Nuclear power is generated by nuclear reactions to produce electricity. Two fundamental processes that are involved in the creation of this energy are known as fission and fusion. Nuclear fission (the process used in nuclear power plants) prevails when a neutron collides with a larger atom forcing it to split into smaller atoms. When the atom splits, vast amounts of energy are released, creating carbon-free electricity.
Nevertheless, the emergence of nuclear fusion poses a significant threat to the dependence on nuclear fission. It relies on merging two nuclei to form a single heavier nucleus. The energy created releases nearly four times as much as nuclear fission reactions. If successful, nuclear fusion could potentially transform our energy supplies.
Nuclear power is at the centre of the UK Government’s strategy to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. This power is expected to play an essential part in helping to ensure Britain has the reliable, low-carbon energy supplies it needs for the future. However, serious questions remain as to the long-term feasibility of this energy source given the threat posed by the radioactive waste it produces and our ability to store this securely and environmentally friendly manner.
Notwithstanding, the Climate Change Committee in 2020 found that an additional nuclear power plant to Hinkley Point C must be constructed to meet the energy requirements of the UK. Consequently, the Government has identified several sites (such as Braswell and Heysham) for possible new nuclear power stations.
Even with new constructions, there is little serendipity concerning the safety and provision of these expensive plants. The long-term disposal of nuclear waste has failed to be a point of consideration by the Government. Some may say it is ludicrous to continue depending on this energy source without adequate deliberation.
The Chernobyl disaster is a testament to the damage created by nuclear fission reactors. The explosion released rambunctious amounts of radioactive waste into the atmosphere, perpetually altering the region and increasing long-term medical side effects.
A proposed long-term solution concerns storing high-level radioactive waste in rock formations, yet community reluctance suggests otherwise. Hence, it would be undesirable to continue using nuclear power plants to retrieve nuclear energy if the UK Government overlooks strategies that target sustainable nuclear waste management.
Nuclear fusion is a source of virtually limitless clean energy, although it is under constant surveillance. Earlier this year, members of the Government displayed significant interest in developing nuclear fusion energy. Expectantly, these discussions have been recently affirmed by the UK Government’s current plans to build a nuclear fusion plan at West Burton A power station.
The UK Government’s recent actions conceivably shadow the idea that nuclear fusion is considered a safer alternative to nuclear fission, where no greenhouse gases are released, and only small amounts of short-lived radioactive waste are exposed to the atmosphere.
In contrast, environmental analysts have retained the view that fusion is not a solution to get us to 2050 net zero. In this goal, the Government has pledged that all electricity in the UK must be zero emissions by 2035.
So, what does this mean for the future of nuclear fusion?
Law firms must advise their clients on the impact of fusion energy in the energy transition. Solicitors must foremost create certainty in the law where gaps arise before advising their clients on radiation protections, nuclear licensing and nuclear liability and insurance matters.
The Government’s regulatory regime for nuclear fusion pressure law firms to consider the legal impacts of fusion. For example, they may consider developing a national fusion policy statement to align the planning process for fusion with other nationally significant infrastructure projects.
Alternatively, solicitors may create appropriate third-party liability regimes and constantly review fusion waste policies. Law firms must implement the aforementioned strategies to mitigate the environmental and social consequences of nuclear safety.
Correspondingly, an impending long-term solution must be enforced to prevent future complications.
House prices have increased significantly due to mortgage costs over the past two years, which cause many to sell their properties. It is predicted that due to the increased interest rate by the Bank of England (BoE), the mortgage rates, on average, will increase by 6 per cent to tackle the financial crisis.
This movement has resulted in uncertainties in the mortgage market, where lenders like HSBC and Santander are revaluing the prices of properties or reconsidering their deals at another rate.
According to analysts, this is not a good sign as the higher borrowing cost results in recession, thus damaging the property market. This increase makes it difficult for households to pay mortgages on time, and it is predicted that by 2024 around 2 million borrowers will need to remortgage their properties. Additionally, those buyers who maximised their budget at the time of low rates cannot provide sufficient coverage for the costs.
