30 June 2013

New Nukes

BRITISH ministers have held talks with Chinese nuclear energy firms over the possibility of their building nuclear power stations in the UK. Michael Fallon, the energy minister, confirmed last week that he had met officials from Chinese firms. His department would not name them but they are believed to include the China National Nuclear Corporation and the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group. The meetings coincide with deadlock in the government’s negotiations with EDF, the French state energy firm, over its plans to build a new nuclear station at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

Sunday Times 30th June 2013 read more »

It was a Tuesday morning in late October when the Cabinet gathered in Downing Street to decide its policy on nuclear power. On the table was a proposal from the Energy Secretary to embark on a bold construction programme to build 15GW of new reactors. This new reactor fleet was, he argued, “essential to the nation’s long-term energy needs”. And, to make it happen, it was crucial that “the industry should have faith in the Government’s commitment to nuclear power”. The year was 1979, and the newly-elected Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, gave the proposal her backing. The policy didn’t last. Just one of the planned new reactors was ever built, at Sizewell in Suffolk – and that came much later than planned. Fast-forward more than three decades, and history appears to be repeating itself. Ministers have once again set out ambitions for a new fleet of reactors – now 16GW. Yet, just one proposed plant, Hinkley Point C in Somerset, is anywhere close to being built – and it has already seen its timetable slip by years. “While we are having all this debate about Hinkley, that’s not the end of it,” warns Tony Roulstone of the Cambridge Nuclear Energy Centre. “We need three times what Hinkley is going to do, just to stand still in terms of nuclear share.”

Telegraph 29th June 2013 read more »

Hinkley

A new nuclear power station in Somerset could generate millions of pounds for businesses across the South West, a business leader has said. Earlier this week the government said it would underwrite investment in the new Hinkley Point C plant. Tim Jones, chairman of the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, said it presented “enormous opportunities”.

BBC 29th June 2013 read more »

Radwaste

Friends of the Earth nuclear issues campaigner Ruth Balogh spoke at the Keekle Head Public Inquiry in Kendal on Friday June 28th over plans for a radioactive waste dump at Keekle head near Pica, West Cumbria. Dr Balogh said that people living near Pica have little opportunity to speak at the inquiry which is being held at the other end of the county in Kendal, and have had even less chance to scrutinise the Inquiry documents because they have only been available on-line.

FoE West Cumbria & North Lakes 29th June 2013 read more »

Radioactive Contamination

FORMER prime minister Gordon Brown has called on the Ministry of Defence to pay for the clean-up of a Scottish beach polluted by radiation after the nation’s environmental agency blamed the government department for contaminating the area. An investigation published yesterday by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) found that the MoD was responsible for radioactive particles and high-activity radiation at Dalgety Bay in Fife. Sepa’s investigation confirmed that the MoD deposited a large amount of ash and other waste, known as clinker, on the coast at Dalgety Bay before the town was developed, which created radioactive sources. The agency found that significant amounts of material remained buried on the coast where they continued to decay and re-contaminate the area. The MoD disputed the findings and questioned the “adequacy and validity” of Sepa’s approach to the report. However, Mr Brown, who has already called two key debates at Westminster on the issue, said he would call a third unless the MoD accepted it was “morally obliged” to foot the bill for making the site safe. Dr James Gemmill, radioactive substances unit manager at Sepa, said the report was necessary to “clarify responsibilities for the contamination at Dalgety Bay and determine which parties need to address the issue”. He added: “A lot of work has been put into compiling the report and it, along with the previous risk-assessment report, represents another significant step forward to resolving the situation at Dalgety Bay.” However, the Ministry of Defence refused to accept responsibility.

Scotsman 29th June 2013 read more »

Herald 29th June 2013 read more »

Chernobyl

Experts fear hotter, drier summers are putting vast areas of contaminated woodland around the nuclear site at risk of large-scale forest fires, which could result in toxic clouds and particles travelling across Europe. After the 1986 disaster, when one of the four reactors at the Ukrainian power station exploded, vast areas of the continent were hit by radioactive pollution. It is thought up to five million people were exposed to some sort of health hazard from the catastrophe with cases of cancer still attributed to the incident. The direct consequences of the accident were felt in Scotland until 2010 when the last of the agricultural restrictions put in place following the catastrophe were lifted. However, the country could still face contamination from the world’s worst nuclear accident if the 1,600-mile exclusion zone around the now defunct power plant goes up in flames.

Sunday Express 30th June 2013 read more »

Energy Supplies

Ofgem: On Thursday, Ofgem released its latest electricity capacity assessment for the Government, which again highlighted the mid-decade squeeze in power supplies. If anything, with more gas-fired power stations being mothballed and older coal stations closing earlier than expected, the risks have increased since last year.

