Opponents to a new £16 billion nuclear plant on the north Somerset coast have reacted with anger at the news that the scheme had been given the go-ahead by the EU Commission. Environmental and local campaign groups have expressed their amazement at the decision which sees the EU back the biggest energy industrial project in the UK in a generation. The Green Party, the Stop Hinkley Group and Greenpeace UK all insist the fight goes on to ensure the EDF-backed Hinkley Point project is never built. Molly Scott Cato, the Green MEP for the South West, said she had met with Joaquín Almunia, the European Commissioner in charge of state aid to hand him a letter, stating how ‘shocked and disturbed’ she was that concerns raised over the deal had been ignored. She said: “A decision like this demonstrates why so many British people are sceptical about the EU. The rules on fair competition are perfectly clear but can apparently be ignored when there is a political deal to be made. Roy Pumfrey, spokesman for the Stop Hinkley group said the EU Commission’s decision was a disappointment but insisted the campaign group was not down hearted. He said: “While EDF have gone over the EU Commission hurdle they haven’t made their final investment decision yet. They’ve had more partners than Elizabeth Taylor on Hinkley C and are dependent on their new Chinese partner forking out the money.“The French economy is in turmoil and I doubt the French government is prepared to stump up more cash for this project. “Hinkley C is a white elephant which is at least 10 years in the making if it ever gets built at all.”
Western Morning News 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
Green groups condemn commissioner Almunia’s U-turn, as the EU competition czar deems Hinkley Point C subsidies to be within state aid rules. British plans for a nuclear renaissance centred on a nuclear reactor in Somerset achieved a breakthrough when a nine-month European Union state aid investigation ended with a call for Brussels to approve the project. According to EU protocol, the proposal from the investigating team will now go to a college of EU commissioners for a final decision next month. Some of them, such as the German energy commissioner, Günther Oettinger, who once described the 35-year length of the proposed Hinkley contract as “soviet”, may require convincing. Aled Williams, a UK government spokesman in Brussels, said: “We are continuing to engage with the commission as it progresses its assessment of the Hinkley Point C state aid case and are confident of a decision under the mandate of this commission.” But British pressure related to the UK’s electoral timetable – and the potential for an easy campaigning hit for Ukip – may have led Almunia to backtrack from his previous misgivings, according to some environmentalists. “If Almunia has backed state aid for Hinkley, it risks a backroom deal prevailing over the rule of law,” said Mark Breddy, a spokesman for Greenpeace Europe. “Only a year ago the commission said that Hinkley was ‘in principle incompatible under EU state aid rules’. Now, under pressure from the UK government and French nuclear operator EDF, the commission is preparing to perform a U-turn.” The president of the Green parliamentary group in Brussels, Rebecca Harms, said she was disappointed with the investigation’s outcome. “It is unbelievable that Commissioner Almunia wants to wave through this obviously illegal state aid to finance Hinkley Point,” she said. “It is like the bursting of a dam – other countries will want to follow. The financing of such outdated, dirty and highly risky technology should be averted by all means.”
Euractiv 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
Outgoing EU competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia has apparently changed his mind, approving in principle millions of Euros of subsidy for the £17.6bn Hinkley Point C power station. The plant has been the subject of a 9 month competition investigation, which initially seemed unlikely to OK it for subsidies because of the hefty price guarantees offered unilaterally by the UK government. So is this good or bad for the UK? Despite the urgent need for new UK generation capacity to replace the old, and the inherent suitability of nuclear for at least some of that, it’s far from clear that Hinkley Point C as it stands is such a great idea.
Management Today 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
Rio Tinto’s energy chief, quoted in The Australian Financial Review article this month ‘The burning question of coal’. believes “there will be a return to nuclear” and that China will lead it, stating that a joint venture has “quietly developed” between China’s state nuclear technology company and the Toshiba Westinghouse Corporation”. The problem is that that consortium hasn’t produced a third-generation nuclear reactor. In fact, nobody has and all the so-called Gen III-plus reactors under construction globally are behind schedule and over budget – including those in China. Kenyon-Slaney is living in hope as Rio is invested so heavily in uranium – a mineral which peaked in 2005, well before Germany decided to exit nuclear and Japan idled their entire reactor fleet. It would be comical if it wasn’t so serious, but Kenyon-Slaney’s nuclear industry just can’t put a foot right. Delays are mounting up in the west, and OECD countries and huge resources are being spent keeping old ageing reactors online. The expenditure that could be better directed is immense. If we want cheap and resilient power sooner, faster and as a viable opportunity for all people in all nations, then it is with renewables. But by taking a diversionary path to expensive options like nuclear we are delaying the point at which we inevitably achieve cheap renewables that can be deployed anywhere by anyone. So put simply, if the extraordinary amounts of money spent on the nuclear fuel cycle were redirected to renewables we would get a lot more electricity generated for every dollar invested.
