Plans to meet all Scottish energy needs through renewable sources by 2020 are challenging. Our expert panel discussed how it could be achieved. What is unique about the Scottish energy challenge, and can the Scottish government realistically achieve its target of securing 100% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020? That was tricky issue under discussion at the Guardian’s Glasgow debate on tackling the UK’s energy crisis. More than half (56%) of Scotland’s pensioners are affected by fuel poverty, compared with 24% in the south of England. As fuel poverty bites, it’s up to politicians to take the lead: our panel agreed that energy policy should be depoliticised and that politicians should listen to expert opinion and be willing to take unpopular decisions to achieve a secure energy source. The Scottish government continues to oppose nuclear energy. Is shale gas the answer? According to Younger, sourcing unconventional gas is “inevitable” because the government has effectively ruled out both nuclear energy and new coal. But he warned that shale gas is unlikely to be a “game changer” in Scotland due to its location under densely populated areas. One potential solution, he argued, would be to convert coal under the sea into gas – but this would prove controversial. Another idea would be to embrace geothermal district heating in cities such as Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen.
Guardian 27th May 2014 read more »
As I have posted previously I have been trying to find out from DECC how they justified the £92.5/MWh strike price for Hinkley C. Here is the latest response from Michael Fallon. According to Michael Fallon the negotiations for Hinkley C have not concluded. So we still have to wait to see an explanation for the strike price. If you are interested then I have also posted the many letters to and from my MP ( Peter Aldous) and Michael Fallon.
Peter Lux 27th May 2014 read more »
I wrote to the ONR in April asking them to explain how companies can both support the nuclear industry commercially and support the industry’s regulator as contracted consultant. Here is what they told me in reply. I am unconvinced.
David Lowry 27th May 2014 read more »
The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) faces is under pressure after it emerged it is working with companies it is supposed to be monitoring. The nuclear watchdog is receiving technical advice from several firms, including the US engineering conglomerate Jacobs and the Ftse 100 stalwart Amec, the Evening Standard’s sister paper The Independent revealed.
Evening Standard 27th May 2014 read more »
Denis Macshane: Europe has an energy policy – just say ‘no’. Germany’s Chancellor Merkel says nein to nuclear power. France’s President Hollande says non to shale gas. Britain’s Prime Minister Cameron says no to wind power unless it is a few kilometres out to sea. Poland’s Prime Minister Tusk says nie to any limit on burning brown coal – lignite – the most polluting of any fossil fuel. In all cases the political leaders have public opinion behind them, and think they will garner votes by saying no to any source of energy the electoral dislikes. The European Commission and European Parliament are saying no – for the time being – to South Stream, the new pipe-line to bring gas from Russia via the Black Sea, Bulgaria, Serbia and Austria. South Stream’s political imperative is to avoid transiting Ukraine just as Russia’s North Stream pipe-line in the Baltic links Russia directly to Germany without traversing Poland. While the EU’s energy policy is incoherent to the point of non-existence, Russia knows exactly what it is doing – seeking to make Europe ever more dependent on Russian gas. It’s a toss up whether Gazprom is an arm of the Russian state, or the Kremlin the political expression of Gazprom.
Independent 27th May 2014 read more »
England’s SMEs are set to hire more staff as recruitment confidence across the country hits a three-year high. A total of 54 per cent questioned by the Manufacturing Advisory Service’s (MAS) Barometer are looking to create new jobs, marking a 14 per cent increase on the same period last year and the highest level of confidence in staff recruitment seen in the history of the report. According to MAS, firms are looking to take advantage of new opportunities, including expansion and reshoring of supply chains in automotive, aerospace, and nuclear sectors.
Engineer 28th May 2014 read more »
FT 28th May 2014 read more »
Sheffield Forgemasters International Limited (SFIL) celebrated a landmark moment with nuclear power plant designer Westinghouse UK as it became one of a handful of British companies to fabricate safety critical cast and forged components within nuclear power stations. The green light, allowing a new strand of civil nuclear manufacture for the iconic British company, came with the formal presentation of the certificate for the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Nuclear Partials (NPT) status. SFIL has worked with Westinghouse Electric Company UK Limited as a key supply chain partner for many years including collaborating on the unique manufacture of the AP1000 cast steel nuclear reactor primary pump casings with Curtiss Wright EMD.
BDaily 27th May 2014 read more »
Nuclear Engineering Services (NES), a British company involved in one of the UK’s largest nuclear decommissioning programmes, has been acquired by Ansaldo Nucleare, a subsidiary of Italian energy firm Ansaldo Energia Group, for £30 million. Private Equity firm LDC sold its stake in NES to enable Ansaldo to acquire 100% of the company. LDC took “a significant stake” in NES in 2009 and said the exit deal provided a return in excess of two times its original investment.
