Hinkley Point C is on the brink of getting the go-ahead, but criticism of the project has only increased as the UK courts Chinese investment to fill a massive gap in financing. Low-carbon baseload generation and improved energy security could be the end result, but with the ominous words ‘white elephant’ hanging over the scheme, is the government right to pursue Britain’s first nuclear plant in 20 years on these terms? At the time of writing, Hinkley Point C stands on the brink of moving forward, with an official visit to the UK by Chinese President Xi Jinping from 20-23 October this year likely to herald an unprecedented international deal that would see the China General Nuclear Corporation and China National Nuclear Corporation fill the project’s private financing shortfall so that EDF’s British subsidiary EDF Energy and its partners can kickstart the project. “The Chinese have Osborne over a barrel,” reads a September editorial by the Observer business agenda. “One wonders what other incentives have been offered to avoid a humiliating U-turn on Hinkley. The final deal, assuming it is agreed, should be published in full: and parliament should comb every line.”
Power Technology 8th Oct 2015 read more »
A large consultation project has been unveiled by National Grid about connecting a planned nuclear power station to the electricity network. The multinational company have come under fire for plans to install more pylons across Anglesey and Gwynedd with a cross-party selection of politicians slamming them for “ignoring” past consultations. But the company have now announced 16 consultation events across both counties in November to bring residents “up to date”.
Daily Post 9th Oct 2015 read more »
Britain won EU regulatory approval on Friday for a pricing model to set the cost of disposing of nuclear waste that environmentalists say is too generous to nuclear power plant operators and punishing for taxpayers. Nuclear energy is a sensitive political issue in Europe that pits the European Union’s biggest economy Germany – and its plans to phase out atomic energy and pin costs on its utilities – against supporters of the energy source, such as Britain and France. Britain wants to build a facility to store nuclear waste, with the operating date planned around 2040 and disposal expected to start around 2075 and last until 2140. It sought approval from the European Commission for a pricing formula that limits the price that plant operators will pay for disposing of nuclear waste. The Commission, responsible for setting a level playing field in the 28-country bloc, gave the green light, saying that the plan was in line with EU state aid rules. Greenpeace however said the regulator should have sought more feedback before issuing its decision and the taxpayer was likely to face a huge long-term bill. “It’s a transfer of risk to the taxpayer,” Doug Parr, Greenpeace policy director, said. “It’s odd that the Commission did not see the need to have a full enquiry when other countries are facing different circumstances.” While some member states support nuclear power, others question whether Britain’s plans to fund new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in conjunction with EDF are illegal state aid, even though the Commission approved them.
Reuters 9th Oct 2015 read more »
Energy Live News 9th Oct 2015 read more »
The European Commission has found that the pricing methodology for waste transfer contracts to be concluded between the UK Government and operators of new nuclear power plants is compatible with EU state aid rules.
European Commission 9th Oct 2015 read more »
As delays and spiralling costs hit plans for big nuclear power stations, building thousands of small reactors could be part of a strategy to fight climate change. All the major manufacturers, electricity suppliers, regulators and some enthusiastic politicians will attend an SMR summit in London for two days from October 20, with the aim of getting the reactors from the design and development stage to widespread deployment. At theConservative party’s annual conference this week, Amber Rudd praised the work of Sheffield University’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, and specifically its work on the next generation of SMRs. However, she also revealed that the UK is reviewing its energy policy, which means that support for nuclear − with the extra cost to consumers it will involve − might not be acceptable when wind and solar are already much cheaper, and when electricity demand in the UK is going down.
Climate News Network 9th Oct 2015 read more »
Despite ongoing and major delays in financing Hinkley Point C, which would be the first new nuclear power station in the UK for over 25 years, enthusiasm for new nuclear power remains high in several quarters. This includes the Energy Technologies Institute (ETI), a public-private partnership between the UK Government and energy and engineering companies. It has just produced an ‘insights’ report on the future UK role of nuclear power. Although the report is about all potential future nuclear technologies, it gives little attention to the large scale reactors that are the only currently feasible technology choice for nuclear. But in considering such reactors, it now believes that in its ‘optimistic’ scenario for the future (‘Clockwork’) the possible feasible total capacity by 2050 of large reactors is 35 GWe, down from a previous maximum of 40 GWe. Given that the UK Government gave the green light for nuclear power back in 2008 and the earliest we are now likely to get any power from new reactors is around 2025, this would still be going some. It may reflect growing disillusion within the nuclear community with the large reactors currently proving so hard to finance and deploy. Whether this is the case or not, ETI – while advocating early development of SMRs in the UK – have in practice demonstrated quite how thin the current case for SMR pursuit really is.
