A new report on the future of Britain’s electricity supply from the government spending watchdog has highlighted the falling costs of renewables compared with nuclear, with figures projecting onshore wind and solar will be the cheapest ways of generating electricity by 2025. The report examines how new sources of electricity can be used to meet the looming capacity gap the UK faces over the coming decade while supporting emissions targets and keeping energy bills affordable. Its findings show that renewables may be a cheaper option than conventional energy sources, with Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) forecasts for the levelised cost of energy of wind and solar in 2025 having decreased since 2010. The cost forecast for nuclear during the same time period has increased while it has remained constant for gas. “Supporting early new nuclear projects could lead to higher costs in the short term than continuing to support wind and solar,” the report concludes. “The cost competitiveness of nuclear power is weakening as wind and solar become more established.” However, the NAO also said the projections for electricity costs do not reflect other factors such as the intermittency of wind and solar, which it said could require additional investment in new ways of distributing electricity compared with traditional fossil-fuelled sources. It therefore concludes that the decision to support nuclear relies “more on strategic than financial grounds” as it could complement the intermittent nature of wind and solar, while also being highly scaleable. “For wind and solar to generate the same amount of electricity as a nuclear power plant would mean covering large areas of sea or land, which could cause public opposition and technical challenges,” the report reads.
Business Green 14th July 2016 read more »
NAO Report 13th July 2016 read more »
If Theresa May is looking for an excuse to ditch Hinkley Point C, here it is: a stinging report from the National Audit Office on the potential cost of the proposed nuclear power station in Somerset. Energy consumers could end up paying £29.7bn in top-up payments under the contract granted to EDF, Hinkley’s French state-backed developer. That compares with £6.1bn in October 2013 when the strike-price for the 35-year contract was agreed. The difference, as the NAO states, is a function of the movement in wholesale energy prices. The more wholesale prices fall, the bigger the subsidy appears. Over 35 years, the Department of Energy and Climate Change might counter, anything could happen. Well, yes, but a difference of £20bn-plus is hard to dismiss as mere theoretical modelling or the inevitable price to be paid for the certainty of nuclear-generated electricity. It would be rational for a government presented with a report like the NAO’s to re-examine the financial logic of Hinkley. Legally, it may be too late and the ball may already be in EDF’s court. But, given the months of procrastination on the French side, the company may also want an excuse to drop Hinkley. Go for it, Mrs May.
Guardian 13th July 2016 read more »
The new chancellor of the exchequer has expressed his determination to see construction begin on the controversial Hinkley Point C nuclear plant, amid mounting concerns over the cost of the project. We have to make sure the project goes ahead,” Philip Hammond told BBC’s Today programme. However, he admitted there was “obviously an atmosphere of uncertainty” around the £18bn scheme due to the change of ministers following the referendum. Talks with France and China – the two countries offering to build the Somerset reactors – were already underway to reassure them that the UK government continued to fully back Britain’s first new nuclear power plant in a generation, said Hammond.
Guardian 14th July 2016 read more »
One policy that won’t change under what amounts to a brand new and unelected UK Government – the proposed new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point – continues to have its support. Chancellor Philip Hammond made that clear when he said that he believed it was vital to the UK economy and worth the substantial – and still rising – cost. Of course, whether it will be powering any green lights, or any lights at all, is still open to question because the French state-owned energy company EDF, which is leading project, has still to make the same commitment.
Independent 14th July 2016 read more »
BBC 14th July 2016 read more »
Somerset Live 14th July 2016 read more »
The building of the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset is a vital part of plans to keep the lights on according the National Audit Office (NAO). The cost of all this new power generation will be £140bn – which is to be passed on to consumers Some estimates suggest it will add an extra £230 a year on the average bill. And price of keeping Hinkley on stream has risen from £6.1 billion to £29.7 billion.
Somerset Live 14th July 2016 read more »
Britain’s new chancellor has thrown his weight behind plans to build an £18 billion nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. “We have to make sure the project goes ahead,” Philip Hammond told Radio 4’sToday programme, while acknowledging that there was “obviously an atmosphere of uncertainty” following weeks of turmoil after the Brexit vote. On his first day in the post, Mr Hammond said that the plant in Somerset, which would provide 7 per cent of UK electricity, was a prerequisite to ensure Britain had an efficient, modern energy system. The Hinkley project, led by EDF, the French state-owned energy company, has been delayed amid concerns about costs and problems with the reactor technology.
