News

US

At least one person was missing on Monday after devastating floods across the U.S. Midwest that killed three others and inflicted hundreds of millions of dollars in damage in what Nebraska’s governor called a disaster of historic proportions. The Missouri River’s overflowing banks cut off roads leading to the Cooper nuclear plant, near Brownville, Nebraska, forcing operators to fly in staff and supplies by helicopter. The plant continued to operate safely, its operator said. Water also covered one-third of that state’s Offutt Air Force Base, near Bellevue, home to the U.S. Strategic Command.

Reuters 18thMarch 2019 read more »

Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) said its Cooper nuclear plant in Nebraska continued to operate safely at full power on Monday as the Missouri River floodwater around the plant receded following a late winter storm last week.

Reuters 18th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 19 March 2019

France

France’s fifth major auction for ground-mounted PV has concluded with 118 winners, including projects by Engie and Solarcentury. A spokesperson from the French Environment Ministry confirmed that 855MW in volumes had been processed at the auction of late February 2019, aimed at ground-mounted projects in the 500kW-30MW capacity region. The average price across all auction bids was €62.7/MWh, a 3% rise on the number recorded last year. Split between capacity brackets, mean prices reached €56.8/MWh (5-30MW projects) and €63.8/MWh (500kW-5MW). The list of tender winners includes Solarcentury’s first ever projects in France – with planned capacities of 30MW, 17MW and 10MW – and a 20.26MW PV park by Engie in the Sonne department, south of Paris. France’s ground-mounted PV programme launched in August 2016, with plans to tender 3GW throughout six 500MW exercises in 2017, 2018 and 2019. The scheme is designed to support winners through a premium tariff, which they receive on top of power sale revenues.

PV Tech 18th March 2019 read more »

Solar Power Portal 18th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 19 March 2019

Renewables – solar

Solarcentury, the global integrated solar power company with operations across Europe, Latin America and Africa, has won 57 megawatts (MW) of solar power capacity in the latest solar auction in France, marking the launch of its first ever development projects in the country. Solarcentury will develop three solar farms in France together with its development partner OXYGN – each one on brownfield sites – called Lourches (17 MW in Hauts de France), Marigny (30 MW in Grand Est) and Digue de Port-Saint-Louis (10 MW in Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur). The Lourches and Digue de Port-Saint-Louis solar farms will be partly crowdfunded, with Euro 1.1 million and Euro 0.7 million raised respectively through local community investment. Construction on the first site is set to begin in early 2020 and the projects are expected to produce 68 GWh per year; enough electricity to provide power to more than 25,000 households. The auction wins are a significant milestone for Solarcentury’s French team, who, after three years developing a strong pipeline in the market, will construct, operate and manage the three French plants. The three are part of a larger portfolio of sites currently under development.

Solar Century 18th March 2019 read more »

Oxford PV – The Perovskite Company, a manufacturer of perovskite solar cells, announced that it has raised £31m, the first portion of its Series D funding round. The round includes a major new investment from Goldwind, a provider of integrated renewable energy solutions, along with investment from existing shareholders including Equinor and Legal & General Capital. The funding is expected to move Oxford PV’s perovskite based solar cell technology into the commercial phase and strengthen its position to bring its technology to market. The company’s perovskite-on-silicon solar cell is claimed to have set a certified world record efficiency in the last 12 months.

Compelo 18th March 2019 read more »

Solar Power Portal 19th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 19 March 2019

Renewables – offshore wind

t is hard to keep up with how quickly offshore wind technology is developing. Turbines standing in shallow seas will soon cover hundreds of square miles of the UK’s coasts, providing one-third of Britain’s electricity. Next it will be the turn of floating turbines. Admittedly, it took 15 years for Statoil to develop the first floating windfarm off Aberdeen, but its output has exceeded expectations. The Norwegian state oil company, renamed Equinor to make its image greener, has said more than half of the North Sea is suitable for deploying floating wind power. Electricity produced from these turbines anchored in deep water could provide all the EU’s electricity four times over. The cost of offshore wind has tumbled as turbine designs have got better and bigger, with each machine providing 30 times the output of the first ones deployed 18 years ago. Perhaps the greatest boost to hopes of staving off the worst of climate change is that the coasts of the US, Japan and many maritime states are suitable for floating turbines and are as windy as the North Sea. If you worry about the wind ceasing to blow (which it rarely does at sea), schemes for storing energy in batteries and with hydrogen are advancing fast too.

