The problems facing the Government’s plan to reform the UK’s electricity market go well beyond the departure of two of the limited number of civil servants who actually understand the proposals. The reality is that the Government is losing its appetite for a scheme which is liable to disintegrate under the weight of its own complexity. The real problem is that the plans freeze the system in aspic at a time when the market and new technology are producing dramatic changes. The prices (we are not allowed to call them subsidies) represent corporate welfare on a very big scale – a transfer of wealth from consumers to suppliers which means that those who win the lobbying battle will be celebrating for decades to come. To reduce emissions the simplest and most effective device would be to incentivise energy saving. The green deal is too complex and the take up is low. It could be simplifed and relaunched along with new steps to stimulate investment in the technologies which can produce a step change reduction. The only remaining question is whether the Government has the confidence to step back and admit that the reform is too complex and that something simpler and short term is both necessary and appropriate. We will know within the next few weeks.
FT 9th May 2013 read more »
Tim Yeo has called on the government to fast track its Energy Bill and provide urgent clarification on a host of key policy questions or risk a worsening hiatus in energy investment dragging on through the summer
Business Green 9th May 2013 read more »
The UK’s proposed new 3.2GW Hinkley Point C nuclear plant may meet similar technical difficulties to that of Flamanville and Olkiluoto projects which could lead to the project overrunning even further, nuclear experts have told ICIS. Commercial operation of the proposed new-build has already been delayed past initial estimates for various reasons, while Centrica recently exited from its role as minority partner. Talks with the UK government about a strike price for the contract for difference model have also dragged on. But technology could be another spanner in the works, experts said. Hinkley Point C will use Areva’s European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) nuclear technology if built. The technology is set to be used in Flamanville 3 plant in France, Olkiluoto plant in Finland and two reactors in China, which are all EDF projects. The construction at Flamanville has overrun by four years and costs have doubled. Olkiluoto, meanwhile, has been hit by delays of over six years – it is not expected to come on line until at least 2015. Some experts have estimated its budget has tripled. Less is known about the status of the Chinese power plants. “Nobody is taking bets at the moment. Even EDF are in despair about the EPR reactor,” said Paul Dorfman of the energy institute, University College London. “EDF argue that the Chinese projects are going well. But there are rumours that they’re facing similar problems to Flamanville and Olkiluoto.” Stephen Thomas, professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich, said instrumentation and control (I&C) system were key to the problems.
ICIS 9th May 2013 read more »
High capital costs and maintaining public confidence are seen as the greatest challenges facing the European nuclear power industry, according to a recent survey conducted by Platts, a leading global energy, petrochemical and metals information provider. The survey included more than 100 utilities, builders, consultancies, and regulators in Europe and precedes the eighth annual Platts European Nuclear Power Conference set for June 26-27 in Warsaw, Poland. Political risk, long construction periods, regulatory uncertainty and safety concerns were also highlighted as key hurdles before the Continent’s nuclear power companies.
Commodities Now 9th May 2013 read more »
Europe is likely to be home to more nuclear power plants in the future, even though high costs and public criticism will remain significant roadblocks for the industry, according to a Platts survey released Thursday. Political risk, long construction periods, regulatory uncertainty, and safety concerns were also highlighted as hurdles. One thing the industry isn’t lacking: confidence. Eighty percent of those polled said nuclear power would succeed in gaining a larger share of the continent power generation mix.
Market Watch 9th May 2013 read more »
With European new-build programmes stalling, long-term operation of existing plants offers a simple and relatively cheap way to keep nuclear going for the greater good. Cost and schedule overruns at Flamanville 3 in France and Olkiluoto 3 in Finland; Horizon handing its new-build programme to Hitachi in the UK; one thing seems certain about building new reactors in Europe: while possible, it is a complicated task. In the meantime, there are plenty of existing reactors out there. While consideration needs to be given to the risks of aging infrastructure, there is no clear limit to how long they could be kept running with due care and attention. And if building new plants is so tricky, would it not make more sense to focus on extending the lifespan of existing assets?
Nuclear Insider 8th May 2013 read more »
It’s no good drawing a correlation between green policies and rising bills. The figures don’t back it up. Ofgem says that environmental costs have remained broadly static as a proportion of bills since 2008, and that increasing gas prices have been, and currently still are, the main reason our bills are on the up. Over the coming decades bills will rise, predominantly because our energy infrastructure is knackered and rejuvenating it will be expensive. But how much electricity will cost in the future depends on the kit we build now to power it – with stark differences between the options.
