Allan Jeffery: As the Hinkley Point C construction site has been mothballed, and put into a state of care and maintenance, until a final investment decision is made, is this the beginning of the end for this disastrous project? Whether this Hinkley project goes ahead, or not, is not in the hands of local MP, Ian Liddle Grainger, nor local Somerset councillors or even the British and French governments. The deciding factor will be if anybody is crazy enough to invest the vast sums of money required to build what is probably the most expensive building project in the world. Areva, the state-owned nuclear company, was originally going to supply 10% of the costs but is now in dire financial straits. EDF, the main French state owned nuclear company was supposed to be investing between 30/40 % of the Hinkley costs, but now has to absorb the debts of Areva, and is not in a strong financial position.So who will invest the other 2/3 of the investment, China? Will the Chinese take on a massive risky investment in a reactor that the rest of the world does not want? Should we allow China to play major part in our nuclear industry?
Western Morning News 2nd Sept 2015 read more »
A reactor and generation turbine have been shut down for planned maintenance at Dungeness B nuclear power station. The station, which is located on the Dungeness headland in the south east of Kent, closed its unit 22 at 19.00 yesterday, EDF Energy said. Earlier this year EDF Energy announced the power station’s life extension to generate electricity until at least 2028.
Energy Live News 1st Sept 2015 read more »
As Japan restarts its nuclear power industry four years after the Fukushima disaster, have we learned to make peace with the technology? Japan’s nuclear plants had been switched off after the meltdown at the Fukushima plant in March 2011 caused by a tsunami following an earthquake. More than 100,000 people were evacuated from the surrounding area. This switch-back-on will be the first of many. But, after one of the most shocking incidents in nuclear power’s history, four experts talk to the BBC World Service Inquiry programme about whether we can continue to live with the technology. Steve Kidd: “I believe nuclear does have an important part to play in energy in the 21st century, but I’ve become increasingly pessimistic about its ability to take on that role that’s been left open for it. “That’s because of what I describe as the paradigm of fear. The whole history of nuclear power since 1945 has been dominated by a fear factor. It is scary, dangerous, and ought to be treated with a great degree of caution. This fear factor is heavily influencing the economics so that the plants have become extremely expensive to build.
BBC 2nd Sept 2015 read more »
Women in Nuclear (WiN) has leant its support to a civil society campaign for nuclear energy to be recognised as a low-carbon option for fighting climate change. At the organisation’s global annual conference in Vienna last week, WiN president and vice president, Se-Moon Park and Dominique Moillot, put their names to a declaration asserting that every country should have access to the widest possible portfolio of low-carbon technologies – including nuclear power – in order to reduce emissions and meet energy goals.
World Nuclear News 1st Sept 2015 read more »
The commitment of the Big Six energy companies to tackling climate change has been called into question after it emerged that they have all quietly dropped their green electricity tariffs. A day after The Independent revealed that British Gas and SSE use more coal to produce electricity now than they did ten years ago, it can now be disclosed that not a single one of Britain’s biggest suppliers – which together provide 90 per cent of UK household power – offers a renewable energy tariff. The is despite the major suppliers making public commitments to tackle climate change by reducing carbon emissions. Will Hodson of consumer collective The Big Deal, which on Monday launched The Clean Energy Switch – a drive to persuade consumers to switch energy suppliers providing zero-carbon electricity with campaigning group 38 Degrees – said: “The Big Six’s abandonment of their green tariffs is an appalling abdication of responsibility. “Profits are what matter to these companies, not people, and certainly not the planet. With climate change looming, this approach is completely unacceptable.” Dr Doug Parr, Greenpeace Policy Director, said: “The big utilities talk a good game on green credentials but when the going gets even a little bit tough, they drop their green tariffs and revert to type.”
Independent 1st Sept 2015 read more »
The costs of nuclear energy “remain in line” with the costs of other baseload technologies, says a report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD/NEA). The report, ‘Projected Costs of Generating Electricity’, estimates that the average levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) for a nuclear station is comparable to that for coal and lower than that of a natural gas-fired power station. LCOE is the long-term price at which the electricity produced by a nuclear station will have to be sold at for the investor to cover all their costs. The report’s estimate assumes a seven percent discount rate. The discount rate refers to the expected rate of return foregone by bypassing other potential investments. In other words, it is the rate of return investors could potentially earn in financial markets.
