Her Majesty The Queen today delivered her annual speech at the state opening of Parliament. As part of her speech the Queen announced that the Government will propose reforms to the electricity market. [Original wording “These reforms will be laid out in the Energy Bill, scheduled for publication on 22 May” now changed to “We will shortly publish a draft Bill for pre-legislative scrutiny, to enable swift passage of well considered legislation”.]
DECC 9th May 2012 more >>
The government has today confirmed its long-awaited electricity market reforms will be put before parliament within the next 12 months, after a wide-ranging new Energy Bill was included in the Queens Speech. Setting out her government’s agenda for the next parliamentary year, the Queen said the government would bring forward an energy bill that will “propose reform of the electricity market to deliver secure, clean, and affordable electricity, and ensure prices are fair”.
Business Green 9th May 2012 more >>
FoE Advert in Telegraph on Energy Bill.
Telegraph 9th May 2012 more >>
Households will be made to pay for wind farms and nuclear power stations under a new Energy Bill that will force up electricity bills by around £200 a year. The new laws revealed in the Queen’s Speech will bring in a raft of costly subsidies to help energy companies pay for green electricity. British households will have to cover the cost of the subsidies through their energy bills over the next 20 years. The Government said the main point of the new Energy Bill is to make electricity secure, affordable and low-carbon. It will hand millions of pounds per year to energy companies in a subsidy called capacity payments simply for keeping their power stations open to back up wind farms. Another subsidy called contracts for difference will artificially raise the price of electricity to make it worthwhile for companies to build nuclear power stations.
Telegraph 9th May 2012 more >>
Although mainstream press reports over recent weeks suggested planned electricity market reform legislation would be delayed, the Queen confirmed the energy bill will be passed into legislation this year. “My government will propose reform of the electricity market to deliver secure, clean and affordable electricity and ensure prices are fair,” she said. Simon Harrison of the Institute of Engineering and Technology said Wednesday in a statement that “there needs to be a great deal of care taken in the final design of the energy bill. Given E.ON and RWE’s planned disinvestment in Horizon, [a nuclear project] there is even more need to judge nuclear support carefully, so that the interests of consumers and nuclear project developers are properly balanced.” In particular, EDF Energy has a vested interest in the progress of the energy bill as it expects to make a final decision this autumn on investment in construction of the first of four planned 1,600-MW class EPR units at Hinkley Point and Sizewell, which will play a large role in meeting the UK government’s new nuclear goals.
Platts 9th May 2012 more >>
The government has confirmed plans for “revenue support” to benefit nuclear power, through a complex new system of feed-in tariffs and long-term contracts as part of a wider package of reforms to the electricity market. Some energy experts fear “contracts for difference” in the electricity market the centrepiece of the electricity market reforms may be too complex in practice. The government said the system by which suppliers of low-carbon electricity, from nuclear or renewable sources, could sign long-term contracts of supply at a preferential rate “would provide more certainty of revenues for low-carbon generation and make investment in clean energy more attractive”. Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF-UK, said: “While it is great that the government have accepted the principle of legislating for carbon emissions, the way it is currently drawn up simply won’t work. You are not on a diet if you allow yourself 5,000 calories a day. You shouldn’t be surprised if it has no effect.”
Guardian 9th May 2012 more >>
The reforms aim to overcome the high capital cost of building nuclear power plants or offshore wind. But MPs have suggested the system will work for nuclear but not for low carbon power such as offshore wind, and warned the plans amount to a subsidy for new nuclear reactors, something the Government has pledged not to provide. And despite the planned reforms, efforts to create a nuclear renaissance have stalled, with E.ON and RWE npower pulling out of a venture in March to develop new power plants.
Independent 9th May 2012 more >>
Caroline Lucas, MP, Green Party: Instead of strong leadership on the green economy, all that seems to be on offer today is a Green Investment Bank that still can’t borrow, and a deeply flawed Electricity Market Reform Bill which, without radical amendment, risks locking us into a high carbon, high cost, and gas dependent future.”
