22 June 2015

Energy Policy

The boss of one of Europe’s biggest power companies has called for deep changes to the way the continent runs and regulates its electricity sector, urging an end to fossil fuel subsidies and a renewed focus on “efficient” renewable sources of energy. Iberdrola claims to be the biggest provider of wind power in the world, and Ignacio Galán, the executive chairman, told the Financial Times: “We are defenders of renewables — but we are defenders of renewables that are economically efficient. What we can’t do in Europe is what we are doing now: using immature technologies, fully subsidised, that are producing little energy and that cost a lot.”

FT 21st June 2015 read more »

Companies

The prospect of a power struggle of sorts was raised at National Grid yesterday when it emerged that the company is to lose its chief executive. Steve Holliday, who has been in the top job at the power group since 2007, is looking to move on next year after what he was said to consider a “very good run” at the company. The board, led by Sir Peter Gershon, is expected to carry out a widespread search for a successor, although it is thought that a preferred candidate may be found within the group.

The Times 22nd June 2015 read more »

Japan – Reactor Re-Starts

Within the next few weeks the Japanese utility Kyushu Electric Power will restart its two nuclear power reactors at Sandei in the Kagoshima prefecture in the far south of the country. Fuel loading is set to begin July and the plants should be onstream again in August. After four years of crisis and much legal and political debate, the Japanese nuclear industry is finally on the way back. The implications for the rest of the energy sector in Asia and across the world are significant. The operators of 24 different reactors across the country have applied for permission to reopen with the full and very active co-operation of the Japanese state and the powerful industrial lobbies. The irony is that over time Fukushima may be seen as having done more damage to the nuclear sector outside Japan than to the industry within the country. It is Germany not Japan that has abandoned nuclear. Many other countries have found that the added costs of protecting nuclear stations from the sort of extreme weather conditions that destroyed Fukushima are prohibitive. New safety regulations have certainly contributed to the problems of Areva and EDF as they struggle to build new capacity in Finland, France and the UK. Most important of all, despite the fact that the local utility Tepco made every possible mistake in handling the Fukushima disaster, the accident has not been blamed on the nuclear sector as such. Nuclear reactor businesses including Toshiba and Hitachi retain a very high reputation and remain attractive suppliers worldwide. In contrast to the panic in Germany, Japan has methodically adjusted to what has happened and has absorbed the costs of ever tighter regulation. By 2020 it would not be surprising to see Japan back as one of the most nuclear dependent economies in the world.

FT 22nd June 2015 read more »

South Africa

THE government is committed to building 9.6 gigawatts (GW) of nuclear power plants, but no one has any real idea how much this will cost. A government spokesman recently suggested it would be R400bn. Some commentators suggest it could be R1-trillion. Whatever the reality, these are simply enormous sums. Only seven companies listed on the JSE have market capitalisations greater than R400bn, which have been built up over decades. This amount is equal to 25% of all of government’s current debt. It is also 25% of the total assets of all the public sector pension funds managed by the Public Investment Corporation. Costs will undoubtedly exceed what is currently estimated. A rapidly weakening exchange rate will guarantee the many imported components cost more than is currently calculated.

BD Live 22nd June 2015 read more »

Iran

THE Iranian parliament voted yesterday to grant foreign inspectors access to nuclear sites, but not to scientists, documents or military facilities. MPs voted overwhelmingly in favour, with 199 of the 213 present supporting the Bill. Speaker Ali Larijani read the Bill aloud in a session broadcast live on radio. “The International Atomic Energy Agency, within the framework of the safeguard agreement, is allowed to carry out conventional inspections of nuclear sites,” the Bill said. However it concluded that “access to military, security and sensitive non-nuclear sites, as well as documents and scientists, is forbidden.”

Morning Star 22nd June 2015 read more »

Renewables – Geothermal

Underground thermal water sources could be used to heat homes and businesses around Scotland if a new feasibility study in Fife is a success. A green energy centre run by the University of St Andrews is to investigate the possibility of heating buildings using warm water recovered from sedimentary rocks deep below the ground. The University is lead partner in a Scottish Government funded project based at the Guardbridge Energy Centre, which it operates. Experts hope geothermal energy could provide significant amounts of renewable heat for Scotland, helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a low carbon heat source. The project will establish whether it such geothermal heat sources offer a financially viable resource. Dr Ruth Robinson, the lead for the project at the University of St Andrews, said: “Extracting geothermal heat from sedimentary rocks is similar to getting drinking water out of the ground, except in this case the water is warm enough to be used for heating. University of St Andrews Executive Director for Guardbridge, Ian McGrath said the project was just one of the renewable energies being explored at the industrial site, which has previously housed a distillery and paper mill. “We believe the diverse range of potential uses for Guardbridge has the capacity to re-establish this huge site as a key economic centre in Fife,” he said. St Andrews University is investing £25 million at the site, five miles west of St Andrews, to generate power through clean biomass and pump hot water 4 miles underground to St Andrews to heat and cool its labs and residences. Alongside plans for a six-turbine wind power development at Kenly to the east of the town, the Guardbridge scheme aims to help St Andrews to become the United Kingdom’s first carbon-neutral university.

