28 June 2013

Nuclear Guarantee

The U.K. government’s decision to guarantee as much as 10 billion pounds ($15 billion) in debt for the first nuclear power station in two decades helps ensure Electricite de France SA will support construction of the plant. Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander announced backing for the project in southwest England yesterday as the Energy Department outlined subsidised rates for wind and solar power of at least 100 pounds per megawatt hour for the next three years. EDF has indicated it needs about 95 pounds a megawatt hour to move ahead with the project. The decisions fanned speculation that Prime Minister David Cameron’s government is preparing to announce incentives strong enough to prompt EDF to build the plant. Nuclear along with offshore wind is at the heart of Cameron’s program for replacing the fifth of the nation’s power generation that’s scheduled to retire from service within 10 years.

Bloomberg 28th June 2013 read more »

ITV 27th June 2013 read more »

The government has responded to warnings that Britain is on the brink of power blackouts by announcing £10bn in financial guarantees to the nuclear power industry – a concession aimed at paving the way for the building of the first new reactor in the country for a generation. The support for French generator EDF, which is in negotiations to build the Hinkley Point nuclear power station, was announced by the Treasury chief secretary, Danny Alexander, as the centrepiece of a £100bn package of infrastructure investment covering 2015-20, including new roads, schools and affordable homes. Michael Fallon, the energy minister, insisted the substantial guarantees represented a commercial loan, not a subsidy, saying: “This is big-scale financing, not available in the markets.” He added that similar government guarantees had been offered to Drax power station to convert from coal to biomass.

Guardian 27th June 2013 read more »

Guardian 27th June 2013 read more »

Chancellor George Osborne confirmed the government will provide “guarantees for new nuclear” in his spending review speech and the Hinkley Point C project was confirmed as its beneficiary today. The UK Guarantees scheme is a government initiative that aims to harness the public balance sheet to guarantee up to £40bn-worth of projects from the 500 schemes in the National Infrastructure Plan, which includes Hinkley Point C. EDF has not yet made a final decision on whether to go ahead with the project, with “intense and constructive” talks over the strike price still continuing. Construction risk, one of the main sticking points for investors on new nuclear schemes, can be covered by the UK Guarantees scheme. But the government has insisted to date that it will not subsidise UK nuclear power plants and EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz stated that construction risk would be taken on by the company, not taxpayers, when giving evidence to Energy and Climate Change Committee’s third public evidence session on ‘Building New Nuclear’ last year.

Construction News 27th June 2013 read more »

Nuclear Subsidy

EDF Energy is pushing the government into “one-sided” negotiations over a deal for a new nuclear power plant, according to the shadow energy minister. Labour’s Tom Greatrex told Utility Week: “Being in the position where there’s only one player makes it a pretty one-sided negotiation.” He said Labour supports new nuclear “but not at any price” and that Parliament should be able to scrutinise the deal with EDF Energy to ensure “a palatable headline price” was not agreed at the expense of other details. Stephen Hunt, analyst at UBS, agreed EDF Energy was “very much in the driving seat in terms of having the stronger hand” in the talks with the UK government. He said the strike price for Hinkley Point C, which is expected to be about £95/MWh, if linked to the consumer price index (CPI), would be closer to £113/MWh by 2020. Roland Vetter, analyst at CF Partners, said a CPI-linked strike price would result in revenues to EDF of £143 billion over the expected 35 years of the contract, compared with £86 billion if the contract was not linked to inflation.

Utility Week 27th June 2013 read more »

Strike Prices

Thursday’s pledge to invest in Britain’s creaking transport, energy and social infrastructure over the long term – well, long for politicians anyway, seeing it stretched right out to 2020 – was welcome in a sort of motherhood and apple pie way. But it was also an admission of failure: that despite publishing a National Infrastructure Plan with more than £300bn of projects in 2010, the Coalition has wasted its first years in power, neither investing or delivering. So it is now playing catch-up. Fixing the “strike price” for renewable energy gives investors certainty, while the hint that ministers may guarantee financing – though not construction – risk on the £14bn Hinkley Point C nuclear plant may help break the deadlock with France’s EDF.

Telegraph 27th June 2013 read more »

Wind farms will get generous subsidies for at least another six years, after ministers signed a deal to give them double the market rate for the electricity they produce. The Government said onshore wind farms should get at least £100 per megawatt-hour, when the market rate for electricity is currently less than £50 per mega-watt hour. Offshore wind farms will get triple the market rate at £155 per megawatt-hour in a deal described by City analysts as “astonishingly expensive”. The difference will be met by a subsidy from the taxpayer, which is potentially more generous than the current regime that hands developers more than £1 billion a year. Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, said new costs were “broadly comparable” with 2013 prices but his department said it had not worked out whether consumers wil be paying more or less for wind power under the new system.

