25 February 2016

SMRs

The government’s high profile small nuclear reactor R&D programme received a boost today, as the Energy Technology Institute (ETI) unveiled plans for a major new research project to identify the initial steps needed to build pioneering new nuclear technologies in the UK. The government and industry-backed ETI announced it has appointed engineering and management consultancy Decision Analysis Services (DAS) to deliver its £300,000, six-month Small Modular Reactor Deployment Enablers project. The initiative follows a previous ETI project to assess the broad issues and timescales that would need to be addressed to begin a UK small modular reactor (SMR) fleet deployment from 2030 onwards. ETI said the project confirmed there were “still many uncertainties around SMR development in the UK but that progress needs to made across a number of areas from 2016 onwards if the option to include them in the UK’s future energy mix is to be kept open”.

Business Green 24th Feb 2016 read more »

Hinkley

Final Investment Decision on Hinkley Point will be this year.

Burnham-on-sea.com 24th Feb 2016 read more »

Sizewell

Jim Crawford, currently station director at Sizewell B, has been handed the role of project development director for EDF Energy’s Sizewell C. An EDF spokeswoman said: “The new role takes effect from March 1 and will see Jim take responsibility for leading the Sizewell C project to a successful final investment decision and into construction.”

East Anglian Daily Times 24th Feb 2016 read more »

Fukushima

Greenpeace Japan today announced it is conducting an underwater investigation into radiation contamination from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant into the Pacific Ocean. The survey will be conducted from a Japanese research vessel using a one of a kind Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), fitted with sensitive gamma radiation spectrometer and sediment sampler. On the opening day of the investigation, Mr Naoto Kan, the former Prime Minister of Japan and leader at the time of the nuclear accident, joined the crew of the Greenpeace flagship, the Rainbow Warrior. As the country nears the fifth anniversary of the Fukushima disaster Mr. Kan called for a complete phase out of nuclear power.

Greenpeace 25th Feb 2016 read more »

The operator of the Fukushima nuclear power plant hit by a tsunami in 2011 has admitted that it should have announced sooner that there was a nuclear meltdown at the site. The Tokyo Electric Power Company denied the meltdown for two months. The company now says the public declaration should have been done within days of the disaster. Experts have long said the melting began within hours of the reactor being struck by the tsunami.

BBC 24th Jan 2016 read more »

Five years ago next month, one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded hit Japan, destroying its long-standing myth of zero-risk nuclear energy. The meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi plant revealed significant shortcomings in Japan’s safety culture, which the country has since learned from and has been trying to address. Countries charging ahead with nuclear power should heed these lessons to avoid another Fukushima.There have been no deaths from the effects of the radiation (according to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation, any increase in cancer rates is expected to be too small to detect). On the other hand, forced evacuation is estimated to have played a role in over 1,000 premature deaths, and according to a World Health Organization health risk assessment, as with Chernobyl, the psychological toll of the disaster is a major concern and potentially outweighs other health consequences.

Foreign Affairs 16th Feb 2016 read more »

Levy Control Framework

The National Audit Office (NAO) has begun a review of spending under the Levy Control Framework (LCF), which limits costs of renewable electricity subsidies to consumers, to examine its effectiveness and impact on wholesale energy prices. “We will review how effectively the Framework has met its objectives to date, and how well placed it is to meet these objectives in the future,” the government’s financial watchdog said in a letter dated February 15 in response to the Energy and Climate Change Committee. The LCF is part of government reforms to control consumer energy bills stemming from the UK’s move towards a low carbon economy to meet renewable energy targets.

Platts 24th Feb 2016 read more »

The trade association for the UK energy industry Energy has called on the Government to “urgently review” the Levy Control Framework (LCF), providing clarity to companies and investors. In a report published yesterday (23 February), Energy UK 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.

