26 January 2014

Sellafield

Damning criticism of the consortium overseeing the expensive clean-up of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant has been revealed in a series of hostile letters written by John Clarke, head of the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Mr Clarke accused Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) of undermining confidence and damaging the entire project’s reputation, as well as criticising Tom Zarges, the consortium chairman, of setting “unduly conservative” targets. In one letter, written in November 2012, Mr Clarke attached slides that outlined the NDA’s frustrations with NMP’s decontamination work at the Cumbrian facility, including concerns about the “quality of leadership” and the “pace of change”, which it said “feels too slow”. The harsh tenor of the letters – one of which demanded “improved performance in a number of key areas, including schedule delivery” – adds weight to suggestions that Mr Clarke did not want NMP to continue at Sellafield. The NDA looked at bringing the decontamination back under the management of the public sector. A critical 292-page report by the accountancy firm KPMG last year showed that nine of the 11 biggest projects on the site, including the construction of a storage facility for radioactive sludge, were a combined £2bn overbudget. Seven were also behind schedule, while KPMG argued that the structure of NMP’s contract was “inappropriate” and was designed in a way that sought to “maximise shareholder returns”. NMP is a consortium of California-based URS, France’s Areva and British engineer Amec. Dr David Lowry, an independent environmental policy and research consultant and a member of Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates, obtained the letters. He said: “This is a massive indictment of NMP’s failure to deliver – and then to give them an extension is almost inexplicable.

Independent 26th Jan 2014 read more »

Cumbria Trust 26th Jan 2014 read more »

Nuclear Costs

I have been asking DECC via my MP how they justified the £92.5/MWh strike price for Hinkley C. Although it is difficult to project future energy prices it has been done by DECC. Note that these prices are not adjusted for inflation. As you can see only the ‘High Price’ scenario (light blue) goes above the agreed strike price (red) and then only for a couple of years. All other scenarios are substantially below the strike price. It looks like even in the worse case the British electricity user is getting a bad deal.It is not surprising that city analysis are ‘flabbergasted’ at the deal done for us by the government with EDF and the Chinese.

Peter Lux 25th Jan 2014 read more »

Uranium Supplies

There’s a significant uncovered long term uranium requirement. With so many projects being deferred or cancelled outright, with existing mines being shutdown, with Japan restarting and with continued demand growth from other regions of the world it’s going to become increasingly difficult for utilities to meet uncovered uranium needs. Globally mined uranium is far from abundant; It can take 11 or more years to develop, permit and build a mine; Uranium demand could more than double over the next 16 years; The here today (but unrecognized by most) uranium supply pinch is not going to go away for a very long time.

Market Oracle 26th Jan 2014 read more »

Utilities

Sam Laidlaw is now starting to prepare for a graceful exit. Two sources, with impeccable knowledge of the business, expect he will gone by this time next year. That may be a little bold but it is certainly true that Rick Haythornthwaite, the new chairman who took over from Sir Roger Carr at the end of 2013, has been given the task of planning for a smooth succession. The board and Mr Laidlaw have discussed the issue.

Telegraph 25th Jan 2014 read more »

Energy Policy

Dominic Lawson: Admit it, greenies: the game’s up for renewable energy. Merkel’s “insane” policies, especially the decision to abandon nuclear, the only significant generator of non-intermittent CO2-free power, were also partly based on the exigencies of domestic party politics. Just as Cameron had declared “vote blue, go green” before the 2010 general election, so Merkel had been determined to neutralise the Green party, a powerful political opponent, ahead of last year’s general election in Germany. It worked; but as Die Welt pointed out last week, “It is the German taxpayer who now has to meet the costs of this political success.”

Times 26th Jan 2014 read more »

Scotland

The Forestry Commission in Scotland is risking one of Scotland’s staple industries by failing to replace trees felled to construct wind farms, the head of the UK’s £300 million sawmilling sector has said. David Sulman is director of the Stirling-based UK Forest Products Association, which represents 60 British companies, one-third of them located in Scotland. He accused the FCS of risking “a rapid decline of the domestic wood processing industry” by failing to plan for future stocks of commercial conifers.

