The French government is “completely committed” to constructing the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant, the French economy minister has told the BBC. Emmanuel Macron told the Andrew Marr Show the £18bn project in Somerset was “very important” for France and EDF, which is 85% owned by the French state. Mr Macron said work still needed to be finalised but he hoped something would be signed with UK officials this week. Greenpeace said alternatives to Hinkley Point were “increasingly attractive”. EDF has yet to outline how it will fund the project. John Sauven, director of environmental pressure group Greenpeace, said: “The French economy minister Emmanuel Macron says one thing to a UK audience and another to the French. “He has made it abundantly clear in French that no decision has been made. “The reasons are clear: the costs are rising, the problems are mounting, and the opposition in France is growing. “The alternatives are looking increasingly attractive no matter which language you speak.”
BBC 17th April 2016 read more »
There has been uncertainty over whether the state-owned French power company EDF will sign off on the £18 billion project at Hinkley Point in Somerset. However Emmanuel Macron, the French economy minister, told the BBC that rubber-stamping the contract would be “very important” for France and the company and hinted that progress will be made in the near future. The British Government has insisted that plans to build the Hinkley Point C reactor will go ahead and voiced its intention to commission additional nuclear plants before 2020. However Labour has raised concerns over an apparent lack of a viable plan B should the French government back away from a deal in Somerset. Mr Macron said: “We back Hinkley Point project, it’s very important for France, it’s very important for the nuclear sector and EDF. “Now we have to finalise the work, and especially the technical and industrial work, very closely with EDF, with the British Government, to be in a situation to sign in the coming week or more.”
Belfast Telegraph 17th April 2016 read more »
COMPARISONS between Berkeley and its declining nuclear industry have been drawn with towns that have lost their mining industries. Due to the deadline for the council to issue comments about plans to ‘import’ waste to the town, the council called an extra ordinary meeting to discuss the plans. It was revealed that Magnox plans to transport nuclear waste from power stations in Dorset and Oxfordshire via Berkeley to a processing site in Cumbria. As part of a £200million savings programme, Magnox unveiled plans to limit the number of its sites it constructs waste storage facilities at. Through this programme, waste at Oldbury power station, which includes a number of ‘packages’ from power stations in Kent and Suffolk would be stored at Berkeley’s purpose-built storage facility until a national facility is developed – saving an estimated £20million locally. The town council asked through its comment on the application asked for 10 per cent of the local saving to mitigate the loss of the nuclear industry in the town. Berkeley site director Mike Heaton said that as Magnox was operated under contract by the government it would not have the savings to distribute to the community. He directed the council to Magnox’s socio-economic fund which provides grants to projects in communities where the firm operates.
Gloucestershire Gazette 16th April 2016 read more »
Global support for SMR development is accelerating and 2016 will see developers take major steps towards deployment in U.S. and Asia, industry leaders said at Nuclear Energy Insider’s 6th Annual International SMR and Advanced Reactor Summit. Leading figures from US, Europe, Russia, China, Japan and Korea set out the next steps for the commercial deployment of SMRs which will open up massive supply chain opportunities for the nuclear industry. Global competition is increasing as China fast-tracks the development of new SMR plants, while North American companies submit permit applications towards the first commercial plants in the early 2020’s. The UK has also launched a competition to identify the best-value SMR design.
Nuclear Energy Insider 15th April 2016 read more »
At 1.23am on 26 April 1986, reactor no 4 of the Chernobyl nuclear plant blew up, spewing immense amounts of radioactive material into the air. A major event of the 20th century had occurred. The Chernobyl explosion, 30 years ago this month, arguably played a key role in the demise of the Soviet Union – if only because it crushed whatever credibility remained of a system of authority whose claims included the safe mastery of technology. For those countries most affected, the road to stable democracy has not been easy; for some it’s not even guaranteed. The territories worst hit by the disaster were Ukraine and Belarus. Today we tend to watch the political turmoil in Ukraine, including this week’s appointment of a new prime minister, as solely the result of recent crises – but that can be short-sighted. Belarus rarely makes headlines – except perhaps when sanctions again st the regime of President Alexander Lukashenko are discussed. But understanding these countries’ travails requires going further back in time. The then Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, had launched his policy of glasnost, or openness, not long before the Chernobyl disaster – which then acted as a catalyst for change because of the lies it exposed. It was the final straw after a long list of atrocities suffered by nations that had endured the worst of Europe’s 20th-century bloodbaths. It is estimated, for example, that Belarus lost a third of its population in the second world war. Recovering from the cumulative effect of these ordeals was never going to be simple. Indeed, many of the consequences of Chernobyl are yet to be explored. Three decades on, how does one even begin to describe what it is like to live with an invisible radioactive enemy? How does one convey what it was like to experience an event of that magnitude, when the skies darkened and the apocalypse seemed to be unfolding?