Guardian 18th March 2019 read more »

Industrial strategy ‘too focused’ on offshore wind, urge MPs. The Government is being urged to do more to engage with industries such as steel, retail and hospitality as they risk being “left behind”. MPs also suggested the UK Government should be less focussed on the growing offshore wind market. A committee of MPs said the Government’s Industrial Strategy must honour its “open door” offer. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee suggested that ministers were unwilling to meet the requests of the steel industry.

Energy Voice 19th March 2019 read more »

MPs have attacked the Government’s industrial strategy, saying it is too focused on high-tech sectors and fast-moving companies and ignores traditional industries. The Business Select Committee report on the policy singled out Britain’s steel sector as having been failed by the strategy, saying the Government had “misrepresented” proposals put to it by industry. The lacklustre response to steel companies’ plea for relief on their energy bills – which they say are twice as high as competitors’ in Europe – suggested that Government is “unwilling to meet the industry’s requests”, MPs said. Launched in 2017, the industrial strategy was billed as a way of championing British businesses.

Telegraph 19th March 2019 read more »

Times 19th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 19 March 2019

Green New Deal

Supporters of the Green New Deal say we don’t have to look very far ahead for results − no further than about mid-century. By then, some of them told The New Yorker magazine, much of the world should be able to achieve the goal of zero carbon emissions, a goal for which they say the world already has about 90-95% of the technology it needs. One problem often raised is the need to store the power produced by wind and solar power, which may be inconveniently unavailable just when it’s needed. But even here there are hopeful signs that the galloping pace of technological advance may soon have an answer in the form of greatly improved batteries. The Deal’s supporters are not the first to claim we’re most of the way towards a carbon-free future in 30 years, and possibly well before that. But this Deal, itself a reminder of US President Franklin D Roosevelt’s 1933 New Deal, explores more ambitious territory still, with the prospect of also ensuring a living wage job for everyone who wants one and reducing racial, regional and gender-based inequalities in income and wealth. In Britain a rising star of the parliamentary opposition, Clive Lewis, the shadow sustainable economy minister, told a recent meeting: “The green economy will simply be ‘the economy’ under the next Labour government”. The British economist Ann Pettifor, a fellow of the New Economics Foundation, describes the Green New Deal as “incredibly ambitious . . . a huge advance for green campaigners and, hopefully, for our threatened species.” Pettifor was co-author of the original Green New Deal Report, published in the UK in 2008, which in many ways prefigured the present US initiative. Her fellow co-author was Andrew Simms, now co-ordinator of the Rapid Transition Alliance (RTA), an enthusiastic backer of Ocasio-Cortez’ vision. The RTA says: “Like the UK proposal, [the Deal] seeks to tackle the climate and economic crisis simultaneously and looks at job creation, decarbonising electricity, renovating buildings for energy efficiency and much more.

Climate News Network 18th March 2019 read more »

Ending climate change requires the end of capitalism. Have we got the stomach for it? Policy tweaks won’t do it, we need to throw the kitchen sink at this with a total rethink of our relationship to ownership, work and capital. Climate change is the result of our current economic and industrial system. Green New Deal (GND)-style proposals marry sweeping environmental policy changes with broader socialist reforms because the level of disruption required to keep us at a temperature anywhere below “absolutely catastrophic” is fundamentally, on a deep structural level, incompatible with the status quo.

