EDF’s £18bn project to build two nuclear reactors in Britain is so expensive and risky that it puts the survival of the French utility at risk, an association of employee-shareholders has said. EDF Actionnariat Salarie (EAS) said the interests of EDF are gravely threatened by the Hinkley Point project, which it calls “a financial catastrophy foretold” in which EDF has nothing to gain and everything to lose. “EAS asks the management of EDF to stop this risky project, whose financial risks are too big for our company and which could put EDF’s very survival at risk,” the association said. EDF staff own 1.72pc of the utility’s capital, making employees the second-largest shareholder after the state, which hold 84.5pc, according to ThomsonReuters data. EDF, which already has to borrow money every year to pay its dividend, faces a €55bn upgrade of its nuclear fleet over the next decade, will spend some €5bn to install Linky smart meters in coming years and needs to invest billions in the reactor unit of Areva, which it plans to buy next year. Standard & Poor’s last month warned that it might downgrade EDF’s debt if it goes ahead with Hinkley Point, because of the project’s high execution risks and substantial investment needs.
Telegraph 12th Nov 2015 read more »
NUCLEAR waste being dumped into the River Blackwater is putting its famous oyster population at risk of extinction, an Essex MEP has claimed. Richard Howitt, Labour MEP for the East of England, met with the Mersea Island Environmental Alliance and other groups, including oyster fishermen from the island on Friday. During the meeting, he explained why he has written to European lawmakers demanding action to be taken against the UK Government for failing to impose strict discharge laws relating to fuel element debris (FED). Concerns remain that the discharge of FED, which contains heavy metals, could be having a severe impact on the water quality in the Blackwater and could kill off the famed oyster trade completely if the issue is not addressed. Mr Howitt continued: “When the Ancient Romans were in Colchester, they used to export the oysters back to Rome and now we are talking about destroying that entire industry.” Graham Farley and Gill Tuffey from the Mersea Island Environmental Alliance joined Mr Howitt at the Coast Road Oyster Bar restaurant on Friday, and criticised the lack of transparency the Environmental Agency has shown, after refusing to answer a Freedom of Information request relating to discharges into the Blackwater. Mr Farley said: “There are children quite literally swimming in nuclear waste. The year is 2015 and supposedly, we have a caring government, but the Environment Agency aren’t providing any clarity at all.”
Essex Chronicle 13th Nov 2015 read more »
Businesses in Wales can benefit from the building of a nuclear power plant in Somerset, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has said. But there are concerns it could make the shortage of skilled workers for construction projects worse. Hinkley Point C will cost £18bn, with a third of it being paid by China, and will create 25,000 jobs. Some small builders are worried it will drive up costs as workers are attracted by the higher wages offered at Hinkley.
BBC 13th Nov 2015 read more »
Chris Goodall & Mark Lynas: Our green obsession with windmills is bringing Britain’s electricity system to its knees, if Tory press commentators writing about last week’s grid problems are to be believed. In the Times, Matt Ridley demanded an electricity policy “rethink”, blaming the “emergency” on investment in renewables and the fact that “the wind was not blowing on a mild autumn day”. Over at the Telegraph, in a column headlined “The obsession with global warming will put the lights out all over Britain”, Charles Moore observed that “there was almost no wind” during the day in question, noting without irony in his climate denialist piece that it was nonetheless “very warm for the time of year”. Not to be outdone, Peter Hitchens thundered in the Mail on Sunday that the “pseudo-scientific dogma” of climate science is turning the UK into the Soviet Union, complete with accompanying (intellectual) gulags, and that because of “warmists armed with windmills” (to quote from the headline) “we came within inches of major power blackouts”. The reality is that last Wednesday’s brief “notification of inadequate system margin” (NISM) had nothing to do with wind power, as any of the writers quoted above could have discovered had they taken the trouble to call the National Grid and ask. We did so, and with the grid’s help pieced together the following sequence of events. During Wednesday morning last week, the National Grid experienced what it told us were “multiple failures” of coal and gas-fired power stations. Though the grid won’t reveal which plants were affected, other sources report that there were at least three major power plants out of action, including the Fiddlers Ferry coal plant in Cheshire . At 1.30pm, the National Grid, anticipating a shortfall for later that day, issued its NISM calling for additional generation of 500MW to be offered to cover peak demand between 4.30 and 6.30pm that evening. (500MW is about 1% of peak UK demand for the time of year, so hardly a huge amount.) Don’t panic said the grid, the NISM “is part of our standard toolkit for balancing supply and demand and is not an indication there is an immediate risk of disruption to supply or blackouts”. This saga showed not that wind is driving the UK towards blackouts, but that reliance on a small number of large generators – coal, gas or nuclear – carries the risk of inadequate margin if more than one of these big plants fails at the same time. Wind, being composed of lots of smaller generators, cannot by definition all fail unexpectedly together, so could be argued to be more resilient, not less.
