Letter Roy Pumfrey: IT IS hard to know where to start on reasons not to be cheerful about Hinkley C. Duncan McGinty’s piece ‘Let’s feel optimistic about Hinkley Point C’ (Mercury, 24 November) was so positively spun it might as well have been written for him by EDF. For a start, it matters not a jot what intentions and commitments are signed by the Chinese and British Governments. This is an Electricité de France project. Until EDF take their Final Investment Decision, something they have put off seven times in the last three years, Hinkley C is in limbo. I notice Vincent de Rivaz, boss of EDF, was again evasive about a start date when pressed recently by the Mercury. Can we be clear about two things? Firstly, EDF will not be spending £18bn on local businesses. The bulk of the spend will be offshore, mainly in (surprise, surprise!) France. We, and I speak as someone who lives in Sedgemoor, will see local businesses benefit by a tiny fraction of the total spend. Whether this counts as ‘significant’ is a moot point. Secondly, whilst ‘local’ jobs should Hinkley ever go ahead would be welcome, EDF has redefined ‘local’ to mean anywhere within 90 minutes drive time of the Point. So the trumpeted headline 25,000 jobs – only 20 percent of which were ever going to be ‘local’ – turns out to be just 5,000 from anywhere from Bristol to Exeter. Eventually, Councillor McGinty gets to the ‘real challenges’ that Hinkley C presents. And then quickly skates around them. Passing mention of the adverse effect on the housing market for first time buyers and all renters that Hinkley C will have. The greater pressure on local health, education and emergency services? Not a mention. Oh, yes, at last, an admission that the local road system will suffer ‘significant additional pressures’. Thanks to EdeF parsimony and the lack of County and District Council strategy, the prospects for a Dunball to Cannington bypass (see ‘Need for by-pass’ letter on same page) are low to non-existent. The only certainty about this white elephant project is that it, if ever started, it will be years late and massively over budget, like every nuclear power station before it. Sadly, in view of the fact that Hinkley C would change the lives of more people in Bridgwater for the worse, I don’t accept that Duncan McGinty has done anything other than gaze at the project through rose tinted glasses. We have no right to feel optimistic.
This is the West Country 30th Nov 2015 read more »
Nuclear vs Climate
Momentum is building around the world for nuclear power to play a larger role in slowing climate change. This comes at a critical moment. Countries are meeting in Paris this week to negotiate a new global agreement on global warming. The expectation is that the United States will urge other nations to give explicit credit to nuclear power as a major weapon against climate change — and that this change will be incorporated in the new accord. Energy experts warn that without increased use of nuclear power in global electricity production, it will be impossible to hold the increase in global warming to 2 degrees centigrade by 2100. Currently, 394 nuclear power plants operate in 30 countries, supplying 11.5 percent of the world’s electricity, according to the World Nuclear Association. Seventy new nuclear plants are under construction and another 489 are planned or proposed.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 30th Nov 2015 read more »
The international Don’t Nuke the Climate Campaign, for which NIRS is the U.S. member, last week began feeling that warm gratification, that recognition that we are beginning to have an impact. Because we’ve been attacked by name for the first–but surely not the last–time. A small group of Finnish people, who call themselves “ecomodernists” and are affiliated with a group called Energy for Humanity have taken it upon themselves to launch the first direct attack on the Don’t Nuke the Climate campaign, in an essay titled A Most Unwise Campaign. The essay appears to be a follow-up to a self-published tract called Climate Gamble: Is anti-nuclear activism endangering our future? They’re planning to distribute 5,000 copies of these at COP 21 in Paris over the next two weeks in an effort to promote nuclear power and beat back our campaign. Following the distorted and factually-challenged logic of James Hansen, the group begins by repeating the familiar argument that renewable energy cannot scale up fast enough to solve the climate crisis, that decarbonization of the world’s power supply isn’t happening quickly enough, and that, ergo, we need a massive amount of new nuclear power. What