Times 15th July 2016 read more »
The company responsible for decommissioning the former nuclear plant at Dounreay is looking for a contractor to take on an important aspect of the £1.6billion clean-up operation. The decommissioning of the shaft and silo is considered to be one of the largest nuclear clean up jobs at Dounreay and in Europe. And Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) is now advertising for a “suitably qualified and experienced contractor to design, manufacture, test, install and commission a silo retrieval system” for the four-year shaft and silo decommissioning project.
Press & Journal 15th July 2016 read more »
West Cumbria is being treated like a “third world colony” over plans for a new nuclear power station. That’s the view of a leading Allerdale councillor as he responded to the latest consultation on the proposed Moorside plant at Sellafield. The council’s executive committee met on Wednesday to discuss its response to the second phase of consultation on the plans. Councillors accused NuGen, the consortium behind the project, of seeking to suck resources and profit out of west Cumbria without any tangible community benefits. Councillor Mike Heaslip said: “I’m getting used to the idea of what it’s like to live in a third world colony, because that’s how we’re treated.” He accused the consortium of trying to buy west Cumbria’s support for “a bag of coloured beads”.
Carlisle News and Star 14th July 2016 read more »
The UK’s decision to leave the European Union has not changed the country’s commitment to investing in low-carbon energy, including new nuclear, nor its efforts to tackle climate change, Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom told members of parliament (MPs) today. Meanwhile, a report issued by the National Audit Office (NAO) says the UK “lacks a proven, skilled supply chain to support the construction of a new power station”. Leadsom, the junior minister leading the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), was speaking the day after new British Prime Minister Theresa May moved Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd into the role of Home Secretary. Later today it was announced that Leadsom has been made Environment Secretary. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills is to become the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy department – headed by Greg Clark, formerly Communities and Local Government Secretary. The government has axed DECC in a major departmental shake-up.
World Nuclear News 14th July 2016 read more »
In the short term the new Energy Secretary has a lot of work to do to keep the policy machinery moving. Whilst new low carbon infrastructure is being built, including our recently confirmed Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm due for completion in 2019, after 2020 the pipeline (and economics) of clean energy projects are less clear and this uncertainty deters investment. At the same time the economics of ageing coal plant make this technology challenging and the UK will require a range of other flexible technologies – such as gas – to replace these plants and keep the lights on. This means that immediate action has to be taken to ensure that the UK stays on track to meet its climate change commitments whilst maintaining secure and affordable supplies. Customer affordability must remain paramount. It is absolutely critical that the Government drives ahead with a strong agenda for customers. Britain has some of the draughtiest homes in Europe and progressing the next national home insulation scheme is critical. It is also crucial that the infrastructure enabling the mass deployment for smart meters to people’s homes must be fit for purpose and in place as soon as possible. Good inroads are being made but this is one of the UK’s largest infrastructure projects, touching every home in the country and we have to get this right first time.
Telegraph 14th July 2016 read more »
The UK’s energy department is to be merged with the business department.
FT 14th May 2016 read more »
Theresa May’s decision to abolish the department of energy and climate change in Thursday’s ministerial reshuffle has provoked angry criticism from environmental groups and some MPs. “It sends a terrible signal at the worst possible time,” said James Thornton, chief executive of the ClientEarth legal group fighting the government to improve air quality standards. “At a time when the challenge of climate change becomes ever more pressing, the government has scrapped the department devoted to tackling it.” Green Party MEP Keith Taylor said the move “looks like an act of climate sabotage” while Friends of the Earth described it as “shocking”.
