Dong Energy, the world’s leading developer of offshore wind energy, says it is ready to offer the UK more offshore wind power should prime minister Theresa May scrap construction of a nuclear plant. Although there is no suggestion yet that the nuclear plans might be scrapped, the programme was thrown into fresh uncertainty by the UK government’s recent announcement that it would “review” the project. “We would be able to further accelerate and expand the build out of offshore wind should there be such a need,” Dong’s chief executive officer Henrik Poulsen told Bloomberg in a recent interview. “Of course, that’s entirely leaving those decisions to the UK Government.” As Bloomberg noted, some energy analysts say offshore wind could be an economically-viable alternative to nuclear. In contrast to the massive price of building the UK’s next generation of nuclear power stations and the very high strike price for the project, costs in the offshore wind sector are coming down quickly. “If the Brits cancel Hinkley and need more offshore wind power it’ll certainly be something we can help with,” Mr Poulsen told Bloomberg. “We just want to make the point that if they want to accelerate the build-out of offshore wind energy we’re at their disposal.”
Offshore Wind Journal 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
Theresa May will wish to avoid at all costs the appearance of being reluctant to do business with China, something the Chinese Government will inevitably characterise any attempt to put the blockers on Hinkley Point as. Already China’s state-owned media has hinted that future investment projects in the UK were contingent on Hinkley getting the green light. The Prime Minister travels to Hangzhou next week for the G20 summit and the matter will inevitably come up. The problem that Mrs May has is that while we need Chinese investment we do not need Hinkley. It is a massively over-expensive boondoggle of a project and one that is not suited to our energy needs. This is far from an anti-nuclear diatribe. It is hard to envisage any energy strategy for the UK that would not involve atomic power of some description. But a vast power station, which will take ten years to bid, is an out-of-date solution for a market which is rapidly decentralising and evolving. For a start nuclear power is undergoing a mini revolution in terms of how it operates. Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) are a new kind of nuclear power, one that is smaller, cheaper, scalable and far safer. And we are building them here in Yorkshire.
Yorkshire Post 22nd Aug 2016 read more »
Letter Marianne Birkby: George Monbiot is right: wholesale destruction of wildlife is obscene . Why no grousing, then, on the imminent destruction of the diverse habitats and endangered species, including many red list birds, on the west coast of Cumbria? Why no grouse about the collateral damage in obsessive pursuit of the “biggest nuclear development in Europe” at Moorside? The environmental destruction planned is on a scale the most bloodthirsty grouse hunter could only dream of.
Guardian 22nd Aug 2016 read more »
Representatives of 1,250 armed police officers who protect UK civil nuclear sites are challenging a rule forcing them to work beyond the age of 60. While most UK police can retire at 60, Civil Nuclear Constabulary officers must work until 65 under a new law. But the Civil Nuclear Police Federation says it will be “physically impossible” for officers in their mid-60s to protect the public from terrorism. It is taking its case to London’s High Court to try to get the rule changed. The standard retirement age for almost all police in the UK is 60, with many able to leave on a full pension in their 50s.
BBC 24th Aug 2016 read more »
Instead of building the £18bn Hinkley Point power plant, the UK should consider investing into the development of small nuclear reactors that could be deployed across the country to balance out intermittent renewable energy generation, energy experts have suggested. The so-called small modular reactors (SMR) are currently being developed by companies including Rolls-Royce and experts believe that within the next decade, the technology could be ready for commercial use. “The real promise of SMRs is their modularisation,” Anurag Gupta, director and global lead for power infrastructure at consultancy KPMG told Reuters. “You can assemble them in a factory with an explicable design, meaning consistent standards and predicable costs and delivery timescale.” The technology’s proponents envision the nuclear units, each capable of producing about a tenth of the energy of large-scale projects such as Hinkley, could be transported from factories on trucks and barges. The experts estimate it would take about six to 12 months to have the unit up and running once it reaches its destination.
