DOUBTS over the future of Hinkley Point nuclear station will increase this week when ministers launch a consultation on alternative technologies, which could revolutionise the energy market and undermine the case for the £18bn project. Opponents argue the plant will be rendered surplus to requirements by a technology revolution. Aurora Energy Research, an independent consultancy that provides data to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and regulator Ofgem, will this week predict that by 2030 as much as 8 gigawatts of battery storage will be installed in homes and factories in Britain. Today there is virtually none. The capacity is equal to more than twice Hinkley’s potential. If batteries become widespread, they could ameliorate shortfalls in renewable energy when the sun does not shine or the wind does not blow. Since 2010 more than 9GW of solar capacity have been installed thanks to government subsidies and a 70% fall in panel prices. The surge in battery installations is expected to be driven by shrinking costs. Lithium-ion batteries have halved in price in the past three years, for example. Aurora will forecast that battery power, which today costs between £250 and £350 per kilowatt hour of storage capacity, could fall to £110 by 2020 as China ramps up production. The report will coincide with a call for evidence from BEIS on how to encourage a “smart, flexible” energy system that relies heavily on new technology, rather than the old model that was centred on a few dozen big fossil-fuel plants.
Times 11th Sept 2016 read more »
Newly published findings from a five-year international project to study conditions at the surface and below the Greenland Ice Sheet will be used in evaluations of the future safety of deep geological repositories over time frames of up to a million years. The Greenland Analogue Project (GAP) has been carried out by the nuclear waste management organizations of Canada, Finland and Sweden. All three countries have experienced multiple ice ages over the last million years – with one occurring every 100,000 years on average – so an understanding of ice sheet conditions is vital in planning for the long-term management of a deep geological repository for used nuclear fuel.
World Nuclear News 8th Sept 2016 read more »
In the wake of the meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors, Japan shut down its entire nuclear fleet in order to develop more rigorous safety standards and inspect the remaining plants. As of now, plants are only beginning to come back online. Given that Japan had recently relied on nuclear for over a quarter of its electricity, the expectation is that emissions would rise dramatically. But that hasn’t turned out to be the case. While coal use has gone up, it hasn’t risen by more than 10 percent. And a heavy dose of conservation has cut Japan’s total electricity use to below where it was at the end of last decade.
ARS Technica 9th Sept 2016 read more »
Iran began building a second nuclear plant with Russian help on Saturday, in a $10 billion project which follows Tehran’s landmark nuclear deal with world powers last year, state media reported. State television showed Iranian and Russian officials at launching ceremonies for the 10-year project which will include two power plants with a total capacity of more than 1,000 megawatts after their completion. Iran already runs one Russian-built nuclear reactor at Bushehr, its first. Russia signed a deal with Iran in 2014 to build up to eight more reactors in the country.
Reuters 10th Sept 2016 read more »
Russian nuclear company Rosatom has asked Bulgaria to swiftly pay 620 million euros (524.30 million pounds) in compensation over the cancelled Belene nuclear project, it said on Saturday. An arbitration court ruled in June that Sofia must pay for the equipment produced by Rosatom for the project, which Bulgaria abandoned in 2012 due to financial constraints and concerns in Brussels and Washington over its energy dependence on Russia.
Reuters 10th Sept 2016 read more »
Costa Rica has powered its electricity grid solely by renewable energy for two months, according to a new report. The achievement demonstrates that countries, at least smaller ones, need not rely on fossil fuels all year round. This is the second time the Central American country, home to almost five million people, has run on renewables alone. For 285 days last year, the country did not use any fossil fuels.
Independent 8th Sept 2016 read more »
Not far from the beach on Swansea Bay, a revolutionary new building is taking shape that it is claimed could end fuel poverty and solve the war over the thermostat in offices. For the “Living Classroom”, which construction workers are hurrying to complete before the start of term at Swansea University, is a building that integrates an array of cutting edge renewable energy technology. It generates its own electricity from the sun, which is then stored in batteries made with saltwater – that might help put out a fire, rather than starting one – and also absorbs and redistributes solar heat. But the scientists, architects and engineers who de signed it believe one feature in particular could be used to help companies save money, cut greenhouse gas emissions and end squabbles over the thermostat. The underfloor heating system uses panels coated with a special paint. When a harmless low-voltage electric current is passed through the paint, it heats up.
The result is a heating system for each individual desk. Professor Dave Worsley, one of the team behind the building, the subject of a talk at the British Science Festival in Swansea, said: “It’s right by your feet. It heats up very quickly and cools down very quickly.
“If your feet are warm, the rest of you feels much better.
Independent 9th Sept 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
Britain must accept that major parts of its offshore wind farms will be manufactured abroad, Danish giant Dong Energy has said, as new figures reveal the vast scale of subsidies it is set to receive from UK consumers. The state-backed Danish company has benefited more than any other developer from the UK’s push for offshore wind and is facing fresh calls to invest more of its multi-billion pound proceeds into a British supply chain. Figures obtained by the Telegraph show that existing UK wind farms in which Dong has stakes, combined with new projects it is currently building, are together set to receive more than £1.5bn a year in subsidies, funded by levies on energy bills. Dong is in line for a significant share of the windfall. Although blades for the new turbines will be made in the UK, Samuel Leupold, a senior Dong executive, said it made sense to source other major parts elsewhere, such as nacelles – the part of the turbine that houses the generators – from Germany, and most foundations and towers from other European countries.
Telegraph 10th Sept 2016 read more »
Denmark, Andrea Leadsom suggested, might have reason to be thankful to the UK. As the then-energy minister reminded MPs in April, the Scandinavian country is recipient of “the bill-payer subsidy for the most prolific offshore wind installer in the world”. “The UK has 50pc of the world’s offshore wind and the Danish developers have benefited enormously,” she said. The installer in question was Dong Energy. Majority-owned by the government of Denmark, the one-time oil and gas company-turned-offshore wind developer has conquered the seas around Britain in unrivalled fashion And, as Leadsom’s comments hinted, there is some unease at the spoils of this new Viking invasion. From its modest start with the 90 megawatt (MW) Barrow offshore wind farm, one of the UK’s first when it was completed in 2006, Dong has built an empire encompassing ownership or part-ownership of eight projects in UK waters. They include a 25pc stake in the 175-turbine London Array, which, at 630MW, is the biggest offshore wind farm in the world to date. In total, of the 5.1 gigawatts (GW) of turbines installed in the UK waters, Dong has interests in just over two-fifths (2.2GW) of them; its actual ownership stakes equate to 985MW. Everything it has built to date receives subsidies through the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme; analysis of Ofgem data suggests Dong’s share of the subsidies last year, on top of the wholesale electricity price, could easily have topped £250m.
Telegraph 10th Sept 2016 read more »