With the world’s leading nuclear corporations facing bankruptcy due to ever escalating costs, ‘unconstructable’ reactor designs and financing risks, there’s an easy way to finance the UK’s new nuclear power stations, writes David Toke: pin the cost onto taxpayers. As for schools, hospitals, pensions, housing, social care and other public services, who needs ’em?
Ecologist 27th Feb 2017 read more »
The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee questions Jesse Norman MP, Minister for Energy and Industry for its inquiry into priorities for nuclear research and technologies. The Office for Nuclear Regulation and industry experts also give evidence.
Parliament 25th Feb 2017 read more »
The University of Manchester is to lead a consortium to build the next generation of robots that are more durable and perceptive for use in nuclear sites. The cost of cleaning up the UK’s existing nuclear facilities has been estimated to be between £95bn and £219bn over the next 120 years or so. The harsh conditions within these facilities means that human access is highly restricted and much of the work will need to be completed by robots. Present robotics technology is simply not capable of completing many of the tasks that will be required.
Business Desk 28th Feb 2017 read more »
Every strategy reaches the point where renewal is necessary. Time erodes what once seemed logical. Technology transforms the range of possibilities. Assumptions turn out to have been false flags. That is the situation now for the UK’s energy policy as spelt out in a report published last week by the economics committee of the UK House of Lords*. The existing strategy flows from the 2008 Climate Change Act, which gave priority to the reduction of carbon emissions. A target of an 80 per cent reduction by 2050 was entrenched in law and, although it has never been clear how it would be enforced, the existence of a legally binding target has shaped decision-making in Whitehall. The goal, to be reached in five-year steps, overrides every other consideration – including cost and security of supply. Rather than allowing the target to be met by open competition to find the least expensive answer, ministers promoted specific technologies irrespective of cost. Commitments to intermittent sources such as wind were taken without regard for their impact on the economics of other businesses, such as gas-fired power generation – which is low cost and relatively low carbon. Some potential solutions, like improving energy efficiency, have been neglected or, as in the case of the so-called Green Deal home energy-saving scheme, laughably ill-designed and ineffective. Investment in research has also been neglected – almost all the recent gains in solar and wind technology have come from the US and China. The figures produced by witnesses to the committee such as Sir Richard Friend, Cavendish Professor of Physics in Cambridge, demonstrate how much UK investment in research has fallen back. Each unintended consequence of the mis-steps has led to more intervention with government transferring detailed decision-making to Whitehall. That has left ministers and officials vulnerable to lobbying by those in search of what Americans would call corporate welfare. Hinkley Point is the most expensive example of this but it is not the only one. The funding of wood chips as a supposedly low-carbon fuel was exposed in a paper from Chatham House published last week. The paper from the Lords is not the last word. There are many more aspects of policy to be re-examined – from the North Sea, which is slipping dangerously towards terminal decline, to the transport system and implications of the prospect of significant electrification over the next two decades. In the retail market there is an unresolved issue of trust. But the report is important because in a very careful and judicious way it demonstrates the extent to which the existing strategy has failed and opens the door to a serious debate on what should come next. *I had the daunting privilege of being an adviser to the committee, which includes senior businessmen and academics, two former chancellors and three former permanent secretaries.
FT 28th Feb 2017 read more »
Letter DB Watson: Last week the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee published it Price of Power: Reforming the Electricity Market Report. Its findings could be the wake-up call Downing Street needs with respect to the sorry state of the UK electricity industry. Their Lordships are unambiguous and unequivocal in their conclusions, soundbites from which include: “The growth of renewable energy supported by contracts that guarantee a given price for a fixed period has left the UK facing a possible shortage of capacity as investors have not been willing to build new conventional power plants.” Indeed Professor Deiter Helm of Oxford University commented that “capacity margins are effectively nought so the security of supply problem is back with a vengeance”. The report also said “successive governments are perhaps guilty of overlooking security at times” and mentioned “the disincentives for private investment in electricity generation created by the growth of intermittent renewables”.
Herald 28th Feb 2017 read more »
A House of Lords report calling for decarbonisation of the energy system to be relegated in favour of security of affordable supply has been slammed by green industry critics, who have called its conclusions ‘out of touch’ and ‘backward-looking’. The report by the House of Lords Select Committee on Economic Affairs claims the three objectives of UK energy policy – ensuring security of supply while decarbonising at lowest cost – are not complementary in the present day. It argues that generation of electricity from fossil fuels is cheaper than renewable sources and that subsidies provided to clean energy generation have resulted in considerably higher costs for consumers. In response, members of the renewable energy sector have hit back at this claim, with Paul Massara, chief executive of North Star Solar and former CEO of RWE npower, highlighted the ‘out-of-date claims’ in the report. “In reality, renewables like solar or onshore wind are already cost-competitive with fossil fuels in many parts of the world, as costs have plummeted with increasing deployment,” he said. Massara said: “It’s a shame this is a backward-looking report with many out-of-date claims, because elsewhere, the peers make sensible recommendations. Boosting the use of market mechanisms for example, so that all-technologies can compete on a level playing, is a welcome proposal.”
