Liberal Democrats in Somerset have come out firmly against the planned new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point. The Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group at Somerset County Council, spoke at the Liberal Democrats Autumn Conference in Brighton in favour of the motion opposing the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Somerset. But despite attacking the decision she agreed the Lib Dems in Somerset would “work with” the decision in the event of their taking control of the county council at the elections next May.
Somerset Live 21st Sept 2016 read more »
British companies are lining up bids for contracts worth up to £11.5 billion after the government’s decision to press ahead with construction of EDF’s new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Up to 64 per cent of the project’s £18 billion value will be open to UK companies, according to David Eccles, EDF’s head of stakeholder engagement for the Hinkley Point C project. Speaking at a nuclear suppliers’ conference in Bristol yesterday, Mr Eccles said many of the work packages were being brought forward for tender after the decision to proceed. Some key reactor components, such as steam generators, will be made by Areva, the French state-controlled reactor developer, he said. Other big contractors have been selected, such as GE, which will build turbines. However, hundreds of British companies are expected to play a role in the rest of the supply chain for the project, which was given final approval by Theresa May last week. They range from big construction companies such as Costain, Laing O’Rourke and Amec Foster Wheeler to specialist suppliers of products ranging from concrete, nuclear valves, cabling and pipes to sandwiches and bus transport services for staff. Preliminary work at the site, where two new reactors are planned, is under way. Three contractors have been selected by EDF to excavate the site to 15 metres, dig tunnels for the reactor’s cooling water and build a jetty to ship in large components and materials. The shortage of skills will be particularly acute if Hinkley Point is followed by other new reactor schemes at Sizewell in Suffolk, Moorside in Cumbria, Wylfa in Anglesey and Bradwell-on-Sea in Essex. One industry estimate claims that the UK could face a shortfall of 60,000 people with nuclear expertise by 2025 unless efforts to train industry recruits is intensified. The average age of workers in Britain’s nuclear industry is 56.
Times 21st Sept 2016 read more »
The British Government’s decision to back Hinkley C nuclear power station is another success for the snake oil salesmen of a defunct technology that sends completely the wrong message. There is still a chance that May could be playing a double bluff: in her wish not to offend the Chinese she has greenlighted the project even though she knows it is an awful bet (she can’t be so blinkered that she doesn’t know this, can she?) hoping that some other factor – technical, financial, legal – there are a few in the pipeline – will prevent it ever being built, thereby exonerating her from possible future blame by the Chinese. There’s a chance, but it’s a slim one. I wouldn’t bet on it if I were a gambler. The whole thing is a farce, but it’s more than that, it’s a parody of a farce that is still a farce. A post-post-modern farce. Grotesque, and embittered with the self-hypnotised reflection of irony in love with itself. Meanwhile, if you have a spare hour, watch the video below which shows how, by the time Hinkley C is built, technological disruptions in the fields of energy storage, electric vehicles, autonomous vehicles, solar power and computing will mean there will be absolutely no market for its over-expensive electricity. It will be old. Out of date. Unnecessary. But still producing nuclear waste we cannot yet render safe.
Low Carbon Brief 20th Sept 2016 read more »
In short, the Hinkley decision is a piece of catastrophic energy policy stupidity. It’s not merely bad, it’s dreadful. It’s a many-layered onion of dreadfulness, which I will now attempt to unwrap. The deal isn’t just bad, it’s ludicrous. As followers of Exponential Investor will know, we’re entering an era of rapidly-falling energy prices. This is due to technological advancements in renewable energy – notably solar. While renewables are dropping in price rapidly, and increasing in sophistication, Hinkley locks in a technology that’s fundamentally outdated. The European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) is a variant of decades-old technology, dusted off for a new era. The specific EPR design concept has never been deployed successfully in its current form anywhere in the world, despite several attempts.
Exponential Investor 20th Sept 2016 read more »
China hails Britain’s approval of the Hinkley Point nuclear project and hopes the project will go well, said Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday night. Wang made the remarks during his meeting with British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on the sidelines of a series of UN General Assembly high-level events. Wang said that China-Britain relations have maintained a good momentum of development and the two countries have seen fruitful cooperation in various fields.
Xinhua 20th Sept 2016 read more »
Petition: The decision to accept the investment from EDF and China to design, build and operate the first new (as yet untested) nuclear power stations in a generation must be made only with the consent of parliament.
UK Petitions 20th Sept 2016 read more »
The decision to build a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset is a disaster for safety, the environment and workers’ living standards. The government agreed the joint venture with French and Chinese state-owned firms this week, after previously postponing the decision. Unions gushed with congratulations. Unite national officer for energy Kevin Coyne said, “Today’s historic decision is very welcome. Our members are shovel ready and dead keen to start work.” His counterpart at GMB Justin Bowden said, “This is the right decision for the country and the government is right to ignore the begrudgers and naysayers.” Labour has tried to have its cake and eat it, with shadow energy minister Barry Gardiner arguing the project is “vital” but its “extraordinary” price tag unacceptable.
