The Government’s energy policy is looking increasingly inept, as Jonathon Porritt and Molly Scott Cato MEP agree to act as Patrons to the Stop Hinkley Campaign. The recent energy policy re-set shows the Government plans to rely mostly on imported and fracked gas and nuclear power for UK energy supplies, just as Scientific American publishes a study showing we could use renewables for all our energy needs by 2050. Meanwhile, the Hinkley Point C project looks more and more financially toxic. Now even the association of employee-shareholders says it could spell doom for EDF as a company. Mounting losses accrued by AREVA and EDF on the EPRs being built elsewhere have already put the future of the company in jeopardy. Investment bank Investec, Moody’s and Standard and Poor have all advised clients to sell shares in EDF.
Stop Hinkley 24th Nov 2015 read more »
Amec Foster Wheeler announces today the award of a contract for the design, safety case and environmental assessment of a new higher activity waste store at the Dounreay nuclear site in Scotland. The 12 month contract, awarded by Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd (DSRL), the value of which has not been announced, will see Amec Foster Wheeler bring its nuclear decommissioning design skills to undertake the scheme and detailed design, safety case and environmental assessments of the store, which will hold encapsulated waste arising from the decommissioning activities on the Dounreay site. Leigh Wakefield, Business Unit Director for Amec Foster Wheeler’s Clean Energy business, said: “The decommissioning of the Dounreay site is an extremely demanding and complex process and one that is well suited to the skills we have in Amec Foster Wheeler. The design of this state-of-the-art facility is a key element in the decommissioning strategy of the site and one that we are looking forward to delivering for this important client.”
Your Nuclear News 23rd Nov 2015 read more »
The planned construction of a new high-level waste storage facility (sic – it should say Higher Activity Waste) at the UK’s Dounreay site is progressing with the award of three contracts. The £22 million ($33 million) facility will be an extension to the existing Dounreay Cementation Plant. The new facility will hold encapsulated waste arising from the decommissioning activities on the Dounreay site, providing more storage for 500-litre drums and a drum inspection area. It will use a remotely-operated process to condition and immobilize higher activity liquid waste for long-term storage by mixing it with cement in steel drums. Planning permission for the facility was granted by the Highland Council in March. Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL) announced yesterday that it has awarded Amec Foster Wheeler a 12-month contract for the design, safety case and environmental assessment for the facility. Under the contract, Amec Foster Wheeler will develop the concept into a fully detailed manufacturing design with a combined safety case submission. The value of the contract has not been disclosed.
World Nuclear News 24th Nov 2015 read more »
Mini nuclear power plants could be trucked into a town near you to provide your hot water, or shipped to any country that wants to plug them into their electricity grid from the dock. That is the aim of those developing “small modular reactors” and, from the US to China to Poland, they want the UK to be at the centre of the nascent industry. The UK government says it is “fully enthused” about the technology. The UK has commissioned five studies since July, costing £4.5m, to explore the potential of SMRs and energy secretary Amber Rudd told MPs earlier this month: “We are fully enthused about SMRs. We are doing as much as we can in terms of supporting the technology. SMRs would be an excellent way forward.” But for all the activity, the nascent SMR industry faces familiar nuclear challenges: cost, public acceptability, security and waste disposal. The nuclear industry has a long record of broken promises over cost – Hinkley-type reactors being built by EDF in France and Finland are billions over budget and years behind schedule. SMRs could be much closer to people’s homes and might be used to provide hot water for central heating as well as electricity. Despite the challenges, engineer Gordon Waddington, who led the NNL report, is confident SMRs have a future because of the demand for low-carbon electricity. For example, he said: “I am absolutely certain that China will get very good at [SMRs]. They need it and they will get there.” Waddington said the next two to three years are critical if SMRs are to be deployed widely in the next decade, and the UK has a once-in-a-generation chance to be at the heart of it: “The window of opportunity for the UK is there – but it will not be open forever.”
