Premier Li Keqiang of China is due in the UK this week. Despite all the challenges and potential disagreements there is scope for much closer cooperation around joint work on big issues. Energy should be at the heart of the discussion. The nuclear deal over Hinkley Point which the Chinese might help to fund provided they are allowed to be operators of the next nuclear plant in the UK is mired in doubts over costs and the construction risks. There is a serious chance the deal will never happen. China’s major development challenge is to ensure it has the energy necessary for an economy which continues to grow at 7 per cent a year. The figures are daunting. Serious and substantial commitments on energy efficiency have been made and if any country can achieve them it is China. But demand is still set to grow by almost 60 per cent between 2011 and 2030. The International Energy Agency estimates imports of oil will grow by around 7 mbd by 2030 while gas imports could by then be 200bcm. Within 15 years China will dominate and set prices for the entire international energy economy. What can China do? The answer I think is to become the world’s leader in new energy science – developing for instance their own small nuclear reactor designs, energy storage technology, shale development techniques which use minimal water and energy efficient materials and vehicles. Some of this is happening within China but more is needed and much of it could be channelled into new commercial vehicles capable of working worldwide.
FT 15th June 2014 read more »
Britain’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is facing a £200m damages claim from one of the bidders who lost out on a £7bn deal to clean up Britain’s oldest nuclear power plants. Energy Solutions, a Salt Lake City-based company, filed a High Court writ last week after losing the 14-year contract to engineering company Babcock and Texas-based Fluor. The deal is one of the largest and most sensitive government contracts ever put out to tender.
FT 15th June 2014 read more »
Michael Haggett, whose blog Syniadau (Ideas) is widely read in Plaid circles, took Rhun ap Iorwerth to task over his support for Wylfa B. Plaid Cymru is to reopen disciplinary proceedings against a well-known party blogger who strongly criticised Ynys Mon AM Rhun ap Iorwerth for supporting the building of a new nuclear power station in his constituency. During last summer’s by-election campaign, Michael Haggett, whose blog Syniadau (Ideas) is widely read in Plaid circles, took Mr ap Iorwerth to task over his support for Wylfa B, a nuclear power station planned for the island, which is known in English as Anglesey.
Wales Online 14th June 2014 read more »
In 1979, US Congress authorized the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, in which storage vaults would be formed from ancient salt beds near Carlsbad more than 2,000 feet below the surface. Thirty-five years and several billion dollars later, WIPP is still the nation’s only deep geologic repository for nuclear waste. Regular followers of the Cumbria Trust posts will know that WIPP was shut down indefinitely by two separate accidents in February, a truck fire underground and a radiation leak. A series of experiments designed to determine whether WIPP could expand its mission to accept “hotter” waste have been put on hold. All shipments to WIPP have been halted, and the WIPP contractor has said it could be at least three years before the plant reopens. WIPP took decades of planning and some $2.5 billion to open, and it’s the closest the country has ever come to an answer to its legacy of defence nuclear waste, even in part.
Cumbria Trust 16th June 2014 read more »
Sheffield-based Servelec Controls has been selected by the nuclear business of the UK’s largest energy company (EDF Energy) to Design, implement, test and commission new drive systems at Torness and Heysham. These projects build upon Servelec Controls previous successful delivery of monitoring and control system projects across the EDF Energy fleet.
BDaily 16th June 2014 read more »
Householders will be able to switch energy suppliers within three days by the end of this year under major new rules for the industry to be unveiled on Monday by the regulator, Ofgem. The watchdog said it will also make the switching process much more easy and reliable, while revealing it is already working on a 24-hour switching system to be ready by 2018.
Guardian 16th June 2014 read more »
Telegraph 16th June 2014 read more »
Electricite de France SA will need to spend billions of euros on each of its reactors to keep them operating for as long as six decades, according to a parliamentary report. The exact cost “remains hard to figure out,” according to the study published today by lawmakers led by Francois Brottes of the ruling Socialist Party and Denis Baupin of the Greens. It cited differing estimates from EDF and the state auditor. The pricetag will add to rising costs for atomic power paid for by households and factories, and threatens the industry’s future, it said. Spending is increasing to maintain aging reactors and improve safety, and to develop a new generator at Flamanville in Normandy, it said. The 214-page report follows almost six months of hearings in parliament on the cost of atomic power in France, where EDF runs the nation’s 58 reactors. The report details uncertainty about future spending in areas like dismantling, waste treatment and disposal, and whether it’s worthwhile extending the lives of reactors beyond four decades. The government is expected to unveil a long-delayed law on changes to France’s energy mix next week. President Francois Hollande has pledged to cut reliance on nuclear to half of total power output by 2025 from about three-quarters now, the highest proportion in the world. During the course of the hearings, discrepancies emerged over EDF’s future investment needs. The auditor estimates EDF would need to invest 110 billion euros from 2011 to 2033 to prolong reactors lives beyond 40 years.
