Electricity Market Reform
The future of nuclear power in the UK is hanging in the balance, the chief executive of the company charged with building new reactors has said. Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of EDF Energy, told MPs at a select committee hearing on Tuesday that he had still not made up his mind whether to go ahead with a construction programme that would see the first new nuclear power stations in the UK for decades. He said the company was waiting for further reassurances from the government on what assistance the company will receive. This includes assurances on the disposal of waste and the decommissioning of plants at the end of their life, and a regulatory regime that should favour nuclear power through the provision of long-term "contracts for difference" that will penalise fossil fuels in favour of low-carbon forms of energy. "We are on the brink of delivering an infrastructure project similar in scale to the London Olympics. We are poised to deliver immense benefits in terms of jobs, skills and economic growth – locally and nationally," said de Rivaz, appearing before the parliamentary select committee on energy and climate change. "But like all investors in capital intensive infrastructure projects we need to have a compelling business case. In this respect our final investment decision requires more progress to be made."
Guardian 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
EDF, the French energy group, has thrown down the gauntlet to the government by warning that it may not proceed with plans to build Britain’s first new nuclear power stations for decades unless it is offered sufficient incentives. Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive, told the Commons energy committee on Tuesday that the group needed "a compelling business case" to proceed with the project, the scale of which he compared to the Olympics. "In this respect our final investment decision requires more progress to be made," he said. EDF’s decision depends almost entirely on the strike price of a new government system that will give a guaranteed price to low-carbon energy. Mr de Rivaz dismissed reports that in recent talks with the Treasury his company had sought a generous strike price as high as £140 per MWh, saying this was "absolute rubbish". But he warned ab out the consequences if the final price were not satisfactory to EDF: "If there is not clarity we will not invest," he said, although he added: "We are not trying to twist the arm of the government." It is understood the government will within days announce the winning buyer of Horizon, which has attracted two bids – from Westinghouse and Hitachi.
FT 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
The chief executive of French giant EDF Energy has accused an MP of "jingoism" for claiming that subsidies for nuclear will see UK consumers pay an annuity to the French state for decades to come. Vincent de Rivaz also insisted EDF would not ask consumers to bear the construction risk for its planned nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Mr de Rivaz denied that the CfD price would be anywhere near £140 per megawatt hour – more than double the current market price – but declined to give any other price cap. MPs also raised concerns over who would bear the risk for overruns in the plant’s construction. Mr de Rivaz said EDF was "not asking the consumers to take the construction risks" and was not "in the business to twist the arm of the UK Government".
Telegraph 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
The boss of EDF Energy has rejected a claim that nuclear power companies have a "perverse incentive" to exaggerate the cost of building new reactors so that they can charge more for selling electricty. Vincent de Rivaz was speaking yesterday at a hearing with MPs to discuss whether Britain’s nuclear energy policy was "in meltdown" after the sale of a new site generated less interest than expected. EDF is the furthest along in building a new nuclear plant in Britain – at Hinkley Point, Somerset – and is negotiating with the Government over how much it will be allowed to charge for the electricity it produces. Christopher Pincher, a Tory MP on the Energy Select Committee, said that Mr de Rivaz had a "perverse incentive" to exaggerate the cost of the reactors, although he stopped short of accusing EDF of doing so. A higher cost estimate would strengthen EDF’s case to charge more to recover its investment.
Times 24th Oct 2012 more >>
Electricite de France SA rejected criticism that its one-to-one talks with the U.K. over the deal it’ll get to build nuclear plants in the country means officials setting rates in a “smoke-filled room” without open scrutiny.
Bloomberg 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
Live-blog from the energy and climate change committee’s evidence sessionon Nuclear – kicking off with EDF, not in any way negotiating in public with the government over price.
Energy Desk 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
The Energy and Climate Change Committee will hold the third public evidence session on ‘Building New Nuclear’ at 9.30 am on Tuesday 23 October, in the Grimond Room, Portcullis House.
Parliament 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
A group of leading energy academics yesterday claimed the Government is considering going back on its pledge never to subsidise nuclear power. Any policy change would effectively mean taxpayers’ money being given to French energy giant EDF to help it build a new reactor at Hinkley Point in Somerset. It would also boost the chances of a new nuclear power station at Oldbury in Gloucestershire.