Left Foot Forward 9th May 2013 read more »
French nuclear firm EDF and Russia’s Rosatom are in discussions to work more closely, a French publication has reported, potentially including co-ownership of Turkey’s first commercial nuclear plant. Les Echos recently quoted Rosatom Deputy General Director Nikolai Spassky as saying the French government’s current emphasis on keeping corporate investments within France will not last, and that Rosatom has offered to work with EDF on nuclear projects in Kaliningrad, Russia, and Turkey. Rosatom is financing the $20 billion, 4,800 megawatt Akkuyu project and owns 100 percent of its equity.
Nuclear Street 9th May 2013 read more »
Once again DECC has refused to honour its commitment to rule Cumbria out following the No vote. …. meanwhile the wastes continue to arrive at Sellafield. The plutonium continues to stack up from dodgy reprocessing. All the while DECC is wined and dined by the nuclear industry looking to pick up government contracts in the £billions.
Radiation Free Lakeland 9th May 2013 read more »
THE book is closing on an important piece of science at the former nuclear research site at Winfrith. In what has been hailed as a ‘highly significant landmark’, phase one of decommissioning the experimental Dragon reactor has now been completed. It is another milestone achieved in moves towards final closure of the site.
Dorset Echo 9th May 2013 read more »
CALLS are growing for more routine radioactive screening at borders after a second lorry containing unshielded radioactive material was stopped on a European road.
Express 9th May 2013 read more »
ROTHERHAM’S hi-tech nuclear manufacturing project has appointed its new chief executive. Mike Tynan will join the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre this summer. Mr Tynan, currently boss of power firm Westinghouse UK, said: “I am delighted and extremely proud to be joining the team.
Rotherham Advertiser 10th May 2013 read more »
The most toxic and voluminous nuclear waste in the U.S.—208 million liters —sits in decaying underground tanks at the Hanford Site (a nuclear reservation) in southeastern Washington State. It accumulated there from the middle of World War II, when the Manhattan Project invented the first nuclear weapon, to 1987, when the last reactor shut down. The federal government’s current attempt at a permanent solution for safely storing that waste for centuries—the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant here—has hit a major snag in the form of potential chain reactions, hydrogen explosions and leaks from metal corrosion. And the revelation last February that six more of the storage tanks are currently leaking has further ramped up the pressure for resolution.Time may be limited. The 177 tanks, built between 1943 and 1986 and most intended for only about a 20-year life span, are decaying; at last count, six are leaking. The Vit Plant was supposed to start operating in 2007 and is now projected to begin in 2022. Its original budget was $4.3 billion and is now estimated at $13.4 billion. Nobody is suggesting the project be abandoned, yet forging ahead without confidence in the plant’s safe operation is not really an option either. The real question, many Hanford watchers say, is whether the country wants to pay for doing it right.
Scientific American 9th May 2013 read more »
US federal officials have started an investigation into a factory manufacturing parts for nuclear plants, alleging falsification of records and quality control rules. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Office of Investigations started the investigation at Shaw Modular Solutions facility in the US city of Lake Charles, Louisiana, an agency spokesperson said on Thursday. Some workers at the facility have already admitted that they entered the identification codes for other workers while recording who assembled parts.
RINF 9th May 2013 read more »
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) is planning to speed up the development of a nuclear power plant (NPP) project in Sinop, Turkey. MHI said the project is being forwarded in Turkey following Japan’s recent acquisition of preferential negotiating rights. ATMEA1 pressurized water reactor is designated for adoption under the Sinop NPP project. The reactor was developed by ATMEA, a France-based joint venture of MHI and French energy firm Areva.
Energy Business Review 9th May 2013 read more »
Vietnam is to set up a new National Council for Atomic Energy Development, tasked with identifying strategies and priorities for the development of nuclear energy in the country.
World Nuclear News 9th May 2013 read more »
The Ontario government is thinking about delaying construction of new nuclear units, says energy minister Bob Chiarelli. Although there’s never been a firm date to start construction of two proposed new units at the Darlington nuclear station some insiders are pushing for a go-slow approach. “We have significant supply of energy now, a surplus of energy. And we’re doing a lot of work on comparisons between expanding new nuclear and other supply mixes. So it’s a work in progress right now.”
