25 May 2015

Radwaste

Following a public consultation, we have taken the decision to adopt a policy for the geological disposal of higher activity radioactive waste. We consider that geological disposal can only be delivered in Wales on the basis of voluntary partnership with a community or communities willing to enter discussions about potentially hosting a geological disposal facility and for those discussions to be successfully concluded; a process which may take over a decade. This consultation seeks views on the processes by which a GDF might be sited in Wales, and to provide information to potential volunteer host communities which may want to enter discussions, without commitment, about hosting a geological disposal facility.

Welsh Government 19th May 2015 read more »

Nuclear Power

Former US Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman Gregory Jaczko yesterday said that nuclear energy is playing an increasingly insignificant role in electricity generation worldwide, and that, contrary to popular belief, it is actually more expensive than a range of methods of energy generation. At a news conference in Taipei, Jaczko said that the future for nuclear power generation in the US and worldwide is one of “decreasing use and eventual phase-out.”

Taipei Times 24th May 2015 read more »

Terror

Islamic State (Isis) claims it could purchase its first nuclear weapon within 12 months from Pakistan and then smuggle it into the US. The claim was made in the group’s propaganda magazine Dabiq, saying the situation is “more possible today than it was just one year ago”. According to the article, the terror group is expanding so rapidly it could afford to purchase the weapon.

IB Times 24th May 2015 read more »

Germany

The conflict at the heart of Germany’s energy policy is coming to a head. Can Germany claim to be an environmental leader while still burning more coal than any other developed country apart from the US? The issue is easier to describe than to resolve. Germany has led the EU in adopting “green” policies, including the promotion and subsidy of renewables. Energy consumers, including industry, have tolerated ever-rising energy costs. The process of closing Germany’s nuclear power stations by 2022 has begun. These policies enjoy support across the political spectrum — the Green party won just 7.3 per cent of the vote in the last federal election but green ideas now permeate the thinking of all parties. The coalition between the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats is committed to reduce emissions by 40 per cent by 2020, 70 per cent by 2040 and 80 to 95 per cent by 2050. The German approach is being exported to Brussels with a drive under the European Commission to shape an EU energy policy along the same lines. In political terms, the decision on what happens to coal is a crucial test of will between two of the key forces in German society — the green movement on one side and industry and the unions on the other. The momentum that has been with the greens is being tested. The outcome matters beyond Germany. If the measures against coal go ahead there is every chance something similar will be applied across the EU. If the trade unions and the utilities win we may be seeing the turning point — the moment at which the green agenda reaches the limits of the possible in terms of the sacrifices electorates are prepared to make.

FT 24th May 2015 read more »

Japan

Four years after the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, Japan is about to return to using nuclear power. In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, all of Japan’s 48 other nuclear reactors were shut down for inspection and upgrading. There is still widespread opposition to re-opening them – but the government says Japan needs nuclear energy. The first two reactors to be given the green light are at the Sendai nuclear plant in Kyushu. The BBC’s Tokyo correspondent Rupert Wingfield-Hayes was the first foreign journalist to be allowed inside the plant since its shutdown.

BBC 25th May 2015 read more »

Saudi Arabia

Rumours abound that Saudi Arabia may seek nuclear weapons as a result of dissatisfaction at the prospects of a nuclear deal between Iran and the international community. Posturing aside, there are reasons to doubt their ability to acquire nuclear weapons. Nonetheless, there are precautionary actions that likeminded governments, including the UK, should take to head off any attempt by Saudi Arabia to acquire nuclear weapons. The first should be to make clear that nuclear weapons would make Saudi Arabia less safe not least because the country’s substantial appetite for advanced Western-manufactured weapons would go unsatisfied.

Telegraph 23rd May 2015 read more »

Iran

Iran has agreed to grant United Nations inspectors “managed access” to military sites as part of a future deal over its contested nuclear programme, a negotiator said on Sunday, apparently contradicting earlier comments by the nation’s supreme leader. The comments by the Iranian deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, carried by state television, came after he and the foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, attended a reportedly stormy closed session of parliament.

