A nuclear vs. solar power debate held on Sunday at the Edinburgh International Book Festival demonstrated British interest for quick fixes in its energy future. The merits of nuclear power were fiercely advocated by Guardian newspaper columnist George Monbiot, who locked horns with solar power proponent Sue Roaf, professor of architectural engineering at Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University. The event also highlighted the looming energy supply gap facing the U.K. as aging nuclear power plants and many polluting coal-fired stations are due to close this decade and will need to be replaced and the U.K. government’s rationale for the market (and the electricity bills) to fund the restoration of the country’s energy infrastructure. What Germany has achieved by shifting its energy policy towards renewable types of power, for example, is not only increasing percentages of low carbon electricity production, but also establishing a globally dominant renewable power industry that has made the country a leader in renewable power research and innovation while also creating thousands of jobs. The U.K., with its strictly market orientated energy policy, has achieved none of the above. And even if the government chooses to go along the nuclear path, the country needs to import knowledge from abroad, such as from the French nuclear industry. A future defined by solar and other renewable energies without the leverage of nuclear power is possible, but to achieve it, the country needs a long-term vision. The market alone will not provide this. It can, and should be, skillfully shifted to assist it.
PV Magazine 13th Aug 2013 read more »
How have the Conservatives gone from attacking the Labour government for failing to decarbonise fast enough, in 2009, to being these gas-crazed frack-evangelists? The energy debate has been sacrificed to political expedience. It’s time to work out how to wrest it back. The question about the Tories is relatively easily answered. George Osborne has oscillated wildly on climate change; at the moment, it is second (read “nowhere”) to his core objective: replicating Thatcher’s golden years by making shale gas his North Sea oil. She could govern as cruelly and incompetently as she pleased and the numbers would still come out in her favour, thanks to the discovery of this resource. If this debate were to concentrate on carbon emissions, it would reach its critical questions pretty fast: the lowest carbon fuels are renewables; they’re not yet ready to supply all the country’s energy; those technologies need investment; the country needs a bridging fuel, which should be the cleanest we can find. And that would be gas. Questions remaining for the government would be: how best to assure and accelerate green investment (partly by not by putting all your faith, publicly, in fracking), and how to consolidate the move from coal to gas without over-committing to gas to the extent that people stop investing in wind and solar. That is the conversation we should be having. Given that the conservatives are mired in twin delusions – that we can return to the 80s, and that climate change isn’t happening – Labour must set out and insist on these terms.
Guardian 15th Aug 2013 read more »
You have to feel very sorry for the vast majority of the companies who make up the world’s nuclear power industry. Westinghouse, CANDU, EDF and many others have all run overwhelmingly safe operations free of accidents for many many years. The companies have extended the lives of existing plant and spent tens of millions on plans for new capacity – in the US, the UK, Russia and some parts of the developing world. In many of these countries, the old fears of nuclear power had been tempered or removed. Even parts of the green lobby had embraced nuclear as part of the solution to climate change. But now all that progress is once again vulnerable to the weakest link. Tepco. In the UK the projected cost of the next new station has risen by around £6bn in five years. Part of this increase is the result of additional regulatory requirements and the latest events in Fukushima will no doubt raise costs still more. It is not yet clear how tolerant consumers and policy makers will be particularly when lower cost alternatives such as gas are readily available. And beyond all that there is a sense of weariness and loss of belief in the sector among investors. Tepco’s problems are unique but other difficulties beset the industry elsewhere. In South Korea there is a major investigation into forged safety certificates. In Taiwan new development is held up by public protests. In France and Finland major projects are behind schedule and over budget.
FT 14th Aug 2013 read more »
THORP celebrates 25 years. Since the opening of the receipt and storage section at Sellafield’s Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant, or Thorp for short, on August 8, 1988, more than 8,000 tonnes of fuel have been dealt with. What’s more, it has also generated £9bn worth of business from 34 major customers in nine different countries. Staff, bosses and nuclear industry leaders gathered at the swanky visitors’ centre inside the massive building, which is the length of five football pitches, to celebrate 25 years of safe operation on Thursday.
Whitehaven News 12th Aug 2013 read more »
EDF Energy has reconfirmed its commitment to using the local supply chain as it develops the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, in Somerset. Ken Owen, commercial director for the power station, travelled to a business event in Somerset earlier this month to address firms registered on the Hinkley C supply chain portal. The firm has said it wants to use a local supply chain where possible, with firms awarded the main contracts being advised that local procurement will be part of the assessment criteria.
Western Morning News 15th Aug 2013 read more »
The European Commission (Directorate General for Energy) is currently assessing to what extent the situation of potential victims of a nuclear accident in Europe could be improved, within the limits of EU competence. The present consultation therefore seeks the views of all relevant stakeholders on the need for common rules at EU level on insurance and compensation for nuclear accidents in the EU.
