Low-carbon economy, Great Britain and the EU's different choices

Low-carbon economy, Great Britain and the EU's different choices

Lorenzo Massari
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While the European Commission is about to present a new energy efficiency objective for 2030, London goes back to considering nuclear. Meanwhile, in Panama, an entire community uses plastic bottles to build anti-seismic, insulated homes

Not just economy and finance. The first effects of Brexit are also beginning to emerge in the energy sector, where the European Union and Great Britain seem inclined to make somewhat inconsistent choices on the road to cutting emissions. On one hand, the European Commission is getting set to present a new directive proposal regarding energy efficiency which would increase the 2030 target from the current 27% to a more-demanding 30%. According to Reuters, the initiative could count on the support of a vast movement of opinion made even stronger due to the fact that, according to the EU's recent Joint Research Center report, the objective set for 2020 has basically already been reached.
On the other hand, on the other side of the English Channel, the project for the construction of nuclear reactor Hinkley Point has been definitively approved. Teresa May gave the go-ahead in an official government note, underlining "the atom's fundamental importance" regarding GB's low-carbon future. £18 billion will be invested in the realisation of 2 reactors with 1.6 GW of installed power, which will cover around 7% of GB's electricity consumption. What is causing some puzzlement is the price that will be paid for the energy produced: 92.50 pounds/MWh for 35 years out of a predicted 60 of useful life, which is more or less double the current cost of electricity in Great Britain. According to environmentalist associations, this would be the nth proof that even so-called "second-generation" nuclear needs considerable government subsidies in order to be competitive.
Meanwhile, in Panama, a entire community has decided to use plastic bottles to build anti-seismic, insulated homes. The bottles are inserted in iron cages, then covered with concrete thus becoming home walls which are not only earthquake proof, but, thanks to the air remaining in the bottles, also insulated.