A Chinese investment in France’s high-voltage network would be a sensitive issue and utility EDF’s grid unit, RTE, is not in talks with Chinese counterpart China State Grid, as part of a plan to open its capital, RTE’s chief executive said on Thursday. State Grid Corporation of China (SGCC) has invested in power grids in southern Europe and utilities specialists say the Chinese network giant is looking into all investment opportunities in EU networks. The French government has asked EDF, which is 85 percent state-owned, to sell up to half of its 100 percent stake in electricity transmission network operator RTE in order to help finance a project to build nuclear reactors in Britain.
Reuters 17th June 2016 read more »
On May 3rd, the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) announced that Areva had informed it of “irregularities in components produced at its Creusot Forge plant.” The problems concern documents attesting to the quality of several parts manufactured at the site. The ASN specifies “inconsistencies”, pointing to shortcomings in quality control (as a best-case scenario) but also mentions “omissions or modifications” related to the potential falsification of manufacturing reports. At least 400 of the 10,000 quality documents reviewed by Areva contained anomalies. Problems concern the concentration levels of carbon and other elements contained in metallic parts, which determine the resistance of machined components. These levels were incorrectly reported or not reported at all. The possible explanation is that figures which did not comply with regulatory safety requirements were masked using this process. However, this equipment must be extremely robust and operate to the highest mechanical standard to ensure total safety. The Flamanville EPR is the first among those affected by non-compliance problems. The first “serious anomalies” identified by the ASN in spring 2015 were found on the upper and lower heads of the vessel. Excess carbon in the central portion raises questions about their mechanical ability to withstand a sudden breakdown in certain conditions (notably, the need, in certain cases, to inject large amounts of cold water into the vessel, which can create a risk of thermal shock). This means that the Taishan EPR under construction in China could also be affected by these discoveries, as is the Hinkley Point project in the UK (in the planning stages). Above all, it demonstrates Areva’s inability to control and monitor processes in the nuclear industry and, as a result, confirms an urgent need to plan for a reduction in the share of nuclear energy in the multi-year energy plan which should be published following the energy transition law adopted by France last year.
Greenpeace 16th June 2016 read more »
French nuclear group Areva is planning to create a new company which will focus on nuclear fuel for power plants. Created through a partial contribution of Areva assets as part of the company’s restructuring plan, the new entity, New CO, will include uranium mining, enrichment and waste recycling. Areva CEO Philippe Knoche said: “Today, we present the roadmap for Areva’s continued transformation. This program defines the major stages necessary to the creation of New CO, a separate new entity refocused on the Mining, Front End and Back End operations.
Energy Business Review 16th June 2016 read more »
Angus McNeil: DECC are very slow moving and they haven’t yet responded to any of the reports that have gone in. We are battling for responses. But I think the investor confidence inquiry was a very good inquiry. I was at a conference this morning where one of the speakers from Somerset was pretty much repeating what we were saying – to hear it chiming with what people were feeling was encouraging. I think the problem we are always going to have with this government is they are wedded, or perhaps welded is the better word, to austerity. They see any spending as a cost rather than an investment. From an economic point of view, when the economy needs demand and has done for years, that is foolish. And not to be investing properly in energy and its infrastructure is foolish as well. Hopefully the National Audit Office will get some transparency in the coming year or two over the Levy Control Framework (LCF) and I think wider understanding of the merit order effect- the way previous spending and investment has led to lower bills today – will help.
Business Green 16th June 2016 read more »
Europe will rely on Russia for record imports of natural gas this year as domestic production plunges following the crash in oil and gas prices, said Gazprom boss Alexei Miller. Russian state-backed Gazprom, Europe’s largest supplier of gas, was responsible for almost a third of European gas demand last year, and Mr Miller said the gas giant will export even more to European buyers in 2016 as North Sea production dwindles. Gazprom’s largest European customers are in Germany and the Netherlands, countries closely connected to the UK gas grid through two major pipelines.
Telegraph 16th June 2016 read more »
The Fessenheim plant will not be closed until EDF is given a new assessment for damages compensation, the electric company has said. This pushes back plans to shut down the 40-year-old plant by at least a year. The fight over the plan to close France’s oldest operational nuclear power station took another turn on Thursday. The operators of the Fessenheim Nuclear Power Plant near the German and Swiss borders want a new assessment of the damages they will be awarded before they begin the process of shutting down the reactors. The news came at the same time French nuclear watchdog ASH said one of Fessenheim’s reactors had to be shut down temporarily due to irregularities in a steam generator.
