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  • Littlebrook Power Station Closes Down

    The end of an era for Littlebrook Power station has been announced. The station was officially closed down on March 31st after being in service for decades, the station’s owners announced recently.

    The station, which is based in Kent, was not part of the Large Combustion Plant Directive, which meant that is was scheduled for closure either in 2015, or after it had been in service for more than 10,000 hours.

    German company RWE Generation, who own the Littlebrook Power Station, said they made the decision to close it down this year because of “current market conditions”.

    The plant was the last significant non-gas fired station in the Greater London area to be closed down; it has been operating since the 1980s and construction work began on it in the 1970s.

    RWE Generation says that during the stations life span, it provided 43475.699 GWh of power to fuel both homes and businesses in the local area. The owners of the station also pride themselves on the links they forged with the local community.

    Commenting on the announcement, Roger Miesen, Chief Technical Officer (CTO), RWE Generation, said:

    “Today is a sad but not unexpected day. I’d like to pay tribute to this station and the people that have worked here helping to keep the lights on across London for so many years.”

    While Keven Nix, Head of RWE Generation UK, said:

    “I would like to thank all of our staff past and present who have contributed to the success of the station, we are also grateful to the local community for their continuous support during the life of the plant.”

    Miners’ Strike

    During its lifetime, Littlebrook Power Station set some records for producing electricity. This was during the 1980s miners’ strike, when the power station was operating as a three unit station to keep the electric flowing to local residents and businesses.

    Peak Demands

    The Littlebrook Power Station has also proved crucial when it comes to meeting the growing demands for energy, providing power during peak times in the Greater London area.

    Cleaner energy supplies

    The decision to close Littlebrook Power Station is part of a drive towards finding greener energy alternatives for power generation. RWE has stated it has invested over £6 billion in a five year period into improving the efficiency of power generation by shutting down the older fossil fuel plants.

  • 30% take time off to deal with winter emergencies

    A new survey by British Gas has revealed that 30% of Britain’s have had to take time off sick, use holiday time, or have had to turn up to work late due to an  a home energy emergency such as a broken gas boiler or burst pipes.

    It is estimated that Britain’s take up to an average of 12 working days off to manage winter repairs to their gas heating system over a lifetime; 10% of those surveyed also stated they were concerned taking time off to deal with such problems could lead to them losing their job, missing out on a promotion or stop them from getting a pay rise.

    Moreover, the survey discovered it was residents in London that were more likely to take time off to deal with an emergency, with 44% stating  they had to take time off to cope with an unexpected emergency at home.

    The cost of emergencies

    In addition, electrical faults are another common reason for taking time off work with 21% of people forced to stay at home to deal with the problem, and it is estimated it costs £512 million a year in repairs.

    The survey also estimates UK workers can lose anything up to £100 in lost income and face average bills of £542 a time to repair winter damage.

    Commenting on the survey, Matthew Bateman, managing director at British Gas residential services, said:

     “The results of the research highlight that winter home emergencies can take a toll on people in terms of time and money, and worrying about how it impacts time away from their job. Every winter we increase the number of staff in our call centre teams so we have the resources ready to help customers who may be calling us with problems”.

    Prevent emergencies

    In order to help prevent household emergencies, British Gas advise householders to arrange regular checks of their boilers and bleeding the radiators. They also suggest insulating the gas pipes during the colder months and insulating the hot water tank.

    In addition, Chris Brain, a British Gas engineer from Canterbury, states:

    “This winter, frozen condensate pipes have been a big problem for customers with condensing boilers in colder areas of the country. Frozen pipes can result in damage to the boiler and even flooding, so people should ensure pipes on the outside of their home are wrapped with lagging, at the very least”.

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  • 52 percent of Tory Voters in favour of Wind Farms

    A poll published in the Sunday Times shows more than half of Conservative voters think the government should do more to encourage onshore wind power.  52% of those surveyed said the building of wind farms should be encouraged, while 18% were against the building of more wind farms and thought they should be banned.

    The public in general are also in favour of the use of wind power according to the survey. 61% said that they would like to see more of the wind farms in the UK while 14% said that they would like to see a ban.

    Members of the public are also keen to see more offshore wind power, with 73% of people stating they would be in favour of more offshore wind power plants being built.

    When it came to other forms of energy production, there were mixed views on the extraction of shale gas with 43% against extracting shale and 32% in favour of it.

