A nuclear reactor has gone offline in an unplanned outage, its operator has confirmed. The 660-megawatt reactor at the Heysham 2 site, near Morecambe, Lancashire, was taken offline at 13:48 BST because of “operational requirements”, EDF Energy told the BBC. The reactor will be offline for the next seven days, the company added. The cause of the unplanned outage has not yet been established and an investigation is under way. Heysham is the only site in the UK to have two operating nuclear power stations.
BBC 27th July 2015 read more »
Garstang Courier 27th July 2015 read more »
Lancaster Guardian 27th July 2015 read more »
Radiation Free Lakeland 27th July 2015 read more »
Building nuclear reactors out of factory-produced modules was supposed to make their construction swifter and cheaper, leading to a new boom in nuclear energy. But two U.S. sites where nuclear reactors are under construction have been hit with costly delays that have shaken faith in the new construction method and created problems concerning who will bear the added expense. “Modular construction has not worked out to be the solution that the utilities promised,” said Robert B. Baker, an energy lawyer at Freeman Mathis & Gary LLP in Atlanta and former member of the Georgia Public Service Commission, the state utility authority. The new building technique calls for fabricating big sections of plants in factories and then hauling them by rail to power-plant sites for final assembly. The method was supposed to prevent a repeat of the notorious delays and cost overruns that marred the last nuclear construction cycle in the 1980s. It hasn’t worked. Georgia Power Co., a unit of Southern Co. that is building one of the nuclear power plants, reports that construction is three years behind schedule, although it is making steady progress.
Wall St Journal 27th July 2015 read more »
If the Tories want to achieve any progress on climate emission reductions, and its not clear that they do want to, despite the Rt Hon Amber Rudd’s speech last week, then they have to set out clear market signals that they mean to do so and that they will do so in a way that supports a market which lasts beyond this Parliament. This is too serious an issue to be left to individual Governments to deal with and to be subject to political whims. If ever there was an issue that needed cross-party agreement, this is it. There is no getting away from the fact that progress in achieving emission reductions through policy and regulation has been achingly slow. The Committee for Climate Change reflects that much of our current emissions reductions have come about because of the recession and less than one percent of the emissions reductions have come about through environmental improvements. In order to achieve our Carbon Budgets we will need to de-carbonise at a rate of 3% per annum. In order for this Governments plan to work, the market has to be three times more effective in delivering emission reductions than regulation has already achieved. All of this effort could have been achieved more easily if we had kept some of the previous Governments policies going and not abandoned the ones that were working. I agree that the Green Deal was flawed, but it could have been rescued with a proper finance package, instead of abandoning it entirely. Similarly the zero-carbon housing regulations were heading in the right direction and had massive support from industry, ( with the usual exception of the housebuilders who don’t support any regulation that impacts on their bottom line) and also could have been made to work with some effort. Again this has been unceremoniously binned, sending housing regulations back to 2013, there to stay for the foreseeable future. What the Tories don’t appear to understand, or are just ignoring, is that in order to create a functioning market you need investment. In order to attract investment, you need certainty, and in order to create certainty you need good governance that doesn’t change the rules without consultation. The stated objective of this Government, to achieve emission reductions through the market, has already been made very difficult by their wilful and short-termist treatment of the companies already active in the market. There is no way that we can achieve the emission reductions we need under the Climate Change Act, without the help of companies providing solar energy, wind farms, low-carbon energy, and insulation. But in dropping planned regulations including zero-carbon housing and the Green Deal, this Government will have alienated most of the companies in all of these sectors.
Rory Bergin’s Blog 27th July 2015 read more »
As Ed Davey says, we have had in very short order, the apparent termination of support for onshore wind, a radical deflation of support for solar (both the cheapest renewables currently around by the way) the rug pulled smartly under the whole zero carbon homes programme, in that ..er.. there won’t be one anymore, and the clever juggling of the climate change levy so that it is now quite simply a levy, with the involvement in climate change abruptly terminated. Oh and to add to that, we have the prospect of the levy control framework being bust and quite possibly (Amber Rudd, Ed’s successor as DECC SOS was conspicuously coy when I asked her about it this week) no more auctions for the award of contracts for difference for renewable technologies until after 2020. What is clear at the same time, is that the new government remains, it says, fully signed up to Britains ‘leading role at the Paris climate change summit in December’, and apparently committed to the achievement of the carbon budgets that go along with Britain’s offer (40% reduction greenhouse gas levels over 1990 by 2030, or effectively, the achievement of the fourth carbon budget, presently on its own admission, difficult to do on the basis of present measures). So you might expect some new measures, or at least an indication of which measures will get top billing over the next period. If we believe that the government is sincere in maintaining its carbon change objectives and its willingness to address the consequences of its own carbon budget commitments, then at some stage it will have to introduce measures to change behaviour or investment patterns that look rather like the measures they have just abandoned. Alternatively it may now be that the single and sole mechanism they think will bring is change about is….the market. And since Lord Stern, as I remember notably described climate change as ‘ the world’s biggest market failure’ I’ m not sure right now that it is a strategy that will reliably deliver.
