24 January 2017

Sizewell

Community leaders are set to withhold their backing for a £14billion new nuclear power plant on the Suffolk coast – saying EDF Energy needs to do a lot more work to reassure the public. Senior councillors and officials are voicing “deep concerns” over some aspects of the latest consultation and how the impacts of the massive development will be mitigated. While they support the principal of a new power station and recognise the benefits for the local economy, they say there is a “lack of information” still – four years since the last consultation – on a range of vital issues, including traffic and transport, the environment, and design of the plant. They say it is unclear how social and economic benefits will be delivered to communities, and some areas of concern have not been covered at all. Both Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Coastal District Council have been frustrated by the short period of the Stage 2 consultation, which they say made it challenging for the councils to coordinate their response. They are urging EDF to allow significantly more time for the Stage 3 consultation, the final stage, given the large amount of material expected to be released at that point.

East Anglian Daily Times 24th Jan 2017 read more »

In its second consultation for the EDF’s planned Sizewell C nuclear power station there’s a strange omission, writes Peter Lux: that the plant would use 1,600 m3 of mains water a day, adding to stresses on important local wetlands like RSPB’s Minsmere reserve. The omission is not just strange – it’s also illegal and could make the entire exercise invalid.

Ecologist 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

Hinkley

EDF has raised the spectre of delays or cost overruns to its £18 billion Hinkley Point nuclear plant as a result of Brexit, warning that any restrictions to trade and movement of labour could hamper the delivery of energy projects. The French state-controlled company said Britain would have to import goods and skilled labour from around the world in order to make the “very substantial investments in new infrastructure” needed to keep the lights on. “There is a risk that restrictions on trade and movement of labour will increase the costs of essential new infrastructure developments and could delay their delivery,” it said in a submission to MPs on the business, energy and industrial strategy select committee. Although EDF did not mention Hinkley Point, it said Britain’s import requirements would include “critical goods and services in the nuclear supply chain and specialist nuclear skills”. Hinkley Point is the only new nuclear power station to have been given the go-ahead in the UK. In its submission to the committee, the Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) warned that potential changes as a result of Brexit could also jeopardise other nuclear projects. It said investments may not be forthcoming unless there was stable energy policy, clarity on the market and in particular “confidence that there will be continuing access to skills, both specialist nuclear skills fr om European/International companies and construction labour and the easy supply of goods and services across EU borders”. NuGen and Horizon are struggling to secure financing and are understood to be in talks with the government about potential direct investment in their projects. Toshiba is under particular pressure after making huge writedowns on its US nuclear business. The government yesterday highlighted the nuclear industry as a key part of its industrial strategy, appointing NIA chairman Lord Hutton of Furness to “oversee work to improve UK competitiveness and skills in nuclear”.

Times 24th Jan 2017 read more »

A new 35 year contract to build the Hinkley C power station signed between the UK government and the French company EDF energy and China’s CGN in September 2016 has given rise to a number of concerns both regarding security and what the ultimate price of the electricity for the consumer will be. At a recent Cambridge Public Policy workshop participants with expertise in energy policy debated our energy futures and the UK’s portfolio approach to energy policy including a new nuclear Renaissance and whether or not the contract itself is fit for purpose.

Cambridge JBS Sound Cloud 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

Wylfa

Horizon Nuclear Power has been cleared to begin purchasing major equipment for its proposed new reactor at Wylfa Newydd. The independent assessment organisation, Bureau Veritas, issued Horizon with a Licensee Certificate for the procurement of Long Lead Items. Long Lead Items (LLIs) have long manufacturing times and are required early in the construction of the power station and need to be ordered in advance of the main build on site. Joe Savage, head of engineering procurement and construction at Horizon said: “This is a significant milestone for Horizon as it marks another step in our journey towards becoming a Nuclear Site Licensee and the construction and operation of Wylfa Newydd.

