The UK does not need EDF’s proposed Hinkley Point new nuclear plant as it has plenty of alternative options for keeping the lights on, rival energy giant SSE has said. The importance of the £18bn project for the UK’s energy needs “has been repeatedly overplayed”, Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE chief executive said, insisting offshore wind and gas plants could fill the gap if Hinkley was scrapped.
Telegraph 16th Aug 2016 read more »
The significance of Hinkley Point C to the Britain’s future energy supplies has been “overplayed”, the boss of SSE has said. The government needs to focus on “maintaining confidence” in the current policy framework so alternatives can fill the gap left behind if the new nuclear plant is cancelled. “I have absolutely no idea what will happen to Hinkley Point C and whether it will be taken forward or not. For me though, its significance to the UK’s needs for secure, modern supplies of electricity has been repeatedly overplayed,” said chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies, writing on the website Politics Home. “Whilst it is undoubtedly true that we need new, cleaner technology to replace the older power stations coming off the system,” he added, “there are enough credible alternatives out there which can be built in time to deliver the balanced energy mix we need, and a policy framework which can deliver the necessary investment.”
Utility Week 16th Aug 2016 read more »
SSE’s Chief Executive writes that the Hinkley Point C decision is less significant than ensuring UK energy market confidence continues as well as investment in alternatives such as new gas and offshore wind. I have absolutely no idea what will happen to Hinkley Point C and whether it will be taken forward or not. For me though, its significance to the UK’s needs for secure, modern supplies of electricity has been repeatedly overplayed. Whilst it is undoubtedly true that we need new, cleaner technology to replace the older power stations coming off the system, there are enough credible alternatives out there which can be built in time to deliver the balanced energy mix we need, and a policy framework which can deliver the necessary investment. So, whatever is decided on Hinkley is, for me, a second order issue. The focus should be on maintaining confidence in the three main policies I have described and using the powerful levers that they provide to ensure that alternatives such as new gas and offshore wind can fill the gap if necessary. This would ensure that the UK has secure and affordable electricity, and is still on track to meet climate change targets.
Politics Home 16th Aug 2016 read more »
One of the Big Six energy giants has said Britain doesn’t need the controversial Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant to avoid blackouts in the future. In a blog post first published on PoliticsHome, Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive of SSE wrote: “If Hinkley doesn’t progress there is plenty [of alternatives] to fill the gap,” such as new gas-fired power stations, other nuclear projects and windfarms. “[Hinkley’s] significance to the UK’s needs for secure, modern supplies of electricity has been repeatedly overplayed,” he said.
City AM 16th Aug 2016 read more »
Daily Business 17th Aug 2016 read more »
RENews 16th Aug 2016 read more »
Reuters 16th Aug 2016 read more »
To dump Hinkley means upsetting France, a key ally, and torpedoing a decade of UK energy policy, carefully constructed and nurtured by predecessors. It will leave a hole in Britain’s future power generation capacity, imperil the UK’s chances of hitting its carbon emission reduction targets and, perhaps most disconcertingly, risk derailing relations with China, a key trade partner as Britain plans to go it alone outside the EU. All these risks are real enough yet Mrs May should take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the view. To press ahead with Hinkley would be by far the most reckless course of action she could take. The reason for this has little to do with geopolitics, national security or fears of Chinese espionage and a lot to do with common sense. At more than £30 billion, the estimated cost of the subsidies that David Cameron’s government agreed that UK consumers would heap upon EDF in order to construct two reactors at Hinkley looks increasingly ludicrous. That’s not just because they were bad terms to begin with. Since the deal was struck in 2013 wholesale electricity prices have collapsed, making them look worse than ever. After all, that £30 billion subsidy is only slightly less than the UK’s annual defence budget. It is roughly equivalent to the GDP of Jordan or Serbia. Can that be the correct price to build a single power station? Also while the projected cost of Hinkley has spiralled higher, the cost of renewable alternatives has plummeted, gradually undermining its economic rationale. It will not be enough for Mrs May simply to reject Hinkley. The decision must be accompanied by a detailed plan for what the UK will do instead. With ageing coal and nuclear stations being retired from service, the UK needs new power stations. Fortunately, if she needs inspiration, she is in the right place. Back in 2011, Switzerland was planning to build two new reactors but parliament reversed course. It scrapped the project and opted instead for a $12 billion push into hydroelectric power, which now supplies nearly 60 per cent of Swiss electricity. New hydro projects will eventually phase out Switzerland’s five nuclear reactors, which still generate 35 per cent of power. Of course, the UK is not Switzerland, with its small population and an abundance of mountain rivers. Britain will need a different solution, tailored to its own needs and resources. In this, new gas-fired plants and nuclear reactors may have a role to play if they can be shown to be economically rational to build. But the Swiss example does show that alternatives exist for those who are ambitious and bold enough to grasp the opportunity by changing course. Mrs May should do so now.
