EDF announced one of its nuclear reactors in Scotland was unexpectedly shut down yesterday. In a statement, the firm said the Torness power station unit 2 automatically closed during a routine testing while an issue was detected in an electrical system. The reactor shut down safely and there were no environmental impacts, EDF claims. As a consequence, Edinburgh-based demand response provider Flexitricity was called to secure power supply by National Grid. Alastair Martin, Chief Strategy officer at Flexitricity said: “The unplanned shutdown of Torness resulted in a call for reserve power from Flexitricity to fill the gap. We responded by quickly lowering consumption at commercial sites like cold stores and by turning up highly efficient combined heat and power generators across our connected network.”
Energy Live News 15th Dec 2015 read more »
Trawsfynydd – SMRs
A north Wales site has been put forward as the frontrunner to become the home of the first fleet of small modular nuclear reactors in the UK. The Snowdonia Enterprise Zone Advisory Board is now working with the Welsh Government to look at making the now decommissioned Trawsfynydd plant the home of the UK’s first SMRs. The government has outlined a commitment to kickstarting the SMR market in the UK. George Osborne last month pledged £250m to support the development of the technology.
Construction 15th Dec 2015 read more »
The Wylfa nuclear power station in Gwynedd will end electricity production after 40 years on December 30th. The National Grid said it will cope with the loss of of electricity when the Wylfa nuclear power plant in Gwynedd ceases production at the end of the month. It said the move will leave electricity margins “tight but manageable” this winter.
Wales Online 15th Dec 2015 read more »
The International Energy Agency (IEA) projects that, in order to meet any desired emissions goals, the share of nuclear energy in global electricity production needs to rise from about 400 GW to 1,000 GW by 2050, producing about 9 trillion kWhs/year, at a construction cost of about $8 trillion. This also assumes wind and solar reach about 2,000 GW each, producing a combined 10 trillion kWhs/year, over the same time period, at a construction cost of about $20 trillion. So expanding nuclear at reasonable build rates could provide almost half of our emissions reduction target necessary for atmospheric CO2 to drop to a concentration of 350 ppm by around the end of this century. Nuclear power was discussed in Paris as a major climate mitigation option, appearing as a significant component of the Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) of major emitters including China, the United States and India. But nuclear was not discussed as often as it should have been in the main hall. We know how to solve the nuclear waste problem, we have new, even safer, even more efficient reactors, the life-cycle carbon emissions are as low as wind, and the life-cycle costs for nuclear are now as good as natural gas. It’s just that the public doesn’t know that, and the media keep recycling old, wrong information. But many world leaders are afraid to discuss nuclear for fear of anti-nuclear activists.
Forbes 15th Dec 2015 read more »
According to the International Energy Agency, the world’s nuclear capacity will have to double by 2050 if we’re going to avoid even 2 degrees of warming. But without the right economic incentives, the outlook for nuclear in the U.S. is not looking good. According to Greg Jaczko, former chair of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, it would take roughly the entire Department of Energy budget to build just five nuclear power plants in a year. And with natural gas so cheap, there’s no incentive to do that. “There are a lot of climate scientists talking about how we need nuclear power or we can’t solve climate change. … I hear that and I think, well, then we’re never gonna solve climate change, because nuclear power is not gonna do it. We’re not doing today what would need to be done to maintain that massive fleet of reactors in the future.”
Grist 14th Dec 2015 read more »
Nukes vs Climate
The international Don’t Nuke the Climate campaign had two major goals for COP 21: to ensure that any agreement reached would not encourage use of nuclear power and, preferably, to keep any pro-nuclear statement out of the text entirely; and secondly along with the rest of the environmental community, to achieve the strongest possible agreement generally. The first goal was certainly met. The word “nuclear” does not appear in the text and there are no incentives whatsoever for use of nuclear power. That was a clear victory. But that is due not only to a global lack of consensus on nuclear power, but to the fact that the document does not specifically endorse or reject any technology (although it does implicitly reject continued sustained use of fossil fuels). Rather, each nation brought its own greenhouse gas reduction plan to the conference. “Details,” for example whether there should be incentives for any particular technology, will be addressed at follow-up meetings over the next few years. So it is imperative that the Don’t Nuke the Climate campaign continue, and grow, and be directly involved at every step of the way–both inside and outside the meetings.
Green World 15th Dec 2015 read more »
The Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC) is expected to become the fourth police organisation to join the Multi Force Shared Service (MFSS) back office collaboration agreement from April next year. CNC will join Cheshire, Northamptonshire and Nottinghamshire police forces under the agreement that provides a number of shared functions including HR services, finance, payroll and pensions, as well as purchasing, sourcing and delivery.