Business Green 9th May 2012 more >>
Responding to the inclusion of the Energy Bill in todays Queens Speech, Jim Footner, head of Greenpeaces climate and energy campaign, said: People normally dread energy bills, which have been soaring due to rocketing gas prices. But the Energy Bill announced today by the Queen could actually save people money. It can do this by taking the side of the bill-payer, and not the side of energy companies like Centrica, who want us to fork out for expensive gas imports and nuclear energy. Our household budgets just cant afford a new dash for imported gas nor for nuclear reactors which are going to cost at least £7billion each. But this Bill isnt only a chance for the Coalition government to tackle both household bills and climate change. Its also a chance for them to rescue any claim they have to be a green government. And they can only do that if the Bill backs clean, cutting-edge renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Greenpeace 9th May 2012 more >>
Alan Whitehead MP: As far as electricity Market Reform is concerned, exactly when during the next year a bill gets underway, and what it is likely to consist of in the end is looking increasingly interesting. Why? Because any serious delay in putting something in front of the House risks some fatal timetable delays in putting in place the heath-robinson contraptions that will frame the new worlds of delivering secure clean and affordable electricity (as the Queens speech puts it). It will be difficult to issue legally workable contracts for difference as it stands, but rather impossible if the legislation is not there in time to do so. Ive previously alluded to the difficult writing task that the revised version of the revised version of CfD counterparty agreements will present: and just as the shape of the reforms gets boiled down into something approaching English, so the purpose of much of it (to subsidise new nuclear without appearing to do so) is falling away before our eyes. I am not sure how widely the near meltdown of UK nuclear policy is currently understood by the wider policy community (See recent Times articles). The urgent rethink clearly now needed on nuclear policy will have to take place just as the architecture of the previous arrangements becomes cast in stone. Rethink and possibly crash the timetable for EMR, or dont rethink and produce an on-time turkey that isnt fit for purpose. A dilemma indeed.
Alan Whitehead 9th May 2012 more >>
Later today, the government will publish the Queen’s Speech, when its new legislative programme is outlined. All the indications are that it will secretly break a promise that was set out in the coalition agreement, signed in May 2010. This gave a firm and unequivocal commitment to promote the construction of new nuclear reactors only if they received no public subsidy.
Spin Watch 9th May 2012 more >>
In the first of a series of video blogs for RTCC, Tom Burke, founding director of sustainability consultancy E3G and a former director of Friends of the Earth, explains why he thinks nuclear is not the right option for policy makers.
Responding to Climate Change 9th May 2012 more >>
The man in charge of choosing contractors for EDF Energys nuclear new build programme in the UK is leaving the firm. Building understands that Alan Cumming, commercial director at EDF, who has been in charge of contracts for the building of EDFs four new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk, will leave the firm. Cumming has been a strong advocate of UK firms involvement in the construction of nuclear power plants and news of his departure came as a surprise to some in the industry. EDF, which is majority owned by the French government, declined to confirm Cummings departure. The news comes amid further uncertainty around the UKs nuclear new build programme, following a move in March by German power companies E.ON and RWE Npower to sell the Horizon holding, which had two nuclear new build sites. This week EDF refused to comment on reports that the cost of the Hinkley Point C reactors has risen 40% from £10bn to £14bn. Any rise in cost is likely to make EDFs energy firm partner Centrica, which has already threatened to pull out of the partnership, even less keen on investing.
Building 10th May 2012 more >>
RUSSIAN energy giants Rosatom has categorically denied it has any interest in buying Horizon Nuclear Power. State owned Rosatom is one of several companies in recent weeks from which have been linked with buying Horizon, which was looking to develop a new nuclear power station at Wylfa. We are not in any negotiations for Horizon, although we do have good relations with its parent companies. On Anglesey, anti-nuclear campaigners had called on politicians to distance themselves from the company, as its predecessor ran Chernobyl. Rosatom, however, said its reactors were of the third plus generation and had the most modern security systems. In recent days claims have been made Horizon has received interest from companies in China, America and the Middle East.
