24 February 2016

Hinkley

If the UK really wants 3.2GW of ‘baseload’ power in Somerset, then the Hinkley C nuclear power station is not the only way, write Marie-Louise Heddrich, Thorsten Lenck and Carlos Perez Linkenheil. Wind power with ‘wind to gas’ plant and CCGT gas power stations could do the same – faster, cheaper, more flexibily, and at much lower technical and financial risk. electricity is generated by wind turbines. Wind power that is surplus to the HPC’s 3.2GW is used to produce ‘windgas’ by electrolysing water to produce hydrogen, and then using that to produce methane. Natural fluctuations in wind power generationare balanced by windgas (also known as power-to-gas) so that, overall, the same volume of electricity is generated as would be by HPC. In a comparison using the figures from HPC’s current subsidy programme and the present degression defined in Germany’s Renewable Energies Act (EEG), wind power and windgas facilities can replace the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant at a lower cost. If we also take into consideration that Hinkley Point C will not begin operating in 2023 but later due to delays in construction, we can assume that cost savings from using the windgas alternative will be even greater due to improved efficiency and lower costs in windgas technology, and possibly due to gas-fired power plants becoming less expensive. Operations are currently expected to begin in 2025 and not in 2017 as originally planned.

Ecologist 17th February 2016 read more »

Energy Brainpool January 2016 read more »

EDF will help to pay for the construction of the planned new £18 billion nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset by selling off part of its stake in the French power grid. The cash-strapped French energy group is in talks with the French government, its majority shareholder with an 84.5 per cent stake, about a financing plan that would be worth €10 billion a year. The cash will be used to bankroll EDF’s 66.5 per cent share of the new station at Hinkley Point, which would generate up to 7 per cent of the UK’s electricity, as well as a string of other big investments in the French nuclear, wind and solar energy sectors.

Times 24th Feb 2016 read more »

EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Levy said on Tuesday he expected the French utility would take a final investment decision on the British Hinkley Point nuclear plant “very soon,” which he added meant this year. “We are working actively today with our Chinese partners to complete the discusssion that are we are having and announce a final investment decision very soon,” he told a Brussels conference on energy.

Yahoo 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Levy expects the French utility will take a final investment decision on the British Hinkley Point nuclear plant this year. “We are working actively today with our Chinese partners to complete the discussion that we are having and announce a final investment decision very soon,” he told a Brussels conference on energy on Tuesday. Asked whether “very soon” meant this year, Levy said “if in my thinking very soon did not mean this year, I would be disingenuous”.

Reuters 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

EDM 1118: That this House welcomes the view of the Financial Times that Britain is saddled with the worst of all worlds on the Hinkley Point C nuclear project; reinforces the paper’s belief that the Government has effectively written the French company, EDF, a long-dated option to sell the UK unproven technology at an extremely generous price; believes the case for halting Hinkley Point C is becoming hard to refute; is alarmed that the EDF has yet to commit itself to the project because of its massive €37 billion debt; agrees with the Financial Times that prolonged delays, multi billion pound cost overruns and technical problems at Flamanville may cause construction at Hinkley Point to be scrapped; and calls for a full debate and a reappraisal of the project.

Parliament 22nd Feb 2016 read more »

Letter John Hutton: Your editorial “Britain’s nuclear strategy exposed at Hinkley Point” (February 19) is far from the mark. It is beyond dispute that there is an urgent need for new generation capacity in the UK, with the Financial Times reporting in September last year that between 2010 and the end of March 2016, 21.4GW of dispatchable generation will have closed, with just 6GW new capacity coming online in the same timeframe. Our energy system needs new nuclear power both to replace retiring plant, but also to help manage a system with an increasing amount of intermittent renewable generation. By matching output to demand, nuclear will help ensure we have low carbon power when we need it, improving security of supply and reducing reliance on the volatility of unpredictable fossil fuel prices.

FT 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

Taishan

A project to build two French-designed EPR nuclear reactors in the southeastern Chinese city of Taishan remains on track despite technical problems, an official with the China General Nuclear Group (CGN) told reporters on Tuesday.Construction was still underway, the official said, but he did not give a timeframe for when the reactors will be completed and connected to the grid.CGN entered into a joint venture with France’s EDF to build two EPRs in the city of Taishan in 2007 and the project was scheduled to be completed by 2013. However, the reactors, designed by France’s AREVA, have been subject to delays in China and as well as in France and Finland, amid concerns about the safety of the technology. The CGN official also said the company was still in the process of finalising an agreement with EDF to build a British reactor project at Hinkley Point, despite financial problems at the French firm. He did not elaborate.

