Poltics

The SNP has promised to pressure the next Westminster government to unlock the UK’s full potential for clean energy in its 2017 election manifesto. The party’s manifesto, launched today by party leader Nicola Sturgeon in Perth, promises that SNP MPs sent to Westminster will “work to ensure low cost green energy schemes get the long-term certainty need to support further developments and reductions in cost”. This will include pressuring the government to clear barriers to further deployment of onshore wind, as well as adding more support for offshore wind, tidal energy and wave power. It also promises to build a favourable regulatory environment in Scotland for new energy storage schemes and make Scotland a leader in the development of carbon capture and storage technology. On climate change, the manifesto promises the SNP will pressure the UK government to ratchet up its climate target to bring it in line with Scotland, which has promised to cut emissions by 66 per cent by 2032. The UK has promised to cut emissions 57 per cent by the same date. However, alongside support for clean energy the SNP also expresses strong support for bolstering Scotland’s oil and gas sector. In its manifesto it promises to press for more money from Westminster to encourage oil and gas firms to invest more in exploration activities and provide loan guarantees for critical oil and gas infrastructure. It also calls for more support for oil and gas companies diversifying into renewables.

Business Green 30th May 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 May 2017

Energy Policy

The UK’s departure from the European Union (EU) should be facilitated by a new Government that uses key “lighthouse areas” to outline how the country plans embed low-carbon smart technologies into operations as a means to attract better investment options. That is the view of the Renewable Energy Association’s (REA) chief executive Nina Skorupska, who told edie that the new Government should reaffirm its commitment to the Industrial Strategy and publish the Clean Growth Plan as soon as the General Elections were over to inspire confidence across sectors that are still feeling the repercussions from a “bonfire of policies” over the past two years. The REA launched its Manifesto Recommendations earlier this month, outlining how a post-Brexit UK should be “dynamic and bold” by capturing the growth and opportunities of future technologies, including renewables and energy storage. For Skorupska, commitment should start on “day one” of the new Government’s reign, with job growth in the renewables sector highlighted as an area where ministers could drive investment during a period where the Government is attempting to balance trade deals and green policy.

Edie 30th May 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 May 2017

Carbon Tax

Some of the world’s most eminent economists have warned carbon prices will have to jump dramatically if the planet can hope to avoid dangerous levels of global warming. According to a report released yesterday by the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices, which is backed by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, a carbon price of up to $40-$80 by 2020, and $50-$100 per tonne by 2030, will be needed to meet the world’s climate goals in the most cost-effective manner.

Business Green 30th May 2017 read more »

Economists, including Joseph Stiglitz and Nicholas Stern, say taxes of $100 per metric tonne could be needed by 2030. A group of leading economists warned on Monday that the world risks catastrophic global warming in just 13 years unless countries ramp up taxes on carbon emissions to as much as $100 (£77) per metric tonne. Experts including Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and former World Bank chief economist Nicholas Stern said governments needed to move quickly to tackle polluting industries with a tax on carbon dioxide at $40-$80 per tonne by 2020. A tax of $100 a tonne would be needed by 2030 as one of a series of measures to prevent a rise in global temperatures of 2C.

Guardian 29th May 2017 read more »

Independent 30th May 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 May 2017

New Nuclear

Letter Malcolm Grimston: It is ironic that just as growing numbers of environmental scientists and others have come to see the role fission can play in providing both reliable and low carbon electricity supplies, the Financial Times (“The nuclear option is vanishing”, May 27) should claim “nobody outside the nuclear industry now thinks the future of electricity generation is nuclear fission”. James Hansen, Tom Wigley, Ken Caldeira, George Monbiot, Mike Shellenberger, Stephen Tindale. As the disaster of the German Energiewende unfolds – greenhouse gas emissions up four years in five, major boost for brown coal – and the inherent implausibility of 100 per cent renewables (or anywhere close) becomes more obvious, there are many who would like to see a re-run of the “dash for nuclear” of 1975-1995 when the proportion of global energy from very low-carbon sources doubled. Since then it has been effectively static. Nuclear does face great funding challenges but very many non-industry commentators are far from ready to write it off.

