9 February 2017

Sizewell

The consultation is now closed. I thought it would be useful for other groups campaigning against nuclear power to see what has been written since a lot of points would be relevant to other campaigns. Several responses are on the Together Against Sizewell C site plus the one from Theberton and Eastbrigdge Action Group.

Peter Lux 8th Feb 2017 read more »

Levy Control Framework

MPs have criticised ministers for their “shambolic” failure to regularly spell out the impact of government green policies on household energy bills.

Edie 8th Feb 2017 read more »

Utilities

New energy suppliers could face strict financial checks and existing companies could be subjected to stress tests, under a regulatory shake-up being considered by Ofgem. The energy watchdog is expected to announce today that it will carry out a review of the rules governing suppliers, amid growing concern that they can be set up too easily and that more could go bust after the demise of GB Energy Supply last year. About 50 gas and electricity suppliers are operating in the UK market, double the number of three years ago. Ofgem has welcomed increased competition to the Big Six suppliers, but it is under increasing pressure to check the financial health of other smaller companies.

Times 9th Feb 2017 read more »

Euratom

The 2008 EU Amendment Act is not a justifiable legal basis for the UK government’s belief that Brexit must also mean an exit from Euratom, write Jonathan Leech and Rupert Cowen. The government’s white paper on the UK’s “exit from and new partnership with” the European Union published last week confirms its position that “When we invoke Article 50, we will be leaving Euratom as well as the EU”. In support of this, the document asserts that the European Union (Amendment) Act 2008 “makes clear that, in UK law, references to the EU include Euratom”. This is presumably an assertion that references to the EU in the Referendum Act, the referendum question and the withdrawal bill automatically include Euratom – something both the Leave and Remain campaigns omitted to mention.

World Nuclear News 8th Feb 2017 read more »

Vatenfall

Swedish utility Vattenfall will have 3 gigawatt (GW) of installed wind-powered generation capacity by the end of this year as it continues to move away from coal-fired and nuclear power toward renewable energy, it said on Wednesday. Despite being relatively new to windpower, the company has managed to compete successfully in Europe for big offshore projects, where auction prices have halved in the past 18 months, said Vattenfall’s board member in charge of wind, Gunnar Groebler.

Reuters 8th Feb 2017 read more »

Molten Salt Reactors

Australian and Chinese researchers have made progress in understanding the mechanical properties of a new class of materials for use in molten salt reactors (MSRs). The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (Ansto) said yesterday that NiMo-SiC alloys – prepared from nickel molybdenum metal powders with added silicon carbide particles – have superior corrosion resistance and radiation damage resistance. Although there are no commercial MSRs in operation, there is an MSR and thorium energy research and development program at the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics (Sinap), with which Antso has a partnership agreement. A number of Ni-MoSiC alloy specimens containing varying amounts of silicon carbide were prepared in Sinap laboratories before being characterised at Antso.

World Nuclear News 8th Feb 2017 read more »

World Nuclear

Forward-planning is essential for countries wishing to introduce or expand nuclear power programs, participants at an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting heard last week. Ensuring effective coordination among all organisations involved is important, they agreed. The IAEA held its annual Technical Meeting on Topical Issues in Infrastructure Development in Vienna between 31 January and 3 February. It was attended by almost 80 participants, predominantly from countries interested in expanding their nuclear power programs or introducing nuclear power to their national energy mix.

World Nuclear News 8th Feb 2017 read more »

US

The White House website may not even mention it as part of Trump’s “America First Energy Plan” — but the U.S. solar industry continues to post dramatic job growth numbers. According to a new annual report by the nonprofit Solar Foundation, more than 51,000 solar industry jobs were added in 2016, a 24.5 percent increase over 2015. Overall, the foundation finds, some 260,000 Americans now work in the solar industry.

Washington Post 7th Feb 2017 read more »

Independent 8th Feb 2017 read more »

South Africa

State energy company Eskom and President Jacob Zuma argue that new nuclear capacity is needed in South Africa, while environmental activists favour the expansion of renewables such as wind and solar. Julian Turner talks to Nuclear Africa CEO Kelvin Kemm and Penny-Jane Cooke of Greenpeace.