Business Spectator 22nd Sept 2014 read more »
Labour leader Ed Miliband has pledged to create one million green jobs as part of a 10-year plan to make Britain a global leader in clean technology and renewable energy. In an impassioned speech to Labour Party activists before the 2015 General Election, Miliband also announced that his party would commit to take all of the carbon out of electricity by 2030, and develop a Green Investment Bank with more powers to borrow. “Under this Government, Britain lags behind Germany, Japan, the United States and even India and China for low-carbon green technologies and services,” he said. “The environment isn’t that fashionable anymore – but it matters. “It’s incredibly important to our economy and there is no more important an issue for me than tackling climate change.”
Edie 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
The talk in the corridors of the party’s annual conference is bullish, with shadow cabinet ministers plotting ways to put themselves into office next May. One thing is clear: they think presenting Labour as a climate champion could be a way to differentiate themselves from their Conservative rivals. We went to Manchester to find out what a Labour government might do to the UK’s energy and climate policy.
Carbon Brief 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
Ed Miliband’s six pledges are an attempt to focus political debate away from the swirling sands of the Middle East and the fractious arguments over an English parliament. But in attempting to shift the focus has the Labour leader made credible promises – especially given his programme for change is designed to run over two parliaments, with goals to be reached in 2025? There are already a million people – more than those in teaching – working in what the government catchily calls the “low-carbon and environmental goods and services” sector – everything from waste management to renewable energy to energy efficiency, water supply and flood prevention. But at first glance, doubling this number, particularly only with “hi-tech” jobs, looks incredibly ambitious. The UK has already fallen behind others in solar and wind turbine technology. A report earlier this month from Cambridge Econometrics and WWF predicted the UK would add 190,000 net jobs if the UK meets its targets for carbon emission cuts by 2030. However, this analysis did not include exports, which could be significant. Energy efficiency is a no-brainer, as is letting the GIB off the Treasury leash. The zero-carbon electricity pledge is more controversial. It has solid backing from the UK’s official advisers, the Committee on Climate Change, who say the goal is a “feasible, cost-effective and desirable” way to meet the UK’s carbon cutting targets. But it requires a lot of new low-carbon power generation to be funded and built, which is “implausible”, according to Peter Atherton, an analyst at Liberum bank. Finally, a little mathematics shows Miliband’s goal is not quite as outlandish as it might seem. If the green economy grows at 5% a year, it will double in just over 14 years. That’s 2029, not so far off Miliband’s target. But reaching the goal will require an overhaul of a large part of the nation’s economic base.
Guardian 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
British Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced a new £8 million fund to train the next generation of UK nuclear technicians and engineers. The funding builds on the UK government’s Nuclear Industrial Strategy which is aimed at making sure Britain can benefit from the £930 billion being invested in the nuclear industry over the next two decades.
Scottish Energy News 24th Sept 2014 read more »
Engineering & Technology 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
The question of how to build a skills base to take advantage of a move to new nuclear power was addressed by industry experts and the shadow energy minister at a Labour fringe event on Monday. Chairing the event, which was hosted by the Nuclear Industry Association, Total Politics editor Sam Macrory the moves under the Coalition Government that had led to the development of new nuclear. He noted that there appeared to be both public and political support for new nuclear, which begged the question of where the necessary skills to make this a reality would come from. Speaking first, Sandy Rupprecht, chief executive, NuGeneration, outlined his experience in the nuclear industry and noted the market in the UK was one of the best in the world to develop new nuclear. He referenced the cross party support and favour amongst labour unions.
Politics Home 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
Union officials say they are confident that talks involving EDF and an American sub-contracting company will result in a section of the Sizewell B workforce achieving the so-called “living wage”. While the public perception is that everyone who works at the power station is well paid, some catering staff earn little more than the regulatory minimum wage and are subject to a “zero hours” employment contract. The regulatory minimum wage outside London is currently £6.31 an hour compared with the “living wage” of £7.65 outside London.
East Anglian Daily Times 24th Sept 2014 read more »
It’s been a landmark on the south coast for more than forty years but work has now started to pull down part of Dungeness Nuclear Power Station. Dungeness A is being decommissioned and the Business Secretary has visited the plant to see the work in progress.
