A fire-sale is underway as the punch-drunk nuclear power industry tries to stop the rot. The French government is selling assets so it can prop up its heavily indebted nuclear utilities. Électricité de France (EDF) announced in 2015 that it would sell A$13.8 billion of assets by 2020 to rein in its debt, which now stands at A$51.8 billion. EDF is purchasing parts of its bankrupt sibling Areva, which has accumulated losses of over A$14 billion over the past five years. French EPR reactors under construction in France and Finland are three times over budget ‒ the combined cost overruns amount to about A$17.5 billion. Bloomberg noted in April 2015 that Areva’s EPR export ambitions are “in tatters“, and now Areva itself is in tatters. Meanwhile, Japanese industrial giant Toshiba would like to sell ndebted, US-based nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse, but there are no buyers so Toshiba must instead sell profitable assets to cover its nuclear debts and avoid bankruptcy. One site where these problems come together is Moorside in the UK. A Toshiba / Engie consortium was planning to build three AP1000 reactors, but Toshiba wants to sell its stake in the consortium in the wake of its massive losses from AP1000 construction projects in the US. Engie reportedly wants to sell its stake in the consortium, and the French government has already sold part of its stake in Engie … to help prop up EDF and Areva! Deck-chairs are being shuffled.
Renew Economy 22nd Feb 2017 read more »
Toshiba, the venerable 80 year old Japanese electronics giant, appears to be going bankrupt.Toshiba was supposed to have announced at least $7 billion in losses during an earnings call yesterday. Instead, it cancelled the report, saying “it was not able to immediately secure the approval of its auditor.” Financial Times reports that “The delay to publication of Toshiba’s earnings came as the company said lawyers were examining claims by a whistleblower in the US that Westinghouse mishandled its takeover of Stone & Webster.” Toshiba’s losses stem from its construction of new nuclear plants in the United States. The collapse of Toshiba will result in the halting of all new nuclear power plant construction by its US-based subsidiary, Westinghouse. While the EPR’s delays will likely be longer, and while Toshiba and Areva will restructure their nuclear businesses differently, it is notable that both companies bet — and lost — big on radically new designs. Why did Westinghouse push forward with a new and untested design — the AP-1000 — in the first place, instead of building more of the same reactors it had in the past?
Energy Collective 17th Feb 2017 read more »
French nuclear fuel group New Areva said it had signed an agreement about a nuclear fuel processing facility with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) and added that talks are continuing about CNNC taking a stake in the firm.
Reuters 21st Feb 2017 read more »
A US Air Force plane used to detect nuclear explosions has been sent to Britain amid concerns over a spike in the levels of radioactivity found in Europe. The WC-135 Constant Phoenix, which is known as a nuclear ‘sniffer’ plane, was deployed to RAF Mildenhall in Suffolk last week on an undisclosed mission. News of the deployment comes amid claims Russia may be testing nuclear weapons, either to the east or in the arctic, after a spike in radioactivity was reported.
Daily Mail 21st Feb 2017 read more »
Mirror 21st Feb 2017 read more »
DANGEROUS radioactive particles have been detected in seven different European countries and scientists can’t explain where they have come from. Traces of Iodine-131 were found in Norway, Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain in January, but the public were not immediately alerted. These radioactive particles are produced by atomic bomb explosions or nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl or Fukushima. They appear to be emanating from Eastern Europe, but experts have not been able to say exactly what produced them. Astrid Liland, head of emergency preparedness at the Norwegian Radiation Protection Authority, told the Barents Observer that the health risk was very low – which was why she did not raise the alarm after detecting Iodine-131 during the second week of January.
The Sun 21st Feb 2017 read more »
Small amounts of iodine-131, well below levels likely to have any effect on human health, were detected in outdoor air last month in a number of European countries. The source of the release has yet to be identified. According to a preliminary report from France’s Institute for Radiological Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), I-131 was first detected in northern Norway during the second week of January. It was also detected in Finland, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Spain during the remainder of the month.
World Nuclear News 21st Feb 2017 read more »
Energy Policy – Scotland
Dr Sam Gardner, Head of Policy at WWF Scotland: Last month the Scottish Government published a plan that could transform Scotland in just 15 short years – the country’s first-ever energy strategy. This draft strategy outlines a vision for our energy future that sets out the changes needed on how we power our society, heat our buildings and travel to work and school in the future. It’s possible to see the draft strategy as a bold commitment to change, to the use of regulation to catalyse investment, the accelerated growth of renewable energy across our economy, the transformation of our homes, local energy planning and to an active role for government as an energy supplier. However, it can also be seen as holding onto old certainties and a reluctance to redirect the inertia in the patterns of today’s energy use. Its continued commitment to maximising recovery of oil and gas from the North Sea, the unnecessary pursuit of replacement thermal base-load generation and the primacy of the private (albeit electric) car are all features of yesterday’s energy world. The headline proposal in the draft strategy is to set a new all energy target to deliver the equivalent of 50 per cent of Scotland’s heat, transport and electricity consumption from renewable sources by 2030. If it’s to be a truly meaningful policy instrument, and deliver the same benefits as the 2020 electricity target has done, it needs to be complemented by two things. Firstly, it must be promoted and championed from the very top of the Scottish Government and secondly it requires concrete new policy commitments. Although the Energy Strategy stops short of saying what the level of renewable energy use will be in heating our buildings or driving our cars its sister document; the Climate Change Plan, does paint a picture of the future. In the immediate future the deployment of low-carbon heat into Scotland’s homes is expected to double, yet there is no new policy to drive.