does “massive” mean? The authors don’t say, but the World Nuclear Association is less shy: today it issued a statement calling for 1,000 Gigawatts (about 1,000 large reactors) of new nuclear power by mid-century. The essay then shifts gears to focus on one issue: the carbon footprint of nuclear power, which it calls our “key argument.” Actually, it isn’t. Indeed, we readily admit that nuclear power is a low-carbon energy source when compared to fossil fuels. We assert that it is high carbon compared to renewables, but really, that’s all relative. And while the essay devotes considerable effort to try (unsuccessfully) to debunk Professor Benjamin Sovacool’s 2008 meta-analysis of studies comparing carbon footprints of various energy sources (the authors argue a study showing nuclear as relatively high-carbon should be excluded, although excluding such studies, without excluding studies showing nuclear with an essentially undetectable carbon footprint, defeats the purpose of a meta-analysis), if nuclear’s carbon footprint were really our key argument, the campaign would be far less compelling than it is–and far less threatening to nuclear industry interests. Because the most compelling argument against nuclear power as a climate solution (disregarding for the moment issues like nuclear meltdowns, radioactive waste, routine releases of toxic radiation, and nuclear proliferation, and focusing only on climate-related issues), proven over and over and especially in Finland, whose Olkiluoto-3 reactor under construction is the poster child for the failure of the nuclear renaissance, is the industry’s inability to deliver a product that can generate electricity in a reasonable time at a reasonable price.
Green World 30th Nov 2015 read more »
A global collaboration of energy research teams has identified the steps that need to be taken by 16 countries that are major emitters. The proposals all involve better energy efficiency, through smart buildings, power grids and transport. They rely on low-carbon power, such as wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal or hydroelectric. They entail eliminating carbon-based fuels: vehicles and planes must switch to electricity, hydrogen fuel cells or advanced biofuels; buildings and industry must swap heating oil for electricity and fuel cells. As for the technology, one priority is improved batteries for home appliances, electric vehicles and electricity grids. Another is carbon capture and storage, and a way to reuse carbon dioxide as synthetic fuels. A third is “smart” electricity grids, based on metering and feedback. Finally, safer and publicly accepted nuclear power.
FT 30th Nov 2015 read more »
The NFLA submits today its views on two important radioactive waste submissions – its initial views to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority‟s (NDA) Draft Strategy 2016 – 2021 and its views on the process to develop a geological screening exercise in England, Wales and Northern Ireland as part of determining a future location for a deep underground radioactive waste repository.
NFLA 30th Nov 2015 read more »
Fylde MP Mark Menzies has won a commitment from the Chancellor of the Exchequer for continuing Government support for Fylde’s nuclear fuel industry. The Member of Parliament spoke to the Rt Hon George Osborne in the House of Commons. It came as workers at the Westinghouse-owned Springfields fuel factory at Salwick were awaiting the go-ahead for construction of three new nuclear power reactors at the Moorside site near Sellafield in Cumbria. Springfields would be likely to make the fuel for the Westinghouse AP1000 reactors for the Nugen group.
Blackpool Gazette 30th Nov 2015 read more »
The Prime Minister’s record at home is mixed, which might raise suspicions that once again a developed nation is taking a “do as I say, not as I do” approach. UK greenhouse emissions have fallen consistently since the early 1990s but the past six months have suggested a Conservative-only Government is less interested in green issues than the previous Coalition. Subsidies for solar and wind power have been slashed and there is less support for householders wishing to take energy-efficiency measures. Al Gore, the former US Vice-President, said in September he was “puzzled” by the approach. Britain, he suggested, seemed willing blithely to lose its position as world leader on the climate change issue. If that is so, it shows a remarkable failure of foresight by this administration. Perhaps this is why Mr Cameron is so keen to push for legally-binding agreements in Paris: sounding tough may help him regain a leadership role.
