Hinkley

The £840 million bill for connecting up the Hinkley Point power plant could be cut by a fifth after Ofgem said National Grid had failed to justify using an expensive new pylon design and had budgeted too much for flooding that may never occur. The utility giant has submitted plans to the regulator for a new high voltage power line to carry electricity from the £18 billion-plus nuclear plant that EDF is constructing in Somerset. It would involve five miles of underground cable through the Mendip hills and 29 miles of overhead power lines crossing through the Somerset Levels. National Grid plans to use a new design of “T” shaped pylons that won a 2011 government-backed competition to replace the taller “lattice tower” style that has been in use for decades. Ofgem said yesterday that the company had “not fully justified the estimated additional £65 million cost of the new ‘T-pylon’ technology it intends to use”. National Grid has already been granted a development consent order by the government to build the link using the T-pylons and said that it would have to press ahead with using them even if Ofgem ruled it could not recoup the extra cost.

Times 31st Aug 2017 read more »

Telegraph 30th Aug 2017 read more »

A half-mile (1km) exclusion zone has been set up in the Bristol Channel near the Hinkley Point nuclear power stations after a third unexploded second world war bomb was discovered in as many weeks. Bomb disposal experts will carry out a controlled explosion on the 250lb (113kg) ordnance on Wednesday, two miles north-west of the power plants. HM Coastguard has set up an exclusion zone around the unexploded device and warned ships to avoid the area. The bomb was reported in the early hours of Wednesday by a diving team from the Hinkley Point plant. They were clearing the seabed for intake and outtake pipes for cooling water for the reactors on the Hinkley Point C plant. It is the third suspected second world war bomb to be found in the Bristol Channel in the past three weeks. An EDF source conceded that divers could find more unexploded ordnance before the exercise to clear the area was completed, as the channel was used as a former army training range. The project to clear the seabed is expected to take several more weeks.

Guardian 30th Aug 2017 read more »

Energy Voice 30th Aug 2017 read more »

Bridgwater Mercury 30th Aug 2017 read more »

City AM 30th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 August 2017

Sellafield

A historic chimney is set for demolition at Sellafield. The Primary Separation Plant Chimney Stack was built in the 1950s to provide ventilation for surrounding buildings. It is now one of the biggest risks at Sellafield because it does not meet modern safety standards. Demolishing a 61-metre chimney in the middle of Europe’s most complex, congested nuclear site is a challenge. Explosives are not an option and there is no space for a crane so engineers have spent the last seven months getting a self-climbing platform to the top of the chimney metre by metre so they can begin demolition. Demolishing this chimney will cost more than £60m. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority which oversees Sellafield says the complexity of this one project demonstrates why cleaning up this site is so expensive. £2bn was spent at Sellafield last year alone.

ITV News 29th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 August 2017

Energy Costs

An energy price cap for two million of the most vulnerable households will be fast-tracked into place by January, under Ofgem plans to be unveiled within weeks. The industry regulator has told companies that it will press ahead with the idea and may also extend the cap to cover hundreds of thousands more households as it battles criticism that it is failing to protect customers. Ofgem wants the cap to be in place earlier than the April start date many in the industry had expected, in order to cut bills through the winter. The plan will fall significantly short of a cap for all 17 million households on expensive standard tariffs promised by Theresa May before the election, reigniting a political row. Ofgem’s announcement is scheduled before the end of September, putting the ball back in the government’s court before the Conservative party conference at the start of October. About four million households with pre-payment meters (PPM) are currently covered by a regulated price cap that was introduced last April on the recommendation of the Competition and Markets Authority.

Times 31st Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 August 2017

Nuclear Phase Out

Nuclear energy has been moving away from power-rich countries to nations bereft of diverse power generation opportunities, all the more so after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Europe has been particularly susceptible to give heed to the nuclear panic. Germany, for instance, announced its plans to phase-out nuclear power a day after Fukushima, France went along in a matter of several months, Switzerland and Belgium have also since voted to pull the plug on nuclear. Against the background of nuclear safety technologies having reached unparalleled heights and the global community edging closer to reducing carbon emissions, it is perhaps surprising that nuclear ended up being effaced from Europe’s energy future. Are all the hurried phase-outs worth it? With the election of Emmanuel Macron as France’s president and the inauguration of the Édourard Philippe-led government, the assault on nuclear energy took a new turn. Despite the fact that most Frenchmen oppose shutting down the country’s nuclear reactors, Macron seems to move in the opposite direction striving to bring down nuclear energy’s share to 50 percent in France’s electricity production. Right after Fukushima, Germany shut down 8 of its oldest reactors and envisages to close the remaining 9 by 2022. This happened in defiance of the government’s initial plans to phase the remaining nuclear plants within the 2030-2036 interval and the Reactor Safety Commission’s judgement that all functioning nuclear plants are safe and sound. Spain, Belgium and Switzerland are phasing out their nuclear reactors, too, albeit with less ambitious deadlines, while Italy, Austria, Portugal and others have reiterated their intentions to stay nuclear-free.