    Commenting in a press release, RenewableUK Chief Executive Maria McCaffery said:

    “Recent comments suggest that the Government is looking to restrict onshore wind as it’s concerned about the technology’s popularity. These poll results, and the many like them that have gone before, should provide reassurance that the majority of people, however they vote, want to see more onshore wind, and that any premature curtailment is not necessary.

    Indeed, as the Government has said it is committed to decarbonisation at the lowest cost, early curtailment would seem to directly contravene government objectives.”

    Queen’s Speech and Onshore Windfarms

    In the Queen’s Speech it was announced the new energy bill would mean decisions over smaller onshore wind farms that have a capacity of 50 MW will be decided by local authorities in England as opposed to a ministerial level.

    At the moment it is unclear whether this will also affect wind farms in Wales as a decision has not yet been made.

    Renewable energy organisations have expressed concerns that this could cause a delay in renewable energy projects and RenewableUK are calling on the government to give local authorities the additional resources local councils will need to make quick decisions.

    Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive of RenewableUK said

    “Onshore wind is committed to being a good neighbour to the local communities in which it is hosted, providing substantial economic advantages to the region including the ground-breaking community benefits it pays, so we are confident that Local Authorities should recognise the value of these projects.” 

  • Amber Rudd announces changes to UK energy policy

    Energy and climate change Secretary Amber Rudd has detailed her plans for the UK’s energy policy in the coming years. The new policy is aimed at increasing competition, reducing energy bills for the consumer and securing adequate power generation for the country.

    With the policy, the government reaffirmed its commitment to low carbon, low-cost energy sources, and it also announced plans for a consultation regarding the abolition of unabated coal-fired stations by 2025.

    Moreover, during the speech at the Institute of Civil Engineers, Amber Rudd made the case for prioritising gas-fired stations in order to reduce emissions.

    Amber Rudd stated:

    “One of the greatest and most cost-effective contributions we can make to emission reductions in electricity is by replacing coal fired power stations with gas.

    “I am pleased to announce that we will be launching a consultation in the spring on when to close all unabated coal-fired power stations.

    “Our consultation will set out proposals to close coal by 2025 - and restrict its use from 2023. If we take this step, we will be one of the first developed countries to deliver on a commitment to take coal off the system.”

    The Energy and Climate Change Secretary also detailed plans for more nuclear power stations, and she committed funding for three further auctions of offshore wind power projects, however, she made it clear that the industry would have to reduce its costs as there would be “no more blank cheques”.

    Mixed response

    The changes have received a mixed response. Environmental campaigners Friends of the Earth described the decision to phase out coal as “historic”. However, it also feels that the government should be focusing on renewable energy and energy efficiency as “Gas is too high-carbon for a long-term future.”

    In addition, the Solar Trade Association was pleased at the decision to eliminate coal, stating:

     “Phasing out coal power electricity is of course good news and was expected – this is an essential move.”

    But it added:

    “However it makes little sense to replace fossil coal only with fossil gas.”

    Paul Barwell, CEO of the Solar Trade Association, went on to urge the government to support solar power as there was little commitment to it during the speech, and other groups were disappointed that there wasn’t greater provision for improved energy efficiency.

    Moreover, many analysts argued the reduction in funding for renewable forms of energy would have a negative impact on the government’s climate change targets and could increase costs for consumers.

  • Cardiff is one of the most energy efficient cities

    Householders in Cardiff are the most energy efficient in the UK according to a new survey by British Gas. More than 50% of the people surveyed said they are taking steps to save energy around the home while  87% said that they would change their habits if it meant saving money on their bills; 37% of householders stated they wanted to make energy efficiency a priority.

    The survey also showed that many people are completely unaware of just how much their energy bills cost them every day. Many householders estimated their energy spend cost them an average of £2 a day while others assumed the daily energy spend was anything from £3-£6.

    The survey was conducted as part of the British Gas Energy Saving Challenge, which sets out to help people save money on their energy bills.

    Lydia Campbell. Regional Director for British Gas in Wales, said:

    It’s great to see that so many people from Cardiff are looking to make changes to save energy and get their bills down.

    “The 60 Second Energy Challenge will help people living in Cardiff be more aware about how they use energy, it offers simple and practical tips to reduce their energy use."

    As part of the challenge, a survey was conducted and it revealed how little some householders understand about the simple measures they can take to save on energy around the home.

