The Institute of Directors (IoD) has backed Theresa May’s decision to review the £18.5bn Hinkley nuclear scheme but launched a savage attack on successive government policies for failing to deliver energy security. The traditionally conservative employers group also released an opinion poll showing three-quarters of its members supported action to counter climate change with strong backing for solar, wind, and even tidal power. Only 9% of the 1,000 bosses “strongly agreed” that the proposed new reactors at Hinkley Point C would make Britain more economically competitive. Less than a fifth strongly believed Hinkley would make the UK more strategically secure although a different poll taken 12 months ago showed a huge majority in general favour of new nuclear power stations being constructed.
Guardian 19th Aug 2016 read more »
Successive British governments have failed to deliver secure or affordable energy supplies, dealing a blow to the nation’s competitiveness, business leaders warn. A survey of nearly 1,000 bosses by the Institute of Directors published today found that 70 per cent believed consecutive Labour, coalition and Conservative administrations since 2002 failed to make energy available at reasonable cost. Dan Lewis, senior infrastructure policy adviser at the institute, said: “Since the early 2000s, government of all stripes have focused on increasing use of renewable energy in order to reduce carbon emissions,” he added. “Cutting CO2 is overwhelmingly supported by business, but politicians have underplayed the other two crucial aims of energy policy: delivering secure and affordable power. Following the creation of the new business and energy department, now is the ideal moment for the government to reconsider the direction of travel.”
Times 19th Aug 2016 read more »
Unemployment has risen in the south west by 6,000 in the past three months according to the latest Labour Market Statistics released by the Office for National Statistics. And the number of jobless people is up by 10,000 on the same period in 2015. Despite the increase in claimants the government says there are 18,000 more people in work than the same period last year and 30,000 fewer people classed as “economically inactive”. Jobcentres across Somerset are gearing up for the final decision in Hinkley Point C Nuclear Power Station, which if approved will bring thousands of jobs to the county and could result in rising wages as the project needs to attract the best workers to the county’s biggest ever infrastructure project.
Somerset Live 17th Aug 2016 read more »
EDF Energy has announced contracts worth £240m for its planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, despite uncertainty over whether the project will go ahead. The contracts cover areas including workforce accommodation, catering, transport, office supplies, maintenance and utilities.
CIPS 18th Aug 2016 read more »
Ben Bradshaw MP: Should the Government pull the plug on Hinkley C? Theresa May has paused the scheme while she “reviews” it. The Financial Times called for its scrapping months ago and now the Economist has joined it. When Britain’s two main business and economy publications are saying this, policy makers should sit up and listen. Their main argument is that with renewable energy costs plummeting and technology advancing at an enormous pace, the huge cost of Hinkley and the very high guaranteed price that will be paid for its energy under the proposed contract, make it an over-expensive white elephant before it’s even built. This is one of Mrs May’s trickier immediate dilemmas to ponder as she walks up and down those Swiss peaks.
Exeter Express & Echo 17th Aug 2016 read more »
David Lowry: THE first nuclear power plant on the Hinkley Point site in Somerset was built in the 1960s. At the time, the United States, was intimately involved in the planning. Why was this? The first public hint is to be found in a statement by the Ministry of Defence on June 17 1958 on “the production of plutonium suitable for weapons in the new [nuclear] power stations programme as an insurance against future defence needs” in Britain’s first-generation magnox reactor. Labour’s Roy Mason asked why the government had “decided to modify atomic power stations, primarily planned for peaceful purposes, to produce high-grade plutonium for war weapons” and “to what extent this will interfere with the atomic power programme?” He was informed by paymaster general Reginald Maudling: “At the request of the government, the Central Electricity Generating Board has agreed to a small modification in the design of Hinkley Point and of the next two stations in its programme so as to enable plutonium suitable for military purposes to be extracted should the need arise. “The modifications will not in any way impair the efficiency of the stations. As the initial capital cost and any additional operating costs that may be incurred will be borne by the government, the price of electricity will not be affected. “The government made this request in order to provide the country, at comparatively small cost, with a most valuable insurance against possible future defence requirements. The cost of providing such insurance by any other means would be extremely heavy.”
