Ahead of Ed Davey’s visit to Scotland today, the SNP has called on the UK Energy Secretary to explain to people in Scotland why he is determined to push up their energy bills with his support for nuclear energy. A report into the cost of living from consumer organisation Which? yesterday found that the cost of energy was one of the major pressures facing the 36 per cent of Scottish households that feel financially squeezed. Prior to going into coalition with the Tories, Davey was against a new generation of nuclear power stations. He has previously stated that new nuclear “will cost taxpayers and consumers tens of billions of pounds” and that alternative energy supplies are “cleaner, safer, greener and better for the environment”.
Newsnet Scotland 26th June 2014 read more »
Balfour Beatty and Cavendish Nuclear have bagged a £160m contract to build a new silo maintenance facility for Sellafield. The 45:55 joint venture is the third phase of Sellafield’s waste retrieval hazard reduction programme. This final phase of works follows the first two phases consisting of a £5.5m preliminary design phase and £12.5m detailed design and enabling works. The new plant will support two existing waste silos. Work is scheduled to finish in autumn 2017. Balfour Beatty will provide a “fully integrated commissioning and pre-operations delivery strategy” and train Sellafield’s employees in operating the facility. The project is expected to employ over 300 people at the height of construction.
Construction News 25th June 2014 read more »
Evening Standard 25th June 2014 read more »
Energy Live News 25th June 2014 read more »
Hunterston has been a Godsend to this area where it has provided thousands of jobs and a chain reaction of lucrative business for local companies and tradesmen over 50 years. In fact, the snp government had no choice other than to agree with the request of edf who, incidentally have pledged billions of pounds to renewable energy development, to extend the life of Hunterston b to 2023 and, hopefully, beyond that. Imagine…another nine years of carbon free energy supply. It’s a dream for the ‘save the planet’ lobby! There was no way that the Scottish Government could have closed down Hunterston and retained their local parliamentary and council seats on the north coast.
Largs and Millport News 25th June 2014 read more »
Contracts for Difference
The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has launched an inquiry into the early Contracts for Difference (CfDs). The Department of Energy and Climate Change agreed eight investment contracts under the transitional Final Investment Decision (FID) Enabling process in April 2014. This was the first support offered under the EMR programme and it will provide up to £12 billion of private sector investment and add 4.5GW of low-carbon electricity to Britain’s energy mix. The contracts are for index linked strike prices for 15 years for offshore wind and biomass. The inquiry, led by PAC chair, Margaret Hodge, will examine the business case supporting Decc’s decision to go early to select and award these contracts, in advance of the proposed approach for CfDs, and the risks to value for the consumer.
Utility Week 25th June 2014 read more »
As EU leaders consider measures to improve Europe’s energy security at a summit in Brussels, a new report has exposed European Commission plans as woefully inadequate to cut reliance on energy imports, said Greenpeace. The report released today shows that strong EU commitments on renewables and energy efficiency could reduce the need for imports by 45 per cent more in 2030 than under the EU’s existing plans.
Greenpeace 25th June 2014 read more »
Proposals from the European Union to set new emissions and renewable targets would do very little to reduce fossil fuel imports – according to an analysis of European Commission figures. The study is based on research by the German Institute of Technical Thermodynamics for Greenpeace, found that adopting more ambitious targets on clean energy, emissions and efficiency would cut energy imports by a further 45%. The current plans would see energy imports fall by just 11% by 2030 whilst the EU’s annual fuel bill would actually rise over the same time period. The study comes as Europe’s leaders meet to discuss the proposals amid rival proposals for a new efficiency target at an EU level. The EU is looking to cut carbon emissions by 40% with a 27% renewable target by 2030. The report asks if it’s possible to go further, cutting emissions by 55% with a 40% efficiency target and a 45% renewable energy target.
Energy Desk 24th June 2014 read more »
The Prime Minister has turned his attention to a proposed housing development that abuts a former nuclear tip. Patrick Cooke, of Crich, got the attention of Downing Street after writing to Prime Minster David Cameron about concerns over a planning application for 113 new homes off Roes Lane, Crich. The proposed site backs onto Hilts Quarry, which was used for a number of years by Rolls Royce for dumping low–level nuclear waste. The 70–year–old is concerned that if developers start digging nearby they could disturb the nuclear site. Patrick, who campaigned initially to stop Rolls–Royce dumping waste at the site, said: “I sent the Prime Minister a letter saying ‘we know your Government is wanting housing, but I don’t think this is the right area to build new houses – right at the side of a nuclear tip’.” He received a response back from Downing Street saying Mr Cameron had requested the Department for Communities and Local Government reply to his concerns directly.
