Letter Green MEPs: Today (8 October) the 28-strong outgoing European commission will make a decision on the Hinkley C financial deal, with far-reaching consequences both for the integrity of decision-making in Europe and for the future of European energy policy. In December 2013, the commission raised doubts on almost all aspects of the project, finding the state credit guarantee of £10bn for EDF “incompatible under EU state aid rules”. So why is competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia, backed by former EU president José Manuel Barroso, recommending the commission give the deal the green light? Could it be that the German federal government has been involved in a backroom deal?
Guardian 7th Oct 2014 read more »
A £16 billion project formulated by EDF Energy to build Britain’s first nuclear reactor in a generation at Hinkley Point in Somerset could be derailed by Austria.European competition commissioners are expected tomorrow to formally approve generous subsidies, funded by levies on household energy bills, that have been agreed by the government and the French state-backed company. However, Austria has vowed to take the European Commission to the European Court of Justice in the event of a “yes” vote, which would leave one of Europe’s largest infrastructure projects in limbo. An appeal would take at least a year to conclude and could delay the completion of the first of the twin reactors in Somerset by 2023, as originally scheduled. EDF Energy would have to decide whether it could risk proceeding and committing billions of pounds to a project that would have to abandoned if the Austrian appeal was successful.
Times 7th Oct 2014 read more »
Molly Scott Cato MEP: The 28-strong outgoing European Commission might have been hoping for a gentle exit. But en route to the exit door, former EU President Barroso and his sidekick, competition commissioner Joaquín Almunia, have dropped a radioactive bombshell. In the next few days the outgoing college members face a decision with far-reaching consequences, both for the integrity of decision making in Europe and for European energy policy for anything up to the next 50 years.
New Statesman 7th Oct 2014 read more »
New cracks found in the core of the Hunterston-B nuclear reactor could threaten operator EDF’s plans to extend the Scottish power station’s life. Experts say fissures in two of the 3,000 graphite fuel bricks that make up its No 4 core are of a new type. These “Keyway root cracks” are said to be more serious than previously identified fractures. Safety rules stipulate that if the new problem gets above a certain threshold, the reactor would have to close.
BBC 6th Oct 2014 read more »
Austria will take the European Commission to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) if the executive approves Britain’s plans for €20.4 billion nuclear power plant, a spokesman for the country’s chancellor said on Sunday.
EurActiv 6th Oct 2014 read more »
Stop Hinkley has written to competition commissioner.
You Tube 4th Oct 2014 read more »
As European Commission prepares to meet to discuss UK Government Hinkley Point deal, NFLA writes to Irish Government and welcomes Austrian response.The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) has written to the Irish Government urging it to join with the Austrian Government in challenging a decision by the European Commission to permit the financing of new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point as a legitimate form of state aid.
NFLA 7th Oct 2014 read more »
Environmental inspectors have been called in after an increase in tritium gas discharges from the former Chapelcross nuclear plant, near Annan. The discharges are in breach of approvals but are said to be well within the overall site safety limit. According to the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa), the gaseous tritium is from an authorised outlet but is greater than it should be. The Chapelcross site ceased power generation in 2004. Sepa staff have been to the facility a number of times to discuss the issue with the operators.
BBC 8th Oct 2014 read more »
DEPUTY First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced yesterday the Scottish Government were seeking reassurances over safety at the Hunterston B plant in north Ayrshire. Critics of nuclear power said the discovery of cracks underlined their belief that Scotland’s ageing power plants had a limited future. Two cracked bricks were found in Hunterston’s reactor No4 during a planned maintenance inspection of 6000 bricks that make up the reactor’s graphite core. The reactor had been shut down for the operation, which began in August, but returned to service on Sunday evening, after EDF received approval from the Office for Nuclear Regulation.
Daily Record 7th Oct 2014 read more »
Letter Steuart Campbell: Nuclear power in the UK has proved both reliable and safe and has supplied much-needed carbon-free electricity for more than 60 years (38 years in the case of Hunterston B). It will probably safely continue in operation until its predicted closure in 2023. There should have been plans to replace it and there is still time to do so.