Guardian 12th Nov 2015 read more »
Anyone of a nervous disposition should mark 11 January in their calendar as the moment to have torches, candles or paraffin lamps at the ready. That is the day when, according to National Grid’s forecast, the gap between Britain’s energy needs and its power supply will be at its wafer-thinnest. To be clear, the power network company is as adamant as it can be that Britain will not be plunged into darkness by blackouts this winter.
Guardian 12th Nov 2015 read more »
The British energy supplier owned by RWE, of Germany, plunged by nearly £50 million into the red during the first nine months of this year after thousands of its customers quit. RWE revealed yesterday that about 200,000 customers deserted npower during the first nine months of this year, after they were poached by independent energy suppliers such as First Utility and Ovo. The rate of desertion is accelerating. About 100,000 of those households left in the three months to the end of September.
Times 13th Nov 2015 read more »
Russia – Kyshtym
When you think of nuclear disasters, you think of the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine and the Fukushima plant in Japan, and maybe Three Mile Island. But after Fukushima and Chernobyl, the third biggest nuclear disaster is called Kyshtym. Never heard of it? That’s because it happened in 1957, at the height of the Cold War, deep in the eastern Ural Mountains of the Soviet Union. The Soviets disclosed details to no one, not even the people affected. Even the name is a misdirection, because it didn’t happen in Kyshtym. It was in the town of Chelyabinsk-65 (which was renamed Ozyorsk in the early 1990s); this town, according to the Soviets, did not exist.
Mental Floss 12th Nov 2015 read more »
Finland – radwaste
The Finnish government has today granted a construction licence to waste management specialist Posiva for a used nuclear fuel encapsulation plant and final disposal facility at Olkiluoto. The government included several conditions in the construction licence. When applying for an operating licence, Posiva is required to submit analyses concerning the environmental impacts of the facility, the retrievability of the used fuel, the transport risks involved and any changes that may have been introduced in the project. A maximum of 6500 tonnes of uranium may be disposed of in the facility. The used fuel will be packed inside copper canisters at the encapsulation plant, from where they will be transferred into the underground tunnels of the disposal facility, located at a depth of 400-450 metres, and further into the deposition holes lined with bentonite buffer.
World Nuclear News 13th Nov 2015 read more »
IB Times 13th Nov 2015 read more »
Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy has concluded cooperative agreements with both the UK’s Cavendish Nuclear Limited and France’s Areva NC concerning boiling water reactor (BWR) decommissioning in Japan. In a statement yesterday, Hitachi-GE said it will take preparatory steps towards decommissioning domestic BWRs using the international experience of the two companies. Intensive studies have been launched, it said, on how to decommission nuclear reactors in Japan and some utilities have started “concrete preparations” for their decommissioning programs. Hitachi-GE said it “would like to take the lead in the decommissioning business by reflecting each company’s advantageous position from the early stage of the study”.
World Nuclear News 12th Nov 2015 read more »
Brazil’s state-run Eletrobras, Latin America’s largest electricity utility, posted late on Thursday a 4.01 billion real ($1.06 billion) third-quarter loss due to weaker hydropower generation and a massive impairment charge on its Angra 3 nuclear plant. The loss at the financially strapped Centrais Eletricas Brasileiras SA, as the company is formally known, was 45 percent greater than the 2.76 billion real loss a year earlier and nearly triple the 1.36 billion reais it lost in the second quarter. The bulk of the negative result came after the Rio de Janeiro-based electricity utility holding company booked a 3.39 billion real impairment charge on its Angra 3 nuclear power plant. The writedown was the result of deteriorating economic conditions in Brazil, Eletrobras said. The world’s seventh-largest economy is suffering its worst recession in a generation and its electricity industry has been hobbled by project delays, planning mistakes, government-ordered tariff reductions and a serious drought.
Reuters 13th Nov 2015 read more »
The Turnbull government has set itself a one-year deadline to lock in a single site to store Australia’s nuclear waste, after revealing a shortlist of six locations and promising it will proceed only with community support. Conservationists vowed to “closely track every step of this long and contested road”. The deadline of December 2016 sets the scene for the government to make decisions before, or shortly after, the next federal election.
Guardian 13th Nov 2015 read more »
Recent clarifications in Pakistani nuclear policy confirmed speculations that Islamabad has an alarmingly low threshold for tactical nuclear weapon deployment. Here are the geopolitical risks that emerge from Pakistan’s now official position.
