Contracts worth £250m for the proposed Hinkley C power station have been announced but a campaign group claims the deals are “jumping the gun”. EDF Energy has made the deals despite the UK government reviewing the plans and not yet giving final approval for the nuclear plant. The French firm said it was “highly positive” the plant would be built. Those opposed to the nuclear build said EDF was attempting to “twist” the arm of the government. Earlier this month EDF agreed to invest in the first new UK nuclear plant in 20 years, and was poised to exchange contracts with the government. But hours after the decision was announced by the French energy firm, the government said it would review the plans and make its decision in the autumn. Roy Pumfrey, of the campaign group Stop Hinkley, said: “They’re trying to bounce the British government into not having a pause, but perhaps even having the Prime Minister returning from holiday in Switzerland to say, ‘All right, we’ll give in, we’ll go ahead with it’.
BBC 18th Aug 2016 read more »
Without Hinkley Point C, the potential to have a real and considered debate about the future shape of the electricity system has loomed into view, writes Bridget Woodman, Course Director, MSc Energy Policy, at the University of Exeter. According to Woodman, the UK government’s decision to delay a final go-ahead on the project makes it possible to start debating the sorts of options being considered widely around the world, with measures to encourage more flexible, smaller-scale, renewable systems incorporating demand-side measures and new technologies such as storage. These are extraordinary times for energy policy in the UK. After years of resigned acceptance that the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station would be built no matter how much of a basket case it was, the government has surprised everyone by calling a halt to the process until the autumn. Few people argue that Hinkley Point C makes sense. The project’s budget has grown from original estimates of £16 billion to £24.5 billion today. Even this might be an underestimate given the experience of cost overruns similar reactors under construction in Finland, France and China. Putting all of the subsidies in place has required the UK government to essentially redesign the electricity market over thelast 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. Without Hinkley Point C, the potential to have a real and considered debate about the future shape of the electricity system has loomed into view. Now is the time to start considering the sorts of options being considered widely around the world, with measures to encourage more flexible, smaller-scale, renewable systems incorporating demand-side measures and new technologies such as storage. A system that is the absolute antithesis of what Hinkley Point C represents. Suddenly UK energy policy has become very exciting indeed.
Energy Post 12th Aug 2016 read more »
Electricite de France SA should receive lower payments for the power generated by its planned nuclear reactors in southwest England if the project is delayed beyond 2025, a former Conservative minister who now lobbies for the nuclear industry said. “The value to the U.K. of Hinkley diminishes if it delays, because it’s needed by 2025 as other plants are closing,” New Nuclear Watch Europe Chairman Tim Yeo, who served as environment minister in the 1990s, said in an interview in London. “Part of the justification for this high price was that Hinkley would be contributing significantly to security of energy supply by 2025. If Hinkley isn’t on stream by 2025, the strike price should be reduced for each year completion is delayed.”
Bloomberg 18th Aug 2016 read more »
An engineer accused of stealing American nuclear secrets for a company owned by the Chinese state that is investing in Hinkley Point has accused the FBI of tricking him into making incriminating statements. Szuhsiung “Allen” Ho, an American citizen born in Taiwan, was arrested in Atlanta in April and accused of spying. He is now in prison awaiting a decision on a $1 million bail hearing. The US Justice Department has accused him of threatening US security by attempting to recruit American nuclear experts for the Chinese government. He denies the charges. Dr Ho, 66, was working for China General Nuclear Power Corp, a partner in the Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset. He is also accused of conspiring to produce plutonium for the Chinese government. If found guilty, he could face life in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Times 18th Aug 2016 read more »
A former state regulator and member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Peter Bradford, argues that subsidizing reactors to keep them running is unnecessary and will be bad for consumers and the environment. Since the 1950s, U.S. nuclear power has commanded immense taxpayer and customer subsidy based on promises of economic and environmental benefits. Many of these promises are unfulfilled, but new ones take their place. More subsidies follow. Today the nuclear industry claims that keeping all operating reactors running for many years, no matter how uneconomic they become, is essential in order to reach U.S. climate change targets. Economics have always challenged U.S. reactors. After more than 100 construction cancellations and cost overruns costing up to US$5 billion apiece, Forbes Magazine in 1985 called nuclear power “the greatest managerial disaster in business history…only the blind, or the biased, can now think that most of the money [$265 billion by 1990] has been well spent.” U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Chair Lewis Strauss’ 1954 promise that electric power would be “too cheap to meter” is today used to mock nuclear economics, not commend them.