Daily Post 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

Insider Media 24th Jan 2017 read more »

Dounreay

The scale of the operation involved in transporting hundreds of staff working to decommission Dounreay has been laid out by the nuclear facility. A fleet of buses is required to get workers to the site on the Caithness coast every day – at a cost of about £2.5million over four years. Details of the mass commute are laid out in a new contract being offered by Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL) – which is looking for a company to run the shuttle bus service. It is needed because Dounreay, which lies west of Thurso, is not on a public transport route from the various remote and rural areas staff travel from. There is also limited car parking space for the hundreds of staff who travel to work every day. DSRL estimates in the new contract that 376 workers will use the buses for commuting.

Press & Journal 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

Sellafield

SELLAFIELD and the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) have signed a new deal, designed to get value for money for the taxpayer. This new ‘collaboration agreement’ sets out how the two bodies will work together at the Sellafield site. It was signed by the two organisations’ respective chairmen, Tony Fountain of Sellafield’s and Andrew Mathews of the NNL and is designed to deliver the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s objective to speed up the clean-up in west Cumbria.

In Cumbria 24th Jan 2017 read more »

Industrial Strategy

The Government has unveiled its much-anticipated Industrial Strategy, outlining plans to transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient economy. But does the green paper offer enough tangible evidence that we are on the best pathway to a low-carbon economy? The broad consensus of green groups and sustainability professionals in the immediate aftermath of today’s Industrial Strategy paper suggests that the country does, at the very least, have a clear opportunity to drive forward with low-carbon commitments. Underlining the vision of the 132-page Strategy lies a plan to “deliver affordable energy and clean growth”. The Goverment aims to achieve this ambition by upgrading infrastructure, improving supply chains and increasing investment in research and innovation. Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) director Richard Black was among the first to react to that statement. “At first glance, the Industrial Strategy announcement seems to herald evolution not revolution regarding energy and the transition to a low-carbon economy,” Black said. “A commitment to energy security and tackling climate change are taken as givens, but it’s the third leg of the ‘trilemma’ that reveals the opportunities that the Government hopes to grasp, by exploiting innovative new technologies in the most cost-effective way possible.” Today’s paper is not without its shortcomings, however. For instance, the blueprint fails to address the renewable energy policy gaps created in recent years through subsidy cuts for onshore wind and solar panels. In fact, the paper refers to the launch of a new review aimed at lowering the cost of cutting carbon in the power and industrial sectors – which is likely to include reductions in subsidies for offshore wind energy. The text goes on to underlines a “settled policy position” which reflects Government’s commitment to meeting its legally-binding targets under the Climate Change Act, so it appears that little hope exists for renewed financial support for renewables through this plan. Moreover, while low-carbon heat has been often regarded as the failing element of the Government’s green policy, this paper provides no indication of reversing the controversial cut to the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). This will come as a matter of concern to this sector, considering that the UK is not even halfway towards reaching a 12% target for heat generated from renewables. Additionally, there was no specific reference for the now-stagnant carbon capture and storage (CCS) industry, although Climate Minister Nick Hurd has previously insisted that the Government is refusing to close the door on the technology.

Edie 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

Prime Minister Theresa May has unveiled plans for a new, more interventionist, industrial strategy, designed to boost the post-Brexit UK economy. The government will be “stepping up to a new, active role”, Mrs May said. The plan was published in a green paper as she held her first regional cabinet meeting in the north-west of England. Broadband, transport and energy are highlighted in a bid to “align central government infrastructure investment with local growth priorities”.

BBC 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

Theresa May’s promise to bolster Britain’s “world-leading” industries through a new industrial strategy was met with faint praise from business leaders amid claims it was little more than a sprawling discussion paper.