Telegraph 27th June 2013 read more »

The government has today confirmed the level of strike price support renewable energy technologies can expect from next year, promising that its electricity market reforms will mobilise up to £110bn of energy investment by 2020. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) today pulled forward the publication of the draft strike prices that will be on offer to renewable energy developers between 2014 to 2019, predicting that the new regime will “make the UK market one of the most attractive for developers of wind, wave, tidal, solar and other renewables technologies, whilst minimising the costs to consumers”

Business Green 27th June 2013 read more »

Subsidies for wind farms, added to the bills of energy consumers, will rise by nearly 10% from next year under the government’s reforms of the electricity market. But uncertainties under the new regime, detailed on Thursday, may mean renewable energy companies still find it impossible to invest. The government has not reached a deal with the nuclear operator EDF on what level of support it should receive from energy bill payers for new reactors, but ministers promised a loan guarantee programme that could be worth £10bn. Wind turbine operators and manufacturers have been holding off on tens of billions of pounds of investment in the UK, over fears that subsidies would be cut to unsustainable levels. The draft subsidy level – the “strike price” – will be £155 per megawatt hour for offshore wind farms from 2014, falling to £135 in 2018. For onshore wind farms, which are cheaper to build and run, it will be £100 falling to £95 in 2018. But the new “contracts for difference” will run for only 15 years, compared with 20 years under the old system, and this will reduce investor certainty and their appetite for pouring billions into the UK’s green economy, renewables experts warned. Another major issue troubling renewable energy investors is that the government is firmly opposing a proposed EU-wide target on renewable energy generation for 2030. Clean energy experts say this would spell disaster for investment, because the certainty provided by the current EU target – of generating 20% of energy from renewable sources by 2020 – has been key to spurring the development of alternative energy, which in turn has brought down costs and made low-carbon electricity more competitive with fossil fuels.

Guardian 27th June 2013 read more »

In energy, the government will guarantee billions of pounds of investment in the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant and Mr Alexander said it had set a strike price for renewable energy generation and that this would help generate 8-16GW of offshore wind and save consumers money. He promised an additional £800m for the Green Investment Bank, which has also been given the power to borrow £500m in 2015-16 for low carbon infrastructure projects.

FT 27th June 2013 read more »

Radwaste

DEVELOPERS behind a plan to convert a former open cast coal mine into a store for low-level nuclear waste have claimed the move would help restore a neglected corner of Copeland. The application for the site at Keekle Head, which was submitted by Endecom UK Ltd, was rejected by Cumbria County Council in May last year; it is now being investigated during a two-week planning inquiry held in Kendal. If the plan had been approved it would have seen the site converted into a facility store for up to one million cubic metres of low-level radioactive waste for the next 50 years.

Whitehaven News 27th June 2013 read more »

Energy Supplies

National Grid has called on companies to consider curbing their electricity use between 4pm and 8pm on winter workdays next year, in a stark sign of the urgency of Britain’s looming energy supply shortage.

FT 27th June 2013 read more »

Times 28th June 2013 read more »

The government has dismissed a proposal that big shops and factories could be paid to cut their energy use to prevent shortages leading to blackouts. Electricity network owner National Grid has suggested large consumers could be asked to lower use between 16:00 and 20:00 on weekdays in the winter. It was responding to a warning from energy regulator Ofgem that the risk of power cuts has increased in the UK. Energy Minister Michael Fallon insisted the lights would stay on.

BBC 28th June 2013 read more »

Emergency Planning

The Ministry of Defence is facing fierce criticism from MPs after an internal report revealed major failings in the country’s emergency response capabilities to a nuclear accident. Dubbed Exercise Senator 2011, the mock disaster exercise tested the emergency services’ ability to respond to a motorway accident in which a convoy transporting a nuclear bomb is damaged, causing a radioactive cloud to begin spreading across communities in close proximity. A Freedom of Information request revealed the emergency services encountered “great difficulties” in responding to the event due to a five-hour lack of help from MoD weapons experts.

Newsnet Scotland 26th June 2013 read more »

The nuclear emergency siren at Portsmouth Naval Base will ring at 9:30 this morning in a test. The warning alert which lasts for one minute is tested three times a year.

