The EU should stop “skewing” Europe’s energy market in favour of renewables and allow the UK to build a £14 billion nuclear reactor at Hinkley C, the deputy director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has told EurActiv. EU sources say that while the UK is yet to formally notify the Commission of its plans, “there has been a lot of contact.” “They know exactly what could fly and has a reasonable argumentation,” one EU official said on condition of anonymity. “These issues are very difficult, at national level as well.” EurActiv understands that capacity markets and ‘aid to generation’ are two areas which Brussels believes could potentially square the circle between the UK’s energy strategy and EU subsidy rules. Despite continental anti-nuclear trends since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011, the UK is determined to plough ahead with nuclear builds. With new capacity, “we can send out a powerful signal to overseas investors that we’re serious about a new nuclear renaissance, the decarbonisation of our electricity supply, and a huge creation of jobs in the engineering and construction supply chain,” Bentley said. “This is a massive prize.”
Euractiv 2nd July 2013 read more »
Obsolete before it’s even law, the energy bill has proved a dismal failure. Last week, Ofgem, the energy regulator, upstaged Mr Davey’s own set of announcements on subsidies for renewables by warning in stark terms that lack of progress on energy investment meant a real risk of power cuts from the middle of the decade onwards. National Grid piled on the embarrassment by further raising the prospect of blackouts and short-time factory working. Why the paralysis? The competing demands of climate change commitments, which preclude all but the most expensive solutions, and the Treasury, which obviously wants to keep the costs as low as possible, are a large part of the explanation. Into this mix, inconveniently, steps the shale gas revolution. With nuclear, where on top of a yet to be agreed minimum “strike price”, the Government is also offering to underwrite the financing costs of new nuclear build. It’s virtually impossible to get private investors to assume the risk of new nuclear. With the Treasury determined to maintain the charade of privately-funded development, it’s too late now. The result is the worst of both worlds – high, privately levied prices, but with the taxpayer still on the hook if things go wrong. On multiple fronts, the energy bill is proving a dismal failure. The problem arises because the private sector is being asked to finance not a market opportunity but a politically determined goal – decarbonised electricity supply. The consequent tensions are proving impossible to reconcile.
Telegraph 1st July 2013 read more »
The absence of a permanent solution for high-level waste is one of the biggest challenges facing the industry as it tries to recover from the deadly disaster at Japan’s Fukushima plant in 2011. “New nuclear should not go ahead until we have sorted out the waste problem,” says Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace, adding that the environmental organisation is “concerned about a new round of spent fuel set to be created”. Supporters insist that using the waste issue as an argument against building reactors is wrong-headed and that new plants and their waste will be different. Today, apart from Finland and Sweden, most countries have not agreed on a site for their high-level waste. In the US, the issue has stalled after President Barack Obama withdrew support for a facility in the Yucca Mountains in Nevada. Britain, too, has gone back to the drawing board after Cumbria voted against storing the waste this year. France, meanwhile, which derives 75 per cent of its electricity from nuclear energy, is seeking to store its waste underground near Bure, a remote area in the east of the country. Public debates have had to be postponed because of local opposition.
FT 1st July 2013 read more »
Letter David Lowry: Your reports on the Government’s panglossian support for fracking rightly explore the concerns of residents living in areas ripe for fracking exploitation. One aspect of fracking that has received no press coverage is the prospective human health hazard to gas consumers of using fracked shale gas. Heath minister Anna Soubry told Labour MP Paul Flynn in a written answer in May that Public Health England (formerly the Health Protection Agency) “is preparing a report identifying potential public health issues and concerns, including radon (release/emissions) that might be associated with aspects of hydraulic fracturing, also referred to as fracking. The report is due out for public consultation in the summer”.
Independent 30th June 2013 read more »
More action is needed to stop militants acquiring plutonium or highly-enriched uranium that could be used for atomic bombs, nuclear experts and government officials said on Monday.Speaking at a meeting in Vienna, Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), warned against a “false sense of security” over the danger of nuclear terrorism.
Reuters 1st July 2013 read more »
Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant, whose 2011 meltdowns dislocated 160,000 people, may provide a new blueprint for terrorists seeking to inflict mass disruption, security analysts said at a United Nations meeting.
Bloomberg 1st July 2013 read more »
Tony Juniper: This dash for shale gas should be plan Z not plan A.
Independent 28th June 2013 read more »
Luciana Berger: What is even more alarming than what Tory ministers are saying, is what David Cameron is not saying. At a time when world leaders such as Obama and President Hollande of France are speaking up about why we desperately need to seize this moment, our Prime Minister has apparently lost his voice when it comes to talking about climate change.It shows what a complete folly it was for the Government to ignore the Committee for Climate Change’s recommendation to set a decarbonisation target in the Energy Bill currently progressing through Parliament. Pledging to clean up our power supply by 2030 would provide a shot in the arm for our flat-lining economy and give the certainty to investors which they are crying out for.
