News October 2012

31 October 2012

Horizon

Hitachi says it will be five years before construction can begin on a new Horizon nuclear plant. Construction is unlikely to begin on any of the planned nuclear power plants through the Horizon Nuclear Power project for another five years the new Japanese owner of the venture has admitted. The company had yet to gain approval from the regulator for its reactor designs.“We need to get the generic design assessment (GDA) – but that probably takes about five years. When we get the GDA we are able to start to establish the construction,” a Hitachi spokesman said.

Building 30th Oct 2012 more >>

The Hitachi Horizon programme involves building two to three 1,300 MW plants at each of Horizon’s sites at Wylfa, Anglesey, and Oldbury, Gloucestershire, with the first unit becoming operational in the first half of 2020s.

New Civil Engineer 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Hitachi will decide whether to invest the estimated £20 billion required to build the new reactors in four or five years’ time, once its reactor design has been approved by regulators. It has enlisted Rolls-Royce and Babcock to provide technical expertise and advice on clearing regulatory hurdles. SNC Lavalin, the Canadian construction group, is also part of the consortium. The sale of Horizon results in an unexpected profit of almost £160 million for E.ON and RWE, which were advised by Nomura. Industry analysts had expected the venture to be sold for closer to £300 million.

Times 31st Oct 2012 more >>

John Hayes: Between four and six new reactors across sites in Wylfa in North Wales and Oldbury in Gloucestershire will be worth £20bn and support up to 12,000 construction jobs. As the Prime Minister said on Tuesday, “this is a decades-long, multi-billion pound vote of confidence in the UK”. This is evidence that our nuclear resurgence is alive and well. The UK has the potential to be a springboard for new nuclear development around the world. As we approach publication of the Government’s landmark Energy Bill, this major injection of capital into our power sector is a clear sign that there is appetite for investment. I am in no doubt that with our reforms and commitment to new nuclear, Hitachi’s investment will be the first of many.

Telegraph 30th Oct 2012 more >>

The Advanced Boiling Water design has a chequered history in terms of reliability. None of the four operational plants can so far, according to the World Nuclear Association (WNA) database (accessed 30/10/2012), boast a capacity factor of more than 73 per cent, and two of them have capacity factors less than 45 per cent (see WNA links below) – some wind power plant have capacity factors around this level, and they are supposed to be that way! A capacity factor is the amount a plant generates compared to the amount that would be generated if it was operating at full power all of the time. Nuclear power plans are costed on the basis that they will achieve capacity factors of 80-90 per cent. With a capacity factor of 45 per cent (plausible outcome based on experience) any nuclear power project comes out needing twice the power price to be an economic proposition! These ABWRs do not seem to be very cheap to build either. Currently three are under construction (according to ‘wikipedia’); two in Japan, and one in China. The plant being built in China has been under construction since 1997, admittedly delayed by political controversy at times, but still an eye-wateringly long period. The reactor cost seems high even though interest charges will not, I guess, have been factored in, which will be a real killer for any nuclear project that has to be financed through the UK’s proposed low carbon mechanism. So far no ABWR projects are being built in the west, with the reactor for one project initially planned in South Texas being cancelled last year. The costs had spiralled to a reported $14 billion for 1358 MW (wikipedia), a cost that compares broadly speaking, MW for MW, with the costs quoted for building Hinkley C.

David Toke’s Green Energy Blog 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Hitachi said in a statement that following completion of the transaction, the company will "immediately work towards achieving license acceptance under the Generic Design Assessment process as governed by the Office for Nuclear Regulation and begin working with our UK partners on the future program".

Platts 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Hitachi has “penciled in” four years to complete the so-called “generic design assessment”(GDA) process through the UK Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), the spokesman said, but that there is some “positive thinking” that GDA could be completed in a shorter period of time. The spokesman said it is thought that the time period could be shortened because the ABWR is already licensed and operating in other countries and because there are four ABWRs operating in Japan and two under construction in Taiwan.

i-Nuclear 30th Oct 2012 more >>

The Coalition must clear the way for these projects to get started. That includes more certainty for business on taxation but also overcoming any outstanding planning issues or regulatory hold-ups on licensing Hitachi’s nuclear technology. It is already operational around the world, with a decent track record for being on time and on budget and has been licensed in the US, so UK regulators have plenty of evidence to examine with regards to its efficacy. There’s no reason to skimp on thoroughness, but the regulatory process needs resourcing to be completed as quickly as possible. Of course all of this won’t actually mean power being generated from these investments until the early 2020s at best. Meanwhile, we still face a “cliff face”, in the words of Ofgem, when our spare generation capacity will fall perilously close to zero in just three years. The answer to that short-term problem remains gas, and lots of it, but we’re still waiting to hear the Coalition’s gas strategy (due in November). All we know for certain is that, even with Hitachi’s entry into the market, energy bills are only going one way – and that’s up.

Telegraph 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Mike Clancy, general secretary-designate of the Prospect union, said: "The successful bid by the Hitachi/SNC-Lavalin consortium sees a new entrant to the UK nuclear industry and demonstrates its faith in the economic promise the UK nuclear market offers both commerce and the economy as a whole. "The Horizon venture is an important milestone in securing future low-carbon energy generation capacity within the UK and its importance to local and national economies cannot be overstated. "While Hitachi’s advanced boiling water reactor design has yet to undergo the UK’s generic design assessment approval process, it is a proven technology and therefore any construction in the UK will benefit from lessons learned from its construction in Japan."

Guardian 30th Oct 2012 more >>

The announcement today from Hitachi that it is spending £696 million to take over the Horizon Nuclear Partnership from E-on and RWE, and its plans to construct two to three new nuclear reactors at Wylfa and Oldbury, may be seen as the fillip a troubled nuclear industry needs to restore some confidence in the new build project in England and Wales. However, to the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA), it raises as much problems as solutions, as even supportive commentators like the Financial Times (FT) have noted.

NFLA 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Friends of the Earth’s Energy Campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: "This is a risky and expensive gamble for Hitachi that other energy firms are unwilling to take – and contrary to the promises the Coalition has made, the public will end up funding it. "Nuclear has always delivered late and over budget, and crucially it won’t reduce emissions until the 2020s, when to tackle climate change, we need emissions cuts to happen straight away.

FoE Press Release 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Japan’s Hitachi threw Mr Davey a lifeline. Those close to the deal suggest that Mr Davey is right to claim some credit. The Government has, as he puts it, been “active in impressing on all interested parties that the UK economy is open and stable and our commitment to new nuclear is strong”. Details of the levels of incentives on offer for UK nuclear developers were not discussed with would-be buyers, but the Government made clear it would facilitate nuclear going ahead. In a post-Fukushima world, such government backing has proved to be a rare thing. For the UK, the sale is more significant than just the plants that Hitachi plans to build. As Mr Davey himself said: “Crucially, the entrance of Hitachi into the market reaffirms the competitive tension in UK new nuclear.” Mr Davey is in negotiations with EDF over a guaranteed price for electricity to be generated from its proposed plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Without a high enough price, EDF will not invest — and there have been fears the government may overpay. Hitachi reviving Horizon should significantly enhance the Government’s chance of securing, as Mr Davey put it, “a competitive price for consumers”. The entrance of Hitachi is particularly pleasing for the Government in this respect because of its track record in building reactors. While EDF’s new nuclear plant at Flamanville in France is yet to start generating power, having been subject to major delays and cost overruns, Hitachi has four of its most modern Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) designs operating in Japan. As Mr Ishizuka said pointedly: “They have been built safely, on time and on budget. No one else can say that.”

Telegraph 31st Oct 2012 more >>

Japanese to build £700m UK nuclear power plants: Hitachi deal will provide energy for 14m homes for 60 years.

Daily Mail 30th Oct 2012 more >>

This is Money 30th Oct 2012 more >>

BRITISH firms cashed in on the sale of Horizon Nuclear Power yesterday, as Babcock and Rolls-Royce won contracts to help Hitachi deliver its new build nuclear power project in the UK. Engineering support services company Babcock and power systems provider Rolls-Royce will help Hitachi with manufacturing, engineering and technical services at two sites in the UK.

City AM 30th Oct 2012 more >>

FAMILIES could see their energy bills cut after a Japanese firm signed a £700million deal that will allow it to start building Britain’s next generation of nuclear power plants.

Express 31st Oct 2012 more >>

Daily Star 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Major obstacles remain before Hitachi can take a final investment decision or begin construction, however. The company has yet to begin the process of securing design approval to use its Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR) in the UK, which could take up to four years. However, sources suggested approval could come more quickly given the ABWR is licenced for use in countries including the US, and Hitachi has four of the reactors operating in Japan, which were built on time and on budget. Hitachi would not invest the full £20bn itself and would also need to secure financial backing. Hitachi vice-president Tatsuro Ishizuka said the group was yet to determine the reactors’ cost but said that the £20bn estimate related to four reactors. At a ballpark of £5bn each, that would make Hitachi very competitive with EDF, the French nuclear giant that is planning to build reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The government is negotiating with EDF over a price for the electricity the plant will generate, to be paid for through levies on UK consumer energy bills.

Telegraph 30th Oct 2012 more >>

The company bullishly hopes to have the first up and running by the mid-2020s, but there are any number of hurdles to be cleared in the meantime, not least regulatory approval for the reactor design, which could take years. Nor has the vexed question of investment risk been satisfactorily answered. It is here that the Government’s hotly anticipated Energy Bill comes in. Due imminently, the aim of the legislation is to stimulate investment by guaranteeing future energy prices, and therefore returns. But the draft proposals for "contracts for difference", to top up market prices where necessary, left so many unanswered questions – what the so-called "strike price" will be, say, or exactly who will underwrite it – that the to-ing and fro-ing has only added to the climate of uncertainty bedevilling the sector.

Independent 31st Oct 2012 more >>

Plans for a fleet of new nuclear power stations received a massive boost when Japanese engineering giant Hitachi took over a deal to build two power plants which could be feeding electricity into the national grid in the first half of the 2020s.

Newcastle Journal 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Video: Energy and climate change secretary Ed Davey says the £700m deal with Hitachi is a multimillion pound vote of confidence in the UK. He appeared with Tatsuro Ishizuka from Hitachi to announce the deal with Horizon Nuclear Power, which has the rights to build reactors at Wylfa on Anglesey, north Wales, and Oldbury, Gloucestershire.

Guardian 30th Oct 2012 more >>

EMR

The Government seems poised to announce a policy that will see nuclear power paid more than onshore wind. In the process onshore wind development will be capped. It looks like a pretty clear way of signalling that nuclear power is to be given a big advantage over wind power. There is a lot of speculation about what the Government will set as the ‘strike price’ for nuclear power, not to mention whether it will be high enough to bring forward nuclear projects without a government ‘blank cheque’ (underwriting). However, one paradox seems to be going unnoticed. All the bets on the figure for nuclear seem to be higher than anything onshore wind is likely to receive.

David Toke’s Green Energy Blog 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Hitachi’s entrance into the UK market means the country’s nuclear programme is no longer dependent on a handful of companies, which had raised fears a lack of competition would force the government to set higher than anticipated subsidies for nuclear energy in the forthcoming Energy Bill. In particular, the move strengthens the government’s hand in its current negotiations with EDF over the level of support, or strike price, the French utility can expect to receive if it goes ahead with its plans for a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset. According to sources, the government is pushing for a strike price significantly below the £100/MWh mark that had been mooted by some commentators as a means of ensuring the level of support for nuclear power matches that available to offshore wind.

Business Green 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Japanese Hitachi no more has the finger on the button than EDF, but it still feels a bit better that there are Brits keeping an eye on them. It was hardly a diplomatic response, but this was why Mr de Rivaz was correct when he warned that Tory MP Phillip Lee risked slipping into "jingoism" at the Energy Select Committee last week. Mr Lee argued that the "strike price", the government-guaranteed minimum paid for any electricity generated through new nuclear, was akin to "an annuity to the French taxpayer for the next 40 years". Actually, that guarantee is vital as the likes of EDF, Hitachi and Spain’s Iberdrola, which is umming and ahhing over a plant in Sellafield, need to ensure some return is made on the billions that they plan to spend in the UK. Otherwise, they risk going bust in a foreign land. On Monday, The Independent revealed that EDF and the Government are close to sealing a strike price at less than £100 per megawatt hour. What MWh means would take a scientist to explain, but that figure is a good chunk less than the £140-165/MWh that had been previously feared. New nuclear is not a certainty. EDF’s partner, British Gas owner Centrica, is yet to be convinced that putting its balance sheet behind nuclear is a sage move, while Hitachi’s reactor technology must go through an interminable design assessment process that could easily delay construction. Also, the pro-nuclear lobby’s argument that the strike price is not a subsidy is difficult to fathom.

Independent 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Wylfa

Welsh political leaders have welcomed confirmation that Hitachi is to buy nuclear project Horizon which includes plans for a new reactor on Anglesey. Welsh Secretary David Jones called it a "huge boost" while First Minister Carwyn Jones said it was "very good news for Wales and the UK".

