23 January 2014

Hinkley

The Irish National Trust who launched the Hinkley Point C challenge have appealed Mrs Justice Patterson’s judgment of their case to the Court of Appeal, lodging their claim on Christmas Eve. The appeal is on four grounds, all essentially that the interpretation of Article 7 of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive (on transboundary effects) is sufficiently unclear on various points (e.g. does ‘significant’ include ‘cannot be excluded’?) that reference should be made to the European Court of Justice to interpret it.

BDB Law 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Dounreay

MANAGEMENT at the former nuclear plant at Dounreay today announced that the planned rundown of the workforce at the Caithness facility will be delayed by a “number of years.” Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL), the company spearheading the decommissioning project, said they had been asked to carry out additional work by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). And it meant that a phased reduction in the workface, due to be begin in about five years’ time, had been pushed back. A spokeswoman for DSRL said: “Management at Dounreay are facing the challenge of how to accommodate additional work from the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) whilst maintaining the same annual spend, the same Interim End State – and most importantly, the same priority on working safely and securely that the site is renowned for. “The additional work has arisen because activities that were not sufficiently developed by the NDA at the time the competition was run in 2012 have now reached a state of maturity that allows them to be added to the existing programme of work.”

Scotsman 23rd Jan 2014 read more »

Nuclear Safety

Forget earthquakes and tsunamis: one of the fastest-growing threats to nuclear operations could come from blobby, brainless creatures. As threats go, the humble jellyfish hardly looks like a formidable opponent. With a body that is between 95% and 98% water, plus no digestive or nervous system, the average Cnidarian would seem unlikely to imperil mankind’s mightiest power generating systems, for example. But you might be surprised. In September a swarm of moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita), a species that is not even dangerous to swimmers, took on one of the biggest nuclear plants on the planet… and won. The umbrella-shaped creatures clogged a cooling water intake at the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant in Sweden and forced operator E.ON Kärnkraft Sverige to shut down the third reactor, cutting off 1,450MW of generation for several days.

Nuclear Insider 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Sellafield

Sellafield, the operator of Cumbria’s Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant, has lost an appeal against a £700,000 fine for inaccurately delivering low-level radioactive waste, according to the British media and court hearings. The case first came to light nearly a year ago when in Februry 2013, Sellafield was fined for wrongly sending four bags of low-level waste to the Lillyhall landfill site in Workington.

Nuclear Insider 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Radwaste

SEVENTY lorry loads of nuclear waste from Oldbury power station in South Gloucestershire could be moved to Hinkley Point A to be processed and stored under plans put forward by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). They say that the move makes financial sense and that it is safe. However West Somerset councillors are being urged to object to the plans to move 144 tonnes of the nuclear waste between 2020 to 2022. The district council has argued that extra nuclear waste should not be brought into the area.

Bridgwater Mercury 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

This is the West Country 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Arguing that waste-contaminated water is spreading to the groundwater, environmental groups are challenging the state permit that allows low-level radioactive waste to be buried at a Barnwell site. The South Carolina Environmental Law Project will represent the Sierra Club before the state Court of Appeals on Feb. 5. They are challenging an Administrative Law Court decision that affirmed the license renewal, pitting them against the state Department of Health and Environmental Control and the site operator, Chem-Nuclear Systems. The environmentalists are concerned about tritium flowing from the facility to Mary’s Branch Creek. Court records state that Chem-Nuclear’s disposal practice of pumping contaminated water out of a trench into lined ponds and other areas caused radioactive material to contaminate nearby church property in 1999. The appeal emphasizes that the landfill operator hasn’t done enough to protect the environment from the contents of the site, particularly since the vaults that hold radioactive waste are not sealed to keep water out.

Cumbria Trust 23rd Jan 2014 read more »

Radioactive Contamination

CUTTING off access to the popular beach at Dalgety Bay should be considered as part of any bid to clear up radioactive contamination, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has been told. Permanently fencing off part of the Fife beach and concreting it over have emerged as the most feasible options for addressing long-running concerns about the pollution, a report by engineering firm Amec stated. Removing the contamination through excavation was possible but was considered difficult because of tidal movement and access problems. The use of “biotreatment” was ruled out by Amec, which had been asked to look into the options for the area surrounding the Dalgety Bay Sailing Club, next to the former Royal Navy air station at Donibristle. The potential risk to those using the area for recreation is “significant”, the Amec report warned. It concluded that no single technique was best suited to the management of radium contamination, “rather a combination of techniques is likely to be required”. It proposed permanent use of “robust” fencing and warning signs, a “clean cover layer” over the site and excavation of source material. The best approach would be a “suitable combination” of the three, it said.