ITV 28th June 2013 read more »

Aldermaston

We know, via the Edward Snowden revelations, that the British authorities and the Americans are jolly close in matters of national security. And, to this point, we have been able to know the extent of the transatlantic co-operation on edgy stuff such as nuclear weapons. When MPs inquired how many Americans have been to our Atomic Weapons Establishment in Berkshire or how many of our chaps and chapesses have been to theirs, the Ministry of Defence would do the right thing and tell them. But that was then. Now, thanks to the austerity drive, the money’s tight and lips are tighter. Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West, asked the question. “Defence has had to make significant spending cuts and has made resource reductions,” explains minister Philip Dunne. Once, we could have kept a record of the comings and goings, but “no longer”. Finding the detail would incur “disproportionate cost”. The secret state just got a bit more secret.

Guardian 27th June 2013 read more »

Scotland

Environment and climate campaigners are becoming increasingly disillusioned with Alex Salmond’s claims to head a green government, and are furious about his government’s latest climate action plan. Alex Salmond’s government has been lambasted by allies and green groups after releasing a “dismal” master plan to meet Scotland’s challenging climate targets. After months of dialogue with environment groups, the Scottish government has produced its second report on proposals and policies (RPP2), a 14-year-long strategy. But, to the annoyance of climate groups, its new headline proposal on climate was limited to spending £2m on preparations to upgrade street lights to highly energy efficient LED bulbs – a policy announced by ministers last month, and one not actually detailed in RPP2. Earlier this month, the devolved government admitted it had m issed its legally-binding annual cut in carbon emissions for the second year running, fuelling renewed attacks from campaigners about the scope and ambition of the first minister’s climate policies.

Guardian 27th June 2013 read more »

Japan

I went to the TEPCO annual general meeting for its shareholders on Tuesday to create a stronger public discussion of the failure of TEPCO to live up to its responsibilities following the Fukushima nuclear disaster. First, though my colleagues with Greenpeace Japan, colleagues from Turkey and India and volunteers had a small protest outside the AGM to highlight the risks of nuclear energy for all of us. Our message to the shareholders heading into the AGM was nuclear power is a gamble. The casino theatre and our banners at this protest said: “Nuclear gamblers must pay.” The main gamblers in our sights are GE, Hitachi and Toshiba — the companies that designed and built the flawed reactors that melted down at Fukushima. These companies haven’t paid a cent to help victims or TEPCO shareholders. They are protected from paying by the government.

Greenpeace 27th June 2013 read more »

US

The legacy of 44 years of operating the San Onofre reactors is a nuclear waste dump containing one of the largest concentrations of radioactivity in the United States, says a new study from Friends of the Earth, which warns that the spent fuel on site poses a major radiological hazard in the event of an accident. The report urges Southern California Edison to as soon as possible move hundreds of thousands of spent fuel rods from cooling pools to much safer dry-cask storage. The report is by Robert Alvarez, former senior advisor to the Secretary at the Department of Energy and an expert on the growing volume of waste piling up at reactors across the nation.

FoE US 27th June 2013 read more »

Exelon recently shelved plans to expand nuclear capacity at their LaSalle and Limerick plants, taking a $100 million hit and once again reverting to the tired old strategy of blaming subsidized wind. The specific target of their ire is the Production Tax Credit (PTC). For wind, that is, not the one that they happily collect for nuclear. Exelon is (again) wrong about the PTC.

Think Progress 27th June 2013 read more »

The US Department of Energy (DOE) said it will invest $3.5m in four advanced nuclear reactor projects that go beyond traditional light water designs. Led by General Atomics, GE Hitachi, Gen4 Energy and Westinghouse Electric Company, the projects will address technical challenges in designing, building and operating the next generation of nuclear reactors. The DOE’s latest move is part of US President Barack Obama’s plan to cut carbon pollution and accelerate the development of nuclear technologies.

Energy Business Review 28th June 2013 read more »

Renewables

Wind and solar PV electricity electricity generation increased year-on-year by nearly 30%, according to the latest set of statistics from the Department of energy and Climate Change (DECC). The latest 2013 figures reveal that renewable energy now contributes 12.3% of power in the UK, an increase of 1% on the same period last year. In the first quarter of 2013, wind and PV generation rose 29.8 per cent from 5.3 TWh to 6.9 TWh, due to increased capacity. Wind provided the lion’s share of this with 52% of renewable electricity generated coming from on and offshore wind. Wind generation increased by 29% with offshore wind generation increasing by 68%.

