Hinkley

Officials rebuked over Hinkley power plant delaying tactics. Whitehall officials were guilty of “egregious” and unjustifiable delays before revealing details of government contracts for the Hinkley Point nuclear power project awarded to a company facing a potential conflict of interest, the Information Commissioner’s Office has said. Leigh Fisher, a management consultancy, was awarded a £1.2 million contract by the department of energy and climate change for its advice on Hinkley Point, despite the British division of Jacobs Engineering, an American group that also owns Leigh Fisher, working for EDF on the project. The advice from Leigh Fisher helped the government to agree a 35-year deal with EDF to build the £18 billion plant, which will supply 7 per cent of UK electricity and which has proved controversial, with ministers defending escalating costs after a fall in wholesale energy prices. Details of the arrangement with Leigh Fisher, which has concerned MPs including Iain Wright, chairman of the Commons’ business, energy and industrial strategy select committee, emerged in November after The Times obtained redacted details of the tender documents under the Freedom of Information Act.However, it took the business department almost six months to release information after it was requested. Public bodies typically are required to respond to FOI requests within 20 working days. The department also heavily redacted details of separate Hinkley Point contracts awarded to KPMG and Lazard, including passages regarding potential conflicts of interests. KPMG was paid about £4.4 million for its work by the department and Lazard £2.6 million.

Times 24th April 2017 read more »

FRENCH National Front leader Marine Le Pen will look for ways of scrapping the Hinkley Point C project by pulling EDF Energy out of the deal if she becomes French President on May 7, it was revealed this week. Ms Le Pen’s energy advisor Philippe Murer said the right-wing candidate was “fundamentally against” the £18 billion West Somerset nuclear project and was studying EDF’s contract in order to find a loophole which could pull the plug on the deal. M Murer said: “We will respect the commitment of the French state to build the Hinkley Point power station, but if clauses in the contract allow an exit from this project, we will study them.” He said that the National Front believed that the Hinkley project would divert resources from the state-controlled EDF at a time when it needed to increase spending to support the struggling French nuclear industry. M Murer added that EDF also needed to complete a new reactor at Flamanville, in western France. Local MP Ian Liddell-Grainger told the Free Press that he believed Ms Le Penn’s threat was unrealistic and impossible to achieve without destabilising EDF.

West Somerset Free Press 22nd April 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 April 2017

Wylfa

Bosses at Japanese energy giant Hitachi are due to meet business secretary Greg Clark for talks just weeks after the firm applied for approval to build its Wylfa nuclear project in Anglesey. Hitachi chairman Hiroaki Nakanishi will meet with Clark this week as government planning continues over the creation of a fleet of new nuclear projects in the UK. Horizon, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hitachi, plans to build and operate two nuclear reactors at Wylfa, capable of generating enough to power around 10 million homes by the mid 2020s.

City AM 23rd April 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 April 2017

Sellafield

Sellafield has gone to market seeking long-term construction partners to carry out work at the nuclear site over the next 20 years.

Construction News 24th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 April 2017

Toshiba

Toshiba has confirmed a reorganisation of its business structure, laying out plans to split off its four in-house companies into wholly-owned subsidiaries that will include its nuclear energy unit being combined with its energy business. Owing to the deterioration in Toshiba’s finances, the company needs to split out the four business units so it can fulfil requirements to get its license renewed for big construction projects, which have rules on how much capital or shareholder equity a company needs.

FT 24th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 April 2017

Energy Costs

A cap on household energy bills is set to be included in the Conservative manifesto, a cabinet minister has said. According to the Sunday Times the plans could cut gas and electricity costs by £100 a year for 17 million families. Work and Pensions Secretary Damian Green told ITV people felt “taken advantage of” by energy firms. Labour said the plan should be taken with “a pinch of salt”, while price comparison company uSwitch said it would “do more harm than good”. The wider energy industry has reacted with scepticism to the plan, saying a price cap could have a negative impact on competition and lead to higher prices.

