The French president, François Hollande, is expected to hold a meeting of government ministers at the Elysée palace on Wednesday to discuss whether or not the construction of the £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear power plant in Britain will go ahead. The French government is not yet expected to reach a final decision on the controversial plans for France’s state-controlled utility EDF to build two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point. But the president and top ministers are expected to consider the various financing options for the project. EDF shareholders will then meet later this week to consider the options. After repeated delays, a shareholder vote and a final decision are expected in early May.
Guardian 19th April 2016 read more »
The UK’s energy secretary has admitted for the first time that the lights would stay on if new nuclear reactors at Hinkley were cancelled or delayed. Amber Rudd has previously said that “energy security has to be the number one priority” and that new gas and nuclear power would be “central to our energy-secure future”. But in a letter released on Tuesday in reply to MPs on the energy and climate change select committee, which asked what contingency plans were in place if Hinkley is delayed or cancelled, she said: “While we have every confidence the deal will go ahead, we have arrangements in place to ensure that any potential delay or cancellation to the project does not pose a risk to security of supply for the UK. I am clear that keeping the lights on is non-negotiable.” She also said that delays to the troubled plant could risk the UK missing its targets to cut carbon emissions, and that alternatives could cost more but would not represent a “significant increase” in cost in the short term. John Sauven, Greenpeace’s UK director said: “There is absolutely no reason that the UK could not meet our decarbonisation targets if the government dropped Hinkley and gave renewable energy businesses a fraction of political and financial support that nuclear and fossil fuel companies enjoy.”
Guardian 19th April 2016 read more »
Rudd’s reply to Angus McNeil.
Parliament 12th April 2016 read more »
Amber Rudd has admitted delays or cancellation to the controversial Hinkley Point nuclear project could push up energy costs for billpayers and leave the UK’s decarbonisation targets “at risk”. The admission from the Energy and Climate Change Secretary came in a letter to Angus MacNeil, chair of the energy and climate change select committee of MPs, who following a recent evidence session on the Hinkley Point project wrote to Rudd to request information on the government’s contingency plan should the project be subject to delays or compensation. Rudd’s letter, which has been published online by the committee, stresses the government remains “fully confident that the project will go ahead”, adding that “the risks of delays are borne entirely by the developer”. She also points to recent signals from the French government that it intends to approve the project. Hopes that French ministers are preparing to give the project the green light were further boosted over the weekend, when economy minister Emmanuel Macron told the BBC EDF would deliver the project. Moreover, French President Francois Hollande is reportedly preparing to host a meeting about EDF’s plans tomorrow morning. However, in her letter Rudd admits the UK has “arrangements in place to ensure that any potential delay or cancellation to the project does not pose a risk to security of supply for the UK”. Specifically, she details how the government intends to use the existing capacity market to incentivise generators to provide sufficient capacity to cover any shortfall caused by a delay to the Hinkley project. However, Rudd admits extra capacity could come at higher cost and may result in higher carbon emissions, especially if it has to be secured at short notice.
Business Green 19th April 2016 read more »
A delay or cancellation of the proposed Hinkley nuclear project in the UK could lead to an increase in energy bills and jeopardise the nation’s decarbonisation targets. Energy Secretary Amber Rudd said while she is “fully confident” the project will go ahead, DECC has arrangements in place to ensure any delay does not pose a risk to security of supply.
Energy Live News 20th April 2016 read more »
Reuters 19th April 2016 read more »
Energydesk 19th April 2016 read more »
A group of managers at French utility EDF have sent a letter to its board of directors warning they could all face legal action if the company pushes ahead with its contentious Hinkley Point C nuclear project in the UK. The letter, dated April 19 and seen by the Financial Times, said that if a board decision in favour of Hinkley Point led to the “destruction of the value” at the group, its directors could be held personally responsible. Most of the EDF board members are expected to vote in favour of the final investment decision on Hinkley Point at a meeting scheduled for May 11. But the letter also comes ahead of another EDF board meeting on Friday, where directors are expected to discuss the funding of the £18bn Hinkley Point project. French president Francois Hollande is also meeting ministers at the Elysee Palace on Wednesday to discuss financing options for Hinkley Point. The French state has an 85 per cent stake in EDF. The letter by the group of EDF managers highlights the internal battle that has raged within the company over Hinkley Point, with Thomas Piquemal, chief financial officer, resigning last month because of concerns that the UK project could threaten the company’s future.