Solar Portal 27th Feb 2017 read more »
Germany – radwaste
There is within Germany from different sides still criticism on the operation of the Commission, which did not permanently exclude the Gorleben site, that has been considered for final disposal of German high-level radioactive waste, from future siting decisions. The Commission instead refers this issue to the German Government that is to draft a legal regulation on siting during 2017. This includes issues of transparency, among others about role of a strategic environmental assessment and related public participation questions. The German regions want to have a say in the search for a repository for high radioactive waste. A series of workshops of the competent Commission for the Storage of High Level Radioactive Waste from the Federal Government and the Federal Council of Germany ended up with an unusually broad consensus of the participants. From politics and Commission they demanded to involve the public as widely and early as possible in the forthcoming, decades- long search. Unfortunately a lot of this broad consensus wasn`t taken into account by the Commission. Also the 111 persons that sent comments during the final public consulting phase of the Commission`s report were left aside.
Nuclear Transparency Watch 27th Feb 2017 read more »
The country of Denmark generated enough wind energy on Wednesday to power the entire country’s electricity needs, according to new figures from Europe’s wind energy trade body, WindEurope. According to WindEurope, Denmark generated a total of 70 gigawatt-hours (GWh) from onshore wind and another 27 GWh from offshore wind — enough to power the equivalent of 10 million average EU households.
Clean Technica 24th Feb 2017 read more »
Germany’s KSB Group has been awarded a contract to supply six reactor coolant pumps for use in the first two units of the new Zhangzhou nuclear power plant in Fujian province. Construction of the two Hualong One units is expected to begin next year.
World Nuclear News 27th Feb 2017 read more »
Swedish-based companies Minesto and Stena Line engage in a joint project to invest in Wales’ transition to renewable energy. Stena Line will build an assembly hall in Holyhead, which Minesto will utilise in their upcoming rollout of the company’s unique technology to generate clean electricity from the ocean. Minesto and Stena Line have today signed an agreement in which Stena Line has committed to building an assembly hall on their land at the port in Holyhead, Wales. The assembly hall will be leased to Minesto and used for the upcoming rollout of Deep Green, Minesto’s unique technology for cost-effective electricity production from slowly flowing underwater currents.
Minesto 24th Feb 2017 read more »
The Centre for Alternative Technology’s latest research project ‘Zero Carbon Britain: Making it Happen’ offers a ‘toolbox’ of ideas that can help inspire, inform and enable us to make change happen. Working within an interdisciplinary framework, the report brings together thinking from researchers working in psychology, sociology, political science, economics and other social sciences, as well as faith and spiritual practice, arts and culture. Drawing on a wide range of peer-reviewed journals, books, reports and articles, as well as stories from real-life projects, it explores ways that we can overcome barriers in innovative ways.
Centre for Alternative Technology 26th Feb 2017 read more »
The second hydrogen refuelling station in Aberdeen has been officially opened along with the launch of a fleet of 10 hydrogen-fuelled Toyota Mirai cars. The £2.6 million station will serve the city’s expanding fleet of cars and vans and will be fully operational by 15 March. Funded by Aberdeen City Council, ERDF, Transport Scotland and NESTRANS, it was built and will be maintained and operated by Hydrogenics.
Scottish Energy News 28th Feb 2017 read more »
Just months after launching its residential battery storage offering onto the Australian market, Germany battery maker Sonnen has flagged the introduction of a household solar and storage deal that threatens to disrupt the traditional retail electricity model. The deal, called “Sonnen flat,” offers free power to households using the company’s integrated solar and storage system, including for any electricity drawn from the grid when the sun goes down and stored energy is used up.
One Step off the Grid 22nd Feb 2017 read more »
More than one home every minute will need to be refurbished in the UK between now and 2050, experts say. A report to Parliament says 25 million existing homes will not meet the insulation standards required by mid-century. The UK needs to cut carbon emissions by 80% by then – and a third of those emissions come from heating draughty buildings. The government said it would devise policies as soon as possible. But critics say ministers have been far too slow to impose a national programme of home renovation which would save on bills and improve people’s health, comfort and happiness. It would also create thousands of jobs.
BBC 28th Feb 2017 read more »
JIM RATCLIFFE, the chief executive of the Ineos fracking giant with fossil fuel facility at Grangemouth, secretly lobbied the former Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to attack unions, cut his firm’s taxes and support fracking. According to an investigation by the Ferret, which obtained emails and detailed notes, Osborne and Ratcliffe met in 2013 to discuss striking rights and reducing workers’ pensions. Responding to the revelations, lobbying transparency and environmental charities warned of the dangers of corporate entities influencing government policy in the areas of workers rights and environmental protection.
Common Space 27th Feb 2017 read more »