As the UK’s nuclear dream fades, writes Chris Goodall, investors are turning to the possibilities of ‘Concentrating Solar Power’ in the Sahara connected to Europe by HVDC power lines. The cost would be much lower than nuclear or offshore wind, and provide reliable baseload capacity. With the UK government’s say so, Tunisian sunshine could soon be powering our grid. The AP1000 plants being built in the US states of Georgia and South Carolina now look as though they will cost 30% more than earlier estimates. Late last month the owners of the Georgia facility had also announced further construction delays. The search for reliable baseload carbon-free electricity continues in the face of nuclear’s mounting problems. Despite its high capital cost, attention is increasingly directed towards ‘Concentrating Solar Power’ (CSP), a technology that uses focused light to heat a liquid that turns to steam and drives generators. As time passes, the eventual victory of solar power as the primary world energy source in a decarbonised world is looking increasingly secure. And as more projects are completed, and costs come down, CSP seems to be possible contender as a principal provider of baseload power. The UK’s entire electricity needs could be provided by 30 solar farms of TuNur’s eventual full extent, occupying a total desert area of about 3,000 square kilometres, equivalent to a circle with a 31km radius – a mere pinprick in the vastness of the Sahara. The arguments in favour of allowing the Tunisian project into the UK’s CfD subsidy scheme are overwhelming.
Ecologist 25th Feb 2015 read more »
The company behind plans to build a nuclear power plant on Anglesey has said it will be “delivered safely”. Horizon Nuclear Power has sent an open letter to the former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who’s on Anglesey campaigning to stop the plans. In the letter, CEO at Horizon Alan Raymant, highlighted the safety record of the nuclear industry in the UK and globally. He also said nuclear power has played a key role in Anglesey’s recent history. Mr Raymant also said an incident like that of Fukushima is not possible as there is no risk of a Tsunami on the island.
ITV 26th Feb 2015 read more »
Homeowners who claim proposals for a nuclear power plant in east Suffolk has meant they cannot sell their properties have been left “speechless” by the Government’s response to their “desperate” appeals for help. The response, when it came, was not from the prime minister, but Ed Davey, secretary of state for energy and climate change, who advised Rev van Gils to take part in the next stage of EDF’s Sizewell consultation. While Mr Davey acknowledged the response may not give the “immediate resolution” she sought, he added there would be no “formal process for mitigation measures” until EDF had completed its consultation.
East Anglian Daily Times 25th Feb 2015 read more »
EDF Energy Monthly Report: Ten Year Life Extension.
EDF 24th Feb 2015 read more »
UK energy minister Matthew Hancock has told a Parliamentary Committee that ‘We do not expect a delay’ in building Hinkley C as a result of the Austrian challenge to EU Commission’s consent to state aid for the power station(s). He also declared that ‘the cost of nuclear is not going up’. He was being interviewed before the Environmental Audit Committee on 10th February and quizzed about nuclear funding by green MP Caroline Lucas. Hancock’s statements have some interesting implications. First, given that EDF have been announcing construction to start in early 2013, so in that sense there is already a delay, thus his answer is in formal terms, simply wrong. But one assumes that what he really means is that EDF are going to ignore the issue of the court challenge and go ahead building the power station, pronto (although, as stated in the last blog post in reality the project was falling apart anyway regardless of the Austrian challenge). This view once again highlights the gap between government policy and reality. EDF are certainly not going to go ahead without at least a guarantee of compensation from the UK Government in the event of an adverse judgement from the EU Court of Justice judgement (final judgement taking maybe 2 years). But the UK Government could not, itself, give compensation without breaching the state aid rules which are the very subject of the dispute. The only way this could be done would be through the back door, through AREVA, the effectively already bankrupt (French) state owned nuclear constructor of the EPRs. But that idea doesn’t seem even likely to be discussed.