SPRU 9th Oct 2015 read more »
The confirmation that black market gangs have been offering nuclear materials for sale – and have expressly targeted Islamic State buyers – can hardly be received with equanimity. There is no reason to believe that an organisation with so hellishly violent a track record as Isil would baulk at using such materials offensively if ever they had ready access to them. It would, however, be premature to leap from news of (failed) transactions to visions of a nuclear-armed Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) without first asking what they could actually do with any nuclear material they bought. For a group like Isil, the return on investment for nuclear materials would be poor: even the materials for a crude dirty bomb would likely prove ruinously expensive. In a world in which young men with AK-47s can kill hundreds it would hardly be worth Isil’s while to seek nuclear materials. That, of course, is little solace: bullets and bombs are more than enough.
Telegraph 8th Oct 2015 read more »
Inside Sellafield: Europe’s most radioactive site. The spiralling costs of radioactive waste clear up at Sellafield has been heavily criticised by the public accounts committee and described as “astonishing”.
Channel 4 News 8th Oct 2015 read more »
Scientists studying nuclear waste at Sellafield say new research could mean quicker and cheaper decommissioning. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which is responsible for cleaning up the country’s nuclear waste, has been criticised for soaring costs and slipping deadlines. Scientists say their discovery will mean a “radically simplified approach” to the packaging and disposal of intermediate level waste. The research looked at the chemical behaviours of waste stored in the Magnox Swarf storage Silo. It is one of the UK’s most hazardous buildings and has been prioritised for clean-up by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. Previously, scientists thought a 22-step mechanical treatment and encapsulation process was necessary to manage and dispose of the waste stored in silos constructed over fifty years ago. But the study’s findings suggest the old method could be replaced with an alternative three-step solution which stores the “raw” waste with concrete grout inside a shielded container.
ITV 9th Oct 2015 read more »
Ukraine’s urgent rush to repair Chernobyl dome: While the detritus of the early years of our atomic age may pose a major challenge, there’s a far more urgent issue facing the authorities in Ukraine.
Channel 4 News 8th Oct 2015 read more »
The Committee wants to investigate the factors that contribute to investor confidence in the energy sector and to build an understanding of how DECC’s policy making process might impact on investor decisions.
Parliament 8th Oct 2015 read more »
Are low levels of nuclear radiation good for you? Or merely harmless, as many nuclear advocates want you to think? Sadly not, writes Ian Fairlie. A huge new study finds ‘strong evidence’ of a dose-response relationship between cumulative, external, chronic, low-dose, exposures to radiation, and incidence of leukemia. In 2013, I discussed several epidemiological studies providing good evidence of radiogenic risks at very low exposure levels. A powerful new study has been published in Lancet Haematology which adds to this evidence. However the study’s findings are more important than the previous studies, for several reasons.
Ecologist 9th Oct 2015 read more »
Britain faces the highest risk of blackouts in almost a decade this winter, National Grid is expected to say next week, amid warnings that households will have to pay billions of pounds in subsidies to new gas power stations to prevent the crisis worsening. National Grid is expected to confirm estimates that Britain’s capacity margin – the effective ‘safety buffer’ between peak electricity demand and available power supplies – will fall to about 1.2 per cent this winter, the lowest in a decade. It has already prepared emergency measures to help keep the lights on, including paying factories to switch off between 4pm and 8pm on weekdays to reduce demand, and paying old power plants to stay open. These measures have artificially bolstered the margin to about 5.1 per cent – still the lowest level since winter 2007-08, National Grid is expected to confirm.
Telegraph 9th Oct 2015 read more »
Catherine Mitchell: Tomorrow’s utilities: What Future?
IGov 6th Oct 2015 read more »
AMEC FOSTER WHEELER is to lead a project to set up a new high temperature facility (HTF) for nuclear industry research at its Technology & Innovation Centre in Birchwood, UK. Project partners also include the National Nuclear Laboratory, EDF Energy, the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, Urenco, the Universities of Manchester, Bristol and Oxford, the Open University, and Imperial College London. The new facility will be used to test current and future nuclear materials and will be open-access to allow use by other companies and academic researchers. It’s envisaged that it will help builders and operators to develop new materials and improve their understanding of how materials are likely to perform at the higher temperatures encountered in new nuclear reactor designs. The Birchwood site, near Warrington, is already home to the company’s nuclear test rig and laboratory facilities for water- and gas-cooled reactors, including a UKAS-accredited radiochemical analysis laboratory.
Chemical Engineer 9th Oct 2015 read more »
Cheshire Today 9th Oct 2015 read more »
Energy Business Review 8th Oct 2015 read more »
Germany’s wind power generation by September surpassed last year’s total, thanks to favourable weather conditions and an expansion of wind farms, industry bodies said Thursday. The cumulative total production from land-based and offshore wind farms so far this year was 59 billion kilowatt hours, topping the 57.4 billion kWh for all of 2014. Wind power’s share of national electricity output rose to 12.9 percent between January and July, from a share of 8.9 percent for all of last year.
