The group building Britain’s new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset has been raided by French competition authorities. Investigators acted against EDF amid allegations that it was exploiting its position as a former state monopoly to keep rivals out of the market in France. The move came a day after Greenpeace filed a lawsuit against EDF, alleging that the state-owned company was guilty of false accounting as it had deliberately underestimated the cost of its nuclear reactors. EDF denied the allegation and has sued Greenpeace for spreading “false information”. The flurry of legal activity comes two months after the government approved EDF’s plan to build reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset at a cost of £18 billion. The plant is intended to generate 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity, with the French group shouldering two thirds of the project and the rest coming from the China General Nuclear Power. France’s competition authority confirmed yesterday that it had raided energy companies and had seized documents as part of its inquiry into accusations of anti-competitive practices. French media reported that EDF had been the main target. The authority was said to be seeking to access the company’s customer database. In a report last year, the Cour des Comptes, the equivalent of Britain’s National Audit Office, said that France had dragged its heels over the opening of its energy market. The Greenpeace lawsuit came after the association commissioned a report from AlphaValue, an equity research company, which described EDF as “incapable of reacting rapidly and efficiently to the variations in electricity needs and the changes created by the liberalisation of . . . European markets”. AlphaValue claimed that if EDF published the true cost of its nuclear fleet in France, it would be declared bankrupt.
Times 26th Nov 2016 read more »
Levy Control Framework
Former energy ministers have contributed to an overspend of more than £1bn on renewable power subsidies that consumers will be forced to pay for, a government report has said. The review by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, published on Friday, says “political unwillingness” to curb support for solar and wind power projects has contributed to the cap on green energy subsidies being breached. The report concluded that the failure to stay under the cap was partly a result of “group think” at the department and its external consultants. It also blamed a lack of transparency, forecasting being left to junior staff, and “insufficient” monitoring that meant the overspend wasn’t detected until “too late in the day”. Davey said it was “nonsense” to suggest he was unwilling to act, and told the Guardian the department had taken strong action under his leadership to meet the cap. He added that the projected cost to consumers was within the “headroom” built into the Levy Control Framework.
Guardian 25th Nov 2016 read more »
The Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter famously described the “winds of creative destruction”: a process of industrial transformation in which product and process innovations revolutionise the existing industrial structure, destroying the old one by creating a new one. But the Chancellor’s 2016 Autumn Statement – delivered just five days after the UK ratified the Paris climate change agreement – provided more of a waft than a gale. If we are serious about making the transition to a low carbon economy, we must recognise that as well as supporting innovation and deployment of low carbon technologies, it is equally important to phase out existing high carbon technologies like unabated coal fired power generation.
SPRU 25th Nov 2016 read more »
The Swiss will vote on whether to make a speedy withdrawal from atomic energy production, which would reduce nuclear risks but raise reliance on fossil fuels from Germany or nuclear power from France. This Sunday’s referendum comes after five years of the Swiss Greens and Social Democrats pushing for a vote since the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, but the government and industry oppose a quick exit, saying the country would be unable to replace power supplies with renewable energy. Recent surveys from the gfs.bern polling institute show the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps in the referendum are neck and neck.
Express 25th Nov 2016 read more »
Pilgrim is one of the worst-rated nuclear facilities in the United States. Ever since it generated its first kilowatt of electricity, in December of 1972, it has been beset with mechanical failures and lapses in safety. In a single four-week stretch this summer, the plant was offline for a total of fifteen days because of a malfunctioning steam-isolation valve, elevated water levels in the reactor, and other problems. For years, Pilgrim’s detractors have kept steady pressure on Entergy and state officials through local protests, a sit-in at the governor’s office, and legal action. Last October, in a partial victory for activists, the company announced plans to shutter the plant, citing the expense of keeping it running in the face of cheap, abundant natural gas and increasingly competitive “renewable-energy resources.” The reactor is scheduled to go dark on May 31, 2019. But that won’t end Pilgrim’s saga. Come June 1st, the plant will still host more than eight hundred tons of irradiated spent fuel. Most of the waste is currently stored in a forty-foot-deep pool of water, suspended four stories aboveground, next to the reactor core. The pool, which was designed to hold eight hundred and eighty fuel assemblies, now contains more than three times that number. (A federal regulatory waiver has allowed Entergy to pack the pool more densely than originally planned, a move repeated by operators across the country.) The National Academy of Sciences has warned that if the cooling system in a plant like Pilgrim failed, there would be little time before the water in the pool boiled away and exposed the radioactive rods to air. The resulting fire, the N.A.S. and anti-nuclear watchdogs have cautioned, could send across Cape Cod and northern New England many times the amount of radioactive cesium-137 released in the Chernobyl disaster. “Pools like the one at Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station are a disaster waiting to happen,” Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, told us in an e-mail.
