A full month after the British government decided to review Chinese involvement in the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project, the howls of outrage just won’t die down. Insisting any security concerns over Chinese involvement are groundless, China’s state news agency, Xinhua, warned Britain would be “foolish” to jeopardise its relations with Beijing by suspending the project. China’s ambassador to London declared the delay had brought bilateral relations between the two countries to “a crucial historical juncture” and called on the British government to “come to a decision as soon as possible so that the project can proceed”. Last week China’s president, Xi Jinping, even gave a speech in which he insisted China’s international investments deliver “a solid sense of gain”. All these protests miss the point. They all assume that the reason for the British government’s review is concern about China’s investment. But there is a far greater objection to Hinkley than that: it is a deeply flawed project, driven more by political vanity than economic rationale, the numbers of which make no sense whatsoever. The new British government of Prime Minister Theresa May would be right to pull the plug, regardless of any Chinese involvement. The evidence that London’s review of Hinkley was prompted by security concerns is remarkably thin. It consists largely of a blog post on a right-wing website written last October by the director of an education charity who was later appointed May’s joint chief of staff. In the post, he cited an article in The Times newspaper, claiming unnamed “security experts… are worried that the Chinese could use their role to build weaknesses into computer systems which will allow them to shut down Britain’s energy production at will”. Maybe, but that should be the least of London’s concerns over Hinkley. The real problem with the project is its cost. In short, the Hinkley Point project would be a horror show with or without China’s involvement.
South China Morning Post 29th Aug 2016 read more »
Former UK environment minister and chair of the energy and climate change select committee, Tim Yeo, reflects on the political implications of the Hinkley C delay for the future of UK energy. Downing Street’s last minute intervention just when the EDF board took a positive final investment decision on Hinkley Point C has added a new element of uncertainty to this already complex process. Ministers, and notably the very capable new top team at the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, urgently need to clarify UK energy policy. First and foremost, there needs to be unequivocal confirmation that Britain remains committed to achieving its legally binding carbon emission reduction targets. Such confirmation is much needed to reassure all investors and in particular the wider nuclear industry. Without it, fears that Britain no longer offers a sympathetic home for new nuclear plant will grow.
Infrastructure Intelligence 26th Aug 2016 read more »
Senior Chinese and British energy officials have met to discuss the Hinkley Point nuclear project after the British government’s surprise decision to delay the $24 billion plan upset China, one of the backers of the scheme. Top Chinese energy official Nur Bekri met Lucy Neville-Rolfe, British minister of state for energy, on August 25 in Beijing to discuss the plan to build Britain’s first new nuclear plant in decades, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) said on its website on Monday. The two sides also talked about a clean energy partnership, according to the NEA, which gave no details. Bekri is head of the NEA. China cautioned Britain against closing the door to Chinese money and said relations were at a crucial juncture after new Prime Minister Theresa May delayed signing off on the Hinkley Point project in July. Beijing’s ambassador to London said in August that Britain could face power shortages unless May approved the Franco-Chinese deal. The comments signaled deep frustration in Beijing at the delay, May’s most striking intervention since winning power after Britain’s June 23 referendum to leave the European Union.
Reuters 29th Aug 2016 read more »
THERESA May will face tough questions over the delay to the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant when she flies to China this weekend for the G20 summit. Now sources say it’s her deep rooted fears over security that could lead to the entire project being scrapped.
Express 29th Aug 2016 read more »
The government is considering a proposal to detach development of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant from an agreement allowing China to build a reactor in Essex. The plan is one of the options under consideration after Theresa May delayed approving the £18bn Hinkley Point project last month, according to a report in the Times. The prime minister is concerned about China’s involvement in the project to build Britain’s first nuclear power plant for a generation in Somerset and a further agreement for China to build reactors in Bradwell, Essex, and Sizewell, Suffolk. An option under consideration in Whitehall is to approve Hinkley Point but delay a decision on the Bradwell reactor to allow a discussion about its effect on British security, the Times said. Any attempt to split Hinkley Point from the agreement to let China build reactors in Britain would endanger the whole deal because the Bradwell plant was meant to be a showcase for China’s nuclear technology in Europe. Tension over Hinkley Point means May risks an awkward first G20 meeting of world leaders as prime minister. The meeting, on 4 and 5 September, takes place in the Hangzhou, China, and will be hosted by Xi Jinping, China’s president, who signed the Hinkley Point agreement last year.