Dave Tole’s Blog 17th Feb 2015 read more »
Where will the Areva cataclysm? A week before the presentation of its 2014 results, scheduled for March 4, the French nuclear champion was forced to unveil Monday, February 23 a net loss of 4.9 billion euros , higher than the 4 billion mentioned by Friday, February 20 BBC and L’Opinion. The announcement is anything but trivial: this loss, partly due to new provisions of the Finnish EPR and multiple asset impairments, represents over 50% of group sales (8 3 billion in 2014), and even far beyond the stock market valuation of Areva (3.6 billion). Beyond the numbers, it is the question of the viability of the group that is now posed. All lights are bright red: the activity is frown, with 2014 sales down 8%, mining and renewable energy divisions even showing a drop of 24%. Areva remains strangled by gross debt of 7 billion euros (4.7 by removing the 2 billion cash), which led the Standard ‘Poor’s to downgrade an end to BB + rating in November, representing an investment “speculative” . Result: Pending capital increase more and more likely, the Areva Action never ceases not to flow, with a fall of 55% in one year. Should we now stop spending and scuttle the ship? “The group is in danger of death, as in the days of Alstom woes of its turbines, certify an industry expert. The urgency is to regain control over the conduct of major programs, and completely review the organization of group. ” The transverse structure, called E’P (Engineering and Projects) is particularly criticized. “A state within a state, more concerned than pure engineering contract compliance and customer service” , continues the source.
Challenges 25th Feb 2015 read more »
Letter Cllr Mark Dearey: David Robert Grimes calls for an honest debate about nuclear power in Ireland (“We need to debate the nuclear option honestly”, February 23rd). I’m all for a full and honest debate, so in that spirit, here are a few points the pro-nuclear lobby need to address. First, the cost. Ireland has no nuclear regulatory system or infrastructure. Both would need to be established and that won’t be cheap. Then there is the cost of the reactor. The European Commission puts the cost of the new nuclear reactor at Hinkley Point in the UK at an eye-watering £17 billion (€23 billion). The small modular nuclear reactor that is being touted for Moneypoint is still little more than a blueprint, with none built anywhere in the world. It would also require going through major financial and regulatory hurdles to reach a sensible and reasonable market value. That could be many years off. Second, the waste issue. The UK’s nuclear waste legacy is calculated as costing over £80 billion (€108 billion) over the next century and no solution has yet been found in the UK as to where to store higher and intermediate-level radioactive waste, some 30 years after the matter started to be discussed. There are no plans to reprocess any of this waste in the UK, just to store it underground. Third, the safety considerations. Three major accidents are three too many when considering something which can be as dangerous as radiation. The figures Mr Grimes offers about Chernobyl health statistics are contested, to say the least. This week Naoto Kan, prime minister of Japan at the time of the Fukushima disaster, will be speaking in Wales. His message is clear – Fukushima was a man-made, not a natural, disaster. It was caused by Japan’s commitment to an unsafe and expensive technology that is not compatible with life on this planet. For Mr Kan, the only safe option when it comes to nuclear power is to abandon it as it simply is not worth the risk. His views on this matter are rooted in experience and need to be given due weight by proponents of nuclear power when arguing about risk and exposure. The energy market and the renewable technologies driving it are moving so rapidly that nuclear power can be set aside as an energy option for Ireland, without endangering our economic development. Apple’s announcement that it is to locate a data centre at Athenry powered by renewable energy is clear evidence of this.
Irish Times 25th Feb 2015 read more »
The EU has today sought to cement its position as one of the world’s leading low carbon economies with the publication of wide-ranging new energy strategy and the release of an ambitious package of climate measures that it will take into this year’s crucial Paris climate summit. The Energy Union proposals and official communication on the “Paris Protocol” come just a day after MEPs on the Environment Committee voted to boost the price of carbon in the bloc’s carbon market and will further underline member states’ desire to decarbonise their economies. The proposed Energy Union would effectively establish the transmission of energy across the bloc as the “fifth freedom”, alongside the other fundamental freedoms that define the EU, enabling the free movement of people, goods, services and capital. The Commission said it would take legal action if needed to stop member states limiting the flow of energy across borders as it seeks to redesign the electricity market to be “more interconnected, more renewable, and more responsive”. It also said it would overhaul state interventions in the internal market and phase out environmentally harmful subsidies. A commitment to energy security goes hand in hand with renewed commitments on clean energy, including a pledge to “fundamentally rethink” approaches to energy efficiency so that energy saving projects can compete on a level playing field with generation projects, grid upgrades to support the ongoing transition towards renewable energy, and funding to help reinforce Europe’s position as a leader on clean technologies.