Times 17th Aug 2016 read more »
Theresa May has written to Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang to express her desire to enhance trade and strategic ties, after tensions emerged over the controversial Hinkley Point nuclear power plant.
Independent 16th Aug 2016 read more »
Daily Mail 16th Aug 2016 read more »
Theresa May has confirmed that she will travel to China next month to steady relations with Beijing and to press for stronger trading relations. In a letter to Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, and Li Keqiang, the premier, Mrs May said she supported the hosting of the Group of 20 leaders’ summit in Hangzhou, and wanted to build stronger trade relationship.
Alok Sharma, the Foreign Office minister who is on a visit to China, called the bilateral relationship “strong, growing and delivering benefits for both our countries”. The G20 summit takes place on September 4 and 5; Mrs May has promised to announce a decision on Hinkley Point in September. Downing Street said Mrs May’s letter, which was first reported by Bloomberg, was private correspondence and would not be published.
FT 15th Aug 2016 read more »
Theresa May has written to the Chinese president to reassure him of Britain’s continuing commitment to strong relations with Beijing following her decision to delay the Hinkley Point nuclear project. The prime minister handed the letter to her Foreign Office minister, Alok Sharma, who delivered it to his counterpart during an official visit to the Chinese capital. The letter to President Xi comes after Mrs May’s decision to review plans for the French state-owned energy company EDF to build a £18 billion new reactor at the plant in Somerset.
Times 16th Aug 2016 read more »
Calling it the stuff of a Tom Clancy international thriller novel, Chief U.S. District Judge Tom Varlan had one question for prosecutors Tuesday — where’s the proof the Chinese government would spirit away the engineer accused of buying American nuclear know-how? “Where’s the evidence the court can bring as opposed to speculation?” Varlan asked at a hearing Tuesday on whether engineer Szuhsiung “Allen” Ho should remain jailed pending trial on charges he procured American nuclear technological information for the Chinese government. Prosecutors have called Ho a flight risk. “Your argument that China would assist him in fleeing, how would that fit into the weight of the evidence for the court to consider?” Varlan pressed Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Atchley Jr. “What’s the evidence?” Ho, his firm Energy Technology International and Chinese nuclear power plant China General Nuclear Power were indicted in April on charges of a plot to lure nuclear experts in the U.S. into providing information to allow China to develop and produce nuclear material based on American technology and below the radar of the U.S. government. Varlan said he will issue a written ruling soon. Ho’s trial is set for Jan. 24. The defense last week filed a motion alleging the FBI elicited incriminating statements from Ho even after he asked for a lawyer. A hearing on that motion has not yet been set.
Knoxville News Sentiinel 16th Aug 2016 read more »
Letter Norman Dombey: CGN has just been indicted by the US authorities for exporting nuclear technology to China without authorisation. The indictment specifically relates to Hualong One and the “verification and validation of nuclear reactor codes”.
Guardian 16th Aug 2016 read more »
Alternatives to Hinkley
Britain could scrap the 18 billion-pound ($23 billion) nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point and get the same amount of electricity from offshore wind turbines for roughly the same investment. That’s the assessment of Bloomberg New Energy Finance following Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to review whether to proceed with the first new atomic plant in more than three decades. For the same capital costs, the U.K. could install about 830 new turbines at sea, which would generate 25 terawatt hours a year — the same amount of power the Hinkley reactors would produce, according to the London-based researcher.
Bloomberg 16th Aug 2016 read more »
Energy Voice 16th Aug 2016 read more »
Perhaps we should man up and swap Hinkley Point for a Severn barrage.
