29 September 2015

Bradwell

Let me offer a perspective on the chancellor’s visit to China last week that may not immediately have occurred to you: that of the bivalves of the Blackwater estuary in Essex. The native, or Colchester, oyster has had a hard time lately but it was one of the reasons why Julius Caesar thought these islands worth invading. Those that are still hanging on there enjoy a degree of protection as a threatened species. What has the oyster to do with George Osborne’s visit to China, in the company of Amber Rudd, the energy secretary? Well, it appears the chancellor was there to prepare an agreement for David Cameron to sign with the Chinese president during a state visit to Britain next month that will open the door to unprecedented collaboration on nuclear power. In return for helping out with the increasingly expensive Hinkley Point plant in Somerset, the Chinese have been told they can use the site of an old nuclear power station at Bradwell-on-Sea, on the Blackwater estuary, to build a reactor of their own design. I am not worried about the Chinese. I am worried about us. For it is an open question whether British standards of regulation are up to the expectations of people who live in places such as West Mersea, just across the water from Bradwell, where I note with amusement that someone was fined £1,000 the other day for not cleaning up after their dog.

Sunday Times 27th Sept 2015 read more »

Hinkley

Even many of the supporters of nuclear energy in the “environmentalist” camp — such as George Monbiot, Mark Lynas, and Chris Goodall — are now advocating for the cancellation of the Hinkley C project in the UK, as evidenced by an article recently published by the three mentioned above.

Clean Technica 27th Sept 2015 read more »

Why did chancellor George Osborne have to scuttle off to China last week to round up funding for Hinkley Point, the expensive nuclear power station he wants to build in Somerset? The short answer is that every sensible investor decided long ago to give this troubled project a wide berth.

Observer 27th Sept 2015 read more »

Lisa Nandy: Yesterday I wrote to Meg Hillier, the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee asking her and the committee to investigate the Chancellor’s proposals for paying for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point C. I have serious concerns about the value for money this deal provides for bill payers, the likely impact of such a deal on the most vulnerable in society, and have serious questions about the bid process itself. As I will set out in my speech to the Labour Party conference tomorrow this Tory government are seriously risking our country’s energy security, and the ability of Britain to play its part in the fight against climate change. European regulators have calculated that total subsidies from the public for this project could total a staggering £17.6 billion. Some energy experts are saying it may be the most expensive conventional power station ever built anywhere in the world. One estimate suggested it will cost bill payers more than the Olympic Games, Heathrow’s Terminal 2, and Cross rail combined.

Labour List 28th Sept 2015 read more »

Martin Freer, Professor of Nuclear Physics: Britain appears to finally be on the way to building its first new nuclear power station for 20 years. The chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, recently announced a £2 billion loan guarantee linked to the development of the Hinkley Point C power plant, signalling that the final decision to build cannot be far behind. But the plans from French firm EDF have drawn criticism from an array of experts and commentators for being too expensive and relying on an as yet unproven technology that is already being redesigned. EDF has admitted that Hinkley Point C will not start operating in 2023 as originally predicted. As a result, the first new nuclear plant to come online in the UK may actually be an entirely different type: the advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR), a proven Japanese design from Hitachi-GE that has been used in nuclear power stations since the 1990s. Looking further into the future, the NuGen proposal, backed by Toshiba, to bring the Westinghouse AP1000 design to the UK is another promising prospect. Unfortunately, the rather blinkered focus of the government on delivering the Hinkley Point project without recognising what is coming in the near future is a significant point of weakness for UK nuclear energy policy. An approach that gave greater recognition to the potential of other designs could avoid future embarrassment, as well as saving money for the taxpayer and energy bill payer.

The Conversation 28th Sept 2015 read more »

Moorside

The nuclear fairy story told us during the first stage of the NuGen CONsultation was that Moorside would produce 7% of the UKs energy. This was of course a big fat lie (amongst others) used to big up the importance of the Moorside project x 3.5. Now DECC have admitted as much saying the lie was “regrettable.” Mmm. So a lie promoting the most dangerous untried and untested (literally) reactors next to the most dangerous stockpile of radioactive waste in the world is “regrettable” …..now that is the stuff of fairy tales. The wolf in red riding hood had nothing on NuGen!

Radiation Free Lakeland 28th Sept 2015 read more »

New Reactor Types

TerraPower, the company founded in 2008 to develop advanced nuclear technology and backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, has signed a memorandum of understanding with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) for cooperative work on development of a travelling wave reactor (TWR), the company said in a statement on 23 September. The statement gave few details of the agreement, but said that the two companies plan to work together to complete the TWR design and commercialise TWR technology.

