Cracks were discovered in two of the 6000 graphite bricks in the core of reactor four at the station. Operator EDF Energy said the cracking had been predicted and would not affect the operation of the rector. Colin Weir, station director at Hunterston B, said: “Every time we take the reactor out of service for planned maintenance we inspect the graphite core. “During the current Hunterston outage we found two bricks with a new crack, which is what we predicted as a result of extensive research and modelling. Lang Banks, WWF Scotland director, added: “News of yet more cracks in the country’s ageing fleet of nuclear power stations underscores why we’re right to be taking steps to harness cleaner, safer forms of energy. These cracks are a sign that we can expect these nuclear facilities to become increasingly unreliable in the future. As Scotland continues to grow its renewables capacity we can look forward to a day when we can switch off nuclear power for good.”
STV 6th Oct 2014 read more »
Energy Live News 6th Oct 2014 read more »
Scotsman 6th Oct 2014 read more »
Herald 6th Oct 2014 read more »
Utility Week 6th Oct 2014 read more »
Engineering & Technology 6th Oct 2014 read more »
Herald 7th Oct 2014 read more »
Green MSP Patrick Harvie said: “We should not be alarmist about the Hunterston news but should re-double our commitment to forge ahead with the different renewable technologies which will serve Scotland far better in the long-term. “Decisions about lifetime extensions to our ageing nuclear plants must no longer be made behind closed doors by the industry and ministers, but must instead involve a much greater degree of public consultation. That’s why it’s important that the Scottish Government drops its opposition to carrying out a full environmental impact assessment of any extension.” A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Office for Nuclear Regulation have provided an assurance that there are no immediate safety implications affecting Hunterston-B and that it is safe to continue generating electricity “At the same time, this development does illustrate that Scotland’s nuclear facilities have a limited lifespan and we need to put in place longer-term energy alternatives. “That is why Scottish Government is opposed to the building of new nuclear capacity in Scotland, as it would divert billions of pounds away from renewable alternatives where Scotland has a key competitive advantage. “However, subje ct to strict safety considerations, extending the operating life of Scotland’s existing nuclear stations can help to maintain security of supply while the transition to renewables and cleaner thermal generation takes place.”
Daily Record 6th Oct 2014 read more »
The operator of one of Scotland’s nuclear power stations has assured the public it was safe after cracks were discovered in one of its reactors. EDF Energy confirmed two cracked graphite bricks were found during a maintenance inspection of the core of reactor four at the Hunterston B plant in North Ayrshire. But the firm said the fractures in the reactor, which consists of 6,000 bricks, were forecast by its “extensive research and modelling” and did not pose any safety risks.
Telegraph 6th Oct 2014 read more »
More safety questions have been raised over Britain’s ageing nuclear reactors after cracks were found in bricks that make up the reactor core at EDF Energy’s Hunterston B power station. About 6,000 graphite bricks make up the stack around the reactor core and they degrade as they become more exposed to radiation. If they crack or become distorted, there could be problems inserting the control rods that shut down the reactors in an emergency. If the stack moves even a fraction out of place, cooling flows for the reactor core could be blocked and cause it to overheat. EDF Energy will submit its next safety case for Hunterston B to the Office of Nuclear Regulation in January 2017. It will have to demonstrate to the regulator that it will be safe to continue to operate the reactor. After the discovery of the cracks, the ONR said that EDF Energy was reviewing its inspection progamme for the rest of its reactor fleet. The regulator said: “ONR specialists will be monitoring this work closely over the next few months to inform our regulatory position in this area.” John Large, a nuclear consultant, said that degradation of the graphite bricks was a common issue to all EDF Energy’s 14 AGR reactors. He added that it was impossible to detect the cracks in all the bricks, which cannot be replaced. “EDF has been trying to cure this problem,” he said. “It’s a generic problem. You can’t confidently say that these reactors will pass a safety review.” In June, EDF Energy said that it had raised a key safety threshold for the graphite bricks of its Dungeness B reactor in Kent. As well as cracking, the bricks lose weight as they degrade, threatening the stability of the stack. ONR agreed to the company’s request in June to increase the average weight loss limit from 6.2 per cent to 8 per cent. EDF expects the limit to be raised again to 11 per cent to allow the reactor to operate until 2028, ten years after its scheduled closure.
Times 7th Oct 2014 read more »
Green taxes on energy are undermining British businesses by imposing costs which are not faced by international competitors, Vince Cable has said. The Business Secretary admitted that a compensation scheme for heavy industry introduced by the government in 2011 is failing to “go the whole hog” and redress the balance. He said that British firms are “struggling” to compete with their international rivals on price, which is leading to work going abroad. He said that as a result Britain is effectively “exporting pollution” to other countries. He said: “We do have an issue which should concern us as Lib Dems because of our very strong environmental comm itments. “Many of our manufacturing companies and exporters – particularly in areas like steel and cement and others which consume lots of electricity – are struggling against international competition because of the cost of energy.
