Ed Davey MP, closer

Closer up, Ed Davey MP doesn’t look anything like Wayne Rooney, the soccer star, which is a good thing really, as that impression, drawn from paparazzi photographs mostly, made me fear I could get overwhelmed by alcohol-fuelled footballer charisma or overpowering aftershave, of which Ed Davey appeared to have neither. He did keep flashing an annoying gold signet ring, but he seems to have his sideburns well under control, and my attention was really drawn to the fact that he looks a lot slimmer than last year when he spoke at last year’s Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group or “PRASEG” do, doing a very passable Rooney impression, somehow. As we spoke this evening, in the basement of One Birdcage Walk, I don’t know what he thought I was thinking, but I was wondering : has Ed Davey MP got a “podge coach” ? Or is he indulging in a spot of extra-curricular skin-on-skin activity ? Or is he merely in competition with Ed Balls MP ? It can be so hard to differentiate between one upwardly-mobile and upwardly-weighted political Ed and another these days, and find yourself a Unique Selling Point in Generation Ed.

I asked the Minister, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, over some very garlicky olive nibbles, and some evil wasabi peanuts, and some OK OJ, whether I could possibly have heard aright in his comments about Community Energy. Somewhere in the building, a masonry drill had started to rumble, and Ed D had made a reference to “drilling” as he opined on the meaning of “local energy”. I thought he meant shale gas development, and I was hoping to clarify if he really did mean that or not. No. I was wrong. It was a joke.

Well, OK then. Onwards and outwards. “…So, Ed, I read recently that you would be prepared to consider a bid to build new nuclear reactors from GE Hitachi, who have purchased the company Horizon, which already have planning options in the UK at approved sites. You said you would be prepared to consider them instead of Electricite de France. You’ve said you have a level of strike price in mind, and you’re not prepared to go above it, despite EdF proposals. So, Ed, did you know that in February 2011, you know, just before the Multiple Nuclear Reactor Accident at Fukushima Dai-ichi in Japan, that 24 (actually, it turns out it’s 35) of GE Hitachi’s nuclear reactors in the USA had been warned that they were out of safety compliance owing to buckled control rods ? And that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had issued a fix notice ? Would reactors in the UK built by GE Hitachi going to be of the same design ?” Ed Davey, wiser than his seemingly youthful football-short wearing years would allow, advised me to address my concerns to the Office for Nuclear Regulation, who would, of course, vet each design thoroughly.

After which helpful direction, I observed Mayer Hillman, Emeritus Professor of the Policy Studies Institute, regale the slimline Ed D with the news that the Climate Change Act is remiss as it does not include climate change feedbacks in its calculations for the necessary UK carbon emissions reductions. He is right, actually, but it’s a tough argument to push. The IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report couldn’t include climate change feedback effects, because there were no reliable numbers. In the Fifth Assessment Report, there will be numbers, as Ed Davey noted. I noticed that Ed Davey was as calm as a sleeping dolphin, one eye watchfully open, but he was actually awake and listening, and not being dismissive. I thought to myself, actually, he’s rather polite, and I rather warmed to him. Not too much, of course, because otherwise the climate could have risked significant change.

2 thoughts on “Ed Davey MP, closer”

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    From: Jo Abbess
    To: Claverton Energy Research Group
    Subject: A really serious report from #PRASEG2013…
    Date: 11 July 2013

    …mixed with a good dollop of fun (well, I found it funny, and you
    are free to disagree. After all, it’s a democracy) :-

    http://www.joabbess.com/2013/07/10/ed-davey-mp-closer/

    Regards,

    jo.

    PS Nice to see you this evening Dave Andrews. What a sharp shirt !

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    From: Herbert Eppel
    To: Claverton Energy Research Group
    Date: 11 July 2013

    Hi Jo

    Do have a photo of Dave’s shirt? 🙂

    Anyway, good to see that you managed to speak to Ed Davey. If I had been there I would have been tempted to tell him that, having previously assumed that the LibDems had reluctantly accepted the idea of new nuclear due to coalition necessities, in my capacity as a long-standing environmentalist and CEnv I was less than amused (to put it mildly) by his recent Monbiot/Lynas-style pontification to the effect that environmentalists should embrace nuclear on environmental grounds – see http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2013/jul/05/davey-minister-nuclear-power-hinkley-point. Victor Meldrew came to mind when I read it!

    By the way, has anyone considered resurrecting the idea of a Claverton meeting with the SoS? I don’t think we have time to wait for Chris Huhne to come out and be rehabilitated.

    Can’t remember who was involved in the previous ‘organising committee’ and how far things got, can you?