Holyhead and Anglesey Mail 9th May 2012 more >>
Reg Illingworth of the anti-nuclear powerhouse Shepperdine Against Nuclear Energy (SANE) this week joined the people of South Gloucestershire who, he says, are celebrating the decision by Eon and RWE to abandon their joint venture, Horizon, that was to build a new nuclear power plant in the region. The German duo had bought the nearby Oldbury Magnox plant and were snapping up adjacent land. But hold the champagne – there may be bids in the offing for Horizon. Amid the names swirling around are Westinghouse-Toshiba and Rosatom – the people who brought you the plants at Fukushima and Chernobyl, respectively.
Utility Week 8th May 2012 more >>
RWE, the German utility, reported a drop in profit in the first quarter of the year as it continued to suffer under Berlins decision to close half the countrys nuclear power plants after nuclear disaster in Japan in spring 2011.
FT 10th May 2012 more >>
SIZEWELL C is in real danger of never being built after socialists swept to power in France, experts warned last night. Sources close to new President Francois Hollande believe once a full analysis of the economy has been conducted he will move to block state-owned EDF spending billions overseas. Last night the energy firm reiterated its commitment to the site, but some believe the project is now in severe doubt.
East Anglian Daily Times 9th May 2012 more >>
The decommissioning of one of the region’s nuclear power stations continues apace. The cooling ponds at the Bradwell atomic plant in Essex have now been drained. 3000 cubic metres of water, more than an Olympic-sized swimming pool, have been drained from the cooling ponds. It marks a significant milestone in the decommissioning process of Bradwell nuclear power station, preparing it for the next stage ‘care and maintenance’ that’s scheduled to begin in 2015.
ITV Anglia 9th May 2012 more >>
People living near the site of the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset are being asked for their views on the plans. The first of four Planning Inspectorate public meetings is taking place in the village of Cannington. EDF Energy submitted plans for the plant to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) last October. Further meetings are due to take place in Otterhampton, Bridgwater and Stogursey later this month. It is the first opportunity for the Planning Inspectorate to hear the views in person of local people.
BBC 9th May 2012 more >>
It may look like the stuff of science fiction but this robotic arm is making a very real contribution to nuclear decommissioning at Sellafield.
Cumberland News 9th May 2012 more >>
Low Level Waste
A company that wants to bury 1m tonnes of radioactive waste near Distington is likely to appeal after its plans were turned down. Endecom UK applied to use former opencast coal workings at Keekle Head, Pica, to dispose of low-level and very-low-level waste, mostly from Sellafield, over 50 years. But Cumbria County Councils development control and regulation committee voted unanimously yesterday to reject the scheme.
Carlisle News & Star 9th May 2012 more >>
Recycling plutonium is dangerous and costly. Britain should take the lead on direct disposal, say Frank von Hippel, Rodney Ewing, Richard Garwin and Allison Macfarlane.
Nature 9th May 2012 more >>
Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), the company at the centre of Japan’s worst-ever nuclear accident, has been saved from collapse after the government in effect nationalised the firm by agreeing to inject 1 trillion yen ($12.5bn) in fresh capital. Japan’s biggest utility has received at least 3.5tn yen in state support since three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant went into meltdown after being hit by a powerful tsunami on 11 March last year. The trade and industry minister, Yukio Edano, said the capital injection was needed to ensure the utility company could continue to supply electricity to 45 million people, including residents of Tokyo. “Without the state funds, [Tepco] cannot provide a stable supply of electricity and pay for compensation and decommissioning costs,” Edano said after approving what amounts to a state takeover of the firm. The total cost of the disaster, which last weekend led to the closure of the country’s last working nuclear reactor, is estimated at $100bn. Tepco faces compensation claims totalling 5tn yen from the tens of thousands of people who have been driven from their homes by radiation leaks.