Derbyshire Times 25th June 2014 read more »
Former vice president Dick Cheney has predicted that the US will suffer a “far deadlier” terrorist attack than 9/11 before the end of the decade, likely to be a nuclear strike. Speaking on a radio show in the US on Tuesday, the one-time doyen of the neocon movement was questioned over whether he thought America would reach the end of the decade without being hit, similar to the 2001 attacks that toppled the World Trade Centre in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington D.C. “I doubt it,” said the former politician. “I think there will be another attack and the next time I think it’s likely to be far deadlier than the last one. You can just imagine what would happen if somebody could smuggle a nuclear device, put it in a shipping container, and drive it down the beltway outside Washington D.C.”
Huffington Post 25th June 2014 read more »
The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant wants to start operations in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, it was reported today. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) hopes to set up a joint venture in the UK by March 2016 to make large-scale power storage facilities. The proposed project, which will be jointly run with another Japanese company, will help offset the huge costs of clearing up after the 2011 disaster. It will also be part of TEPCO’s entry into the wholesale electricity market, the Nikkei daily said. It would buy excess power at night, store it, and then sell the electricity during the day when supply is tight. There is currently no suggestion the company intends to operate power plants in Britain. TEPCO’s partner is NGK Insulators, based in the central Japanese city of Nagoya, the two firms have developed large storage cells together. Success in Britain would lead it to enter wholesale power markets on the Continent, the Nikkei said. TEPCO said that it and NGK had jointly applied for a government project to support feasibility studies on exporting infrastructure systems.
Times 26th June 2014 read more »
UK – China
China’s top energy policy makers and 20 leading global energy companies worth over $400 billion agree unprecedented cooperation at UK-China Summit and Energy Dialogue.
Foreign Office 25th June 2014 read more »
A Chinese bank has reportedly agreed to finance the construction of two new nuclear reactors in Romania. A Romanian official told reporters the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China said it would fund the reactors and is “considering opening a subsidiary” in Romania. Liviu Dragnea, Romania’s Deputy Prime Minister has been quoted as saying: “The bank’s president presented the management’s decision to financially support the energy projects Romania and China agreed upon, namely the construction of the third and fourth reactors in Cernavoda as well as other investment projects currently in advance negotiations.”
Energy Live News 25th June 2014 read more »
The Environmental Protection Agency’s recently released plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants could provide a boost to nuclear power. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, which aims to reduce CO2 emissions 30% by 2030, sets individual CO2 reduction targets for each state and gives states latitude in how they propose to meet those goals.
Platts 25th June 2014 read more »
About a month ago, I wrote a post titled Five days in solar news which tried to give readers a sense of just how fast solar power is developing—not that there aren’t up and downs, as is the case with every technology. Theoretically, I could write a post like that every week; if I had time I probably would–there are many developments and ongoing issues that we’re just not able to keep up with here. Probably no one is able to keep up with all of them.
Green World 25th June 2014 read more »
Some of the most confounding problems of our day — global warming and the West’s energy dependence on Russia and the Middle East — appear to President Barack Obama and some of Europe’s leaders to have an obvious answer: more nuclear power. A May 2014 EU Commission study on Europe’s energy security after the Ukraine crisis insists it’s going to be a big part of the solution. Nuclear is also a central component of Obama’s “all of the above” energy strategy. After all, nuclear power plants are supposedly inexpensive to run, emit no CO2 and could lessen dependence on oil and gas imports from volatile regions of the world. A no-brainer, right? Not by a long shot. Nuclear power is a nasty red herring that advocates will pay for dearly, should it figure into their response to the current challenges on the table.
