The chancellor welcomed progress over the building of a controversial Chinese nuclear reactor in the UK yesterday as he hailed a “golden era” in UK-Sino relations. In talks between Philip Hammond and Ma Kai, the Chinese vice-premier, in London yesterday, the chancellor signalled that an assessment of plans for the power plant at Bradwell on Sea in Essex would go ahead. The reactor would be built by the Chinese state’s General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) in partnership with the French utility company EDF, using China’s reactor technology. A document issued by the government after the meeting said that “both sides welcomed the proposals” for the reactor at Bradwell. The apparent show of support stands in contrast to No 10’s position in the summer, when the government considered whether it would be possible to approve the Hinkley nuclear reactor in Somerset without all owing EDF and CGN to build the further plant at Bradwell on Sea.
Times 11th Nov 2016 read more »
New government proposals could see radioactive waste kept at the sites of old nuclear power plants and not disposed of in special dumps because it’s a cheaper option. Officials claim international radiological standards would still be maintained and that sites would not be left in a dangerous state. Experts are divided on the issue, however, with some warning it’s an “appalling choice” and evidence of a government with no long-term plan for nuclear waste. Currently radioactive material goes to the UK’s only low-level waste (LLW) site at Digg, Cumbria, which is nearly full.
Russia Today 10th Nov 2016 read more »
Last week, the only British Government minister with died blue hair, delivered a speech to the annual conference hosted by the Office for Nuclear Regulation for its industry stakeholders. She said We have been working closely with the ONR on the development of their ‘Security Assessment Principles’ document to be issued next year. This will lead to clear benefits that will ultimately enhance security across the sector. It will give the industry greater flexibility and innovation in developing its own security plans that will enhance the security expertise in the industry; It will further ensure consistent regulatory decision-making; and It will increase the focus on new and emerging threats, including cyber security. What she did not address were the following revelations in the ONR chief nuclear inspector’s annual report for 2015/16, released on 7 July: (www.onr.org.uk/documents/2016/annual-report-2015-16.pdf) On Sellafield, he revealed: ” A requirement to improve processes in place for Cyber Security and Information Assurance (CS&IA) was identified. A contributory factor in this area was associated with a lack of resources within Sellafield’s CS&IS capability.” More generally, he reported: “There are areas where the duty holder’s security arrangements did not meet regulatory expectations.” ONR has refused to explain the details of this failure. But surely ministers should avail themselves of the details.
David Lowry’s Blog 10th Nov 2016 read more »
Energy Policy – Scotland
Almost a year after the historic Paris agreement on climate change, Scotland’s environment secretary is preparing to head to Morocco for this year’s conference – an opportunity for Scotland to shout about its aims and achievements. So what does Scotland have to shout about? One of the big achievements can be seen on the River Don in Aberdeen where an Archimedes screw provides power for the grid. The huge rotating screw that thumps its way through the water is not just unusual to see, it also provides benefits to those living alongside it. It is community-owned and generates a profit of £30,000 a year to spend locally. Earlier this year, it was confirmed that the Scottish government had met its targets for greenhouse gas emissions six years early. But below that headline figure there are areas of struggle. In transport, for example, there’s been little change since 1990. Glasgow City Council is trying to change that by installing a growing network of charging points for electric cars, but take-up is slow.
BBC 10th Nov 2016 read more »
Richard Dixon: Despite all the back slapping and tears of joy at last year’s conference, early emissions reduction is something that the Paris meeting completely failed to stimulate. (It would be churlish to mention that it was a UK Government minister who was given a key role in trying to make this happen). A new report makes clear that no UN member state is on track to deliver the promise of limiting temperature rises to 1.5ºC, and overall countries promised action adds up to a world which is a catastrophic 3ºC or more warmer. 2016 is going to be the warmest year ever recorded globally, and even at the current 1ºC of warming people are dying, livelihoods are being ruined and people are being force to become migrants. Some countries, like Japan, have already met their own targets for 2020 but refuse to do anything more for now. Scotland has also met its 2020 target, but here we are promised a new Climate Bill next year with more ambitious targets aimed at responding to the urgency of the Paris Agreement 1.5ºC pledge. No doubt we will have a lively debate about what Scotland’s fair contribution to global emissions reductions is, but the stated intent is clearly very promising. The Scottish Government is also putting the finishing touches to a new Climate Change Plan to spell out the actions that will deliver even more emissions reductions by 2020 and beyond. This is the kind of good example the international process needs.
FoE Scotland 8th Nov 2016 read more »
National Grid on Thursday moved to allay concerns over potential Chinese investment in the UK gas distribution network that it is aiming to sell for about £11bn, in what would be one of the biggest British infrastructure deals for years. John Pettigrew, chief executive of the UK power system operator, said that there would be safeguards to ensure security of supply regardless of who owns the business, which serves 11m homes in regions including London, the West Midlands and north-west England. Several Chinese investors are among the rival consortiums vying for a majority stake in National Grid’s gas distribution network, according to people involved in the process. The auction will pose the first test of UK government attitude to overseas investment in critical infrastructure since it launched a review in September of how such deals are scrutinised.