    Only 3% of the people interviewed were aware that by installing insulation they could make significant savings on their bills, and despite the fact smart meters are soon to be rolled out across the country, many consumers did not know that installing a smart meter could help them save money on their bills and gain a better understanding of which appliances were using the most power.

    Smart Meter Roll out

    While 500,000 smart meters have already been installed around the country, the full roll out will not begin until later in 2015.  The government is currently working with the energy industry to ensure that the roll-out goes ahead within the scheduled time frame.

    It is the gas and energy suppliers that will be held responsible for the planning and installation of smart meters; the roll-out will end in 2020. The method of installation will vary from company to company and the Department of Energy and Climate Change will oversee the management and implementation of the programme as well as carefully monitoring the roll-out.

  • China hosts annual valve exhibition

    An industry expo due to be held in Guangzhou, China from May 14th-16th is expected to attract 10,000 visitors from forty different countries. The expo is an annual event that has been hosted annually since 1997.

    The fair will be held at the China Import and Export Complex, which is Asia’s biggest exhibition center; it was first opened in 2002.

    It is estimated there will be 300 exhibitors at this year’s event, with 8 per cent of them travelling from overseas to be there, and thousands of invitations for the exhibition have been sent out.

    Representatives from the food and beverage industry, environmental protection, petro-chemical, pharmaceutical, gas and electricity, water supply, and a vast range of other industries are also expected to attend.

    The exhibition has been designed to help manufacturers of valves, pipe fittings, castings and a range of other products to gain new customers for their products and make new connections with others in the same industry.

    It will also provide the opportunity to meet with new distributors and agencies to help increase distribution and forge new business relationships. In addition, it will give exhibitors the chance to reconnect with existing clients, increase import and export opportunities, mix with consumers and end users of the products, source new suppliers and even aid in the recruitment of key staff.

    Buyers from around the world have been invited to attend the exhibition and traders, wholesalers, importers and exporters, agents and distributors are all expected to be at the event.

    Exhibits

    There will be hundreds of different exhibits on display and numerous companies from China and the rest of the world are scheduled to be at the event when it gets underway in the middle of May.

    Future Trade Fairs

    Aside from the exhibition in China, there are a number of other trade fairs for the valve industry scheduled throughout the year. One of the most high profile events is due to be held in Rotterdam on the 30th September 2015 and it will run until 1st October.

    The trade show will highlight innovations and initiatives from the valve, pump and seal industries. The event is expected to attract buyers, process engineers and maintenance managers who are keen to demonstrate their solutions to new contacts in the industry.

    Exhibitors will also have the opportunity to demonstrate solutions that can make the valve industry safer and more efficient.

  • CMA issues Energy Market report

    A recent report by the Competition and Markets Authority has delivered its findings on the challenges that are limiting competition in the energy market. The report highlighted concerns that many customers have not considered changing over their energy supplier and this could be costing them over £100 every year.

    It was found that the far too many consumers were paying too much for their energy bills and it is thought that one of the reasons customers do not switch over is due to the fact that they find billing difficult to understand; regulators have introduced a four tariff system to try and make billing clearer, however, the report concluded it had not been as successful as hoped.

    Moreover, the report revealed that a lot of customers were reluctant to change over suppliers because they were concerned over the complexity of the process and they were unaware of what deals were available to them.

    Roger Witcomb, who chaired the investigation, said:

    “Whilst competition is delivering benefits to increasing numbers of customers, mainly through the growth of smaller suppliers with cheaper fixed-price deals, the majority of us are still on more expensive default tariffs. Many customers do not shop around to see if there’s a better deal out there – let alone switch. The confusing way energy is measured and billed can make comparing deals understandably daunting”.

    Mr Witcomb also noted the high level of customer complaints about companies in the Energy sector.

    Concerns over industry transparency

    Another issue addressed in the report was concerns over the lack of transparency in the energy industry and the distrust that this can cause among consumers.

    CMA Referral and Report

    The energy industry was referred to the Competition and Markets Authority in 2014 with the aim of establishing whether or not competition in the energy sector was working well for customers. It was also hoped that an investigation would help to make the energy market clearer for consumers to understand, and that this would result in a greater level of fairness for customers.

    As a result of the report, a number of possible remedies have now been drawn up; a final report is due to be issued by the Competition and Markets Authority by the end of 2015.

    Companies have been invited to submit their comments regarding the authority’s initial findings and these can be submitted until the end of July 2015.