Yahoo 1st Oct 2015 read more »
In the seven decades since the creation of the party, North Korea has started a war that came to the brink of a nuclear exchange, abducted hundreds of foreign nationals, sold weapons to rogue Middle Eastern states, manufactured drugs to earn hard currency and printed counterfeit foreign banknotes. The regime’s agents have planted bombs on civilian aircraft and attempted to murder members of the South Korean government, including a thwarted raid on the presidential Blue House in Seoul in 1968.
Telegraph 9th Oct 2015 read more »
The US’s development of its new ‘smart’ nuclear bomb, the B61-12, is an outright violation of the Non Proliferation Treaty, writes Xanthe Hall. Yet five other ‘non-nuclear’ NATO nations – Germany, Holland, Belgium, Italy and Turkey – are set to accept it onto their territories, so their own aircraft can use it in nuclear attacks.
Ecologist 9th Oct 2015 read more »
Renewables – Onshore Wind
Ending a key onshore wind subsidy scheme early will block fewer than 80 turbines and save households just 30p a year on their energy bills, official estimates suggest. Ministers announced in June they would shut the Renewables Obligation (RO) subsidy for onshore wind in 2016, rather than 2017 as planned. Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, said at the time that her department estimated that 7.1 gigawatts of proposed wind farms – or about 2,500 turbines – that had yet to gain planning consent were “now unlikely to go ahead as a result”. But despite industry outcry at the changes, official impact assessments reveal most of these turbines were not expected to get built in time for the original 2017 closure of the scheme anyway. Just 200 megawatts – about 80 turbines or fewer – have actually been blocked as a result of the early closure, the Department of Energy and Climate Change estimates.
Telegraph 8th Oct 2015 read more »
Proponents of renewables (including this website) often praise “energy democracy.” Nonetheless, hard data on the benefits are few and far between. Now, a new study provides an overview. Craig Morris reports. BEEN, the new umbrella organization for German renewable energy cooperatives, and Greenpeace have published a study by research Institute IZES. The investigation mainly reviews existing data, though interviews were also held with owners of community projects. The study lists the feeling of self-worth among the people involved, the acquisition of new skills, greater competence in dealing with local government, and a general increase in public willingness to be involved as citizens and politically, thereby strengthening democracy. In addition, many of these projects go up in rural areas, thereby strengthening these economically struggling communities.
Energy Transition 8th Oct 2015 read more »
This week’s Micro Power News.
Microgen Scotland 9th Oct 2015 read more »
They burn hotter and cleaner, are cheaper to buy, and much easier to store and handle – so why do so few people with open fires and wood-burning stoves use recycled wood briquettes to heat their home? Big in Europe, but still largely untried by many fire users in the UK – particularly in the south – those selling them claim that once you have tried briquettes, you’ll never go back to hauling piles of logs off your drive. Briquettes deliver around 50% more heat for each pound spent than logs. They also have strong environmental credentials as they are made from waste wood produced as part of the furniture or other wood-related businesses – or in some cases collected from skips (see right). Burning wood is generally considered a low-carbon alternative to fossil fuel because trees absorb carbon as they grow. The environmental writer Chris Goodall has done the sums and heats his home using wood pellets – similar to briquettes – made from UK wood. The Drax coal power station burns pellets shipped from the US on the basis that the carbon savings are more than 80% once the life cycle of the trees are taken into account.
Guardian 10th Oct 2015 read more »
If you want to stop carbon entering the atmosphere and speeding up the process of climate change there are two things you can do: stop using fuels which produce it, or capture it before it does any damage. In a society which is only slowly moving away from its reliance on fossil fuels, that second part of the equation would seem to be utterly crucial. Odd then that carbon capture and storage in the UK has become such a sorry tale of delays, cancellations and uncertainty. the Department of Energy and Climate Change needs to sit down and honestly analyse the current situation of the technology in the UK – and decide what role it should play in decarbonising the UK economy. This assessment should take into consideration the progress made with renewables as well as the (lack of) progress with nuclear power. If CCS should play an important role (for example in the industrial rather than the power sector), then decisions need to be taken on which incentives need to be provided to enable private-sector investment in carbon capture and storage demonstration projects and push towards subsequent commercialisation. Simply to keep going as we are will not lead to commercialisation anytime soon. While the ambition was to lead the world in carbon capture development, this now seems an unrealistic prospect given limited progress while other countries such as Canada are pushing ahead.
SPRU 9th Oct 2015 read more »
Councillors in North Yorkshire are facing fresh pressure to reject a fracking bid after a district council called for a five-year moratorium on Thursday. Ryedale district council (RDC) does not have the power to rule on the planning application made by gas firm Third Energy, which wants to frack a well near the village of Kirby Misperton to test if it is commercially viable. North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC) will ultimately make the ruling, having launched an eight-week consultation in August. RDC is one of the bodies responding. On Thursday, the majority Conservative council passed the motion with a majority of 13 votes to seven, with several councillors abstaining. Liberal councillor Tim Thornton said that public opinion in the area is strongly against fracking.
Guardian 9th Oct 2015 read more »