EDF Energy’s £14 billion reactor project in Somerset faces further delays of at least two years for the European Commission to consider if the French state-backed company is being granted illegal state aid by Britain, a UK rival warned yesterday. EDF is demanding generous subsidies, funded by levies on British consumers’ bills, as well as loan guarantees from the Government to build the UK’s first nuclear reactor for decades at Hinkley Point. Ministers had assumed that Brussels would quickly rubber-stamp any deal to allow the company to start construction. But SSE claimed that EDF Energy’s proliferating demands for Government financial support will force the EC to deliberate until 2015 at the earliest. The commission’s decision would be under threat of a judicial review, which would take years to complete. SSE said “It seems unlikely that a final decision will be made on state aid approval for nuclear subsidy under electricity market reforms before 2015 at the earliest, and potentially much later. This is why gambling our energy and capacity future on nuclear is a high-risk strategy.”
Times 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
The debacle over funding nuclear power is increasingly likely to delay the renewable energy programme. If so-called ‘negotiations’ drag on between EDF and the Government the Government may be delayed in submitting a request to the European Commission for consent for its ‘low carbon’ subsidy regulations to comply with EU state aid rules. Not only does the uncertainty over nuclear funding delay the Government lodging its application to the EU, but the very fact that nuclear power is involved produces a massive complication in what would otherwise be a much shorter administrative process. Mark Johnston, Brussels based expert consultant and former FOE EU officer comments that the British Government ‘has still not submitted its state aid notifications to EU Commission for consideration and possible veto. For big, complex or controversial, state aid cases the Commission can take 2-3 years to decide, which takes the UK up to and beyond its next general election expected in 2015’
Real Feed-in Tariffs 21st Feb 2013 read more »
As well as a sizeable gap on the strike price there is also disagreement on the distribution of risks. In some ways this is just a normal negotiating process but behind the meetings and the attempts at news management are two questions. The first is whether the UK really needs new nuclear. The bottom line is that in terms of physical supplies and energy security, the UK does not need new nuclear. It would be relatively simple to build a new generation of gas powered stations over the next two decades. The response to the recent OFGEM warning is very likely to be that those new gas stations are built sooner rather than later. Once that new capacity is in place it will pre-empt at least part of the requirement for new nuclear. Carbon emissions are no longer the driving factor setting UK energy policy. The new and dominant issue is cost and that brings us to the second question – why are nuclear costs rising? As things stand, nuclear is the only part of the energy sector where the costs of new developments are increasing. Clearly part of the reason is the increased safety requirements imposed after the accident at Fukushima, but that is not the whole story. The costs of the new developments in Finland and at Flamanville in France were rising before Fukushima. And they continue to rise, as do the estimated costs for Hinkley Point. For reasons of diversity in energy supply, and to help reduce emissions there is a case for new nuclear. But not at any price because both objectives can be achieved in other ways – including through investment in radical improvements in energy efficiency. The company and the UK government should be working together to understand exactly what has gone wrong at Flamanville and elsewhere, and to produce a lower-cost estimate for Hinkley Point. They have a common interest in doing so. The negotiations should be suspended until a satisfactory answer has been found.
FT 21st Feb 2013 read more »
On Wednesday, one of the Big Six power companies, RWE npower, unleashed the latest salvo of criticism about muddled thinking by Number 10. There is some irony that Britain spends £40bn a year of taxpayers’ money on keeping the military on active service abroad and yet risks the lights going out at home because cash will not be spent on energy security. Around £120bn is needed in the medium term to modernise UK power infrastructure so that it is suitably equipped for a low-carbon world where dema nd can be met in an era of climate change and rising global temperatures. Much of that cash can be expected to come from the energy suppliers and the bulk of that will ultimately be taken from the consumer in the way of higher energy bills. But given the rising scale of fuel poverty in Britain, why can’t the Treasury play a more active role? Even the government’s much-vaunted Green Investment Bank – meant to kickstart wind and other renewable energy projects – will have pitiful amounts of money available. Its ability to borrow has been drastically delayed till at least 2016/17. All those depressed coastal cities such as Barrow-in-Furness – centre of BAE’s submarine business – that have become desperately dependent on public defence spending could play a role in energy security. They could build gas and wind turbines rather than just submarines.
