Plans to build a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point near Burnham-On-Sea are likely to gain EU state aid approval within weeks, according to national media reports this week. Reuters also reported sources saying that while the recommendation would be positive, it would come with “a number of conditions”, and that regulators were still awaiting further information from the UK before taking their decision. Stop Hinkley campaigners have attacked this week’s developments. Spokesperson Allan Jeffrey told Burnham-On-Sea.com: “Surely the job of the European Competition Commissioner is to make sure taxpayers’ and electricity consumers’ money is spent on the most cost effective measures to reduce carbon emissions and provide energy security. Hinkley Point C is neither. The most cost effective way to reduce carbon emissions is to use energy more efficiently, but this Government’s energy efficiency programmes have been a disaster. And renewable technologies are being unfairly constrained despite the fact that solar and offshore wind are likely to be cheaper than nuclear by 2023, and could start generating much sooner. Climate Change will be at the top of the global agenda this week-end with Ban Ki Moon’s emergency meeting of world leaders taking place in New York on Sunday. If this deal goes ahead it will be a slap in the face for Ban Ki Moon because our efforts to tackle this urgent problem will be severely constrained.”
Burnham-on-sea.com 19th Sept 2014 read more »
World Nuclear Status
A review of the 66 nuclear reactors ‘under construction’ worldwide shows that 49 are running behind schedule, including all five in the US and most in China. The long and unpredictable build times of nuclear plants, and the extra costs that ensue, are a compelling reason not to depend on the technology for either power or to mitigate climate change.
Ecologist 19th Sept 2014 read more »
Like Scottish voters, the renewable energy industry was largely divided between yes and no. And even though the country rejected independence, power over Scotland’s future energy market remains up for grabs. For now, the wind and marine power industry has welcomed the immediate investor certainty brought by yesterday’s referendum, but change is still afoot. Ben Warren, environmental finance leader at EY UK and Ireland, said the result at least removes doubts about how Scotland would source renewables subsidies. “Scotland now won’t be left to pay the lion’s share of subsidies given that this is where most of renewable energy is generated,” he said. He predicted that the impact of independence could have been the tipping point for an industry that is already trying to get to grips with a major overhaul of the electricity market, overcome the hurdles presented by the new contract for difference (CfD) feed-in tariff regime, and the threat of solar subsidy cuts. Scots trade association Scottish Renewables meanwhile today called for Scotland to be handed additional powers over its energy policy, in the wake of the vote. Scotland’s islands in particular, while rich in wind power resources, have struggled to get the grid connections needed to transmit any energy to the mainland. Friends of the Earth Scotland, which also remained neutral in the referendum, echoed Scottish Renewables’ call, suggesting that Scotland should now seek to take full control of its own energy policy to ensure that it can meet its ambitious renewables targets. “The no vote means the start of a lively debate about what more powers might come to the Scottish Parliament. Something missing from the promises so far is full control of energy policy in Scotland,” said Friends of the Earth Scotland director, Dr Richard Dixon.
Business Green 19th Sept 2014 read more »
Building a greener, fairer Scotland within the UK. Commenting on the No vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum Friends of the Earth Scotland Director, Dr Richard Dixon, said: “We hope that many of the huge numbers of people who have been engaged on both sides of the referendum campaign will continue to take part in the discussion about the type of country we want Scotland to be. The No vote means the start of a lively debate about what more powers might come to the Scottish Parliament. Something missing from the promises so far is full control of energy policy in Scotland. This would greatly help us on the way to 100% renewable energy. Friends of the Earth Scotland will be pressing for this and other measures that would help Scotland become a greener, fairer place. We will continue to hold all our political parties to account for the environmental promises made to the Scottish people. ” Friends of the Earth Scotland was neutral in the Referendum debate and pledged to continue to work to protect the Scottish environment and fight for climate justice irrespective of the outcome. “The Scottish Government should redouble its effort at the UK and EU level to encourage far greater action on climate. The UK Government must play a leading role in producing a just and ambitious international agreement on tackling climate change beginning next week with Ban Ki-Moon summit in New York, including promoting Scotland’s good example on climate and renewable energy targets.” “There has been much said about oil in the last few weeks of the referendum debate but little mention of the most important point, which is that we can’t possibly afford to burn it all. Climate science and justice demands that much of the oil left in the North Sea will have to stay where it is or be used in ways that don’t release the carbon it contains. Scotland needs a mature discussion of what being serious about climate change means for an oil producing country. “Even within its current powers the Scottish Government should seek to challenge the power of the big banks, continue to develop a low carbon, fairer economy which tackles inequality and sets world leading standards for environmental and climate protection” “We are delighted at the reinvigoration of Scottish political discussion and political engagement across a broad section of our community. We hope that these groups and individuals continue to participate fully in political processes both nationally and locally to work towards a fairer, greener Scotland.”
