The UK capacity auction: a backdoor way of staving off the utility death spiral. A mantra is inscribed on the walls of the UK Treasury. It reads ‘No subsidy without additionality’. In layperson’s language, this strange phrase means that the only justifiable purpose of handing a business a cheque is to get it to do something it wouldn’t otherwise do. This golden rule was spectacularly flouted in the UK electricity capacity auction that was concluded last week. A billion pounds will be handed to generators in 2018 in return for doing precisely what they would have done anyway. Negligible amounts of new electricity generating capacity was drawn into the market and existing plants will not change their behaviour. Later in this article I’m going to look briefly at two successful participants in the auction – the pumped storage reservoirs and the nuclear fleet – to show why this is so. Consider two important sources of electricity at the times of greatest demand at 5pm on mid-winter weekday evening: nuclear and pumped storage reservoirs. EdF put in bids to the capacity auction offering 7.9 gigawatts of power. (I mustn’t digress but I don’t think that EdF has actually delivered 7.9 gigawatts from its nuclear power stations at any stage of the winter so far, so its ability to deliver on the commitment must be questioned). Nuclear power station are meant to run all the time. It costs money to shut them down or run at a reduced load. No operator would ever voluntarily not have its nuclear stations working. There was no point whatsoever in allowing these power plants into the capacity auction and paying them about £150m a year to carry on doing what they want to do anyway. In the UK it looks as though the major generators have staved off the death spiral a little by capturing another billion pounds from consumers. That billion could have gone into energy storage units, power to gas facilities or renewable generators, such as anaerobic digestion plants, that can modulate their output to help match supply and demand, thus easing the transition away from carbon-based fuels. Unfortunately, the auction just bought off the large generators instead.
Carbon Commentary 22nd Dec 2014 read more »
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes a report publicised by the Cities for a Nuclear Free Europe (CNFE) which analyses the comparative costs of renewable energy and nuclear power, in the light of the huge subsidy required to develop a new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The Vienna Ombuds–Office for Environmental Protection took this opportunity and commissioned a study for CNFE to compare the costs for nuclear power with the costs for renewable power. The main question for the study was: “How much electricity can we get out of different energy sources for a given sum of money?” For the answer the study compares the costs of renewable energy and nuclear power generation in five countries – UK, Poland, Germany, France and the Czech Republic – and the EU 28 overall. The report concludes that, under the same budgetary conditions, it is almost always possible to generate more electricity from renewable sources than from nuclear power. It also concludes that generating electricity from a variety of renewable sources is more economical than using nuclear power right up to 2050 and beyond. Across the EU, end consumers can save up to 37% on their electricity costs, and some member states up to 74%. In order to achieve these goals it is vital that Governments act quickly, but with care, to create the infrastructure and regulatory framework this requires, or to adapt that which already exists.
Nuclear Free Local Authorities 22nd Dec 2014 read more »
Formal proposals have been submitted to create a new wildlife site to compensate for the loss of internationally-recognised habitat should the Sizewell C nuclear power station be built.
East Anglian Daily Times 24th Dec 2014 read more »
The launch of a women’s network to promote equal opportunities in the nuclear sector has been welcomed by GMB, the workers’ union. The Sellafield Women’s Network has been set up to support and encourage more women to progress into highly skilled jobs within the sector. Donna Walker, an Equality Officer for GMB said: “The Sellafield Ltd Women’s Network now has the real opportunity to achieve a tremendous step change to help women from across the workforce to develop their talents to the full.” The launch event in Cumbria saw a number of high profile speakers and women at various stages of their careers come together to exchange advice and share success stories.
Energy Live News 24th Dec 2014 read more »
Nuclear fuel workers on the Fylde were given an early Christmas present with the signing of a lucrative deal. Westinghouse Electric Company, which owns the Springfields Nuclear Fuel plant at Salwick, has been awarded a long-term contract to provide several thousand tons of fuel to nuclear reactors in France. The contract with Electricité de France (EDF) will continue the current contract which was due to expire at the end of this year. No details of the cost were released but it will give Westinghouse the opportunity to go on providing a significant portion of EDF’s total nuclear fuel requirements.
Lytham St Annes Express 24th Dec 2014 read more »
Our year-long exploration of the energy trilemma and how to solve it is now almost over. You can continue to access our achive of stories, blogs and interviews but if you want to continue the debate, where better to head than Twitter. Here we share our top 10 tweeters on energy matters. Follow them and get stuck in to the conversation.
Guardian 23rd Dec 2014 read more »
South Korea boosted cyber security at the country’s nuclear power plants on Tuesday following what President Park Geun-hye described as a series “grave” data leaks, and prosecutors said they were investigating a new online threat.Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co Ltd (KHNP), which runs South Korea’s 23 nuclear power reactors, said on Monday its computer systems had been hacked, raising alarm in a country that is still technically at war with North Korea.
Reuters 23rd Dec 2014 read more »
A South Korean nuclear plant operator’ computer system was hacked. The perpetrator has leaked blueprints and manuals, says if his demands for three reactors’ closure aren’t met, those living near the facilities should “stay away” from home. The hacker has been releasing the internal data of Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co (KHNP) in stages, with the latest piece being posted online on Sunday. It came together with a warning of a major leak still ahead.
Russia Today 22nd Dec 2014 read more »
The government said it will declare that all remaining designated radiation hot spots in residential areas in Fukushima Prefecture are safe for residents. The move does not affect the main exclusion zone, which remains in place. This Sunday, officials will lift an evacuation advisory for 142 locations in the city of Minamisoma, which will affect 152 households, Yosuke Takagi, state minister of economy, trade and industry, said this weekend during a briefing to residents. Amid complaints from residents, Takagi said the decision was based on rules that allow hot spot designations to be lifted once radiation levels fall following decontamination work.
Japan Times 22nd Dec 2014 read more »
Japanese energy firm TEPCO said it reached a milestone in the clean-up of the Fukushima power plant, by removing all of the radioactive fuel rods from one of its reactors. The reactor is one of four badly damaged by a deadly earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. Over the weekend, the last four of 1,553 fuel assemblies were taken out of a cooling pool at the building which houses Fukushima’s No.4 reactor.
Energy Live News 24th Dec 2014 read more »
EnBW will sue its 46% owner, the state of Baden-Württemberg, as well as the German federal government, over the unlawful shutdown of two reactors in 2011. Announcing its decision today, EnBW said it is “mindful of the statute of limitations expiring on 31 December 2014” and plans to begin its legal action tomorrow.
World Nuclear News 23rd Dec 2014 read more »
It’s being called a “watershed moment”. In arguably the greatest set back yet to fracking, the state of New York – which sits on top of vast reserves of shale gas – has banned the practice, because of “uncertainties” about it’s effect on health. It is by far the biggest of a growing number of US bans that the industry fears may prove infectious.
Telegraph 23rd Dec 2014 read more »