News

South Korea

South Korea aims to expand the share of renewables and also natural gas in its fuel mix to gradually cut back its high dependence on coal and nuclear power over the 15 years to 2031, the energy ministry said on Thursday. The ministry’s new draft proposal – an adjustment to its power supply plan for 2017-2031 – reflects growing domestic calls for better air quality and more stringent nuclear safety. Despite efforts to boost renewables and natural gas, however, South Korea’s power generation mix will remain dominated by nuclear and thermal coal, which will still account for 60 percent of electricity in 2030, the plan showed.

Reuters 14th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Nuclear Weapons

I find it hard to understand why you did not find room on the 34 pages you devoted to news on Monday (Dec 10) to the ceremony in Oslo awarding the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize to the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), despite having reported the award when it was originally announced two months. In that report, you noted that the Nobel peace prize award [to ICAN) has “so far been shunned by Britain and the other atomic weapon powers.” Sadly, this continued at the ceremony itself, when the UK declined to send its Ambassador to Norway or its International disarmament ambassador, based in Geneva, to the ceremony, despite ICAN having a very active British chapter.

David Lowry’s Blog 11th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Energy Storage

An investment company has revealed plans to develop three pumped hydro storage companies in Scotland with an estimated total capacity of around 1,200MW. ILI pumped storage is looking for £3.4m of investment.

Utility Week 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Renewables – Solar

Last week, my 10:10 colleague Leo Murray co-authored a new report on solar-powered trains with Nathaniel Bottrell, an electrical engineer at Imperial College. It’s exciting stuff. We think solar could power 20% of the Merseyrail network in Liverpool, as well as 15% of commuter routes in Kent, Sussex and Wessex. There’s scope for solar trams in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Nottingham, London and Manchester too, and there’s no reason it should just be a British thing either. We’re especially excited about possibilities in San Francisco, Mexico City, India and Spain, but trains and trams all over the world could be running on sun in a few years time. Sign up for Lab notes – the Guardian’s weekly science update. It’s also a genuine world first. There are a few solar stations – Blackfriars Bridge being by far the coolest – and some trains in India even have solar panels on their roofs, but that’s just to power equipment like lights and fans. No one’s moving the trains themselves with solar. Yet. What’s especially interesting is how our new innovation came about – in particular the role community energy groups have played in its development (often despite policy support, not because of it, or in response to policy constraints). Looking ahead, there are also important questions to be asked about what role these community groups might play in its deployment. The idea came from a community solar group in Balcombe, West Sussex, formed in response to the first anti-fracking protests in the UK, in the summer of 2013. After the drillers, the activists, the press and various other hangers-on had left, the villagers were left with a question our current energy system lets most of us ignore: how should we power ourselves? They decided they wanted local, community-owned energy, and also that they wanted to go solar.

Guardian 14th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Fossil Fuel

Britain has emerged as the unlikely first recipient of gas from a sanctioned Russian project after fears of a winter supply crisis drove prices close to five year highs. Russian President Vladimir Putin opened the £20bn Yamal project on Russia’s northern coastline last week. Shortly after, British wholesale gas prices soared to four-year highs when a crucial North Sea pipeline was put out of action by a crack and a distribution hub in Austria was hit by an explosion. Now a deal has been struck to bring the debut cargo from Yamal to the Isle of Grain import terminal via a specially built ice-breaking tanker by the end of the month.

Telegraph 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Times 14th Dec 2017 read more »

FT 14th Dec 2017 read more »

In less than a decade Britain has lost its lead in the global gas market and now risks plunging into a gas cost crisis. In 2010 the UK was one of the top ten gas producers in the world. The UK’s domestic reserves were enough to heat Britain’s 30 million homes and run a fleet of gas-fired power plants while remaining a net exporter of gas until 2005. But this week, an explosion almost 1,000 miles away caused gas prices to rocket, exposing the growing reliance on other nations to power the energy system. In an Austrian town of fewer than 200 people a fatal blast ripped through the European gas markets driving UK prices to highs not seen since early 2013. The UK was already reeling from the shock shutdown of the North Sea’s most important pipeline system, just as freezing temperatures swept the country in the first winter since the country’s main gas storage facility shut down. The “perfect storm” which triggered the UK’s looming winter gas crisis may have been ignited by a string of fluke blows, but their outcome was far from unexpected.

Telegraph 13th Dec 2017 read more »

When you turn on your gas cooker or switch on the kettle, there is a very good chance that you are using energy brought to you via a network owned by Hong Kong’s richest man. Li Ka-shing may not be a household name for most Brits. But the empire of gas pipes and power cables he has assembled in Britain in the past decade connects more than ten million homes. It is also highly profitable, regularly doling out juicy dividends for Mr Li, 89, who controls a fortune worth more than $33 billion. Pumping gas around northern England and Wales may not be glamorous, but it is good business for Cheung Kong Infrastructure (CKI), his holding company. Two of his companies – Northern Gas Networks and Wales & West Utilities, whose pipes stretch from Cumbria to Cornwall – earned returns of 11.2 per cent and 11.3 per cent respectively in 2015-16. That’s not bad when compared with the margins British Gas, Scottish Power and EDF. Ofgem data shows average pre-tax margins at these retail energy suppliers, who pay CKI and other network operators to deliver gas and power to your home, were 4.48 per cent in 2016 and 4.15 per cent in 2015.

Times 14th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Climate

The extent of the human contribution to modern global warming is a hotly debated topic in political circles, particularly in the US. During a recent congressional hearing, Rick Perry, the US energy secretary, remarked that “to stand up and say that 100% of global warming is because of human activity, I think on its face, is just indefensible”. However, the science on the human contribution to modern warming is quite clear. Humans emissions and activities have caused around 100% of the warming observed since 1950, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) fifth assessment report.

