Hitachi-GE has requested an adjustment to their schedule for Generic Design Assessment (GDA) of the UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR). Their request to ONR will allow them to spend longer on Step 3 of GDA, now expected at the end of October 2015, and have a slightly shorter Step 4. Neither Hitachi-GE nor the regulators expect any change to the achievement of a Design Acceptance Confirmation, scheduled for December 2017, and a revised programme of submissions has been agreed with ONR.
ONR 31st July 2015 read more »
Sellafield Ltd has made safety improvements to operations at the site’s Fuel Handling Plant. In November 2013 ONR issued Sellafield Ltd with an Improvement Notice as a result of shortfalls in the handling of internal fuel flasks. These issues, which were identified by the company itself, related to concerns about the level of protection provided to employees and others against the risk of inadvertent exposure to ionising radiation.
ONR 19th Aug 2015 read more »
In its investigation of the energy market, the Competition and Markets Authority has already ruled out the break-up of the biggest providers after finding no evidence of collusion over prices. Instead, the CMA said that consumers were paying too much for their energy because they were not switching supplier enough. But if regulators aren’t forcing restructuring on the industry, the main players appear to be doing it themselves. E.ON is spinning off its conventional power stations and nuclear operations so it can to focus on retailing energy and renewables, while Centrica intends to dispose of some of its exploration assets to focus on consumers as well. Of the big six energy suppliers, four have foreign owners. I wonder how long before some of them decide that in straitened times they would be better focusing on fewer countries as well as fewer activities. The Energy Secretary Amber Rudd is applying more pressure over prices, and incentives to invest here in new power plants are limited. RWE has already offloaded some UK assets this year: the North Sea oilfields wrapped up in a division controversially acquired by the Russian tycoon Mikhail Fridman. The disposal was explained away by the utility’s need to lessen its debt burden. The German company insists the UK remains an important market for it, but you have to wonder for how much longer.
Independent 29th Aug 2015 read more »
Despite Labour’s ‘great purge’ of left-leaning voters in the leadership election, Jeremy Corbyn remains the odds-on bookies favourite. So if he comes to power, what policies can we expect in energy and climate change? Damian Kahya asks the questions … and is astounded at the range and scope of his ambitions. But how much could he really deliver? “I think we’ve been misled about the true costs of nuclear power generation. The safety issue of any nuclear power stations – what’s happened in Japan – is obvious for all to see … And the issue nobody has an answer to is the question of nuclear waste.”
Ecologist 24th Aug 2015 read more »
Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear generator is suing anti-nuclear activists in its latest attempt to stifle public debate over the country’s ageing fleet of 15 nuclear reactors, while refusing to release information in breach of international obligations. Energoatom, Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear power plants operator, has just commenced legal action against the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine (NECU).
Ecologist 28th Aug 2015 read more »
Ending the kind of endemic corruption that prevails in Ukraine requires building a strong civil society. So the government might want to step back and examine itself, or at least its nuclear energy arm, Energoatom, which recently filed a lawsuit against the country’s leading environmental/clean energy group, the National Ecological Center of Ukraine (note: NIRS has long worked with the NECU).
Green World 28th Aug 2015 read more »
Iranian Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi, who is also head of the country’s Atomic Energy Organisation, on Friday said China would play “a leading role” in redesigning the Arak heavy-water reactor to significantly reduce its plutonium output. Selahi’s comment, made as he wrapped up his meeting with Chinese nuclear experts and officials in Beijing, again highlighted China’s role in the recent nuclear deal reached by Iran and the world powers, as well as the two countries’ close cooperation in energy projects.
Business Insider 29th Aug 2015 read more »
Ben Chu – author of ‘Chinese Whispers: Why Everything You’ve Heard About China is Wrong’. Balzac suggested that behind every great fortune lies a great crime. In China today it seems that behind every industrial accident lies a reeking morass of corruption. This week Chinese state media reported that the son of a former local police chief was secretly a joint owner of the Tianjin warehouse that went up in a devastating fireball last week, killing 114 people, injuring 674 and damaging some 17,000 homes. According to the official Xinhua news agency, this son used his official connections to obtain licences for the warehouse, even though it flagrantly breached regulations prohibiting the storage of hazardous chemicals (sodium cyanide in this case) near residential areas. It’s a wearily familiar cycle. Whenever there’s a high-profile tragedy in China, tales of official corruption and graft tend to ooze out from under the rubble. In 2008, just before China was due to host the Olympic Games, a massive earthquake struck the western Sichuan region. Many rural school buildings collapsed, crushing hundreds of children to death. It emerged that many of the schools had been built with substandard materials. Local officials had apparently cut costs when they commissioned the buildings, pocketing the saving from the public budget for themselves. The Sichuan and Tianjin disasters illustrate how such corruption can turn out to be lethal. But the bigger point is that incidents like the Tianjin explosion pull back the curtain and reveal how China really functions. Corruption is endemic. Officials the length and breadth of the country have used their position to extort money for personal profit. Corruption is very much a family business in China. Those in a position to steal often use family members to invest the proceeds on their behalf. And family members, in turn, often use their official connections to do further lucrative business deals.
Independent 22nd Aug 2015 read more »
What changed this week is the perception, pushed by many on Wall Street and in the City of London, that China’s authoritarian leaders were the world’s most competent technocrats. The mishandling of a bursting stock bubble — and especially the decision on August 11 to break a two-decade taboo and devalue the renminbi — have badly shaken global faith in the Chinese model of market authoritarianism.