Telegraph 5th Oct 2014 read more »
Plans to subsidise a raft of coal power plants to remain open have been strongly criticised by campaigners. National Grid announced late last week that companies including Drax, Centrica and EDF have qualified for “capacity payments” designed to reward generators for providing back-up power to the grid, after 513 separate applications were received. “These hand-outs look very much like the ‘perverse fossil fuel subsidies’ lambasted by David Cameron at the UN climate summit in New York,” said Greenpeace UK energy campaigner Lawrence Carter. “Just a week later the government is allowing polluting coal power stations to compete for up to £150m each in public subsidies. No wonder they waited until 6pm on a Friday to bury the bad news.”
Business Green 6th Oct 2014 read more »
The government has a new policy to make sure the lights always stay on, even when demand is high and the weather means renewables aren’t generating electricity. It’s introducing a new scheme called a capacity market to ensure power stations are always ready to generate enough electricity to meet the UK’s needs. But it’s not yet clear which power stations will be included in the scheme. That’s important, as it will determine how much coal, gas, or oil gets burned for power generation, and what the impact on the UK’s emissions will be. We explain how the capacity market should work, and how it fits with the government’s wider energy and climate change policy goals.
Carbon Brief 6th Oct 2014 read more »
Large coal power plants as well as gas and nuclear have joined the queue for the capacity auction which will hand out cash on December. The revelation has stoked concerns raised over the summer that coal will edge out gas power. The capacity auction is meant to encourage investment in “cleaner” gas power, with the pre-Christmas auction lining up energy for the year 2018-19. Three working coal plants, West Burton A, Eggborough and Cottam plus currently closed Ratcliffe coal plant which is being retrofitted will jockey for a role providing the UK with baseload power. Gas plants such as Centrica’s Killingholme are also signed up to the capacity auction. All of EDF’s nuclear plants are pre-qualified.
Energy Live News 6th Oct 2014 read more »
It only has symbolic significance, but at half past nine this morning wind was supplying more electricity to the national grid than nuclear. For a few minutes, the gusts over the western side of the United Kingdom supplied more than 6 gigawatts and a temporary slight dip in nuclear output meant that wind was more important for electricity supply than the UK’s ageing nuclear fleet. The new record came a few hours after stories about new cracks in the graphite blocks of one of the reactor at EdF’s Hunsterston plant. We’ll see more and more days when wind power beats the geriatric nuclear fleet. A couple of other features of electricity supply over the past 24 hours are worth mention. At 4am this morning, the price of power (as indicated by the sell price in the ‘balancing market’ that keeps electricity supply and demand in balance) fell to a low of just over £1 per megawatt hour. They were basically giving the stuff away. Even at that time of the morning electricity generally sells for thirty times that amount. The high volumes of wind-generated electricity caused substantial disruption to the working of the power market for a few hours. At almost the same time, we saw the interconnector between France and England change the direction of flow. Normally France pumps almost 2GW into the UK. For a few hours the UK exported power instead and the interconnector took 2GW to France. It’s difficult for outsiders to be sure of this but the National Grid appeared to also curtail (shut down) a large fraction of UK wind supply.
Guardian 6th Oct 2014 read more »
Citi is the latest financial institution to publish a short report on the future of the centralised utility model, but with a specific focus on GB. They argue that due to increasing competition the market share of the Big 6 will decline from 98% in 2013 to below 70% by 2020; and that the total profit pool available to them will decline by 40% by 2020. Ultimately, they say, all of the large utilities will need to restructure their supply business and improve customer services to remain competitive.
IGov 6th Oct 2014 read more »
Areva has signed important framework agreement with EDF to supply fuel to the French nuclear fleet from 2015 to 2021. Under the agreement, the team will support the future operation of the French nuclear fleet by providing studies and fuel fabrication for EDF’s nuclear reactors in France. The deal assures the delivery of several thousands of tons of fuel, thereby securing a huge portion of EDF’s requirements.
Energy Business Review 6th Oct 2014 read more »
France’s energy minister said on Sunday that the cost of maintaining older reactors would be factored into any decision on the future size of its large and aging nuclear power fleet.The government already plans to shut the Fessenheim plant on the German border as part of a pledge to bring down atomic energy to 50 percent of French power output by 2025 from the current 75 percent, the highest share in the world.But it has skirted the issue of whether to extend the operating life of its 58 nuclear reactors, which state-owned utility would like to prolong from 40 years to up to 60 years. “Investments in reactors at the oldest plants don’t last forever. You then have to re-invest and that is very expensive,” Energy Minister Segolene Royal told France 3 television.”If it costs a lot more to carry out maintenance to make older plants secure, it would be better to build renewable energy installations,” she said.