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    Compact Flow switch with high working pressure capability as standard.

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  • Competition to open up in the connections market

    Ofgem has announced a new code of practice aimed at regional electricity distribution networks. The announcement was made at the end of October with the purpose of increasing competition in the UK connections market.

    Ofgem say that the new code of practice should help to lower the cost of businesses connecting to the grid and add that the new measures should help to enhance the quality of service customers can expect.

    Statistics from Ofgem show that the electricity connections market is worth more than £500 million and thousands upon thousands of connections are made on an annual basis.

    Although many independent companies were already competing against the regional electricity distribution networks remained the only providers of a number of essential services that are required to make new connections. Due to the concerns that this was limiting competition in the field, Ofgem introduced its new code of practice at the end of October

    Under the new code of practice, electricity distribution networks ­- or DNOs as they are known - will have to abide by a new set of guidelines that have been set out by Ofgem.

    If the electricity distribution networks don’t abide by the new code of practice, then they could face action from Ofgem.

    Commenting on the announcement, Maxine Frerk, senior partner, electricity distribution, Ofgem, said:

    “We want to see competition in the electricity connections market thriving. While some DNOs are helping to achieve this, many independent companies still face unnecessary delays and needless complexity.”

    Frerk added that the new code of practice would enable independent companies to compete fairly throughout the UK, and it will mean businesses and other organisations will now have a choice as to who delivers its connections.

    Ofgem decided to implement the Code of Practice after carrying out a review of the connections sector. It found that while some companies were making an effort to improve competition in the connections market, to further improve competition it was going to be necessary to introduce a formal, binding code in order to ensure fairness to independent companies.

    Home Builders Federation welcome announcement

    The decision was welcomed by Dave Mitchell of the Home Builders Federation. Mitchell explained that as home builders are increasing the number of homes built to help address U.K.’s housing crisis, it was important these new changes had been introduced to improve the speed at which new homes are connected to the grid.

  • Concern’s over UK’s nuclear energy industry as UK announces it’s to leave Euratom

    There are concerns over the future of the UK’s nuclear energy industry after the government announced its plans to leave the European Atomic Power Treaty, or Euratom, as part of Brexit. The UK will formally leave in 2019, and this could mean that some of Britain’s nuclear power stations could face closure if alternatives safeguards aren’t put in place.

    The warning comes from Rupert Cowen of Prospect Law, who was appearing before the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee along with other key representatives from the nuclear industry.

    The UK will be on course to leave Euratom when it signs article 50 in March. Cowen warned that this could cause significant problems for research and development. However, if it also leaves the UK unable to comply with international safeguards, then as explained in the Guardian, nuclear trade would need to be discontinued and nuclear power stations could face possible closure.

    Decision to leave Euratom

    Brexit Secretary David Davis first confirmed the UK would be leaving Euratom in announcement earlier in 2017. The decision shocked researchers and scientists, and it has left a question mark over the future of projects like the Joint European Torus (JET) project and the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor.

    However, in a statement regarding the future of the JET project, Professor Donné, EUROfusion programme manager, has pledged the team will do all they can to continue working together and extend the work until at least 2020.

    Professor Donné added:

    “We also will do our best to find smooth and adequate solutions for the people that are affected by the UK withdrawing from Euratom.”

    UK Government’s commitment to Nuclear Energy

    Despite the UK’s decision to exit from Euratom, Secretary of State for International Trade, Dr Liam Fox, has been keen to voice the government’s commitment to nuclear energy. Speaking at the recent Civil Nuclear Showcase 2017, Dr Fox stated that the UK’s withdrawal from Euratom will in no way diminish the country’s nuclear ambitions.

    Prime Minister Theresa May recently gave the go ahead for the Hinkley C power plant, which is being built in collaboration with China, and there are plans for more nuclear power plants in the UK.

    By the mid-2020s there will be up to 16 gigawatts of new nuclear energy coming online, according to Nuclear AMRC. Companies currently exploring nuclear energy in the UK include Areva and Hitachi GE. 

  • Consent granted for Dogger A and B Wind farms

    The Department of Energy and Climate Change has granted permission for the building of an offshore wind farm that is to be constructed on the north-east coast of the United Kingdom.

    If the project goes ahead as planned, the Dogger Bank Teesside A and B Offshore wind farms will incorporate anything up to 400 wind turbines, and there will be two offshore wind generating stations.

