Wylfa

Business and political leaders will meet to discuss ways they can help workers affected by the suspension of work on a new nuclear power station. Japanese firm Hitachi’s decision to halt its Wylfa Newydd project on Anglesey was described as a “tremendous blow” to the north Wales economy. About 9,000 workers had been expected to build the £13bn plant. Economy secretary Ken Skates will be at an emergency meeting of the North Wales Economic Ambition Board later. Mr Skates said he wanted to discuss what job opportunities there were for people in similar fields in and around Anglesey. Energy is not currently devolved to the Welsh Government and Mr Skates said he was “deeply concerned” and wanted the UK government to “step up to the plate” to give assurances about the project and the wider implications for the regional economy.

BBC 21st Jan 2019 read more »

Almost every farmer who owned land on the prospective new Wylfa B site sold it to Horizon. All, that is, except one. Richard Jones and his wife Gwenda refused steadfastly to sell their farm to be torn up for the nuclear site. It had been in the family for 300 years. “They could have offered us a billion pounds an acre and we wouldn’t have sold,” said Richard when we met in their cosy farmhouse kitchen last year, drinking warm mugs of tea and eating three kinds of homemade cake. Richard pulls out a map that shows all the farms sold off around him. “Churchill said something like ‘you cannot reason with a tiger when your head is in its mouth,’” he said. His farm is positioned like the head inside the tiger’s mouth, surrounded on three sides by lands sold to Horizon. But he and Gwenda did more than reason with Horizon, they defied and challenged the company and its frequent emissaries to their farm. When the local activist group — People Against Wylfa B (PAWB) — brought the former prime minister of Japan, Naoto Kan, to Anglesey, he met with the Jones family (and hopefully was also treated to some of Gwenda’s delicious cakes!) The family had been getting quite a bit of press for their refusal to sell out. Horizon didn’t like it.

Beyond Nuclear 20th Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

Bradwell

China’s largest state-backed nuclear company is in talks with Rolls-Royce about supplying equipment for the power plant it hopes to build in Essex as it seeks to allay national security concerns about the project. CGN is in discussions with the British engineering group over providing the control systems for the Hualong HPR1000 reactors the Chinese group plans to install at Bradwell. Regarded as the central nervous system of a nuclear power plant, this technology not only drives the operation of the reactor, but allows it to be safely shut down should problems occur. Using the British group’s equipment would be a significant concession by CGN. The Chinese group has developed its own control systems which it hopes to export along with its reactor technology. But the move is seen as a necessary sop to ease concerns about Chinese companies building critical national infrastructure in the UK.

FT 20th Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

Hinkley

Plantforce Rentals has acquired assets and taken on staff from Hawk Plant at the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station project in Somerset. Hawk went into administration last week, citing cashflow problems. Plantforce has worked alongside Hawk at Hinkley Point C for the past four years with 186 of its own items of plant on site. It has now taken on all of Hawks’ 100+site-based machinery, contracts and infrastructure, securing the employment of more than 100 full-time plant operators.