Reuters 5th Oct 2014 read more »
Merkel’s decision to phase out nuclear power has been a huge mistake. Angela Merkel has long been admired as Europe’s most sure-footed politician, one who has helped Germany take its place as the EU’s economic powerhouse. But not all the German chancellor’s domestic policy decisions have been without fault. As her country’s economy shows signs of faltering, a spotlight should be thrown on what is arguably the most ill-judged decision of her eight years in office: the phasing out of nuclear power from Germany’s energy mix. For decades, the German people have been among the world’s most environmentally conscious. The strongest sign of this has been the commitment of successive governments to Energiewende – or “energy change” – designed to make the economy predominantly dependent on renewable sources such as wind and solar power. Renewables today account for 23 per cent of electricity product ion, a figure set to rise to 65 per cent by 2035. This emphasis places burdens on households and businesses. The cost of the subsidies offered by the German government to green energy producers is passed on to consumers. Domestic energy bills are 48 per cent higher in Germany than the European average. Germany’s Mittelstand companies are even worse off. Their costs are twice the level facing their US rivals, many of whom benefit from cheap shale gas. As the economy slows, this is a price that Germany can ill afford. Scrapping the country’s nuclear power stations will make an already difficult situation even worse. Ms Merkel took the decision following the 2011 nuclear accident at Fukushima. Bowing to voters’ concerns, she abandoned her usual caution and acted hastily. But there have been two big costs for German energy policy.
FT 6th Oct 2014 read more »
A huge blast has ripped through an Iranian explosives factory linked to to the country’s controversial nuclear programme – killing two workers and shattering windows nine miles away. The incident took place at Iran’s Parchin military site, which is located around 19 miles southeast of the capital Tehran, the official IRNA news agency reported today. The pro-reform website, Sahamnews, said the explosion yesterday evening was so intense that the glare from the blast could be seen from miles away.
Daily Mail 6th Oct 2014 read more »
IB Times 6th Oct 2014 read more »
A USA-Vietnam agreement on civil nuclear energy cooperation has entered into force. The agreement establishes the terms for commercial nuclear trade, research and technology exchanges between the two countries as provided under Section 123 of the Atomic Energy Act.
World Nuclear News 6th Oct 2014 read more »
What would you rather do: burn 714 pounds of coal or put up 100 square meters of solar power? Good Magazine performed an interesting experiment which underscores the benefits of renewables while simultaneously showing off the shortcomings of coal, nuclear and natural gas. It calculated how much energy it would take to keep a 100 watt light bulb burning for an entire year. The results are charted in the infographic.
Forbes 5th Oct 2014 read more »
Asset management firm Lazard has a fascinating new analysis of renewable and other energy prices out. There are a huge number of insights in this, from an outside analyst whose primary interest is financial. (Those are, in my mind, the most objective analysts in this space.) First, the plunge in renewable prices continues, and over the last 5 years, wind has resumed its plunge as well. Their numbers show an average price decline over the last 5 years of 78% for utility scale solar and 58% for wind.
Ramez Naam 5th Oct 2014 read more »
Renewables have been capturing a larger and larger portion of the total global energy infrastructure pie, while the portion nuclear energy has not just been stagnating but actually shrinking somewhat, as noted by a new Vital Signs report from Worldwatch Institute. More interesting than that observation, though, is the fact that solar and wind energy have been gaining fast on nuclear — and are now, more or less, on the same trajectory that nuclear power was on in the 1970s and 1980s, in its heyday.
Renew Economy 7th Oct 2014 read more »
Renewables – wind
Two down and one to go (I decided to give UKIP a miss). After a raft of meetings, fringe events and speeches, here’s my first pass at what Labour and Conservative politicians are talking about when they talk about renewables. First was Labour in Manchester, where there were many positives to take away. Ed Miliband hasn’t made many speeches on climate change or renewable energy since he became Leader of the Opposition. He’s been criticised for what he didn’t say, but many were heartened by his commitment to a 2030 decarbonisation target, and that he placed green growth centre stage when talking about transforming the economy. The looming problem for the Conservatives is they risk adopting a position to appease activists and hold off UKIP, even when wiser heads know it’s against most voters’ wishes. It’s a position that also shifts the Conservatives from the centre ground and symbolises the party’s retreat from backing green policies. Labour politicians attacking Cameron’s green credentials in Manchester did so by referencing not just ‘green crap’ but also his party’s proposals for onshore wind. No doubt the Liberal Democrats will use the same line at their conference in Glasgow this week as well.