FT 14th July 2016 read more »
Campaigners fear that the abolition of DECC, the department of energy and climate change, indicates that climate will take a low priority in Theresa May’s policy agenda. Meanwhile the pro-fracking, pro-nuclear Andrea Leadsom is in charge of environment department Defra. DECC’s energy remit will now be amalgamated with business in a new Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy – a choice of name in which the words ‘climate change’ are notably absent. The new Secretary of State at BEIS is to be Greg Clarke, MP for Tunbridge Wells, who was appointed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government following the 2015 general election. Not all environmentlaists believe that the abolition of DECC is such a disaster for climate and energy policy. Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), sounded an optimistic note on the appointment of the new BEIS Secretary: “Greg Clark is an excellent appointment. He understands climate change, and has written influential papers on the benefits of Britain developing a low-carbon economy. Importantly, he sees that economic growth and tackling climate change are bedfellows not opponents – and he now has the opportunity to align British industry, energy and climate policy in a way that’s never been done before.”
Ecologist 14th July 2016 read more »
Greg Clark is the secretary of state for a newly created Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The department is expected to take over all of the responsibilities of Decc – enacting both energy and climate change policy. It is also expected to take on the most of the duties of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) which has been scrapped as well.
Utility Week 14th July 2016 read more »
Our annual report and accounts 2015/16 highlights major milestones in hazard reduction as we decommission the UK’s historic nuclear sites. The current estimate for the future clean-up costs across the UK is around £117 billion (£161 billion discounted), spread across the next 120 years or so. Last year’s estimate was £118 billion.
NDA 13th July 2016 read more »
The number of consumers switching household energy supplier reached a new high in June, with more than 360,000 people changing their provider. This is a ‘staggering’ 58% increase from June 2014. Over two million (2,323,694) customers have switched in the first half of the year, which is almost one million (1,515,993) more than in the first six months of 2014. The latest electricity switching data also shows 120,115 customers switched to small and mid-tier suppliers in June which is 33% of all switches for the month.
Scottish Energy News 15th July 2016 read more »
The number of British families switching energy supplier soared to a record 2.3 million during the first six months of this year, up nearly 30 per cent from 1.8 million in the same period a year ago.
Times 15th July 2016 read more »
Juliet Davenport: We’ve been using old-fashioned utility models based on central control and command but we’re in a world now where we could all generate and store power in our own homes. This will herald behavioural change as consumers become more aware of what they’re using and when. Nearly a million houses in the UK have solar panels installed, and although they are producing small chunks, they do add up to be significant. This energy can be stored in household lithium iron batteries to be used when needed. Worldwide, solar is seen as the technology that will replace oil, but there will be others. We’ve got a real opportunity with tidal power in the UK. We have one of the largest tidal reaches in the world and we’re well placed to do the engineering work here.
Times 14th July 2016 read more »
It’s only intended as a tongue-in-cheek depiction, but a new map of Eneropa sums up very well why campaigners for community energy are skeptical of designs to create an EU-wide renewable energy system. As a recent report in the Guardian explains, an architectural office was commissioned to draw up a map of Europe for the European Climate Foundation. The ECF has long been involved in gigantic designs for decarbonization, such as the (failed) Emissions Trading Scheme. Perhaps I have missed something, but I have not seen much work from them on the benefits of community energy. Suffice it to say that communities will be able to tap synergies and couple sectors (such as using waste heat and/or excess renewable electricity for heat supply). They will also handle urban planning to promote efficiency projects (building renovations) along with building bike paths and making urban environments walkable so that we don’t need cars at all.
Renew Economy 15th July 2016 read more »
A widespread claim—that dozens of nuclear plants, too costly to run profitably, now merit new subsidies to protect the earth’s climate—just collided with market reality. The CEO of one of America’s most prominent and technically capable utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric Company—previously chairman of the Nuclear Energy Institute and the Edison Electric Institute—just announced its decision (subject to regulatory approvals) to close PG&E’s well-running twin nuclear reactors at Diablo Canyon because they’re uneconomic and won’t be needed. Unlike previous nuclear shutdowns, some of which were too abrupt for immediate replacement with carbon-free resources, PG&E’s nuclear output will be phased out over 8–9 years, replaced timely and cost-effectively by efficiency and renewables. That means no more fossil fuel burned nor carbon emitted, all at less cost to ratepayers. How much less? Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says at least $1 billion (net present value to 2044).