Alan Whitehead MP 27th July 2015 read more »
Within weeks of the newly elected Conservative government coming into power, the down-scaling of low-carbon policies began. The Green Deal, binned earlier this week, is the latest victim of the post-election cull which has seen the end of a further 8 green policies. Commitments to renewable energy and climate change targets are unravelling before our eyes. The recent downscaling of climate change policies is, however, the culmination of a long-standing political struggle between DECC and the Treasury. Since the creation of DECC in 2008, the Treasury has been embroiled in a battle for policy control over energy and climate; areas formerly located within the Department of Trade and Industry after the disbanding of the Department of Energy in 1992. And, austerity in the face of the financial crisis provided the Treasury with the perfect opportunity, on the basis of cost, to contain green ambitions.
SPRU 27th July 2015 read more »
Energy policy has been slowly changing over the last 30 or so years: two steps forward, one step back towards sustainability. But it has changed over that time and it has become more sustainable and better for GB’s innovation record. In 1984, with the miner’s strike, we had a state owned energy industry (both gas and electricity), with almost no customer input and minimal ability for independent action, no renewable energy policy, minimal energy efficiency action or thought, and no formal concern for the fuel poor. Slowly since then we have moved to a very different industry structure and energy policy with a Climate Change Act, with an 80% cut in carbon emissions from 1990 levels by 2050 at its centre. But this change has not occurred as a result of anti-growth, anti-capitalist, proto-socialism factions, as Amber Rudd, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change is reported to have said in her busy schedule last week. It occurred as a result of cross-party concerns and alliances during Tory, Labour and Alliance governments.Who wants to join an alliance to have a ‘sensible’ energy policy which leads to economic prosperity and security for GB, which leads to overall lowest prices for consumers and which is sustainable? This is the opposite of the current very big step backwards of Government’s policy – whatever Amber Rudd may say. What can we – those concerned about the environment whatever our political views – do to take the necessary two steps forward to keep the slow momentum towards sustainability going?
IGov 27th July 2015 read more »
The last few weeks has been pretty dire for those in Britain that care about moving towards a sustainable, secure and affordable energy system. GB no longer has a credible energy policy. Government support for nuclear power may lead, at best, to one or two new power plants in GB – but by when we do not know and for how much money. They are almost immaterial to meeting our carbon commitments whilst at the same time making it harder to move to the necessary integrated system operation and management to reduce our total energy use, to flatten our total capacity and to improve flexibility – all good for reducing overall costs to the customer. Carbon capture and storage is going nowhere fast – see Simon Evans of Carbon Brief’s excellent overview (but see also a separate, forthcoming blog). Natural Gas is the default provider – no doubt as wanted by the Treasury. IEA predictions for future demand (and costs) are uncertain – but it certainly is not compatible with environmental goals. And fracking – which may get some gas through (but may not – again, we do know yet) – will never replace natural gas, will be expensive and may well have major environmental consequences. All in all, an irresponsible position to place us in.
IGov 28th July 2015 read more »
In his article “Let’s cut these regressive wind and solar taxes”. Matt Ridley compared the United Nations Framework on Climate Change with the Council of Nicea. On the subject of Christian theology, I might refer him to the recent Papal Encyclical in which Pope Francis argued that climate change predictions “can no longer be met with irony or disdain”. The vast majority of scientists agree that global warming is happening. As Amber Rudd, the energy secretary, has said, the argument should be about how to mitigate its consequences. Government support for low-carbon technology offers as much to the UK’s industrial strategy as it does our energy strategy. It has delivered volume for cost-effective renewable technologies, driven down our emissions and helped the economy grow. This is why 80 major businesses recently wrote to the prime minister to ask for his continued support of the low-carbon economy. Policies that funded technologies such as energy efficiency saved the UK and its consumers £4 billion on bills in 2014. And overall UK carbon emissions fell by 9.7 per cent (almost a quarter from reduced coal use) while the economy grew at its fastest pace since 2007. As the Climate Coalition march last September and the lobby of MPs in June show, there is much public concern on climate change. Ministers overlook this at their own risk.
Times 28th July 2015 read more »
The government’s U-turn on renewable energy risks sending this country back to the dark ages of relying only on fossil fuel. Since the election we have seen a slashing of subsidies for biomass, anaerobic digestion and biogas as well as solar and wind. This will make very little difference to household bills but will impact heavily on energy security and in the long-term increase bills with no way back. Renewable energy can actually secure energy prices, giving security for households, whatever fossil fuel prices are. The sudden abolition of these subsidies was, wind power aside, a massive surprise. For a business-friendly government, it i s a risky message to send and one that could shake investor confidence.