    Dogger Bank Teesside A will measure 560 km² and Dogger Bank Teesside B will cover 593 km².  They will have the capacity to produce 2.4 GW of green power.

    The offshore wind farm is being developed by a consortium of four different energy companies called Forewind. The consortium includes Norway-based Statkraft, international energy company Statoil, Scottish-based Energy Company SSE and Germany energy company RWE.

    When the construction is finished, the new offshore wind farm will be situated at least 125 km away from the North East coast. Each generating platform will have up to 200 wind turbines and it is planned that they will be a number of collector platforms.

    In addition, there are plans to build four platforms that would be used for either housing or and helicopters and there could potentially be up to 10 weather stations.

    For the onshore part of the project, there are proposals for a converter station, and underground cabling would also be necessary.

    The onshore elements of the planned project are to be situated in Cleveland and Redcar and they have the potential to create numerous jobs in the area. Once the project is complete, it will have the capacity to produce enough energy to power 1.8 million homes in Britain.

    Commenting on the decision, Energy and Climate Change Minister Lord Bourne stated:

    “Thanks to Government support the UK is the world leader in offshore wind energy. As we build the Northern Powerhouse, we want local communities to reap the benefits of investment and green jobs from low carbon developments like Dogger Bank Offshore wind project.”

    Once the project is complete, it is set to be among the biggest power generators in the United Kingdom.

    Forewind General Manager, Tarald Gjerde, said:

    “It represents a real opportunity for the UK to receive even more of its energy from its abundant wind resource while creating significant economic benefits, particularly for the north eastern regions.”

    Plans for the offshore wind development began with the statutory consultation phase in 2012 and with consent granted, the pre-construction and construction phrase are now free to begin.

  • Consultation opens over new interconnectors

    Ofgem has opened up a consultation over plans for a number of new electricity interconnectors. If the proposals go ahead, Ofgem say they will be built by 2020 and will provide an increase of 3.4 GW of electricity.

    Ofgem states the new electricity interconnectors would help to create cheaper energy generation thus helping to reduce energy bills for customers in the UK; another benefit would be better energy security for the future, and it would help to boost Britain’s energy supply.

    As well as saving the consumer money, interconnectors, which allow electricity to flow between two different countries, can also help to reduce the carbonisation of energy, thus producing greener forms of energy supply.

    Commenting on the proposals, Martin Crouch, Ofgem’s senior partner for electricity transmission, said:

    “Ofgem is helping to deliver greater interconnection. These three interconnectors would further boost Britain’s energy security and reduce pressure on bills. To date, under our cap and floor regime, we are looking at adding around 5GW to Britain’s energy supply.”

    If the plans go ahead, Ofgem says the new interconnectors could offer up to £8 billion worth of benefits to consumers over a 25 year period.

    Four projects under consideration

    The proposals set out explain two of the interconnectors will connect Britain’s electricity system with France and the third one with Denmark

    The FAB project will link Britain and France via the island of Alderney; the project is under development by Transmission Investment and RTE.  If it goes ahead, the interconnector will produce 1.4 GW of electricity.

    The proposed IFA2 project will also establish a connection between Britain and France, but would only produce one gigawatt of electricity; this project is a collaboration between National Grid Interconnector Holdings and RTE.

    Also under consultation is the Viking project, which would mean a 1 GW interconnector transmission link between Denmark and Britain; this would be developed by NGIH and Danish company Energinet.dk.

    In addition, a fourth and final project, which is known as Greenlink, is being considered. The 500 MW interconnector would run between Ireland and Britain; this project would be developed by Element Power.

    Current Interconnections and Consultation

    Currently, there are four interconnectors in place between Great Britain and Europe; they are located in France, Ireland, the Netherlands and Northern Ireland; this produces 4 GW of electricity and accounts for 4% of Britain’s energy supply.

    The consultation will remain open until May 2, 2015.

  • Contracts for World’s biggest interconnector awarded

    Contracts worth €1.5 billion have been awarded to build an electricity link between England and Norway. When it is complete, the interconnector will be the longest in the world; NSN Link Limited gave the contracts to Nexans and Prysmian, who will be responsible for constructing the 740 km route.

    The England and Norway link will be the first time that two countries have shared a direct energy system; the project is a collaboration between the National Grid and Norwegian company Statnett SF.