Scotsman 22nd Feb 2017 read more »
Copeland is possibly one of the only places in the country where energy policy has the same level of importance as health and education in the minds of voters and Toshiba’s decision could just play a role in the outcome of the close by-election currently being fought there. It might even feature in the footnotes of future political histories if, as some are predicting, the campaign results in the first by-election gain by a governing party since 1960. However, beyond these local problems, it also highlights a wider issue: the UK’s dwindling pipeline of new power generation. The country’s energy supply currently faces two challenges. Firstly, our existing fleet of coal, gas and nuclear generators are coming to the end of their life cycle. Secondly, the rise of renewable energy generation presents challenges in balancing supply and demand. The government introduced the capacity market in 2014 to try and combat these twin challenges. But so far it has failed to secure the innovative new capacity the country needs. Under the capacity market, the government awards payments to capacity providers in return for an assurance that they will deliver energy at times of system stress. Contracts are awarded through annual auctions. So far there have been three main auctions where participants bid to provide capacity for four years in the future (a fourth auction was held at the start of the year but was only open to bidders able to provide capacity one year ahead, thereby making it unviable for new build to bid). These three auctions have cost consumers around £4bn. However the vast majority of these payments have gone to existing conventional generation, including heavily polluting coal and diesel. Indeed, in the most recent auction a mere 4GW of the 52.4GW awarded went to new build capacity The main reason for this market failure is that the capacity market is a blunt instrument. It is technology-neutral and fails to take into account external factors such as emissions or the embedded benefits associated with new build and innovative technology. In an auction based entirely on price, new build has no chance of competing with decades old generating stations which recovered their construction cost years ago. If the government wants to encourage new build and new technologies, it will need to refine the auction. It could do this by permitting different prices for new build and existing technologies or introducing stricter environmental prequalifications.
Energy Voice 22nd Feb 2017 read more »
Tories believe Jeremy Corbyn’s stance on nuclear power (he limply conceded it could be part of the “energy mix” recently, but his long prevarication betrayed his scepticism) and opposition to Trident, which is hosted in the neighbouring constituency of Barrow-in-Furness, could put off local employees who usually stick to Labour. But it’s not that simple. The constituency may rely on nuclear for jobs, but I found a notable lack of affection for the industry. While most see the employment benefits, there is less enthusiasm for Sellafield being part of their home’s identity – particularly in Whitehaven, which houses the majority of employees in the constituency. Also, unions representing Sellafield workers have been in a dispute for months with ministers over pension cut plans.
New Statesman 21st Feb 2017 read more »
A Member of the European Parliament for the south east of England is calling for the government to prioritise the NHS over nuclear programmes. Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP, said the government should halt its nuclear plans after figures revealed the NHS is facing a £900m funding shortfall. He said: ‘This situation is ridiculous; we have a government more concerned with blowing £250bn on its nuclear follies rather than safeguarding the health of the British people.
Portsmouth News 21st Feb 2017 read more »
The Japanese government will soon lift evacuation orders for 6,000 citizens of iitate village in Fukushima prefecture where radiation levels in nearby forests are comparable to the current levels within the Chernobyl 30km exclusion zone – an area that more than 30 years after the accident remains formally closed to habitation. Seventy-five percent of Iitate is contaminated forested mountains. A recent Greenpeace Japan led survey team found radiation dose rates at houses in the village of Iitate well above long-term government targets, with annual and lifetime exposure levels posing a long-term risk to citizens who may return. Evacuation orders will be lifted for Iitate no later than 31 March 2017, to be followed one year later by the termination of compensation payments. “The relatively high radiation values, both inside and outside houses, show an unacceptable radiation risk for citizens if they were to return to Iitate. For citizens returning to their irradiated homes they are at risk of receiving radiation equivalent to one chest X-ray every week. This is not normal or acceptable,” said Ai Kashiwagi, energy campaigner with Greenpeace Japan
Greenpeace Japan 21st Feb 2017 read more »
The end of March 2017 marks the frst time since 2011 when the people of Iitate in Fukushima prefecture will be able to return to their former homes. The Japanese government has set this date to lift evacuation orders, to be followed one year later by the termination of compensation payment. However, for the more than 6,000 citizens of Iitate, this is a time of uncertainty and anxiety. Iitate, which lies northwest of the destroyed reactors at Fukushima Daiichi power plant, was one of the most heavily contaminated by the 2011 nuclear disaster. The village of Iitate is over 200km2 , 75% of which is mountainous forest. Radiation levels in forests in Iitate, which were an integral part of the residents’ lives prior to the nuclear accident, are comparable to the current levels within the Chernobyl 30km exclusion zone – an area that more than 30 years after the accident remains formally closed to habitation.
