EDF’s workers’ committee has turned to the French courts in an attempt to further delay the group’s £18bn project to build Britain’s Hinkley Point nuclear power plant. Last month, the French utility company had been due to give final approval for going ahead with Hinkley Point. But, a month earlier, this process was put on hold when the workers committee demanded to be consulted on the decision. After its intervention in April, the committee – which is an official body within EDF made up largely of union members – was given three months, until July 4, to say if it would support the project or not. However, this week, the committee filed a legal claim – seen by the Financial Times – alleging that EDF has “refused” to give them key documents and so they “cannot form a clear view on the issue”. Jean-Luc Magnaval, secretary of the EDF workers ‘ committee, confirmed the legal move and told the FT: “We do not have all the documents necessary to come to an opinion.” “Even if the judges force EDF to give us all the documents tomorrow, it will still be tight to come up with an informed opinion by July 4, so we are also asking for more time,” he explained. EDF said in a statement it had “supplied fully comprehensive information on the project to enable employee representatives to participate in meaningful discussions with management.” Any decision from the workers’ committee is non-binding, and so EDF can push ahead with Hinkley Point regardless. But, legally, EDF has to at least wait for the committee’s opinion before proceeding. A majority of the EDF unions now want to delay any commitment to the Hinkley Point project, in part because the EPR reactor technology that will be used is still untested, with no working example in the world.
FT 23rd June 2016 read more »
Asked why EDF should release confidential documents such as its contract with CGN, Magnaval said “the court will decide”. In its court filing, seen by Reuters, the works council argues that the level of information provided should be on par with the importance of the project. If the court rules against the union, or if it does not issue a ruling before July 4, the works council will refuse to give its view on the project. That will legally be considered as a negative verdict. As the works council’s advice is not binding, EDF will then paradoxically be free to go ahead with the project.
Reuters 22nd June 2016 read more »
THE firm that ran the Fukushima nuclear plant has apologised for its “cover up” when it delayed disclosure of meltdowns at three reactors. Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) president Naomi Hirose’s apology followed the revelation last week that an investigation had found his predecessor instructed officials during the 2011 disaster to avoid using the word “meltdown”. “I would say it was a cover up,” Hirose told a news conference. “It’s extremely regrettable.” Tepco instead described the reactors’ condition as less serious “core damage” for two months after the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, wrecked the plant, even though utility officials knew and computer simulations suggested meltdowns had occurred. Tepco finally used “meltdown” in May, 2011, in its public statements after another computer simulation showed fuel in one reactor had almost entirely melted and fallen to the bottom of the primary containment chamber, and that the two other reactor cores had melted significantly. The issue surfaced earlier this year in a separate investigation in which Tepco acknowledged that a company manual had been overlooked during the crisis. The acknowledgement reversed its earlier position that it had no internal criteria to guide how it characterised a meltdown to the public.
The National 21st June 2016 read more »
Business Insider 22nd June 2016 read more »
Working inside the radioactive ruins of the worst nuclear disaster in history, Robert Maxwell takes a few simple steps to stay safe. He doesn’t lick the walls, he doesn’t eat the plants and he doesn’t touch The Claw. Chernobyl, Ukraine, was the scene of a catastrophic nuclear accident in 1986 and 30 years on Mr Maxwell is the only archaeologist to have braved the ruined city in the name of research.
Daily Mail 23rd June 2016 read more »
European leaders have been urged to put aside opposition to Russia’s dominance in the European gas market and take advantage of cheap imports to safeguard struggling industrial sectors against the rising cost of energy. The European Commission is taking steps to create new powers to vet EU energy deals between third party countries such as Russia to protect the EU against the risk of a massive supply disruption due to political tensions between Russia and neighbouring Ukraine. But a panel of leading energy experts, including executives at Shell, BP and Vitol, rubbished concerns over energy deals with the gas-rich country, saying it offered a stable and reliable source of gas.
Telegraph 22nd June 2016 read more »
The total cost of a two-year competition investigation into the British energy market could exceed £80 million, according to industry officials. The Competition and Markets Authority is set to publish its final 500-page report tomorrow, bringing a formal end to a detailed study of the energy market that began in June 2014. The CMA, which has had about 30 full-time staff working on the investigation for two years, says that the project has cost it about £5 million, including about £440,000 in fees paid to lawyers and external advisers. However, the total cost to the industry, including the six big energy suppliers and their rivals, is believed to be far higher, with the bulk of this ultimately met by consumers through their energy bills.
Times 23rd June 2016 read more »
When the Competition and Markets Authority started an investigation into the energy industry in June 2014, the sector and its companies were the focus of a furious public row. Ed Miliband had made rising bills a hot political issue in the run-up to a general election and there were open threats to break up the Big Six. Two years on, that row is likely to end with more of a whimper than a bang.
