29 March 2013

Nuclear Subsidies

French electricity company Electricite de France SA (EDF.FR) and the British government are unlikely to meet a deadline at the end of March to agree on subsidies that would allow the construction of new nuclear power plants in the U.K., people familiar with the matter said. The people said in recent days that although discussions are still ongoing, they aren’t intensive and neither side appeared to be willing to make any compromises. “There’s no deal in sight, discussions are ongoing and if EDF doesn’t get the price that it believes is the right price then they won’t do it, they have no choice,” said one person familiar with the matter. A second person familiar with the matter said nothing had changed in recent weeks to suggest that an agreement between the two sides was imminent. “It wouldn’t surprise me if it ended up being the summer–that’s the most likely timing for an agreement. Everyone’s waiting to see who will blink first,” the second person said.

Fox Business 28th March 2013 read more »

The Treasury and EDF have long been battling over the subsidy that the energy giant will receive for building the C site. Irritated, EDF even set a rather arbitrary – and sure to be ignored – deadline for the end of this month to sort out a deal, when even optimists close to the table believe a compromise is still weeks away. The strike price is the way EDF can convince shareholders that they should definitely get a return on the billions poured into a British power scheme. At the moment, the Treasury, perhaps emboldened by a belief that shale gas could prove a solution to the country’s energy problem, is refusing to pay more than £85 per megawatt hour. EDF thinks that number must start with a “9”. Until the agreement is signed, Mr Cann won’t be able to risk spending more money on a project that is costing £1m a month. He adds that the “less the strike price is the less money you’ve got to mitigate risk until you reach a level that becomes untenable”. With every day that the Government fails to find common ground with EDF, the dream fades a little and the energy gap widens.

Independent 28th March 2013 read more »

New Nukes

New figures out on Thursday show nuclear accounted for a fifth of the UK’s energy generation last year. But they also show that Britain’s energy imports have hit a record high – with the greatest reliance on overseas sources since 1976. Estimates say 86 per cent of the UK’s total energy supply could be met by nuclear power stations. EDF wants to build more. It is spending £1million a week on its site at Hinkley Point C on the Somerset shore, with shovels ready to get digging. All it needs now is the government to agree the price it can charge for the power produced. Until then, staff will remain under-used. There are some small projects to get on with, but even these will run out at the end of next month.

This is Money 28th March 2013 read more »

Energy Policy

Letter Dave Elliott: I was dismayed by the statement by Professor John Beddington, the government’s chief scientific adviser, that a nuclear energy-free future for the UK is not something the coalition is thinking seriously about. You quote him as adding: “We really can’t see a future for the UK energy sector, if we are to meet our climate change obligations and have resilience in the power sector, without a significant component of nuclear.” The Department of Energy and Climate Change has provided an extensive online energy modelling system and invited interested people and organisations to use it. The British Pugwash Group spent a year doing just that and recently published the results as a set of 2050 energy Pathways. It included one I helped with, which showed clearly that it was possible to meet the UK’s energy needs at reasonable cost with no nuclear power, while reducing emissions below current 2050 targets. Evidently we were wasting our time.

Guardian 28th March 2013 read more »

Politics

David Cameron has conducted a surprise mini-shuffle ahead of the Easter break, bringing a controversial rightwing energy minister into Downing Street. John Hayes will be replaced at the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) by the business minister Michael Fallon, who will straddle the business department while taking on some of his predecessor’s responsibilities. Fallon will allow the energy department to send more consistent messages to businesses about its commitment to low-carbon energy. One Liberal Democrat source said: “Number 10 is now in ‘sell green energy to investors’ mode, and they realised that although John was good at playing to the Daily Mail gallery, he was not what companies like Siemens wanted.” Fallon, a hard-headed effective minister, has piloted private member’s bills on green energy in the past. He will now have to balance the need to meet public concerns about the costs of green energy, and the need for investment. He has a substantial brief, making him one of the most important Tory ministers outside cabinet.

