Connect with us

Business News

Britain revisits huge tidal energy plan as Ukraine crisis continues

Published

on

An aerial shot of the Severn Estuary from 2010.

Jamie Cooper | Sspl | Getty Images

An independent commission in the U.K. is to revisit the possibility of using the Severn Estuary, a large body of water between England and Wales, to harness tidal energy.

The commission will be set up by the pan-regional Western Gateway Partnership, which covers western England and south Wales.

“The time is right to look again at what could be an incredible source of clean, environmentally friendly energy on our doorstep,” Jane Mudd, who is vice chair of the partnership and also leads Newport City Council, said in a statement Tuesday.

The commission, Mudd added, would “have the expertise and independence it needs to explore whether using the Severn Estuary to create sustainable power is attainable and viable.”

Katherine Bennett, the Western Gateway Partnership’s chair, said it had been known for some time that the Severn had “huge potential for creating clean renewable energy.”

According to a paper published by the Institution of Civil Engineers in 2016, the output from the Severn’s tidal range could be approximately 25 terawatt hours per year, or “about 7% of the UK energy needs.”

More from CNBC Climate:

While there is excitement about tidal power’s prospects, the newest proposal is in its very early stages and any project would require significant levels of investment.

“No decisions have been made about what a potential solution for getting power from the Severn might look like or whether any development will take place,” the Western Gateway Partnership said.

The notion of harnessing the Severn Estuary’s tides to generate power has been mooted for many years. This is because the tidal range — a term which refers to the height difference between low and high tide — is one of the world’s largest, at up to 14 meters.

Despite this huge resource, projects have never gotten off the ground. Back in 2010, the U.K. government said it did not “see a strategic case to bring forward a Severn tidal power scheme in the immediate term.”

“The costs and risks for the taxpayer and energy consumer would be excessive compared to other low-carbon energy options,” the government added.

Read more about clean energy from CNBC Pro

The establishment of the new commission comes at a time when concerns about Europe’s reliance on Russian oil and gas have been brought into sharp focus following the invasion of Ukraine last month.

Huw Thomas, a Western Gateway board member, acknowledged previous tidal power schemes had not garnered support from the U.K. government “due to a perceived requirement for high levels of public investment and concerns over the environmental impact on designated areas in the Severn Estuary.”

“However, the changing landscape of the climate emergency, energy insecurity, rising costs, and rapid technological improvements indicate that many of these policy, cost and environmental barriers may no longer be as significant,” Thomas, who is also the leader of Cardiff City Council, said.

In comments published by the Guardian on Tuesday, Michael Gove, the U.K.’s secretary of state for levelling up, housing and communities, offered his support for the commission.

“Russia’s invasion has served to heighten concerns about energy security and costs,” the Guardian reported Gove as saying.

“Sustainable forms of energy cannot come soon enough. The launch of an independent commission on tidal energy for the Severn is very welcome news.”

Tidal power has been around for decades — EDF’s 240 MW La Rance tidal power plant in France dates back to the 1960s — but recent years have seen a number of new projects take shape.

In July 2021, a tidal turbine weighing 680 metric tons started grid-connected power generation at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney, an archipelago located north of mainland Scotland.

And in October, plans for a £1.7 billion (around $2.24 billion) project in the U.K. incorporating technologies including underwater turbines were announced.

Business News

Trump media company subpoenaed in federal criminal probe of SPAC deal

Published

on

Former U.S. President Donald Trump gives the keynote address at the Faith & Freedom Coalition during their annual “Road To Majority Policy Conference” at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center June 17, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Seth Herald | Getty Images

Donald Trump’s media company was subpoenaed by a federal grand jury in connection with a criminal probe, according to the company with which the former president’s firm plans to merge.

Digital World Acquisition Corp. said in a filing Friday that Trump Media and Technology Group received a subpoena from the grand jury in Manhattan on Thursday. The Trump company also received a subpoena from the Securities and Exchange Commission regarding a civil probe on Monday, DWAC said.

DWAC also said some current and former TMTG employees have also recently received grand jury subpoenas.

The filing came days after DWAC said the government investigations could delay or even prevent its merger with Trump’s newly formed company, which includes Truth Social, a social media app intended to be an alternative to Twitter.

Neither TMTG nor a spokeswoman for Trump immediately responded to CNBC’s requests for comment.

The Justice Department and the SEC, which regulates the stock market, are investigating the deal between DWAC and Trump Media. By merging with DWAC, which is a kind of shell company called a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, Trump’s firm would gain access to potentially billions of dollars on public equities markets.

Trump established Truth Social months after Twitter banned him for his tweets on Jan. 6, 2021, when hundreds of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a bid to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the presidential election. Trump Media’s CEO is former Rep. Devin Nunes, one of the former president’s most ardent loyalists in the Republican Party. Trump is also considering whether to run for president in the 2024 election.

Trump has continued to spread the lie that the election was stolen from him. His alleged involvement in the Jan. 6 insurrection is being probed by a House select committee that has accused the former president of being at the center of a multipronged conspiracy to block the peaceful transfer of power to Biden.

Early criticism of the Trump-DWAC deal came from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. In calling for an investigation, she wrote to SEC Chair Gary Gensler in November, telling him that DWAC “may have committed securities violations by holding private and undisclosed discussions about the merger as early as May 2021, while omitting this information in [SEC] filing and other public statements.”

DWAC shares are far off their highs, closing Friday at $24.20. The stock had surged above $90 in October, after the deal with Trump’s group was announced.

