Electricity Market Reform
“Power chief hits out at nuclear boost”: Measures to support the UKs nuclear power operators would risk damaging the electricity market, according to the head of Britains second-biggest energy supplier. Ian Marchant, chief executive of Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), said he backed the principle of building a new generation of nuclear power stations, but any additional help for this objective was unnecessary. He gave warning against allowing this single goal to dominate the governments forthcoming reform of the electricity market. A white paper expected in July will set out the most radical shake-up of the UKs electricity market for two decades
FT 1st June 2011 more >>
In Britain, the backlash against atomic energy has been fairly mild, although it’s notable that 55 MPs (including Zac Goldsmith, Ming Campbell, Charles Kennedy, Tim Farron and Jo Swinson) have now signed an early-day-motion calling on the government to “suspend plans” for a new nuclear programme. In addition, recent YouGov poll found that more of the public oppose nuclear power (48 per cent) than support it (40 per cent). The coalition has pledged to build eight new nuclear power stations by 2025 on the proviso that there is no public subsidy. However, as the Energy and Climate Change Select Committee noted earlier this month, the government is planning to provide investors with long-term contracts and guaranteed prices – a subsidy in all but name.
New Statesman 31st May 2011 more >>
While the UK government appears to remain committed to nuclear, “opposition will be strengthened by the German move which is likely to lead to delays in executing UK policy”.
Utility Week 31st May 2011 more >>
More than 13,000 jobs could be lost across east Kent by 2018, according to an assessment of the area’s economy. The estimate comes in a report outlining hopes for future growth after Pfizer closes its Sandwich site. Consultants believe the drug company’s exit, the decommissioning of Dungeness nuclear power station, and public sector cuts could affect 13,700 jobs.
BBC 31st May 2011 more >>
Councillors are worried that an influx of 6,000 construction workers building the planned Wylfa B nuclear plant in Anglesey could leave local residents homeless. A report from the local council warns that the construction workforce will reach its peak in 2017 and up to 70% of builders will need accommodation while working on the plant. The influx will stretch housing resources to the limit and councillors fear landlords will prefer more lucrative private tenants to locals on housing benefit.
Construction Enquirer 1st June 2011 more >>
Commenting on news that Germany is to phase out its nuclear power plants, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “We welcome this announcement from the German government, which adds to the growing international realisation of difficulties associated with nuclear power. “It adds further weight to our view that Scotland does not need a new generation of costly nuclear plants and is instead ideally placed to become a green energy powerhouse. “That’s why we have a new target of generating 100 per cent of Scotland’s electricity needs from renewables by 2020 – one of the most demanding anywhere in the world. “And we have already started the journey. Total planned offshore wind development in waters around Scotland already amounts to almost 10 Gigawatts of capacity, more than Scotland’s peak demand. With planned inward investment of around £300 million to develop the next generation of offshore wind turbines in Scotland, and capacity for so much more, it is clear that renewables are key to the development of a low carbon economy and the creation of significant new employment opportunities in Scotland.”
eGov Monitor 1st June 2011 more >>
Letter: Germany’s decision to abandon nuclear power for domestic political reasons in order to remain in power, and this sort of half-baked decision-making is used to justify our own policy of destroying our environment by building unreliable and costly wind farms which will only ever generate a fraction of the electricity promised. It seems incredible that the SNP’s focus on closing down nuclear power stations, which will lead either to the lights going out or an increased reliance on coal and gas power stations, appears in The Scotsman on the day when it is announced that global carbon emissions have reached record levels.
Scotsman 1st June 2011 more >>
Nuclear power supplied 23% of Germany’s energy and the announcement caused shares in RWE and E.ON to plummet by 1.7% and 2.3% respectively as RWE had already stated that the government’s move would hit profits by a “three-digit million-euro” figure. Additionally, RWE and E.ON were the biggest fallers in Alva’s Reputation index decreasing by 1.23% and 1.97% respectively as the announcement triggered increased negative coverage over the future of nuclear power internationally and stock market jitters.
Energy Business Review 1st June 2011 more >>
US energy group Westinghouse Electric Company will sign an agreement with Bulgaria Energy for the delivery of nuclear fuel to the country.
Energy Business Review 31st May 2011 more >>
Nuclear waste could be taken in by a Northamptonshire landfill site after the Government overturned the councils decision to refuse planning permission for the proposal.