Socialist Worker 16th Sept 2016 read more »
Letter Prof Emeritus Andrew Porteous: Professor Ian Fells (letter, Sep 19) posits the use of energy storage to iron out solar, wind and tidal energy fluctuations. Would that this could be done. Batteries provide a few hours of electricity at best and the requisite capacity of lithium ion storage is mind-boggling, even if the lithium was available. High-level pumped storage sites are few and far between and not conveniently serviced by high-voltage power grids or five-metre diameter pipelines. The United Kingdom desperately needs base load capacity. Only nuclear can now do this, with cheap gas-fuelled power stations to plug the gap. The sun does not shine much in January, nor does the wind always oblige at this time of year.
Times 21st Sept 2016 read more »
Magnox, the company responsible for the decontamination of the Bradwell A nuclear plant, has completed the clean-up of the ponds complex at the site in Essex. The ponds were formerly used to temporarily store and cool spent nuclear fuel before it was sent to Sellafield for reprocessing. Workers have spent the last four years decontaminating more than 10,000 square metres of walls, floors and ceilings – an area equal to a rugby union pitch – after the ponds were drained and “stabilised” in 2012. More than two and half kilometres of piping and 120 tonnes of metal waste have also been removed and disposed over the course of project.
Utility Week 20th Sept 2016 read more »
World Nuclear News 20th Sept 2016 read more »
The European nuclear industry group Foratom has called on the European Commission to propose a new energy market design that facilitates investments in all low-carbon energy sources including nuclear. Welcoming yesterday’s final go-ahead for the Hinkley Point C nuclear project in England, calling it an important milestone for the future of nuclear energy in Europe, the Brussels-based group said the current EU single electricity market fails to provide a sufficient market signal to investors in low-carbon energy. Foratom director-general Jean-Pol Poncelet said the contracts for difference (CfD) investment model that underpins the Hinkley Point C deal provides “an effective market mechanism that addresses this failure”. Mr Poncelet said the Hinkley Point C approval sends a positive signal for future nuclear investments all across Europe.
NucNet 16th Sept 2016 read more »
European Union plans for financing the decommissioning of nuclear plants in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia are inadequate and more resources need to be put aside, the European Court of Auditors said in a report. The report criticizing costly delays and warning of technical hurdles ahead shines a spotlight on the challenges facing Germany and other nations within the bloc that are planning to retire their nuclear reactors. The EU’s spending watchdog said the estimated cost of decommissioning the three Soviet-era plants closed more than a decade ago had risen 40 percent since 2010 to at least 5.7 billion euros ($6.4 billion) by 2015. That figure doubles if the cost of disposing spent fuel once and for all is included.
Reuters 20th Sept 2016 read more »
People Before Profit TD, Bríd Smith, accused the Government and Minister Dennis Naughton of dangerous inaction after recent revelations over the safety of the Sellafield nuclear facility. Deputy Smith said the Minister’s statement that they are seeking a meeting of the “UK-Ireland Contact Group on Radiological Matters” was farcical considering the seriousness of the recent revelations. Deputy Smith said that recent revelations highlighted by a wistleblower on the BBC’s Panorama program, only confirmed longstanding fears from campaigners about the site. “There is a long history of scares, radioactive leaks, near misses and unsafe practices at this site. The recent revelations confirm the British Government’s own National Audit Office complaint from 2012 about the management of 50 year old storage ponds. We were told then it was being sorted just as we are being reassured now. The Government’s attitude is incomprehensible considering the potential disaster that awaits if a fire or accident were to happen.”
Richard Boyd Barratt 18th Sept 2016 read more »
THE first-ever ‘Cumbria Nuclear Conference’ is due to get underway in Carlisle this evening. An audience of 300 people are due to attend the first part of this conference – a dinner at the Halston Aparthotel, on Warwick Road – tonight before the main event gets underway at Carlisle Racecourse tomorrow. Greg Clark, the new Secretary of State for Business and Industrial Strategy, is due to speak at the conference. Other confirmed speakers include Tom Samson, the chief executive of NuGen, which has plans to open a new nuclear power plant at Moorside, near Sellafield, as well as former Defence Secretary and Barrow MP Lord Hutton and John Clarke, chief executive of the Nuclear Decommissioning Agency.
