The French energy minister, Ségolène Royal, has said that a postponement of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project was still under discussion. In a French television interview on Thursday, she was asked whether Hinkley Point would be postponed. “It’s still under discussion,” Royal replied. “There’s an agreement between France and Britain, so things should go ahead. But the trade unions are right to ask for the stakes to be re-examined.” Asked if she was in favour of a postponement, Royal ducked the question and said she would not make rash comments. However, the minister added that while she did not want to “decisively throw the project into question just like that”, there should be “further proof” that the £18bn venture was “well-founded” and would not affect investment in renewable energy.
Guardian 8th April 2016 read more »
Hinkley Point C could still be postponed, French energy minister Ségolène Royal has said, in an apparent sign of division within the French government over the controversial nuclear project. The £18bn power plant is yet to prove its worth, and developer EDF must provide assurances that it will not build the reactors at the expense of investing in renewable energy, Ms Royal said. Emmanuel Macron, the French economy minister, said last month that he expected a much-delayed final investment decision on the project to be taken by “early May”. When Ms Royal was asked whether the project had been postponed, she responded “that’s still up for discussion”, according to comments reported by Le Monde. “This project must provide further proof on the one hand of its worth, and on the other must provide assurances that the investments in the project won’t redirect or dry up investments that must be made in renewable energy,” she said. She added that she was not “casting into question the project just like that, in an off-hand way” but added: “the unions are right to ask for the stakes to be drawn up again from scratch”.
Telegraph 7th April 2016 read more »
Segolene Royal, the former partner of Francois Hollande, said the future of the £18bn project was still under discussion. She warned of the financial implications of the deal for state-backed French energy giant EDF, which is taking on the lion’s share of the costs for building the proposed site in Somerset. “This project must offer further proof that it is well-founded and offer a guarantee that the investment in this project will not dry up,” Ms Royal told a French radio station.Labour seized on Ms Royal’s intervention, with shadow energy secretary Lisa Nandy saying the Government needed to rethink its plans. “The intervention of Ségolène Royal is extremely significant because until now David Cameron and others have insisted that Hinkley Point has complete French political backing,” she said. “The prospect of further delays blows a hole in the UK’s energy strategy and means ministers have to develop a plan B.”
Politics Home 8th April 2016 read more »
French plans to build an £18 billion nuclear plant in Britain have been thrown into doubt after one of France’s most senior ministers raised concerns over costs and suggested that it should be delayed. Segolene Royal, the energy minister and former partner of President Hollande, exposed a cabinet split when she signalled that a final decision on the Hinkley Point project in Somerset – expected to provide 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity – should be postponed. Ms Royal said that the issue was still under discussion, suggesting that the French government may order the directors of EDF, the French electricity company behind the project, to halt it. Final approval for Hinkley Point had been expected at an EDF board meeting next month despite several delays. Ms Royal warned of the financial risks to EDF, which has debts of Â£30 billion and is set to shoulder two thirds of the cost of Hinkley. She warned that the project may starve the company, which is 86 per cent owned by the French state, of cash to invest in other energy projects. “This project must offer further proof that it is well-founded and offer a guarantee that the investment in this project will not dry up investments that must be made in renewable energies,” she told a French radio station.
Times 8th April 2016 read more »
Repeated delays, doubtful technology and rising costs have united supporters and opponents of nuclear energy in criticism of Hinkley Point, writes Isabel Hilton. Doubts are growing about the future of the UK’s biggest nuclear power project, an EPR reactor at Hinkley Point in western England, which is partly funded by the Chinese company China General Nuclear (CGN). The £18 billion (145 billion yuan) reactor, to be built by Electricite de France (EDF), has suffered from repeated delays and escalating costs, and is still not finally approved by the EDF board.
