There’s a lot of shaking of pantomine plastic swords by the British Government at the Austrian Government for launching a legal challenge to the Hinkley C ‘state aid’ consent made last November by the European Commission. In reality many people in British Government, the French Government and even quite a few in the nuclear industry will be quite pleased to have an excuse for the project’s failure – and that they can perpetuate another myth about nuclear power – that it was the Austrian’s fault that Britain’s hopelessly irrational nuclear construction programme is not going ahead. The reality is that the Hinkley C project was already falling apart at the seams. The British Government has only agreed – so far – to give partial underwriting of the construction costs. Given the near certainty of cost overruns arising in the light of the problems with the other EPRs being built in Finland, France and China, the Chinese investors have got worried that they will be exposed to a lot of cost overruns and have demanded that somebody carry the can rather than them.
Dave Toke’s Blog 16th Feb 2015 read more »
An event on the occasion of the 4th anniversary of the Fukushima disaster and its impact on Europe. In particular, in view of the recent illegal decision to give permission for massive government subsidy of Hinkley Point – highlighting subsequent environmental and economic consequences as well as creating a precedent across the EU. Where: Europe House, 32 Smith Street, London SW1P 3EU When: 5th March 2015 from 9.30 – 14.30.
Heinrich Boll 16th Feb 2015 read more »
European countries are at each other’s throats over energy — and for once it’s not about dependence on Russia and its oft-fickle supplies of natural gas. Austria is going ballistic at Britain’s plans to help underwrite the construction of a big new nuclear power plant to help the U.K. fend off the specter of a looming energy crunch. Vienna has made good on previous threats and vows to appeal Britain’s nuclear plan to Brussels — which greenlighted the British nukes after some initial reservations — arguing that plans to subsidize pricey nuclear power are a violation of European Union rules.
Foreign Policy 16th Feb 2015 read more »
The Government has backed a call for the senior European official responsible for energy policy to insist that the UK must remain able to build new nuclear plants amid a growing diplomatic row with Austria over the Hinkley Point C project. The Prime Minister refused to accept a letter the Austrian chancellor Werner Faymann tried to hand to him at this week’s meeting of European leaders in Brussels in connection with the dispute and told him no other country could dictate the UK’s energy policy. It is understood that the letter from Mr Faymann questioned whether a threat had been made that the UK-Austrian relationship would be damaged by Vienna’s plan to mount a legal challenge against the European Commission’s decision to approve the funding deal for the new nuclear power station in Somerset.
Western Daily Press 16th Feb 2015 read more »
The French-owned energy generator EDF Energy – which owns the Scottish nuclear power plants at Torness and Hunterston – has reported a 25% fall in annual profits for its UK operations due to the unplanned closures at two of the companies nuclear power stations and “challenging market conditions”.
Scottish Energy News 17th Feb 2015 read more »
MINISTRY of Defence (MoD) proposals to use Chapelcross in Dumfriesshire for nuclear waste storage have been rejected by local officials. The Chapelcross Site Stakeholders Group, which reviews the former nuclear energy plant, says the plans had “virtually no socio economic benefits to the local area”. Chair of the group Robbie Oglive, who is also a local councillor, explained: “What I was thinking of was some infrastructure improvements in and around Annan but that’s not on the books so that’s why we said, at this moment in time, no thank you very much.” The MoD is considering Chapelcross alongside four other sites for storage of waste from 27 nuclear submarines. Friends of the Earth Scotland Director Dr Richard Dixon commented: “Well done to the people of Chapelcross for saying no. The MoD’s charm offensive has failed again because, not surprisingly, no-one wants radioactive bits of more than two dozen old submarines dumped in their area. “Given the UK Government’s spectacular failure to get the people of Cumbria to agree to having a long-term nuclear waste store built there, people around Chapelcross must worry that any waste that comes on a supposed short-term basis will never leave. “Or nuclear waste will have to go somewhere but the UK Government and the MoD are going to have to try much harder if they are to find a solution that works.”