FT 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

Energy Policy – Scotland

The draft of Scotland’s new Climate Change Plan was published last week. It outlined lofty aims for greater cuts in greenhouse gas emissions – 66 per cent by 2032 – and how this can be achieved. The plan has received a broadly positive response, though there have been calls for more far-reaching action in some areas. Today will see the unveiling of our first ever Energy Strategy, which will set out the long-term vision for the power sector and is aligned to the new climate goals. It will bring together the Scottish Government’s plans across all areas of energy – electricity, heat and transport – for the first time. We’ll find out what exactly is in it this afternoon, but it is expected to focus on three main themes. How to ensure the country has secure and affordable energy supplies in the future while decarbonising the sector; creating an integrated system, taking in heat, transport and power production; and promoting local community involvement and ownership of generation schemes. It will also take into consideration shifts in UK government policy, new powers being devolved to Holyrood, emerging innovations and of course Scotland’s new climate targets. We’ve been doing pretty well on greening up electricity generation, with renewables providing 57.7 per cent of demand in 2015. However, electricity is only responsible for 21 per cent of our total energy needs. Heat accounts for more than half – 54 per cent – and transport 25 per cent. The most recent figures show only 13 per cent of our total final energy consumption came from renewables in 2013. The proportion of energy for heat and transport derived from renewables is a paltry three and four per cent respectively. The new Energy Strategy offers a huge opportunity to benefit not only the environment by cutting emissions but also to improve health and quality of life for Scots through reduced air pollution, more jobs and combatting fuel poverty. Hot on the heels of the new Energy Strategy we’re expecting the launch of a public consultation on unconventional oil and gas, including fracking for shale gas and extraction of coalbed methane. A moratorium has been in place for the past two years while evidence was gathered. The reports are in and the country will now get a chance to have their say. So it’s fair to say there will be a lot of eyes on energy minister Paul Wheelhouse when he takes the floor at Holyrood this afternoon.

Scotsman 24th Jan 2017 read more »

SCOTLAND’S first comprehensive energy policy should set out a “bold vision” for the future to put the country on course to produce all our energy from renewable sources, without fracking or new nuclear power, according to a leading environmentalist. Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland (FoES), was speaking as the Scottish Government prepared to publish its new energy strategy. The framework includes ambitious targets for renewables and reducing emissions. “We are already doing very well on electricity but we must build on this and also transform energy use in transport and heating, getting away from climate-wrecking fossil fuels as soon as we can,” Dixon said. “New nuclear power and fracking must have no place in Scotland’s energy future. Scotland is blessed with clean energy resources and we need to harness the huge energies in the wind, waves and sun to build a modern low-carbon economy the equal of any in the world. “We also need to make sure that communities have a major share of the benefits that come from their renewable energy resources. “The strategy should show how the Government plans to support workers employed in fossil fuels to transition fairly to jobs in the clean energy economy, if they so wish.” Another environmental group, WWF Scotland, said several key areas should feature in the strategy, including a renewable target of 50 per cent by 2030, greater action to reduce the carbon impact of Scotland’s heating needs, and further measures to tackle the impact of our cold and leaky housing stock on emissions and fuel poverty. Gina Hanrahan, the group’s senior climate and energy policy officer, said: “Research shows clearly that a target of generating 50 per cent of all of Scotland’s energy fr om renewables by 2030 is necessary and achievable. The union GMB Scotland said the policy should be balanced to support “a just transition” towards a low-carbon economy However, it does see a place for Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse to include new nuclear and shale gas sources. The union said the Hunterston B and Torness nuclear power stations contributed around 33 per cent of our electricity generation and with 78 per cent of our households requiring gas for heating, our domestic energy requirements could not be met by renewables alone. GMB argued that the low-carbon transition must be a just process that supported working-class communities, industries and jobs. Gary Smith, the union’s Scotland secretary, said: “Serious consideration should be given to a new nuclear station to replace Hunterston B – which has recently received its second lifespan extension – and Torness, which are scheduled for decommissioning in 2023 and 2030 respectively.

