29 February 2016

Hinkley

Senior figures at EDF are pushing to delay final approval for the £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear reactor for up to a year as the company seeks new investors for the project. The long-delayed scheme to build the first in a wave of nuclear power stations in the UK has been awaiting a final investment decision from the French utility company for months. EDF has said repeatedly that approval for the plant in Somerset, in the west of England, is “imminent”. Jean-Bernard Lévy, chief executive, said last week the decision was “very close”. But two people involved said it could be delayed until next year. According to one person close to the company, some directors are pushing EDF to find other investors before giving the go-ahead so that it will not have to take the full liabilities on to its balance sheet. French rules dictate that the company must consolidate the debt for Hinkley if it owns more than 50 per cent of the scheme. Under a deal struck with CGN, the Chinese state-owned nuclear company, EDF owns 66.5 per cent of the project but it wants to offload a portion to avoid taking on the extra debt. While Mr Lévy has said that he hopes to bring in other investors after taking the final investment decision, others on the board say it should do so as a prerequisite, a process likely to last into 2017. One person close to the company said: “EDF is very concerned about its [A-grade] credit rating, and so is desperate to offload a share of this project.” One person close to the deal in Paris said: “Many people on the board don’t even want it to go ahead and at the very least they want to see that there is a working EPR out there first. I honestly can’t see the final investment decision coming until next year.” Deepa Venkateswaran, an analyst at Bernstein, said: “From EDF’s perspective, the more delay, the better. The problem is that they have previously said it would take 10 years between the final investment decision and completion of the project.”

FT 28th Feb 2016 read more »

Call for a re-think on Severn Barrage as Hinkley dcelays continue. The entrepreneur behind plans to build a Severn Barrage between Brean Down and Wales has this week called on the government to take a fresh look at his project.

Burnham-on-sea.com 29th Feb 2016 read more »

Small Modular Reactors

The Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) has appointed Decision Analysis Services (DAS), a UK independent engineering and management consultancy to deliver its new Small Modular Reactor Deployment Enablers project. DAS was established in 2007 and operates across the energy, government and defence sectors in the UK, North America, Europe, Japan and Australasia. Their energy team includes engineers and management consultants with experience of working in the UK civil nuclear sector. The ETI will invest up to £300,000 in the six-month project which will identify what activities need to take place in the first 5 years of a development plan if small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) are to be deployed in the UK. A previous ETI project focusing on alternative nuclear technologies provided an overview of the broad issues and associated timescales required to support a UK SMR fleet deployment from 2030 onwards. It found that there are still many uncertainties around SMR development in the UK but that progress needs to made across a number of areas from 2016 onwards if the option to include them in the UK’s future energy mix is to be kept open. Last year the ETI also released a report – “The role for nuclear within a low carbon energy system,” – which identified the potential for both large nuclear reactors and SMRs to be deployed in the UK as part of the transition towards an affordable low carbon energy system.

Process & Control Technology 29th Feb 2016 read more »

New Nukes

Radiation Free Lakeland have just sent off this ‘submission’ (how we hate that word) to the Welsh Affairs Committee. We urge others to write opposing plans for new nuclear in Wales (or anywhere!). The “high burn” waste from new build would be many times hotter than from existing nuclear plants. Please feel free to use any of the ideas in the letter below. The deadline is 6pm Friday March 4th. No need to cover all the “Terms of Reference” the main thing is to object to the whole shebang.

Radiation Free Lakeland 28th Feb 2016 read more »

Nuclear Security

Experts have cautioned against a new international mechanism inheriting the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) process and laid stress on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to have a major role in managing the nuclear security issue. The Strategic Vision Institute, an Islamabad-based think-tank specialising in nuclear issues, held a roundtable to analyse the progress made by the NSS process and discuss the future of the initiative after the last summit being held on March 31 – April 1 in Washington. The experts further deliberated on the role played by Pakistan in the NSS process. With the Nuclear Security Summit weeks away, discussions have focused on the future model of nuclear security cooperation.

