News

Energy Storage

Almost £250 million is to be spent by the UK government on the development of batteries for electric vehicles over the next four years should the Conservatives be returned to Parliament in June. Business secretary Greg Clark announced the funding before the beginning of purdah on Friday [21 April] as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), which will commit over £1 billion to research and innovation in specific areas identified in the government’s Industrial Strategy. One such area is batteries for clean and flexible energy storage, which will receive £246 million to help UK businesses tap into the opportunities presented by the global transition to a low carbon economy.

Solar Power Portal 25th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 April 2017

CCS

THE UK may have missed out on a chance to become a world leader in carbon capture and storage (CCS) after it failed to develop a strategy for the sector following the cancellation of two multimillion pound competitions, according to a committee of MPs. Westminster’s powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said yesterday that the government’s abrupt 2015 cancellation of a £1 billion contest aimed at developing a commercial-scale CCS project was short-sighted and “shabby”. It came after a previous decision to end a similar funding initiative in 2011. The PAC said despite spending £168 million on two competitions that were subsequently aborted, the UK was “no closer to establishing CCS” and had now “missed opportunities to be at the forefront of a growing global industry”.

The National 29th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 29 April 2017

Westinghouse

The start-up of a nuclear power plant south of Shanghai later this year has a lot riding on it. It’ll be the first to use a new reactor designed by Westinghouse Electric Co., and its success is critical for the embattled company’s future. Development of the same AP1000 model has been disastrous for the firm in the U.S., leading to bankruptcy and doubts over the future of its owner, Japan’s Toshiba Corp. If all goes smoothly at the Sanmen facility, the Chinese could unleash a wave of approvals for new reactors. South Africa, India, Mexico and the Czech Republic are among other countries also considering the design, and are more likely to adopt it once China has taken the first, crucial step. That will boost the allure of Westinghouse should it be sold in the restructuring. “Sanmen AP1000 is a showcase to the worldwide nuclear power industry, and its success will probably trigger a new round of construction,” said Shi Yan, a Shanghai-based utilities analyst at UOB Kay Hian Holdings Ltd. “Everyone wants to build AP1000 reactors, but very few want to be the first building it.” The Sanmen project in China’s Zhejiang province has not been without challenges. It was scheduled to begin in 2013, but was delayed due to design problems, supply-chain bottlenecks and stricter safety measures after the Fukushima disaster. India aims to build six AP1000s, and is currently in negotiations with Westinghouse, according to Satish Kumar Sharma, chairman and managing director of the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. Westinghouse is among suppliers Czech Republic is meeting for its Dukovany facility, according to Lenka Kovacovska, deputy minister for energy at the country’s industry and trade ministry. “We will need to wait to see what happens with Westinghouse and Toshiba, but of course the design is very good,” said Alejandro Huerta, deputy director general for nuclear policy at Mexico’s Ministry of Energy, which is considering the AP1000 for three units. “We don’t want to be the first-of-a-kind. We don’t want to have construction delays as we have seen in other projects.”

Bloomberg 26th April 2017 read more »

The owners of one of the first new U.S. nuclear power plants in decades said the half-finished reactors might not be completed without changes to a proposed $800 million (624.3 million pounds) loan to the bankrupt builder, Westinghouse Electric Co LLC. A unit of Toshiba Corp, Westinghouse has asked a U.S. bankruptcy judge in Manhattan to allow it to borrow up to $800 million from affiliates of Apollo Global Management LLC to stay afloat. Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy in March, blaming billions of dollars of cost overruns at two nuclear power plants it is constructing in Georgia and South Carolina. Utilities led by Southern Corp’s Georgia Power said in court papers filed on Wednesday that Westinghouse’s debtor-in-possession, or DIP, loan should not grant liens on the designs, patents and other intellectual property. “The possibility would exist that the DIP lenders would later foreclose on the intellectual property, which could seriously disrupt or even potentially halt construction of the project,” said the utilities behind the Georgia project.

Reuters 27th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 April 2017

Brexit

Britain’s decision to withdraw from the European Union will bring uncertainties to nuclear cooperation among Britain, China and France, an executive at China’s CGN Power Co Ltd has claimed. CGN Senior Vice President Zheng Dongshan said at an industry event that Britain’s decision to withdraw from the European regulatory body as part of Brexit would pose challenges. Specifically he noted that the UK’s regulatory environment would be very different from both France and China with regard to safety.

