Whitehall officials reviewing the massive Hinkley Point nuclear project are exploring how the UK might withdraw from the deal while minimising financial risk and damage to international relations, it has been claimed. Westminster sources told The Independent civil servants are looking to see if there is any loophole, clause or issue in contracts yet to be signed that allow the Government to pull back without huge loss and while also saving face. Ministers are acutely aware of the potential damage a withdrawal could do to relations with China, which is committed to pouring billions of pounds into the controversial project.
Independent 24th Aug 2016 read more »
Delays to the construction of the controversial new Hinkley Point nuclear power station will have little impact on engineering group Costain, according to its chief executive. The infrastructure business is providing pre-construction consultancy services to the power project in a contract worth several million pounds a month, but chief executive Andrew Wyllie saidthe hold-up in approving the multi-billion pound project would not affect his business. “When, or if, Hinkley goes ahead it will be a significant opportunity for us,” he said, speaking as the company unveiled interim results. He said Costain’s engineers are advising on the Somerset plant’s design, technology, logistics and supply chain.
Telegraph 24th Aug 2016 read more »
Hinkley Point C nuclear power station has been on the cards for more than 15 years to be built in Somerset, England by French state run EDF with the addition of Chinese capitals. The cost has been spiralling up and it stands now at around £29.7 billion. EDF has negotiated a guaranteed fixed price for electricity from Hinkley Point C of £92.50/MWh (in 2012 prices), although it is estimated that UK’s electricity cost around £45/MWh making it the most expensive new nuclear facilities to be built and run. A 2014 Agora Energiewende study found that new wind and solar generation is up to 50% cheaper than new nuclear and “UK government’s own projections expect onshore wind power and large-scale solar to cost less per megawatt hour than new nuclear by 2025. Theresa May’s government last month made a surprise decision to delay a deal on Hinkley, prompting a renewed look at what alternatives could power Britain if ministers this autumn fail to back new reactors in Somerset. An unpublished report by the energy department shows that it expects onshore wind power and large-scale solar to cost around £50-75 per megawatt hour of power generated in 2025. New nuclear is anticipated to be around £85-125/MWh, in line with the guaranteed price of £92.50/MWh that the government has offered Hinkley’s developer, EDF.” In the light of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the problem of Nuclear Power Stations as terrorist targets (as findings in Belgium may suggest), the still unresolved problem of nuclear waste and the UK’s nervousness about having a People’s Republic of China’s Company with military links as a partner, apart from committing the British population to a permanent and rigid arrangement that is both bad value in terms of price and risk, it is important not just to delay but to scrap altogether this ludicrous project. The only “justifications” the British Government could find to go ahead with it would be the contracts already half-signed with some high profile supporters of the Tory Government and the link to Nuclear Weapons (as complex and tenuous as it might be).
Pressenza 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
A strong national commitment to nuclear energy goes hand-in-hand with a weak performance on climate change targets, researchers at the University of Sussex and the Vienna School of International Studies have found. A new study of European countries, published in the journal Climate Policy, shows that the most progress towards reducing carbon emissions and increasing renewable energy sources – as set out in the EU’s 2020 Strategy – has been made by nations without nuclear energy or with plans to reduce it. Conversely, pro-nuclear countries have been much slower to implement wind, solar and hydropower technologies and to tackle emissions.
Ecologist 24th Aug 2016 read more »
[Machine Translation] Engie understood what we stand for years: the future is renewable energy. The first energy player in Belgium must now be consistent and get the hell out of nuclear power. The nuclear predominates again and again on the grid, we must make room in renewable! Greenpeace is aware of the transition initiated by Engie and welcomes. Like the change made by Total (buying Sunpower PV producer and Saft battery storage) multinational dirty energy understood that global warming is waiting; that the Paris agreement must be implemented urgently and its death knell of fossil fuels and nuclear. Engie, Total and others have also weighed how much renewable energy is an extremely profitable economic investment with an increasingly mature and flexible technology. And for these large companies, change is urgent as giants like Google (via their sunroof Project pilot) and telecoms already leering with emphasis on the potential of the residential PV market and decentralized energy in general.