Business Green 25th Feb 2015 read more »
The future of the EU’s climate and energy policy is – only slightly – clearer this evening as Energydesk obtained leaked drafts of two key proposals from the commission. The documents – one on the EU’s plans for an ‘Energy Union’ and the other spelling out the “road” to the key climate change conference in Paris later this year – follow on from a deal between EU leaders last October and are intended -at least – to fill in the details. As such they may form the basis for the EU’s strategy beyond 2020 and appear to suggest an ‘all of the above’ approach to energy policy, though they are only the commission proposals at this stage. There will be more analysis to come tomorrow, but our first take is that drafts will be key, reflecting both the EU’s negotiating position in talks leading up to the climate summit in Paris later this year and the potential within the bloc for mobilising significant investment in energy infrastructure from gas to renewables. However, taken together they present a mixed and slightly confusing picture of the EU’s energy priorities.
Energy Desk 24th Feb 2015 read more »
The European Commission has released details of its ‘Energy Union’ vision to reboot Europe’s energy policy and proposals for the crucial UN climate change talks in December. The Energy Union Package, announced today by Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic, includes a binding emissions reduction target of at least 40% below 1990 levels by 2030, along with a host of commitments for the EU to become ‘the world leader in renewable energy’. The 21-page document contains a dizzying list of measures – spanning renewables and energy-efficiency, gas supplies, legislation, finance, market design, a 10% power-interconnection target, R&D, and climate policy. Here’s what you need to know.
Edie 25th Feb 2015 read more »
Europe’s energy system needs to be fundamentally transformed, shifting away from reliance on fossil fuels, according to the European Commission’s proposals for an energy union. A framework strategy for the energy union, published today, explains how the commission plans to achieve this transformation. The strategy attempts to create a coherent vision by synthesising all existing EU policies on climate and energy with a number of new initiatives. Reactions so far suggest this synthesis has only been partially successful. Legal NGO ClientEarth says the strategy lacks clear rules on how EU targets will be met. Thinktank E3G says the strategy is “good on vision, but deeply confused on delivery priorities”. NGO Greenpeace says the plan is “contradictory” and lacks coherence, while WWF says it has “blind spots”. Carbon Brief explains where the idea of an energy union came from and shows how the strategy text has evolved through several drafts, revealing evidence of the differing political priorities that have challenged creation of a clear and coherent strategy.
Carbon Brief 25th Feb 2015 read more »
The EU Commission has approved proposals to create a single European energy market. The Energy Union plan would give the Commission more influence in the negotiation of gas supply contracts. It is partly designed to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian gas, at a time of tension over the conflict in eastern Ukraine. The proposals still need to be approved by member states and the European Parliament.
BBC 25th Feb 2015 read more »
Anti-nuclear group Mom Loves Taiwan has launched a petition against state-run Taiwan Power Co’s (Taipower) call for bids to reprocess about 1,200 bundles of spent fuel rods from the Jinshan and Guosheng nuclear power plants, which Taipower announced on Tuesday last week, one day before Lunar New Year’s Eve.
Taipei Times 25th Feb 2015 read more »
While Exelon threatens to shutter as many as three Illinois nuclear plants without additional revenue from the state, it recently won lucrative concessions for an endangered nuke in New York state. Chicago-based Exelon finalized a deal Feb. 13 with the electric utility serving Rochester, N.Y., that will require ratepayers in that city to pay more for electricity to keep open Exelon’s Ginna plant on the shores of Lake Ontario. Exelon threatened to close the 583-megawatt plant because it’s losing money.
Chicago Business 19th Feb 2015 read more »
Iran and the six major powers may be within reach of an agreement to limit Iran’s nuclear program. After months of little apparent progress, the quickening pace of talks suggests that negotiators in Geneva might be able to complete a framework by the end of March, with a final accord reached at the end of June. This isn’t certain, but it offers hope that the protracted nuclear threat from Iran can be resolved peacefully.
New York Times 25th Feb 2015 read more »
Benjamin Netanyahu accused the West on Wednesday of “giving up” the struggle to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and of being willing to sign a flawed agreement with Tehran.