FT 11th Nov 2016 read more »
Two years ago, the Implementation Committee (IC) of the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context proposed an unprecedented measure concerning the lifetime extensions of two ageing nuclear reactors in Ukraine, Rivne 1 and 2. The committee demanded not only that transboundary Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) are conducted for the two reactors, but that this rule applies to other cases of lifetime extensions as well. This would mean that up to thirty reactors reaching their expiry date by 2020 across Europe would have to undergo a comprehensive re-assessment including environmental and social assessments, consultations with neighbouring countries and analysis of alternatives. However, this proposal was then watered-down by the meeting of parties to the convention. The assembly likely back-paddled due to other European countries fearing the implications such a decision would have for their own plans to keep nuclear fleets running longer than originally intended. However, the consequence of not making a rule out of the Rivne precedent is that many other similar cases will be brought to the Espoo implementation committee individually. In fact, such cases already are beginning to pile up. Over the past two years Bankwatch has been warning against the authorisation of the prolonged operation of four more nuclear power units in Ukraine – in the power plants Zaporizhia and South Ukraine. In October the Espoo Convention’s IC has announced that it is opening information gathering processes for both cases. The move can be seen as an acknowledgement of repeated requests by Ukraine’s neighbours to be involved in the assessment and decision making on nuclear lifetime extensions in Ukraine. Should Ukraine again be found to have overlooked its obligations towards its European neighbours, it would deal a serious blow to the EU’s post-Maidan solidarity with Ukraine.
Bankwatch 8th Nov 2016 read more »
China and the UK yesterday signed a Heads of Terms Agreement and held an unveiling ceremony for their Joint Research and Innovation Centre (JRIC) to be opened soon in Manchester, England. The event is the latest milestone since the JRIC was first announced during former Chancellor George Osborne’s visit to Beijing in September 2015.
World Nuclear News 10th Nov 2016 read more »
A new study conducted by consultancy CE Delft for four European NGOs finds that practically all households in the EU can play a role in the transition. Craig Morris takes a look. Released in September (PDF), the study focuses on what citizens can do with wind, solar, and demand management (including storage) by 2030 and 2050 – at home, in community groups, in the public sector, and in small businesses. The main finding is that 83 percent of European households could eventually become “energy citizens” (the paper’s term for what is usually called “prosumers.”) Nearly two thirds of them, so roughly half of all households, could make their own energy. In this scenario (which is available as a spreadsheet in the report’s Annex), the EU would be 100% renewable for all of its energy – not just electricity.
One Step Off the Grid 9th Nov 2016 read more »
With a man who says global warming is an “expensive hoax” about to become leader of the free world, it’s no surprise that fossil fuel companies have been seen as some of the biggest beneficiaries of the US election result – while renewable energy investors have taken fright. Donald Trump’s presidency is likely to herald a seismic shift in US domestic energy policy, unravelling many of Barack Obama’s key environmental policies. It also threatens the fragile global progress to tackling climate change that Mr Obama helped spearhead – risking undermining the growth of green energy worldwide. Trump’s “America First Energy Plan” pledges to “unleash an energy revolution that will bring vast new wealth to our country”. America may already have undergone a shale revolution but Trump wants to go further, accessing “$50 trillion in untapped shale, oil and natural gas reserves, plus hundreds of years in clean coal reserves”. Whereas Hillary Clinton had threatened curbs on fracking, Trump plans to rip up energy regulations, lifting moratoriums on production in federal lands and to “save the coal industry”.
Telegraph 10th Nov 2016 read more »
National Grid could benefit from the election of Donald Trump if he presses ahead with plans to upgrade US infrastructure, its chief executive has suggested. John Pettigrew welcomed “positive comments about infrastructure” from the president-elect, who has highlighted investing in “a modern and reliable electricity grid” as one of his key infrastructure priorities. He said: “It’s early days but there was definitely some positive commentary from the Trump administration around infrastructure and the need for infrastructure in the US. So obviously that is welcomed, for us to see that. “What we need to see is the detailed policy development now.”
Telegraph 10th Nov 2016 read more »
Explosion-Fire at Nuclear Power Station Near New York City on Election Day Due to Equipment Failure. The US NRC report says that this “explosion in the protected area” which was “due to equipment failure” occurred at 0840 AM on Tuesday November 8th: “The explosion was to the 138 kV power cross connect cable between the Unit 2 and 3 Station Auxiliary Transformers.” If you look at the above image, all of the power lines appear very cramped at this nuclear power station, apparently increasing the dangers.