China Dialogue 7th April 2016 read more »
Andrew Simms: Once hyped as providing electricity that would be too cheap to meter, the next, increasingly troubled nuclear power installation proposed for Britain, Hinkley Point C, stands at more than £24bn to be the most expensive building on Earth. Given the current economic climate with its emphasis on austerity, and the range of other energy options on offer, why is the government so keen to give the nuclear industry a second life? The then energy secretary, Ed Davey, speaking in late 2013 when the government agreed the deal with French energy company, EDF, said that investing in new nuclear capacity was needed because without it, “we’re going to see the lights going out.” It’s easy to see the superficial political attraction of projects like Hinkley C – they look like big, simple solutions to a problem. They’re technologically shiny, highly visible, seemingly easy to keep an eye on and have large, influential lobbies behind them. Discounting the untold extra billions, typically hidden and underwritten by the public, required by nuclear reactors to pay for complex security, disposal of radioactive waste, insurance (and, perversely, liabilities from under-insurance), over the course of its initial 35-year contract period, Britain could save at least £30-£40bn on electricity generated by solar and onshore wind with their costs steadily falling.
Guardian 7th April 2016 read more »
Engineers working in France’s nuclear power industry have issued an impassioned defence of EDF’s £18bn plan to build two reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Plans for the reactor, slated to provide 7% of Britain’s electricity from 2025, have been dogged by mounting concern over whether 85% state-owned EDF will be able to deliver the project. Delays and overspending at EDF’s French Flamanville plant, which uses the same European Pressurised Reactor technology, have caused deep divisions within EDF and stoked scepticism in the UK. But 100 nuclear engineers in France – which has 58 reactors compared to the UK’s 15 – put their name to a letter in Le Monde newspaper on Thursday, insisting that Hinkley should proceed.
Gurdian 7th April 2016 read more »
Residents have major concerns over the impact nuclear new-build will have on their communities, two public meetings have heard. A host of complaints were put to nuclear chiefs by angry residents of Mirehouse and Egremont at last night’s meetings, including the impact of the development on the road and rail network, local health care and house prices. The meetings had been arranged by Copeland mayor Mike Starkie after a letter sent by NuGen – the firm behind plans for a three-reactor plant at Moorside, next to Sellafield – led residents to believe their homes and land were at risk of compulsory purchase. Tom Samson, NuGen’s chief executive, apologised to residents for the “upset that the letter caused” and added that the firm is “aiming to have zero compulsory purchases”, but those who “may be affected in this way are already in a conversation with us”.
Carlisle News and Star 7th April 2016 read more »
We might not have a United Kingdom or be preparing to vote on whether to stay in the European Community if it was not for the Sellafield nuclear site in West Cumbria. I know that is a huge claim but I intend to try to justify it this month instead of mulling over the Hinkley project‘s myriad technical, financial and political problems yet again.
Supporters of Nuclear Energy Newsletter 30th March 2016 read more »
The cost of building large, conventional nuclear power plants continues to escalate, leading the nuclear industry to explore an alternative, the small modular reactor (SMR). These plants, less than 300 megawatts in size, are “small” only when compared to a conventional nuclear reactor or full size (1000 MW) fossil fuel plant. The nuclear industry hopes that factory-built SMRs will eliminate construction delays and quality control issues that have plagued nuclear projects such as EDF’s Flamanville and Olkiluoto. Small reactor designs include advanced light water reactors (LWRs), high temperature gas cooled (helium) and molten metal cooled (sodium) systems. LWRs that use regular water for cooling and steam are the more conven-tional technology. At the US Department of Energy, a LWR design from NuScale Power is currently pro-ceeding along the regulatory path outlined in the agency’s SMR Licensing and Technical Support program. A second design group which offered a scaled down version of Westinghouse’s AP1000 design, appears to have downgraded its efforts. Small modular reactors are neither a panacea nor likely to herald a nuclear power resurgence. They could solve one problem for the industry, lengthy construction cycles, but only at a high cost. And SMRs will need to compete in an increasingly commoditized electricity market . In a commodity industry, with no product differentiation, there is one winning strategy: charge low prices. These small reactors are being proposed at a time when distributed and renewable electrical systems are becoming more economical. The very notion of dropping a technologically complex, pricey, base load power plant (nuclear or otherwise) into a no-growth environment for the electric utility industry is prob-lematic at best. This all suggests that SMRs, if commercialized, will have a limited market unless they come into service at sharply lower prices. They do not yet look like next “big” thing.
