Anti-nuclear campaigners looking for someone to blame if Hinkley Point in Somerset finally gets the green light for two new reactors might point the finger at Nigel Farage. Vladimir Putin could also be a scapegoat for the European competition commissioner’s decision to back the UK government’s support for the first new atomic power stations in a generation. But others would say it is less about the politics of European togetherness or energy security and more about the EC commissioner himself, Joaquín Almunia. Almunia, who steps down on 1 November, let it be known last week that he would “propose to the college of commissioners to take a positive decision, and in principle the decision should be taken during the mandate of the commission in October”. So while the first, and main, hurdle has been overcome, other commissioners – such as the energy tsar, Günther Oettinger, who not so long ago branded the Hinkley subsidy system “Soviet” – could yet stick a spanner in the works. Already Austria has warned it will issue a legal challenge to any final “yes”. So what did change minds in Brussels? The Farage theory is that Almunia realised that refusing the financial support mechanism for Hinkley could be used by Ukip as a tool to promote its “let’s leave Europe” policies. Farage could argue that the end of Hinkley would doom the 25,000 jobs it could have created, risk higher energy bills and undermine Britain’s energy security just before the general election. This would give Ukip a boost and help pave the way for a vote to leave Europe at a referendum promised for 2017. Almunia is unlikely to have been much swayed by this argument, but Putin’s actions in Ukraine have forced Europe to confront its dependence on Russian gas. A new European energy security strategy published in May included references to the importance of nuclear power that had previously been omitted. Sources in Brussels say the UK government used concerns about Putin turning the gas off to the Ukraine and potentially disrupting supplies elsewhere as a powerful argument for Hinkley. But others say Almunia was always reasonably well-disposed to atomic power and that the initial document attacking the proposed British subsidy scheme was just to demonstrate that scrutiny would be rigorous. Greenpeace insists the EC must stop the Hinkley programme. EU legal adviser Andrea Carta said: “The proposed deal pays no attention to either European law or the interests of the consumer. The UK government plan to subsidise Hinkley is not offering good value to UK citizens. We can decarbonise using cheaper technologies with fewer long-term liabilities. “Furthermore, the government has failed to run a transparent tender procedure, which should lead the Commission to reject the plan. Instead of integrating renewable energy into the grid and creating a more competitive energy market, the UK wants to waste taxpayers’ money to prop up a risky technology.”
Observer 28th Sept 2014 read more »
Conditions set by the European Commission to approve the £16billion plan to build two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset are not expected to be enough to jeopardise the project. The EC last week indicated it was likely to clear the scheme to build Britain’s first nuclear power station for two decades. Objectors, led by environmental groups, have said the scheme breached rules on state aid after the Government set a high ‘strike price’ for the energy produced by the reactors.
This is Money 27th Sept 2014 read more »
A NEW nuclear power station at Hinkley Point moved a step closer after investigators probing its funding have indicated they will allow it to go ahead. Not all are celebrating. Stop Hinkley Campaign spokesperson Allan Jeffrey said: “Surely the job of the European Competition Commissioner is to make sure taxpayers’ and electricity consumers’ money is spent on the most cost-effective measures to reduce carbon emissions and provide energy security. Hinkley Point C is neither. “The most cost effective way to reduce carbon emissions is to use energy more efficiently, but this Government’s energy efficiency programmes have been a disaster. “And renewable technologies are being unfairly constrained despite the fact that solar and offshore wind are likely to be cheaper than nuclear by 2023, and could start generating much sooner. If this deal goes ahead it will be a slap in the face for Ban Ki Moon because our efforts to tackle this urgent problem will be severely constrained.”
Burnham & Highbridge Weekly News 26th Sept 2014 read more »
Austrians look set to launch a legal challenge to the planned new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset if European Commissioners approve the project.
Cheddar Valley Gazette 28th Sept 2014 read more »
A protest campaign has been launched against plans for a new nuclear power station. Radiation Free Lakeland (RFL) outlined its opposition with a walk around Moorside, the site of the proposed £10bn three-reactor power station on land next to Sellafield. The group has produced a 12-page document, Moorside: Myth Versus Reality, highlighting a number of safety and environmental concerns it has over the plans. It also questions the need for new nuclear power.
Carlisle News & Star 27th Sept 2014 read more »
Britain’s Dungeness B21 nuclear reactor unit was taken offline on Thursday in an unplanned outage, operator EDF Energy said on Friday. “Unit 21 at Dungeness power station came offline on 25 September,” the company said by email, declining to disclose the reason for the decision. The unit came offline at 1832 GMT on Thursday, EDF’s outage website showed, adding that the 550-megawatt unit’s capacity will be reduced to zero for the next seven days. Dungeness’ other unit, B22, is currently off line for planned maintenance.
Reuters 26th Sept 2014 read more »
Half of the intake of new apprentices recruited at Torness Nuclear Power Station near Dunbar hail from East Lothian.
East Lothian News 28th Sept 2014 read more »
The nuclear talks between Iran, Britain and five other nations have reached stalemate, prompting a warning that time is running out.
Independent 27th Sept 2014 read more »
NEWS of a nuclear co-operation agreement between South Africa and Russia has been accompanied by much wheeling out of mirrors and blowing of smoke. Is it a done deal that we will procure 9 600MW of nuclear capacity from the Russians? They seem to think it is. Or is this just a standard framework agreement that will facilitate the business of trying to match what Russia has to offer to our needs and circumstances? This is the word from the South African side. A flurry of meetings between President Jacob Zuma and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin and the lack of detail on the nature of their discussions have contributed to a growing sense of disquiet over the deal. All of this comes amid warnings that it is too early to commit to nuclear and that, in any case, we can’t afford it.
