For France, nuclear energy has been literally a-way-of-life, with the fuel source supplying 77 percent of the nation’s electricity. Its state-owned enterprises that build and operate those plants have been busily taking their technical expertise on the road, including to the UK where two of their advanced reactors could potentially to supply 7 percent of its electricity. At issue: The European Pressurized Reactor (EPR), which is considered a next-generation technology that improves not only efficiencies but also safety. In Normandy, France, where that technology is underway, the companies are dealing with mechanical setbacks. Unless the matter is resolved, it could not just postpone nuclear development in the UK but elsewhere in the world as well. According to one nuclear expert “The French are too dependent on nuclear to give up on it. Yes, they will solve France-specific issues through sheer necessity. However, the European Pressurized Reactor and the export business in Europe may become a victim of cost extremes and schedule overreach.” Nuclear Safety Authority says that stronger safety measures are needed to prevent the spread of radiation in the event of an accident. They are also improving upon how their emergency back-up generators deploy — the mechanism by which to cool down the spent fuel rods that sit in the reactor’s core. Critics say that the billions it will cost to make such upgrades is money that could otherwise be spent developing the country’s green energy program.
Forbes 11th July 2015 read more »
One of the reactors at EDF Energy’s nuclear power station in East Lothian, east of Edinburgh, is out of service for maintenance works. The £30 million refurbishment of one of the two reactors at Torness power station started last week. It is expected to last nine weeks and the works include inspections and the installation of new equipment at the plant. More than 500 workers will also change two gas circulators which help cool the reactor and replace blades on the turbine which turns steam into low carbon electricity.
Energy Live News 13th July 2015 read more »
STV 13th July 2015 read more »
The UK’s nuclear submarine refit base is to remain in special measures amid safety concerns. The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has also warned Devonport in Plymouth might need enhanced monitoring until 2020 unless improvements are made. Special measures, including monthly inspections, were predicted to last two years when first imposed in 2013. Babcock, which carries out the refitting for the Ministry of Defence, said safety was its “highest priority”. The ONR said its “enhanced regulatory attention” meant the once-a-month inspections of HMNB Devonport had “more effort and managerial attention”.
BBC 13th July 2015 read more »
Global nuclear capacity could grow between eight percent and 88 percent by 2030 because of growth of population and demand for electricity in the developing world, recognition of the role nuclear power plays in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the importance of security of energy supply, and the volatility of fossil fuel prices, the International Atomic Energy Agency said. In its ‘Nuclear Technology Review 2015’, the Vienna-based agency said circumstances point to nuclear energy playing an important role in the energy mix “in the long run”. In 2014 near and long-term growth prospects remained centred in Asia, particularly in China, the IAEA said. Of the 70 reactors under construction, 46 were in Asia, as were 32 of the last 40 reactors that were connected to the grid since 2004. There were 438 reactors operating at the end of 2014 and nuclear energy had a global generating capacity of 376.2 gigawatts, the IAEA said. There was only one permanent shutdown in 2014. The single-unit Vermont Yankee in the US ended commercial operations on 29 December 2014 due to “financial considerations”. In 2014, five new reactors were connected to the grid: Atucha-2 in Argentina, Ningde-2, Fuqing-1 and Fangjiashan-1 in China, and Rostov-3 in Russia. Construction of the Atucha-2 reactor unit had originally started in 1981 but was delayed and reactivated only in 2009. There were three construction starts – at Belarusian-2 in Belarus, Barakah-3 in the United Arab Emirates and Carem-25, a small integral type of pressurised light-water reactor design in Argentina.
NucNet 10th July 2015 read more »
With David Cameron’s decision to invest the stretched UK defence budget on drones to fight Islamic State (Isis), the threat posed by the Islamist caliphate is attracting global attention. But as horrific as their atrocities are, it is conceivable that Isis will turn out to have been little more than a traumatic blip in world history. Iran’s push for nuclear weapons, by contrast, could mark the start of a much more dangerous chain of events that – in the worst version of any number of cataclysmic scenarios – wouldn’t so much feature on the historical record as herald its end. What is at stake in the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear capability is not simply the question of whether the country will be allowed to inch ever closer to holding weapons, but rather the risk of setting off a nuclear domino effect across the Middle East, where every autocratic and jittery regime determines that it too must have nuclear weapons.