Guardian 24th Nov 2015 read more »
The UK Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has slashed its forecasts for new renewable power capacity by more than a third over the next decade, Carbon Brief analysis shows. The updated forecasts lay bare the consequences of policy changes introduced by secretary of state Amber Rudd since the May general election. They were published last week in an obscure annex on DECC’s website, on the same day as Rudd was giving her “reset speech” on a new direction for UK energy policy. DECC has also raised its forecasts for new-build gas and interconnector capacity, our analysis shows, while scaling back expectations for new nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS). The forecasts suggest it will now be harder for the UK to meet its legally-binding carbon budget for 2028-32, due to be unveiled later this week. The new forecast reflects the latest delay to the completion of the planned Hinkley C plant in Somerset, which will not now be ready before 2025.
Carbon Brief 24th Nov 2015 read more »
MPs have demanded an investigation into possible manipulation of the electricity market, after it emerged a power plant reduced its output ahead of a supply shortage and then charged far higher prices to generate again. The chairman of the Energy and Climate Change select committee said it would write to regulator Ofgem asking it to examine “potential abuses of the system” after concerns were raised about the high prices National Grid had to pay one generator, Calon Energy, to help keep the lights on across the UK at the start of November.
Telegraph 24th Nov 2015 read more »
The Renewable Energy Association – the largest such body in the UK – has published its “Top 10 Policies for a Clean 2020”, top of which is a renewed commitment to the Renewable Heat Initiative. Assuming that the government is to meet its binding 2020 targets and wishes to be a credible body at the Paris conference, the REA hopes to find at least some of the following commitments in the Chancellor’s financial statement later today: A renewed Renewable Heat Incentive budget; Review strategy for Zero Carbon Homes & buildings standards; Policy for heat networks; Interim Renewable Heat Incentive budget; Tax relief / lower council tax / property tax relief for onsite renewable heat, solar, storage; Capital grants for solar and storage; Energy efficiency scheme; Levy Control Framework budget confirmed beyond 2020 Contract for Difference round; Timing for next Contract for Difference round confirmed; Announce financial support for community energy projects
Scottish Energy News 25th Nov 2015 read more »
Britain’s energy policy has been described as ‘inconsistent, incoherent and ineffectual’ by Scotland’s Energy Minister at a major energy conference. Fergus Ewing, Minister for Energy and Enterprise, made the comments as he accused UK Government of failing to meet its objectives and jeopardising energy security at the International Tidal Energy Summit in London. He said: “Last week the UK Government made a ‘dash for gas’ to replace the UK’s ageing nuclear and coal plants – a belated recognition of the UK’s energy crunch. “While UK energy policy continues to increase bills and weaken security of supply, the Secretary of State’s new approach is inconsistent, incoherent and will be ultimately ineffectual.
Scottish Energy News 25th Nov 2015 read more »
France’s EDF has increased security at its nuclear plants following the Paris attacks in which 130 people died last week, the head of the state-controlled utility said on Tuesday. “We are in a state of extreme vigilance on all our sites,” Jean-Bernard Levy said on France 2 television. EDF operates 58 reactors at 19 nuclear plants across France, which relies on atomic energy for about three quarters of its electricity. Levy said EDF had been on “maximum alert” since the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris in January and that it made systematic background checks on all people who work in its nuclear installations, both its own staff and outside contractors
Reuters 24th Nov 2015 read more »
The European Commission (EC) has opened an investigation into Hungary’s plans to provide financing for construction of two new nuclear reactors at its Paks plant. Margrethe Vestager, commissioner in charge of competition policy, said Monday “given the size and importance of the Paks project, the Commission has to carefully assess whether Hungary’s investment is indeed on market terms or whether it involves state aid.” “It is important stakeholders can also submit their views” she added, concerning the Russian-backed nuclear deal, but noted third parties’ comments wouldn’t prejudge the outcome of the investigation.
Kallanish Energy 25th Nov 2015 read more »
Georgia Power has received the final major permit needed for its new nuclear units under construction at Vogtle with the issuance of a water discharge permit from state environmental regulators.