Government Computing 14th Dec 2015 read more »
Households face paying almost £80 a year to subsidise wind and solar farms and other renewable power schemes because ministers are failing to control the budget for green levies. Spending on subsidies for renewable energy is on course to reach £9.6 billion a year by 2020, £2 billion above the limit agreed by the government, according to research by the Renewable Energy Foundation. The projected overspend is largely the result of a rush by developers to secure planning permission for wind and solar farms, many of which will automatically qualify for subsidies once they are built. Ministers have tried to reduce the cost by sharply reducing subsidies for solar energy and by announcing that onshore wind farms that have yet to obtain planning permission will not qualify for assistance. However, more than 3,500 onshore and nearly 1,000 offshore turbines are under construction or have planning permission. Permission has also been granted for hundreds more solar farms and for plants that earn subsidies by burning biomass or waste.
Times 16th Dec 2015 read more »
John McDonnell: The decision by this Government to cut subsidies for Britain’s flourishing renewables industry was one of its stranger decisions. So much for George Osborne’s “long-term economic plan”. A promising new industry has been torn apart, with 5,000 job losses already, five firms closed down – and 27,000 jobs threatened. Environmentalists and business groups are on the same side in condemning the move. New, young industries need help to establish themselves and stand on their own two feet. Instead, this government has kicked away the support – and made tackling climate change all the harder. The sheer short-sightedness of the subsidy cut was made clear today when I visited Banister House with Lisa Nandy, our shadow secretary of state for energy and climate change. It’s the first community-owned rooftop solar energy project in Hackney, and the largest in London. However, because of the government’s cuts to “feed-in-tariff” (FIT) subsidies, energy projects like Banister House are under threat. The swingeing 87% cut to funding the FIT scheme is decimating our rooftop solar industry. The government’s own estimates suggest that future installations will fall by over 90%. That’s one million fewer solar schemes being installed by 2020. Slashing the FIT scheme now means it will be well over a decade for most household solar panels to pay for themselves. In practice, that means most families, schools, council tenants and community groups will be forced out of the solar revolution. We’ll be trailing behind the rest of the world, and needlessly threatening jobs that will be vital in the low-carbon economy of the future.
Huffington Post 16th Dec 2015 read more »
Alan Whitehead MP: there is no real likelihood that 20 or so gas fired power stations can get built over that period without some pretty heavy duty additional policy instruments – ie subsidies – placed behind a building programme by the government. That is because gas-fired power stations are quite uninvestable right now for two reasons. Firstly, they don’t make money with energy prices as they are, and unless things change substantially over the medium term, no-one is going to invest in a new power station that is guaranteed not to return its investment. And secondly, whatever the government wants to do to renewables right now, there already are sufficient suppliers of renewable energy on the system to disrupt long-term assumptions about how regularly any new gas fired power station would actually run once built. DECC’s own figures in its 2012 Gas Generation Strategy, suggested that, by about 2030, gas would be running essentially as back up plant, operating to only about 27 per cent of its capacity. And that means, in addition, that the ability to produce an easy return on investment is still harder.
Alan Whitehead’s Blog 15th Dec 2015 read more »
In its fifth carbon budget the CCC urged Government to reduce UK emissions by 57 per cent in the period 2028 to 2032, and by at least 80 percent by 2050. On Monday the CCC said this was based on the least-cost path and on a global ambition of keeping temperature rise close to 2 degrees. But with the Paris agreement calling for more ambitious targets, the CCC’s recommendations could call for the UK to toughen up further. The Telegraph reports that Conservative MPs have already lost their appetite for further ambition. The newspaper quotes Conservative Environmental Audit Committee member Peter Lilley as saying that the “toothless” global deal means that many countries will fail to take action, while the UK is already committed to ambitious targets. By June 2016 parliament will vote on the fifth Carbon Budget and legal action could follow if the CCC’s advice is not accepted. In addition the government’s ‘carbon plan’ will be agreed by the end of 2016.
