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Showing posts from July, 2013

Electricity Market Reform simplified

Energy policy circles have been abuzz for months over proposed changes to the way renewable energy is to be supported, and the government’s overall plan to balance the supply and demand for energy in the years to come. The Department of Energy and Climate Change have recently released details of the draft ‘strike prices’ for the Contracts for Difference(CfD) scheme, marking an important step towards a radical change in the way renewable energy producers are aided by the government.

As a mathematician working in the field of energy policy, I’m keenly aware of the sheer number of complicated schemes, financial instruments and legislative hurdles electricity producers have to face. At the same time, the health of the UK’s energy generation and distribution system is vital to every member of the population, not just the select few who understand the intricacies of these new energy policy schemes.
I strongly believe that an intuitive understanding of how energy subsidy really works must be…

Sustainable landscapes for the future

On the 18th of July, the Cabot Institute at the University of Bristol hosted a one day conference for academics, landscape designers, industrial partners and policy makers to discuss how to create sustainable urban landscapes for the future. The event was organised to promote the exchange of ideas and to combine expertise from all stages of the process to determine how to create spaces that would maximise biodiversity and environmental benefits whilst remaining somewhere that people love to use.
A common theme throughout the conference was whether green spaces in cities can be designed to accommodate the needs of both local wildlife and people. Professor Nigel Dunnett from the University of Sheffield was one of the principle designers of the Olympic Park landscape, where he created a stunning biodiverse pictorial meadow with a long flowering season. His presentation highlighted the importance of creating a landscape that wildlife will benefit from, but critically that people will use a…

Future Water 2013

Members of the UK water sector met at the end of June at the Royal Geographical Society in London for a one day national water policy conference, “Future Water 2013”, which aimed to address a number of water related policy issues surrounding building a more resilient water sector for the future.
The morning session started with a panel debate chaired by John Vidal (Environment Editor, The Guardian) and panel members Anne McIntosh MP (Chair of HoC EFRA Select Committee), Ian Barker (Head of Water, Land and Biodiversity, Environment Agency), Tony Smith (Chief Executive, Consumer Council for Water) and Alan Sutherland (Chief Executive, Water Commission for Scotland). The discussion aimed to explore how the water sector can remain resilient financially, technologically and environmentally in the future and how customers can benefit from new reforms.
Ian Barker highlighted the range of problems which the water sector faces in relation to the water supply and the environment. 2012 saw the …

Brinkmanship, flood insurance and science

The “Statement of Principles” on flood insurance agreed by the UK Government and the Association of British Insurers as a temporary measure in the year 2000 is due to expire on 31st July 2013. At the heart of this document is an undertaking by insurers to continue to provide cover for domestic property and small business customers as long the Government continues to manage the risk adequately. Specifically the agreement says that cover will be provided for properties built before 2009 either if the risk is low or there is a commitment by the Environment Agency to reduce it to low within 5 years. ‘Low’ risk is arbitrarily defined as a property having a less than 1.3% annual chance of flooding, of which there are believed to be ~200,000 in England and Wales. In other words properties need to be protected against the 1 in 75 year event.  Premiums can still vary with risk and the Statement makes no explicit provision for affordability, but the agreement does allow owners of some at risk p…