EDF has denied reports it would look to the UK to step in if Hinkley’s Chinese backers decide to drop out of the £18 billion project. Company executives said the British government might have to take over the £6 billion stake of the China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) to avoid a “disaster”, according to reports in the Financial Times. “If the Chinese pull out, there is no way that EDF will be able to pay for the rest itself. We would need the British or someone else to step in,” one unnamed source was quoted as saying. It would be a “disaster” for the project if the Chinese withdrew, said another, but EDF would “wait and see” what played out before assuming the project was over. However, EDF said in a tweeted statement: “EDF strongly denies the quote attributed to us by the Financial Times. “We are confident and wait patiently for the government decision.”
Utility Week 5th Sept 2016 read more »
Can Britain keep the lights on without Hinkley? If Hinkley is indispensable, scrapping the proposed power station in Somerset would leave the UK facing an energy crisis. If not, the prime minister has more freedom to address her concerns over costs and the security implications of Chinese investment in the project. As with everything about Hinkley, the answer is mired in complexity and open to dispute. A recent report by the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit, a think-tank, claimed Britain could not only survive without Hinkley but save £1bn a year in the process. Others see such a benign assessment as complacent and reckless. Hinkley’s advocates portray the project as a crucial step in replacing the UK’s dirty coal-fired power stations and its existing but ageing nuclear reactors. About 60 per cent of UK electricity-generating capacity in 2010 is forecast to have disappeared by 2030. Cancelling Hinkley would require the UK to find alternative sources for the 3.2 gigawatts of power — about 7 per cent of national demand — expected from the plant. Options for achieving this would be constrained by the government’s carbon reduction targets, which rule out a revival of coal or a large-scale shift to gas. The UK is projected to have 37.9GW of wind capacity by 2030 under current plans, 60 per cent offshore. The ECIU reckons just four additional large offshore projects would be enough to replace Hinkley.Green power advocates argue that output can be smoothed over by using gas when winds are light. The ECIU report said six to 10 gas-fired units would be needed for this purpose, costing a fraction of Hinkley’s £18bn to build. But Tony Ward, a utilities expert at EY, the consultancy, queried where the investment would come from. “Who is going to spend £600m building a gas-fired power station that is only used a few days a year?” “We are moving from guaranteed power to a new world of uncertain supply,” said Mr Ward. Others see this more positively as a shift from “always-on” capacity to more efficient “smart” grids matching supply and demand. Advances in electricity storage — allowing surplus wind and solar power to be saved up — could further reduce the need for “baseload” power of the kind to be generated by Hinkley. “Future grids will be smart, decentralised [and] flexible,” said Paul Massara, chief executive of North Star Solar, a renewable power company. Others say new technology would not arrive quickly enough to avert a UK energy shortage. Even if Hinkley’s 3.2GW of power could be found elsewhere, its cancellation would call into question a wider programme of new reactors due to deliver 14GW by 2035.
FT 6th Sept 2016 read more »
Chinese president Xi Jinping said he is willing to show ‘patience’ with the government in an apparent reference to the Hinkley Point delay. Prime Minister Theresa May irritated Beijing by announcing a pause to the project earlier in the summer hours after French energy giant EDF confirmed its share of the project would go ahead. The £18billion project is a joint venture between Britain, China and France to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point that is currently due for completion by 2025. Downing Street said China was also ‘open to a bilateral trade arrangement’ with Britain after talks between Mrs May and Mr Xi.
Daily Mail 5th Sept 2016 read more »
The prime minister’s decision to review plans for Hinkley Point centres on the security threat posed by allowing a Chinese company to invest in critical infrastructure in the UK. However, officials are also puzzling over a simpler issue — the plant’s cost, and whether it represents value for money for consumers and businesses compared with the alternatives. At £18 billion there is no doubt that building the plant using French technology will be very expensive. Building a gas-fired power station with the same generating capacity of 3,200 megawatts would probably cost about £2.7 billion, or 15 per cent of Hinkley’s total cost, according to industry executives. Given Britain’s access to gas — either from fields in the North Sea, imports from abroad or by fracking for onshore shale deposits — this would be cheaper. The price contrasts unfavourably with recent government forecasts which say onshore wind power and large-scale solar will be cheaper to produce — at about £50-£75 per megawatt hour of power — by 2025 when Hinkley is due to enter service. We are already close to those levels. In July, Denmark’s Dong Energy won a bid to build two offshore wind farms off the Dutch coast at a price of €72.70 (£61) per megawatt hour.
Times 6th Sept 2016 read more »
[Machine Translation] Nuclear: Theresa May casts doubt on the future of Hinkley Point project each passing day threat just over the future of the two EPR reactors Hinkley Point (southwest England), a colossal project 22 billion which rely heavily on hopes of revival of a French nuclear industry in deep trouble. The reflection period demanded by the new British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has awakened speculation about the will of London complete its term, as critical to the economics of the project. Ms. May reiterated on Sunday 4th September on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Hangzhou (China), it would stop its current decision September, having reviewed the case from all angles.