Morning Star 17th Aug 2016 read more »
Once considered a vital part of Britain’s clean-energy future, the beleaguered Hinkley Point nuclear plant project looked further than ever from becoming reality this week as a row erupted between the three countries developing the massive facility: the United Kingdom, France, and China. Allen Ho, a naturalized American citizen, was charged in April with “conspiracy to unlawfully engage and participate in the production and development of special nuclear material outside the United States, without the required authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy.” Ho’s alleged corporate espionage on behalf of China General Nuclear has given rise to dark fears of a Chinese “back door” into the operations of the U.K. grid. Security concerns were reportedly the reason behind new prime minister Theresa May’s decision last month to freeze the Hinkley Point project until a review of the deal is completed. A May aide wrote an op-ed warning that foreign owners of British nuclear facilities could “build weaknesses into computer systems that will allow them to shut down Britain’s energy production at will.” Beyond conspiracy theories and diplomatic wrangling, the real problem with Hinkley Point is that it just doesn’t make sense, economically or technologically. The era of gigantic, centralized power plants is receding as distributed wind and solar arrays, smaller reactors, and energy storage all become cheaper and more widely available. “In a world moving towards cheaper, flexible, decentralized power systems, investing in eye-wateringly expensive, always-on ‘base-load’ plants increasingly looks like a 20th Century solution for a 21st Century problem,” wrote Richard Black, director of the London-based Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit. The influential newsmagazine The Economist also this week called for a halt to Hinkley Point. “Regardless of security worries about China, which are probably overblown, the Hinkley plan looks extraordinarily bad value for money … Britain should pull out of the deal.”
MIT Technology Review 15th Aug 2016 read more »
A range of mini-nuclear power plants could help solve Britain’s looming power crunch, rather than the $24 billion Hinkley project snarled up in delays, companies developing the technology say. So-called small modular reactors (SMRs) use existing or new nuclear technology scaled down to a fraction of the size of larger plants and would be able to produce around a tenth of the electricity created by large-scale projects, such as Hinkley. The mini plants, still under development, would be made in factories, with parts small enough to be transported on trucks and barges to sites where they could be assembled in around six to 12 months, up to a tenth of the time it takes to build some larger plants. NuScale, majority owned by U.S. Fluor Corp, is developing 50 megawatt (MW) SMRs using PWRs which could be deployed at a site hosting up to 12 units generating a total of 600 MW. The 50 MW units would be 65 feet (20 meters) tall, roughly the length of two busses, and nine feet in diameter. Rolls-Royce, which already makes components for PWR nuclear submarines, is part of a consortium developing a 220 MW SMR unit which could be doubled for a larger-scale project. Rolls-Royce Chief Scientific Officer Paul Stein said the first 440 MW power plant would cost around 1.75 billion pounds ($2.3 billion) but costs would likely fall once production is ramped up.
Reuters 18th Aug 2016 read more »
Britain would be foolish to turn its back on the “golden era” of relations with China, Beijing’s official news agency has claimed, dismissing concerns over Chinese involvement in the Hinkley Point nuclear project as “China-phobia”. Since becoming Prime Minister last month Theresa May has stepped back from David Cameron and George Osborne’s energetic and controversial courtship of China, infuriating Beijing by postponing a final decision on the approval of the proposed £18bn ($23.5bn) nuclear power station. In a letter to Chinese president Xi Jinping this week, May said she looked forward to “strengthening cooperation with China on trade and business and on global issues” and confirmed she would attend the G20 summit being hosted by the Chinese city of Hangzhou on 4-5 September. A Downing Street source told the Guardian the letter was intended to reassure Beijing “of our commitment to Anglo-Chinese relations”. However, May and her advisers are believed to have misgivings about the closeness to Beijing that developed under her Conservative party predecessor. “After divorcing the EU, Britain would be foolish to decline stronger trade ties with China, whose markets remain home to tremendous business opportunities,” argued the article, which was penned by journalist Zhu Junqing. “The worries over the plant are as groundless as they are unnecessary,” the article added, claiming it would be “commercially suicidal” for China to use the project to damage Britain’s national security. “London’s misgivings over Chinese involvement in its key infrastructure is yet another stroke of China-phobia,” Xinhua claimed.
