28 April 2016

Hinkley

A renewable energy developer and operator – which is, inter alia, developing a wind farm site in Wormit, Fife – has published a new report showing that a mix of renewables, energy storage and backup gas generation can provide the same low carbon baseload power as Hinkley Point at a 25% cheaper price. In the report – ‘Hinkley Point Through The Looking Glass’ – Niels Kroninger, Joint Managing Director, Green Hedge Energy, shows how this would save UK consumers £720 million per year for 35 years. He said: “We’ve invited DECC to start negotiating such a contract with us and other renewable energy firms if they are committed to technology neutrality. This also goes to show that the cost assumptions we make, albeit surprising, are realistic today”.

Scottish Energy News 28th April 2016 read more »

Letter: Pete Wilkinson, Chairperson, Together Against Sizewell C: Energy secretary Amber Rudd clearly has the gift of clairvoyance. She says that no liabilities would fall to the UK taxpayer or consumer should Hinkley Point C be cancelled. Who, pray, would foot the bill to complete the project should EDF withdraw after a few years of construction when cost and time overruns became apparent, as they have with other projects in France and Finland? And assuming the plant ever began generating its costly electricity, who would be responsible for the waste management costs, the size of which can only be estimated since the location, depth, technical details about cladding, inventory, or even if there will ever be a repository, remain stubbornly vague and could yet result in indefinite storage on site? Spent nuclear fuel from Hinkley C or Sizewell C would be on their respective sites for an estimated 160 years. Who will take title to hundreds of tonnes of spent nuclear fuel if, as is likely, within that time period, EDF disappears? As usual, the public purse would be required to bail out a private venture. Rudd’s claim of “no liabilities” is as irresponsible as a short-term response to legitimate concerns as government’s energy policy will prove to be in the long term. Better to cancel Hinkley, Sizewell and all the other nuclear plans now while some semblance of energy policy credibility remains, than to see it unravel in the most embarrassing way over the coming decades, leaving communities like ours to carry the can for government obsession with a nuclear fix.

Guardian 27th April 2016 read more »

Letter Dr John Twidell (Co-author of university textbook Renewable Energy Resources): Amber Rudd misleadingly implies that “continuous power” (ie not able to increase or decrease to fit demand) is advantageous. Moreover, the adjective she should have used for nuclear power is “constant”, which at large gigawatt source capacity presents a considerable challenge for transmission and for grid operators to balance against load. However, if “continuous” or “immediate” power is needed, there are many options from renewables. Biomass is stored energy that can be used for electricity, heat and fuels continuously or when needed, eg by immediate combustion, as biogas, as landfill gas, via pyrolysis, via fermentation and as oils and esters. Hydro power may be both continuous and rapidly adjusted. Variable generation from wind, sunshine and tides integrates over distance and time to be, in effect over the UK, continuous, but not constant. Constancy and controlled variation are provided by storage, eg pumped hydro, pumped tidal reservoir, batteries (of which there are many options), and, in effect, by demand-side load switching. Rudd goes on to praise nuclear power for aiming to supply electricity to 6m homes from a single power station. Such centralisation of multi-gigawatt capacity is not a sensible strategy because of the widespread disruption caused by unexpected generation and transmission outages, and by closures needed for refuelling. Nor sensible if we are concerned about terrorist disruption. The sensible alternative is a distributed generation system which integrates and controls power. Renewables fit a strategy for robust distributed power using a network (a grid) of connections, in a similar robust manner to the internet. Modern communications and control allow such a strategy, especially when blended with methods of using electricity efficiently.

Guardian 27th April 2016 read more »

Letter Kate Macintosh: Amanda Rudd implies that nuclear is needed to cover base-load generation becaus e of the intermittency factor in wind and solar generation. She should speak with her German colleagues who are satisfied that they will meet their target of becoming independent of all fossil fuels by 2050, covering base-load with bio-digestion. This source of both gas and electricity – provided it is located close to a ready source of either waste vegetable matter of animal waste – is a win-win, as it puts to beneficial use what would otherwise release methane into the atmosphere and provides farmers with nutrient-rich irrigation ponds. Bio-digestion generation has a further advantage in that its output can be moderated to reflect demand at no cost, whereas nuclear is totally inflexible in this regard.

Guardian 27th April 2016 read more »

Moorside

NuGen – the firm behind the plans for Moorside – has published the artist’s impression ahead of 28 public events being held across the county to give people the chance to have their say. Plans for the three-reactor site on land next to Sellafield – and its associated accommodation and transport links – are likely to have widespread impacts. The Whitehaven News reported last week that a number of homes and land are at risk of compulsory purchase as part of NuGen’s plans to widen the A595.