Guardian 29th August 2016 read more »
Daily Mail 30th Aug 2016 read more »
The Japanese company Hitachi has pledged to build a nuclear power station in north Wales more quickly and cheaply than EDF’s troubled Hinkley Point project. Duncan Hawthorne, chief executive of Hitachi’s Horizon Nuclear Power venture, said its Wylfa plant on Anglesey should be powering homes before Hinkley because it was based on tried and tested technology. “Our technology is more mature,” he said. “It’s not a paper reactor, it’s a real reactor. We’ve done this before and we know when we build it, it will operate well.”
Times 28th Aug 2016 read more »
The Japanese company behind the planned new nuclear power station at Wylfa on Anglesey wants the Prime Minister to confirm she is committed to the project, according to reports. Hitachi is concerned that Theresa May might pull the plug on the project after her surprise last-minute decision to call in the Hinkley Point project for review. Horizon, the Hitachi subsidiay that is hoping to build the Wylfa Newydd plant, has already asked for and received assurances that the Anglesey scheme is not under a similar threat. But, according to Horizon’s chief exectuive Duncan Hawthorne, a statement of support from the Prime Minister would go a long way to calming nerves in Japan.
Wales Online 29th Aug 2016 read more »
Alternatives to Hinkley
Doubts over a massive new nuclear plant in the United Kingdom have sparked debate over renewable alternatives — including the possibility of importing solar thermal power from north Africa. Analysts at The Energy Research Partnership (ERP), a think tank and advisory body, said solar thermal “would count” as one of a handful of firm low-carbon energy supplies capable of taking the place of a proposed nuclear plant whose future is now uncertain. several sources have noted that solar and wind power are on course to deliver energy at much lower cost than nuclear by the time Hinkley Point C is scheduled to come on-line in 2025. Some are advocating concentrating solar power, or solar thermal, as a way to help fill the gap. London-based Nur Energie already has a project, called TuNur, that is semi-permitted, with an interconnection point in Italy and the potential to start construction in 2018 and deliver power by 2020. The problem, according to ERP, is that replacing nuclear with offshore wind would require a prohibitive amount of energy storage. “In a report published last year, ERP demonstrated that it is essential to develop new firm low-carbon capacity to meet the de-carbonization targets,” said Andy Boston, head of the analysis team at the firm. “The work demonstrated that without this, variable renewables like wind and PV would need an unfeasibly large amount of long-term storage to effectively utilize their output to displace unabated fossil [fuel].” The study found 80 percent of U.K. of electricity could in theory be de-carbonized with about 70 gigawatts each of wind and PV, but this would require 1.5 terawatt-hours a year of storage, which is about 50 times the current pumped storage capability in the country. “The role of electricity storage is never likely to be one of firming up renewables to the point where they can be considered baseload,” predicted Boston. In its analysis, ERP said new nuclear is needed because government support is lacking for two other low-carbon base-load capacity contenders — biomass and fossil fuel with carbon capture and storage. The study did not consider bringing in concentrated solar power, with thermal storage, from north Africa. However, “CSP would fall into the same category as firm low-carbon supply, so yes, it would count,” said the organization.
Green Tech 29th Aug 2016 read more »
The police force charged with guarding UK nuclear power plants has admitted to 21 breaches of security last year, including 13 stolen or lost smart phones and identity cards. In one case a Blackberry was taken in a “domestic burglary”, and in another a SIM card was “accidently thrown in disposal chute at home address.” Emails containing sensitive information, including an armoury access code and personal data, were sent in breach of security protocols. The revelations have been condemned as a “catalogue of cock-ups”, and prompted alarm from campaigners and politicians. They point out that there have recently been concerns about Chinese state companies stealing nuclear industry secrets.
Ferret 29th Aug 2016 read more »
Business leaders are “more predisposed” than politicians to drive sustainable development for the foreseeable future, according to leading British environmentalist Jonathon Porritt. The business case for sustainability will grow from strength-to-strength as organisations increasingly realise there is “no downside” to mainstreaming energy efficiency within a company’s operations. Porritt remains confident that Britain’s low-carbon agenda is now in safe hands. Having developed a working relationship with the new Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Secretary Greg Clark during his time as chair of the Sustainable Development Commission, Porritt suggests that Clark is a “serious player” when it comes to understanding the significance of the green economy. Much like Aldersgate Group’s chief executive Nick Molho, Porritt is also excited about the prospect of a low-carbon industrial strategy being formulated within the boundaries of the new business-focussed department. As we know, DECC was only able to achieve the limited amount that it did because it of course was basically run by the Treasury. If we have the same balance of power where the Treasury continues to call all the big shots like infrastructure, industrial priorities and other things like Hinkley Point and so on, then we won’t really see the kind of progress we really need.”
