Hinkley/Energy Policy

Matt Ridley: Almost nobody wants Hinkley to go ahead. The public have paid the price for years of missteps: it’s time to scrap Hinkley Point C and support the shale revolution. Shortly before parliament broke up this month, there was a debate on a Lords select committee report on electricity policy that was remarkable for its hard-hitting conclusions. The speakers, and signatories of the report, included a former Labour chancellor, Tory energy secretary, Tory Scottish secretary, cabinet secretary, ambassador to the European Union and Treasury permanent secretary, as well as a bishop, an economics professor, a Labour media tycoon and a Lib Dem who was shortlisted for governor of the Bank of England. Genuine heavyweights, in short. They were in general agreement: energy policy is a mess, decarbonisation has been pursued at the expense of affordability and, in particular, the nuclear plant at Hinkley Point C in Somerset is an expensive disaster. Their report came out before the devastating National Audit Office report on Hinkley, which said the government had “locked consumers into a risky and expensive project [and] did not consider sufficiently the risks and costs to the consumer”. Hinkley is but the worst example of a nationalised energy policy of picking losers. The diesel fiasco is another. The wind industry, with its hefty subsidies paid from the poor to the rich to produce unreliable power, is a third. The biomass mess (high carbon, high cost and environmental damage) is a fourth. Almost nobody wants Hinkley to go ahead, apart from the contractors who get to build it. EDF and Areva, the French owner and developer, are in trouble over the only two comparable reactors in Europe. The one at Flamanville is still to start working, many years behind schedule. The French unions want Hinkley cancelled. Lord Howell of Guildford, the former energy secretary, wisely pointed out in the Lords that the key player is China, a partner in the project. Rather than cost, the government’s excuse for revisiting Hinkley last year was partly worries about security. This was a silly worry and bad diplomacy. However, it is not clear China wants to go ahead, and subtle negotiation could tease this out. The great prize for China was regulatory approval through Britain’s gold-standard “generic design assessment” process, which could unlock foreign markets and give a green light for a Chinese-built reactor at Bradwell in Essex. But Lord Howell says the Chinese increasingly realise that the Hinkley design is a dead end, as costs escalate and delays grow. And they know that the future for nuclear power must lie in smaller, modular units, mass-manufactured like cars rather than assembled from scratch like Egyptian pyramids. Their “Nimble Dragon” design could slot into both the Hinkley and Bradwell sites, perhaps beside the larger Hualong design. Cancellation would cost some £20 billion. But if the initiative comes from Beijing it is just possible that some new arrangement could be salvaged from the certain wreckage of the EDF scheme, without seriously damaging both livelihoods and our relations with China.

Times 31st July 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 July 2017

Energy Policy – Scotland

A growing number of people in Scotland want to see stronger action on climate change, according to a poll. Results from a survey by WWF Scotland show an increase in the percentage of those calling for more investment, renewable energy sources and a reduction in emissions. The data comes as a new Climate Change Bill is out for public consultation, and around 1,000 Scots were surveyed in May and June for the WWF study. More than three-quarters, 76 per cent, of respondents said the Scottish Government should reduce climate change emissions by “investing more in improving the energy efficiency of homes across Scotland”, up from 67 per cent in 2016. A total of 68 per cent said they want the Government to invest in projects that reduce emissions, up from 59 per cent in 2016. There were 72 per cent who believe more should be d one to help people heat their homes from renewable sources. Only 59 per cent thought so in the previous year.

Scotsman 31st July 2017 read more »

The National 31st July 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 July 2017

Wylfa

Horizon is set to hold a series of public meetings this month to discuss various matters about Wylfa Newydd. The main topic will be proposed improvements to the A5025.

North Wales Chronicle 29th July 2017 read more »

The building of a bypass to allow easier access between Wylfa Newydd and the A55 could be a huge blow for traders in an Anglesey village, businesses have warned. Horizon Nuclear Power, who are behind the £10bn development, has unveiled plans for a raft of improvements to the A5025 including a bypass of the centre of Valley.

Daily Post 29th July 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 July 2017

Fukushima

Today, the scientific journal Science of the Total Environment (STOTEN) published a peer-reviewed article entitled: Radioactively-hot particles detected in dusts and soils from Northern Japan by combination of gamma spectrometry, autoradiography, and SEM/EDS analysis and implications in radiation risk assessment. Co-authored by Dr. Marco Kaltofen, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), and Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Energy Education, the article details the analysis of radioactively hot particles collected in Japan following the Fukushima Dai-ichi meltdowns. Based on 415 samples of radioactive dust from Japan, the USA, and Canada, the study identified a statistically meaningful number of samples that were considerably more radioactive than current radiation models anticipated. If ingested, these more radioactive particles increase the risk of suffering a future health problem.

