Westinghouse, the Japanese-owned engineering group, will announce within days that it is buying a big stake in one of the UK’s three nuclear-building consortiums. Westinghouse, which is owned by Toshiba, is expected to announce it is acquiring a 50 per cent share in NuGen, which owns the right to build a nuclear plant near Sellafield in Cumbria. Westinghouse will buy the stake from Iberdrola, the Spanish utility, which is leaving the venture. France’s GDF Suez will hold on to its 50 per cent share. A deal with Westinghouse would mean that all three nuclear projects in the UK have lined up investors from Asia. The European Commission is expected to announce this week that it is launching an investigation into whether the EDF deal breaches EU state aid rules. A ruling is not expected before next summer at the earliest. A person familiar with the matter said that, after the sale of the Iberdrola stake is finalised, NuGen will apply to the NDA for an extension of the option on the Moorside site. He described Westinghouse’s entry as the “best of all possible worlds” because its AP1000 reactor design is close to gaining approval from UK regulators, and so could be deployed relatively quickly.
FT 15th Dec 2013 read more »
Extra safety features are to be installed at Britain’s first nuclear power station to be built in 20 years to help protect it from storm surges. Engineers working on the new Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset designed the new measures following the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, that was triggered by a tsunami. Details of the upgrades emerged after the worst storm surge in 60 years flooded 1,400 homes on the east coast of England. Among the major changes to be made is the installation of a 66 million gallon water tank to flood and cool the nuclear reactors in an emergency. This is aimed at averting the kind of uncontrolled meltdown that occurred at Fukushima when pumps used to cool the reactors failed. Flood defence walls are also to be built higher around the diesel motors that drive the cooling pumps while the motors themselves will also be bigger.
Telegraph 15th Dec 2013 read more »
Letter Edward Davey: My claims about British companies winning most of the work to build Hinkley Point do not contradict the Government report into the benefits of improving the UK’s nuclear supply chain EDF has estimated that the majority of the contracts – up to 57 per cent – could go to the UK workforce. The report commissioned by the Government set out a range of possible estimates, and noted that the actual value captured by the UK supply chain could differ from that range. Hinkley Point is a great deal for the British nuclear industry, for the economy, and for the taxpayer.
Times 16th Dec 2013 read more »
Tom Burke: we have a workable Miliband initiative to freeze energy prices temporarily that will give consumers a breather. We have a panicked response for the Conservatives that could do more harm than good both to consumers and to the economy. We have the Liberal Democrats poodling along in the wake of the Tory right. Meanwhile, your friend and mine, the Big 6 utilities have smartly taken the opportunity to protect their interests by inducing a confused government to axe the ECO energy efficiency policy that actually does help to keep energy bills down.
Tom Burke 15th Dec 2013 read more »
In what will be a further cut in incentives for renewable energy and shift towards funding of much more expensive nuclear power stations, the Government is preparing to ‘auction’ contracts for onshore wind and solar power. The auctions work by giving contracts to those bids that will involve the lowest premium prices to be paid for electricity generated. The ‘auctions’ for onshore wind are a back-door method of cutting windfarm deployment by at least a half since at least half of windfarms which receive contracts will never be built because they will not be given planning consent. The system is notorious in the wind industry in the UK because it was used in the UK in the 1990s and resulted in no more than 30 per cent of projects that won contracts in the ‘auctions’ actually being built. Reasons for this low-take up included planning failure but also the tendency for bidders to put in optimistically low bids to obtain contracts which could not be implemented when the project economics became better known.
Dave Toke’s Blog 15th Dec 2013 read more »
The head of one of the UK’s largest energy consumers has warned that UK manufacturers would be unlikely to afford the cost of power from the new Hinkley C nuclear power station. Jim Ratcliffe whose company Ineos owns the Grangemouth plant in Scotland, told the BBC that power from the new Hinkley C nuclear generator woud be too expensive. Despite Ineos singing a recent deal for nuclear power in France at a cost of £37.94 per Mwh, the British Government has promised a 35-year price of £93.50 per Mwh at the Hinkley plant. The news is further detriment to an industry that is already feeling the grip of the highest energy prices in Europe.
The Manufacturer 16th Dec 2013 read more »
BBC 16th Dec 2013 read more »
The government should act ruthlessly to cut subsidies paid to green energy producers in order to reduce household bills, a report has recommended. The Policy Exchange thinktank said renewable energy subsidies should be cut if the technologies fail to come down in cost under strict time limits. The report urges the government to hold the offshore wind industry to claims it can reduce its costs significantly by the end of the decade. Earlier this month ministers increased state help for offshore wind, with a strike price – or minimum price the government will pay – of £140/MWh for 2018/19, £5 higher than planned. But the Policy Exchange report argued that the offshore industry aimed to get its costs down to £100/MWh for projects beginning in 2020. The report called for the government to speed up the introduction of auctions, instead of fixing predetermined minimum prices for renewable producers. The paper argues that for well-developed technologies, such as onshore wind farms, auctions in which different forms of renewable energy bid against each other for state support should be introduced as early as next year.