Guardian 28th March 2013 read more »

John Hayes move follows public rows at troubled energy department. Minister leaves department full of seething tensions that reflect high political stakes in arena of energy and climate change. John Hayes, who has been moved out after just seven months as a minister and in the middle of the flagship energy bill, provoked extraordinary rows with this nominal boss, the Lib Dem secretary of state, Ed Davey, defying him to give a speech lambasting windfarms and leading Davey to take legal advice about whether his rogue minister was opening up the department to judicial challenge on its renewable energy policies. The reason for the seething tension is that the green agenda is one of the bitterest coalition crunch points. The Lib Dems are desperate to hang on to their green credentials, one of the few areas in which they lead all the main parties in public opinion, while a significant section of backbench Tory MPs loathe what they see as ludicrously expensive environmental fripperies.

Guardian 28th March 2013 read more »

Business Green 28th March 2013 read more »

John Hayes arrived in the energy department in the September reshuffle when coalition tensions were already brewing over the imminent energy bill. The appointment only inflamed the situation. Within days of taking his ministerial office in Decc, the new energy minister pre-briefed the Daily Mail newspaper about a speech he was due to give criticising onshore wind farms. These modern-day windmills were a blight “peppering” the landscape, he said.

FT 28th March 2013 read more »

Just a brief note on the passing of John Hayes, to the estimable job of calming down Tory backbenchers from within the Cabinet Office, instead of calming down jittery energy investors from within DECC. It has to be a brief note in order to befit the brevity of Hayes’ reign as energy minister. Damian Carrington recounts a litany of conflicts in DECC that may have been contributory to Hayes’ departure: I’m not sure it is as thought out as that. It stands, frankly in the tradition of the dispensability of Energy Ministers over a period of years, when other concerns, or the collateral damage of reshuffles meant that either Ministers disappeared after a few months, or had their portfolios elided with others. Think Peter Hain’s few months, think the late and lamented Malcolm Wick’s initial incarnation as Minister for Energy and the Post Office. The new Minister, Michael Fallon does have some ‘form’in this area. He did, after all pilot an admirable Private Members Bill through to law in 2008, which regularised the efforts of Local Authorities to apply rules for energy efficiency in new buildings at the planning application stage.

Alan Whitehead Blog 28th March 2013 read more »

Barry Gardiner MP: David Cameron’s decision to move the erstwhile energy minister John Hayes to a made-up role in the Cabinet Office shows the prime minister has finally understood the damage to business confidence that his tenure in the Department of Energy and Climate Change has caused over the past seven months. This much is positive. We are told that his replacement, Michael Fallon, will double up and retain his role as business minister. While some may argue that this is to leave the DECC hopelessly under strength to carry the energy bill through parliament and to deliver the £200bn overhaul needed in our energy infrastructure, it must be acknowledged that a minister who can ride these two horses would bring a much-needed ability to integrate energy into our wider industrial policy. Investors are seeking clarity on long-term political commitment post 2020 when the current suite of targets expires. Supply chain investment decisions require confidence that production facilities built now at a cost of millions of pounds are going to produce an investment return well into the next decade. If the new minister wishes to show that he understands this, then he can make a profound impact on his new department by announcing his support for a 2030 decarbonisation target as set out in the crossparty amendment tabled by myself and Tim Yeo.

Guardian 28th March 2013 read more »

The announcement of public funding for nuclear energy projects has shattered Westminster’s no nuclear subsidy promise and demonstrated that the Westminster Government simply cannot be trusted to keep its word. Lib Dem Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced £31 million in public funding for companies involved in the nuclear energy industry, making a mockery of the Westminster Government’s coalition agreement promise that there would be ‘no public subsidy’ for new nuclear energy. The coalition agreement also states that ‘Liberal Democrats have long opposed any new nuclear construction’, raising questions as to why Vince Cable has allocated funds in this way. Commenting, SNP Energy Spokesperson Mike Weir MP said: “This funding announcement clearly breaks the Westminster Government’s promise and completely undermines the credibility of Vince Cable and the Lib Dems. “With a recent opinion poll showing that a majority of people in Scotland are opposed to new nuclear energy, there is no justification for Westminster to be wasting public money in this way.