Guardian 27th July 2015 read more »
Letter David Lowry: I agree with much of your first comment on climate change (Editorial, 23 July). However, I would like to expand upon the observation that “just like fracking and nuclear, greening the energy supply needs intervention”. The question is: what is a reasonably sensible subsidy to provide energy technologies, especially those that generate electricity? You report in the same edition of the Guardian (Government to cut solar power subsidies saving customers 50p per year) that the discontinuation of solar subsides will save customers a trivial amount off their annual energy bills, but will simultaneously devastate a fast-growing, but still young, sustainable energy sector. This is stupidly shortsighted of the chancellor, George Osborne, whose slash and burn strategy is being implemented by an impotent and reluctant energy and climate change department, which seems to have forgotten its responsibilities. The chancellor’s father in-law, Lord Howell of Guildford, who in 1979, as Margaret Thatcher’s first energy secretary, announced a programme of 10 nuclear reactors, of which only one, Sizewell B, was ever built, said in the debate on the energy bill in the Lords on 22 July: “By far the biggest obligation, or future burden, on consumers and households is the Hinkley Point C nuclear project. I am very pro-nuclear and pro its low-carbon contribution but this must be one of the worst deals ever for British households and British industry. Furthermore, the component suppliers to EDF are in trouble, costs keep rising, no reactor of this kind has ever been completed successfully, those that are being built are years behind and workers at the site have been laid off, so personally I would shed no tears at all if the elephantine Hinkley Point C project were abandoned.” The newly constituted parliamentary energy and climate change select committee should investigate this funding situation as its first priority.
Guardian 27th July 2015 read more »
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been given a crucial role in the new agreement with Iran over its nuclear programme. Some of its key verification work takes place at the IAEA’s labs near Vienna. The labs, which have just been upgraded, are where samples gathered by inspectors – in Iran and other countries around the world – are analysed. The BBC is the first camera team to film at the new facilities
BBC 27th July 2015 read more »
IRAN and America will have “opportunities” for greater cooperation in tackling terrorism if the nuclear agreement is implemented successfully, according to the Islamic Republic’s deputy foreign minister.
Telegraph 28th July 2015 read more »
France – Areva
The French government could be required pay as much as 5bn euros to rescue the struggling state-controlled nuclear group Areva as part of a deal that is set to reshape the country’s energy sector. Areva and EDF are in the midst of tense, last-minute discussions ahead of key board meetings on Wednesday, where the two groups – both more than 85 per cent owned by the state – need to find a wide-ranging agreement. The negotiations, which concern the price EDF will pay for Areva’s reactor businesses and fuel treatment contracts, will shape how much France’s cash-strapped state has to put in to recapitalise Areva. People close to the talks say that the government could be forced to contribute as much as 4-5bn euros to a capital raising expected in September, far more than the 2-3bn euros that ministers had hoped for just a few months ago. The third part of the talks is over whether the French state will indemnify both Areva and EDF against any future losses on a construction project in Finland, which has already cost Areva €3.9bn in impairment charges.
FT 27th July 2015 read more »
The Chinese economy is clearly going through its most serious downturn in more than 30 years. After three decades of continuous growth averaging more than 8 per cent per annum, the problems of industrial over capacity and excessive debt are starting to take their toll. The stock market volatility of the last few weeks is a symptom of the bubble that has been allowed to develope in recent years and of the doubts that are now setting in about the sustainability of high growth. The more serious problem, as the published data is now showing, lies in the real economy and in the accumulated and now unfundable debts that have financed booms in sectors such as housing construction and urban property development. Companies hoping to sell energy supplies into China – from new nuclear stations to additional tankers filled with liquefied natural gas – will find projects cancelled or postponed. There could also be even greater scrutiny by the Chinese authorities of the business methods and pricing policies of those doing business in the country. The continuing tide of anti-corruption cases raises the level of risk for international investors. Equally, energy projects outside China hoping for Chinese capital could find their plans put on hold. In any downturn, the priority for Beijing will be domestic demand and local investment to protect employment. External activity – in Venezuela, Iraq or even Europe – will have a lower priority.
FT 28th July 2015 read more »
China is rapidly moving up the global nuclear power leaderboard. Since 2012, as the traditional leaders in nuclear energy production have remained stagnant or backed off of their reliance on nuclear in the wake of Fukushima, China has added 11 new reactors and over 11 gigawatts of nuclear generating capacity. By the end of this year, China is expected to pass Russia and South Korea and boast the fourth-largest nuclear generating capacity in the world, behind the United States, France, and Japan. By 2020 it will likely replace Japan in third place.