Guardian 21st Feb 2013 read more »
Write up from The Cumbria ‘call in’ meeting from handwritten notes.
Radiation Free Lakeland 21st Feb 2013 read more »
A DECISION by Cumbria County Council not to stay in the running to host a proposed underground nuclear waste dump has been supported by a watchdog committee. In the latest twist Copeland council leader Elaine Woodburn on Twitter called for deputy leader Stewart Young to do “the honourable thing” and stand down. She said he had “let West Cumbria down”.
Whitehaven News 21st Feb 2013 read more »
A campaign group could be set up in the Highlands in a bid to stop trains carrying spent nuclear fuel from Dounreay to Sellafield. A meeting will be held at Dingwall next month to gather public views about the journeys, which started in December last year. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) plans to take 44 tonnes of spent fuel from the Caithness site for reprocessing at Sellafield.
Press & Journal 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is to remove the remainder of the nuclear fuel it inherited at Dounreay. The highly radioactive material, which was among 100 tonnes left by the UK Atomic Energy Agency, is to be taken to Sellafield in Cumbria.
Herald 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
Through today’s publication of its Preferred Option paper the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has now completed its strategic review of the options for the management of the remaining nuclear materials at Dounreay referred to as ‘exotics’. The NDA published a credible options paper in February 2012 for the management of the Dounreay exotic material.The credible options paper identified a number of advantages in transporting the exotics to Sellafield but at that time further discussion with regulators and stakeholders was required to underpin the feasibility of this option and to consider stakeholder views. These discussions have concluded and the NDA now considers movement of the exotics to Sellafield for long term management alongside the Sellafield fuels inventory to be the preferred option.
NDA 21st Feb 2013 read more »
A new learning centre has opened at Dungeness B power station which will allow visitors to see how electricity is produced. The centre has been designed to capture the imagination of children and adults alike with hands-on displays and guided tours of the power station.
This is Kent 21st Feb 2013 read more »
News that a storage tank at a shuttered federal nuclear facility in Washington state is leaking radioactive sludge has raised fears that the toxic stew could reach the Columbia River as a U.S. cleanup effort drags on.
Bloomberg 20th Feb 2013 read more »
Iran is “closer than ever” to the ability to build a nuclear bomb, Israel said on Thursday, as a new UN report said Tehran has begun installing next-generation equipment at one of its main nuclear plants. The International Atomic Energy Agency’s report said Iran started installing new and advanced centrifuges at Natanz, which would enable it to speed up the enrichment of uranium.
AFP 21st Feb 2013 read more »
ITV 21st Feb 2013 read more »
Iran has begun installing advanced centrifuges at its main uranium enrichment plant, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Thursday, a defiant step that will worry Western powers ahead of a resumption of talks with Tehran next week.
Reuters 21st Feb 2013 read more »
Middle East Online 21st Feb 2013 read more »
Preoccupied with an intensifying domestic power struggle, Iran is unlikely to agree with world powers next week on ways out of a nuclear dispute: Surviving a turbulent period of pre-electoral infighting will be the priority for its faction-ridden elite.
Trust 21st Feb 2013 read more »
A series of rows erupted last night over the future of wind power in Scotland. Ministers accused the coalition Government at Westminster of jeopardising thousands of jobs in offshore wind, by creating investor uncertainty in the electricity market. But while Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Energy Minister, urged Westminster counterparts to follow Holyrood’s lead in championing renewables, the SNP administration found its own policies attacked for allegedly misrepresenting the value of wind energy to the public and destroying the landscape. Launching a book entitled So Much Wind, Struan Stevenson, a Conservative MEP, rounded on Alex Salmond’s desire to make Scotland what he called “the Saudi Arabia of renewables”.