New Statesman 28th June 2013 read more »
The Welsh economy minister has insisted that Hitachi is ‘positive’ about its proposed new nuclear plant in Wales despite continuing uncertainty over the sector in the UK.
Construction News 1st July 2013 read more »
As the British and American governments signal their renewed commitments to nuclear power as a clean, abundant source of energy that can fuel high growth economies, a new scientific study of worldwide uranium production warns of an imminent supply gap that will result in spiralling fuel costs in the next decades. The study, based on an analysis of global deposit depletion profiles from past and present uranium mining, forecasts a global uranium mining peak of approximately 58 kilotonnes (kton) by 2015, declining gradually to 54 ktons by 2025, after which production would drop more steeply to at most 41 ktons around 2030.
Guardian 2nd July 2013 read more »
Thor Energy, a small nuclear energy company based in Norway, has begun testing the potential of thorium as a replacement for uranium in nuclear reactors. Enthusiasts in the nuclear industry have been promoting thorium as a safer, more efficient alternative to uranium, but many industry traditionalists have downplayed these claims.
Oil Price 1st July 2013 read more »
The US Government has announced funding worth $3.5 million (£2.3m) for four advanced nuclear reactor projects in the country. Led by GE Hitachi, General Atomics, Gen4 Energy and Westinghouse, the projects will address key technical challenges to designing, building and operating the “next generation” of nuclear reactors.
Energy Live 1st July 2013 read more »
Energy companies claimed yesterday that many household electricity bills would fall in future, not rise, even though consumers will be footing the £29 billion bill for upgrading the nation’s power supplies for decades to come. In the biggest overhaul of the electricity network in half a century, distribution network operators unveiled their eight-year plans to replace ageing cables, substations and power lines. But under Ofgem’s new regulatory regime, households will spend 45 years paying off the costs via levies on their bills, rather than 20 years under the existing system, allowing companies to spread the pain over a longer period. Under the Government’s plans to reduce carbon emissions, electricity demand will surge in the coming decades as gas and oil are phased out. Households are expected to switch from gas central heating to electricity-powered boilers and from conventionally fuelled cars to electric ones.
Times 2nd July 2013 read more »
The ruling Liberal Democratic Party was the sole opponent of abolishing nuclear power in a policy debate involving the secretaries-general of nine major political parties Saturday. While the representatives of the eight other parties backed ridding Japan of atomic energy generation, LDP Secretary-General Shigeru Ishiba said lawmakers should not mislead the public by calling for a zero-nuclear option. Ishiba said the LDP will aim to reduce the nation’s dependence on atomic energy but underscored his party’s plans to push for a restart of idled reactors once they are deemed safe.
Japan Times 1st July 2013 read more »
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), one of California’s major electric utilities, shut down its 1,122 MW Unit #1 at its Diablo Canyon nuclear plant last week just as the state prepared for a serious heat wave. The news sent power prices higher on the wholesale exchange and required the state to burn more fossil fuels in thermal generation to make up for the lost power. There are two units at the site, the second unit remained in service. The plant’s outage couldn’t have come at a worse time both for the state and for PG&E. California’s is besieged with a severe heat wave, pushing up demand for air conditioning. Meanwhile the utility is asking for a controversial extension of its operating license for both nuclear units. The plant may well be off an entire week, returning to service after the heat wave breaks.
Renew Economy 2nd July 2013 read more »
Things are changing rapidly on California’s electric grid. And they point the way to the future. In early June 2013 SCE announced that it would permanently shutter 2.25 GW of operating capacity at the remaining two reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in San Diego. And late last week, PG&E shut down the 1.12 GW unit 1 at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant for repair work – directly preceding a heat wave in the Western US. Which means that California is running on the 1.12 GW unit 2 at Diablo Canyon as its sole nuclear reactor. Solar is even less flexible than nuclear power. But the difference is that solar produces power during the day when it is sunny. Which is when we tend to need it the most, especially in places that are highly dependent upon air conditioning. Solar is the perfect solution to meet peak demand due to heat waves.
Energy Media Society 2nd July 2013 read more »
Four US Senators have introduced a new legislation which intends to create a long-term plan for managing the inventory of spent nuclear fuel in the country. Senators Dianne Feinstein from California, Lamar Alexander from Tennessee, Ron Wyden from Oregon and Lisa Murkowski from Alaska have introduced the bill. The American Nuclear Society (ANS) said it commends the senators for their revision of legislation and for their interest to engage the scientific and technical community in its development. The proposed bill aims to create a new, independent nuclear waste administration with a five-member board to oversee it. ANS said it believes that an independent entity is necessary to ensure effective management of the nuclear fuel cycle.
