French utility EDF should not delay the investment decision on plans to build two nuclear reactors in Britain as it could risk losing the contract, French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday. Macron said he could understand calls to delay the 18 billion pound project until problems with two nuclear projects in Flamanville, France and Olkiluoto, Finland are sorted out, but the British government would see this as a renunciation of the project. “We need to understand that a delay would create a strong risk that we would lose the contract,” Macron told parliament in a briefing about EDF, which is 85 percent state owned. Macron said Chinese nuclear firms – which already have a strong presence in Britain – would be ready to take over the contract, which he said has an excellent return on equity. He added that losing the contract would have grave consequences for investment and employment in the French nuclear industry and for its credibility. Macron said EDF should make the Hinkley Point investment decision in early May, not at the next board meeting on March 30. He hoped that by early April there would be an agreement about conflicts relating to Olkiluoto, which is the subject of an arbitration suit in which reactor builder Areva and its Finnish customer TVO claim billions from one another.
Reuters 22nd March 2016 read more »
The French Finance Minister, Emmanuel Macron said the green light would not be lit until the beginning of May but signalled the French government’s strong support. “The principal nuclear project in the developed world is Hinkley Point. Can we legitimately choose not to take part in the largest nuclear project in the developed world? For my part, I don’t think so.”
BBC 22nd March 2016 read more »
A decision on funding for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station could be made in May 2016, the project’s developer EDF Energy has suggested. According to reports, French economy minister Emmanuel Macron has said a final investment decision from EDF, which is 85 per cent state-owned, is expected in early May. He is also said to have told the French parliament that it is “unlikely” that EDF would elect not to be involved in the project.
Insider Media 23rd March 2016 read more »
Construction News 23rd March 2016 read more »
Sky News 22nd March 2016 read more »
Doubts about nuclear power and the rise of renewables suggests it is time to rethink energy policy says Paul Ekins.
New Scientist 23rd March 2016 read more »
Tomorrow morning, the saga that is Hinkley nuclear power station is set to continue as executives from EDF will face a grilling from MPs in parliament. As the media debate rages about Hinkley, MPs will now put questions to EDF – and other executives from the nuclear industry – about the cost and viability of the project and the value for money for consumers. To get beyond soundbites, the committee of MPs will need to ask EDF the right questions. The Guardian newspaper published a few of its own questions the other day. But we’ve come up with a few ideas too, to throw into the mix: 1. For several years, EDF has said that the final decision to invest in Hinkley would come soon, possibly as soon as EDF’s next board meeting on 30 March. We need to know – why should we believe EDF any more when they say “soon”, given that the project is already running several years late? 2. It’s been reported that EDF – a French company – could receive a financial bailout by the French state, to help the firm afford to invest in Hinkley and avoid plunging the energy firm into a financial black hole. However, European laws exist that prevent governments from giving excessive subsidies or financial aid to companies, which might mean that this isn’t a viable option. So does that mean that in fact EDF is getting unfairly generous treatment? 3. We know from newspaper reports that an independent French nuclear expert recently wrote a paper – that was presented to the EDF board – which outlined the financial and technical barriers to the Hinkley project. As EDF says it’s committed to transparency, can we expect to now receive a copy of the report? And will Chancellor George Osborne be sent a copy too? 4. This same paper suggested it would be a better option for EDF to build reactors in France, or to extend the life of existing reactors, and then ship the power over to UK via cables. So we’d like to know, has that option been discussed with the UK government? 5. Over the last couple of years, Greenpeace has been trying to access information that explains why EDF has been given such a good deal by the UK government. The department for energy and climate change (DECC) hasn’t wanted to reveal this information to protect EDF’s commercial confidentiality. But as EDF embraces scrutiny, will EDF now ask DECC officials to share the documents so that Greenpeace doesn’t have to take them to court to see them? 6. The Hinkley reactor design is the same as the reactors being made in France, Finland and China. None of them work. All of them are behind schedule by years, and over budget by billions. What makes EDF think that Hinkley will be any different? 7. Sadly the threat of terrorism has increased in recent years, so what measures does EDF have in place to protect the Hinkley power station, and the people and environment in the surrounding areas that could be affected by an incident? Hopefully, when the committee of MPs questions EDF tomorrow, we’ll start to see a few answers to the big issues outlined above.
Greenpeace 22nd March 2016 read more »
The most extraordinary facet of the parliamentary hearings today into Hinkley Point C and the future of the British nuclear industry is that it has taken until now for the House of Commons energy and climate change select committee to get its act together and call an investigation. The proposed £18 billion electricity generating station in Somerset, powered by two European pressurised nuclear reactors and being built by EDF, the mainly French government-owned energy company, has been a practical lesson in how difficult the delivery of a new nuclear age in Britain will be. Or, to put it another way, that the go-ahead has still not been given in 2016 – the year that forecasters have long fretted will usher in the era of too much electricity demand and not enough supply – raises huge doubts about whether UK nuclear has any future at all. Some MPs on the co mmittee are certainly among the naysayers, but with EDF still showing no sign of committing to a binding final investment decision, which the company claims will be in early May, the panel has finally called in all the principal players (except for the Treasury) to explain what the heck is going on.