Politics 27th March 2013 read more »

Arbroath Herald 28th March 2013 read more »

Nuclear Industry Association Chief Executive Keith Parker said: “I am pleased to welcome Michael Fallon MP to his broadened role in Government, with responsibilities for business and energy policy. The synergies between these two portfolios are clear, and Mr Fallon could not have come to this brief at a more critical time. Mr Fallon’s combined role will help to maximise the potential for UK economic growth and jobs brought by £110billion of planned investment in new energy infrastructure.”

Nuclear Industry Association 28th March 2013 read more »

Supply Chain

The Sheffield City Region’s place as a leading supplier of safety critical components for Britain’s burgeoning civil nuclear power industry has got a multimillion pound boost from the government. Advanced manufacturers and researchers from the region, led by Sheffield Forgemasters International and Sheffield University, have secured more than £2.4 million towards three projects worth a total of just under £5 million. Forgemasters will work with the Advanced Manufacturing Park-based materials joining specialists TWI and Sheffield University on a £2.1 million project to develop a way of making pumps that keep coolant circulating in the reactor core using castings.

Sheffield Star 28th March 2013 read more »

Energy Costs

Families will be paying almost £300 a year in green energy taxes by 2020. The levy will more than double until a quarter of every pound spent on electricity goes on wind, solar, nuclear or home insulation schemes. Energy Secretary Ed Davey insisted last night that households will be better off thanks to the benefits of electricity-saving initiatives. But families will be able to claw the money back only if they buy more efficient domestic appliances and boilers. The average power bill is now £1,267 – with £112 of that going on green taxes, including an £18 wind farm subsidy. By 2020, green taxes will have risen by more than 150 per cent, ensuring each family contributes £286, according to the Department for Energy and Climate Change.

Daily Mail 27th March 2013 read more »

Unfortunately for DECC, its prediction that efficient electrical appliances and home insulation will limit the rise in bills was met with widespread skepticism. Labour’s Caroline Flint accused the government of an “underhand” attempt to mask the real impact of the government’s green policies on bills and experts questioned whether the proposed efficiency savings are realistic.

Carbon Brief 27th March 2013 read more »

Energy Supplies

Britain’s gas storage facilities were at their lowest level for four years last night as the cold weather continues to push up demand. Gas equivalent to 34 hours’ consumption is in reserve, down from about 39 hours at the beginning of the day. Another cargo of liquefied natural gas from Qatar is scheduled to dock today to ease the shortage.

The Times 29th March 2013 read more »

Cumbria

SOME 40,000 new jobs, a £930 billion investment in building new reactors and another £250 billion in decommissioning old ones on a global scale – this is how the government sees Britain’s nuclear future. The government and industry have developed a blueprint – The UK’s Nuclear Future – so the country can “seize opportunities for economic growth in the nuclear industry”. It covers the whole of the nuclear market: new build, waste management and decommissioning, fuel cycle services, operations and maintenance. Huge opportunities are said to lie ahead and the massive global investments forecast up to 40,000 jobs generated from the new build programme in the UK alone at peak. But with the strategy foreshadowing developments over the next two decades, Copeland’s MP Jamie Reid, who has lobbied strongly for nuclear new build in his constituency, warned that plans have to be turned into action urgently if thousands of predicted Sellafield job losses only a few years ahead are to be avoided.

Whitehaven News 28th March 2013 read more »

NDA

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has today published its 2013-16 Business Plan which sets out its delivery priorities for the period as it continues to focus on accelerating hazard reduction across its 19-site estate.

