Brexit

House of Lords Committee pens letter over Brexit nuclear concerns. The group has called for urgent clarification on what actions the government is taking to mitigate any risks. The House of Lords EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has written to the government over concerns the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is falling behind in its efforts to prepare for Brexit. It asked the Minister for Business and Industry, Richard Harrington MP, for his urgent clarification on what actions the government and the ONR are taking to mitigate any risks. It also called for his assessment of whether the current rate of progress will allow the UK to assume legal responsibility for its own nuclear safeguards regime from the 30th of March 2019.

Energy Live News 22nd May 2018 read more »

Posted: 23 May 2018

Electric Vehicles

The geopolitics of electric cars will be messy. A shift to a green energy economy is bringing a new variety of political tensions. The era of fossil fuels will end. Last year, Britain had its first day without burning coal for electricity since the industrial revolution, and even the largest oil companies say it will be impossible to buy a petrol car by the middle of the century. Oil has had a leading role in geopolitics over the past 100 years, sucking western powers into an often disastrous dependence on the Middle East. While black gold, as oil is sometimes known, is not always the overt cause of conflict, it is linked to between one quarter and a half of all interstate conflicts globally between 1973 and 2012, according to a 2013 study by Jeff Colgan of Brown University. But it would be a mistake to assume that geopolitical tensions will miraculously ease in a future in which renewable energy sources dominate. Building wind turbines and creating lithium-ion batteries requires metals and raw materials from those countries which are blessed, or potentially cursed, with them. And for some of these commodities, their high concentration in particular parts of the world sharpens the risks. Take electric car batteries and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The African country accounts for more than half the world’s production of cobalt, essential for most electric car batteries. A clean energy economy will require a staggering volume of metals to be prized from the ground. For example, Olivier Vidal of the University Grenoble Alpes estimates that to build the infrastructure for clean energy the amount of copper needed amounts to almost half the total mined since 1900. There is also the real risk that the age of the electric car will generate corporate monopolies, echoing those of Standard Oil whose founder John D Rockefeller corn ered the oil market more than a century ago as the combustion engine took off. Glencore, the Switzerland-based and London-listed miner, is expanding its production of cobalt which is set to give it a 40 per cent share of global supply by 2020. The production of lithium, a key ingredient for batteries in electric cars as well as smartphones, is controlled by just five companies.

FT 23rd May 2018 read more »

The UK needs a sixfold increase in the number of electric vehicle charging points by 2020 to provide adequate infrastructure for green motorists, new research has found. It estimates there will be more than one million EVs on UK roads within two years, requiring 100,000 charging points. Currently there are just 16,500, according to the report from data company Emu Analytics. Currently only 3 per cent of supermarkets have a charging point, the research found. Asda has the best coverage, with chargers at 19 per cent of its stores, while Tesco has the worst, with chargers at just 0.4 per cent.

Independent 22nd May 2018 read more »

It’s clear that future transport is going to require more electricity – a lot more. Renewable energy advocates need to figure out a response to this – and quick. Given that coal-fired electricity generation has more or less been put out of its suffering, advocates of nuclear and gas are immediately going to pipe up and press forward the case for more of these filthy behemoths, predictably claiming that renewables are not up to the new job of EV charging.So: we need a plan for a faster growth of renewable energy, not simply to replace the dirty energy generators that we have at the moment, but to provide the additional power required by the replacement of petrol and diesel in the transport sector. Electric vehicles solve little if the electricity used to power them is generated by, er, fossil fuels.

Brighton Energy Co-op 22nd May 2018 read more »

It has been an eventful and uplifting few days for the electric vehicle (EV) market. First an electric Jaguar provided a green gloss to the Royal Wedding, then Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) published some of the most bullish sales projections yet for a sector that is already well used to rapid growth, then today a major new EV charging network provider left stealth mode and unveiled plans for the world’s largest fast charger and energy storage network. The latest developments provide yet more evidence that growing business interest in zero emission transport is poised to accelerate, as costs continue to fall and charging infrastructure expands. BusinessGreen takes a look at the reasons behind the growing optimism coursing through the EV industry – and why the oil industry should be concerned.

Business Green 22nd May 2018 read more »

Posted: 23 May 2018

Brexit

Theresa May says Britain will pay to save links with part of the Euratom nuclear agency after Brexit, triggering accusations of another U-turn. The UK will seek to “fully associate ourselves” with the body’s research arm, she announced – despite the bitter row over the decision to leave Euratom as a whole. That pull-out has triggered warnings that Britain’s nuclear power stations could run out of fuel and hospitals will run short of radioactive isotopes to treat cancer patients.

