The Treasury is facing calls to pour billions of pounds into a string of troubled new nuclear projects which threaten the UK’s energy supplies. Tim Yeo, a former environment minister and energy committee chairman, is warning that the only way the Government can avert a crisis for the country’s nuclear programme is to take a direct financial stake in the projects. Ministers should also actively encourage investment from nuclear companies in China, South Korea and Russia where the the industry is relatively insulated from the challenges faced by European companies thanks to strong state backing, he said. Mr Yeo said the existing support regime, which guarantees a fixed price for each megawatt of power produced, does not go far enough to help investors who face billions in construction costs before the nuclear plant begins producing power.
Telegraph 25th Feb 2017 read more »
Can the world meet its climate change targets without nuclear? Some experts argue renewable energy is too intermittent to meet ambitious goals alone. Nuclear power is, for some, the black sheep of the low-carbon energy family. On the one hand you’ve got the “greens”: wind, solar, hydro. All of them are exceedingly clean, or at least, they seem so. As clean as a cool breeze, as a sunny day, as a rushing river. Then you’ve got nuclear. That cold-war harkening cousin of the low-carbon family.
The Week 25th Feb 2017 read more »
Last week, photographs of wind turbines were once again juxtaposed with headlines about rising energy prices. The cause on this occasion was no less pre-eminent a body than a Lords committee, comprising former chancellor Norman Lamont and other heavyweight peers. “To reduce carbon emissions, governments have subsidised renewables, passing on the cost to consumers in their electricity bills. The average domestic electricity bill was 58% higher in 2016 than it was in 2003,” the economic affairs committee said in its report on energy policy. Anyone reading it would have been forgiven for directing their anger at windfarms when increases in their energy bills land, as half of the big six energy suppliers are planning. Yet the peers’ report admits that “rising international prices for fossil fuels” were the main driver for energy bills going up over the period. Renewable energy subsidies on bills – the “green crap”, as former PM David Cameron reportedly called them – do add a cost. But it’s small, at 10% of an average dual-fuel bill, as the peers themselves note. The blame for the latest round of price rises announced by energy suppliers, big and small, does not lie primarily with wind turbines and solar panels. Energy regulator Ofgem was clear about that in front of MPs last week and in its analysis last month.
Observer 26th Feb 2017 read more »
FROM his office window, Philipp Schröder points out over the Bavarian countryside and issues a Bond villain’s laugh: “In front of you, you can see the death of the conventional utility, all financed by Mr and Mrs Schmidt. It’s a beautiful sight.” The wind blowing across Wildpoldsried towards the Alps lazily turns the turbines on the hills above. The south-facing roofs of the houses, barns and cowsheds are blanketed with blue photovoltaic (PV) solar panels. The cows on the green fields produce manure that generates biogas which warms the Biergarten, the sports hall and many of the houses where the 2,600 villagers live, as well as backing up the wind and solar generators in winter. All told, the village produces five times more electricity than it needs, and the villagers are handsomely rewarded for their greenness; in 2016 they pocketed about €6m ($7m) from subsidies and selling their surplus electricity.
Economist 25th Feb 2017 read more »
Thirty years after a reactor exploded at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine, radiation is still turning up in some unexpected places: for instance, in the wild boars tramping through the mountains of the Czech Republic — almost a thousand miles away. These radioactive boars aren’t turning into teenage mutant ninja pigs, but they aren’t safe for eating, either. That’s a problem in a country where boar meat is mixed into stews and goulash. In fact, the wild boars are being irradiated by their own food: the wild mushrooms they depend on during the cold winter months.
The Verge 24th Feb 2017 read more »
US – Radwaste
The political logjam over Yucca Mountain should be broken by depicting the storage of nuclear waste there as a national-security issue, a leading Nevada proponent of the project says. “If I could get in a room with President Donald Trump, what I would say is this a national security issue. The government made promises. They’ve taken money from ratepayers. There’s $30 billion-plus sitting there. It’s time to follow the law,” said Dan Schinhofen, chairman of the Nye County Board of County of Commissioners, who represents the county where Yucca Mountain is located.