Oil Price 7th April 2016 read more »
Professor Chris Pearce, Professor of Computational Mechanics at the University of Glasgow, has been appointed to the university’s new Royal Academy of Engineering / EDF Energy Research Chair in Computational Mechanics for Nuclear Power Engineering. The five-year post will be used to develop new predictive modelling techniques for structural integrity assessment in civil nuclear power stations. Over the last six years, he and his group have forged a successful collaboration with EDF Energy, developing a unique predictive modelling capability for crack propagation in nuclear graphite. This represents a key component in EDF Energy’s life extension programme for its fleet of nuclear power plants. This award will enable him to extend this work to the structural integrity of other key components of the UK’s ageing nuclear power plants and to tackle new challenges in the next generation of reactors.
University of Glasgow 7th April 2016 read more »
Gordon Mackerron: Britain is sending a huge nuclear waste consignment to America – why?
Spinwatch 5th April 2016 read more »
Amec Foster Wheeler has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China Nuclear Engineering and Construction Corporation (CNECC) on cooperation in nuclear energy. Meanwhile, Rolls-Royce has signed contracts with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) covering technical training.
World Nuclear News 7th April 2016 read more »
Warrington Guardian 7th April 2016 read more »
Renewables and nuclear power are no substitute for carbon capture and storage (CCS), if global warming is to be kept below two degrees Celsius, an Oxford climate scientist has warned. In a research paper, Oxford University professor of geosystem science Myles Allen said meeting the legally binding target of keeping global warming below 2C will require “truly heroic levels of self-sacrifice” by future generations unless the cost of CCS can be brought below $200/tonne (£142/tonne). Measures to reduce emissions, such as building low-carbon generation, will gradually become less cost-effective over time as cheaper and easier solutions are implemented, Allen argued, meaning “backstop” measures like CCS will become more economic.
Utility Week 7th April 2016 read more »
I would have thought that, with all the rhetoric surrounding the outcome of the Paris climate change summit in December, there might have been rather more ‘getting on with it’ measures in the Budget. As it was, under the box marked ‘energy’ we were treated to the abolition of the Carbon Reduction Commitment, and some compensatory tinkering with the Climate Change Levy, a pledge to enhance interconnection levels, albeit at no cost to Treasury UK, and a commitment to allocate £780m to support offshore wind and ‘less established renewables’ over the next period of the Levy Control Framework (LCF). Policy Exchange has tried to work out where the LCF will stand by 2020 – and they suggest that, whilst the cuts to onshore wind and solar might have pushed it below the 20 per cent ‘headroom’ level above the £7.6bn allocated for it by 2020, it is still ‘overspent’ by about £1.2bn – a sum that, on present definitions, DECC will have to ‘claw back’ within future limits that are as yet unset. how much offshore wind would these auctions up to 2020 procure for delivery in the early part of the next decade? RenewableUK’s estimate, immediately after the Budget, is that the sum might account for about 3.5GW of installed wind between, say, 2021 and 2025. Mind you, this estimate is based, it seems, on the assumption that all the remaining LCF levy funding will go to support offshore wind, and not some of the other ‘less-established renewables’ mentioned in the Budget Red Book (how, for example, Swansea Bay or indeed any tidal energy might be fitted into the framework remains unclear). However, it does give us a clue as to what is still supposedly out there for the LCF to accommodate in the 2020s if we ever get to hear what the next LCF framework level is actually going to be, which I have to say would have been useful and comforting to hear in this Budget.
Alan Whitehead 7th April 2016 read more »
The Political Economy of Energy Transitions in Germany and Britain. Presentation by Caroline Kuzemko.
IGov 7th April 2016 read more »
Britain will have too much electricity this summer due to the growth in wind and solar farms, National Grid has forecast, warning it could be forced to issue unprecedented emergency orders to power plants to switch off. Businesses will also be paid to shift their power demand to times when there is surplus electricity, as the UK energy system struggles to cope with the huge expansion in subsidised renewable power. National Grid, which is responsible for balancing Britain’s power supply and demand, warned that operating the system at times of low demand was “becoming increasingly challenging”, in part due to the growth of “intermittent power capacity” such as wind and solar farms.