Times 23rd June 2016 read more »
The Competition and Markets Authority is to publish its long-awaited final report tomorrow (24 June) which it says will fix the broken energy market. But speaking on the eve of the report’s publication, Juliet Davenport, Chief Executive of independent supplier Good Energy, launched a pre-emptive attack on the Big Six British utility companies which dominate the UK energy supply market. She said: “I want to see the CMA holding the big energy companies to account. For far too long the Big Six have taken loyal customers for granted. “This report needs to deliver practical solutions which really do un-stick the so-called ‘sticky’ customers and help them find the best deals.
Scottish Energy News 23rd June 2016 read more »
This summer, Congress has been tying itself up in knots, trying to decide how to adequately fund U.S. national defense priorities, given the limits imposed by sequestration. But the difficult reality is that, however we choose to address immediate challenges, any rational attempt to plan for America’s future security must begin with a clear-eyed reassessment of the costs, trade-offs, and dangers of the trillion-dollar plan Washington is undertaking to modernize the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. That reassessment should include an effort to eliminate the new nuclear cruise missile.
Foreign Policy 17th June 2016 read more »
Fennovoima has announced plans to develop its own repository for disposing of used fuel from its planned Hanhikivi nuclear power plant in western Finland. Posiva Solutions is to advise it on site selection. In accordance with the decision-in-principle granted by the Finnish government to Fennovoima in 2010, the company was to submit to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy either a final disposal cooperation agreement with Posiva to participate in the Onkalo repository project at Olkiluoto, or an environmental impact assessment (EIA) program for its own final disposal facility by the end of this month. Finland’s established nuclear utilities, Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) and Fortum, will be able to dispose of used fuel from their current and future plants in a repository to be built close to the existing Olkiluoto nuclear power plant by waste management company Posiva. Posiva is jointly owned by Fortum and TVO. Fennovoima failed to secure an agreement for Posiva to manage its used fuel in addition to TVO and Fortum’s. In March 2012, the Finnish government told the companies they must work together to solve the used fuel impasse.
World Nuclear News 22nd June 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
Wind turbines taller than the tallest buildings in Canary Wharf could be built offshore in the 2020s, as the industry uses bigger machines to cut costs, a leading manufacturer has said. MHI Vestas makes what are believed to be the biggest offshore turbines to be deployed commercially to date, with blades spanning a 164-metre (538ft) diameter and their tips reaching to 195 metres (640ft) above sea level. The 8-megawatt (MW) capacity machines are currently being installed by Dong Energy at its Burbo Bank Extension wind farm, off the coast of Merseyside. Anders Bach Anderson, senior product manager at MHI Vestas, said he believed wind turbines with blades spanning more than 200 metres (656ft) diameter, and with capacity of at least 12MW, were “likely” before 2030, and said they could potentially span in excess of 230 metres (755ft). Such machines could have a capacity of more than 15MW and tip heights reaching up to 260 metres (853ft) above sea level – taller than the One Canada Square, which at 235m (771ft) is the tallest building in Canary Wharf.
Telegraph 22nd June 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
Solar power is a paradox. It is the world’s fastest-growing energy source, but it has been anything but a one-way ticket for investors. Tesla’s proposed takeover of SolarCity, the largest residential solar company in the US, is the latest warning that bright prospects for the industry will not necessarily be reflected in shareholder returns. The policy framework supporting solar power in the US has “never been better”, in the words of Thomas Werner, chief executive of SunPower, one of the largest American solar companies. The economics of solar power in the US are still heavily dependent on government support, including a federal tax credit and many state incentives. The tax credit had been scheduled to expire at the end of this year, but a budget deal agreed by Congress last December gave it a five-year extension, with a gradual phase-out lasting until 2021. California, the largest solar market in the US and one of the largest in the world, in January agreed favourable new rules for “net metering” – the billing framework for electric utility customers who generate their own power.
FT 22nd June 2016 read more »
Elon Musk has taken a step towards rolling up his different corporate interests, using the high-flying stock of electric car company Tesla Motors to make an all-stock offer worth nearly $3bn for solar power company SolarCity. The prospect of Tesla paying a substantial premium for a company in which Mr Musk is already the chairman and the largest shareholder unnerved Wall Street and knocked nearly 13 per cent from Tesla shares in after-market trading. The $4.1bn that was wiped from Tesla’s stock market value overshadowed a $500m jump in SolarCity’s share price on the news. Mr Musk said that shareholders in both companies would vote on the deal, and that he would abstain from voting both his 21 per cent stake in Tesla and his 22 per cent SolarCity interest. “This would only move forward if there is a majority vote of the non-me shareholders in both companies,” he said.