Energy Voice 28th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 April 2017

Radwaste

It’s been over 60 years since the first nuclear power plant was switched on in Russia and exactly 31 years since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Yet despite the decades-long history of nuclear power, most countries still haven’t agreed on a way to safely store nuclear waste. Leading the way is Finland with the world’s first permanent repository for spent nuclear fuel. High-level radioactive waste is to be buried 400 metres deep in the granite bedrock of Olkiluoto Island off the Finnish coast, where its operators claim it will be secure for the next 100,000 years. Governments, on the whole, aren’t good at long term planning though. And this is a major problem for the nuclear industry where eventualities must be planned for in terms of hundreds of thousands, or even millions, of years. Teams of artists and philosophers are even debating how to mark repository sites to warn off future generations who may be as removed from us as we are from the first homo sapiens to arrive in Europe. Even the more easily grasped timescales involved in nuclear waste disposal pose huge technical, economic and social challenges. Finland is to start loading the Olkiluoto repository in 2020 and the process is expected to take 100 years. That may seem like a long time, and it is considering that the first observed nuclear reaction was made less than 100 years ago in 1919. Sweden, which is pushing forward with the same technology as Finland, is the only other European country close to such an advanced stage of planning. Favourable geological conditions and relatively small quantities of just one type of waste – spent fuel, without the additional problems of reprocessed waste – mean both countries have advantages over other nuclear nations. For the most part,says Stephen Thomas, emeritus professor of energy policy at Greenwich University, high-level radioactive waste is lying around waiting for a solution. “Around the world, everybody is extending the spent fuel storage and reactors. Find me a reactor that’s been in operation for 20 years and I’ll find you a plant which has had its spent fuel facility increased. Every one. There’s nowhere to put it,” says Thomas. In the UK, Andrew Blowers of independent expert group Nuclear Waste Advisory Associates says the locations of planned reactors pose their own set of problems. “A lot of dangerous spent fuel is going to be stored on new-build sites which are in vulnerable coastal locations, which stacks up to a huge problem for the next century with climate change,” says Blowers. Blowers says Germany’s got one thing right. “What we don’t want is more nuclear waste created when we are not at all sure what we are going to do with what we’ve already got.”

China Dialogue 26th April 2017 read more »

Olkiluoto island, in western Finland, is a flat stretch of land covered by pine trees and bordered on three sides by the Baltic Sea. The nearest town on the mainland is Rauma. With a population of around 34,000, the town is famous for lace-making and colourful, wooden houses. In the middle of Olkiluoto, past kilometres of dark pine trees and a huddle of yellow, blue and grey huts, a metal shutter is set between walls of blasted grey rock. This nondescript doorway is the entrance to something unique: the world’s first – and only – permanent repository for spent fuel. It’s called Onkalo, which means “cavity” in Finnish. In 2010, political pressure forced the US government to abandon its expensive Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada. In 2013, Cumbria County Council voted to reject plans to build a UK facility in West Cumbria. In both instances, the state failed to convince worried locals that their plans for geological disposal were safe and desirable. “It’s the uncertainty that worries us,” says Peter Roche, a campaigner who formerly worked on nuclear issues for Greenpeace and is now a policy adviser for the government organisation Nuclear Free Local Authorities. “Can you ever really know how a certain material will behave in a certain location in 100,000 years time? If you put it down a deep hole and it starts to leak then you have left future generations with something they can’t do anything about.”There are concerns about the safety of this process. According to a paper published in 2012 by researchers at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, who studied how copper reacts in distilled water, the canisters could corrode within 1,000 years, rather than the 100,000 years estimated by SKB. The Swedish company disagrees with the analysis, arguing that these tests failed to replicate conditions in the bedrock. In addition, they argue, the bentonite and the bedrock will provide future protection for the cannisters.

Wired 24th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 April 2017

Energy Policy

Eon UK chief executive Tony Cocker has criticised a decline in “evidence-based policy” for the energy sector. He says “We should return to evidence-based policy and focus on support for institutions and get that continuity and stability back in energy policy – and rebuild confidence in investors.” Despite Cocker’s concerns about the impact of government interventions in the energy market however, he was positive about Eon’s future investment in UK renewables and energy solutions. He said its plans for innovation in local and municipal energy services, including solar PV, doemestic and grid-scale storage and heat networks, will be supported by government plans for regional devolution, industrial strategy, and investment in skills.

Utility Week 27th April 2017 read more »

The Conservative leader’s ham-fisted intervention in the energy market shows how little we can expect from her. Trying to decipher what this general election is about, there is a lot of noise and not much of a signal. Theresa May’s approach to campaigning – avoiding the public and the pesky journalists with their questions – reflects really badly on her fragility. The Tory manifesto is said to be light on anything so conventional as actual policies. Better to promise nothing and be sure to deliver it. You have to search for a clue to what is going on and, on your behalf, I think I have found it. There is nothing going on. In politics you have to judge the advocate as well as the policy. The same idea can mean quite different things depending on who is talking. This week Labour people have lined up to complain that the press treated Mrs May’s plan to freeze energy prices very differently from when, in 2015, Ed Miliband said the same. So they did too. In 2015 freezing prices was written up as teenage Marxism whereas now, lo and behold, it appears to be a reasonable response to hardship for the just about managing. They are right to complain. The bias is embarrassing and anyone on the receiving end of that nonsense has every right to be annoyed about it.

