough - so give us your own figure - if you can.

Peter Weigl's picture

@Mike Parr
[Quote]I never even mentioned "smart grids" I leave that to idiots and politicos. Still, you raised it - not me.

Well, Mike, you introduced and used the figures for DR potential from Entelios. They are the main driver of the "Smart Energy Demand Coalition" with the explicit goal:
"The SEDC is an industry group, which represents the requirements of programs involving smart energy demand in order to further the development of the Smart Grid... " So, I guess your sly suggestion about idiots - like me, I suppose - raising it, is going full circle...

As to heating in Germany: Better insulation; new build with practically nil heating requirement, will be the solution there. Read a few discussion forums in German publications and watch participants throwing tantrums about people in France having the nerve to use electricity (produced with minimal CO2 footprint!) for heating...

Buffering stochastic supply just cannot be helped much with 5 GW or similar 5 minute DR buffering. IMO there is no technical solution on the horizon yet to smoothen out ideologically planned amounts of wind and pv electricity production.
The German Energiewende coming to a halt soon, will hopefully teach other countries lessons what not to do.

Mike Parr's picture

Weigl, my friends call me Mike - you ain't a friend.

I did not raise "smart grids" whatever they are - you did. To maintain a temperature that is acceptable in a building you need some heat input. Bodies on their own are not sufficient, there needs to be some external heat input. In terms of RES, this could be solar (e.g. Surface Power) and possibly heat pumps (lots). Even passive houses need some source of energy. The problem with houses in France is low thermal inertia (but you know that).

Your final comments identify you as a fossil-supporter and possibly a neo-liberal (the two usually go together). Your assertion with respect to storage vis-a-vis renewables is just that - an assertion. A business associate (& friend) once said to me "Mike, never educate a c..t" - & adhering to his maxim I will terminate this discussion.

evad666's picture

While politicians and bankers decide on energy policies based on aspirations which ignore thermodynamics my best advice is to wear a jumper and a hat while inside and during the winter months up the carb content in your diet.
After all remember while politicians posture pensioners freeze.

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