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Green Globe: National Grid Plc, activists fight over nationalizing UK's grid

United Kingdom Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said renationalizing and decentralizing the energy system would create a greener grid that could fight climate change. Speaking at the Labour Party's Alternative Models to Ownership conference on Feb. 10, Corbyn told attendees that the U.K. energy system's privatization has led to out-of-control electric bills and delays in connecting renewables to the grid.

Instead of purchasing the six biggest utilities' assets – which would cost about £124 billion to buy, according to Bloomberg News – Corbyn suggested bringing local distribution companies into public ownership.

SNL Image

"This is not a return to the 20th century model of nationalization but a catapult into 21st century public ownership," U.K. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said in a speech Feb. 10.

Source: Thinkstock

"With the national grid in public hands we can put tackling climate change at the heart of our energy system, committing to renewable generation from tidal to onshore wind," he said.

Buying the energy companies could cost between £24 billion and £36 billion, according to an April 2016 report from the University of Greenwich. David Hall, the report's author, wrote that the U.K. could save up to £3.2 billion a year and reduce households' bills by 10%.

"We need a new ... energy network that is diverse, decentralized and publicly owned," Cat Hobbs, the director of We Own It, a London-based not-for-profit organization that focuses on ending privatization of public services, said in an email. "This will help us boost renewables and get the clean green energy we need."

National Grid plc, which runs the transmission network and is not being targeted by Corbyn, disagreed with the Labour Party's push for decentralization. "There is no evidence that the large cost and distraction of nationalization would deliver the stability and long-term investment our energy networks need to continue the work towards a green energy future that is already underway," a spokesperson said in an email.

China's largest nuclear power producer CGN Power Co. Ltd. announced it will sell 5 billion new shares to raise cash for building four reactors. According to the South China Morning Post, the new shares equate to a 10% stake in the company and could raise about $1 billion for the company. Two of the reactors that would be partly funded by the sell-off are scheduled to come online in 2022.

CGN Power has struggled with major delays and cost overruns for its third-generation nuclear project in the city of Taishan, in Guangdong province, in addition to dealing with increasing competition in the country's nuclear industry. According to the World Nuclear Association, China is expected to increase its nuclear power generation capacity by 70%, to 58 GW, by the early 2020s. It has been a world leader in installed nuclear power capacity since 2012, as the country looks to replace fossil fuels, particularly coal, in its electricity supply.

Brazil will partner with Germany to create guidelines for integrating renewable energy into the Brazilian grid. According to Recharge, Brazil's energy planning authority EPE and its national grid operator will collaborate with German consultants and European utility Engie Tractebel to examine Brazil's energy sector and opportunities for incorporating more renewable generation capacity. The study will specifically focus on solar and wind technologies, which the country has struggled to integrate due to aging infrastructure.

Under Brazil's energy plan through 2026, the government wants nearly half of its domestic energy mix to come from non-hydro renewable energy sources. Large hydropower plants account for around 80% of domestic electricity generation today, according to the International Energy Agency.

Elsewhere

* The European Union will refuse to sign trade deals with countries that do not sign the Paris Agreement to limit climate change, jeopardizing future trade deals with the United States, The Independent reports.

* Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy announced Feb. 14 that it will supply 1,386 MW of wind turbines for Ørsted A/S's Hornsea Project Two offshore wind project in the U.K.

* Vietnam's state-controlled oil and gas company PetroVietnam has pulled its request to the U.S. for financial support for a coal-fired power plant, according to The New York Times.

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