Telegraph 25th Feb 2015 read more »
Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might be wrong about his opposition to negotiating a deal with Iran over its nuclear program. Kerry told the House Foreign Affairs Committee he didn’t want to comment on Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress next week.
Daily Mail 25th Feb 2015 read more »
An Iranian dissident group accused Tehran on Tuesday of hiding a secret nuclear facility even as US negotiators signaled they’re ready to make a concession to reach a deal with Iran on its disputed nuclear program.
Independent 25th Feb 2015 read more »
The loch at Faslane is very calm on a beautiful spring-like day, seagulls wheel above the jetty and its short, white radar tower. Beneath the still waters, I presume, lurks some of Britain’s ageing nuclear deterrent. The future of Trident may not be much of an issue in the election, but it will be one of the most important, and expensive, decisions the new government makes. And it could be a vital issue in any negotiations if there is a hung Parliament.
BBC 26th Feb 2015 read more »
Renewables – CFDs
World-leading competitive auctions have led to contracts being offered to 27 renewable electricity projects, which together could power 1.4m homes, comparable to the number of households in Wales. If built, the projects could support thousands of green jobs, bolster energy security and cut the cost of renewable electricity.
DECC 26th Feb 2015 read more »
DECC has released the results of the contracts for difference (CfD) auction with just five solar projects, totalling less than 72MW, proving successful. Solar projects over 5MW in size will no longer be eligible for the Renewable Obligation scheme from April this year, leaving the CfDs as the only available support mechanism. The new competitive auction scheme divides renewable energy technologies into two pools – established and less established – with onshore wind and solar PV bidding for the same budget. The news will be a relief to the successful firms. There had been fears that solar would not be able to match the prices that wind is able to offer leaving the sector empty-handed. The switch to a competitive system for renewable energy support has been praised by the European Commission, which has expressed a desire to see all member states continue down this route. This week Germany opened bidding in its own renewable energy auction that allocated 150MW for solar.
Solar Portal 26th Feb 2015 read more »
Contracts were awarded to two offshore wind farms, one in England and one in Scotland: East Anglia Phase 1, and Neart na Gaoithe, a total of 1162 MW capacity, with strike prices varying between £114.39 and £119.89 per MWh. Contracts were also awarded to fifteen onshore wind farms, across England, Scotland and Wales. The onshore wind farms awarded contracts equated to a total of 748.55 MW capacity, with average strike prices for each year varying between £79.23 per MWh and £82.50 per MWh. Commenting on the results of the auctions, RenewableUK Chief Executive Maria McCaffery said: “We are pleased to see these projects, which between them could power over 1.2 million homes, and create substantial numbers of jobs, and much needed investment in our communities, moving forward.
Renewable UK 26th Feb 2015 read more »
New wind farms and solar power programmes are among a host of green energy projects that have won contracts from the government worth more than £315 million following auctions. Contracts have been awarded to 27 renewable electricity projects which together could power 1.4 million homes. The winners of the auctions were awarded 15-year contracts which guarantee a price for the power generated as part of the government’s plan to encourage renewable energy.
Professional Engineer 26th Feb 2015 read more »
A major wind farm planned off the coast of East Anglia has been given the go-ahead by the Government. East Anglia One – a 714MW project – is one of just two offshore wind projects given the green light in an auction where energy projects are given a guaranteed price for their output.
Ipswich Star 26th Feb 2015 read more »
Plans for a major offshore wind farms project in the Outer Moray Firth have been dealt a major blow. Moray Offshore Renewables Limited (Morl) has failed to secure a deal on a UK government subsidy. This would have given a guaranteed price at which Morl could sell electricity produced for the first 15 years of the renewable energy scheme. Morl plans to build three wind farms called Telford, Stevenson and MacColl with up to 62 turbines on each site. A 448 megawatt offshore wind farm, Neart na Gaoithe, in the Firth of Forth did secure the subsidy, along with 10 onshore wind farms in the Highlands, Strathclyde, Moray and Dumfries and Galloway. Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “These results are very disappointing. Granting a contract to only one Scottish offshore windfarm, and only one other in the rest of the UK, shows how little interest the current UK government has in cleaning up our energy supply.