Guardian 16th Dec 2013 read more »
Herald 16th Dec 2013 read more »
The U.S. Department of Energy announced that it has selected NuScale Power as its second winner in the agency’s public-private partnership program to support the development of small modular reactors (SMR). The award includes a five-year cost-sharing program including up to $226 million in funding – DOE will provide 50% of the cost of the project and requires matching funding from the company.
Oil Price 14th Dec 2013 read more »
France began reviewing subsidies for green energy developments as the country seeks to curb the cost of its plans to shift generation from nuclear to renewables. “Changes in production costs for renewable energies and means to store them make a review necessary,” said Environment Minister Philippe Martin. “The government won’t go back on signed contracts or on action that has already been agreed.” France is preparing a law to move generation to green power and save energy. Development of wind and solar installations has slowed this year in part because of a lack of clarity about what will happen to higher-than-market rates paid for their output.
Bloomberg 13th Dec 2013 read more »
Despite the widespread distrust and opposition to nuclear power amongst the Japanese people, the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) looks set to follow advice from a government panel which suggested Japan needs to begin using nuclear power once more, as an important and fundamental energy source to the country’s energy mix.
Oil Price 14th Dec 2013 read more »
Iran will continue nuclear negotiations with world powers despite “unsuitable actions” which led to it halting technical talks in Vienna, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday.
Reuters 15th Dec 2013 read more »
A comparison with Chernobyl is certainly not the happiest one. But that was the reason why the EU insisted Lithuania close its Ignalina nuclear power plant as part of its accession process a decade ago. The decision left Lithuania in a parlous situation with regards to its energy supply. The southernmost of the three Baltic countries has since then had to import about 70 per cent of its electricity needs, the highest proportion in the EU. So there was little wonder that Lithuania proposed building a new nuclear plant, almost next door to Ignalina. The tale of the planned Visaginas nuclear plant – designed to provide power not just for Lithuania but for Estonia and Latvia too – is one of possibilities that also highlights the limits of Baltic co-operation. A high-level working group drawn from all three countries is currently discussing whether and how the plant can proceed. But as with other pan-Baltic infrastructure projects, such as a north-south railway and a regional liquefied natural gas terminal, big question marks remain over whether the project will ever get off the ground.
FT 16th Dec 2013 read more »
One of the Conservative party’s most influential voices on defence has conceded that Britain can no longer be regarded as a “division-one military power”, and raised questions over the sense of replacing the Trident nuclear fleet with a new generation of missile-launching submarines. James Arbuthnot, the veteran chairman of the defence select committee and a former defence minister, told the Guardian that funding cuts over the last three years had made it impossible for the UK to retain its status in the top tier of global armed forces.
Guardian 15th Dec 2013 read more »
By now most will be aware of the dreaded utility “declining demand death spiral”: As solar PV grows, utilities’ demand drops. Utilities respond by raising prices and/or network charges—either for solar or non-solar customers—further incentivizing solar (and battery storage), thus further reducing demand. Few places are more likely to experience the death spiral than Australia—a vast, sun-drenched nation with huge distances between urban and rural populations.
Millicent Media 15th Dec 2013 read more »
The UK Government this month announced a modest increase in contract-for-difference prices for offshore wind to encourage an ambitious build programme through to 2020. However, new analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance shows that a range of financing risks may still hold back plans. Sophia von Waldow, offshore wind analyst for Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “The government is anxious to convince investors and banks that it has built a cost-effective incentive system to drive the construction of offshore wind projects in the next few years, enabling the UK to maintain its position as the world’s leading market for this technology. We are not convinced that it has yet done enough to minimise the complex web of risks that these projects, often in deep water and far from shore, will face. If so, the UK may fall short of that 10GW figure for offshore wind capacity by 2020.”
Bloomberg 16th Dec 2013 read more »
A string of projects to create some of the world’s largest coalmines in Australia risks becoming financially unviable due to falling demand from China, a new report by the University of Oxford has warned. The study, commissioned by HSBC’s Climate Change Centre of Excellence, found that coal projects could be “stranded” by a range of Chinese measures, including environmental regulation, carbon pricing, investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Guardian 16th Dec 2013 read more »
Australia is to become a global gas superpower by the middle of the decade and eliminate its current account deficit for the first time in almost 40 years, according to Morgan Stanley. “Liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from Australia could be the next big thing,” said the bank in a new report. It predicted a “huge ramp-up” in LNG output that could transform the country’s economy, claiming that Australia could overtake Qatar by to become the world’s biggest exporter of LNG as soon as 2017 rather that 2030 as widely assumed.
Telegraph 15th Dec 2013 read more »
Friends of the Earth Scotland
Scotland’s leading environmental campaign group mark their 35th anniversary today, Ensuring justice for people and the environment has been the main objective of Friends of the Earth Scotland for those three and a half decades. Author and loyal supporter of Friends of the Earth Scotland and former Chair of Friends of the Earth International, Mairi MacArthur, has marked the birthday with her own reflections of the organisation.
Edinburgh Reporter 16th Dec 2013 read more »