The six union members on EDF’s 18-seat board would vote against the French utility’s plans for two nuclear reactors in the UK, but other board members do not want to postpone the project, sources familiar with the situation said. The unions want EDF to put off the 18 billion pound ($26 billion) project to build two Areva-designed European Pressurised Reactors (EPR) at Hinkley Point in southwest England until it has strengthened its balance sheet and started up at least one of the four EPRs it has under construction elsewhere. A united front of EDF’s unions opposing a major investment decision would be unprecedented, but the lack of support from other board members removes a major element of uncertainty for the plan. On Monday, EDF’s dominant CGT union, which has three board members, called on the firm to postpone the project, saying EDF should prioritise upgrading its ageing nuclear fleet in France, start up the long-delayed EPR it is building in Flamanville, and design a new-model EPR reactor. The more radical FO union, which as one board seat, also said on Monday it was “urgent to wait” and said that going ahead with Hinkley Point could put EDF’s very survival at risk. The CFE-CGC manager’s union had issued a similar warning last month. The moderate CFDT union has not made any statements about the UK project. With six seats on the 18-member board the unions are a large minority block and would need to get at least three other board members to side with them. Since EDF board member Philippe Varin is also chairman of Areva, he cannot vote on the UK project, which means that nine votes could block it. Besides the six union members, EDF also has six independent board members – including its chief executive Jean-Bernard Levy, Varin and the chairmen of listed French firms Vallourec and Lafarge – while six other members are appointed by the state. Three of these people are government officials. Two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters that none of the other independent or state-appointed board members would side with the unions.
Reuters 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
Reuters 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
The executive who had been in charge of French energy giant EDF’s £18bn construction of Hinkley Point C has left the company for another role in the US. Christopher Bakken had been EDF’s project director for Hinkley, leading on its design, licensing, procurement, construction and commissioning. He’s left to become executive vice president and chief nuclear officer for US-based Entergy Corporation from April 6th “[He] has decided to return to the USA, his home country, to pursue new professional opportunities while allowing him to spend more time with his family,”EDF said in a statement. One expert told City A.M. that Bakken’s departure was yet another indicator of the fiasco that Hinkley Point C has collapsed into. “A brief review of this week’s and last week’s press … indicates the fiasco that Hinkley Point C has become,” Dr Paul Dorfman, a senior researcher at UCL’s Energy Institute, told City A.M.
City AM 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
The man in charge of building an £18bn nuclear power plant in Somerset has resigned his post amid continued uncertainty over when the company will give the final go-ahead for the project. Chris Bakken has been named as the next chief nuclear officer for Entergy, the US power company, a post he will begin on April 6. That will mean he leaves his current job as project director for Hinkley Point C, a huge nuclear power station project in Somerset that has been dogged by delays. EDF said: “Chris Bakken has decided to return to the USA, his home country, to pursue new professional opportunities whilst allowing him to spend more time with his family.” The company has appointed Philippe Bordarier, currently the chief nuclear officer for EDF Energy Generation, to run the project. Under current plans, Hinkley Point is due to be completed by 2025, after which it will provide 7 per cent of Britain’s electricity. But the process has dragged on in part because of technology problems at the company’s plant at Flamanville, in Normandy, which is built to the same specifications. Anti-nuclear campaigners said Mr Bakken’s move was another sign that the project is in trouble. John Sauven, executive director at Greenpeace, said: “Coming just days after the EDF board failed to agree a final go-ahead for Hinkley, this move is yet another symptom of the disquiet this project is causing within the company itself. “The whole enterprise makes so little economic sense that EDF’s own staff and many board members are concerned it will seriously damage the company. ” But EDF said the project is ready for its final investment decision. Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of the UK arm of EDF, recently told a parliamentary dinner: “I can tell you that I am absolutely confident that Hinkley Point C will be reaching a final investment decision soon.”
FT 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
The executive in charge of EDF’s project to build an £18 billion nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset has quit the French state-controlled electricity company for a job in the United States. Christopher Bakken III, the American who has served as project director for EDF’s Hinkley plant since 2011, is leaving to take up a new role as chief nuclear officer for Entergy, an American utility company, EDF said. His departure comes amid growing questions over the project. Last week, EDF delayed a key board meeting at which executives were expected to make a final investment decision on building the nuclear facility. Once built in the mid-2020s, it would generate 7 per cent of UK electricity.