Times 15th Aug 2016 read more »
Letter John Twidell: Ever advancing telecommunications and electronic control systems allow the demand to be adjusted to fit the supply on a scale from household to national. Witness the sophisticated systems widely available for matching electrical loads and energy stores to solar power. Householders already use these; electrical grid operators are trialling methods for widespread integration of solar and wind power with load demand control, energy storage and price adjustment. The last thing such advances need is an untried gigawatt source of constant electricity generation that cannot be matched to demand, that is expensive, and whose waste is harmful and untreatable. There are many in China and France who share these views; ceasing Hinkley will be welcomed by them too.
Guardian 16th Aug 2016 read more »
Letter Steve Emsley: The cost of the Swansea lagoon is estimated to be £1bn. So to achieve the full 8% of baseload electricity (more than Hinkley), perhaps about £5bn would be needed to complete four or five similar projects in the UK – less than a third of the Hinkley costs. There is also no nuclear waste to manage for thousands of years. Tidal power flows into the lagoon for six hours, out for six hours and does this twice a day, giving reliable electricity for 24 hours a day. Swansea Bay tidal lagoon is the best alternative to Hinkley, so why is it not getting immediate government support and approval? Why is it not even being discussed?
Guardian 16th Aug 2016 read more »
‘They thought it would snow forever’: Nuclear waste at Cold War base in Greenland being released due to global warming. A top-secret Cold War base buried under the ice in Greenland which was used by the United States is at risk of releasing nuclear waste because of global wamring. The US used the site – known as Camp Century – as a scientific centre where they would carry out experiments. However it was also used as the centre for Project Iceworm, where the US hoped to fire nuclear missiles towards Russia from in the event that nuclear war would break out.
Mirror 16th Aug 2016 read more »
The Unite union has called for the business secretary Greg Clark to launch a probe into a £7 billion nuclear clean-up contract awarded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. It follows a recent a High Court ruling which found that the NDA had “fudged” and “manipulated” the tender process when it awarded a contract to decommission 12 Magnox nuclear reactors to Cavendish Fluor Partnership (CFP) in 2014.
Utility Week 16th Aug 2016 read more »
The US nuclear regulator is to decide whether to continue supplying highly enriched uranium (HEU) to a Belgian research reactor that produces radioactive isotopes for medicine, but critics have been calling for a switch to uranium not suitable for bombs. A decision from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission on whether to permit the Belgian Nuclear Research Center (NRC) to obtain 144 kilograms of weapon-grade uranium is currently pending. The NRC says it needs the new material to keep its medical research reactor going for the next decade. The facility produces radioactive isotopes for fighting cancer. The US has been reluctant to provide foreign partners with weapon-grade uranium as of late because of fears that it could fall into the wrong hands or set back global efforts to limit nuclear proliferation. The US and Belgian centers have been doing business for decades, and the Belgian side has promised to modernize its production process to use low-enriched uranium (LEU) instead of the HEU used to produce nuclear bombs. Since at least 2005, the Belgian research center has been assuring the Americans that it would make the transition to LEU, but years have passed with no visible progress and the medical reactor is now exhausting its lifespan.
Russia Today 15th Aug 2016 read more »
Statkraft yesterday began construction of the giant 288MW Storheia wind farm in Norway, marking a major step forward for ambitious plans to deliver one of Europe’s largest onshore wind farms. Storheia is the second and largest of the six projects that make up the 1GW Fosen network of wind farms in central Norway. Norwegian state-owned energy giant Statkraft is leading the €1.1bn scheme, which is set to double Norway’s wind energy capacity and become Europe’s largest onshore wind power project once completed.
Business Green 16th August 2016 read more »
The UK energy market could save £400m and reduce emissions by 800,000 tonnes over the next decade by using open and transparent data to reveal energy generation, consumption and distribution inefficiencies, new analysis has revealed. London-based clean technology firm Guru Systems has analysed consumption data across a number of UK heat networks, concluding that many heat systems are oversized or use “outdated” models to estimate how much heat will be needed – leading to an excess in demand. But with the help of the Open Data Institute (ODI) and with backing from the now-defunct Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Guru Systems has been working on a new online portal that allows SMEs, researchers and private organisations to work collaboratively to create optimal heat systems that iron-out any energy inefficiencies. The company’s new Pinpoint system tested the potential of open data on four projects, including a 155-unit housing association. The Pinpoint system was able to identify significant amounts of heat loss between corridors and flats, before communing with the housing association to rectify the inefficiencies by improving insulation. As well as recovering 68% of the heat used in the system, the trial also reduced tariff payments for residents by almost 50% from 7.7p to 3.8 per kWh. Based on the evidence, Guru Systems believes that more than £200m can be saved across the system – which could increase to £400m if engineers use the open data platform to improve the efficiency of new and under construction heat networks.
