Perhaps EDF’s latest media offensive in favour of their 35 year contract for nearly £100 per MWh is a sign of desperation rather than strength. Certainly the Government is under great pressure not to give into EDF. As discussed in the Guardian, the Government faces a choice about whether it wants to face a long wait for approval from the EU Commission to be given ‘state aid’ approval for the nuclear subsidies or whether it will achieve a quick decision. The UK’s case for state aid approval is based on a claim that its ‘low carbon subisdies’ are equally available to other energy generators. Or at least, that is how it will be seen in Brussels. The Government might get away with things more easily if there were no objections from other actors in the generation business. But renewable energy generators, let alone anyone else, are not going to receive 35 year contracts (no more than 20 years), so the Government case looks very shaky if wants to obtain state aid under EDF’s preferred terms.
Dave Toke’s Green Energy Blog 15th March 2013 read more »
A ROYAL advisor has slammed Government proposals to guarantee a minimum price for the electricity generated by EDF Energy for the next 30-40 years. Former Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) chairman Jonathon Porritt compared guaranteeing a “strike price” for the electricity produced by Hinkley Point C to making a “£50billion bet on the wholesale price of energy in 2050”. Under proposals by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), a minimum price for the nuclear electricity of almost £100 per megawatt hour would give EDF a guarantee on future returns and may herald similar deals for the rest of Britain’s planned nuclear suite, including Sizewell C. But Mr Porritt, one-time director of Friends of the Earth and founder of the non-profit Forum for the Future, said energy minister Ed Davey was planning to sign a long-term investment contract to buy electricity at twice today’s price from power stations that will not produce any electricity in this decade.
East Anglian Daily Times 16th March 2013 read more »
Government’s nuclear policy amounts to a £50 billion bet that efforts to drive down power prices will fail, leading environmentalists are warning. Four former heads of Friends of the Earth issued a last-ditch plea to prime minister David Cameron not to sign off on new nuclear until the risks have been publicly reviewed.
Utility Week 15th March 2013 read more »
If all goes according to plan, the British energy minister on Tuesday will formally approve construction of the country’s first new nuclear power plant in nearly two decades. But little has gone according to plan in this ambitious project, which is already more than four years behind schedule. Although envisioned as a big bet on Britain’s clean-energy future, the project has been bogged down in months of dickering between the British government and EDF Energy, the French state-controlled power company that is supposed to oversee construction and eventually operate the plant.
New York Times 15th March 2013 read more »
When it comes to keeping promises, the nuclear industry and its supporters are very good at talking the talk but very bad at walking the walk. The industry’s excited talk about a nuclear “renaissance” where a thousand new nuclear reactors would bloom and save the planet from catastrophic climate change turned out to be a dangerous fantasy. Showing a tasteful grasp for the timing of their propaganda– the day after the 2nd anniversary of the Fukushima disaster – Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Hungary, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain and the UK –“affirmed their commitment to collaborate in the context of the role that they believe that nuclear energy can play a part in the EU’s future low carbon energy mix”. The nuclear “renaissance” in Europe – which has been heralded for at least five years – has yielded just two partially built nuclear reactors at Olkiluoto in Finland and Flamanville in France. Both reactors, of the same European Pressurised Reactor design, are years behind schedule and billions of Euros over budget. “An investment environment” is spin for fixing the game in the nuclear industry’s favour. It’s a fancy way of saying that governments must guarantee the profits of the nuclear companies for decades as well as shielding them from any liability should their reactors cause an accident. It’s propaganda that says the public must pay while the nuclear companies profit.
Greenpeace 15th March 2013 read more »
The European Parliament today voted on two separate resolutions calling for a “higher” renewables target and for nuclear power plant operators to pay for all safety improvements as well as maintain full financial liability. Although not explicitly favouring a specific target, members of the European Parliament (MEPs) note that the European Commission’s long-term energy scenarios assume an increased share of renewables of around 30pc in gross final energy consumption in 2030 and of at least 55pc in 2050. And MEPs stress the important role natural gas will play in the short to medium term as “flexible back-up” for balancing variable renewable energy supply and its lower emissions compared with other fossil fuels. Another resolution adopted today criticised EU nuclear stress tests as “incomplete”. Parliament further called on nuclear power plants to implement site-specific safety improvements. Costs must be borne entirely by nuclear operators and not the taxpayer. Parliament wants the commission to present an “ambitious” revision of the nuclear safety directive as well as measures on nuclear insurance and liability. Nuclear operators and nuclear waste licencees should have “full financial security provisions in place to enable them to fully cover all costs for which they are liable in respect of damage caused to people and the environment in the event of an accident”.The non-binding resolutions, adopted by clear majorities, come as the commission prepares a green paper on energy strategy up to 2030.
Argus Media 14th March 2013 read more »
Mike Childs: The news this week has been full of pictures of the mess that the Japanese tsunami made of the Fukushima nuclear plant. There is no doubt that the parlous state of the reactors still poses considerable risks. But I can’t help but wonder why so much attention on Japan when we have a significant nuclear mess in our own backyard. Last week Friends of the Earth groups in Cumbria published an excellent briefing exposing the unholy mess of nuclear waste stored unsafely at the Sellafield nuclear chemical facility.