FoE Scotland 19th Sept 2014 read more »
The Westminster parties may have promised some big new powers for the Scottish Parliament, but little appears to be promised to try to close the policy gap between Holyrood and Westminster on renewables and nuclear power. Where are the proposals to give the Scottish Government some influence on how to spend incentives for renewable energy? At the moment, when it comes to financing, Westminster decides everything whatever the Scottish Government thinks. The Westminster parties are planning to spend a lot of money on building nuclear power stations after 2020, and the Conservatives are promising to stop incentives for onshore wind. So where does this leave a Scottish Government which opposes building new nuclear power stations and which wants some ability to make its decisions on what renewables should be supported rather than being dictated to by Westminster based Conservatives? There is a plausible way of solving this problem, several in fact. But one way it could be done is simply to give the Scottish Government a portion of the ‘Levy Control Framework’ (a capped fund for renewables spending set up by the Treasury) to spend as they choose. Then renewables developers could choose whether to use the Westminster incentives (contracts) or the incentive schemes organised by the Scottish Government. If the Tories do cut off the funds for onshore wind then the Scottish Government could fund Scottish schemes instead.
Dave Toke’s Blog 19th Sept 2014 read more »
From North Sea oil giants to wind farm developers, companies across the energy sector have expressed their relief at the “no” vote. Nuclear energy, oil, coal, gas and electricity are all currently matters reserved to the United Kingdom. Independence would have heralded a major period of uncertainty as policies underpinning entire industries faced being redrawn. The “no” campaign warned that an independent Scotland would be saddled with costs and liabilities that are currently shared across the entire UK market, damaging Scottish industry and consumers alike. Therefore, while proposals for further devolution are as yet unclear, Holyrood appears unlikely to be handed complete control of energy matters. However, there are already calls from Scottish renewables groups for Holyrood to have a greater say in determining energy policy, while critics of renewables say Scotland should be forced to pick up more of the costs of its drive for wind farms.
Telegraph 19th Sept 2014 read more »
Malcolm Webb, Chief Executive Officer at British Oil and Gas, talks with Guy Johnson about the Scottish “no” vote on independence and how the outcome impacts the oil industry
Telegraph 19th Sept 2014 read more »
The Energy Department has identified 7,000 steps needed to reopen its badly damaged nuclear waste dump in New Mexico, but cannot say how long it will take or how much it will cost. The agency was expected to release a written recovery plan Thursday, but instead provided a few details about the plan, which awaits formal approval by the department. Outside experts say that the dump will probably not reopen until well after the start of 2016 and that the cost of the accident will approach $1 billion.
LA Times 19th Sept 2014 read more »
A subterranean bacterium could solve the problem of how to dispose of nuclear waste say researchers at the University of Manchester. This is the first time a microbe capable of surviving in the harsh conditions expected in radioactive waste disposal sites has been found. This extremophile was found in an industrial site in the Peak District which suffers from severe contamination with highly alkaline lime kiln wastes.
Laboratory News 19th Sept 2014 read more »
Western states defeated a Russian proposal on Friday to remove Syria’s alleged past nuclear activities from the agenda of meetings of the U.N. atomic agency, diplomats said. But in a vote that highlighted how polarising the global political debate has become, China supported Russia’s initiative while only a minority of the nations on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board – 17 out of 35 – voted against.
Reuters 19th Sept 2014 read more »
Iran is taking further action to comply with the terms of an extended interim agreement with six world powers over its disputed atomic activities, a U.N. nuclear watchdog report obtained by Reuters on Friday showed. The findings in a monthly update by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – though no major surprise – may be seen as positive by the West as negotiations resumed in New York this week on ending the decade-old nuclear stand-off.
