Biomass

European lawsuit on biomass rules threatens Drax plant. A coalition of environmental campaigners has launched a court bid to stop the European Commission treating forest grown wood as a renewable source of energy. Plaintiffs from six countries filed a lawsuit last week with the European General Court in Luxembourg, which seeks to annul the forest biomass provisions of the EU’s 2018 Renewable Energy Directive (RED) II. The case is designed to disqualify forest wood from contributing to the directive’s target that 32% of all electricity generated across the EU should be generated from renewable sources. The plaintiffs challenge the directive’s criteria for assessing greenhouse gas emissions, which they say fails to count the CO2 coming out the smokestack when wood is burned. They say that if this is taken into account, biomass plants emit more CO2 per megawatt hour than fossil-fuelled power plants, including coal. And while equivalent CO2 can be sequestered by regrowth of woodland, replacing the trees that have been harvested can take over a century and will not happen if the land is converted to agricultural uses, according to the suit.

Edie 12th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 13 March 2019

Blockchain

Ovo acquires minority stake in blockchain firm Electron. Ovo Energy, the UK’s seventh largest energy supplier, has made its first investment since Mitsubishi Corporation acquired a minority stake in the company last month.

Utility Week 12th March 2019 read more »

The deal is the first strategic investment for Kaluza, a new division within Ovo that develops and manages software and hardware to support the integration of electric vehicles, electric heating and battery storage onto the grid. Following a £200m investment from Mitsubishi, the energy supplier now has the financial muscle to intensify its smart grid technology play. It said the Electron investment would be the first of many this year. Following the deal, co-founder and chief operating officer Jo-Jo Hubbard will step up to CEO, with Paul Massara taking a back seat as adviser and investor.

The Energyst 12th March 2019 read more »

Business Green 12th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 13 March 2019

EVs

A network of on-street electric vehicle charging hubs will be installed across Edinburgh after the local authority’s Transport and Environment Committee approved the plans. The network, which will be made up of 66 on-street charging points across 14 hubs, is part of the council’s electric vehicle infrastructure business case, which proposed the implementation of 211 on-street charging points by 2023 at a cost of £3.3m. The project for installing the first tranche of chargers by 2020 is being backed by a £2.2m grant from Transport Scotland. The local authority said charging equipment will be located on roads, rather than pavements, to reduce street clutter, and will be placed near, but not adjacent to, residential properties, to allow residents to park outside their homes.

Invest Edinburgh 12th March 2019 read more »

Oslo, Norway is the capital environmental city for Europe in 2019 and is dedicated to becoming a zero emissions city by 2030. So it is fitting that it is adding 70 electric buses to its public transportation fleet this year. Several electric buses have been operating in the city for the past two years. The lessons learned from those vehicles has convinced Ruter, the agency in charge of public transportation for Oslo, to place an order for 70 more.

Clean Technica 6th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 13 March 2019

Fossil Fuels

In the UK, advances are being made on power sector emission reductions, with 75pc of reductions since 2012 coming from this sector. However, other sectors, most notably transport, agriculture and the emissions from our homes and industry, are off track. While greater clarity is urgently needed from the Government on how it will help accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon economy, it is not just up to governments to act. Consumers, businesses and investors also have a responsibility – the problem is that while the roles of each remain blurred, action stalls. A small number of investors are already aware and acting through integrating environmental, social and governance (ESG)-related risks as well as stewardship into their investment processes and decisions. Doing this gives them the ability to generate holistic returns – financial outcomes for beneficiaries, alongside positive externalities for society and the environment – the integration of such information is indispensable. Moreover, by doing so, they become a truly long-term oriented investor. However, this approach is far from the norm. This must change. Today, there is near global consensus on the need to act with urgency to stop runaway climate change, as set out in the 2015 Paris Agreement. This will translate into a regulatory reality for investors that must abide by EU rules. For investors, climate change is different to other ESG risks. If not addressed, those companies who fail to transition put the value of their investments exposed to carbon at risk, as well as the value across the wider portfolio as increasingly extreme weather events affect supply chains and destroy physical assets. In 2010, floods in Thailand affected two thirds of the country, causing more than 230 deaths and disrupting supply chains in the region. This caused months of disruption, $2.2bn (£1.7bn) in insured losses and affected over 300 Japanese firms.

Telegraph 12th March 2019 read more »

Influential think tank calls on government to emulate Scotland and introduce Just Transition Commission for carbon intensive communities across Northern England. Calls for the UK government to deliver a ‘Just Transition’ that ensures workers in carbon intensive industries do not face unemployment and underinvestment as clean technologies emerge.

