A Labour Party commitment to cutting greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector would add £125 to consumer energy bills by 2030, argues the Conservative Party. But the estimate relies on the assumption that the cost of wholesale electricity will remain the same – one of several factors that ensure the Conservatives’ figure is six times higher than a previous analysis suggests. The figure appears on a new website from Conservative Party headquarters, which claims Labour’s proposed policies will cost voters more in the future. The Conservatives aren’t the only ones to estimate the cost of the decarbonisation target – the Committee on Climate Change has also done it. But the committee thinks the cost to the consumer will be six times smaller. Using Poyry’s report as well as other analysis – and taking the changing price of electricity into account – the CCC estimated that an extra £20 will be needed per household in 2030 to pay for the decarbonisation target. This is six times smaller than the Tories’ estimate of £125. The CCC’s assumptions can probably be questioned as well – predicting future energy prices is a pretty subjective exercise. But overall, the Conservatives’ calculation does seem to have some gaps in it – ignoring the caveats that were clearly highlighted in its source material.
Carbon Brief 27th Aug 2013 read more »
EDF Energy admitted last night that its power stations were pumping out more carbon dioxide than in previous years as it cranked up output from its coal-fired generators. For every gigawatt-hour of electricity produced, its power stations churned out 251.7 tonnes of CO2 in 2012, a sharp increase from the previous year’s 208.1 tonnes. It also marked a change in direction, for the worse, because the 2011 figure had been an improvement on 2010. EDF’s total carbon footprint also increased during the period.
Independent 28th Aug 2013 read more »
Britain’s 610-megawatt Heysham 1-1 nuclear plant has gone into a planned maintenance period on Tuesday after being taken offline last week due to an electrical fault, operator EDF said in a statement.
Reuters 27th Aug 2013 read more »
Plans for future wind farms in Britain could be in jeopardy after a United Nations legal tribunal ruled that the UK Government acted illegally by denying the public decision-making powers over their approval and the “necessary information” over their benefits or adverse effects. The new ruling, agreed by a United Nations committee in Geneva, calls into question the legal validity of any further planning consent for all future wind-farm developments based on current policy, both onshore and offshore. The United Nations Economic Commission Europe has declared that the UK flouted Article 7 of the Aarhus Convention, which requires full and effective public participation on all environmental issues and demands that citizens are given the right to participate in the process.
Independent 27th Aug 2013 read more »
Telegraph 28th Aug 2013 read more »
The Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the only official waste repository in the US currently accepting high-level nuclear waste. Jessica Morrison from PBS has an excellent article on the workings of the WIPP and its importance for nuclear power. With the disaster of Yucca Mountain still beckoning in people’s memory, the WIPP offers a welcome and unique possibility for the future:The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, known locally as WIPP (pronounced “whip”), opened in 1999 after decades of back and forth between state and federal regulators. Today, it holds more than 85,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste arriving from as far away as South Carolina. Currently, WIPP is only authorized to handle waste containing elements with atomic numbers higher than 92—primarily plutonium—that originated from the development and manufacture of nuclear weapons. Between 1944 and 1988, the U.S. produced about 100 metric tons of plutonium, most of which was used to develop nuclear weapons. What I find pleasing on a deep level about the WIPP is that it relies on entirely natural mechanisms for sequestering the waste from the outside world. The basic principle is to dig a hole deep into a salt bed. Salt has the unique property of displaying “creep”, the tendency to flow into and around cracks and naturally form seals; seals that can be as tight as those formed by the hardest rock when they are laboring under pressures operating at 2100 ft underground. When you bury waste in salt, you are basically letting geology do its job and create a seamless tomb for the waste.
Scientific American 27th Aug 2013 read more »
Questions over nuclear waste, like the stuff itself, can stay hot for a long time. The US decided back in 1987 to focus on Yucca Mountain, in Nevada, as a location for long-term storage of its nuclear waste. More than 25 years later, Congress and the administration are still arguing about the plan. It has become a national embarrassment, with implications for safety and the finances of the nuclear industry. It is high time Washington began treating the issue with the seriousness it deserves.Few participants in the argument emerge with much credit. The Obama administration’s culpability was highlighted this month by a judgment from the DC appeals court, which ruled that the government’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission had “continued to violate the law” by dragging its feet in its assessment of the licence application for Yucca Mountain. But Congress also needs to play a more constructive role.
