News 2017

Energy Policy

Last week’s big Clean Growth Strategy reveal brought to a close months of delays, anticipation and, if you believe ministers, careful consultations with stakeholders. For much of the past year the energy market lay in wait, assured in the knowledge that government officials were taking their time in producing a body of work with all the required insight and input needed to set the UK on a decarbonisation glide path to the 2030s. But when push came to shove, it appears that the government’s consultation efforts barely extended beyond Whitehall. OK, perhaps that is to do the CGS something of a disservice. The plan, although lacking precise policy details and plenty of specifics, does contain a good degree of sterling work. And it’s work that will put many investors at ease and the UK on a good footing. The full implementation of the Smart Systems and Flexibility Plan will do wonders for unlocking the potential of renewables and storage, and renewed emphasis on energy efficiency technologies in non-domestic buildings is hugely significant. And that’s without mentioning the near sea change in rhetoric towards clean energy. No longer are renewables the elephant in the room – that role is seemingly now fulfilled by a rather sizeable white one down in Somerset – now they are clearly considered to be a pivotal element in our future energy landscape. Which is why it’s particularly perverse for the government to have overlooked one of the cheapest, most pervasive renewables in solar. If you missed mentions of solar in the CGS then fear not, you weren’t the only one. When it came to PV, the document read more like a sales brochure for the technology’s progress than it did a policy briefing regarding its future. References to solar were largely limited to much-feted cost reductions and developments secured in the absence of subsidy. In doing so, it ignored what is quickly becoming more an orchestra than a chorus of calls for solar to be welcomed back into the Contracts for Difference fold. Instead of competing in fair, transparent and technology-agnostic auctions, solar is confined to the bench.

Solar Power Portal 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Nick Molho: This strategy differs markedly from some of its predecessors in that it enjoys clear cross-government backing. Gone are the days – it seems – of contradictory ministerial statements coming from the same department. Not only does the strategy contain a foreword from the Prime Minister, in which she commits her government to “help British businesses and entrepreneurs to seize the opportunities which the global low carbon economy presents”, but it also sets out a comprehensive set of actions that will have required support from several government departments beyond the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). In the power sector, the reconfirmation that £557m will be made available for further CfD auctions of offshore wind projects is very positive. It will help the industry develop a pipeline of investable projects (which could result in 10GW of new capacity when including projects from the last auction), build on the significant cost reductions delivered in the auction round of September 2017 and invest in the UK’s growing supply chain. However, one notable absence in the strategy is the future of mature renewables like onshore wind and solar power. Given how cost-competitive these technologies have become, the government should work with industry to develop a subsidy-free mechanism that will encourage the development of projects in parts of the country where communities want them.

Business Green 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 October 2017

Energy Costs

British Gas owner Centrica has refused to rule out a legal challenge to the Government’s proposed price cap on energy bills, while coming under fire from MPs and regulator Ofgem for its heavy reliance on expensive standard tariffs. Grilled by MPs on the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy committee, Centrica’s UK boss of home supply Sarwjit Sambhi declined five opportunities to say whether the company would call for a judicial review of the cap. Earlier this month the Government published draft legislation for an absolute cap on prices until 2020, meaning that it will set a maximum price per kilowatt hour that suppliers can charge. Mr Sambhi said there was “not sufficient detail” in the bill thus far to declare Centrica’s position. But he added: “A key outcome if the energy bill is put to legislation is that the cap should reflect the cost of actually supplying energy to customers.”

Telegraph 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 October 2017

Brexit

Labour has threatened to vote against nuclear industry contingency measures post-Brexit, claiming they give ministers a blank cheque to make “controversial policy decisions”. Shadow business secretary Rebecca Long Bailey said the Nuclear Safeguards Bill contained so-called Henry VIII powers which would enable the Government to pass laws with less scrutiny in the Commons. She told MPs: “The job of a legislature is to legislate: the Bill before us as it stands is effectively a blank cheque handing that job over to ministers. “And I hope that the Minister can respond today with an iron-clad guarantee that the Government will not use those powers in that way but the ultimate guarantee will be to change the face of this Bill itself. “Safeguards are vital for our nuclear industry, but they are needed for our parliamentary democracy as well.” Speaking during the Bill’s second reading, Ms Long Bailey received cheers from the Government benches as she said there needed to be a nuclear safeguarding regime for the UK after it leaves the EU “should all else fail”. But she said: “Let me add a caveat to that: we will need to see evidence of substantial amendment of the procedure set out here in this Bill, and evidence that the Government is really thinking about the best post-Brexit Euratom formulation before we can wholeheartedly commit at report stage and third reading to the passage of this Bill.”

Energy Voice 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 October 2017

Sellafield

FIREFIGHTERS at Sellafield nuclear processing plant in Cumbria walked out on strike yesterday in an ongoing dispute over pay and conditions. The half-day strike began at 6am and will be repeated tomorrow.