Independent 30th Nov 2015 read more »
Foratom, the body that represents the nuclear industry in Europe, says that it welcomes the intention of the European Commission to publish an ‘Illustrative Programme for Nuclear Energy’ (PINC) by the end of the year. The commission is mandated by the Euratom Treaty to periodically issue a new PINC to indicate targets and programmes for nuclear production and the corresponding investment required. Since the publication of the latest PINC in 2007, the situation for nuclear power has changed considerably both within the EU and globally, says Foratom. The financial crisis, the Fukushima accident and the tensions in Ukraine have all had an impact on the energy sector as a whole as well as on the nuclear sector. Nevertheless, global interest in nuclear power is growing and there are currently more nuclear power plants under construction around the world than there have ever been (67 reactors – source IAEA).
EU Reporter 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Rosatom has the strategic aim of attracting European suppliers of nuclear power equipment and services to its foreign and domestic projects, its first deputy director general, Kirill Komarov, said today at a conference in Budapest. Following him to the podium, a Hungarian government official reassured potential suppliers that the Russia-backed Paks nuclear power plant expansion project meets European Commission rules.
World Nuclear News 30th Nov 2015 read more »
Global engineering giants from across the world are to participate in a tender for the construction of Poland’s atomic power station. – Puls Biznesu daily reports that these are American Westinghouse, Japanese GE Hitachi, Canadian SNC-Lavalin Nuclear, French Areva and EDF, and also South Korean KEPCO. By the end of 2015 PGE EJ1, the company founded by the state-owned Polish Energy Group (PGE) to build the facility, is to launch what are known as integrated proceedings which take in the selection of technology to be used and the method of financing the project.
Radio Poland 30th Nov 2015 read more »
Nuclear power is the only source that can provide the baseload electricity that South Africa needs to sustain its long-term economic growth while reducing its carbon emissions, according to a panel of experts from industry, civil society and academia. The experts met at a round-table discussion organized by the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (NIASA) as part of its ongoing engagement to encourage the open discussion of nuclear power.
World Nuclear News 30th Nov 2015 read more »
Of all the reasons why Iran needs to ensure the success of its nuclear deal with world powers, one is linked to its very survival. The statistics are stark. On the World Health Organisation’s list of the world’s top 10 most polluted cities, four are in Iran. “To improve the quality of our air, we need new technologies,” Vice-President in charge of the environment, Masoumeh Ebtekar, tells me soon after she arrives in Paris for the COP21 climate change talks. Not only that, she claims Iran could quadruple its cuts of greenhouse gas emissions with new technologies once there is a complete lifting of sanctions under the landmark nuclear deal signed with world powers in July. “There’s been a lot of willingness among European countries like France and Italy as well as the private sector to come to invest in green technologies,” Mrs Ebtekar says when we sit down for an interview in the graceful premises that have been Iran’s official residence in the French capital for more than a century. She cites a long list of sectors from solar and wind power, to irrigation and waste management.
BBC 30th Nov 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
More than 20,000 more jobs in the solar industry could be lost as a result of proposed cuts to government subsidies, according to the Solar Trade Association. A sample of 204 solar companies surveyed by industry body have already been forced to make 576 staff redundant, with another 1,600 on notice if the planned 87 per cent cut to feed-in tariffs goes ahead.
Construction News 30th Nov 2015 read more »
India’s prime minister has launched an international solar alliance of over 120 countries with the French president, François Hollande, at the Paris COP21 climate summit. Narendra Modi told a press conference that as fossil fuels put the planet in peril, hopes for future prosperity in the developing world now rest on bold initiatives. “Solar technology is evolving, costs are coming down and grid connectivity is improving,” he said. “The dream of universal access to clean energy is becoming more real. This will be the foundation of the new economy of the new century.”
Guardian 30th Nov 2015 read more »
Local communities have raised a record £12.8m for 28 new renewable energy projects thanks to a rush of investment driven by shock government plans to end tax relief for community renewable energy projects from tomorrow. According to data compiled by Ethex and crowdsourcing platform Mongoose Energy, £12.8m has been raised by community renewable energy projects since the Treasury announced in October they would no longer be eligible for Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) tax relief after 30 November.
Business Green 30th Nov 2015 read more »
„We need a global revolution where millions of people say, don’t play with our lives, change direction!“ Just now, in Paris, 147 heads of state negotiate about which actions shall be taken to save our climate. But everyone can be part of the discussion! We want a world without fossil fuels and nuclear power! We are happy to present the community trailer to our feature-length documentary POWER TO CHANGE – The EnergyRebellion, which will be released in theaters on March 17th, 2016.