NDA 27th March 2013 read more »

Urenco

The European owners of Urenco Ltd. are sounding out potential buyers in what is seen as the start of a politically charged process for selling the world’s second-largest nuclear fuel maker, potentially valued at more than $15 billion. Urenco supplies nuclear fuel to power plants in Europe and the U.S. The U.K. and Netherlands governments each own a third of the company while Germany’s top two utilities hold equal shares of the remainder. The governments previously resisted selling Urenco due to concerns about the sensitive nature of its state-of-the-art nuclear technology, but Europe’s economic crisis has pressured governments and companies to sell.

Wall Street Journal 28th March 2013 read more »

A uranium enrichment group, part owned by the British Government, has warned that Japan’s decision to shut nuclear power stations will reduce demand for its services. All but two of Japan’s 50 reactors remain offline following the Fukushima disaster of 2011 after Tokyo imposed a moratorium on nuclear power. Even if the ban is lifted, the reactors will use up a stockpile of nuclear fuel before ordering more from the likes of Urenco. Helmut Engelbrecht, the chief executive, said: “We expect our customers to use up that stock when they restart operations but, in the short run, that reduces demand for our services.” He said that the new Government in Tokyo, which was elected in December, will have no choice but to give the green light to atomic power.

The Times 29th March 2013 read more »

Uranium

No permits for the exploration or mining of uranium in Quebec will be issued until an independent study on the environmental impact and social acceptance of extracting uranium has been completed, Environment Minister Yves-François Blanchet announced Thursday.

Montreal Gazette 28th March 2013 read more »

Japan

The Japanese utility that supplies electricity to seven prefectures on Japan’s main island of Honshu today officially withdrew its plan to build a new nuclear power plant near the site of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Now, Japan is taking a leading role in developing production of electricity by means of nuclear fusion, the process that powers stars and the Sun. In this nuclear reaction, atomic nuclei collide at very high speed and join to form a new type of atomic nucleus, emitting vast amounts of heat and energy.

Environmental News Service 28th March 2013 read more »

The mortality rate of elderly residents of nursing-care facilities in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, jumped nearly 2.7 times after they evacuated the city in the days following the March 11, 2011, start of the nuclear disaster, due to poor living conditions, a study found.

Japan Times 28th March 2013 read more »

Korea

The US has taken the unprecedented step of publicly announcing that two of its nuclear-capable B-2 bombers have taken part in military exercises with South Korea, dropping dummy munitions on an island range, in what is taken to be a show of force following weeks of North Korean hostility.

Guardian 28th March 2013 read more »

Independent 28th March 2013 read more »

Turkey

The vast majority wants the Middle East denuclearized. Two countries in the Middle East possess nuclear weapons. Also, a third country is developing nuclear weapons in the foreseeable future. The first country that has nuclear weapons on its territory is Israel. Allegedly, Israel has nearly 200 nuclear warheads. Israel has also developed long-range missiles so that these can reach distant targets. Moreover, it can even be estimated that it has equipped the conventional submarines it has purchased from Germany with nuclear warhead missiles. Nuclear weapons and missiles are Israel’s own possession. The second Middle Eastern country that possesses nuclear weapons on its soil is Turkey. At its İncirlik Base, there is a “sufficient amount” of B61 tactical nuclear bombs deployed. The B61s are in the possession of Turkey’s NATO ally, the United States. Turkey’s inventory does not include any planes able to carry these bombs for now.

Hurriyet Daily 29th March 2013 read more »

Israel

Letter David Lowry: President Obama reaffirmed his opposition to Iran’s nuclear programme during his recent visit to Israel (“If it’s peace he wants, Obama is far too late”, Comment, March 22). But of course, unmentioned by Mr Obama, Israel is already nuclear-armed, with around 200 warheads. The rulers in Tehran are worried about such an atomic arsenal within a few minutes’ flight time of their nation.

