Flamanville

French state-owned power company EDF said it would make further tests next month on faulty weldings at its Flamanville nuclear reactor plant, which has been plagued by technical problems. “EDF actively continues to implement the action plan on welds of the main secondary system announced on 25 July 2018. The ‘hot tests’ are now scheduled to commence during the second half of February,” EDF said in a statement. EDF said it would keep the targeted construction costs for Flamanville at 10.9 billion euros ($12.4 billion).

Reuters 21st Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

US

New York has embraced the campaign for a ‘Green New Deal’, with Governor Andrew Cuomo declaring last week he will launch a major programme to build a zero carbon economy for the state. New York’s Green New Deal was hailed as a “nation-leading clean energy and jobs agenda” by the Governor’s office, as it pledged to “aggressively put New York State on a path to economy-wide carbon neutrality”. The plan includes doubling the state’s solar capacity by 2025 and quadrupling its offshore wind capacity by 2035, as part of a legally binding goal to deliver 100 per cent zero-carbon power for the state by 2040.

Business Green 21st Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

Malawi

The project has helped businesses in Malawi to generate electricity from solar power. A solar power project to connect villages in Malawi has had a “life-changing” impact for rural communities. The initiative, led by Strathclyde University researchers, has seen affordable energy supply businesses set up in four villages. The partnership, which has been backed by a £600,000 grant from the Scottish government, ensures locals own and operate the equipment. It includes battery chargers and power connections for other small businesses. Only 12% of Malawi’s 18 million population is connected to the main electricity grid, which dips to 2% in rural areas. For the vast majority the main energy source is open fires, which puts pressure on the country’s forests.

BBC 21st Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

Island Energy

A tech revolution – and an abundance of wind and waves – mean that the people of Orkney now produce more electricity than they can use. It seems the stuff of fantasy. Giant ships sail the seas burning fuel that has been extracted from water using energy provided by the winds, waves and tides. A dramatic but implausible notion, surely. Yet this grand green vision could soon be realised thanks to a remarkable technological transformation that is now under way in Orkney. Perched 10 miles beyond the northern edge of the British mainland, this archipelago of around 20 populated islands – as well as a smattering of uninhabited reefs and islets – has become the centre of a revolution in the way electricity is generated. Orkney was once utterly dependent on power that was produced by burning coal and gas on the Scottish mainland and then transmitted th rough an undersea cable. Today the islands are so festooned with wind turbines, they cannot find enough uses for the emission-free power they create on their own. Community-owned wind turbines generate power for local villages; islanders drive non-polluting cars that run on electricity; devices that can turn the energy of the waves and the tides into electricity are being tested in the islands’ waters and seabed; and – in the near future – car and passenger ferries here will be fuelled not by diesel but by hydrogen, created from water that has been electrolysed using power from Orkney’s wind, wave and tide generators.

Observer 20th Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

Biomass

More than 100,000 dirty wood-burning stoves were sold last year despite promises by the government and stove industry to cut the pollution they cause. “Ecodesign” stoves, which reduce harmful emissions by 80 per cent, were launched two years ago but accounted for only 30 per cent of the 170,000 stoves sold in Britain last year. Burning wood and coal in stoves and open fires causes 38 per cent of particulate emissions, the most damaging form of air pollution, according to the government’s clean air strategy, published a week ago. The Stove Industry Alliance (SIA) launched Ecodesign stoves in February 2017. They burn wood more completely by introducing air at higher levels in the fire box, reigniting the wood particles before they can escape. More than 300 models were available by the beginning of last year but the industry continued to sell older stoves, often without informing people about the cleaner model.

Times 21st Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

Renewables – wind

A firm that aims to make the renewable energy business more environmentally friendly expects to create high skilled jobs in Argyll after winning a landmark funding award. Renewable Parts, which refurbishes equipment used on wind turbines and the like, said it plans to hire at least five people this year to work on projects in its Lochgilphead base. The recruitment drive comes after the company was awarded £171,000 funding by Zero Waste Scotland. The company was the first SME to get funding from the body for a circular economy project. Renewable Parts, which has an operations centre in Renfrew, will use the money for refurbishment projects developed out of Lochgilphead in conjunction with its research partner the University of Strathclyde.

Herald 21st Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

Energy Efficiency

There is an electrical puzzle that retired engineer Rodney Birks just can’t solve. After a lifetime spent designing instruments for cars, Birks, 72, can’t quite work out why the government and millions of households are ignoring the single, simple way we can all cut the electricity bill for lighting our homes by 90%. It will shave nearly £2bn off the energy bills for Britain’s 25m homes. It requires just a small investment, that will be repaid within three to four months – and give you a payback lasting more than 20 years. It will stop as much as 8m tonnes of CO2 entering the atmosphere and the energy saved at peak time equates to the output of three power stations the size of Hinkley Point C. What irks Birks is that while the government has funded schemes such as solar power feed-in tariffs (FITs), it is not doing enough to publicise the far greater environmental and economic savings that come from an early LED switchover. Birks is far from anti-solar. His home is itself a beneficiary of FITs after he installed panels on his roof. “All those who signed up have got the FITs for 25 years. I’m getting £600 a year back from the government for 25 years. By my calculations, LEDs are 136 times more cost-effective,” he says.