FT 28th Aug 2015 read more »
Renewable – subsidies
The Tories’ decision to scrap the UK’s renewable energy sector deserves condemnation, writes Oliver Tickell. But there is a silver lining: it creates the space in which to design better, cheaper, more cost effective support mechanisms to drive the clean energy revolution forward. Where it’s going wrong is that while it cuts away at renewable energy incentives, abandons the plan for all new homes to ‘zero carbon’ in 2016, and ditches the ‘Green Deal’ scheme for raising the energy performance of existing dwellings, it’s putting nothing in their place, and apparently has no plan to do so. So what’s the problem with FITs, the Renewables Obligation (RO), Contracts for Difference (CFDs) – all the existing mainstays of renewable energy support? They all work by offering future ‘income support’ for renewable installations. On the back of the promise of a future income stream the developer then has to go out and get the finance to pay for it now. But while the government can borrow money at just 0.5% interest, green energy developers are paying at least ten times as much to cover all the perceived risks, and add an element of profit to the lender on top. And because almost all the cost of renewable energy is capital cost (small running cost as there’s no fuel to buy, and wind and sun are free) the single biggest cost element is the cost of capital – that is, the interest paid. What that means, in effect, is that every new solar power station or wind farm represents a huge long term financial cost to the nation, to be paid out of everybody’s future electricity bills. And most of the money is actually going, not into renewable energy, but into servicing loans to the exclusive benefit of banks and other financiers.
Ecologist 28th Aug 2015 read more »
Renewables – onshore wind
RenewableUK has welcomed a report by leading think tank Policy Exchange, which demonstrates that onshore wind is on course to be cheaper than new gas generation, so needs to be central to the UK’s efforts to decarbonise our electricity supply at lowest cost to the consumer. Policy Exchange’s report Powering Up: The future of onshore wind in the UK estimates that the cost of onshore wind should fall to £60/MWh by 2020 as a result of using technology advances and a focus on sites in high wind speed areas of the country – predominantly Scotland. This continuing cost reduction make onshore wind cost competitive with new gas plant and significantly cheaper than other options, including nuclear.
Renewable UK 28th Aug 2015 read more »
The government should offer “subsidy free” contracts to onshore wind farms, instead of scrapping financial support for the sector if it wants to decarbonise the economy at the lowest possible cost to consumers, a new report will claim today. Centre-right think tank Policy Exchange is to unveil research which aims to show ministers and government officials how they can achieve their dual goals of curbing public spending on renewables subsidies while still achieving the UK’s environmental targets. The report also claims offering “subsidy-free” contracts would divert all new onshore wind developments to Scotland and halt deployment in England, potentially providing a political win for Conservative MPs in England who have campaigned against new projects in their constituencies, at the same time as the SNP has attacked plans to halt onshore wind farm development. Policy Exchange’s report, Powering Up: The future of onshore wind in the UK, argues onshore wind should continue to receive contracts albeit with the subsidies provide through them phased out. Payments should be capped and reduced over time, so that they effectively become ‘subsidy free’ by 2020, the report says. Policy Exchange predicts such a move would help the onshore wind industry reduce costs from £85/MWh to approximately £60/MWh by 2020, putting it on a par with new gas plants, which are currently the cheapest form of new generation.
Business Green 28th Aug 2015 read more »
Renewables – AD
At first glance, it seemed the UK’s fledgling anaerobic digestion (AD) industry has been protected from the government’s sweeping reforms to the popular feed-in tariff incentive scheme. Only solar power, wind turbines and hydroelectric plants are expected to see their levels of support cut, after the government launched its consultation on the future of the scheme yesterday. But the AD industry body yesterday warned the proposed changes could have “disastrous” effects on deployment of the biogas technology. ADBA chief executive Charlotte Morton accused the government of trying to dismantle the renewable energy industry. “Support of AD offers a fantastic return on the taxpayer’s investment, providing baseload electricity to help keep the lights on, offering cost-effective greenhouse gas reductions and growing a domestic supply chain which can export to the world,” she said in a statement. “If DECC’s current proposals go ahead, the results would prove disastrous for the renewables industry, and for the UK becoming a high-productivity leader in the world’s green economy. It will lead to higher consumer bills in the long term, a greater reliance on energy sourced from volatile parts of the world, and an uncertain future for UK farming resilience, all in the year when the Prime Minister wishes to take his stand as a global leader in pledging substantial carbon reduction targets.”
Business Green 28th Aug 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
Thousands of householders are installing solar-powered “smart meters” that promise to cut household bills by £250 a year. The development comes as state payouts for renewable energy produced in homes fall sharply. The devices track when rooftop solar panels produce excess energy and divert it to a water heater. The hot water can be used later, saving on gas and electricity bills. Any gadget that claims to improve the return on solar panels will come as welcome news to home owners who could see subsidies cut by 87pc as part of a government reform to the “feed-in tariff”. If you bought solar panels today the Government would pay a feed-in-tariff rate of 13p per kilowatt hour (kWh). But from January this rate will drop to less than 2p.
Telegraph 29th Aug 2015 read more »
This week’s Micro Power News.
Microgen Scotland 28th Aug 2015 read more »
We have known for years that privately funded organizations have attacked climate scientists, both in the US and the UK, to the extent that they had to set up a legal defence fund. But we’ve known little about where their money comes from, beyond efforts to connect the dots between different groups. Now, the bankruptcy filings of Alpha Natural Resources, a large Virginia-based coal company, provide a rare window into the list of political and advocacy organizations the company has funded. E&E Legal (formerly known as the American Tradition Institute) is one of them. Other recipients include the Heartland Institute, which compared climate scientists to the Unabomber, the American Legislative Exchange Council and numerous others.
Guardian 28th Aug 2015 read more »