Aljazeera 16th June 2014 read more »
In reality the headline figure of a 30 percent reduction by 2030 is a lot less impressive than it sounds. This is because of the Obama Administration’s habit of moving the goalposts on climate change policy. So while the rest of the world uses 1990 as the baseline for measuring reductions in carbon emissions, the US uses 2005 — a far easier baseline figure to aim for as emissions were significantly higher in 2005 than in 1990. According to Kevin Bundy from the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute the 30 per cent reduction in power-plant emissions shrinks to just a mere 7.7 per cent reduction when the 1990 baseline is applied. Compare this to the 2007 recommendations from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). According to the IPCC industrialised nations should cut emissions by between 25-40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2020 to have a good chance of keeping global warming under the internationitally agreed 2degC. Moreover, many climate experts see the IPCC’s guidelines as conservative. For example, Professor Kevin Anderson, deputy director of the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, recently pushed the European Union to pursue an “equitable and science-based 2030 decarbonisation target” of around 80 per cent on 1990 levels.
Morning Star 25th June 2014 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
New concerns at Fukushima; Radioactive material “spilling into ocean” from layer 80 feet deep, officials suspect — Jiji: Record high radiation levels at 18 locations between reactors and Pacific; Crisis far from under control.
Energy News 25th June 2014 read more »
A South Korean consortium led by Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (Kaeri) has been selected to renovate an atomic reactor at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. The consortium comprising Hyundai Engineering and Construction and Hyundai Engineering has won the €19m project over two European consortiums. The project involves upgrading the reactor’s capacity from 2MW to 3MW and constructing a cold neutron research facility, according to the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning.
Energy Business Review 26th June 2014 read more »
A group of scientists from Princeton University and the US Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) are working to develop a new system that would enable UN inspectors to detect nuclear warheads without countries needing to disclose classified information. The scientists have come up with the “zero-knowledge protocol”, which would enable an inspector to inspect a weapon and then compare it to a true warhead by beaming high-energy neutrons into each warhead, and then record how many neutrons pass through to detectors positioned on the other side.
IB Times 25th June 2014 read more »
Nature 25th June 2014 read more »
Renewables – solar
A breakthrough in the production of solar cells will make the next generation of solar panels cheaper and safer, and promises to accelerate the development of solar energy over the next decade, scientists said. A technical advance based on an edible salt used in the manufacture of tofu could revolutionise the production of future solar panels to make them less expensive, more flexible and easier to use than the current models seen on millions of roofs across Britain. Researchers believe they have found a way of overcoming one of the most serious limitations of the next generation of solar panels, which are based on toxic cadmium chloride, by simply adding magnesium chloride, an abundant salt found in seawater. A study has shown that the solar cells produced with magnesium chloride – which is also found in bath salts as well as used to coagulate soya milk into tofu – work just as efficiently as conventional cadmium cells but at a fraction of the cost and with much lower toxicity.
Independent 25th June 2014 read more »
BBC 25th June 2014 read more »
Cheaper panels will take the emphasis off subsidies. The evolution of plant photosynthesis was a defining moment in the early history of life on Earth. By converting sunlight into stored forms of energy, plants enabled life to evolve into the wondrous complexity of living organisms we recognise today. We are now of course burning through one of these photosynthetic energy stores – the fossil fuels buried underground for millions of years – with potentially disastrous consequences for the environment. This is why we need safe, renewable alternatives to coal, oil and gas. Solar power is one such renewable energy source. Like photosynthesis, it relies on capturing and converting sunlight into another form of power – electricity in the case of the photovoltaic (PV) cells of solar panels. The trouble with solar, as many homeowners with solar panels on their roof will explain, is that it is costly. It can take between 10 and 15 years to recoup the costs of the panels, even with generous government subsidies and feed-in tariffs. However, the march of technological progress is making PV cells cheaper and cheaper. Forty years ago, when solar panels first came on to the market, the cost of generating a watt of PV electricity was about $70, at 2012 prices, whereas it is less than a dollar today. The next generation of PV cells, based on cadmium telluride instead of silicon, will be made even cheaper by the kind of technological advances announced by scientists at Liverpool University, who have replaced a toxic and expensive component of cadmium cells with one based on an edible sea-salt.