Scotsman 8th Oct 2014 read more »
The Scottish Government has received assurances over the safety of Hunterston B nuclear power station after cracks were found in bricks making up the core of one of its two reactors. Energy minister Fergus Ewing said he had spoken to a senior representative of the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to confirm the discovery posed no threat to public safety. EDF Energy, which operates the North Ayrshire plant, said that two cracked bricks were found during a planned maintenance inspection of the 6,000 that make up the reactor’s graphite core. The company said that the cracks, found during planned maintenance checks, were predicted and did not pose any safety risks. Mr Ewing told MSPs at Holyrood: “The Office for Nuclear Regulation, to whom I spoke this morning, have confirmed what they have made absolutely clear, and they have provided as the regulator an ass urance that there are no immediate safety implications affecting Hunterston B and that it is safe to continue generating electricity.” The nuclear power station began operating in 1976 and was originally scheduled to be shut down in 2011, but this has been extended until 2023. Green MSP Alison Johnstone called for full environmental impact assessments to be carried out before any decision to extend the lifetime of a nuclear power station is taken. Mr Ewing said: “The consideration of the environmental case was made when the life was extended to 2023, an extension which was made two years ago and which has been fully discussed and reported in this parliament already.”
Herald 8th Oct 2014 read more »
A ship carrying radioactive material has been reported to be drifting in the Moray Firth after losing power. The Parida was taking a cargo of radioactive concrete waste from Scrabster to Antwerp when a fire broke out in one of her two funnels. The blaze has been extinguished and there is believed to be no danger to her crew. Aberdeen coastguard said the ship’s crew plan to try to secure her by her anchors to stop her drifting. They will then decide whether to attempt to restart the engine or call in a tug.
BBC 7th Oct 2014 read more »
An oil platform in the North Sea has been evacuated after a ship carrying radioactive material caught fire and began drifting in the Moray Firth. The Parida was transporting a cargo of radioactive concrete waste when a fire broke out in one of her two funnels. The blaze has been extinguished, but 52 workers were taken from the Beatrice platform by helicopter as a precaution. Aberdeen coastguard said the ship was under tow and was heading to the Cromarty Firth to secure anchor.
BBC 8th Oct 2014 read more »
French state-owned nuclear power group Areva will likely decide this week to scale back investments in order to avoid having its credit rating downgraded to junk status, weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche said.The paper, citing unnamed sources, said Areva’s board is expected to decide on investment and spending cuts on Tuesday, the day before credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) is due to decide on its long-term credit rating, which is just one notch above non-investment grade territory.
Reuters 5th Oct 2014 read more »
The ruling U.K. Conservative Party has an “irrational phobia” of onshore wind power and is hampering development of a technology that’s crucial to meeting Britain’s carbon targets, Business Secretary Vince Cable said. The industry has made progress in establishing a domestic supply chain that now includes a wind turbine plant in Hull planned by Siemens AG, said Cable, a member of the junior coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats. That progress is being slowed by Conservative opposition to wind, he said. “We have a problem and it’s a political problem: For reasons I don’t fully understand, our coalition partners have a pathological aversion to onshore wind,” Cable said late yesterday at a meeting on the sidelines of the Liberal Democrat party convention in Glasgow, Scotland. “It is making this hard. Lying behind it there is some really irrational phobia.”
Bloomberg 7th Oct 2014 read more »
People in the countryside who oppose wind turbines because of the way they look are “irrational”, Vince Cable has said. The Business Secretary said that locals in areas such as Yorkshire have no reason to reject wind farms because the skyline is already dominated by electricity pylons connected to coal-fired power stations. He also attacked the Conservatives over their “pathological aversion to onshore wind”.
Telegraph 7th Oct 2014 read more »
CEZ, the largest power group in post-communist central Europe by market capitalisation, is contemplating not just one, but two huge investments, at a time when most of the rest of the European power sector is mired in deep crisis. The plans – to build nuclear reactors in the Czech Republic and to acquire its Slovak counterpart Slovenske Elektrarne – have led to accusations that the state-owned group risks repeating the costly mistakes of the past, and that the investments could at best divert it from facing up to its challenges, and, at worst, deepen them. Expanding the nuclear power stations at Temelin and Dukovany is planned, but CEZ was forced in April to cancel the tender to bring in a partner for Temelin after Brussels began a probe into whether a similar investment contract between EDF of France and the UK government to build Hinkley Point C constituted illegal state aid.