Bloomberg 24th Feb 2017 read more »
Taxpayers pumped an extra £548m into Drax power station last year to fund its controversial practice of burning wood chips instead of coal. The subsidies mean that the North Yorkshire plant, Britain’s biggest single source of carbon dioxide emissions, has reaped £1bn of taxpayer support over the past two years to burn biomass fuel. Britain is more reliant on biomass, alongside wind and solar power, amid pressure to close dirty coal-fired stations. Drax, which supplies about 7% of Britain’s electricity, now generates two-thirds of its power from organic matter, the rest from coal. It imports wood pellets from America.
Times 26th Feb 2017 read more »
GAS can play a big part in a future sustainable energy mix, but the industry has to help policy makers, planners and the public understand the non-price benefits of the fuel, according to a leading industry expert. Remi Eriksen, president and CEO of DNV GL – an international classification and services group – said the North Sea could become a carbon storage hub for Europe and at the heart of a new billion-dollar industry. In an analysis of the gas sector, Eriksen said the industry could take heart from government-industry CCS feasibility initiatives in Norway. “By 2022, the Norwegian Continental Shelf could host a CO2 storage hub,” he said. “Commercially, gas with CCS is technically feasible, but there are cost barriers as CCS technologies are still not widely deployed by industries. “As it becomes more widespread, infrastructure sharing, economies of scale, and technical innovation will improve its economic feasibility.” Eriksen added: “However, higher pricing of CO2 is needed to accelerate investments in these technologies.”
The National 25th Feb 2017 read more »
In the North West of England a disused power plant site will play host to the next phase of Britain’s energy evolution. The Roosecote plot in Barrow began flowing electricity from burning coal to homes across the country over 60 years ago. Decades later the plant was replaced with a gas-fired version in the Nineties. But within months Roosecote’s latest incarnation will mark far more than a shift in technology, as it ushers in a radical change of approach. The project is as simple as it is groundbreaking. Energy giant Centrica will build the world’s largest energy storage depot, housing rows of hundreds of batteries. They are each the size of a briefcase but together are capable of storing enough energy to power around 50,000 homes.
Telegraph 25th Feb 2017 read more »
Plans for a 400-mile subsea power cable linking Scotland and Norway have been given a boost after the EU agreed to part-fund its development phase. Scandinavian consortium NorthConnect said it was eligible for more than 10 million euros of EU cash to support its electricity interconnector plans. The project was given the green light by regulator Ofgem last year. NorthConnect plans to build a £1.3bn power cable between Boddam in Aberdeenshire and Eidfjord in Norway. The project aims to link hydro power from Norway with wind energy from Scotland. It is scheduled to start operating from 2022. The European funding is coming from the Connecting Europe Facility, the EU’s support programme for infrastructure. Responding to the EU funding announcement, WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “If Scotland and the rest of Europe are to move to a 100% renewable future then greater use of interconnectors is an essential part of that future. “Greater interconnection brings the double benefits of ensuring security of supply and removing the need to build lots of expensive new nuclear or fossil fuel power stations.
BBC 24th Feb 2017 read more »
The National 25th Feb 2017 read more »
Press and Journal 25th Feb 2017 read more »
A giant pension scheme with more than 4 million members is shifting almost 10% of its investments into a new climate change fund designed to move people’s money out of fossil fuels and into renewable energy. Nest (National Employment Savings Trust), a publicly owned scheme set up by the government, said it was moving £130m into the fund because it wanted to protect its worker members from the risks associated with climate change by reducing their exposure to companies with reserves of coal, oil and gas. Nest has named oil groups Shell and ExxonMobil as two of the companies in which it is set to scale back its investment, with SSE, one of Britain’s biggest energy firms, one of those likely to be a beneficiary of the new strategy.
Guardian 24th Feb 2017 read more »