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Pressure Regulator

  • A survey by the British Chamber of Commerce and British Gas shows that UK businesses want the government to do more to accommodate the cost of the introduction of energy efficient measures into work environments.

    Of the 2,100 companies surveyed, 36% of them said they felt that the introduction of grants to help with the cost of fitting new energy efficient measures would be the most significant measure the government could make. Financial aid was favoured by 43% in the manufacturing sector, while 19% of businesses felt tax breaks could be the solution.

    However, a lack of funds and a lack of available information were also cited as reasons for not investing in energy efficiency measures at work.

    Commenting on the survey, Director of Research and Economics at the British Chambers of Commerce, Mike Spicer, stated:

    “These results demonstrate that getting the economics of investment right for energy efficiency is crucial to promoting take-up. At a time when businesses face growing upfront cost pressures from other sources, grants and tax breaks have an important role to play in offsetting the cost of new energy efficiency measures. On its own, more information won’t do the job.”

    Government Targets

    The government has targets in place and it is keen to improve energy efficiency where it can in order to improve fuel security in the future and lower pollution. However, while energy use in industry has declined in recent years, many firms have still be left not knowing the best approach in order to make efficiency savings, or they are concerned the measures they adopt will not deliver the promised cost savings.

    Wholesale prices

    Many of the companies surveyed felt they hadn’t benefitted from changes in the wholesale gas prices. Of those surveyed, approximately 36% stated that the fall in wholesale prices had yet to be reflected in their energy bills, while 37% had noted little change in the price they pay for energy, despite the fall in wholesale prices.

    According to the survey, micro-businesses have been impacted the most with 74% of them stating that there had been either no change or just minor changes in the cost of their bills.

    Energy Efficiency and the Manufacturing Sector                

    In the manufacturing sector, firms seemed less concerned with greater energy efficiency; their main focus is investing in the maintenance and enhancement of their manufacturing facilities. However, the number one reason for not making investment in energy efficiency was the concern that it wouldn’t deliver the promised energy savings.

  • The chief executive of EDF has urged Theresa May to give the green light to the Hinkley point C nuclear power station. In an interview with the Telegraph, Vincent de Rivaz stressed the positive aspects of the proposed project and issued assurances regarding the plant.

    It’s thought the government has concerns over potential security issues and the possibility of a cyberattack, but in the Telegraph interview, de Rivaz told the newspaper that all staff would be vetted and control rooms kept separate.

    Hinkley C received final funding approval in the summer and it was expected that the government would give the project the go-ahead. However, it was announced that there was to be a delay; the government won’t make a final decision over approval until the autumn.

    If the plant does get the final go-ahead, it’s expected to be commissioned by 2025. It will cost £18 billion to build, have the capacity to fuel more than 5 million homes, and create thousands of jobs.

    EDF states that the plant will lead to a £4 billion investment in the South West during the lifetime of Hinkley C, including more than £1 billion during the construction phase.

    Government tensions        

    The delay in the decision has led to tensions between the UK and its partners in China. Chinese investment is crucial to the completion of the project, and they have committed a third of the financing for it. The Chinese government are keen for the deal to go ahead and the delay in the decision has caused a strain on diplomatic relationships between the two countries.

    Unions file legal Challenge

    While Hinkley C has the support of several major unions in the UK, in France a legal challenge has been launched. Hinkley C has also been subject to a past legal challenge by unions in France, who attempted to block the decision.

    Low carbon future

    Supporters say Hinkley C is an essential part of the UK’s low carbon future and the UK must find ways to produce greener former of power in order to provide greater energy security. The bid to find cleaner methods of energy production has led to a greater drive towards nuclear power, which has the support of the government.

    However, environmental campaigners are calling for greater use of renewable energy, energy savings and energy storage as solutions for the UK’s future fuel needs.

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  • The latest activity survey from Oil and Gas UK has shown mixed fortunes for the sector in the UK.  The statistics show a campaign to improve efficiency and production, and to reduce industry operating costs has been successful.

    According to the report, operating costs in the sector have been lowered by a third, costs of exploration are predicted to reduce further and the sector has been boosted by a 10% increase in oil and gas production, but the survey revealed some negative aspects for the industry as well.

    North Sea Exploration at record lows

    While costs for exploring the North Sea have been reduced by 40%, the survey also demonstrates how exploration is now at record lows.

    The lack of surveying in the oil and gas sectors in the UK has caused concern in the past, and a number of initiatives have been announced to encourage more exploration but they do not appear to be reversing the trend.

    Lack of Investment

    The report also noticed a lack of financing for the creation of new projects, and Oil and Gas UK are now urging the government to take measures to improvement investment levels.

    Chief Executive for Gas and Oil UK, Deirdre Michie, has called for action to be taken to encourage government, the gas and oil industries and regulators to work together in order to make the industry more competitive and attractive to investors.

    Michie also urged the government to reduce the headline rate of the special taxes paid by the industry and for steps to be made to improve the way the Investment Allowance is used in order to help pave the way for securing energy supply in to the future.

    Price Fall

    Prices for gas and oil also continue to be on the wane and total revenues have decreased by 30%.

    Based on current prices, the activity report highlighted concerns that around half of UKCS oil fields could be operating at a loss, which will further prevent fresh investment into exploration.

    Commenting on the falling prices, Deirdre Michie said

    “The UKCS is entering a phase of ‘super maturity’.  While the industry’s decades of experience provide great depths of knowledge and expertise which can be applied to recover the still significant remaining resource, the report highlights the challenges that the falling oil price poses in our capability to maximise economic recovery of the UK’s offshore oil and gas.”