European Commission (accessed) 14th Aug 2013 read more »
The National Skills Academy for Nuclear, in partnership with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), is rolling out an eighth round of its highly-successful Nuclear Bursary Award Scheme. The ONR Report on the ‘Japanese earthquake and tsunami – implications for the UK nuclear industry’ highlighted a number of recommendations for the nuclear industry in the UK. Of particular importance to the skills for the nuclear agenda is recommendation eleven, which focused on nuclear professionalism. This round of the bursary scheme is aimed at quality individuals on programmes of study relevant to the nuclear industry, with a particular emphasis on nuclear professionalism or nuclear-related project and programme management courses. Relevant courses of study include Honours Degrees, Masters Degrees, Postgraduate and CPD qualifications, such as the Certificate of Nuclear Professionalism.
NDT News 14th Aug 2013 read more »
Energy giant npower has warned of job losses as it embarks on a major cost-cutting overhaul of its operations. The company, which employs about 10,000 people in the UK, said it would “consolidate” its offices from 26 to 10 over the next five years as part of a plan to “reduce costs and improve customer service”.
Telegraph 14th Aug 2013 read more »
The boss of RWE npower has admitted that it is looking at raising prices “continuously” in Britain and has refused to rule out a move before Christmas. Paul Massara emphasised that no decision had been made, but added: “There is upward pressure on prices. There is a constant review — we are looking at it.” The warning comes after the German-owned energy supplier reported a 3 per cent drop in first-half profits to £176 million. It blamed “substantial additional costs” from implementing Ofgem’s plan to slash the number of tariffs for consumers, carrying out the Government’s expensive household energy efficiency schemes and higher grid charges.
Times 15th Aug 2013 read more »
Big Six energy provider RWE npower saw its profits drop by 6% in the first half, as price hikes in November failed to offset rising fees to use the power network and one-off regulatory costs. The UK unit of the German power giant reported a reduced operating profit of 206 million (£177 million), despite hiking its gas and electricity prices by 8.6% and 8.8% in November. The unit blamed “substantial additional costs” relating to complying with new regulatory requirements which oblige UK energy companies to simplify their residential tariff structures.
Independent 14th Aug 2013 read more »
The government risks breaching an international agreement if it goes ahead with a controversial nuclear waste dump in a remote part of the Northern Territory, conservationists say, with Labor Senate candidate Nova Peris calling for the plan to be dropped. Conservationists claim that the Muckaty dump, near Tennant Creek, would be in contravention of the UN declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, which states that nations must “ensure that no storage or disposal of hazardous materials shall take place in the lands or territories of indigenous peoples without their free, prior and informed consent”.
Guardian 14th Aug 2013 read more »
The only plant for assembling and disassembling nuclear weapons in the US has become a construction site for what could be home to the “largest” federally-owned wind farm.
Energy Live News 14th Aug 2013 read more »
The most ambitious radiation clean-up ever attempted has proved costly, complex and time-consuming since the Japanese government began it more than two years in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown. It may also fail. Doubts are mounting that the effort to decontaminate hotspots in an area the size of Connecticut will succeed in its ultimate aim – luring more than 100,000 nuclear evacuees back home.If thousands of former residents cannot or will not return, parts of the farming and fishing region could remain an abandoned wilderness for decades.
Reuters 14th Aug 2013 read more »
The surprise victory of Hassan Rouhani in Iran’s Presidential election has prompted widespread hopes of an opportunity for progress in resolving the tensions over Iran’s nuclear programme. Often described as “a moderate” – though perhaps “centrist” might be a more adequate label in terms of Iranian politics – President Rouhani’s victory is seen as marking a more pragmatic turn; a desire on the part of many Iranians for their bread and butter issues to be addressed.
BBC 15th Aug 2013 read more »
Nuclear energy must be a significant part of the mix if India is to grow electricity supply by 625% to meet development goals, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission Anil Kakodkar told students at a graduation ceremony.
World Nuclear News 14th Aug 2013 read more »
Senior Nato officials have warned Alex Salmond’s government that an independent Scotland would be barred from joining Nato if there were any disputes over the basing of nuclear weapons on the Clyde. The Guardian can reveal that a small group of Scottish civil servants travelled to Nato HQ in Brussels last month to discuss Scotland’s options for joining the alliance if Salmond wins next year’s independence referendum. They argued that an independent Scotland should be given special treatment because it was already a significant part of an existing, founder member of Nato, the UK. It is understood that Nato officials said it might be possible to allow Scotland to start fast-track talks – but in a blow to Salmond’s anti-nuclear strategy, the Scottish delegation was also told that no new member would be allowed to join Nato if that state had unresolved military or territorial disputes with other countries.