Bloomberg 10th June 2014 read more »
Paris prosecutors have opened a preliminary investigation into the chief executive of Electricité de France (EDF), Henri Proglio, for allegedly funnelling some of the public company’s money to his wife, comedian Rachida Khalil. Proglio strongly denies the allegations and says he and his wife have done no wrong. But he said of his wife’s business affairs, “Her accounting is artistic, just as she is.”
France24 11th June 2014 read more »
Germany’s energy transition, or Energiewende, offers lessons for the United States, just not the ones typically cited on this side of the Atlantic. The challenges and concerns that have arisen in Germany should not be taken as indicators that the Energiewende is failed policy, or more specifically, to dismiss the importance of renewable energy.
Brookings 11th June 2014 read more »
Nuclear-armed states are modernising their arsenals and appear determined to keep sizable numbers of such weapons of mass destruction for the foreseeable future, the SIPRI think-tank said in its annual report on Monday.Five years after U.S. President Barack Obama set out a vision of a world without nuclear weapons, the findings by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute made clear just how distant that goal remains.While there has been a steady decline in the number of nuclear warheads in the world over the past five years, nine countries still had a total of 16,300 such weapons in early 2014 – down by around 5.6 percent from the previous year – of which some 4,000 were operational.And the pace of reductions seems to be slowing compared with a decade ago.
Reuters 15th June 2014 read more »
Acie Byrd, Jr was a disabled Navy veteran who became a prominent advocate for many causes, most notably veterans who had been exposed to nuclear radiation. He served 16 years in the Navy, and in 1958 was assigned to work at an atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific, where US nuclear weapons were being tested. He was part of a unit that retrieved equipment and supplies after explosions.
Independent 15th June 2014 read more »
Renewables – solar
Renews is a regular publication by the German renewables organization AEE. The focus of issue 70 is on Eigenverbrauch, which I generally translate as “direct consumption.” Essentially, it is when you consume your own solar power without it ever having to touch the grid. You have two options towards this goal: simultaneous consumption and production; and power storage. The issue is very hot in Germany right now partly because the government aims to clamp down on the trend by applying the renewables surcharge to renewable power consumed directly. Small arrays, however, will remain exempt. The study speaks of an average retail rate in Germany of 28 cents per kilowatt-hour, with the highest new feed-in tariffs for PV coming in at 13 cents. Germany reached grid parity for PV at the beginning of 2012, and solar power from new arrays now costs less than half as much as retail electricity.
Renew Economy 16th June 2014 read more »
Renewables – wind
Tony Juniper: Sunday June 15th is Global Wind Day – a moment to celebrate both the contribution and potential of wind power in meeting our energy needs cleanly and forever. In a world of political upheaval, risk and conflict, it is also a moment to reflect not only on the ways in which climate change will likely make all that worse, but on energy security, and the extent to which it appears increasingly prudent to have more energy supplies under our own control. The industry campaign I chair, Action for Renewables, has set up a petition to David Cameron, asking him to steer away from fossil energy, including imported supplies, and to back renewables instead. Global Wind Day is a perfect moment to launch this. I hope you’ll be willing to sign it – and back what is in the end the only “no regrets” option we have.
Tony Juniper 15th June 2014 read more »
Renewables – Geothermal
New engineering techniques mean that hot rocks in the Earth’s crust are second only to hydroelectric schemes as the most productive source of renewable energy, with huge potential to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Climate News Network 15th June 2014 read more »
Coal has reached its highest market share of global energy consumption for more than 40 years, figures reveal, despite fears that its high carbon emissions make it a prime cause of climate change. The use of coal for power generation and other purposes grew by 3% in 2013 – faster than any other fossil fuel – while its share of the market breached 30% for the first time since 1970, the BP Statistical Review reports. The figures were published as Prof Nick Stern, author of the influential climate change report the Stern Review, said his latest research indicated the economic risks of unchecked climate change were bigger than previously estimated.
Guardian 16th June 2014 read more »
Lord Stern, the world’s most authoritative climate economist, has issued a stark warning that the financial damage caused by global warming will be considerably greater than current models predict. This makes it more important than ever to take urgent and drastic action to curb climate change by reducing carbon emissions, he argues. Lord Stern, who wrote a hugely influential review on the financial implications of climate change in 2006, says the economic models that have been used to calculate the fiscal fallout from climate change are woefully inadequate and severely underestimate the scale of the threat.
Independent 16th June 2014 read more »