The government is set to strip private consortium Nuclear Management Partners (NMP) of a £9bn contract to clean up the nuclear waste site at Sellafield. A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesperson told the BBC it was “working with industry experts on alternative options”. NMP, which includes British and French energy firms Amec and Areva as well as US engineer URS, has run the site for more than six years. However it has been heavily criticised. The Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office have both accused NMP of cost overruns and delays. Despite this, NMP’s contract was extended for a further five years in 2013. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), which awarded the contract, last year increased its estimate for cleaning up the UK’s nuclear sites by 7% to £110bn over the next 120 years, with Sellafield accounting for the vast bulk of that. But NMP general manager Iain Irving said since the contract was extended in 2013 “the site has enjoyed one of its best ever periods of performance and progress”. “Importantly, over the last two years, we have consecutively achieved the site’s best overall safety records,” he added.
BBC 12th Jan 2015 read more »
Ministers are poised to strip an industrial consortium of a lucrative management contract to clean up Sellafield, western Europe’s largest nuclear waste site, in an unexpected blow to its members. Nuclear Management Partners, which has run the site for more than six years, was granted a five-year extension to its contract in 2013, despite criticism of its performance. People in industry and government with knowledge of the situation told the Financial Times that an announcement about the termination of the contract would be made on Tuesday. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is expected to take over Sellafield and manage its clean-up, contracting out work to the private sector. The consortium, which is responsible for 10,000 staff on the site, is made up of US engineering group URS, French energy firm Areva and Britain’s Amec. the group’s record, while regarded as patchy, was not the overriding reason for the move, according to officials. The consortium has hit 96 per cent of the targets set by the NDA over the past year. The government will make management cost savings from taking over and believes a Crossrail style approach will be more effective. The energy department, said: “[Energy secretary] Ed Davey has been very clear that he’s wanted to see more effective progress in decommissioning the biggest and most complex nuclear site in Europe, providing the best outcome for the taxpayer. The NDA and government have been working with industry experts on alternative options.” The ministry said no more information would be released until it had discussed the issue with “all parties involved” including staff. The news caps a miserable period for Areva, whose credit rating was cut to non-investment grade by Standard & Poor’s in November after it abandoned forecasts for 2015 and 2016. The company has issued two profit warnings.
FT 12th Jan 2015 read more »
Once again, a supposedly copper-bottomed government contract has proved more uncertain than imagined, while bearing hefty reputational risks. Data are sparse on the financial blow to Amec. It may go on subcontracting at Sellafield, but will lose its share of a yearly management fee worth £45m in 2011. Underlying earnings from Sellafield, possibly from this fee, were £12m in 2013, a mere sliver of the group total of £343m. The imbroglio provides politicians with another chance to give private contractors a shoe leathering, after G4S’s Olympic misadventure and Serco’s travails in offender tagging. They are unlikely to dwell on the complexity of nuclear operations, or the possibility that public contracts have been poorly designed. But investors should do so in deciding whether to support any flotation of Urenco, the enriched uranium group in which the UK holds a stake.
FT 12th Jan 2015 read more »
NMP set to lose £9bn Sellafield contract. Gary Smith, national officer of the GMB union, said “Hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money have been squandered as NMP has simply failed to deliver time and time again. They have been big on promises but not on delivery. NMP and the Tories have failed the local community the workforce and the taxpayer. While NMP have now gone, which is great, the minister responsible for extending the contact in 2013 must be held to account.”
Independent 13th Jan 2015 read more »
Times 13th Jan 2015 read more »
Telegraph 12th Jan 2015 read more »
Energy Business Review 13th Jan 2015 read more »
Daily Mail 13th Jan 2015 read more »
Sellafield has expanded its exclusion zone in the event of an accident. The expansion now includes a chunk of the Lake District National Park. The question must be asked.. is anyone looking? Does anyone care? The proposed new build between the village of Beckermet and Sellafield would double the Sellafield footprint with the “exclusion zone” map then having to be redrawn even further into the “official” Lake District.
Radiation Free Lakeland 12th Jan 2015 read more »
Britain’s 610-megawatt Heysham 1-1 nuclear power plant resumed output into the national grid on Saturday following the completion of a boiler inspection, operator EDF Energy said.
Reuters 12th Jan 2015 read more »
The last of EDF Energy’s nuclear power reactors taken offline for safety checks in 2014 is now back in action, according to the energy firm. The second reactor of Heysham 1 power plant was switched back on at 6.40pm on Saturday after a “successful” inspection of its boiler.
Energy Live News 12th Jan 2015 read more »
Anglesey Council Leader, Ieuan Williams, has expressed disappointment and concern after National Grid announced plans for more electricity pylons across Anglesey. Isle of Anglesey Council had stressed the need for a sub-sea connection to link the proposed Wylfa Newydd power station and other new generation schemes to the electricity network.However, National Grid has opted for a new overhead power line (referred to as the Orange corridor during its consultation) which would broadly follow the existing line of pylons that has been in place on the Island since the 1960s.