Guardian 19th Jan 2019 read more »

Updated guidance to help local authorities in England with 2019 reporting requirements of their plans to support the delivery of energy efficiency improvements to residential properties within their area.

BEIS 17th Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

Fossil Fuels

Plans for an onshore gas site in Cheshire will make it “less likely” the UK will meet its commitments on global warming, a public inquiry has heard. In January 2018, Chester and Cheshire West Council rejected IGas’s plan to test for gas by injecting acid into a well next to the M53 at Ellesmere Port. The energy company denies protesters’ claims that the work would have a negative impact on the environment. IGas’s appeal is being heard by a government planning inspector.

BBC 20th Jan 2019 read more »

LetterL Councillor Miranda Cox, Kirkham town council, Councillor Julie Brickles, Westby parish council, Lancashire. We write in response to your interview with Francis Egan, chief executive of Cuadrilla (“Just say if you don’t want us fracking”, last week). He may be riled at the claims made by some anti-fracking campaigners and confused about government’s changing enthusiasm for the industry, but we are angry that three tiers of local democracy have been overturned and the fears and concerns of our communities disregarded. The most recent tracker of public opinion showed only 18% supported shale gas.

Times 20th Jan 2019 read more »

Letter David Lowry: I read with increasing disbelief the Panglossian view of fracking presented by Francis Egan, boss of Cuadrilla. His most egregiously inaccurate assertion was to say “no one’s child is going to be killed as a result of [fracking]”. I respectfully disagree. A study published by independent academic researchers at the University of Missouri in 2013 found greater hormone-disrupting chemicals in water located near fracking sites than in areas without drilling. Endocrine disruptors interfere with the body’s endocrine system, which controls numerous functions with hormones such as the female hormone oestrogen and the male hormone androgen. Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals has been linked by other research to cancer, birth defects and infertility. Public Health England warned in a report more than five years ago: “If the natural gas delivery point were to be close to the extraction point with a short transit time, radon present in the natural gas would have little time to decay . . . there is therefore the potential for radon gas to be present in natural gas extracted from UK shale.” Such radioactively poisonous gas could thus pollute air in many kitchens where gas hobs are used.

Times 20th Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 21 January 2019

New Nuclear

“It is a national emergency and it’s been left far too late,” says Greg Clark. “We’ve known for the last 10 years that most of our nuclear power fleet would come to the end of its planned life.” The Business Secretary’s dire warning is almost a decade old. In late 2009, as a member of the shadow cabinet, Clark could not have guessed that the UK’s delayed nuclear dawn was a false one. The Labour government had just given the go-ahead for 10 new nuclear projects. They were expected to begin powering homes by the Christmas of 2017. The biggest concern was whether the public would tolerate such a rapid pace of nuclear construction. They needn’t have worried. In the years since Britain heralded a new nuclear renaissance the plans have quickly unravelled. Hitachi, a major Japanese industrial conglomerate, is the latest to turn its back on the chance to build a £16bn plant in Anglesey, Wales. In an echo of Clark’s 2009 warning, Matthew Fell, from the CBI, says the “significant blow” leaves in doubt the UK’s ability to replace its existing nuclear fleet before the lights are turned out at ageing plants across the country. The UK relies on nuclear power for a fifth of all electricity used in homes and businesses. All but one will close by 2030, and only one is guaranteed to start generating power by then. In a little over two months, three follow-on projects with a total capacity of over 9GW have been wiped from the UK’s new nuclear future. The nuclear programme’s leading light is Hinkley Point C, one of the country’s most derided infrastructure projects of a very competitive field. Those that remain are part-owned by a Chinese state-backed company despite mounting global fears over Chinese interference. In truth, Whitehall offered the most comprehensive package of support measures that any government has offered a nuclear developer. The UK Government offered to take a one-third stake in the project alongside Hitachi and the Japanese government. It also offered to cover the debt financing needed for construction, which is the riskiest phase of development. In return, Hitachi would be guaranteed to earn £72.50 per megawatt-hour for the lifetime of its project, levied on household bills. The nuclear project was still a risk not worth taking. If an offer this generous can be snubbed, what chance is there for the Sizewell C and Bradwell projects still awaiting a deal? The sheer scale of the risks means building new nuclear plants is largely the preserve of state-owned companies backed by treasury-sized balance sheets. China and Russia lead the way. France follows, but even state-run EDF is struggling. “The cost of renewable technologies such as offshore wind has fallen dramatically, to the point where they now require very little public subsidy and will soon require none,” Clark told MPs. “We have also seen a strengthening in the pipeline of projects coming forward, meaning that renewable energy may now not just be cheap, but also readily available.” The Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit says an 80:20 mix of wind and solar power matching the capacity of Moorside, Wylfa and Sizewell C could be done at an average price of £50 to £65 per megawatt-hour, even including the extra costs needed to balance the intermittency of weather-based power. “The UK Government has nuclear in its DNA,” says Professor Aled Jones, an Anglesey native now leading the Global Sustainability Institute, “We have a long history of nuclear development, and that institutional memory still seems to be there. There’s something in the culture, but that culture might need to change.”