Independent 21st May 2018 read more »

Posted: 22 May 2018

Electric Vehicles

The UK’s fast expanding electric vehicle (EV) market could be about to receive a major boost, in the form of an ambitious £1.6bn plan to drastically extend the country’s fast charging network and strengthen the electricity grid. Pivot Power will today announce plans for the world’s first network of integrated grid-scale battery storage units and rapid EV charging stations, in a move that promises to both address ‘range anxiety’ concerns amongst prospective EV drivers and provide new ‘flexibility services’ to National Grid. The proposals would see rapid charging stations installed at 45 sites across the country, alongside grid-scale 50MW batteries that are planned for electricity sub-stations and would connect directly to the extra-high-voltage transmission system. Critics of EVs have argued that delivering a large scale fast charging network would place unprecedented pressure on the grid, which would require costly upgrades and new generation capacity. However, grid experts have long argued a combination of energy storage and renewables technologies can help alleviate such concerns and enable a national fast-charging network.

Business Green 22nd May 2018 read more »

Posted: 22 May 2018

Electric Vehicles

The government’s ambition to clean up motor vehicles by 2040 is not ambitious enough, a leading energy expert says. Professor Jim Watson, head of the prestigious UK Energy Research Centre, said the target should be at least five years earlier, as in Scotland. The government is currently considering obliging new cars to run on electricity for at least 50 miles by 2040. The government said it would not discuss the issue before it had published its policy which is due soon. But ministers are facing competing pressures on the issue. Some UK car firms are telling ministers their proposed targets are unachievable, while others say the targets can easily be reached.

BBC 21st May 2018 read more »

The race to develop battery technology is not simply a question of finding ways to make electric vehicles easier to charge and more convenient to drive over long distances. Those are just factors in a complex game of global industrial competition and co-operation. The key issue is the location of one of the world’s most valuable manufacturing sectors: vehicle construction. EVs are coming. There are some 2.5m on the roads worldwide, and the International Energy Agency predicts that number will rise to between 40m and 70m by 2025, with the prospect of subsequent strong global growth driven by the combination of regulation of traditional combustion engine vehicle use and falling battery costs. EV batteries are built in vast gigafactories. China and Japan lead in the field and even Tesla’s operations rely on technology from Japan’s Panasonic. The plants need to be close to the main centres of vehicle production and the race now is to host the gigafactories that will serve the growing market. The chosen locations will shape the geography of the auto sector for de cades to come. The UK government may be too distracted by Brexit to pursue a long-term industrial strategy that creates a market and provides the skills, land and regulatory changes to attract investors. And Germany may not yet be ready to accept that the technology of the internal combustion engine, which goes back to Karl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler, is being superseded. The stakes are very high – billions in investment over decades and tens of thousands of skilled jobs. In the rapidly changing energy world the prospect of securing a place at the heart of the new battery market is a glittering prize. Failure to do so will represent a serious loss of industrial strength.

FT 21st May 2018 read more »

Posted: 21 May 2018

Energy Policy

A prominent American economist says getting rid of fossil fuels by mid-century and making the switch to large-scale renewable energy sources and nuclear power offers the best chance of meeting the climate change targets set out by the Paris accord. Columbia University Professor Jeffrey Sachs says the world’s ways of producing and using energy need to change “much faster, much more dramatically” than political leaders looking to tap hydrocarbon reserves understand.

Business Insider 19th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 20 May 2018

Brexit

Your Brexit correspondent misses the main issue arising from the UK nuclear regulator’s report leaked to Sky News. On July 13 last year, the UK Government position paper on “Nuclear materials and safeguards issues,” included the key proposal that the UK will: “take responsibility for meeting the UK’s safeguards obligations, as agree with IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).” Currently “ safeguards” are applied in the UK under a ‘voluntary ‘trilateral treaty between the UK, Euratom and the IAEA. It comprises 36 pages in total, opening with the key element in the treaty stating in A r t i c l e 1(a) “The United Kingdom shall accept the application of safeguards, in accordance with the terms of this Agreement, on all source or special fissionable material in facilities or parts thereof within the United Kingdom, subject to exclusions for national security reasons only (my emphasis) The exclusion opt out is explained at Article 14 which reads in part: “If the United Kingdom intends to make any withdrawals of nuclear material from the scope of this Agreement for national security reasons …. it shall give the Community (ie Euratom) and the Agency (IAEA) advance notice of such withdrawal…” The ONR has been given unprecedented responsibility for policing a diplomatically contentious new arrangement, which will increase suspicion among member states of the 1968 nuclear nonproliferation treaty ( for which the UK , as a co-drafter of the treaty text, is one of three depositary states) – which ministers pray-in-aid whenever they discuss the rationale for a UK nuclear safeguards system. However, ministers routinely cherry-pick those parts of the NPT that suite their purposes: but the NPT is an integrated diplomatic agreement, with its articles all relevant and related. Cherry-picking is both diplomatically unwise, as it normalises abrogation for other signatory nations, and undermines the very treaty for which the UK is supposed to act as a protective depositary state!

