News March 2014

31 March 2014


A private sector consortium will be told on Monday it has won the £7bn job of decommissioning Britain’s oldest nuclear power plants. The work is one of the largest and most sensitive public sector contracts to be awarded in the UK so far. Currently the sites are being run by Magnox, a company owned by Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions. It is bidding for the new work in partnership with Bechtel. The only Magnox station still in use is in Wylfa in Anglesey, though this is due to stop producing electricity in the next two years.

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Posted: 31 March 2014

30 March 2014


The prospect of unpopular electricity generators being taken to task by no fewer than three regulators has been widely welcomed. But as Terry Macalister reports, there are hard truths to tackle beyond ever-increasing utility bills. It will take more than a competition probe to restore faith in British energy policy. There are six questions the energy industry needs to answer as it tackles the wider issue of how Britain can modernise and decarbonise its power industry without pushing up prices and driving vast numbers of people into fuel poverty. Hinkley Point C, proposed by EDF in Somerset, would generate 3,200MW, single-handedly supplying almost 7% of the country’s electricity. That compares with 630MW of intermittent energy from the world’s biggest offshore wind farm, the London Array off the coast of Kent. But EDF has been granted huge subsidies to build the low-carbon plant, which may yet be deemed in breach of competition policy by the European Commission. The building of new reactors in France and Finland is running way over time and budget, and the issue of radioactive waste remains unresolved.

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Posted: 30 March 2014

29 March 2014

Earth Hour

Millions of people around the world are expected to switch off lights in homes, offices and famous landmarks at 8.30pm local time for an hour on Saturday to mark WWF’s annual Earth Hour. Now in its eighth year, the mass participation event to show support for environmental issues comes as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change prepares to launch its latest report in Japan on Monday, outlining how global warming will affect wildlife, food supplies, water and the weather.

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Posted: 29 March 2014

European Commission invites comments on proposed new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point

The proposed new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in south-west England depends heavily on subsidies (see below) and is unlikely to go ahead without them. There is no valid justification for these subsidies. They divert resources away from other options that are altogether better and cheaper.

The European Commission is now inviting comments on the Hinkley Point proposal. It’s announcement is available here.

Please write to the Commission to oppose the subsidies. The deadline for responses is the 7th of April 2014. Please write by email to or by post to European Commission, Directorate-General for Competition, State aid Registry, Rue de la Loi/Wetstraat 200, 1049 Bruxelles/Brussels.

The subsidies being offered for the Hinkley Point proposed project include an index-linked price for nuclear electricity of £92.50 per MWh, guaranteed for 35 years, loan guarantees, a very low cap on liabilities for nuclear disasters, and several other subsidies. See here.

The Energy Fair Group has written an Open Letter to Commissioner Almunia available here describing why subsidies are bad for energy security, bad for the fight against climate change, bad financially for consumers and taxpayers in the UK, and bad for the development, throughout Europe, of the good alternatives which are ready to go, cheaper than nuclear power, and very much quicker to build.

A joint briefing by Nuclear Free Local Authorities, Cities for a Nuclear Free Europe and Stop Hinkley is available here

Joint Press Release here.


Posted: 28 March 2014

28 March 2014


Ireland’s National Trust has been given permission to challenge a decision giving permission for the Hinkley Point nuclear power station. An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland, is challenging the legality of the March 2013 decision by the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change to grant development consent for the EDF project in Somerset – about 150 miles from Ireland. Their case was dismissed last December, but a Court of Appeal judge has now granted them a judicial review, which will be heard by three judges in the Court of Appeal over two days before the end of July, if possible.

