28 May 2015

Hinkley

Austria will take legal action to block any subsidized nuclear power plants in an effort to discourage use of the technology in Europe and scare off investors, the country’s environment minister, Andrae Rupprechter, said in a newspaper interview. Rupprechter’s comments to business daily Wirtschaftsblatt reflect non-nuclear Austria’s tough stance, as evidenced by its intent to take the European Commission to court over approval of Britain’s plans for the Hinkley Point nuclear plant.Neighboring Czech Republic also plans to extend its nuclear capacity.

Reuters 27th May 2015 read more »

Politics

Amber Rudd: Today’s Queen’s Speech sets out our early priorities for the new Parliament. DECC’s priorities are clear: keeping the lights on and powering the economy; keeping bills low for families and businesses and getting a climate deal in Paris this year. The UK is one of the most energy secure countries in the world. The National Grid has the right tools in place to deal with the toughest system conditions – its new services to balance the electricity system meant that we maintained healthy margins throughout last winter. In the medium term we have a Capacity Market to make sure there is enough available to meet future peak electricity demand – last year it produced new investment at good value for money. Longer term we are investing in new energy infrastructure – new nuclear and renewables, as well as exploring for shale gas. Man-made climate change is one of the most serious threats this country and the world faces. The summit in Paris in December is the best opportunity for years to get comprehensive, rules based agreement that keeps the objective of limiting global warming to 2 degrees in reach. The three biggest carbon emitters, the EU, US and China are all determined to get a deal done.

DECC 27th May 2015 read more »

The government has confirmed plans to end subsidies for new onshore wind farms while promising to seek an international deal on tackling climate change at a major summit in Paris later this year. Today’s Queen’s Speech also paved the way for an EU referendum by 2017 at the latest, which businesses have warned is likely to create a fresh wave of uncertainty for the low carbon economy. Speaking at the state opening of Parliament, the Queen said that measures will be introduced to increase energy security. A new Energy Bill would change the law in England and Wales to remove the need for the Energy Secretary to approve large wind farms of more than 50MW. This would devolve planning powers for wind farms to local authorities who would be required to consult with local communities. Other large infrastructure projects would continue to be decided at a ministerial level. The government also confirmed that it would deliver on a Conservative manifesto pledge to end new subsides for onshore wind farms. Further details will be announced by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) soon, although officials have said they will consult with the Scottish government before applying the policy North of the border. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already demanded a veto on any move to alter wind power subsidies. The much-anticipated news was met with dismay from the renewable energy industry, which has consistently argued that the move would push up the costs of decarbonising the power sector as onshore wind is currently the cheapest form of renewable energy.

Business Green 27th May 2015 read more »

Collaborating with other nations to combat climate change and the release of a new Energy Bill to increase energy security in the UK were among the key announcements in the first all-Conservative Queen’s Speech since 1996.

Edie 27th May 2015 read more »

When David Cameron allegedly told his aides in 2013 to cut the “green crap” from energy bills, it was in the middle of a major government row over how to reduce such bills for consumers. Energy companies argued the so-called “green levies” they used to pay for insulating homes were pushing up costs, while energy-efficiency businesses – backed by the Liberal Democrats – said these charges were delivering long-term benefits for households by reducing energy wastage.The row made headlines, but perhaps for all the wrong reasons, as it resulted in a reduction of support for businesses in the energy-efficiency sector. Couple this with the failure of the government’s Green Deal policy to deliver any major improvement to the nation’s housing stock, and the insulation sector appears to be starting on the back foot under the new Conservative government. But they are not without hope. Yesterday, business leaders of more than 50 major construction and property groups wrote an open letter to the government urging Cameron to make energy efficiency an infrastructure priority as part of efforts to cut the budget deficit.

Business Green 27th May 2015 read more »

Caroline Lucas: Wednesday’s Queen’s Speech should be a chance for the government to set out how it will use the next five years to deliver long term meaningful social, economic and environmental progress in Britain. Yet it seems increasingly likely that we’re set to witness instead another missed opportunity for the change in direction this country so desperately needs. The most worrying omission from the government’s pre-Queen’s Speech announcements is any substantial action on climate change. If David Cameron is to be taken seriously as a world leader on the most pressing issue of modern times, then he must be far bolder in implementing policies which allow us to do what the science requires: leave the vast majority of our existing reserves of oil, coal and gas in the ground and unburned.