Construction Index 21st Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

New Nuclear

One thing British politicians have never lacked when making nuclear policy is optimism. When it comes to atomic energy, they leave Dr Pangloss in the shade. Take the last big nuclear programme back in the 1960s, whose purpose was to meet a fifth of the UK’s electricity needs. Rather than using proven (if US made) reactor technology, the government bet instead on a homegrown gas-cooled type. The minister of power, Fred Lee, confidently predicted the experimental design would be a world beater. Britain had “hit the jackpot”, he declared. The UK certainly hit something. But it wasn’t pay dirt. The AGR programme dragged on for more than two decades and was, in the words of the man who commissioned it, Arthur Hawkins of the Central Electricity Generating Board, “a catastrophe that must not be repeated”. Which brings us to the present, and Britain’s latest programme. Once again, there is plenty of wishful thinking. Indeed, policy has been driven largely by a series of optimistic guesses. These include not just the cost of new reactors, but also the willingness of private capital to fund them without assistance from the state. There are multiple reactor types. Repurposing often almost untested equipment for UK safety rules means that each starts from scratch with its own prototype, learning as it goes along. Add the need to fund these “first of type” schemes with private capital and it’s not surprising that projects have been falling by the wayside. The result is that a decade in, Britain has just one project under way – at Hinkley Point in Somerset – for which the government has struck an eye-wateringly expensive contract. The owner, EDF of France, is now saying it could do subsequent projects cheaper, because it will have the Hinkley experience to draw on. But given the absence of competition (the only other participant left in is CGN of China, EDF’s partner at Hinkley), the government faces the unpalatable prospect of a series of potentially disadvantageous bilateral deals. If more plants are to be built, the government needs much more bang for its buck. Logically the answer is to tender competitively for a fleet of reactors of the same design. The potential gains are substantial. Consider the difference between Hinkley and the deal Abu Dhabi struck by tendering for a fleet of four reactors, won by Kepco of Korea. While Britain is getting 3.2GW of capacity for £20bn, Abu Dhabi will get 5.3GW for an estimated $24.4bn, and in far quicker order, too.

FT 20th Jan 2019 read more »

Hitachi’s decision to freeze its $28 billion nuclear power project in Britain strengthens the hand of France’s EDF and its Chinese partner in talks with the government on how to finance new reactors. Funding new nuclear plants has become critical as Hitachi became the second Japanese firm to say its British nuclear power project had hit the buffers over financing. The two projects would have covered about 13 percent of Britain’s power needs. EDF and its partner China General Nuclear Power Corporation(CGN) want to use a financing model under which investors in their nuclear projects receive payment from the moment they start construction, reducing their risk. But to proceed with this approach, the government must first win over lawmakers and consumers, already frustrated by hefty energy bills and costly nuclear projects that often face delays. “The question is whether it is sellable to parliament that all the risks go to the public. But if that is not the case, they will get no investors,” said Stephen Thomas, emeritus professor of energy policy at Greenwich University. EDF is negotiating with the government on funding the Sizewell C project using the so-called regulated asset base model in which investors earn a government-set fixed return from the start, instead of waiting years until construction is completed before receiving a return. China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) has a 20 percent stake in Sizewell C, while EDF has a 33.5 percent stake in CGN’s project to build a reactor at Bradwell, Essex.

Japan Today 20th Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

Hunterston

A £324 MILLION initiative which will create around 13,000 jobs and help transform an area of Scotland hit by the decline of manufacturing is expected to be announced on the anniversary of Robert Burns’s birth this week. The Ayrshire Growth Deal is poised to be officially signed off on Friday after two years of talks involving a number of public bodies including the Scottish and UK governments and the three local authorities in the area. It is estimated it will boost a range of developments in the area and lead to £2 billion of additional private-sector investment over the next 15 years.

The National 20th Jan 2019 read more »

Not Ayrshire but interesting; It’s the thing most towns dread – a Plook On The Plinth nomination as the most dismal town in Scotland. Yet when Lochgelly attracted the critical eye of the Carbuncle Awards judges in 2010, something important happened. Firstly, the former mining town in Fife didn’t win. Secondly, a group of three women, who’d been working in the community since 1998, resolved to step up their efforts and transform their town. In 2016, their hard work was finally rewarded, when Lochgelly won the title of Scotland’s Most Improved Town in the annual Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum Awards.

The National 20th Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

Energy Policy

As the UK strives to meet legally binding carbon targets, businesses must help policymakers create a low-carbon economy that does not exclude working-class people or rural regions, Energy Minister Claire Perry has claimed. Speaking at an Aldersgate Group event in central London on Thursday (17 January), Perry was asked to explain how her involvement with last month’s COP24 conference would help the UK to bolster its decarbonisation ambitions, particularly in light of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) landmark report on global warming. In the wake of the report, which laid bare the stark differences between an average global temperature increase of 1.5C and 2C, the UK Government has asked the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) for advice on how best to bolster its carbon reduction targets and create a net-zero economy. Delivering the keynote speech at Thursday’s event, Perry said that policymakers would only follow advice which would not exclude entire regions or social classes from the transition to carbon neutrality.