    Best

    Herbert

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    From: Jo Abbess
    To: Claverton Energy Research Group
    Date: 11 July 2013

    Hi Herbert,

    As a point of English-as-she-is-spoke style guidance, I’d advise against using the phrase “come out” without some firm context – since that phrase is normally used for people starting to be open about their alternative sexual orientation, hidden for so long “in the closet” along with their possible counter-gender frillies. It would indeed be interesting if Chris Huhne were to “come out”. Would he ditch the allegedly bisexual female partner for someone of a male-gendered persuasion ? Now, that would be news. But wouldn’t get us anywhere closer to a Zero Carbon World, so ultimately not as scandalous as his demotion from public office by what I consider to be a frivolous law suit, for which he was clearly set up, in my extremely humble opinion as an observer, in a number of ways. Another good man in Energy and Climate Change (or potentially bisexual person of male gender, if your mistaken suggestion is near the mark) thrown out with the internal bickering ditch water.

    I’d suggest Ed Davey MP is perhaps approachable by a delegation of Clavertonians, however, I would suggest it needs to be a proposal that is set up with a number of well-corresponded persons with publications under their hat, so quite publicly positioned. Also, since he appears to be on-side on a number of issues, what would Claverton meet him about ? What would we be asking him for ?

    At yesterday’s meeting, Caroline Flint MP, Woman of Steel, clearly stated for the record that Labour would take up the 100% decarbonisation of the power sector by 2030 standard and wave it wildly and proudly in the next General Election (I’m still writing up from my notes). Can Ed Davey be persuaded of the need to openly run with this also ? And what of Gregory Barker MP ? Can he also be approached on a Claverton platform ? And should he be ? Or is he merely a furry political Dachshund ?

    Onwards and skywards,

    jo.

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    From: Herbert Eppel
    To: Claverton Energy Research Group
    Date: 11 July 2013

    Hi Jo

    Thanks for the linguistic advice – always gratefully received, even after 25 years in Britain and almost 20 years in the ‘translation business’. Having said this, I would suggest that, in view of the obvious firm context, any misinterpretation of my earlier statement would be rather frivolous.

    As for Caroline Flint, presumably she also clearly re-stated her/their commitment to nuclear white elephants?

    Yours, with Shardenfreude

    Herbert

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    From: Jo Abbess
    To: Claverton Energy Research Group
    Date: 11 July 2013

    Hi Herbert,

    I think we should be wise in interpreting warm nuclear words from various Government Ministers and Shadow Ministers as genuine belief in the power of atomic energy technologies to deliver real, affordable, safe electricity generation. It is perhaps, politick, to utter pro-nuclear statements, considering that a good proportion of the Civil Service is striving with all its might to make new nukes happen – for – according to their scenarios, we shall be bereft without them.

    The forces arraigned against a new fleet of nuclear power generation plant are great, and if one steps back just a little from the brink of real decision-making, one can see that new reactors projects are highly unlikely to get started, let alone finish. Can the economy support nuclear fission power ? With the need for the State underwriting the liability through massive insurance schemes, the State promising to clear up any mess (not that it’s cleaned up any of the last 60 years of mess, but anyway), the State promising to manipulate the already poorly-optimised power markets, forcing a price guarantee for each glow-in-the-dark kilowatthour ?

    Plus, and this is really the “killer app” argument, new nuclear generation cannot be available to plug the “Generation Gap” that Alistair Buchanan ex-of-Ofgem, re-of-HSBC [no – typo – KPMG !] I believe, so vividly analysed in a series of talks in the last 12 months. Nu nuclear would be too late, too costly and too inflexible, regardless of Civil Service faith in the shiny atoms. There appears to be a sum total of zero major banking institutions in the UK that could support the kind of finance required, and several credit ratings agencies have poured cold water on the idea of anybody financing nukes anywhere in the world.

    I doubt that more than 4GW will actually get any kind of starting gun, and I also doubt that any of this will come online before 2025, and some never may.

    I do not actually believe that new British nuclear power is possible, therefore, as I have regularly said to Neil Crumpton, I do not waste much time opposing it. It’s already dead in the water, as I understand it.

    But what do I know ? Political heads may spin yet harder to resurrect atomic power from the dead. But would not that political energy be better used where it can actually achieve something big, like a massive deployment of wind and solar power ?

    Regards,

    jo.

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    From: Herbert Eppel
    To: Jo Abbess
    Date: 11 July 2013

    > But would not that political energy be
    > better used where it can actually achieve something big, like a massive
    > deployment of wind and solar power ?

    Precisely!

    […]

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  2. Can’t comment on your statements about the buckled control rods (did you include the right link? The page you linked to doesn’t say anything about buckled control rods, unless I have looked in the wrong place!) but thought you should be made aware of some inaccuracies in your report. (Tried to include links in the text below, but your site thinks I’m “a bit spammy”, so wouldn’t allow me to!

    Horizon was bought by Hitachi Ltd (http://www.horizonnuclearpower.com/files/downloads/News/Horizon%20Completion%20Release%20%28National%29.pdf) and will build Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy ABWRs (http://news.hse.gov.uk/onr/2013/04/regulators-mark-the-official-start-of-assessment-work-on-new-reactor-design/). GE Hitachi is a different company.

    Also, I think your “fix notice” link is also incorrect – it links to GE Hitachi’s update to the regulators about the surveillance programme. Is that what you meant to link to?

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