The GMB union today urged the UK Government to get on with building the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset. Prime Minister Theresa May halted the £18billion project at the 11th hour and ordered a review late last month, a move that was widely criticised by unions. The UK Government is thought to be concerned about rising costs and the prospect of giving China a large stake in vital UK infrastructure. A recent media report said the prime minister is examining the possibility of invoking a get-out clause to derail Hinkley permanently. But Justin Bowden, GMB national secretary for energy, said the government should stop stalling: “This report is disturbing for those concerned with keeping the lights on as more and more power stations are due to be decommissioned over the next few years. “The government must get on with building Hinkley Point C as the only carbon free show in town to keep the lights on during the one in six days when there is no wind or sun.”
Energy Voice 15th Aug 2016 read more »
British Prime Minister Theresa May has written to China’s president and premier seeking to enhance trade and cooperation, amid a dispute over London delaying a $24 billion nuclear project due to security concerns over Chinese financing. China has cautioned Britain against closing the door to Chinese money, warning relations are at a crucial juncture after May last month delayed signing off on the Hinkley Point nuclear project in Somerset, England. In a statement late on Monday, China’s foreign ministry cited a British envoy as telling Foreign Minister Wang Yi that Britain attached great importance to Sino-British cooperation. Alok Sharma, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, told Wang that May had written to President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang saying she looked forward to attending next month’s G20 summit in China. Britain “looks forward to strengthening cooperation with China on trade and business and on global issues”, China’s foreign ministry said, citing the letter.
Reuters 16th Aug 2016 read more »
Alternative to Hinkley
The decision by the UK’s Tory government to put a hold on approval for the world’s biggest single energy investment – the Hinkley C nuclear plant – may have less to do with concerns about the potential role of Chinese state companies and more to do with the realisation that new nuclear is a horrendously expensive boondoggle. The fact that the cost of wind and solar is falling and the cost of nuclear is moving in the opposite direction is of little surprise to anyone involved in the energy markets, even if the nuclear industry and its supporters wish it were not so. But it is news, apparently, to the Tories. Bridget Woodman from the University of Exeter wrote recently, accommodating Hinkley meant that the UK government had to essentially redesign the electricity market over the past few years in an effort to create a situation where investment in a new plant looked attractive. “Pretty much every major policy design has been geared towards creating a perfect environment for Hinkley Point C. That’s why it’s such a surprise to see the government has now stepped back – a bit – from the brink,” she wrote. And what the UK government was proposing to build was in sharp contrast to what is being recommended. The head of National Grid, for instance, had last year called for a complete rethink about the nature of energy systems. “The idea of baseload power is already outdated,” he told Energy Post. “I think you should look at this the other way around. From a consumer’s point of view, baseload is what I am producing myself. The solar on my rooftop, my heat pump – that’s the baseload. David Elmes, the head of Warwick Business School Global Energy Research Network, wrote in the UK edition of The Conversation that the UK had painted itself into a corner, and needed to get over the idea that megaprojects were the solution to everything. “Instead, it should think of a new mix between smaller and larger, be more joined up in considering consumption as well as supply and think more decentralised than central. That expands the industries, companies, institutions and government departments involved.”
Renew Economy 16th Aug 2016 read more »
Britain’s need for a coherent long-term energy strategy has been woefully neglected by governments of both left and right. One example is the furore over the plan for a new and hugely expensive nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. Another is provided by the latest official statistics on the sort of energy the UK uses and where it comes from. The good news is that Britain is consuming 17% less energy than it was in 1998, and more of what is used is coming from renewable sources. But don’t get too excited. Green energy has increased from 1% of the total to just 9%. The bad news is that the percentage of energy Britain now has to import has returned to the levels last seen in the early 1970s, before North Sea oil came on stream. In the late 1990s, the UK exported 20% more energy than it imported. Today its imports are only just below the average for the EU. All this makes depressing reading. From the start, it was clear that North Sea oil was a finite resource, but governments acted as if the black gold would never stop flowing. Britain could have used its once-in-a-lifetime windfall to set up a sovereign wealth fund to cope with the pressures of an ageing population. It could have recycled the booming tax revenues from the continental shelf to start building some new energy plant before the old power stations became obsolete. Theresa May appears none too keen on Chinese involvement in Hinkley Point and a final decision on the project is still pending. On the other hand, the prime minister wants the UK to have an industrial strategy. The way forward is obvious. Put energy policy at the heart of the new industrial policy. Technological advances mean the cost of renewables are coming down all the time, and they represent far better value for taxpayers’ money than Hinkley Point C.