Business Green 6th Oct 2014 read more »
Renewables – AD
A PIONEERING new green gas scheme in Scotland is set to benefit farmers, homeowners and the environment. A new £10 million anaerobic digestion plant in the Borders will inject eco-friendly gas – made from locally grown grains – directly into the national supply network. The plant will generate enough energy to supply up to 4,000 homes, reducing reliance on non-renewable natural gas. An annual output of three million cubic metres of bio-methane is expected from 30,000 tonnes of wheat and rye. As well as producing sustainable fuel, the scheme offers a new source of income for farmers usually reliant on fluctuating agricultural markets. Growers are able to cultivate a fuel crop as part of the three-crop rotation required by the Common Agricultural Policy.
Scotsman 6th Oct 2014 read more »
OVO Energy has tied up with Plymouth City Council to form an energy company called Plymouth Energy Community to supply energy directly to its residents. The first of its kind initiative will cut out the middle man thereby saving its residents an excess of one million pounds per year in energy costs, said Alistair Macpherson, CEO of Plymouth Energy Community. In a statement Ovo Energy said it plans to democratise the energy market by initiating a seismic power shift within the industry away from energy companies and back to the customers they serve. The company believes as many as 500 partnerships can be formed across the country by 2020, serving up to a million customers. Plymouth Energy Community CEO, Alistair Macpherson, “The energy revolution is well under way in Plymouth; our members’ co-operative has already launched services related to fuel debt, energy switching, home insulation and locally owned renewables. Bespoke tariffs, specifically designed to meet our community’s needs, are logically the next step.”
Utility Week 6th October 2014 read more »
The head of one of Europe’s biggest vacuum cleaner manufacturers has written to UK Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to ignore a barrage of media criticism directed at the EU over its decision to phase out inefficient machines. Reinhard Zinkann, chief executive of Miele and president of the European Committee of Domestic Equipment Manufacturers, told Cameron that contrary to media reports, the Ecodesign Directive has had a positive impact on the market.
Business Green 6th Oct 2014 read more »
This autumn a case will be heard in the European Courts. The result could seriously damage even more the prospects for the government’s flagship Green Deal programme. This would increase the costs of installing many key energy saving measures – and by doing so, render many potential packages simply too expensive to undertake. Under the government’s so-called Golden Rule, the costs of installing any package of improvements funded by Green Deal Finance must be capable of being repaid during the lifetime of the loan. To qualify, calculations are made, valuing potential consequent reductions in energy consumption at its present price against the costs of measures installed (plus interest). Monthly loan repayments must be more than matched by putative energy savings. If on paper this cannot be shown to be profitable to the householder, no loans will be able to be made. If the European Court of Justice rules against the UK government, then the cost of installing a whole range of familiar energy saving items – thermostatic radiator valves, microgeneration technologies, and every kind of insulation installed by contractors – will increase overnight by a whopping 15 per cent. That includes the costs of installation, as well as the costs of materials. At issue is the rate at which Value Added Tax is charged upon the cost of buying and installing these measures.
Business Green 6th Oct 2014 read more »
Scotmid Moredun has been fitted with a range of state-of-the-art technologies to reduce energy consumption. At the heart of the store’s eco innovations is a sophisticated building management system, which uses real-time data to make efficient use of its resources – such as lighting, heating and refrigeration. The store’s lighting uses special sensors near the windows to automatically adjust to natural light levels outside – switching off when it is sunny and turning on when it is dark to save energy. The lights have also been upgraded from fluorescent to LED dimmable fittings, to reduce energy consumption, and will switch off when certain areas of the store are not in use. Efficient heating and heat recovery were also built in to the re-fit. Heat generated by the fridges is recovered to help heat the building, while an air curtain blows out ambient air to stop heat from escaping when the store doors open. All of the fridges have doors to improve their energy efficiency, and are programmed to switch off when alcohol is not for sale to conserve energy and the cash-machine has also been fitted with energy efficient LED lights. The ceiling tiles are made from recycled materials and an ‘air curtain’ blows out ambient air to stop the heat from escaping when the doors open.
Scottish Energy News 6th Oct 2014 read more »
The flow of analysis about battery storage from big-end investment banks continues apace. Last week it was HSBC and Citigroup with ground-breaking reports. UBS also jumped in on the act too. Why is this so? Well, according to UBS, interest from both investors and corporates has accelerated in recent months. That’s because the big end of town is suddenly alive to the opportunities of a technology that will likely be even more disruptive than solar. And the key is in the forecast on costs. Citigroup last week cited $230/kWh as the key mark where battery storage wins out over conventional generation and puts the fossil fuel incumbents into terminal decline. UBS, in a report based around a discussion with Navigant research, says the $230/kWh mark will be reached by the broader market within two to three years, and will likely fall to 100/kWh.
Renew Economy 7th Oct 2014 read more »