FT 7th Oct 2014 read more »
Two of Japan’s biggest utilities will combine to buy fuel and build power plants, in a deal that could upset global gas markets while accelerating the restructuring of the country’s electricity industry. In a press conference in Tokyo on Tuesday, the presidents of Tokyo Electric Power and Chubu Electric Power said they had agreed to invest unspecified sums in a 50:50 joint venture company, which should be formed by next March. Under the new “comprehensive alliance”, the pair said, they will pursue a range of joint initiatives including investment in upstream gas projects around the world, construction of new thermal power plants and procurement of liquefied natural gas.
FT 7th Oct 2014 read more »
As noticed by Chris Goodall, in his column in the Guardian environment network, wind power production has for the first time exceeded nuclear. But what Goodall misses, it seems completely, is that building more nuclear power stations will simply waste more wind power. He seems to claim that ‘all’ the investment in wind power will be ‘wasted’ unless we build a lot more interconnectors etc to accommodate fluctuating wind power supplies. Well, we do need more balancing of a variety of types, including demand response, interconnectors and as it gets cheaper, various types of storage, but it is an exaggeration to say that ‘all’ wind investment will be wasted.
Dave Toke 7th Oct 2014 read more »
Renewables – solar
The worldwide solar power industry is set to add the equivalent of five large-scale nuclear power plants in the final quarter of 2014, potentially hitting the 200GW capacity mark by the year end, according to analysts. New research by NPD Solarbuzz published yesterday estimates that global PV installations in quarter four will exceed 19.5GW, taking the annual total to 50GW. As a sign of how strong the market is growing, the installations for the coming quarter alone are likely to surpass the entire capacity installed in 2010.
Business Green 7th Oct 2014 read more »
Renewables – geothermal
Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey has welcomed the development of geothermal energy in UK at Rosemanowes in Cornwall. The site was also visited by Lord Teverson who came to see how heat naturally present underground could be used to produce clean, safe, renewable energy. Engineers at Rosemanowes demonstrated that water can be heated to 60 degrees using heat naturally present underground in Cornwall. 60 degrees Celcius is sufficient to provide a building with heating and hot tap water.
Renewable Energy Magazine 6th Oct 2014 read more »
A total of £100 million of new funding for the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund (GDHIF) is set to be announced tomorrow by the energy secretary. Speaking at the Liberal Democrat conference in Glasgow on Tuesday, Ed Davey will announce phase two of the GDHIF, which will open to customers in November. The initiative, which has government funding already secured, follows the first phase of the GDHIF which closed in July. The GDHIF exhausted its £120 million budget in only seven weeks due to “overwhelming demand”. The announcement from Davey will also partially undermine Labour’s promise to improve the energy efficiency of more than five million homes within ten years, made by the shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint two weeks ago.
Utility Week 7th Oct 2014 read more »
Telegraph 7th Oct 2014 read more »
ENERGY and climate change secretary Ed Davey has pledged that the Liberal Democrats will “permanently” cut fuel bills and reduce taxes for energy efficient homes if the party remains in power after the next General Election. Mr Davey unveiled a package of measures he said would deliver a better deal for electricity customers as part of a major shake-up of the UK energy market, as he delivered a speech to the Lib Dem annual conference in Glasgow. The cabinet minister said his party would ban the generation of electricity from coal by 2025 and preside over a greater shift towards the use of renewable energy such as wind power.
Scotsman 8th Oct 2014 read more »
An extra £100m of Government money has been earmarked for a scheme to help people keep their homes warmer this winter. Energy Secretary Ed Davey used the Liberal Democrat conference to announce the cash yesterday. It will be used for the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund which encourages energy-saving home improvements by offering cashback and incentives on double-glazing, insulation and boilers. The scheme was launched last year but was criticised for being too complicated. A simplified scheme relaunched in June with £120m, which was snapped up in a month.
Independent 8th Oct 2014 read more »