BBC 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Dylan Morgan of Pawb said several other countries, including Germany, were also turning their backs on nuclear power. Mr Morgan said this put Britain at odds with many other countries. "Why should we here take the risk – the health risks, the environmental risk – of nuclear power when Japan itself is turning its back on nuclear power, bowing to public pressure following the Fukushima disaster?" he asked. He said he did not want what he called a "Wylfashima" on Anglesey. "If things go wrong with nuclear power, they go terribly terribly wrong," he said.

BBC 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Officials from Japanese firm Hitachi will visit Anglesey later after taking over a project to build a new nuclear power station on the island. The Horizon development aims to build a £8bn replacement for the Wylfa plant. Up to 6,000 jobs could be created while the new reactors are built. The officials will meet local groups and politicians in Llangefni after the announcement of the £700m deal which includes a plan to build a nuclear station at Oldbury, Gloucestershire.

BBC 31st Oct 2012 more >>

Oldbury

BUILDING one of the country’s biggest nuclear power station in South Gloucestershire will create 1,000 new permanent jobs leading to a major boost for the Bristol economy. Japanese electrical firm Hitachi said its plans for Oldbury will also lead to 6,000 construction jobs while building work is carried out to make the plant four times its current size. Environmental campaigners in the nearby village of Shepperdine said they were dismayed by the news. A spokesman for the Shepperdine Against Nuclear Energy group said: "We are sad that after E.on and RWE have decided to give up building new nuclear in the UK that Hitachi have decided to buy the sites that are owned by Horizon Nuclear Power. "We do not want the Shepperdine site to become another Fukushima. "We are in touch with various environmental bodies and a Japanese labour union called Doro Chiba to try and get a full understanding of what they know about Hitachi. "We understand that the reactor will have to go through the full Generic Design Assessment and this will take up to four years.

Bristol Post 31st Oct 2012 more >>

ITV 30th Oct 2012 more >>

THERE will always be a divide within the great British public over the wisdom of using nuclear energy as the nation’s primary power source. On a smaller local scale those very same concerns are being echoed around South Gloucestershire and, specifically, the village of Oldbury-on-Severn, following the announcement that Hitachi will build a new nuclear power plant there. On balance, for the sake of the nation, and in the absence of a genuine alternative, this plan for Oldbury will have to be embraced by us all.

Bristol Post 31st Oct 2012 more >>

New Nukes

By 2023, all but one of Britain’s currently generating nuclear power stations are scheduled to be shut down. This interactive graphic shows the development of nuclear power in the UK and projections for the future.

FT 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Nuclear Subsidy

The Energy Secretary Edward Davey has defended the ‘contracts for difference’ telling ITV News Business Editor Laura Kuenssberg that it is not a subsidy by another name.

ITV 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Speaking to John Humphrys on BBC Radio 4’s Today show, Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, pointed to Hitachi’s news as proof that the upcoming Electricity Market Reform provides long term investment clarity. He said: “International investors looking at our energy policy have a huge amount of confidence in it.” When challenged by Humprys over the cost of new nuclear, Davey responded: “What would really be expensive for the UK consumer is if we were over-reliant on gas. What’s been pushing up people’s energy bills in recent years has been the increasing price of global gas. We’re having to import far more now as the gas in the North Sea declines in volume and that’s very expensive.” The Energy Secretary’s comments appear to go against the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) recent pledge that unabated gas will “play an important role in the energy mix well into and beyond 2030…[not] restricted to providing back up to renewables”. It has been widely-reported that George Osborne pushed the energy department into publicly declaring support for gas, pitting the Liberal Democrat-led DECC against the Conservative-led Treasury.

Solar Portal 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Supply Chain

The UK government has announced creation of a Nuclear Industry Council to maximise development of the supply chain needed to support both a domestic and export nuclear industry. The Council will involve government officials and industry executives in implementing a Nuclear Supply Chain Action Plan, to be published later this year. The Council will be led by UK Energy Secretary Edward Davey or Energy Minister John Hayes and Business Minister Michael Fallon representing government with Lord Hutton, Chairman of the Nuclear Industry Association and former Labour Energy Minister, leading the industry side.

i-Nuclear 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Construction Index 31st Oct 2012 more >>

Construction News 30th Oct 2012 more >>

MINISTERS from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills yesterday awarded £37m to a Yorkshire centre which has been set up to supply a new generation of nuclear power stations. The Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre is a joint venture between Sheffield University and Rolls-Royce and its bosses aim to help British business tap into the global market. The centre’s director, Professor Keith Ridgeway, said he was delighted to receive the boost from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund. He said: “This is a vital opportunity for British manufacturing companies.”

Yorkshire Post 31st Oct 2012 more >>

Energy Costs

It was, actually, only two weeks ago that I sat in the Commons Chamber to hear David Cameron tell us in response to a fairly random PM’s Question that ‘we will be legislating so that Energy Companies have to give the lowest tariff to their customers’. By any measure, this was quite a startling announcement: on the face of it, it looked as if he was announcing the end of the Electricity Retail Market. It is just unfortunate that currently, none of the No 10 advisers and machine actually seems to know anything about energy or low carbon policy. It always was the case in the last Labour government that both at No 10 and No 11 there was a special adviser who knew what they were doing: Geoffrey Norris, for example at No 10, and certainly Michael Jacobs at No 11. What is, I think alarming is that no-one spotted this as self-evidently lame before allowing the PM to launch it. One of the consequences will be, I think, that the No 10 ‘third position’ has more or less blown up on the launching pad, and the scrap between an underpowered DECC and an overweening Treasury for the soul of energy policy will continue anew. At the same time, the ability of No 10 now to pull everyone together will have diminished amid the raised eyebrows and private sniggering that has accompanied such a ham-fisted and hapless initiative.

Alan Whitehead MP 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Japan

Fukushima Crisis Update 26th to 29th October 2012.

Greenpeace 30th Oct 2012 more >>

US

Three nuclear reactors on the US east coast were shut down as a result of Monday night’s storm, and three others reduced their output, regulators said late on Tuesday. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission also reported that an alert remained in place at the Oyster Creek plant on the coast of New Jersey, which had been shut for refuelling last week but still requires cooling for its spent fuel.

FT 31st Oct 2012 more >>

Energy Business Review 31st Oct 2012 more >>

Independent 31st Oct 2012 more >>

CCS

There are two four-letter words that sum up today’s announcement that Hitachi is buying the Horizon nuclear power business abandoned by German-owned RWE and E.on after the Fukushima disaster led Angela Merkel to turn her back on building new reactors. The first is "phew", the overwhelming sentiment from ministers and from Horizon’s former owners. For ministers, the big hole in their low-carbon energy plans that would be left by a failure to get new nuclear plants built is now less likely, For RWE and E.on, they have offloaded the nuclear sites for a lot more cash – £700m – than they might have expected. The fact that even EDF, a supposed competitor to Horizon, "welcomed" Hitachi’s purchase shows how close to meltdown the plan to build new nuclear plants has come. The second four-letter word, from those who oppose new nuclear power in the UK, is unprintable. Hitachi’s purchase is undoubtedly a blow for them. But despite the government’s delight – Prime minister David Cameron was rolled out to herald the news – today’s development is a small step on a long road. The second energy announcement today, the shortlisting of four carbon capture and storage projects in the government’s £1bn competition, could be the more significant news. It now looks likely that contracts for one or two CCS demonstrations will be signed within a year. That’s very welcome given the government’s current emphasis on gas, because that means CCS is going to be needed.

Guardian 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Posted: 31 October 2012

30 October 2012

Renewables

Renewable energy will overtake nuclear power in the UK by 2018, if current rates of growth continue, and will provide enough power for one in 10 British homes by 2015, according to new research. The amount of electricity supplied by wind energy alone is up by a quarter since 2010, in a surprisingly good year for the renewables industry. While the government has notably cooled on wind power – more than 100 Tory MPs signed a statement this year opposing new windfarms, and the chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne, has queried the future of subsidies – the industry has continued to grow, with investment in offshore wind up by about 60% to £1.5bn in the past year. Planning approvals for onshore windfarms also rose, up by about half, to reach a record level, according to the trade association Renewable UK. The energy bill, originally expected to be debated next week, is likely to be delayed until later in November as ministers wrangle over the implications. There is a sharp split within the Tory party over how to treat renewable energy.

Guardian 30th Oct 2012 more >>

EMR

At its third evidence session the Energy and Climate Change Committee heard from nuclear industry representatives on the challenges of building new nuclear capacity in the UK. Of note were the strained negotiations between EDF and the government over the long-term return on investment the latter will receive for electricity generated at planned new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point and Sizewell. Freelance energy journalist Tim Probert summed up the session with a pithy yet fairly accurate Twitter post describing the bargaining relationship between EDF and the government: "DECC: ‘How much is it?’ EDF: ‘How much have you got?’" At the heart of the negotiations is the strike price, a guaranteed price per MWh of electricity generated that would be received by EDF. In the contracts for differences (CfDs) context, this means that if the price in the market falls below the strike price, then EDF would be paid the difference. At the evidence session the strike price for nuclear was repeatedly compared with the expected and desired long-term cost for offshore wind at GBP100/MWh, as offshore wind would be the main renewable alternative in the absence of nuclear. Despite uncertainties as to what offshore wind will cost by 2020-25, it was made clear that nuclear is, and will be expected to be, competitive with respects to offshore wind, and its strike price may be capped at GBP100/MWh.

Data Monitor 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Horizon

Horizon Nuclear Power said it looked forward to resuming its nuclear new build plans at the earliest opportunity following the transition to new ownership announced today. E.ON UK and RWE npower said agreement had been reached to sell Horizon to Hitachi. The deal is expected to complete by the end of November.

Horizon Nuclear 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Britain’s nuclear power programme has been given a new lease of life after Hitachi signed a £700 million deal to buy Horizon Nuclear Power in what it has described as a 100-year commitment to the UK. The deal with Horizon’s present owners, the German utilities E.ON and RWE will allow Hitachi to build reactors at Wylfa on Anglesey, North Wales, and Oldbury in Gloucestershire. Between two and three nuclear plants would be built at each site. Unions sounded a note of caution over the UK’s energy policy. Gary Smith, national officer of the GMB union, said: "Like renewables, nuclear isn’t cheap and it is important that communities in the UK get something back from the massive investment in the energy infrastructure by way of skilled jobs. Otherwise we will just be left with spiralling bills and little else.” Hitachi says its reactor designs are “proven technology,” and can be completed within three-and-a-half years.

Times 30th Oct 2012 more >>

UK Government Ministers today welcomed the announcement that Japanese technology firm Hitachi Ltd has acquired Horizon Nuclear Power, the venture set up in 2009 by RWE and E.ON, in a deal that will help the UK meet its energy security and carbon reduction goals, and bring a massive economic benefit.

DECC 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Reuters 30th Oct 2012 more >>

BBC 30th Oct 2012 more >>

City AM 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Evening Standard 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Independent 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Hitachi Ltd is to buy the Horizon nuclear project for about £700m from its German owners , whose decision to put the joint venture up for sale in March threw Britain’s nuclear expansion plans into disarray. The price offered by the Japanese technology group, which beat a rival bid by Westinghouse Electric Co, was more than double what most analysts had expected and will be seen as a big vote of confidence in the UK nuclear sector. The Horizon venture is little more than a start-up, with land at two sites – Oldbury in Gloucestershire and Wylfa on Anglesey – and the rights to build new reactors there. While the government will be delighted that Horizon now has new owners, choosing Hitachi could prove problematic for the UK’s nuclear timetable. Its reactor design has yet to be submitted to UK regulators and the approval process can take four years. However, people close to Hitachi say its design has the advantage of being “proven technology”: four have been built, on budget and schedule, and another four are under construction. They say the reactor takes only three and a half years to build, less than competitors’ designs.

FT 29th Oct 2012 more >>

David Cameron has welcomed Hitachi’s takeover of Horizon Nuclear Power and the Japanese technology firm’s commitment to build four to six new nuclear plants in the UK.

ITV News 30th Oct 2012 more >>

UK firms Babcock and Rolls Royce have signed memoranda of understanding to join with Hitachi to plan and deliver the new advanced boiling water reactors.

Construction Index 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Construction Enquirer 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Moscow has offered to help Britain build nuclear power stations in partnership with Rolls-Royce, Russia’s deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov has said. Mr Shuvalov, who met Vince Cable in London on Monday for bilateral trade talks, said he had talked to the Business Secretary about ways in which Russia could help build plants. Last year Rolls-Royce, which has a specialist nuclear division, signed a memorandum of understanding with Russian state-owned atomic energy corporation Rosatom to work together on potential new projects.

Telegraph 29th Oct 2012 more >>

Oldbury

Plans for a new nuclear plant at Oldbury in South Gloucestershire are back on track after the announcement that electronics firm Hitachi is taking over Horizon, the nuclear project behind them. It will mean 5 to 6 thousand jobs during construction and a thousand permanent posts when the site starts operating early in the 2020s.