IOL News 27th Sept 2014 read more »
Even by German standards, Johannes Kapelle rates as a model green citizen. The roof of his meticulously restored 19th-century farm house is covered in solar panels. And when he walks into his large vegetable garden he points to a wind farm which helps provide not only his village but several others with all their energy needs. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s plan to end Germany’s dependence on nuclear power by 2022 is set to bring about the destruction of Mr Kapelle’s farm house and the rest of Proschim’s buildings. More than 800 residents including some 400 from a neighbouring village will be resettled. Proschim is just one of a cluster of east German villages and farms set to make way for new lignite mines. The fossil fuel is intended to “bridge” a widening energy gap resulting from the closure of Germany’s nuclear power plants. “There are not yet enough renewable energy sources to compensate for the loss of nuclear power,” said Matti Nedoma, a spokesman for Proschim’s Prenac farm complex. “So to meet the shortfall we are being told we must burn more coal and destroy farms and villages in the process,” he said.
Independent 28th Sept 2014 read more »
Renewables – solar
Computer giant IBM last week revealed the prototype of its advanced solar electricity generators: a 30ft-high concrete “sunflower” fitted with wafer-thin aluminium mirrors and a maze of tiny tubes for carrying coolant through the heart of each device. The machines, which will be built in conjunction with the Swiss company Airlight Energy, can convert 80% of the sun’s radiation into electricity and hot water, it is claimed, with each generating 12 kilowatts of electricity and 20kW of heat on a sunny day, enough to supply several homes.
At the device’s official unveiling in Zurich, executives for both companies said they hoped that by 2017, when their sunflower generators should be ready for the market, they could be manufactured for half to one-third of the cost of comparable solar converters today.
Observer 28th Sept 2014 read more »
Renewables – biomethane
Thousands of UK residents will soon be cooking with “poo-power”‘. In a national first, water firms including Severn Trent, Wessex Water and Northumbrian Water are preparing to pipe a continuous supply of biomethane gas directly from sewage-treatment plants into the National Grid. In the past, water firms have used gas produced in sewage treatment to generate electricity on site, but this will be the first time advanced technology to treat methane will produce high-quality biomethane suitable for use in homes. Severn Trent was first to activate its gas-to-grid systems, this week, injecting 1,200m3 of biomethane into the Grid from Minworth sewage works in Birmingham. When fully operational, it will inject 750m3 of biomethane into the Grid every hour, enough to fuel 4,200 homes annually. Both Severn Trent and Wessex Water intend to pipe a continuous supply into the Grid by mid-October. Wessex Water’s gas-to-grid project at the Bristol sewage works will be the first and largest plant of its kind, using food waste as well as sewage to produce up to 2,000m3 of biomethane an hour, enough to fuel 8,300 homes for a year. Food waste, said spokesman Ian Drury, generates “twice as much” biogas as sewage.
Independent 28th Sept 2014 read more »
Up to 100,000 new homes are to be offered to first-time-buyers under the age of 40 at a discount of 20 per cent if the Tories win the next election, David Cameron has pledged. The Prime Minister told the Daily Mail that the new “starter homes” would be sold at a 20 per cent discount by exempting them from some taxes and the zero carbon homes standard.
Greenwise Business 27th Sept 2014 read more »
ONE of Britain’s richest men hopes to trigger a shale gas boom by giving away billions of pounds to landowners and communities affected by fracking. Jim Ratcliffe, the 61-year-old Lancastrian who founded chemicals giant Ineos, has promised to hand over 6% of the revenue from oil and gas wells — 4% to landowners and 2% to local communities — in an effort to jolt the moribund industry into life. The offer would equate to £375m for a typical exploration area of 36 square miles, and goes far beyond the 1% giveaway to which the industry has committed. Ratcliffe estimated the offer could be worth £2.5bn in total.
Sunday Times 28th Sept 2014 read more »
A COMPANY hoping to revolutionise Britain’s energy provision by tapping into coal supplies under the sea bed will apply for planning permission within months to build a demonstrator project on the Firth of Forth. Cluff Natural Resources, led by North Sea veteran Algy Cluff, specialises in a system known as underground coal gasification (UCG), which it says could eventually replace conventional gas and give the North Sea energy industry a new lease of life. If the application succeeds, the £15 million project will be the first time UCG has been attempted off-shore, and could pave the way for a much larger investment.
Scotland on Sunday 28th Sept 2014 read more »
Climate change is no longer viewed by mainstream scientists as a future threat to our planet and our species. It is a palpable phenomenon that already affects the world, they insist. And a brief look round the globe certainly provides no lack of evidence to support this gloomy assertion. In Bangladesh, increasingly severe floods – triggered, in part, by increasing temperatures and rising sea levels – are wiping out crops and destroying homes on a regular basis. In Sudan, the heat is causing the Sahara to expand and to eat into farmland, while in Siberia, the planet’s warming is causing the permafrost to melt and houses to subside. Or consider the Marshall Islands, the Pacific archipelago that is now struggling to cope with rising seas that are lapping over its streets and gardens.
Observer 28th Sept 2014 read more »