The Treasury has, in effect, ridiculed any notion that EDF could take a final investment decision on Hinkley C within the next three years – if ever. The announcement by the Treasury that their offer of loan guarantees for the EPR at Hinkley C is linked to successful functioning of the Flamanville EPR means that short of absolute lunacy reigning at EDF HQ the power plant could not possibly be given a final go-ahead until 2018 at the earliest, and most probably never. The date of earliest completion of the Flamanville reactor is 2018, and even that assumes that things go a lot better than they have so far. To cap this, the Treasury have said that if the reactor hasn’t demonstrated it is working properly by 2020 then there will be no loan guarantee for Hinkley C. (see Sunday Times piece, link below). There is no chance of Hinkley C being funded without this – EDF haven’t got anywhere near the money needed and it would be financially crazy to pay for it without the guarantees – so EDF cannot take the chance of going ahead without a firm loan guarantee. This leaves people wondering about the motives of EDF in announcing that they are ‘restarting’ work on Hinkley C. They can’t do this, or at least carry on with this indefinitely. EDF is in difficult financial straits as it is without this sort of action. It is no surprise that employees and shareholders of EDF are up in arms about the prospect of a ‘final investment decision’ being taken by the EDF Board. They are nowhere near being able to do this – as you can see from the European Commission documents, before such a decision can be taken they have to have a signed contract with the UK Government and the agreed funding in place for the company that develops the project. None of this has happened or seems likely to happen.
Dave Toke’s Blog 1st Feb 2016 read more »
Despite the endless rhetoric about a ‘nuclear renaissance’, there are fewer power reactors today than there were a decade ago, writes Jim Green. The one country with a really big nuclear build program is China, but no one expects it to meet its targets. And with over 200 reactor shut-downs due by 2040, the industry will have to run very hard indeed just to stay put. The nuclear power industry’s malaise was all too evident at the COP21 UN climate change conference in Paris in December. Former World Nuclear Association executive Steve Kidd noted: “It was entirely predictable that the nuclear industry achieved precisely nothing at the recent Paris COP21 talks and in the subsequent international agreement. … Analysis of the submissions of the 196 governments that signed up to the Paris agreement, demonstrating their own individual schemes on how to reduce national carbon emissions, show that nearly all of them exclude nuclear power. The future is likely to repeat the experience of 2015 when 10 new reactors came into operation worldwide but 8 shut down. So as things stand, the industry is essentially running to stand still.” With 30 operable reactors, 24 under construction, and many more in the pipeline, China remains the only country with significant nuclear expansion plans. China is unlikely to meet any of its targets – 58 GW by 2020, 110 GW by 2030 and up to 250 GW by 2050 – but growth will be significant nonetheless. Growth could however be derailed by a serious accident, which is all the more likely because of China’s inadequate nuclear safety standards, inadequate regulation, lack of transparency, repression of whistleblowers, world’s worst insurance and liability arrangements, security risks, and widespread corruption. There are fears, for example, that China may press ahead with its twin-EPR project at Taishan despite fears over the metallurgy of its reactor vessels and heads. Similar components supplied to the EPR at Flamanville in France have been found to have areas of excessive carbon leading to brittleness and possible failure in use. The French project is now on hold and may never be completed.
Ecologist 30th Jan 2016 read more »
A design competition has been announced to generate ideas for a nuclear power station project in West Cumbria. Designers from across the world are being ask to draw up architecture and landscape ideas for NuGen’s Moorside nuclear development. As Europe’s largest new nuclear power station, the project will include three AP1000 reactors next to the Sellafield site. Two competitions have now been commissioned each with a £25,000 prize fund to generate ‘iconic’ designs at Moorside. One of the competitions is being run by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) and is open to all qualified architects. It will seek designs for various buildings including a visitor centre for the main site, an accommodation block and an overall site plan.
Construction 1st Feb 2016 read more »
With the recent closure of various power generation facilities, such as those for coal or nuclear power, and without ongoing plans or construction for new power generations to fill UK needs, a signification energy supply gap is predicted. The report, Engineering the UK Electricity Gap, which revealed this startling gap was put forth by The Institution of Mechanical Engineers, also referring to ongoing efforts as unrealistic to fully address the UK needs. To be noted is that there is still the possibility that Amber Rudd will put off the shutdown of coal within the upcoming consultation. Yet even if this is done the report heavily suggests that the shortfall will only be properly addressed through incentivised demand reduction alongside the encouragement of further investments in renewables or energy storage. When advocating for the increased use of renewable forms of power generation the report uses solar power as a key example. With increased investment in recent years, the technology provides around a 10% cost reduction per year, and would continue to do so within the next decade, establishing itself as the potential source of up to 20% of the worlds entire energy demand by 2027. Though it should be noted that this estimate is a far higher rate of potential solar adoption than the rate at which the International Energy Agency advocates solar within the high renewable scenario.