Guardian 15th Aug 2016 read more »
The destruction of one of the highest hazards remaining in the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) estate has been completed at Dounreay. Around 68 tonnes of highly radioactive liquid metal coolant was removed from the Dounreay Fast Reactor (DFR) and safely destroyed over a ten year period. The liquid metal, a blend of sodium and potassium called NaK, was used to remove heat from the reactor’s nuclear fuel. Dounreay used a specially built plant and removal system to safely convert the NaK to hydrogen gas and salt water. Handling the material is a particularly complex technical challenge as it reacts vigorously when exposed to air or water, eventually catching fire. This meant that it had to be kept under a nitrogen gas blanket to prevent reactions.
DSRL 5th Aug 2016 read more »
The following excellent letter on the insanity of Moorside appears in this week’s Whitehaven News. It has been written by Ian Hawkes whose investigative work can be seen on the Toxic Coast website. “Regarding the two letters in last week’s edition, entitled “Singular Views”, especially the response from NuGen’s spokesperson, I would raise the following points: NuGen’s representatives seem not to know answers to some of the questions asked; appearing to make up responses which are disputed even by other members of their staff at the same event. How many individuals have taken part in the consultation? Do repeat visits count as new attendances? Even accepting at face value that “3,000 people have been given the opportunity to ask questions”, that still only equates to less than 0.6% of Cumbrians; restricting the catchment area to a combination of Allerdale and Copeland increases the figure to 1.8%, whilst reducing the catchment area to just Copeland gives a figure of 4.3%. These are hardly representative or significant numbers. More importantly, it does not provide the data for NuGen to claim that residents are in favour of the proposed development. One of the requirements for approval of major projects is local support, yet we read elsewhere that according to the local paper 85% are against nuclear expansion. Even in Keswick, a street poll suggested that 90% of those approached were against it.
Radiation Free Lakeland 15th August 2016 read more »
The ‘scandal’ about the transparency and cost of ‘cleaning up’ Britain’s 12 Magnox nuclear reactors needs to be investigated by business secretary Greg Clark, Unite, the country’s largest union, said today (Monday 15 August). The union has called on Mr Clark, the secretary of state for business, energy and industrial strategy to examine how the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) conducts its affairs, following a recent High Court case. The court ruled that the NDA had failed to treat all bidders the same when it awarded the 2014 contract to clean up the Magnox reactors to Cavendish Fluor Partnership (CFP). The successful High Court challenge came from failed bidder EnergySolutions which is now in line to receive damages running into tens of millions of pounds. Unite national officer for energy Kevin Coyne said: “Unite remains very concerned about the implications of this High Court decision. The court case revealed a can of worms and prompts the question: ‘What is going on?’ “It is clear that the NDA has a number of serious questions to answer about the lack of transparency in the awarding of the contract to CFP and in relation to the rapidly escalating costs of the ‘clean up’ contract, the bill for which will have to be picked up, ultimately, by the taxpayer.
Unite 15th Aug 2016 read more »
The proposed construction and operation of NuScale’s small modular reactor (SMR) near Idaho Falls will have a significant impact on the local economy, an economic impact analysis commissioned by the city’s mayor has found. Mayor Rebecca Casper commissioned the preliminary economic impact analysis through the Idaho Department of Labor to examine the potential economic impact of a project to build the first commercial NuScale SMR on a site at the US Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL). More in-depth economic impact studies will be conducted as the project progresses. According to the study, preliminary estimates indicate that the first phase – construction – of the project will cost $2.8 billion and directly support up to 1000 jobs, while creating or sustaining an additional 11,808 jobs in the local economy through indirect and induced economic activity. The operations phase would support 360 jobs annually, with indirect and induced economic activity creating or sustaining a further 1147 jobs.
World Nuclear News 15th Aug 2016 read more »
In 2015 dozens of peace organisations from across the globe signed the Peace & Planet call to action. They aimed to put pressure on delegates sent to New York to review the implementation of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) at the United Nations. The NPT, which aims to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, was originally signed in 1968 and is reviewed every five years. It also aims to foster the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of disarmament. Following on from the co-ordinated work carried out in 2015, Peace & Planet signatories gathered in Montreal last week at the World Social Forum. They proposed and adopted a new declaration. What follows is the inspiring Montreal Declaration which sets out how people across the world can work together to build a Nuclear-Fission-Free World.