ITV 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Wylfa

Welsh Secretary David Jones has welcomed confirmation that Japanese firm Hitachi is to buy nuclear project Horizon, which includes plans for a new reactor on Anglesey. He called it "terrific news for the people of Anglesey" and a "huge boost". The Horizon development aims to build a new £8bn nuclear power station at Wylfa on the island and at Oldbury in South Gloucestershire. Up to 6,000 jobs could be created while the new reactors are built at Wylfa.

BBC 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Hinkley

EDF Energy, the biggest nuclear power provider in Britain, disconnected its 480 megawatt Hinkley Point B-8 nuclear reactor from the transmission system on Saturday, the company said."We can confirm that Hinkley B R4 was safely shut down at 0815 hrs on Saturday, 27 October. It was unplanned,"

Reuters 29th Oct 2012 more >>

Companies

Global engineering group IMI is to set up a joint venture in China to supply the country’s burgeoning nuclear power industry. The firm has signed an agreement with Shanghai Automation Instrumentation Company (SAIC) to supply control valves for new plants.

Share Cast 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Radwaste

Olkiluoto is different from other idyllic islands off Finland’s west coast. Instead of summer cottages where Finns sunbathe and enjoy saunas under tall birch and pine trees, this is where the nation will store its most toxic nuclear waste for the next 100,000 years.

Bloomberg 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Dalgety Bay

RADIATION levels at a Scottish beach pose no serious public health threat and should not stop anyone visiting the area, according to a scientific report published today. The report by the Health Protection Agency calculated that a person’s chances of developing a deadly cancer from "breathing in or eating a radioactive object" encountered at Dalgety Bay was less than one in 100million. HPA scientists have also worked out that the risk of a ‘typical’ beach user encountering a radioactive object ranged from 1 in 1,000 to 1 in 10,000. However the agency called for regular monitoring of the beach to be continued to ensure that contaminated objects are detected and removed. It also urged the Scottish Government to commission a detailed public health risk assessment and said that more work was needed first to find out how people use the beach a t the moment.

Scotsman 30th Oct 2012 more >>

US

Reuters reported on Friday that 16 reactors are in Sandy’s potential path, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission reports today that it is dispatching additional inspectors to provide "enhanced oversight" at 8 reactors.

Common Dreams 29th Oct 2012 more >>

The New Jersey Oyster Creek nuclear power plant issued an alert as a result of the record storm surge and warned a further water rise could force the country’s oldest working plant to use emergency water supplies to cool spent uranium fuel rods, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said.

Evening Standard 30th Oct 2012 more >>

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has declared an alert at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey as the super-storm Sandy made landfall in the US east coast states. Sandy has reportedly flooded vast areas across the eastern seaboard.

The Oyster Creek nuclear power plant declared the alert since the water level in the plant’s water intake structure exceeded the "high water level criteria".

IB Times 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Reuters 30th Oct 2012 more >>

ITV 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Telegraph 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Energy provider Exelon Generation announced its three nuclear power plants in the state of Pennsylvania are ready to face Hurricane Sandy as it moves up the Eastern Seaboard. Operators at Limerick Generating Station, Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, and Three Mile Island had completed related inspections and geared up with staff to monitor and respond to changing conditions. The US-based company said all its nuclear stations are fortified facilities, which could withstand severe weather, including floods and hurricanes.

Energy Business Review 30th Oct 2012 more >>

The NRC statement: Nuclear power plant procedures require that the facilities shut down under certain severe weather conditions. The plants’ emergency diesel generators are available if off-site power is lost during the storm. Also, all plants have flood protection above the predicted storm surge, and key components and systems are housed in watertight buildings capable of withstanding hurricane-force winds and flooding. This sounds reassuring. But the New York Times liveblog spoke an NRC official, who indicated the flood levels were close to being exceeded: The water level was more than six feet above normal. At seven feet, the plant would lose the ability to cool its spent fuel pool in the normal fashion, according to Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

FT 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Czech Republic

Czech utility ČEZ has rejected Areva’s appeal of the disqualification of Areva’s bid to supply two new EPR reactors for Temelin-3 and -4 in the Czech Republic. Areva said the October 29 it will challenge the ČEZ decision to reject its original appeal. ČEZ disqualified Areva’s original bid to supply two new EPR reactors for Temelin-3 and -4 on October 5 and Areva appealed the decision. On October 29, ČEZ said in a statement that “after carefully assessing each of the grounds” of Areva’s appeal, ČEZ decided to reject the appeal. ČEZ said it has communicated to Areva the detailed grounds why their bid has been excluded. It said the grounds are “crucial and of both commercial and legal nature,” but that it would not comment on the specific reasons publicly “in order to keep the public tender correct.”

i-Nuclear 29th Oct 2012 more >>

Trident

Coalition tensions over the future of Trident flared up yesterday as Nick Clegg warned Defence Secretary Philip Hammond over “jumping the gun” on the next generation of British nuclear-armed submarines. The Deputy Prime Minister insisted that the final decision on replacing the deterrent would not be made until 2016, “however much other people may not like it that way”, as £350m in funding was announced for designing a new system.

Yorkshire Post 30th Oct 2012 more >>

A row broke out yesterday over plans to replace the nuclear missiles based in Scotland after the UK Government committed £350million to the design work. Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said the Westminster coalition was “pressing ahead” with the development of the Trident system on a visit to the Faslane base on the Clyde. The SNP criticised the project, with Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon branding the £20billion programme “obscene and a staggering waste of money”.

Aberdeen Press and Journal 30th Oct 2012 more >>

The deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, says the coalition agreement on the Trident nuclear programme will not be changed, and a final decision on a replacement will be taken in 2016. Clegg says there needs to be a debate on the future of nuclear defence in the UK.

Guardian 29th Oct 2012 more >>

Nick Clegg has accused the defence secretary, Philip Hammond, of "jumping the gun" on Trident as Hammond visited Faslane to announce a further £350m investment to underline his support for a fresh generation of British nuclear-armed submarines.

Guardian 29th Oct 2012 more >>

Telegraph 29th Oct 2012 more >>

THE Defence Secretary yesterday warned Alex Salmond not to play “irresponsible games” with Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Philip Hammond said it was there to protect the nation as a whole. On a visit to the Trident submarine base at Faslane on the Clyde, Mr Hammond added that the deterrent had operated successfully for 43 years, and it was not possible to say where the threat would come from over the next 20 to 50 years.

Express 30th Oct 2012 more >>

BAE in Barrow is being asked to design the next generation of submarines carrying our nation’s nuclear deterrent.

ITV 29th Oct 2012 more >>

Britain’s defence secretary on Monday said an extra 350 million pounds would be spent developing next generation nuclear submarines, brushing aside Scottish nationalist threats to force the country’s submarine base out of Scotland.

Reuters 29th Oct 2012 more >>

Germany

The production of renewable energies in Germany is expected to grow faster than the government’s forecast and account for almost half of the country’s electricity within a decade, a top official said Monday. The current boom in new installations of wind, solar and other renewable power sources will easily top the official target of 35 percent by 2022, reaching about 48 percent by then, said Stephan Kohler, who heads the government-affiliated agency overseeing Germany’s electricity grid. "I think this is a realistic dimension," Kohler said. "By then we can manage to integrate it in our electricity grid." He cautioned, however, that his Federal Network Agency’s assessment shows that more and swifter investment is needed to upgrade the electricity grid to cope with the influx of unstable and geographically dispersed renewable energies. One of Germany’s challenges in ensuring a steady supply of electricity to the world’s fourth-largest economy is that it derives most of its wind power from the country’s north, but demand is highest in the strongly industrialized south.

AP 29th Oct 2012 more >>

Energy Efficiency

Matthew Spencer: switching tariffs is a zero sum game and means that it can’t bring UK household bills down. It shouldn’t be a surprise since we’re all buying the same gas whichever brand we choose, and it’s the rise in gas prices that has driven up consumer bills. Unfortunately this means that the Prime Minister’s solution – to put everyone on the cheapest tariff won’t work either – since the cost of the cheapest tariff will go up if it’s the one everyone is using. The truth is that there are only two ways to lower bills: either by finding a new source of cheap supply, or by reducing our energy consumption. In the UK we don’t have a new source of cheap supply available right now. What we do have is something even better: loads of inefficient appliances and equipment that use more electricity than they need to, which can be replaced at very low cost, reducing electricity bills in the process. And here we can learn a great deal from the US, where a number of states have created a market for electricity savings or "negawatts". These programmes really work – they have reduced the number of new power stations that need to be built and have delayed or even prevented grid upgrades. They have saved consumers considerable amounts of money. Appliance replacements and efficiency retrofits in the US avoid electricity consumption at nearly a third of the price of new supply. They replace an expensive megawatt of electricity which costs perhaps £100, with an avoided megawatt, or negawatt, which only costs £30.

Business Green 29th Oct 2012 more >>

Renewables

When two areas in Gloucestershire were approached about plans to build wind turbines within close proximity, one was vehemently opposed, while the other seemed to embrace it as an investment opportunity.

BBC 29th Oct 2012 more >>

Highland councillors will consider plans for a proposed new £800m hydro electric scheme later. SSE has put forward details of the 600MW project for Coire Glas, near Spean Bridge, in Lochaber. The development would be Scotland’s biggest ever hydro scheme but objectors warn it could damage tourism. The pump storage hydro scheme is designed to "soak up" excess power generated by wind and wave farms, using it to pump water up to a reservoir. That water is then released through tunnels to generate hydro electric power at times when consumers need it. Those in favour of such schemes describe them as "green batteries", but opponents argue they use more energy than they produce.

BBC 30th Oct 2012 more >>

The first power has been generated from the world’s largest offshore windfarm, the companies behind the scheme said on Monday. The first phase of the London Array project, around 12 miles off the coasts of Kent and Essex in the Thames Estuary, will see 175 turbines generating enough power to supply more than 470,000 homes. Already 151 turbines have been installed since construction began in March 2011, and when the first phase is completed by the end of the year, the 630-megawatt scheme will be the largest offshore windfarm in the world, the companies said.

Guardian 29th Oct 2012 more >>

Government energy reforms could make it impossible for new community energy projects to scale up. Last year, when I co-wrote a little book on community energy, it still felt like a niche topic. There was exciting stuff going on around the country but unless you happened to be involved in local green group or living somewhere such as Settle then you probably wouldn’t have heard about it. Even if you had, there wouldn’t necessarily have be an easy way for you to invest. In the past couple of months, though, a host of new websites and projects have appeared, suggesting that community energy is quickly going mainstream. The government, in pr inciple, supports all this. The energy and climate secretary, Ed Davey, says community projects are "vital to our vision of the development of energy in the UK" and his department plans to publish a community energy strategy next year. In the meantime, though, the Electricity Market Reform (EMR) is working its way through parliament and some people in the community energy field are concerned that the changes will hobble the thriving community energy scene.

Guardian 29th Oct 2012 more >>

Gas

While a more modest stroll for gas is needed, a dash is dumb, unless you believe the fracking fantasy promoted by George Osborne. So, are the "No dash for gas" protesters perched atop the cooling towers of the new West Burton gas-fired power station in Nottinghamshire right? They argue: The new ‘dash for gas’ will leave us dependent on a highly polluting and increasingly expensive fossil fuel for decades to come. It would make even our modest carbon reduction targets impossible to hit, and cause household energy bills to soar even further. The answer is mostly yes, for reasons I’ll explain below. So why is the new dash for gas now sprinting out of the starting blocks? For two reasons, one justified and one not. The first is that some new gas will be needed in the UK, as ageing and dirty nuclear and coal power plants are phased out. The second is that the chancellor George Osbor ne has been captured by a small but influential group of fracking fanatics who have convinced him that shale gas will bring a game-changing bonanza of cheap gas. It won’t. But let’s start with the basics and the most independent source we have, the government’s official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change. They are charged with setting out the lowest cost, lowest risk path to meeting the nation’s legally binding cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. Their "Plan A" allows for 10GW of new gas-fired electricity generation, about 10 new power stations. For the energy policy geeks out there, that leads to a carbon intensity of about 50g of CO2 being emitted per kWh of electricity in 2030. But, if the renewable energy or nuclear power envisaged in Plan A does not materialise in a big way, then says the UK will need a Plan B: 20GW of new gas power and about 100g of CO2 per kWh in 2030. That doesn’t mean the nation will have given up on its carbon targets, says the CCC, but the balance of cost and risk is better for Plan A. The 20GW goal is what ministers are now pursuing, so according the CCC they have chosen a more risky and more expensive path.

Guardian 29th Oct 2012 more >>

Early on Monday 29th October, seventeen people scaled the chimneys of West Burton gas-fired power station, shutting it down and halting further construction. West Burton is one of the first of up to 20 new gas-fired power stations the Government has planned.

No Dash for Gas 29th Oct 2012 more >>

Thirty people shut down the UK’s newest gas-fired power station and 15 occupied two of its chimneys at West Burton in Nottinghamshire this morning. I am one of them. We have set up two camps, one at the top and one inside the 80-metre-high smoke-stacks. We have also carried up enough supplies to keep us up here for at least a week.