BBC 26th Feb 2015 read more »
Combined heat and power (CHP) generators will be a backbone technology in Europe’s coming green energy revolution. They produce both salable heat and electricity and can rapidly ramp up and down over short periods of time. That gives them a third capability: to balance power grids in order to compensate for fluctuating renewables like wind and solar power.
E&E Publishing 24th Feb 2015 read more »
Bristol Energy Cooperative (BEC) have recently completed three of four solar PV installations funded by their second share offer – a 10kW install at Bristol Folk House, 20kW at The Mill and 50kW at South Bristol Sports Centre. The latter two and Redcatch Community Centre, where a fourth project is starting soon, are Bristol City Council (BCC) buildings. These installations form part of a pilot for community-funded solar PV on council-owned buildings, and its success means that the council is making more roofs available for up to approximately 500kW of panels.
Centre for Sustainable Energy 23rd Feb 2015 read more »
Renewables – wave & tidal
Two new reports into the wave and tidal energy sectors have concluded that a unified vision and sustained financial support is needed by UK governments in order to develop fully-commercialised industries.
Edie 25th Feb 2015 read more »
Scottish tidal turbine developer Nautricity has secured a grid-connected tidal test berth at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) in Orkney following successful sea trials at a non-grid connected site last year.
Scottish Energy News 26th Feb 2015 read more »
Wave Energy Scotland, the new quango set up by the Scottish Government following the financial collapse of Pelamis Wave Power last year, has awarded its first public-sector contract – to a group of former Pelamis employees. Yesterday, Scottish Energy Minister announced that Wave Energy Scotland is to receive more than £14 million over the next 12 months. An unspecified amount of this money will be spent on paying former Pelamis chief executive Richard Yemm and 11 other ex-Pelamis staff ‘to capture the knowledge of the Pelamis technology development path for the wider benefit of the wave energy sector.’
Scottish Energy News 26th Feb 2015 read more »
Business Green 26th Feb 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
The first of 2,000 solar panels are being fitted to council houses as part of a £9.2m scheme to cut household bills. And it’s not costing Kirklees Council taxpayers a penny. Kirklees has started installing solar panels on 36 houses in the Knowl Grove area of Mirfield. A further 73 in the Wellhouse Avenue and Greenside estate area of Mirfield, along with 38 in Denby Dale and 40 in Scholes, Holmfirth, will also get them. The first solar panels are already performing better than predicted at 109%. If that continues Kirklees can expect the solar panels to have paid for themselves in around 10 years – sooner than estimated – and they will generate a £14m return. At the same time, tenants with solar panels will benefit immediately with cheaper household bills, saving up to £200 a year.
Huddersfield Daily Examiner 26th Feb 2015 read more »
The big six energy companies undermined the government’s flagship programme to upgrade the energy efficiency of Britain’s housing stock, according to the former climate minister who is now David Cameron’s climate envoy. Tory MP Greg Barker told an audience in London on Tuesday that large energy companies had feigned enthusiasm but never seriously tried to sell the green deal to consumers.
Guardian 25th Feb 2015 read more »
Lancashire County Council today rejected Cuadrilla’s planning application for a prospective fracking site at Singleton, marking a victory for campaigners and dealing a fresh blow to the government’s shale gas push. Councillors voted against the fracking company’s proposal to start pressure testing and seismic monitoring at the previously drilled site by seven to six with one abstention, going against the recommendation of the planning department to approve the plans.
Business Green 25th Feb 2015 read more »
Longannet power station – which can generate around half of Scotland’s energy needs – is under imminent threat of closure next month and with it the prospect of 260 redundancies following the break-down of talks between Scottish Power and the UK National Grid.
Scottish Energy News 26th Feb 2015 read more »
Shale gas needs a rapid makeover because to the public it has become the new nuclear, according to the head of an ongoing-survey of attitudes to fracking. Professor Sarah O’Hara, of Nottingham University, told an industry conference yesterday that the turning point, when opposition began to grow to fracking, was the Balcombe protest in summer 2013. For people who took part in the survey, she said, shale gas had become the least acceptable form of energy, even though support for conventional gas stood at 70-80%.
Drill or Drop 25th Feb 2015 read more »