Engineering & Technology 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
The UK will need to invest an “eye-watering” £215bn in its energy system by 2030 in order to replace aging assets and decarbonise, analysis by Barclays Research has found. As the country undergoes an “energy revolution” nearly half – £95bn – will need to be spent on disruptive technologies such as renewables, battery storage and distributed generation. “With electricity security of supply already on a knife edge, the UK faces the obsolescence of approximately 40% of its current aged [combined cycle gas turbine] fleet by around 2020 and approximately 70% of all reliable generation capacity by 2030,” the report said. In addition to losing 15GW of unabated coal capacity by 2025 due to pledged phase out, the report said by 2030 the UK is also expected to lose: 7.7GW of the current 8.9GW of operational nuclear capacity; 22GW of gas generation capacity, 13GW of it by 2020; and 2.3GW of biomass conversion capacity due to the ending of government subsidies in 2027.
Edie 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
The UK is on the brink of an energy revolution. The falling cost of renewables, ambitious climate targets, and technological advances are paving the way for an energy system dominated by low-carbon, decentralised energy. But as with any revolution, this energy transition will generate both winners and losers. The casualties of the transition are clear. Coal generators are already suffering a sharp downturn in fortunes, and the fuel’s decline is set to continue with the government’s pledge to phase out unabated coal-fired generation by 2025. In addition, while new gas plants may be needed in the medium term to plug the generation gap before energy storage comes on-stream, over the longer term it will increasingly be relegated to providing peaking power and back-up capacity.
Business Green 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
National Grid will take an £18m hit for funding emergency plans to revive UK power networks in the event of a major blackout after Ofgem ruled it should have better foreseen the costs involved. The company applied to the regulator in June to recoup the £113m costs of contracts it awarded to Drax and SSE’s Fiddler’s Ferry plant for “Black Start” services, meaning the plants stand ready to restart themselves independently in the unlikely event of a catastrophic power outage. But Ofgem has decided to only approve £95m of the costs, which are passed on to suppliers and ultimately paid for by energy consumers on their bills, leaving Grid to absorb the rest. National Grid had already been awarded £34.7m by Ofgem to cover the anticipated costs of Black Start services this winter, but applied for the extra £113m aft er Drax said it was considering mothballing some of its units and SSE said it planned to close Fiddler’s Ferry.
Telegraph 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
While it’s been touted by some energy experts as a so-called “bridge” to help slash carbon emissions, a new study suggests that a commitment to nuclear power may in fact be a path towards climate failure. For their study, researchers at the University of Sussex and the Vienna School of International Studies grouped European countries by levels of nuclear energy usage and plans, and compared their progress with part of the European Union’s 2020 Strategy. The researchers found that “progress in both carbon emissions reduction and in adoption of renewables appears to be inversely related to the strength of continuing nuclear commitments.” For the study, the authors looked at three groupings. First is those with no nuclear energy. Group 1 includes Denmark, Ireland and Portugal. Group 2, which counts Germany and Sweden among its members, includes those with some continuing nuclear commitments, but also with plans to decommission existing nuclear plants. The third group, meanwhile, includes countries like Hungary and the UK which have plans to maintain current nuclear units or even expand nuclear capacity. “With reference to reductions in carbon emissions and adoption of renewables, clear relationships emerge between patterns of achievement in these 2020 Strategy goals and the different groupings of nuclear use,” they wrote. For non-nuclear Group 1 countries, the average percentage of reduced emissions was 6 percent and they had an average of a 26 percent increase in renewable energy consumption. Group 2 had the highest average percentage of reduced emissions at 11 percent and they also boosted renewable energy to 19 percent. Pro-nuclear Group 3, meanwhile, had their emissions on average go up 3 percent and they had the smallest increase in renewable shares—16 percent.
Ecowatch 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
Energy Live News 24th Aug 2016 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
Around 10,000 tons of contaminated water have pooled in underground trenches around the Nos. 1 to 4 reactor buildings of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, according to the plant operator Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. “Compared with around 70,000 tons of highly contaminated water that remain in the basements of the reactor buildings, (the water in the trenches) has a low level of concentration and thus poses little threat in terms of radiation exposure and the environment,” said an official of the utility known as TEPCO.
