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Environmental tax threatens green energy research in UK


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WestVirginiaRebel
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UK Guardian:

World-class research into future sources of green energy is under threat in Britain from an environmental tax designed to boost energy efficiency and drive down carbon emissions, scientists claim.

Some facilities must find hundreds of thousands of pounds to settle green tax bills, putting jobs and research at risk.

The unexpected impact of the government's carbon reduction commitment (CRC) scheme is so severe that scientists and research funders have lobbied ministers for an exemption to reduce the bills.

Among the worst hit is the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in Oxfordshire, a facility for research into almost limitless carbon-free energy. The lab faces an estimated £400,000 payment next year, raising the spectre of job losses and operational cuts. "Considering our research is aimed at producing zero-carbon energy, it seems ironic and perverse to clobber us with an extra bill," a senior scientist at the lab said. "We have to use electricity to run the machine and there is no way of getting around that."

The laboratory operates the Joint European Torus (JET), the largest fusion reactor in Europe. It has led the way in research on fusion energy. The Culham lab faces a significant bill because, while energy savings can be made in other areas of the site, the machine incurs a large electricity bill when it is running.

The Prospect union is urging the government to exempt energy use where the focus of research contributes directly to public good and government policy.

"This [tax] will have a negative impact on important research into low carbon energy sources and that cannot be the right consequence of a policy the government is pursuing to promote a low carbon economy," said Sue Ferns, head of research at Prospect. "There is a potential for the scheme to impact on employment and it adds to pressures to run the equipment less. Even if it doesn't lead to substantial job losses, these are world-class scientists and every job, every piece of research makes a difference."
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I hate to say I told you so, but...
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