The National 24th Jan 2017 read more »

Environmentalists have reiterated calls for half of Scotland’s energy needs to be met by renewables by 2030 as the government prepares to publish a new draft energy strategy. Energy minister Paul Wheelhouse is due to make a parliamentary statement setting out policies and proposals for the power, transport and electricity sectors. Last week, the Scottish Government published a draft climate change plan which aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 66% by 2032. Scotland exceeded an interim target of delivering a 42% emissions reduction in 2014 – six years early. WWF Scotland highlighted that only 13% of Scotland’s total final energy consumption came from renewable sources in 2013. Senior climate and energy policy officer Gina Hanrahan said: “Research shows clearly that a target of generating 50% of all of Scotland’s energy from renewables by 2030 is necessary and achievable.

Energy Voice 24th Jan 2017 read more »

Members of Scotland’s Future Energy Taskforce have today released their recommendations ahead of the publication of the Scottish Government’s much anticipated ‘Energy Strategy’ later this week. Brought together by WWF Scotland to inform the Scottish Government’s new energy strategy, the Taskforce is an independent panel of energy experts from industry and academia. The Taskforce is calling for a bold vision to decarbonise Scotland’s energy system and hit climate change targets, and says that the Scottish Government will need to use all the powers at its disposal, including targets, incentives and regulation to bring about the changes required. Among the recommendations is a call for energy use for space heating in buildings to be significantly reduced thanks to strong regulation “which ensures that all new buildings are built to zero carbon standards, underpins incentives for energy efficiency investment in existing buildings, and is driving a long-term investment programme in low carbon heating solutions”.

Scottish Construction Now 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

Politics

Keith Barnham: Labour faces a dilemma in the Copeland byelection, given that the Sellafield reprocessing plant lies within the constituency. This can be resolved by proposing a two-pronged investment programme. Among the wider electorate, public support for nuclear power is consistently below 40%, while two-thirds or more support wind and solar power. Labour should propose to cancel the subsidy for new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point and Moorside. Part of the savings could be used to boost renewables; they can generate more electric power and jobs in Cumbria and Somerset, more quickly and cheaply than nuclear. The remainder of the savings could create new jobs at Sellafield to boost its vital work in finding a safe, secure and politically acceptable solution to the nuclear waste problem.

Guardian 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

PLEX

A nuclear energy company is trying to keep Scotland’s aging power stations open years longer than is allowed under current government regulations. EDF Energy is asking the UK government’s nuclear watchdog to allow its power station in Hunterston, North Ayrshire, to continue running until it is 47 years old, and its facility in Torness, East Lothian, to remain open until it is 42 years old. The power plants were designed to last only 30 years, according to investigative news site the Ferret. The revelation has caused concern among experts and politicians, who fear continued use of the nuclear reactors could put the public at risk.

Russia Today 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

UAE

The United Arab Emirates could start operating its first nuclear power plant within months as the regulating authority issued on Sunday the licenses required to transport and store nuclear fuel. Christer Viktorsson, the director of the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR), described the approval of the licenses as a “major milestone”, which marks the last step before the first nuclear reactor becomes operational in May.

The New Arab 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

Trident

Atomic Angst: The security of Britain is not served by hiding a failed test of a Trident missile. The government should be open and argue the case for a nuclear deterrent.

The Times 24th Jan 2017 read more »

SDLP demands explanation after claims nuclear deterrent missile malfunctioned off the coast of Florida

Belfast Telegraph 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

Vanunu

Mordechai Vanunu, the Israeli whistleblower who revealed his country’s secret nuclear weapons programme to the Sunday Times, has been convicted of violating the terms of his release and may be heading back to prison.

Telegraph 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

Renewables – offshore wind

The green energy industry has hit another milestone as offshore wind companies reveal their costs have tumbled much faster than expected and should soon be level with gas or coal-fired power stations. Wind farms built out at sea have always had higher costs than conventional power generators based onshore, partly because they are newer and have to withstand harsh weather conditions. But the cost of electricity from projects in the UK plunged by nearly a third in four years to an average of £97 per megawatt hour during 2015-16, according to a report on schemes built by Dong Energy and other developers. That means the sector has beaten by four years a target it set with the British government in 2012 to drive costs down to £100/MWh by 2020, according to a report commissioned by the Offshore Wind Programme Board, a UK body involving industry and government representatives. “It’s very significant,” said Benj Sykes, British country manager for wind power at Dong and co-chair of a UK industry and government group overseeing efforts to cut the sector’s costs. “Our efforts have brought the cost down way faster than we set in our own target, We’ve seen other renewable technologies do this in other parts of the world but this is the first time we can really say we expect offshore wind to be in the next decade on the same sort of cost structure as other power generators.”