In Cumbria 21st Sept 2016 read more »
Energy Policy – Scotland
A POLL commissioned by the environmental group WWF Scotland has found that 61 per cent of Scots believe the country should commit to a low carbon future. The results come as the environment, climate change & land reform committee (ECCLR) in Holyrood will today begin hearing evidence from academics and campaigners on a low-carbon Scotland. WWF Scotland has also called on the Scottish Government to provide greater investment in projects that will lower emissions and create a low-carbon economy.
Common Space 20th Sept 2016 read more »
US – Radwaste
The United States could alleviate growing stockpiles of nuclear waste at U.S. power plants by allowing private companies to dispose of it and foster support for new nuclear projects, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said on Tuesday. The U.S. government spent billions of dollars on the Yucca Mountain project in Nevada that was supposed to store nuclear waste permanently underground, but politicians from the state, including top Senate Democrat Harry Reid, opposed the project, leading to its cancellation in 2010. The waste is now mostly held at power plants in dry cask storage or in spent fuel pools, said Moniz, a nuclear physicist who has run the department since 2013. The United States could start transferring that waste to interim sites, potentially including government and private disposal sites, in the middle of the next decade until a permanent solution is developed.
Reuters 20th Sept 2016 read more »
The clean-up after the February 2014 explosion at the world’s only deep underground repository for nuclear waste in New Mexico, USA, is massively over budget, writes Jim Green – and full operations won’t resume until at least 2021. The fundamental cause of the problems: high level radioactive waste, poor regulation, rigid deadlines and corporate profit make a dangerous mix. An analysis by theLos Angeles Timesfinds that costs associated with the February 2014 explosion at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) could total US$2 billion.
Ecologist 20th Sept 2016 read more »
Japan is likely to scrap a prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor in the country’s west that has operated for less than a year in over two decades, local media reported on Wednesday. More than 1 trillion yen (7.59 billion pounds) of mostly public money has been injected into the Monju facility, but Japan’s nuclear regulator last year declared its operator unfit following years of accidents, missteps and falsification of documents. The government is also grappling with a wave of anti-nuclear sentiment among its population in the wake of the Fukushima atomic disaster.
Reuters 21st Sept 2016 read more »
Military convoys carrying nuclear weapons through Britain’s cities and towns have experienced 180 mishaps and incidents, including collisions, breakdowns and brake failures during the last 16 years, according to a report produced by a disarmament campaign. The incidents catalogued in the report – based on official logs released under the Freedom of Information Act – include fuel leaks, overheated engines, clutch problems, and other mechanical faults in the convoys. At other times, according to the report, the convoys went the wrong way, were diverted, and lost communications with commanders. The rate at which the incidents have occurred has risen in recent years, with 43 in the last three years. In its report published on Wednesday, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (Ican) warns that a serious accident involving the convoys could spread radioactivity over cities, contaminating communities and increasing cancer risks.
Guardian 21st Sept 2016 read more »
EDINBURGH looks set to win the race to have the first operable energy services company in Scotland set up by a local authority. Energy for Edinburgh is to be the name of an arm’s-length council organisation focusing exclusively on sustainable energy. It will be the third of its kind set up by a council in Britain, following Nottingham and Bristol – residents of the former have seen their energy bills slashed since Robin Hood Energy came into being last September. Glasgow City Council has been planning an energy services company (ESCo) for some time but Edinburgh will this week move ahead and name the first board members. Setting up an ESCo is a key plank of Edinburgh City Council’s Sustainable Energy Action Plan, which aims to slash carbon emissions in the capital by 42 per cent by 2020 from 2005 levels, the most ambitious target in the UK. The new ESCo will look to identify sustainable projects in five designated programmes: energy efficiency, district heating, renewables, resource efficiency and sustainable transport. The overall plan is to reduce carbon emissions, deliver affordable energy, with a particular focus on alleviating fuel poverty, generate income and encourage wider community benefits. The proposed Energy for Edinburgh Board, if approved by councillors tomorrow, would be councillors Adam McVey (interim chairman), Lesley Hinds, Chas Booth and individuals who are all experts in their field. They are Toby Tucker, subject to employer approval, Kathryn Dapre, Andrew Joss, Caroline Acton and Teresa Bray.
The National 21st Sept 2016 read more »
A new NHS sustainability report reveals the health service could save in excess of £26m a year by increasing adoption of combined heat and power (CHP) technology. The Securing Heathy Returns Report, which analyses the financial value of key sustainability measures in the NHS, states that CHP provides the biggest energy-saving opportunity – amounting to £26.4m a year. That’s enough to fund the salaries of more than 1,200 newly-qualified registered nurses. The report, published by the Sustainable Development Unit (SDU) for NHS England and Public Health England, analyses 35 proven measures that it says could achieve a total of £400m of cost savings and reduce carbon emissions by a million tonnes every year by 2020. These interventions were selected because they are supported by robust data and evidence to enable analysis and scaling. Of the 18 energy-saving measures covered in the report, CHP provides the highest annual potential cost savings (£26.4m), followed by staff energy awareness and behaviour change (£21.5m); high-efficiency lighting (£7.2m); and reducing temperature set points by one degree Celsius (£6.2m).
