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The end of an era for Didcot A

The end of an era for the Didcot A cooling towers has been announced. Three of the Didcot A cooling towers have been demolished The Didcot A cooling towers had helped to secure energy supplies in the UK for more than 40 years.

New gas stations will take over energy production and they aim to provide consumers with low cost electricity. The demolition is part of RWE’s commitment to renewable technologies. RWE says that it has invested more than £6 billion pounds into finding greener technologies and state-of-the-art gas fired power stations.

A statement from RWE, which is one of Europe’s leading gas and electricity companies, says that the demolition of Didcot A will have minimal impact on Didcot B and the plant at Didcot will continue to play an essential part in power generation, producing enough gas to fuel 1 million homes in the UK.

Commenting on the demolition of Didcot A, Kevin Nix, Head of RWE Generation UK, said:

”Although this is a sad day and the end of an era in many ways, I am very pleased that the technically challenging demolition of the southern cooling towers has been carried out successfully and above all with the safety of all those involved, including the local community, as its highest priority. This is entirely due to months of pre-planning and the professionalism of the specialist teams involved.”

An expert team is continuing to work at Didcot to oversee the demolition of the rest of the site. The northern cooling towers will also be felled along with other structures from the Didcot power station. The aim is to complete the demolition work by 2016.

Plans to close the Didcot A were first announced in 2012 and it was finally closed in 2013; decommissioning of Didcot A started last year and took nine months.

The demolition of Didcot A is a reflection of the changing face of power generation in the UK. In recent years, the government has been urging energy firms to find cleaner, greener forms of energy and to find ways of reducing carbon emissions.

As part of government plans to find renewable forms of power generation, the government has announced a number of initiatives to encourage energy firms to find greener forms of energy production. The government has invested considerable funds to help drive the UK towards clean energy and it is committed to spending more in the years to come.

Fortunes improve for small and medium-sized businesses

Small and medium-sized manufacturing businesses in the UK are continuing to see their fortunes improve, according to the latest survey from the CBI. The survey, which reflects the last three months of trade, shows that the output in growth and the increase in orders have continued.

For the fourth consecutive quarter, domestic orders and output both showed vigorous growth and it is expected that the upward trend will continue throughout the next quarter.

Job Creation

There was also good news on the job creation front. In the last quarter small and medium- sized manufacturing companies have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people employed in this sector; last quarter’s figures for employment showed the strongest growth since records began in 1988. However, while firm's optimism was up in the latest survey, it wasn’t as high when compared with the last quarter.

Investment

Smaller manufacturers also stated that they plan to invest in machinery in the next twelve months; however, many of the manufacturers don’t intend to invest in new buildings in the near future.

Export Orders

The one weak point for small and medium-sized manufactures continues to be exports. Exports remained flat in the last quarter. However, many were optimistic that export orders would begin to improve again in the next few months,

Commenting in a press release, Katja Hall, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:

"Smaller manufacturers are settling into a regular growth pattern, with their order books and output growing for the fourth consecutive quarter.

"Firms remain upbeat about their business situation and they are hiring at their fastest rate since 1988.

"But export orders have underperformed this quarter, which may in part be because of the strength of Sterling.

"We need the Government to get behind our small and medium-sized manufacturers to help them to sell their products and services to new markets around the world, giving a sustainable boost to long-term growth."

Key Findings

Key Findings from the latest CBI survey showed that 36% of small and medium-sized businesses experienced a growth in orders in the last quarter.

31% of companies said that their order output was on the increase and 16% experienced a decrease.

36% of firms had an increase in domestic orders, but 19% of companies said that their orders fell.

And 34% of companies announced an increase in employment, but 9% said that there had been a fall.

Energy price rigging could lead to two year jail term

New proposals put forward by Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey could lead to anyone found guilty of rigging energy prices facing a jail term of up to two years, it has been announced.

If the new laws are introduced it could mean that energy regulators will be given new powers to prosecute if it is suspected that someone has rigged gas and electricity prices. Moreover, if the laws were brought into force it would mean that if anyone was to make misleading claims about wholesale energy prices in a bid to manipulate the market, they could be charged with an offence.

Commenting on the proposed new laws, Ed Davey said:

“Manipulating the energy market is absolutely unacceptable, and these proposals provide a much stronger deterrent – more in line with the approach taken in the financial markets.

“The government is doing everything it can to help consumers by increasing market competition to drive prices down. We have also set up the first ever annual competition assessment, which has led to the first ever referral of the sector to the competition authorities.”

Current regulations mean that energy regulators have the power to investigate anyone that is suspected of breaching the rules and they can impose fines. However, a change in the law would mean much harsher punishments and could lead to a prison term of up to two years.

The government has announced the proposals as part of its attempts to reform the energy market so that consumers’ rights are put first. The announcement is part of the government’s attempts to loosen the stranglehold that the big six energy companies have on the energy market. The government also hopes that its actions will lead to greater competition in the energy sector

It has also been announced that there is to be an investigation into competition and transparency in the retail energy market. The investigation is considered necessary to restore the confidence that has been lost in the power industry in recent years.

Commenting on the new proposals, Rachel Fletcher, senior partner, markets, Ofgem, said:

“Ofgem has a track record for taking strong action against companies that break the rules. And we want the strongest possible deterrents in place to guard against market manipulation and insider trading. We put forward the case to government for greater powers to take action if needed, and we welcome this consultation.”

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