David Lowry’s Blog 17th May 2018 read more »

The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has written to the Minister for Business and Industry, Richard Harrington MP, asking for his response to media reports that the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is falling behind in its efforts to prepare for Brexit. Euratom (the European Atomic Energy Community) implements a system of safeguards to control the use of nuclear materials. The Government has made arrangements for the UK to leave Euratom at the same time as leaving the EU, because the two share an institutional framework. However, failure to establish its own safeguarding regime before leaving Euratom may mean the UK is unable to import nuclear material, with severe consequences for energy security given that 20% of the UK’s electricity comes from nuclear generation.

Parliament 18th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 May 2018

Energy Policy – Eastern Europe

For Eastern Europe, controllable renewable power is a good alternative for new nuclear power. Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary are all planning to build new nuclear power plants. But according to a new study by Energy Brainpool, commissioned by Greenpeace Energy, they could also opt for controllable renewable power plants. These are cost-competitive with nuclear, at least as reliable, and also allow for energy independence, write Philipp Heidinger, Fabian Huneke and Simon Göß from Energy Brainpool. As a result of the decommissioning of coal-fired and nuclear power plants resulting from either political reasons or end of lifetime considerations, European power markets are in need for capacity replacement. Especially during the next decade, the need for controllable yet flexible, power generation will grow. The Visegrád countries of Eastern Europe have ambitious plans for the construction of new nuclear power plants in order to replace older generators. In Hungary, two reactors with a total net capacity of 2.4 GW are to be installed at the Paks site by 2026. The Czech Republic is also planning the construction of two new reactors, also 1,200 MW each, at the existing Temelin and Dukovany sites. Slovakia wants to replace its Bohunice reactor (1,200 MW) in the mid-2020s and is already building two small new reactors, Mochovce 3 and 4 (total 900 MW), which are supposed to come online this year and the next.

Energy Post 16th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 May 2018

Energy Supplies

In the first few months of 2018 Britain’s wind farms produced record-breaking amounts of electricity, for the first time producing more than nuclear. New analysis by Dr Iain Staffell of the Centre for Environmental Policy has revealed that 2018 began with Britain’s wind farms having a record breaking quarter. In the first three months of 2018 wind production peaked at over 14 GW of electricity and was the source of more of the country’s power than nuclear.

Imperial College 15th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 19 May 2018

Energy Policy

The government have announced measures to make fracking in England easier, amid revelations that investment in green energy dropped by 56 per cent last year. The plans, announced today by Greg Clarke, mean that shale gas companies will be able to drill test sites without applying for planning permission. The Business Secretary said the measures were necessary because councils are “disappointingly slow” when considering shale gas applications. The measures will also see fracking sites classified as nationally significant infrastructure, meaning that planning approval will be decided at a national, not local, level. There will also be £1.6 million of funding to speed up fracking applications over the next three years. But environmentalists have condemned the plans. Caroline Lucus, co-leader of the Green Party, said the move was a “green light for climate breakdown.” “Britain’s fracking experiment was on life support and now the government is trying its best to shock it back into life” she added. According to polling, just 18 per cent of Brits support fracking – while 85 per cent of people support the use of renewable energy. Greenpeace said that the government was ignoring both communities and local councils, and said the new measures make “exploratory drilling as easy as building a garden wall or conservatory”. Labour politicians also criticised the plans, with the Shadow Business Secretary, Rebecca Long Bailey, saying that “fracking should be banned, not promoted.” The government’s announcements are at odds with Holyrood; the Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of an indefinite ban on fracking last October. Read more at: https://inews.co.uk/news/fracking-easier-england-investment-green-energy-falls/

The i Newspaper 17th May 2018 read more »

Guardian 17th May 2018 read more »

Independent 17th May 2018 read more »

The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has issued a damning verdict of the government’s approach to clean energy investment in recent years, calling on it to publish an urgent plan to plug looming policy gaps. And the committee has also issued its withering verdict on the government’s Clean Growth Strategy, a body of work which it said ultimately falls short of its aim and must be rectified with urgent policy decisions. However the department has sought to defend its record on the issue, stressing it would respond to the report “in due course”.

Solar Power Portal 17th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 18 May 2018