Chancellor George Osborne says he believes the French government, which owns the energy firm EDF, is committed to building a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. He was responding to MPs’ questions after reports that the project, on the Somerset coast, could be further delayed due to financial and technical concerns. On Monday the Financial Times reported that the final approval for the long-awaited Hinkley Point nuclear reactor in Somerset could be delayed by up to a year. The French energy firm EDF has yet to make a final announcement on whether it will go ahead with the £18billion project, despite securing investment from China last year. The decision could now be made in 2017, with reports that EDF are looking for more investors to help take on the debt.
ITV News 1st March 2016 read more »
Burham-on-sea.com 2nd Mar 2016 read more »
A FRENCH union – which has two seats on the board of EDF – has called for a decision over the development of Hinkley Point C to be delayed until 2019, saying the scheme is “too risky”. The CFE-CGC Energy Union, which occupies two of six union seats on the board, said investment in the Somerset plant should be held until problems with a similar reactor design in France are solved.
Somerset County Gazette 1st Mar 2016 read more »
The news that there is to be a further delay to the long-promised Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset should come as no surprise to those who have followed the saga over the last eight years. As the FT report on Monday confirmed, the board of EDF wishes to delay the project for another year . That could easily turn into two years or three or more because it depends on the resolution of the deep problems at Flamanville in France, where a similar reactor is being built, and on the company’s financial health, which is fragile. The EDF board is right to seek a delay. It is the only rational decision for EDF as a company and in reality for the UK. Whatever the embarrassment involved it is impossible to proceed with a project where the risks and ultimate costs are unknown. The resistance to the project from managers and staff within EDF is very telling. The UK government must accept that Hinkley will not be built for the foreseeable future. But what comes next? There should be no panic reaction. This is not the moment to write off nuclear, or to rush into even more expensive solutions. The important thing is to step back and learn the lessons of what has gone wrong and put together a rather different future. That applies to the UK government as it comes up with a new energy policy but also to EDF, which needs to reinvent itself and rebuild its once strong reputation for technical excellence. There should be a full and open inquiry into the process of negotiation which left British consumers with the prospect of paying ridiculously high prices for a technology that has never worked. The report must expose the reasons for the increase in costs above the early promises made in 2008 and 2009. The problems of Hinkley give both the UK government (and in a very different way EDF) the chance to start again and to design a more rational policy in which the choices are made openly rathe r than in secret. That is a lot to hope for, but it is not impossible.
FT 1st Mar 2016 read more »
Only the most wild-eyed optimist would be reassured by EDF’s claim that construction of the new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point “is on the horizon for 2019”. After all, less than a decade ago the company assured us that the same plant would be generating electricity by next year. Now we learn finance is still not in place to begin building work in three years’ time.But as City A.M. recognised, the real culprit of this sorry story of wishful thinking and delay is not so much the companies involved as successive governments who have failed to take the decisions needed for the country’s long-term future. And it is not just over nuclear energy that politicians have ignored the national interest.
City AM 2nd Mar 2016 read more »
Sellafield Ltd achieves the “most significant stride ever” in their clean-up mission. The entire bulk stocks of historic nuclear fuel are now removed from one of the site’s oldest ponds. The milestone came after decommissioning teams lifted the final skip of ‘metal fuel’ from the Pile Fuel Storage Pond via a remote-controlled process. Retrieval of the pond’s ‘canned fuel’ inventory was successfully completed in October 2015. The work means radioactivity levels at the 68-year-old spent fuel pond have now been cut by 70 per cent, vastly reducing the risk it poses to people and environment. The achievment is the most visible sign yet of progress in the NDA’s programme to clean-up the legacy of Britain’s early nuclear industry, which is set to continue for at least another 100 years. The removed fuel has been transferred to a modern storage building at Sellafield where it can be held in a far safer environment.
NDA 1st March 2016 read more »
Energy Live News 1st March 2016 read more »
Today a series of changes have been set out that will guarantee our long-term energy security. These changes will tackle the legacy of underinvestment and deliver an energy infrastructure fit for the 21st century, the Energy Secretary Amber Rudd has announced. Following a detailed review, a package of reforms to the Capacity Market has been unveiled. They will improve the system used to secure reliable sources of electricity capacity, tackle decades of underinvestment and safeguard the future security of our energy supply for generations to come.