World Nuclear News 24th Nov 2015 read more »
Kallanish Energy 25th Nov 2015 read more »
EGYPT’S “long dream” is finally coming true, says Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, the president. Not the dream of a capable government or reliable services—but the one in which Egypt’s nuclear-energy programme, started back in 1954, finally produces a watt of usable power. The government signed a deal with Russia on November 19th to build its first nuclear plant in Dabaa, on the Mediterranean coast. Nuclear power has gone out of fashion in much of the world. The share of electricity generated by nuclear reactors has fallen to 10.8%, from a peak of 17.6% in 1996. More reactors have closed than opened of late. But the industry is not in crisis. China, Russia and India are all expanding their nuclear programmes. And several countries in the Middle East are pursuing nuclear power, creating what some have unfortunately called a “boom” in the region. Some fear where this may lead—a nuclear-arms race pitting Sunni states, led by Saudi Arabia, against Shia Iran in pursuit of the bomb. A nuclear deal between Iran and the West, signed in July, has somewhat allayed those concerns. Over the long term, as fossil fuels are depleted, nuclear power makes more sense. But only if you ignore the most bountiful—and safest—source of power in the region. It has been estimated that solar radiation could provide a country like Iran with 13 times its total energy needs—and decrease its dependence on Russia, which has withheld nuclear fuel in the past. Photovoltaic panels aren’t a spectacular target for terrorists. And the declining cost of solar power has made it an increasingly good deal. Indeed, it attracted more investment worldwide than nuclear energy last year. Some in the region are thinking this way. Morocco, which currently imports electricity from Spain, is constructing one of the largest solar-power plants in the world for slightly less than the price of Jordan’s two nuclear reactors. It hopes to get 42% of its electricity from renewables by 2020—and to eventually export power to Europe
Economist 24th Nov 2015 read more »
Defence Nuclear Safety
At its recent meeting in Oxford, the Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) English Forum heard about increasing safety concerns within the defence nuclear sector. Such concerns alarm the NFLA as yesterday’s announcement of the Government’s Strategic Defence and Security Review said virtually nothing about improving defence nuclear safety. This is despite, and in the NFLA’s view mistakenly, pledging to spend an additional £6 billion on the Trident replacement programme than previously planned, and announcing new management arrangements to manage defence spending, The NFLA meeting heard from Peter Burt of the Nuclear Information Service (NIS) that the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) at Aldermaston in Berkshire was in ‘special regulatory measures’ from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) for an unprecedented third year running. There has still been no significant improvement in its safety performance and no indication when it will return to ‘normal’ regulatory arrangements
NFLA 24th Nov 2015 read more »
The UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system could be rendered obsolete by cyber attacks, former Defence Secretary Lord Browne has warned. The ex-Labour minister told the BBC unless “weak spots” were protected, there was “no guarantee” of a reliable nuclear deterrent for the PM “when he needs to reach for it”. Ex-Conservative Defence Secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind played down the risk. The comments come ahead of a Commons debate on the future of Trident.
BBC 24th Nov 2015 read more »
The fragility of Britain’s cross-party consensus on nuclear weapons was revealed on Tuesday in a sour debate on the renewal of the Trident deterrent, which Michael Fallon said would cost at least £6bn more than planned. The defence secretary confirmed that the price tag for four new submarines to replace the Vanguard Class had risen to £31bn from £26bn, not including a £10bn contingency fund. David Cameron, prime minister, acknowledged on Monday that their delivery could take five years longer than planned. Mr Fallon said there would be a vote on the principle of renewal of the submarines “next year” but that “our allies and adversaries will be watching” the Scottish National party-led debate in the Commons on Tuesday. The debate was meant to showcase divisions in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party, meaning that concerns about the cost and timing of the government’s new plans were often replaced by squabbles and polemics. Outside the Commons, however, senior defence figures raised questions about the Strategic Defence and Security Review, which Mr Cameron announced in parliament on Monday. Des Browne, the former Labour defence secretary, said the government had to assure parliament that the deterrent was “protected against a high-tier cyber threat”. In total, 20 Labour MPs defied the one-line whip to abstain, with six voting to support the SNP motion and 14 opting to show their support for Britain’s nuclear-weapon status.