Guardian 18th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 19 March 2019

Transport

Britain’s first battery-powered “trackless” tram could be built under plans to drastically cut congestion in Cambridge. A detailed report published today says there is a “compelling case” for a £4 billion metro that will include two underground stations in the city centre. The system would use a cross between a tram and bus to run from surrounding towns and suburbs into the city on a segregated route. The vehicles would not have tracks or overhead lines but instead run on wheels. They would be powered by batteries that are charged overnight at the end of the line. Autonomous technology would “platoon” trams close together, with three 18m-long vehicles accommodated at the same time on 60m platforms. It is claimed that the trams would be far longer and carry more passengers than the biggest buses in operation. A similar system opened in 2017 in Zhuzhou, China.

Times 19th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 19 March 2019

Fossil Fuels

Italian oil and gas major Eni has set out its plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2030, earmarking an additional €3bn of investment towards forestry offsets, renewables, circular economy initiatives, energy efficiency, and flaring down projects. Outlining its four-year business strategy on Friday, the company said it would achieve the “ambitious” emission target by minimising CO2 in its operations – such as through cutting methane leaks – and offsetting residual upstream emissions through large forestry projects.

Business Green 18th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 19 March 2019

Hunterston

Residents living near one of Scotland’s two remaining operating nuclear power stations have been alarmed by proposals to re-start two reactors closed since March and October last year, both of which are showing a growing number of cracks in their graphite cores. The reactors — at Hunterston B nuclear power station in Ayrshire, Scotland, about 35 miles from Glasgow — were shut down last year so the cracks could be inspected. But in November 2018, the investigative news site, The Ferret, revealed that more than 350 cracks had been discovered. The cracking issue has been known about since at least 2006 when cracks in the graphite bricks started to appear as a result of neutron bombardment during fission over many years.

Beyond Nuclear 17th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 18 March 2019

Energy Policy

Nick Butler: Disinvestment gets the headlines but redirected investment would be much more constructive. The proposal from Norway’s sovereign wealth fund to sell off its investments in companies that explore for oil and natural gas has been welcomed by some of the environmental lobby groups campaigning for disinvestment from the hydrocarbon-based economy. But according to the official statement from the Norwegian authorities this month, the move is designed to avoid potentially risky over-investment in commodities that are reasonably likely over time to see a fall in value. The fund already receives income from the country’s oil and gas production – some 3,371tn krone (£297bn) to date – and with the market having turned in the past few years from scarcity to plenty the government’s view is that it should not be overweight in the sector. The move is simply one of prudent portfolio management. Indeed, it would have been even more prudent if it had been extended to the integrated oil and gas majors such as Royal Dutch Shell and France’s Total. If the decision is ratified by the Norwegian parliament, the fund will sell only some $7.5bn of its $37bn holdings in the sector. The signal from Norway’s action is that the days when investors could assume prices would inexorably rise have gone. These are now volume businesses and the winners will be those who can find and develop resources most cheaply. The logic behind the fund’s decision should disappoint environmentalists because it reflects that opinion of the market. The transition away from oil and gas will be gradual and has barely begun. What a pity, therefore, that in pruning their oil and gas portfolio the Norwegian fund is not taking the opportunity to create – by itself or with others – a series of companies that can bring low-carbon energy to the market.

FT 18th March 2019 read more »

BRITAIN will face power cuts unless the government steps up plans to build more nuclear energy plants, Labour has warned. Three planned giant generating stations which would have powered 17 million homes have been axed in the last six months. And MPs fear a looming electricity shortage in the next few years unless the government fills the gap. Official figures reveal that major infrastructure projects cancelled or blocked by the Tories would have generated enough energy to power three-quarters of British households.