Energy Business Review 1st July 2013 read more »
China is at the centre of the nuclear energy expansion in Asia, Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said. According to the chief of the UN nuclear watchdog, there are currently 434 nuclear power reactors in operation across the world and 69 under construction, with two thirds of these new units in Asia.
RTCC 1st July 2013 read more »
A Government review into the UK’s nuclear deterrent options will show alternatives other than a like-for-like replacement of Trident exist, Danny Alexander has said.
Herald 30th June 2013 read more »
Cutting the number of nuclear submarines will prevent Britain keeping one at sea, which is essential to deterring aggressors.
Guardian 1st July 2013 read more »
The UK is not on track to meet its 2020 European renewables targets, according to the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC). Published in the annual update of the EREC’s “Keep on Track” project, the findings rank the UK as 25th out of 27 member states for renewables contribution. In addition, preliminary figures from the Renewable Energy Association (REA), show that the UK is the only member state in the project which did not achieve its first interim target under the directive by the end of 2011 (4.04% for 2011 to 2012).
Guardian 1st July 2013 read more »
Scottish ministers could be “deluding” the public with the argument that wind turbines reduce carbon emissions, according to a Scottish conservation charity – which dismisses figures from National Grid and the Department for Energy and Climate Change showing they do. Some critics of wind have said it doesn’t reduce emissions because it requires fossil fuel plant as backup – for when the wind isn’t blowing. Professor Gordon Hughes wrote a report for climate skeptic thinktank the Global Warming Policy Foundation, arguing less efficient gas power stations would need to be used because they are easier to turn on and off. He said this would make the whole process even more carbon-polluting than if the windfarms didn’t exist in the first place. Imperial College dismissed this as a “nonsense scenario”, saying that modern, efficient gas turbines could be used as backup instead. In evidence submitted to the Scottish Parliament, system operator the National Grid agrees. It calculated that the need to turn fossil fuel power stations on and off in order to back up wind power would reduce the expected emissions benefit of using wind to generate electricity by less that 0.1 per cent.
Carbon Brief 1st July 2013 read more »
Last week the government announced new levels of subsidy for renewable power. Among the details was a headline catching figure -that the government would guarantee an onshore wind electricity price of £100 per megawatt hour from 2014. That’s about £10 per megawatt hour more than the technology currently gets, as the weekend’s Sunday Telegraph highlights. The government had pledged to cut onshore wind subsidies by 10 per cent. So is this a change in policy? Well, probably not – and it’s down to the difference between the old and new subsidy systems.
Carbon Brief 1st July 2013 read more »
The UK took the route of maintaining centralised power generation and switching to gas, but has had a fairly difficult time getting fast growth in renewable energy. This route has been cheap (whether it continues to be so in future depends on the price of gas), but hard to sustain. A major part of the underlying reason for this is that the system remains highly centralised and in the hands of large companies that are generally unpopular with the public. There is support for renewable energy, but that support is quite thin, in the sense that people feel much of the benefit of policy support goes to developers and large generating companies. In Germany, by contrast, decarbonisation has been driven by a much deeper penetration of renewables, but these are largely in the hands of individuals, farmers, small businesses, cooperatives and municipalities. This creates an enormous constituency that has a vested interest in renewable energy, added to by the fact that Germany has engineered an industrial policy that means that a lot of the equipment installed is made by German workers.
Political Climate 28th June 2013 read more »
Today we are entering a new paradigm for power generation and consumption that could be almost as profound in its impact as the transformation from mainframe computing to ubiquitous mobile devices. There are several forces driving this change. First, the Grid itself is moving away from reliance on a relatively small number of large coal, gas and nuclear power stations, many of which are coming to the end of their productive lifespans and being decommissioned. Second, the imperative to transition to renewable, low carbon energy supply is changing the nature and diversity of the power sources supplying the grid and thirdly the Electricity Market Reform (EMR) White Paper of 2011 which set out key measures to attract investment, reduce the impact on consumer bills and create a secure mix of electricity sources including gas, new nuclear, renewables and carbon capture and storage will have a significant, although not yet entirely clear, impact on the operation of the energy sector. If Scotland is to transition successfully towards a low carbon economy our cities will need to plan solutions and practices that encourage more intelligent, cleaner and more efficient energy systems. Decentralised electricity generation will need to be an important part of such plans because they reduce energy losses associated with transmission and distribution.
Scottish Policy Now (accessed) 1st July 2013 read more »
Boris Johnson has said he is willing to offer up the streets of London to companies hoping to solve Britain’s energy crisis by drilling for shale gas. The capital has not been considered a target in the dash for shale gas, where gas trapped in rock is harvested using a technique known as fracking. Attention has so far focused on sites in the North of England. But in a sign that he wanted to play a part in encouraging the advent of fracking in Britain, the London Mayor said that energy companies “should leave no stone unturned, or unfracked” in his city.
Times 2nd July 2013 read more »