Mainichi 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
Russia has reached two more milestones in its endeavour to close the nuclear fuel cycle. Mashinostroitelny Zavod (MSZ) – part of Russian nuclear fuel manufacturer TVEL – has completed acceptance tests of components for its ETVS-14 and ETVS-15 experimental fuel assemblies with mixed nitride fuel for the BREST and BN fast neutron reactors. MSZ has also announced the start of research and development work on the technical design of the “absorbent element” of the core of the BREST-OD-300 reactor. A Russian government decree published earlier this month indicates the country plans to construct 11 new nuclear power reactors by 2030 – including two BN-1200 sodium-cooled fast neutron reactors. The BN-1200 units are to be built at the Beloyarsk and South Urals nuclear power plants.
World Nuclear News 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
Chile has just contracted for the cheapest unsubsidized power plant in the world, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reports. In last week’s energy auction, Chile accepted a bid from Spanish developer Solarpack Corp. Tecnologica for 120 megawatts of solar at the stunning price of $29.10 per megawatt-hour (2.91 cents per kilowatt-hour or kwh). This beats the 2.99 cents/kwh bid Dubai received recently for 800 megawatts. For context, the average residential price for electricity in the United States is 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. “Solar power delivers cheapest unsubsidised electricity ever, anywhere, by any technology,” BNEF Chair Michael Liebreich said on Twitter after this contract was announced.
Climate Progress 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
National Grid is facing criticism over its decision to axe its demand-side balancing reserve (DSBR) scheme, with experts warning the move will push up greenhouse gas emissions and could lead to higher costs for consumers in the long run. the move has sparked criticism in some quarters, which is only set to increase if margins prove as tight as expected over the winter and fossil fuel plants are frequently called upon to provide back-up power. One senior industry source told BusinessGreen the DSBR had been hampered by limited funds caused by National Grid’s largesse with the accompanying Supplemental Balancing Reserve (SBR) scheme, which offers payments to power plants to provide back-up services. “The underlying issue with the DSBR is payments are capped at £17,000/MW,” he said. “It was undercapitalised from the start because National Grid was held to ransom by power stations that said they would shut down. It is a ridiculous situation where you have got coal plants being paid up to £88,000/MW, while more cost-effective demand-side services are being frozen out.”
Business Green 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
National Grid’s decision to cancel a tender financially incentivising companies to reduce electricity demand during peak times in winter months has been criticised as a “short-sighted” approach which will “undermine” business confidence in the UK energy strategy. The Demand Side Balancing Reserve (DSBR) tender was reportedly withdrawn by the Grid due to a lack of willing participants, following the application closure earlier this summer. The network operator confirmed yesterday (22 August) that it would not be procuring any capacity for this winter, stating “minimal volume would be available across this period”.
Edie 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
An energy project near Larne, County Antrim, has obtained more multi-million pound funding from the European Union. The project, being developed by Gaelectric, will store energy in the form of compressed air in underground caverns created within geological salt deposits on the Islandmagee peninsula. Financing totalling 8.2m euros (£6.9m) covers the drilling of an appraisal well and detailed studies into the design and commercial structure of the project. It previously was awarded EU funding of 6.5m euros (£5.4M) in 2015. The company said the project would provide generation capacity of 330mw for periods of up eight hours duration, enough to meet the electricity needs of more than 200,000 homes.
BBC 1st Aug 2016 read more »
PLANS for a renewables storage scheme on the Isle of Lewis which could power 200,000 homes will be unveiled today. The proposals from Eishken Limited would see a battery-style installation built next to a windfarm on the island which would be capable of generating 300 megawatts (MW) of electricity. The large pumped storage hydro (PSH) scheme will store electricity, principally generated by windfarms on Lewis. It will also double the use of the Western Isles Link, the cable being installed by the National Grid to export and import electricity generated from renewable energy sources on the islands.