Edie 24th Feb 2016 read more »

Energy Policy

The government has spent the period since the General Election in May instigating large cuts to subsidies for renewable energy and energy conservation programmes. It is claimed that these cuts will not jeopardise Britain’s ability to reduce carbon emissions on the scale required to adequately tackle climate change. It is also claimed that these cuts are necessary “to keep bills as low as possible for hardworking families”. So are they right? To answer this, we need to dig into the evidence. The most recent detailed assessment of the progress made by the UK on reducing carbon emissions was provided in a progress report by the government’s advisory body, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), published last summer. One particular issue was that a large proportion of recent reductions were due to little more than good luck. For example, warmer winter weather in 2014 had led to markedly reduced energy consumption, while a large drop in emissions in the industrial sector had been unexpected and still remains to be clearly explained. Such emissions reduction may be reversed if our luck does not continue to hold. One area where progress had especially stalled was building energy efficiency. A key problem here had been the general failure of the Coalition government’s Green Deal programme, introduced in 2012, whose shortcomings have been pointed out by numerous analysts. The scheme led to the annual rate of home energy efficiency installations falling by over 60% in the course of a single year, and the rate has continued to fall since. There has also been a general lack of progress in reducing emissions from the agricultural sector, while transport-related emissions actually rose slightly between 2013 and 2014. However, the CCC’s biggest criticism was the general lack of longer term climate policy measures beyond 2020 – and even major proposals that the government had indicated its commitment to, such as new nuclear power stations, were subject to serious doubts about the industry’s capability to deliver. The UK had been making steady, if inadequate, progress on reducing carbon emissions – up until the General Election. The backtracking since then has put this progress at risk, not only in terms of tackling climate change, but also by undermining efforts to reduce fuel poverty, create skilled jobs, improve air quality, increase energy security and improve economic performance.

Scientists for Global Responsibility 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

Waste Transport

HANT (Highlands Against Nuclear Transport) held its AGM in Dingwall on Friday 12 February 2016 and the guest speaker was Paul Monaghan MP (Caithness,Sutherland & Easter Ross). He addressed the issue of transport of spent fuel from Dounreay to Sellafield by placing it in the context of the current policies of the UK and Scottish Governments in relation to spent fuel and waste. He expressed the view that greater transparency and information from the nuclear industry about the transports was unlikely to be forthcoming due to the security issues involved.

HANT 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

Utilities

Europe’s largest power company on Wednesday reported a 5 per cent rise in underlying earnings for 2015, bucking the trend at some of the region’s biggest utility companies. Iberdrola, the Spanish utility, whose market valuation is bigger than any of its rivals, was boosted by its push into renewable energy. Its performance contrasted with that of many of its rivals, which have reported declining profits amid reduced demand for electricity from consumers and falling wholesale power prices. Iberdrola’s chairman, told the Financial Times: “While our colleagues elsewhere have been investing in coal, we have invested in wind. While they have been investing in exotic countries, we have been investing in the UK and US.”

FT 24th Feb 2016 read more »

Energy R&D

For six years, Bill Gates has been arguing that we need “energy miracles” to avoid catastrophic climate change. For six years, he has been wrong. In fact, Gates is more wrong now than he was in 2010. Why? Because in the last six years, we have seen that aggressive deployment of clean energy technology driven by government policies has — as was predicted — led to precisely the kind of game-changing cost-slashing innovation that Gates mistakenly thinks happens primarily from basic energy research and development (R&D). For six years, Gates has claimed we were wildly under-investing in basic energy R&D. Yet, somehow the very thing Gates says he wanted — huge price drops in key low-carbon technologies (like renewables and efficiency) and key enabling technologies (like batteries for storage) — kept happening. The fact is that accelerated deployment policies around the world created economies of scale and brought technologies rapidly down the learning curve, as the DOE reported last November.

Climate Progress 23rd Feb 2016 read more »

Europe

French utility EDF is calling for “rapid and radical reform” of Europe’s electricity market structure to allow for future investments in new generating capacity. This is needed, it says, to “face up to current challenges of the energy transition and to consumers’ expectations”. EDF chairman and CEO Jean-Bernard Lévy said in a statement yesterday, “Through its energy mix and its significant investment efforts, EDF actively supports the work undertaken by the European Commission in the energy sector, and calls for a redefinition of the European electricity market model in order to reconcile consumers’ interests with the transition to a low carbon world.” The company said it sees “two key actions” that should be prioritized in reforming the market model in order to provide a low-carbon electricity mix in Europe. Firstly, it calls for a “significant” floor price for carbon dioxide to be established within the EU to encourage investment in generation facilities using non-fossil fuels. According to EDF, this floor price should be set at a minimum of €30 to €40 ($33 to $44) per tonne. Secondly, EDF seeks the promotion of “effective capacity mechanisms so as to ensure that the continent has long-term security of energy supply, despite market turbulence, and in the best interest of all customers”.

