One of Britain’s potential Chinese partners in an £18 billion project to build a nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset is developing floating reactors to help to colonise disputed islands in the South China Sea. China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), a state-owned company with close links to the Chinese military, is working on the design to construct as many as 20 marine reactors, which could be used to provide fresh water and electricity for civilian and military installations on the disputed Spratly Islands, which are claimed by China and other countries including Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. CNNC is developing the reactor technology “to support China’s effective control in the South China Sea,” according to the Global Times, a state-run Chinese newspaper. The Global Times claimed that the “marine nuclear power platforms will be used” in the islands and reefs of the Spratly chain in the contested sea “to ensure fresh water”.
Times 15th Aug 2016 read more »
A get-out clause could let Prime Minister Theresa May withdraw crucial funding for the controversial Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project if she chose to use it. May recently kicked backed the government’s decision on the £18bn project — reportedly due to security concerns regarding Chinese investment. There are fears that its complete abandonment would spark a diplomatic row.
City AM 14th Aug 2016 read more »
Letter Barry Jones Emeritus Professor of Politics and International Relations, University: The reports on security concerns about Chinese involvement in any new nuclear power stations in the UK are timely. Chinese motives remain opaque and anxieties about the impossibility of guaranteeing that computer-based operating systems in nuclear power stations cannot be compromised are wholly appropriate. The possible Chinese construction and operation of a new nuclear power station at Bradwell, in Essex, merely reinforces such concerns. Bradwell is one of the more unsuitable locations for a new nuclear power station, according to the government’s own sustainability studies, and is only 50 miles from central London. It is only on the list of potential sites because EDF Energy needs to offload the Bradwell site as a condition of building a new power station at Sizewell in Suffolk. The shortcomings of Bradwell as a new nuclear site were overridden by simple assertions of the “overriding importance of new nuclear power stations” for the UK; a non-sequitur that is being rendered increasingly redundant by the steady progress of lower-cost renewable electricity generation and rapid advances in storage capacity.
Times 15th Aug 2016 read more »
The crown estate has waded into the battle over Hinkley Point, pointing out that offshore windfarms are already being built at cheaper prices than the proposed atomic reactors for Somerset. While not arguing the £18.5bn nuclear project should be scrapped, the organisation – still legally owned by the Queen – said that the government’s current Hinkley review makes it a good time to consider the advantages of other low carbon technologies. The crown estate said that windfarms at sea will be on course to meet 10% of the country’s electricity by 2020 while Hinkley Point C is not expected to be constructed till the mid 2020s, to produce 7%. “The [wind] sector has undergone a sea change over the last few years, driven by rapid advances in technology, cost and the industry’s ability to deliver on time and to budget,” said Huub den Rooijen, the director of energy, minerals and infrastructure at the crown estate. “In the Netherlands, there has been an even bigger step change. In the busy time around the EU referendum, many people will have missed the publication of their most recent offshore wind tender. “Although there are differences in terms of regulation, most would agree that the Dutch are now going to be paying the equivalent of about £80/MWh for their 700 megawatt windfarm. That is significantly lower than Hinkley Point at £92.50/MWh.”
Guardian 14th Aug 2016 read more »
Huub den Rooijen Director of energy, minerals and infrastructure at Crown Estate. With the government re-examining the case for new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point, it’s a good time to reflect on recent breakthroughs in another low carbon technology: offshore wind. Offshore wind is already meeting about 5% of the UK’s electricity demand, more than any other country globally, and is on course to meet 10% by 2020. The sector has undergone a sea change over the last few years, driven by rapid advances in technology, cost, and industry’s ability to deliver on time and to budget. In fact, over the last three years, construction costs have come down by more than 40% in the UK alone. And by 2025, industry and government expect UK prices to be comparable with new gas generation at about £85 per megawatt hour (MWh).
Guardian 14th July 2016 read more »
Letter Norman Kilpatrick: David Bloomfield (letter, Aug 13) is absolutely right. Britain needs a reliable supply of energy, under its own control, preferably without carbon dioxide production or radioactive waste generation, produced day and night, all year round. There is a massive supply of almost untapped energy around our coasts; billions of tonnes of seawater are moved to and fro twice daily in tidal flows. These flows are reliable and predictable (unlike wind) and though tide will be slack four times daily in one area, flow will be strong in other areas at these times. Unlike solar, there would be a constant supply of tidal energy and, unlike fossil fuel, it would not, once established, produce any carbon dioxide, nor would it run out within a century or two. This country could design and build a variety of tidal turbines producing energy before a brick has been laid at Hinkley Point. An incentive c ould be a money prize for the university department designing the most cost-effective tidal turbine. British steel would be vital for the project, and the ship-building and heavy engineering skills and equipment in Portsmouth and elsewhere could again be used.
Times 15th Aug 2016 read more »
Letter Cdr John Mcgregor, RN (ret’d): When in 1995 the British pressurised water reactor came online at Sizewell B, I presumed that a number of British power stations would be built. Ins tead, both Conservative and Labour governments have ducked the issue for 30 years, swayed by fears from the anti-nuclear lobby over nuclear waste, which we have been coping with for 60 years, and ministers thinking renewables were the answer. We are now left in the ridiculous situation of having a French-designed reactor, not yet built and financed in part by China. Theresa May is right to demand a pause before making any decision to include China in Hinkley Point. We would be far better off building about 20 power stations powered by small nuclear pressurised water reactors which Rolls-Royce currently makes for the Trident programme.