    The cables will run from Blyth in Northumberland to Kvilldal in Norway. It will require almost 1500 km of cable to complete the project and there will also be a 10 km offshore route.

    Prysmian will be providing 950 km of the submarine and land cables; they will also be responsible for installing them. Prysmian will manufacture the cables in a factory in Naples and they will use a specially designed cable laying vessel, which is called the “Giulio Verne”.

    Nexans will be providing cabling for the Norwegian side of the connection; they will manufacture the cables in their Halden-based factory.

    Commenting on the project, Alan Foster, National Grid’s director of European Business Development, said

    “There is a huge programme of work for us to undertake over the next five years to deliver what will be the world’s longest interconnector.  Our contractors will have a big part to play in that successful delivery. But the benefits to both UK and Norway are also huge and when completed the link will deliver low carbon electricity for the UK and also add to security of supply for Norwegian consumers.”

    Håkon Borgen, Executive Vice President of Statnett, added that the project was vital for the future of the energy system in Europe.

    The licence that will allow the project to go ahead was first granted in 2013 when the Norwegian Ministry of Petroleum and Energy gave permission for the interconnector to be built. Preparation work at the site will begin in 2016 and will continue into 2017 when construction will get underway

    The link between the two countries will have numerous benefits including helping to provide a more secure power supply for both the UK and Norway, and the construction work will help to provide jobs. When the link has been finished it will have the capacity to produce 1400 MW of power.

    It is expected that the work would be completed in 2019 and the interconnector will be operational by 2020.

  • Criminal sanctions for gas and electric rigging introduced

    The government is taking steps to crack down on anyone who attempts to manipulate the energy markets. On April 13, 2015, the U.K.’s energy regulators will be given new powers to prosecute anyone suspected of rigging the wholesale electricity and gas prices.

    Under the new laws, it will now be a criminal offence for anyone to use insider information to buy wholesale energy products, or to artificially inflate the wholesale price of energy. Any individual convicted of these offences could face a two-year jail term.

    There are already regulations in place to try and prevent the rigging of the wholesale gas and electricity prices, and Ofgem already has the power to conduct investigations and to impose fines on the individuals and companies involved if it is found  they have flouted the rules, however, until now it has not been a criminal offence.

    As well is facing a possible jail sentence, anyone convicted will also receive a criminal record, and companies that are found guilty will face similar sanctions.

    The government believes that by introducing an additional criminal offence, it will act as a deterrent.

    Commenting on the new announcement, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey said:

    “Manipulating the energy market is absolutely unacceptable – which is why we’re introducing the strongest possible sanctions, including prison sentences”.

    “Tougher penalties will help to create a fairer and stronger market, providing more protection for bill payers and building on action we’ve already taken to increase competition, drive down bills and make it easier and quicker than ever for consumers to switch energy suppliers.”

    Ed Davey first proposed the new measures to criminalise energy price rigging in 2014 and a public consultation was later launched.

    Speaking at the time of the proposals, Energy UK told The Independent:

    “Energy companies welcome scrutiny about how the market is working and our members have nothing to hide.

    “Energy companies are also committed to quick switching and have kept government fully informed of the work already underway to cut switching times dramatically while making sure customers’ consumer rights are protected. Already around one quarter of a million customers switch every month, proving it is not only possible but easy.”

    Ofgem investigation

    There has been a previous year-long investigation into allegations of price rigging in the industry, however, after a 12 month review Ofgem and the Financial Conduct Authority concluded there was no further action to be taken regarding the claims.

  • Didcot A demolition continues

    In 2012, Npower announced the famous Didcot A tower was to be demolished. Now, Npower has announced the demolition, which is being carried out by specialist firm Coleman and Company, is nearly a third of the way complete. So far, three of the cooling towers have been demolished and the Didcot A coal yard has also been destroyed.

    The 47 hectare site that was left behind following the demolition of the coal yard has now been sold to developers Clowes Development Limited and a consultation process is now underway to determine what will become of the land.

    In addition, Turbine Hall has also been demolished and recovery of the remaining scrap is still continuing. Thus far, 20,000 tonnes of scrap materials have been collected and 36,000 tonnes of concrete from the site has been recycled; many of the tanks that were used to fuel the Didcot A tower have been demolished and the external ductwork has been taken down.

    Work will continue on the site well into 2016. The main stations buildings are scheduled for demolition in the summer of 2015 and the north cooling towers and chimney are likely to be demolished the following year. It is predicted the demolition of the site will be completed by September 2016.