DECC 1st March 2016 read more »
Ministers have been forced to reassure consumers and business that the latest changes to the government’s flagship energy market reforms will deal with any supply problems, illustrating how desperate matters have become. Even if blackouts are unlikely, the UK’s energy sector is in disarray. There’s the closure of power stations with contracts to generate energy. The failure to build new gas-fired plants. The extension of the life of existing nuclear power plants, and doubts over plans for two new reactors. The tumbling oil price which has triggered thousands of job losses. The damages inflicted on the renewable energy sector by abrupt policy reversals. Some of these problems are economic in origin, such as shutting old coal-fired power stations which no longer make a profit, and the failure to build gas-fired power stations when the use of gas as stand-by generation makes its economics tricky. They are also in part created by government policy, however. No part of the energy system is unscathed. And these ructions follow on years of mis-selling scandals and alarm at profit-taking by the “ big six”, which have shaken consumer confidence.
Guardian 1st Mar 2016 read more »
The government has today launched its long-awaited consultation on reforms to the UK’s capacity market, detailing plans to launch the scheme a year earlier than expected. The capacity market offers subsidy payments to power plants that can guarantee the provision of back up capacity over the winter period, in a bid to ensure sufficient capacity remains available as ageing coal and nuclear plants are taken offline and the grid becomes increasingly reliant on variable renewable power supplies.
Business Green 1st March 2016 read more »
Households face paying hundreds of millions of pounds in extra levies on their energy bills, under new plans to ensure Britain has enough power plants to keep the lights on. Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, unveiled plans to overhaul a crucial subsidy scheme that is designed to maintain secure electricity supplies, amid fears it was failing and could leave the UK at risk of blackouts. The “capacity market” scheme is already due to run in winter 2018-19 and 2019-20, when energy firms will be paid almost £1 billion in subsidies each year to guarantee their coal, gas and nuclear power plants will be running. The payments will be funded through levies on energy bills, adding about £10 a year to a typical household electricity bill. The changes unveiled on Tuesday are expected to result in significantly higher subsidies being paid to a greater number of power plants in future years. Analysts say the cost of the scheme could rise by at least 50 per cent and even double – potentially increasing the levy on household bills to £15 or £20 a year.
Telegraph 1st March 2016 read more »
British Energy Minister Amber Rudd has signalled a ‘semi-U-turn’ in energy policy to improve security of supply and to ensure the lights stay on. She said the changes will tackle the’ legacy of under-investment and deliver an energy infrastructure fit for the 21st century.”
Following a detailed review, a package of reforms to the Capacity Market has been unveiled. They will improve the system used to secure reliable sources of electricity capacity, tackle decades of underinvestment and safeguard the future security of our energy supply for generations to come. The reforms set out Govt. plans to buy more electricity capacity and buy it earlier – encouraging more investment in the UK energy system. This will mean new energy infrastructure can be built, in particular new gas fired power stations, safeguarding energy supply and avoiding spikes in energy costs. A review by Rudd’s Department (DECC) conclude that to improve energy margins, get the investment needed in Brtish energy infrastructure and encourage new plant, including new gas, concluded that more capacity should be procured. The exact amount will be determined in due course and procured each year on the basis of a recommendation from National Grid. Rudd added: “We have launched a new consultation that will look at bringing forward the Capacity Market by one year. Under these plans an early Capacity Auction would take place in January 2017 for delivery in winter 2017/18. The consultation also includes details on tougher penalties for companies that fail to deliver their Capacity Market contracts” This consultation will close on 1 April 2016.
Scottish Energy News 2nd March 2016 read more »
Imagine if the government had flipped things round and confirmed its carbon targets for the late 2020s before then reforming the capacity market and clean energy subsidies. The government’s long-awaited capacity market reform proposals are, on balance, good news. Perennial scare-mongering newspaper stories about blackouts may have been wide of the mark for years now, but supply margins have been getting steadily tighter and the government’s deliberate deceleration of quick-to-build renewable energy capacity coupled with its ongoing failure to deliver new nuclear plants means a supply crunch now looks more likely than at any point in the past few decades. If you think certain media outlets and the right wing of the Conservative Party have given the wind and solar sector a rough ride to date imagine the outcry if they were able, however erroneously, to blame renewables for actual blackouts. However, if the proposed capacity market reforms are a step in the right direction they are also yet another victim of the confusion and uncertainty that has been unleashed by the government’s ongoing failure to deliver a truly coherent clean energy strategy. The government’s supposedly cost-effective decarbonisation strategy continues to resemble a game of three dimensional whack-a-mole, with each individual policy action leading to unexpected knock-on impacts at indeterminate points in the future. The capacity market reforms are no exception, once again sparking more questions than they offer answers.
