Chinese nuclear reactors are not the solution to the UK’s growing energy needs, says GMB. British energy union GMB has called for “considerable caution” over Chinese involvement in the involvement in the Bradwell B reactor design. The UK will not benefit from “Chinese pop-up power stations” it said. The union voiced its concerns following the news that nuclear regulators have been asked by the government to begin the Generic Design Assessment for the Chinese reactor that set to be installed at the Bradwell B nuclear plant in Essex. National Secretary for Energy for GMB Justin Bowden said that the announcement by Business and Energy Minister Jesse Norman was one of “huge importance” for both the Bradwell project and the future of new nuclear reactors across the UK.
Utility Week 11th Jan 2017 read more »
“I felt I had to defend a precious area from being trashed”: Professor Andy Blowers on why he will forever fight nuclear power at Bradwell. Profile of Andy.
Maldon Standard 29th Dec 2016 read more »
British parliamentarians have asked the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) to clarify some of the financial aspects of the government’s agreement with EDF and its partner China General Nuclear (CGN) to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant. Specifically, they want to know whether the £2.0 billion ($2.4 billion) government guarantee still stands, why the government’s estimate of future top-up payments through the contract-for-difference (CfD) varies so widely with that of the National Audit Office, and whether the index to which the strike price is linked could be changed.
World Nuclear News 11th Jan 2017 read more »
EU anti-trust regulators have cleared the French government’s restructuring of state-owned nuclear reactor builder Areva. The European Commission said in a statement on 10 January 2017 that it had concluded that French plans to grant a capital injection of €4.5bn ($4.75bn) to Areva are in line with EU state aid rules. The Commission added that other regulatory decisions were still needed, including approval by the EU of the buyout of Areva’s reactor business by EDF, the French state-owned electricity supplier. In April 2016, France notified the Commission of a restructuring plan to restore its competitiveness. The plan provides for various divestments, in particular the group’s nuclear reactor business. Areva, which is 86.5% owned by the French state, will instead focus its activities on the nuclear fuel cycle. France plans to help Areva bear the cost of restructuring by injecting public capital of €4.5bn. In September 2016, Areva began the transfer of its nuclear fuel cycle activities to a new company, NewCo. Areva, which has made losses for the last five financial years, announced thea restructuring plan in June 2016. The restructuring will see the company split into three smaller companies and raise about €8bn in additional capital. Areva said in a statement that it would convene its board of directors on 11 January 2017 to determine the terms of the capital increase, which is subject to the approval of a general shareholders meeting on 3 February 2017.
NucNet 11th Jan 2017 read more »
The prospects for expansion of the nuclear industry worldwide look worse in 2017 than at any time since the first atom stations were built in the 1950s. Toshiba, the giant Japanese company that owns the American reactor designer Westinghouse, is the latest company to face financial difficulties due to unforeseen cost overruns and delays that run into billions of dollars. Westinghouse Electric’s troubles began after it bought construction contractor CB&I Stone & Webster and then had to write down the value of the acquisition by billions of dollars because of problems with building four new reactors for US utilities. Électricité de France (EDF), the French company with ambitious plans to build four nuclear reactors in Britain, is in ever-deepening financial difficulties because it has failed to build new stations on time or on budget at Olkiluoto,Finland, and Flamanville, in France. It is also embroiled in an ongoing scandal over faulty reactor parts. Even Rosatom, the state-owned Russian company, keen to expand sales outside its own borders, is pegging back on its building plans at home. Alexander Lokshin, the first deputy director general, said on the company’s website that, because forecasts of energy use growth in Russia have proved to be inaccurate, the company had settled for life extensions of existing plants rather than a large programme of building new ones. While China and India continue to press ahead with nuclear projects, both countries are putting ever-greater effort into renewables, which provide much quicker returns. China has cut back on nuclear plans, but is continuing to build both its own home-grown designs and two reactors of EDF’s new design, which are still under construction although they should already be in operation. There are seven giant reactor projects – the first of 10 planned – for Britain. So far there has not been the slightest hint from either the companies or the UK government that the plans might need revision. Time will tell whether anyone will come up with the $50 billion in capital needed to build them.
