28 April 2014

Sizewell

Nuclear safety officials have increased the emergency planning area for the Sizewell power station complex, but say the risk of a radiation leak from the coastal site has decreased. After lengthy consultation, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has decided to dispense with its circular 2.4 kilometre zone and to replace it with one based largely on postcodes. This will mean that parts of the emergency plan zone will stretch up to around 3km from the power stations and both Leiston and the majority of nearby Aldringham will in future be included in it. Plans will now have to be drawn up to evacuate both communities should an incident occur. The ONR said the increase in the overall planning area does not reflect an increased risk to the public from the Sizewell site and “the overall hazard has significantly reduced”.

East Anglian Daily Times 27th April 2014 read more »

Energy Supplies

As the Ukraine crisis escalates David Cameron and other leaders in the European Union have set themselves a deadline of June to find a way to break Europe’s dependence on Russian gas imports. Why? The EU imports around a third of its gas for heating and power from Russia, complicating any effort to apply pressure on the former super-power over the crisis in the Ukraine. The UK doesn’t import much gas itself (see chart) – but as North Sea supplies dwindle it may do. Because the UK buys gas from Europe any cut to EU supplies would hit the UK. In January 2006 and 2009 Russia cut off gas supplies through the Ukraine causing a short term spike in EU gas prices. If Russia were to cut off gas supplies to Europe completely prices would spike as competition for the remaining gas increased. But this remains unlikely. With EU gas storage at record levels – thanks to a mild winter – analysts are split as to how long the Europe could withstand a complete Russian cut off with parts of Eastern Europe potentially struggling with supplies.

Energy Desk 23rd April 2014 read more »

Energy Costs

New-build wind and solar energy systems can generate electricity for up to 50 per cent cheaper than new nuclear power plants, a German study has found. The research, commissioned by German think tank Agora Energiewende, compares feed-in tariffs for new nuclear in the UK with FiTs for renewables in Germany, and finds that nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CSS) – a technology not yet available in Europe – are both more expensive than wind and solar as energy strategies for preventing climate change.

Clean Technica 26th April 2014 read more »

Nuclear Weapons

The isolated U.S. military silo that contains one of deadliest nuclear arsenals in the world – some 450 warheads that are each 20 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima – is being controlled by computers dating back to 1960s and a launch system that relies on floppy disks. But security officials maintain their methods are not only functional but hack-free, with the underground control room in Wyoming not connected to the internet, stopping any cyber terrorists gaining control over the weapons.

Daily Mail 27th April 2014 read more »

Taiwan

Police have clashed with protesters demanding construction on Taiwan’s fourth nuclear plant be stopped. Police used water cannon early on Monday to disperse thousands of demonstrators blocking a main traffic route in Taiwan’s capital, Taipei. The governing Kuomintang Party agreed on Sunday to temporarily suspend work on two nuclear reactors but have so far refused to halt the project altogether. The move comes amid mounting public concern over nuclear safety.

BBC 28th April 2014 read more »

Iran

IRANIAN Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has said he sees a good chance for a nuclear deal with the West because “most Iranians” are in favour of it. Playing down resistance from Islamic hardliners, Mr Zarif said: “Some factions have no interest in reaching an agreement due to political reasons, but what counts at the end is the vote of the majority of Iranian people.”

Herald 28th Aptil 2014 read more »

China

China wants to build on what Mr Xie describes as the “tremendous efforts” already made to replace coal power with cleaner energy sources as its economy matures and becomes less reliant on heavy industry. The question is whether China is willing, or even able, to make such changes in time to prevent global temperatures warming to potentially risky levels. It is true that China is taking astonishing strides to switch from coal to cleaner forms of power. Of the 94 gigawatts of new generating capacity it installed last year, almost 60 per cent was renewable. That included more than 11GW of solar, enough to power a small Chinese city and more than any country has built in a single year. Solar, wind and hydropower now account for nearly a third of its installed electricity generating capacity, compared with less than 15 per cent in the US. It is also piloting emissions trading systems that could lead to a national carbon market by 2020. But its addiction to coal is far from over. Fossil fuels, mostly coal, still make up nearly 70 per cent of its power generating capacity. Although it plans to boost sharply its nuclear and renewable power, it is also expected to add 248GW of coal capacity between now and 2020, according to IHS, the consultancy – equal to about three new coal plants every month.