Times 3rd Feb 2016 read more »
Reuters 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
Solar Portal 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
Energydesk 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
Ministers have insisted they have “absolutely nothing to apologise about” over a row relating to steel procurement for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station project. Iain Wright, the Labour MP for Hartlepool, said a letter he received from the Business Minister Anna Soubry stated that “few companies globally” have the ability to make the large forgings required for nuclear power plants and that “it is widely understood and accepted in the nuclear industry that the UK does not have this capacity”. But Mr Wright has insisted that Sheffield Forgemasters could do the work as he questioned the Business Secretary Sajid Javid on the subject. Mr Wright said: “Given that Sheffield Forgemasters have said that they do in fact have this capacity and indeed have supplied such forgings elsewhere in the world to nuclear plants, what evidence did the Minister use and has the Secretary of State asked the Minister what evidence was used to make this statement? “Does he not think it is appropriate to scrutinise the rationale behind such a sweeping statement that dismisses world class British steel manufacturing?” But Mr Javid told the House that Mr Wright did not have “up to date” information. Responding during business questions, he said: “If you were to speak to Forgemasters yourself, and I am sure as the chairman of the select committee they would be more than happy to talk to you, they themselves will admit that they have challenges meeting all orders for different types of steel.
Western Morning News 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
Wylfa has undergone its most in-depth security inspection ever by nuclear police to ensure it is prepared for a terrorist attack. The site in Anglesey was subject to a ‘Multi Discipline Intervention’ – the most thorough security inspection it had ever hosted and the first of its kind on a Magnox nuclear site. The inspection was carried out in conjunction with a security exercise, to demonstrate the response to “terrorist activity” once the Civil Nuclear Security(CNC) force leave the location later this year. This comes as the terror threat in the UK remains ‘severe’ – which means that a terrorist attack on the country is highly likely.
Wales Online 3rd Feb 2016 read more »
A new official statistics publication shows that electricity demand in Scotland is on the rise – up almost 4% year on year- after eight consecutive years of annual reduction. The figures come just months after the Scottish Parliament’s Energy, Economy and Tourism Committee called for a demand reduction strategy from the Scottish Government to help secure supply and reduce costs. While overall energy demand has fallen in Scotland by 14.1% over the last decade, exceeding the Scottish Government’s target to reduce demand by 12% by 2020 well ahead of schedule, these figures show Scotland has the highest electricity use per household of any region in the UK. Independent research shows that reducing electricity demand by even 1% a year will make it easier and cheaper for Scotland to decarbonise its electricity system and hit its climate targets. Experience from the United States makes clear that reducing demand is much cheaper than the cost of buying power on the wholesale market. Responding to the figures, Dr Sam Gardner, Head of Policy at WWF Scotland said “Scotland’s made great progress in generating electricity from renewables but we also need to pay close attention to our demand for power. These new figures underline the need for renewed purpose and a clear electricity demand reduction strategy from the Scottish Government to help businesses and consumers reduce their power usage, leading to lower bills and climate emissions.”
Blue & Green Tomorrow 1st Feb 2016 read more »
Scottish Housing News 1st Feb 2016 read more »
We continue to hear the same old arguments over and over again–in comments in these pages, in blogs and newspaper op-eds, in press releases and out of the mouths of those utility execs trying to hold on to the 20th century model of electricity generation and distribution, and, most depressingly, in the U.S. Senate which passed by a resounding 87-4 vote legislation to encourage new nuclear power development. The arguments go like this: Germany’s Energiewende energy transition is failing; renewables are fine, but they can’t provide baseload power and thus can’t reliably power a modern industrial society; renewables are still too expensive without subsidies; we need an all-of-the-above energy strategy to combat climate change; new generation reactors will be safer, cheaper and also effectively deal with radioactive waste, and so on. The reality is that a nuclear-free, carbon-free electricity future need not be the future: it can be the present. A system powered 100% by renewables supported by a backbone of electricity storage, smart grid technology and management, energy efficiency, and 21st century technology is feasible now. If by some magic wand we could do away with the world’s entire electrical system and replace it overnight, that is what we would replace it with. It’s the only kind of system that would make sense. The simple fact is, as Rainier Baake, Germany’s minister in charge of the Energiewende, points out, is that solar and wind have won the technology race.