Guardian 29th Oct 2012 more >>

Posted: 30 October 2012

29 October 2012

EMR

The Government has set a cap on how much it will pay for electricity generated by new nuclear power stations in negotiations with EDF. It is understand that ministers are close to agreeing a strike price with EDF. But a final deal is not expected until as late as February. A senior source suggested the figure would be less that £100/MWh. There are still fears that Centrica could pull out of the Partnership to build Hinkley. [Read more…]

Posted: 29 October 2012

28 October 2012

Horizon

BRITAIN’S faltering nuclear renaissance will receive a boost this week when Hitachi, the Japanese engineering giant, unveils a £700m takeover of Horizon Nuclear Power. The blockbuster deal values Horizon, which has rights to build reactors at Wylfa, on Anglesey, and Oldbury, near Bristol, well beyond what analysts expected it to fetch. Ed Davey, the energy secretary, is expected to herald the deal as an endorsement of the government’s policy of enticing developers with the tens of billions in subsidies. Hitachi is expected to provide lucrative roles for British suppliers. Convincing companies to invest has proved difficult. Of the three consortiums formed to build reactors, only one remains, and even it is dogged by questions. EDF Energy and Centrica, the owner of British Gas, will decide around the new year whether to push the button on their £14 billion plan for two reactors at Hinkley Point, Somerset. The companies are locked in discussions with the government over the prospective power price. They argue that they need at least double the wholesale electricity cost to make money. Doubts are growing over Centrica’s commitment to the project. The third consortium, made up of Iberdrola, GDF Suez and Scottish & Southern Energy, has disintegrated. The government has fought to get the nuclear programme back on track, including a pledge by George Osborne to guarantee huge loans to finance construction.

Sunday Times 28th Oct 2012 more >>

Hitachi Ltd, Japan’s largest industrial electronics maker, is close to buying British nuclear new-build project Horizon in a deal expected to be worth more than 50 billion yen ($628.46 million), Japanese media said on Saturday. Horizon, which plans to build 6 gigawatts of nuclear capacity, was put up for sale by its German owners E.ON AG and RWE AG in March, as Germany’s decision to pull out of nuclear power hurt the utilities’ finances. Hitachi is expected to hold a board meeting on Tuesday to approve the deal and officially announce it later that day, both the Asahi daily newspaper and Kyodo newswire reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Reuters 27th Oct 2012 more >>

EON AG and RWE AG, Germany’s two largest utilities, are set to sell their U.K. venture Horizon Nuclear Power to Japan’s Hitachi for about 600 million pounds ($967 million), people familiar with the matter said. Hitachi’s Advanced Boiling Water Reactor, which it makes with General Electric Co., has been licensed in the U.S., Taiwan and Japan. While it is yet to seek U.K. approval through a process known as Generic Design Assessment, the reactor equipment already operates in Japan. With EON’s planned withdrawal from the Fennovoima Oy nuclear reactor in Finland announced this week neither EON nor RWE are involved in any more new building of nuclear power plants. The U.K. is one of only three western European nations pursuing new reactors.

Bloomberg 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Japan Today 28th Oct 2012 more >>

Energy Bill

EDF plans to spend £14 billion on two reactors at Hinkley Point, Somerset. The quid pro quo demanded from the government is a guarantee that EDF will be able to charge well over double the current electricity price to ensure it makes money. Negotiations about the final figure are in their closing stages and there could be an announcement by Christmas. The nuclear guarantee is one of a raft of new charges being added to household bills. From carbon taxes to solar subsidies, the costs of Britain’s much-vaunted efforts to clean up the energy industry are feeding through to the customer. It is a point the energy companies, including British Gas and Npower, were at pains to emphasise when they revealed another round of price increases this month. EDF announced a 10.8% rise last week, pushing the average annual dual-fuel bill to £1,334. Cue public outrage. Consider the case of British Gas. The average annual bill from Britain’s biggest utility rose by £183 between 2007 and 2011. Nearly one-third of that, £56, was a result of green taxes and related government-imposed charges. The rise in low-carbon fees represented a 60% jump — twice the rate of increase in the wholesale gas price, the biggest component of power bills. That trend is gaining momentum. Andrew Horstead of Utilyx, the energy consultancy, said: “At the moment, about 55% of the bill is the commodity price, while the rest is green taxes and related costs. By 2020, you’ll see those percentages flip as the new charges feed through.”

Sunday Times 28th Oct 2012 more >>

Radwaste

Meetings with Profs Smythe and Haszeldine in Maryport and Silloth in November.

SPAND 27th Oct 2012 more >>

Nuclear Costs

Letter: while there’s nothing new about windmills, using turbines to convert wind into electricity on a large scale is comparatively new, unlike ¬nuclear, which has been with us for many decades. Although nuclear has ¬certainly generated a lot of electricity over that time, it has still been by any measure a commercial failure. That such a well-established technology should still require subsidies in terms of the taxpayer picking up decommissioning costs and electricity price floors should concern us all. While offshore wind is similarly expensive for the ¬moment, at £140 MW/h it still matches on cost grounds what one potential nuclear investor says it needs to break even, and at least has the potential to become more competitive with other forms of generation as engineering experience and designs improve. If we’re going to offer subsidies for generating electricity, I’d rather we did so for technologies which at least stand a chance of one day operating without gouging the taxpayer. The reluctance of private investors to build new nuclear in the UK despite the favourable conditions being engineered for them by the Westminster government should tell us all we need to know.

Scotland on Sunday 28th Oct 2012 more >>

Nuclear Transport

Dutch-based Damen Shipyards said its Romanian unit has launched a new vessel, ordered by Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company, SKB. The 99.5 metre-long Nuclear Cargo Vessel (NCV) 1600 will transport spent nuclear fuel from Swedish nuclear power plants to SKB’s facilities in Oskarshamn and Forsmark, Damen said in a statement on Thursday.

Waste Management 26th Oct 2012 more >>

BRICS

As the mood in Japan, Germany, Italy and even France hardens, China is restarting a £170bn reactor programme and India is looking to atomic power to shore up its creaking grid. As the west retreats, the nuclear industry may be about to rise again – in the developing world. In the last few days, China announced plans to restart its massive £170bn reactor building programme, intended to create generating capacity so large that it could power the whole of Spain. Despite the current collapse in demand, analysts say the uranium price will recover in the long term. The rapacious growth of China and India will be dependent on nuclear fuel, and the oil-rich Gulf nations are planning big forays into nuclear so that they can extend the lifetime of their highly profitable oil exports. There are 65 reactors being built around the world, and 69% of them are in the fast-growing Bric countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Beijing’s ambitious programme will increase nuclear from 2% to 5% of the country’s electricity supply by 2020, and make China the world’s biggest market for new nuclear equipment. India – which lacks fossil fuel resources and has been growing so fast that its electricity supply is falling 12% short at peak hours, causing frequent blackouts – is also planning a massive expansion programme. The country hopes nuclear will account for 50% of its electricity needs by 2050, up from just 3.7% last year.

Observer 28th Oct 2012 more >>

Nuclear War

If you were born before 27 October 1962, Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov saved your life. It was the most dangerous day in history. An American spy plane had been shot down over Cuba while another U2 had got lost and strayed into Soviet airspace. As these dramas ratcheted tensions beyond breaking point, an American destroyer, the USS Beale, began to drop depth charges on the B-59, a Soviet submarine armed with a nuclear weapon.

Guardian 27th Oct 2012 more >>

It was the first foreign Soviet nuclear base, built in Germany three years before the Cuban missile crises and ready for an attack on Western Europe. Soviet nuclear missiles 20 times more powerful than Hiroshima were set up here, primed to be fired at targets including London and nuclear bases in eastern England. But since it was built in 1959 in the picturesque woods of Brandenburg, Vogelsang has become an eerie ghost town, reclaimed by nature.

Daily Mail 27th Oct 2012 more >>

Renewables

VENTURE capitalists are flocking to Britain’s renewable energy sector as a "safe haven" from the Eurozone debt crisis, according to figures released ahead of a major conference this week. Nineteen venture capital-backed deals have taken place in the UK so far this year, worth a total of £267.3 million, dwarfing last year’s £162.2m haul, which came via 23 deals. Appetite for deals on the continent has dipped despite Germany turning to alternative sources of energy following the Fukushima nuclear ¬accident in Japan. Ian McCarlie, an energy partner at law firm Pinsent Masons, which analysed the figures from data provider Preqin, said: "It may be that the UK is gaining something of a ‘safer haven’ status. "We’re seeing venture capitalists being equally as active as in the previous year in terms of deals, but paying more on average to get into the game."

Scotland on Sunday 28th Oct 2012 more >>

THE government is to push through plans that will nearly treble the number of wind turbines in the countryside, disappointing Tory supporters who hoped new ministers sceptical of the technology would curb their growth. John Hayes, the energy minister, has disclosed that he plans to increase the amount of electricity generated by onshore wind to "up to 13GW [gigawatts]" by 2020. The current total is just 5GW. The mass building programme could see almost 6,000 turbines built to add to around 3,000 already in place. Hayes’s commitment comes amid delays to a bill on the energy market, which is now unlikely to be published before the week of November 18. When Hayes was appointed in September, David Cameron reportedly told him to "deliver a win for our people on wind farms". This was a reference to Conservative voters opposed to t urbines blighting the landscape. In a letter to a councillor in Lincolnshire that was obtained by John Constable, the director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, Hayes wrote: "Government plans are for a central scenario of up to 13GW of onshore wind by 2020."

Sunday Times 28th Oct 2012 more >>

Posted: 28 October 2012

27 October 2012

Horizon

A Japanese-led consortium is so keen to kick-start Britain’s faltering nuclear programme that it is preparing to pay over the odds for two reactor sites. Hitachi has bid at least £600 million for the sites at Wylfa in Anglesey and Oldbury in Gloucestershire, The Times has learnt. The consortium, which includes SNC-Lavalin of Canada and an undisclosed British company, is expected to be unveiled as the winning bidder for Horizon, the nuclear joint venture that owns the sites, early next week.Handing the Horizon joint venture to Hitachi could delay Britain’s nuclear programme. It wants to use its Advanced Boiling Water Reactor design, the only one put forward by bidders that has not been assessed by British regulators, a process that can take up to four years. The consortium argues that since a final investment decision on whether to build the reactors on the Horizon sites had not been due until about 2015, waiting for approval should not hold up construction.

Times 27th Oct 2012 more >>

Energy Business Review 26th Oct 2012 more >>

The deal would likely give a boost to the nuclear power business of Hitachi, which is having difficulty signing a formal contract with the Lithuanian government. In an interview with the German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Peter Terium, chief executive officer of energy giant RWE, said the group will withdraw from the business of constructing nuclear power plants.

Japan Times 27th Oct 2012 more >>

Energy Bill

EdF chairman Vincent de Rivas explains the steps that will be necessary to ensure the UK has the energy mix it needs for the coming decades. The Secretary of State has made clear publicly that he is committed to making progress, with the Second Reading of the Energy Bill before Christmas. And the Energy Minister has told me of his determination and his confidence that his team has the mandate it needs. Progress requires above all the agreement of a Contract for Difference (CfD), including the strike price, duration, indexation and the conditions for review. We are engaged with DECC on an intensive process to review our costs, the project risks and delivery arrangements, and to define transitional arrangements.

The Engineer 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Hinkley Point C nuclear power construction project is “shovel ready” but construction will not begin until further progress is made on the Energy Bill, EdF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz told MPs today. Rivaz told the Commons energy and climate change committee that the firm had not yet made its final investment decision on constructing Hinkley Point in Somerset. “But like all investors in capital intensive infrastructure projects we need to have a compelling business case,” de Rivaz told the Committee. “In this respect our final investment decision requires more progress to be made.” De Revaz said progress requires “above all” an agreement of a contract for difference (CfD) – a long term mechanism which will guarantee electricity prices. The CfD will reveal the cost competitiveness of nuclear with all other low carbon technologies. Nuclear is the best low carbon choice for consumers.

New Civil Engineer 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Trawsfynydd

POSITIVE steps are being taken on the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone centred on the former Trawsfynydd nuclear power station, which will aim to make the most of local natural resources, built infrastructure, transport links and skilled workforce. Following a successful bid to become one of the seven designated Welsh Enterprise Zones in May this year, work is under way to assess the development options at the Snowdonia Enterprise Zone, with the primary focus on the former Trawsfynydd nuclear site.

Daily Post 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Hinkley

Deadly asbestos has led Somerset’s first nuclear power plant to be named the biggest source of industrial deaths in the county. In the last 14 years 26 Somerset people who worked at or on Hinkley Point A have died from asbestos-related mesothelioma cancer.