Toronto Star 9th May 2013 read more »
More than half of Scots want Britain to retain a nuclear deterrent after Trident is decommissioned, according to an opinion poll published today that undermines a key plank of Alex Salmond’s case for independence. The results fly in the face of polls previously published by the SNP and Scottish CND, which have suggested Scots are extremely hostile to nuclear weapons.
Telegraph 10th May 2013 read more »
Sky 10th May 2013 read more »
A court convicted an 83-year-old nun and two fellow protesters on Wednesday of breaking into the US main store of weapons-grade uranium at Oak Ridge. The jury found the three Ploughshares protesters guilty of interfering with national security and a second charge of damaging federal property.
Morning Star 9th May 2013 read more »
Independent 9th May 2013 read more »
Wigton is about to launch as a ‘smart-grid’ pilot town in a pioneering project that will combat fuel poverty, and allow customers the means to control over their energy usage and providers. Local MP Rory Stewart said the move will ‘put Wigton on the map as a community willing to take practical steps to address fuel poverty’. The launch will take place on Saturday at 3pm in the Wigton Market Hall. It will involve trial smart energy meters being officially ‘switched-on’ in both residential and business premises. The Innovia factory, Nelson Thomlinson School, and on the Greenacres Estate are all involved. The meters will act as a practical showcase of the benefits of smart-metering, enabling Wigton residents to monitor energy usage and potentially run smart-energy devices from a town-wide network.
In Cumbria 9th May 2013 read more »
As the government yesterday announced the winners of a £5m competition to support the development of novel energy storage systems, businesses operating in the fledgling sector issued a stark warning that such innovation could prove fruitless without greater efforts to ramp up demand for existing technologies. By providing extra capacity that could be made available during periods of peak demand, energy storage systems could save the UK up to £10bn a year by 2050. The technology is also capable of playing a major role in curbing emissions, as it allows grid operators to store power from wind farms and release it when it is needed, reducing the need to fire up peaking gas power plants. But despite government assurances, the industry says it is still wating for a policy that will deliver a significant increase in energy storage capacity. Today, the UK has 3GW of pumped hydro storage, most of which is located in North Wales to provide reserve power for now defunct nuclear and coal plants. But with an increasing amount of renewable energy being added to the grid, ESN believes storage capacity should be ramped up to at least 5GW by the end of the decade.
Business Green 9th May 2013 read more »
The Department of Energy and Climate Change is awarding £21m to entrepreneurs to help develop a range of new and innovative low carbon technologies. The cash is being split between the Energy Entrepreneurs Fund (£16m), Energy Storage competitions ($2m) and Advanced Heat Storage (£3m). All the schemes are designed to “spur innovation in the sector, help support jobs and create export opportunities as well as help the UK meet its carbon targets”, DECC said.
Renews 8th May 2013 read more »
The government is encouraging power stations to burn biomass in order to help lower carbon emissions. Leo Hickman, with your help, investigates.
Guardian 9th May 2013 read more »
South West Water has installed more solar panels across its operational sites after the company’s existing solar assets generated more than one million kilowatt-hours in 2012. In December 2011 the company invested £3 million in solar arrays at 23 water and sewage treatment works in Devon and Cornwall. As a result of the sites’ performance, the water company has installed solar at another seven of its operational sites in Devon, bringing the total to 30 solar arrays. The seven new sites have a combined capacity of 400kW which will help South West Water generate 410,000kWh of additional energy.
Solar Portal 7th May 2013 read more »
A NUMBER of schools in Dwyfor are now generating their own electricity, as part of the council’s work to combat global warming. Solar panels have been installed at various Gwynedd Council properties across the county including schools, offices and leisure facilities as part of the council’s investment into 15 renewable energy projects.
Cambrian News 9th May 2013 read more »
The government’s Green Deal was meant to encourage an energy efficiency boom, but take up has so far been slow. Now another energy saving policy is running into trouble as suppliers spend millions looking for customers to participate in the scheme. The Financial Times reported the Energy Companies Obligation (ECO) could add as much as £100 to household energy bills. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) expects energy efficiency improvements worth about £1.3 billion a year to take place under the ECO. If the full cost is passed on to the consumer, it works out at about £53 per household. But industry association Energy UK claims the figure is too low – with the additional cost more likely to be around £69 per household. Research it commissioned from economic consultants NERA suggests DECC may have underestimated the cost of finding people to take advantage of the energy efficiency scheme, and been overly optimistic about how many installations might be needed to meet emissions targets. NERA reckons the cost could be even higher – about£94 per household – if people pull out of the deal once they realise how much hassle the installations might be.