Western Daily Press 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
ACE 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
As the government reportedly offers ever larger subsidies to the nuclear industry in a last-ditch attempt to get new reactors built, an editorial in the Independent on Sunday challenged opponents of the current pro-nuclear scenario to articulate our alternatives. It’s the right question to ask, because the 16GW of new nuclear that Ministers still insist are going to be built by 2025 is now looking extremely optimistic. Thankfully, this conversation has been happening for some time. The evidence suggests there are any number of different ways we could meet our energy needs and decarbonise electricity at minimal cost to households and businesses. The exact percentages, terrawatthours and gigawatts vary from study to study, but here are four policies which the government should address to fix the hole in its energy plans.
Energy Desk 22nd Oct 2012 more >>
Greenpeace 22nd Oct 2012 more >>
EDF Energy’s chief executive has insisted Hinkley Point C is “shovel-ready”, but CN has learned that main construction work at the site could be delayed until the middle of 2013. A source close to the project told CN that they had been told to expect main construction by the middle of 2013, but that further delays beyond that were not envisioned. EDF Energy is yet to make its final investment decision on the multi-billion pound nuclear project. Energy secretary Ed Davey also has to make a decision whether to grant consent for the development. He is due to receive the planning inspectorate’s report by 21 December at the latest and will have three months to choose whether to grant consent.
Construction News 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
More than 20 years after a major study said there is no evidence that people who live near nuclear power plants face an increased risk of dying from cancer, the federal government will look anew at the subject, starting with seven nuclear facilities from Connecticut to California. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Tuesday it is pushing forward with the study because an oft-cited 1990 study is dated and because more modern methods of analysis and information sources are available. In a briefing paper, the NRC staff says that given the known amounts of radiation released from nuclear reactors, researchers would not expect to observe any increased cancer risks for nearby residents. Nevertheless, the staff says, the studies would be "helpful to address public health concerns" and could be a tool for allaying public health concerns.
CNN 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
Quakers write to DECC. We are concerned that by focussing on local political support rather than geological suitability current planning processes may be putting the public at risk. When the national nuclear industry body, NIREX, previously sought planning permission for a disposal of nuclear waste in Cumbria, the inspector considering the application turned it down, on the basis that the site “is not suitable for the proposed repository” and that “safety was not treated as the most important discriminative factor.”
Radiation Free Lakeland 22nd Oct 2012 more >>
The YouGov/Sunday Times survey found that 40% of the 1734 people polled felt that the UK government should use more nuclear power stations than at present, up from 35% in November 2011. Maintaining current levels was preferred by 21%, while 20% felt that there should be less nuclear power plants than at present (down from 27% in 2011). Men were more clearly supportive of increasing nuclear than women: 54% of men, and only 26% of women, felt that there should be more nuclear. However, women’s opinion was almost equally divided, with 23% supporting the status quo, 25% calling for a reduction in nuclear and 25% declaring themselves unsure.
World Nuclear News 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
A new generation of safer nuclear power plants could be built thanks to an incredible laser technique. Engineers at Manchester University say high-powered lasers could be used to make quicker, more resilient components for new power stations. A team at the university’s Dalton Institute are using one of Britain’s most powerful lasers to pioneer new welding techniques – and using atom-seeing microscopes to measure the results. The 16kw robot-controlled laser in the university’s city-centre campus can punch through an inch of steel in seconds.
Manchester Evening News 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
Jordan on Tuesday scrapped a uranium mining licence for a joint venture between French nuclear giant Areva and a local firm for failing to submit an accurate and timely report on its findings. "The licence for the Jordanian French Uranium Mining Company to mine for uranium in central Jordan is now void," the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission said in a statement.
Expatica 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
It has only been a month since Japan declared that it would close down its nuclear industry by the end of the 2030s, but already a contentious plan to complete several partially built reactors is sowing doubts about the government’s commitment to the radical policy shift. The facilities – stretching from the northern tip to the southwestern part of the country – were approved years before the triple meltdown in Fukushima in March last year, but construction had been frozen following the disaster. The decision over their fate is seen as a test of just how serious Japan is about abolishing an industry that had been the source of 30 per cent of its electricity. In the weeks since the nuclear phase-out was announced, Yukio Edano, industry minister, has said three approved but unfinished reactors are exempt from a central provision of the phase-out policy, under which no new plants will be built. Electric Power Development, the utility that owns one of the facilities, responded by saying it plans to resume work this year, with an eye to beginning electricity production sometime after 2014.
