Hinkley Point C nuclear station: an expensive solution to a cheap problem. In 10 years it’ll be outdated, costing more than other energy alternatives and raising UK electric bills, writes Andreas Gandolfo. My colleagues and I at Bloomberg New Energy Finance are still scratching our heads at how such a project was greenlighted. We’ve spent two years analysing the project, and it’s clear: by the time the plant is operational in 10 years it will be completely outdated, trying to keep up with a modernized grid. But perhaps most concerning, Hinkley will cost more than other energy alternatives and will increase electric bills across the UK. When we compared this price to any alternative, it’s clear that nuclear is the most expensive option (see chart). Worse still, the UK taxpayer will indirectly fund the project to guarantee its owners’ revenue. To get Hinkley built, the government signed a 35-year, inflation linked, contract for difference (CfD) — a price guarantee —with EDF, at a staggering £92.5/MWh (in 2012). Other new nuclear plants are expected to get similar contracts, both in price and duration. As a comparison, for the 2017/18 delivery year, onshore wind and solar projects received much less, with 15 year CfDs at £80/MWh. We found that the government’s new nuclear policy would cost UK electricity consumers an extra £24 billion compared to our fall-back alternative. This money could be used to encourage the adoption of new, clean, and promising technologies. In the past, government support schemes have driven the build out of uncompetitive technologies, helping lower their costs significantly. For example, wind and solar costs have dropped by 21 per cent and 62 per cent respectively over the last six years, during a period of high government subsidies and build targets. It is true that in 2040, a UK electricity sector without nuclear, and (conservatively) assuming more gas, would emit 37 per cent more carbon emissions. This, though, misses three issues. First of all, our modelling shows that between 2015 and 2040, emissions from electricity generation in the UK will fall by 60-70 per cent, irrespective of scenario, the lower end of this range representing the fall-back scenario and the higher end the nuclear scenario. That drop is primarily driven by a large uptake in renewables. Second, the power industry will evolve as rapidly in the next 10 years as it did in the last. Given space and opportunity, new clean, flexible technologies will come to the fore. Finally, nuclear comes with its own environmental concerns, as the storage of spent fuel is a long term issue. Given the data, all the analysis we’ve written for the past two years is proof that Hinkley Point and the policy it represents come with few advantages that other technologies can’t offer. The disadvantages are many. The UK government is locking bill payers into a few large projects that will deliver a lot less bang for their buck, and divert resources away from other, more promising, technologies.
LSE 26th Sept 2016 read more »
Site investigation work for a new nuclear power station near Sellafield is in its final stages, paving the way for full project design. NuGeneration Ltd (NuGen) plans to build a nuclear power station of up to 3.8GW gross capacity at Moorside in West Cumbria. It has commissioned geotechnical studies to gather information on the Moorside site’s characteristics, both onshore and offshore, to inform the detailed design of foundations and ancillary structures and to determine tunnel alignments. Moorside is one of the largest UK site investigations to be let as a single package – a £20m contract let last year to geotechnical specialist Fugro. Fugro began work on its £20m contract in December 2015 on the nearshore phase of the Moorside site characterisation. The initial phase of works comprised bathymetry surveys using the vesselsFugro Seeker and the RV Valkyrie.
Construction Index 26th Sept 2016 read more »
As currently envisaged, the UK Geological Disposal Facility (GDF) will be between 200 metres and 1000 metres underground. At this depth, the waste will be protected from environmental extremes and from the long-term effects of future ice ages. Physical and chemical barriers, including the solid form of the radioactive waste, its packaging, the backfill material and the stable geological environment in which the facility is sited, will work together to ensure safety. While science and technology offer many of the solutions to managing radioactive waste, another key challenge is to ensure that future generations retain knowledge and memory of the repository. This means being aware that the facility lies deep underground, hundreds or thousands of years after its closure and understanding the nature of its contents.
Chemistry World 22nd Sept 2016 read more »
Energy Policy – Scotland
The Committee on Climate Change is due to deliver its ‘report-card’ tomorrow on how well the Scottish government is preparing for the impacts of climate change – instead of reducing emissions. The report, from CCC’s Adaptation Sub-Committee is the first independent assessment of the Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme, which was published in 2014. Lord Krebs, convenor of the adaptation sub-committee, is due to appear in front of the Parliamentary ECCLR committee today at Holyrood.
Scottish Energy News 26th Sept 2016 read more »
Is it mad or deeply cynical to say that the outcome of the US presidential election doesn’t really matter for the energy sector? Surely there are big differences of belief between the two candidates, reflected in their stated policy positions? Surely their supporters are giving their votes and money to bring about changes they believe in? True, but if you take a step back from the noise and fury of the campaign it is worth asking whether the sector will be very different in 2025 if Hillary Clinton prevails or if the recent drift in the polls continues and President Donald Trump is inaugurated on January 20. The Republican and Democratic platforms are certainly different. Mrs Clinton is promising to build on the steps taken by Barack Obama – for instance, using regulations to clean up the power sector, potentially pushing out more coal. She has also said there will be an extra 1m solar roofs by 2030. On fracking, her position is summed up by this statement, made at a Democratic debate in March and clearly scripted in advance: Mr Trump, meanwhile, has been clear on direction but avoided detail. As a non-believer in climate change – a concept he has said was dreamt up in China to add competitive costs on US industry – he is happy to see fossil fuel production continue unfettered by what he sees as unnecessary regulation. He has the support of the coal industry but the rest of the conventional energy business has been slow to endorse or fund his candidacy – in sharp contrast to the backing given to past Republican candidates, including George W. Bush and his father. Many fear that any attempt to implement Mr Trump’s policies will provoke a new wave of militant environmentalism.