Greenpeace Belgium 24th Aug 2016 read more »
Whilst a project of the size and complexity of Hinkley Point C faces a range of challenges which lessen the availability of limited-recourse financing, it is clear that nuclear plant construction violates the basic precepts of project finance due to the unpredictability of project costs and schedule. For the industry to flourish, even in the presence of strong government policy support, the ability to finance is critical. There is the possibility though that new technology and new construction techniques, in the form of small modular reactors (SMRs), may hold the key to overcoming such issues.
World Nuclear News 24th Aug 2016 read more »
Uranium prices have been at an all-time low lately, causing analysts to speculate when the uranium sector will pick back up again. With its low cost, there are a number of uranium producers who have managed to keep costs low and survive during tough times. While sizable uranium deposits are located worldwide, many countries only allow state-owned companies the rights to mine; that means there are fewer publicly traded producers in countries like Kazakhstan and Russia, both of which are high on the list of top uranium-producing countries. There are nevertheless numerous publicly traded uranium-producing companies that investors may want to be aware of.
Investing News 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
One of the key characteristics of complex systems, such as the world’s energy and transport sectors, is that when they change it tends not to be a linear process. They flip from one state to another in a way strongly analogous to a phase change in material science. A second important characteristic of this type of economic phase change is that when one major sector flips, the results rip through the whole economy and can have impacts on the societal scale. We are seeing this effect in the electricity system right now. The rapid uptake of renewable generation in the power system, unstoppable now because of cost reductions in wind and solar, has not simply rendered a certain proportion of conventional generation uneconomic. It has fundamentally changed the way power markets work, making new investment in other sources all but impossible; it has changed the control paradigm for the grid from base-load-and-peak to forecast-and-balance; it has altered flows of investment throughout the power system and its technology providers; it is forcing through an accelerated digitisation of all electrical equipment. It is even changing the way buildings are designed, the training needed by the construction trades, and the way infrastructure is financed. Mobile phones have eaten entire industries (cameras, alarm clocks, maps) and are set to do the same to others (newspapers, cash handling, music systems). No sector is immune, right down to furniture design, the size of pockets sewn into garments, even how many single diners a restaurant needs to plan for each night. Over the past few years we at Bloomberg New Energy Finance have been devoting more and more of our attention to the transportation sector. Just as in 2004 we felt the energy industry and its mainstream analysts had failed to understand the scale, imminence and implications of the renewable energy revolution, so in 2010 we started to feel the same about electric vehicles. Electric vehicles out-compete internal combustion cars in lots of important dimensions: they drive more smoothly yet accelerate better, they can be charged at home or at the office, they require much less maintenance, they help solve air quality problems, they improve the energy autonomy of oil-importing countries.
Bloomberg 22nd Aug 2016 read more »
On a seaside field south of Shanghai, workers are constructing a nuclear reactor that’s the flagship for Beijing’s ambition to compete with the U.S., France and Russia as an exporter of atomic power technology. The Hualong One, developed by two state-owned companies, is one multibillion-dollar facet of the Communist Party’s aspirations to transform China into a creator of profitable technology from mobile phones to genetics. Still, experts say Beijing underestimates how tough it will be for its novice nuclear exporters to sell abroad. They face political hurdles, safety concerns and uncertain global demand following Japan’s Fukushima disaster. China’s government-run nuclear industry is based on foreign technology but has spent two decades developing its own with help from Westinghouse Electric, France’s Areva and EDF, and other partners. A separate export initiative is based on an alliance between Westinghouse and a state-owned reactor developer. The industry is growing fast, with 32 reactors in operation, 22 being built and more planned, according to the World Nuclear Association, an industry group. China accounted for eight of 10 reactors that started operation last year and six of eight construction starts. Abroad, builders broke ground in Pakistan last year for a power plant using a Hualong One, supported by a $6.5 billion Chinese loan. Also last year, Argentina signed a contract to use the reactor in a $15 billion plant financed by Chinese banks.