Herald 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
The hydropower industry is at a “crossroads” with future projects threatened by a cut in UK subsidies, Scotland’s Energy Minister has said. Paul Wheelhouse has called on the UK Government to “work closely” with him to secure funding and jobs in rural areas. He was speaking as he visited a pumped hydro storage plant at Foyers, near Loch Ness, which can store electricity at times when renewable energy output is high but demand is low. Mr Wheelhouse said: “Hydro generation in 2015 was at a record high level – 5,780 GWh, up 6.3% on 2014. “But the hydro sector is at a crossroads with a number of exciting developments opening, but with some future investments, especially in small-scale hydro, at risk due to changes in subsidies brought in by the UK Government, putting jobs at risk in many rural communities. “Pumped hydro storage – like the facility I have seen today in Foyers – is a case in point. This tried and tested technology can play a key role in enhancing energy security, providing local jobs and helping to integrate renewables on to the network. “As well as being able to further support peak demand, expanded pumped hydro storage would also be able to effectively store greater levels of electricity at times when renewable energy output is high but demand is low. “However, this part of the hydropower industry requires substantial Government support – not the kind of extra hurdles that changes in subsidies from the UK Government have put in place. That is why I am using this visit to urge the UK Government to do all that it can to support the real and continued potential in this energy resource.”
Herald 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
Scottish Energy News 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
The Scottish energy minister says that the hydropower industry is at a crossroads. Paul Wheelhouse called for greater co-operation with Westminster while visiting a pumped hydro storage plant at Foyers, near Loch Ness. He said: “The hydro sector is at a crossroads with a number of exciting developments opening but with some future investments . . . at risk due to changes in subsidies brought in by the UK government, putting jobs at risk in rural communities.” He said that hydro generation was at a record level and laid out the case for greater investment in the use of pumped storage, which can hold more electricity at times when renewable energy generation is high but demand is low. “However . . . it requires substantial government support.” Pumped storage stores water in reservoirs at different altitudes. It is released from the higher level to work turbines and generate electricity. It can then be pumped back. ScottishPower said it would cost at least £300 million to double the capacity of its pumped storage station near Oban.
Times 24th Aug 2016 read more »
Energy Voice 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
BOTH the SNP and Scottish Greens have urged the UK Government to develop a national renewable energy storage strategy for wind power and hydro power. The plan originally announced by SNP energy spokesman Callum McCaig was supported by Mike Ruskell of the Scottish Greens in addition to his party’s own suggestions. The SNP called for stability in the renewables market and a plan for incentives for green energy while the Scottish Green Party emphasised the actions the Scottish Government could make, such as a greater push toward community-owned energy projects. Callum McCaig, SNP MP and spokesperson for energy and climate at Westminster, said: “For the potential of renewable energy to be fully realised we will continue to need newer and better storage technologies; mastering that is the solution to making renewables as attractive financially as they are environmentally. The Scottish Government in addition to this will set its goal for renewables to supply half the country’s energy by the year 2030. McCaig has also urged the UK energy secretary, Greg Clarke to implement a “stable framework” to ensure stability for investment and guarantee support for projects like the proposed 400 mega watt Cruachan pump hydro energy storage scheme and the Coire Glas scheme.
CommonSpace 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
Renewables – Hydro
RWE Innogy UK’s latest run-of-river hydro scheme in Scotland has been officially ‘launched’ today by Paul Wheelhouse MSP, the Scottish Energy Minister, and Hans Bünting, Chief Operating Officer Renewables of RWE International. Board members from the British Hydropower Association, contractors and members of the local community were among invited guests on a tour of the 3-megawatts (MW) Cia Aig hydro scheme, visiting the powerhouse and intake weir and viewing first-hand the process of renewable electricity generation.
Scottish Energy News 24th Aug 2016 read more »
A trio of SNP parliamentarians have visited the Donside Hydro power scheme in Aberdeen to gain an insight into how the new £1.2 million venture will operate upon its completion this autumn. The project – being developed by Aberdeen Community Energy – will harness the power of the River Don to generate energy. ACE is a society made up of members of the Donside Community Association to develop enough electricity generated through renewables to power 130 local homes a year.