Scotsman 23rd Jan 2014 read more »

FORMER Prime Minister Gordon Brown has called on the Ministry Of Defence to fund a £1million clean-up of a beach contaminated with radioactive material. Mr Brown said he wants its officials to announce at a meeting next week that it will fund the work on making the foreshore of Dalgety Bay, Fife, safe. His call came as plans on how to clear the site were released three years after the waste was discovered. The Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath Labour MP said the publication of four proposals that included concreting over parts of the town’s beach on the Firth Of Forth meant the Ministry should now act. Mr Brown said that having earlier asked its officials “to specifically rule out a do-nothing position that merely left the radiation contamination untreated, we have now made some progress”.

Herald 23rd Jan 2014 read more »

Energy Costs

Energy giant SSE has said it expects its profits to increase by 8.8pc to £1.54bn this year after raising household prices by 8.2pc and despite falling customer electricity and gas usage. In a trading statement likely to fuel consumer anger over rising energy bills, SSE, which has increased its adjusted profits and dividend every year since it was formed, said it also expected to increase payouts to shareholders by 3pc.

Telegraph 23rd Jan 2014 read more »

Energy giant Npower claimed it is attempting to “break some of the myths” that he says “don’t stand up to the facts” today with the supplier’s second “Energy Explained” report. Npower announced a 10 per cent average bill increase in the latest round of price rises late last year, affecting about 3.1 million customers, but has said that it will reduce bills as a result of a shake-up of Government green levies Npower chief executive Paul Massara said: “At times during the debate on energy, facts have been in short supply, but we urgently need to dispel some myths to restore trust in the energy industry.” In its first report last year, Npower predicted average household bills would rise by £240 to £1,487 by 2020, primarily because of “unprecedented investment in new infrastructure and the cost of improving energy efficiency in people’s homes”.

Telegraph 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Ed Miliband’s pledge to freeze energy prices for 20 months if Labour wins the 2015 general election is “freezing” investment in Britain’s energy market, the chief executive of RWE npower has said. Paul Massara accused the Labour leader of creating a “higher political risk” for energy investors as he ridiculed Miliband’s plans on the grounds that 60% of energy prices are set by world commodity markets.

Guardian 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

An influential consultancy says that Labour’s promise to freeze energy bills risks harming competition in energy markets by squeezing out independent suppliers. The prediction by Cornwall Energy came as Paul Massara, Npower’s chief executive, warned that the Labour proposal was already having a “dramatic effect” on investment in the energy sector. The report said the advent of independent suppliers had had a “transformational impact” in recent years, and the domestic energy retail market was now “the most competitive that it has ever been” with the “highest number of active suppliers and largest market share held by new entrants”.

FT 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

With public trust in energy companies taking something of a battering, they are launching a charm offensive. But npower’s latest attempt to explain the facts about energy appeared to be foundering this morning, as it took criticism from the energy regulator and government. The company’s report, Energy explained, updates its projections for what will happen to consumer energy bills up to 2020. Bills are projected to go up, unsurprisingly, and the report explains why npower thinks this will happen. On this morning’s Today programme, chief executive Paul Massara argued that what npower is trying “give the facts so people can have an honest debate”, and rebuild consumer trust in energy companies. But the energy giant was forced to change some of the cost predictions in its report after an intervention from Ofgem. The report has also prompted some confusing media coverage, and appears to contain some contradictions in its assessment of energy bills.

Carbon Brief 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Europe

In Brief: The EU’s 2030 Climate and Energy Package.

Carbon Brief 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

The European Commission has outlined its plans for climate and energy policy until 2030. The Commissioners want a binding target to reduce carbon emissions by 40% from 1990 levels. Renewables will need to provide 27% of EU energy by 2030, but while the target will be binding at EU level there will be no mandatory targets for member states. The policy proposals are subject to review by heads of government. Green groups have said the new targets lack ambition and the 40% emissions cut is “dangerously low”.

BBC 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Europe’s new targets for carbon emissions and renewable energy are severely retrograde and fly in the face of both science and economics. They will endanger climate and retard the renewable energy revolution.

