News 2017

Moorside

The troubled engineering giant Toshiba is preparing to mothball its project to build a £15bn-plus nuclear power station in Cumbria. NuGen, the company developing the plant planned for Moorside on the Cumbrian coast, has written to suppliers to warn them it will have to slash spending amid financial turbulence at its Japanese owner. It is also set to order staff who have been seconded to the project from other companies to return to their employers. The 3.4 gigawatt plant had been due to plug into the grid by 2026. However, it has been thrown into doubt by Toshiba’s financial crisis. The Japanese industrial giant has been hammered by ballooning costs on two nuclear reactor projects in America. Toshiba has put Westinghouse – the reactor maker it bought from the British government in 2006 – into bankruptcy in the US. Westinghouse had been due to install three of its AP1000 reactors at Moorside. Toshiba is also trying to sell the NuGen project to Korea Electric Power Corp, but the state-backed company is believed to favour installing its own reactors at Moorside. Doing so would set the project back by at least three years, requiring it to obtain regulatory approval from the nuclear watchdog. It would also have to launch a new consultation with the local community. The French power giant Engie, which owned a 40% stake in NuGen, has triggered a clause that forces Toshiba to buy back its share of the project. NuGen’s woes increase the pressure on Tokyo to strike a deal over Japan’s other British nuclear project – the Horizon plant planned by Hitachi for Wylfa in Anglesey. Hiroaki Nakanishi, boss of the engineering giant, met UK government ministers last week the discuss the project. NuGen said it was “undertaking a strategic review of its options following shareholder and vendor challenges” but remains a “key player within the UK nuclear industry”. It added: “NuGen is confident that the review will lead to an outcome that provides a more robust, stable and sustainable platform to meet their commitment to deliver the next generation of nuclear baseload [power] for the UK.”

Times 30th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2017

Hinkley

HINKLEY Point B power station has finally brokered a deal with the Government’s Rates Valuation Office which will cut its rates valuation by almost £9 million. And that could be good news for cash-strapped West Somerset Council, according to its leader Cllr Anthony Trollope-Bellew. He said the rates revaluation could mean that money scheduled to be set aside next year by the council in case EDF Energy appealed against the decision, could drop from £800,000 to £130,000. He told a town meeting in Minehead on Tuesday: “Thankfully, a deal has been done between Hinkley Point B and the rates valuation office which has cut the power station’s rates valuation from £29.4 million to £20.7 million.”

West Somerset Free Press 28th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2017

Engie

France’s Engie, formerly known as GDF Suez, is poised to take on Britain’s big six power suppliers by launching a new tariff that tracks the wholesale power price. The new deal, aimed at households, will display the market price for gas and electricity transparently and will be coupled with offers relating to smart meters and energy efficiency. Kocher has a plan to ensure her company is not tarred with the same brush that has coated rivals from Centrica to SSE and dented their share prices. Part of the scheme will be a new tariff for households that transparently tracks wholesale power prices. To have a tariff “embedded with the wholesale price and to make that very visible” will be a “bullet” for the big six, she says. “We won’t do it the same way.” It will be coupled with a broader strategy of supplying services to cities, such as deals with companies and councils to cut power consumption and reduce emissions. In March, Engie paid £330m for a Doncaster-based regeneration business, Keepmoat, to help deliver the plan. Engie is the energy monster few consumers have heard of. Its operations span the Olympic park in east London to a vast hydroelectric dam in north Wales, and it employs about 20,000 staff in the UK.

Times 30th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2017

Energy Policy

Bernie Sanders and Mark Jacobson: The debate facing our world today is not whether we need to address climate change. That debate is far, far behind us. The issue is how to address climate change – as quickly and effectively as possible. Virtually the entire scientific community – more than 99% of peer-reviewed studies – has concluded that climate change is real. It is caused by human activity. And the impacts are devastating. According to a study published Monday by the National Academy of Science, climate change is already causing severe weather events like prolonged droughts, record-high temperatures, and rising sea levels because of melting Artic sea ice. And while everyone will be affected by climate change, the people who had least to do with causing the problem will be impacted the most, including low income families and communities of color across America. That is why we must aggressively transition our energy system away from fossil fuels and toward clean, renewable energy solutions like energy efficiency, solar, wind and geothermal energy, and electric vehicles. Here’s the good news: the global community is moving in the right direction. Solar panels cost 80% less today than they did in 2008. The solar industry has grown every year for the past decade. In fact, nearly one fifth of the world’s electricity today comes from clean, renewable resources like the sun and wind. The only way we will defeat organized money is to organize through people power. We must stand up and demand that Congress put people over the profits of the fossil fuel industry. That’s why the People’s Climate March in Washington, DC and all over the world on Saturday is so enormously important. When millions of people in every country in the world demand that their government work to transition our energy systems away from fossil fuels and toward sustainable energy, we will win. That’s what today is about, and that’s what tomorrow must be about. We must keep up the fight for our children and future generations to come.