FT 19th April 2016 read more »
In 1997 French utility EDF started to dismantle its first nuclear power plant, a 30-year-old heavy water reactor in Brennilis, north-western France. It was expected to cost 250m euros. The bill is now set to be at least half as much again, and the decommissioning is still not done. In fact, there has never been a full dismantling of a reactor in France, the only European country to get three-quarters of its electricity from nuclear power. EDF, the operator of all 58 of France’s reactors, is preparing to build a new £18bn plant at Hinkley Point in the UK that some at the Paris-based company have warned is too dangerous given its stretched balance sheet. EDF’s other big reactor project, at Flamanville in France, is already six years behind schedule and 7.2bn euro over budget. Hinkley and Flamanville have focused attention on another looming challenge for EDF: has the company set aside enough money to cover the huge cost of dismantling and cleaning up its existing nuclear power stations in France? Unlike the UK, where the state has assumed much of the financial risk of taking apart nuclear reactors, in France it all falls on EDF, which has established a 23bn euro special fund for this purpose. The 23bn – much of it invested in equities and bonds – has been set aside to cover what EDF estimates will be the 54bn euro cost of decommissioning the 58 reactors and safely storing their radioactive waste. This includes 23bn euros for dismantling the power stations, and 26bn euros for managing spent fuel. Yves Marignac, director of energy research group WISE-Paris, is one of several European academics who think that the true cost of decommissioning and waste disposal for EDF will be far more than the figure the company anticipates. To put things in context, Germany has set aside almost 38bn euros for the decommissioning of 17 nuclear reactors. France, with more than three times as many reactors, has 15bn euros less for the same process.
FT 19th April 2016 read more »
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) is frustrated to hear that the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is spending £8 million upgrading the runway at Wick John O’Groats Airport to make it ready for the transport of radioactive materials from Dounreay by air to the United States. NFLA has been in discussion with the NDA and Dounreay for some time over its concerns over Dounreay transports, and this is the first time to hear about air transports of radioactive waste, following on from road, rail and sea transports. Where is the public consultation for such an important decision?
NFLA 19th April 2016 read more »
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) say all options will be considered when reviewing how radioactive material could be transported from Dounreay to the USA. This will include the potential for using Wick John O’Groats Airport which the NDA’s working on improving. At the end of March, the UK governments agreed that we would receive uranium used in the treatment of cancer, with highly enriched uranium (HEU) from Caithness being sent to the USA in exchange. Nigel Lowe is the Nuclear Decomissioning Authority’s Head of Programme for Dounreay.
MFR 19th April 2016 read more »
A training and supply facility in Cleator Moor for the Moorside nuclear power plant is being pushed for by local councillors. The disused Leconfield Industrial Estate is being touted as a potential hub for the nuclear firm behind the multi-million pound plans.
Whitehaven News 19th April 2016 read more »
Community energy investment company Mongoose Energy, chaired by former energy minister Ed Davey, has announced plans to launch a supply business this year. The community-owned supply company will be the first of its kind, and aims to announce its launch tariffs during Q3 2016. Mongoose Energy chief executive Jan Willem Bode said: “This is a first for a UK energy company and, with the majority of our profits going back into the community groups, I believe this has the potential to transform the nature of energy ownership in the UK.” Launched in 2015, Mongoose currently has 34MW of capacity under management services and a further 30MW of capacity in the pipeline. Bath and West Community Energy chair and founder of Mongoose Peter Capener said: “The rise of community energy means that energy generation can be used to bring about positive social change and Mongoose groups are all signed up to this philosophy.
Utility Week 19th April 2016 read more »
French energy company Engie wants to sell its Polaniec coal-fired power plant, the company said on Tuesday, confirming a report in a Polish newspaper. Puls Biznesu, quoting unnamed sources, reported that Engie had put its assets in Poland up for sale, including the 1800 megawatt (MW) coal-fuelled power plant in the south-eastern town of Polaniec, for 500 million euros ($567 million). An Engie spokeswoman in Paris said Engie had decided at the end of January to invite potential investors to express their interest in the Polaniec power plant assets as part of a strategic review of the firm’s holdings. Engie plans some 10 billion euros worth of asset sales by 2018, including fossil-fuel fired power generating plants, as it refocuses on gas networks, renewables and energy services.
Reuters 19th April 2016 read more »
Thirty years after what many considered their worst nightmare, the effects of the Chernobyl explosion still live on. Many may have escaped from death but most of those who have been affected by the incident are still carrying the upshot of the trauma.
Nature World News 19th April 2016 read more »
Area Around Nuclear Plant Remains Still Abandoned 30 Years On.