Power to Change 30th Nov 2015 read more »
The UK’s first and current European Green Capital, Bristol, is encouraging other cities across the continent to ‘go green’ as it shares an online toolkit at the Cities and Regions Pavilion within the COP21 climate conference. Bristol, which is co-hosting the Pavilion during the Paris talks, is offering COP21 delegates a free online toolkit called ‘The Bristol Method’, which highlights and documents what Bristol has learnt from its time as Europe’s Green Capital. Mayor of Bristol George Ferguson said: “The people of Bristol have worked incredibly hard over the last decade – and particularly during 2015 – to make this city more sustainable. As part of our year as the European Green Capital we pledged to make it easy for other cities to emulate our successes and learn from our challenges. The Bristol Method covers a range of subjects including energy, resources, transport, food and nature, highlighting how other cities can use these topics as a way to kick-start greater resource and energy efficiency, Currently, there are 24 documents available on the toolkit, with more to be added every week. Bristol wants to ensure that it leaves a valuable and beneficial legacy as its time as the European Green Capital comes to an end.
Edie 30th Nov 2015 read more »
Some of the world’s most powerful figures including Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg and Richard Branson have announced a new collaboration aimed at creating affordable and reliable clean energy for the entire planet. “The Breakthrough Energy Coalition, an independent initiative launched simultaneously with Mission Innovation and spearheaded by Bill Gates, is a global group of private investors that will take the risks that allow the early stage energy companies that emerge from the research programs of Mission Innovation countries to come out of the lab and into the marketplace.”
Edie 30th Nov 2015 read more »
The group will mainly invest in early-stage clean energy companies across a range of sectors, such as electricity generation and storage, transportation and agriculture. The initiative has been announced in conjunction with Mission Innovation – an effort from 21 governments, including the US, Britain, Australia, Germany, China and Brazil, to double the amount of public money going into clean energy innovation. It’s expected this will bolster governmental assistance in renewables such as solar to wind energy to $20bn.
Guardian 30th Nov 2015 read more »
Telegraph 1st Dec 2015 read more »
Gates suggests wind and solar have made good progress, but given the daunting scale of the challenge ahead, we need to look everywhere we can for promising ideas and develop them as quickly as possible. One thing he doesn’t talk up much is nuclear power, which just days earlier got some very positive words from another tech billionaire, number 234 on the Forbes list, Peter Thiel, who penned “The New Atomic Age We Need” for The New York Times. In around 1,000 words, Thiel lays out a cogent case for a nuclear renaissance, arguing that were it not for two events in 1979 — the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania and the critically acclaimed film The China Syndrome – the U.S. would have gone mostly carbon free for power generation decades ago. And he could be correct. The fear generated by a near meltdown in the populated northeast and a Hollywood horror film back in the era when we we were made to fear tall buildings,shaky ground, and giant apes contributed to the end of the nuclear era in the U.S. The explosion of the Chernobyl nuclear plant in the former Soviet Union seven years later made sure there wouldn’t be a comeback either. Thiel argues that what’s holding back nuclear is: “Designs using molten salt, alternative fuels and small modular reactors have all attracted interest not just from academics but also from entrepreneurs and venture capitalists like me ready to put money behind nuclear power… However, none of these new designs can benefit the real world without a path to regulatory approval.” What he neglects to mention is that none of these designs are remotely ready to be put into use either. Although molten-salt reactors date back to the 1960s, the current designs haven’t left the research phase. Even in countries like China where U.S. regulatory approval isn’t a gating factor, when the scientists and engineers working on building a production reactor to make power dates like 2032 are tossed around. There are a number of other promising technologies being researched, but still the timeframes for first deployment are all between 2020-30. The U.S. regulatory regime isn’t holding these up, the slow path to development of incredibly complex systems is.