New Statesman 26th May 2015 read more »

EDF

For years, employees of the French company EDF have enjoyed a perk almost inconceivable to their counterparts in the rest of the industrialised world — 10 weeks’ holiday a year. Now EDF, the state-owned utility, is seeking to call time on the arrangement, in a move that reflects France’s increasing willingness to loosen the rigidities of its labour market. The 10 weeks of holiday enjoyed by about 30,000 of EDF’s white-collar employees were negotiated in 1999, as France moved to a statutory 35-hour working week. Because EDF staff work an average of 39.5 hours a week, four-and-a-half more than the 35-hour legal limit, they were compensated with what amounts to an additional 23 days off a year, on top of 27 days’ conventional holiday. Jean-Bernard Lévy, EDF chief executive, is offering employees a one-off €10,000 payment to persuade them to work 212 days a year, rather than the current 196.

FT 26th May 2015 read more »

Japan – reactor re-starts

The Sendai nuclear plant in Kagoshima Prefecture is on track to resume operations in late July, having undergone all regulatory steps except for on-site inspections. Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority on Wednesday approved the plant’s security regulations, which include accident-response procedures. After becoming the first nuclear plant in Japan to pass safety screenings last September, the Sendai plant continued to work on requirements with the nuclear watchdog so that it can restart its reactors. All of this paperwork has now been approved. This approval process began in July 2013. It took longer than the initial projection of six months because this process was the first for the authority, which was established in 2012, as well as for plant operator Kyushu Electric Power.

Nikkei 28th May 2015 read more »

IB Times 27th May 2015 read more »

Russia Today 27th May 2015 read more »

The high cost of renewable energy means Japan has no choice but to rely on nuclear power to provide between 20 and 22 percent of its energy by 2030, according to an industry ministry report. That would be a small drop in the reliance on nuclear power from the levels before the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. The shift away from nuclear energy to renewables, including solar power, will generate “pressure for drastic rise in energy cost,” stated the report released May 26. The ministry, a staunch supporter of nuclear energy, concluded it is the least expensive method of power generation. While nuclear energy should provide between 20 and 22 percent of Japan’s electricity, renewable energy should account for 22 to 24 percent in fiscal 2030.

Asahi Shimbun 27th May 2015 read more »

Iran

An exiled Iranian opposition group said on Thursday a delegation of North Korean experts in nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles visited a military site near Tehran in April amid talks between world powers and Iran over its nuclear programme. The dissident National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) exposed Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy water facility at Arak in 2002. But analysts say it has a mixed track record and a clear political agenda. Iran says allegations of nuclear bomb research are baseless and forged by its enemies.

Reuters 28th May 2015 read more »

France warned on Wednesday it was ready to block a final deal between Iran and the six major powers on Iran’s nuclear program unless Tehran provided inspectors access to all installations, including military sites.

Reuters 27th May 2015 read more »

Guardian 27th May 2015 read more »

The United States will not consider an extension to reach an agreement on curbing Iran’s nuclear program, the State Department said on Wednesday, despite indications from France and Iran that talks may stretch into July. “We’re not contemplating any extension beyond June 30,” State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said at a news briefing.

Reuters 27th May 2015 read more »

North Korea

The United States and two key Asian allies discussed how to increase pressure on North Korea to halt its nuclear programme and will urge China to help bring Pyongyang back to the negotiating table, officials said.

Reuters 27th May 2015 read more »

India

For the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power project, touted as the largest nuclear power generating station in the world by net electrical power rating, a crucial Pre-Engineering Agreement signed between state-owned Nuclear Power Corp (NPCIL) and French reactor vendor Areva last month will set the ball rolling on the detailed safety assessment for the proposed 9,900 MWe (mega watt electrical) project. It would also set the stage for commencing the licensing process for the French EPR reactor-based project with India’s nuclear regulator — the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. This comes in the backdrop of Areva facing regulatory fire over weak spots in the steel of its EPR (formerly called European Pressurised Reactor) reactor it is building for French state-owned utility EDF at the Flamanville site in France, according to findings released by French nuclear regulator ASN earlier last month. ASN had said Areva had informed it that tests at 2014-end had shown that in certain zones of the reactor vessel and the cover of the EPR, there was a significant concentration of carbon, which weakened the mechanical resilience of the steel and its ability to resist the spreading of cracks.