Common Space 16th Feb 2015 read more »
Times 17th Feb 2015 read more »
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) submits today its official response to the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) consultation on shortlisted sites for storing intermediate level radioactive waste from as many as 27 nuclear powered submarines. For well over a decade, the NFLA has actively engaged with the Ministry of Defence’s Submarine Dismantling Project. This project has been overseeing the process that will see redundant nuclear submarines dismantled at the Rosyth dockyard in Fife and the Devonport dockyard in Plymouth.
NFLA 16th Feb 2015 read more »
A study published by German university researchers for German engineering firm Siemens finds that the renewable power installations built since Fukushima have not affected the retail rate, but they have brought down wholesale rates considerably. Energy-intensive industry has benefited the most. But Craig Morris says there is something for the nuclear camp to criticize.
Renew Economy 17th Feb 2015 read more »
Electrabel’s Doel-1 was shut down at 22:42 yesterday, 15 February 2015, to comply with a law requiring it be closed after 40 years of operation, the Belgian company said. However, the Belgian government and Electrabel, with its owner GDF Suez, are continuing discussions on possible lifetime extensions for Doel-1 and Doel-2, meaning the 433-megawatt pressurised water reactor could yet be restarted. In a statement released before the shutdown Electrabel said it was taking part in the discussions while “recalling the need to define a clear legal and economic framework to consider investing 600 to 700 million euros [about $684-798 million] needed for the extension of Doel-1’s operating life”. Doel-1 is the first Belgian nuclear plant to complete 40 years of operation, the statement said. Belgium’s coalition government has agreed to extend the lifespan of Doel-1 and Doel-2 by 10 years until 2025, providing terms can be agreed with GDF Suez.
NucNet 16th Feb 2015 read more »
South Africa’s low power margin is no secret. However, despite of the stigmatisation of nuclear energy as a concept, the country could benefit from boosting its nuclear program. Consider for starters, more efficient generation of electricity. In December 2014, citizens found themselves in rolling blackouts for 15 days due to the low energy reserves in South Africa. During that time, Eskom, the largest coal electricity provider in Africa, declared a power emergency. The action invoked an agreement previously made in 2008 that required consumers to reduce their consumption by 10%. It is worth noting that Eskom accounts for 95% of South Africa’s power and 45% of Africa’s power due to unstable coal supplies, leaving the remaining 5% to be derived from nuclear power reactors.
International Political Forum 16th Feb 2015 read more »
India and Sri Lanka have signed an agreement to cooperate in civil nuclear energy. The agreement was one of four signed today during a meeting in New Delhi between Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and newly-elected Sri Lankan president Maithripala Sirisena. The accord will facilitate cooperation in the transfer and exchange of knowledge and expertise, sharing of resources, capacity building and training of personnel in peaceful application of nuclear energy – including the use of radioisotopes – nuclear safety, radiation safety and nuclear security, the Economic Times reported.
World Nuclear News 16th Feb 2015 read more »
London mayor Boris Johnson has warned that a Labour-SNP coalition which would scrap the Trident nuclear programme would put Britain at risk of “nuclear blackmail” and send out a signal of “a visible diminution of global authority” amid a rising threat from Russia.
Scotsman 16th Feb 2015 read more »
This fiscal backdrop inevitably focuses attention on the MoD’s priorities, and in particular its equipment programme. From 2018 to 2032, between a quarter and a third of the equipment budget – each year, ever year – is slated to be spent on the replacement Trident submarines. Any cost overruns – which are likely as the other variables of schedule or capability can’t be varied – will come at the expense of the conventional forces, and the UK’s ability to operate globally. As Nick Harvey MP made clear in the Commons Trident debate Trident on 20 January, this could well mean cutting the Army to 60,000 men – a previously unthinkable figure that would render us effectively impotent internationally. It need not be so. Today, CentreForum has published a paper outlining how a system less capable – and much less costly – than Trident can provide the UK with a credible, minimum, independent nuclear deterrent.
Conservative Home 16th Feb 2015 read more »
Renewables – Finance
Vince Cable, Business Secretary today visits the UK Green Investment Bank head office in Edinburgh to launch a £60 million fund for community-scale renewables projects across the UK – which is being part-financed by thousands of Scottish council workers in the mammoth Strathclyde Pension Fund The first project to be funded by the scheme is a new Scottish hydro-electric power scheme near Crianlarich, north of Loch Lomond.