Green World 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
Once upon a time, people imagined that replacing fossil fuels with renewables like solar and wind would jeopardize the electric grid’s reliability. Then along came some major countries who showed that it didn’t, and that there really are no limits to renewable integration. The result was explained last year in a Bloomberg Business piece aptly headlined, “Germany Proves Life With Less Fossil Fuel Getting Easier”: “Germany experiences just 15 minutes a year of outages, compared with 68 minutes in France and more than four hours in Poland.” Germany is the most powerful economy on the planet to depend so much on renewable electricity — renewables currently deliver 28 percent of Germany’s total grid power (and up to 40 percent in some regions). The United States has a very long way to go to hit that level, by which time there will be an even wider range of cost-effective strategies to deal with much higher levels of renewables. It is turning out to be less challenging than expected to incorporate more and more renewables into the electric grid — and to handle periods of time when demand is high but the wind isn’t blowing and/or the sun isn’t shining. As the lead energy specialist at the World Bank, Morgan Bazilian, told Bloomberg after 20 years studying this issue, “Very high levels of variable renewable energy can be accommodated both technically and at low cost.” there are two primary ways the intermittency challenge posed by solar and wind power is being addressed today. First, half or more of the “intermittency problem” is really a “predictability problem.” If we could predict with high accuracy wind availability and solar availability 24 to 36 hours in advance at a regional level, then electricity operators have many strategies available to them. For instance, operators could plan to bring online a backup plant that otherwise needs several hours to warm up. An even cheaper way to fill the gap from clouds or a lull in winds is to use “demand response,” which involves paying commercial, industrial, and even residential customers to reduce electricity demand given a certain amount of advance warning. A second way to deal with the variability of wind and solar photovoltaics is to integrate electricity storage into the grid. That way, excess electricity when it is windy or sunny can be stored for when it isn’t. The biggest source of electricity storage on the grid today is “pumped storage” at hydroelectric plants.
Climate Progress 1st Feb 2016 read more »
Total global energy use is rising, and remains based on fossil fuels. Yet, the challenge of climate change requires a deep decarbonization of our energy system. Here I argue that the global energy policy discourse is moving rapidly towards one of renewable, energy-efficient and flexible electricity systems. This is primarily because of a rapid take-up within a few countries of variable renewable electricity sources over the past decade, resulting from falling renewable electricity prices, new and more economic means of flexible system operation, and changing social preferences. This in turn has led to widespread and supportive public policy announcements. I also argue that a ‘no-regrets’ energy policy is one that increases the energy system flexibility. Although the changing discourse is welcome, it is not to say that the challenge of climate change has been met. Policy statements must be backed up by more effective governance support and pressure to speed up change.
IGov 1st Feb 2016 read more »
When we hear about the “strike price” being agreed between the UK government’s Department of Energy and Climate Change and a company, it is in effect a guaranteed price over a period of time. Knowing in advance the price that will be paid enables a generator to better plan its business and often helps it to attract investment. In other words it can predict its income. If the wholesale price for electricity is below the rate of the strike price, the amount the company gets is in effect topped up by government. However, if wholesale prices rise above the strike price, as is expected over time, and therefore the generator is getting more money for its electricity, then the extra is paid back to government.
BBC 3rd Feb 2016 read more »
THIRTY years ago people went about their normal life in Belarus – little knowing that on April 6 a massive explosion would destroy the Chernobyl power station and unleash a local “nuclear winter” that continues to plague the region. The blast spewed radioactive particles into the air, which spread over much of Western USSR and Europe. More than 230 people suffered acute radiation sickness and 31 of them died within three months. Three decades later, the devastating cost to health is still being counted. One in five Belarussians lives on contaminated land and the number of cancers and genetic defects in the area around the reactor continues to rise. It was reported that 95 per cent of children in the Chernobl area had at least one chronic illness, and the plight of these youngsters touched the heart of Royton’s Theresa Novotny and spurred her into action.
Oldham Chronicle 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
The governments of Denmark and Greenland have confirmed the signing of a series of agreements last month setting the framework for future cooperation on foreign, defence and security policy issues related to the mining and commercial export of uranium.
World Nuclear News 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
In a leaked draft document obtained by Energy Post, the European Commission outlines the investments in the EU nuclear industry that it believes are needed out to 2050. The document, originally announced for last year, but off the table again for February, paints a challenging picture for the European nuclear industry. €450-550 billion will have to be spent on new plants and lifetime extensions, costs of decommissioning and waste management are high, competitiveness is a challenge and nuclear’s share in the energy mix will decline from 27% today to 17-21%.the Commission estimates that nuclear electricity generation capacity will decline by some 20% out to 2025, before growing again in the decade after as new reactors come online and lifetime extensions are pursued. Nuclear capacity would stabilise at 95-105 GWe by 2050. Since electricity demand is expected to go up, it would constitute 17-21% of electricity supply, down from 27% today. All these figures are in line with the analysis underpinning the EU’s 2030 climate and energy goals.