Friends of the Earth 15th March 2013 read more »
Defueling of the most recently decommissioned reactor at Oldbury’s former power station has begun. Reactor one was shut down in February 2012 after 45 years of operation. Defueling can take years as hazardous gases, chemicals and spent fuel are removed from the reactor and the fuel elements transferred to cooling ponds. The same process began last year on reactor two – Oldbury’s first reactor to be shut down, in June 2011 – and is now more than 16% complete.
BBC 15th March 2013 read more »
MONSTER boilers have trundled slowly away from the former Berkeley Nuclear Station for the final time. The last two of the 15 enormous boilers that once powered the site’s turbines inched slowly through Berkeley aboard low loaders to begin their journey to be recycled in Sweden.
Gloucestershire Citizen 16th March 2013 read more »
BBC 15th March 2013 read more »
EDF Energy’s new nuclear build plans reached an “important” milestone as it received three main environmental permits for the Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset.
Energy Live 15th March 2013 read more »
This month Energy watchdog chief, Alistair Buchanan did a brilliant job at highlighting the current government energy strategy; ‘we are going to lean heavily on gas’ and gas prices will unavoidably go up. But Alistair proposes little to avoid us going down this road. In fact, he explains, it is unavoidable because there is ‘no new nuclear, no new clean coal’. But are there other options? The answer on the tip of many tongues is fracking. First The government must aggressively pursue multiple demand reduction strategies and scale up the successful ones. Secondly, we have to look at diverse technological solutions for our electricity supply and generation. Storage is currently limited in its deployment but increasing prices of electricity may prompt further development of mature technologies such as pumped hydroelectric and foster innovation in newer technologies such a hydrogen or grid scale batteries. Interconnectors currently provide us with the most efficient alternative that helps increase system efficiency by increasing the access to other energy generators. They also provide additional benefits such as export opportunities for our wind industry, which is good for our balance of payments, as well as access to a wide diversity of generation technologies abroad.
Energy Desk 13th March 2013 read more »
Recent dire warnings of a “near crisis” in the UK electricity system don’t phase the National Grid. The company’s head of energy strategy, Richard Smith, tells Carbon Brief about how the company faced a similar situation just a few years ago – and why building new gas plant to fill the potential gap in the country’s energy supply could just be a waste of money. Smith argues, wind is more predictable in some senses than conventional power sources like coal or gas. A traditional power station like a nuclear plant could “trip and fall off in a matter of milliseconds”, he says. Wind turbines may have to be shut off to protect them in high wind conditions, but these are easier to predict than a nuclear power station suddenly cutting out.
Carbon Brief 8th March 2013 read more »
Fukushima Crisis Update 12th to 14th March.
Greenpeace 15th March 2013 read more »
Canadian nuclear regulators gave Ontario Power Generation (OPG) environmental approval to refurbish the 3,512-megawatt (MW) Darlington nuclear power plant in Ontario.
Reuters 15th March 2013 read more »
The United States intends to bolster its west coast’s missile defences to counter a growing nuclear threat from North Korea and Iran.
Independent 15th March 2013 read more »
BBC 16th March 2013 read more »
US-based Georgia Power, a subsidiary of electric utility Southern Company, has completed basemat structural concrete work at the Vogtle unit 3 nuclear expansion site, to build the first new nuclear units in the country, in 30 years. Georgia Power is building two new nuclear energy facilities at Plant Vogtle unit 3 and unit 4, near Waynesboro in the state of Georgia.
Energy Business Review 15th March 2013 read more »
A NUCLEAR test veteran is hoping to get backing from South Shields MP David Miliband for his long-running fight for justice. John Taylor is pressing for compensation for and official recognition of the plight of ex-servicemen, like him, exposed to radiation during British nuclear weapon tests in the Pacific in the 1950s.
Shields Gazette 15th March 2013 read more »
The coal-fired power station at Cockenzie in East Lothian has been closed. The station’s huge chimneys are a well-known local landmark, but the station does not meet modern environmental standards. ScottishPower wants to convert the plant to burn gas, rather than coal. There have been no compulsory redundancies, with workers offered other jobs, redundancy or early retirement.
BBC 15th March 2013 read more »
STV 15th March 2013 read more »
Daily Record 15th March 2013 read more »
Business 7 15th March 2013 read more »
Edie 15th March 2013 read more »
Herald 16th March 2013 read more »
Fred Pearce: Most environmentalists are in no doubt. The new technology of fracking to extract shale gas from the rocks beneath our homes is both a nasty neighbour and a sure recipe for climate Armageddon. Not only that, fracking was pioneered in the US, the gas-guzzling land of climate sceptics. However, I can’t bring myself to condemn it. These drawbacks mean there are plenty of places where fracking would not be a good idea, especially in crowded Britain. But that is different from the blanket ban that most environment groups demand. Burning natural gas produces only half as much carbon dioxide as burning coal. So shale gas could be part of the solution to climate change, rather than part of the problem.
Guardian 15th March 2013 read more »