Telegraph 7th April 2016 read more »
HOSPITALS, data centres, growers, refrigeration firms and other businesses that produce their own electricity through back-up power generators are being asked to help even out peaks and troughs in the National Grid. Edinburgh-based Flexitricity is offering £4.5m of contracts to businesses that can help it meet a commitment of providing 260 megawatts of power from October 2018. Companies can earn up to Â£60,000 per megawatt supplied to the grid. Businesses are also rewarded for reducing consumption at peak times to ease demand on the grid. National Grid has confirmed it will invest up to £400m a year in demand response by 2020.
Herald 8th April 2016 read more »
In Japan the issue of nuclear security is treated with a strangely insouciant attitude by the authorities; unarmed guards keep watch outside of nuclear facilities, there is poor surveillance of sites and, incredibly, there are no mandated background checks on workers, allowing members of organized crime gangs access to radioactive material.
Daily Beast 7th April 2016 read more »
Russian President Vladimir Putin, commenting on his decision not to attend a nuclear summit in the United States last week, said on Thursday that Washington’s failure to destroy its stock of weapons-grade plutonium was a major reason for that. Russia and the United States agreed in the early 2000s that each of the Cold War-era arch foes would eliminate its reserves of weapons-grade plutonium, which Russia did and the U.S. didn’t, Putin said. “Our partners must understand … that they should be able to meet their obligations,” he said.
Reuters 7th April 2016 read more »
In recent months a series of unusual and suspicious occurrences have taken place in and around nuclear power facilities in Belgium, some of them involving individuals linked to Islamic State (IS), write Robert J Downes and Daniel Salisbury, researchers at the Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS), King’s College London. According to Downes and Salisbury, there are doubts whether Belgian authorities are taking the threat to their nuclear facilities seriously enough.
Energy Post 4th April 2016 read more »
Good Energy says it plans to challenge ASA ruling declaring that its arch rival supplies “Britain’s greenest energy”. Chippenham-based renewable energy supplier Good Energy is set to challenge rival Ecotricity’s claim that it supplies “Britain’s greenest energy”, after an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling effectively handed Ecotricity the title. The advertising watchdog yesterday dismissed a complaint lodged by US electric car manufacturer Tesla that argued claims made on the Ecotricity’s website that it is supplying “Britain’s greenest energy” and “greenest electricity” were false.
Business Green 7th April 2016 read more »
I’m in the Bryansk region of Russia. Despite being over 180 kilometres from Chernobyl and thirty years after the disaster, my geiger counter still picks up elevated levels of radiation. This invisible radiation hazard is a day-to-day reality for the five million Chernobyl survivors that live in contaminated areas of the Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. They eat contaminated berries and vegetables. And they breathe radioactive smoke from fires in nearby forests contaminated by Chernobyl. Here in the Bryansk region many communities should have been evacuated, but never were. Worse, the Russian government is now cutting radiation protection measures and support programs for people here to save money. Last year, three hundred thousand people lost support when the government changed the status of several hundred settlements without any public consultation.
Greenpeace 7th April2016 read more »
The worst industrial accident the world has ever known – that is one description of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. And it was with the looming 30th anniversary of the nuclear reactor explosion in the former Soviet Union in mind that a conference was called in Prague this week to examine the ongoing health risks from the incident. One of the main speakers at the conference was British radiologist Ian Fairlie who has just completed Torch 2016, an update of a 2006 study mapping the affects and likely health impact of the Chernobyl disaster. One of the innovations has been charting levels of Iodine 131, a significant cause of thyroid cancers, levels in Europe after the disaster. This is what Dr. Fairlie had to say: “This is a world first for you people, nobody else knows this. These maps are new, hardly anyone else knows about them. Caesium maps, they’re old, iodine maps, they’re new.” And he says the new maps provide startling findings for around a third of the Austrian population living in the Vienna region but also significant proportions of the Czech population. This is Austria, where we have a detailed map and just here, on the north part, is the Czech Republic of course. For your interest, the Vienna region really got it badly. But so did the Czech Republic too, here you can see here the Prague area and here Brno and there were high depositions of Iodine. We estimate that 40,000 in Europe will die or have fatal cancers as a result of Chernobyl.”
