The Tories are paying the Chinese billions to avoid democratising the energy industry. Britain’s energy deal with China is remarkable. It will see us stump up some £18 billion on a “flagship project of cooperation”, commit to a new generation of nuclear power plants and make us dependant on a major power whose politics and strategic interests are a world away from our own. We are investing in the potentially ruinous white elephant of Hinkley Point and simultaneously slashing support for solar at precisely the point when the latter looks set to start paying its way. Whatever became of austerity? Or even plain old-fashioned common sense? The government argues harsh necessity – a need to keep the lights on, no matter what the woolly-hat brigade might prefer. Behind the practicalities, though, sit some rather less palatable political choices: a preference for central control and big business over anything which smacks of democracy. In place of this top down command-and-control structure, imagine a world in which individual citizens capture electricity through small scale home initiatives and then feed this back into the grid. Once you add storage to the mix, you can imagine individuals building up a significant credit. Community and collaborative initiatives will contribute to that. Internet-enabled price negotiation will give communities the power to deal with the power companies on the basis of commercial parity. Faced with a choice between encouraging technologies that will in time reduce the power of the utilities and introduce some rudimentary democracy to our electricity contracts, the government has opted to pile most of its eggs into one very expensive Chinese nuclear basket. Even allowing for the traditional Conservative distaste for renewables, which has only focussed on price so long as it worked in their favour, this looks remarkably like a desperate attempt to maintain the status quo. So this isn’t just a bad deal when it comes to traditional accounting measures. It’s a bad deal all round. It fails to take account of where the electricity industry is headed or recognise that, as this century unwinds, power will, bit by bit, return to the people.
Politics 26th Oct 2015 read more »
Investment bank Investec has advised clients to sell shares in French energy group EDF amid fears that its connection with the nuclear plant at Hinkley Point C could put payouts to shareholders under threat. The nuclear development was trumpeted last week as the Chinese government confirmed plans to invest £6billion in EDF’s scheme to build the power station in Somerset. But Investec issued a ‘sell’ note on EDF, advising clients to dump the stock. The bank said: ‘We are unconvinced about the commercial logic of EDF’s investment in Hinkley Point C.
This is Money 25th Oct 2015 read more »
The controversial plan to build new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in south-west England could still be thwarted despite deals announced this week between the UK government, French utility EDF and Chinese investors, experts told Montel. The project could even turn into “EDF’s Waterloo, exactly two hundred years after Napoleon’s defeat”, said Mycle Schneider, independent nuclear and energy policy analyst. “They’ve [EDF and the Chinese] announced it as a fantastic done deal but the cracks are still there,” said Steve Thomas, professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich Business School.“There’s quite a lot of risk left in the project. I think a final investment decision is some distance away,” said Tony Roulstone, lecturer in nuclear energy at UK’s Cambridge University.
Montel 23rd Oct 2015 read more »
A Suffolk group fighting Sizewell C is urging a Government minister to review the inclusion of nuclear power in national energy policy in the light of current research and data. Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) says the Government has an “increasingly bizarre and incomprehensible obsession with nuclear power”. It has twice delivered a document analysing the case for nuclear power to Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd in the past two months, but has yet to receive a reply. Last week a deal was announced between EDF Energy and China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN), after the companies signed an agreement in principle to develop the £14billion Sizewell C twin reactor with CGN having a 20% stake in the development phase. This should trigger the next phase in the public consultation. TASC though claims that the Government is still working on a national policy for energy drawn up in 2005 and which does not take account of a decade of research and has a legal obligation to review the policy. The group says the inclusion of nuclear power cannot be justified and will “risk the lights going out”, waste billions of pounds, will be less effective in meeting energy policy objectives than a more ‘demand-side-led’ strategy, and leaves the urgent need for new electricity supplies that the Government claims are necessary unmet.
East Anglian Daily Times 27th Oct 2015 read more »
More than 100 newly qualified nuclear professionals are now positioned to help drive forward one of the most important decommissioning challenges in the world, having successfully completed their apprenticeships at Sellafield Ltd.
In Cumbria 26th Oct 2015 read more »
Lloyd’s Register Energy is working with a Chinese company to develop a floating vessel containing a small modular reactor (SMR) nuclear power plant. Lloyd’s and China’s Nuclear Power Institute of China (NPIC) have joined forces to produce the SMR vessel to supply electrical power to offshore installations in Chinese waters. The Framework Agreement is to develop new nuclear safety regulations, safety guidelines, and nuclear code and standards for the floating vessel that are consistent with Offshore and International Marine Regulations and the IAEA Nuclear Safety Standards.