ACE 1st Feb 2016 read more »
About 1,200 Magnox workers, decommissioning the UK’s nuclear plants, are being ensnared in a Catch-22 pension ‘trap’, which could see them losing thousands of pounds in retirement income. Unite, the country’s largest union, is calling on MPs to delete the controversial clause in the Enterprise bill, due to have its second reading in the Commons tomorrow (Tuesday 2 February). The Catch-22 situation stems from the 2005 Energy Act which protected pension provision under the privatisation legislation, but the Enterprise bill now has a clause that caps redundancy payments at £95,000, apparently aimed at top executives leaving the public sector. Unite is highlighting Magnox as a key example, but points out that the Enterprise bill will also affect about 30,000 people working throughout the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) estate who will also be affected by the £95,000 exit cap.
Unite 1st Feb 2016 read more »
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has contributed £500,000 to Innovate UK’s Energy Game Changer fund. The funding, which now stands at £2 million, will be distributed among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) outside the energy sector, with allocation taking place through a competitive process conducted by Innovate UK. Projects will typically last between six and 12 months, and will range in size from £25,000 to £100,000, the NDA said. Though the fund is designed to encourage new entrants into all energy industry sectors, the NDA said it was “particularly interested” in technologies that can be applied to decommissioning challenges.
Process Engineering 1st Feb 2016 read more »
Yorkshire engineering group Renew has strengthened its nuclear services offering with the acquisition of a specialist business operating at Sellafield and other UK nuclear sites. Renew has agreed to pay around £235,000 in cash for Nuclear Decontamination Services Limited, which had revenues of £188,000 and a pre-tax profit of £105,000 in the year ending January 2015.
Yorkshire Evening Post 1st Feb 2016 read more »
Niger has approved GoviEx’s mining permit application for the Madaouela 1 tenement area, the company announced today. The approval means that the project is now fully permitted for construction and production.
World Nuclear News 1st Feb 2016 read more »
Cold function tests have been completed at unit 1 of the Taishan nuclear power plant in China’s Guangdong province. The unit is expected to start up later this year and will be the first EPR reactor to begin operating. The tests were completed at 11.30pm on 27 January, China General Nuclear (CGN) announced the following day. The company said the milestone marks “the world’s first cold test to be completed on the EPR nuclear power plant”. Cold performance tests include the initial start-up of fluid systems and support systems. The objective of this stage is to obtain initial operational data on equipment, ensure compatibility of operation with interfacing systems and verify the functional performance of these systems. China’s National Nuclear Safety Administration carried out on-site inspections and evaluations at Taishan 1 between 21 and 24 December, and issued a permit on 29 December for the cold function tests to be conducted. The tests began the following day. Taishan 1 has been under construction since 2009 and is expected to start up in early 2017, while Taishan 2 is scheduled to begin operating later that year.
World Nuclear News 1st Feb 2016 read more »
French diplomats met with Ukrainian parliamentarians last week to discuss increased cooperation between the two countries in nuclear energy. Ukrainian nuclear power plant operator Energoatom announced on 29 January that a meeting with the parliamentary Committee on the Fuel and Energy Complex, Nuclear Policy and Nuclear Safety had been held the previous day on the initiative of the French embassy in Kiev.
World Nuclear News 1st Feb 2016 read more »
Upcoming anniversaries of the Fukushima and Chernobyl disasters should focus minds as countries roll out plans for new nuclear power. As the economic case for new nuclear power has become increasingly flimsy, the ever-present safety concerns related to the sector were articulated last week in chilling detail by Nato Kan, Japan’s Prime Minister at the time of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster. Speaking to a gathering of UK MPs and the general public at the Houses of Parliament, Kan retold the sequence of events that led to the meltdown of one of Japan’s biggest nuclear power stations after a huge earthquake and Tsunami disabled its cooling systems. In addition to the heroic work of emergency workers and nuclear engineers, Kan said “lots of lucky coincidences” helped prevent one or more reactors exploding, an outcome that could have forced the evacuation of an estimated 50 million people in densely-populated Japan, including residents of greater Tokyo. In this worst case scenario, lethal levels of radioactive material would have been blasted over a wide radius, rendering large swaths of the country uninhabitable.
