Russian state nuclear company Rosatom is considering selling reactors in Britain and will soon decide whether to apply for a UK reactor licence. Rosatom is now building more atomic power plants than any other vendor and has been marketing the legacy of the former USSR’s own nuclear disaster, at Chernobyl in 1986, as a lesson learned in nuclear safety. Britain is in dire need of investors willing to replace its ageing nuclear fleet after a series of utility companies, including Germany’s RWE and E.ON and Britain’s Centrica, have dropped out. Rosatom would wait to see whether EDF reaches a deal with the British government on a guaranteed minimum power price for its proposed Hinkley Point project, Britain’s first new nuclear plant in almost 20 years. Jukka Laaksonen, a former Finnish regulator and now a vice president in Rosatom’s export branch, said in June that the Russian firm would offer a new design to the UK market.He said Rosatom was unlikely to apply before 2015 for a license from British regulators – an expensive process that takes about four years to complete. Market analysts have also suggested Rosatom could offer its most popular reactor model – a 1,200 megawatt pressurised water reactor, also known as the VVER 1,200. It is building four such reactors for the Turkish Akkuyu nuclear plant for an estimated total of $20 billion.
Reuters 13th Aug 2013 read more »
Martin Livermore, Scientific Alliance: The Scottish Government has ambitious plans for spending vast sums of money on huge numbers of wind turbines and experimental wave and tidal energy projects. But there is a growing realisation that this simply pushes up electricity bills while reducing energy security and making it increasingly likely that the lights will go out. This might be feasible when it is English consumers who are bearing the brunt, but an independent Scotland would be crippled by shouldering the costs of renewable energy alone.
Scotsman 14th Aug 2013 read more »
European Union rules to be published over the coming weeks could make it easier to justify using taxpayers’ money to fund new nuclear power, which would pitch major EU powers against each other. The European Commission, the EU executive, says its mind is still open on the topic, but it is under pressure to set a legal framework for state aid to nuclear projects after several member states, including Britain, sought its guidance. Whatever it lays down, as part of a wider modernisation of state aid rules, is likely to widen a rift between anti-nuclear nations, such as Germany and Austria, and those willing to support the technology, including Britain and the Czech Republic. A Commission spokesman said the executive is not planning to encourage nuclear state aid, but lawyers said a leaked draft of its proposal last month indicated it was leaning towards allowing nuclear financing.
Reuters 14th Aug 2013 read more »
RWE AG and EON SE are getting hurt by falling power prices and a shrinking market share this year. They’re set to report second-quarter earnings this week just as RBC Capital Markets said both may need to raise capital. Across Europe and some of the U.S., utilities that a decade ago dominated markets now struggle to cope with lower prices exacerbated by subsidized renewables that don’t pay fuel costs. The pain is most acute in Germany, which led the world installing solar farms and has the largest offshore wind plans. Clean energy also has preference over fossil fuels in European wholesale markets, a job killer at traditional utilities.
Bloomberg 12th Aug 2013 read more »
RWE, the German utility, joined rival Eon by warning of further power plant closures in response to the boom in renewable energy and a recession-induced decline in European wholesale power prices. “Due to the continuing boom in solar energy, many power stations throughout the sector and across Europe are no longer profitable to operate,” the Essen-based group said. RWE will take a total of 3,100MW of generation capacity offline in Germany and the Netherlands and it will also dispose of 1,200MW of German coal-fired power plant capacity to which it has contractual usage rights. RWE warned it faced a burden of more than €1.1bn arising from a German parliament decision in June on the search for a final storage facility for radioactive nuclear waste. At the end of June, Moody’s lowered its long-term credit rating on RWE from A3 to Baa1, citing a significant deterioration in earnings prospects in the conventional electricity generation business.
FT 14th Aug 2013 read more »
E.on, the German energy giant that is one of Britain’s “big six” suppliers, has profited handsomely from its UK customers, reporting a 13.2 per cent jump in profits for the first half after increasing prices by about 9 per cent. The co-owner of the world’s largest wind farm, the recently opened London Array just off the Kent and Suffolk coast, reported underlying earnings of £274m in the first half of 2013 yesterday. That compares with £242m a year earlier and comes after the company boosted its “dual fuel” price for combined gas and electricity customers by 8.7 per cent in January. Prices for gas-only customers rose 9.4 per cent. However, E.on said it was the hard winter, rather than the price increase (which it blamed on rising wholesale costs in Britain), that had boosted its UK profits.
Independent 14th Aug 2013 read more »
Telegraph 13th Aug 2013 read more »
Times 14th Aug 2013 read more »
Energy Minister Michael Fallon is today visiting Anglesey for a look at the proposed site for a new nuclear power station. He is making the Welsh trip to the Horizon nuclear project along with the Secretary of State for Wales David Jones. Famed for a jam-packed schedule, the Conservative minister seems to be doing his utmost to cover as much of his brief – and ground – as possible. Horizon was bought by Japan’s Hitachi in September last year and the power firm applied for a licence for the Wylfa B nuclear plant at the start of 2013. Typically the approval process takes about four years.