The Sun 16th March 2019 read more »

Labour’s energy spokesperson, Rebecca Long-Bailey, having previously pledged to put renewable energy on top of the energy agenda has now relegated it far below nuclear power. They have done this with a pledge to take partial state ownership of new nuclear power projects and saying they will do this for nuclear projects that have been abandoned. But giving state priority to these projects, far from keeping the lights on will actually ruin the chances of aspiring renewable energy generators. The figures speak for themselves. Bailey pledges to reverse what she calls the Government’s ‘cancellations’ of new nuclear projects (Moorside, Oldbury, Wylfa) (factcheck; it was the developers who cancelled them despite being promised tens of billions of state aid). If these projects are brought on line (in addition to the existing Sizewell B and still-not-cancelled projects of Hinkley C and Sizewell C) then nuclear generation will climb to at least 35 per cent of current generation – and even that does not count the Chinese led project at Bradwell. Meanwhile renewable energy generated 33% of UK electricity in 2018, a figure that, with the recently announced ‘sector deal’ for offshore wind, will increase to around 65% by 2030 even without any more onshore wind and solar pv which the Labour Party claims to support. It doesn’t need a mathematical genius to work out that with 35% coming from nuclear power, there simply will not be any market space for any more renewable energy. Yet renewable energy, as we have discussed is cheap, becoming cheaper, and needs little or no public subsidy – a big contrast with nuclear, which despite all the promised support, high consumer subsidies, public guarantees of loan funding (none of which is available for new renewable schemes) has failed so far to generate a single kWh. And it will not until at least 2026 even if EDF’s schedules for Hinkley C construction prove (miraculously in the light of recent nuclear construction history) to be achievable.

Dave Toke’s Blog 17th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 18 March 2019

Radwaste

The sociopolitical challenges RWM faces were starkly revealed by the community sector’s response to a recent major Government funding announcement. Their reaction suggests that the package of GDF-related investment and other funding, while being ‘necessary’, is not necessarily ‘sufficient’ to secure a community’s consent to start initial discussions or formally enter the siting process. At the forefront of the sectors’ concerns is ‘collaboration’, and more active involvement in shaping policy and how it is implemented. This aspiration, particularly in the context of a ‘consent-based’ siting process, is likely to become a key area of discussion as RWM seeks to build awareness, trust and confidence with communities. The evidence for this analysis can be found in the community/civil society sector reaction to the Government’s recent £1.6 billion ‘Stronger Towns Fund’ announcement. Instead of welcoming the extra cash, across the board there was frustration and concern that once again there had been no consultation with those affected, that this was another top-down solution, and was throwing good money at bad means of delivering real benefits to communities.

GDF Watch 17th March 2019 read more »

This week RWM completed their regional Site Evaluation consultation workshops. The deadline for submitting a response to the consultation is 31 March (in England), and 14 April (in Wales). The consultation process has been quite an adventure for RWM. A taste of the public reaction whenever the issue of radioactive waste is raised.

GDF Watch 15th March 2019 read more »

A motion to oppose the dumping of any toxic waste in any part of Ireland was passed unanimously by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, however it was not without some political wrangling between Sinn Féin and the DUP. The motion proposed by Sinn Fein’s John Feely states the Council’s opposition who said that the “dumping of nuclear waste has dire consequences for our environment and also poses a serious health risk to the population”. Councillor Feely said the geological screening for geological disposal facilities for nuclear waste raised a number of questions such as about how much radiation would reach the surface and water sources.

Impartial Reporter 17th March 2019 read more »

On the anniversary of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, investigative journalist Paul McKay reveals that the trade in radioactive waste is becoming a lucrative opportunity for SNC-Lavalin and its U.S. partner. If it is true that one person’s garbage can be another’s gold, then Montreal-based multinational SNC-Lavalin and its new U.S. partner, Holtec International, plan to be big global players in what promises to be a very lucrative, long-term business: handling highly radioactive nuclear wastes until permanent disposal methods and sites might be found, approved, and built.

The Energy Mix 10th March 2019 read more »

Posted: 18 March 2019