Utility Week 15th Dec 2015 read more »
Given the urgency of climate change, it is unfortunate that the recent ‘reset’ of UK energy policy missed a big opportunity. That is to take a more strategic approach to developing public policies to drive the rapid, transformative change required to reduce energy use and decarbonise its supply in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Research has shown that public policies can be influential drivers of innovations in multiple sectors ranging from manufacturing to transport. However, transformations originating from technological innovation often take decades, time that we simply do not have. One reason for the slow progress is that some – or even many – of the institutions and policies in place delay change by favouring established unsustainable technologies and practices, for example the indirect and direct subsidies to fossil fuels and energy intensive practices. Our work shows that for transforming the energy system, we need a policy portfolio that includes both innovation support and disruptions to the current high energy economy. This type of ‘creative destruction’ can bring many benefits beyond decarbonisation. It enables new innovation opportunities with export potential for frontrunners, reduced policy costs as a result of removing costly unsustainable or conflicting policy measures, and long term benefits through avoided environmental and health consequences associated with the existing high energy building stock. Just abandoning targets and instruments will not make the problems go away.
SPRU 15th Dec 2015 read more »
THREE TIMES in the past 16 years — Bulgaria in 1999, France in 2001 and Moldova in 2011 — containers of highly enriched uranium have been seized by authorities, according to an article published online last month by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit investigative news organization. In each case, the person holding the uranium said it was part of a larger cache for sale. For 2½ decades, the United States has made a serious global effort to prevent nuclear materials from falling into the wrong hands. Real progress has been achieved in securing and reducing the use of civilian highly enriched uranium, but by one estimate, 61 metric tons of it remain spread across more than 100 facilities in 25 countries. The more difficult area for action is fissile material in military facilities, with 1,300 metric tons of highly enriched uranium and 500 metric tons of plutonium remaining worldwide at the end of 2013 — enough for tens of thousands of bombs. President Obama launched nuclear security summits in 2010, which helped galvanize cleanup and lockdown efforts, but much remains undone as the last summit approaches next spring. Meanwhile, cooperation with Russia has collapsed. Nuclear security is too important to be neglected. It is not just in the interests of the United States, but vital to every country that nuclear materials be made safe and kept far away from terrorists.
Washington Post 14th Dec 2015 read more »
Most Americans regard their work as a heroic, patriotic endeavor. But the government has never fully disclosed the enormous human cost. Now with the country embarking on an ambitious $1 trillion plan to modernize its nuclear weapons, current workers fear that the government and its contractors have not learned the lessons of the past. For the last year, McClatchy journalists conducted more than 100 interviews across the country and analyzed more than 70 million records in a federal database obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Byron Vaigneur watched as a brownish sludge containing plutonium broke through the wall of his office on Oct. 3, 1975, and began puddling four feet from his desk at the Savannah River nuclear weapons plant in South Carolina. The radiation from the plutonium likely started attacking his body instantly. He’d later develop breast cancer and, as a result of his other work as a health inspector at the plant, he’d also contract chronic beryllium disease, a debilitating respiratory condition that can be fatal.
McClatchyDC 11th Dec 2015 read more »
It’s the site of one of the biggest project blunders in U.S. history- a $2 billion nuclear power plant that was never completed because of budget issues. But while the two sky-high towers near Aberdeen in Washington have lied dormant since the plans for the plant were scrapped in 1983 – and fully reclaimed by nature since then – a new purpose for the eerie structures was born. On the back of the boom of dystopian films thanks to franchises like The Hunger Games and Divergent, the Satsop Nuclear Power Plant has been refashioned as a popular movie set, and was most recently used for Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Daily Mail 16th Dec 2015 read more »
A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced a former nuclear official of Russia’s state-run enterprise Rosatom to 48 months in prison for his role in a scheme that awarded contracts to American companies in exchange for millions of dollars in bribes.
Reuters 15th Dec 2015 read more »
Belgium has restarted an ageing nuclear reactor after a nearly two-year shutdown, angering neighbouring Germany which fears the danger of a Fukushima-style meltdown.
Guardian 16th Dec 2015 read more »
The International Atomic Energy Agency has unanimously decided to close the decade-long investigation into Tehran’s nuclear programme. The decision by the UN watchdog’s 35-nation board brings full implementation of the nuclear deal struck by Iran and world powers in July a step closer.
IB Times 16th Dec 2015 read more »
Telegraph 15th Dec 2015 read more »
Latest doubts over Trident programme represent the worst handling of public spending. THE ONGOING CHAOS at the centre of the UK nuclear weapons programme represents the worst procurement handling in the history of the British military, according to campaigners opposing the £167bn Trident replacement project. The latest uncertainty over Trident renewal relates to a threat to the ownership of Rolls-Royce, which is one of the private contractors responsible for a new generation of nuclear submarines. The UK Government is considering nationalising the nuclear agency of Rolls-Royce to ensure the stability of its nuclear contracts and prevent further delays or cost increases to the Trident project. John Ainslie, coordinator for the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, told CommonSpace: “The plan to renew Trident is setting a new benchmark for Ministry of Defence incompetence, with cost increases and delays that surpass previous bungled defence projects. It is now clear that for eight years a succession of government ministers have repeated expenditure estimates that were no more than wishful thinking.” Original costs for the submarines have been revised up by £6bn, and the total cost of the full project is now estimated to be £167bn.