BBC 23rd April 2017 read more »

The energy industry has accused the Conservatives of “giving up on competition” by proposing to cap fuel bills. Damian Green, the work and pensions secretary, said yesterday that a future Tory government would cap energy prices in a move that ministers believe could cut households bills by £100. The party said that the 20 million households on standard variable rate tariffs would benefit. The announcement comes only a year after the Competition and Markets Authority drew back from proposing a fully fledged price cap, instead recommending price controls for customers with pre-payment meters. Theresa May said last month that the market was failing. “Relying on switching alone to keep prices down is not working,” she said.

Times 24th April 2017 read more »

FT 23rd April 2017 read more »

It’s not what you know but who you know. To prove the aphorism, compare the response to Theresa May’s promise to cap energy bills, and the furore over Ed Miliband’s pledge to do something very similar four years ago. When the former Labour leader called for a 20-month price freeze in the face of rising gas and electricity costs, he was ridiculed. “Back to the bad old days,” screamed the Daily Mail front page in September 2013. But when the Mail, edited by Paul Dacre, a May supporter, reported earlier this month on Tory plans to take action on bills in the face of the latest rise by one of the big six energy companies, such statist intervention had become a “crackdown on energy rip-offs”. The Telegraph said prices would go up before Miliband’s freeze, while the Times and the Sun warned the “lurch to the left” risked blackouts. The Times’s editorial described his plan as “flawed in practically every detail”. On Sunday, the Sunday Times welcomed May’s price cap as an “attempt to capture the political centre ground”. The hypocrisy is not lost on the Labour MP, who tweeted: “Where were these people for last four years since I proposed cap? Defending a broken energy market that ripped people off. Let’s see small print.” As well as powerful media allies, May also has luck on her side. Miliband’s eye-catching pledge came a few months before wholesale energy prices began a two-year slide, rendering the idea irrelevant.

Guardian 23rd April 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 April 2017

Energy Supplies

Grid officials said low demand for electricity in the week after the Easter holiday and a large amount of wind and nuclear power had helped to create the zero-coal day. By Friday afternoon, gas power plants were supplying 47 per cent of the country’s electricity while nuclear plants and wind farms each provided 18 per cent. Solar panels supplied about 10 per cent and 6 per cent came from biomass such as the wood pellets used in half the huge Drax power plant in North Yorkshire that was once the country’s largest coal plant. Coal power has faded as wind farms and solar parks have blossomed around the country, spurred by green subsidies introduced to help the UK meet legally binding targets to cut greenhouse gases by at least 80 per cent from 1990 levels by 2050. In addition, UK ministers announced in the run-up to the December 2015 adoption of the Paris climate change accord that they wanted to phase out coal power by 2025. That sent a shudder through an industry already struggling with low wholesale power prices and a domestic carbon tax of £18 a tonne. Two large coal plants closed in March last year, including the Longannet plant in Fife – a move that made Scotland’s power system coal-free. That helped push carbon emissions down to some of their lowest levels seen since Queen Victoria was on the throne in the late 1800s.

FT 22nd April 2017 read more »

Britain’s success in eliminating one of the most polluting forms of power generation has helped lower carbon emissions to levels barely seen since the latter days of Queen Victoria. Until recently, Germany was often cited as the green champion among the big European economies after rapidly expanding renewable power to about 30 per cent of electricity generation under its Energiewende, or energy transition, policy. Yet, Germany has failed to cut its carbon emissions as sharply as Britain because of its phasing out of nuclear power since the reactor meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011. This has left it dependent on coal and lignite, an even more polluting type of combustible rock, for 40 per cent of power output. The UK, in contrast, has kept faith with nuclear for more than a fifth of generating capacity. Together with similar amounts of renewable power this means that low-carbon energy often accounts for more than half of UK electricity generation. Last week it reached almost three-quarters. When wind and solar power is lacking, Britain can fall back on natural gas, which produces half the carbon emissions of coal when burnt. So far, so green. But UK energy policy is not without problems. About 40 per cent of existing generating capacity is due to close by 2030 as old nuclear reactors are decommissioned and coal is phased out. The £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset is supposed to fill part of the gap but doubts remain over its unproven reactor technology and plans for several further new nuclear plants are facing tough financial hurdles. Government efforts to encourage more new gas capacity have also stumbled because of the difficult y of incentivising investment in plants which may not be required on days with plenty of wind or sun. These conundrums have left ministers torn between competing aims to reduce carbon emissions while ensuring energy security and keeping costs down. Power companies complain that threatened action to curb consumer energy bills is at odds with the need to attract investment in generating capacity; climate activists worry about priorities shifting from emissions reduction to economic competitiveness as the government prepares Britain for life outside the EU. But while the appropriate balance between renewables, nuclear and gas remains open to debate, and some sceptics question the pace with which coal is being abandoned, few people are mourning the disappearance of sulphur-belching smokestacks from the UK skyline.