New Yorker 25th Nov 2016 read more »
South African power provider Eskom has proposed building a nuclear power station on a site that may be at risk of surge storms and tsunamis, a geological report suggests, but the state-owned utility disputes the findings. South Africa has the continent’s only nuclear power station and plans to expand nuclear power generation to meet growing electricity demand in Africa’s most industrisalised country.
Reuters 25th Nov 2016 read more »
Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has concluded that domestically produced nuclear power plant components are sufficiently strong for their intended purpose. The country’s 11 nuclear generating companies conducted investigations after anomalies were discovered in equipment manufactured at France’s Le Creusot forge. That discovery raised concerns that forged steel components made by the Japan Casting & Forging Corporation (JCFC) for use at the Flamanville 3 EPR could contain similar anomalies. According to the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF), the NRA decided this week to accept the companies’ findings that the JCFC-manufactured equipment in place at their plants was sufficiently strong. It said it was “unlikely that any of the products” used by the 11 companies in their plants “contained carbon concentrations higher than prescribed limits” for safety-related systems. The NRA thus concluded there was no possibility of “weaker-than-expected performance” of such products in any Japanese nuclear power plant.
World Nuclear News 25th Nov 2016 read more »
RENEWING the UK’s nuclear deterrent will mean the creation of zero new jobs and a bill of £18 million for every employee, according to a new report. Conducted by independent think tank The Jimmy Reid Foundation, the report calculates that the cost of replacing Trident works out at approximately £18 million for every employee of its 12,000-strong workforce, and that the programme will create no new jobs.
Scotsman 24th Nov 2016 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
The Belfast shipyard that built the Titanic has won a contract believed to be worth £20m to expand a huge windfarm off the East Anglian coast. Harland and Wolff Heavy Industries Ltd has secured the manufacturing of 60 steel foundation jackets for the East Anglia One offshore windfarm, which will safeguard 200 jobs. At more than 65 metres high and weighing over 845 tonnes, the three-legged steel jackets will be almost as prominent on Belfast’s skyline as Samson and Goliath, Harland and Wolff’s giant yellow cranes. Work on the foundation jackets will start in the second quarter of 2017 and should be completed towards the end of 2018, Scottish Renewables said on Friday.
Guardian 25th Nov 2016 read more »
Oil-rig maker Lamprell is moving further beyond its traditional markets after landing a major contract to help build a massive offshore wind farm. The oil price crash has weighed heavily on the main-market quoted company, resulting in a collapse in demand for the rigs that it builds in its Middle East construction yards. The $225m deal to build 60 foundations for wind turbines for ScottishPower Renewables’ East Anglia One project in the North Sea will create jobs both at the home and abroad.
Telegraph 25th Nov 2016 read more »
Lamprell has won a renewable energy contract in the North Sea worth about £180 million. Lamprell’s Jebel Ali and Sharjah yards in the United Arab Emirates will do most of the work, but the agreement also will support about 200 jobs in Northern Ireland. More than 20 of the structures involved will be built at the Harland and Wolff yard in Belfast.
Times 26th Nov 2016 read more »
This week’s Micro Power News.
Microgen Scotland 25th Nov 2016 read more »