Indiax Express 27th May 2015 read more »

US

The NRC Commissioners voted unanimously earlier this month to adopt its staff recommendation that the agency’s rules be changed to allow a “graded approach” on meeting the Atomic Energy Act’s prohibition on foreign ownership, control, or domination of U.S. nuclear reactors. This cave-in to the nuclear power wasn’t entirely unexpected although the unanimous vote was certainly a disappointing showing from the two newest Commissioners, who might have been expected to take a more skeptical line toward the industry than some past Commissioners. But it’s too bad.

Green World 27th May 2015 read more »

China

China National Nuclear Corporation subsidiary CNNC International is eyeing overseas uranium acquisition opportunities to help meet demand that will arise from the expansion of the country’s civilian nuclear power programme, chief executive Wang Ying said at the annual shareholders meeting. The Beijing-based company, which develops and trades overseas uranium resources, is particularly interested in Kazakhstan, Canada and Australia, which are home to rich resources with promising development opportunities, Ms Wang said.

Nucnet 26th May 2015 read more »

NPT

Rebecca Johnson: After the NPT Review Conference collapsed in disarray last week with disagreement over new proposals for a Middle East disarmament conference in 2016, humanitarian initiatives for a nuclear weapons prohibition treaty look like the only way forward.

Open Democracy 28th May 2015 read more »

Nuclear Weapons

Russia’s provocative rhetoric and its dramatic expansion of flights by nuclear bombers are deeply troubling and dangerous, the Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday. Russia’s plans to deploy nuclear-capable missiles in Kaliningrad – near Poland’s border – and its threat to move nuclear forces in Crimea would “fundamentally change the balance of security in Europe.” Stoltenberg warned, in a speech during a visit to Washington.

Guardian 28th May 2015 read more »

For Megan Rice, the 85-year-old nun and peace activist released from jail earlier this month, the most pressing thing about her two years of incarceration was her conviction that most her fellow prisoners should not have been there. “The most difficult thing was knowing that the root cause of the problems is our nuclear industrial complex,” she told The Independent. “It has teared at the social fabric of our country over the past 70 years.”

Independent 27th May 2015 read more »

New York Times 27th May 2015 read more »

Trident

The safety of the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons is to be discussed in Parliament today, after the SNP secured a debate slot. The party wants to press UK government on recent claims made by a whistleblower concerning the state of the weapons programme. Able Seaman William McNeilly, 25, caused a manhunt after he published an 18-page report online containing a series of allegations about nuclear submarines based at Faslane, which he called a “disaster waiting to happen”. Alex Salmond, the party’s foreign affairs spokesman, said: “Trident is a key issue for people in Scotland. It is bad enough that Scotland is forced to house these weapons of mass destruction but these alleged breaches of security are deeply worrying – there must be absolutely no complacency.”

ITV 28th May 2015 read more »

Renewables

While significant progress has been made, the UK is still some way off meeting its legally binding target of producing 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Indeed, the growth rate of around 16 per cent required to achieve this target is one of the highest for any member state in the European Union. The 2020 targets are a combination of electricity generation, transport and heating, and under-investment in any one of the three sectors hampers progress towards the overall target. Growth in the renewable electricity sector has increased on average by an impressive 20 per cent year-on-year between 2009 and 2013. However, this is currently the only sector on course to potentially exceed its targets and in order to maintain this level of growth, it is estimated that £42bn extra investment is needed by 2020.

Business Green 27th May 2015 read more »

Renewables – onshore wind

The UK Government has published its planned legislation to end taxpayer subsidies for new onshore farms and to end the need for the Cabinet Minister consent (in England only) for large onshore wind farms – those over 50MW. These are two of the key clauses in the draft Energy Bill formally announced as part of the Queen’s speech opening the new parliament following the elections earlier this month. The majority of onshore wind farm projects – 1,642 out of 2,836 turbines – currently awaiting planning permission are in Scotland, compared with 483 in England, according to figures from wind industry body Renewable UK.