Independent 13th July 2015 read more »
Levy Control Framework
The government’s Levy Control Framework (LCF) spending cap for green power subsidies will be breached, according to new official forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility. The cap limits spending on renewables and other low-carbon electricity schemes. It is the government’s way of trying to provide the certainty investors need to open their wallets, while limiting the financial impact on those who will ultimately foot the bill. After years of insisting the cap would not be breached despite a range of voices arguing the contrary, the government appears to have finally admitted there could be a problem. Carbon Brief explains the purpose of the LCF and explores whether the budget really has been blown. The most cost-effective way to start meeting the UK’s legally binding carbon budgets out to 2050 is to largely decarbonise the power sector by 2030 while investing heavily in energy efficiency, according to the CCC. The CCC says the £7.6bn LCF cap to 2020/21 should have been sufficient to meet the power sector’s part of UK carbon budgets. The CCC tells Carbon Brief that any extra spending to 2020 could mean less deployment is required in the 2020s. It plans to look more closely at this in future work.
Carbon Brief 13th July 2015 read more »
On an unusually windy day, Denmark found itself producing 116% of its national electricity needs from wind turbines yesterday evening. By 3am on Friday, when electricity demand dropped, that figure had risen to 140%. Interconnectors allowed 80% of the power surplus to be shared equally between Germany and Norway, which can store it in hydropower systems for use later. Sweden took the remaining fifth of excess power.
Edie 13th July 2015 read more »
US – radwaste
Harry Reid says the designation of a sprawling national monument in rural Nevada last week was not part of an effort to fend off a nuclear waste dump, according to an interview on KNPR’s State of Nevada. However, President Barack Obama’s announcement Friday that a portion of rural Nevada will become a national monument apparently creates a roadblock for the nuclear dump 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas at Yucca Mountain. “This is the final nail in the coffin,” said Robert Halstead, executive director of the state Agency for Nuclear Projects, regarding the Energy Department’s plans to transport waste from Caliente to the dump via railroad.
Las Vegas Sun 10th July 2015 read more »
A landmark Iran nuclear agreement has been reached after clearing final obstacles.
Telegraph 14th July 2015 read more »
Diplomats at talks in Vienna say they have agreed a historic deal with Iran on limiting its nuclear programme, reports suggested this morning.
City AM 14th July 2015 read more »
Guardian 14th July 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
A solar farm could be built on farm land near Kelso. Developers have submitted initial plans for the 5MW project to Scottish Borders Council. Green Energy UK is exploring the possibility of constructing the panels about a mile south-east of the centre of Kelso. The firm, which is based in Cheshire, has told planners it would cover an area of 30.6 acres (12 hectares) of land at Wooden Farm. In a pre-application “screening request” to the council, they claim most of the site will remain vegetated as only 30% of the site will be covered by solar panels. The developers said the farm could be built in 12 weeks and it is likely to be in place for 25 years. The panels will be no more than 2.3m (7.5ft) in height.
BBC 14th July 2015 read more »
Twenty three renewable energy projects across Scotland will share £500,000 of funding through a scheme designed to encourage the local uptake of green technologies. The 23 projects include a way to capture and distribute heat from local waste water, as well as the formation of Local Energy Supply Companies (LESCOs), where towerblock residents produce and import energy to the grid. Specifically, the money – from the second round of the Local Energy Challenge Fund – will be used for feasibility studies, with successful schemes in line to receive further “significant capital support”.
Edie 13th July 2015 read more »
M&S Energy – the energy retail arm of Marks & Spencer – has committed £400,000 to a new community energy funding competition. Styled as a competition – with a judges’ shortlist then prizes decided by a public vote – the Fund has two UK-wide pots totalling £60,000 up for grabs, plus up to £12,500 in each of three Scottish regions.