Government Tech 18th Aug 2016 read more »
The Conversation 18th Aug 2016 read more »
While the cost of taking legal action is high, the cost of not taking legal action is immeasurably higher. Cumbria Trust would like to thank its supporters who joined it in contributing to Professor David Smythe’s crowdfunded legal action. Remarkably in less than 4 days, the initial target of £10,000 was achieved with over 200 individual donations including £1,000 from Cumbria Trust and much more from its supporters. Professor Smythe is one of the few academics who has dared to speak out about the misuse of science – in particular the attempt to distort the debate over burial of nuclear waste in Cumbria and airbrush inconvenient facts out of history. He has also spoken out about fracking and the malign effect of the fracking industry’s financial support of universities.
Cumbria Trust 19th Aug 2016 read more »
A recent study from a prestigious economic research organization concludes what many energy industry officials have long said: Expansion of intermittent wind and solar power still needs backup from electricity generated by natural gas. The Massachusetts-based National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), which over the years has been associated with 25 Nobel Prize winners in economics, recently published a white paper on the issue. Major authors of the report were Elena Verdolini, Francesco Vona, and David Popp. It’s an international group of authors with Verdolini being based in Italy; Vona in France and Popp in Syracuse, New York. The report is titled “Bridging the Gap: Do Fast Reacting Fossil Technologies Facilities Renewable Energy Diffusion?” The report has also generated some mainstream media buzz. For example, The New York Times carried an Aug. 11 article headlined “Turns out wind and solar have a secret friend: Natural Gas.” “Fast-reacting fossil technologies (FRF henceforth), which includes most gas-generation technologies, Combined Heat and Power and Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle to name a few, are characterized by mid-merit order, quick ramp-up times, lower capital costs and modularity (meaning that efficiency does not fall significantly with size). They are thus particularly suitable to meet peak demand and mitigate the variability of renewables,” according to the report. “We thus argue that a policy and academic debate centered on the juxtaposition of renewable (clean) and fossil (dirty) technologies misses this important point, leads to an underestimation of the costs of renewable energy integration, and does not contribute to stressing the importance of funding and developing solid alternative options such as cheap storage technologies,” according to the authors.
Power Engineering 17th Aug 2016 read more »
National Grid has slashed its forecasts for the number of big new power plants expected to be built in coming years, while admitting its estimates for the growth of solar farms and other small-scale generators were almost 50 times too low. Just four years ago the company expected up to 33 gigawatts (GW) of new power plant capacity to be connected to its high voltage electricity transmission networks in England and Wales by 2021. But this forecast has now been cut to 14GW, the company said yesterday, due to delays to new nuclear reactors such as Hinkley Point, a hiatus in investment in new gas-fired power stations and delays to some offshore wind farms. At the same time, National Grid appears to have been completely blindsided by the rapid growth in small-scale generation such as solar panels and small wind farms that connect directly into lower-voltage distribution networks. In 2012 it anticipated that just 0.5GW of such generation would be connected between 2013 and 2021. In fact, almost 11GW has already connected and a further 13GW is forecast, primarily due to the boom in subsidised solar as the costs of the technology plummeted. The figures, which underline the radical changes underway in the UK electricity system, emerged after regulator Ofgem proposed cutting National Grid’s budget for upgrades to the transmission network due to “fewer generators connecting to the high voltage grid”. “The system is going through major changes as we move to a low carbon economy. National Grid now has a bigger role to play, for example in planning the future of the grid and managing additional supply and demand balancing services,” Ofgem said. The extra funding includes £4.5m for administering the “last resort” schemes National Grid has had to introduce to help keep the lights on in coming winters by keeping old power plants running or getting businesses to cut their usage. This excludes the payments made to companies taking part in the schemes. Some of the extra cash will also help fund National Grid’s push for “demand side response” technologies, encouraging businesses to increase or decrease their electricity usage at certain times of day to help cope with fluctuations in power supplies from intermittent renewables.
Telegraph 18th Aug 2016 read more »
BWX Technologies Canada (BWXT Canada) is to acquire GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Canada (GEH-C) in a move that will enable it to offer a wider range of technical solutions and services for Candu reactors. The companies have entered into a share purchase agreement which will see BWXT Canada acquire all the shares of the Canadian joint venture of GE and Hitachi. Subject to regulatory approval and other conditions, the transaction is expected to close during the fourth quarter of 2016. The terms of the transaction are not being disclosed. GEH-C has more than 60 years of experience in supplying nuclear fuel, fuel channel components, services, equipment and parts for the Candu nuclear power industry. It employs about 350 people at its three locations in Ontario.
World Nuclear News 19th Aug 2016 read more »
Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s “frozen wall of earth” has failed to prevent groundwater from entering the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, and the utility needs a new plan to address the problem, experts said. An expert panel with the Nuclear Regulation Authority received a report from TEPCO on the current state of the project on Aug. 18. The experts said the ice wall project, almost in its fifth month, has shown little or no success. “The plan to block groundwater with a frozen wall of earth is failing,” said panel member Yoshinori Kitsutaka, a professor of engineering at Tokyo Metropolitan University. “They need to come up with another solution, even if they keep going forward with the plan.” One big problem hampering work at the nuclear plant, which was hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami in 2011, has been the tons of groundwater entering the buildings housing the No. 1 through No. 4 reactors every day. The water becomes contaminated with radioactive materials within the reactor buildings. TEPCO’s plan was to create a frozen wall of earth around the reactor buildings to divert the groundwater away from the plant and into the ocean.