Business Green 1st March 2016 read more »
Plans to keep the lights on without relying on dirty diesel generation were announced by the government yesterday as it brought forward payments to energy companies for committing to supply power. The energy department said that changes to the system would encourage the development of new gas-fired power plants, the lack of which has been one of the key criticisms of the capacity market auction introduced in January last year.
Times 2nd Mar 2016 read more »
FT 1st Mar 2016 read more »
Energy Policy – Scotland
The next Scottish Government would be wise to spark investment into the renewables sector, as a new YouGov survey reveals overwhelming public support for the continued development of clean energy over fossil fuels and nuclear. With the Scottish public heading to the polls on 5 May, a survey of more than 1,000 respondents were polled by Scottish Renewables. The results revealed that 70% want more renewable sources such as wind, solar, wave and tidal to be supplemented with a strong policy environment. Scottish Renewables chief executive Niall Stuart said: “The poll suggests that the people of Scotland continue to be strongly behind the growth of renewable energy, with support for the sector way ahead of any other. Just months after the Paris climate change agreement, the poll also shows clear support for Scotland’s next government to prioritise policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”
Edie 2nd March 2016 read more »
Utility Week 1st March 2016 read more »
Holyrood 1st March 2016 read more »
Scotsman 2nd Mar 2016 read more »
Scotland still needs a huge “acceleration” of investment in and adoption of renewable energy to help it to hit climate change targets by 2030, according to environmentalists. Sam Gardner, head of policy at WWF Scotland, told delegates at the Scottish Renewables annual conference in Edinburgh yesterday that about 45 per cent of energy needs would have to come from renewable sources by 2030. At present it is 13 per cent and Mr Gardner said that a “business as usual” approach to investment and projects would enable that to reach only about 30 per cent by 2030. He said: “Huge acceleration is needed to hit the targets. It needs direction, vision, leadership and support.” He added that the Holyrood elections provided an opportunity for political parties to lay out a clearer path for Scotland to meet its carbon reduction and renewable generation targets. Mr Gardner said that WWF Scotland was eager to find ways to reduce the risk and cost of district heating schemes, which can distribute heat to homes from a central source and could help to minimise the need for imported electricity. This year Scottish Renewables called for a target to produce at least 50 per cent of all energy use in Scotland from renewable sources by 2030. Barbara Vest, the director of generation at Energy UK, said that a mix of technologies would be needed to meet future demands. However, she said that demand for electricity was not likely to rise as sharply as expected because of the proliferation of locally generating technologies, such as wind turbines and solar panels. “That hockey stick [upturn] will not happen in the short term,” she said.
Times 2nd March 2016 read more »
Electricity supply across England, Wales and Scotland has long been a single regulated market controlled from Westminster. Even in its independence manifesto in 2014, the SNP argued that, were Scotland to become a sovereign state, “the current market trading arrangements for electricity and gas will continue, with the aim of maintaining a competitive market for energy throughout these islands”. Yet long before that continuity p ledge was made, the devolved Scottish government was actively developing grandiose plans for energy domination in the UK. By 2020, Scotland, spurred by its endowment of wind, wave and tidal resources, would be generating twice as much electricity as it needed, at least half of it from renewable sources. Whatever surplus electricity Scotland generated, it would export, at a handsome profit, to England and the wider European Union. We would become, Alex Salmond claimed, “the Saudi Arabia of renewables”. That claim conveniently air-brushed the bigger reality that electricity accounts for only about a fifth of Scotland’s total energy consumption. Another three fifths goes on space heating and the final fifth on transport, both dominated by burning hydrocarbons. The one generator likely to exceed the targets is nuclear, with Scotland’s two remaining stations granted life extensions until 2023 and 2030, respectively. The SNP has been hostile to civil nuclear power, but, with the coal-fired Longannet station no longer a player, it has learnt to accept even small nuclear mercies. Otherwise, far from exporting vast quantities of electricity to England and beyond, without nuclear Scotland would be importing more and more to keep the lights on. Alf Young is a visiting professor at the University of Strathclyde.