NucNet 31st Aug 2015 read more »
World Nuclear News 1st Sept 2015 read more »
General Electric is likely to win EU approval in the coming days for its $14bn deal to buy Alstom’s energy assets, according to people close to the deal who stress that the US conglomerate has offered significant remedies. GE’s partial takeover of France’s Alstom has been one of the most closely watched industrial deals in Europe after the European Commission raised concerns that it would damage competition in the market for massive turbines used to generate electricity from gas-fired power stations. If Brussels does unexpectedly block the deal before a September 11 deadline, it will revive memories of GE’s failed $42bn deal to buy Honeywell in 2001, when American executives were stunned that EU competition authorities had such wide-reaching powers to scupper a US transaction. A second veto against GE from Brussels this week or next could also p rove politically explosive on both sides of the Atlantic. After weathering a storm about a US company buying large chunks of a French industrial champion, the government of President Francois Hollande is now investing diplomatic capital in ensuring the deal goes ahead to keep jobs in France.
FT 1st Sept 2015 read more »
South Africa’s energy minister pledged transparency in the country’s efforts to seek a nuclear agreement on Tuesday, seeking to reassure opposition parties who have accused the government of favoring a deal with Russia. South Africa, struggling with an electricity crunch that has caused frequent power cuts and threatens economic growth, said in May it will procure a nuclear fleet to generate 9,600 megawatts of power by 2030. Analysts estimate the project will cost as much as $100 billion, making it the country’s biggest ever infrastructure project. But there has been mounting concern among opposition parties about the cost and that agreements to build the nuclear plants will be made behind closed doors, without the necessary public scrutiny.
Reuters 1st Sept 2015 read more »
South Africa’s future energy mix could include an even higher share for nuclear power than the 9,600 megawatts (MW) already planned, the Business Day newspaper reported on Tuesday, citing an interview with a government official. It said a new version of South Africa’s integrated resources plan, which projects its electricity requirements and suggests the energy generation mix needed, will be released in March.
Reuters 2nd Sept 2015 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) Fukushima report, released Monday, downplays the ongoing environmental and health effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. According to Greenpeace Japan, the report plays into the Abe government’s agenda to normalise the ongoing nuclear disaster. “The IAEA concludes that no discernible health consequences are expected as a result of the Fukushima disaster, but admits important uncertainties in both radiation dose and long-term effects. Nobody knows how much radiation citizens were exposed to in the immediate days following the disaster. If you don’t know the doses, then you can’t conclude there won’t be any consequences. To say otherwise is political rhetoric, not science,” said Kendra Ulrich, senior global energy campaigner with Greenpeace Japan. “Even the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP) has concluded that there is no safe level of radiation exposure. To intentionally subject nuclear victims to raised radiation levels is unjustified, particularly when we have the tragic reminder of Chernobyl where we saw increased rates of cancers more than five years after the crisis.” “The IAEA report actively supports the Abe government’s and the global nuclear industry’s agenda to make it appear that things can return to normal after a nuclear disaster. But there is nothing normal about the lifestyle and exposure rates that the victims are being asked to return to. What is clear is that the Japanese government has utterly failed to learn the lessons of the Fukushima nuclear accident, as is shown by the NRA ignoring outstanding safety issues in order to allow the restart of the Sendai nuclear reactor” said Ulrich, in reference to page 3 of the IAEA report.
Greenpeace 1st Sept 2015 read more »
The number of Japanese nuclear reactors likely to restart in the next few years has halved, hit by legal challenges and worries about meeting tougher safety standards imposed in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, a Reuters analysis shows. The country has been inching back to nuclear energy, turning on its first reactor in mid-August after a two-year blackout, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and many in industry looking to cut fuel bills despite widespread public opposition to atomic power. But the analysis shows that of the other 42 operable reactors remaining in the country, just seven are likely to be turned on in the next few years, down from the 14 predicted in a similar survey last year.
Yahoo News 31st Aug 2015 read more »
The former chief executive of Brazil’s nuclear power company was formally charged on Tuesday with accepting bribes in a corruption scheme to loot federal utility Eletrobras by the same kind of overbilling and bribery that occurred at state-run oil company Petrobras. Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva, the former CEO, took bribes totaling 4.5 million reais ($1.22 million) from construction and engineering firms Andrade Gutierrez and Engevix, according to charges presented by prosecutors and published in a court document.