Guartdian 24th May 2015 read more »

Trident

The UK doggedly maintains an ‘independent nuclear deterrent’ but a naval officer has blown the whistle on the system’s inherent insecurity—with its potentially incalculable implications. The Royal Navy might have hoped that the detention on 18 May of Able Seaman William McNeilly, who had just revealed the poor security of Britain’s submarine-based nuclear-weapons system, might bury the issue of its safety in public. If so, it was not reckoning with the capacity of the massively-enlarged contingent of Scottish National Party MPs, following the general election, to make hay at Westminster—the four Trident submarines are based at Faslane in Scotland and the SNP had made opposition to the system’s expensive replacement a campaigning focus. Now it has secured a debate on Trident safety on 28 May.

Open Democracy 24th May 2015 read more »

Renewables – solar

COUNCIL buildings across Edinburgh are to be fitted with community-owned solar panels, it has been announced today. Edinburgh Council will work in partnership with the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative (ECSC) to deliver the panels to 25 council buildings across the city. The initiative is believed to be the largest community-owned urban renewable energy project in the UK. Shares will be offered to organisations or individuals who want to invest in the initiative, although priority allocation will be given to Edinburgh residents.

Herald 25th May 2015 read more »

Oh dear. Here we go again. The solar industry is clearly winning the battle to turn the global electricity industry upside down and inside out. The plunging cost of battery storage will accelerate that process. It’s just that some people have a hard time accepting it. The latest big headlines are from the Grattan Institute, which wrote in a report that the economic costs of rooftop solar outweighed the benefits by $9bn. When you actually look at the numbers, they’re a witch’s brew of mistaken assumptions and omissions.

Guardian 25th May 2015 read more »

In this week’s SME Focus we hear from an entrepreneur who has built a profitable renewable energy business while battling challenges such as apparent inconsistencies in the local authority planning process.

Herald 25th May 2015 read more »

Biomass

The world’s first mass-produced, fully automated biomass micro power plant has be brought to the UK market, with the developer claiming SMEs could save up to 30% on their energy bills by using the system. The E3 biomass boiler, which is the smallest of their kind in the world, generates both heat and electricity. A single system can fit through a standard door frame and be installed in less than a day.

Edie 22nd May 2015 read more »

Energy Efficiency

More than one million UK customers have now signed up for E.ON’S web-based Saving Energy Toolkit. The Toolkit was created with software provider Opower to help customers gain better insight into their home energy use and find ways to cut their consumption. It provides users with personalised tips on ways to save energy, such as unplugging unused devices, setting thermostats more wisely and turning off unused lights. UK-wide domestic energy consumption fell by 14% in 2014, although some of the drop was attributable to warmer temperatures.

Edie 22nd May 2015 read more »

Energy Storage

The UK can cut the cost of decarbonising its electricity supply by more than £3.5bn if it can create a grid-scale electricity storage system to balance the variable output of renewables. That’s according to a report from QBC, a company looking to build such a system. The group’s technology of choice is pump storage – pumping water uphill into large reservoirs when power is abundant and then letting it flow down again to generate power when needed. QBC is currently developing a grid-scale pumped hydro site in North Wales, and claims it has identified locations throughout Britain with low planning risk that could deliver 10GW of such storage. It claims this amount of storage would come at an overall cost to the UK at least two times lower than the current strategy of renewables supported by stand-by fossil fuelled generation. It would also cut 5m tonnes of CO2 emissions. A reliable energy storage system would also mean the UK needs to build less renewable capacity, as each new GW of storage would displace at least one GW of future offshore wind – at less than half the cost, said the report. Imperial College estimates that by 2020 Britain will effectively be throwing away up to 27% of wind electricity. Storage could reportedly enable Britain to cut that waste to just 7%.

Edie 22nd May 2015 read more »

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Published: 25 May 2015