Guardian 29th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2017

Chernobyl

April 26 was the 31st anniversary of the massive and world-changing explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant’s Unit 4 reactor, back in 1986, which shifted how the world sees nuclear energy. In November of 2016, the power plant was permanently entombed in the world’s largest movable structure, a massive steel arch which was slid over the reactor. Every now and again a story comes along which, while not necessarily “news” or “current” is nevertheless of such interest that I can’t pass it by. My attention was drawn to a piece written by the US Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory on April 26, marking the 31st anniversary of the catastrophic 1986 Chernobyl disaster.In the early 1990s, Batelle, operator of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, was part of an international consortium of groups and organizations looking for a long-term measure to safely confine the No. 4 reactor. Among the solutions, and the one to come to fruition, was the New Safe Confinement, the world’s largest movable structure. 843 feet (257 meters) across, 355 feet (108 meters) high, and 492 feet (150 meters) in length, the New Safe Confinement is roughly the size of two Manhattan blocks, and is tall enough to enclose the Statue of Liberty.The New Safe Confinement was moved into place in November of 2016, a 40,000 tonne structure that covers the reactor and the original concrete sarcophagus. The operation took several weeks.

Clean technica 28th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2017

US

Damon Moglen: To those who have watched the nuclear industry collapse, the recent bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric Corp. is nothing short of the industry’s death rattle and the final chapter in the 20th century’s deluded affair with nuclear power. The company’s demise can only be read as decisive proof: There is no economic future in nuclear power. For decades, Westinghouse was the goliath of nuclear reactor design and construction. Approximately half of the world’s nuclear power reactors are based on Westinghouse technology. In 2006, when Toshiba bought Westinghouse for $5.4 billion, the seller projected that by 2020 the global market for nuclear power generation was expected to have grown by 50 percent. This comes at the same time that California’s consideration of the historic proposal to close the state’s last nuclear power plant and replace it with greenhouse gas-free renewable energy. The renewable energy alternatives cost less than continuing to operate the controversial, aging reactors at Diablo Canyon.

San Diego Tribune 28th April 2017 read more »

Late Friday evening, Georgia Power issued a terse press release. Thousands of people who have been tensely anticipating a crucial decision regarding the fate of the Plant Vogtle expansion project cannot stop worrying yet. We will now mark our calendars for May 12 as the next deadline for announcing a decision about whether the massive project will be continued through completion. During the wait, Georgia Power employees will continue their efforts to produce a detailed project schedule and a credible cost-to-complete estimate that can pass muster with its partner companies (Oglethorpe Power, MEAG and Dalton Utilities) and the Georgia Public Service Commission. While planning, budgeting and accountability negotiations continue, skilled workers will continue pressing forward.

Forbes 29th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2017

Czech Republic

Today, the uranium mining in the Czech Republic finally ended when the last minecart with pitchblende (or uraninite) was exported from the Rožná I uranium mine. The extraction and processing of uranium ore has caused great damage, the Czech Republic has been forced to spend more than 40 billion Czech crowns on remediation since 1989 and another CZK 60 billion will still be needed. The government pledged to pay CZK 31.3 billion during the next thirty years merely to eliminate the consequences of in-situ leaching (ISL) in Stráž pod Ralskem. The plans of the Ministry of Industry for the future mining of other uranium deposits, as mentioned in the Czech Raw Materials Policy, should be abandoned for good simply for these reasons.

Nuclear Heritage 27th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2017

District Heating

District heating is seen as a new cleaner, cheaper way to keep homes warm, but some residents say its not working as well as it should. A heating system meant to reduce bills is leaving people in fuel poverty, according to campaigners and residents. The government wants millions of us to get heat and hot water from “district heating networks” to help meet carbon reduction targets. But residents on some networks say they are more expensive than traditional heating and have been beset with problems. Providers are working to tackle issues and say some schemes work brilliantly. Instead of having a gas boiler in every home, heat networks send heat and hot water to numerous properties along a system of underground pipes from one central communal heat source.