Carbon Brief 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 14 December 2017

Taishan

A component of Taishan nuclear power plant – which sits 130km west of Hong Kong – cracked during performance tests amid safety concerns about further delays, FactWire has learnt from multiple reliable sources. State-owned China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) entered a joint venture with French utility Électricité de France (EDF) and began building the plant in 2009, but its completion has been repeatedly delayed. CGN Power, a Hong Kong-listed subsidiary of CGN, has previously said in an operational briefing document and the 2017 interim report that Taishan Unit 1 had entered the stage of hot functional testing and would be ready for commercial operation by the end of 2017. However, a “boiler” in Unit 1 appeared to have cracked during functional testing and must be replaced, according to a nuclear plant employee. He also told FactWire undercover reporters when they visited the site last month that representatives from Harbin Electric, the Chinese manufacturer of the “boiler,” came to the plant for a week in late October to discuss with the plant operator, Taishan Nuclear Power Joint Venture, a plan to replace the faulty part. In 2008, a consortium of Dongfang Electric and French manufacturer Alstom won a contract to supply several components for Taishan Unit 1. The consortium then subcontracted the manufacturing of the deaerator to Harbin Boiler, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Harbin Electric. General Electric acquired Alstom’s power and grid businesses in 2015. Last week, a Dongfang Electric engineer also confirmed to FactWire that the deaerator was supplied by Harbin Electric and the welding on the deaerator was “problematic.”

Hong Kong Free Press 12th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 13 December 2017

Nuclear Waste

The search for a location for a nuclear waste deep burial site is now expected to reopen in mid 2018. The process has been repeatedly delayed but the Times and Star now reports that the national geological screening report is due to be released soon. The report is supposed to identify areas of potentially suitable geology within the UK, however its neutrality has been brought into doubt since the project developer, Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) has insisted on restricting the data sources from which it is derived and producing the narrative itself. Cumbria Trust is concerned that the vast quantity of data produced by the £400m Nirex investigation, which found Cumbria to be unsuitable, has to a large extent been excluded from this new report. While we have yet to see the new report, the process used to construct it does not inspire confidence. It will be very closely scrutinised by Cumbria Trust and the experts who advise us on its release. Worryingly, we have heard from a number of sources that Copeland have been showing a keen interest in volunteering before seeing the geological screening report. The whole idea behind the national survey was to encourage councils from potentially geologically suitable areas to volunteer, to avoid a rerun of the last failed search process in which Copeland and Allerdale were the only borough councils in the country to volunteer despite previously being declared unsuitable.

Cumbria Trust 13th Dec 2017 read more »

A new search to find a site to develop a geological disposal facility to store the UK’s high radioactive waste is expected to begin next year. Ann McCall, siting and engagement director for Radioactive Waste Management, told the Nuclear Industry Association annual conference in London that find a long-term and safe solution to storing waste, the vast majority of which is currently stored at the Sellafield site in West Cumbria, remained “mission critical” for the Government. She told delegates at the event in London that RWM hoped to launch the siting process, supported by a new “campaign” website focusing on the importance of geological disposal, after securing government sign-off to proceed. She confirmed consultations on a framework for future planning decisions and a new approach to working with local communities in the siting process will begin in the next few weeks. A national geological screening has been completed and outputs are being finalised.

Times and Star 11th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 13 December 2017

Hinkley

Plans to increase HGV deliveries to Hinkley Point C to 750 lorries per day are being considered by councillors. French energy firm EDF wants to raise the limit on daily deliveries to the nuclear reactor by 250 a day until 2019, while a sea jetty is being built. The proposal, which includes a £4m “mitigation” pot, is being considered by local councils later this month. But councillor Brian Smedley said unless Bridgwater Town Council was consulted residents would be “hostile”. Currently the maximum daily limit of HGV deliveries to the Somerset nuclear plant is 500 per day. EDF wants to increase that average limit until the end of September 2019 when a jetty will be built, allowing 80 per cent of building materials to be brought in by sea.

BBC 12th Dec 2017 read more »

Construction of Hinkley Point C could face “severe” delays due to skills shortages and import issues after the UK leaves European nuclear body Euratom as part of the Brexit process, MPs have warned. The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee said leaving Euratom in March 2019 could lead to delays at the Somerset nuclear new build project, which counts one tenth of its 2,500-strong workforce as non-UK nationals.

New Civil Engineer 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 13 December 2017

Brexit

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee calls on the Government to retain as close as possible an association with Euratom, the European Atomic Energy Community, including its delivery of existing nuclear safeguards requirements in the UK, to minimise the risk of disruption to nuclear research and the transport and trade of nuclear materials. The report welcomes the Government’s objective of maintaining regulatory standards at current levels, and the introduction of the Nuclear Safeguards Bill to allow the replacement of existing arrangements. But, the Committee finds that it is highly doubtful that the UK could deliver safeguards to Euratom standards by the point of our departure in March 2019. The Committee calls for an extended transitional period for civil nuclear, or the continuation of Euratom support, to ensure standards are maintained and the risks to trade and transport of materials are reduced.

Parliament 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Business Green 13th Dec 2017 read more »

More than 100 MPs have signed a Parliamentary amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill dealing with the Government’s intention to leave the European Atomic Energy Community (Eurotom). Rachel Reeves, who chairs the Business Select Committee, and a number of Conservative MPs signed the amendment, which calls on the Government to bring any new strategy for the nuclear industry to Parliament. The committee said in a new report that a “no-deal” Brexit would be a “highly risky” option for the civil nuclear industry, in the absence of transitional arrangements.

Energy Voice 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Energy Live News 13th Dec 2017 read more »

Posted: 13 December 2017