Telegraph 19th Jan 2019 read more »

Ministers must act quickly to make up for the firm’s decision to axe its Wylfa nuclear power plant. By any standards, last week’s decision by Hitachi to end construction of its £20bn nuclear power plant at Wylfa in Wales was a major blow to Britain’s prospects of creating an effective energy policy for the 21st century. The move follows a withdrawal by Toshiba from the construction of a similar project in Cumbria last year and leaves Britain struggling to find ways to generate electricity for a low-carbon future. Together, these nuclear plants would have generated 15% of Britain’s electricity – without emitting carbon dioxide. However, the loss of the Hitachi and Toshiba plants undermines our chances of achieving this first goal of decarbonising our power production and, therefore, of succeeding in the ultimate goal of making Britain a completely carbon-free nation later this century. So how should the government respond? Nuclear power plants require massive investment and take decades to construct. Britain’s only new reactor, currently under construction at Hinkley Point, is eight years behind schedule and faces huge cost overruns. Its construction has proceeded only because the government agreed to pay vastly inflated prices for its electricity for a guaranteed 35 years. At the same time, prices of power from renewable energy sources continue to plunge. However, there is a limit to how much power can be generated from a source that operates only when it is breezy. As the nuclear expert Prof Sue Ion says: “It is a fallacy to think we can provide the UK’s energy with intermittent renewables alone.” This leaves ministers with a number of options that need to be tackled urgently. They need to reopen talks with Hitachi and Toshiba to hammer out a sensible electricity pricing mechanism for power from their plants and so allow building work to resume. Investments in other areas also need to be pursued more emphatically and imaginatively. As we report in New Review (“The northern powerhouse”), the development of new UK renewable energy sources, from tides and waves, is underfunded, while failures to promote wind energy technology 30 years ago let Germany and Denmark dominate the now lucrative wind turbine market. Such a mistake must not be repeated with tide or wave power.

Observer 20th Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 20 January 2019

Wylfa

Letter submitted to the Morning Star: Peter Lazenby’s report on the decision by Japanese nuclear company Hitachi to pull out of building a new nuclear plant on Anglesey was given a ludicrously misleading headline in “Lights ’could go out across Britain’ as Wylfa plan collapse.” (M.Star, 18 January) Had this failed plant been given the go ahead, it would have provided less than 7 % of national electricity supply, which is less than 2 % of delivered energy. Nuclear supporters such as the trades union leaders from Prospect and the GMB quoted should not line-up with the Tory Business and Energy Secretary, Greg Clark, and massively over-inflate the contribution to energy security in the UK of foreign-designed, foreign-funded nuclear power. Clark’s Labour Shadow, Rebecca Long-Bailey should wean herself off cheerleading for new nuclear power, and read some of the excellent articles on real sustainable energy policies written by Labour energy advisor, former Labour left MP Alan Simpson, encouragingly published regularly in the Morning Star. The cancellation of Wylfa Newydd means the secret story of the original Wylfa nuclear plant will now not be repeated. In an interview I conducted on 19 January 1983 with the late Lord Hinton, the first chairman of the CEGB, (barely five months before his death, at which point he was still advising the electricity industry) he said to me “Wylfa is a long and sad story. It ought not have been built at all, but when I suggested this to the Permanent Secretary [at what is now the Department of Energy and Climate Change] he said you have got to build it in order to meet the government programme.” The programme to which Lord Hinton referred was not electricity generation but plutonium production, as became clear in the Sizewell B nuclear plant public inquiry which had just begun when I interviewed Lord Hinton, and ran for 333 days.

David Lowry’s Blog 19th Jan 2019 read more »

The Wylfa Newydd nuclear plant this week became the latest high-profile project in Wales that could land on the scrap heap. The news has raised questions about why projects are failing to materialise. Experts say it is largely due to bad luck, but add that Wales should learn lessons from projects that never saw the light of day. “There has to be an investigation into the products investors will take on,” said Bangor University’s Edward Jones. While Wylfa Newydd was by far the most expensive, other projects such as the Swansea Bay Tidal Lagoon and the Severn Barrage were shelved amid concerns over cost and viability.

BBC 20th Jan 2019 read more »

Posted: 20 January 2019