Fairewinds 27th July 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 July 2017

Energy Storage

People are excited about batteries, from electric cars to Tesla’s 129 megawatt-hour energy storage project in South Australia. But one important issue is often overlooked: the raw materials needed to build this technology – where they come from and their environmental cost. New types of batteries such as vanadium “flow batteries” still lag in comparison with the performance of lithium-ion ones (as used by Tesla). Other technologies face significant hurdles before they can be commercially available. This means that, for now, demand for lithium-ion batteries for use in portable electronics, hybrid vehicles and electric tools will only grow. Lithium demand for batteries is forecast to increase dramatically, driving more than a doubling in total lithium demand by 2025.

Renew Economy 31st July 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 July 2017

Electric Vehicles

Letter: There seems to be little understanding of the simple fact that electric vehicles (EV) are, in the main, pollution shifters – from tailpipe to power generation facility (Ban from 2040 on diesel and petrol car sales, 26 July). The electricity generation and transmission system is already tested to its limits during a harsh winter. Only if objections disappeared to the mass building of thousands of the largest wind turbines, plus similar numbers of hectares of photovoltaic solar generation, could the pollution shifters’ argument be refuted. Even then, there would still be need for conventional or nuclear generation for when the sun doesn’t shine and wind doesn’t blow – doubling the capital requirement.

Guardian 30th July 2017 read more »

The UK government says it wants all new cars and taxis to be electric by 2040 and the doom-mongers have come out in force. They say that 100% EVs this will strain the UK capacity to produce electricity. This is not correct. Let’s put a few numbers around the question of how and when electric cars will take over from petrol and diesel and what the impact will be. Between now and 2030, the UK will add about 25 GW of offshore wind. Typically, these turbines will produce at about 50% capacity factor. (This is higher than 40%+ experienced at the moment as turbines get taller, more efficient and sited in higher wind locations). These turbines will thus produce about 110 TWh a year of electricity. Offshore wind load factors tend to be highest in winter, when power demand is also high. The annual electricity demand from 100% electric cars (75 TWh) will be just under about 2/3 of the amount of power produced by the offshore wind installed from now until 2030.

Carbon Commentary 26th July 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 July 2017

Fossil Fuels

Shares in major oil and gas companies are expected to plunge in value in the next three to five years because of climate change-related financial risks, meaning more investors will spurn fossil fuels. This is the verdict of British asset managers who control billions of pounds of investments in stock markets. It could have serious consequences for many thousands of people whose pension funds have invested in these companies, as well as many institutions and charities which rely on dividends for their income, according to a report by the Climate Change Collaboration (CCC), a group of four UK charitable trusts.

Climate News Network 30th July 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 July 2017

Electricity Markets

Letter: Volker Beckers, chief executive of RWE Npower, 2010-12; Joan MacNaughton, director- general for energy at the Department of Trade and Industry, 2002 -06; Ian Marchant, chief executive of Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), 2002-13 – We welcome the government announcements on the smart future for electricity and the banning of petrol and diesel cars by 2040 (“Giant batteries to store green energy”, News, last week). The UK electricity market is undergoing a rapid transformation with renewables near to the point of needing no subsidy. More than 900,000 homes, communities and businesses already generate their own renewable power and there are 100,000 electric vehicles on our roads today. These technologies were rare just a few years ago. In the past year, the control of energy through digitisation has leapt ahead, enabling users to power their devices and to store electricity at times that match the strength of the wind and the sun. Earlier this year, households in the Welsh town of Bethesda started trading their surplus power directly with each other. The large incumbent power generators and suppliers have been largely caught off guard by these step-change innovations. Their last-century business model of big, centralised power stations and passive consumers is being rapidly undermined. To avoid stranding these assets for their investors, they must now focus on providing cost-saving flexibility, smart and efficient services to customers, bespoke products to so-called prosumers, and collaborating to drive local energy initiatives and innovations into their mainstream business. This promises a very different future that we are excited to see.

Sun Times 30th July 2017 read more »

Posted: 30 July 2017

Energy Supplies

Michael Gove’s proposal to ban the sale of new cars with petrol or diesel engines from 2040 is very midsummer madness. Don’t just take my word for it. Stuart Haszeldine, professor of carbon capture and storage at Edinburgh University, told me: “It doesn’t have the hallmarks of a well-thought-through policy. If you’re going to deliver electrification of vehicles, you have to think about how it happens. A thought-through policy would also count the carbon emissions of making electricity at a power plant; that has to be nearly zero for electric cars to clean the national emissions inventory as well as cleaning cities.” Using gas means we have to do more to clean up the emissions at the power plant, or else the UK fails its international Paris 2015 UN agreements. A previous government in 2015 chose against carbon capture and storage to clean up electricity from gas burning. If we now want clean electricity for cars, that needs to be brought back quickly.” National Grid also warned that, regardless of the Scottish government’s opposition to fracking, gas will continue to play a key role in powering and heating our nation for decades. Its Future Energy Scenarios report added that as North Sea production declines, our already worrying dependence on gas imports will increase further with additional amounts of liquefied natural gas having to be shipped to the UK. The report comes hard on the heels of a similar assessment by the trade union GMB and Strathclyde University’s Centre for Energy Policy, which warned Scotland’s energy demands cannot be met without gas.