Carbon Brief 7th May 2013 read more »
Every street light in Scotland could be fitted with low-energy LED bulbs as part of ambitious plans to cut CO2 emissions, ministers said on Thursday. The Scottish government unveiled proposals for the green investment bank (GIB) to fund the Scotland-wide LED lighting programme as part of a £500m package of climate and green energy measures. LED street lights, which are being piloted by several Scottish councils and are already in use by a number of English local authorities, were floated by Alex Salmond, the first minister, in a meeting with the GIB chair Lord Smith of Kelvin on Wednesday. On Thursday, the bank posted data for the first time on its initial 11 investments totalling £635m, with a total value of £2.3bn once private investment was counted. Scottish government officials admitted they did not know how many street lights were involved, or the eventual CO2 savings or the total cost of this programme, arguing that the project was in its early stages. But the environment group WWF Scotland said its figures suggested that street lighting caused a significant amount of carbon emissions. The 40,000 street lights in Aberdeenshire are responsible for 8,750 tonnes of CO2, with energy bills hitting £1.6m, it said. Fife council’s street lights made up 10% of its total carbon footprint.
Guardian 9th May 2013 read more »
It’s always been our belief that when you understand where your energy comes from, you value it more and use it less. Our customers have been telling us this for years, and there’s clear evidence that microgeneration can drive energy efficiency through behavioural change and greater engagement.
Good Energy 9th May 2013 read more »
Peter Lilley, a member of the Prime Minister’s Parliamentary Advisory board, has warned that the UK’s hesitance to embrace shale gas comes at great expense to the country. In an article for The Spectator, the Conservative MP accuses the Department for Energy and Climate Change as being “in disarray” over the issue, with some ministers now beginning to question the direction green policies have been heading. He claims that the green lobby is in control of the Department for Energy, dominates the EU and is institutionalised in Whitehall via the Climate Change Committee. He also accuses them of deploying “scare stories with reckless disregard for the truth” on a scale comparable to the MMR scare.
Telegraph 9th May 2013 read more »
Local communities should be won over to shale gas fracking by rewarding them with more teachers in primary schools and more police officers on the beat, the chief executive of explorer IGas has said.
Telegraph 9th May 2013 read more »
The Canadian government’s promotion of the tar sands industry is setting the world on a course of catastrophic climate change, a group of climate scientists and economists have warned. In a letter made available to the Guardian, the academics urged Canada’s natural resources minister, Joe Oliver, to consider the consequences of his support for expanding Alberta’s tar sands production. Oliver has in recent months emerged as the main proponent for the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington and other capitals. He is due in London this week.
Guardian 8th May 2013 read more »
The two companies exploring for shale gas in the UK have confirmed that they intend to flare methane gas from their wells in a move that has been condemned by environmentalists. It is likely to be the most visible sign of the fracking revolution that many in business and government would like to bring to the UK.
Guardian 9th May 2013 read more »
The British countryside could be dotted with hundreds of naked flames several metres high after the head of Britain’s biggest fracking company warned that any production of shale gas would involve “flaring off” leakages.
Independent 9th May 2013 read more »
The only company to have fracked for shale gas in the UK, Cuadrilla, is to drill for oil in a West Sussex village from next month. The energy firm has said the eight-week exploratory drill near Balcombe will not involve fracking, the process of blasting liquid into rock to free natural gas trapped inside, but nonetheless the planned 3,000ft well in the local woodland of Lower Stumble, near Ardingly reservoir, looks set to hit a wall of opposition in this Conservative heartland.
Guardian 9th May 2013 read more »
Four million households across the UK (15 per cent of the population) are off the mains gas grid and are reliant on expensive alternatives to gas to heat their homes. A typical three-bedroom house costs on average £975 per year to heat on mains gas, but this goes up to £1575 on heating oil, and as much as £2175 on bulk LPG. These higher fuel prices are compounded by the off-gas grid housing stock, which all have much lower energy efficiency, as they’re more likely to be older properties with solid walls.
EST 9th May 2013 read more »