Times 23rd March 2016 read more »
The economics of nuclear power in Europe are in meltdown, leaving taxpayers facing a heavy burden as the industry clings to pledges of huge public cash injections.
Eco Business 23rd March 2016 read more »
Accumulation of Sellafield-derived Radioactive Carbon (14C) in Irish Sea and West of Scotland Intertidal Shells and Sediments.
Mining Awareness 22nd March 2016 read more »
The UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation, the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales have provided an update on their assessment of the two designs currently going through the Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process – Hitachi-GE’s UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (UK ABWR), and the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design. The update is provided in the regulators’ quarterly report – covering November 2015 to January 2016 – which was issued yesterday.
World Nuclear News 22nd March 2016 read more »
It is clear today that no one is immune from damaging cyber attacks – but for one set of critical infrastructure, the consequences could be catastrophic: Nuclear facilities. The scenario is not hard to imagine. An attack could facilitate the theft of nuclear materials or an act of sabotage in any number of ways. Access control systems could be compromised, allowing the entry of unauthorized persons seeking to obtain nuclear material or damage the facility. Accounting systems could be manipulated so that the theft of material goes unnoticed. Reactor cooling systems could be deliberately disabled, resulting in a Fukushima-like disaster.
NTI Nuclear Security Index 22nd March 2016 read more »
Letter David Lowry: I was due to be in Brussels yesterday for a meeting at the European Parliament. Those attending were advised to use the Maelbeek metro station. In the end I was unable to attend. I was at a meeting with a similar group of people in London on July 7 2005, just round the corner from where the bus was blown up. Both meetings were dealing with nuclear terrorism. I fear a future terrorist spectacular will involve radioactive material, or an attack on a nuclear power plant. Unfortunately, many politicians and governments have put their heads in the sand. They need to take them out very quickly.
Telegraph 23rd March 2016 read more »
Hours after bombs tore through Belgium’s international airport and a subway station in central Brussels, the government asked the operator of one of the country’s nuclear energy plants to evacuate most staff. ENGIE, the French electric company that runs the Tihange nuclear plant about 50 miles southeast of Brussels, confirmed that all non-essential staff had left the facility. There was no indication Belgian authorities had received information about any direct threat to the facility, and there was no word of evacuations at the country’s other nuclear power plant or research facilities, but earlier this year police did learn that ISIS seems interested in breaching Belgium’s nuclear security.
CBS 22nd March 2016 read more »
Reuters 22nd March 2016 read more »
Daily Mail 22nd March 2016 read more »
Express 22nd March 2016 read more »
Herald 22nd March 2016 read more »
Mirror 22nd March 2016 read more »
Security has been stepped at nuclear power plants around Belgium amid fears they could be the next target after the Brussels atrocity. The alert came after secret footage of a senior Belgian nuclear official was discovered in the Belgian flat of one of the suspects linked to the Paris terror attacks. It is understood to have contained dozens of hours of covert footage of an unnamed director of the Belgian nuclear research and development programme. Reports in Belgium said surveillance was now being stepped up “with added security measures” including vehicles being checked by police and the army.
Telegraph 22nd March 2016 read more »
Radwaste – research
Funding worth £1.5 million has been awarded for research into the disposal of nuclear waste. The University of Sheffield will investigate the durability of spent nuclear fuel. Dr Claire Corkhill will build a model and chemistry of the radioactive waste material and assess its long term stability under simulated geological disposal conditions. Over 60 years the UK has generated nuclear waste with a volume capable of filling Wembley Stadium and is expected to remain radioactive for more than 100,000 years, according to the university. While the potential for radioactive elements released into the atmosphere are “extremely low”, there is concern that groundwater may begin to slowly dissolve it, it added.
Energy Live News 22nd March 2016 read more »
Radwaste – WIPP
The Energy Department concluded its investigation in late February, finding that Los Alamos National Laboratory workers incorrectly packaged waste shipped to WIPP, leading to the leak and exposing more than 20 workers to radiation. Federal officials issued safety violation citations to two contractors, but no fines. WIPP disposal operations may resume this year, but the cost of re-starting is estimated at nearly a half-billion dollars. In the meantime, waste is backing up at Los Alamos and elsewhere, including sites in Nevada and Idaho.
High Country News 21st March 2016 read more »
Energy Policy – Scotland
Letter: IN your report on the shutdown of one reactor at Torness for a valve repair (“Reactor powered down as valve trouble is uncovered”, The Herald, March 18) you quote WWF Scotland as asserting: “It’s clear that nuclear power is showing itself to be an increasingly unreliable source of energy … Scotland is right to be choosing to harness more power from renewable energy sources” to “end our reliance on unreliable and unpopular nuclear power and fossil fuels”. Implying that our existing nuclear stations are unreliable is not borne out by fact.