Telegraph 29th June 2013 read more »

Energy Policy

Maybe it was thanks to the nourishing effect of his Byron burger, but when George Osborne set out his spending plans last week he seemed to have succeeded in squaring a tricky political circle. Roads and railways would be renewed, he said, tens of thousands of houses would be built and a new form of cheap energy would be boosted. And at the same time public sector waste would be slashed. While talking up fracking, the chancellor continues to pursue a ruinous policy of guaranteeing those who produce energy through biomass or from wind turbines more than double the average wholesale price for electricity. This is driving up electricity prices so sharply that by 2016, according to a forecast last week by Credit Suisse, British businesses and consumers will be paying twice as much for their power as their counterparts in Germany. If the government is serious about getting the economy moving, it must accept that it will have to stop forcing consumers to buy expensive intermittent renewable energy and allow cheaper gas to form the bulk of electricity generation.

Sunday Times 30th June 2013 read more »

Britain can’t afford to throw money at wind power. We make no apology for returning once again to the subject of wind power – as our Letters page illustrates, it is a topic that greatly concerns Sunday Telegraph readers, some of whom find themselves at the sharp end of the controversy when wind turbines are proposed or erected in their neighbourhoods. The Government has agreed onshore wind farms should receive at least £100 per megawatt-hour in subsidies, which is twice the market rate for electricity; offshore farms will get triple the market rate. This arrangement will remain in place for at least another six years, paid for by subsidies levied from consumers’ electricity bills. The nuclear option is a good one. So the announcement last week by Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, of a £10 billion guarantee to EDF to finance a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset was welcome. Nuclear power stations provide only 18 per cent of our energy needs and that proportion should be increased. Also welcome was energy minister Michael Fallon’s statement last week that “today is the day that Britain gets serious about shale”.

Telegraph 29th June 2013 read more »

The message of shale gas is: scrap the Climate Act. The news that we have such rich shale-gas reserves makes a further mockery of our energy policy.

Telegraph 29th June 2013 read more »

Stephen Emmott Q&A: ‘Wind farms are not the answer to our problems’. The author of Ten Billion on how we might avert a population catastrophe, his attempts to replicate photosynthesis, and why G8 leaders ought to wear ties.

Observer 30th June 2013 read more »

Iran

If the United States Government believed that the Iranian general election on June 14th would result in a change in attitude regarding its relations with the West, they are obviously mistaken. Three days ago, Iran’s nuclear program began at full speed with renewed production of its uranium enrichment program. Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant was put into operation three days ago. The nation’s nuclear energy chief, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, said that Iran will maintain its efforts to become a nuclear nation, but that the research and development is for peaceful purposes. He claims the purpose is nuclear powered energy plants, and the production of radioisotopes.

Guardian Express 29th June 2013 read more »

North Korea

THE country’s chief nuclear negotiator is to meet senior Russian officials in Moscow amid signs of a new push to get Pyongyang to end its atomic programme. Kim Kye-gwan, North Korea’s first deputy foreign minister, will meet Russian deputy foreign ministers Vladimir Titov and Igor Morgulov on Thursday “as part of efforts to resume the six-party talks”.

Herald 30th June 2013 read more »

Renewables

The coalition is facing a revolt by back-bench Conservative MPs over a surprise rise in consumer subsidies for wind farms.

Telegraph 29th June 2013 read more »

SCOTLAND’S first community-run hydro-electric energy plant is set to be made a reality after its backers managed to raise the entire funding using an innovative new crowd-funding scheme. Harlaw Hydro intends to build the device on the outskirts of Edinburgh, following in the footsteps of 19th century industrialists who harnessed the power of the Water of Leith to power their mills. Local residents of Balerno have been working on the bid for two years and believe they can deliver the entire project for just over £300,000. Construction will begin within months and is estimated for completion in March 2014. The Balerno Village Trust – which established Harlaw Hydro – had intended to borrow much of the money from the banks, but said they were astonished at the level of interest from those who wanted to invest privately. Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has backe d the project and said the funding model paved the way for other schemes across Scotland.

Scotland on Sunday 30th June 2013 read more »

Energy Efficiency

SAVVY middle-class households are snapping up a government giveaway designed to boost its flagship Green Deal loan scheme — without borrowing a penny. The scheme offers loans to pay for energy efficiency measures. Repayments are made via power bills and are offset by the savings made from lower energy use. In January the government announced up to £1,000 cashback for those signing up, setting aside £125m in a bid to increase take-up. The cashback can be claimed back for installing measures from insulation and draft proofing to a more efficient boiler.