Edie 16th Aug 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
The giant Hornsea Project Two wind farm off the coast of Yorkshire is on track to become the world’s largest offshore wind project, after Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark today granted development consent to the 1.8GW project. The development consent follows a recommendation from the Planning Inspectorate for the project to be approved, paving the way for a final investment decision from developer DONG Energy. When complete, the £6bn project is expected to see up to 300 turbines provide clean power to around 1.8 million UK homes. It is also expected to create up to 1,960 construction jobs and 580 operational and maintenance jobs centred on the Humber region. Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark said approval for the project underlined the government’s ongoing commitment to the offshore wind sector. The Department for Business, Energy, and Industrial Strategy added that the government was making £730m of financial support available to renewable energy projects during this parliament, which should help result in 10GW of offshore wind capacity being installed by the end of the decade. Ministers have also indicated that a further 10GW of offshore wind capacity could be delivered during the 2020s if costs come down to below £100/MWh as expected. DONG Energy and other developers have expressed confidence levelised costs of under £100/MWh can be delivered by the end of the decade thanks to larger turbines, improved operations and maintenance processes, economies of scale, and new foundations. The developer also announced recently that its latest offshore wind farms off the Dutch coast are expected to deliver power at a record low cost of €72.70/MWh. The latest milestone for the UK’s offshore wind industry came as new research from influential analyst firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) suggested renewable technologies could comfortable undercut the proposed Hinkley Point nuclear project on a levelised cost basis. The analysis detailed how for the same capital cost as the Hinkley Point project the UK could install around 830 offshore wind turbines, capable of delivering double the capacity and the same level of power as the nuclear project. The research offers a boost to those offshore wind developers who have argued in recent weeks that they stand ready to tackle any energy gap that may result if the government’s opts to shelve the controversial Hinkley Point project. However, the analysis only compares the capital cost of different new energy projects and does not consider differing operating costs and the cost associated with managing intermittent renewable power supplies. The Committee on Climate Change has estimated the cost of managing intermittency could add between £10 and £20/MWh to the cost of renewables projects, although some experts warn costs and technical challenges could increase as renewables makes up a larger share of the grid. “Hinkley Point C is competitive with all other forms of low carbon electricity generation,” a spokesman for EDF told Bloomberg. “The price of 92.50 pounds per megawatt-hour for Hinkley Point’s output compares to an average of 123 pounds per megawatt-hour for renewable schemes in the early 2020s without including the extra costs of their intermittency. Recent contracts for offshore wind were agreed at an average of 137 pounds per megawatt-hour.”
Business Green 16th Aug 2016 read more »
Guardian 16th Aug 2016 read more »
Jonathan Marshall, an analyst at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, a think-tank, said the move showed the UK had carved out a role as a global leader in some energy technologies, “despite the muddle over the new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point”. “The government’s backing of offshore wind gives the energy sector some of the certainty that has been sorely lacking recently,” he said. Environmental groups said the approval of the Hornsea wind farm underlined the potential of modern green energy options. “This is yet another nail in the coffin for the rationale for Hinkley power station,” said Doug Parr of Greenpeace.
FT 16th Aug 2016 read more »
The UK government has today granted planning approval for the world’s largest offshore wind turbine energy parc, which will be built about 60 miles off the east coast of England. Dong Energy’s Hornsea-2 development will have a capacity of up to 1.8 gigawatts (GW) and will consist of up to 300 turbines. It could meet the electricity needs of approximately 1.6 million UK homes per year. The Danish company has already secured planning permission for the adjacent 1.2 GW Hornsea-1 development. Together at 3-GW, the two wind energy parcs would have a similar capacity to the British government’s proposed new Hinkley C nuclear energy project. The government said its next round of renewable funding will focus on offshore wind and has said around 10 GW of capacity could be installed by the end of the decade.