BBC 30th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2017

New Nuclear

The Chinese nuclear developer behind three of the UK’s planned new nuclear power plants has warned that Brexit has cast doubt over the nuclear cooperation between China, France and Britain. CGN Power has raised concern over the UK’s departure from a key pan-European nuclear group, Euratom, as it prepares its submission for the UK government’s rigorous assessment of China’s homegrown reactor design. In exchange for taking a minority stake in EDF Energy’s £36bn plans to build nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point C and Sizewell B, the UK Government has left the door open for a Chinese-designed reactor at Bradwell in Essex – despite security concerns over a Chinese company holding control of key British infrastructure. China hopes that by gaining a foothold in the UK market, considered one of the world’s most stringent safety regimes, it will be able to grow its international nuclear presence. But Dongshan Zheng, the senior vice president of CGN, said at an industry event that the decision to leave Euratom as part of Brexit will “create some uncertainties” for its UK plans. MPs are due to report on the UK’s energy priorities in the Brexit negotiations early next week but the findings could be undermined by the upcoming snap election which will force an overhaul of parliamentary committees this summer.

Telegraph 28th April 2017 read more »

Two articles in a series discussing Britain’s Trident nuclear programme and the influence it may be having on the country’s energy policy by Philip Johnstone and Andrew Stirling

Sustainable security 10th April 2017 read more »

Sustainable Security 12th April 2017 read more »

Those who claim nuclear is dead, at least for Europe, because of its high costs and lack of public support are wrong, writes Tim Yeo, Chairman of the pro-nuclear group New Nuclear Watch Europe (NNWE). Despite recent financial troubles besetting certain parties in the nuclear sector, there are competitive vendors such as Rosatom and Kepco and competitive projects out there. Key for European countries considering building new nuclear plants is to choose the right technologies.The good news is that vendors of proven technology are demonstrating they can deliver nuclear power at competitive prices for electricity produced. There is a choice of nuclear technologies, and the benefits in terms of cost, security of supply, tackling climate change and above all safety are clear. Nuclear does not cost the earth. Governments should not shy away from the nuclear option – it is simply a matter of making the right choice.

Energy Post 27th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 April 2017

Energy Policy

Charles Moore: Brexit Britain can’t thrive without cheap energy. We need a bonfire of green regulations Under the leadership of the then Labour Environment Secretary, Ed Miliband, Britain became committed by law to reducing carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, the only country to do so. Nearly a decade later, the Climate Change Act can be seen as the last spasm of that strange “things can only get better” era when, in fact, they got markedly worse. It is very disappointing that the Conservative’s only electoral response to this problem is to talk about capping energy prices. The impact assessments of the Climate Change Act predicted ever-increasing price rises of oil and gas, making renewables look good. The opposite has happened: oil and gas prices have almost halved since 2014, yet our bills keep going up. Today’s high energy bills are the result of government policy much more than of wholesale prices or producer scams. Caps crush investment without remedying the problem. In 2010, environment and social costs amounted to 4 per cent of the average electricity bill. Today, they amount to nearly 15 per cent. Subsidies for renewables, which now stand at £4.5 billion, are set to double by 2020. Even if we are reducing our emissions, we are not reducing the global amount of carbon. We are simply importing from other, less squeamish countries the high-energy-produced goods we used to make ourselves. We lose jobs, but don’t save even our little scrap of the planet. Mrs May, in her low-key manner, could shift the debate with electoral success. First, perhaps foremost, she could make it a debate about cost and secure supply. As today’s joint letter to The Telegraph by four think tanks, including the Global Warming Policy Forum and the Institute of Economic Affairs, argues: “The aim must be a cheap and reliable supply of gas and electricity to cut household bills and give Britain an edge over rivals who currently pay significantly less.” She should integrate this with her “Industrial Strategy”, which at present, as summarised on the party website, mentions neither costs nor energy. Second, the Tories should have another look at the evidence base. At present, the Bible of climate change economics is still Lord Stern’s report of 2006. We live by his some would say preposterous assertion that “if we don’t act, the overall costs and risks of climate change will be the equivalent of losing at least 5 per cent of global GDP each year, now and forever.” More than 10 years later, it is time to announce a formal review of what the real costs are – particularly the difference between the costs of fossil-fuel and renewable options. Finally, it is time to shift the subject-matter of environmentalism. This week, the Government was caught out in the High Court trying to delay publishing its plans for reducing the nitrogen dioxide produced by diesel engines which – let it never be forgotten – we were bribed to switch to because diesel contains less carbon. Climate change is often a highly speculative debate about what might one day happen. Pollution, on the other hand, is often a problem about something which is making millions of people ill right now. Tories should look coolly at the former, and turn up the heat against the latter.

Telegraph 28th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 April 2017