Energy Post 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
The German city of Aachen has decided to sue the operators of Belgium’s Tihange nuclear power plant over fears that the restart of the aging facility, which was initially taken offline over safety, poses a nuclear threat to the region. The unanimous decision by the city committee to first bring the suit to Belgian courts, before possibly suing Tihange operator, Electrabel, in EU court in Brussels, comes after the CDU, SPD, FDP and Greens fractions agreed that the power plant poses an environmental threat. “In recent weeks, the nuclear power plants Doel and Tihange have had several hazardous incidents. People in the ‘three-country region’ [of German, Belgium and the Netherlands] are deeply unsettled and worried,” said a press release from the Aachen authorities, according to DW TV.
Russia Today 3rd Feb 2016 read more »
The city of Aachen is suing a neighboring nuclear station over claims of failure to fix safety issues at the aging plant. The suit alleges that a reactor was brought back online with cracks in the protective concrete.
Deutsche Welle 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
Belgium’s decision to restart two 40-year-old nuclear reactors is putting pressure on northern Europe’s political fault lines, with Germany announcing that it would send experts to inspect the plants. Concerns have been stoked by the discovery of thousands of defects in the reactors’ pressure vessels, a fire, and one unresolved sabotage incident at the plants, which also border Luxembourg and the Netherlands. In December, the Doel 3 reactor on the Dutch border had to be turned off just one week after it was switched back on, following repairs that lasted 21 months, due to a water leaking on a (non-nuclear) generator .Two nearby cities, Maastricht in the Netherlands and Aachen in Germany, are said to be considering legal action to force plant safety – or closure, and on Tuesday the German environment minister waded into the row. Barbara Hendricks said that she would accept the nuclear status quo “for now”, after Jan Jambon, the Belgian interior minister, refused her request for a joint environmental risk assessment at a meeting in Brussels. But she immediately took to twitter to express German frustrations.
Guardian 3rd Feb 2016 read more »
BBC 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
Egypt may start construction of its first nuclear power plant with Russia’s assistance in 2018, Interfax news agency quoted Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov as saying on Tuesday.
Reuters 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
Scientists in Germany are poised to conduct a nuclear fusion experiment they hope will advance the quest for a clean and safe form of nuclear power. In a test expected to be attended by Angela Merkel, the chancellor, researchers will inject a tiny amount of hydrogen into a special device and heat it until it becomes a super-hot gas known as plasma – mimicking conditions inside the sun. The experiment at the Max Planck Institute in Greifswald, north-east Germany, is part of a worldwide effort to harness nuclear fusion – a process in which atoms join at extremely high temperatures and release large amounts of energy.
Guardian 3rd Feb 2016 read more »
Renewables – AD
The future is increasingly bright for renewable energy, with the US aiming to cut the price of solar photovoltaics by 75% between 2010 and 2020. Denmark plans to obtain 50% of its energy from wind just five years from now. But one form of renewable energy – and one which attracts few headlines – manages to create two useful products at the same time, and is making a growing contribution to combatting climate change. The medieval alchemists who sought to turn base metal into gold would have thrilled at chemistry that let them turn waste into both fuel and fertiliser. Their twenty-first century successors have discovered the secret of doing exactly that. Unwanted food, animal waste, municipal rubbish, crop and forestry residues, sewage and dozens of other left-overs of civilisation can and are now being turned into methane to generate electricity, provide district heating and to fuel road vehicles. Usually the methane produced in these digesters is fed into generators or small power stations on site and used locally. But if it is further purified the gas can simply be fed into a pipeline and mixed with natural gas.
Climate News Network 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
Renewables – Hydro
Work is about to start on a new hydro in the Highlands, amidst warnings that the next two years could see the last schemes built because of UK Government subsidy cuts. Perth hydro firm Green Highland Renewables is building the Loch Eilde Mor hydro, in the hills above Kinlochleven. The £13.6 million project, is fully funded by the hydro firm’s owners Ancala Renewables and is one of a number of developments it is pursuing across the Highlands before 2018, when the impact of changes to government support will be felt. The company’s CEO Mark Mathieson said “This is a really exciting project and marks the start of an extremely busy two years for our firm. In the last four years we have constructed and commissioned 25 schemes totalling 17MW across the Highlands and in the process have invested £62m, the majorit y of this going to local construction firms and contractors. “Add to this the £25 million we have committed so far to new schemes this year, and it is clear our hydro projects will make a significant positive impact on the Highland economy. We have well over a dozen active schemes in our build pipeline with further investment to come, and the nature of our projects means the majority of expenditure goes on civil engineering, much of which is carried out by local firms.” He said all of these schemes had secured a feed-in tariff from the UK Government, the Department of Energy and Climate Change’s (DECC) main subsidy vehicle, but continued: “The only sad note is that the recent cuts to hydro tariffs announced at Christmas mean we will see next to zero new Highland schemes come forward for construction from 2018 onwards. It will be the end of an era.”