Western Daily Press 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Nuclear Safety

The head of the organisation representing Europe’s nuclear industry says "lessons have been learned" from the Fukushima accident in Japan last year. Jean-Pol Poncelet told a Brussels conference that "safety has always been of paramount importance to the European nuclear industry". Addressing a debate organised by Foratom, the Brussels-based representative body for the nuclear industry, he said, "It has always been – and will always be – a non-negotiable priority. "It guides our work and defines our business," he said on Wednesday. He added, "The risk and safety assessments process that was carried out at Europe’s nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima accident, and which culminated in the recent publication of the commission’s communication, were an important reminder." He said they reminded the industry "that even when standards of safety are considered to be of the highest order, unprecedented, external factors can combine – thankfully very rarely – to force us to reassess those standards and to raise the bar of safety even further."

Parliament 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Uranium

Australian Stock Exchange-listed Paladin Energy confirmed October 26 that a long-term uranium off-take contract it announced in August is with Electricite de France. Paladin had not divulged the counterparty in the contract when it was first announced August 15, but confirmed October 26 that the contract for 13.7 million pounds of uranium oxide (U3O8) to be delivered over the years 2019 to 2024 was with EDF.

i-Nuclear 26th Oct 2012 more >>

French nuclear firm Areva is likely to reach agreement soon on the sale of a 13% stake in its Niger-based uranium mining operation Imouraren to China Guangdong Nuclear Power (CGNP). The expected deal would allow the Chinese firm to gain access to the world’s second-largest uranium reserves with a planned annual production of 5,000mt, reported China Daily citing French media reports. Earlier this year, CGNP and the China-Africa Development Fund had agreed to buy Australia-based explorer Extract Resources for $2.3bn to gain access to uranium deposits in Namibia.

Energy Business Review 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Europe

Notes for a better Europe. An inspiring video (think of Cumbria when you watch it) made by Bankwatch, FoE and WWF. See in particular http://www.wellspent.eu/#feldheim

Vimeo 19th Oct 2012 more >>

Japan

Book: The Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011 led Japan, and many other countries, to change their energy policies. Following Germany’s example, some adopted nuclear phase-out plans, focusing instead on renewable energy . Even heavily nuclear-reliant France began to consider a phase-out, and some developing countries in the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific area rethought their nuclear plans. David Elliott reviews the disaster and its global impacts, looking in detail at public and governmental reactions as the scale of the disaster became clear, and at the social, environmental, economic, technological and political implications in Japan and worldwide. He asks whether growing opposition to nuclear power around the world spells the end of the global nuclear renaissance.

Palgrave 30th Oct 2012 more >>

Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant is struggling to find space to store tens of thousands of tonnes of highly contaminated water used to cool the broken reactors, the manager of the water treatment team has said. About 200,000 tonnes of radioactive water, enough to fill more than 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools, are being stored in hundreds of gigantic tanks built around the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) has already chopped down trees to make room for more tanks and predicts the volume of water will be more than tripled within three years.

IPS 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Fukushima crisis update 23rd to 25th October.

Greenpeace 26th October 2012 more >>

The operator of Japan’s quake-struck Fukushima nuclear power plant said on Friday it could not rule out the possibility that it may still be leaking radiation into the sea.

Reuters 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Sky News 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Iran

Senior figures inside Iran’s regime have "succumbed" to the pressure imposed by sanctions and favour compromise over the nuclear issue, according to the public comments of their colleagues.

Telegraph 26th Oct 2012 more >>

The Foreign Office declined to comment on suggestions that British ministers have been advised that a strike on Iran would breach international law because no imminent threat currently exists.

Telegraph 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Bulgaria

Pre-election machinations may be behind a decision by Bulgaria’s parliament this week to hold a referendum on a nuclear power plant. The referendum, to be held in January, follows the government’s March decision to cancel the development of the Danube-side Belene nuclear power plant (NPP), in which Bulgaria had already invested 1.4bn levs ($925m), with one reactor already completed. The Belene project has been one of the longest-running sagas in Bulgarian politics, first proposed in the 1970s under communism. Construction started in the 1980s but was then halted until 2008, when the government, then dominated by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), awarded the construction contract for the 2000MW plant to Atomstroyexport, a subsidiary of Russia’s Rosatom. As several energy analysts told beyondbrics at the time of the cancellation, the project had become economically unfeasible, given pressures on the national budget, the spiralling costs (variously estimated at between €4bn and €10bn-plus) and the outlook for power demand, with Bulgaria’s population shrinking and power prices on the rise. Concerns had also been raised about the baleful influence of Russia, which already supplies almost all Bulgaria’s gas.

FT 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Energy Business Review 26th Oct 2012 more >>

China

China looks on the verge of a major expansion of nuclear power as a moratorium on new projects is lifted, according to energy experts GlobalData. To sustain its rapid industrialisation, while reducing emissions, China appears to be planning a major investment in new nuclear capacity. The latest research from the organisation estimates that China’s nuclear output will increase from 87 TWh in 2011 to 470 TWh by 2020, taking the country ahead of traditionally nuclear-dependent nations like France. China currently has 15 nuclear reactors in operation, but has 27 under construction and a further 160 in planning and proposal stages. With the lifting of its moratorium on new nuclear power plants, which was brought in immediately following the Fukushima crisis in Japan, these can now move ahead.

Energy Efficiency News 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Renewables

Greenpeace has published its latest EU Energy [R]evolution report to coincide with the adoption of the European Commission’s 2013 Work Programme which contains a promise to: “Provide a long-term perspective on how the EU will move ahead from its 2020 targets to continue the trajectory towards a low-carbon economy through a comprehensive framework for the period to 2030” In other words, after months of speculation we finally know that the Commission will come out with proposals on a new Climate and Energy Package for 2030. To meet its decarbonisation objectives the commission’s proposals should include an ambitious renewable energy target of 45% for 2030, as well as strong targets for emissions reductions and energy efficiency. The report itself is a European energy scenario to 2050 carried out for Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC) by the German National Centre for Aerospace, Energy and Transport Research (DLR). The findings are not only that a share of over 40% of renewables by 2030 is possible, but that a shift in investments towards renewables can create higher employment in the sector to the tune of over half a million additional jobs by 2020.

Energy Desk 25th Oct 2012 more >>

The 2012 EU Energy [R]evolution report, carried out for Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council by the German National Centre for Aerospace, Energy and Transport Research, demonstrates how Europe would gain nearly half a million extra energy sector jobs by 2020 if it prioritises a system largely made up of renewables and energy efficiency over nuclear power and fossil fuels. Other benefits include long-term savings for consumers and improved climate stability.

Greenpeace 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Energy Efficiency

Regulations covering building standards, including fire safety and wheelchair access, could be torn up in a government plan to cut costs for the construction industry and boost the economy. Ministers have ordered a wide-ranging review covering all aspects of building regulations, also including standards on energy efficiency. The review, which controversially includes the option of giving the building industry more scope for self-regulation, is the latest in a series of government initiatives intended to stimulate activity in the economy and drive job creation through investment in homebuilding.

Guardian 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Micro Power News

This week’s news includes: UK solar reaches 1.3GW; DECC opposition to PV is ‘bonkers’; Welsh solar revolution; Brixton solar co-op receives award; 180,000 wood stoves installed last year.

Microgenscotland.org.uk 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Posted: 27 October 2012

26 October 2012

Energy Bill

Industry sources told not to expect Energy Bill publication until the week of November 19th. Concerns are mounting that the government’s crucial Energy Bill could be subject to a delay, after industry sources confirmed they had been told not to expect publication of the bill until mid-November. The government has not provided a precise date for the publication of the bill, confirming only that it expects to release the document next month and put it before parliament before the end of the year. The prospect of any delay to the bill will further fuel speculation over whether the Lib Dems have been able to secure Treasury support for both the inclusion of a decarbonisation target for the power sector in the legislation and the creation of a government-backed company to guarantee long-term financial support for low carbon power projects. Whitehall sources have indicated that ministers are close to finalising a deal on the content of the bill, but DECC may have to agree to controversial new restrictions on onshore wind and carbon capture and storage projects in return for the Treasury’s support for the wider package of measures.

Business Green 25th Oct 2012 more >>

EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz denied the company was trying to recoup construction cost risk via the “strike price” for power for its two planned EPR reactors at Hinkley Point C. But a colleague at a rival nuclear company said construction risk for the reactors it plans to build would have to be accounted for either in the strike price or via some sort of “adjustment mechanism.” Speaking before the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee earlier this week de Rivaz said that EDF is not asking for construction cost overrun risks to be included in the “strike price.” The strike price comes through a long-term contract with a guaranteed price for power from the reactors. EDF is currently negotiating the strike price for the Hinkley Point C reactors in Somerset, England with the Department of Energy and Climate Change. De Rivaz’ answer contrasted sharply with that from his colleague at the NuGen consortium, which is currently the only other active consortium planning to build new reactors in the UK.

i-Nuclear 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Reports that the government is preparing to write a ‘blank cheque’ to subsidise new nuclear power plants features in today’s newspaper round-up.

Planning 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

GDA

EDF and Areva have so far closed out only nine of the original 31 GDA Issues and are currently at risk of extending the program into 2013. Even if EDF and Areva are successful in closing out the 22 remaining GDA issues on the UK EPR by the end of the year as planned, one critic fears they will do so only by shifting unanswered safety questions into the licensing phase of the new reactors. Nuclear engineer and industry critic John Large says this could turn EDF’s planned project for two EPR reactors at Hinkley Point C into an “Olkiluoto-3”-style situation with cost overruns and project delays inevitable as regulators grapple with last minute design changes. The ONR disputes Large’s criticism.

i-Nuclear 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Horizon

Japanese engineer Hitachi is the "firm frontrunner" to acquire Horizon, the joint venture planning to build nuclear reactors in the UK, according to people familiar with the matter. A Hitachi-led consortium is in advanced talks with Horizon’s owners, the German utilities RWE and Eon, and was winning out against a bid from a rival group led by Westinghouse Electric Co, the people said. The selection of Hitachi will resolve some of the uncertainty that has clouded Britain’s nuclear expansion plans since March when RWE and Eon announced they were putting Horizon up for sale. But choosing Hitachi could also end up slowing the UK’s nuclear revival. Its design, the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor or ABWR, has yet to be submitted to UK regulators and the design assessment process can take four years.

FT 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Telegraph 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Business Green 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Bloomberg 25th Oct 2012 more >>

New Nukes

Michael Meacher: The nuclear industry and its cheerleader DECC will be pleased at today’s announcement that China has re-started its nuclear programme after an 18 month hiatus following Fukushima. The Chinese government have made clear they remain very concerned about the safety issue, as well they should be – Fukushima came very close to making Tokyo uninhabitable for decades to come – but once again industry lobbies have prevailed over sober analysis and common sense. The decision by China and the UK is of course taken on purely economic and industrial grounds, marginalising whatever environmental considerations there might be, but sadly it is also a view taken on very different grounds by such splendid environmental campaigners as George Monbiot and Mark Lynas, for both of whom I have enormous respect. But in this matter they are wrong. The only plausible environmental case for nuclear is that climate change is the greatest threat facing humanity, fossil fuels therefore have to be phased out as quickly as feasible, and nuclear is then the best (or even only) means to fill the gap. This argument is deeply wrong-headed, as the figures irrefutably show.

Michael Meacher 25th Oct 2012 more >>

North-West

THE nuclear, offshore wind, transport and infrastructure sectors are key to future growth in the North West, according to the CBI. The employers’ organisation has published a number of recommendations for supporting growth throughout the UK, with a detailed assessment of potential within every region, including Merseyside and the North West. The CBI believes that a successful re-balancing of the economy requires the private sector to grow across the whole country, not just in London and the South East.

Liverpool Daily Post 26th Oct 2012 more >>

Sellafield

A SECOND perimeter fence aimed at giving Sellafield double security against potential terrorist attack is due to be completed by the end of the year. It will stretch for more than five miles.

Whitehaven News 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Cumbria

Letter: Why can’t the benefits of the “Energy Coast” be enjoyed by the wider community of West Cumbria and not just by those with links to, or employed directly by, the nuclear industry? The land in the proposed Weddicar windfarm site has been adopted for the development of windfarms, in a planning policy document resulting from a consultation process involving local councils. The planning panel seems to have overlooked the fact that this area was adopted by Cumbria Council for the purpose of such developments after an extensive consultation process that involved the local parish and Copeland councils.

Whitehaven News 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Nuclear Ships

The world’s only nuclear-powered containership, the Murmansk-based Sevmorput, is set for its last voyage: to the scrapyard. The vessel, which has been lying idle outside Murmansk for some years, was taken out of the Russian Ship Register at the end of July and will end up a scrap metal, according to a report in the Barents Observer.

Lloyds List 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Japan

Fish from the waters around the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan could be too radioactive to eat for a decade to come, as samples show that radioactivity levels remain elevated and show little sign of coming down, a marine scientist has warned. According to a paper published in the journal Science on Thursday, large and bottom-dwelling species carry most risk, which means cod, flounder, halibut, pollock, skate and sole from the waters in question could be off limits for years. Sample fish caught in waters near the stricken reactors suggest there is still a source of caesium either on the seafloor or still being discharged into the sea, perhaps from what is left of the cooling waters. As the levels of radioactive isotopes in th e fish are not declining as fast as they should have, the outlook for fishing in the area is likely to be poor for the next 10 years.

