Lu Guang

From our media monitoring team in Beijing:

China shuts down 9,300 firms for environmental reasons and fines coal plants for air pollution

According to China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection, in the first half of 2015, China has been strengthening its environmental oversight under a revised law, shutting down 9,300 companies and suspending work at another 15,000.
The environmental watchdogs inspected more than 620,000 companies. By running a “daily penalty” rules of the revised Environmental Protection Law from January 1st, China has already levied fines of over 200 millions RMB on heavy polluted factories that had continued violations. 740 cases were prosecuted.
China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection also levied fines of 500 millions RMB specifically on coal fired plants with substandard desulfurization facilities in the past 6 months. [ in the whole year of 2013, this penalty was 400 millions.Some of this information is available in English here.

Top stories

1) UK oil: BP to invest more than £600m in upgrading North Sea fields

British oil major BP will spend $1 billion to increase output from oil fields off the eastern coast of Scotland, reports Reuters, at a time when oil companies are seeking to exit the ageing UK North Sea basin.

The move by the oil giant which is struggling to maintain production levels came as oil prices fell to new multi-month lows Wednesday after weekly inventory data showed a small increase in U.S. crude production and President Barack Obama urged lawmakers to support the Iranian nuclear deal – says the Wall Street Journal.

Part of the reasoning for BP’s move could be the favourable investment climate for oil and gas in the UK. Indeed Renewable UK argues that fossil fuel industries are still receiving billions of pounds worth of support whilst UK renewable subsidies are being cut based on figures from the IMF. It’s worth pointing out that fossil fuel subsidies and direct energy production subsidies aren’t directly comparable.

2. Nuclear new build: UK Hinkley deal to receive final sign off as Finnish reactor moves forwards

As we previously noted The Guardian reports that a £25bn contract to build the UK’s first new nuclear power plant in 25 years is expected to be signed within weeks. The paper understands that David Cameron and China’s president, Xi Jinping, are expected to sign the deal at a meeting in the UK in October.

The news about the French reactor project comes amidst reports that Finland’s planned Russian built nuclear project is also moving forwards. Finnish Prime Minister Juha Sipilä said on Wednesday morning that the Fennovoima nuclear power plant – built using a Rosatom reactor – will be approved after the govt. managed to secure 60% EU ownership of the scheme.

3) Renewables: World’s largest offshore windfarm moves forwards, new tidal turbine and Bulgarian renewable opposition

The UK government granted planning consent for the proposed development of the world’s largest offshore wind farm yesterday. The Dogger Bank Teesside A and B Offshore wind project, which is expected to deliver up to 400 offshore wind turbines boasting 2.4GW of clean power capacity.

The news comes as a British firm – working with Oxford University – believes it has developed a new type of tidal turbine which could reduce the need for large dams and barrages on tidal projects. The firm suggests production costs using it’s ‘tidal fence’ would be between £100 and £130 per MWh for the 10 kilometer fence proposed for the Bristol Channel in the future, markedly cheaper than lagoons and comparable to a new nuclear power plant or offshore wind.

In Bulgaria on the other hand the four largest employer federations and two trade unions have united to call for a moratorium on new renewable energy projects – citing the impact on bills.

“Bulgaria already fulfils the requirement of 16% renewable energy in overall energy consumption laid down by the European Commission for the year 2020, so there is no need to feed additional expensive green energy into the grid,” said Vasil Velev, chairman of the Association of Industrial Capital (AIK) last Sunday at a press conference in Sofia reported by Sun & Wind energy. 

And finally in renewable industry news - ia piece sponsored by Italian Energy Giant Enel - the Guardian reports that the new Transatlantic Trade Deal between the US and EU could provide a fillip for renewable energy industry – but could also trigger a ‘race to the bottom’ on regulation whilst Siemens has confirmed it is to go ahead with a massive new wind turbine factory in Germany.

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