Times 15th Aug 2016 read more »
Even if the lights stay on, we still have another problem. How do we keep ourselves warm and fed? In a recent survey carried out by the Natural Gas Coalition, 70 per cent of people said that they felt heating and cooking were the most important aspects of energy in their daily lives. That’s why we need gas. The UK’s maximum demand for electrical power can approach 60 gigawatts at around 6pm on a really cold winter’s day. But at exactly the same moment, 22m homes (84 per cent of us) are using gas central heating while 63 per cent of us cook our dinner using gas. This requires over 300 gigawatts of gas-derived power – five times what is needed to keep the lights on. I’ve yet to see an answer as to how we could meet the challenge of providing this amount of power without using gas. Even if the UK were to install enough electrical generation capacity to heat all our homes and cook our dinners, we would then face two more problems. First, every household with gas central heating would have to rip out their boiler and radiators and install a completely new system – ground source heat pumps (driven by electricity) with under-floor heating or electric heaters – as it’s not possible simply to replace our gas boilers with an electrically powered equivalent. This would be extremely expensive for each individual consumer. Second, the National Grid would require significant investment to strengthen it in order to carry the much higher currents to communities for heating – with the prospect of digging up thousands of miles of roads to replace underground cables up and down the country.
City AM 15th Aug 2016 read more »
Have American scientists developed the most dangerous nuclear weapon ever produced?
Express 15th Aug 2016 read more »
Renewables jump 70 per cent in shift away from fossil fuels.
FT 14th Aug 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
Britain’s vast national gamble on wind power may yet pay off. Wind power has few friends on the political Right. No other industry elicits such protest from the conservative press, Tory backbenchers, and free market economists. The vehemence is odd since wind generates home-made energy and could be considered a ‘patriotic choice’. It dates back to the 1990s and early 2000s when the national wind venture seemed a bottomless pit for taxpayer subsidies. The UK is already world leader in offshore wind. The strategic choice now is whether to go for broke… My own view is that the gamble is worth taking. Pre-modern turbines captured trivial amounts of energy. The electrical control systems and gearboxes broke down. Repair costs were prohibitive. Yet as so often with infant industries, early mishaps tell us little. Costs are coming down faster than almost anybody thought possible. As the technology comes of age – akin to gains in US shale fracking – the calculus is starting to vindicate Britain’s vast investment in wind power. The UK is already world leader in offshore wind. The strategic choice now is whether to go for broke, tripling offshore capacity to 15 gigawatts (GW) by 2030. The decision is doubly-hard because there is no point dabbling in offshore wind. Scale is the crucial factor in slashing costs, so either we do it with conviction or we do not do it all. My own view is that the gamble is worth taking.This source used to be twice as expensive – with subsidies to match – but the gap is narrowing fast. Dong Energy has just signed an offshore deal in the Netherlands at less than £63 per megawatt hour (MWh), with sweetners from the Dutch state. “This reflects what the industry is now capable of delivering in general,” said Samuel Leupold, Dong’s executive vice-president. The Government’s next three offshore auctions will see a staggered fall in strike prices to a maximum of £85 per MWh by 2020, and they will arguably keep falling step by step thereafter until market forces prevail.
Telegraph 14th Aug 2016 read more »
Renewables – Scotland
As wind speeds hit 115 mph on the top of the Cairngorms on the first Sunday of August, Scotland’s windfarms produced more electricity than the country needed for the first time on record. The performance of Scotland’s onshore and offshore turbines, producing 106 per cent of the country’s total electricity needs, cemented its reputation as a renewable energy powerhouse and helped power the rest of the UK. While Scotland generated more energy than it needed most wasn’t used in the country. Many of its windfarms are plugged directly into a “transmission network” where the energy they produce is mixed with gas, coal, nuclear and other renewable power and carried all across England and Wales in high voltage power cables to local distribution networks which feed it into households and businesses. For its size Scotland is way ahead of the rest of Britain on renewable energy, which last year produced 57.4 per cent of the electricity it needs – about three-quarters of that coming from wind. But Britain as a whole is also powering ahead in the wind sector. Wind power, which produced just 1 per cent of the UK’s electricity only a decade ago, supplied a record 11 per cent of its power last year – and contributed 17 per cent in windy December.
The i Newspaper 14th Aug 2016 read more »
The UK has moved to fifth place in a 2016 survey of 23 countries’ energy efficiency efforts, rising from its joint sixth spot with Japan in the previous report in 2014. Scoring 65 out of 100 possible points, the UK trailed behind top-scorers Germany (73.5 points), Japan and Italy (both 68.5) and France (67.5), in the third edition of the International Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Published by non-profit organisation the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, the survey evaluates the world’s largest energy-consuming economies according to their energy efficiency policies and performance.
Scottish Energy News 15th Aug 2016 read more »