Come on, face it, the ice bucket challenge was really only a fad designated towards rich nerds to test their latest ice cube dispensor on their new fridge. My message today goes out to all those hard-core, punk-loving, high altitude and H2O-proximity cravers that search for some time off, to relax, to recover, to re-fill the adrenaline tank before heading off again.

Winter is nearing!

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A new report, by order of the European Commission, studying the Subsidies and costs of EU energy just came out (published by Ecofys. KPMG and the Centre for Social and Economic Research). This study is particular noteworthy since it is one of the first that attempts to provide useful data on energy costs and subsidies for all EU Member States and for all technologies. Here is a quick summary of the most interesting findings as well as some thoughts and discussions.

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What a sad, sad day for European Growth Growth transition. “Britain won EU approval for a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point on Wednesday, allowing the government to commit to 35 years of financial support for Europe’s biggest and most controversial infrastructure project.”

Molly Scott Cato, a UK MP for the Greens, said: “There can be no doubt that the generous terms being offered by the UK government to EDF on Hinkley C amounts to illegal state aid under EU rules.” She added: “It is a scandal that one of the final acts of the Barroso Commission is to turn a blind eye to the illegality of the Hinkley deal as some kind of quid pro quo for Germany’s renewable energy support scheme.”

(Thanks to Mark Johnston for this information.)

Claude Turmes, a politican from Luxembourg, stated in a recent interview that UK threatened to leave the EU if Hinkley Point C is not approved. Thus, it seems the EC gave in to this pressure… If only renewable sources of energy were to be subsidised by the amount that British taxpayers subsidies Hinkley Point C, then the Green Growth transition would not be a myth anymore but it would be well underway.

 

 

People are always in such a rush. US Presidents are always in such a rush to pardon whoever they can get their hands on during the last day of their office. We call this PardonGate nowadays, and I guess they do it to either potentially benefit from those people in the future or simply for some last-minute drop of altruism towards their own kind.

Then there are people in general who are always in such a rush, and they tend to be shoppers on discount days like Black Friday in the US. There is dramatic video evidence showing what consequences a discount day like Black Friday has on people’s rational thought and behavior:

 

And then there are leaving European Commissioners such as Joaquin Almunia, who, on the deeply contested point of the planned nuclear power station Hinkley Point C in UK, propose in their last days of office to

“propose to the college of commissioners to take a positive decision and in principle the decision should be taken during this mandate of the commission in October”.

A decision like that is not only incredible because of the extent of the subsidies that the UK government guarantees a foreign company, EDF from France, for the next 35 year. The UK government has agreed to pay EDF £92.50 per MWh for the electricity output from Hinkley Point C – roughly twice the current wholesale price of power, for the next 35 years(!) in addition to a public support to finance the project of (at minimum) £17.6bn.

No, even more incredible is this decision because it is yet another decision which is taken by a leaving politician on his last days in office. Now let us face the issue at hand. Why such a rush?

It is well-known that the new, upcoming commissioner is not as supportive as Joaquin Almunia towards nuclear energy. Thus, a politician, in his last days of office, will take a decision that will potentially affect all British citizens for the next 35 years, unless there is obviously an accident, in which case the whole world will be affected for a long time. And, furthermore, the new commissioner who will come on stage in a couple of weeks is likely to block Hinkley Point C.

So, why such a rush?

Why should anyone be allowed to rush and push through a decision of this severity, knowing that it is not going to be supported anymore only a couple of weeks after it has been taken? How can someone feel this is the right decision to take then? And, given the astonishing subsidies that the UK government is going to pay out for Hinkley Point C, how flexible and bendible must the European competition law be in order to get such an uncompetitive decision pushed through? Do we really need a European competition law if such subsidies are allowed by it? And has the European Commission for Competition actually made a full study of the effect of this subsidy on the Green Growth transition of the European Union and on alternative sources of energy like wind and solar? Also, why do we see diminishing subsidies for wind and solar energy while we at the same time allow never-seen subsidies for nuclear energy?  I would love to see answers to these questions at some point, don’t you?

(Dutch translation by Marco Ploeger HERE)

A couple of days ago, Jean-Claude Juncker, the new President of the European Commission, sent Miguel Arias Cañete a mission statement:

Dear Miguel,

… blah blah blah… Following our recent discussions, I would like you to be the “Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy”… blah blah blah… I strongly believe in the potential of “Green Growth” and I want the EU to become the world number one in renewable energies… etc…

There is basically a storm brewing over this appointment, which is being discussed and scrutinized in the European Parliament these days. An online petition has already seen more than 286,000 signatures  against this appointment. Why all this?

Circular Economy is one of the phrases that you’ll nowadays most often hear at any sustainable development debate. It is basically a new catch phrase for anything that was previously associated with sustainable development. Since still nobody really knows how to make an economy sustainable, circular, square or rectangular, now, for yours truly, the EEA managed to come up with a very simple solution to the problem.

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