Sky News 19th April 2016 read more »
It is commonly asserted that nuclear power stations are not covered by insurance, and that insurance companies don’t want to know about them either for first-party insurance of the plant itself or third-party liability for accidents. This is incorrect, and the misconception was addressed as follows in 2006 by a broker who had been responsible for a nuclear insurance pool: “it is wrong [to believe] that insurers will not touch nuclear power stations. In fact, wherever they are available to private sector insurers, Western-designed nuclear installations are sought-after business because of their high engineering and risk management standards. This has been the case for 50 years.” He elaborated: “My comment refers very much to the world scene and is not contentious. Apart from Three Mile Island, the claim experience has been very good. Chernobyl was not insured. Significantly, because Chernobyl was of a design that would not have been an acceptable risk at the time, notably the lack of a containment structure, the accident had no impact on premium rates for Western plants.
World Nuclear Association 19th April 2016 read more »
NATO and the EU bosses confirmed there are “justified concerns” about ISIS getting hold of chemical, biological, nuclear and radioactive materials. And they have warned the death-crazed regime – also known as Daesh – wants to use them to carry out horrific assaults on Europe.
Daily Star 20th April 2016 read more »
Express 20th April 2016 read more »
Independent 19th April 2016 read more »
Mirror 19th April 2016 read more »
As the Chernobyl nuclear disaster marks its 30th anniversary next week, focus is cast on the potential safety risk of a power plant that is being constructed just 130 kilometers from Hong Kong. Two reactors of the power plant, which is located in Taishan, Guangdong province, are scheduled to start operations early next year, or about eight years after it began construction in 2009, news website hk01.com reports. The project is a joint venture between China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) and Électricité de France (EDF), with the former controlling a 70 percent stake and the latter holding the rest. After conducting tests on the project in April last year, the French Nuclear Safety Authority found anomalies in the structure of the reactor vessel manufactured by French state-owned nuclear power giant Areva. It said the metal used for its lid and bottom were not hard enough and contained excessive carbon concentration, suggesting that it is prone to small cracks that could result in radiation leaks. The test results, which were revealed jointly by Areva and EDF last week, also showed the vessel itself could face the risk of cracks. China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration has promised the reactors will not be commissioned until the problem about cracks is resolved, CGN has never announced how serious the cracks would be, but only said in December last year that operations of the reactors will not begin until 2017. It did not reply to enquiries by hk01.com. Shaun Burnie, a senior nuclear specialist at Greenpeace Germany, said both the lid and bottoms are keys to prevent any radiation leak but high carbon concentration in the materials would pose a much more serious risk than previously thought, adding that they could splinter like glass without any warning advance sign. He said Chinese authorities should consider imposing a ban on the use of the reactor vessel in question as their French counterparts did.
EJinsight 19th April 2016 read more »
Nuclear leak at Hanford is catastrophic worker claims, as eight inches of radioactive waste escapes core of ‘the world’s safest’ tank.
Daily Mail 18th April 2016 read more »
The German government is asking neighboring Belgium to take two nuclear reactors offline temporarily because of safety concerns. Germany, which plans to switch off all of its own nuclear reactors by 2022, is sensitive to concerns about plants outside the country. Berlin already has called on France to shut down its oldest plant, at Fessenheim on the German border, as soon as possible. Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks urged Belgium on Wednesday to take its Tihange 2 and Doel 3 reactors offline “until open safety questions are cleared up.” German officials have cited concerns over the safety of the reactor pressure vessels.
AP 20th April 2016 read more »
Scottish Labour will make a ground-breaking commitment to oppose Trident when its manifesto is published next week. In what appeared to be a clear attempt to appeal to voters from the left, Kezia Dugdale declared yesterday: “We are opposed to the renewal of Trident and you’ll see that reflected in our manifesto.” However, the Scottish Labour leader’s decision has already caused a split within her own party with Jackie Baillie, a senior Labour MSP, warning last night that the policy should never have been included in the document. The Scottish Labour party did not include any policies on Trident in its Holyrood manifesto five years ago because the issue was reserved to Westminster. Ms Dugdale has decided to include it this time despite the fact that defence is still reserved to Westminster.