Guardian 25th Oct 2012 more >>

BBC 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant is struggling to find space to store tens of thousands of tons of highly contaminated water used to cool the broken reactors, the manager of the water treatment team said. About 200,000 tons of radioactive water – enough to fill more than 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools – are being stored in hundreds of gigantic tanks built around the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant. Operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. has already chopped down trees to make room for more tanks and predicts the volume of water will more than triple within three years.

Huffington Post 25th Oct 2012 more >>

China

Still responding to the partial meltdowns last year at nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan, the Chinese government has lowered its target for the construction of nuclear power plants by 2015, notably by not building more nuclear reactors at inland locations. A white paper on energy policy released after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday said that the government planned to have 40 gigawatts of nuclear power capacity installed by 2015, and pledged strict safety standards. While the white paper and state-controlled media did not describe this as a reduction in the target, the country’s current Five-Year Plan sets a target of 50 gigawatts.

New York Times 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Finland

German utility E.On has said it will sell its 34% interest in the planned Hanhikivi-1 nuclear power reactor in northern Finland. As the largest single shareholder in Fennovoima Oy, the company planning to build Hanhikivi-1, E.On’s decision puts the future of the new build project in doubt. “E.ON has decided to focus its resources, capabilities and investments in the Nordic region on existing operations in mainly Sweden and Denmark. We are therefore initiating the process of divesting our businesses and assets in Finland,” Jonas Abrahamsson, Chief Executive of E.ON Sverige, said in a statement October 24. Fennovoima said in a statement the same day that E.ON is committed to financing Fennovoima through spring 2013.

i-Nuclear 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Iran

The EU, leading diplomatic efforts to resolve the dispute over Iran’s nuclear programme, has talked to Tehran to bring it up to date on the latest discussions, officials said Thursday. The EU’s Deputy Secretary-General Helga Schmid and Dr. Ali Bagheri, Deputy Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, talked on the phone Wednesday, a spokesman for EU foreign policy head Catherine Ashton said. "The call took place in the context of ongoing diplomatic efforts … towards a diplomatic solution of the Iranian nuclear issue which the High Representative of the European Union is leading," he said. The call "was used to inform Iran" about a meeting between the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany in New York on September 27, he said. They had "stressed their determination to work for a diplomatic solution and the need for Iran to engage urgently in a confidence building process aimed at resolving international concerns about the nature of its nuclear programme", the spokesman added.

EU Business 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Iran appears to have nearly finished installing centrifuges at its underground nuclear plant, Western diplomats say, potentially boosting its capacity to make weapons-grade uranium if it chose to do so. Iran only disclosed the existence of the Fordow plant, built inside a mountain to shield it from air strikes, in 2009 after learning that Western spy services had detected it.

Trust 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Britain has rebuffed US pleas to use military bases in the UK to support the build-up of forces in the Gulf, citing secret legal advice which states that any pre-emptive strike on Iran could be in breach of international law.

Guardian 25th Oct 2012 more >>

France

A contained radioactive water leak detected at EDF’s Flamanville nuclear plant did not cause any damage to the environment or harm any employees, France’s nuclear safety watchdog ASN and EDF said on Thursday.The nuclear safety agency said on its website EDF had detected a leak in a water pipe that feeds the plant’s reactor 1 primary circuit late on Wednesday. It was stopped and did not cause any radioactive contamination.

Reuters 25th Oct 2012 more >>

South Korea

The South Korean capital Seoul has set itself the target of ‘eliminating a nuclear power plant’ through an ambitious energy efficiency and renewables drive. Mayor Park Won Soon announced the “One Less Nuclear Power plant” project, as he assumed the role of chair with the World Mayors Council on Climate Change (WMCCC), and one year after the city suffered rolling blackouts. Seoul currently generates just 2.8% of its own power and will seek to boost this number to 20% by 2020 through the use of small hydropower scheme, solar and hydrogen fuel cells.

RTCC 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

MPs are urging the Scottish and UK governments to thrash out a deal on nuclear weapons well before the independence referendum. The Scottish Affairs Committee says it is crucial that people in Scotland know exactly what they are voting for in the poll in 2014.

ITV 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Renewables

VENTURE capital firm Scottish Equity Partners (SEP) is helping to pour £3.3 million into a hydro-electric developer to trigger a flood of new projects. Perth-based Green Highland Renewables, run by managing director Ian Cartwright, will use the cash to increase the number of landowners it works with. The company specialises in small to medium-sized schemes that can generate from 100kW to 2MW of electricity, enough to power between 80 and 1,600 homes. SEP is investing in the company alongside the Scottish Investment Bank. Neither party would disclose the size of the stakes they are buying.

Scotsman 26th Oct 2012 more >>

An innovative bid to harness the Water of Leith has moved a significant step further after city planners backed the 
proposals. Plans to revive the use of the hydroelectric power station at the Harlaw Reservoir dam for the benefit of the local community are set to be approved later this week. The defunct structure was once part of a network which powered mills across the region, and residents from a Balerno community group are now bidding to return the device to its previous use. Comprising a skilled set of homeowners, including designers and engineers, the Balerno Village Trust has drawn up plans for the 65-kilowatt device – which has been defunct since the Second World War – at minimal cost. It would be connected to the National Grid, which would in turn pay the community for the power generated. They would also receive feed-in tariffs from the government for generating green energy. After ten months of planning, officials at the city council have recommended councillors back the bid, which they will formally vote on next week.

Edinburgh Evening News 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

Posted: 26 October 2012

25 October 2012

EMR

Is the Government about to start lining the pockets of its nuclear friends? Comments on Vincent de Rivaz’s evidence to the Energy and Climate Change Committee and the forthcoming Energy Bill.

Spin Watch 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Negotiations over the precise content of the Energy Bill could yet result in a cap being placed on new onshore wind farm developments, according to reports in The Times. Columnist Rachel Sylvester yesterday reported that a "possible compromise" between Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey and Chancellor George Osborne was on the cards, which could see the Lib Dem agree to a limit on the expansion of onshore wind farms in return for a "wider Treasury commitment on funding" for low carbon energy projects. It remains unclear whether any deal would result in the Treasury approving plans to create a government-backed company to guarantee financial support for low carbon projects and include a flexible decarbonisation target for the power sector in the final version of the bill. However, BusinessGreen understands a cap on new onshore wind farms has been discussed in return for Osborne’s support for a package of measures in the bill that he had previously opposed, including the crucial decarbonisation target for 2030.

Business Green 24th Oct 2012 more >>

New Nukes

Why Government plans for new nuclear reactors are far-fetched, economically wrong and potentially risky for the climate.

FoE Briefing September 2012 more >>

Sizewell

A call for even wider public consultation is part of the formal response from Suffolk Coastal District Council and Suffolk County Council to how EDF plans to consult about its proposed Sizewell C development. EDF’s Statement of Community Consultation (SoCC) is a document that outlines how it would inform and involve the public in its proposals to build a new nuclear power station at Sizewell. "Legally, EDF has to produce a SoCC and seek the views of the two main local councils before publishing its final version. Overall the draft SoCC is quite comprehensive but there are one or two major improvements we would like to see, and a few minor tweaks that would give all our local communities a better chance to given an informed comment on the plans," said County Councillor Guy McGregor, Chairman of the Sizewell Joint Local Authorities Group (JLAG).

Suffolk Coastal 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Two councils in Suffolk have called on EDF Energy to widen its proposed public consultation on plans for the Sizewell C development on the north Suffolk coast.

Eastern Daily Press 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Hinkley

Protests are being held around the UK in objection to plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations, starting with the building of Hinkley Point C in Somerset. EDF Energy has applied for planning permission for a new twin-reactor station to replace the existing and ageing reactors in Somerset, to be in use by 2019. This will be the first nuclear power station to be built in Britain in over 20 years and is part of a government scheme that will see at least 10 stations being erected around the country in the near future.

Fresh Times 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Urenco

A UK government sale of its one-third share of the uranium enrichment company Urenco could lower the credit rating of the company, Standard and Poor’s said. Standard and Poor’s said October 24 it has lowered its long-term corporate credit rating on Urenco Ltd. to ‘BBB+’ from ‘A-’. The ratings agency confirmed the short-term corporate credit rating at ‘A-2′. Standard and Poor’s said the credit rating was lowered “amid projections of reduced demand and an uncertain industry outlook.” S&P said it retained its “stable” outlook for Urenco, but said any change in the shareholder structure would be reviewed for potential impact on the group and could lead to increased downside pressure on the ratings.

i-Nuclear 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Radwaste

Rebecca Harms was 18 when she started campaigning for solutions to nuclear waste-storage in Germany. The Green Party MEP is now nearing her 56th birthday, but the country isn’t any closer to burying its radioactive waste. Last year – after decades of on-off drilling at the site of an old salt dome in north Germany and more than a billion euros of public money spent – the federal government announced it was starting from scratch with its search for a suitable site for a “deep geological repository” in which to store spent fuel. Germany is not alone. “None of the countries which started to use nuclear fission for power production 50 years ago have an acceptable solution for nuclear waste and final storage. None,” Harms says wearily, speaking on the telephone from Brussels. Though she is firmly against nuclear power, Harms is strongly in favour of building a geological repository in Germany; essentially a giant cavern in the bedrock, in which the country’s high-level radioactive waste can be sealed away while its isotopes decay over hundreds of thousands of years (in fact, regulations dictate that the repositories guarantee safety for up to a million years). “I’ve been working on this for decades and I’m convinced it is the best way,” she says.

China Dialogue 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Scotland

SPENDING must be increased by up to ten times current levels to meet the SNP’s own climate change and fuel poverty targets, a new report has found. A study by WWF Scotland found that for the government to meet its commitment of a 36 per cent reduction in emissions from Scottish homes by 2020, it must invest £4.6 billion in improving energy efficiency – three times the current and projected expenditure. Meanwhile, the SNP’s commitment to eradicating fuel poverty will cost £6.3bn, ten times the current spending levels, authors added. The report follows growing criticism this week over the administration’s failure to meet the first of its own carbon emissions targets.

Scotsman 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Germany

Conservative MP David Morris said he had wanted to break the coalition agreement over no subsidies for new nuclear power stations "because we need the energy". He warned the UK must use nuclear power or face power cuts within ten years. But Green Party leader Natalie Bennett said nuclear was "not the answer to our energy needs" and claimed the government had failed to look at the "renewable reliable energy courses we need". Jack Straw MP claimed Germany faced an "energy crisis" after abandoning nuclear power. And he predicted a "flight of manufacturing to eastern Europe or elsewhere in the world" due to higher costs.

BBC 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

See also Renewables raise German retail power rate by 7 percent; but lower industry prices by 18 percent.

German Energy Transition 16th Oct 2012 more >>

Bulgaria

Bulgarians will vote on whether to build a new nuclear power plant in the Balkan country’s first referendum since the fall of communism in 1989, parliament ruled on Wednesday.The government earlier this year abandoned a 2,000-megawatt nuclear project at Belene, citing a lack of Western investors. But Russian state firm Atomstroyexport, which had a contract to build the plant, last month demanded 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) in compensation for the cancellation. The opposition Socialists demanded a referendum to challenge the decision to drop the project, which cost the government popularity against a backdrop of rising electricity prices and high unemployment in the European Union’s poorest country.Parliament voted 106-7 in favor of a referendum.

Reuters 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Spain

Despite more plot twists than a Hollywood blockbuster, the fate of the aging Santa María de Garoña plant in Spain has finally been sealed. Or has it? The word ‘rocambolesco’, loosely translating as ‘bizarre’, is a handy descriptor for many aspects of the Spanish energy market. But it has perhaps never been more appropriate than in the case of the closure of Santa María de Garoña, a 41-year-old nuclear plant in Burgos, Northern Spain. In recent weeks observers have been nonplussed by a succession of about-turns, opaque statements and left-field curve balls concerning the closure of the 466MW boiling water reactor, which is operated by Nuclenor, owned by the Spanish utilities Iberdrola and Endesa. Garoña was originally supposed to have closed down in July 2009, but was granted a potential reprieve when the regulator, the Nuclear Safety Council (Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear or CSN in Spanish), said it would be safe to operate for another decade, subject to technical upgrades. The final word, though, went to the Spanish Ministry of Industry, Tourism and Trade within the then-socialist government, which had traditionally adopted an anti-nuclear stance. Perhaps hoping to strike a balance between pleasing the utilities and satisfying its voters, the administration only granted a four-year extension. Nuclenor claimed the move was an “arbitrary act without justification in law.”However, the “curious decision by the Spanish government”, as World Nuclear News described it at the time, was nothing compared to the events that have played out this year.