FT 27th Aug 2013 read more »
The rising cost of increasingly dangerous and non-competitive nuclear powered electricity has forced yet another aging atomic reactor to permanently close in the United States. The New Orleans-based Entergy Corporation announced that it will permanently close Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Beyond Nuclear 27th Aug 2013 read more »
Entergy to Close, Decommission Vermont Yankee. Decision driven by sustained low power prices, high cost structure and wholesale electricity market design flaws for Vermont Yankee plant. Focus to remain on safety during remaining operation and after shutdown
PR Newswire 27th Aug 2013 read more »
Argus Media 27th Aug 2013 read more »
Vermont’s only nuclear power plant will shut down by the end of next year, ending a nasty legal battle over the future of the 4-decade-old plant, Entergy Corporation announced Tuesday. The Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station is expected to cease power production after its current fuel cycle and will begin being decommissioned in the fourth quarter of 2014, the company said. The station will remain under the oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission throughout the decommissioning process.
Guardian 27th Aug 2013 read more »
The financial pressures on the US nuclear industry caused by the shale gas boom claimed another plant on Tuesday, as Entergy Corporation announced the closure of its Vermont Yankee reactor in the northeast of the country ahead of schedule. Leo Denault, chairman and chief executive of Entergy, a Louisiana-based utility, described the closure as “an agonising decision” but said energy market conditions, including low gas and electricity prices resulting from the shale boom, meant it was the right move to take.
FT 27th Aug 2013 read more »
Iran appointed career diplomat Reza Najafi as its new ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Tuesday, the official IRNA news agency reported. Najafi, a disarmament expert, previously headed the political and international affairs bureau at the foreign ministry after chairing the disarmament and international department there.
Reuters 27th Aug 2013 read more »
Low Carbon Economy
John Ashton: We need, in a single generation, to build an energy system without carbon emissions. Dealing with climate change is about taking control over energy from remote utilities and giving it back to people. Germany is on track to get 35% of its electricity from renewables by 2020. Over 40% of its renewable capacity is currently owned and controlled by citizens through community energy cooperatives. Meanwhile China is investing $1.6 trillion of public funds to boost the industries that will drive the transition, like renewable power and electric cars. The real global race is the race to rebuild the economy around a carbon neutral energy system based on clean electricity. Our path in Britain to a low carbon growth model is blocked on behalf of the neoclassical cult by what you might call the Treasury view.
New Economics Foundation 10th July 2013 read more »
There’s an old parable about trying to describe a whole elephant if all you’ve ever encountered is the trunk: it’s unlikely you’d succeed. The same is true of windfarms’ ability to produce electricity. If you’ve only ever seen them on still days, it would be hard to see how they could contribute to the UK’s energy production. The Telegraph got fixated on the elephant’s trunk this weekend. It claimed that at a given time, some of the UK’s windfarms were only producing enough power “to make a few cups of tea”. A look at the bigger picture reveals a more complex situation, however. DECC is legally required by the European Union to meet 15 per cent of the UK’s energy demand from renewable sources by 2020, and windfarms are key to meeting its climate change goals. Because renewable generation varies quite a lot, the government has to invest in some fossil fuel backup. This normally comes from gas plants. Increasing gas generation capacity could make the UK vulnerableto international price hikes, however. Getting to grips with those issues means looking at the bigger picture. Otherwise all you have is a trunk, which looks kind of odd without the rest of the elephant.
Carbon Brief 27th Aug 2013 read more »
A total of 127 countries have enacted policies to encourage the development of renewable energy projects this year found the Worldwatch Institute’s latest Vital Signs Online report. According to the Worldwatch Institute, support policies for renewable energy technologies have increased dramatically over the last decade. Starting the mid-200’s policies focused on deployment of renewable energy technologies have been enacted at a rapid pace, growing from 48 countries in mid-2005 to the afore mentioned 127 as of early 2013.
Eco Seed 27th Aug 2013 read more »