CBS 24th Aug 2016 read more »
Kuwait’s Ministry of Electricity and Water has reportedly scrapped plans to build a nuclear power plant citing cost concerns.The country had planned to obtain a licence for the project from the United Nations.Kuwait Times reports that the ministry decided to retract the plans because studies proved it was unfeasible and tooexpensive.The ministry also said alternative energy sources like wind and solar power were more cost effective, according to thepublication.The country is expected to require several new power stations between 2020 and 2030.
AGR News 24th Aug 2016 read more »
Gulf Business 24th Aug 2016 read more »
A group of 130 institutions that control US$13tn of investments have called on G20 nations to ratify the Paris agreement this year and accelerate investment in clean energy and forced disclosure of climate-related financial risk. Countries that ratified the Paris agreement early would benefit from better policy certainty and would attract investment in low-carbon technology, the signatories said in a letter before the G20 heads of government meeting in September. They called for strong carbon pricing to be implemented, as well as regulations that encouraged energy efficiency and renewable energy. Plans for how to phase out fossil fuels also needed to be developed, they said.
Guardian 24th Aug 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
An auction for billions of pounds worth of offshore wind farm subsidy contracts has been delayed until next year. The previous energy secretary, Amber Rudd, had said she intended to hold the auction before the end of 2016 but this will not happen now until early 2017, people close to the process have told the Financial Times. The delay follows the decision by Theresa May to abolish the energy department and fold it into a new Business Energy and Industrial Strategy department after she became prime minister following the Brexit vote. This bureaucratic reshuffling, combined with the August summer holiday break, was causing the delay, said one person with knowledge of the auction timetable, rather than any change of renewable energy policy under the new government. The move comes just weeks after the energy industry was jolted by the government’s unexpected decision to review the £18bn Hinkley Point nuclear power plant hours after EDF, the project’s French developer, gave it the go-ahead. Gordon Edge, for economics and regulation policy director at the wind industry trade body, RenewableUK, said news of the delay in the auction for subsidy contracts was not a concern at present. “Nobody is panicking,” he said. “We feel pretty confident about government support. A bit of a delay is not terrible but obviously we don’t want it to drag on.” The delay means there will be a gap of about two years since the last competitive auction for the subsidy contracts needed to underpin financially the giant offshore wind farms that dot the coasts of the UK.
FT 25th Aug 2016 read more »
Renewables – Hydro
Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse said the future of hydro projects and jobs are under threat unless the UK Government improves subsidies for hydro electricity schemes. Scotland’s hydropower industry is at a “crossroads” as a result of subsidy cuts, Scotland’s Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse warns. Mr Wheelhouse said the future of hydro projects and jobs are under threat unless the UK Government improves subsidies for hydro electricity schemes.
Daily Record 24th Aug 2016 read more »
Press & Journal 24th Aug 2016 read more »
THE latest hydro development in the north of Scotland, producing 3MW of power, has officially launched. The Cia Aig Hydro Scheme is located on the Abhainn Chia-aig river, at the eastern end of Loch Arkaig, approximately 20 miles to the north of Fort William. The scheme took 24 months to construct at a cost of just under £12M, and became operational with the first turbine in February 2016. RWE Innogy UK’s latest run-of-river hydro scheme in Scotland was officially inaugurated by Paul Wheelhouse MSP, Minister for Business, Innovation and Energy together with Hans Bunting, the firm’s chief operating officer for renewables. Dr Bunting said: “Scotland is a great place to do business. We value the skilled supply chain that Scotland can offer and when developing our renewables projects, it is important to us that we are able to work with local companies and to maximise the economic benefits to the local economy.” Mr Paul Wheelhouse added: “Congratulations to RWE Innogy UK on the inauguration of their hydro power station Cia Aig.