Reuters 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

Energy Policy

Energy generation in the UK is poised to undergo a rapid transformation as it moves to a low carbon future, and the energy industry is prepared to undertake much of the “heavy lifting” to make it happen. That is the conclusion of a major new report released today by trade body Energy UK, which is based on a series of in-depth interviews with companies across the UK energy sector during August and September 2015, including representatives of all the ‘Big Six’ energy suppliers. The report suggests that energy storage is widely regarded by the industry as the “single most important technological breakthrough” likely to happen over the next 15 years, although industry predictions about when the technology will be commercially viable varied from between three and 10 years. In the eyes of the sector’s senior executives, emerging technologies mean that there is likely to be less need for large, centralised energy generation plants than previously thought. Many commented that DECC’s September 2014 forecasts for energy generation in 2030 – which predicted that 50GW of renewables, 16GW of new nuclear, and significant levels of thermal plant with carbon capture and storage (CCS) would be needed – were too high. Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, said the report signalled “tremendous change” ahead for the electricity system. “Falling demand, increasingly competitive renewables, storage, interconnectors, demand response – this is the blueprint for the electricity system just 15 years hence, and it’s telling that it comes from an industry body rather than a ‘green’ think-tank,” he said in a statement.

Business Green 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

Energy UK has called on the government to “urgently review” the Levy Control Framework (LCF), providing clarity to companies and investors. In a report published today (23 February), the trade body insisted there is an “urgent need to attract much-needed investment” into the power generation sector given the recent and forthcoming power station closures. It said the government should review the LCF “as a matter of urgency”, and set out a budget post-2020 “as soon as possible” to encourage investment across a range of technologies, as there is currently a lack of transparency and “no forward view” on which to base investment.

Utility Week 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

Using natural gas as a bridging fuel to a cleaner energy mix in the UK will only act as a “stop-gap”, with its viability as an energy source severely limited beyond 2020 unless carbon capture and storage (CSS) technology is rolled out, the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) has warned.

Edie 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

Energy Supplies

Half of Drax, Britain’s biggest power station, could be shut down or mothballed because it is struggling to make money, its chief executive has warned. Dorothy Thompson said Drax had launched a strategic review of the three coal-fired units at its Yorkshire power plant and was considering all options including closure. The disclosure casts fresh uncertainty over the Government’s plans to keep the lights on in coming winters, in the wake of announcements by SSE and Engie that they plan to shut coal plants this year. Mrs Thompson said the review had been triggered by commodity markets, with the coal units “struggling to make money” from current low power prices, and by the Government’s proposal to end UK coal generation by 2025. Drax has so far converted half of its units to burn biomass wood pellets and is lobbying for Government subsidies to convert the remainder of the plant. Ministers have yet to indicate that such subsidies will be forthcoming.

Telegraph 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

Fukushima

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) briefed residents in Fukushima Prefecture at a meeting in Iwaki city on Feb. 9 on its findings from a follow-up to its earlier report on the effects of radiation exposure caused by the 2011 accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. The committee said in the report published in 2013 that “no discernible increase” is expected in cancer rates among local people. In its follow-up report in October last year, the U.N. panel said “none” of the new information appraised after the initial report “materially affected the main findings in, or challenged the major assumptions of, the 2013 Fukushima report.”

Fukushima Minpo News 10th Feb 2016 read more »

France

[Machine Tranlation] France has not provisioned enough for the nuclear decommissioning according to Brussels. According to information of the newspaper Les Echos, the European Commission is to publish a report on the “Indicative Programme nuclear”. It is an exercise which the Committee had already taken in 2008. The document appears to load the France that would not provisioned enough to face the dismantling of its fleet of 58 nuclear reactors. The business daily reports that Britain and the Netherlands have provisioned respectively 100% and 94% of the costs provided. Germany would reach, in turn, 83%. The European average would be at 56% and France would be only 31%.The Brussels report also cited the heavy investments to maintain the European nuclear capacity between 95 and 105 GW by 2050. This will require to invest between 450 to 500 billion euros in new engines and 45 to 50 billion extend the life of sliced activity. In this case, on that date, the atom would account for 17-21% of European electricity mix, against 27% today.

L’usine Nouvelle 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

US – PLEX

If we don’t renew the licenses of most of our nuclear power plants for an additional 20 years, bringing their lifetimes up to 80 years, we will have no hope of significantly curbing fossil fuel use in America. While renewables are increasing rapidly in the United States, hydro and nuclear are still the cheapest and most prolific energy sources that offset significant amounts of fossil fuels, and will be for at least 20 more years. Nuclear alone produces more power than hydro, wind, solar and geothermal combined, at an average cost of about 4¢/kWh. Both hydro and nuclear plants have long-term lives and most units are expected to exceed 80 years. Large hydro like Grand Coulee and Hoover are expected to substantially exceed 100 years. Having these units last so long is a critical component of getting to a clean energy future and a major element in the cost savings needed to achieve that future. Maintaining existing nuclear plants cuts the cost of producing electricity in half relative to installing new units of either hydro or nuclear, and cuts costs even more relative to installing new wind and solar. Maintaining existing nuclear is also cheaper than installing new natural gas plants even with our amazingly low gas prices.