Herald 26th Jan 2014 read more »

US – new reactors

Nuclear power plants won’t be coming to Indiana anytime soon, after all. A key state senator has pulled his bill that would have provided financial incentives to utilities to build nuclear plants. Sen. James Merritt, R-Indianapolis, confirmed Tuesday that he won’t have hearings on his bill this session and said construction of a nuclear plant is “probably more than a decade away.”

Indy Star 21st Jan 2014 read more »

Japan – energy costs

Energy costs in Japan are reaching a critical point. The economy is growing too slowly to offset the burden of increased commodity energy imports. Renewables will add further costs. Bringing the country’s nuclear capacity back on-line appears to be the only option, but the process is proving slow. As it progresses, Japanese oil imports will fall, but LNG and coal usage in fiscal 2014 are still expected to reach historic highs.

The Barrel 24th Jan 2014 read more »

Germany – Energiewende

Germany’s energy turnaround, or “Energiewende”, has become one of that country’s most far-reaching projects in industrial policy. By 2050, renewable energy resources are supposed to provide 60 percent of country’s gross final energy consumption and 80 percent of its electricity supply, with an intermediate goal of 35 percent of renewable power generation in 2020, according to the current plans of the German government. These ambitious objectives will have serious implications for Russia: First, Germany’s dependence on Russian natural gas imports will decline in the longer term. But the Russian economy may benefit from Germany’s experience with the transition to renewable energy sources, especially with respect to decentralized energy provision and local value creation.

Energy Daily 22nd Jan 2014 read more »

Community Energy

Local communities will be offered up to £150,000 each to create their own renewable energy through solar panels or wind turbines and take on the Big Six gas and electricity giants, the Government will announce tomorrow. Ed Davey, the Climate Change Secretary, will launch a £10m Urban Community Energy Fund to kick-start projects in England that could see one million homes supplied with electricity from “home-made” generation by 2020. Neighbouring households are being encouraged to group together to apply for the funding, which could pay for solar panels, wind turbines or hydro-electric generators that could save families hundreds of pounds a year in fuel bills. The fund is being announced as part of Britain’s first Community Energy Strategy, which the sector says is a way for consumers to regain control over soaring bills. Mr Davey has also encouraged householders to use collective switching – where thousands of people can come together to change supplier on the same day, and therefore secure a cheaper deal – to stand up to the Big Six.

Independent 26th Jan 2014 read more »

Renewables – solar costs

Gore highlighted the reduction in costs of renewable energy. “We are seeing a repeat of the computer industry which didn’t fully appreciate the economic implications of a cost down curve that is durable. Within six years 80% of the world’s population will live in regions where photovoltaics will be equal or less than the price of the grid.”

Guardian 25th Jan 2014 read more »

Renewables – Scotland

Major renewables projects in Fife and the Highlands have been given planning consent by the Scottish ministers. Forth Energy plans to invest £325m in a combined heat and power biomass plant at the Port of Rosyth. Eneco Wind UK has proposed a £65m, 20-turbine wind farm at Moy, near Inverness. The wind farm was given consent in 2012, but the developer re-submitted the application because they wanted to increase its generating capacity.

BBC 24th Jan 2014 read more »

Fossil Fuels

Council officials are facing disciplinary investigations over a £132 million hole in their budget for cleaning up old opencast coal mines, the Sunday Herald can reveal. East Ayrshire Council is set to launch the investigations this week after a damning independent review exposed a series of serious failings in the council’s control of coal companies. Last year the council commissioned the Scottish government’s former chief planner, Jim Mackinnon, to review how it had ended up £132 million short of the money needed to restore the landscapes scarred by 22 mines. This followed the collapse of two major coal companies.

Herald 26th Jan 2014 read more »

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Published: 26 January 2014