FT 27th April 2014 read more »

China and the US have begun an ambitious new phase of talks on curbing their carbon dioxide emissions that observers say is the most promising development in nearly 20 years of global climate change negotiations. A lack of co-ordination between the two superpowers, whose combined emissions nearly match the rest of the world’s put together, has helped torpedo previous rounds of international climate talks, including the Copenhagen summit of 2009. But the pair have recently begun detailed discussions about the sensitive issue of their respective carbon-cutting goals as world leaders try to seal a global climate deal in Paris next year that will hinge on a US-Chinese agreement.

FT 27th April 2014 read more »

Local Authority Action

London is to become the UK’s first public authority to receive a new type of “junior” electricity licence that will enable the Mayor Boris Johnson to buy power from small generators and sell on to public bodies. Under the license, the Mayor will be able to offer the capital’s small electricity producers up to 30% more for their excess energy than existing suppliers, which he will then sell on to public bodies such as Transport for London (TfL), the Met and others at cost price.

Edie 25th April 2014 read more »

Guardian 25th April 2014 read more »

University Action

The Scottish government will give three Scottish universities £20 million to finance low carbon heating projects that will help the country reach its greenhouse gas emission reduction targets. St Andrews, Strathclyde and Stirling universities will be the three to benefit, with the government hoping that their work will inspire other bodies to start work on similar projects.

Blue & Green Tomorrow 27th April 2014 read more »

Scotsman 27th April 2014 read more »

Dundee Courier 27th April 2014 read more »

Renewables

A wind turbine can generate over 20 times its energy input over the course of its life, which makes wind three times better than coal when it comes to energy return on investment. With most things in life you need to put something in to get something out, and renewable energy is no exception. But contrary to what is sometimes claimed, wind turbines take only a short time to generate more energy than is used to make and install them. Over their lifetime, wind turbines can pay back over 20 times their ‘energy investment’.

Abundance 22nd April 2014 read more »

Energy Efficiency

Britain’s biggest energy suppliers could pocket a £2bn windfall over the next three years after the government miscalculated a deal to cut green levies, new research claims. Households face overpaying by up to £23 a year for an energy efficiency scheme, unless suppliers cut bills or are made to use the money to install more insulation, analysis for the Insulated Render and Cladding Association (Inca) suggests. The Prime Minister approved an overhaul of the ‘Energy Company Obligation’ (ECO) home insulation scheme in December, watering down targets as part of a deal to cut £50 from bills by reducing green levies. The ECO changes were estimated to save companies up to £35 per household.

Telegraph 27th April 2014 read more »

Alliance of organisations concerned with improving energy efficiency of Britain’s homes urges Prime Minister to rethink planned changes to ‘green levies’ deal.

Telegraph 27th April 2014 read more »

Fossil Fuels

US state North Dakota confirmed on Thursday that it had discovered a new radioactive waste dump from oil drilling. Separately a Canadian company hired to clean up waste found in February at another location said it had removed double the amount of radioactive material originally estimated. The company also said it suspects the soil at the site is contaminated. The twin disclosures highlighted a growing problem from North Dakota’s booming oil development — illegal disposal of oil filter socks, tubular nets that strain liquids during oil production and contain radioactive material. Radioactive filter socks are increasingly found at roadsides, in abandoned buildings or in commercial rubbish bins.

Morning Star 25th April 2014 read more »

Councils that will play a key role in deciding the future of fracking in Britain have investments worth millions of pounds in companies behind the energy extraction method, The Independent can reveal. Local authorities in areas identified as potential sources of gas have holdings via their pension funds in firms seeking to drill within their boundaries. One of the most significant investments is £1.9m held by Lincolnshire County Council’s pension fund in Total, the French company that earlier this year became the first oil major to enter Britain’s dash for shale gas, with a £30m stake in two exploration projects in the county.

Independent 27th April 2014 read more »

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Published: 28 April 2014