Healthcare Design & Management 20th September 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
The United Arab Emirates looks set to seize back the record for the lowest cost solar project in development from Chile, following a series of record low bids from developers for the proposed 350MW Sweihan project. According to local media reports, the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority received six bids for the Sweihan project, with the lowest bid from an Asian consortium coming in at 2.42 US cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and the second lowest bid from a local firm reaching 2.53 US cents per kWh.
Business Green 20th Sept 2016 read more »
Businesses are now able to count green gas energy produced by anaerobic digestion (AD) facilities towards their onsite greenhouse gas emissions reporting, the Renewable Energy Association (REA) announced today. Changes have been made to the Greenhouse Gas Protocol – the global standard against which large companies measure, manage and report GHG emissions – to recognise Green Gas Certificates as eligible for supporting a firm’s reporting of its carbon impact. Backing the changes, green energy supplier Good Energy said six per cent of its green gas supply comes from grid-injected biomethane sourced from UK AD plants registered through the GGCS. “Because our green gas is robustly and independently certified by the Green Gas Certification Scheme, we can assure our customers that, by getting their gas from us, they’re playing their part in achieving a sustainable future,” said Good Energy CEO Juliet Davenport. Other domestic energy firms signed up to the GGCS include Green Energy UK, which is now supplying customers with 100 per cent green gas from AD plants, as well as LoCO2 Energy, which is supplying 10 per cent of its gas from biomethane.
Business Green 19th Sept 2016 read more »
Philips Lighting has set out a wide-ranging new five year sustainability programme, including a goal of deriving 80 per cent of its turnover from products, systems and services which “provide environmental and social benefits”. Launched yesterday as part of New York City’s Climate Week, the ‘Brighter Lives, Better World’ programme marks the first time Philips Lighting – a part of technology giant Philips – has set its own sustainability goals as a standalone brand. The programme reaffirms parent firm Philips’ overall 2020 commitments to become a ‘carbon neutral’ company – a pledge first made last year in Paris – and for all of its electricity to come from clean sources. It also sets a target of eliminating waste to landfill at all Philips Lighting manufacturing sites by 2020. Philips Lighting claims its sustainable revenues accounted for 72 per cent of its total sales in 2015, while its connected lighting systems with wireless controls can reduce its customers’ energy use by up to 80 per cent. In addition, the LED firm has increased its use of renewable electricity to 58 per cent and reduced its carbon footprint by 42 per cent compared to 2007, the report said. The company plans to compensate for any remaining emissions it cannot avoid by investing in carbon offset projects.
Business Green 20th Sept 2016 read more »
Most experts do not agree with David Cameron’s claim that fracking will cut UK energy bills, the advertising watchdog has concluded. The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has now overturned the decision it took last year to ban a Greenpeace anti-fracking advert, which stated that “experts agree – it won’t cut our energy bills”. At the time, the ASA cited the fact David Cameron had said fracking would cut energy bills as evidence there was “a significant division of informed opinion on the issue” and so ruled that Greenpeace’s advert was “misleading”. But after an appeal by Greenpeace and an independent review, the ASA has reversed its original decision, concluding it was “substantially flawed”. An ASA spokesman said that, this time, it had decided to “focus only on the opinion of experts in this field and not those of others such as the previous Prime Minister”.
Telegraph 20th Sept 2016 read more »
Guardian 21st Sept 2016 read more »
The UK’s exit from the European Union will make changes to UK carbon pricing unavoidable. Given the complexities and inefficiencies of the current policy mix, could Brexit be viewed as an opportunity for radical policy change in this area? And, if so, what is likely to be the best outcome? The UK played a critical role in establishing the EU Emissions Trading System (EU ETS), the EU’s flagship climate policy. The UK has also provided an important and influential voice in the repeated attempts to reform the scheme and to tighten the overall cap. Despite the continuing problems of oversupply and low carbon prices, the EU ETS remains the EU’s flagship climate policy, and looks likely to retain that status for quite some time. In this context, Brexit creates two important challenges. It creates uncertainty about the future development of:
SPRU 20th Sept 2016 read more »
Prime Minister Theresa May has announced the UK will back its commitment to climate change by ratifying the Paris Agreement “before the end of the year”.
Independent 21st Sept 2016 read more »
Guardian 20th Sept 2016 read more »