Technology Review 27th July 2015 read more »
Japan – renewables
The world’s largest wind turbine looms over the port of Onahama, dwarfing the derricks of a bulk carrier as it unloads coal at a nearby pier. Each blade on this 7 megawatt (MW) monster is longer than the wingspan of an A380 superjumbo. What is more, this wind turbine floats. About 100 metres out in the harbour are two bright yellow spars, all part of the underwater superstructure needed to stabilise and buoy this colossal machine. “To assemble this 7MW turbine we had to bring a crane all the way from Holland,” says Takeshi Ishihara, a professor at the University of Tokyo, who inspired the consortium behind the machine. “There wasn’t one big enough in all of Japan.” Lacking fossil fuels of its own, Japan has always wrestled with energy policy, but the public’s desire to abandon nuclear power in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima disaster has made the challenge even more severe. The government wants to increase renewables from 10 per cent of its energy mix to 24 per cent by 2030, further reducing its reliance on gas, coal and nuclear. But in crowded, mountainous Japan, finding places to install renewables is tricky so Tokyo is searching for new technologies – from Mr Ishihara’s floating windmills to more far-fetched ideas such as beaming power from space – that open up fresh locations for renewable power.
FT 28th July 2015 read more »
Japan – reactor restarts
Kyushu Electric Power Company plans to apply to regulators for the final ‘applied safety inspection’ of Sendai 1 on 3 August. This check is expected to take one week, making 10 August a potential start-up date. The Sendai 1 nuclear power reactor is being readied for restart with fuel already loaded, and tests on main systems underway. Sendai 1 should become the first Japanese reactor to generate power in almost two years. The company’s technical and operational plans and procedures have been approved by the Nuclear Regualtory Authority (NRA), which then checked that the technical upgrades had been implemented correctly.
World Nuclear News 27th July 2015 read more »
US – solar
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has announced goals for increasing US reliance on renewable energy, pledging to have more than half a billion solar panels installed nationwide within four years of taking office. Clinton, the frontrunner for her party’s 2016 presidential nomination, also pledged on her website on Sunday that the US would generate enough clean renewable energy to power every home in the country within 10 years of taking office. The two goals were the first elements of what she said would be a comprehensive climate change agenda to be announced over the next few months.
Guardian 27th July 2015 read more »
Renew Economy 27th July 2015 read more »
Climate Progress 26th July 2015 read more »
US – radwaste
President Obama says otherwise, but he seems to have a propensity for slapping the nuclear industry across the face. When the Obama administration came into power, one of its first actions was to end work on the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada. In so doing, it delivered a shuddering blow to the U.S. nuclear industry, trashing the project when it was nearly ready to open. The cost to taxpayers was about $15 billion. Now the administration is going through the motions to suspend another costly nuclear waste investment when it is about 67 percent complete. Money expended: $4.5 billion. Shutdown cost: $1 billion. The object of its latest volte face is the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF) on the Department of Energy’s Savannah River site in South Carolina. Work started on the facility in 2007, with a 2016 startup envisaged.
Oil Price 27th July 2015 read more »
The recent nuclear deal with Iran showed that the US can be flexible with a willing counterpart, including North Korea if it decides it wants talks on its nuclear programme, a US envoy said on Monday.
Guardian 27th July 2015 read more »
North Korean leaders threatened the US that no Americans will survive if there is another round of war in the Korean peninsula as the country marked the 62nd anniversary of the armistice agreement, which ended the Korean War.
IB Times 28th July 2015 read more »
Independent 27th July 2015 read more »
Renewables – Hydro
Today we moved from testing to running 24/7. CEC have closed the upper penstock so all water flow is now through the turbine. However the reservoirs are so low that only the basic compensation flow is available for use, only just enough to allow electricity generation. What’s needed now is more rain. A formal opening of the scheme by Fergus Ewing MSP is being planned for 1st September and before that we expect to complete the civils work and tidy up the site.
Harlaw Hydro 23rd July 2015 read more »
The last three posts on this blog have all dealt with the feasibility of reaching very high levels (80% or more) renewable energy in our electricity grids. Specifically, these posts were responses to articles dismissing the possibility doing this quickly, whose arguments I did not feel were well supported by facts and existing research. I will also note that the authors tended to miss or ignore a plethora of real-world developments and even whole technologies. There are many ways in which these resources can be deployed, and many studies which suggest how various regions could move to 100% renewable electricity, or even all energy. One of the most prominent is the study by Stanford Professor Mark Jacobson and his team which deals with the United States. Another is a 2011 study by Ecofys and World Wildlife Fund, which looks at the global picture. One of my personal favorites is the Zero Carbon Britain project by the Centre for Alternative Technology, a roadmap for moving Great Britain to zero net carbon emissions, in which renewable energy features prominently.
Energy Media & Society 22nd July 2015 read more »