Climate News Network 11th Jan 2017 read more »
Although the tidal power industry is just beginning to take root, projects such as the MeyGen tidal power development in Scotland – which has just received the go ahead for its next phase – and the Tidal Lagoon Power project in Swansea Bay show that if taken seriously enough, tidal power could provide a steady, reliable energy supply. What is more, our shores give us a natural stage on which to lead the way with our expertise. As Tidal Lagoon Power director of engineering and construction Mike Unsworth says: “Developing tidal lagoons which exploit our tides around our island coastline basically ensures we are generating our own, home-grown, secure and sustainable energy.” Boundaries are also being pushed with other renewables in the UK. Thames Water is building Europe’s largest solar photovoltaic farm in a London reservoir. And yet Britain is also forging ahead with the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station which – while bringing 64% of the project’s £18bn value to the UK supply chain – relies on Chinese and French expertise. On top of that, a report published last autumn by University College London predicts that Hinkley Point C could be obsolete within a decade of opening in 2025. “Technically and economically, Hinkley no longer makes sense,” says Andrew Smith, principal research associate at the Bartlett School, UCL’s built environment centre . He is also deputy director of the Energy Epidemiology Research Centre. According to Smith, Hinkley appeared to be a good decision in the early noughties when it was first discussed. But a lot has happened in the fields of nuclear and alternative energy since then. “The lines have crossed in a way. We’ve gone from a position where new nuclear looked like it was going to be modular and quick to build and the supply chain would grow – and it would be affordable – and wind and [solar] photovoltaics looked like they were slow-growing and looked more expensive. “And then in the past 10 years while we’ve been talking about Hinkley, nuclear has got more expensive and slower to build, and the alternatives have got cheaper, and the supply chains have grown much faster – of the order of 20% or 30% a year,” says Smith. Indeed, even small modular reactors (SMRs) seem to be facing problems. While they could meet some localised energy needs, production costs – and negative associations from the public – have slowed growth.
New Civil Engineer 11th Jan 2017 read more »
The United Arab Emirates is investing $163bn (£134bn) in clean energy projects to ensure that half of the country’s power needs are generated from renewable sources by 2050. “Our aim is to balance our economic needs with our environmental goals,” the UAE’S Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum said unveiling the new energy strategy on Tuesday. “He who does not think of energy is not thinking about the future. The UAE government has made an achievement in drawing up a unified energy strategy for the country.” The UAE is a major oil exporter – but also, given its Arabian Gulf location, has considerable solar power potential. Several Middle Eastern countries – such as Kuwa it, Qatar and the UAE – are trying to shift away from both their economic and domestic energy reliance on oil, after prices fell by more than half last year. By 2050, Mr Maktoum said, hopefully 44 per cent of the country’s energy usage would come from renewable sources, 38 per cent from gas, 12 per cent from cleaner fossil fuel, and six per cent from nuclear power. Currently, the UAE ranks eighth on the World Bank’s list of greenhouse gas and CO2 emissions per capita. Dubai and Abu Dhabi – the country’s major cities – have previously led green initiatives to wean the country off dependence on fossil fuels. In 2013 Abu Dhabi managed to move 20,000 homes onto a solar power grid, and started work on four planned nuclear reactors. In June 2016, Dubai announced the creation of a solar power plant, to be completed by 2030.
Independent 11th Jan 2017 read more »
Socially and politically, 2016 was a momentous year for Britain. It was also a record-breaking year for energy and the environment, but thankfully for all the right reasons. Britain’s electricity was the cleanest it had been in 60 years, as coal collapsed and renewables rose to record levels. Less than 10 per cent of British electricity – with Northern Ireland is calculated separately – was generated from coal, down from more than 40 per cent in 2012. This is the lowest share coal has ever provided in the system’s history of more than a hundred years, and the lowest absolute quantity burnt since the start of the Second World War. In fact, at 10 per cent of generation, wind farms produced more electricity, a significant milestone in Britain’s low-carbon transition. Natural gas has picked up most of the slack and posted its best year since 2010. Nuclear, solar and biomass are all also on the rise. The demise of coal means British carbon emissions from electricity generation have halved over the past four years. This is not ‘green-washing’ or creative accounting. When factoring in the emissions released abroad from producing electricity and biomass that is then imported, Britain’s electricity sector released 82 million tons of CO2. The last time annual emissions were below 100 million tons was as far back as 1955.