Herald 21st June 2015 read more »

Renewables – Europe

One-third of electricity produced in Europe last year came from renewable energy, reports ENTSO-E (the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Electricity). Four years ago this was just 24%. The increased share of renewables has come at the expense of fossil fuels. “There is a revolution taking place”, says Susanne Nies, Corporate Affairs Manager at ENTSO-E. And the growth of renewable generation has only really just begun, says Susanne Nies, Corporate Affairs Manager at ENTSO-E. “The EU has a target of 27% renewable energy in 2030, which translates into 46% renewable electricity. We should have no problem reaching that target. It’s a revolution that we’re seeing.” How far can this revolution go? According to Nies, “80% is possible”, although she adds that to reach that, “the electricity system needs to change. The big issue is variability. We need more storage, more demand response, more e-mobility, data management, more cooperation between DSO’s (distribution system operators) and TSO’s (transmission system operators). In addition, we need market signals to attract investment. This is our main worry now.” Nies says that ENTSO-E will come out with a ‘Vision Package’ on 24 June in which it will discuss its vision on the future of the European electricity system in more detail.

Renew Economy 22nd June 2015 read more »

Renewables – onshore wind

A prominent firm of accountants has warned that thousands of onshore wind developments are likely to be abandoned following the announcement by the UK government that is will axe subsidies by 2016 – 12 months earlier than anticipated. Shirley Mathieson, Inverness-based Head of Renewables at Saffery Champness, said: “Combined, these measures are likely to throw the sector into complete disarray. “Many developers will have been working towards the 2017 deadline to ensure receipt of subsidy. Now that has been removed, although it is understood that there will be a period of grace for those projects that have received planning consent. “This change will involve the re-writing of budgets and forecasts for those who would have accrued for example rental income from planned developments, including communities, and equally those on the ground – farmers and landowners – who may also have a stake in such projects.

Scottish Energy News 22nd June 2015 read more »

Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has held urgent meetings with industry representatives from the renewables sector following the UK Government’s decision to end onshore wind subsidies. DECC (the Department of Energy and Climate Change) last week announced its plan to close the Renewables Obligation for onshore wind from April 2016. This was met with outcry by the Scottish industry which claimed it ‘could cost £3 billion investment in Scotland.’ Ewing met with the Inverness Chamber of Commerce and industry representatives including Energy North, Falck Renewables, RES and E.On to listen to their concerns about the impact on both developers and the supply chain.

Scottish Energy News 22nd June 2015 read more »

The Telegraph reports that a ‘grace period’ loophole built into Rudd’s announcement could still allow for the subsidised construction of almost three thousand turbines before the wind farm support programme is finally halted. In addition to predictable resistance by the wind energy industry, the Scottish Government looks set to pick a fight over the subsidies and has threatened possible legal action. Rural campaigners and the Scottish Conservatives, who have campaigned against new wind developments, must hope that the Government sticks to its guns this time.

Conservative Home 20th June 2015 read more »

Wind turbines could be made considerably quieter in the future after Cambridge University scientists developed a new material based on the unique downy wings that allow owls to fly silently.

Independent 21st June 2015 read more »

Renewables – offshore wind

Glasgow-based Scottish Power has named German engineering conglomerate Siemens as its preferred turbine supplier for the East Anglia ONE offshore windfarm in the biggest deal ever concluded for a consented project in the UK’s wind energy sector. The turbine agreement, which will be the largest individual contract placed as part of the £2 billion project, will see up to 102 of Siemens’ 7 megawatt (MW) turbines supplied.

Scottish Energy News 22nd June 2015 read more »

Renewables – hydro

Scottish Power has lodged plans to build a new 100kW hydro-power turbine at Tongland Dam in Kirkcudbrightshire. The new hydro scheme would utilise the existing compensation pipeline from the upstream face of the dam, returning the water via the powerhouse at the base of the dam into the River Dee.

Scottish Energy News 22nd June 2015 read more »

Microgeneration

A run-down of green technology’s most cutting-edge innovations, including transparent solar cells and microgeneration boilers.

Guardian 22nd June 2015 read more »

Scotland – climate targets

SNP ministers continue to parade the Climate Change Act, but their actions have made it a somewhat tattered banner. The government has failed to meet every one of its “legally binding” annual targets in the four years since the legislation, with no apparent judicial repercussions. With it becoming ever-more apparent that the UK Government is determined to do all it can to wreck our hopes for a liveable climate, the Scottish Government will need to think and act much more decisively if it is to turn around its record of failure.

Bella Caledonia 19th June 2015 read more »

CCS

Within five years Britain could have three power stations that capture around 90% of their carbon before it reaches the atmosphere. And in the US, a synthetic resin could absorb CO2 far more efficiently than trees. We examine the technologies involved in the battle against climate change.

Guardian 21st June 2015 read more »

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Published: 22 June 2015