Reuters 1st Sept 2015 read more »
George Osborne’s carefully-timed announcement that the government will spend £500m more on the Trident nuclear missile submarine base at Faslane in Scotland – on top of the £3bn already spent on replacing the existing Trident fleet – appears designed to pre-empt a parliamentary vote and close down a much-needed debate. It was, as Osborne made clear on Monday, a politically-motivated announcement, whatever defence officials may say about the need to spend early on such long-lead items as components for nuclear missile submarines.
Guardian 1st Sept 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
British Gas has helped Barnsley Council launch a £16 million solar scheme which will see panels installed on 5,000 council houses and council-owned buildings. Local residents will be able to invest in the scheme through a community share offer, which is expected to give an annual return of 5 per cent. Ignite, a social investment fund, has committed £2 million to Energise Barnsley in support of the community share offer. The £16 million capital costs will be met by project partners – Berneslai Homes, British Gas and Generation Community – and any surplus income the project generates be used to support community projects in the local area.
Utility Week 1st Sept 2015 read more »
Renewables – AD
Green energy company Ecotricity has announced plans to develop its third green gas mill. The new mill, set to be built in Somerset, will join two already planned for Gloucestershire and Hampshire as it looks to take advantage of what founder Dale Vince is calling a “revolution in gas.” A fourth mill is expected to be announced before the end of the year. Green gas mills use anaerobic digestion to turn grass into biomethane which is fed directly into the gas grid. The new mill will generate 27,000 MWh, enough gas to power 2,500 homes. Grass used to power the mill will be sourced from within ten miles of the plant from non-food producing land. Ecotricity announced the rollout of its new green gas plants as an alternative to fracking in April. The firm estimates that 95 per cent of UK domestic and commercial gas needs could theoretically be met by gas produced in this way.
Utility Week 28th Aug 2015 read more »
The cost of generating electricity from renewable resources such as solar and wind has more than halved in the last five years according to the International Energy Association. The group’s new report, entitled ‘Projected Costs of Generating Electricity: 2015 Edition’, suggested that the median cost of producing baseload power from solar power, fell from around $500/Mwh to $200/Mwh over five years. Likewise, the cost of onshore wind fell to around $100/Mwh.
Edie 1st Sept 2015 read more »
The government’s own impact assessment has fuelled fears the feed-in tariff could be blocked to new entrants in 2018, but industry insiders reckon a fresh solar boom means it could be closed within months. “The more you look into this proposal the worse it gets,” reflects one solar industry source, fresh from trawling through the government impact assessment that last week accompanied its proposals to cap funding for the popular feed-in tariff scheme and slash incentives by up to 87 per cent. The consultation makes clear that “if cost control measures are not implemented or effective in ensuring that expenditure under the scheme is affordable and sustainable, government proposes that the only alternative would be to end generation tariffs for new applicants as soon as legislatively possible, which we expect to be January 2016”. Asked if they expected the scheme to last until January, one industry source simply replied: “no”. Another was fractionally more optimistic, suggesting a vastly diminished FiT scheme may stumble on into next year. “It may make it past next January,” they said. “But there is no way it will continue until 2018.”
Business Green 1st Sept 2015 read more »
With centralised fossil-fuel and nuclear generation both undesirable and increasingly unviable, the answer is to make our energy local, distributed and renewable, writes Chris Wright. But to complete the picture we need battery systems for backup, stability and efficiency. And one could be coming your way soon. As the proportion of our energy that comes from renewables rises, however, it presents challenges to this system. Wind and solar power are not predictable and controllable in the same way. It need hardly be pointed out to the British reader that the sun does not shine. But even here, the wind does not always blow, either. There are two major ways in which this problem can be solved. The first (and this is largely how things are done at the moment) is to have a significant proportion of fossil-fuel generators on standby to provide power if it is needed. This is hugely expensive, both in terms of the capital that could be used to invest in more renewable generation, and the environment, as the power plants use energy to act as a ‘spinning reserve’. The second, more intriguing solution is energy storage. That could include all sorts of things, for example pumped storage hydro power. But especially intersting just now are batteries, an area of rapid technological development – and grid-linked battery systems in particular. The future of energy is local. Distributed energy-storage systems like Tesla’s Powerwall or Moixa’s Maslow will enable a new paradigm for how energy can be generated, distributed and used – one which takes control away from the big six fossil fuel energy companies and gives it to the homes and businesses who use and generate the energy.
Ecologist 24th Aug 2015 read more »