Independent 12th Jan 2017 read more »
Renewables – solar
National Grid has invested $100m in a partnership venture with US solar firm Sunrun aimed at boosting the growth of the household solar rooftop market in the US. Announced yesterday, the partnership includes a joint marketing agreement, a collaborative grid services pilot, and a direct $100m equity investment from National Grid in approximately 200MW of Sunrun’s existing residential solar installations. Sunrun said National Grid’s $100m investment highlighted the attractiveness of the residential solar sector and “emphasises the various sources of capital Sunrun can leverage to support continued growth”, including through its BrightBox solar-plus-energy-storage systems.
Business Green 11th Jan 2017 read more »
Renewables – tidal
Plans for a £1.3bn tidal lagoon in Swansea Bay could take a significant step forward if the scheme is backed by a final report on Thursday. Charles Hendry will publish his report into the viability of the renewable energy technology later. There are already hopes of developing a network of even larger lagoons around the UK coast. The UK government still needs to agree on a deal and a marine licence would also need to be approved. Former UK energy minister Mr Hendry has been gathering evidence for nearly a year for his independent inquiry, including visits to all the potential sites and discussions with industry. Speaking ahead of the report, Mr Hendry said he believed the tidal lagoon industry was affordable. “If you look at the cost spread out over the entire lifetime – 120 years for the project – it comes out at about 30p per household for the next 30 years. That’s l ess than a pint of milk,” he told BBC News.
BBC 12th Jan 2017 read more »
Atlantis Resources is launching a division to develop large-scale renewable power projects outside its specialist area of tidal energy. The company said that it was responding to investor demand and was conducting due diligence on schemes in the UK. Atlantis Energy, as the division will be known, plans to cover offshore wind, subsea interconnectors, tidal barrage, tidal lagoons and pumped storage. Tim Cornelius, chief executive, confirmed that new jobs would be created at the AIM-quoted group’s Edinburgh headquarters. He said: “We will be using internal resources and bringing on somewhere between five and fifteen heads. It will be a function of how many projects we take on.” He added that utilities, pension funds and infrastructure investors had approached Atlantis about managing projects for them. The group is best known for its MeyGen tidal power project. The largest tidal stream project in the world, backed by public and private money, it recently began generating its first electricity in the Pentland Firth, off the north coast of Scotland. A partnership with Equitix, the infrastructure fund, was struck last year to allow it to acquire at least 25 per cent of Atlantis’s tidal schemes around Scotland when they reach financial closure.
Times 12th Jan 2017 read more »
The National 12th Jan 2017 read more »
Green Investment Bank
The Green Investment Bank sell-off should be paused to ensure its environmental credentials are not damaged by the privatisation, MPs have urged. Politicians from both sides of the House urged Theresa May’s government to rethink the sale of the GIB, which has invested Â£2.7bn in projects including street lights and windfarms since its creation as a public sector body in 2012. The Australian bank Macquarie was chosen as the preferred bidder in October, leading some politicians to call for tighter restrictions on how the new owner can change the lender’s focus. Reports at the weekend said Macquarie was considering selling on some of the GIB’s assets. Energy minister Nick Hurd defended the sale, arguing that the bank will be required to honour its green purpose after privatisation. “We want this to go into th e private sector to do more of what it is doing, unfettered by the inevitable restrictions that the state has to put on it at this stage,” he said. Caroline Lucas, the Green MP who raised the issue in Parliament, described Macquarie as a “profiteer asset-stripper” and claimed it was the wrong time to sell the bank, given the government’s plans to increase support for British industry. Ed Miliband, the former Labour leader, said there is “cross-party concern” about the sale process. “They promised a new approach to industrial strategy. What has changed since they took over? Because if there’s a moment to prove their commitment to this new strategy, it’s this, around their plans for the GIB,” he said.
Telegraph 11th Jan 2017 read more »
Guardian 11th Jan 2017 read more »
Scotsman 12th Jan 2017 read more »