Professional Engineer 27th May 2014 read more »
General Electric (GE) said it would keep Alstom’s nuclear unit in France if a $17bn bid for the French engineering company’s energy-related operations is accepted. The American company has also agreed to give Alstom three additional weeks to consider its offer. GE said in a statement that it would put off the deadline for a decision until June 23 at the request of the French government. The original deadline was June 2.
Telegraph 27th May 2014 read more »
Professor Brian Cox will be opening the Beacon on Friday and pitching nuclear woo. Given Professor Cox’s enthusiasm for the geological dumping of heat generating nuclear wastes, we wonder whether he will take the opportunity to urge fellow celebrity Beacon opening guest, Baroness Verma, to aggressively promote geological dumping under London Clay?
Radiation Free Lakeland 27th May 2014 read more »
Time bombs may be ticking at the United States’ only deep geological repository for nuclear waste. US authorities concluded last week that at least 368 drums of waste at the site could be susceptible to the chemical reaction suspected to have caused a drum to rupture there in February. That accident caused radioactive material to spill into the repository and leak into the environment above ground.
Nature 27th May 2014 read more »
Calls for some form of “system architect” for energy transitions, especially in electricity, are becoming more and more common. Recent examples come from Newcastle University, the Institute of Engineering and Technology, and the Smart Grid Forum. The Labour Party has also recently proposed a new Energy Strategy Board to guide investment in generation. This was also a common theme in a major conference on progressive energy governance held by the IGov team in London on Wednesday. There is clearly a feeling in the air that our current governance system for energy markets and networks is somehow not coordinated enough to manage a major change. However, while the system architect notion may be powerful and appealing, it quickly throws up a number of important questions, including those of scope, depth and duration. In other words, there can be lots of different kinds of system architects, and one danger with the current debate is that a broad term is used in a number of different ways.
IGov 27th May 2014 read more »
France’s audit court raised its estimate of the average production cost of EDF’s nuclear reactors over their lifespan by more than a fifth today, with maintenance costs more than doubling since the court’s last review in 2012. The Court des Comptes, a quasi-judicial body, said in a report that production costs for the French utility’s 58 French nuclear reactors had risen to 59.8 euros per megawatt-hour (MWh) from 49.6 euros/MWh between 2010 and 2013. The court, which was asked to update a previous report by a parliamentary committee, calculates the average cost of French nuclear power production over its current 40-year lifespan, from construction to dismantling. A 118 percent rise in maintenance investments accounted for 5.1 euros/MWh or half of the estimated increase, the court said, while operating charges were seen up 11 percent and accounting for 2.7 euros per MWh of the revised cost.
Business World 27th May 2014 read more »
Electricite de France SA’s costs to produce atomic power are spiraling upward as investment needed to keep aging reactors safe over the next two decades could reach 90 billion euros ($123 billion), the state auditor said. “Production costs from the existing fleet are heading higher over the medium-term,” France’s Cour des Comptes said in a report to parliament published today. They already increased 21 percent over the past three years. The authority called for a “rapid” decision on how long EDF reactors should operate to allow the Paris-based utility to plan future spending, which it said is expected to rise“significantly” through 2017 and cost more than anticipated.
Business Week 27th May 2014 read more »
Bloomberg 27th May 2014 read more »
Germany’s Energiewende has taken on near-mythic proportions among the UK’s environmental community. The hugely ambitious energy transition strategy that has been engineered by the German government with a view to slashing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 95 per cent by 2050 has won numerous plaudits, even as detractors have questioned whether the breakneck pace of the current shift towards clean energy sources could end up doing more harm than good. Last week, one of the key advisers to the Energiewende, Professor Miranda Schreurs of the Freie Universität Berlin, was in London and leading figures from across the UK’s green economy were understandably keen to break bread and find out what lessons, if any, her experience as an adviser to the German government could offer to the UK’s own energy transition. Schreurs acknowledged the feed-in tariffs that drove German renewables deployment over the past decade could have been trimmed a little earlier to curb the cost of the scheme, and predicted further political rows were likely over the level of support and the cost of clean energy schemes. Schreurs politely downplayed one of the other key criticisms of the Energiewende – that it has led to an increase in coal emissions as Germany has rushed to close its nuclear power plants. Coal emissions may have increased in the short to medium-term, but Schreurs insisted this was mainly a factor of a unseasonably cold winter last year and cheap coal imports from the US making coal more economic than gas. She argued that while coal remained a major challenge, the early indications from this year were that coal emissions were well down as renewables play an ever greater role. Moreover, there are some encouraging signs the German government is moving to tackle the coal problem by supporting reforms to the EU emissions trading scheme that should weaken the economics of coal power.