Business Green 12th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 13 March 2019

Climate

A Northern Ireland council has become the region’s first to look at ways of mitigating the effects of climate change. It is being run by Derry City and Strabane Council, which saw serious flooding in the summer of 2017. One hundred people had to be rescued in the north west as two thirds of August’s rainfall came down in nine hours. Bridges crumbled, cars were washed away and homes and businesses destroyed. Now experts from London, Scotland and the Republic of Ireland are gathering to offer advice on how to cope with future events. The conference will examine the council’s emergency planning to see how it might be improved. But it will also look at use of public spaces to mitigate the effects of flooding and other climate change conditions.

BBC 12th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 13 March 2019

New Nuclear

UK nuclear going down the pan? Readers will have seen the news that Rolls Royce is trying to get rid of the main bulk of its civil UK nuclear business though not Small Modular Reactors, nuclear submarines and Hinkley Point C involvement. It has appointed the consultancy firm KPMG to find a buyer. This follows the earlier revelation that EdF Energy has been doing the same for at least a year, ie trying to find a buyer for its ageing UK reactor fleet. It is unlikely either company will find a buyer, or at least find one willing to pay a reasonable price . For example, UK energy giant Centrica[4] has been trying for years to offload its 20% shareholding of EDF Energy. Back in 2012, after it pulled out of the mooted Hinkley Point C development (thereby losing £200 million in sunk costs), Centrica appointed the German investment bank UBS to look for a suitable buyer but none has ever been found. The main reason these companies are trying to offload their nuclear reactor businesses is that they are essentially unprofitable: the electricity they produce is more expensive than the sales they generate. And their fuel costs are far more expensive than the effectively zero fuel costs of electricity from wind and solar.

Ian Fairlie 11th Marcvh 2019 read more »

Schellenberger: It Sounds Crazy, But Fukushima, Chernobyl, And Three Mile Island Show Why Nuclear Is Inherently Safe.

Forbes 11th March 2019 read more »

Despite the ever-increasing number of voices calling for nuclear as a catch-all solution to climate change, however, there are still a lot of drawbacks to nuclear power to consider as well. Building new nuclear plants is extremely expensive, nuclear accidents–while very, very rare–are both expensive and difficult to remediate, and there is still a lot of public mistrust and political adversity when it comes to nuclear. As much as we would all love to have a silver bullet solution for climate change, and as much promise as nuclear energy holds, no single solution is so simple.

Oil Price 11th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 12 March 2019

Moorside

Former Crossrail and HS2 chief takes role at nuclear developer who described Moorside as a “smart site”. The former chairman of Crossrail and HS2 will head up an advisory board for CGN UK – the nuclear power station developer which described Moorside in West Cumbria as a “smart site”. Sir Terry Morgan hit the national headlines last year, predicting that he would be sacked as chairman of the two major rail infrastructure projects amid growing criticism due to delays and cost overruns, before ultimately resigning in December. He has now become chairman of a new advisory board at CGN UK – the subsidiary of Chinese-state owned China General Nuclear. Former civil servant Sir Brian Bender – who served as a permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Department of Trade and Industry – joins Sir Morgan on the board. CGN UK says the advisory board will include “leading British figures with huge experience of delivering major infrastructure projects and of working at the highest echelons of government”. It will provide impartial advice to CGN UK’s senior management on taking forward its plans to invest in new nuclear as well as renewables, said the company.

In Cumbria 11th March 2019 read more »

Nuclear Industry Association chair Dr Tim Stone to speak at Britain’s Energy Coast Business Cluster AGM. Dr Tim Stone will headline at the meeting on Wednesday, April 3, which also marks the business membership organisation’s15th anniversary. Dr Stone took the reigns as chairman of the NIA – the nuclear industry’s trade body – in December from former Government business secretary Barrow and Furness MP, Lord John Hutton.

Carlisle News & Star 11th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 12 March 2019

SMRs

An obituary for small modular reactors. The nuclear industry is heavily promoting the idea of building small modular reactors (SMRs), with near-zero prospects for new large power reactors in many countries. These reactors would have a capacity of under 300 megawatts (MW), whereas large reactors typically have a capacity of 1,000 MW. Construction at reactor sites would be replaced with standardised factory production of reactor components then installation at the reactor site, thereby driving down costs and improving quality control. The emphasis in this article is on the questionable economics of SMRs, but a couple of striking features of the SMR universe should be mentioned. First, the enthusiasm for SMRs has little to do with climate-friendly environmentalism. About half of the SMRs under construction (Russia’s floating power plant, Russia’s RITM-200 icebreaker ships, and China’s ACPR50S demonstration reactor) are designed to facilitate access to fossil fuel resources in the Arctic, the South China Sea and elsewhere. A second striking feature of the SMR universe is that it is deeply interconnected with militarism.