FT 22nd June 2016 read more »
Renewables – onshore wind
A new wind farm in Scotland is set to supply half the power needed for Nestle’s operations in the UK and Ireland, the company has announced. A 15-year partnership with Community Windpower will see Nestle buying electricity generated by a new nine-turbine wind farm in Dumfries and Galloway once it opens in the first half of 2017. The Sanquhar community wind farm will produce around 125 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity a year – the equivalent of powering 30,000 homes – all of which will be bought by Nestle to meet 50% of its electricity needs in the UK and Ireland. The partnership has given Community Windpower the assurance to go ahead with the project.
Scotsman 23rd June 2016 read more »
Renewables – wave power
The UK Marine Energy Conference – being held in Glasgow on 4 July – will bring together those at the forefront of wave & tidal technology within the UK and Ireland. This one-day conference will be hosted by industry experts, Dr Gordon Dalton Lead Co-ordinator of the Maribe H2020 Project and Professor Stephen Salter, Emeritus Professor of Engineering Design, University of Edinburgh.
Scottish Energy News 23rd June 2016 read more »
UK regulators have given the green light to plans for a 400-mile subsea power cable linking Scotland and Norway. Ofgem announced it had granted an electricity interconnector licence to Scandinavian consortium NorthConnect. The developers plan to build a £1.3bn power cable between Boddam in Aberdeenshire and Eidfjord in Norway. The project aims to link hydro power from Norway with wind energy from Scotland. It is scheduled to start operating from 2022. NorthConnect have said that the cable will have a capacity of 1.4GW – about 25% of Scottish peak demand. Responding to the Ofgem announcement, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “If the UK and the rest of Europe are to move to a 100% renewable future then greater use of interconnectors is a sensible way forward. Sharing different renewable resources between nations would help drive down climate emissions much faster than relying on domestic action alone. However, it shouldn’t be an excuse for any country to halt the development of their own renewable capacity. A European-wide ‘supergrid’ would also bring the double benefits of security of supply and a reduced need to build lots of expensive new nuclear or fossil fuel power stations.”
BBC 22nd June 2016 read more »
STV 22nd June 2016 read more »
Business Green 22nd June 2016 read more »
A SUBSEA cable to export Scottish wind power to Norway will cost the country jobs and investment, the head of a renewables firm has claimed. Regulator Ofgem has approved a licence for the construction of a 400-mile underwater power cable linking Scotland and Norway. The £1.3 billion project will see wind power generated in Scotland sent to Eidfjord in Norway, with hydro energy from that country received in Boddam, Aberdeenshire. Developers hope the link will be operational by 2022 with connections eventually developed to Iceland. However, Rod Wood, managing director of Community Windpower, claims Westminster policy means “Scotland will lose out” on jobs and income because of the project – by buying in renewables from overseas instead of supporting the growth of the homegrown sector. It has been argued that the scheme could help plug gaps in provision when Scottish renewables are running low, such as times of high demand or low wind. However, Wood said: “It is a very expensive solution in terms of putting a subsea cable through the North Sea in a very aggressive environment. The real solution is looking at renewables storage.” Wood’s plan involves installing lithium ion batteries at the under-construction Aikengall II wind farm in East Lothian. At 19 turbines, the development is an extension of the existing Aikengall wind farm near Dunbar and will be capable of generating 60 megawatts of electricity. If approved, the storage plan will see lithium ion batteries – the same as those used by green car firm Tesla Motors – capable of holding 12mw housed in on-site containers.
The National 23rd June 2016 read more »
The Marcellus Shale has transformed the Appalachian Basin into an energy juggernaut. Even amid a recent drilling slowdown, regional daily production averages enough natural gas to power more than 200,000 U.S. homes for a year. But the rise of hydraulic fracturing over the past decade has created another boom: tons of radioactive materials experts call an “orphan” waste stream. No federal agency fully regulates oil and gas drilling byproducts — which include brine, sludge, rock and soiled equipment — leaving tracking and handling to states that may be reluctant to alienate energy interests. “Nobody can say how much of any type of waste is being produced, what it is, and where it’s ending up,” said Nadia Steinzor of the environmental group Earthworks, who co-wrote a report on shale waste. (Earthworks has received funding from The Heinz Endowments, as has the Center for Public Integrity). The group is among several suing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate drilling waste under a federal system that tracks hazardous materials from creation to final disposal, or “cradle to grave.” The EPA declined to comment on the lawsuit but is scheduled to file a response in court by early July.
Public Integrity 20th June 2016 read more »