A global search for investors willing to stump up the cash for a fleet of new ultra-efficient, ultra-safe nuclear power plants. So far, the Horizon project, with plans to build reactors in Oldbury and Wylfa has been spearheaded by Japan’s Hitachi, and new reactors at Sizewell and Hinkley Point have been agreed with France’s EDF. The Financial Times has also reported that state-owned Chinese and Russia nuclear power suppliers are keen to enter the UK market, showing no shortage of potential options. At £95/MwH, investors know they can turn a profit, despite the large initial capex of nuclear power, estimated by EDF to stand at £14bn for the construction at Hinkley Point. But what this price prediction fails to recognise is the massive cost of decommissioning nuclear reactors once they are finally closed after decades of service. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), the body responsible for coordinating the dismantling of closed nuclear power facilities and the disposal of radioactive waste, is learning the hard way just how much decommissioning can cost.
New Statesman 9th Sept 2013 read more »
Information released today by Greenpeace Japan shows that the builders and suppliers of nuclear reactors were afraid of being held financially responsible for any accidents they might cause from the outset of the nuclear energy era in Japan. A freedom of information request made by us has turned up documents from 1960 that show nuclear companies pressured the Japan Atomic Energy Commission to make sure they were exempted from all responsibility for a nuclear accident, except in the case of a deliberate act. The Commission was only too happy to agree.
Greenpeace International 10th Sept 2013 read more »
Sir John Armitt, the former Olympics construction boss, says “Even if fracking is a great success, it’s a long way out. You are still going to need nuclear.” Sir John did a great job in delivering the Olympics- which I attended and thoroughly enjoyed –but he neither an expert on energy policy or nuclear. On this nuclear claim, his judgment is flawed. I think fracking’s potential is over-estimated, not least because its proponents ignore the radon risk in the gas piped into the nation’s kitchens, and the radioactively contaminated waste created by the drilling. But nuclear can never be a gap-filler, because of its cost. One issue avoided by its supporters is the construction financial guarantees – up to £10 billion – offered to the potential plant builders such as the French state-owned Electricity de France (EDF) will be subject to scrutiny by the Competition Directorate of the European Commission under State Aids rules.
David Lowry’s Blog 10th Sept 2013 read more »
Eddie Martin, Leader of Cumbria County Council, led the Council in deciding against continuing with the programme to find a site for a Geological Disposal Facility in Cumbria. This decision, on Jan 30th, signalled the end of the government’s Managing Radioactive Waste Safely process, funded by DECC. Eddie is now retired, but continues actively to oppose such proposals. Here is his speech, outlining the 11 reasons why the Council (in cabinet) should vote the way it did.
FoE 6th Sept 2013 read more »
Ed Davey: I’m very aware just how many people are worried about bills, not least their energy bills. These concerns will only increase over the coming months as the nights draw in, the temperature begins to drop and the ‘on switch’ for the heating is flicked. I’m doing everything I can to help people keep their bills down, from piloting ‘collective switching’ which allows communities to use their buying power to get the best deals from energy suppliers, to legislating to make sure the ‘Big 6’ simplify bills, and switch people who are on ‘dead tariffs’ to the cheapest variable deal they offer. We are also introducing competitition to the market to ensure we level up the playing field for independent generators and suppliers.
Lib Dem Voice 10th Sept 2013 read more »
NUCLEAR fuel company Urenco yesterday posted a 45 per cent drop in first-half revenue and a 31 per cent fall in earnings, blaming a lower level of deliveries than during the year-ago period. Revenue fell to €384m (£324m) and earnings dropped to €319m, but the company said that it expects a “substantial rebalance” during the second half of the year and remains on track to achieve its targets for the full year. The uranium enrichment firm expects to benefit from continued capacity expansion in its US facility and the construction of a new unit in the UK. The UK government owns one third of Urenco, as does the Dutch government, with the final third held by German utility firms E.On and RWE. All the owners have been looking to sell their stakes but have so far failed to secure a deal. Several buyers have reportedly been interested in the UK government’s stake, including French nuclear group Areva and Japan’s Toshiba.