Independent 25th June 2014 read more »
Government plans to halt subsidies for new solar farms next year are likely to spark a surge in investment that could almost double installed capacity to 9GW, industry insiders are predicting. The UK currently has nearly 4.8GW of solar capacity installed across rooftops, fields and industrial estates. But last month, the government announced it wanted to close the Renewable Obligation (RO) subsidy regime to solar farms larger than 5MW in a bid to refocus support towards rooftop schemes. Ray Noble, solar photovoltaic specialist consultant for the Solar Trade Association (STA) and the UK National Solar Centre, told BusinessGreen that he expected the changes to create a flurry of investment that would see another 4GW to 5GW installed over the next year.
Business Green 25th June 2014 read more »
The number of large scale solar parks in Wales is set to double, with rural west Wales increasingly being targeted. Eighteen schemes greater than 5 megawatt (MW) are already in operation, with 34 projects in planning or being built, according to website Solarbuzz. Council officers say greenfield sites are preferred by developers. The Welsh government is consulting on whether to take responsibility for larger schemes away from local councils in pursuit of green energy targets. The growth of solar parks has been fuelled by UK government subsidies, although these are being phased out by 2015.
BBC 25th June 2014 read more »
A new coalition of 20 organisations from the construction, housing and environment sectors has called on the government to make it a national priority to retrofit a million badly insulated homes a year by 2020. In an open letter to Lord Deighton, commercial secretary to the Treasury, the coalition argues that by this move the government would not only cut rocketing energy bills, and so reduce fuel poverty, but also help to tackle climate change and create thousands of jobs in every constituency. It would also lead to strengthened energy security and less dependence on fossil fuels in the UK, the group says. The organisations, led by the UK Green Building Council and including well-known environmental groups such as Greenpeace and WWF, say the UK has consistently had one of the worst records on fuel poverty in Europe, with 2.5 million households affected in 2014.
Guardian 25th June 2014 read more »
The UK’s Green Investment Bank (GIB) has announced £1m of funding to help small and medium-sized businesses invest in energy efficiency, matched by another £1m of private capital. The total £2m fund is expected to finance up to 20 projects and could eventually build a portfolio of up to £10m of assets. Typical projects are expected to be in the £25,000 to £400,000 range, cut energy bills by around 20 per cent, and could include biomass boilers, low-energy lighting and combined heat and power.
Business Green 25th June 2014 read more »
Does the NATO Secretary General really believe that Russia is secretly the puppet master behind efforts to stop shale gas extraction in Europe, or is it – asks UK Green Party MP Caroline Lucas − just an indication of the growing effectiveness of anti-fracking campaigns?
Climate News Network 25th June 2014 read more »
It still sends a frisson down the spine of certain producers to give airtime to the former chancellor Lord Lawson so that he can chip away at the widespread scientific agreement over the causes and impact of climate change. The temperature is always a little higher with a heretic in the room. And yet this route towards excitement has its dangers. As the go-to guy in the thinktank of his own creation, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, Lawson was called in February to the studios of the Today programme for debate with Sir Brian Hoskins, a climatologist from Imperial College London. Things did not go as they should, and the broadcast became the subject of a complaint from Chit Chong, a Green party activist. Reviewing the broadcast, the BBC’s head of editorial complaints, Fraser Steel, took a dim view. “Lord Lawson’s views are not supported by the evidence from computer modelling and scientific research,” Steel says, “and I don’t believe this was made sufficiently clear to the audience … Furthermore the implication was that Lord Lawson’s views on climate change were on an equal footing with those of Sir Brian.” And they aren’t. Sceptics have their place in the debate, Steel says in his provisional finding, but “it is important to ensure that such views are put into the appropriate context and given due (rather than equal) weight.” Chong is only partially satisfied. He’d like a right of reply and perhaps a balancing programme. And others say “due weight” should mean not having Lawson on at all. Still, Rome wasn’t built in a day.
Guardian 25th June 2014 read more »
Vital parts of UK infrastructure are being neglected, with potentially severe impacts on national competitiveness and quality of life, according to a new study by engineers. Energy networks, transport, waste and water are all at risk, while flood defences are falling well behind where they need to be. This is happening while future risks to these essential national services are intensifying, as more extreme weather under climate change is likely to bring more floods, droughts, fiercer storms and other more unpredictable weather that are likely to bring more serious challenges to infrastructure than have been faced in the past.
Guardian 26th June 2014 read more »