Le Monde 5th Sept 2016 read more »
A BBC investigation has uncovered a catalogue of safety concerns at the UK’s most hazardous nuclear site. Panorama found parts of Sellafield regularly have too few staff to operate safely and that radioactive materials have been stored in degrading plastic bottles. The programme was told that parts of the facility are dangerously rundown. Sellafield says the site in Cumbria is safe and has been improved with significant investment in recent years. The Panorama investigation was prompted by a whistle-blower – a former senior manager who was worried by conditions. He explained that his biggest fear was a fire in one of the nuclear waste silos or one of the processing plants and said: “If there is a fire there it could generate a plume of radiological waste that will go across Western Europe.” The whistle-blower told the BBC that areas of Sellafield – which reprocesses and stores nearly all of the nation’s nuclear waste – often didn’t have enough staff on duty to meet minimum safety levels. Minimum staff levels are set for both teams of workers and whole plants on the site.
BBC 5th Sept 2016 read more »
A BBC investigation has uncovered a catalogue of safety concerns at the UK’s most hazardous nuclear site. Panorama found parts of Sellafield regularly have too few staff to operate safely and that radioactive materials have been stored in degrading plastic bottles. A whistle-blower (former senior manager) who was worried by conditions explained that his biggest fear was a fire in one of the nuclear waste silos or one of the processing plants and said: “If there is a fire there it could generate a plume of radiological waste that will go across Western Europe.” The whistle-blower also told the BBC that areas of Sellafield – which reprocesses and stores nearly all of the nation’s nuclear waste – often didn’t have enough staff on duty to meet minimum safety levels.
Cumbria Trust 6th Sept 2016 read more »
Whistleblowers have raised a catalogue of concerns about safety at the Sellafield nuclear facility in Cumbria, including allegations that radioactive waste has been stored for years in degrading plastic bottles. An investigation by BBC’s Panorama programme — prompted by a former senior manager at Sellafield — found that parts of the site were “dangerously run down” and regularly had too few staff to operate safely. Figures obtained by Panorama indicated that between July 2012 and July 2013 there were 97 incidents where parts of the site had too few workers on shift.
FT 5th Sept 2016 read more »
Independent 5th Sept 2016 read more »
The NDA insisted that all of its nuclear material was “stored safely and securely in proper facilities and monitored accordingly”. It said the bottles were “suitable for handling this type of material” and were “housed in purpose made facilities within scientific laboratories, until their contents are chemically recycled by the site as part of the clean programme agreed with the regulator”. However, a spokesman for the safety watchdog, the Office for Nuclear Regulation, said it was aware of the issue with plastic bottles, which it said were “small sample bottles, consisting mainly of water and solvent”. These bottles could “become brittle and deform” with time, although it said that the situation “could not lead to a major incident”. The ONR said that work was “progressing well” to transfer the bottles into “new robust packaging”.
Telegraph 5th Sept 2016 read more »
Times 6th Sept 2016 read more »
Letter David Lowry: On August 31 the Japanese (Hitachi) owned Horizon Nuclear published a 684-page public consultation document on its proposals to build a new nuclear power plant. As the primary reason for the halt in the go-ahead for the Hinkley C nuclear plant on Somerset’s north coast, just across the Bristol Channel from Cardiff, Newport and Swansea is unresolved security matters, as a researcher originally from Neath I looked at Horizon’s consultation document to see what it says about security at Wylfa Newydd. The answer is worryingly little; and what it does say is so general as to be worthless. The summary document mentions “the parts of the power station necessary to support the operation and maintenance of the power station, including offices and security facilities”. Later it adds: “welfare/security building and kiosks will be located in the logistics centre”, explaining that security features include “paladin fencing with controlled access barriers, security systems and other management requirements”. In the main report it says: “We will prioritise the safety, security and well-being of the public, our employees, the environment and our stakeholders.” It adds: “There would be both an inner and an outer security fence. The fences would meet the centre for the protection of national infrastructure standards and would require approval from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR). Each fence would comprise a double fence structure with clear zones between them. The operational site would also require permanent perimeter lighting and it is assumed the fences would be monitored by alarm systems and CCTV.