ITV 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
It’s not automatic, but a clean energy system is inevitable. The question is whether it will be deployed in time. In time to prevent the next meltdown, in time to slash the carbon and methane emissions that are smothering our home planet. That’s the job before us now, that’s the follow-up we must accomplish for September 21, 2014 to make the history books–as indeed it deserves.
Green World 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
South Africa and Russia have signed an intergovernmental agreement on strategic partnership and cooperation in the nuclear industry.
World Nuclear News 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
Energy Business Review 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
In recognition of Japan’s rapidly aging nuclear plants, Kansai Electric Power Co. has begun discussing the possibility of decommissioning the Mihama No. 1 and No. 2 reactors, now more than 40 years old, in Fukui Prefecture. While Kepco officials insist no decision has been made, scrapping them instead of applying for a two-decade extension could set a precedent for other prefectures where older plants that went online in the 1970s and early 1980s, like the ill-fated Fukushima No. 1 plant, now face more stringent safety regulations, posing huge expenditures for any utility interested in keeping them. The two Mihama reactors in question went into service in 1970 and 1972 and generate a combined 840,000 kw, a small amount compared with modern atomic units, which can generate over 1 million kw each. Japan’s maximum operating life span for a reactor stands at 40 years. After that, utilities can apply for a one-time, 20-year extension or commence a decommissioning process that can take up to three decades.
Japan Times 21st Sept 2014 read more »
When it comes to expanding its influence in Europe through energy, Russia has been looking to move beyond natural gas into financing for nuclear-energy projects. But its investment push has become complicated by rising political tensions over the Ukraine crisis. Several countries along the European Union’s eastern flank have nuclear projects in the works that are intended to help meet the bloc’s climate-policy goals. Funding, however, has become harder to obtain since Germany turned against nuclear power in the wake of Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011. Russia has been seeking to fill the gap in recent months, but is facing more resistance in some places as the EU tightens its economic sanctions on Moscow. Finland’s government last week came near to breaking up after a conditional permit was granted to a Russian-backed consortium to build a new plant in the country’s northwest that could cost up to €6 billion ($7.7 billion). The Green League pulled out of the ruling coalition in protest, leaving the government with a one-vote majority in parliament. The Green League is antinuclear in general but its opposition to the plant had grown because of the Russian involvement and the Ukraine crisis.
Wall St Journal 22nd Sept 2014 read more »
In the run up to Scotland’s vote on independence, pundits predicted that independence could lead to the end of the U.K.’s nuclear weapons program. Most of the attention was focused on the need to relocate British nuclear submarines, currently stationed in Scotland, in the event of a “yes” vote. Conventional thought held that since the Scots have now decided to preserve the union, the U.K.’s nuclear program can continue as normal. However, this would be a dire mistake for the United Kingdom and its allies. The U.K. should move ahead to dismantle a program that wastes precious resources on weapons that do not contribute to Britain’s national security.
The Hill 22nd Sept 2014 read more »
Serious staff shortages aboard nuclear submarines on the Clyde are putting the public at risk, a former senior safety official at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) is warning. New figures reveal that more than one in ten posts are vacant across the UK’s entire reactor-driven submarine fleet. This includes three of the Vanguard boats that carry Trident nuclear warheads, plus six other Astute and Trafalgar class submarines. Shortages of suitably qualified staff have repeatedly been highlighted as a significant safety concern by the MoD’s internal nuclear safety regulator. But according to Fred Dawson, a radiation safety expert with the MoD for 31 years, “little if any progress has been made by MoD management in addressing the issue.”
RobEdwards 22nd Sept 2014 read more »
Publications investigating a 100 percent supply of renewable energy continue to pour in. Last week, the World Future Council produced a Policy Handbook that is unique in two ways. First, it covers all energy, not just electricity. And second, it does so with a focus on cities and communities in various parts of the world. Entitled “How to achieve 100 percent sign renewable energy” , the study was co-authored by policy analyst Toby Couture of E3 Analytics and Anna Leidreiter of the World Future Council (WFC). Couture is an expert on international energy policy, and the study is based on the work that the WFC has done internationally over the past two years. So the first refreshing thing about this study is the scope. We are not just talking about Europe, and not just about regions that have already gone 100 percent in some way.