Whitehaven News 27th April 2016 read more »

Architects Journal 28th April 2016 read more »

Energy Policy

The government should approve the UK’s 2030s carbon target in the wake of the signing of the Paris agreement on climate change, an influential committee of MPs has urged. The so-called fifth carbon budget sets a limit on the quantity of greenhouse gases that can be produced across the country between 2028 and 2032, as a way of meeting national and international commitments on combating global warming. It is set by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the statutory body set up under the Climate Change Act, but must be approved by parliament before it can enter into force. “The UK can’t afford any further delays when it comes to re placing dirty power stations with cleaner forms of generation,” said Angus MacNeil, the chair of the energy and climate change select committee. “Investors need certainty and setting a decarbonisation target for the energy sector would signal the government’s commitment to phasing out fossil fuels.”

Guardian 27th April 2016 read more »

The Labour party in Scotland has vowed to create 100,000 new jobs in renewable energy in Scotland in its manifesto for next week’s Holyrood general election. This is at least five times the number of people presently employed in Scottish renewables – and barely half the number who currently work in oil and gas. As well as confirming its vow to entirely proscribe all fracking for shale gas, Labour pledges to support a balanced energy mix. In her party’s manifesto, Kezia Dugdale, the leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, states: “We believe in a ‘civic energy’ future — a future that grows local schemes to produce green energy, and heat for local use.

Scottish Energy News 27th April 2016 read more »

Chernobyl

Kate Hudson: Thirty years ago this week, a catastrophic nuclear accident took place. Thousands have died as a result, communities were devastated and displaced, and the legacy of environmental damage lives on.

Huffington Post 26th April 2016 read more »

Field studies show that the intense radioactivity released by the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters is seriously and unequivocally damaging to wildlife, writes Timothy A. Mousseau – in stark contrast to theoretical studies that show little or no impact on plant and animal health and populations.

Ecologist 27th April 2016 read more »

Energy Markets

Energy Transformation: future challenges and opportunities Catherine Mitchell, Presentation to: The Future of Environmental Politics – Environmental Politics of the Future. Celebrating 30 years of the Environmental Policy Research Centre (FFU), Freie Universität Berlin – 26th April 2016.

IGov 26th April 2016 read more »

Europe

The Chernobyl disaster in 1986 was a turning point for nuclear power in Europe, with few new plants built since. While nuclear still plays a major role in the EU, aging facilities present financial and security risks. In the years since, reactors in Europe have become old and many European countries have come to resist nuclear power – motivated mainly by the long-term risks that underlie it. However, about a third of all electricity in the European Union still comes from nuclear power, figures from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) show. Adding to the controversy around new nuclear plants, citizens and politicians are voicing more concerns over the potential risks of old reactors. Existing European nuclear plants have been having more close calls, and could be targeted by terrorist attacks. But in order to use old reactors safely, their infrastructure needs to be upgraded, said Frank Peter from the Berlin office of the Switzerland-based economic consultancy Prognos. Existing reactors in Europe are on average around 30 years old, and their original operational life time was planned to run 30 to 35 years. Peter believes upgrading old reactors is not financially viable. “For the old power plants to produce electricity at a same level of safety as new ones, each power plant would need an investment of 3 to 4 billion euros,” Peter told DW. Due to financial pressures, one reactor in Switzerland and four in Sweden will go offline before 2020 – much earlier than planned, nuclear energy expert Mycle Schneider explained.

Deutsche Welle 26th April 2016 read more »

Germany

German power firms will have to pay less for the storage of radioactive waste than investors had feared if the government accepts a recommendation from a panel that announced its decision on Wednesday after months of wrangling. Shares in E.ON and RWE jumped 3.2 and 5.5 percent respectively on the news, with traders saying the proposal could remove the single biggest concern investors have regarding German utility stocks. The utilities, hammered by plunging power prices and a shift towards renewable energy, however argued that the proposals were still more than they could afford. The government-appointed commission agreed to ask the power firms to pay 23.3 billion euros ($26.4 billion) into a state fund to cover the costs of nuclear waste storage — close to the minimum sum in a range that had been previously discussed.

Reuters 27th April 2016 read more »

RWE AG, EON SE and other German utilities will probably have to pay 23.3 billion euros ($26.4 billion) to cover the costs of storing their nuclear waste once they close their reactors. That’s what a government-appointed panel recommended that the four operators should fork out in exchange for having the state assume unforeseen liabilities associated with the waste storage exceeding that figure, Juergen Trittin, one of the heads of the 19-member panel said at a press conference in Berlin. RWE rose the most in more than two months, while EON climbed to the highest level since Feb. 5.