Guardian 19th Aug 2016 read more »
The UK’s ambitious plans to build six nuclear plants has raised concerns that it is losing control over critical infrastructure. Wylfa, on the island of Anglesey, is one of several sites designated for the plants, which could cost up to £100bn and, if all goes to plan, will replace the UK’s ageing coal power stations. But despite the billions of pounds about to be poured into nuclear energy in Britain, only some is likely to stay in the UK. Of the six plants being planned, none will be owned by a British company. The lack of British participation in such a massive domestic programme has drawn opposition. Critics say the project represents yet another example of the country’s propensity to allow foreign companies and governments to profit from the UK’s most sensitive — and lucrative —infrastructure projects.
FT 18th Aug 2016 read more »
A COALITION of councils has formed to fight controversial plans for a network of pylons across the Cumbrian countryside. The “Coordination Group” consists of 12 parish councils – including Seascale, Drigg and Carleton, Bootle, Blawith and Subberthwaite, Gosforth and Ponsonby, Kirkby – Ireleth, Muncaster, Millom town council, Millom Without, Ulpha, Waberthwaite and Whicham. David Savage, chairman of Millom Without Parish Council, which is part of the Coordination Group, said: “This is quite unusual really, because parish councils don’t normally join together like this. “We are usually looking out for our individual parishes. But, we have done this to put more strengthen our position because National Grid seem to think it’s ok to ignore parish councils. “We feel that together we will be a much stronger voice to National Grid and we have sent a letter requesting that they sit down with us and discuss how they are going to engage with us.” The scheme to get power from the proposed new nuclear power plant at Moorside, near Sellafield, has proven controversial, with fears about how it would impact on the county’s countryside.
Whitehaven News 17th Aug 2016 read more »
Cumbria Trust is now appealing to its supporters to join it in backing Emeritus Professor David Smythe in his legal action against Glasgow University (GU) to restore his right of access to the scientific database. This access was halted in January 2016 within days of Professor Smythe publishing a discussion paper which was critical of UK fracking operations. Most academic institutions including GU are under significant financial pressure and many are seeking out commercial partnerships as a source of funding. However this desire for funding must not be allowed to obstruct or control scientific debate. By seeking to silence Professor Smythe rather than attempting to rebut his arguments, GU appear to be allowing commercial interests to take precedence over scientific debate, and that cannot go unchallenged. Cumbria Trust is contributing £1,000 towards the costs of bringing this legal action, we would encourage our members and supporters to join us in supporting this crowdfunded action as well. You may make a donation HERE
Cumbria Trust 18th Aug 2016 read more »
Urenco is to supply uranium enrichment to Ukraine under a contract signed today by the country’s national nuclear company Energoatom and the enrichment firm owned by Germany, the Netherlands and the UK.
World Nuclear News 18th Aug 2016 read more »
Traveling in the US by boat and train visiting solar laboratories and environmental groups, Keith Barnham found many successful community initiatives in renewable electricity, and brings news of progress towards the ultimate renewable challenge: a solar fuel that could eventually replace gasoline in cars, trucks, buses, trains and aircraft. I am currently on a rail journey across the USA visiting laboratories researching the artificial leaf. My principal aim is to develop a replacement for gasoline from atmospheric carbon dioxide and sunlight. And here’s the good news: the ultimate in people power – the generation of solar fuel on domestic rooftops – appears to be closer than seemed possible in 2014 when I wrote The Burning Answer.The UK could have had an all-renewable electricity supply before 2025, the earliest date that Hinkley Point’s first nuclear reactor could operate. New nuclear would have been redundant before it started. The draconian cuts will postpone this date but it still is achievable before both the planned reactors achieve full power.In the UK around 25% – 50% of a typical renewably aware audience raise their hands. There clearly is still potential to expand GIFTS support. I encourage the revolutionaries that have already switched to persuade friends, schools, workplaces and local authorities to join them. City councils should be encouraging residents and businesses to switch to help achieve their all-renewable electricity target more quickly.