( paras 4.33 & 4).” Later it says: “The Generic Design Assessment (GDA) allows the nuclear regulators to assess the safety, security and environmental implications of new reactor designs separately from applications to build them at specific sites.” And that’s about it. On July 13, in a coruscating critique of the ballooning costs and unreliability of UK nuclear power, the British national financial watchdog, the National Audit Office, issued a report, Nuclear Power in the UK, in which it included the following observation: “There are specific challenges in ensuring that nuclear power is on an equal footing in the market with other low-carbon technologies: Nuclear power plants have very high upfront costs and take a long time to build. Costs have increased in recent years given the extra safety considerations following the Fukushima disaster and increasing terrorist threats.” A week earlier, on July 7, the official British nuclear safety and security regulator, The Office for Nuclear Regulation, published its annual progress report. In a section headed Civil Nuclear Security it revealed: “Overall, the civil nuclear sector met its security obligations. There are areas where the dutyholder’s security arrangements did not fully meet regulatory expectations.” ONR has declined to elaborate what the problem is, on security grounds. In Europe too, the nuclear terrorist spectre has been recently raised by Europol, the EU’s Dutch-based counter-terror agency. In its annual report issued on July 20 it revealed: “Nuclear power plants and nuclear weapon facilities in the EU also remain potential targets for terrorists.” With the latest European terrorist attacks in France and Germany, Prime Minister Theresa May is surely being prudent in reviewing the various and growing security risks posed by new nuclear plants. Horizon asserts “we are seeking views on our proposals… reducing the negative effects of the project”. The best and most obvious way is not to build it. Meanwhile, Horizon incredibly asserts the public in Wales can have “no scope for influence” on the following issues in their public consultation: use of UK ABWR reactor technology; locating the power station at the Wylfa Nuclear power station site; and the need for off-site power station facilities. Citizens in Wales should protest loud and long about these exclusions.
Western Mail letters, 3 September 2016 read more »
For more than half a century, it represented one of the major radiological hazards in the UK nuclear industry. Now, highly radioactive waste from Britain’s earliest experiment with fast breeder reactors has been made safe for future generations in a landmark for hazard reduction at Dounreay. Underground tanks used to store the waste liquor from reprocessing of fuel irradiated in the Dounreay Fast Reactor have been emptied and their contents immobilised in cement, more than half a century after the first fuel was reprocessed. It has been described as a landmark in hazard reduction by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, which inherited the waste in 2005.
Your Nuclear News 5th Sept 2016 read more »
Energy Policy – Scotland
WWF: It’s that time of year when ministers and civil servants emerge from darkened rooms having prepared the Scottish Government’s programme for the coming Parliamentary year. As ever, we’ll be looking closely at how the government plans to ramp up its work on tackling climate change. It’s a big year with new targets to be set to 2032, and a new action plan to show how they’re to be met. We hardly need reminding of how big the problem is. Global temperature records continue to be broken, most recently Nasa confirmed that July 2016 was the hottest month since records began in 1880. So why is an ambitious climate action plan in Scotland so important? Surely there’s not much we can do to slow climate change? The answer is there’s a lot we can do. A priority to achieve these aims must be to bring down emissions from the laggard sectors such as transport and buildings. Reducing congestion through better public transport and encouraging walking and cycling will improve air quality and our own wellbeing. Improving the energy efficiency of our homes will help tackle fuel poverty, reduce the costs to the NHS of cold-related illnesses, and provide new economic activity in communities across the whole country. As well as the anticipated climate action plan, an energy strategy is also due to be launched by the end of 2016. This is a welcome opportunity to set out a vision for the low carbon transformation that must take place over the decades ahead. The strategy is off to a good start, taking a view of the whole system across heat, transport and electricity and by giving as much thought to the ways in which we use energy as finding new ways to produce it. After all, the cheapest, greenest Megawatt of energy is the one we never use in the first place. This is an opportunity to reset Scotland’s renewable ambitions and we hope to see a new target of sourcing at least 50 per cent of Scotland’s energy from renewables by 2030. A new target will help extend the vision that has driven the renewable electricity success story to the areas of heat and transport, and capture the benefits of new jobs, cleaner air and improved wellbeing.
Scotsman 5th Sept 2016 read more »
Stop Climate Chaos: Scotland has already made fantastic progress in producing electricity from renewables, but we still rely too heavily on fossil fuels to heat our buildings. In fact heating is responsible for about half of Scotland’s overall greenhouse gas emissions. Improving the energy efficiency of our homes and buildings will mean we need to burn less fuel to keep them warm, reducing not only our emissions but also energy bills, lifting almost a million people out of fuel poverty.
Scotsman 5th Sept 2016 read more »
Scientific Alliance: Britain’s probable departure from the EU provides an opportunity to re-examine national policies on energy and climate change. The Climate Change Act was passed with the best of intentions but without competent analysis of its likely impact on global emissions, the practicality of its implementation or the possible consequences to the UK’s economy and energy security. While the Act actually proposed emission reductions beyond those required by the EU, our impending exemption from those makes it sensible to revisit the whole issue. We are a relatively minor contributor to global CO2 emissions.