Ecologist 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

The European Commission has set out a 2030 EU-wide renewable energy target at 27%, but will not include a binding target for individual countries. In a meeting held today, EU Commissioners established the EU 2030 energy and climate framework White Paper, announcing targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and renewables generation but left out an energy efficiency target. The Commission set a target to reduce GHG emissions by 40% by 2030 compared with 1990 levels, which will be widely welcomed by environmentalists as it has been revised upward from its existing 2020 target of 20%.

Edie 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

The EU has scrapped rules that bind countries to renewable energy targets, lifting demands that Britain build more wind and solar farms. The change paves the way for the Government to expand its use of nuclear power and develop fracking as a major energy source. Britain will still have to provide 15 per cent of its energy from renewable power by 2020, but after that there will be no target. Instead, the EU as a whole will have to produce 27 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2030.

Daily Mail 23rd Jan 2014 read more »

The planet’s atmosphere is half-full of carbon, but the EU’s recession-hit citizens have half-empty pockets: the result was a difficult compromise on emissions cuts and clean energy targets.

Guardian 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Rolling coverage and reaction on Europe announcing a new 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target.

Guardian 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

The UK will not have a renewable energy target beyond 2020, the government has said, though the EU-wide target set yesterday, requiring 27% of energy to come from renewable sources, will have to be met across the bloc. It will be the first time in nearly two decades that the UK has not had a clear national target on renewable energy, and the effect of that on the burgeoning green technology sector is so far unclear. Ed Davey, the energy and climate change secretary, said no target was needed as the government’s carbon budgets will require a massive growth in low-carbon energy. But this could come from nuclear power, carbon capture and storage, energy efficiency or an expansion of the use of gas. “The market will decide,” he said.

Guardian 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

The EU’s energy policy was thrown into disarray today after a senior official admitted that the bloc had no power to enforce the “binding” target it had just proposed, to generate 27 per cent of its power from renewable sources by 2030. The EU plans to reach its 27 per cent target by inviting each country to table their own renewable energy target and seeing if it adds up to 27 per cent. If it doesn’t, countries will be called upon to submit a new offer, with the process continuing until the target has been divvied out and catered for. But a senior EU official admitted yesterday that the “binding” target was unenforceable in its current form because the block has no power to force any country to pledge a certain level of renewable energy. Furthermore, it is not able to punish any country for failing to meet whatever pledge it does make. The broader proposal to reduce the EU’s emissions by 40 per cent – a target that doesn’t affect Britain because it is less ambitious than its existing legally-binding pledge – was generally welcomed. However, many people said it did not go far enough, with Mr Davey pushing for 50 per cent. Professor Kevin Anderson, professor of Energy and Climate Change, went even further, calling for an 80 per cent cut by 2030 if we are to have a chance of limiting global warming to 2C – the level after which the consequences become increasingly devastating.

Independent 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Brussels has taken a step back from the ambitious environmental agenda that made the EU a global green leader with a new set of energy targets that emphasise the need for economic growth and industrial competitiveness. “The previously far-sighted and ambitious European Commission is a shadow of its former self, hiding behind the UK and other backward-looking member states and lobbies,” said the chief executive of the European Wind Energy Association, Thomas Becker. Connie Hedegaard, the climate commissioner, rejected the idea that Europe’s desire to lead in green energy was holding the EU back against US and Asian competitors, noting renewables had already created 1.2m jobs in Europe and stood to create 3m by 2020.

FT 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Q&A EU’s 2030 Climate and Energy Goals.

FT 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Ministers faced fresh calls to review the UK’s unilateral legally-binding green goals on Wednesday after Europe unveiled targets that appear to allow a slower pace of decarbonisation. The European Commission said that Europe should cut carbon emissions by 40pc on 1990 levels by 2030, a policy that would then be translated into targets at different levels for individual member states. The EC target for the UK would be expected to be higher than 40pc but Ed Davey, the energy secretary, was unable to say whether it would be as onerous as the target the UK has already set itself, to cut carbon emissions by 50pc by 2025. Chancellor George Osborne has said that Britain should not be “out there in front of the rest of the world” or its European partners in tackling climate change. The EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, said the EU target appeared less stretching and called for the UK to review its own commitments.