Nuclear Insider 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Finland

E.ON has announced it is leaving the Finnish nuclear new build company Fennovoima! This means it is very likely the whole project will collapse. The Fennovoima project was composed of E.ON with 34% ownership + almost 70 small investors. No-one else believes the small investors could finance an NPP by themselves but there’s still a risk that another big investor will be found. However, this is not so likely as the construction works should start in less than three years or the permission will be withdrawn.

E.ON press release 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Bloomberg 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Deutsche Welle 24th Oct 2012 more >>

China

China has restarted its nuclear programme after a year-and-a-half hiatus, but said it would build "only a few" new nuclear power plants between now and 2015 as it implemented radical new safety standards. Beijing suspended approvals for new nuclear projects in March last year, following the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility in Japan, and undertook a big review of its nuclear safety practices. The culmination of that review came late on Wednesday night, when a meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao approved the nuclear roadmap for the next decade. Under the new plan, China will require new plants to be built with "third generation" technology, which refers to the latest technologies pioneered by companies such as Westinghouse, owned by Japan’s Toshiba, and France’s Areva. China is the world’s most enthusiastic builder of nuclear plants and accounts f or more than 40 per cent of reactors under construction today, so its shift toward "third generation" will be significant for propelling the use of the new technology.

FT 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Guardian 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Scotsman 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Morning Star 24th Oct 2012 more >>

World Nuclear News 24th Oct 2012 more >>

China’s installed nuclear power capacity is expected to reach 40 GW by 2015, according to ‘China’s Energy Policy 2012,’ an official white paper released on 24 October. The document states that nuclear power development “is of great significance” to China for optimizing its energy structure and ensuring its energy security. It also pledges to invest more in nuclear technology, improve equipment levels and place greater importance on personnel training. Currently just 1.8% of China’s total power output comes from nuclear power, compared with a world average of 14%. In 2011, the county had fifteen nuclear power generating units in operation, with a total installed capacity of 12.54 GW. This compared with 230 GW of hydropower, 47 GW of wind power, three GW of solar PV, the document said, along with a large amount of fossil-fuel generation. Another 26 nuclear units, or 29.24 GW of capacity, were under construction, “leading the world,” the policy said.

Nuclear Engineering International 24th Oct 2012 more >>

US

September was tied for the hottest of any September on record globally. It was also a very hot month for renewable energy in the US. According to figures from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, wind and solar accounted for all new electricity capacity added to America’s grid in September. The projects consisted of five wind farms totaling 300 megawatts and 18 solar installations totaling 133 megawatts.

Climate Progress 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Iran

Tehran is considering a harder line in nuclear talks with world powers, with Iranian officials saying they may threaten to step up the uranium enrichment programme unless the West makes immediate concessions on sanctions.

Independent 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

A Cornish port could become home to Britain’s nuclear missiles if Scottish independence is achieved, experts suggest. Falmouth has been deemed the most suitable location for the storage of weapons from nuclear submarines based at Devonport. The revelation came as a parliamentary inquiry found Plymouth’s naval base "appeared to be the most popular" alternative location to Faslane for the four Vanguard-class vessels, which carry the Trident deterrent, in the event of the Scots voting to go it alone in 2014. The select committee report is to be published today.

Western Morning News 25th Oct 2012 more >>

REMOVING Trident from an independent Scotland could mean removing the nuclear deterrent from the whole UK for "an indeterminate period" –possibly 20 years, MPs will claim today. In a report, the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee – which does not have SNP representation – calls on the UK and Scottish Governments to work out a contingency plan before people vote in the autumn 2014 poll.

Herald 25th Oct 2012 more >>

BBC 25th Oct 2012 more >>

STV 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Scotsman 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Telegraph 25th Oct 2012 more >>

Fusion

If you’ve ever wondered how nuclear fusion power might become a commercial reality or what exactly happens to the tax money funnelled into Europe’s big fusion research projects then this is your opportunity to find out. We’ve lined up experts from world’s largest fusion experiment, JET, and its planned follow-up project ITER, to answer your questions.

Engineer 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Posted: 25 October 2012

24 October 2012

Is the Government about to start lining the pockets of its nuclear friends?

Despite an intense lobbying campaign by the nuclear industry, “the future of nuclear power in the UK is hanging in the balance”. Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, told MPs in October that he still hadn’t made up his mind whether to go ahead and build new nuclear reactors in Britain. EDF wants “further reassurances” from the government on what assistance the company will receive. Almost everyone outside of Whitehall and EDF agrees that the Energy Bill is about rigging the market and subsidising the nuclear industry. EDF has begun talks with the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) about the guaranteed price it wants for the nuclear electricity it hopes to generate after spending at least £14 billion building Hinkley Point C.

For a longer version of this article see Spinwatch 24th October 2012.

Posted: 24 October 2012

24 October 2012

Electricity Market Reform

The future of nuclear power in the UK is hanging in the balance, the chief executive of the company charged with building new reactors has said. Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, told MPs at a select committee hearing on Tuesday that he had still not made up his mind whether to go ahead with a construction programme that would see the first new nuclear power stations in the UK for decades. He said the company was waiting for further reassurances from the government on what assistance the company will receive. This includes assurances on the disposal of waste and the decommissioning of plants at the end of their life, and a regulatory regime that should favour nuclear power through the provision of long-term "contracts for difference" that will penalise fossil fuels in favour of low-carbon forms of energy. "We are on the brink of delivering an infrastructure project similar in scale to the London Olympics. We are poised to deliver immense benefits in terms of jobs, skills and economic growth – locally and nationally," said de Rivaz, appearing before the parliamentary select committee on energy and climate change. "But like all investors in capital intensive infrastructure projects we need to have a compelling business case. In this respect our final investment decision requires more progress to be made."

Guardian 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

EDF, the French energy group, has thrown down the gauntlet to the government by warning that it may not proceed with plans to build Britain’s first new nuclear power stations for decades unless it is offered sufficient incentives. Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive, told the Commons energy committee on Tuesday that the group needed "a compelling business case" to proceed with the project, the scale of which he compared to the Olympics. "In this respect our final investment decision requires more progress to be made," he said. EDF’s decision depends almost entirely on the strike price of a new government system that will give a guaranteed price to low-carbon energy. Mr de Rivaz dismissed reports that in recent talks with the Treasury his company had sought a generous strike price as high as £140 per MWh, saying this was "absolute rubbish". But he warned ab out the consequences if the final price were not satisfactory to EDF: "If there is not clarity we will not invest," he said, although he added: "We are not trying to twist the arm of the government." It is understood the government will within days announce the winning buyer of Horizon, which has attracted two bids – from Westinghouse and Hitachi.

FT 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

The chief executive of French giant EDF Energy has accused an MP of "jingoism" for claiming that subsidies for nuclear will see UK consumers pay an annuity to the French state for decades to come. Vincent de Rivaz also insisted EDF would not ask consumers to bear the construction risk for its planned nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Mr de Rivaz denied that the CfD price would be anywhere near £140 per megawatt hour – more than double the current market price – but declined to give any other price cap. MPs also raised concerns over who would bear the risk for overruns in the plant’s construction. Mr de Rivaz said EDF was "not asking the consumers to take the construction risks" and was not "in the business to twist the arm of the UK Government".

Telegraph 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

The boss of EDF Energy has rejected a claim that nuclear power companies have a "perverse incentive" to exaggerate the cost of building new reactors so that they can charge more for selling electricty. Vincent de Rivaz was speaking yesterday at a hearing with MPs to discuss whether Britain’s nuclear energy policy was "in meltdown" after the sale of a new site generated less interest than expected. EDF is the furthest along in building a new nuclear plant in Britain – at Hinkley Point, Somerset – and is negotiating with the Government over how much it will be allowed to charge for the electricity it produces. Christopher Pincher, a Tory MP on the Energy Select Committee, said that Mr de Rivaz had a "perverse incentive" to exaggerate the cost of the reactors, although he stopped short of accusing EDF of doing so. A higher cost estimate would strengthen EDF’s case to charge more to recover its investment.

Times 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Electricite de France SA rejected criticism that its one-to-one talks with the U.K. over the deal it’ll get to build nuclear plants in the country means officials setting rates in a “smoke-filled room” without open scrutiny.

Bloomberg 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Live-blog from the energy and climate change committee’s evidence sessionon Nuclear – kicking off with EDF, not in any way negotiating in public with the government over price.

Energy Desk 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

The Energy and Climate Change Committee will hold the third public evidence session on ‘Building New Nuclear’ at 9.30 am on Tuesday 23 October, in the Grimond Room, Portcullis House.

Parliament 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Nuclear Subsidies

A group of leading energy academics yesterday claimed the Government is considering going back on its pledge never to subsidise nuclear power. Any policy change would effectively mean taxpayers’ money being given to French energy giant EDF to help it build a new reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset. It would also boost the chances of a new nuclear power station at Oldbury in Gloucestershire.

Western Daily Press 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

ACE 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

As the government reportedly offers ever larger subsidies to the nuclear industry in a last-ditch attempt to get new reactors built, an editorial in the Independent on Sunday challenged opponents of the current pro-nuclear scenario to articulate our alternatives. It’s the right question to ask, because the 16GW of new nuclear that Ministers still insist are going to be built by 2025 is now looking extremely optimistic. Thankfully, this conversation has been happening for some time. The evidence suggests there are any number of different ways we could meet our energy needs and decarbonise electricity at minimal cost to households and businesses. The exact percentages, terrawatthours and gigawatts vary from study to study, but here are four policies which the government should address to fix the hole in its energy plans.

Energy Desk 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

Greenpeace 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

Hinkley

EDF Energy’s chief executive has insisted Hinkley Point C is “shovel-ready”, but CN has learned that main construction work at the site could be delayed until the middle of 2013. A source close to the project told CN that they had been told to expect main construction by the middle of 2013, but that further delays beyond that were not envisioned. EDF Energy is yet to make its final investment decision on the multi-billion pound nuclear project. Energy secretary Ed Davey also has to make a decision whether to grant consent for the development. He is due to receive the planning inspectorate’s report by 21 December at the latest and will have three months to choose whether to grant consent.

Construction News 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Radhealth

More than 20 years after a major study said there is no evidence that people who live near nuclear power plants face an increased risk of dying from cancer, the federal government will look anew at the subject, starting with seven nuclear facilities from Connecticut to California. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Tuesday it is pushing forward with the study because an oft-cited 1990 study is dated and because more modern methods of analysis and information sources are available. In a briefing paper, the NRC staff says that given the known amounts of radiation released from nuclear reactors, researchers would not expect to observe any increased cancer risks for nearby residents. Nevertheless, the staff says, the studies would be "helpful to address public health concerns" and could be a tool for allaying public health concerns.

CNN 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Radwaste

Quakers write to DECC. We are concerned that by focussing on local political support rather than geological suitability current planning processes may be putting the public at risk. When the national nuclear industry body, NIREX, previously sought planning permission for a disposal of nuclear waste in Cumbria, the inspector considering the application turned it down, on the basis that the site “is not suitable for the proposed repository” and that “safety was not treated as the most important discriminative factor.”

Radiation Free Lakeland 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

Opinion Polls

The YouGov/Sunday Times survey found that 40% of the 1734 people polled felt that the UK government should use more nuclear power stations than at present, up from 35% in November 2011. Maintaining current levels was preferred by 21%, while 20% felt that there should be less nuclear power plants than at present (down from 27% in 2011). Men were more clearly supportive of increasing nuclear than women: 54% of men, and only 26% of women, felt that there should be more nuclear. However, women’s opinion was almost equally divided, with 23% supporting the status quo, 25% calling for a reduction in nuclear and 25% declaring themselves unsure.

World Nuclear News 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Nuclear Research

A new generation of safer nuclear power plants could be built thanks to an incredible laser technique. Engineers at Manchester University say high-powered lasers could be used to make quicker, more resilient components for new power stations. A team at the university’s Dalton Institute are using one of Britain’s most powerful lasers to pioneer new welding techniques – and using atom-seeing microscopes to measure the results. The 16kw robot-controlled laser in the university’s city-centre campus can punch through an inch of steel in seconds.

Manchester Evening News 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Uranium

Jordan on Tuesday scrapped a uranium mining licence for a joint venture between French nuclear giant Areva and a local firm for failing to submit an accurate and timely report on its findings. "The licence for the Jordanian French Uranium Mining Company to mine for uranium in central Jordan is now void," the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission said in a statement.

Expatica 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Japan

It has only been a month since Japan declared that it would close down its nuclear industry by the end of the 2030s, but already a contentious plan to complete several partially built reactors is sowing doubts about the government’s commitment to the radical policy shift. The facilities – stretching from the northern tip to the southwestern part of the country – were approved years before the triple meltdown in Fukushima in March last year, but construction had been frozen following the disaster. The decision over their fate is seen as a test of just how serious Japan is about abolishing an industry that had been the source of 30 per cent of its electricity. In the weeks since the nuclear phase-out was announced, Yukio Edano, industry minister, has said three approved but unfinished reactors are exempt from a central provision of the phase-out policy, under which no new plants will be built. Electric Power Development, the utility that owns one of the facilities, responded by saying it plans to resume work this year, with an eye to beginning electricity production sometime after 2014.