Click Green 27th June 2013 read more »

The renewable energy industry has welcomed UK government moves towards special subsidies for power generated on and around Scotland’s islands. The cost of connecting to mainland markets has held back development. The Department of Energy and Climate Change has announced it is to consult, this summer, on the subsidy levels necessary to encourage investment. Highlands and Islands Enterprise called the move groundbreaking and “hugely welcome”.

BBC 27th June 2013 read more »

Scotsman 27th June 2013 read more »

Shetland News 27th June 2013 read more »

Times 28th June 2013 read more »

Herald 28th June 2013 read more »

AD vs Fracking

The average life of horizontal wells is far less than initially suggested by promoters – in fact about 7.5 years, during which time an average well in Barnett shale will produce about 0.81 billion cubic feet, which translates as about 22.6 million cubic metres of gas. A farm AD plant, on the other hand will produce about 6.2 million cubic metres of gas over a 20 year period. True, you can drill another well after 7.5 year if we want to make strictly fair comparisons, but that does double your cost. So, here’s the metric: three farm sized AD plants at the bottom of three lanes give you slightly under the likely production of one fracked well at the end of one lane.

Alan Whitehead MP 27th June 2013 read more »

Energy Efficiency

Not a single home in the country has been modified to fully meet the energy efficiency plan as take up remains ‘worryingly slow’. Five months after its launch, not a single household in the UK has completed the process of making their home more energy efficient under the government’s flagship green deal, according to figures released on Thursday. Nearly 40,000 assessments – in which experts visit properties to see what measures would best be undertaken – have been carried out, but only four households are registered in the system as finalising green deal plans, whereby works are installed and paid for by the scheme’s financing. A further 241 households have confirmed they would like to proceed with financing.

Guardian 27th June 2013 read more »

BBC 27th June 2013 read more »

Telegraph 27th June 2013 read more »

Fossl Fuels

The north of England has a shale gas resource of 1,300 trillion cubic feet (tcf), according to a long-awaited analysis by the British Geological Survey (BGS). But BGS says it may not be possible to get any more shale gas out of the ground than it assumed in an estimate two years ago.

Carbon Brief 27th June 2013 read more »

Britain is sitting on shale gas deposits that could supply the UK for 25 years, suggests an independent report that ramps up previous estimates for the controversial energy source. New figures published on Thursday by the British Geological Survey indicated that the amount of shale resources, mainly sitting under the north of England, will trigger a new dash for gas. BGS published a long-awaited report that suggested an area stretching from Lancashire to Yorkshire and down to Lincolnshire could hold at least 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas. This compared with the drastically more modest figure of less than 5tn cubic feet produced only three years ago, but covered a far smaller area – the Bowland region in north-west England.

Guardian 27th June 2013 read more »

BBC 27th June 2013 read more »

FT 27th June 2013 read more »

It is the kind of bonus politicians can usually only dream of: a source of energy capable of reliably providing decades of low-cost, relatively low-emission gas. But yesterday’s much trailed report from the British Geological Survey suggesting unexpectedly large deposits of shale gas seems – especially to Conservatives who hate renewables – to hold out the promise of a golden future of long-term cheap fuel for domestic and industrial consumers. Much like the one the US is already beginning to enjoy, as cheap natural gas from fracking drives down energy prices and drives out coal. The process of fracking is plainly not a cost-free option. Breaking up gas-bearing rock thousands of metres below the Earth’s surface by pumping in a mix of sand, water and hydrogen under high pressure is a process still in development, and quite apart from the unavoidable threat of industrialising stretches of some of Britain’s most beautiful countryside, there are serious questions over its environmental safety. An energy revolution may, possibly, be at hand. But no one should count on it.

Guardian 27th June 2013 read more »

Britain is to “get serious” and embark upon a dash for shale gas, ministers announced, as a new report warned that the risk of future energy blackouts had tripled in the past year. Unveiling Britain’s energy strategy for the next decade, the Climate Change Secretary, Ed Davey, outlined new incentives for investors to replace Britain’s ageing coal, oil and nuclear power stations with new renewable and gas generators.

Independent 27th June 2013 read more »

More than £1bn will be handed out to communities who live near shale gas sites as a “bribe” for fracking.

Telegraph 27th June 2013 read more »

Even if we can recover much of the trillion plus cubic metres of shale gas that the British Geological Survey now says are in the rocks, IT DOESN’T MEAN THAT GAS PRICES WILL COME DOWN.

Alan Whitehead MP 27th June 2013 read more »

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Published: 28 June 2013