Greenpeace 21st Feb 2017 read more »
On the morning of Feb. 12, wind power provided 52.1 percent of the electricity for the 14-state grid known as the Southwest Power Pool (SPP). This is a significant milestone for wind, which has never before provided a majority of power for any U.S. grid, according to SPP.
Ecowatch 20th Feb 2017 read more »
China has fined a manufacturer of components used in nuclear power plants for safety breaches at two facilities, the environment ministry said. Dalian Teikoku Canned Motor Pump Co., Ltd , a wholly-owned unit of Japan’s Teikoku Electric Manufacturing Co., Ltd, was found to have violated operating rules concerning unit welding at the Yangjiang Nuclear Power Station in Guangdong province, according to a statement posted on the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP)’s website on Feb. 14. The company also failed to register the design of a canned motor pump to be used in the Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Station in Liaoning Province, according to the MEP. Canned motor pumps are designed to offer greater protection against leaks compared with conventional pumps.
Reuters 22nd Feb 2017 read more »
Renewables – tidal
Scotland’s tidal array – a glimpse of the future.
Artarius 19th Feb 2016 read more »
A GLOBAL leader in tidal technology has linked up with two Orkney-based companies in a bid to bring down the cost of renewable energy production. Dutch company Tocardo Tidal Power has burst on to the tidal scene in the UK with the InToTidal project kick-off and the arrival of Tocardo’s system in Orkney last week in preparation for its deployment at the European Marine Energy Centre’s (EMEC’s) grid-connected tidal test site. It is the start of Tocardo’s planned 20-year commercial demonstration project at EMEC’s Fall of Warness site. With the installation of the system, Tocardo is getting ready for a large scale roll-out of its generic solution for tidal energy production.
The National 21st Feb 2017 read more »
A HUGE power-generating tidal barrage providing transport links from the M6 to Barrow and Millom is one step closer to becoming a reality thanks to the latest stage of an ambitious £8bn project. The Northern Tidal Power Gateways scheme would use a series of tidal turbines to stretch around Morecambe Bay while giving motorists a long-awaited link between the M6 and Barrow and Millom. Northern Tidal Power Gateways is the brainchild of Alan Torevell, chair of Dewhurst Torevell, who has been leading the project since its inception four years ago.
NW Evening Mail 21st Feb 2017 read more »
Renewables – floating turbines
A plan to install two floating wind turbines off the north Caithness coast has been approved by Highland councillors. A Swedish firm has sought permission from Highland Council, Orkney Islands Council and the Scottish government for the demonstration project. Melvich Community Council has opposed the proposal because of concerns it would ruin views across to Orkney. The proposed site is about three miles (6km) out to sea from Dounreay.
BBC 21st Feb 2017 read more »
Herald 22nd Feb 2017 read more »
Renewables – hydro
The Scot-govt. has announced that 9,500 more businesses across Scotland will benefit from a tailored package of additional business rates support in a move it hopes will extinguish the eruption of commercial fury from, among others, renewable energy businesses in the ‘small’ hydro energy sector.
Scottish Energy News 22nd Feb 2017 read more »
The government needs to “act urgently” to deliver a more flexible power system and avoid “spiralling” costs from the integration of renewables, the UK Energy Research Centre has warned. Analysis by the research body found that the costs of absorbing intermittent renewable generation remain “relatively modest” in general, but vary enormously depending on the flexibility of the energy system. The new report provides an update to a systematic review of evidence conducted by the UK Energy Centre (UKERC) a decade ago. “Ten years ago, penetration levels for renewables were small, and the costs of managing the grid to incorporate wind and solar was pretty trivial compared to the costs of building wind farms and solar panels themselves,” said report’s authors.
Utility Week 21st Feb 2017 read more »
Britain will get its first public filling station for hydrogen-powered cars on Wednesday as part of a bet by Royal Dutch Shell on a technology vying with battery-powered electric vehicles to replace fossil fuels in road transportation. Shell is already part of a public-private consortium planning 400 hydrogen filling stations across Germany by 2023, together with partners including its French rival Total. The Cobham facility marks the start of a wider effort to support growth of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in north-west Europe.
FT 22nd Feb 2017 read more »
Researchers have moved one step closer to the dream of the renewables industry: batteries that can store large amounts of energy cheaply for extended periods.
Climate News Network 21st Feb 2017 read more »
Up to 16% of hydraulically fractured oil and gas wells spill liquids every year, according to new research from US scientists. They found that there had been 6,600 releases from these fracked wells over a ten-year period in four states. The biggest problems were reported in oil-rich North Dakota where 67% of the spills were recorded. The largest spill recorded involved 100,000 litres of fluid with most related to storing and moving liquids.
BBC 21st Feb 2017 read more »