Guardian 14th Aug 2013 read more »
US Air Force top brass admitted an embarrassing stumble by the country’s nuclear missile force on Tuesday. Nuclear air forces chief Lieutenant General James M Kowalski revealed that the 341st Missile Wing at the Malmstrom base in Montana had failed what the military calls a “surety” inspection – a formal check on the unit’s adherence to rules ensuring the safety, security and control of its nukes.
Morning Star 14th Aug 2013 read more »
The US Navy will derive half its energy supply from renewables by the end of this decade, according to a report entitled Enlisting the Sun: Powering the U.S. Military with Solar Energy, by the US solar industry (SEIA). It may be a stretch to say that the US Naval Research Laboratory is the vanguard of the world’s green revolution, but not a big stretch. The US Energy Department expects the cost of solar power to fall by 75pc between 2010 and 2020. By then average costs will have dropped to the $1 per watt for big solar farms, $1.25 for offices and $1.50 for homes, achieving the Holy Grail of grid parity with new coal and gas plants without further need for subsidies. The current average in the US ranges from $5.30 for homes to as low as $2.50 for some utilities, though the figures are hotly disputed. Germany is further ahead, down to $2.25 to $2.50 even for homes. Broadly speaking, costs are down by a quarter over the past year due to the flood of cheap Chinese panels. The Department expects a “nonlinear” surge in solar expansion once the key threshold is reached, “paving the way for rapid, large-scale adoption of solar electricity across the US”, with solar providing 27pc of the country’s power by the middle of the century. If so, solar may prove to be the bigger story than shale in the end. “This could take off very fast and catch a lot of people by surprise. The oil and gas industry is starting to smell that renewables are really dangerous for them,” said Mr Leggett.
Telegraph 14th Aug 2013 read more »
In what could prove to be a major breakthrough for the UK’s renewables industry, Scottish Hydro Electric Power Distribution (SHEPD) yesterday connected the UK’s first large scale battery to local electricity distribution network on Orkney, kicking off a trial that will aim to help the island better exploit its clean energy resources. The 2MW lithium ion battery has been provided by Mitsubishi Power Systems Europe and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and will be operated by SSE Generation, which has integrated the energy storage system with the island’s Active Network Management network. The existing network, which has been in place since 2009, is already designed to cope with the relatively high levels of renewable energy connected to Orkney’s grid by allowing the grid operator to balance loads by reducing power demand and qu ickly accessing back up power when necessary. However, the lithium ion battery, which has already been trialled for two years in Japan, should make it even easier to tackle intermittent power from renewable sources by allowing the operator to store clean energy that can then be released when it is required.
Business Green 15th Aug 2013 read more »
The UK biomass industry received a shot in the arm this week, as a Danish pension fund pledged to invest £128m in a new 40 megawatt power plant at Brigg in Lincolnshire to generate electricity from straw. But the good news masked a difficult outlook for the sector. A more accurate indicator came on Monday, when RWE npower closed a coal-fired power plant at Tilbury, Essex, which had previously been planned for conversion into one of the world’s largest biomass power stations. Biomass, once seen as pivotal to Britain’s hopes of meeting its renewable energy targets, is hitting the buffers as the government rethinks support for the sector. Its waning fortunes have come as a shock to many in the renewables sector, which had viewed biomass as among the most promising non-fossil fuels.
FT 14th Aug 2013 read more »
The industry has expressed disappointment with the 6 per cent energy-efficiency requirements included in Part L of the updated Building Regulations. Micropower Council chief executive Dave Sowden said the move would increase energy bills for new homes by around a third and reduce carbon savings by more than 75 per cent when compared with the previous government’s outlines. Mr Sowden said the announcement “brings very little clarity and will not result in any material additional uptake of low-carbon energy technologies”.
H&V News 13th Aug 2013 read more »
O2 and Arqiva have landed contracts worth more than £2.1bn to run crucial communications networks for the Government’s ambitious plan to install a “smart” meter in every British home.
Telegraph 14th Aug 2013 read more »
Guardian 14th Aug 2013 read more »
Global temperatures are climbing so rapidly that by 2040 Britain will spend up to a fifth of its summer months in an extreme heatwave, a new report warns. Unless something dramatic is done to curb the volume of greenhouse gas emissions widely regarded as responsible for climate change, then conditions currently regarded as “extreme” will become the “new normal” in the UK and most of the world by the end of the Century, the findings say.
Independent 15th Aug 2013 read more »
Scotsman 15th Aug 2013 read more »