DWAC on Monday revealed in a securities filing that it learned June 16 that each member of its board of directors received subpoenas from the same federal grand jury.

The grand jury sought documents similar to those the SEC already requested as part of its civil probe, DWAC said. The company itself was served with a subpoena a week ago with similar requests, along with other requests relating to communications, individuals and information involving Rocket One Capital.

DWAC also revealed Monday that a board member, Bruce J. Garelick, had told management that he would quit the board during the previous week. Garelick said his resignation “was not the result of any disagreement with Digital World’s operations, policies or practices,” according to the company filing.

— CNBC’s Kevin Breuninger and Thomas Franck contributed to this story.

This is breaking news. Please check back for updates.

Continue Reading

Business News

Walmart is working on a response to the Supreme Court’s abortion decision, CEO says in memo

Published

on

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon speaks at the CNBC Evolve conference November 19th in Los Angeles.

Jesse Grant | CNBC

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told employees on Friday that the company is weighing how to respond to a Supreme Court decision that ended the federal right to an abortion.

“We are working thoughtfully and diligently to figure out the best path forward, guided by our desire to support our associates, all of our associates,” he said in a memo sent to employees on Friday. “We will share details on our actions as soon as possible, recognizing that time is of the essence.”

He did not say what changes the company is considering, such as if it may cover travel expenses for workers who must travel to another state where abortion is available.

The memo was previously reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Arkansas, home to Walmart’s headquarters, is one of several states with severe limits or bans on abortions that went into affect after the high court’s ruling.

Walmart is also the country’s largest private employer. It has about 1.6 million employees across the country, including many who live and work in states across the Sunbelt with abortion restrictions such as Texas, Oklahoma and Florida.

Since the Supreme Court reversed Roe v. Wade, companies across the country have had a mix of reactions. Some, including JPMorgan Chase, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Target, have announced new plans to cover employee travel to other states for abortions. Others, such as Kroger and Apple, said they already cover travel for medical treatments and reproductive health care. And still others have remained quiet.

Amazon, the second-largest private employer in the country, said in May that it would pay up to $4,000 in travel expenses each year for non-life-threatening medical treatments, including abortions.

Walmart already covers employee travel for some medical procedures, such as certain heart surgeries, cancer treatments and organ transplants.

Walmart health benefits cover only some abortions. According to the company’s employee handbook, charges for “procedures, services, drugs and supplies related to abortions or termination of pregnancy are not covered, except when the health of the mother would be in danger if the fetus were carried to term, the fetus could not survive the birthing process, or death would be imminent after birth.”

Plan B, an over-the-counter form of contraception, is covered only if the person gets a prescription. The pill, often called the “morning after pill,” works by preventing ovulation or preventing a fertilized egg from attaching to the womb. It can be taken after unprotected sex or when contraception fails.

Other forms of contraception are also covered with a prescription, including birth control pills, injections and intrauterine devices, or IUDs. Some anti-abortion activists also oppose IUDs because they can stop a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterus.

In Friday’s memo, McMillon said Walmart has gathered input from employees as it decides what to do. He also alluded to the size and diversity of both the company and its customer base.

“We know our associates and customers hold a variety of views on the issue, and this is a sensitive topic about which many of us feel strongly,” he said. “We want you to know that we see you, all of you. No matter what your position on this topic is, we want you to feel respected, valued and supported.”

Continue Reading

Business News

FCC authorizes SpaceX to provide mobile Starlink internet service to boats, planes and trucks

Published

on

The Starlink logo is seen in the background of a silhouetted woman holding a mobile phone.

Sopa Images | Lightrocket | Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission authorized SpaceX to provide Starlink satellite internet to vehicles in motion, a key step for Elon Musk’s company to further expand the service.

“Authorizing a new class of [customer] terminals for SpaceX’s satellite system will expand the range of broadband capabilities to meet the growing user demands that now require connectivity while on the move, whether driving an RV across the country, moving a freighter from Europe to a U.S. port, or while on a domestic or international flight,” FCC international bureau chief Tom Sullivan wrote in the authorization posted Thursday.

SpaceX did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment on the FCC decision.

Starlink is SpaceX’s network of satellites in low Earth orbit, designed to deliver high-speed internet anywhere on the globe. SpaceX has launched about 2,700 satellites to support the global network, with the base price of the service costing users $110 a month. As of May, SpaceX told the FCC that Starlink had more than 400,000 subscribers.

SpaceX has signed early deals with commercial air carriers in preparation for this decision: It has pacts with Hawaiian Airlines and semi-private charter provider JSX to provide Wi-Fi on planes. Up until now SpaceX has been approved to conduct a limited amount of inflight testing, seeing the aviation Wi-Fi market as “ripe for an overhaul.”

The FCC’s authorization also includes connecting to ships and vehicles like semi-trucks and RVs, with SpaceX having last year requested to expand from servicing stationary customers. SpaceX had already deployed a version of its service called “Starlink for RVs,” with an additional “portability” fee. But portability is not the same as mobility, which the FCC’s decision now allows.

The FCC imposed conditions on in-motion Starlink service. SpaceX is required to “accept any interference received from both current and future services authorized,” and further investment in Starlink will “assume the risk that operations may be subject to additional conditions or requirements” from the FCC.

The ruling did not resolve a broader SpaceX regulatory dispute with Dish Network and RS Access, an entity backed by billionaire Michael Dell, over the use of 12-gigahertz band – a range of frequency used for broadband communications. The FCC continues to analyze whether the band can support both ground-based and space-based services, with SpaceX pushing for the regulator to make a ruling.

Continue Reading

Trending