Times 20th April 2016 read more »
Mark Diesendorf: Don’t believe the spurious claims of nuclear shills constantly doing down renewables. Clean, safe renewable energy technologies have the potential to supply 100% of the world’s electricity needs – but the first hurdle is to refute the deliberately misleading myths designed to promote the politically powerful but ultimately doomed nuclear industry. Nuclear energy and renewable energy (RE) are the principal competitors for low-carbon electricity in many countries. As RE technologies have grown in volume and investment, and become much cheaper, nuclear proponents and deniers of climate science have become deniers of RE. The strategies and tactics of RE deniers are very similar to those of climate science deniers. To create uncertainty about the ability of RE to power an industrial society, they bombard decision-makers and the media with negative myths about RE and positive myths about nuclear energy, attempting to turn these myths into conventional wisdom. This article, a sequel to one busting the myth that we need base-load power stations such as nuclear or coal, examines critically some of the other myths about nuclear energy and RE. It offers a resource for those who wish to question these myths. The myths discussed here have been drawn from comments by nuclear proponents and RE opponents in the media, articles, blogs and on-line comments.
Ecologist 19th April 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
Aviva has invested in rooftop solar PV systems across three of its UK sites as part of the investment providor’s commitment to use 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025. The PV panels, totalling 2,000 modules, will produce 445,000kWh of on-site energy a year for the next 25 years at Aviva’s offices in Norwich and Bristol in England, and Perth in Scotland. Designed and installed by Solarcentury, the solar systems will be directly used to power lighting and office equipment within the buildings. All of the installations qualify for feed-in tariff subsidies, having been registered before the 15 January reduction in tariff rates.
Edie 19th April 2016 read more »
The Solar Trade Association has taken action to correct an inaccurate statement made by a UK Government energy minister about the economics of the industry. Lord Bourne, the Energy Minister in the House of Lords, told the Commons select committee on energy that solar no longer requires economic support or subsidies. But a Solar Trade Association spokesman said: “Lightsource have explained that subsidy-free installations can only be viable in niche applications where a ground-mounted solar power plant can be practically linked via private wire to a commercial building to replace high cost retail electricity, where low-cost finance is available and where the company is able to commit to a long-term power purchase agreement.
Scottish Energy News 20th April 2016 read more »
Renewables – onshore wind
Energy secretary Amber Rudd is attempting to get rid of an amendment to the Energy Bill which would extend the grace period for onshore wind farms hit by the early closure of the Renewables Obligation (RO). Lord Grantchester, who tabled the amendment, said it would cover “projects that have achieved democratic local consent for their development at a planning committee on or before 18 June 2015 but received Section 75 in Scotland and Section 106 in England and Wales agreement after that date”.
Utility Week 19th April 2016 read more »
A new report by the Renewable Energy Association has outlined the potential for Britain to produce the equivalent of more than 45 LNG tankers’ worth of renewable natural gas (in the form of biomethane) per year by 2035. Last year, the UK’s biomethane industry was the fastest growing in the world, and by the end of this year, will produce the equivalent of four LNG tankers worth of gas yearly, which it injects directly into the UK’s natural gas grid. Current levels of biomethane production support the heating and cooking needs of up to 100,000 homes. Biomethane is a renewable gas identical in chemical composition to natural gas, the fossil fuel. There already exists an extensive natural gas transportation and distribution grid in the UK. A total of 50 biomethane projects were completed by the end of 2015, with an additional 15 expected to be completed in 2016. If the industry’s growth to 2035 reaches expectations, the UK’s production of biomethane will be 2.4 times greater than the volume of LNG that was imported by both the Dragon (Milford Haven) and Isle of Grain terminals in 2014. Such production could result in the UK being able to reduce its LNG imports by over a quarter (from 2014 levels).
Scottish Energy News 20th April 2016 read more »
A new study has concluded that the planet’s reliance upon burning fossil fuels for energy could be phased out in a decade. According to a new study published by UK energy think tank Sussex Energy Group, part of the University of Sussex, the next great energy revolution which would see the transition away from fossil fuels towards cleaner energy generation could happen within a fraction of the time of past major changes. However, to do so will require a collaborative, interdisciplinary, multiscalar approach — one that learns from the trials from previous energy systems and technology transitions. The paper, How long will it take? Conceptualizing the temporal dynamics of energy transitions, was published in the journal Energy Research & Social Science by Professor Benjamin Sovacool, a member of the Sussex Energy Group. Looking at past great energy transitions — such as from wood to coal in Europe, which took between 96 and 160 years, or to electricity, which took 47 to 69 years to enter mainstream use — could provide lessons that, if implemented now, could decrease the transition time away from coal. Additionally, according to Sovacool, with the scarcity of resources, the treat of global climate change, and increasingly improved technological learning and innovation, could all speed the shift to a cleaner energy future.
Renew Economy 20th April 2016 read more »
Swedish energy group Vattenfall is planning to offload its lossmaking east German lignite mines to a Czech consortium, in a move aimed at cutting its carbon emissions and reducing its exposure to low European electricity and coal prices.
FT 18th April 2016 read more »