FT 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Last week, three Greenpeace radiation-monitoring teams took to the streets of Fukushima City and the heavily contaminated region of Iitate to again record and assess contamination threats. Like many trips before, we noticed decreased expose rates in a few areas, but many hotspots remain throughout heavily populated Fukushima City. What is more concerning, however, is the official government radiation monitoring stations that have appeared throughout the city. Earlier this month The Association for Citizens and Scientists Concerned About Internal Radiation Exposures raised concerns that the Japanese government was manipulating radiation readings with these official monitoring stations. The story was familiar to us, as in March this year, while conducting radiation checks in a park in the suburb of Watari, we came across a newly installed official radiation monitoring post. This station showed a relatively low level of contamination when compared to levels we had measured previously, however, it was placed smack in the middle of a small area that had been clearly decontaminated. New soil had replaced the old, but as soon as you stepped off the cleaned area the levels of contamination rose sharply, and remained much higher throughout the park – with the exception of around the official monitoring post itself.

Greenpeace 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Germany

Germany’s move to phase out nuclear power isn’t the reaction of a spooked people to Fukushima, but the product of an anti-nuclear consensus rooted in 1970s activism.

China Dialogue 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Iran

Barack Obama vowed Monday that Iran would not develop nuclear weapons so long as he is president and pledged full support to Israel, as he faced criticism from challenger Mitt Romney.

Middle East Obline 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Renewables

The sparsely populated region of Caithness in northern Scotland once relied heavily on the development of nuclear energy for electric power and for job creation. Now wind and wave energy are set to take over. A ferry has docked at the pier in Scrabster, the northernmost harbour on the British mainland. It takes just 90 minutes to get from here to the Scottish archipelago of Orkney when the weather is good. The sea in between is called the Pentland Firth, one of the world’s wildest stretches of water. It’s known for its high winds and strong currents. But, it is these elements that could secure the future of the region, in the form of renewable energy.

DW 19th Oct 2012 more >>

Keith Barnham: Investing in renewables – not gas – will allow the UK to emerge from recession and meet carbon targets. Arctic ice is melting faster than expected. Five years ago authoritative predictions suggested it would take until 2065 to shrink to the size it reached last month. Drastic action is necessary to reduce emissions from the energy sector if we are to slow the rate of global warming. Earlier this year, the UK government’s independent climate adviser, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), called for the carbon footprint of UK electricity to be 50g/kWh by 2030. However, the government has set a standard for new electricity generators that is nine times higher. This is to allow electricity generation from natural gas. But we will not achieve the CCC target if these gas plants are built, because they typically last 30 years. The government claims this "da sh for gas" will lead us out of recession. Rather than listening to the fossil fuel lobby, the government should look to Germany, now leading Europe out of recession. In today’s Nature Materials, I point out, with German and Italian colleagues, that the peak price of electricity in Germany is falling steadily, giving their industry a competitive advantage. The peak price is falling because the amount of solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity is rising exponentially. In summer or winter, PV systems in Germany supply cheap electricity with maximum power around noon, when the sun is highest. The peak demand, and therefore peak price of electricity, also occurs around noon.

Guardian 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Targeted financial support policies are crucial in cutting UK carbon emissions, and focusing on single solutions, like carbon pricing, has its limitations, according to a report published today. It finds that feed-in tariffs and the Renewables Obligation create certainty for renewable energy investors. However, if carbon pricing was the only driver, it claims it would rarely be set at the level necessary to attract investment in renewables and would instead, be more likely to drive investment from coal to gas.

Edie 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Energy Efficiency

THE Scottish Government faces a potential shortfall of more than £6 billion on a pledge to make homes more efficient and cut fuel poverty. WWF Scotland revealed the figure in a report which called for a review of the legally binding emissions targets set by the SNP. The Scottish Government has targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2020 relative to 1990 levels, and a commitment to end fuel poverty by 2016. Housing is behind one-quarter of emissions and one-third of energy demand, and is a major contributor to fuel poverty, which means improving energy efficiency is vital to both targets. The Government’s emissions reduction target for housing is 36%, which it said would require £4.6bn investment. WWF says the Government should aim for the sector to achieve its full share of the 42% cut because "technology is readily available, warm homes are popular, it helps d eliver on fuel poverty and green jobs". But achieving this would cost £7.7bn, while the funding available is £1.5bn.

Herald (not online) 24th Oct 2012 more >>

Posted: 24 October 2012

23 October 2012

Nuclear Subsidies

The government is today facing renewed calls for it to rule out specific subsidies for nuclear plants that would cover construction risks relating to new projects, after a group of leading energy academics warned that taxpayer could end up footing a multi-billion pound bill. In an interview earlier this month, Hayes, who is involved in negotiations with energy giant EDF over the level of financial support that will be offered to its proposed Hinkley Point nuclear power plants, said that he would look at the case for the government covering construction risk, adding that there was an "argument for considering how you imbue the market with sufficient investor confidence to get to where you want to go".

Business Green 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

The Government has been accused of planning a U-turn on energy policy by writing "blank cheques" for new nuclear power stations after promising it would offer no subsidies to the industry. The Government has previously promised not to subsidise the nuclear energy industry but a group of leading academics have accused it of planning a U-turn. It is said to be considering "underwriting" the cost of budget over-runs or delays in the construction of new power stations in the UK.

Telegraph 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

Energy Policy

Last week’s shambles over energy bills is an instructive case study. Shortly after making his ad hoc pledge in the House of Commons, Mr Cameron chaired a meeting of the Quad — the coalition’s decision-making body — at which senior ministers attempted, and failed, to hammer out a deal. The point of contention is the extent to which the Government should support low-carbon technologies by guaranteeing a fixed price to the energy providers. The Treasury is trying to minimise the amount spent on subsidies, arguing that they would push up the cost to householders at a time when people are already feeling squeezed. The Department for Energy and Climate Change insists that any increase in gas and electricity bills would not come through until 2017 and that the economy would in the meantime benefit from hundreds of millions of pounds worth of investment from companies building new nuclear power plants and wind farms. The lack of clarity is putting the economy at risk at a time when the green shoots of recovery may just be starting to poke through. Already several global electricity and nuclear technology companies have threatened to withdraw hundreds of millions of pounds of planned investment because of the mixed messages coming from ministers. Last Thursday John Cridland, the Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry, met the Chancellor to warn him that time was running out and the Government now needed to put policy before politics. There is a possible compromise on the cards. Mr Davey is willing to concede a limit on the expansion of onshore wind farms, a bête noire for many Conservative backbenchers, in return for a wider Treasury commitment on funding. In his view this is a price worth paying for a deal, as his priority is offshore wind. But the Prime Minister may have to twist the Chancellor’s arm. “The real problem is that Cameron’s not engaging with the detail,” according to one insider. “There is no political person in No 10 who understands energy policy.”

Times 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Urenco

Some of the world’s biggest private equity firms are believed to be planning to bid for a stake in nuclear enrichment giant Urenco. Apax Partners, KKR, Carlyle and CVC Capital Partners are eyeing stakes owned by the government and two German utilities according to the Sunday Times, which said the deal could bring £3bn into the UK’s coffers. It said the utilities, giants E.ON and RWE, are also keen on selling their stakes in the deal, which could see the company as a whole valued at £10bn. Such a sale to purely financial buyers could spark controversy given Urenco’s specialisation in uranium enrichment, which is used for both atomic fuel and nuclear weapons.

Alt Assets 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

Radwaste

Letter: After years of precisely no information as to where it might be sited we now learn that it could be, on the one hand, under Ennerdale or Eskdale in the heart of the English Lake District or, on the other, on the coastal strip near Silloth. Apparently they are positively delighted (not) in Silloth. Here in the Lake District our response appears to he muted in comparison, but more on that later. Either way, the fact that the geology in Cumbria has already been shown to be fundamentally wrong and was rejected by a former planning inspector and a previous government, after millions were spent on highly detailed geological research leading up to the Nirex Inquiry in the 1990s, does not appear to have deterred one bit those in favor of the project who are now arguing, or so it seems, that while the geology is flawed it may have to do.

Radiation Free Lakeland 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

Hinkley

Stop Hinkley Newsletter October 2012.

Stop Hinkley 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

Wylfa

Manifesto for Môn – a realistic solution for job creation. The Manifesto outlines how 2,500-3,000 jobs could be created on the island if a realistic strategy was adopted.

PAWB October 2012 more >>

Sizewell

EDF Energy, Britain’s largest nuclear power producer, restarted its Sizewell B nuclear power plant on Monday following planned maintenance, a spokeswoman said.

Reuters 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Companies

Rolls-Royce has been awarded a contract by China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNPC) to supply its Spinline digital safety instrumentation and control (I&C) technology for the modernisation programme of the Ling Ao nuclear power plant.

Nuclear Engineering International 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

US

Dominion Resources Inc plans to shut its Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin next year, the first U.S. nuclear plant to fall victim to the steep drop in power prices as rising natural gas production makes some plants uncompetitive.After claiming hundreds of coal-fired plants, the boom in U.S. shale gas output is now starting to grind down the nuclear industry, with smaller older plants like the 566-megawatt (MW) Kewaunee plant first to be affected.

Reuters 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

Nuclear Engineering International 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

Singapore

“Nuclear energy technologies presently available are not yet suitable for Singapore,” is the conclusion of a pre-feasibility study on nuclear energy ordered by the Singapore government.

Nuclear Engineering International 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

Iran

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has told Europe-1 Radio that unspecified experts have “established in an absolutely indisputable way” that Iran will be able to produce a nuclear weapon by early 2013.

Jewish Chronicle 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

To mark the sixtieth anniversary of the first UK atomic test explosion – ‘Operation Hurricane’ at the Monte Bello islands off the north-west coast of Australia in October 1952 – Nuclear Information Service has prepared an interactive timeline showing the history of the United Kingdom’s nuclear weapons programme. The timeline shows the importance of key events in the British nuclear weapons programme – both political and technical – from World War Two, when the UK first commenced research into atomic weapons, looking forward to the forthcoming decision on whether to replace Trident which will be taken after the next election. It also shows how international events have influenced the UK’s nuclear programme over six decades.

Nuclear Information Service 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

The most important actual decision at Perth, though, concerned whether an independent Scotland should join Nato. For the party leadership, it is part of showing how the SNP is a pragmatic party, keen to engage with a wider world – and thereby to reduce perceived risk factors linked with independence. Nato membership would indicate to the international community that Scottish independence would not introduce a destabilising or neutralist power into the heart of Nato territory, but that on key security matters there would be a continuity. It would also show unconvinced Scottish voters that an independent Scotland would continue to be part of a world they know, and could rely on external guarantees for its own security. All that is part of a strategy concerned with emphasising the many and plural unions that an independent Scotland would form part of, most of which would include remainder-UK as well.

Guardian 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

Renewables

69% of British public want current level of wind energy increased or maintained; Only 17% of people support more gas and coal power stations; Less than one-third of those questioned back "fracking" for shale gas; More people say rising fossil fuel prices are the main reason for pushing up bills than those who blame carbon emission targets for increases. An independent opinion poll published by YouGov shows that a clear majority of the British public want more wind farms to be built. 55% of those questioned say the number of UK wind farms should be higher than it is at present. 14 % say it should be maintained at current levels.

Renewable UK 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

Guardian 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

The government could be facing a bill of up to £50m after a further five companies today joined a case seeking damages over ministers’ controversial decision to cut solar subsidies before a consultation on the issue had concluded.

Business Green 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

Energy minister John Hayes gets on the internet, clicks a mouse and instantly turns off the electricity being used to charge up an electric car 15 miles away. At the same time, he can shut down a fridge and a water heater in a house three miles away. History may record his activation this week of a rudimentary smart grid of two buildings on the Isle of Wight as the start of a power revolution which its advocates hope will spread across Britain and vastly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and electricity consumption. If the final pieces of a complex financial jigsaw can be put in place, then within 10 years the island can expect to have not only a smart grid to manage the energy used in tens of thousands of homes and businesses, but it could also be self-sufficient in renewable energy generated from waste, wind, solar and marine sources.

Guardian 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

German industrial group Siemens is pulling out of its loss-making solar power business, in the latest sign of difficulties in the renewable energy market. The company said on Monday it would concentrate its renewable energy business on wind and hydroelectric power in a bid to increase productivity. It hopes to sell the unit and is in talks with possible buyers.

Guardian 22nd Oct 2012 more >>

A new report, written by Dr Rob Gross of Imperial College which was funded by WWF-UK, highlights the importance of policies which specifically support emerging clean energy solutions (such as offshore wind) – and cautions against the suggestion that a carbon price alone is enough to drive a rapid reduction in carbon emissions needed in the UK power sector. This report follows the Positive Energy report which was published last year and showed that it is perfectly feasible for renewables to deliver at least 60% of the UK’s electricity demand by 2030.

WWF 23rd Oct 2012 more >>

Posted: 23 October 2012