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Posted: 28 March 2014

27 March 2014

Nukes vs Climate

Jonathon Porritt finds Mark Lynas’s latest pro-nuclear tome ‘gratifyingly short’ and reasonably open-minded. But Lynas falls into the trap of seeing nuclear technologies as fast developing, while renewables are stuck – when the reverse is the case! It was with something of a sinking heart that I picked up Nuclear 2.0, the latest piece of pro-nuclear advocacy from Mark Lynas. This stuff just makes me grumpy, particularly the banal repetition that one usually finds of half-truths about the history of nuclear power, and the crazed projections of how nuclear power is the answer to all our problems. It’s as if all the potential innovation on new nuclear design was available right now, whereas he writes about renewables as if they will be forever stuck right where they are today.

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Posted: 27 March 2014

26 March 2014


Plans to allow Russia to build nuclear power plants in the UK are under review because of the Ukraine crisis, the Government has said. Ministers signed a nuclear energy co-operation pact with Russia’s state nuclear firm Rosatom in September in order to enable it “to prepare for entry into the UK civil nuclear market”. The agreement described the prospect of working together on British soil as “a realistic longer-term ambition”. But the Department of Energy and Climate Change said on Tuesday: “No decisions have been made on how this work will be taken forward, which is under consideration in the light of recent developments in Ukraine.”

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Posted: 26 March 2014

25 March 2014


The UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) is reviewing its initial agreement with Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom because of the continuing political situation in Ukraine. UK energy minister Michael Fallon signed the initial deal with Rosatom in September 2013, to study the possibilities of agreeing nuclear “commercial co-operation” that would involve Rosatom building and maintaining nuclear power plants in the UK. Rosatom has since agreed to progress its UK nuclear plans in a joint venture with Finnish utility Fortum and UK engineering firm Rolls Royce. But the agreement is now “under consideration in the light of recent developments in Ukraine”, Decc said today.

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Posted: 25 March 2014

24 March 2014


The Hinkley C nuclear power plant deal will give nuclear power a clear competitive advantage over solar pv in what will be a growing electricity for motor vehicles market. The combination of declining costs of solar pv and the growth of effectiveness and use of electric vehicles (EVs) will mean that within 15-20 years (maybe even sooner) solar pv, operating by then without any guaranteed premium prices at all, will be attracting large portions of the electricity market. However, the premium prices paid to Hinkley C under the deal agreed by the UK Government will mean that the prices that can be offered under the ‘night time’ tariff that will be used to charge EVs will be relatively lower compared to what prices would be without the deal. This means that whatever electricity is generated during the night (nuclear plus other non-solar) will have a relative competitive advantage over solar pv used to charge EVs during the daytime. flash forward to 2030 when a lot of EVs are humming around and Hinkley C, which, if all goes as projected (with a 2023 generation start-up), will be in its 7th year of its premium price contract. It will have another 28 years of unfair competition with solar pv, and of course, whatever other renewables (produced at day or night) are being generated. It is even plausible to argue that by sometime in the 2030s homeowners in energy efficient households with a developing generation of cheap efficient battery systems will not need the grid at all. A major hurdle in achieving this of course will be the 35 year premium price contracts (with loan guarantees assuring low interest bank loans) handed out for Hinkley C and whatever other similar contracts our governments decides to grant the nuclear developers.

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Posted: 24 March 2014

23 March 2014


THE potential impact and benefits of EDF’s plans to build Hinkley Point C nuclear power station have been aired at a fiery meeting in Glastonbury – with the possible threat of a terror attack among the key concerns. Police stepped up patrols for last week’s Glastonbury Town Council meeting, knowing it would be packed with people frustrated at being unable to press the company at a public meeting which had been cancelled in the town. Members of the public were given the chance to quiz David Eccles, of EDF, before his presentation at the meeting. One addressed Mr Eccles and in relation to the cancelled public meeting said: “I would just like to voice the disappointment of this community. It is clear you feel the weight of opinion is against you.” Mr Eccles started his presentation by declaring: “I would like to start by saying thank you for your questions this evening, I respect your positions and views.” He then announced that he would alter his presentation with the aim of answering the public’s questions. “That is the biggest load of claptrap I have ever heard in my life,” said Councillor Ian Forster when the presentation was over.

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Posted: 23 March 2014