    The report also details the rapid increase in the decommissioning of fields and the fall in sanctioned capital investment

  • The proposed Hinkley C power plant has always been the subject of controversy, but further questions are now being raised over its costs and who will foot the bill for the radioactive waste that will be produced.

    As detailed in the Guardian, the Department of Energy and Climate Change has declined a Freedom of Information request, which would have disclosed its state aid arrangements with the French energy firm EDF.

    The government has previously stated that when a company builds a nuclear plant in the United Kingdom, it would be responsible for the management and cost of the waste disposal, but there are worries that these expenses could be passed on to the bill payer. In addition, environmental group Greenpeace has expressed concerns over the possible bad value that the proposed plant might offer to thetax payer.

    David Lowry, who filed the Freedom of Information request, is to appeal the decision and he argues that British citizens are entitled to make up their own minds on whether the government has made the right decision over the plant.

    Hinkley C - the costs

    In an article on its website, Greenpeace has raised concerns over the potential costs of Hinkley C. A recent spreadsheet issued by the Treasury seemed to suggest that the new power plant could end up costing £26 billion, but the government has since issued a statement saying this was a mistake and the final cost will be £16 billion.

    However, Greenpeace says this isn’t consistent with the costs announced by EDF, who say that the development will cost £18 billion, however, this price could still rise should be development be subject to delays.

    A new nuclear generation

    A move toward nuclear energy is considered necessary due to the closure of the majority of the United Kingdom’s older generation power stations and the need for cleaner fuels.

    The Hinkley Point C power plant is being hailed as the first step towards a new revolution for the nuclear power industry, and it will be the first nuclear plant in the UK for a quarter of a century.

    Licensing for the station was confirmed in 2012, and Hinkley C will be the first nuclear power plant to be backed by a Funding Decommissioning Programme. Under this arrangement, the company responsible for building the plant must cover all of the costs of decommissioning, and their share of the total cost for waste disposal.

  • The sale of Tata’s Port Talbot plant has been put on hold, according to media speculation. The article in the Telegraph indicates that the Indian-based owners are taking their time to think about the implications of future EU deals, and to consider any potential pension scheme liabilities.

    Sales Process and future of Port Talbot Plant

    Early into the sales process, Tata Steel indicated there were seven parties interested in purchasing the plant, including the steel group Liberty House, Greybull, JSW Steel and Nucor.

    The number of potential buyers has since been narrowed down, and the government has made an offer to purchase a 25% share in the business, but it has rejected calls to take ownership of the business outright.

    Last month there was speculation that Tata was about to make a deal with the UK government and that the company was to receive a £1 billion government loan. However, recently, a further obstacle has been placed in the way of the sales process following concerns that a heavily increased levy could be put in place by the Pension Protection Fund should the deal with the government go ahead.

    In Parliament in June - in response to a question by Aberavon MP Stephen Kinnock - Prime Minister David Cameron stated that alongside business secretary Sajid Javid, the government was doing everything it could “to secure a future for Tata steel”.

    The Prime Minister added that the sales process was moving along and he felt that steel “was better off in the inside the European Union”.

    New potential buyer

    Now, media reports indicate that Ed Truell, a private equity investor, is now in talks with the company, the Treasury and the Pensions Regulator about purchasing the plant. Rather than viewing Brexit as a problem, Truell told CITY A.M. that the decision to leave Europe has made the steel plant “a lot more attractive to potential buyers”.

    Decision to Sell

    Tata made the announcement that it was going to sell the plant back in March 2016 following a review of the company’s European portfolio. Tata concluded that manufacturing costs and lack of demand for steel were impacting on the competitiveness of the business.

    It also stated there had been a deep concern over the “deteriorating financial performance of the UK subsidiary” in the previous 12 months. Media reports at the time speculated that the plant was losing as much as £1 million pounds a day.

  • Research conducted by Npower business solutions shows that UK-based businesses are largely in favour of the proposed new energy legislation regarding renewables obligations (RO) and feed in tariffs (FiT,) and they feel that it is likely the changes will have a positive effect on their business when they go ahead.

    The changes in legislation was announced in late 2015 as part of the government’s spending review. In the review, the government announced its intention to scrap the compensation scheme for RO/FiT and to introduce an exemption programme in its place. 51% of those surveyed stated that they were in favour of the exemption scheme and plans to backdate compensation as they felt it would enable their businesses to remain competitive.

    However, more than half of the manufacturers interviewed said that they were not aware of the government’s plans regarding Renewables Obligations and Feed in Tariffs, and the majority of retailers had not heard of the government’s proposals either.

    Review and Consultation

    A review into the proposals is scheduled to get under way later this year, and according to the research more than half of those surveyed said they would be interested in taking part during the consultation phase because of the impact the proposals could have on their business.

    Commenting on the plans, head of Npower Business Solutions, David Reed said:

     “The proposed exemption would represent good news for the businesses and sectors which are eligible. Making regulatory processes more transparent and more straightforward would reduce the burden on businesses and would provide them with greater clarity about their finances.

    “A majority of retailers and manufacturers we spoke to were not aware of the upcoming consultation. That’s why we’re working with the Government to host a round table event, to explain these upcoming changes to businesses and discuss the proposed benefits.”

    Renewables obligation and feed in tariffs explained

    The Renewables Obligation scheme is a measure that was introduced to ensure that electricity suppliers buy a percentage of their power from renewable energy suppliers, however, these charges have been steadily increasing due to a number of factors, including the surge in the number of renewable energy companies.

    The Feed in Tariff was an attempt to get UK-based businesses and homes to generate greener forms of energy themselves such as wind and hydro power; the suppliers get compensated for each kWh of energy that is generated. However, as with the Renewables Obligation scheme, the cost of the tariffs are continuing to increase because of the growing number of low carbon energy firms and a greater amount of green energy being generated.

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