Radio Prague 7th April 2016 read more »
Just as climate change deniers leap from scientific uncertainty over the precise impacts of greenhouse gas emissions to certainty of little or no impact at all, so ‘pro-nuclear environmentalists’ conflate uncertainty of the mortality arising from Chernobyl and other nuclear disasters to certainty of few if any deaths, writes Jim Green. Their position is equally indefensible.
Ecologist 7th April 2016 read more »
Radioactive wild boars rampaging around Fukushima nuclear site.
Independent 7th April 2016 read more »
France is dangerously ill-prepared to deal with a nuclear accident, according to a worrying new report, that the Swiss and Germans will want to read with interest. That’s the conclusion of a new report by France’s ANCCLI commission that reports on the state of the country’s nuclear facilities. “France is not ready to face a serious nuclear accident,” warned the commission’s president Jean-Claude Delalonde. “Even though a national response plan was made public in February 2014, nothing has been put in place,” he said. The report comes after both Switzerland and Germany have expressed concerns about the safety of some of France’s 19 nuclear power stations, with authorities in Geneva even launching legal action. According to Delalonde’s association the French government has not learned the lessons from previous disasters like Chernobyl that was presented as a “Soviet” accident.
The Local 7th April 2016 read more »
Delaying a deal to secure the funds needed to pay for closing down Germany’s nuclear power plants would be the “worst case” for the country’s utilities, the co-chairman of a commission tasked with finding the solution said. Germany’s last nuclear plant is due to be shut down by 2022 and it is feared the 39 billion euros ($43 billion) so far set aside in provisions by the big four utilities will not be enough to cover the costs. A government-appointed commission chaired by Green ex-environment minister Juergen Trittin is trying to decide how to apportion the costs for the decommissioning of plants and the storage of nuclear waste. The commission was originally scheduled to present proposals on how to secure the funding by the end of February, but the complexity of the task has delayed talks. The last date to settle talks had been set for April 13. In a sign of the potential challenges still ahead, the commission has suggested a further meeting on April 21, a source close to the talks told Reuters on Thursday.
Reuters 7th April 2016 read more »
In 2015, the German states of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern and Schleswig-Holstein generated more renewable power than households and businesses in each state consumed. Back in 2014, I wrote about how Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (which borders the Baltic and Poland) had already reached 120 percent renewable electricity for 2013 as a whole. Essentially, the state exports quite a bit of electricity. Furthermore, the calculation is net; the state is reliant on neighboring areas at times of low wind and solar power production in particular. In 2015, the state increased its net share of renewables in power supply to 130 percent. Onshore wind made up roughly 2.6 TWh of the total of 4.9 TWh, followed by power from biomass at 2.3 GWh, PV at 1.2 TWh, and 0.6 TWh of offshore wind. Schleswig-Holstein is another German state to watch. Located along the North Sea and bordering Denmark, this state had 78 percent renewable power in 2014 – but it apparently reached 100 percent net last year. If heat and mobility are included, however, the share drops to 24 percent – much lower, but still considerably above the German average of 14 percent. Biomass made up 46 percent of this energy, followed by 44 percent wind power and 10 percent other. The state has a target of 300 percent renewables.
Renew Economy 8th April 2016 read more »
The Indian Point Energy Center, a controversial and ageing nuclear plant near New York City, has split the Democratic presidential candidates. As campaigning continued before the New York primary on 19 April, Bernie Sanders called the facility “a catastrophe waiting to happen”. Hillary Clinton said only that it needed more oversight. A senior member of the Union of Concerned Scientists told the Guardian “the whole New York metropolitan area is potentially imperiled by an accident at Indian Point”. Last week, the company that runs Indian Point revealed that 227 bolts holding the interior of a nuclear reactor at the site have “degraded” or gone missing. In February, the plant reported that a radioactive material, tritium, had leaked into groundwater.