World Nuclear News 24th Feb 2016 read more »

Trident

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is planning to attend a march in London against nuclear weapons at the weekend, alongside the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon, Plaid Cymru’s Leanne Wood and Caroline Lucas of the Green party.

Guardian 25th Feb 2016 read more »

Labour’s internal row over the future of the UK’s nuclear deterrent system has reignited after it emerged that Jeremy Corbyn would address a large rally of Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) supporters on 27 February. Labour deputy leader Tom Watson intervened in the debate during a speech to the EEF national manufacturing conference. “I’m in favour of a continuous at sea nuclear deterrent. My party’s policy favours a continuous at sea nuclear deterrent,” he told the Westminster audience. “Our trade unions, who represent thousands of workers in the 450 companies who form the supply chain that make it, are in favour of Trident.” He added: “You may have read that this view is not shared by all our MPs. But I have made it clear to David Cameron that if he honours his promise of a vote on Trident I will support it.

IB Times 24th Feb 2016 read more »

Renewables – offshore wind

ScottishPower Renewables has today confirmed it is to start work on the 714MW East Anglia ONE offshore wind farm, hailing it as the “best value offshore wind farm in the world”. The company said it had reached a final investment decision for the £2.5bn project, which is now expected to create up to 3,000 jobs during construction before coming fully online in 2020. The project is expected to deliver enough clean power for 500,000 homes and has secured a price support contract of £119/MWh through the UK’s first renewable energy auction process. ScottishPower Renewables said the contract meant the project would deliver clean power at a price that is 15 per cent lower than any other offshore wind farm project currently under construction in UK waters.

Business Green 24th Feb 2016 read more »

BBC 24th Feb 2016 read more »

Herald 25th Feb 2016 read more »

Scottish Energy News 24th Feb 2016 read more »

Renewables – solar

The Scottish arm of the Solar Trade Association (STA) has called on the Scottish government to consider a series of ‘key asks’ on solar to support the industry and help reach the country’s renewables targets. The Holyrood government plans to meet 100% of electricity demand from renewables by 2020 and has already achieved half of this target with 7.5GW supplying the nation. While 5GW comes from onshore wind, STA Scotland says solar can make an important contribution towards meeting this goal, as well as an “essential balance” to the mix of renewables in Scotland. To do this, the organisation has called for the establishment of a Solar Action Plan for Scotland, which would set targets for deployment of both solar PV and thermal systems. It suggests 2GW and 200,000m2 or 141MWth respectively for the two technologies by 2020 would be “ambitious and achievable” targets. In policy terms, it also asks for financial support mechanisms for all solar projects to be implemented using the devolved powers of the Scotland Bill following a widespread withdrawal of support by the UK government. These would bridge the gap to subsidy-free solar projects, which STA Scotland estimates will emerge in the early 2020s. The list of measures also includes changes to tax reliefs for companies producing renewables and community energy projects; a Green Deal replacement scheme covering both domestic and commercial properties, which would encompass energy efficiency and renewables; removal of the need for planning permission for rooftop solar; and a raft of other policy suggestions.

Solar Portal 24th Feb 2016 read more »

Energy Voice 24th Feb 2016 read more »

Scottish Energy News 25th Feb 2016 read more »

Renewables – tidal

Tocardo – a Dutch-based tidal energy turbine manufacturer – has signed up to demonstrate a 20 year pre-commercial array at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney.

Scottish Energy News 25th Feb 2016 read more »

Local Energy

The UK’s first ever ‘council solar bond’ has been launched today. offering people the chance to invest in Swindon’s new local community solar farm. The £4.8m initiative, which comes from Swindon Borough Council and peer-to-peer investment platform Abundance, will be funded by investments from both the council and UK-based small investors. The minimum stake is just £5, with an effective rate of return of six per cent from the project paid in cash twice yearly.

Business Green 24th Feb 2016 read more »

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Published: 25 February 2016