Times 2nd Mar 2016 read more »
Critical analysis of UNSCEAR report on Fukushima by IPPNW.
Nuclear Hotseat 2nd March 2016 read more »
Trial in Japan will delve into ‘the hidden truths’ of the Fukushima nuclear meltdown.
LA Times 1st March 2016 read more »
Fukushima five years on: Haunting images show how region devastated by tsunami and subsequent nuclear disaster is still slowly recovering
Daily Mail 1st March 2016 read more »
As the fifth anniversary of the onset of the continuing Fukushima nuclear disaster approaches, Mary Olson, director of NIRS Southeast office in Asheville, NC and Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates are on a five-week speaking/listening tour of Japan. We will be posting Olson’s “tour diary” beginning today and continuing with new posts through March 11, the day the disaster began. In 2011, in the week that this nuclear disaster began, I became consumed by a question that women (3 or 4 of them at various public speaking events) had asked me: is radiation more harmful to women? I found the answer: yes, gender is a risk factor! It is highly significant (100% difference) in young children, birth to five years where exposure results in cancer, at some point in life, twice as often in girls exposed to ionizing radiation compared to boys exposed in the same age group and radiation level.
Green World 1st March 2016 read more »
Shaun Burnie: Scotland is over 9,000 km from Japan, but there’s something the two countries have in common. Along the Scottish coastline, buried in riverbeds, and mixed into the Irish Sea, you can find significant radioactive contamination coming from the other side of the world. Yes, radioactive contamination. All the way from Japan. Since the 1970s, Sellafield, a nuclear-reprocessing plant in northwest England has been contracted to process high level nuclear waste spent fuel from Japanese reactors. More than 4000 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel was shipped from Japan to Sellafield, including waste from Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the owner of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. As result of reprocessing at Sellafield, more than 8 million litres of low level nuclear waste is discharged into the ocean every day. It’s been labelled the “most hazardous place in Europe” – with levels of contamination in the fields, soils and estuaries at a level that can only be described as a nuclear disaster zone. In fact, the Irish Sea is arguably the most radioactively contaminated sea in the world.
Bella Caledonia 1st March 2016 read more »
Reindeer are perhaps not the first things which spring to mind when you think of nuclear fallout. However, 30 years after the nuclear power plant explosion in Chernobyl, Ukraine, and more than a thousand miles away, the grazing animals are recording high levels of radioactivity.Last September reindeer in Våga reinlag AS, Jotunheimen, had readings of 8,200 becquerel per kilo of radioactive substance Caesium-137, according to Norway’s The Local. Three years earlier reindeer in the same central Norwegian region had readings of 1,500 becquerel, less than a fifth of the concentration.
Independent 1st March 2016 read more »
Nuclear weapons materials have been flown between the UK and the US 23 times in the last five years, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD). Though the MoD doesn’t give details, the flights are believed to have carried tritium, plutonium and enriched uranium, all vital ingredients of Trident warheads. They probably started or ended at the Royal Air Force (RAF) base at Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. The flights have alarmed politicians and campaign groups, who are worried about accidents causing widespread radioactive contamination. The MoD, however, insists that the transports complied with stringent safety rules.
The Ferret 1st March 2016 read more »
Independent 2nd March 2016 read more »
Gizmodo 2nd March 2016 read more »
A group of engineers within the U.S. nuclear power regulator is concerned that a design flaw in nearly all U.S. nuclear plants could endanger emergency core cooling systems. The group has urged the regulator to order power station operators to either fix the problem or face mandatory shutdowns. Seven engineers in late February petitioned the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to order immediate enforcement actions against licensees of U.S. nuclear power plants, in a little-noticed, but public move. The petition, filed under a standard NRC process, urges the agency to respond by March 21. The engineers are concerned that a design flaw in nearly all U.S. nuclear facilities leaves them vulnerable to so-called open phase events in which an unbalanced voltage, such as an electrical short, could cause motors to burn out and reduce the ability of a reactor’s emergency cooling system to function. If the motors are burned out, backup electricity systems would be of little help, the petition said.