Initially, interest rates were 0.5, gradually increasing to 1.75 and now 2.25, which has been a substantial increase in the past 27 years.
* It is worth noting that in the UK, many people have standard variable rates for home loans as per the BoE’s base rate.
On the other hand, if prices were fixed, the mortgage rates would also not fluctuate. Not only have interest rates increased, but other commodities and bills, such as gas and electricity, have become more expensive, thus contributing to the market crash.
The BoE has firmly argued that despite sentiments, they will need to increase the interest rate to curb economic issues. Economists have predicted that the rate could potentially increase by spring next year from 2.25 to 5.8. However, it is not a worry as those who have a deal should continue, and those without should wait while certainty in the market is re-established.
The demand in workload means that property lawyers will be busier than ever trying to solve transactions in the quickest way possible for parties so that their mortgage offer does not expire. The backlog of transactions is due to people purchasing property due to the generous rate but not long gone by due to lockdown problems.
Further, firms will need to handle M&A as the acquisition attentively will increase in price due to debt from a leveraged buyout. This can prove beneficial for large commercial firms with significant capital and reserves to purchase small-sized firms. Despite this, due diligence processes remain essential.
As rates increase, borrowing becomes more challenging and more costly, deterring others from extravagant spending. This promotes savings and curbs inflation as commodities and goods are less sought after. However, due to inflation and hefty interest rates, the consumer price index is 9.9, which is a sign of recession.
To conclude, the higher the interest rate, the more difficult it becomes for homeowners and those willing to purchase properties to continue with their contracts and transactions.
The French start-up, Homa, recently announced its $100m Series B. With a clear objective to build gaming communities by empowering third-party developers, Homa is democratising the gaming industry. Its latest cash injection was led by Quadrille Capital and Headline and backed by several European VCs (Northzone, Fabric Ventures, Bpifrance, Eurazeo and Singular).
Like any successful start-up, Homa is solving a real issue. Recently, it has been incredibly challenging for software developers to stand out. With small development teams and limited access to funding, great ideas were being crushed at the development stage.
Homa’s software allows third-party developers to build, optimise and market games. They have created 80 games to date and boast over one billion downloads.
Homa is looking to use the capital to explore web3 and the world of NFTs. The company, founded by Daniel Nathan and Olivier Le Bas in 2018, aims to build a universe of interconnected games.
Those familiar with venture capital round sizes may have raised their eyebrow when they saw ‘$100m Series B’.
Crunchbase reported that the average Series B size in H1 2022 was $50 million (down 8% from $54 million in H1 2021). Even against the backdrop of ballooning round sizes in recent years, Homa’s investment and subsequent valuation are impressive, to say the least.
In August, the UK economy unexpectedly dropped by 0.3%, sparking fears of a recession by the end of the year.
Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on 12th October revealed that the UK’s gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.3% in August, underperforming relative to analyst expectations that it would stall rather than shrink. This underperformance means that the value of the goods and services it produces has decreased, indicating that the economy is performing poorly.
The technical definition of a recession is when GDP declines for two consecutive quarters. Some experts are now predicting further declines in the final months of 2022, with the possibility of the UK entering a recession in the near future. This runs counter to Liz Truss’ aims to promote UK economic growth and has the potential to undermine the effectiveness of the recent Conservative mini-budget.
According to ONS data, the main driver of this drop was a decline in manufacturing and maintenance work, which negatively impacted the oil and gas sector. This decline was partially caused by ongoing financial recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, as a decrease in government spending led to pharmaceutical companies reducing production.
High energy prices resulting from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have also increased production costs, further reducing manufacturing. The rise in costs resulting from this has led to a high inflation rate.
The financial markets’ adverse reactions to the Conservative mini-budget could also exacerbate the potential recession in the coming months, as exemplified by the value of the pound sinking to record lows.
High inflation and related falls in spending can lead to company insolvencies and a rise in the rate of unemployment. This might involve lawyers who are often instructed to assist with restructuring companies to reduce costs or carry out insolvency procedures.
Moreover, M&A activity typically falls during a recession, meaning less work for lawyers working in this area.