Mining Awareness 10th Nov 2016 read more »
Japan’s nuclear regulator cleared another pair of reactors on the southernmost island of Kyushu for restart despite a growing chorus of opponents who object to any resumption of nuclear operations. The Nuclear Regulation Authority approved a preliminary report on Wednesday that says Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Genkai Nos. 3 and 4 reactors in Saga Prefecture meet post-Fukushima safety rules, one of the biggest hurdles an operator must clear. A 30-day comment period must be held before any final approval. Genkai’s approval is another small step for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has backed a policy of restarting the nation’s reactors to lower electricity rates, shore up the economy and boost global competitiveness. However, the looming threat of legal action and local opposition has put the fate of the entire restart process in doubt. Japan aims to have nuclear power account for as much as 22 percent of its energy mix by 2030, compared with more than a quarter before Fukushima and a little more than 1 percent now.
Fukushima 311 10th Nov 2016 read more »
Finnish utility Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) said it has been awarded a final and binding partial award in the ongoing arbitration proceedings related to delays in the construction of the first-of-a-kind EPR unit at Olkiluoto. The Areva-Siemens consortium began construction of Olkiluoto 3 in 2005 under a turnkey contract signed with TVO in late 2003. Completion of the 1600 MWe reactor was originally scheduled for 2009, but the first project has suffered various delays and setbacks. The ongoing arbitration proceedings through the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) were initiated by the supplier consortium in December 2008. In 2012, TVO made a claim against the Areva-Siemens consortium under the arbitration proceedings. Both parties have since made a number of revisions to their respective claims. TVO maintains that as Olkiluoto 3 is being built under a fixed-price turnkey contract, the supplier consortium companies are “jointly and severally liable for the plant contract obligations”. However, Areva-Siemens claims that TVO has itself caused some delays in the plant’s construction.
World Nuclear News 10th Nov 2016 read more »
Renewables – wave
FORESEA is an €11 million project which helps to bring offshore renewable energy technologies to market by providing free access to a world-leading network of test centres – which includes the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney. And EMEC Managing Director Neil Kermode formally announced the second call for wave-energy developers to apply for their projects to be admitted to a FORESEA test-centre. FORESEA – Funding Ocean Renewable Energy through Strategic European Action – is funded by the European Regional Development Fund. As well as EMEC in Orkney, the other test sites included in the programme are located in France, Ireland and the Netherlands. To date, more marine energy converters have been deployed in Orkney, Scotland, than at any other single site in the world: EMEC has hosted 17 wave and tidal energy clients (with 27 marine energy devices) spanning nine countries.
Scottish Energy News 11th Nov 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
Vattenfall has won a tender to build the Danish Kriegers Flak wind power project on the Baltic coast. The Swedish state utility won the 600 MW wind power tender with a bid of €49.9/MWh and said it would invest between $1.19bn and $1.4bn in the project, subject to a final investment decision. The low cost investment reinforces the steep reductions in offshore wind costs the industry has delivered in recent years. Up until recently projects regularly cost around £100/MWh ($123/MWh), before the industry integrated ways of innovating the costs downwards.
Power Engineering International 10th Nov 2016 read more »
Arup was appointed by DECC to review the cost and technical assumptions of renewable electricity generation technologies in the UK to 2030, and to provide levelised cost estimates. Arup’s work provided an independent assessment based on data supplied via a stakeholder engagement process, as well as using published and internal sources. Analysis from the study allowed inputs to be incorporated into the DECC Levelised Cost Model.
BEIS 9th Nov 2016 read more »
As part of our commitment to building a 21st century energy infrastructure, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Ofgem are working together to ensure our energy system can respond to the latest challenges, and take advantage of the opportunities offered by new innovative technologies and services. A smart, flexible energy system offers significant benefits for consumers and the economy, helping us use energy more flexibly and increasing the efficiency of the whole energy system. We invite views on how to develop our energy system so that it is smart and flexible, and captures the benefits for consumers and businesses. This consultation closes on 12th January.
BEIS 10th January 2016 read more »
NEW EVIDENCE gathered from top energy experts for the Scottish Government proves that fracking is dangerous, according to campaigners Friends of the Earth Scotland (FotE Scotland). The Scottish Government, publishing the research, said it would remain neutral on fracking ahead of further public consultation in the new year, but campaign groups argue that the research provides conclusive proof in favour of a full ban. Friends of the Earth head of campaigns Mary Church said: “Fracking is bad for the climate, bad for public health and won’t do much good for the economy. That’s the damning verdict of the independent studies published by the Scottish Government, echoing the concerns of communities across the country.
CommonSpace 9th Nov 2016 read more »
The electric car has a bright future ahead, if Scotland is anything to go by. ChargePlace Scotland has reported charger use in its network has increased by more than 100 percent in the past year, reaching 26,119 uses in the month of August. Even more impressive, in the space of two years charging station use has increased nearly tenfold, signalling the birth of a new driving revolution taking place in the highlands.
Inverse 10th Nov 2016 read more »