    The Didcot A power station closed in 2013 after being in use for more than four decades. Speaking at the time, a spokesperson for Npower said the decision to shut down the power station was “driven by government policy” and the need to replace less energy efficient means of power generation with low carbon alternatives.

    The first towers were felled in July 2014; it took less than ten seconds to demolish them. The demolition of the towers was described as a sad day and the end of an era for Npower.

    Speaking at the time, Alan Robinson Chief Commercial Officer for Npower, said:

    “In anticipation of the closure of older coal-fired power stations, such as Didcot A, RWE has invested strongly in modern gas-fired stations. Didcot A has played a vital role in ensuring security of supply for the UK for over 40 years. Our new gas stations are continuing where Didcot A left off by providing reliable, low-cost electricity.”

    “RWE has invested more than £6bn in the UK in new renewable technologies and state-of-the-art gas-fired power stations, which will continue to help keep the lights on whilst dramatically reducing environmental emissions”.

  • Didcot B back online following fire

    The Didcot B Power Station is back online following a fire that occurred in late October. It was eight days before the power station was in action again and repair work is still continuing; until the affected module is repaired fully the tower will only work at 50% of its usual capacity.

    The fire began on a Sunday evening and affected one of the cooling modules in the Didcot B Power Station; the tower stands alongside the Didcot A tower, which was decommissioned in 2012.

    When the fire broke out, an emergency team put in place a co-ordinated plan and worked alongside local emergency services to extinguish the flames as soon as possible. The Fire Brigade stayed on site until the next morning and then control of the cooling tower was handed back to the team at Npower. The fire caused millions of pounds worth of damage, and 25 fire engines were called to the scene.

    It is still not known what caused the fire; Npower have stated that an investigation is being held into the cause. While the investigation is underway, the cooling tower, which is one of two at the Didcot B plant, will remain out of use. Npower are unable to say how long the module will be out of action for.

    In a statement, Npower said that the power station was shut down as soon as the fire began to take hold and that there was no injuries caused to staff at the plant; the public were not put at risk as a result of the fire.

    Roger Miesen, Head of Hard Coal and Gas, on the RWE Generation board, said:

    ‘It’s good news that Module 5 is back online so quickly. It will be available to generate power this winter and essential repairs will be in the region of single digit million pounds. Didcot B, as part of RWE Generation’s wider fleet, has an important part to play in contributing to the UK’s security of supply.

    ‘Our thanks go out for the fantastic response and dedication of the emergency services who worked alongside RWE teams to bring the fire under control quickly and safely. Huge credit is also due to the RWE site and central engineering teams whose expertise meant that we are able to bring Module 5 back into service after only nine days.’

    The gas-fired power station creates enough energy to power 1 million homes, but energy supplies were not affected. 

  • Didcot B repair work announced

    Npower has announced a programme of works to restore the Didcot B cooling tower, which was damaged as a result of a fire in October 2014.

    The energy company has been searching for contractors to undertake the project to repair the damage that was caused to module five of the Didcot B cooling tower in Oxfordshire. The search to find contractors took six months and Npower have now announced that SPX Cooling Technologies has been selected to complete the repair work.

    Cells 19 and 22 of the cooling tower were also damaged during the fire, but this was only minor. Npower states that they will be back in service in the summer of 2015 and cells 20 and 21, which received more extensive damage, should be restored and be back in use by September 2015.

    Work will also need to be completed to repair the fans of the cooling towers; it is expected that this work will be finished by December 2015.

    Due to damage that has been caused to the towers, Npower state that it will be necessary to rebuild the entirety of some units. However, components that weren’t so badly affected by the effects of the flames can be repaired.

    As well as employing outside contractors to do some of the work, the owners of Npower, RWE, will complete some of the repair work itself.

    Commenting on the repairs, the manager of the Didcot B power station said:

    ‘We are pleased to announce the project to repair the cooling tower of Module 5 has begun. The power station has been available to generate since the fire but the repairs will enable us to achieve a higher efficiency, and full station capacity as we approach the winter months.’

    ‘I would like to again thank the emergency services who worked alongside RWE teams to bring the fire under control quickly and safely.’

    The Didcot B power station fire made headline news in 2014. The BBC reported that 100 firefighters and 25 fire engines were called out to control the blaze. As a result of the fire, Npower said the station would need to be closed down for the foreseeable future while the repairs were carried out.