Guardian 9th May 2012 more >>
On May 5, Japan’s last operating reactor shut down for scheduled maintenance, leaving the country without nuclear power for the first time in more than four decades. Restarting it, or any of Japan’s other 53 reactors, could be difficult given the mounting public backlash and protests. Japan will eventually restart some. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has been nothing if not consistent in his support for the nuclear-power industry. It’s long had carte blanche thanks to lavish campaign contributions, steady support for newspaper and magazine advertising and habit of giving government bureaucrats lucrative gigs when they retire. Yet the Japanese are fast losing patience. Many seem willing to absorb higher electricity bills and live with a replay of last summer’s blackouts if it leads to safer future. Japan is one of the world’s most seismically active places, and the feeling is that unless it builds reactors out of rubber and elevates them on huge shock absorbers, it needs to find energy alternatives — and fast.
Bloomberg 9th May 2012 more >>
A victory by Francois Hollande in the French Presidential election means a more uncertain outlook for EDF than under a maintained Sarkozy government. With the campaign promise to shut the Fessenheim nuclear plant in the next five years, there is now an earnings overhang on our forecasts, analysts from Goldman Sachs told the Wall Street Journal. Shares in EDF were down 3% on the news of Hollandes victory.
Nuclear Engineering International 9th May 2012 more >>
Lithuania’s government gave its final approval to several plans aimed at reducing its dependency on Russian energy sources on Wednesday, including a new nuclear plant which it said could cost up to 7 billion euros ($9.10 billion). The government of centre-right Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius said it had given its approval to laws which underpin plans for the nuclear power plant, a liquiefied natural gas terminal and power grid synchronisation with western Europe involving new cables to Sweden and Poland.
Reuters 9th May 2012 more >>
Fukushima has forced the US nuclear operators to look long and hard at security arrangements. Now the dust has settled, what has changed for the industry? There was understandable concern when a 5.8-magnitude quake struck the North Anna Nuclear Generating Station in Virginia, USA, last August. With the industry still reeling from the impact of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan, workers from operator Dominion Resources rushed to find signs of damage following the tremor, which was bigger than the plant was designed to withstand. In the event, the plant withstood. As the earthquake hit, the station lost access to grid power and shut down automatically. Its four backup diesel generators then sprang to life and kept the safety systems running, ensuring cores were covered with coolant.
Nuclear Energy Insider 9th May 2012 more >>
Poland, one of only a handful of European nations still pursuing plans to build nuclear power plants, will select the provider of the technology for its first facility this year and hopes it will start operating in 2023, a government official said.
Reuters 9th May 2012 more >>
Britain must keep its Trident missile system in a world in which other countries are increasing their nuclear capabilities, according to a former senior official in the US government. The very fashionable notion that the nuclear deterrent doesnt modify great power behaviour, is great cocktail party talk in the foreign policy salons here and in Washington, but they dont say that in Moscow and they dont say that in Beijing.
Telegraph 10th May 2012 more >>
Amory Lovins Lecture (30 minutes): A 50 year plan for Energy.
You Tube 1st May 2012 more >>
MEG Renewables said council planners are currently reluctant to approve medium-sized developments where the turbines are more than 50m (164ft) high because they are well outside of their comfort zone. In a submission to a major Holyrood inquiry, Neil McGeoch, the companys managing director, said this limit should be increased to 80m (262.5ft) as part of a quantum shift in the planning process. Unless this increase is permitted, the firm warned that medium-sized wind farms will struggle to deliver anything like the electricity SNP ministers require to meet their targets.
Telegraph 9th May 2012 more >>
Solar PV was the most installed energy source in Europe during 2011 according to the European Photovoltaic Industry Association (EPIA). The EPIA reports that solar PV capacity across the EU rose by 63 percent to reach 21.9GW last year. It is believed that the rapid rise of solar across Europe has been caused by the increased uptake of incentive schemes, such as the feed-in tariff, combined with increased Governmental subsidisation across the EU. Solar PV technology is spearheading a European renewable renaissance despite the trying economic conditions. European solar capacity installed in 2011 outstripped new wind and gas capacity combined, which each saw 9.5GW of capacity installed in 2011. European countries accounted for 75 percent of all newly-installed global solar capacity last year, which is set to produce around 26TWh of clean electricity.
Solar Power Portal 9th May 2012 more >>
Global PV Market Outlook until 2016.
PV Magazine May 2012 more >>