City AM 11th Sept 2013 read more »
European politicos are returning from their summer holidays to find inboxes full of emails about the EU 2030 climate target. The European Commission is beginning to consider how to extend its climate targets, and early indications suggest agreement won’t be easy to find. European Union nations are currently required to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 20 per cent compared to 1990 levels, and provide for 20 per cent their energy consumption from renewable sources, by 2020. In March, the commission asked member states what targets they want extending to 2030. The responses are in, and a quick flick through reveals three key battles the commission can expect to become embroiled in en route to renewing the EU’s climate goals. The UK isn’t keen on the renewable energy target, however. If it was extended, it could mean the government would have to carry on subsidising large amounts of wind, solar and marine technology. The government has indicated it would also like to pursue other low carbon energy options, such as nuclear and carbon capture and storage technology. Reducing emissions is more important and the market should be free to decide which energy technologies are used to make the cuts, the government argues.
Renew Economy 11th Sept 2013 read more »
The German election later this month might seem to be about to produce more of the same. On energy policy the election is beginning to look like a breakpoint which could have wide implications across Europe. But the direction of change remains uncertain and dangerously dependent on the precise make up of the next coalition government. Within Germany there is a weariness with ever-increasing energy costs. Germans are beginning to feel that they alone are being asked to save the world while others do nothing. Electricity prices, already the highest in the EU, are set to rise by another 20 per cent. Although there are exemptions for some sectors the impact on the cost of living and competitiveness is negative with the fear that the burden will grow as the country makes a serious transition to renewables. German industry, and the utilities in particular, have been vocal in warning about the costs and risks of relying on intermittent supplies of wind and solar power which require expensive back-up capacity fuelled by oil or coal. Ms Merkel has been studiously vague about her plans and has made no hard commitments. Nevertheless the impression has been given that the pace of the shift to renewables will be slowed and that some existing price structures – in particular the subsidies for solar – will be cut back. That prospect has shaken investors who believed they had cash cows which would be producing money for the next 20 years and the European Commission, which believes that a German move of this sort could unravel its entire low-carbon policy framework. Some change in policy had seemed certain, accompanied perhaps by some life extension for a number of the older nuclear stations.
FT 11th Sept 2013 read more »
Two nuclear specialists from Europe yesterday recommended terminating the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant project, saying it presents many risks and would not have obtained construction and operating permits if it had been evaluated according to the EU’s nuclear safety standards. The two experts were invited by Greenpeace Taiwan and co-authored a critical review of the stress-test reports on the power plant.
Taipei Times 11th Sept 2013 read more »
The operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, as well as local fishermen barred from going to sea since the accident, questioned Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s assurance to the International Olympic Committee that the problem of radioactive water is “under control.” In a speech before the IOC picked Tokyo as host of the 2020 Games, Abe said the situation is under control, referring to the contaminated water issue, and that Japan will never allow it to cause damage to Tokyo. In response to a question, Abe also told the IOC general meeting in Buenos Aires on Sept. 7 that radioactive water has been “completely blocked” within a 0.3-square-kilometer area in the harbor of the Fukushima No. 1 plant. Abe’s remarks are credited with helping dispel concerns about radioactive water at the plant and securing the Games for Tokyo. Denis Oswald, an IOC member from Switzerland, said Abe’s speech on Fukushima was convincing. However, sources at plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. acknowledged that it has not been able to keep radioactive materials from flowing into the ocean completely.
Asahi Shimbun 10th Sept 2013 read more »
One question that emerged among the public immediately after Tokyo won the right to host the 2020 Olympics was whether Prime Minister Shinzo Abe made an incorrect statement, or told an outright lie, about the contaminated water issue at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant. During the Tokyo bid delegation’s final presentation before the International Olympic Committee in Buenos Aires on Saturday, Abe stressed that the “effects from the contaminated water have been perfectly blocked within the (artificial) bay” of the wrecked nuclear complex, and said “the situation is under control.”