Guardian 7th April 2016 read more »
A group of fishermen is to sue the Japanese government for failing to release records detailing their exposure to radiation from US nuclear tests in the Pacific in the 1950s. Some 20 people, including relatives of fishermen who have since died, are to file their case with the Kochi District Court in May, each demanding Y2 million (£13,088) in compensation. The men have been particularly angered by the actions of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, which in September 2014 admitted it had data on the radioactive fallout that around 500 fishing vessels and their crews were exposed to in the Castle Bravo nuclear tests.
Telegraph 8th April 2016 read more »
Congress, along with President Obama and his eventual successor, should reject a push by the U.S. Defense Department to create a separate fund to modernize the country’s nuclear triad, an effort that could end up costing around $1 trillion, according to a pair of budget analysts.
Business Insider 8th April 2016 read more »
Wind and solar have grown seemingly unstoppable. While two years of crashing prices for oil, natural gas, and coal triggered dramatic downsizing in those industries, renewables have been thriving. Clean energy investment broke new records in 2015 and is now seeing twice as much global funding as fossil fuels. One reason is that renewable energy is becoming ever cheaper to produce. Recent solar and wind auctions in Mexico and Morocco ended with winning bids from companies that promised to produce electricity at the cheapest rate, from any source, anywhere in the world, said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board for Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). “We’re in a low-cost-of-oil environment for the foreseeable future,” Liebreich said during his keynote address at the BNEF Summit in New York on Tuesday. “Did that stop renewable energy investment? Not at all.”
Bloomberg 6th April 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
The British solar industry has welcomed an ‘action plan’ from the European Commission which the solar industry hopes will support Ministers’ indicated intentions to apply a reduced rate of 5% VAT on solar PV and solar thermal panels. The European Commission intends to give national governments ‘more autonomy’ in how they grant lower rates of VAT. The EU executive has put forward two possible options on how to do this.
Scottish Energy News 8th April 2016 read more »
Business Green 8th April 2016 read more »
Hampshire has been named as the third-best county for installing solar panels in England and Wales. The county’s megawatt capacity of 317 placed it only behind Cornwall and Devon in a league table produced by think tank Green Alliance. A total of 21,706 different solar powered projects are currently in operation in Hampshire, second only to Devon and Greater Manchester nationwide.
Basingstoke Observer 7th April 2016 read more »
Energy MPs in the House of Commons are to take evidence on low carbon network infrastructure next week. The hearing will examine a range of issues, including development of transmission infrastructure (such as interconnectors), innovation, regulation of storage, and the future of system operation in the UK.
Scottish Energy News 8th April 2016 read more »
Andrew Warren fears the government’s flagship smart meter programme could be heading for trouble. The Smart Metering Implementation Programme requires energy suppliers to replace 53 million meters in 30 million homes and small businesses with “smart” electricity and gas meters by 2020. All costs of the exercise are being borne by consumers via their energy bills. To date, around two million have been installed. The overall programme costs have crept up, from an initial £5bn, to the current official £10.9bn, towards a (very possible) £14bn. government ministers have continued to reiterate the energy saving benefits to consumers of these new meters. As other parts of (particularly residential) buildings-oriented programmes have been dismantled, so the rhetoric on the energy savings to consumers from smart meters is hyped up. Emblematic was the continuingly unsuccessful efforts of the energy efficiency minister Lord Bourne, appearing before the Commons energy select committee last month, to invite questions on the virtues of the programme regarding reducing overall consumption. Similarly Andrea Leadsom, his Minister of State, is claiming that by 2030 smart meters will be showing a net benefit of an astonishing £6.2bn. The problem is that there is very little evidence to support this estimate from earlier experiments in the UK and elsewhere in the world. Whilst there may well be a short-term impact, this swiftly fades. Even the Smart Meter programme managers claim to be anticipating no more than an “up to two per cent” saving.
Business Green 7th April 2016 read more »