Guardian 16th April 2016 read more »
This is not a book on Chernobyl,” writes Svetlana Alexievich, “but on the world of Chernobyl.” It is not about what happened on 26 April 1986, when a nuclear reactor exploded near the border between Ukraine and Belarus. It is about an epoch that will last, like the radioactive material inside the reactor’s leaking ruin, for tens of thousands of years. Alexievich writes that, before the accident, “War was the yardstick of horror”, but at Chernobyl “the history of dis¬asters began”.
New Statesman 16th April 2016 read more »
Energy Policy – Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon will this week attempt to boost the SNP’s green credentials by announcing one of the world’s most ambitious targets to reduce carbon emissions. Scotland on Sunday can reveal that a commitment to raise Scotland’s 2020 climate target from the current 42 per cent cut in greenhouse gas emissions to more than 50 per cent will be put at the heart of the SNP manifesto. The announcement will be made by Sturgeon on Wednesday at an event, which will see 1,400 invited guests attend the launch of the SNP’s election prospectus. Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “In the coming week world leaders will sign the climate deal agreed in Paris in December. The Paris deal has yet to make any real difference to national plans on climate change so Scotland aiming for 50 per cent plus by 2020 sends a strong signal to others. The government has struggled to meet annual targets, so this strong pledge must be matched by strong proposals for action in the SNP manifesto on more efficient homes, shifting transport priorities and reducing emissions from waste.”
Scotland on Sunday 17th April 2016 read more »
Pledging to raise the bar in the fight against climate change is a bold move by the SNP, in the wake of four consecutive years of missing the existing target. The Scottish Government was praised internationally when it announced its target of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 42 per cent by 2020, but interim targets have not been met. Last year’s missed target brought a bullish official response: we’re still on course for 2020. The evidence was not compelling. Against that record, upping the stakes to cut carbon emissions by more than 50 per cent in the same timescale is ambitious. Much of the progress on this front has been achieved through renewable energy in the shape of wind turbines. Recent figures have been encouraging, and in January this year, wind power provided almost half of Scotland’s entire energy needs. There were 22 days when the amount of electricity g enerated from wind was sufficient to power every home in the country. Those statistics look impressive, but harnessing wind power remains a controversial strategy. Two clear problems have yet to be resolved: what to do when the wind doesn’t blow, and how to store wind power adequately to help plug such gaps. The new climate change target is admirable but it may turn out to be a rod for the Scottish Government’s own back. The SNP, if re-elected, could find that rejecting nuclear power at this stage makes achieving its main ambition an impossible target.
Scotland on Sunday 17th April 2016 read more »
Despite welcome commitment and commendable progress in areas such as renewable electricity, Scotland has missed its annual carbon emissions targets to date. Too few policies have been brought forward to secure emissions reductions. The next Scottish Government must embrace a low carbon future with the rewards for our health, economy, and built and natural environment that that could bring. Ahead of the elections on May 5, we want to know what the different political parties will do to make sure action to tackle climate change is a priority. In the new era of ambition following the Paris Accord, Scotland’s political parties will come together on Monday night for an online climate debate organised by Stop Climate Chaos Scotland. It’s hosted by Herald columnist and broadcaster David Torrance and the event will be streamed live online from 7pm. Parties will be challenged to outline what they will do, if elected, to make sure Scotland plays its part in achieving climate security for the future.
Herald 16th April 2016 read more »
North Korea is likely to conduct its fifth nuclear test soon, possibly before its party congress in early May, a media report said on Sunday, citing South Korean government sources based on their reading of activity around the test site.