Reuters 1st March 2016 read more »
The world’s first 1,400-MW Advanced Pressurized Reactor (APR1400), a South Korean Generation III design, has now been connected to the grid. Nearly eight years since construction kicked off in October 2008—despite years of delays posed by delivery delays and a crippling documentation scandal that required cabling replacements—Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) put Shin Kori 3 (Figure 2) online on January 15. A twin reactor at Shin Kori 4 is expected to start up in 2017.
Power Mag 1st March 2016 read more »
The “base load” mindset is a pretty big and powerful hurdle. Across the world it infests incumbent utilities, the coal and nuclear lobbies, conservative politicians, energy regulators, and many in mainstream media, who are clinging to the concept of “base load generation” as the last resort to try to ridicule wind, solar and other technologies. According to Tim Buckley, from the Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, the idea of “base load” generation as an essential part of the energy mix is becoming redundant, and turning into a myth dreamed up by the fossil fuel industry to protect its interests. “It’s as dangerous as the marketing term of “clean coal” and the idea that coal is “good for humanity”,” Buckley says. The head of UK’s National Grid says that “centralised energy” will soon be a thing of the past. The Australian Energy Market Operator says that the exit of “base load” coal generation in South Australia should not impact reliability or security of supply. Buckley points out that as more renewable energy is deployed, and more storage with it, this will not just bring savings in network costs, it will also bring down the cost of peak power prices. “Electricity demand is variable. It is not fixed. With smart grid technologies what we need is variable sources of supply to accommodate variable sources of demand. “Base load is an archaic term that is no longer commercially relevant. Once that capacity is built – coal-fired generation is the most expensive marginal cost of supply because of the fuel cost, because it has to burn coal to operate. “We believe that with more renewables and storage, peak electricity prices will halve over the next 20 years. Once you build solar and you build storage, the marginal cost of production is zero.”
Renew Economy 2nd March 2016 read more »
100% renewables is possible – here’s how. If our transition to renewable energy is successful, we will achieve savings in the ongoing energy expenditures needed for economic production. We will be rewarded with a quality of life that is acceptable—and, perhaps, preferable to our current one (even though, for most Americans, material consumption will be scaled back from its current unsustainable level). We will have a much more stable climate than would otherwise be the case. And we will see greatly reduced health and environmental impacts from energy production activities.
Eco Watch 28th Feb 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult yesterday officially unveiled its new 7MW demonstration offshore wind turbine at Levenmouth in Scotland, providing businesses, academics, and students with a unique opportunity to help optimise the development of the next generation of giant offshore wind turbines. The government and industry-backed research body said the Levenmouth Demonstration Turbine represented the world’s “most advanced, open access, offshore wind turbine dedicated to research”.
Business Green 1st March 2016 read more »
People buying draughty, poorly-insulated old Victorian houses should have to pay up to £2,500 extra in stamp duty, an influential think-tank has proposed. Higher rates of stamp duty should be levied on anyone buying a house with the worst energy efficiency ratings of E, F or G, encouraging homeowners to upgrade their properties to make them more saleable, Policy Exchange said. More than one million homes – primarily Victorian, pre-war and inter-war properties – are rated ‘F’ or ‘G’ and would attract the highest stamp duty charges under the proposal, which the think tank argues would increase the installation of measures such as double glazing, loft insulation and new boilers. The cost of the upgrades for the owner would be more than offset by savings on their energy bills and the price premium the house would attract due to the lower stamp duty, it suggests. People buying the most efficient properties should also be offered discounts of up to £2,500 on stamp duty, it proposes.
Telegraph 2nd Mar 2016 read more »
Guardian 2nd Mar 2016 read more »
A major programme to make public sector buildings more energy efficient gets underway today. Twelve suppliers have been appointed to a procurement framework to deliver energy efficiency retrofit works and services that will improve the energy performance of the public sector. The suppliers will ensure buildings are fitted with modern, efficient technology that supports the Scottish Government’s ambition on energy demand reduction and tackling climate change. All Scottish public sector organisations, registered social landlords and third sector will be able to access the scheme. The scale of the retrofit opportunity across the Scotland is estimated to be £300 million, with associated savings to public sector energy bills of up to £30m per year.
Scottish Construction Now 1st Mar 2016 read more »