Oil Price 30th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 August 2017

Uranium

Oman has agreed to invest up to $120m in a uranium mine in Spain, at a time when energy-rich Gulf States are looking closer at nuclear power. The sovereign wealth fund of the Sultanate of Oman has an option to acquire 37 per cent of Berkeley Energia, which is developing the Salamanca mine about three hours west of Madrid. It will also have the right to uranium supply from the mine, known as an offtake. The money will allow London and Australia-listed Berkeley Energia to finish construction of the mine, which is due to start production in 2019. The move comes as Gulf governments invest more in alternative energy as they look to move away from domestic oil production. The Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant in the United Arab Emirates is due to start suppl ying electricity next year. It is the country’s first nuclear power plant. The deal is subject to shareholder approval. But any supply from the mine to Oman will need the approval of Euratom, the pan-European body that regulates the use of nuclear energy. Uranium prices have fallen to their lowest levels in more than a decade as many governments have scaled back their nuclear power programmes following the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. But nuclear proponents say in order to meet global climate change goals as well as power electric cars cleanly, nuclear power will have to be an option.

FT 30th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 August 2017

US

For the second time in a week, Duke Energy has canceled a planned nuclear project. Duke said Tuesday it’s dropping plans to build the proposed Levy Nuclear Plant on Florida’s Gulf Coast. That’s after it canceled plans for the W.S. Lee nuclear plant in South Carolina last Friday. The company had won federal construction and operating licenses for both plants in late 2016, though it had not started construction. Spokeswoman Ann Marie Varga said up until last year, Duke considered Levy a viable option. But that was before the project’s lead contractor, Westinghouse, filed for bankruptcy, and troubles surfaced at other projects. “As a result of the Toshiba-Westinghouse bankruptcy, Westinghouse and Toshiba will no longer construct and support new nuclear projects such as Levy,” Varga said. Varga says cost overruns and delays at two other Westinghouse projects in South Carolina and Georgia and slowing energy demand also were factors. As part of Tuesday’s announcement, Duke unveiled plans to spend $6 billion in Florida – building solar farms, installing electric vehicle charging stations, and improving the electric grid. That came as part of a rate agreement with regulators, customers and environmental groups.

WFAE 29th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 August 2017

France

French Environment Minister Nicolas Hulot reiterated on Wednesday that France will need to close several nuclear reactors in order to meet a target to cut the share of atomic energy in power generation to 50 percent by 2025. Hulot, who said in July France will need to close up to 17 of its 58 reactors, did not specify a number, but said that the Fessenheim plant – long earmarked as a closure candidate – would be among them.

Reuters 30th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 August 2017

Bulgaria

Bulgaria has started building a radioactive waste repository near the country’s only nuclear power plant on the Danube River. Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova on Tuesday called the project at Kozlodui “extremely important for the development of nuclear energy in Bulgaria.” The low- and mid-level radioactive waste that will go into the repository comes mainly from the decommissioning of four old nuclear reactors. Bulgaria shut the four Soviet-era reactors at Kozlodui over safety concerns and as a precondition for joining the European Union in 2007. The country has two Russian-built reactors remaining at Kozlodui. The repository is scheduled to start operating in 2021.

ABC News 29th Aug 2017 read more »

World Nuclear News 30th Aug 2017 read more »

Euractiv 30th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 August 2017

Renewables – onshore wind

An estates owner has lost a bid to overturn Scottish government approval for a 22-turbine wind farm within wild land. Danish billionaire Anders Povlsen raised a judicial review in a bid to have the decision set aside. His Wildland Ltd, which owns the Ben Loyal, Kinloch and Hope and Melness estates, challenged approval of Creag Riabhach Wind Farm. It is to be developed on a site on the Altnaharra Estate. Wildland Ltd was among objectors to the wind farm in the Highlands.

BBC 30th Aug 2017 read more »

Times 31st Aug 2017 read more »

The National 31st Aug 2017 read more »

Campaigners are calling on the Scottish Government to strengthen protection for wild land areas after a legal challenge against a wind farm in the Highlands failed. The 22-turbine Creag Riabhach development on the Altnaharra estate, near Lairg, will have five turbines in an area designated as wild land. Danish businessman Anders Povlsen, whose Wildland Ltd owns neighbouring estates, challenged the Scottish ministers’ decision to grant consent for the wind farm. His case in the Court of Session claimed ministers failed to give “proper adequate and intelligible reasons” regarding protection and development opportunities in areas of wild land. Judge Lord Boyd ruled against Wildland Ltd, finding there was “no error of law either in the way in which they (the Scottish ministers) reached their decision or expressing their reasons for it”.

Herald 30th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 August 2017

Renewables – Geothermal

The site of a former whisky bottling plant is to be transformed into a low carbon development with an investment of £5.3 million. The Scottish Government will provide an initial £3.5 million for the former Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire. The HALO project also includes an enterprise and innovation hub for business start-ups, a renewable energy centre and commercial and leisure units. A further £1.8 million will be provided to a low carbon infrastructure transition programme for a new “geothermal” heating system that will provide low-cost, renewable energy for hundreds of affordable homes. Economy Secretary Keith Brown said: “I have already made a commitment to support an Ayrshire growth deal and this ambitious new development is part and parcel of that commitment. Hannah Smith, policy manager at Scottish Renewables, said: “It’s great to see renewable energy playing a role in the revitalisation of such an iconic Scottish site. “Geothermal energy has exciting potential in Scotland and could play a role in meeting our ambitious renewable heat targets, but only a handful of legacy projects exist today. “The funding provided here through the low carbon infrastructure transition programme should enable the demonstration of the technology at scale and could serve as a launchpad for an industry able to tap the heat resource which lies beneath our feet.”

Herald 30th Aug 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 August 2017