Ecologist 11th March 2019 read more »

WISE International 7th March 2019 read more »

At the Vogtle power plant near Augusta, Georgia, the first new large nuclear reactors to start construction in the US for more than 30 years are taking shape. Units 3 and 4 are scheduled to start up in November 2021 and November 2022, respectively, and are intended to keep the lights on in Georgia and Florida, with no carbon emissions, into the 2080s and possibly beyond. The project has been so fraught with difficulties, delays and cost overruns, however, that it seems likely to be another 30 years at least before anyone tries building another such plant in the US again. Nuclear power appeals as being a source of reliable electricity without causing greenhouse gas emissions. But new reactors are so expensive that in many countries they are unable to compete with cheap gas and coal or renewable energy sources. If new nuclear plants are to play any significant role in curbing future emissions in developed economies, their costs are going to have to come down a long way. That is the argument underlying the recent upsurge in interest in new nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors (SMRs). When Fatih Birol, executive-director of the International Energy Agency, gave evidence to the US Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in February, he suggested there were two priorities facing the US nuclear industry. In the short term, it needs to find ways to keep open plants that are running well but faced economic challenges, he said. In the longer term, developing new reactor technologies “will be of crucial importance to have the US leadership continuing in the nuclear domain”. In the broadest terms, new nuclear technologies divide into two varieties: first, there are those that use water for temperature regulation and enriched uranium fuel, like the standard reactors in use today; second, there are advanced reactors that can have a wider range of coolants including molten sodium or salt and use a wider range of fuels including depleted uranium. A recent report on breakthrough technologies from the Energy Futures Initiative, a think-tank, and IHS Markit, a research company, suggests that the light water SMRs could start coming into service in 2020-35 while the advanced reactors might be in operation from 2025-30. Backers of both technologies advocate building new reactors in factories rather than entirely on location to improve productivity and reduce costs.

FT 12th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 12 March 2019

Decommissioning

On the anniversary of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, investigative journalist Paul McKay reveals that the trade in radioactive waste is becoming a lucrative opportunity for SNC-Lavalin and its U.S. partner. If it is true that one person’s garbage can be another’s gold, then Montreal-based multinational SNC-Lavalin and its new U.S. partner, Holtec International, plan to be big global players in what promises to be a very lucrative, long-term business: handling highly radioactive nuclear wastes until permanent disposal methods and sites might be found, approved, and built. That problem is pressing because the volume of spent reactor fuel is cresting in the U.S., Canada, Europe, China, India, Russia, and Japan. There are also hundreds of intensively contaminated reactors which must sooner or later be entombed, dismantled, chopped up by robots, then sent in special, sealed containers to interim storage sites somewhere. But no country in the world has yet found a proven, permanent solution for the 250 million kilograms of spent fuel now in limbo in storage pools and canisters, let alone the atomic furnaces which created them. There are now about 413 operable civilian reactors in 31 countries, and another 50 under construction. Physics tells us precisely how “hot” atomic garbage is. Every commercial power reactor—regardless of model, type, country, or owner/operator—contains the radioactive equivalent of many atomic bombs locked within its spent fuel, reactor core, pumps, valves, and extensive cooling circuits.

The Energy Mix 10th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 12 March 2019

Utilities

Brilliant Energy – which supplied gas and electricity to 17,000 households – has ceased trading, marking the latest casualty in the sector this winter. The business, based in Gosforth, had boasted of providing a “straightforward” service at a “fair and stable” price. Its collapse means energy regulator Ofgem has had to step in again to protect supplies to customers. Brilliant is one of 10 UK suppliers to collapse in the last year. As with the other failures, the regulator will ensure that no households have their gas or electricity cut off, and will move these customers automatically to a new supplier. However, it cannot guarantee that the tariffs they were paying will be as cheap under the new arrangements.

BBC 11th March 2019 read more »

Utility Week 11th March 2019 read more »

The energy regulator faces renewed calls to toughen up on fly-by-night suppliers as the tally of failed energy companies reached three in less than three months. The latest supplier to fold, Brilliant Energy, brings the total number of energy supply start-ups that have gone under to 11 in the space of a year. The collapse will also hit homes that have chosen to buy their gas and power from Northumbrian Energy, which marketed Brilliant Energy’s offering under its own “white label” brand.

Telegraph 11th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 12 March 2019