Leonie Greene: The government’s consultation on the rights of fracking companies to drill under your home was published the day after the local and European elections, hours after the polls closed. Perhaps that was a wise move given that public support for fracking seems to be falling. It hardly needs former Conservative energy secretary Lord Howell to warn that fracking “could prove extremely dangerous politically”. The careful timing on the latest announcement shows he may not be the only one who thinks so. The government’s enthusiasm for fracking sits in stark contrast to its erratic rhetoric and actions on solar energy. The solar industry has recently been ambushed by a fourth review in less than three years. Constant policy upheaval makes investment to reduce costs difficult, and the latest review is particularly ill considered. Usually governments offer a grace period to investors if they are going to change financial arrangements, but this one offers almost none – which means many emerging solar companies that invested in good faith are set for a financial hit. For all the rhetoric about a shift to rooftop solar, the government’s own policy framework actually limits this important market. What we need politicians to do is to champion good quality solar farms and to liberate the huge potential of the UK’s rooftop market. If the government can provide a steady framework, the solar industry can definitely be the cheapest low-carbon technology by around 2018, and ready to take on fossil fuels with no public subsidies at all soon after that. It is time politicians listened a lot less to big polluting international energy companies, and a lot more to British entrepreneurs who are creating real competition and delivering a clean energy revolution through this extraordinarily benign and accessible technology. They should also listen to the public. The Department of Energy and Climate Change’s own opinion poll tracker shows solar enjoys its highest approval ratings ever at 85%. It seems the country is firmly behind solar. Westminster must catch up.
Guardian 25th May 2014 read more »
The world uranium market has fallen back substantially from the highs it sustained in the period around 2005-2010, when the spot price peaked at over $130 per pound in summer 2007. After the Fukushima accident in 2011, the price drifted down further and has been stable at the $35 per pound level since last summer. Although this is well above the $10 per pound that prevailed for the long period from the late 1980s up until 2003, it is universally agreed that very few (if any) new mines can be developed at today’s price level. The suggestion is therefore made (particularly by uranium producers and their financial sector backers) that with rising demand, there will be shortages of supply in future unless we soon have much higher prices to encourage new production. On the demand side, a lot of attention is currently being to the upcoming Japanese reactor restart programme, in terms of timing and number of reactors.
Nuclear Engineering International 6th May 2014 read more »
More than 90 percent of respondents during a public comment period on the Abe administration’s basic energy policy were opposed to nuclear power generation, according to an Asahi Shimbun estimate released on May 25. The Asahi Shimbun made the determination by tallying how many of 2,109 of about 19,000 comments sent to the government from December to January were in opposition. Failing to take into account that overwhelming public sentiment, the Cabinet approved in April the basic energy policy, which described nuclear power generation as an “important base load electricity source.” The base load electricity source means that nuclear power will continue to be relied on to meet a percentage of the electricity demand, regardless of the season or time of day.
Asahi Shimbun 25th May 2014 read more »
Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) has started diverting treated groundwater at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea, in an attempt to reduce the massive quantities of radioactive water that accumulating on site since the a triple meltdown in 2011. The news comes a day after a Japanese newspaper dealt another thrashing blow against public trust in the nuclear industry, detailing that almost all of Fukushima Daiichi’s workers and technicians defied orders and fled their posts in the heat of the meltdowns after an 11-meter tsunami and a 9.0 scale earthquake hit the plant on March 11 of that year.
Bellona 22nd May 2014 read more »
US – radwaste
The initial investigation reports were highly critical of the WIPP facility’s operations and management, yet did not catch the actual cause of this event and instead focused on issues that had little significance to the accident. In fact, the radiation release during this event was almost completely contained by the WIPP safety systems. Only 1.3 millicuries were released into the environment, especially americium (Am), an amount of Am many times less than the Am in all the smoke detectors of any small town in America.
Forbes May 2014 read more »
China’s nuclear industry has in recent years ventured overseas for new opportunities but it is now facing challenges at home gaining public acceptance of its $150bn expansion plans. Fears of a nuclear power backlash, stoked by recent demonstrations against other large industrial projects, have rattled regulators as well as nuclear operators China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) andhink China General Nuclear Power Corp (CGN).
FT 25th May 2014 read more »
A new report by the Danish Energy Agency has found it would be technically possible to construct a secure and reliable national energy system based on 100 per cent renewables by 2050. The report, Energy Scenarios for 2020, 2035 and 2050, compares the feasibility and cost of replacing coal, oil and natural gas with various different green energy scenarios, ranging from an electricity-based wind-power system to a fuel-based biomass system. According to the report, all of the scenarios meet the vision of a fossil fuel independent energy system for Denmark by 2050, as well as the government’s goal of fossil fuel independent electricity and heating by 2035.
Renew Economy 26th May 2014 read more »
In October 2010, the energy and climate change minister, Greg Barker, formally invited me to chair a new advisory Forum. It was to be one of four reporting directly to him. Over the next two years before launch, each was concerned with the development of different aspects of the new Government’s flagship policy. Our declared overall objective was to deliver “an ambitious programme to increase the energy efficiency of the UK building stock. In particular, we expect it to contribute to a 29 per cent reduction in carbon emissions from our homes and 13 per cent from non-domestic properties by 2020.” We were christened the Green Deal Maximisation Forum. Our job was to work with Government to come up with measures to boost uptake levels. With still under 1,500 Green Deal Finance packages signed after 18 months of existence, the initiative has ceased being about achieving whole house retrofits of 14m homes within the decade – the initial Ministerial remit – and more about developing a niche programme. In truth, it is dubious as to whether in the context of Green Deal Finance, the word “maximisation” can be perceived now as other than derisory.
ACE 22nd May 2014 read more »
Russia is launching a strategic drive to unlock its shale oil wealth as crude output stagnates and reserves run low in the West Siberian fields, aiming to replicate America’s technology leap in a near total reversal of policy. The Kremlin has launched an “action plan” to master fracking methods and lure investors into the Bazhenov prospective, a shale basin the size of France to the east of the Urals. Officials are no longer dismissing shale’s promise as a mirage. “We are clearing away the administrative barriers to exploration. This is the urgent challenge we are now facing,” said Kirill Molodtsov, the deputy energy minister.
Telegraph 26th May 2014 read more »
BP has signed an agreement with its Russian joint venture partner Rosneft to explore for shale oil. According to reports from the St Petersburg International Economic Forum, the British oil major will jointly explore for so-called hard to recover oil in the Volga-Urals region of central Russia.
Times 26th May 2014 read more »