Business Green 27th May 2014 read more »
Japan’s energy problem poses challenges for which there are few quick fixes. The temptation to turn the nuclear facilities back on comes at a potentially catastrophic cost. Another nuclear disaster is unimaginable in Japan, but the risk is there, given the country is so susceptible to earthquakes. The solution appears to lie with a combination of investment and innovation in renewable energy. History suggests the solution to difficult problems such as these lies with our capacity to innovate and adapt. The Japanese have proven very adept at this, and renewable energy is the cornerstone of this solution. The Alliance Trust Sustainable Future funds see Japan’s push behind renewable energy as a long-term investment opportunity.
Business Green 27th May 2014 read more »
The crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has been given permission to build an underground ‘ice wall’, it has been revealed. The wall, approved by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), will freeze soil around four reactors at the plant in northern Japan. It aims to prevent radioactive water from escaping the site – as well as blocking groundwater from nearby hillsides flowing into the area.
Daily Mail 27th May 2014 read more »
The next round of talks on resolving Western concerns over Iran’s nuclear programme will take place in Vienna on June 16-20, the European Union announced Tuesday. After “very long and useful discussions” in Istanbul, the “next formal round … will be from 16-20 June in Vienna,” a spokesman for EU foreign affairs head Catherine Ashton said. The talks were “very long and useful,” spokesman Michael Mann said in a brief statement.
EU Business 27th May 2014 read more »
Renewables – Wind
The Government’s chief climate adviser claims Britain has already approved enough wind turbines to meet renewable energy targets and the public will soon be able to decide on other ways to create renewable energy. Lord Deben of Winston appears to contradict government forecasts that the numbers of wind turbines are expected to triple by 2030 – adding almost 10,000 to Britain’s landscape. The Conservative peer said there are already enough wind farms with planning permission to meet climate change targets, and thereafter the public will be able to decide on other ways to cut emissions, the Times reported. His claims seem at odds with plans published by the Committee on Climate Change to cut emissions by 2030. All plans published by the committee include creating the capacity to generate 25 gigawatts of onshore wind to achieve this target. At the moment Britain generates seven gigawatts from more than 4,000 onshore wind turbines and the capacity to generate a further six gigawatts have been approved.
Telegraph 27th May 2014 read more »
Britain has approved enough onshore wind turbines to meet climate change targets, leaving the public to choose other ways to cut emissions in future, the government’s chief climate adviser has said. Lord Deben of Winston appeared to contradict forecasts by his own Committee on Climate Change of a tripling in the number of wind farms by 2030 — equivalent to almost 10,000 more turbines. The Conservative peer, who was environment secretary in John Major’s government, said that there were enough wind farms with planning permission to meet a legally binding target for renewable energy by 2020. After that date the public may choose other methods of cutting emissions, he added.
Times 28th May 2014 read more »
Renewables – AD
United Utilities has reduced its carbon footprint by 11% over the past year, with a recently opened anaerobic digestion (AD) plant taking the water giant’s renewable energy production to new heights. The Warrington-based company, which is the largest listed water firm in the UK, has reduced its carbon emissions by 23% since 2005/06, with an overall aim of reducing emissions by 21% by 2015, off a 2006 baseline.
Edie 27th May 2014 read more »
The National Trust has devised a scheme to heat one of its stately homes with the sea. The “marine source pump” will save Plas Newydd in Anglesey £40,000 a year, recouping the outlay in 15 years, or so estimates suggest. While we can marvel that modern technology can extract warmth from Welsh shores, the technology is of little use to the masses. The rest of us can replace boilers, line lofts and fill wall cavities. These are the most cost-effective measures that will reduce bills and leave you warmer. So why do so few people do it? The Government has wrestled with this and thought it had the answer. The Green Deal, David Cameron promised, was a “very aggressive, very progressive” policy. The results suggest otherwise. Telegraph Money disclosed that after two months only five people had signed up. Figures this week show that, after 18 months, the number has grown to a grand 4,439.
Telegraph 27th May 2014 read more »
Barack Obama, scientists and campaigners have all looked at how to engage Americans more powerfully on the environment. Now researchers have come up with one critical piece of advice: do say “global warming”, don’t say “climate change”. New research released on Tuesday found Americans care more deeply when the term “global warming” is used to describe the major environmental challenge. “Climate change”, in contrast, leaves them relatively cold. The two terms are often used interchangeably but they generate very different responses, the researchers from the Yale Project on Climate Change Communications and the George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communications said.
Guardian 27th May 2014 read more »