Deutsche Welle 16th June 2016 read more »
An international court has ruled that Bulgarian state energy firm NEK should pay nearly 550 million euros ($620 million) in compensation to Russia’s Atomstroyexport for a cancelled nuclear power project, Bulgarian officials said on Thursday.
Reuters 16th June 2016 read more »
THE list of candidates for the most beleaguered part of Europe’s nuclear-power industry is long. But since last year Sweden, which generates about 40% of its electricity through nuclear energy, has been a strong contender. A tax increased to punitive levels in 2015 by the anti-nuclear Green Party hit its operators so hard that they threatened to close all ten of the country’s plants unless it was scrapped. On June 10th the government, including the Greens, caved in and threw them a lifeline. It has promised to phase out the tax from next year and will allowed operators to replace ageing reactors with new ones.
Economist 18th June 2016 read more »
Two Lanarkshire steel plants which were mothballed last October are to resume production with a contract to produce heavy-duty steel for wind towers. Liberty House has announced that the former Tata plants at Dalzell and Clydebridge, which are set to resume production in September, will make the steel plate needed for the towers. Liberty House started recruiting staff at the Scottish plants last week. The site where the towers will be built has not yet been announced. Liberty House bought the steel tower production equipment from Mabey Bridge Renewables at Chepstow, South Wales. which closed down last year
BBC 16th June 2016 read more »
The National 17th June 2016 read more »
Herald 17th June 2016 read more »
Energy Voice 16th June 2016 read more »
A major new global report has predicted huge reductions in the cost of electricity generated by renewables over the coming decade, that could see the global average cost of electricity from solar PV and onshore wind fall to roughly 5-6 US cents per kilowatt hour by 2025. The report, published by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), forecasts that by 2025, the levellised cost of electricity (LCOE) generated by solar thermal by 43 per cent (depending on the technology used), by 26 per cent for onshore wind and by 35 per cent for onshore wind. In the case of solar PV, IRENA estimates the average LCOE could fall by as much as 59 per cent – mirroring the 58 per cent price drop that occurred between 2010-15, that has already made the technology increasingly competitive at utility scale.
Renew Economy 16th June 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
Marks & Spencer is using crowdfunding to back the installation of solar panels on its stores. The retailer is partnering with Energy4All, a not-for-profit group that helps community groups set up energy co-ops, with the aim of raising £1.23m to put panels on nine large stores including Torbay in Devon, Truro in Cornwall and Cheshunt in Hertfordshire. A new entity, M&S Energy Society, is inviting investments of between £100 and £100,000 to install and own 891kWh-worth of panels for 20 years from which the retailer will buy energy. The group is offering a target interest rate of 5% each year for those who invest. The Energy Society scheme is part of M&S’s plan to source 50% of electricity used in its UK buildings from small-scale renewables by 2020. M&S installed the UK’s largest single array of rooftop solar panels on its distribution centre in Castle Donington in 2014. A number of other retailers have also invested heavily in renewable energy. Sainsbury’s is one of the largest rooftop solar operators in Europe. The supermarket installed more than 170,000 panels above stores and distribution centres as part of a plan to go off-grid eventually. Kingfisher, the owner of B&Q and Screwfix, is putting solar panels on its distribution centres and some stores as part of a £50m investment to cut its reliance on the National Grid. Last year, Ikea, the world’s biggest furniture retailer, pledged to spend £700m on renewables as part of its plan to generate all the energy required by its shops and factories from clean sources by 2020.
Guardian 16th June 2016 read more »
A new community energy initiative focused on farm-scale wind turbines has been launched by Sharenergy and will combine projects in Scotland and Wales. Small Wind Cooperative is first to combine projects in different countries within the UK and will allow members to use the energy generated in their homes and businesses as part of a deal with energy supplier Co-operative Energy. The project offers people the chance to support three community turbines, one in Wales and two in Scotland, with bonds or shares and a minimum of £100. The bonds offer a return of 4.5 per cent and will be repaid after 6 years and the shares a projected annual average return of 6.5 per cent over 20 years.