Japan Times 10th Sept 2013 read more »
Fukushima Crisis Update 6th to 9th Sept. Wednesday, September 11 marks exactly two and half years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster first began to unfold. Tens of thousands of people remain displaced from their homes, and many areas near the plant will remain uninhabitable for decades. Experts estimate that decommissioning the crippled reactors will take 40 years or more.
Greenpeace 10th Sept 2013 read more »
French energy firms Areva and Electricite de France (EDF) organized the third joint-edition of Supplier Days in Poland to help support new-build nuclear projects in the country. Besides senior Areva and EDF executives, over 50 companies specialized in manufacturing, construction and engineering services attended the event, which follows the success of two previous editions held in Gdansk and Warsaw, Poland.
Energy Business Review 11th Sept 2013 read more »
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a live interview on state television on Tuesday that the time for resolving Iran’s nuclear dispute with the West was limited, and urged the world community to seize the opportunity of his election.
Reuters 10th Sept 2013 read more »
Iran “will not give up one iota” of its nuclear rights, Iranian President Hassan Rowhani said on Tuesday in a speech to clerics, Mehr news agency reported.
Middle East Online 10th Sept 2013 read more »
Turkey will start examining the environmental impact of plans for the country’s first nuclear power plant in October after accepting a revised application from the company that is building the plant. The revised application from Akkuyu NGS, the Turkish company set up by Russia to manage the project, has been accepted by the environment ministry after it rejected an early application for omissions and formatting problems, according to the ministry. The application for the $20bn project will be studied by a commission of 58 different Turkish bodies, including ministries, universities and Turkish nuclear agency TAEK before approval can be granted.
Argus Media 10th Sept 2013 read more »
A senior Syrian diplomat said on Tuesday he had voiced his nation’s “deep concern” to the U.N. nuclear chief about the possible risks involved if a research reactor near Damascus were hit during any military strikes against his government.
Trust 10th Sept 2013 read more »
New Book: Systemic global risks of oil supply, climate shock and financial collapse threaten tomorrow’s economies and mean businesses and policy makers face huge challenges in fuelling tomorrow’s world. Jeremy Leggett gives a personal testimony of the dangers often ignored and incompletely understood – a journey through the human mind, the institutionalization of denial, and the reasons civilizations fail. It is also an account of tantalizing hope, because mobilizing renewables and redeploying energy funding can soften the crash of modern capitalism and set us on a road to renaissance.
Routledge 10th Sept 2013 read more »
Giant batteries the size of suburban semis could start popping up across the UK to balance out intermittent renewable electricity generation – but not if governments get smart about energy storage, a new report suggests. As any cyclist currently packing sunglasses and waterproof trousers knows only too well, the UK gets a mixed bag when it comes to the weather. Sporadic gales and fleeting autumnal sunshine can be great for renewable electricity generation, but intermittent renewable electricity can make balancing the grid difficult. In such moments, technicians have two choices: store the excess power for later or ask sites to power down. The latter has led to some unfavourable headlines, but a new paper from Stanford University suggests it’s sometimes more efficient to stop generation than invest in saving electricity for still, grey days. One option is to invest in improving storage facilities. For example, increasing the amount of energy batteries can store and for how long. Alternatively, the government could invest in ‘pumped storage’, where excess electricity is used to pump water into lakes to be released through a hydro-dam when renewable generation is scarce. Pumped storage is pretty efficient, so if all renewable energy could be stored in that way it would rarely be necessary to ask the generators to switch off, Barnhart says. Unfortunately, hydro dams take up a lot of space so there are environmental constraints on how much pumped storage an energy system can include. Finally, the government could invest more widely in upgrading the grid infrastructure – extending interconnectors across the country and with neighbours in Europe to make sure electricity can be delivered to where there is demand, and installing smart meters to help match demand to supply, for instance. Trade body RenewableUK’s Director of Policy, Dr Gordon Edge, says this final option should be the UK’s top priority as “battery storage technology is advancing all the time, but any solution to large-scale storage is a long way off… Improving our grid infrastructure so that it can make better use of wind power is an immediate and pressing task”.