Scottish Energy News 14th July 2015 read more »
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing has announced to Island council leaders that he has received assurances of the UK Government’s commitment to continuing the Scottish Islands Renewable Delivery Forum (SIRDF). The SIRDF was established last summer and has been co-chaired by the Scottish and UK Governments. Its purpose is to support the joint policy aim of delivering and connecting the huge renewable energy resources on Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles to the mainland electricity grid. Following a meeting with representatives from the Islands, Ewing said: “Amber Rudd, the new Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, has agreed to continue the work of her predecessor by co-chairing the next meeting of the Scottish Islands Delivery Forum during September, and has indicated an intention to pursue the necessary support mechanism for remote island wind.
Scottish Energy News 14th July 2015 read more »
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to power all of the government’s operations with renewable energy. De Blasio said Friday that the city is seeking creative solutions. They might, for example, come from developers, power providers, financial institutions, energy brokerages and trade groups. The goal is to identify new potential sources of renewable energy.
Penn Energy 10th July 2014 read more »
Zero Carbon Homes
The government’s decision to scrap the zero carbon homes target plus the equivalent for non-domestic houses is a major setback for achieving a low carbon UK and will undermine the credibility of the policy mix on building energy efficiency and beyond. The zero carbon homes target was announced in 2006 and, as the name suggests, was an obligation for any new home to be built from 2016 to be ‘zero carbon’. This includes improvements to be building fabric compared to standard new buildings and measures such as on-site renewable energy generation. Since this is difficult to achieve, the government then introduced so-called ‘allowable solutions’ which are measures which can be implemented off-site to reduce emissions to complement the on-site carbon savings. The recent announcement on the details of the allowable solutions has already been criticised as being ‘watered down’ compared to the original target.
Sussex Energy Group 13th July 2015 read more »
On the matter of zero-carbon housing, 38% of our total greenhouse gas emissions are leaked from buildings. Overhauling our housing stock is, by a mile, the easiest fix we have to meet emissions targets, easier than green energy and electric cars and solar storage, easier than everything else put together. The idea of a government not just retreating from the need to retrofit existing stock, but creating new housing that wastes yet more energy: it’s too depressing to contemplate.
Guardian 12th July 2015 read more »
Officials have drawn up plans to cut the funding for household energy efficiency in the autumn spending review as they seek savings from the energy department’s budget. The government has allocated £220m this year and £150m next year towards the Green Deal Home Improvement Fund to provide incentives and cashback on double-glazing, boilers and insulation. Despite the scheme’s name it is not part of the wider “Green Deal”, under which households can use a credit finance scheme to improve their energy efficiency. The main Green Deal is also the subject of intense speculation after Whitehall’s “Major Projects Authority” gave it an “amber-red” score in its annual review of government schemes. Although it has lent £34m since it was set up two years ago, it has fallen far short of ministers’ original expectations. One insider at the Departmen t of Energy and Climate Change said he expected the GDHIF to be cut – with the whole scheme potentially cancelled after the programme ends in 2017. Officials are also braced for job cuts in the autumn. Decc’s headcount rose 35 per cent under the coalition, making it one of only three departments, including the Department for International Development and the Cabinet Office, not to see net staff cuts. DECC justifies its headcount of 1,605 by arguing that it has had to deliver a “challenging agenda” including electricity market reform and the implementation of the Wood Review into North Sea oil.
FT 13th July 2015 read more »
The threat of climate change needs to be assessed in the same comprehensive way as nuclear weapons proliferation, according to a UK foreign minister. Baroness Joyce Anelay, minister of state at the Commonwealth and Foreign Office, said the indirect impacts of global warming, such as deteriorating international security, could be far greater than the direct effects, such as flooding. She issued the warning in a foreword to a new report on the risks of climate change led by the UK’s climate change envoy, Prof Sir David King. The report, commissioned by the Foreign Office, and written by experts from the UK, US, China and India, is stark in its assessment of the wide-ranging dangers posed by unchecked global warming, including: very large risks to global food security, including a tripling of food prices; unprecedented migration overwhelming international assistance; increased risk of terrorism as states fail; lethal heat even for people resting in shade
Guardian 13th July 2015 read more »