FT 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
Last week, three Greenpeace radiation-monitoring teams took to the streets of Fukushima City and the heavily contaminated region of Iitate to again record and assess contamination threats. Like many trips before, we noticed decreased expose rates in a few areas, but many hotspots remain throughout heavily populated Fukushima City. What is more concerning, however, is the official government radiation monitoring stations that have appeared throughout the city. Earlier this month The Association for Citizens and Scientists Concerned About Internal Radiation Exposures raised concerns that the Japanese government was manipulating radiation readings with these official monitoring stations. The story was familiar to us, as in March this year, while conducting radiation checks in a park in the suburb of Watari, we came across a newly installed official radiation monitoring post. This station showed a relatively low level of contamination when compared to levels we had measured previously, however, it was placed smack in the middle of a small area that had been clearly decontaminated. New soil had replaced the old, but as soon as you stepped off the cleaned area the levels of contamination rose sharply, and remained much higher throughout the park – with the exception of around the official monitoring post itself.
Greenpeace 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
Germany’s move to phase out nuclear power isn’t the reaction of a spooked people to Fukushima, but the product of an anti-nuclear consensus rooted in 1970s activism.
China Dialogue 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
Barack Obama vowed Monday that Iran would not develop nuclear weapons so long as he is president and pledged full support to Israel, as he faced criticism from challenger Mitt Romney.
Middle East Obline 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
The sparsely populated region of Caithness in northern Scotland once relied heavily on the development of nuclear energy for electric power and for job creation. Now wind and wave energy are set to take over. A ferry has docked at the pier in Scrabster, the northernmost harbour on the British mainland. It takes just 90 minutes to get from here to the Scottish archipelago of Orkney when the weather is good. The sea in between is called the Pentland Firth, one of the world’s wildest stretches of water. It’s known for its high winds and strong currents. But, it is these elements that could secure the future of the region, in the form of renewable energy.
DW 19th Oct 2012 more >>
Keith Barnham: Investing in renewables – not gas – will allow the UK to emerge from recession and meet carbon targets. Arctic ice is melting faster than expected. Five years ago authoritative predictions suggested it would take until 2065 to shrink to the size it reached last month. Drastic action is necessary to reduce emissions from the energy sector if we are to slow the rate of global warming. Earlier this year, the UK government’s independent climate adviser, the Climate Change Committee (CCC), called for the carbon footprint of UK electricity to be 50g/kWh by 2030. However, the government has set a standard for new electricity generators that is nine times higher. This is to allow electricity generation from natural gas. But we will not achieve the CCC target if these gas plants are built, because they typically last 30 years. The government claims this "da sh for gas" will lead us out of recession. Rather than listening to the fossil fuel lobby, the government should look to Germany, now leading Europe out of recession. In today’s Nature Materials, I point out, with German and Italian colleagues, that the peak price of electricity in Germany is falling steadily, giving their industry a competitive advantage. The peak price is falling because the amount of solar photovoltaic (PV) electricity is rising exponentially. In summer or winter, PV systems in Germany supply cheap electricity with maximum power around noon, when the sun is highest. The peak demand, and therefore peak price of electricity, also occurs around noon.
Guardian 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
Targeted financial support policies are crucial in cutting UK carbon emissions, and focusing on single solutions, like carbon pricing, has its limitations, according to a report published today. It finds that feed-in tariffs and the Renewables Obligation create certainty for renewable energy investors. However, if carbon pricing was the only driver, it claims it would rarely be set at the level necessary to attract investment in renewables and would instead, be more likely to drive investment from coal to gas.
Edie 23rd Oct 2012 more >>
THE Scottish Government faces a potential shortfall of more than £6 billion on a pledge to make homes more efficient and cut fuel poverty. WWF Scotland revealed the figure in a report which called for a review of the legally binding emissions targets set by the SNP. The Scottish Government has targets to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 42% by 2020 relative to 1990 levels, and a commitment to end fuel poverty by 2016. Housing is behind one-quarter of emissions and one-third of energy demand, and is a major contributor to fuel poverty, which means improving energy efficiency is vital to both targets. The Government’s emissions reduction target for housing is 36%, which it said would require £4.6bn investment. WWF says the Government should aim for the sector to achieve its full share of the 42% cut because "technology is readily available, warm homes are popular, it helps d eliver on fuel poverty and green jobs". But achieving this would cost £7.7bn, while the funding available is £1.5bn.
Herald (not online) 24th Oct 2012 more >>