Energy Live News 13th Aug 2013 read more »
Safety issues specifically relevant to the potential site of a third nuclear power station on the Suffolk coast will be addressed in the run up to its construction, a national watchdog has made clear. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) said its safety assessment of the design of the UK version of the European Pressurised Reactor – two of which could be built as part of proposals for Sizewell C – had been completed. However, issues specific to the Suffolk site would be addressed during the detailed design and construction stages.
East Anglian Daily Times 12th Aug 2013 read more »
A federal appeals court said on Tuesday that the US nuclear regulatory commission can no longer delay a decision on whether to issue a permit for the long-stalled nuclear waste project at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. On a 2-1 vote, a three-judge panel of the US court of appeals for the District of Columbia circuit ordered the commission to promptly decide to license the project or reject the application. The Obama administration, which picks the Senate-confirmed commissioners, wants to abandon the project. Judge Brett Kavanaugh said the commission “has continued to violate the law governing the Yucca Mountain licensing process.” The ruling was not unexpected, for the court signaled in a decision last year that it would likely rule against the commission unless Congress specifically voted to terminate the project. Congress has not taken any action. The states of Washington and South Carolina, the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (Naruc) and other parties have sued the NRC, saying the commission must continue to work on the Energy Department’s Yucca application even though the Obama administration has said it wants to abandon the project and Congress has not appropriated enough funds.
Guardian 13th Aug 2013 read more »
Fukushima Crisis Update 9th to 12th Aug. In an effort to deal with its ongoing water crisis, TEPCO began to pump up contaminated groundwater from a new well at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant at the end of last week, in order to reduce the estimated 300 tons of radioactive water that are pouring into the ocean each day.
Greenpeace 13th Aug 2013 read more »
Just when it seemed things might be under control at Fukushima, we find they are worse than ever. Immeasurably worse. Massive quantities of radioactive liquids are now flowing through the shattered reactor site into the Pacific Ocean. And their make-up is far more lethal than the “mere” tritium that has dominated the headlines to date. Tepco, the owner/operator–and one of the world’s biggest and most technologically advanced electric utilities–has all but admitted it cannot control the situation. Its shoddy performance has prompted former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Dale Klein to charge: “You don’t know what you are doing.”
Counterpunch 13th Aug 2013 read more »
The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant is preparing to remove 400 tonnes of highly irradiated spent fuel from a damaged reactor building, a dangerous operation that has never been attempted before on this scale. Containing radiation equivalent to 14,000 times the amount released in the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima 68 years ago, more than 1,300 used fuel rod assemblies packed tightly together need to be removed from a building that is vulnerable to collapse, should another large earthquake hit the area.
Reuters 14th Aug 2013 read more »
An air force unit that operates one-third of the nation’s land-based nuclear missiles has failed a safety and security inspection, marking the second major setback this year for a force charged with the military’s most sensitive mission, the general in charge of the nuclear air force told the Associated Press on Tuesday.
Guardian 13th Aug 2013 read more »
BBC 13th Aug 2013 read more »
Times 14th Aug 2013 read more »
A new study from Newcastle University assesses which UK cities are doing the most to tackle climate change. It finds that while some local councils are ahead of the urban climate change policy planning curve, others look increasingly unprepared. So, how’s your hometown doing? Overall, the study found councils tended to have effective energy efficiency policies, but lag behind on providing renewable energy, cleaner transport, or – perhaps unsurprisingly, given cows’ aversion to heavy traffic – sustainable agriculture policies. The study covers 30 towns and cities in the UK, with a combined population of around 17.3 million. The researchers scored each the policies between zero and three – with three being marvelous, and zero being pretty dreadful. The map below shows the results.
Carbon Brief 13th Aug 2013 read more »
SCIENTISTS have criticised councils across the UK for failing to take action on climate change in a new report published yesterday. English and Northern Irish city councils criticised by scientists for failing to take policy action on climate change. Scottish city councils – Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen – who took part in survey praised by researchers as they cite SNP-led legislation as reason behind progress. The damning study of 30 cities by experts at Newcastle University found that although every local authority acknowledged that climate change was a serious threat many had done little or nothing to turn their strategies on reducing carbon emissions into reality.
Scotsman 13th Aug 2013 read more »
Many cities across the UK are failing to implement plans to deal with climate change such as reducing emissions and planning for extreme weather, a report has found.