Daily Times 28th Feb 2016 read more »

Radwaste

This week the South Australian Royal Commission released “tentative findings” recommending the state take more than 100 tonnes of high-level radioactive waste and store it in the desert for hundreds of thousands of years. A final report is due in May, but already there has been excitement around the proposal, which the Commission says could generate billions of dollars a year and thousands of jobs for the South Australian economy. The state has the highest unemployment in the country.

ABC 19th Feb 2016 read more »

Fukushima

Three former executives at a Japanese power giant have been formally charged with negligence over the 2011 disaster at the Fukushima nuclear plant. The trio, formerly of Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), will be the first to go to court over the incident. A citizen’s panel ruled last year they should face trial, forcing prosecutors to pursue the case.

BBC 29th Feb 2016 read more »

The men, who have not been taken into custody, allegedly failed to take measures to defend Fukushima Daiichi, despite being aware of the risk from a tsunami. Experts say prosecutors could struggle to prove criminal responsibility for failing to prevent the meltdown. The trial, which is not expected to begin until next year, could reveal information about the disaster that Tepco has yet to make public. Last year, the International Atomic Energy Agency pointed to a misguided faith in the safety of nuclear power as a key factor in the Fukushima accident. A 2012 parliamentary report said Fukushima was a “manmade disaster” caused by poor regulation and collusion between the government, Tepco and the industry’s watchdog.

Guardian 29th Feb 2016 read more »

Reuters 29th Feb 2016 read more »

Energy Voice 29th Feb 2016 read more »

US – WIPP

Despite a nine-month delay in the planned reopening of an underground nuclear-waste repository in New Mexico damaged by a radiation accident, progress is being made in resuming operations, said a top state official overseeing the effort.

Wall St Journal 28th Feb 2016 read more »

US – reactors

The Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York State is leaking radioactive contaminant into nearby groundwater, and despite plant operator Entergy’s assurances that the leak has “no health or safety consequences,” Governor Andrew Cuomo called earlier this month for a full investigation by state environment and health officials. The latest revelations add to a mounting list of recent accidents and problems at Indian Point, and Cuomo’s hard stance is nothing new, either. As of November of last year, Cuomo’s office actively opposed the continuing operation of Indian Point. The plant’s problems are not isolated—leaks have been found at as many as 75% of U.S. nuclear plants. And closing Indian Point would put New York, and the U.S., in line with a sharp global move away from nuclear power following 2011’s meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daichi reactor.

Fortune 28th Feb 2016 read more »

Germany

Germany’s opposition Greens have softened their stance towards utility companies, agreeing with powerful trade union IG BCE that they should not have to bear alone the costs of the country’s exit from nuclear power. A government-appointed committee chaired by Green ex-environment minister Juergen Trittin is trying to decide how to apportion the costs for the decommissioning of plants and the storage of nuclear waste. The utilities are already struggling with a steep fall in wholesale power prices and the union and others have argued against burdening them with excessive costs for fear of driving them out of business.

Reuters 28th Feb 2016 read more »

France

The French government is willing to support a 10-year extension to the life of the country’s nuclear reactors, operated by utility EDF, Energy Minister Segolene Royal told France 3 television on Sunday. Nuclear power provides about 75 percent of France’s electricity, but the industry has come under the spotlight since the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan and France has pledged to reduce its reliance on nuclear to 50 percent by increasing renewable energy. Asked if she was ready to raise the limit on existing reactors to 50 years from 40 years, Royal said: “Yes, I am ready to give this the green light, depending obviously on the opinion of the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) …. the French people have for years invested a lot in the nuclear reactors.”

Reuters 28th Feb 2016 read more »

Nuclear Weapons

One of the most important tasks in the field of international security is to rid the world of the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction. Russia has been constantly advocating further limitations and reductions of nuclear weapons stockpiles along with strengthening international regimes of arms control and non-proliferation. However, further dialogue on nuclear disarmament, held both bilaterally and multilaterally, could only be successful if the core principle of international security is observed, i.e. that the security of one country should not be strengthened at the expense of the security of others.

Russia Today 27th Feb 2016 read more »

Trident

FORMER defence secretary Lord Browne came out against Trident renewal yesterday, accusing decision-makers of avoiding discussions on security threats posed by the nuclear programme. Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s World at One show, the Labour peer argued that nuclear weapons have been outgrown by other systems, including technologies developed in Britain. His comments came a day after 60,000 people marched in London against Trident.