Forbes 30th Nov 2015 read more »
Earlier this year, MIT researchers were the latest in a series of analysts to raise alarm about the perceived limitations of solar PV’s continued growth. In short, these analysts propose that variable renewables will depress wholesale prices when they run, thereby limiting their own economic success. These concerns have garnered coverage in other venues (including Vox, Greentech Media, and The Financial Times), leading observers to suggest that the future prospects for renewables may be dim. But are these concerns really justified, or do they rely on outdated assumptions about the grid and about electricity markets? We argue that these critiques, assuming a static grid and unchanging market mechanisms, can be used to make any innovation look bad. However, more integrative assessments of a least-cost, clean, and reliable power system of the future will factor in high fractions of variable renewables, along with more-efficient markets (and usage) and new technologies to integrate these resources seamlessly and resiliently. In this article, we argue that falling wholesale prices is a good problem to have, and that concerns about economic limitations ignore remedies available from supply-side evolution, demand-side resources, and updated market mechanisms. As the world gathers in Paris for COP21, these messages are as important as ever for charting and pursuing a low-carbon clean-energy pathway.
Renew Economy 1st Dec 2015 read more »
As world leaders prepare to gather in Paris for a landmark climate summit, a new analysis from Stanford University and University of California researchers lays out roadmaps for 139 countries, including the world’s major greenhouse gas emitters, to switch to 100 percent clean, renewable energy generated from wind, water and sunlight for all purposes by 2050.
Eco Watch 20th Nov 2015 read more »
Six innovations that are changing the renewables secor; Printable solar panels; floating wind turbines; solar baloons for refugee camps; solar powered water pumps; solar panels inspired by Japanese paper cutting; renewable streetlights that fight mosquitos.
Guardian 30th Nov 2015 read more »
There is a pipeline of 283 heat network projects, which are at varying stages of development across the UK, offering a significant investment and supply chain opportunity. A recent DECC publication suggest this represents up to £2bn of capital investment and £3.2-6.4bn operation and maintenance contract opportunities over the next 10 years. DECC’s eat Network Delivery Unit HNDU funding can be used to bring potential heat network projects from initial heat mapping, right though to business case stage. The challenge then will be ensuring these projects are delivered. We see the need for the development of innovative structuring and funding models over the coming years to enable this market to expand. Particularly with public sector led projects, there will be the question of the extent to which the private sector will be involved. The optimum business model will be one which is financially efficient, draws upon private sector skills (where required), whilst retaining enough control over the delivery body to ensure promotion of the driving social, economic and environmental aspirations. For example, delivery bodies could be either fully public owned, fully private owned or a joint venture between the two. This will depend on the availability of public sector funding and its risk appetite. Recent DECC statistics show that the emerging projects are showing pre-tax internal rates of return (IRR) typically between five and nine per cent over 25 to 40 year periods. This is a modest return over a long period, which may not appeal to commercial invertors in the primary market. In this way, upfront seed funding from the public sector could be key to getting a project over the construction hurdle (which is commonly understood to be the highest risk phase of the project). Operational assets could then be refinanced in a developing secondary market, releasing public sector funds to be invested elsewhere, or even recycled back into the network for the next phase of construction.
Business Green 30th Nov 2015 read more »
David Cameron is demanding wealthy countries give more foreign aid to halt climate change as he calls for world leaders to back a legally binding agreements at the Paris talks. The Prime Minister is also expected to urge businesses do more to tackle pollution as he warns that “climate change is too large for governments alone to deal with”.
Telegraph 30th Nov 2015 read more »
Hopes of a strong global deal on climate change have been undermined by India’s refusal to accept any cap on its emissions. Britain may be forced to abandon its plan for a legally binding review of countries’ emissions targets every five years because India objects to external scrutiny of its pledges. While more than 140 world leaders made speeches in Paris yesterday on the need for more action on climate change, negotiators were working behind the scenes to avoid the two-week conference ending with a weak agreement. Most leaders agreed to a UN request to avoid contentious issues in their speeches and stick to generalities and soundbites, such as the need to preserve the planet for our grandchildren.
Times 1st Dec 2015 read more »