Morning Star 18th Oct 2017 read more »

Independent 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Express 17th Oct 2017 read more »

BBC 17th Oct 2017 read more »

City AM 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 October 2017

Chernobyl

A manufacturer from Torfaen is helping to dismantle the remains of the Chernobyl nuclear power station. A concrete and steel arch will cover the reactor which was destroyed in the 1986 disaster. Pontypool-based manufacturer Flamgard Calidair has developed fire and shut off dampers for the project, known as the Chernobyl New Safe Confinement. The £1.3bn (€1.5bn) building is set to be completed before Christmas 2017.

BBC 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 October 2017

Europe

The construction of nuclear power plants in a transboundary context require the government of the country of origin to ensure participation of the public concerned in its own territory as well as that of the neighbouring countries affected. Analysis by Linli-Sophie Pan-Van de Meulebroeke. In the context of a bilateral cooperation agreement with Germany regarding the construction of a nuclear power plant in Temelín, the Czech Republic was alleged to be in non-compliance with Articles 3(9), 6 and 9 of the Aarhus Convention. With regard to Article 6 of the Convention, the Compliance Committee has confirmed the Maastricht Recommendations according to which a transboundary context does not release the concerned Party from its obligations under the Convention. The ultimate responsibility for ensuring that the public participation procedure complies with Article 6 still rests with the competent authorities of the Party of origin.

Client Earth 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 October 2017

South Africa

South African President Jacob Zuma made a close associate energy minister on Tuesday as his government tries to push through a big nuclear deal but his sacking of another minister was seen undermining his ANC party’s ruling alliance.

Reuters 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 October 2017

US

Mark Cooper: In 2008, the “nuclear renaissance” hype was in full swing. South Carolina was one of the first states to hop on the bandwagon. Public and investor-owned utilities rushed to sign a contract for two new reactors at the V. C. Summer nuclear station before the design for the Westinghouse AP1000 reactors was finalized, to avoid the price run-up that was expected to occur when orders for dozens of reactors were signed. There was no rush of orders, but there were 17 formal revisions before the design was finalized, and perhaps many hundreds more made in a more informal manner. A decade later, the nuclear industry is in shambles. Billions of dollars were spent on the two now-abandoned reactors at V. C. Summer, and only two other reactors remain under construction, at a plant in Georgia. The South Carolina reactors were so far behind schedule and over budget that they triggered the bankruptcy of the reactor vendor (Westinghouse), the near-bankruptcy of its corporate parent (Toshiba), and the resignation of the CEO of the utility (Santee Cooper) that owns 45 percent of the V. C. Summer project. The nuclear industry’s collapse is stunning, but it should come as no surprise. This is exactly what happened during the first round of nuclear construction in the United States, in the decade between 1975 and 1985. History is repeating itself because of a dozen factors and trends that render nuclear power, new and old, inevitably uneconomic.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Scana Corp., already the target of federal and state investigations, said it received a subpoena from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in connection with an abandoned nuclear power project. The Cayce, South Carolina-based company said it will “fully cooperate” and offered no further details, according to a statement Tuesday. Scana is under a federal investigation and a state probe into the expansion of its V.C. Summer nuclear reactor, a project it canceled after costs spiraled to more than $20 billion.

Bloomberg 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Utility regulators in Florida on Tuesday rejected Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) request to recover costs incurred after 2016 for two new nuclear reactors at the utility’s Turkey Point power plant. The Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) said in a statement that there was insufficient evidence to decide on FPL’s request to recover costs because the utility did not file a feasibility analysis for the new reactors in 2017 as required under Florida’s nuclear cost recovery rules.

Reuters 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 October 2017

China

China is on track to install a record-smashing 50GW of solar PV in 2017, with latest data showing that the nation has so far installed around 42GW, taking its total installed PV capacity to around 120GW. According to the latest report from Asia Europe Clean Energy Consultants (AECEA), China needs to add just under 3GW of new solar in each remaining month of 2017 to reach 50GW, and deliver a second consecutive record breaking year.

Renew Economy 18th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 October 2017

France

[Machine Translation] Security. According to information from France Bleu, around a hundred employees were evacuated on Monday 16 October after the discovery of a suspect package at one of the offices of the Cruas-Meysse nuclear power plant in the Ardèche.

Valeurs 17th Oct 2017 read more »

[Machine Translation] Of the 58 nuclear reactors present in France, half have corrosion problems, alert Monday the Nuclear Safety Authority. The Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) is concerned. The safety of nuclear power plants could be threatened by rust. Of the 58 reactors in France, half have corrosion problems, it alerts on Monday, leading it to declare a level 2 safety event on a scale that has 7. A total of 29 pipes pumping are rusted. But these pipes are indispensable. They allow water to be collected around the plant and transported to the core of the reactors that need to be continuously cooled.

Europe1 17th Oct 2017 read more »

Posted: 18 October 2017