Herald 3rd Feb 2016 read more »
Perth-based hydro power developer Green Highland Renewables is about to start work on a significant new hydro scheme at Loch Eilde Mor, in the hills above Kinlochleven. The £13.6 million project, which lies on the Rio Tinto estate, is fully funded by the hydro firm’s owners Ancala Renewables and is one of a number of projects the firm is looking to develop across the Highlands.
Scottish Energy News 3rd Feb 2016 read more »
United Utilities (UU) has announced plans to inject green gas directly into the grid at its Davyhulme wastewater treatment plant in Trafford. The sludge digestion centre at the plant currently produces biogas which is used in a combined heat and power plant to generate electricity. However, UU now wants to introduce a process that cleans the biogas to produce green gas which can be injected directly into the grid. The scheme should be up and running, with gas going into supply, this spring. UU will lay a new gas pipe which will connect into an existing gas network near Trafford Retail Park. Meanwhile, at the treatment works itself, a cleaning plant is being built to make sure the biogas is pure enough to be injected into the gas grid.
Utility Week 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
Energy supplier British Gas is to make 500 staff redundant as it shuts its loft and cavity wall insulation business. The cuts form part of parent company Centrica’s previously-announced plan to shed 6,000 jobs in an attempt to slash its costs and become more efficient. A spokesman said the 500 job losses announced today would be at various locations around the country but about 100 of them would be in Leeds. The affected staff had been working on installing home insulation in order to hit Government energy efficiency targets. However those targets have been scaled back significantly in recent years and British Gas now plans to outsource any further energy efficiency work that is required.
Telegraph 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
British business giants including Sainsbury’s and Dixons Carphone have been handed tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayer cash to install energy-efficient lightbulbs, as part of Government efforts to avert a looming power crunch. The Football Association and Travis Perkins are among other organisations to share in a total of £5 million of Government funding, under a scheme to try to reduce the risk of blackouts in coming winters by cutting electricity demand. Ministers awarded the cash to companies to spend on upgrades such as replacing old fluorescent strip lighting with new efficient LED lamps, if they could show it woul d reduce the strain on the UK power grid during winter weekday evenings. “Instead of spending taxpayers’ money paying Sainsbury’s to change their light bulbs, ministers should be supporting lasting schemes like home insulation that cut emissions and cut household bills.” Lisa Nandy, shadow energy secretary Sainsbury’s alone has been awarded more than £830,000 of the cash to spend on upgrading its lighting, Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) documents show.
Telegraph 1st Feb 2016 read more »
Following news that the Scottish Government is planning to cut funding for climate change action by almost 10%, three cross-party committees of the Scottish Parliament have questioned its plans for improving the energy efficiency of Scotland’s homes. As it stands the Draft Budget is set to reduce overall spending on fuel poverty/energy efficiency in 2016/17 by 13%, compared to the total that the Scottish Government plans to spend during the current financial year. WWF Scotland maintains increasing funding for energy efficiency programmes is one of the clearest ways to better embed climate change in this Budget, whilst also helping to tackle fuel poverty and create jobs. The Scottish Government has previously committed to ’embedding’ climate change in this Budget process On the publication of reports by the Holyrood committees, Lang Banks, director of WWF Scotland said “If the Scottish Government’s to live up to its promise of embedding climate change in this budget, it will need to seriously re-think it’s planned cuts. These Holyrood Committee reports point the way by demonstrating investment in energy efficiency is an important way of cutting climate emissions, creating jobs and helping tackle fuel poverty.”
Blue & Green Tomorrow 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
Green Investment Bank
The environmental role of the Green Investment Bank, after it is privatised, is to be protected by a so-called “golden share”. UK Business Secretary Sajid Javid has conceded there should be a block on any move away from funding green projects. Unusually, the government is setting up an independent company to control that veto power. The move is designed to ensure that there is a clear break from any government controls.
BBC 2nd Feb 2016 read more »
The Copenhagen City Council is expected to approve a proposal to drop all investment in fossil fuel holdings. If the proposal is approved on Tuesday by the finance committee, the Danish capital will sell off its stock and bonds in coal, oil and gas, which is thought to be worth 6.9 billion kroner (Â£700m), reports The Local. The decision, if passed, will make Copenhagen the country’s first investment fund to sell its stocks and bonds in fossil fuels.
Independent 2nd Feb 2016 read more »