Scottish Energy News 16th Aug 2016 read more »
The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has announced plans to opt for an all-green electricity tariff from next semester. Starting from October, the university will source 100 per cent green electricity through a tariff from EDF under a new framework from public sector energy services non-profit The Energy Consortium (TEC). The university said moving to the new tariff, which guarantees electricity comes from renewable sources verified by the Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGO) certificate, would increase its electricity spend of approximately £3m a year by just 0.3 per cent. Fabia Jeddere-Fisher, energy manager for UWE Bristol, said the move was a “no brainer”. “The new TEC Framework with EDF has now made it possible for us to purchase electricity guaranteed from renewable sources that is affordable and doesn’t put a strain on our budget,” said Jeddere-Fisher in a statement. “Our students and staff still get an excellent service overall, plus we know the electricity we consume on site has come from renewable sources either on-site, including our new 450kWp PV array, or from our new renewable tariff.” “In addition, this switch will move us into the top quartile of universities making this commitment to purchasing renewable energy,” she added.
Business Green 16th August 2016 read more »
The UK is at a pivotal moment for investing in the future of its energy system. Two thirds of its power stations – mostly old coal, nuclear and gas-powered stations – are expected to close by 2030, increasing the risk of ‘brownouts’ and ‘blackouts’ in future. A recent survey by the MEUC found that nine out of 10 UK businesses are worried about the security of their energy supply. From businesses to households, our large and small energy consumers urgently need reassurance that our energy system is not only able to cater to growing demand, but is also ready for future challenges. It’s clear we need to move beyond this wasteful, cumbersome system, and thanks to internet-enabled technologies, we can do so. Both the National Infrastructure Commission and Ofgem say that more flexible patterns of demand would reduce energy waste, make the system cheaper and more carbon efficient to run, and lowering consumers’ bills. Businesses now have a unique opportunity to move away from polluting energy sources to help the UK achieve its carbon reduction targets, whilst being rewarded with new revenues at the same time. The potential for demand response is huge: according to the National Infrastructure Commission’s Smart Power report, if just 5% of current peak electricity demand is met by demand-side response, our energy system would be £200m/year cheaper to run, and end-users could benefit by up to £790m. This is the inspiration behind the Living Grid, a movement led by forward-thinking organisations and convened by Forum for the Future, to create a new approach to our energy system that is interactive, self-balancing and adaptive rather than linear and clumsy. This will not only help the grid cater better to peaks and troughs in demand and supply, but also enable it to make full use of renewable energy sources.
Forum for the Future 16th Aug 2016 read more »
A FORMER Geology professor from Glasgow University is planning to take legal action against his former employer after they terminated his library and email access just days after he published a research paper that was critical of fracking. David Smythe, a professor emeritus for the university yesterday announced his intention to take legal action to have his online access to libraries and maps and launched a crowdfunding appeal to pay for legal costs, which had raised £4,435 of his £10,000 target in less than 10 hours. Glasgow University deny that the decision to withdraw his access was connected to his anti-fracking status. However he claims that concerns were raised that his views clashed with Prof Paul Younger, professor of energy engineering at the University, who has expressed support for fracking and accused him of “pseudo-scientific scaremongering”. Though University officials insist his access was removed as part of a routine review, emails – released through a Freedom of Information request in June – suggest that the issue of access was only raised after the publication of his article in January this year, giving his affiliation as Glasgow University. Smythe told the National: “I’m shocked at how the University has done this, and how they’ve just shut me down rather than find out what was going on.
The National 16th Aug 2016 read more »
The head of the United Nation’s climate body has called for a thorough assessment of the feasibility of the international goal to limit warming to 1.5C. Dr Hoesung Lee, chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), told delegates at a meeting in Geneva, which is designed to flesh out the contents of a special report on 1.5C, that they bore a “great responsibility” in making sure it meets the expectations of the international climate community. To be policy-relevant, the report will need to spell out what’s to be gained by limiting warming to 1.5C, as well as the practical steps needed to get there within sustainability and poverty eradication goals.
Carbon Brief 16th Aug 2016 read more »