Scottish Energy News 17th Feb 2015 read more »
BBC 17th Feb 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
Today, Hawaii leads the US in rooftop solar per capita: About 10 % of residential customers, more than 50,000 households, have panels on their roofs, according to the Solar Electric Power Association. That compares with about 0.5 % nationally. But in 2013, the boom nearly went bust. Because rooftop solar penetration has moved so rapidly, Hawaii’s utilities are now grappling with both technical and economic challenges that mainland utilities have yet to fully face. How Hawaii surmounts these hurdles could help other utilities sidestep barriers as they ramp up capacity.
Guardian 16th Feb 2015 read more »
The new laws which will effectively ban landlords from letting energy-inefficient homes contain a ‘loophole’ that means tens of thousands of people living in poorly-insulated homes will be left in the cold. Under the regulations, enacted earlier this month, landlords in England and Wales will be legally required to upgrade their leakiest properties to an energy efficiency rating of at least Band E by April 2018, which the Government says could save tenants up to £880 a year on their heating bills. But Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMOs) – defined as homes that are rented out by at least three people who are not from ‘one’ household (i.e. they have individual tenancy agreements with the landlord).
Edie 16th Feb 2015 read more »
As the cost of electricity is set to double over the next ten years, an easy-to-use toolkit has been launched to give Scotland’s local authorities real-time information on how many millions they would save by phasing in energy efficient LED street lights. Across Scotland, there are nearly 900,000 street lights costing local authorities £41 million in annual electricity charges. The street lights also impact on the environment by releasing 199,091 tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere each year. Developed by the Scottish Futures Trust (SFT) and supported by the Scottish Government through its Resource Efficient Scotland (RES) programme, the toolkit allows councils to input their current street lighting data which in turn calculates what the reduced electricity usage would be if they changed to new, energy-efficient LED lighting. The toolkit also calculates what level of investment is required by the council to replace its old lights with new LED fittings, and the payback period of the loan. With councils under constant pressure to make the best use of limited budgets, SFT is encouraging them to use the toolkit which has demonstrated in trials that the average council can save between 60-70% of their present electricity costs, whilst also benefitting the environment.
Scottish Futures Trust 16th Feb 2015 read more »
Nicola Sturgeon has demanded assurances from the prime minister on the security of Scotland’s electricity supplies. It follows BBC Scotland’s disclosure that the huge coal-fired power station at Longannet in Fife is facing a renewed threat to its future. Scottish Power, which operates the plant, warned last year that the cost of connecting to the grid meant the station may close earlier than planned. It is understood talks between Scottish Power and National Grid have stalled.
BBC 16th Feb 2015 read more »
Times 17th Feb 2015 read more »
Ineos has sought to reassure 1,300 staff at its Grangemouth petrochemical plant that it has a long-term future after one executive warned that a fracking moratorium had cast doubts over the business. Gary Haywood, the executive leading the company’s fracking plans, told a conference last week that Scotland’s biggest manufacturing plant, also one of the country’s biggest employers, could only rely on cheap supplies of US-sourced ethane gas for up to 15 years. After that, gas from local fracking projects would be needed, Haywood indicated.
Guardian 16th Feb 2015 read more »
Scotsman 17th Feb 2015 read more »
Over the weekend, the UK’s three main political leaders pledged to tackle climate change after the next election, whatever the outcome. The Conservative’s David Cameron, Labour’s Ed Miliband and the Liberal Democrat’s Nick Clegg agreed to work towards a legally-binding global climate deal, to agree new UK emissions-cutting goals and to phase out unabated coal-fired power. Carbon Brief assesses the significance of the unusual joint pre-election pledge. In broader political terms, the cross-party UK climate pledge is already being used as an example to others. In Australia, a Nobel laureate says his country’s political leaders should follow the UK lead. In the US, the Washington Post compares UK leaders’ unity to Republican and Democrat disagreement over climate.
Carbon Brief 16th Feb 2015 read more »