Times 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
Many of us may believe the BBC can learn a few things from Denmark’s high-quality television drama. But there are other lessons that our public service providers can learn too. When it comes to energy efficiency, Denmark has much to teach us about the potential of district heating schemes for social housing. District heating has two major benefits: it cuts fuel bills by providing a more efficient way of generating heat and hot water, with heat generated centrally and distributed through pipes to nearby homes; and by providing more efficient heat and hot water it cuts carbon emissions. Morten Duedahl, the director of the Danish Energy Partnership, visited Scotland last month to share Danish experiences in providing cheaper fuel to tenants. As Duedahl explai ned, Copenhagen has one of the largest and oldest district heating networks in the world. The first part of the city’s system was installed in the 1920s, and the scheme now provides heat and hot water to 500,000 people in the capital through a 100-mile-long transmission network of pipes.
Guardian 21st Feb 2013 read more »
A huge and potentially far more lucrative market beckons – if only Iceland can find a way to transmit electricity across the more than 1,000 miles of icy sea that separate it from the 500 million consumers of the European Union. “Prices are so low here that it is normal we should want to sell to Europe and get a better price,” said Stein Agust Steinsson, Krafla’s manager. “It is not good to put all our eggs in one basket.” Laying an underwater cable in the North Atlantic would cost more than £1.3 billion, but the idea is not popular with those who worry about Iceland – whose people pride themselves in being self-reliant – becoming an ice-covered version of Middle East nations dependent on energy exports. Backers of the cable “are looking for easy money, but who is going to pay in the end?” asked a blogger who writes on the risks to Iceland from geothermal energy. “We will all pay.”
Scotsman 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
Claims UK shale gas could drive down gas prices as it has in the US is nothing more than “wishful thinking” due to higher extraction costs and slower planning processes, analysts have said. The US has seen gas prices fall from about $12 (£8) per million British thermal units (MMBtu) in 2008 to about $3.40/MMBtu, while the country’s recorded carbon emissions have dropped by a quarter following a large-scale shift in power generation from coal to gas. By contrast, UK gas prices have remained around $12/MMBtu over the same period, prompting shale gas proponents to claim tapping into the UK’s reserves – likely to be confirmed as significant by the British Geological Society in the next few weeks – would provide a cheap and secure energy source.
Business Green 21st February 2013 read more »
Utility Week 22nd Feb 2013 read more »
Every morning, when he opens his bedroom curtains, the first thing that David Headley sees is a gas well. It sits less than 200 yards from his front door and it is a constant reminder of what Mr Headley says is the “pure hell” of living with fracking. The well, which was drilled and fractured last year, amounts to a small tangle of pipes and a pair of 15ft-tall collection tanks, of the sort that are now dotted all across rural Pennsylvania and, if the UK embraces the fracking revolution, could be seen across the British countryside, from Weymouth to Hull, Swansea to Edinburgh. In Pennsylvania, some are tucked behind hedgerows and hidden away in copses and hollows, but many others – along with compressor stations and open “impoundment ponds” used to store toxic fracking solution – are situated within a few hundred yards of residential housing.
Telegraph 20th Feb 2013 read more »
Dash for Gas
Letter: EDF’s decision to take out a £5m lawsuit against a handful of climate activists represents a new low in corporate attempts to stifle democratic dissent. As representatives of environmental organisations and civil society, we wish to express our support for the No Dash For Gas activists. EDF should not bring this action, which is against a brave group of people who have taken bold, creative action to protect the climate we all share. If it does, it’s likely to deter future activists from exercising their democratic right to protest. Imagine if Rosa Parks or Emmeline Pankhurst had been inhibited by the threat of losing her home or incurring a lifelong debt, as is happening to the No Dash For Gas activists. In attempting to put the brakes on EDF and the government’s reckless dash for gas that would push up energy bills and threaten climate targets, this heroic group of people deserve medals, not a multimillion pound lawsuit.
Guardian 21st Feb 2013 read more »
Letter: Ever since the announcement of EDF’s spiteful attempt to stifle dissent against their attempts to raise fuel bills and trash the climate, I’ve seen a torrent of expressions of commitment across social media channels to target the company, its power stations and the dash for gas. This lawsuit, its threat to our precious right to civil disobedience and EDF’s plans to massively expand fossil fuel infrastructure is exactly the shot in the arm that the climate action movement needed to mobilise in multitudes once more.
Guardian 21st Feb 2013 read more »