MRW 31st May 2011 more >>
One of the driest springs ever recorded in northern Europe could lead to power blackouts this summer, with nuclear reactors going offline because of low river levels. The exceptionally dry weather will also raise food prices and has already forced water restrictions on millions of people, say governments, farm groups and meteorological organisations across the continent. Concern is now mounting that some of Europe’s nuclear reactors may be forced to temporarily close within months if there is not substantially increased rainfall. Most of France’s nuclear stations rely on river water to cool them and falling rivers could force closure. EDF, which operates 58 reactors, has said it will delay maintenance work on its reactors near the Channel and Atlantic Ocean this summer to ensure electricity in case its riverside plants have to shut as they did in 2003 during a heatwave.
Guardian 31st May 2011 more >>
Demand for power rises in the summer when homes and businesses turn on cooling devices but with a big chunk of Germany’s nuclear capacity out and a possible cut in French nuclear capacity due to a severe drought, things may get tight.
Reuters 31st May 2011 more >>
In the aftermath of Japan’s nuclear crisis at Fukushima, some European nations are rethinking their atomic plans. But France, home to 58 of 143 reactors in the EU, remains nuclear energy’s champion, and plans not to retire its power stations but to expand them. Emma Jane Kirby examines why. For many tourists visiting the tranquil north Normandy coast, the giant EPR reactor at Flamanville is little more than a lamentable industrial scar on a rather beautiful landscape. But to the French government, Flamanville’s European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) is the embodiment of the future. Following the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power station – which was heavily damaged by the deadly 11 March quake and tsunami – President Nicolas Sarkozy announced there would be an audit of all nuclear facilities. But he added firmly that France would not be rethinking its nuclear energy policy as neighbours Germany, Italy and Switzerland have.
BBC 31st May 2011 more >>
Stabilizing the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant by the end of the year may be impossible, senior officials at Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday, throwing a monkey wrench into plans to let evacuees return to their homes near the plant.
Japan Times 30th May 2011 more >>
Fukushima clean-up could cost up to $250 billion.
NHK 31st May 2011 more >>
Following complaints from citizens, the European Ombudsman has opened an investigation into the EU’s permitted levels of food contamination following the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan and their communication to the wider public. Similar complaints are also being heard in France.
Euractiv 31st May 2011 more >>
The European Ombudsman, P. Nikiforos Diamandouros, has asked the European Commission to provide citizen-friendly information about the maximum permitted levels of radioactive contamination of foodstuffs in the EU before and after the Fukushima accident in Japan.
Wired Gov 31st May 2011 more >>
International nuclear inspectors have criticised the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant for failing to prepare for a tsunami of the size that slammed into the facility on 11 March, sparking the world’s worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl. In a preliminary report issued on Wednesday, inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] said Tokyo Electric Power [Tepco] had underestimated the risk of a giant tsunami, and urged authorities to closely monitor the health of plant workers and members of the public. The team, led by Britain’s chief nuclear safety official, Mike Weightman, said lack of preparedness had contributed to the crisis at Fukushima, where workers are still trying to restore cooling systems to reactors, three of which suffered meltdowns soon after they were struck by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and 14-metre tsunami. Weightman dismissed speculation that the earthquake had caused substantial damage before the tsunami arrived. “In terms of the cause it is clear the direct cause was a tsunami, associated with an earthquake, of tremendous size,” he told reporters.
Guardian 1st June 2011 more >>
IB Times 1st June 2011 more >>
LBC 1st June 2011 more >>
Sky News 1st June 2011 more >>
The (Weightman) report for the IAEA comes on the heels of another study that has estimated the cost of the accident at Fukushima may rise as high as $250 billion (£150bn) over the next 10 years.
Telegraph 1st June 2011 more >>
High levels of a radioactive substance that collects in bones were found in soil samples from a damaged Japanese nuclear power plant, its operator said Wednesday. Tokyo Electric Power Co detected up to 480 becquerels of strontium-90 per kilogram of soil taken at three locations about 500 metres from two reactors at the six-reactor plant, the public broadcaster NHK reported. The measurement was about 100 times higher than the maximum reading recorded in Fukushima prefecture in atmospheric nuclear tests conducted by foreign countries during the Cold War, NHK said.
Monsters and Critics 1st June 2011 more >>
An oil spill and a small explosion have caused limited damage, but no further radiation leaks, at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station in north-east Japan, the plant operator has said. Workers at the crippled plant found an oil spill on Tuesday in the sea near reactors 5 and 6, which were shutdown when the earthquake and tsunami struck on 11 March, the Tokyo Electric Power Company said. The spill was contained by an oil fence, a Tepco spokesman, Taichi Okazaki, said. An explosion workers heard at reactor 4 on Tuesday was likely to have come from a gas tank and did not cause any additional radiation leaks, Okazaki added. The cause was being investigated.