Renew Economy 24th Sept 2014 read more »
An $8bn project to supply the Los Angeles area with large amounts of electricity from a wind farm in Wyoming via an energy storage facility in Utah was proposed Tuesday by four companies. The Wyoming and Utah sites would be linked by a $2.6bn, 525-mile transmission line that would traverse Colorado, and the power would be sent on to California through an existing, 490-mile transmission line, the group said in a statement. The electricity would be enough to serve 1.2m homes, the statement said. Pathfinder Renewable Wind Energy, Magnum Energy, Dresser-Rand and Duke-American Transmission Co said they plan to formally submit the proposal to the Southern California Public Power Authority by early 2015. The group said the project would require building a $4bn, 2,100-megawatt wind farm at Chugwater, Wyoming, 40 miles north of Cheyenne, and a $1.5bn energy storage site near Delta, Utah, 130 miles south-west of Salt Lake City. The energy would be stored through a compressed-air system using four caverns carved out of underground salt formations.
Guardian 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
Labour’s Caroline Flint has today declared “war on cold homes”, as she unveiled the opposition’s new strategy for improving the energy efficiency of five million homes over the next 10 years. Delivering her keynote speech to the Labour Party conference this morning, the Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary confirmed heavily trailed plans for a new five-point strategy designed to tackle fuel poverty and carbon emissions by saving energy in the home.
Business Green 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
Utility Week 22nd Sept 2014 read more »
We “believe that there is scope to go further, faster. Additional funding would enable the 6 million low income households to be treated more quickly and this could be forthcoming from the National Infrastructure Fund. In addition, we believe that the Interest Free Loans for Green Deal would benefit from being supplemented by additional long term demand drivers including council tax and stamp duty incentives.” Marshall added: “There are over 7 million homes that have inadequate Loft Insulation, over 5 million that require Cavity Wall Insulation (CWI) and almost 8 million homes that need Solid Wall Insulation (SWI) and therefore these proposals to strengthen energy efficiency policies and programmes are welcomed.”
National Insulation Association 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
Although the Green Deal has recently been branded ‘a failure’ by an Energy and Climate Change Committee report, The Green Deal: watching brief (part 2), the number of unique properties that have obtained a Green Deal plan has reached it highest level since the scheme started last year. New statistics from the Department of Energy and Climate Change show that the number of unique properties with a ‘new’ Green Deal plan – a customer has obtained a quote from a Green Deal Provider and confirmed they wish to proceed with the plan – reached 1,547 in August 2013, an increase of 355 since July 2014 and growth of 1,254 properties since August 2013.
Construction News 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
Many of the biggest hitters in the global financial community, together managing an eye-watering $24 trillion of investment funds, have issued a powerful warning to political leaders about the risks of failing to establish clear policy on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. More than 340 investment concerns − ranging from Scandinavian pensions funds to institutional investors in Asia, Australia, South Africa and the US − have put their signatures to what they describe as global investors’ most comprehensive statement yet on climate change. In particular, the investors call on government leaders to provide a “stable, reliable and economically meaningful carbon policy”, and to develop plans to phase out subsidies on fossil fuels.
Climate News Network 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
World leaders arrived in New York today for a day dedicated to addressing arguably the gravest threat of all to peace and security – the sabotaging of the world’s fragile climate – while at the same time trying not be distracted by a burst of diplomatic static caused by strikes overnight against extremists inside Syria. But even if corridor gossip in New York was more about Isis than deforestation or the rising of the oceans, some at the climate summit sensed a new and important momentum. It was the first gathering of so many world leaders since a similar gathering in Copenhagen five years ago that ended with no progress at all. One after another, leaders of countries pledged new sums to help fund action to curb emissions, much of it for developing countries that cannot bear the cost of such steps alone. Among them, the French President, François Hollande, promised $1bn in a new contribution by France to a global climate change fund.
Independent 23rd Sept 2014 read more »
One of the biggest gatherings of world leaders to discuss climate change ended on a sobering note when Nelson Mandela’s widow said lofty pledges they had made failed to match the scale of the problem. “I acknowledge that there is the beginning of understanding of the gravity of the challenge we face,” Graça Machel told the UN general assembly at the end of a one-day climate summit on Tuesday organised by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon.High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. “But at the same time, I have the impression that there is a huge mismatch between the magnitude of the challenge and the response which we heard here today.” Ms Machel was speaking just minutes after Mr Ban gave an upbeat assessment of the raft of promises made by presidents and chief executives through the day, declaring: “We have delivered.”
FT 24th Sept 2014 read more »
We will not achieve economic growth without tackling climate change — the economic cost of inaction is now greater than action and our politicians must show leadership. For too long, we have been told that we have to choose between economic growth or climate action. In fact, the opposite is true, as over the next 15 years we will not have one without the other. As the scientific and economic truth about climate change becomes more obvious, the objections from those with vested interests in high-carbon businesses appear all the more desperate. These hold-outs deny not only the science, but also the economic realities that so many global business leaders have understood for years.
Telegraph 24th Sept 2014 read more »