FT 22nd April 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 April 2017

Trident

Jeremy Corbyn has thrown Labour’s controversial support for Britain’s nuclear weapons programme Trident into question by failing to guarantee it will be in the party’s manifesto. The Labour leader swerved the question in a TV interview today by saying the document was still being drawn up.

Mirror 23rd April 2017 read more »

Last month Labour, uniquely amongst British political parties, sent its shadow disarmament minister, Fabian Hamilton MP, to be an active observer at the United Nations negotiating conference for a nuclear weapons ban treaty, in which 130 countries participated. Jeremy Corbyn now has an opportune chance to build on Labour’s trailblazing international disarmament tradition, committing Labour to put Trident nuclear submarines and weapons into multilateral negotiations, sending a strong message to nuclear outriders North Korea, Pakistan, India and Israel.

David Lowry’s Blog 18th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 April 2017

Renewables

THE companies behind the purchase of the aluminium smelter in Fort William have unveiled far-reaching plans to expand green-energy generation in the Highlands in a bid to expand industrial development and job creation in the years ahead. GFG Alliance companies SIMEC and Liberty wants to invest tens of millions of pounds in boosting the output of existing hydro-electric plants and introducing new hydro generators, as well as extending the use of bio diesel and exploring other renewable energy sources such as wind, biomass and waste-to-energy, which would enable Liberty to develop further manufacturing activity beyond the multi-million pound alloy wheels and auto components plant which is already in the pipeline at Fort William.

The National 24th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 April 2017

100% Renewables

MidAmerican zeroes in on 100% renewable energy. MidAmerican’s already enormous appetite for wind power is only going to grow. The state’s largest utility is in the midst of a $3.6 billion investment that over the next couple of years will erect 1,000 more turbines on top of the 2,020 it already has around the state. When it is done, the Des Moines utility’s share of its energy that comes from renewable sources will catapult from 55 percent to nearly 90 percent. But already, the utility craves more — looking to get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources such as wind. It would take about $2 billion and 550 turbines more to bring MidAmerican close to 100 percent, said CEO Bill Fehrman, who has led the Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary’s march into renewable energy. “It would set a new precedent for the U.S.,” said Daniel Shurey, an analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance. “It will require a company that really knows what it’s doing. “It will be challenging for them to provide security of supply, and that’s not something MidAmerican will take lightly.”

Des Moines Register 22nd April 2017 read more »

Posted: 24 April 2017

Hinkley

WORK on the £18billion nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point C may be gathering pace, but only the hopelessly naive will believe EDF’s claims that it will start generating electricity by 2025. The likelihood of it being delivered on time and on budget is remote. Last month the first concrete was poured for permanent structures but unions are already threatening to go on strike over bonus payments to the workers that are preparing the groundworks at the Somerset site. Then there are the unresolved safety concerns about the design of the European Pressurised Reactor that will be used at Hinkley. Given Britain’s less than glorious history of infrastructure projects being delivered late and massively over budget, I cannot see Hinkley Point C bucking the trend.

Express 23rd April 2017 read more »

Posted: 23 April 2017