Guardian 31st May 2011 more >>
Japan ‘cannot afford to miss’ the opportunity to replace nuclear with wind, according to a global wind energy trade association. The Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) this week called for ‘urgent action’ to exploit Japan’s ‘tremendous’ wind power potential to fill the gap left by the country reducing its reliance on nuclear. Mr Kan said last week he aims to focus on the ‘sunrise plan’, which as the name suggests will look towards solar power rather than wind. GWEC’s secretary general, Steve Sawyer, said: “We were disappointed to hear Mr Kan did not make any mention of scaling up Japan’s wind power capacity.
Edie 31st May 2011 more >>
The German abandonment of nuclear energy is a sad example of a minority of sanctimonious Luddites reversing human progress. Cheap, nuclear energy, especially for one of the world’s greatest industrial powers, is the way forward. Instead, the irrational fears of an objectionable few will result in reduced prosperity for the majority.
Adam Smith Institute 1st June 2011 more >>
E.ON, Europe’s second largest nuclear power producer, is to sue the German government over its plans to shut down all of the country’s nuclear reactors by 2022 while keeping in place a nuclear fuel tax. The utility confirmed yesterday that it expects to receive compensation after Merkel’s government decided it will close all of Germany’s 17 reactors over the next 10 years.
Business Green 1st June 2011 more >>
E.ON is suing the German Government for billions of euros in damages over its dramatic U-turn on nuclear power after the Fukushima meltdown in Japan. The energy companys German rival RWE, which operates as RWE npower in Britain, is also considering legal action. The backlash in Germany against nuclear power has profound implications for E.ON and RWEs proposal to build four reactors in Britain. Their plans are now in limbo and a contract to build the reactors is not now expected to be awarded this year. There are also serious doubts about RWEs ability to fund the plans, which have been exacerbated by the nuclear shutdown in Germany. The two companies said last week that the moratorium had no direct impact on its plans to build new reactors in Britain but added that they were looking to learn the lessons from the disaster in Japan.
Times 1st June 2011 more >>
So Germany will dump nuclear power. Europe’s largest economy and the world’s second largest exporter of manufactured goods reckons it can manage without it, closing all nuclear power stations, which at present produce a quarter of the country’s electricity, by 2022. Given German thoroughness and attention to detail, they will presumably succeed. What might it mean for us, the rest of Europe and indeed the world? Nuclear power generates such strong opinions on both sides of the argument that it might be helpful to start with some rough numbers to see the role it plays in the world’s energy supply. The most glaring and often overlooked point is that it supplies only a small amount of the world’s primary energy, about 6 per cent. It is slightly less important than the other main source of energy other than fossil fuels: hydropower, which is about 7 per cent of the total. All the renewable sources of energy biofuels, wind, solar and the rest account for less than 2 per cent. So at the moment the amount of energy that comes from the three main fossil fuels oil, coal and gas is more than 85 per cent of the total.
Independent 1st June 2011 more >>
When Europe’s largest economy announces it is phasing out nuclear energy, the rest of the world has to pay attention. In what amounts to the biggest coup yet for the green lobby, Germany has said it will be nuclear free by 2022. The news has sent shockwaves across the world, with sceptics questioning whether such an ambitious target is possible without widespread blackouts – and energy companies threatening legal action. The majority of Germans are now against nuclear power, but what do the commentators think? Daniel Johnson warns in the Daily Telegraph of the consequences for Britain of Germany’s nuclear phase-out. “Germany is the largest economy in Europe and the European Union has a habit of imposing German prejudices on the rest of its member states. Enemies of nuclear energy will be emboldened to pressurise other governments, including our own, to follow the German lead
First Post 31st May 2011 more >>
Switzerland looks set to become the latest country to abolish its nuclear energy programme after its Government announced last week that it would be nuclear free by 2034. The news is a boon to solar, which will look to fill the void left by an industry that currently accounts for 39.9% of the land-locked countrys electricity production.
PV Tech 31st May 2011 more >>
One of the scientists who worked on China’s atomic bomb has warned that the “giddy speed and zero preparation” of the country’s hugely ambitious nuclear energy programme could end in disaster.
Telegraph 1st June 2011 more >>