Telegraph 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Britain has bound itself to cutting greenhouse gas emissions faster than other European countries, manufacturers have warned. The European Commission yesterday proposed that the EU should bind itself to cutting emissions across the bloc by 40 per cent on 1990 levels by 2030. Britain has already committed itself to cutting emissions by 50 per cent on 1990 levels by 2025. The commission angered the wind and solar industry by rejecting calls for binding renewable energy targets to be set for each member state. Instead, it agreed to Britain’s proposal that each country should be allowed to choose the cheapest way of meeting its share of the 40 per cent target. The decision not to set national renewables targets was welcomed by EDF, the French company planning to build Britain’s first new nuclear power station for a generation. The EEF, the UK manufacturers’ organisation, urged the Government to review its target to cut greenhouse gases or risk undermining the competitiveness of its industries. Richard Warren, the EEF’s energy and environment adviser, said that the weaker emissions target proposed for the EU meant that Britain was “targeting more then we need to or should be [and] this could damage UK competitiveness”. The Committee on Climate Change, the Government’s advisory body on emissions targets, said that the EEF was wrong and that the commission’s proposed target was “100 per cent consistent” with Britain’s target.

Times 23rd Jan 2013 read more »

Urenco

Urenco, the uranium enrichment company being privatised by its government and utility owners, expects revenues for the past 12 months to be down “around 5 per cent” on record levels of €1.6bn in 2012. It blamed a continued slowdown of the enrichment market but stressed that despite the expected drop for the year to end December 2013, there had been “a substantial rebalancing of revenue” in the second half of the year.

FT 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Bolivia

Bolivian President Evo Morales has announced plans to build the country’s first nuclear reactor. Mr Morales said the development of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes has become a strategic priority for his country. Speaking to members of the Bolivian Congress, he said that Iran, France and Argentina had volunteered to help with the development of the project.

BBC 23rd Jan 2014 read more »

Germany – Renewables

Prof Dave Elliott: Renewables have continued to grow in Germany, providing around 23% of total electrical generation from around 32GW of wind and 32GW of PV solar, most of this being locally owned capacity, including projects run by a growing number of local energy co-ops. And it works well: in bitterly cold March last year, the wind and PV were supplying about half of total electricity. Given that renewables are likey to get cheaper, while conventional sources will get more expensive, Germany may be on to a winner.

Environmental Research Web 4th Jan 2014 read more »

Renewables – solar

After nearly five years in the making, Network Rail has today cut the ribbon on the world’s largest solar-powered bridge at Blackfriars Bridge across the River Thames. As part of a project with solar installation firm Solarcentury, the roof of the bridge has been covered with 4,400 photovoltaic panels, providing up to half of the energy for London Blackfriars station.

Guardian 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Energy Efficiency

Some of Britain’s most expensive homes, including those in Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster, have been found to be the worst for wasting energy through heat loss. Houses in Scotland, specifically in the Outer Hebrides and Aberdeenshire were the most well insulated, wasting far less energy than those in the South. Research by npower found that more than half of the UK’s 26 million homes waste energy by allowing heat to escape through the walls and roofs. The energy giant, which also sparked debate today when its chief executive suggested energy bills are high because the country’s “old and draughty” houses waste so much gas and electricity, released a heat map (below) showing the percentage of homes in the UK in need of improving their energy efficiency, with the London Boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea coming out as the worst offenders.

Telegraph 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Fossil Fuels

E.ON is to shut one gas-fired power station and expects to reduce output at three others despite continued warnings from the National Grid and others that Britain faces a capacity crunch and potential blackouts. The German-owned gas and electricity provider said it planned to end power supplies from Stoke-on-Trent in the Midlands and scale back operations at Castleford, Sandbach and Thornhill in the north of the country. E.ON recently closed the Kingsnorth coal-burning power station in Kent while another big six supplier, RWE, has closed Tilbury on the Thames. The huge Eggborough facility in North Yorkshire, owned by private equity firms, is also under threat of closure while Centrica, the owner of British Gas, and SSE have mothballed gas-fired stations.

Guardian 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

No fracking will take place at Balcombe, the Sussex village that became the centre of protests against the practice last summer, drilling firm Cuadrilla is expected to announce. In a planning application to conduct tests at the site, likely to be published for consultation within days, the company will disclose that the rocks it drilled into last summer are naturally fractured. It will therefore rule out ever fracking at the site in future on the grounds it would be unnecessary.

Telegraph 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

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Published: 23 January 2014