Utility Week 16th June 2016 read more »
Argyll, Scotland-based firm Xanthella Ltd last week announced the start of a GBP-2-million (USD 2.8m/EUR 2.5m) two-year project, called Algal Solutions for Local Energy Economy (ASLEE). The Xanthella-led project has secured GBP 500,000 from the Scottish government’s Local Energy Challenge Fund to fund the first year of feasibility studies. If this is successful, an algal production facility will be built at Ardnamurchan, a remote area of Scotland, which Xanthella says will be the largest in the UK. The project will use surplus green electricity to power photobioreactors that will produce high-value products from algae, including liquid fuels. It will at the same time provide additional local use of electricity with the aim of removing grid constraints on the deployment of renewable capacity. According to the company, the process is ideal for combining with intermittent renewables generation as it can use the energy at times when it is abundant and cheap, and provide a grid balancing service at the same time.
SeeRenewables 13th June 2016 read more »
The Energy and Climate Change Committee report is recommending a major change in the way the UK energy system is operated, transferring system operation from National Grid to an Independent System Operator (at the national level) and Distribution System Operators (at the regional level). “National Grid’s technical expertise in operating the national energy system must be weighed against its potential conflicts of interest. The Independent System Operator model has worked in the USA. It is time for it to be brought to these shores. Local energy is here, with astonishing growth in generation connected directly to regional networks. Distribution Network Operators (DNOs) remain somewhat blind to their energy flows and passive in managing them. DNOs must transition to a more active role as Distribution System Operators so that they can use smart technologies to manage ever-more complicated energy flows.” The Committee notes the importance of smart meters and a smart grid to enable this transition, but expressed concerns that the roll-out of smart meters is not progressing quickly enough to achieve the necessary mass to truly create a smart energy network.
Parliament 17th June 2016 read more »
National Grid should be broken up and stripped of its role managing the UK’s power system because of “intractable and growing” conflicts of interest, according to MPs. A report released today by MPs on the energy and climate change committee recommends the FTSE 100 company be removed from its function as the UK’s electricity system operator and the role handed to a central independent body as well as regional operators. The proposals, if adopted, would represent a significant blow to National Grid, one of Britain’s biggest companies and one of the FTSE 100’s most reliable dividend payers. It would also represent one of the biggest shifts in the structure of the British energy industry since privatisation in 1989. The report on the future of the UK energy network, Low Carbon Network Infrastructure, cites growing concern within the industry and at Ofgem, the UK energy regulator, that National Grid, the owner and operator of Britain’s high-voltage wires and gas pipeline network, has become too powerful. It says its role as system operator, under which it has huge supervisory influence as manager of the UK’s electricity system, is increasingly creating tensions with other companies, stifling innovation and may not be in the interests of consumers. About £270 of the average UK household’s £1,150 annual dual-fuel bill is spent on network charges, split evenly between gas and electricity. Critics argue that the creation of an independent system operator would pave the way for greater innovation and faster investment in renewables and other low-carbon technology. The report cites conflicts of interest around the rising profits earned by National Grid from its financial stake in high-voltage cables linking the UK with other European nations – so-called interconnectors – while at the same time administering the nation’s energy network. Angus MacNeil, chairman of the committee, said: “National Grid’s technical expertise in operating the national energy system must be weighed against its potential conflicts of interest. The independent system operator model has worked in the US. It is time for it to be brought to these shores.”
Times 17th June 2016 read more »
National Grid should be stripped of its role managing the UK energy networks due to the potential for conflicts of interest, MPs on the energy select committee have said. New independent “system operators” should be set up to manage supply and demand on Britain’s national gas and electricity networks, the committee said in a report. National Grid gets regulated income for owning and maintaining the electricity transmission network in England and the gas distribution network across the UK.
Telegraph 16th June 2016 read more »
The House of Commons energy and climate change committee is urging the government to transfer control for ensuring all methods are used to keep the lights on to a newly created independent system operator (ISO). The committee report, Low Carbon Network Infrastructure, says the system needs a shake up just days after the Energy Institute complained that continual changes in energy policy were frightening away investment. “The government should set out its intentions regarding an ISO as soon as possible, and consult on a detailed, staged plan for their implementation, so as to avoid injecting uncertainty into the energy sector,” recommends the report.
Guardian 17th June 2016 read more »
FT 17th June 2016 read more »