CND 15th Aug 2016 read more »
Renewables – onshore wind
WINDFARM operators have been paid a record-breaking £3.1m – for turning off their turbines for a single day. They raked in the “constraint” payment as they had managed to produce more electricity than Scotland needed over a 24-hour period. Scotland’s turbines provided 39,545MWh of electricity to the National Grid, while its total electricity consumption by householders and industry was 37,202MWh. Highland-based industry watcher Stuart Young said: “I was disgusted how people were crowing about how much electricity had been generated by wind when customers are going to be hit so hard in their pockets. “The number of megawatt hours wasted – constrained off – was 46,150. That’s equivalent to what the whole of the UK consumes in an hour in winter. “When people realise what’s being done to them, to benefit a small number of wealthy people for no environmental benefit, they’re going to be very angry.” But World Wildlife Fund Scotland director Lang Banks called for improvements to the National Grid by increasing its storage capacity. He said: “Those concerned about payments to power firms to reduce their output should be supporting our calls to see improvements to the grid, stronger interconnectors and more energy storage capacity such as pumped hydro.”
Daily Express 15th Aug 2016 read more »
Campaigners against wind farms, and Conservative politicians, called for an overhaul of a system in which the taxpayer was hit by substantial costs when too much electricity is produced. Stuart Young, a Highland-based anti-wind farm campaigner, said: “I was disgusted how people were crowing about how much electricity had been generated by wind when customers are going to be hit so hard in their pockets. “The number of megawatt hours wasted – constrained off – was 46,150. That’s equivalent to what the whole of the UK consumes in an hour in winter. When people realise what’s being done to them, to benefit a small number of wealthy people for no environmental benefit, they’re going to be very angry.” The MSP Ross Thomson, for the Scottish Conservatives, said: “Customers who have subsidised the construction of wind farms across Scotland will be bemused to discover that they also have to pay out when it blows too hard.”These record payments only serve to highlight a system which now requires an urgent rethink.” A spokesman for the Scottish government said: “Constraint payments such as these demonstrate the urgent need for further investment in the electricity transmission network across Britain to ensure it can meet the needs of the 21st century.”
Times 16th August 2016 read more »
Herald 15th August 2016 read more »
Press and Journal 15th August 2016 read more »
Scotland’s first wind farm to be developed through a partnership between two charities has taken a big turn forward with the conclusion of its financing package and completion of turbine foundations. The Hoprigshiels wind farm project – comprising three x 2.5-MW Nordex wind turbines – is located in Berwickshire. Completion and commissioning is expected towards the end of this year. The two charities involved, Berwickshire Housing Association and Community Energy Scotland, are taking the project forward through a joint venture company, Berwickshire Community Renewables. The windfarm will supply electricity to the National Grid over a 25-year period and the revenues from the sale of power will help support the charities’ social purposes.
Scottish Energy News 16th August 2016 read more »
The share of electricity that the world’s 20 major economies are generating from the sun and the wind has jumped by more than 70 per cent in the space of five years, new figures show. In a sign of the shift away from fossil fuels that is starting to take hold in some regions, G20 countries collectively produced 8 per cent of their electricity from solar farms, wind parks and other green power stations in 2015, up from 4.6 per cent in 2010. Seven G20 members now generate more than 10 per cent of their electricity from these sources, compared with three in 2010.
FT 15th Aug 2016 read more »
A YouGov poll has revealed that only 33% of the 1,704 people surveyed would support shale gas exploration in their local area even if efforts were made to incentivise communities through payments. The Government’s recent plans to pay up to £10,000 for households affected by the practice has seemingly failed to capture the mood of the public, with today’s poll showing that 43% remain ‘strongly’ opposed to fracking. Commenting on the survey findings, Friends of the Earth senior political strategist Liz Hutchins said: “The Government are desperate to show support for shale gas exploration, and recent headlines that offered cash payments were meant to bolster, not diminish, support. Public backlash to the Government’s fracking proposals comes amid continued political and business opposition to another contentious energy project, the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant.
Edie 15th Aug 2016 read more »