Forbes 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

US – radwaste

The Environmental Protection Agency says the uncontrolled spread of small amounts of radioactive waste at Hanford after a Nov. 17 windstorm is alarming. The winds pushed specks of contamination beyond Route 4, the public highway from Richland out to the Wye Barricade entrance to Hanford. The Tri-City Herald reports that tests found no contamination on the public highway. And the Department of Energy concluded that workers and the public are not at risk of exposure. But the EPA in a letter says the uncontrolled spread of contamination “is a matter that is alarming to EPA and requires further investigation and discussion.”

Komo News 22nd Feb 2016 read more »

US – solar

US solar has enjoyed another record-breaking year, adding 7.3GW of new generating capacity in 2015, according to new data released this week by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The data, released ahead of the US Solar Market Insight Report out next month, shows that for the first time new solar installations outstripped the amount of new natural gas capacity coming online.

Business Green 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

Germany – radwaste

When Germany committed itself five years ago to phasing out nuclear power by 2022, there was one big gap in its plans — what to do with the waste that can remain toxic for hundreds of thousands of years. That issue remains unresolved even after a government-appointed nuclear commission came up with ideas on how to ensure funding for shutting down all of the country’s atomic reactors. According to a draft proposal, utilities E.ON, RWE, EnBW and Vattenfall [VATN.UL] could be saddled with up to 56 billion euros ($61.6 billion) in costs to cover their share of the cost of the nuclear exit. But the final bill could climb even higher and the extra cost may have to be met by German taxpayers. The main uncertainty centres on the difficulty of finding a permanent storage site to house highly radioactive material. Local opposition has ruled out turning an interim waste storage site in salt formations in the small village of Gorleben in northwest Germany into a final site, with the location having ultimately been excluded by law.

Reuters 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

Australia – radwaste

The proposal for a South Australian high level nuclear waste dump places too much risk on future generations, argues economist Richard Blandy.

Indaily 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

Trident

Scottish activists will join tens of thousands of protesters at a demonstration against Trident nuclear missile subs in London.

Daily Record 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

Renewables

Electricity generated from rooftop solar panels could soon be cheaper than conventional supplies produced by big power stations, putting an end to the era of the big utility company. Energy UK, the body that represents British Gas, E.ON, EDF, National Grid, RWE and 85 other companies, said that the era of building giant power plants to pump electricity on demand to households and businesses was coming to a close. Instead, the British energy market is shifting to a new model, in which small-scale electricity generation via rooftop solar panels and wind turbines will become increasingly important in meeting demand, according to a report published by Energy UK today. The report, Pathways to 2030, says that the model will also involve battery storage and the importing of electricity.

Times 24th Feb 2016 read more »

The UK “must try harder” to attract investment into renewable generation capacity, as the global power market enters “a year of reckoning”, analyst EY has warned. EY’s quarterly Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI), reeased this week, claims “a lack of regulatory clarity” from central Government has seen the UK join the likes of Saudi Arabia, Poland, and Australia as countries which are entering a critical 12 to 18 months to increase renewable project roll-outs.

Edie 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

Renewables – tidal

Ministers are considering a new form of subsidy for small-scale and tidal projects, according to a senior civil servant Decc. At a recent renewable conference in London, director of clean electricity for the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) Michael Rutter said the department had held a series of meetings with independent generators and utilities to discuss how a so-called ‘subsidy-free’ CfD for small-scale projects and tidal power might work. A ‘subsidy-free’, or ‘market stabilising’ CfD is a new form of limited subsidy being mooted for mature renewables technologies such as onshore wind. It would offer a limited amount of government support, and circumvent EU rules on State Aid.

Utility Week 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

The European Commission’s largest research and innovation programme – Horizon2020 – has awarded a grant of €10 million (£7.75m) to Scotrenewables’ floating tidal energy technology. The Floating Tidal Energy Commercialisation (FloTEC) project will demonstrate the potential for floating tidal systems to provide low-cost, high-value energy to the European grid mix.

Scottish Energy News 24th Feb 2016 read more »

CCS

Shadow Energy Minister Alan Whitehead has renewed his calls for a national carbon capture and storage (CCS) strategy, following the Government’s last-minute decision in November to axe a £1bn competition for CCS pilot projects.

Edie 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

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Published: 24 February 2016