Asahi Shimbun 19th Aug 2016 read more »
The latest attempt to seal off the disaster zone, a wall of frozen earth around it, appears to have failed. A panel of experts with the Nuclear Regulation Authority said readings from the ocean-side of the wall continued to remain high. While radioactivity is still being found on the other side of the Pacific, off America’s west coast, according to US media reports. Now, with the 34.5billion yen (£263m) scheme in peril, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has been told to find a new solution.
Daily Star 19th Aug 2016 read more »
This week the Labour party announced its candidates for metro mayor for the regions of Greater Manchester, the West Midlands and the Liverpool City Region. As Sadiq Khan has demonstrated in London, the new metro mayors being introduced in up to nine city regions next May will have real authority and be responsible for setting out a strategy for growing their city region economy, with certain powers over key issues like housing, energy and transport. The combined authorities will in theory take on more functions than they were allowed to under previous legislation which could mean genuine opportunities opening up for the sustainable energy sector and for the health and wellbeing of our cities. Liverpool metro mayor hopeful Steve Rotherham has already talked of how he wants to power homes across Merseyside through tidal energy and create a new Liverpool City Region Renewable Energy company to bring down energy bills. “Investing in green energy,” he said, “means helping future generations save money as well as boosting our local economy through apprenticeship and employment opportunities.” Similarly, in his manifesto Sion Simon – Labour’s candidate for West Midlands metro mayor – has pledged to crack down on pollution and tackle fuel poverty through investment in the green economy, local energy production and investment in energy efficiency measures.
Business Green 19th August 2016 read more »
It has been four years since the Stratford site’s transformation from East London wilderness to the host of London’s 2012 Olympic triumph was complete. But for the UK chief executive of the energy company which powered the Games, the area is a blueprint for a new kind of energy system which is only just beginning to emerge. Engie is not a household name but the £32bn French company, formerly known as GDF Suez, is one of the largest power generators in the UK and stands shoulder to shoulder with the Big Six in the business energy supply market. In winning the bid to power the London Olympic Park the company grasped the opportunity to turn its energy supply business on its head and create a model which is being quietly rolled out across the UK from Whitehall to Leeds. The site includes two energy centres and a network of over 11 miles of pipe work which control a small fleet of biomass boilers, combined heat and power plants and water storage units. Mr Petrie explains that biomass provides the steady baseload power needed throughout the day by burning waste wood sourced from UK landscapers at 650 degrees. To meet energy demand over peak demand periods the energy can also be stored in hot water tanks which are topped up using combined and heat and power boilers which run on gas. As a result the Olympic Park is able to generate 75pc of its own energy with carbon emissions 20pc lower than the rest of the UK while using smart technology to keep costs low. It’s a feat Government can currently only dream of achieving at a national level as it grapples with the eye-watering economics of supporting large-scale low-carbon projects and the complexity of shifting households on to smart energy meters. For Engie the shift away from its past as conventional energy behemoth has only just begun. “The first thing is to connect the network across East London. The second is to become more and more involved with the end-user through intelligent systems which can monitor their useage and help customers to optimise their energy use,” Mr Petrie says “Maybe in 10 to 20 years we could be selling something else aside from just energy.”
Telegraph 19th Aug 2016 read more »
Aberdeen South MP Callum McCaig has written a letter urging the UK energy secretary to invest in new capacity for storing renewable energy. The call follows WeatherEnergy data endorsed by WWF Scotland which reported turbines provided 39,545 megawatt-hours of electricity to the National Grid last Sunday, enough to cover all of Scotland’s energy demand for a single day. Mr McCaig, the SNP’s energy and climate change spokesman, said: “For the potential of renewable energy to be fully realised we will continue to need newer and better storage technologies; mastering that is the solution to making renewables as attractive financially as they are environmentally.”The impressive levels of electricity generated from wind turbines last weekend are evidence that we should be investing in Scotland’s enviable potential for a clean and relia ble source of energy for our future.” The Scottish Government is to set a goal of renewables to supply half the country’s energy by 2030. Mr McCaig is urging the UK Energy Secretary Greg Clark to implement a stable framework to support projects such as the proposed 400MW Cruachan pumped-hydro energy storage scheme and the Coire Glas scheme. “The UK Government needs to do something worthwhile for this country’s energy needs. Rather than flushing money down Hinkley, it is high time Treasury purses are opened to invest in the first class energy expertise in Scotland and develop a sustainable future for the whole country.”
Press & Journal 19th Aug 2016 read more »