China Dialogue 1st Feb 2016 read more »
Germany – radwaste
Gorleben, in the state Lower Saxony, has been a hub of Germany’s anti-nuclear movement for decades. A movement which helped bring about the decision to phase out nuclear power altogether. The German decision to have the last nuclear power plant shut down by 2022 was a victory for those who say: “Atomkraft? Nein danke.” But the phase-out does not solve the problem that may haunt Germany much longer beyond that date. It is the question that Europe’s other nuclear nations also face: what to do with the nuclear waste? More than 40 years ago, the former salt mine in Gorleben was selected as the place to store nuclear waste permanently, without much dialogue with the locals. Gorleben, a municipality of around 600 souls, was near the West German border with what was then the communist German Democratic Republic (GDR). “Gorleben was not chosen because there were scientific reasons for saying this was the best option,” said Michael Mueller, chair of a recently appointed commission in charge of formulating criteria for finding a nuclear waste storage site. “It was chosen because at the time it was basically the poorest district in all of Germany. It was located close to the border with GDR, so not much opposition was expected.” But that was a grave miscalculation.
EU Observer 1st Feb 2016 read more »
Germany’s environment minister wanted answers from the Belgian government regarding the safety of its nuclear reactors. But her visit shows that beyond voicing concerns, Germany has little influence on the matter. The list of Germany’s questions over security at Belgium’s seven nuclear reactors has received no immediate answers after environment minister Barbara Hendrick’s visit to Brussels.
Deutsche Welle 1st Feb 2016 read more »
North Korea’s recent nuclear test shows a ratification of an international ban on nuclear bomb tests is more urgent than ever, the head of the Vienna-based organisation tasked with enforcing the ban said on Monday. Negotiated in the 1990s, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) enjoys wide global support but must be ratified by eight more nuclear technology states – among them Israel, Iran, Egypt and the United States – to come into force.
Reuters 1st Feb 2016 read more »
Renewables – Cumbria
A CONTROVERSIAL proposed 24-hectare solar farm near Bigrigg has more supporters than opponents, say developers. Castillium, had its plans turned down by Copeland Council in September with opposition from nearby residents and councillors. But the firm has appealed the decision. Director, Alistair Fell, said there is a petition from over 100 residents showing their support for the farm – which he says outnumbers those opposed. He also said the farm could bring in a community benefit fund of £10,000. He said: “Following feedback from our two public exhibitions we reduced the size of the proposals by more than half, and worked with Egremont Town Council to make sure that the farm can’t be seen from houses in Bigrigg or from Woodend.”
Whitehaven News 21st Jan 2016 read more »
Renewables – arms conversion
AN organisation that opposes the arms trade is calling for £200 million of government investment to make the west of Scotland a global leader in marine power and to fund this new policy by fewer sales of weaponry. A new report by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) argues that boosting green industries in the Clyde could be funded by stricter controls on arms exports and could create more than 5,000 jobs. CAAT’s study, which claims to be a blueprint for a greener Scotland – seen by The National and published today by investigative website The Ferret – is called Arms Industry in The Clyde and Renewable Energy Options. It says that £200m of joint funding by the Scottish and UK Governments would equate to roughly half the cost of just one of the Type 26 Frigates built on t he Clyde. CAAT argues that 5,300 jobs could be created by 2020 which could offset any job losses that would come from fewer arms exports to regimes with poor human rights records. The report says that the west coast of Scotland is the best site for wave technology in the UK and there are also tidal range options in the region. According to CAAT, many companies producing arms in the Clyde already make, or have the potential to make, vital parts for developing the wave power industry.
The National 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
Germany has overtaken the UK in the rate at which it is installing wind turbines at sea, industry figures show. Globally, wind installations grew by 25% in 2014, reaching a landmark 62,000 MW of capacity, according to a separate report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). More than 3,000 megawatts (MW) of offshore wind power was connected to the European grid last year – twice as much as in 2014 – with the vast majority coming from Germany. While Britain connected 556MW of offshore energy and the Netherlands 180MW, Germany added a massive 2,282MW. The UK still has the most installed offshore wind power in Europe, at 5,061MW to Germany’s total of 3,295MW. A spokesman for the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), which published the figures, said that the UK had attracted more investment than Germany last year, but installed less capacity, as Germany cleared a backlog that had built up in 2014.