Times 28th April 2017 read more »

Theresa May’s plan to cap gas and electricity bills could put billions of investment in the UK at risk by creating huge uncertainty over government intentions, according to the body representing the big six energy suppliers. In one of the strongest warnings yet about the impact of the cap on standard variable tariffs pledged by the Conservatives, Energy UK protested against “ill-considered” political intervention. “Further price regulation at this moment would create huge uncertainty around future government intentions, potentially putting at risk the billions in investment and jobs needed to renew our energy system,” the group said in its statement for the election published on Friday. Lawrence Slade, Energy UK’s chief executive, said: “What the industry overall needs is a period of certainty so we know what the policy objectives are, what the targets are, the framework is – so we can work together with the investment community to deliver the low-carbon economy that we need.” Controlling prices would hurt competition and innovation, the group added. Ministers should instead “respect” an 18-month review of the energy market by the competition watchdog, which decided against a cap in favour of measures to encourage greater switching, Energy UK urged. Energy UK said that whoever won in the general election on 8 June should also take a new tack on solving fuel poverty, which affected 2.3m households. Help for those who were fuel poor – defined as people whose income would be below the official poverty line after paying for electricity and gas – should be funded through general taxation rather than paid through energy bills, the body said. “The regressive nature of how the government has used the electricity bill to fund these programmes also needs to be reviewed, ending the system whereby the fuel poor pay to fund programmes to help the fuel poor,” said Slade.

Guardian 28th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 April 2017

Nuclear Futures

The nuclear energy industry needs an annual investment of $80 billion in order to meet climate change goals, the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Friday. Dohee Hahn told a nuclear industry conference that between 10 and 20 reactors will need to be built every year through 2030, if the global temperature rise is to be held within 2 degrees. The agency estimates that total global nuclear capacity needs to reach 862 gigawatts by 2040, up from 376 gigawatts in 2014, in order to meet the goals set in the Paris agreement.

Reuters 28th April 2017 read more »

Across the world, governments are turning their backs on nuclear power and investing instead in renewables. It’s not just that fewer nuclear reactors are coming online, the power they produce is dwarfed by the increase in number of new clean-energy power plants. The ten new nuclear reactors built in 2015 added just nine gigawatts of new energy capacity, whereas renewables added 147 gigawatts to global power supplies. “In 2016, only three new reactors started to be built around the world,” says Mycle Schneider, co-author of the 2016 World Nuclear Industry Status Report, which provided the data for this infographic. “In terms of generating capacity, that’s a joke.”

Wired 27th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 April 2017

France

To many, France’s ongoing elections are the latest showdown between the liberal world order and a new brand of right-wing populism. That narrative follows a similar path in energy. France’s elections are pitting nuclear versus renewables, closed markets versus open, and disruption versus protectionism. France is going through a quite radical revaluation of its electricity mix. It gets about 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear. However, in 2015, President François Holland set a policy that would phase out aging nuclear plants, and reduce nuclear generation to 50 percent by 2025. He wants to fill in the gap with more renewables and efficiency. Now the two presidential candidates — Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen — are sparring over what to do with nuclear. It’s part of a broader debate over nationalizing the energy giant EDF, expanding or limiting energy trading with the E.U., and mixing variable renewables with a really high nuclear grid.

Green tech 27th April 2017 read more »

[Machine Translation] Alert to La Hague. The unions CGT-FO-Unsa-CFDT and local elected representatives deplored a “decrease” in safety within the Areva factory. Located at the tip of Cotentin, near Cherbourg in the English Channel, it is the largest unit of reprocessing and vitrification of radioactive waste in the world. Libération had access to the La Hague site last month for a rare report. This deterioration in security would be linked to the “serious financial situation” of the group. In fact, the Local Information Commission (CLI) of the site, which includes local elected representatives, trade unionists and environmental associations, adopted a motion on Thursday calling on the French nuclear safety authority (ASN) to “increase vigilance” The “reduction in the safety of installations”.

Liberation 27th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 April 2017

Renewables – offshore wind

The Danish energy group behind the world’s largest offshore wind farm has shrugged off a disappointing first quarter while looking ahead to a boom in income later in the year. Dong Energy’s operating profits for the first three months of the year slumped to DKK3.3bn (£375m) from DKK7.1bn last year, and a fifth lower than the DKK4.1bn expected by analysts, after the group booked a lower share of profits from the sale of stakes in its gas distribution network and the Burbo Bank wind farm off the coast of Liverpool. Nonetheless the expansion of the Burbo Bank project, completed this month, pushed the group’s total wind generation to an all-time high of 2.1TWh. This lifted income from its wind farm projects by 21pc compared to the same quarter last year. Ms Wiinholt said the group’s decision to build two German schemes without any subsidies over the next 10 years marks a “step change” for the company. However, Dong does not expect this feat to be replicated in UK waters until later in the next decade. Ms Wiinholt said the German project was a “special case” because it would be one of the first to use the group’s next-generation wind turbines, which will be ready by 2024. A key advantage of German projects is that the government will pick up the cost of connecting the wind turbines to the national grid. They also benefit from being located in a particularly windy site, she added.

Telegraph 27th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 April 2017

Renewables – wave

Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse has handed out another £2.8 million to help four wave power projects to further develop their technology in a drive to successfully commercialise the wave energy sector in Scotland.

Scottish Energy News 28th April 2017 read more »

Posted: 28 April 2017