Common Space 15th Dec 2015 read more »
Obama has backed investment in new nuclear delivery systems, upgraded warheads, resilient command networks, and industrial sites for fabricating nuclear hardware that, when added to the expense of maintaining the existing arsenal, will cost $348 billion between 2015 and 2024. At least, that’s what the Congressional Budget Office estimated earlier this year. If the Obama plan continues to be funded by his successors, it will be the biggest U.S. buildup of nuclear arms since Ronald Reagan left the White House.
Forbes 15th Dec 2015 read more »
Amidst the furore of the success achieved at the Paris summit, the European Green Capital city of Bristol has made a bold pledge to accelerate its already-ambitious climate targets and pursue complete carbon neutrality by 2050. Bristol, which gives up its title as Britain’s first European Green Capital at the year-end, has already reduced energy use by 18% and carbon emissions per person by 24% since 2005. Under its most recent climate strategy, Mayor Ferguson committed to a ratcheting of future CO2 reductions of 40% by 2020, 50% by 2025, 60% by 2035 and 80% by 2050.
Edie 15th Dec 2015 read more »
Renewables – AD
UK Green Investment Bank (GIB) and Foresight have committed to invest £1.7 million in the construction of an Anaerobic Digestion plant in Northern Ireland. The plant, which will be built and operated by a Northern Irish engineering company, has been developed by a local farming family and KPMG (Belfast). Once operational it is expected to generate around 3,600 MWh of renewable electricity – enough to power 850 homes and cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2,000 tonnes of CO2 per annum.
Utility Week 14th Dec 2015 read more »
Renewables – Offshore Wind
Samsung’s 7MW offshore wind turbine on the Scottish coast is set to become a training and research hub for the offshore wind industry after it was bought by the government-backed Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult. ORE Catapult, the UK’s flagship technology and innovation centre for offshore wind and marine technologies, announced the completion of the sale yesterday. The turbine – the most advanced in the world – will now become a centre for technology, maintenance and operations training for the next generation of offshore turbine. The purchase will help widen training access to the pioneering technology, driving down the cost of offshore wind, according to ORE Catapult chief exec utive Andrew Jamieson. “It enables us to extend and enhance both existing and future research programmes, provide an unrivalled testing environment for new technologies and facilitate the development of skills and experience critical to the future development of the industry, and its continuing efforts to reduce costs,” he said in a statement. The acquisition of the Levenmouth turbine was welcomed by green groups. Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland, said the move was a recognition of Scotland’s potential to create a national wind industry. “Scotland has some of the largest offshore wind energy potential in the whole of Europe, so it’s good to know research on harnessing that potential will continue at this site. By making the wind turbine open access to others it should also help the industry to more quickly drive down costs,” he said in a statement.
Business Green 16th Dec 2015 read more »
Scottish Energy News 16th Dec 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
The Solar Trade Association is calling on the government to put their commitments into practice in a decision on support for solar PV in the UK following the Paris climate-change summit. The final decision on the feed-in tariff for solar and other renewables is widely expected shortly, but the STA is concerned that this will be too soon to reflect the increased commitments made by countries around the world to reduce emissions including by the UK.
Scottish Energy News 16th Dec 2015 read more »
If the cuts go ahead as proposed, 20,000 solar jobs are at risk, and several solar companies have already had to close. And, reading a leaked letter from the energy secretary, Amber Rudd, it looks like we’re now not going to meet our legally binding EU renewables targets for 2020. Which is why I ended up rigging scaffolding on to the outside of the Conservative constituency office in Knutsford, Cheshire, at 6am, with a solar installer ready to hook George up with a small 1.5kWp solar rig (six panels).
Guardian 15th Dec 2015 read more »
South West Water has boosted its renewable energy generation and saved money thanks to a deal with a local community group to supply solar-generated power through a private wire connection at a treatment works near Bodmin in Cornwall. Nanstallon Sewage Treatment Works is now being supplied with power from a 100kW solar array following the project, which was completed in September with the Wadebridge Renewable Energy Network (WREN). The photovoltaic (PV) solar array, which was financed and built by WREN, is situated on a field adjacent to the works, on land that the organisation has leased from a local farmer. South West Water will purchase the energy under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) at a price that is cheaper than it would otherwise pay for its delivered electricity.