    The fire started in one of the Didcot B cooling station but soon spread to a number of the other towers.

    Following an investigation into the cause of the fire, Npower have since identified a fault within the fan unit, which the power company says started the blaze.

  • Doubt surrounds UK Steel manufacturing industry

    Uncertainty continues to surround the UK steel manufacturing industry following a review by Tata of its European Portfolio. In late March it was announced that due to the demand for steel being on the decline across the globe, the current excess of steel supplies and excessive manufacturing costs, the future of Tata steel plant in Port Talbot is now in doubt.

    A plan for Strip Products UK, which aimed to transform and restructure the business, was also deemed as unviable during the review, and it was decided that the Tata steel board would not be able to fund the plan.

    Heavy Losses and Proposed Sale

    It has been reported that the Port Talbot plant is losing £1 million and a day, however, these figures have not been confirmed and there is a question mark over the precise amount of the losses.

    There have been calls for the government to take ownership of the plant, but this is a plan that has been rejected by the Prime Minister and the only hope to save thousands of jobs is to sell the Tata steel plant.

    Sajid Javid Criticism

    Business Secretary Sajid Javid faced criticism for being on holiday at the time the news was announced, however, Mr David has said in a statement on his website that it was his efforts that convinced Tata to put the plant up for sale rather than close it down. The Business Secretary also defended his party’s efforts to support the manufacturing industry in the UK, specifically the steel industry.

    However, Stephen Kinnock, the Labour MP for Aberavon has described the Tory party’s response to the steel industry’s predicament as “a mixture of incompetence and indifference” and he has started the #saveoursteel campaign.

    CBI statement

    The CBI has issued a statement regarding the current steel manufacturing crisis. The CBI Deputy Director-General for policy and campaigns, Josh Hardie, said:

    “It’s clear that firms in our steel industry face major global challenges to stay competitive.

    “Our industrial base can best be supported by developing a long-term industrial strategy, protecting research and development investment to help raise productivity and ensuring energy costs remain competitive.

    “The Welsh and UK governments must work together, alongside businesses, to maintain and increase investment in Wales.”

    Liberty House and steel group with offices around the globe are reported to be interested in purchasing the plant, however, there are some concerns that government funding would need to be made available if the sale is to go ahead.

    It came shortly after the company has announced a deal to sell its plants in Scotland. The Clydebridge and Dalzell steel plants are to be sold to the Scottish government and they would then be sold on to liberty House.

  • Energy auctions drive renewable prices down

    The Department of Energy and Climate Change says its energy auctions have led to 27 renewable energy projects being offered new contracts. The Government says the energy projects will create enough power for nearly 1.5 million homes.

    As a result of the auctions, the National Grid predict £315 million a year in new contracts will now be made available to five renewable energy companies. Some of the contracts will be given to companies that specialise in renewable forms of energy such as onshore wind and solar power, which is growing in popularity. However, contracts are also to be offered to offshore technologies.

    The auctions were part of the Government’s Contracts for Difference initiative, which has been designed to help reform the energy market in the UK by encouraging investment into greener forms of power generation. Successful bidders will get contracts that will last for 15 years.

    As a result of the auctions, there could be two new offshore and 15 new on shore wind farms. It could also lead to the establishment of 5 new solar projects.

    Price Reduction

    The Government says the green energy auctions have helped to dramatically reduce prices for green energy by up to 58% in some cases; the move towards greener forms of power generation will also help to considerably reduce CO2 emissions, thus helping to create a cleaner environment.

    In a move to drive down the prices of renewable energy, as part of the auctions, contracts were only offered to the companies that gave the most competitive prices. The Government says this means consumers will get much better value for money.

    As well as a 58% reduction in the price of solar energy, offshore wind energy has been made 18% cheaper, while onshore forms of energy are 17% cheaper.

    Commenting on the auctions, Ed Davey, Energy and Climate Change Secretary, said:

    “This world leading auction has delivered contracts for renewables projects right across the UK. These projects could power 1.4 million homes, create thousands of green jobs and give a massive boost to home-grown energy while reducing our reliance on volatile foreign markets”.

    “The auction has driven down prices and secured the best possible deal for this new clean, green energy.”

    The contracts will be awarded to companies based in England, Scotland and Wales and will include both small businesses and independent generators.

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