Professional Engineer 26th Oct 2015 read more »
World Nuclear News 26th Oct 2015 read more »
Dermot Nolan, the CEO of Ofgem, when talking to the recent 2015 Annual Energy UK conference, set out a progressive energy vision for the future. It was a broad-ranging overview exploring the issues which the Regulator finds himself having to deal with. Importantly though, he also illuminated just how much we are all in this together. Long term solutions for a legitimate, sustainable energy system have to be bought into by all stakeholders. His final comment was: ‘I invite all of you in the industry, consumer groups and the government to help us achieve that common goal’. Given how hard Ofgem has fought to keep itself separate from industry and Government over the last couple of decades this is a great step forward. Nolan’s speech argued that technologies are changing – and much quicker than expected. He gave PV as an example, and challenged the DNOs, in particular Western Power Distribution, to come up with better solutions to prepare for, and adapt to, a wider range of future scenarios. He highlighted how storage could fundamentally change the energy system as we know it, and rapidly. He explained how a combination of new technologies, including storage and electric vehicles, could alter the balance between distribution and transmission networks. Not for profit local authorities are entering the energy space, beginning to alter supply. He also gave clear notice of what he wanted and what he would do: he wants companies to innovate and provide new services which are in the interests of consumers and which will make the system work better; he would make sure no consumers are left behind and that everyone benefits in tomorrow’s market; because major change is around the corner , Ofgem has to change too and be agile enough to enable, rather than undermine, it; and finally, he brought these points together and asked ‘what is the role of customers, suppliers and regulation’ in this?
IGov 26th Oct 2015 read more »
Report from the Royal Academy of Engineering tells government it must rapidly decarbonise electricity system, and set up long-term plans for low carbon heat and transport.
Business Green 26th Oct 2015 read more »
The world faces a looming and potentially calamitous “cold crunch”, with demand for air conditioning and refrigeration growing so fast that it threatens to smash pledges and targets for global warming. Worldwide power consumption for air conditioning alone is forecast to surge 33-fold by 2100 as developing world incomes rise and urbanisation advances. Already, the US uses as much electricity to keep buildings cool as the whole of Africa uses on everything; China and India are fast catching up. By mid-century people will use more energy for cooling than heating. And since cold is still overwhelmingly produced by burning fossil fuels, emission targets agreed at next month’s international climate summit in Paris risk being blown away as gove rnments and scientists struggle with a cruel climate-change irony: cooling makes the planet hotter.
Guardian 26th Oct 2015 read more »
If anyone thinks nuclear power is on the wane globally, they haven’t been paying attention to China. More than 100 nuclear power reactors will start up in China over the next decade. The strategy is outlined in the draft of China’s new Five-Year Plan that covers 2016 to 2020. It is China’s 13th such plan, and the country has kept pretty close to most of their previous goals. According to the document, the government will invest over US$100 billion to construct about seven new reactors annually between now and 2030. By 2050, nuclear power should exceed 350 GW in that country, include about 400 new nuclear reactors, and have resulted in over a trillion dollars in nuclear investment.
Forbes 22nd Oct 2015 read more »
The Moroccan city of Ouarzazate is used to big productions. On the edge of the Sahara desert and the centre of the north African country’s “Ouallywood” film industry it has played host to big-budget location shots in Lawrence of Arabia, The Mummy, The Living Daylights and even Game of Thrones. Now the trading city, nicknamed the “door of the desert”, is the centre for another blockbuster – a complex of four linked solar mega-plants that, alongside hydro and wind, will help provide nearly half of Morocco’s electricity from renewables by 2020 with, it is hoped, some spare to export to Europe. The project is a key plank in Morocco’s ambitions to use its untapped deserts to become a global solar superpower. When the full complex is complete, it will be the largest concentrated solar power (CSP) plant in the world , and the first phase, called Noor 1, will go live next month. The mirror technology it uses is less widespread and more expensive than the photovoltaic panels that are now familiar on roofs the world over, but it will have the advantage of being able to continue producing power even after the sun goes down. The potential for solar power from the desert has been known for decades. In the days after the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986 the German particle physicist Gerhard Knies, calculated that the world’s deserts receive enough energy in a few hours to provide for humanity’s power needs for a whole year. The challenge though, has been capturing that energy and transporting it to the population centres where it is required. As engineers put the finishing touches to Noor 1, its 500,000 crescent-shaped solar mirrors glitter across the desert skyline. The 800 rows follow the sun as it tracks across the heavens, whirring quietly every few minutes as their shadows slip further east. When they are finished, the four plants at Ouarzazate will occupy a space as big as Morocco’s capital city, Rabat, and generate 580MW of electricity, enough to power a million homes. Noor 1 itself has a generating capacity of 160MW.
Guardian 26th Oct 2015 read more »
The Scottish National Party (SNP) challenged the opposition Labour Party on Monday to back them in calling for the scrapping of Britain’s nuclear submarine fleet after Reuters reported its replacement would cost 167 billion pounds ($256 billion). The SNP, which saw its popularity surge in an election this year, called on the leader of the Scottish branch of Labour, Kezia Dugdale, to break her silence on whether she supported the renewal of the Scotland-based nuclear-armed Trident submarines.