Engineering & Technology News 13th Aug 2013 read more »
Dong Energy A/S, Denmark’s state- controlled utility, is leading a drive to cut offshore wind- power costs by as much as 40 percent by the end of the decade. Dong is working with six other companies and three British and Irish universities to study ways of using less steel in wind-turbine foundations at sea to make the technology more affordable, it said today in an e-mailed statement. “The cost of energy from offshore wind turbines must be reduced,” Bent Christensen, a vice president at Dong’s wind division, said in the statement. “We expect to find significant savings” by cutting the size of foundations and changing the way turbines are installed, he said. Offshore wind power costs about 2.7 times more than onshore turbines, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which puts the cost at about $221 a megawatt-hour over the life of a project. Governments are seeking to reduce the expense of wind farms at sea to expand power supplies without adding to carbon emissions or building on land. Dong is targeting a price of 100 euros ($134) by 2020, lower than the U.K. government’s goal of 100 pounds ($155).
Renewable Energy World 12th Aug 2013 read more »
IKEA’s high-profile plans to become fully energy independent have taken another step forward as the retail giant yesterday agreed to purchase the 7.65MW Carrickeeny Wind Farm in Ireland from developer Mainstream Renewable Power.
Business Green 13th Aug 2013 read more »
Energy Bill Revolution Resources Directory.
Energy Bill Revolution 1st Aug 2013 read more »
Funding for efficiency measures should be transparent. Britain’s draughty housing stock has long been seen as an obstacle to reducing the country’s carbon emissions. The government reckons that four in five houses are suitable for improvements such as loft insulation or boiler replacement that would reduce fuel bills. Yet many households cannot afford the upfront cost. Now, a government scheme will offer energy-saving measures without charge to low-income households, especially in the most deprived areas. There may be a case for the government to subsidise homeowners’ efforts to improve energy efficiency. The cost of cutting energy use is far less than that of harnessing energy from renewable sources that are difficult to tap, only to squander it in ways that are easy to avoid. It is also sensible to target poor households that cannot invest their own money and risk hardship as fuel bills rise. If the government is persuaded of the case for such subsidies, it should commit public funds to pay for them. Regrettably, it has taken a stealthier course. Electricity suppliers have been told to install energy-saving measures in a set number of poor households, or face steep fines. The costs will be recouped through higher electricity bills across the board.
FT 13th Aug 2013 read more »
As David Cameron warns the nation: like fracking or lump it, we examine why shale gas extraction is a bonkers idea for Britain.
Greenpeace 13th Aug 2013 read more »
In the golden rule usually attributed to spin doctor Alastair Campbell, there is some dispute over the exact number of days a story has to run for before its subject is doomed. A week, say some; 10 days or a fortnight say others. What is beyond doubt is that the fracking firm Cuadrilla’s attempts to drill a hole in the Sussex countryside, which began on 25 July, has ploughed through even the longest of time limits. As a result the UK’s embryonic shale gas industry is in danger of being stillborn. It is facing a Monsanto moment: an introduction so botched that leaves the technology unusable on arrival. In the late 1990s millions of tins of genetically modified tomato puree were bought by British shoppers before they knew anything about genetic modification techniques. When they did, they decided they didn’t like the whiff of it, and imposed their own ban that killed the prospects for GM food stone dead. With neat synchronicity, just a few days before Cuadrilla took its run at the barricades in Balcombe and after 17 years of trying to get its GM crops approved in Europe, Monsanto finally gave up. Through inept public relations and poor practice Cuadrilla is set to scorch the earth of the nascent shale gas industry in the same way, ably abetted – as was also the case for GM crops – by a tone-deaf and blinkered government.
Guardian 10th Aug 2013 read more »
Natalie Bennett: Cameron is conveniently ignoring is the fact that most of the rise in home energy bills over the past decade has been due to the rising price of gas. Locking us into the “dash for gas” will increase the risk of future rising bills – and the risk of sudden spike that could have disastrous social and economic effects. Rather than focussing on shale gas the Prime Minister should be investing in a serious energy conservation programme, currently entirely lacking from the government’s policies. Investing in renewable energy, developing our on and off-shore wind industries, solar, and eventually tidal, could create far more jobs than those Mr Cameron is proclaiming as a shale benefit. We always know what the wind, the sun, the tide will cost – nothing. There’s no risk from the cost of fuel.
Left Foot Forward 13th Aug 2013 read more »
Four in 10 people would welcome hydraulic fracturing – used to extract hard-to-reach natural gas – in their area but as many would oppose it, a national ICM survey commissioned by the Guardian has found. About a fifth of voters are undecided. Worryingly for David Cameron, the research suggests undecided voters could harden against fracking if it is planned for their community. When asked if it should take place in the UK, a near-majority – 44% of respondents – say yes, with 30% saying no and 26% undecided. But when the question is whether fracking should be allowed near their homes, the number opposed rises to 40%, with those in favour falling slightly to 40%.
Guardian 13th Aug 2013 read more »