China’s biggest nuclear power generator is preparing to enter Europe’s renewable energy market, snapping up three UK wind farms from French utility EDF in a signal of its intent to build a global generating business. The move by state-owned China General Nuclear Corporation (CGN), set to be announced on Monday, would be its first big acquisition of onshore wind generating capacity in the west. The agreement with EDF could help smooth talks on a bigger deal to build Britain’s first nuclear power plant in a generation, at Hinkley Point in Somerset.
FT 14th Dec 2014 read more »
Prof Peter Strachan: Westminster’s claim that Hinkley Point C would cost £16 billion has been countered by experts at the EU who have placed the cost at nearer £25 billion (and note the original estimate was £10 billion). The deal involves paying twice the current price for electricity, with UK taxpayers and electricity consumers locked into a binding contract for an extraordinary 35 years. The European Commission raised concerns that Westminster had breached state aid rules in the subsidies being offered to finance the project. Energy secretary Ed Davey’s huge sigh of relief in October, when the EC controversially gave the green light for the project, may be premature: it will be challenged by the Austrian government in the EU courts. Even if these obstacles can be surmounted, the financial risks to these kinds of projects are simply huge. Severe delays to new-build stations at Olkiluoto in Finland and at Flamanville in France demonstrate a systemic problem. The Level-7 nuclear incidents at Fukushima and Chernobyl are evidence of the safety issues that are forever present – and then there is the insoluble problem of nuclear waste and the astronomical eventual decommissioning costs.
Scottish Energy News 15th Dec 2014 read more »
Christmas has come early for Cumbria Wildlife Trust with a gift of £59,994 to “create 40 hectares of reedbed at Foulshaw Moss” in the South Lakes. This sounds fantastic until you follow the money from Sita Trust and see exactly where it originates. Sita Trust is wholly sponsored by Sita UK. Sita UK is wholly owned by GDF Suez — the same French-owned energy multinational which is partner with Toshiba/Westinghouse in the plan for new nuclear reactors between Sellafield, Beckermet, Calderbridge and Braystones. Sita UK specialises in waste, including nuclear waste, and is also behind the plan for the nuclear dump at Keekle Head. This was stopped following a vigorous campaign, during which Cumbria Wildlife Trust played no part in spite of Keekle Head being a known overwintering site for hen harriers and the head of the river Keekle.
Morning Star 15th Dec 2014 read more »
Torness is one of 15 nuclear power stations across the UK that have been forced to shut down due to faults over the last three years – with campaigners calling for an urgent review into the reliability of nuclear energy. Analysis for local councils revealed that 15 reactors have had 62 unplanned shut-downs since 2011, with Torness near Dunbar forced to close twice last year due to the build-up of seaweed clogging the plant’s filters.
Edinburgh Evening News 14th Dec 2014 read more »
EDF, one of the UK’s big six energy suppliers, could be in line for a £1bn windfall each year for three years from its existing coal and nuclear power stations under a controversial government-designed auction which starts on Tuesday. The scheme has come under considerable criticism because the costs of the new subsidies will be met by consumers paying higher electricity bills, with an estimated extra charge of £14 a year. It has also been attacked by one of the industry’s most respected figures, while UK ministers face a legal challenge in the European courts. EDF, which is largely owned by the French state, has prequalified eight nuclear and two coal plants for the “capacity market” under which payments will be made to companies to guarantee their help in keeping the UK’s lights on. A fifth of any windfall profit on the nuclear fleet would go to Centrica which holds a stake in this part of the EDF business.
Guardian 14th Dec 2014 read more »
An auction that officials estimate could cost more than £1.8bn a year to secure the UK’s electricity supplies beyond 2030 begins on Tuesday, aimed at procuring certain supply of nearly 50 gigawatts of capacity — the bulk of the nation’s peak energy demand. National Grid has been commissioned to run the capacity market auction, a cornerstone of the government’s electricity reforms, until the end of the week.
FT 14th Dec 2014 read more »
In Germany, where renewable energy accounts for around one-quarter of national power output, the big power generation utilities like RWE, EnBW, E.ON et al certainly look to be an increasingly endangered species. But grid companies? No, sir. The enormous volumes of intermittent generation have made the role of grid balancing ever more crucial and this has given rise to a new breed of utility, one which points to the future, perhaps, for Europe’s behemoths. Next Kraftwerke is one of a growing number of companies which aggregates decentralized generation capacity to form a virtual power plant and provide ancillary services for Germany’s TSOs: Amprion, EnBW Transportnetz, 50Hertz Transmission and Tennet. Founded in 2009 as a spin-off from the Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne, Next Kraftwerke has enjoyed explosive growth. In 2013 it aggregated 1GW of capacity from 2,400 installations and traded 2.5TWh, mostly from biogas, biomass and CHP plants, up from 1TWh and 400 installations only a year previously.
Tim Probert 14th Dec 2014 read more »
The Lima Call for Climate Action attempts to resolve some of the pressing issues ahead of a meeting in Paris in December 2015 that should agree a deal. It appears to commit all countries to making emissions cuts, and reiterates the need to limit global temperature rise to less than two degrees celsius. But the Lima agreement leaves the most controversial issues to be dealt with at a later date. As a consequence, some campaigners have branded the text weak and ineffectual. We’ve analysed an unedited version of the Lima text to explore what it may mean for a new global deal. This text appears to agree with the final agreed text, but we will update this briefing as required.
Carbon 14th Dec 2014 read more »
International negotiators at the Lima climate change talks have agreed on a plan to fight global warming that would for the first time commit all countries to cutting their greenhouse gas emissions. The plan, agreed at United Nations talks on Sunday, was hailed as an important first step towards a climate change deal due to be finalised in Paris next year. The proposals call on countries to reveal how they will cut carbon pollution, ideally by March next year.
Guardian 14th Dec 2014 read more »
With 194 countries involved in the talks, each with its own interests to defend, expectations of a comprehensive deal need to be far more realistic. The fact is that the emerging economies will be reluctant to agree to legally binding caps on emissions that they, with some justice, feel were never imposed on advanced countries at the same stage of their development. They want richer nations to do more.
Telegraph 15th Dec 2014 read more »