FT 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

Renewables – solar

According to the latest data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF), unsubsidized large-scale solar is beginning to beat not only wind but also coal and natural gas at current prices. If true, and if the same begins to apply elsewhere, it will be a turning point in global electricity markets making solar-generated power the cheapest form of electricity generation.

Energy Post 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

Local Energy

Letter: Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris and Chair of C40, Lord Mayor of Sydney, Governor of Tokyo and Mayor of Cape Town. The next four years will be crucial in determining if the world can avoid the worst impacts of climate change. As America inaugurates a president who has cast doubt on global warming, European leaders are distracted by Brexit and the rise of populist movements and China adjusts to providing global leadership on climate change, it is now cities and businesses that are delivering the boldest ideas and most ambitious plans for a sustainable low-carbon future. As political and business leaders meet in Davos, the message from city halls and boardrooms is clear. The urgency of the climate crisis and the economic potential of shifting towards a greener future are too well established to be rolled back by forces of isolationism at a national level. To achieve the transformation needed will require $375bn of investment in sustainable infrastructure in cities, according to C40. Fortunately, our efforts to tackle climate change also present incredible opportunities. The projects that cut emissions, clean the air that we breathe and build low-carbon infrastructure will also improve public health, encourage social inclusion and create jobs. Through networks like C40 and We Mean Business, city leaders and businesses are examining the data and committing to serious, science-based targets to reduce emissions and cut their environmental impact. Cities are where the future happens first. It has been the same throughout history and it is true once again as we face the unprecedented threat of climate change. If we cannot rely on the leadership of nations in these crucial four years, then mayors, chief executives, scientists, entrepreneurs and citizens will bear the burden instead. The consequences of failure are too dire and the opportunities for us to succeed are simply too great.

FT 24th Jan 2017 read more »

Green Investment Bank

The UK government is to ditch plans to sell the Edinburgh-based Green Investment Bank (GIB) in favour of a £3.8 billion flotation, according to a newspaper report yesterday. The report, in the Sunday Times, came after calls from politicians north and south of the Border to halt the acquisition of the renewables-focused lender by Australian investment firm Macquarie, chosen in October as preferred bidder, with concerns including asset-stripping. Additionally, MSP Alison Johnstone said last week that in the ¬current -circumstances “it would be foolish for the GIB to be purged of its successful ¬ventures in financing key environmental projects throughout Scotland and the UK”. A separate report has cited a Whitehall official ¬saying that while an initial public offering was a possibility, it was not set to take place in the short term. The GIB was founded in 2012 by the UK government, backed by public funds, and has invested more than £2.7bn in environmental projects.

Scotsman 23rd Jan 2017 read more »

Energy Efficiency

So What If There Were a Larger and More Sustained Energy Efficiency Effort across the Economy, What Would be the Impact? The real challenge of positive economic impacts is to those policy makers who are working hard to develop sustainable energy savings. As disposable household income is spent, additional energy is consumed as the economy seeks to meet increased demand for goods and services. Over time this can erode the initial absolute energy savings of the original initiative. Thus, a key challenge in the near term is to better understand this type of economic rebound effect and its impact on net energy savings. Improving our understanding of how people use this income released by lower energy bills will allow energy policy makers to better forecast net energy efficiency outcomes and to better accommodate economic growth, while retaining energy savings and carbon reductions.

University of Strathclyde 11th Jan 2017 read more »

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Published: 24 January 2017