Ecologist 21st July 2016 read more »
Renewables – Small wind
Small Wind turbine manufacturer Orenda Energy – which has locations in Ontario, Canada and Livingston, Scotland – is seeking to raise $25million through a series of US investment banks to build its own distributed wind farm across the UK. Orenda is currently finalising the project financing which will see 100 of its own manufactured SKYE 49kW small wind turbines installed across the UK from Cornwall to the Scottish Highlands to create a 4.9 MW (megawatt) distributed wind farm. Orenda claims it has already identified over 100 pre-qualified UK sites stretching across the UK from Cornwall, Wales, Lancashire and throughout Scotland, stretching up to the Western Isles.
Scottish Energy News 19th Aug 2016 read more »
Renewables – AD
A new anaerobic digestion (AD) plant in Nottinghamshire has received more than £13m funding from clean energy investors to supply 16,300MWh per year of renewable electricity and heat to local businesses. Construction is underway for the 2.2MW Stud Farm facility in Rufford which will use agricultural feedstock from adjacent farms to fuel a combined heat and power (CHP) plant, with any surplus electricity set to be supplied to the UK grid.
Edie 18th Aug 2016 read more »
An arms-length organisation was agreed to be set up at Aberdeen City Council’s Full Council which would manage all of its energy-related activity. Councillors agreed after a vote the recommendations that an interim informal Working Group led by a project manager will be set up and will take forward the development of a detailed business plan. The Working Group would include relevant internal energy experts, elected members including two from the administrating and one from opposition, and representatives from ACC’s legal and finance services. The Energy Services Company (ESCo) would be an arms-length external organisation (ALEO) wholly owned by the Council to manage all energy related activity undertaken by ACC with the option to expand and develop energy related services over time.
Aberdeen City Council 17th Aug 2016 read more »
The council said the company could potentially be involved in the generation, transmission, distribution and supply of energy, as well as supporting services such as energy efficiency, energy savings, renewable energy and emissions reductions. However, whether the company will be a public sector organisation, private sector organisation or a joint venture between two or more organisations has yet to be decided. The new council is also yet to confirm whether the venture will operate on a for profit or on a not for profit basis. Costs of preparing the business plan – which will include a proposed structure for the company, as well as staff, funding and resource requirements – are expected to be in the region of £30,000-£45,000, the council said. The plans for an energy firm follow the unveiling of Aberdeen’s sustainable energy action plan, which was approved by the council in May with the aim of reducing carbon emissions across the city by 31 per cent by 2020 and 50 per cent by 2030 against a 2005 baseline. Initiatives included in the plan include the development of an energy from waste combined heat and power plant at Tullos, as well as an anaerobic digestion facility and energy centre that are being developed as part of Aberdeen’s plans for a new conference centre.
Business Green 19th August 2016 read more »
As demand response continues to gain traction among sustainability professionals and energy managers alike, edie rounds up some of the biggest and best projects across the UK that are demonstrating the vast economic and environmental potential that this burgeoning technology has to offer. As the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) recently reported, the UK loses £9.5bn worth of electricity due to wastage, inefficiency and transmission costs before the energy even reaches end-users. Demand response, which remotely controls electricity use, is a cost-effective solution to this issue; cutting unnecessary energy consumption, utilising idle distributed generation capacity, and connecting decentralised energy storage systems to the grid.
Edie 18th Aug 2016 read more »
The SNP is calling on the UK Government to invest in storing energy from renewable sources after 106% of Scotland’s electricity needs were generated by wind in a single day. The call follows Weather Energy data endorsed by WWF Scotland which reported turbines provided 39,545 megawatt-hours of electricity to the National Grid last Sunday. Renewable-energy storage facilities would overcome the fundamental ‘design flaw’ of wind power turbines, which only work when the wind blows at just the right ‘Goldilocks’ speed: too little wind means no power, whilst too much wind means they have to shut down to protect them from damage or are paid to shut down by the Grid for over-producing – which still means no electricity.
Scottish Energy News 19th Aug 2016 read more »