Sunday Times 30th July 2017 read more »

Identifying a tipping point is not always easy. But when one of the world’s most powerful oil bosses says he is in the market for an electric car, there can be little doubt. Shell is already shifting its focus from drilling for oil to natural gas, but within the next year Shell will unveil early plans for a deeper presence in renewable energy and the electrical chain to tap the boom in electric vehicles. “Everyone is repeatedly surprised at how fast electric cars are coming forward,” Professor Dieter Helm told The Telegraph in April. The number of new registrations of plug-in cars has grown from 3,500 in 2013 to more than 100,000 at the end of May. “But the political pressure to adopt this technology is increasing all the time. It’s not due to concerns over climate change – it’s city air pollution,” he said. “There is no doubt that batteries completely and utterly metamorphose the market in that they make the uncontrollable controllable. It makes the arguments against renewable energy fall away,” says Nick Boyle, the founder of Europe’s largest solar operator Lightsource. The new energy reality is not simply about consumers taking power from generators, but means the roles of producer and consumer will flip and, in some cases, merge. Lightsource is already pairing solar panels with battery packs to allow customers to effectively become their own energy market. Solar panels create energy which can be used at cheaper rates than electricity from the main grid, or stored in the battery to use later. If the battery and electric vehicle are both charged a Lightsource customer could sell their power back to the grid. By creating a network of households and businesses which can generate power and reduce demand, Lightsource could create a string of virtual low-carbon power plants. “We’ve always said that we would like to equip a million homes with solar panels and batteries. If you use a 4kW panel that would be 4GW of capacity,” says Boyle. This is the equivalent scale of Hinkley Point C plus a gas-fired power plant, but only when the sun shines. “But if you add a 6kW battery you’ve created an extra 6GW of storable electricity which could be used to balance the grid.” “It’s not about hardware anymore. It’s about software. And this can move at such an incredible pace and will only get quicker,” says Boyle. “It seems like we’re offering something impossible. But this is only because many are still using a yardstick of how they bought energy in the past. You almost need to draw a line under what has come before and start again.” Redesigning the electricity system is no easy undertaking though. Basil Scarsella, chief executive of Britain’s largest electricity distributor, UK Power Networks, says the industry is “on the verge of a change as significant for electricity as the advent of broadband was for telecommunications”. The network operator connects 18 million people across East Anglia, London and the South East to the electricity grid and has already had applications for 16GW worth of battery storage. Following the Government’s battery backing it has launched a fast-track online application process to connect even more home batteries. “The good news is that we don’t need to build a whole new stack of generation,” says Rob Doepel, a partner at EY. “There could be a 10pc increase in demand, but this doesn’t mean we need to increase our capacity by the same amount. The majority of cars are likely to charge overnight when many plants stand idle. So we can use our existing fleet more often.”

Telegraph 29th Jly 2017 read more »

Christopher Booker: To the few of us who have long been trying to follow the Government’s woefully unreported plans for Britain’s energy future, the news of the switch in 2040 to electric cars was hardly a surprise. But the full implications of this drive to phase out virtually all use of fossil fuels in the coming decades have not yet begun to sink in. And there are many more shocks to come. Brushed aside in the daylong blizzard of propaganda to which we were treated in favour of all-electric cars, there are of course many practical reasons these have not caught on. Despite hundreds of millions of pounds in taxpayer bribes to persuade motorists to buy them, they make up only 0.3 per cent of the 31.7 million cars on our roads. It didn’t take long for the crucial question to be asked: where is all the extra 30 gigawatts (GW) of electricity needed to charge these cars to come from, when this would add nearly 50 per cent to our current peak electricity demand, half of it still supplied by the fossil fuels the Government wants to eliminate?

Telegraph 29th July 2017 read more »

Posted: 30 July 2017

Biomass

The billionaire founder of Phones 4u is facing steep losses amid a row over the collapse of a green energy power plant. John Caudwell bought Western Bio-Energy, which runs the wood-fuelled plant in south Wales, with the Green Investment Bank and small investors in 2013. The site in Port Talbot was managed on their behalf by Greensphere Capital, a private equity firm backed by veteran investor Jon Moulton.

Sunday Times 30th July 2017 read more »

Posted: 30 July 2017