Global Insights 12th Nov 2015 read more »
It may be useful to have it confirmed that Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd is fully aware the UK is currently on course to source around 11.5 per cent of its energy from renewables by the end of the decade, rather than the EU mandated 15 per cent. But no one who works in the renewable energy sector will be in the least bit shocked by the news. Disappointed, yes. Angry, perhaps. But shocked, not so much. Transitioning to a renewable electricity system is tough, but, as Germany has also discovered, delivering a national renewable heat rollout and a huge revamp of the transport system is even tougher still. The government will no doubt argue its moves to cut support for renewable power projects remains fully justified on cost grounds. But without detailed modelling that takes into account the cost of meeting the renewables target through increased investment in heat and transport, the cost of importing renewable power, the cost of potential fossil fuel price volatility, and the cost of simply forking out for any fines it is impossible to judge whether ministers’ well-worn claim that they are protecting hard working families is justified. Of course, there are legitimate arguments that a renewables target was unnecessary in the first place and that the focus should have been on meeting the UK’s emissions targets in whatever way the government of the day saw fit. But given the government is also currently off track to meet its legally binding emissions targets for the early 2020s it would take considerable nerve to make that argument, however technically valid it may be. The UK renewable heat strategy is not delivering at anything like the scale necessary, the country’s renewable transport fuel strategy is similarly lacking, and for all the government’s protestations the hopes the renewable power sector could make up the shortfall have been deliberately torpedoed. And the most disappointing aspect of all is that no one should be the least bit surprised.
Business Green 12th Nov 2015 read more »
Letters: Amber Rudd admits the UK doesn’t have the right policies to meet the UK’s renewable energy targets (Rudd criticised after leak reveals renewables failure, 10 November), but she is clutching at straws to try to transfer the burden on to transport and renewable heat, while sacrificing a popular grassroots movement that could bring about a real transition to a low-carbon economy, under the guise of protecting taxpayers. Hundreds of small volunteer groups that engage communities in combating the causes of climate change by creating their own sustainable energy social enterprises are threatened. If heat is to replicate the success story of solar power, this sector needs more support rather than less. In defending the support given to EDF and its Chinese backers, Ms Rudd may be saving a few pounds of taxpayers’ money now, but she is leaving a legacy of huge increases in electricity bills over the next 45 years. Soaring electricity bills will add urgency to developments in battery technology, already incentivised by the electrifying of road transport, which are key to making the variable output of renewable energy systems viable as an alternative to expensive nuclear power. As storage-based renewable technologies become more competitive we will see communities developing their own micro-grid solutions and going off-grid, rather than paying the high cost of nuclear power. Ms Rudd needs a strategy, not political rhetoric.
Guardian 12th Nov 2015 read more »
Renewables – wind
The renewable energy division of EDF – the state-owned French corporation which also owns and operates the two Scottish nuclear power stations – is taking on the development of Dorenell Wind Farm, one of the largest onshore wind projects due to be built in Scotland. EDF Energy Renewables will develop and construct the project working with the renewable energy company Infinergy. No financial details about the deal were disclosed. The site, near Dufftown in Moray, has been developed by Infinergy and has consent for a 59-turbine wind farm with a capacity of up to 177MW.
Scottish Energy News 13th Nov 2015 read more »
Renewables – wave
Continuing its investment in renewable energy, technology giant Apple has agreed a new £1m R&D fund to support a wave energy project off the coast of Ireland. Working with the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI), Apple has this week announced a Memorandum of Understanding to promote the development of ocean energy at the Galway Bay Ocean Energy Test Site.
Edie 12th Nov 2015 read more »
Local communities across Scotland are in a race against time to secure funds for renewable energy projects, following plans to cut off a vital UK tax credit for community energy investors. Projects in Edinburgh, Shetland, Applecross and Kinross risk being hit by UK government plans to close its Enterprise Investment Scheme, which allows investors to claim income tax relief of 30% on their investment. It could mean the difference between a return of up to 7% on their investment, compared to about 5%. Now Energy Minister Fergus Ewing is backing their call for investment. The UK Government’s move has been called an ‘unheralded attack’ by Paul Phare from Energy4All, who sits on the board of the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-operative, which hopes to become Scotland’s largest community-owned urban scheme.
Scottish Energy News 13th Nov 2015 read more »
Schiffer continued: “Community energy projects are a vital part of the energy transformation we need – as well as reducing carbon emissions, they give communities a stake in the energy system and a chance to share benefits locally. Projects like the Edinburgh Community Solar Co-op are the signs of a brighter future.” With support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, Friends of the Earth Scotland are promoting and encouraging community energy projects across Scotland.
Blue & Greem Tomorrow 11th Nov 2015 read more »
Britain’s National Grid predicts that small-scale distributed generators will represent a third of total UK generating capacity by 2020, adding that the concept of baseload supply will be turned on its head, so that distributed generators will supply baseload power, and large-scale centralised plants will be used to meet peak demands and fixed loads from businesses. Demand-side response and management will enable the market to balance supply and demand. This would be quite a different system to that of a few years ago, in which large and remote coal, gas and nuclear-fuelled power stations were dispatched centrally, with smaller oil-fired stations and pumped storage plants used to balance the system. Energy flowed in just one direction – from generator to user. Now, thousands of (much smaller) power stations switch themselves on as the sun rises, the wind blows or the plant operator sees fit according to local loads, and power flows in both directions. Decentralised energy is changing electricity.
Cogeneration & On-site Power Production 11h Nov 2015 read more »