Scotsman 24th Aug 2016 read more »
The words are stenciled on the front of the Apple Store, a glass box sandwiched between a nondescript Thai restaurant and a CVS pharmacy in downtown Palo Alto: “This store runs on 100 percent renewable energy.” If Apple’s plans play out, it will be able to make that claim not only for its operations throughout California but also beyond, as the company aims to meet its growing needs for electricity with green sources like solar, wind and hydroelectric power. Like other big companies before it, including Walmart and Google, Apple recently received a federal designation for its energy subsidiary that allows it to become a wholesale seller of electricity from coast to coast. In effect, Apple is creating its own green utility company, although the main customer is itself. The motives may be economic as much as they are environmental. As a wholesaler, Apple could reduce the cost of its electricity load, which reached 831 million kilowatt-hours in the last fiscal year — enough to power about 76,000 homes for a year. But like a growing number of corporations, Apple is intent on reducing carbon dioxide emissions from electricity production — one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gases that contribute to global warming.
New York Times 23rd Aug 2016 read more »
Installation plans for a 300MW pumped-storage hydroelectricity (PSH) scheme in Scotland were announced today (24 August), in the same week that the Scottish Energy Minister claimed that the sector was “at a crossroads” and required substantial UK Government support. The £200m PSH electricity storage facility on the Isle of Lewis will significantly increase (from 40% to 80%) the use of the Western Isles cable being installed by the National Grid to export and import electricity generated from renewable energy sources on the islands. Generating enough electricity to power more than 200,000 homes, the innovative Eishken Limited-operated scheme will utilise the sea as the lower reservoir from which water will be pumped uphill to a second reservoir at a higher reservoir. Eishken expects that this method will create a much lower environmental impact than would be caused by creating a second reservoir. The company’s owner Nick Oppenheim said: “There are very few PSH schemes throughout the UK and what we are proposing is particularly innovative given the use of the sea as the lower reservoir. “This scheme will not only materially enhance the benefits to be derived from the Western Isles link but will make a material difference in the supply of energy to the mainland. It will also be a key element in the Scotland’s renewable energy armoury.” The project forms part of the already consented 162MW Muaitheabhal Wind Farm on the Isle of Lewis, and will share any financial surplus with the local community following a three to five-year construction period.
Edie 24th Aug 2016 read more »
Scottish Energy News 25th Aug 2016 read more »
BBC 24th Aug 2016 read more »
Grid-scale electricity storage will move closer to commercial reality on Friday when the U.K.’s grid operator offers contracts to companies to help balance the network, a key measure needed to help balance increasing supply from renewables. National Grid Plc will announce the winners of a bidding round for as much as 200 megawatts of storage capacity, which is about the size of a small power plant. It’s likely to be the storage industry’s biggest award this year in global market expected to install $5.1 billion of equipment in 2020, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Storage plays a key role in the greening of utilities’ networks by allowing grid managers to handle higher volumes of intermittent power from the wind and sun. The program is a “major boost for energy storage,”’ said Logan Goldie-Scot, analyst for BNEF in London. “Previously, activity had for the most part been limited to standalone demonstration projects” funded by the U.K. power regulator, Ofgem.
Bloomberg 25th Aug 2016 read more »
OIL and gas entrepreneur Algy Cluff has said the Government could provide a multi-billion pound boost to the hard-pressed North Sea industry by cutting the subsidies provided for offshore wind farms. Mr Cluff said the Government could use the savings produced to help firms lift flagging exploration rates in the North Sea creating benefits in areas ranging from energy security to employment. Oil and gas industry leaders have voiced concern that North Sea exploration budgets have been slashed amid the crude price slump, raising the prospect of billions of barrels oil and gas being left undeveloped. However, Mr Cluff believes the government could kick start a recovery by encouraging small firms to fill the gap left by the retreat of the majors.
Herald 25th Aug 2016 read more »