News Wales 12th Jan 2015 read more »
LYDD Airport Action Group has again raised concerns of a possible terrorist attack at Dungeness Power Station in the wake of the atrocities in Paris last week. In a furious Facebook post, the protest group described the Government as “gullible” for accepting the evidence given at the public inquiry in 2013 assuring of safety. The post by LAAG said: “In the wake of the French tragedy, MI5 is warning terror cells are targeting UK landmarks, yet the UK government persists in sanctioning development such as Lydd Airport which will facilitate terrorism. “Lydd will be the only regional airport in Europe located within three miles of a nuclear power station. What is to stop a wayward pilot of a B737 coming into land diverting marginally to crash into a nuclear power station at Dungeness?”
Folkestone Herald 12th Jan 2015 read more »
Shadow cabinet member Angela Eagle has praised efforts to create jobs during a visit to Suffolk today. The shadow leader of the House of Commons visited Sizewell B power station before joining party members in Ipswich to campaign in the town. Ms Eagle said she visited the power station to talk to workers and managers about the importance of creating good-quality jobs for highly-trained staff. And she wanted to emphasise that Labour was keen to ensure workers got a better deal so they did not have to rely on state support to top up their wages.
Ipswich Star 12th Jan 2015 read more »
A SECRET plan to deal with a Chernobyl-style nuclear emergency in central Scotland has finally been revealed in a dossier which has been kept under wraps for decades. The classified documents which show how the government would have responded to a full-scale atomic crisis have been opened and placed in the National Archives. The files outline the steps that would have been taken if lethal substances had leaked from the twin Hunterston A and B nuclear plants on the Ayrshire coast. They reveal that staff at Scotland’s largest hospital were primed to treat victims suffering from burns and radiation sickness, a community centre would have been converted into a decontamination zone and residents would have been issued with anti-radiation tablets.
Daily Record 12th Jan 2015 read more »
Energy suppliers are under increasing pressure from the main political parties to reduce household electricity and gas bills ahead of the May election in the wake of Ed Miliband’s promise that Labour would freeze energy bills for 20 months to fix the “broken energy market”. After the chancellor began an investigation last week into why suppliers had failed to pass on to their customers savings from the past year’s almost 30 per cent slump in wholesale gas prices, Labour will highlight the issue tomorrow in a House of Commons debate by calling for Ofgem to be granted emergency powers to force energy groups to cut bills. Householders are asking why their near-record energy bills have not fallen like petrol prices, which have reached six-year lows at about 108p per litre. Their complaints are not new, however. Consumer groups have long criticised suppliers for their so-called “feather and rocket” approach to wholesale energy costs. Household bills typically rocket when energy costs rise but fall only gradually, like a feather, when costs dip.
Times 13th Jan 2015 read more »
Essex manufacturers looking to get involved in the nuclear sector for the first time will be given an insight into the £60bn opportunity later this month. Fit For Nuclear (F4N) is hosting a special event on January 21 to provide firms with the latest information and guidance on what they need to do to prepare themselves for supplying into this expanding market.
The Manufacturer 12th Jan 2015 read more »
There could be progress on US-India civil nuclear cooperation, solar power and climate change when US President Barack Obama visits India in two weeks, US officials said on Sunday. While stressing there were no guarantees that some of the most vexing economic issues between India and the United States would be resolved, the officials said some agreements were conceivable.
Guardian 12th Jan 2015 read more »
Exelon has issued a statement on the State of Illinois report on potential nuclear power plant closings prepared in response to House Resolution 1146: We thank the state for its attention and work on such an important issue for Illinois and the future of the state’s energy assets. The report confirms that the state’s six nuclear power plants provide substantial economic and environmental benefits to Illinois residents and businesses. It also highlights the negative impacts closing one or more of the state’s nuclear facilities prematurely would have on Illinois’ economy, energy prices and carbon emissions, and concerns it would raise about the reliability of the electric grid. The report makes clear that the future of Illinois’ nuclear power plants should be an issue of statewide concern.
Energy Business Review 13th Jan 2015 read more »
A secret decision by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to end a safety ban preventing nuclear submarines from using two lochs on the west coast of Scotland has sparked alarm amongst local residents, politicians and campaigners. The National can reveal that Trident-armed and nuclear-powered submarines have returned to Loch Goil, off Loch Long on the Firth of Clyde, and are now able to return to Loch Ewe, off Poolewe in Wester Ross. Visits to these naval “operational berths” have not been allowed since May 2013. The ban was imposed by the MoD’s internal watchdog, the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator, because a series of safety exercises had exposed flaws in emergency plans meant to protect the public from radiation fall-out in the event of an accident. Nuclear submarines are dubbed “floating Chernobyls” by critics, after the world’s worst nuclear accident in Ukraine in 1986.