Sunday Times 30th June 2013 read more »

Fossil Fuels

The Government will face constraints on how much gas the UK can use while making good on its environmental and climate commitments. The UK is committed under the 2008 Climate Change Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 80 per cent by 2050; and by 2020 it has to clear the European Union’s 20:20:20 hurdle – a 20 per cent cut in emissions, 20 per cent use of renewables and a 20 per cent improvement in energy efficiency. A well-crafted energy policy should do more than keep the lights on. It should invest in affordable energy with minimal damage to the planet. Next year will see the 14th UK onshore licensing round. The UK is on the verge of a shale gas revolution like that in the US. But it will not be a game-changer in its own right, and energy prices will remain high, with all the burden on economic growth that entails.

Independent 30th June 2013 read more »

Dirty tricks of the the fracking deniers: How Green zealots peddle cynical propaganda to stop Britain mining £3trillion of shale gas…enough to keep the lights on for 141 YEARS.

Daily Mail 30th June 2013 read more »

David Davis: Britain faces two colossal challenges. The first is how to get the economy growing. The Western world is fighting to return to growth levels we took for granted ten years ago. We face a future in a one per cent world. The second challenge is keeping the lights on. EU carbon reduction targets are forcing our reliable coal and gas power plants to close quicker than we can replace them. Clean, cheap, plentiful and safe, shale gas is an opportunity that Britain cannot afford to ignore. It is time to wave goodbye to wind farms, shelve the solar panels and get fracking.

Daily Mail 30th June 2013 read more »

DART Energy, the Australian-listed gas developer, has pledged not to use controversial “fracking” techniques at a site in Dumfriesshire. The firm inherited the Canonbie licence last year after buying Greenpark Energy, which planned to use hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”, whereby high-pressure fluids would be injected into rocks to free coal-bed methane, a gas sold as a fuel. Now Dart has promised not to frack, but will instead drill horizontally into the coal bed. The firm claims it has demonstrated that commercially viable levels of CBM can be produced without fracking.

Scotland on Sunday 30th June 2013 read more »

The only fracking licences for gas extraction in Scotland are going to be dropped, according to the firm that holds them. Australian-owned Dart Energy is in discussions with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) over ending its permits for two sites near Canonbie in Dumfries and Galloway. That would mean that, in contrast to England, no hydraulic fracturing to extract underground shale gas would be allowed in Scotland. Huge shale reserves were identified across northern England last week by the British Geological Survey, with strong backing from the Westminster government. Abandoning fracking in Scotland could help pave the way politically for Dart’s controversial plans to exploit coal-bed methane using other techniques at Airth, near Falkirk, and at Canonbie, where the company is working with the Duke of Buccleuch’s estate. Dart said it had shown that commercially viable levels of coal-bed methane could be extracted in Scotland without recourse to fracking technology.

Herald 30th June 2013 read more »

Dart’s application to Falkirk and Stirling councils received 700 objections from local people and the two authorities declined to reach a decision, leaving the company with little choice but to turn to the Scottish Government. The decision now sitting in the Government’s in-tray is the first time that any UK authority has had to rule on whether to approve such a project. The other major operator in the Scottish industry, Reach CSG, is planning to drill its first test borehole at Deerdykes, near Cumbernauld, in the autumn, tapping into the same West Lothian oil shale as Dart, and also focusing on coal bed methane. In the eyes of managing director Graham Dean, these efforts are about returning the industry back to its Lowland roots (though there looks to be potential in Caithness and Orkney too). James Young set up the first commercial plant in Bathgate in the 1850s to convert coal into oil before shifting to a plant at West Calder that operated for nearly 100 years.

Herald 30th June 2013 read more »

DRAFT plans to exploit underground gas in central Scotland could permit the release tens of thousands of tonnes of methane gas into the atmosphere over 25 years. An official field development plan drawn up last year for Dart Energy’s disputed coal-bed methane project at Airth, near Falkirk, says it will be allowed to release up to five tonnes of gas per day for safety reasons. The Australian company will also be able to burn off gas in flares “on an emergency basis”. Dart has applied for planning permission to sink 22 wells at 14 sites to extract up to 60 billion cubic feet of methane at Airth. The application has prompted more than 1500 objections, has been delayed by local authorities and is now being considered by the Scottish Government. Last week, Falkirk Council agreed to urge the Government to hold a public inquiry into the plans. Extracts from the draft 2 012 field development plan for Airth have been released to the campaign group, Frack Off Scotland, by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and the Department of Energy & Climate Change in London after appeals under freedom of information law. “This licence to vent potentially massive amounts of methane is another reason unconventional gas is such an environmental disaster,” said Ed Pybus from Frack Off Scotland.

Herald 30th June 2013 read more »

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Published: 30 June 2013