Reuters 19th Sept 2014 read more »
Renewables – Marine
We lead the world in marine power as industry takes first steps toward commercialisation, says Lindsay Leask Scotland is renowned around the world as an innovative nation, with an impressive and lengthy list of scientific breakthroughs and inventions credited to its remarkable pioneers, from penicillin to the wind turbine. In the near future, marine energy will almost certainly be added to that list. Scotland is a genuine world leader and has taken significant steps forward in 2014, including the opening of the world’s most sophisticated tidal and wave simulator at the University of Edinburgh. The £10.5 million FloWave tank contains 2.4 million litres of water and allows marine energy developers to carry out large-scale lab tests of devices and components in Scotland, rather than having to go overseas. The European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC), where many of these devices hi t the ocean for the first time, is unchallenged as a global leader in testing wave and tidal technologies, with more marine prototypes connected to the electricity grid than any other single site in the world. There are high hopes for the devices being tested at EMEC, and the industry is taking real strides forward on its journey to commercialisation. Last month’s announcement of a £50 million funding package for the first phase of the MeyGen tidal energy project in the Pentland Firth is proof that we are within touching distance of the world’s first commercial scale tidal array being deployed in Scottish waters. Work is scheduled to begin this year, with the ultimate aim to have 269 turbines submerged on the seabed between Caithness and Orkney, generating enough energy to power the equivalent of 175,000 homes – a significant contribution to our energy needs.
Scotsman 19th Sept 2014 read more »
Renewables – Scotland
Scientific Alliance: What is this other source to be, if not nuclear, says Jack Ponton. The Holyrood parliament does not have formal responsibility for energy policy in Scotland. However, it does have control of general planning. Further, the owners of Scotland’s conventional electricity generation capacity have currently no incentive to expand it. These factors have enabled Holyrood effectively to take control of all new energy developments. This has already resulted in the construction or consent of renewable capacity to meet the more than 96 per cent of the SNP’s 2020 target of the “equivalent of 100 per cent of Scottish electricity consumption. Based on Scottish Government figures, constructed and consented capacity amounts to 13.7GW. We estimate the “100% equivalent” requirement to be 14.2GW. As there is more than 7GW of further capacity unconsented in the planning system it is hard t o understand the SNP government’s current attempts to modify planning policy to facilitate consent of yet more onshore wind turbines. No technical or economic case was ever made for this 100% target. Consumer-paid subsidies treble the wholesale price of electricity from offshore wind, for example. Infrastructure costs will increase it still more. The financial and security of supply consequences for the Scottish economy have never been assessed by government. The total subsidies for Scotland’s approximately 36TWh consumption could amount to about £3.7 billion. At present these costs are met by all UK consumers. In the event of Scottish independence they would become the responsibility of Scotland’s much smaller population alone. Current nuclear power is not cheap compared with coal, though it is comparable to the cost of gas generation, and is cheaper than any wind technology. The strike price which the UK government has agreed for Hinkley C is less than that for onshore wind with renewables obligation costs, and only two thirds of that for offshore wind. Nuclear plants can be built with access to the existing grid and are controllable rather than intermittent and uncertain, providing electricity when required by the consumer. Nor do they incur massive new infrastructure and load-balancing costs.
Scotsman 19th Sept 2014 read more »
This week’s Micro Power News.
Microgen Scotland 19th Sept 2014 read more »
Rising fuel costs and food prices and the cycle of debt are affecting millions of UK families struggling on low incomes. As autumn approaches, an alarming 2.2 million children in England are living in fuel poverty – too often where parents are being forced to make harsh choices between putting food on the table or turning the heating on. According to the government’s own statistics, families with children are the largest group of the fuel poor, representing 45% of households in fuel poverty. It now costs a typical family with children £1,400 to heat their home adequately, according to the Association for the Conservation of Energy. For a family not in work, this is more than 10% of their income.
Guardian 19th Sept 2014 read more »
Geoffrey Lean: It all feels a bit familiar as, five years after the Copenhagen debacle, world leaders gather in New York on Tuesday to talk about reaching a global agreement on tacking climate change. The summit is expected to launch another long trek towards a treaty at the end of next year. But this time almost everything is different from 2009, when the talks failed. Economics are figuring larger than ecology this year. Some of the most obstructive countries in Copenhagen are now pushing hardest for a treaty, while some of the keenest back then look like they’re dragging now. And – though environmentalists don’t like admitting it – the world is making progress through adopting a suggestion from the much-reviled George W Bush.
Telegraph 19th Sept 2014 read more »