Morning Star 29th Feb 2016 read more »

THE SNP leader warned Tories she is putting the planned £31billion replacement of the weapons system at the top of her agenda. Sturgeon told the crowd: “There have been reports that the Tories have been fretting about when to hold their ¬Parliamentary vote on Trident renewal. “They were worried that opponents might make it an election issue over the next -couple of months. “Well, we have a ¬message for them – you bet we’re going to make it an election issue.”

Daily Record 28th Feb 2016 read more »

Renewables – tidal

Ecotricity will compete to build Britain’s first tidal lagoon site ahead of the government’s independent review of tidal in the spring, it announced today. The green energy supplier will release details of its plans later this year and has urged the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) to “take its time” with the review, which will look more closely at the costs and benefits of tidal energy. Ecotricity claims it can build the site for a strike price of around £90/MWh – compared to estimates for rival site Swansea Bay of up to £168/MWh. Prime minister David Cameron recently raised concern over the high levels of subsidies being mooted for tidal power.

Utility Week 26th Feb 2016 read more »

Renewables – solar

SOLAR panels should be installed on all new public buildings, and retrospectively fitted to the Scottish Parliament, to meet energy targets, say industry chiefs have warned. Leading renewable body the Solar Trade Association has called for a roll-out of solar panels across the Scottish public estate, including installations on schools, leisure facilities, police stations, prisons and local authority offices. And it wants the Scottish Government to say that solar should be explored with all new builds and refurbishments in the public sector.

Herald 27th Feb 2016 read more »

Energy Storage

Scottish Power is planning to double the size of its hydro-electric power plant which creates and stores energy. It says the UK will need much more energy storage capacity as renewables increase on the National Grid. It says it can add 400 megawatts (MW) of on-demand electricity by building a new dam in front of the existing dam. But it says the £300-£400m cost is prohibitive unless it can get a guaranteed floor price for its use from the government. In return, Scottish Power says it will accept a cap on profits. The Cruachan plant near Oban in Scotland pumps water 400m uphill at night when energy prices from wind farms are cheap. It then lets the water flow downhill in daytime in order to generate electricity when demand peaks and power prices are expensive. Scottish Power’s Neil Clitheroe told BBC News: “Pumpe d hydro is ideal because it’s relatively cheap, it’s virtually instant, and it provides power at scale. We will need much more of this sort of thing when we get more wind power on the system.”

BBC 29th Feb 2016 read more »

FT 29th Feb 2016 read more »

Energy Voice 29th Feb 2016 read more »

ENVIRONMENTAL organisation WWF Scotland has called on all political parties to embrace the country’s transition to renewables ahead of the Holyrood elections in May. The group are urging politicians to make the change so Scotland can become the EU’s first 100 per cent renewable nation. The call was made as WWF director Lang Banks welcomed the news of ScottishPower plans to draw up a £400 million plan to expand its pumped hydro power capacity at Ben Cruachan in the Highlands.

The National 29th Feb 2016 read more »

Fossil Fuels

Energy UK, which represents big six providers, says it now supports phasing out coal-fired stations, after years of defending use of fossil fuels. The UK’s biggest energy lobbying group has shifted its position on green energy and will start campaigning for low-carbon alternatives for the first time, in what environmental campaigners are describing as a watershed moment. Energy UK wants to see more demand reduction, plus regulatory changes, to help support electricity storage projects that help balance out the peaks and troughs caused by wind and solar power. Catherine Mitchell, a professor of energy policy at the University of Exeter and a champion of the low-carbon economy, welcomed the apparent U-turn by Slade’s organisation. She said: “Energy UK is the conventional industry lobby, and is generally at the conservative end of arguments. This [Pathways] report reads almost as if they have ‘flipped’ to the other side. I take this to mean that their members realise that their future is in the ‘new’ energy system rather than the ‘old’, and this is to be welcomed.”

Guardian 28th Feb 2016 read more »

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have voted in favour of lifting the SNP Scot-Govt moratorium on ‘unconventional’ shale oil and gas drilling – fracking – in Scotland.

Scottish Energy News 29th Feb 2016 read more »

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Published: 29 February 2016