Scottish Energy News 28th May 2015 read more »

English consumers could be forced to continue paying for new wind farms in Scotland, after the Government indicated its promise to end subsidies may not apply north of the border. The Conservatives pledged in their manifesto to “end any new public subsidy” for onshore wind farms after David Cameron declared that “enough is enough”. But on Wednesday the Government disclosed that, while it would “be announcing measures to deliver this soon”, it would also “consult with the devolved administrations on changes to subsidy regimes for onshore wind farms”. Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish First Minister and SNP leader, is strongly in favour of more onshore wind farms and has already demanded a veto on the Tory plans – raising the prospect that subsidies may continue to be paid to new projects in Scotland.

Telegraph 27th May 2015 read more »

Renewables – Island Links

Highlands and Islands MSP Mike MacKenzie has written to new UK Energy Minister, Amber Rudd, asking her to urgently review the case for island interconnectors for Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles. Scotland’s island groups have huge untapped renewable energy potential – wind, wave and tidal – but are not currently connected to the National Grid. The Grid was designed to transmit energy the other way – from population centres outwards. The proposed links from the island groups (the Orkney, Shetland and Western Isles) are expensive, while policy, market and regulatory barriers have prevented delivery of island links And the charging methodology means higher charges for Scottish generation relative to rest of GB (further from demand). However, with a 400% increase in renewable electricity output over 10 years, Scotland is almost certain to meet its interim target of 50% renewable generation by the end of this year.

Scottish Energy News 28th May 2015 read more »

Renewables – wave

The Swedish Energy Agency has granted an additional €2 million in funding for sea-trials off Scotland of a ‘break-through’ new wave energy device which its makers claim can harness five times more energy from the ocean at a third of the cost of current technologies. The HiWave wave-power machine has been developed by CorPower Ocean and nurtured by KIC InnoEnergy’s Highway Programme. The funds will be used to run tests in the Atlantic off the west coast of Scotland.

Scottish Energy News 28th May 2015 read more »

Renewables – solar

Edinburgh Council has this week outlined plans to develop the largest community-owned renewable energy project in the U.K. Working in partnership with the Edinburgh Community Solar Cooperative (ECSC) and supported by Energy4All, the council will seek to install rooftop solar PV panels across a number of public buildings in the city, including schools, community and leisure centers, and government buildings. Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, welcomed the program, and called upon more homeowners in Scotland to follow suit and install renewable energy technology on their properties. “Using council property to install solar panels is a smart move that over their lifetime will help the Scottish capital avoid thousands of tones of climate change emissions,” he said. “In addition to improving the energy efficiency of buildings, we would very much encourage all local authorities to look into the possibility of using their land and buildings to generate clean energy.”

PV Magazine 27th May 2015 read more »

Fossil Fuels

The political noose is tightening on the global fossil fuel industry. It is a fair bet that world leaders will agree this year to impose a draconian “tax” on carbon emissions that entirely changes the financial calculus for coal, oil, and gas, and may ultimately devalue much of their asset base to zero. The International Monetary Fund has let off the first thunder-clap. An astonishing report – blandly titled “How Large Are Global Energy Subsidies” – alleges that the fossil nexus enjoys hidden support worth 6.5pc of world GDP. This will amount to $5.7 trillion in 2015, mostly due to environmental co sts and damage to health, and mostly stemming from coal. The World Health Organisation – also on cue – has sharply revised up its estimates of early deaths from fine particulates and sulphur dioxide from coal plants. The killer point is that this architecture of subsidy is a “drag on economic growth” as well as being a transfer from poor to rich. It pushes up tax rates and crowds out more productive investment. The world would be richer – and more dynamic – if the burning of fossils was priced properly. This is a deeply-threatening line of attack for those accustomed to arguing that solar or wind are a prohibitive luxury, while coal, oil, and gas remain the only realistic way to power the world economy. The annual subsidy bill for renewables is just $77bn, trivial by comparison.

Telegraph 27th May 2015 read more »

Shell is asking investors to bet against the world taking action on climate change or in renewables displacing fossil fuels, says influential economist Nick Stern. Speaking at a Guardian debate on divestment last night, Lord Stern said Shell and other hydrocarbon companies were getting it wrong on the potential of renewables technology and that people will insist on policies to hold global warming to 2C of global warming.

Guardian 27th May 2015 read more »

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Published: 28 May 2015