Edie 18th Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

Radwaste

It has been pointed out that Cumbria Trust regularly uses acronyms in its posts and that there are readers who may be unfamiliar with them. The government appears to be particularly adept at changing the names of or merging departments at the drop of a hat, so with that in mind, we are publishing the following list, with links where appropriate, to assist in understanding who’s who and who is responsible for what.

Cumbria Trust 21st Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

National Grid

National Grid, the British utility firm, is powering new tech start-ups in the United States through a $250m (£193.9m) venture capital fund based in Silicon Valley. National Grid Partners has invested in six US energy start-ups in two months since the FTSE 100 network ­giant launched a development fund in California towards the end of last year. It is expected to build on the company’s move into the US energy market by spending a quarter of a billion dollars over the next two to three years on fresh energy technology start-ups. To date, the investments have spanned smart energy grids, solar power systems and next-generation weather forecasting technologies, which can help predict household ­energy use. The move deepens National Grid’s commitment to the growing US market as political tensions ratchet higher in the UK. The firm is pouring more than half of its spending into the US, where it operates around 9,000 miles of electricity transmission cables across five north-eastern states. Its decision to invest in the US is already paying off in higher dividends for its largely ­UK-based shareholders, as most National Grid profits flow into the business from across the Atlantic.

Telegraph 20th Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

Utilities

Consumers are increasingly switching to small and medium sized energy providers and shunning the “Big Six”, according to new figures.

Energy Voice 21st Jan 2019 read more »

Small energy suppliers have beaten the so-called Big Six in a customer satisfaction survey by Which? The consumer group surveyed 8,000 UK energy users about their provider and issues such as value for money, customer service and accurate billing. The top five were small suppliers: Octopus Energy, Robin Hood Energy, So Energy, Ebico and Tonik Energy. The Big Six – British Gas, EDF Energy, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE – were in the bottom third of the table.

BBC 21st Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

Energy Demand

The fall in UK electricity generation to its lowest level since 1994, as reported on the Carbon Brief website earlier this month, reflects a trend in the energy market that is too often ignored. The decline in consumption is not limited to the UK or to electricity. Over the past decade, both total energy demand and electricity use have fallen across the developed world. Since 2010 demand has declined in 18 of the 30 countries that are members of the International Energy Agency. There are several different reasons for the decline in consumption. Technical advances have improved the efficiency of products ranging from washing machines and fridges to computer servers have been underpinned by regulatory changes such as the introduction of LED lighting. Economies have deindustrialised to differing degrees, while in some countries a proportion of the fall has been caused by low economic growth. Although analysts and policymakers frequently assert that electricity will lead the shift to a low-carbon economy, there is so far only limited evidence of a real change. Electricity has only marginally expanded its share of final energy consumption since 2000 despite the growth of computers, telecommunications and the proliferation of domestic appliances. A small number of electric cars and the rising use of electricity in other parts of the transport sector starting with the railways have not yet made a material difference. By 2017, electricity contributed less than 1 per cent of final energy consumption in the transport sector, according to the IEA. As consumers upgrade equipment to ever more efficient models and as regulations force standards to rise, electricity consumption is likely to drop. A revolution in battery technology would in theory stimulate demand for electricity. But any growth in the use of batteries (and other forms of energy storage) will also serve to eliminate waste and the loss of electric power, which as of now can only be used as soon as it is produced. Smart meters and grids will also improve efficiency rather than increasing demand. Falling demand makes it harder to justify substantial long-term investments in new capacity. Higher cost producers – for instance of new nuclear power – are finding themselves squeezed out.

FT 21st Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019