Utility Week 24th Nov 2015 read more »
Centrica has called on the government to add batteries to the list of technologies given a one year tax relief to boost investment in energy storage. Centrica’s head of energy construction services for distributed energy and power Chris Morrison made the call during an evidence session of the Energy and Climate Change Committee today on low carbon infrastructure. Morrison said Centrica would like to see the government supporting the addition of batteries to the list of enhanced capital allowances in response to a question on whether the government is sufficiently prioritising energy storage.
Utility Week 15th Dec 2015 read more »
Fuel Poverty – Scotland
Campaigners have called for significant investment in energy-efficiency measures after new figures revealed almost no change in fuel poverty levels last year. Almost 35% of households were classed as living in fuel poverty in 2014, compared with revised estimates of 35.8% in 2013. About 9.5% were living in extreme fuel poverty in 2014 compared with 9.8% in 2013. Charities and organisations said the Scottish Government’s draft budget, to be published on Wednesday, must include greater investment to make progress on reducing the figure. They said it is highly unlikely the Government’s target to eradicate fuel poverty in Scotland, as far as is reasonably practicable, by November 2016 will now be met. A household is defined as being in fuel poverty if, in order to maintain satisfactory heating, it would be required to spend more than 10% of its income on all fuel use. The figures, published in the Scottish House Condition Survey (SHCS), also revealed the proportion of social-housing dwellings which did not meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS) in 2014 was 45%, compared with 43% the previous year. John Dickie, director of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) in Scotland, said: “It is clearly unacceptable that today, in a modern Scotland, so many children are growing up in fuel poverty.
Herald 15th Dec 2015 read more »
Figures produced yesterday show there has been little change since last year and a disproportionate level of those affected live in cold, leaky homes. Almost 75 per cent of households rated F or G for energy performance are fuel poor. Yesterday, campaigners and charities called on the Scottish Government to commit “significant investment” into energy efficiency as a national infrastructure priority in today’s draft budget and end cold homes by 2025.
The National 16th Dec 2015 read more »
Energy Action Scotland has already urged the Scottish Government to open discussions now on resetting the target to end fuel poverty, as it is clear the current target of November 2016 can no longer be met. The charity wants the Scottish Government to produce a fuel poverty strategy and action plan with costs and timelines.
Scottish Energy News 16th Dec 2015 read more »
MPs are to vote on whether to allow fracking under national parks amid calls for stronger safeguards. Under government plans, fracking would only be allowed 1,200m below national parks, with drilling taking place from outside the protected areas. Critics including Labour and Greenpeace have accused the government of a U-turn after it pledged an outright ban on fracking in national parks.
BBC 16th Dec 2015 read more »
One of the government’s most senior scientific advisers has added his voice to calls to start fracking for shale gas in England, underlining ministers’ determination to press ahead with the controversial technology. John Loughhead, the chief scientific adviser for the energy department, said on Tuesday shale gas could be extracted safely and should be done to reduce the UK’s dependence on imported gas. In a blog post on the department’s website, Prof Loughhead said: “While some people are concerned about the safety of this procedure, the evidence shows that the shale gas industry can be taken forward safely. “The UK has more than 50 years’ experience regulating the onshore oil and gas industry, and additional measures implemented through the Infrastructure Act are in place to ensure stringent safety controls.” Fracking has transfo rmed the energy mix in the US, where it has driven down gas prices and substantially reduced the amount of oil the country imports.
FT 15th Dec 2015 read more »
Bill McKibben: With the climate talks in Paris now over, the world has set itself a serious goal: limit temperature rise to 1.5C. Or failing that, 2C. Hitting those targets is absolutely necessary: even the one-degree rise that we’ve already seen is wreaking havoc on everything from ice caps to ocean chemistry. But meeting it won’t be easy, given that we’re currently on track for between 4C and 5C. Our only hope is to decisively pick up the pace. In fact, pace is now the key word for climate. Not where we’re going, but how fast we’re going there. Pace – velocity, speed, rate, momentum, tempo. That’s what matters from here on in. We know where we’re going now; no one can doubt that the fossil fuel age has finally begun to wane, and that the sun is now shining on, well, solar. But the question, the only important question, is: how fast.
Guardian 13th Dec 2015 read more »