NucNet 24th Sept 2015 read more »

Energy Policy

Imagining Labour’s energy policy over the next five years is – to put it bluntly – a little confusing. The new leader, veteran left-winger Jeremy Corbyn, is best known for claims he wants to nationalise things – and he does – yet when you read his “environmental manifesto” the word ‘nationalise’ doesn’t appear. Instead it’s all about devolving power (in all senses of the word) to communities, businesses and local government. Indeed speaking to me about his ambition for tens of thousands of rooftop solar panels, Corbyn said “it is simply not credible or possible to make that into a mass public corporation.” At this stage this is all somewhat hypothetical. We don’t yet know how the tension within Labour’s energy policy will play out. But one thing is clear: a future Labour agenda may turn out to be far less about nationalising the big players and more about bypassing them entirely.

Energy Desk 28th Sept 2015 read more »

Angela Eagle, Shadow First Secretary of State and Business Secretary, has slammed government plans to roll back support for renewable energy and energy efficiency measures. Speaking at the Labour Party conference today, Eagle said it made “absolutely no sense” for the government to be reducing support for the green economy, arguing that the government should instead be supporting a “high tech” section of the economy that has been growing at a rate of seven per cent per year.

Business Green 28th Sept 2015 read more »

At the moment low-carbon sources of supply, including nuclear and hydro, provide less than 10 per cent of global total energy supply. By 2040 on the International Energy Agency’s new policies scenario, which is moderately optimistic about action on climate change, they still provide only 15 per cent. One day there should be a major technical breakthrough. But until then we cannot assume that any form of renewable supply is going to displace coal, oil and natural gas. Most long-term forecasts show that renewables will produce growing volumes of energy over the next 20 or 30 years but so will hydrocarbons. Both grow in a world where, even with improving efficiency, total consumption keeps rising. That takes us back to the first assumption: that the use of hydrocarbons will be limited by public policy to keep emissions below 450 parts per million, which is the normally quoted level of safety. I believe that assumption is completely unrealistic. It is possible that Europe and the US will limit hydrocarbon use in one way or another, though that judgment is crucially dependent on the development of a political consensus in the US that does not yet exist. President Barack Obama’s climate measures could well be overturned by a Republican victory in next November’s election.

FT 28th Sept 2015 read more »

Utilities

The worst energy suppliers are receiving 20 times more complaints than the best, according to Citizens Advice. The consumer champion said that households faced a “customer service lottery” as it published a league table that showed a huge variation in standards. ScottishPower, the Spanish-owned supplier, had the worst record with 944 complaints per 100,000 customers while Scottish and Southern Energy was the best with only 47 complaints per 100,000.

Times 28th Sept 2015 read more »

ESPOO/PLEX

A Kiev court held yesterday (27th Aug) the first hearing in a case brought by Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear power plants operator, against the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine (NECU), a civil society group, member of the CEE Bankwatch Network. Energoatom accuses the activists of supposedly spreading false information on those of Ukraine’s nuclear reactors operating beyond their design lifetime. Energoatom refers to NECU’s press release from May 15, 2015, which reported that unit 2 in the South Ukraine nuclear power plant is not in compliance with the requirements to safely operate in electricity production mode. The group also warned in that press release, that decisions taken by Ukrainian authorities regarding nuclear units’ operation beyond their design lifetime lack crucial substantiation. In its lawsuit, Energoatom asked the court to order NECU to publish a statement on its website saying some of the information in the original press release was false. Ukrainian environmental NGOs – including Ecoclub-Rivne, NECU and others – have been campaigning since more than five years for of the public’s right to be fully informed and engaged in the decision-making process regarding the prolonged operation of nuclear units beyond their design expiration date. This year civil society groups in five EU countries have joined the campaign to demand citizens in Ukraine’s neighbourhood are fully informed about the potential transboundary implications of these plans and have a say in the process. In fact, the EU is actively involved in the revival of Ukraine’s nuclear energy. Energoatom enjoys generous financial support from Euratom and from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to implement safety upgrades in its nuclear units, which are in turn used for legitimising a postponed expiry date. Yet, it has been continuously ignoring Ukraine’s legal obligations under the Aarhus and Espoo Conventions for transboundary consultations, which are also conditions to these European loans.

Bankwatch 27th Aug 2015 read more »

Japan – Fukushima

Radiation can be carried long distances by marine currents, concentrated in sediments, and carried in sea spray 16km or more inland, writes Tim Deere-Jones. So Fukushima poses a hazard to coastal populations and any who eat produce from their farms. So what are the Japanese Government and IAEA doing? Ignoring the problem, and failing to gather data.