FT 30th May 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 May 2017

Three Mile Island

The owner of Three Mile Island, site of the worst commercial nuclear power accident in US history, will shut down the plant in 2019 unless it receives a financial rescue from the Pennsylvania state government. In March 1979, equipment failure and operator errors led to a partial core meltdown of one of Three Mile Island’s two reactors. The damaged reactor has been mothballed since then but the other reactor is still in use. The owner of Three Mile Island, Exelon, said operating costs for just one unit at the plant were high, further damaging Three Mile Island’s financial viability in a time of competition from natural gas and renewable energies.

Guardian 30th May 2017 read more »

A Pennsylvania power plant which triggered the worst nuclear disaster in US history is to close, its owner says. Three Mile Island – which experienced a partial reactor meltdown in 1979, spawning nationwide protests – will shut in 2019. Exelon Corp, which owns the facility, said the low cost of natural gas extraction had made nuclear-generated electricity unprofitable. Since 2013, six nuclear reactors in the US have shut for economic reasons. Nuclear plants have closed before their licences expired in California, Florida, Nebraska, Vermont and Wisconsin, with more set to be decommissioned in the next several years. The low cost of electricity is being attributed to natural gas extraction from shale formations such as in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus region. The Three Mile Island meltdown occurred on 28 March, 1979, alarming more than two million people who lived nearby and the city of New York 180 miles (300km) away. A federal inquiry found no deaths or injuries were caused by the accident, though it dented public confidence in nuclear energy for years.

BBC 30th May 2017 read more »

No one died, there were no direct health impacts, but the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear accident burned so deeply into the US psyche that it has helped limit the future use of the power source across America. A major factor in turning the accident into a “disaster” was timing. Just 12 days before the 1979 accident that saw a partial core meltdown at one of the two reactors at the Pennsylvania plant, The China Syndrome was released in cinemas across the US. The film’s plot centred on a major safety issue at a California nuclear plant. It was a spooky backdrop to the worst real world nuclear accident in US history. While citizens were frightened by TMI, so too were investors. The accident happened after just three months of commercial operation causing the plant owner to go bankrupt. The whole clean up effort took 14 years and cost almost $1bn. Six nuclear plants have closed around the US in the past five years. Another five are likely to go in the next few. But even if the nuclear operators could benefit from the public purse in the way that renewables like wind and solar already do, the real killer for atomic energy has been natural gas. Hydraulic fracturing has seen US production of gas rise by over 40% in the decade to 2016. It’s plentiful, cheap and flexible. Operators can turn production on or off rapidly in response to demands. And as well as puncturing nuclear’s bubble, the rise of gas has also helped put coal on the floor.

BBC 30th May 2017 read more »

Three Mile Island, the power plant that was the site of the most serious US civil nuclear accident, will shut down in 2019 unless it is given additional government support, the company that owns it has said. The planned closure is a sign of the intense competition from cheap gas-fired generation that is jeopardising the economics not just of new reactors, but even of existing nuclear plants. One of Three Mile Island’s two reactors has remained closed since it suffered a partial meltdown in 1979. The other has continued to operate, and is licensed to keep running until 2034. But on Tuesday Exelon, the electricity group that owns the plant, said it planned to close Three Mile Island around the end of September 2019, with the loss of 675 jobs, unless there were “needed policy reforms” from the state of Pennsylvania.

FT 30th May 2017 read more »

IB Times 30th May 2017 read more »

Bloomberg 30th May 2017 read more »

The Hill 30th May 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 May 2017

Flamanville

French nuclear regulator ASN said on Tuesday it will “probably” issue a final ruling in the autumn on whether the reactor that utility EDF is building in Flamanville is safe for use, in the latest delay in the process. The ASN said in 2015 it had discovered excessive carbon concentrations in the cover and bottom of the Flamanville reactor vessel, which can weaken the mechanical resilience of the steel and its ability to resist the spreading of cracks. Since then, Areva, which designed the EPR reactor, EDF and the ASN have been testing whether weak spots could jeopardise the safety of the reactor. The regulator’s green light about the reactor vessel is crucial for EDF and Areva, as European Union antitrust authorities have made it a precondition for their approval of EDF’s planned takeover of Areva’s reactor unit. The ASN has repeatedly postponed deadlines for ruling on the safety of reactor vessel.