RMI 11th July 2016 read more »
The UK is pressing ahead with plans to hit EU renewable energy targets despite Brexit, ministers have confirmed, including the likely introduction of a new ‘green’ petrol adding 1p/litre to prices at the pump. Lord Bourne, the energy minister, told MPs that his department and the wider Government were still working to hit the targets, which require the UK to generate 15pc of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. Andrew Jones, the transport minister, said it was “very likely” that Britain would introduce a new kind of petrol called E10, which contains a higher proportion of biofuels than current petrol, in order to meet a sub-target requiring 10pc of transport energy to be renewable. Appearing alongside the ministers before the energy select committee, Rob Wakely, head of low carbon fuels at the Department for Transport, also confirmed that this was expected to add 1p/litre to prices at the pump.
Telegraph 13th July 2016 read more »
Renewables – wave power
A new EU programme to fund open-sea trials for ocean energy is to be led by the European Marine Energy Centre, which is based in Scotland’s Orkney islands. The aim of the €11m project – which brings together Europe’s leading ocean energy test facilities to help demonstrate tidal, wave and offshore wind energy technologies in real-sea conditions – is to boost investor-confidence that such devices will actually work in-situ. Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse, commented: “The €11m FORESEA project is a tremendous achievement by EMEC and complements the innovative funding approaches for marine energy that the Scottish Government is already providing. “Scotland is recognised as a world leader in wave and tidal energy with some of the leading technologies being developed and tested here. “This project will allow technology developers to move towards commercial readiness at the world’s leading ocean test facilities; the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney as well as in Ireland, France and the Netherlands.” Rémi Gruet, Chief Executive, Ocean Energy Europe said: “The size of the prize for commercialising ocean energy is huge. “In Europe alone, the industry plans to deploy 100GW of generation capacity by 2050, meeting 10% of Europe’s electricity demand. Not only does this mean generating clean and secure renewable energy, it also means creating a new industrial sector based firmly in Europe.”
Scottish Energy News 15th July 2016 read more »
Renewables – AD
f electricity could be star-rated for quality, the 150 kilowatt hours going daily into the grid from Lodge Farm in north Wales would probably score five. Generated from the slurry of 300 brown Swiss and Norwegian red cattle, and topped up by chicken litter that cannot go to animal feed and by waste from the local Kellogg’s food factory, it is as good as it gets, says farmer Richard Tomlinson. Since 2011, the gas from the organic farm’s £750,000 anaerobic co-digester (AD) has generated more than 4.5m kWh of electricity and heat for the farmhouse, an on-site engineering works and for 80-100 homes.
Guardian 15th July 2016 read more »
Yesterday we launched The Green Gas Book. The Green Gas Book is a series of essays exploring the development of “green gas” (or more accurately, “green gases”), written by experts in the field. This book looks at the range of those green gases – biomethane, hydrogen, bio-substitute natural gas (bioSNG) and biopropane – their uses, benefits and potential challenges in their application. While no one of these green gases is the perfect solution, we may think of them as “10% solutions,” which, together with developments such as district heating schemes, would go a long way towards helping us decarbonise the heat sector. This book was commissioned by Labour’s frontbench energy team and has been produced in co-ordination with the PLP’s energy and climate change committee. We hope that it can serve as an important contribution to policy discussion.
Alan Whitehead 14th July 2016 read more »
The UK should look to Scotland to implement new revenue streams that account for a “modernised” grid system, which should have energy storage at its heart, in order to unlock £2.4bn in savings. That is the call to action from Scottish Renewables and consultants Everoze, which have produced a report calling on the UK Government to de-risk investment opportunities for energy storage systems. Scottish Renewables’ director of policy Jenny Hogan said: “Energy storage is an essential part of the transition to a cleaner energy mix, for delivering an energy system for the 21st century and for reaching our climate change targets. “While batteries today are 94% cheaper than they were in 1990, and a range of pumped storage projects are ‘shovel-ready’ or in the planning process, the current market arrangements are at risk of favouring more expensive sources of flexibility for our network. A whole series of changes are needed if we are to ensure that the cheapest and most efficient technologies provide the services that a modern clean electricity system requires.”
Edie 14th July 2016 read more »