Power Technology 7th Feb 2017 read more »

Renewables

Renewable energy made up nearly nine-tenths of new power added to Europe’s electricity grids last year, in a sign of the continent’s rapid shift away from fossil fuels. But industry leaders said they were worried about the lack of political support beyond 2020, when binding EU renewable energy targets end. Of the 24.5GW of new capacity built across the EU in 2016, 21.1GW – or 86% – was from wind, solar, biomass and hydro – eclipsing the previous high-water mark of 79% in 2014.

Guardian 9th Feb 2017 read more »

Renewables – small hydro

The Scottish renewables sector has been stunned by five- and six-fold increases in business rates and the new regime of business rates in Scotland has marked out hydro power for “special punishment”, threatening to end independent development of schemes north of the border, Scottish industry representatives at Alba Energy warned.

Scottish Energy News 9th Feb 2017 read more »

Operators of many small scale green energy projects such as hydro or solar schemes, fear they won’t be able to survive proposed business rates increases of up to 650 per cent. They claim that while Scottish ministers rightly criticised the UK Government for cutting subsidies to renewable energy developments, they are effectively now doing the same, by overseeing rates increases of up to 50 per cent of turnover when support has been removed. The Scottish Government stresses that business valuations are undertaken by independent assessors. But the point at issue is that a relief scheme introduced by the Edinburgh administration to assist green generators ended in 2015 and has not been a replaced.

Herald 9th Feb 2017 read more »

Edie 8th Feb 2017 read more »

National Grid

I see that Ofgem has finally taken a deep breath and launched a consultation on whether the System Operator (SO) functions of the National Grid should be separated out from its overall business activities: and has concluded that, ‘well, yes – to a point it perhaps should, and well, we might think about the SO becoming a more independent company within the National Grid group, perhaps with its own licence, and that might be achieved by something like 2019’. All of which means that if we all respond positively to the consultation, some Chinese walls within National Grid might be on their way within a couple of years. It is not that National Grid does a bad job of running the System Operator: on the contrary, it does rather well, I think. I wonder though, if this rather tepid approach really is good enough to oversee the transformation of how the grid will work over the next 20 years as it transforms (or rather it completes the transformation – it already is transforming).

Alan Whitehead 8th Feb 2017 read more »

Smart Meters

We’re all going to have smart meters installed in our homes by 2020, and then life will be much better for all of us: meter readings will be a thing of the past, homes will be able to monitor and manage their energy use and supply accurately, and beneficial changes such as time of use tariffs for electricity can come in. All potentially very good, but there is, of course, a road to go down to get to that felicitous outcome, which rather obviously involves actually installing all those meters, and setting up a communication system that can deal with all the smart communication traffic that will make the meters work. And a report on the progress of all this, and the cost benefit associated with it just released by the new Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Department, suggests that this road is becoming an increasingly rocky one.

Alan Whiehead 8th Feb 2017 read more »

Fossil Fuels

Letter: Prof Roy Thompson To frack or not to frack? That, in essence, is the question at present being put to the people of Scotland by the Holyrood government in a public consultation exercise. Academic research suggests that, in geological terms, fracking for shale gas in Scotland will be economically marginal at best. Comprehensive data for 25 American shale-gas systems has recently been made available, detailing their geochemistry, rock physics, and production decline. The information allows a geostatistical analysis of gas yield and comparison with other regions. Having completed such an analysis, I find Scottish shales do not compare favourably with even the lowest-yielding US systems. They are below the temperatures needed for effective gas generation; are at pressures that are too low for the gas to rise naturally to the surface and so would require extra pumps and compressors; and sit at too shallow a level, increasing the risk that surface groundwaters will be contaminated. The deeper, structurally simpler and higher-carbon-content shales in the north of England seem to have more potential. If hydrocarbon exploration in Lancashire and Yorkshire turns out to be unsuccessful, or cost-effectively borderline, that would signal that a US-style shale gas industry is unlikely to work in Scotland. Hence, the best response to Holyrood would be to suggest that the government awaits developments south of the border.

Times 9th Feb 2017 read more »

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Published: 9 February 2017