Scotsman 5th Sept 2016 read more »
Today, Greenpeace Japan sent an open letter to Kyushu Electric CEO Michiaki Uriu condemning the utility’s rejection of the Kagoshima Governor’s request for a temporary halt of the Sendai 1&2 reactors, pending seismic safety checks. Citing Kyushu Electric’s track record of recklessness, and its dismissal of both expert advice and its own commitments to the Nuclear Regulatory Authority, the organization called the utility a rogue entity and demanded that the company heed the concerns of impacted citizens.
Greenpeace 5th Sept 2016 read more »
Over three fifths of Scots would like to see Scotland generate all of its electricity from renewable sources, according to a new poll. The results of the poll conducted by nfpSynergy on behalf of WWF Scotland in April found that out of 1,000 people surveyed, 61% said they would like to see a Scotland that generates all of its electricity from renewable resources. Following the new findings, WWF Scotland is calling on the Scottish Government to become the EU’s first fully renewable electricity nation. This week the Scottish Parliament returns from its summer break with the First Minister delivering her programme for government at Holyrood on Tuesday where WWF Scotland hope that plans to develop a new energy strategy will be discussed.
Scotsman 5th Sept 2016 read more »
Third Force News 5th Sept 2016 read more »
Campaign group Friends of the Earth has issued a “wake-up call” for the G20 leaders with a new report revealing that the money hidden in tax havens could be enough to power half of the world using 100% renewable sources by 2030. Extra investment of around $507bn (£381bn) a year would be needed to power to power Africa, Latin America and much of Asia with 100% renewable energy – “well below” the estimates of around $600bn (£450bn) of Government revenue that is lost worldwide by the use of tax avoidance ‘havens’, the campaign group claims.
Edie 5th Sept 2016 read more »
The main part of a new community hydro power scheme in Aberdeen has been lowered into place. It is hoped the Donside Hydro project – aimed at powering about 130 homes on the site of the former Donside paper mill, as well as selling energy to the National Grid – will be generating electricity later this month. Aberdeen Community Energy (ACE) is behind the project. The hydro power scheme will harness energy from the River Don.
BBC 5th Sept 2016 read more »
A Scottish energy company has entered the current debate on the ‘smart energy revolution’ sparked by the GMB and National Grid. The energy-workers trade union has described National Grid’s view that it can avoid winter power cuts with a ‘smart energy revolution’ as ‘fanciful nonsense’. In response, Dr Alastair Martin, Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at Edinburgh-based Flexitricity, said: “After eight years of using demand-side response (DSR) to fill in when nuclear power stations fail, I do not understand why the GMB believes that Hinkley C nuclear power station and DSR are competing alternatives. They’re not. “If built, Hinkley’s job will be to churn out as much electricity as possible, round the clock. It won’t be flexible. But in electricity, supply and demand have to match every second. It’s the job of demand-side response to deliver that, by moving consumption around, away from times of stress and towards times of excess. That makes the whole grid more economical, more secure, and greener. “Secondly, demand-side response is needed whether Hinkley C is built or not. “Building Hinkley does change the shape of what DSR has to achieve. Hinkley will be the single biggest element in the national transmission network, so a sudden failure at Hinkley would be a big loss to the system. Failures like that do occur; they’re part of real-world engineering. At Flexitricity, we’ve been using DSR to support the Grid during failures for eight years now. “We’ve also shown that small flexible generators – like the energy-efficient Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems found at many community energy schemes – can back off their generation to make space for wind and solar. They’ll do the same for Hinkley. That’s just as much part of DSR as dealing with peaks and power station failures. “And thirdly, National Grid’s recent announcement is about a push into a new area: DSR in homes, while Flexitricity concentrates on commercial, industrial and public-sector premises.
Scottish Energy News 6th Sept 2016 read more »
Labour MP Steve McCabe calls on government to publish the Bonfield Review – originally due in April – as soon as possible. The government is coming under renewed pressure to publish its review into domestic energy efficiency and renewable energy standards, which was launched last year in response to the controversial shake-up of green building policies. Chaired by Peter Bonfield, chief executive of the BRE Group, the Bonfield Review was due to be published in April, but was delayed by local elections and the EU referendum campaign. Writing exclusively for BusinessGreen today, Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak Steve McCabe said the government’s delay in publishing the review “adds to a sense of disillusionment with energy policy and the feeling that, as far as Theresa May’s administration is concerned, ‘home energy policy’ and ‘carbon emissions’ have failed to make it onto the government’s list of priorities”. The UK Green Building Council is calling on the government to make energy efficiency a national infrastructure priority, which would come under the remit of the National Infrastructrue Commission, set up by former chancellor George Osborne last year with the aim of “shaking Britain out of its infrastructure inertia”.
Business Green 5th Sept 2016 read more »
Business Green 5th Sept 2016 read more »