FT 24th Nov 2015 read more »
DONALD TRUMP could have his finger poised over Britain’s nuclear button within 18 months, one MP claimed yesterday amid an ill-tempered Commons clash over Trident renewal. SNP defence spokesman Brendan O’Hara rubbished claims that Trident is an “independent nuclear deterrent,” saying the US president has the final say over firing the weapons. Mr O’Hara quoted a 2006 defence select committee report that said: “It is difficult to conceive of any situation in which a prime minister would fire Trident without prior US approval.” Pointing out that Mr Trump is leading the race to become the Republicans’ US presidential candidate, he asked: “Does anyone seriously think that Trident makes the world a safer place?”
Morning Star 25th Nov 2015 read more »
Huffington Post 24th Nov 2015 read more »
Rebel Labour MPs dealt a blow to Jeremy Corbyn tonight by voting to renew Trident. Ex-leadership contender Liz Kendall was among 14 backbenchers who said Britain’s four nuclear submarines should remain – despite the cost ballooning by £6bn. pro-Trident Labour MP John Woodcock was among those who broke cover to speak in the debate – saying the SNP would ‘scrap 10,000 jobs’ linked to Trident and branding their MPs ‘robots’.
Mirror 24th Nov 2015 read more »
Sinn Féin said it is “indefensible” that billions of pounds would be spent on the programme at a time when families are struggling due to austerity. It called on the Government to cancel plans to renew the nuclear weapons scheme. Following a debate on Tuesday the motion fell after it failed to receive the support of a majority of MLAs, with 44 for and 44 against. It had been backed by politicians from Sinn Féin, the SDLP and Alliance and opposed by the DUP and UUP.
UTV 24th Nov 2015 read more »
A total of 20 Labour MPs defied Jeremy Corbyn to vote on Trident as it emerged the Labour leader is considering polling party members on the UK’s nuclear deterrent. More than a dozen Labour MPs rejected Mr Corbyn’s anti-nuclear stance and backed a replacement for the ageing weapons system. But another six voted with the SNP to oppose renewing Trident. Now it has emerged that he is considering asking the party’s hundreds of thousands of members for their views on the party’s stance in an online poll. Mr Corbyn is pushing to change his party’s stance on the deterrent. He has praised Scottish Labour’s vote at its recent conference to scrap Trident, saying he hoped that it would lead to a change of heart in the UK party’s position.
Herald 25th Nov 2015 read more »
Jeremy Corbyn may call a ballot of Labour’s 393,000 members on whether the party should abandon its support for renewing Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons system.
Independent 24th Nov 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
The Solar Trade Association is seeking a number of taxation reliefs in the Chancellor’s autumn budget statement today (25 Nov 2015) – as well as clarity on the future of the Renewable Heat Initiative. The STA says the solar thermal hot water heating market has collapsed in the UK as a result of insufficient or ineffective support under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI) – which is funded out of general taxation and not the Levy Control Framework.
Scottish Energy News 25th Nov 2015 read more »
Renewables – tidal
We should hear plenty about infrastructure investment in George Osborne’s Spending Review and Autumn Statement, with the High Speed 2 railway, “Northern Powerhouse” and a fleet of new nuclear stations all likely to be name-checked. But one notable omission in the Chancellor’s speech a could be the Swansea Bay tidal lagoon. This £1bn project is the brainchild of Gloucester-based Tidal Lagoon Power (TLP) and is backed by around £200m of equity cheques from the Prudential and InfraRed Capital Partners. The first of its type in the world, a man-made breakwater would create power from tidal movement, with hydro-turbines generating electricity when water flows through the blades. Once operational, TLP executives hope to roll out another five of these plants along the west coast of England and Wales and generate around 8 per cent of the UK’s electricity. Most encouraging of all, I understand TLP is close to signing a contract with a “big six” utility to take 90 per cent the electricity (the smaller Good Energy has already agreed to take 10 per cent). It is believed legal terms are currently being wrapped up, with an announcement that will bolster the credibility of the project to follow soon.
Independent 25th Nov 2015 read more »
Fossil fuel companies risk wasting up to $2tn (£1.3tn) of investors’ money in the next decade on projects left worthless by global action on climate change and the surge in clean energy, according to a new report.
Guardian 25th Nov 2015 read more »