Herald 23rd March 2016 read more »
French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday France is considering supporting utility EDF with a mechanism modeled on the Contract for Difference scheme the UK has put in place to build nuclear plants in Hinkley Point.”The British have managed to negotiate long-term guarantees for nuclear newbuild with the European Commission, at a high price level that opens perspectives,” Macron told French parliament.He said he does not expect that French consumers would have to pay the same power prices as the British, but that a similar legal framework would reopen perspectives for investment.
Reuters 22nd March 2016 read more »
Five years after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima and 30 years after the Chernobyl accident, scientists are still disagreeing about the impact on human health – such as how many people have got cancer as a result and how dangerous the exclusion zones currently are. The people of Fukushima, except those in the worst contaminated areas, will eventually be encouraged to return to their homes. In the absence of better understanding, scientific and political arguments about how safe the radiation levels are will continue. What is abundantly clear, though, is that we need to understand the comparative health effects of radiation versus relocation. Developing a new approach in our response to nuclear accidents and the decisions that are made in their immediate aftermath is vital so that we can avoid unnecessary panic and evacuation – something virtually all scientists agree on.
Sheffield University 22nd March 2016 read more »
Renewables – Offshore Wind
In its 2016 annual Budget, the UK government announced plans to allocate GBP 730m ($1bn) by 2021 to offshore wind farms and other less-established renewable energy technologies, sticking to its low-carbon commitment while moving support away from the more established technologies of onshore wind and solar PV. A series of auctions will be held over the next few years to allocate the funding, with a requirement to hit tightening price targets for offshore wind as the auction programme unfolds. Project developers bidding in the first GBP 290m auction set for this year will need to meet a price cap of GBP 105/MWh to be in with a chance of winning support. The 4GW cap also means that “only a third of the estimated 12GW offshore wind pipeline to 2026 could be supported, if offshore wind were to win all the subsidy allocated,” according to BNEF forecasts, as detailed in an Analyst Reaction on the UK 2016 Budget.
Renew Economy 23rd March 2016 read more »
It will take decades to completely leave fossil fuels, writes Richard Heinberg. But we can do it, starting with the easy stuff: going big time for wind and solar, raising energy efficiency, replacing oil-fuelled vehicles, and moving to organic farming. But deeper changes will follow as we transition to a more enduring sustainability – consuming better, and much less. The most important thing to understand about the energy transition is that it’s not optional. Delay would be fatal. It’s time to make a plan – however sketchy, however challenging – and run with it, revising it as we go.
Ecologist 18th March 2016 read more »
Community solar project in Prime Minister’s constituency reveals it has raised almost £350,000 from local residents, but experts fear it could be one of the last of its type for some time thanks to government policy change. The government may have been accused of undermining the community solar sector last year through a series of cuts to incentives and tax breaks, but the Prime Minister has revealed he remains optimistic the fledgling sector can continue to prosper as technology costs fall. David Cameron this week issued a statement praising Southill Community Energy’s (SCE) planned 4.5MW community solar farm on the Cornbury Park estate, just outside Charlbury, Oxfordshire, underlining his support for community energy initiatives that offer local residents the chance to invest in clean energy infrastructure. The project is to be located in Cameron’s Witney constituency and the Prime Minister praised the initiative as further evidence of people’s “enthusiasm” for solar technology.
Business Green 22nd March 2016 read more »
Norwegian fossil fuel giant Statoil is piloting an innovative battery storage system for offshore wind energy on the world’s first floating wind farm – the Hywind park off the coast of Aberdeenshire in Scotland.
Edie 22nd March 2016 read more »
Scottish Energy News 22nd March 2016 read more »
Danish lighting company Scotia unveils new range of solar-powered streetlights that promise to turn local authorities into ‘energy powerhouses’ London may take a lead in zero-emissions street lighting later this year if plans go ahead to install the first wave of a pioneering streetlight that illuminates streets and feeds energy back into the grid using only solar power. The Monopole street light, developed by Danish solar lighting firm Scotia, collects solar energy during daylight hours and stores it in a battery for use after sundown. Not only do the lights generate enough energy to power themselves, they can also feed energy back into the local grid to turn local authorities into “energy powerhouses”, according to Scotia’s founder Steven Scott. According to Scotia, if all of the UK’s seven million streetlights were switched to Monopoles, it would save more than £300m in electricity costs and generate more than 4TWh of clean power per year. Some 40 per cent of this would feed back into the grid, saving more than two million tonnes of CO2 every year, it added.
Business Green 22nd March 2016 read more »
Coal-fired power plants globally consume enough water to supply the needs of one billion people, and consumption is set to rise, according to a report by environmental group Greenpeace. The research, published on World Water Day, found that coal plants globally consume 19 billion cubic metres of water per year. As of the end of 2013 there were 8,359 installed coal plant units, amounting to 1811GW installed capacity, and 2,668 proposed units, totalling 1300GW proposed capacity globally. The report warned that, if these plants come online, water withdrawal is set to increase by 32 billion cubic metres per year and consumption by 17 billion cubic metres per year.
Utility Week 22nd March 2016 read more »