Rob Edwards 7th Jan 2015 read more »
Anti-nuclear campaigners and politicians have slammed the Ministry of Defence after it emerged that a convoy carrying nuclear weapons travelled through Glasgow on Sunday despite weather warnings. The convoy, which Scottish CND argues is unsafe even in fine weather, drove through the centre of Glasgow on the M74 and M8 around 11.30pm before crossing the Erskine Bridge during strong winds.
STV 12th Jan 2015 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
A Scottish wildlife charity has lodged a legal challenge against the consent granted to four major offshore wind farm projects. RSPB Scotland is challenging the developments in the Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay. Scottish ministers approved the Inch Cape, Neart na Gaoithe and Seagreen Alpha and Bravo projects in October. Industry body Scottish Renewables described the legal challenge as “really disappointing”. The four projects could comprise more than 400 turbines and generate more than 2.2GW of power, enough to power more than 1.4million homes every year. Consent was given to the four developments under strict conditions to mitigate any potential environmental impact, and backing was given by environmental groups including Friends of the Earth Scotland. However, a spokesman for RSPB Scotland said the approved projects could have “serious implications” for wildlife in the area.
BBC 12th Jan 2015 read more »
Scotsman 13th Jan 2015 read more »
Herald 13th Jan 2015 read more »
Scottish Energy News 13th Jan 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
US-based solar power developer SunEdison and Indian billionaire industrialist Gautam Adani are to invest up to $4bn in an Indian solar power factory joint venture, in a boost for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s drive to develop domestic manufacturing. SunEdison said the planned project with Mr Adani’s Adani Enterprises would produce photovoltaic solar panels in the western state of Gujarat, where Mr Modi was chief minister until his victory in national elections last year.
FT 12th Jan 2015 read more »
Renewables – wave
Engineers have long argued marine energy converters could offer a more reliable source of energy than solar and wind technologies, but now scientists have sought to strengthen the business case for wave energy with new analysis suggesting large-scale wave power arrays could prove cheaper than their intermittent renewable energy cousins.
Business Green 12th Jan 2015 read more »
Surges of investment in solar in China and the US, and in offshore wind in Europe, led to a 16% increase in clean energy investment in 2014, according to new data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Investment levels remained below their 2011 peak, however, partially because clean energy has become cheaper (so more is built for less money) but also because fossil fuels continue to dominate the energy mix. Overall investment rose to $310bn dollars with investment in China up 32% to a record $89.5bn, 29% of the total. EU investment rose 1% to $66bn, driven by offshore wind deals but now lagging well behind China. Here are the key details in five charts.
Energy Desk 9th Jan 2015 read more »
A SOCIAL enterprise that makes fuel cells small enough to fit in a home has become the first investment for Scotland’s Social Growth Fund after securing £1 million. Low carbon developer iPower, which is based in Bridge of Allan, plans to roll out its micro combined heat and power (mCHP) fuel cells to the likes of schools, universities, social housing and care homes. It wants to install the technology for free, with site owners only paying for the fuel they use and an annual service payment. Its free BlueGen model, which is the size of a washing machine and uses mains gas to make electricity and heat through an emissions-free chemical reaction, has already been piloted at Edinburgh Napier University. It is the first investment to be made from the £16m Social Growth Fund which opened for applications in May.
Scotsman 12th Jan 2015 read more »
The Combined Heat and Power Association today announced it will be renamed the Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE), cementing its role as the key advocate for the UK’s decentralised energy transition across the industrial, public, commercial and domestic sectors. The Association is renaming to better reflect the wide range of its members’ interests and focus. The Association for Decentralised Energy (ADE) will remain the leading advocate for combined heat and power, district heating and cooling, and demand side energy services. The Association’s members voted unanimously for the change at an Extraordinary General Meeting on 7th January.
ADE 12th Jan 2015 read more »
Conceptualising the energy system challenge as a trilemma takes attention away from a fourth, and arguably more important challenge: that of overcoming inertia. As I will explore here, the overriding challenge facing decision-makers (and society) is less in formulating a new energy system, but in moving away from the established, embedded and highly connected system already in place. The difficulty lies, as Keynes said, “not in the new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones”.
IGov 12th Jan 2015 read more »
It should come as no surprise that the very first move of the new Republican Senate is an attempt to push President Obama into approving the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from Canadian tar sands. After all, debts must be paid, and the oil and gas industry — which gave 87 percent of its 2014 campaign contributions to the G.O.P. — expects to be rewarded for its support. But why is this environmentally troubling project an urgent priority in a time of plunging world oil prices? Well, the party line, from people like Mitch McConnell, the new Senate majority leader, is that it’s all about jobs. And it’s true: Building Keystone XL could slightly increase U.S. employment. In fact, it might replace almost 5 percent of the jobs America has lost because of destructive cuts in federal spending, which were in turn the direct result of Republican blackmail over the debt ceiling.
New York Times 11th Jan 2015 read more »