Bloomberg 27th April 2016 read more »

Deutsche Welle 27th April 2016 read more »

FT 27th April 2016 read more »

A computer system at a German nuclear power plant which controls the movement of radioactive fuel rods has been invested by a two viruses. Officials discovered the unauthorised software at the Gundremmingen plant around 75 miles northwest of Munich. The plant is run by German utility company RWE claims the security of the facility was not jeopardised because the infected computer systems were not connected to the internet.

Daily Mail 27th April 2016 read more »

A NUCLEAR power plant has been hit by a massive security breach which risks handing sensitive data about radioactive fuel rods to terrorist groups.

Express 27th April 2016 read more »

Sweden

State-owned Swedish utility Vattenfall called on Wednesday to abolish tax on nuclear power in Sweden to avoid early shutdown of its loss-making nuclear reactors and potential spike in electricity prices. The contentious issue may put further pressure on Sweden’s minority coalition government as its junior partner, the Green Party, has campaigned on pledges to speed up nuclear phase-out. Vattenfall and Germany’s E.ON have already decided to shut four out of ten Sweden’s nuclear reactors earlier than previously planned due to low profitability.

Reuters 27th April 2016 read more »

Renewables

Philip Wolfe, one of the leaders of the feed-in tariffs campaign and the author of the first blueprint on their design,looks back at the history of the scheme and assesses the extent to which it has been a success. The introduction in 2010 of feed-in tariffs for green electricity revolutionised the renewable energy sector in the UK. There is now more than 200 times as much solar capacity as there was then – up from about 30 to over 7,000 MW. Small wind, hydro and anaerobic digestion systems have also seen dramatic growth. This must be one of the most successful government interventions ever! So let’s have a look at the achievements, and see who’s celebrating.

Business Green 25th April 2016 read more »

Renewable Heat

The solar industry has called on ministers to abandon plans to cut support for new solar thermal projects from the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) scheme – a move proposed in a government consultation that closes today.

Edie 27th April 2016 read more »

Scottish Renewables has warned UK Government plans to change renewable heat support are “counterproductive, and will significantly impact the industry”. With the UK Government’s consultation over the future of the renewable heat incentive (RHI) closing, Scottish Renewables has raised concerns over changes to tariff rates, the introduction of a budget cap, and the removal of support for solar thermal panels from the scheme. The Committee on Climate Change last year warned that the UK is on course to miss its 2020 ambition of meeting 12 per cent of heat needs from low-carbon sources.

Holyrood Magazine 27th April 2016 read more »

Proposed changes to the way renewable heat technology is supported by the UK Government are counterproductive and will significantly impact the industry, according to a Scottish trade association.

Scottish Energy News 28th April 2016 read more »

Renewables – offshore wind

Scottish Power Renewables has closed Europe’s largest wind turbine contract for a single project in a major deal with Siemens for a 102 turbine offshore wind project. The East Anglia One project will consist of 102 turbines of 7MW capacity each. The project will be delivered at a price of £119/MWh – a 20 per cent cost reduction compared to other offshore wind farms in the UK. Iberdrola currently has around 5,000MW under construction in onshore and offshore wind farms and generation power plants with long-term contracts.

Utility Week 27th April 2016 read more »

Booming profits from British windfarms have more than made up for declining oil and gas revenues at Dong Energy, a state-owned Danish utility which says it is transforming itself from a high to low-carbon power producer. Dong, the biggest single investor in UK offshore wind projects, including the huge London Array windfarm off Kent, reported first-quarter profits of Kr 8bn (£836m), a sum that was up 35% on the same period last year. Henrik Poulsen, Dong’s chief executive, said the move from fossil fuels to renewable energy was gathering speed with no more spending planned for new oil projects not already begun. “The world will cont inue to need fossil fuels for a quite a time yet but the bigger trend is towards renewables and this is probably accelerating,” he said. “We see ourselves as a leader in offshore wind and bioenergy.” Dong’s profits from renewables were Kr3bn, with Kr2bn from oil and gas, plus Kr1bn from the electricity grid system it operates in Denmark, the company reported. Earnings from renewables, mainly offshore wind, had risen by more than 50% but the group profits were also bolstered by almost Kr2bn of disposals.

Guardian 27th April 2016 read more »

The Danish government-controlled utility is considering a potential flotation in the next couple of months. Dong Energy paved the way for what could be one of Europe’s biggest stock market listings this year as the company posted a big jump in profits. The Danish government-controlled utility is considering a potential flotation in the next couple of months. However, it could delay especially if there is market turmoil due to the UK’s referendum on EU membership, people familiar with the initial public offering process said.

FT 28th April 2016 read more »

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Published: 28 April 2016