Telegraph 25th March 2013 read more »

Iran

In a rare interview, the man dubbed “the father of Iran’s nuclear programme” tells how the project began under the Shah, who wanted to leave the option for a bomb open. Now in his 80s, Akhbar Etemad remembers all too clearly the pressure the Americans tried to apply to him when he was head of Iran’s nuclear programme between 1974 and 1978. Mr Etemad was the president of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation and it was under him that the country’s nuclear project began and flourished.

BBC 28th March 2013 read more »

Germany

Germany is moving forward to replace fossil fuels with renewables faster than most countries. But there is always pushback, most recently in the form of much media discourse about rising electricity prices spearheaded by the Federal Minister of Environment Peter Altmaier. Like many politicians, he is already preparing for national elections in September, so let’s take an honest look at this discourse surrounding electricity prices and how they affect Germany’s move toward renewables.

Think Progress 27th March 2013 read more »

South Africa

Russia is offering to help South Africa to develop its own nuclear industry from resource production to power plant design and manufacture, Vladimir Putin has told South African president Jacob Zuma.

World Nuclear News 28th March 2013 read more »

CHP

Leading companies in the micro combined heat and power (micro CHP) sector in the UK have set out a strategic vision for the role of micro CHP as a key component of an emerging smarter energy sector. A new report produced by Ecuity Consulting sets out how the emerging micro combined heat and power (micro CHP) technologies – Stirling engine, Organic Rankine cycle, and fuel cell – could revolutionise home heating in the UK. It also suggests a support framework to allow consumers who let their heating system also power their house be rewarded for the full value they bring to the energy system.

Renewable Energy Focus 27th March 2013 read more »

Renewables

RenewableUK has welcomed new statistics which show that a record 11.3% of the nation’s electricity was generated from renewable sources in 2012. This represents an increase of almost 2% on the previous year, when 9.4% came from renewables.

Renewable UK 28th March 2013 read more »

Largely unnoticed in the West, Asia’s energy revolution is gathering speed. It’s driven by the same economic and strategic logic that Reinventing Fire showed could profitably shift the United States from fossil-fuel-based and nuclear energy to three-times-more-efficient use and three-fourths renewables by 2050. Renewable energy now provides one-fifth of the world’s electricity and has added about half of the world’s new generating capacity each year since 2008. Excluding big hydro dams, renewables got $250 billion in private investment in 2011 alone, adding 84 GW, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance and ren21.net. The results were similar in 2012. While RMI explores how key partners could apply our U.S. synthesis to other countries, including China, revolutionary shifts—strikingly parallel to our approach—are already emerging in the three biggest Asian economies: Japan, China, and India. They add strong reasons to expect the already-underway renewable revolution to scale even further and faster.

RMI 26th March 2013 read more »

Climate Change

The Daily Telegraph has called for the repeal of the 2008 Climate Change Act. A piece of legislation that Tony Blair called revolutionary and Friends of the Earth (who had campaigned for it) called ground-breaking. Our current PM, David Cameron, said that the Act would be remembered long after he’d gone (although acerbic critics might add that that date is fast approaching…). Many environmentalists saw the CCA as a key step, locking the UK into the certainty of a low-carbon future. Even at the time, my view was that it wasn’t that simple, that politics always trumps law. More to the point, as the American political scientist Eric Patashnik argues in his excellent book, “the passage of a reform law is only the beginning of a political struggle”. I have drawn out the implications of this point for the CCA at length in a recent working paper for the Energy Policy Group at Exeter University.

IGov 26th March 2013 read more »

Fuel Poverty

The UK comes bottom of a fuel poverty league table for western Europe, according to new research released today. Woeful levels of insulation in this country’s homes are sending energy bills through the roof for people in the UK, according to the figures from the Association for the Conservation for Energy and the Energy Bill Revolution campaign. Although most other European countries face higher energy prices than those of the UK, better quality home insulation means our European neighbours pay less to heat their homes. The heat leaking from the UK’s homes is condemning over five million households to fuel poverty this winter, and this number is predicted to rise to eight million within the next four years.

Energy Bill Revolution 28th March 2013 read more »

Share

Published: 29 March 2013