Reuters 26th Oct 2015 read more »
The Scottish National Party (SNP) has been given a considerable boost in its mission to oppose the renewal of UK’s nuclear deterrent, Trident. The overall cost of replacing and maintaining the system could hit a staggering £167bn ($256bn), according to Reuters. The figure, calculated by using fresh House of Commons figures and taking into consideration the government’s commitment to a 2% of GDP per year spend on defence, is significant because it is much more than previously estimated.
IB Times 26th Oct 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
The UK could become a solar superpower in the not so distant future, bringing with it more skilled jobs, cheaper consumer energy bills and higher returns for the Treasury. If this vision is ever to be achieved, the government must retain the UK’s status as a world leading destination for investment in renewables. But just as China, the USA, India, Japan and Germany are making massive investments in their renewable energy sectors, the UK government seems intent on stopping the impressive development of solar early. Encouraging further long-term investment into the industry will play a key role in the move to a subsidy-free solar sector. The government should continue to preserve and enhance the UK’s position as a credible and safe place for investment, not pulling the rug out from under the solar sector. It should be providing a consistent policy strategy and a stable regulatory regime for the renewable energy sector that is well supported by government rhetoric. The government’s proposals; for early closure of the RO to solar projects under 5MW, the abolition of grandfathering for new investments and a further banding review fly in the opposite direction.
Solar Portal 26th Oct 2015 read more »
Installation has started today (26 October) on Europe’s largest floating solar power system which will generate 2.7GWh of renewable, zero carbon energy each year on a reservoir near Manchester. The 12,000-panel system is being developed by water giant United Utilities at the cost of £3.5m. The 45,500 sq.m project will float on the Godley reservoir in Hyde. Chris Stubbs, head of renewable energy at United Utilities, said: “We have a target to generate 35% of our power requirements by 2020 and this project will make a significant contribution to that aim.
Edie 26th Oct 2015 read more »
From the ground Belfast’s handsome Stormont Parliament Buildings look the same as always. But hidden on the iconic building’s expansive rooftop is a new array of super-efficient thin-film solar panels, designed to reduce the building’s environmental impact and slash running costs. More than 400 solar panels – a mixture of thin-film solar and standard PV panels – were installed at Parliament Buildings between April and July this year, it has been revealed.
Business Green 27th Oct 2015 read more »
Electricity storage could offer a secure, affordable and cleaner future for Britain’s electricity grid if regulators, Government and industry took steps to break down the barriers that are hindering its potential, according to the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). In its report published today, Electricity Storage: Realising the Potential, the leading engineering body says it is time electricity storage – an existing technology – is recognised as a viable long term means of transitioning the country towards a secure and affordable, low-carbon economy. It calls on industry and Government to work with regulators and “breathe life” into the stunted industry. An analysis of the barriers current policy structures impose on further roll out of grid-connected electricity storage, which has been described by Government as the “alchemy for energy policy”.
Institution of Civil Engineers 27th Oct 2015 read more »
Ministers have been accused of trying to sneak through new rules allowing shale drilling under national parks without a proper parliamentary debate, in a move condemned by Labour and anti-fracking campaigners. The rules, first proposed in July, would permit drilling underneath protected areas, despite a commitment before the election from Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, to have an outright ban on fracking in national parks, sites of special scientific interest (SSSIs) and areas of outstanding natural beauty. Instead of a full parliamentary debate, the controversial measures will instead be discussed and voted on by a small committee of MPs on Tuesday. All MPs will get to vote on the regulations at some point next week but will be denied the chance of a debate. The 18 committee members include 10 Conservatives, including energy minister Andrea Leadsom, Julian Smith, an assistant whip, and Paul Maynard, a parliamentary aide to Rudd whose local association received a Â£5,000 donation before the election from Addison Projects, a company that could benefit from fracking. Maynard, the MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, has said the donation was in no way connected to the development of shale gas. Greenpeace estimates that 23 MPs have constituencies that include national parks or areas of outstanding natural beauty that could be affected by the new rules – including the former deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, the Conservative chairman of the Treasury committee, Andrew Tyrie, and Oliver Letwin, the Conservative chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.
Guardian 27th Oct 2015 read more »
Lisa Nandy and Kerry McCarthy: Government seeks to lift a ban on shale gas drilling in drinking water protection zones, key wildlife sites and under national parks. Without these strong rules, fracking should not be allowed in this country.
Guardian 26th Oct 2015 read more »
Protestors shut down England’s largest opencast coal mine yesterday on land belonging to Viscount Ridley, the Conservative peer and climate sceptic. Work was suspended for about eight hours at Shotton surface mine, on Lord Ridley’s Blagdon estate in Northumberland, after campaigners blocked the entrance and chained themselves to a mechanical digger. Campaigners calling themselves “Matt Ridley’s Conscience” said they were seeking to protect the climate by ending mining of the “dirtiest fossil fuel”. Nine people were arrested after the protest finished in the afternoon.
Times 27th Oct 2015 read more »