Guardian 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
Renewables – tidal
The development of tidal lagoon schemes has received a boost with a commitment of millions of pounds to the technology in the UK and India. The investment by the Gupta family, thought to be around £10m, will give it a substantial stake in Tidal Lagoon Plc, a holding company set up to finance the development of full-scale tidal lagoons to generate clean power in the UK and abroad. It comes as Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd, which set up Tidal Lagoon Plc, awaits a government decision on subsidies for the world’s first lagoon project in Swansea Bay, a proof-of-concept scheme to harness renewable energy from the power of the tides. Last month, the prime minister, David Cameron, said his enthusiasm for tidal lagoon technology was “reduced” by the costs. But Tidal Lagoon Power argues the first project in Swansea Bay would open the way for five other schemes around the coast, with lower costs due to economies of scale, that could meet 8% of the UK’s electricity demand for 120 years. Proposed schemes at Cardiff and Newport would provide around 4GW of power capacity and generate £10bn of capital investment, the company said.
Guardian 1st Feb 2016 read more »
Business Green 1st Feb 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
The government will go head-to-head with two UK solar firms in the Appeal Court today, battling claims it acted unlawfully in its 2014 decision to close the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme – the main subsidy scheme for large-scale solar and wind projects – two years’ early.
Business Green 1st Feb 2016 read more »
Bringing the UK’s ageing homes into the 21st century should be a key infrastructure priority, ministers have been told. The government is consulting on a multi-billion pound plan for roads, rail, flood defences and energy. But opposition parties and institutions have told BBC News that home energy efficiency is equally important. Unless homes are insulated, they say the UK will miss targets to end fuel poverty and cut carbon emissions. The plan to make home energy efficiency a key infrastructure priority was proposed by the right-leaning think-tank Policy Exchange (PX). BBC News found wide support, including from Labour, Lib Dems, SNP, Plaid Cymru, the CBI, TUC, the union GMB, the left-leaning think-tank IPPR, the all-party parliamentary group Green Alliance, the World Energy Council, the Institution of Civil Engineering and leading energy academics. The government declined to comment but its advisory body the National Infrastructure Commission said it would consider whether to take the idea further. PX argues that improving home efficiency creates many jobs; combats fuel poverty; reduces air pollution; minimises carbon emissions; cuts fuel imports; benefits the balance of payments; and reduces the need to build new power stations.
BBC 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
Warmer Homes presents a character profile of the 2.3 million households in England living in fuel poverty. It finds that over 1 million households who cannot afford to heat their home to a comfortable level are in work, while also revealing that the households living in the least energy efficient properties would have to spend as much as £1,700 extra a year to heat their home to a suitable temperature. It suggests that fuel poverty is a complex problem affecting a broad cross section of people – from low income working households to pensioners.
Policy Exchange 9th Jan 2016 read more »
Salford Royal Hospital in Greater Manchester is expected to slash £1.9m from its annual energy bill thanks to a new efficiency programme part-funded by the Green Investment Bank (GIB). As part of the upgrade, the energy centre at Salford Royal will undergo a full refresh, including the installation of a new 2.5MW Combined Heat and Power (CHP) engine. A series of energy reduction measures will also be installed such as LED lighting and the optimisation of the building management system.
Edie 1st Feb 2016 read more »
Innovate UK has brushed aside ongoing fears around using electric and plug-in vehicles as an energy storage facility, insisting they present a “car park of energy storage” for UK network companies after 2025. Innovate UK’s lead technologist for energy systems Mark Thompson said at a recent storage event that fears that using EV batteries for grid support will rapidly degrade the batteries are unfounded. Innovation projects already undertaken into EV charging reveal the batteries will be accessible to the grid 95 per cent of the time, he added.
Utility Week 1st Feb 2016 read more »
A leaked letter from Cabinet ministers to Chancellor George Osborne has revealed government proposals to take planning decisions for fracking wells away from local councils in a bid to kick-start the development of the industry in the UK. The 10-page plan, which was leaked to Friends of the Earth and first published in The Telegraph this weekend, proposes that commercial shale production be classified as Nationally Significant Infrastructure from as early as this year. This would take planning applications for exploration wells out of the hands of councils, transferring the responsibility to the Planning Inspectorate – the government body responsible for examining planning applications of national importance.
Business Green 1st Feb 2016 read more »