Ecologist 28th Sept 2015 read more »

More than 70 percent of the nuclear fuel in one of the reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant is highly likely to have melted in the wake of the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami, according to a university research team.

Japan Times 28th Sept 2015 read more »

Brazil

Brazil’s state-run utility Eletrobras said on Monday it has suspended for 90 days its contract with Andrade Gutierrez for work on the Angra 3 nuclear reactor, citing an “exceptional situation.”Prosecutors allege that the price-fixing and bribery scheme that existed at state-run oil company Petrobras extended to Eletrobras and the Angra nuclear plant.Andrade Gutierrez is one of two dozen construction companies being investigated as part of the corruption scandal at Petrobras.

Reuters 28th Sept 2015 read more »

North Korea

The South Korean government has said the planned launch of a satellite by North Korea next month is being used as a cover to disguise a test for a nuclear missile delivery system. The secretive state announced that the satellite will be launched into orbit in October, potentially to tie into the seventieth anniversary of the inception of the North Korean communist party on the 10th.

Engineering & Technology 28th Sept 2015 read more »

Australia

The nuclear industry will lobby for nuclear energy in Australia, saying the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, should embrace the technology as a way to slash greenhouse gas emissions. The Australian Nuclear Association (ANA) will accompany Danny Roderick, chief executive of the leading US nuclear technology firm Westinghouse, to talk to government ministers and business leaders in Canberra and Sydney next week.

Guardian 29th Sept 2015 read more »

Trident

It might be perfectly understandable why Labour party delegates decided to bottle out of a conference debate on Trident, Britain’s most powerful, most expensive, most irrelevant and most useless weapon. Yet the attempt to suppress debate on the utility of Britain’s nuclear arsenal is undemocratic. And a discussion is needed, desperately. “The question of Trident renewal becomes a symbol for Britain in the world, for patriotism, or for enlightened foreign policy,” says Michael Clarke, director general of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) thinktank. He adds: “The one thing that politicians don’t address when they talk about Britain’s nuclear weapons is how they do, or don’t, actually figure in practical defence policy for the next 10 or 20 years. It is really very depressing.”

Guardian 28th Sept 2015 read more »

Letter: Len McCluskey, the general secretary of Unite, uses the jobs argument to stifle debate on Trident at the Labour conference, while promoting a trade union case for renewal (Blow to Corbyn as Labour delegates bar Trident vote, 28 September). The leader of a major union should be aware of the body of independent research that demonstrates how alternative public expenditure in civil industries, such as renewable energy, can generate far more employment than in an arms sector which continues to shed jobs. For example, BAE Systems, the leading UK arms manufacturer, and responsible for the construction of Trident submarines, has cut its UK workforce by 50,000 over the past 10 years.

Guardian 28th Sept 2015 read more »

Labour’s new defence spokesman today publicly challenged Jeremy Corbyn over his opposition to Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Maria Eagle insisted it had been Labour’s position for ‘decades’ that it backed keeping Trident and made clear she was at odds with her new leader. A vote on the issue was dramatically pulled from the agenda last night when it become clear that MPs and trade unions would unite to vote against Mr Corbyn.

Daily Mail 28th Sept 2015 read more »

100% Renewables

You don’t get anywhere in this world without vision. And world leaders have just cemented theirs – a world free of poverty, inequalities and climate change is spelled out in the post 2015 sustainable development Agenda launched at the UN on September 25. While we wait for a clear picture of the future to emerge following Paris, it isn’t hard to find places where true visionaries are already making the transition to a more just, clean energy future. People, businesses and institutions are out ahead, lighting the way to 100% renewable energy, often in places where you’d least expect it. We’ve met some of them and their stories show just what we stand to gain by building on this great start. Sulis Setiawati from the island of Sumba in Indonesia catalyzed her community’s support to bring power to the entire island with 100% renewable energy. The solar panels delivered power where fossil fuels could not, boosting the local economy.

Guardian 28th Sept 2015 read more »

Renewables – Scotland

New figures showing Scotland’s progress towards decarbonising electricity generation demonstrate the risks posed by removing support for the renewables industry earlier than planned, energy minister Fergus Ewing has said. Statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show Scotland generated 4,832 GWh of renewable electricity in the second quarter of 2015, a 37.3% rise from the same quarter in 2014. Wind and hydro output increased by 52.2 per cent and 27 per respectively compared to the same quarter the year before, with Scotland generating 41% of the UK’s wind output. The Scottish Government’s target of reducing energy consumption by 12 per cent by 2020 is already at the required level in 2013 – down by 13.3% from the 2005-2007 baseline, Mr Ewing said. He warned, though, the progress demonstrated by the latest figures is threatened by policy decisions by the UK Government.