Scottish Energy News 24th Aug 2016 read more »
Construction is well under way on Scotland’s first urban hydro power scheme. The group behind Donside Hydro says it will make £30,000 every year selling electricity back to the national grid. The project, which is on the site of the former Donside Papermill, is expected to generate power for the first time in October and supply about 130 homes. A share offer has so far raised about £200,000 of Aberdeen Community Energy’s £500,000 target. The money will be used to help pay for the £1.2m project and any profits will be reinvested in the local community. ACE says investors can expect a return of about 7%.
STV 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
One of Scotland’s largest commercial ports has recorded its busiest week in 25 years, which its owners are putting down to the growth in renewable energy. A total of 10 vessels called at the Port of Ayr last week – four of which were carrying wind turbine components.
BBC 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
Plans are afoot to use the heat produced at a biomass plant built for the defunct Tullis Russell Papermakers to develop a district heating network in Glenrothes. The RWE Markinch Biomass CHP plant was commissioned in 2014 to replace Tullis Russell’s previous coal and gas-fired plant with additional power being exported to the grid. Tullis Russell Papermakers went into administration in early 2015 and its electrical crepe paper division was later bought out by a group of employees to form Glenrothes Paper, which is still powered by the RWE biomass plant. Now Fife Council, RWE and the Scottish Government are working on a business case for using some of the additonal heat generated at the plant to meet local residential and commercial needs.
Herald 24th Aug 2016 read more »
As a prominent retired anti-fracking academic prepares to take legal action against his former employer Glasgow University, new emails uncovered by Spinwatch raise doubts over the university’s close relationship with the shale gas industry. Professor David Smythe last week crowd-funded more than £11,600 to challenge the university’s right to terminate his lifelong online research access after he published an article critical of the shale gas industry. He claims his access was cut off because one of the university’s senior staff, engineering professor and member of the university court, Professor Paul Younger, ‘disagrees with my views on fracking; he and many other UK earth science academics depend upon industry and government for research grants.’ A former adviser to the Scottish Government’s expert panel on unconventional gas, Younger has accused Smythe of ‘pseudo-scientific scaremongering’ over fracking. Younger has also received funding and was a non-executive director of the company Five Quarter which was involved in exploring for shale gas from underground offshore coal deposits, until it collapsed in March this year. Smythe, who has represented many community groups opposed to shale gas, argues that wider issues are afoot too: ‘The companies that I have criticised technically include Cuadrilla Resources, Dart Energy, IGas, and Celtique Energie. The common theme in my work is the risk of contamination of groundwater resources due to the complex faulted geology of the UK.’
Spinwatch 17th Aug 2016 read more »
A tiny community sitting on a 27-square-mile piece of Western Pennsylvania wanted to send a big message to the energy company planning to deposit toxic fracking wastewater under its neighborhoods. And its 700 residents wanted it to be perfectly legal for them to loudly object. Grant Township had seen what happens when people nationwide take to the streets to protest bullying corporations: Arrests. Lots of them. So Grant Township planned ahead. Two weeks ago, it passed a law that protects its residents from arrest if they protest Pennsylvania General Energy Company’s (PGE) creation of an injection well. Residents believe this law is the first in the United States to legalize nonviolent civil disobedience against toxic wastewater injection wells.
Yes Magazine 13th May 2016 read more »
The Chinese government is doing more than just funding the UK’s fleet of new nuclear power plants, and taking over North Sea oil fields. It’s also backing fracking. The same Beijing-backed company The Times today revealed is now the UK offshore oil industry’s biggest player is also the largest shareholder in one of Britain’s biggest fracking firms. China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) controls 13% of shale explorer IGas via its subsidiary Nexen. That is 6% less than it owned when Energydesk first looked into IGas two years ago.
Energydesk 23rd Aug 2016 read more »