Carbon Brief 10th Sept 2013 read more »
Westminster-based thinktank ResPublica has published a report claiming that local councils are the greatest barrier to the growth of community energy. The report, The Community Renewables Economy: Starting up, scaling up and spinning out, claims that local councils are “seriously blocking progress” and that instead of hindering growth, they should be helping it.
Blue & Green Tomorrow 10th Sept 2013 read more »
We’ve just launched a new, national Green Open Homes network, funded by DECC. We want to encourage more open homes events that show off home energy saving improvements… because when people can see real improvements in real homes it really does encourage them to take action. And we’re really excited to be able to announce a competition offering the chance to win up to £20,000 of funding and support for groups and organisations who want to try it.
DECC 10th Sept 2013 read more »
The UK Energy Efficiency Deployment Office (EEDO) came into being in March 2012. The European Energy Efficiency Directive came into force in November 2012. Over eighteen months later we are beginning to see the first fruits of both entities, both intended to revolutionise the effectiveness of “the fifth fuel.” As the summer break began, the EEDO launched a lengthy public consultation exercise, setting out ideas for implementing one of the key Articles of this Directive. Put simply, Article 8 requires each government in the European Union to introduce a programme of regular energy audits in every large enterprise. These audits cover every aspect of any business that consumes energy. The first set of audits must be completed by December 2015. But this will not be a one-off exercise. The requirement is that it must be repeated every four years.
ACE 9th Sept 2013 read more »
In case you missed it because you were quite reasonably sitting on a beach, you should know that , as of the middle of August, a “great leap forward” occurred towards the roll out of Britain’s £12bn plan to have over 50 million buildings equipped with smart meters by 2020. Contractors have been chosen by DECC for the huge tasks of managing all the data and organising the communications networks that will make it all happen. So all they’ve got to do now is, as Star Trek’s commander Pickard always intoned halfway through an episode, is “make it so”.
Alan Whitehead Blog 10th Sept 2013 read more »
The exploitation of shale gas in the UK is likely to increase greenhouse gas emissions without strong global policies to fight climate change, a UK government report says. Published today, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) study states that drawing on a new source of fossil fuel – in this case, the gas buried in shale rock buried across the UK – could accelerate climate change, since global temperature rises are determined by cumulative emissions over all time, rather than the rate of emissions. Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace, spoke out against continued reliance on fossil fuels. He said, “It is entirely unclear to me how digging up more gas helps. This is the reality of what living in a 2C world actually means.“It means that somewhere, somehow at some place we’ve got to stop. We’ve got to stop the tar sands, we’ve got to stop the Arctic, and I would contend we’ve got to stop finding unconventional gas.“Someone has got to make that move. We’re talking about the UK – we’re a country that I hope is still dedicated to low carbon power, so if we aren’t going to take that step, who is?“That’s the reality of where we are with climate change. We’ve got to stop finding and exploiting fossil fuel reserves.”
RTCC 9th Sept 2013 read more »
Shale gas has the potential to increase energy security, provide jobs and generate tax revenues but it won’t compromise deployment of low carbon technologies, claims the secretary of state for energy. In a speech to the Royal Society, Edward Davey outlined the case for the safe and responsible exploration of shale gas in the UK, in line with the UK’s climate change targets. Let me be clear – here at home we must not and will not allow shale gas production to compromise our focus on boosting renewables, nuclear and other low carbon technologies. UK shale gas production must not be at the expense of our wider environmental aims – indeed, if done properly, it will support them. I am determined to make that happen.’
Engineer 10th Sept 2013 read more »