Reuters 30th May 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 May 2017

Toshiba

The future of Toshiba Corp. is imperiled over ballooning costs at its U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse, which filed for bankruptcy protection last month. Behind a great Japanese brand’s fall from grace is a fateful decision to bank on an expensive overseas purchase. And no one had calculated on a nuclear catastrophe. Price drops in oil and natural gas, as well as beefed up safety regulations that kicked in after the 2011 Fukushima disaster, are chipping away at the appeal of nuclear power. But perhaps more fateful was Toshiba’s corporate culture of chasing big money at the cost of ethics and governance, already brewing as it headed to the 2006 purchase of Westinghouse, according to former employees and observers.

AP 31st May 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 May 2017

Australia

Australia’s nuclear energy debate reaches Peak Idiocy this week with the visit of Jessica Lovering from the U.S. Breakthrough Institute. Lovering has and will be speaking at public events alongside Australian university student Ben Heard. Both the Breakthrough Institute and Heard’s ‘Bright New World’ present themselves as progressive environment groups but they are single-issue, pro-nuclear lobby groups with little interest in broader environmental issues. Australia’s environment groups ‒ i.e. real environment groups ‒ are united in our opposition to nuclear power.

Renew Economy 31st May 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 May 2017

France

Nuclear: Pollution around La Hague is mainly related to past incidents. The radioactive contamination northwest of the Areva de la Hague plant comes from a series of incidents since 1974, explains the IRSN. However, some of the pollution in americium 241 and plutonium remains unexplained.

ACTU Environment 29th May 2017 read more »

The shutdown of reactor 1 of the Flamanville nuclear power plant (Manche), due to an incident on 9 February, is extended until 11 June, it was learned Tuesday from the communication service of the EDF power station. Initially, this interruption was due to end on May 31st. On 31 March, the deadline had already been extended by two months. The reactor was arrested on 9 February following a “detonation” and a “fire start” in the engine room, a non-nuclear zone. The incident caused “degradations that require interventions that are still relatively consistent,” admitted in March the director of the nuclear power plant, Stéphane Brasseur.

Romandie 30th May 2017 read more »

The European Commission, the guardian of competition in the EU, has endorsed the takeover by the French electrician EDF of the majority of Areva NP, the nuclear reactors division of its compatriot Areva. “The Commission concluded that the operation would not raise any competition concerns,” the EU executive writes, which does not attach any conditions to this authorization.

Le Monde 30th May 2017 read more »

It is an acrobatic exercise which, on the nuclear issue, awaits the former animator of the “magazine of the extreme”, Nicolas Hulot, now minister of energy and solidarity transition. He will have to deploy a balancing talent to advance on the crest line drawn by the President of the Republic, Emmanuel Macron. A line whose direction is dictated by the “and at the same time” dear to the former leader of En marche! What does Mr. Macron say on the subject? That we must “reduce our dependence” on the atom and at the same time that “nuclear power in France has a future”. It is “in the trajectory” defined by its predecessor, François Hollande – a 75% to 50% reduction in the share of electricity from fission “to 2025”, as foreseen in the The 2015 Energy Transition Law – and at the same time that it “can not say today” if this objective is “achievable”. Nicolas Hulot follows in his footsteps. The new minister, who had no religion arrested on the atom before the Fukushima catastrophe of March 2011, now considers that “nuclear power is part of the world of yesterday”. But on the day after his appointment, on the plateau de France 2, he declared that “the share of nuclear energy in 2025 must be 50%” and at the same time that “the demonstration will perhaps be made, One can go beyond 50%.

Le Monde 30th May 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 May 2017

South Korea

South Korean President Moon Jae-in is expected to announce his roadmap to phase out from heavy reliance on nuclear energy on June 19 while attending a ceremony closing down the country’s first reactor. During a briefing session of the presidential planning and advisory committee on Monday, Lee Kae-ho, head of the commission’s second economic team, urged nuclear related organizations including the Nuclear Security and Safety Commission (NSSC) to map out long-term outline of shifting energy policy more oriented towards renewable clean sources from fossil-fueled and nuclear reactors that carry environmental and security risks as promised by Moon during campaign.

Pulse 30th May 2017 read more »

Posted: 31 May 2017