Guardian 17th April 2016 read more »
The worldwide reliance on burning fossil fuels to create energy could be phased out in a decade, according to an article published by a major energy think tank in the UK. Professor Benjamin Sovacool, Director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex, believes that the next great energy revolution could take place in a fraction of the time of major changes in the past. But it would take a collaborative, interdisciplinary, multi-scalar effort to get there, he warns. And that effort must learn from the trials and tribulations from previous energy systems and technology transitions. In a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Energy Research & Social Science, Professor Sovacool analyses energy transitions throughout history and argues that only looking towards the past can often paint an overly bleak and unnecessary picture.
Phys.org 15th April 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
Given that the government is determined to avoid playing a financial role in the planned new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point, it is perhaps surprising that it is involved in the UK’s largest solar array. The 70-megawatt Lyneham photovoltaic farm – big enough to provide light and heat to 20,000 homes – is located at a former RAF base in Wiltshire owned and rented out by the Ministry of Defence. Lyneham opened last summer with the help of private operator British Solar Renewables, but is only one of a series of projects that were planned for publicly owned sites. And it is good business. Many associate Whitehall with the government’s recent cuts to solar subsidies, but the state has cashed in on a wider solar boom by providing land – as well as benefiting from the low carbon emissions that come from green energy. Last week a milestone was passed when it was revealed that, for the first time, the sun provided more UK electricity from photovoltaic panels than heavily polluting coal-fired plants over a full 24-hour period. Just under 30 gigawatt hours – or 4% of national demand – was met by solar, the latest in a series of records set by the wider renewable energy sector in recent months. The solar industry argues it is being abandoned at the worst possible moment – just a few years before becoming self-sufficient, and at a time ministers seem prepared to back much more expensive nuclear or offshore wind power projects. As many as 2,000 solar jobs are estimated to have been lost over the last 12 months and Decc’s own worst case scenarios warn of 18,700 jobs on the line. Lightsource Renewable Energy, the largest owner of solar assets in Britain, cut 25% of its staff last week, while other companies such as Absolute Renewable Energy and Eco Juice have just called in the liquidators. The biggest collapse came last autumn, when the Mark Group failed, leaving almost 1,000 jobless.
Guardian 16th April 2016 read more »
Commuters in London’s Canary Wharf will now be able to wait for their bus at one of the world’s most technologically cutting-edge bus stops, with the unveiling of a new bus shelter featuring transparent solar PV glazing. The bus shelter, which was officially opened this week by Green Party Mayoral candidate Sian Berry, was designed and developed by Polysolar Ltd in partnership with street furniture supplier Marshalls.
Business Green 12th April 2016 read more »
George Osborne has overruled energy minister Amber Rudd by vetoing changes to the government’s £320m scheme tackling fuel poverty that would have targeted it better at the neediest families, leaked emails show. Rudd is often regarded as a close ally of the chancellor, but the two clashed during March over changes to the warm home discount (WHD), which is administered by energy providers and provides a £140 rebate to help poorer households pay their bills. Emails from the energy secretary’s advisers said: “Amber feels very strongly about getting this right and it is central to our message on getting help to the most vulnerable rather than the middle class”. Rudd wanted to use data held by the Department of Work and Pensions to ensure that the limited pot of cash went to households in genuine fuel poverty – and she had hoped to make an announcement on the idea last month. But when her advisers raised the proposals with the Treasury, they were firmly told the chancellor was “unconvinced of the need to change a system that works”, despite the fact that, as energy department insiders pointed out, just 15% of people who receiving the discount are fuel poor.
Guardian 16th April 2016 read more »
MORAY has 23,800 cold homes with people living in conditions that could cause ill health. Figures released by the Existing Homes Alliance – a coalition of housing, environmental and industry organisations – showed 43 per cent of households in the area were living in fuel poverty. The group is calling on all political parties to commit to ridding the country of cold homes by 2025.
Northern Scot 16th April 2016 read more »
Prof Sir David Mackay
Professor Sir David MacKay, who has died aged 48, was a Cambridge University physicist who set out to cut “UK emissions of twaddle” by applying the laws of physics and mathematics to the debate on sustainable energy. His book, Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air (2009), provided a user-friendly guide to how much energy we consume in our daily lives, the lifestyle changes that would substantially reduce that total, and which kinds of technology would make a difference. Amusingly written, it was acclaimed as a breath of fresh air in the often self-righteous and highly charged atmosphere surrounding the debate about climate change, and led to his appointment in 2009 for a five-year term as chief scientific adviser to the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
Telegraph 15th April 2016 read more »