Scotsman 28th Sept 2015 read more »

Renewables – solar

A COMMUNITY co-operative aims to raise money to boost Edinburgh’s green energy use, writes Richard Dixon. Edinburgh may not be the sunniest place in the UK, or even in Scotland (that honour usually goes to Dunbar, 30 miles along the coast) but it is certainly sunny enough for solar energy to make sense. Last year – which was definitely not the best on record – our capital enjoyed around 1,200 hours of sun, which could generate a good amount of low-carbon electricity. Today Gylemuir Primary School is hosting the launch of the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative – the capital’s very own community energy project. Over the next 12 months, the co-op (which I chair) plans to install solar panels at the school and on up to a further 24 public buildings owned by the City of Edinburgh Council. The majority of buildings in this programme are schools, but you will also see panels going up on community and leisure centres. And the good news is that the scheme will be wholly funded and owned by people like you and I. The co-op is looking to raise £1.4 million for the project, and today’s share offer gives Edinburgh residents the chance to be part of the scheme for £250.

Scotsman 29th Sept 2015 read more »

Scientists at Brunel University London have designed a new hybrid roofing system which could cut energy bills in new homes by 50% The patented new system harnesses a mixture of technologies to pre-heat domestic hot water for radiators, baths and showers while also generating electricity. More than half of domestic energy use in the UK is to heat water.

Scottish Energy News 29th Sept 2015 read more »

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency provides the cleanest, cheapest, and quickest solution to meet worldwide energy demand. Long-term energy scenarios developed by the International Energy Agency assign energy efficiency the largest role in reducing carbon emissions to mitigate climate change. This role is much greater than all other means combined, including renewable energy, biofuels, nuclear, or carbon capture and storage. There are several good and replicable examples of energy efficiency in Latin America and the Caribbean that can be used as models for future programmes. São Paulo, Brazil and Managua, Nicaragua are currently implementing programmes to replace street lights with high-efficiency LED lighting systems. Most countries in the region have banned or are banning incandescent bulbs, including large markets likeBrazil, Mexico, and Argentina. Several countries are in the process of approving and/or expanding energy efficiency laws and mandatory labels and standards.

Guardian 28th Sept 2015 read more »

Energy Storage

International credit rating agency Moody’s Investors Service expects battery storage to become economically viable within 3 to 5 years in the US market, and the biggest losers will be electricity generators, particularly peaking gas plants. In a detailed analysis of the US battery storage market, Moody’s says battery storage is already viable in certain areas, and may become so across the industry within 3-5 years, if the recent fall in battery prices persist. Moody’s says battery storage costs have already fallen 50 per cent in the last few years, and will likely continue their rapid fall in coming years. Like the cost fall in solar, the cost trajectory for battery storage is also likely to take the industry by surprise.

Renew Economy 27th Sept 2015 read more »

Industry body Scottish Renewables has launched ‘Storage Network’ this week, alongside a white paper titled Energy Storage – The Basics to bring together those with an interest in the rapidly-growing sector. A spokesman explained: “It is of vital importance to our energy system that we have a strong energy storage sector to complement Scotland’s growing renewable electricity and heat sectors and to increase our energy security. “Being able to store when it is generated and deploy it is needed would help to maximise our use of renewables generation, cut carbon emissions further, and revolutionise the way we use energy.

Scottish Energy News 29th Sept 2015 read more »

Edie 28th Sept 2015 read more »

Climate

Here’s the bad news: The sum total of the climate pledges made by countries in the lead-up to the Paris climate change summit fall well short of the 2°C target. In fact, they are only likely to reduce global warming from the “do nothing” trajectory of 4.5°C by 2100 to the “doing something” trajectory of 3.5°C. The world will need to at least double its efforts to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Here’s the good news: That result is pretty much as expected. There was no real hope that Paris would “save the planet” and deliver the 2°C outcome everyone knows is the bare minimum to contain the runaway impacts of climate change. But it should provide a framework to achieve that goal, and these pledges will buy the world some time – about 7 years.

Renew Economy 29th Sept 2015 read more »

Climate Progress 28th Sept 2015 read more »

The UK’s £5.8bn ($8.8bn) pledge to help poor nations cope with climate change falls short of the country’s fair share of the burden and the efforts of other European leaders, campaigners have said. The announcement increases the UK’s climate aid by 50% over the five years between 2016 and 2021. Significantly, it will also be scaled up, so that by 2020 the annual finance is £1.76bn ($2.68bn), or close to double the current annual funding.

Guardian 28th Sept 2015 read more »

Share

Published: 29 September 2015