FT 26th Sept 2016 read more »
[Machine Translation] Germany has 44,947 megawatts in Europe the most wind power installed [32%]and was in 2015 again leader in terms of new installations [47%]. The end of 2015 delivered in this country 26 772 wind turbines about 13.3% of the electricity generated in Germany. The wind contributed with more than 86 terawatt hours in total the largest producer of electricity from renewable energy sources. End 2015 553 watt wind power in Germany were installed per capita. [81.3m inhabitants in 2015]
Storm Report (accessed) 26th Sept 2016 read more »
SUPPORTERS of Trident are using the nuclear deterrent as a “substitute for their own failing virility”, a Labour shadow minister has suggested. Shadow Northern Ireland secretary Stephen Pound said people have a phallic pride about Britain’s nuclear weapons system.
NW Evening Mail 26th Sept 2016 read more »
The Dunmaglass wind farm near Inverness was ‘energised’ at the end of last month, with the first power now being exported from some of its newly constructed wind turbines. Like other SSE wind and hydro assets, Dunmaglass is managed remotely by the Renewables Control Centre in Perth. This operates as a remote command centre, allowing SSE to manage the electricity from all its wind farms and hydro stations from one central hub.
Scottish Energy News 26th Sept 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
More information is emerging about the jaw-dropping solar prices bid into a major tender being held by the Abu Dhabi electricity authority, and it underlines just how the stunning fall in prices will change the conversation, and a lot of business and policy planning, about energy markets. As we reported on Tuesday, the world’s biggest solar module manufacturer JinkoSolar and Japanese industrial giant Marubeni set a new record low solar price with a bid of $US24.20/MWh ($A32.11/MWh) for a solar plant of more than 350MW in Abu Dhabi. But it was not the only bid to slash the previous record low price of $US29/MWh in Chile, set just last month, and a previous sub $US30/MWh bid in the United States Emeritus. According to PV Magazine, two other consortium, one led by French nuclear giant EdF, also beat the previous record mark.
Renew Economy 21st Sept 2016 read more »
The Government will not apply new rules over foreign takeovers of the UK’s key assets to the looming buy-out of National Grid’s gas distribution arm, leaving the way open for a Chinese-led bid to snap up the £11billion business. The move comes despite calls this weekend for the sale to be put on hold until the Government’s proposed rule changes on ‘critical infrastructure’ are in place. Bids for the gas pipe network owned by National Grid were due on Friday and offers are thought to have been received from state-owned China Resources Gas as well as a number of other internationally led groups.
Mail on Sunday 24th Sept 2016 read more »
A green campaign group made a series of misleading claims about the health and environmental impacts of fracking, according to a damning draft ruling by the advertising watchdog. Friends of the Earth (FoE) failed to substantiate claims that fracking could cause cancer, contaminate water supplies, increase asthma rates and send house prices plummeting, the Advertising Standards Authority says. Scientists accused the group of scaremongering after it made the claims in thousands of copies of a leaflet asking for donations to help stop fracking. Cuadrilla, which wants to frack in Lancashire, and the Reverend Michael Roberts, a retired vicar, complained to the ASA about the leaflet last year. The ASA produced its draft ruling in July but has been forced to delay sending it to its council for approval because FoE has r epeatedly requested more time to challenge its findings. The draft upholds the complaints against FoE on all four grounds, finding in each case that the group had breached the ASA’s code by making misleading statements that it had failed to substantiate. The draft rejects FoE’s attempt to use evidence from the US to justify its claims about the threat to health and water supplies. It notes that there are differences between the way fracking is regulated in the US and UK, with the Environment Agency imposing strict controls here on chemicals used and the protection of water supplies. On the claims about asthma, the advertising authority found that FoE had based them on a report from the US that had not found a causal relationship between the disease and fracking. On house prices, the draft criticises FoE for using an “anecdotal quote” from a newspaper article to help justify its claim that prices would plummet. The draft concludes: “The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Friends of the Earth Trust Ltd not to make claims about the likely effects of fracking on the health of local populations, drinking water, or property prices in the absence of adequate evidence.”
Times 26th Sept 2016 read more »
No shale gas wells will be drilled in Britain this year, the industry has confirmed, as a key fracking decision nears. Within the next fortnight, the government will decide whether to accept shale company Cuadrilla’s appeal against Lancashire county council’s decision last year to turn down its application for two fracking sites. But even if communities secretary Sajid Javid green lights the fracking, as expected, Cuadrilla said that construction it needs to undertake at the two sites on the Fylde means the earliest drilling could start would be April next year. The industry trade body told the Guardian that no wells had been drilled into shale in 2016, and it knew of none planned before 2017.
Guardian 26th Sept 2016 read more »
ONE of the US fracking companies contracted to deliver gas to Scotland has been fined for contaminating the environment, prompting renewed calls for Scotland to ban the industry. Range Resources, headquartered in Texas, has a 15-year deal with the petrochemical giant, INEOS, to supply ethane to Grangemouth. The gas is extracted from US shale by fracturing underground rock. The long-awaited first boatload of gas from the US fracking industry is expected to arrive at Grangemouth this week. It is due to be celebrated by INEOS – and scorned by protestors.
Sunday Herald 25th Sept 2016 read more »