Edie 26th Aug 2016 read more »
The prospect of a ‘golden age’ of cheap and green energy is being put at risk by constant Government tinkering that is driving away investors, the industry has warned. Lawrence Slade, the chief executive of Energy UK, highlighted 10 different changes over the past year or so that he said were undermining confidence in the sector. He urged the new Business Secretary, Greg Clark, to put an end to the repeated and sometimes sudden alterations and develop a long-term plan that would let investors know what kind of return they could expect on their money. Failure to do that would see them go elsewhere and that could lead to higher prices for consumers and hamper Britain’s ability to meet targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Energy UK, which represents Britain’s largest energy companies, provided a list of recent changes made by the Government. These included: changes to planning law to allow new windfarms to be blocked; the cancellation of a £1bn competition to design an effective carbon-capture-and-storage system; the phasing out of “unabated coal” by 2025; and the removal of the exemption from the climate change levy for renewable generators. The postponement of the second round of allocations of new energy contracts; Renewables Obligation support for photovoltaic solar panels and onshore wind closed early; cuts affecting most technologies under the feed-in tarrif; the ongoing review of the embedded charging benefits; and a cut affecting biomass conversion projects were also highlighted by the industry body. Professor Catherine Mitchell, an expert on energy policy at Exeter University, said a common complaint by large energy companies was that there had been too many policy changes but “that is often because they do not want the new policies”. “Nobody likes to have chopping and changing of policies but if you have a bad policy in place, people actually prefer you to put in place a sensible policy,” she said. However the Government’s recent steps, she said, were “an example of sensible policies which were chopped and that will affect investor confidence and could mean higher prices and more emissions”. “They have made lots of changes and there are also things they have put in place, like the Green Deal to do with energy efficiency, which did not work and which absolutely everyone told them wouldn’t work and lost us millions of pounds,” Professor Mitchell added.
Independent 30th Aug 2016 read more »
The government is considering scrapping the troubled Monju fast-breeder reactor after calculating that readying it for restart would cost several hundred billion yen, sources said Monday. A political decision on decommissioning the reactor is now in sight, with Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga joining talks to determine its fate, the sources said. The facility in Fukui Prefecture has been beset by safety problems and has only been operational for a total of 250 days since it first went critical in 1994. Decommissioning Monju would deal a serious blow to the nation’s vaunted fuel cycle policy, in which the reactor was designed to play a central role. The plan is to develop a commercial fast-breeder reactor that produces more plutonium than it consumes. The science ministry has been trying to find a new entity to run the reactor, which is currently operated by the government-backed Japan Atomic Energy Agency.
Japan Times 29th Aug 2016 read more »
Renewables – tidal
Turbines installed off the coast of Shetland could herald a “new era” in tidal energy, according to the company running the project. Tidal energy specialist Nova Innovation said they were the first offshore tidal turbines in the world to deliver electricity to the grid. Two 100kW turbines have been installed so far in the Shetland Tidal Array at Bluemull Sound. The blades for the turbines were made by Shetland Composites. Edinburgh-based Nova Innovation said tidal energy was a “long-term source” of predictable renewable power, with the turbines generating to full power across all tidal conditions.
BBC 29th Aug 2016 read more »
A power company in Shetland has claimed a breakthrough in the race to develop viable offshore tidal stations after successfully feeding electricity to local homes. Nova Innovation said it had deployed the world’s first fully operational array of tidal power turbines in the Bluemull Sound between the islands of Unst and Yell in the north of Shetland, where the North Sea meets the Atlantic. It switched on the second of five 100kW turbines due to be installed in the sound this month, sending electricity on a commercial basis into Shetland’s local grid. Existing tidal schemes use single power plants or installations rather than a chain of separate turbines. A French company, Open Hydro, says it too is very close to linking two tidal machines, off Brittany, to build a more powerful 1MW array. After a series of commercial failures in Scotland’s nascent marine power industry, including the collapse of two wave power firms, Pelarmis and Aquamarine, Nova Innovation’s announcement was applauded by environmental groups.
Guardian 29th Aug 2016 read more »
Daily Mail 29th Aug 2016 read more »
Scotsman 29th Aug 2016 read more »
Herald 29th Aug 2016 read more »
Daily Record 29th Aug 2016 read more »
Times 30th Aug 2016 read more »
The National 30th Aug 2016 read more »
There is a long way to go, but first delivery of tidal energy to the National Grid shows the industry’s promising future. It was former First Minister Alex Salmond who said that Scotland’s mix of wind and marine power could create a “Saudi Arabia of renewables” in the Pentland Firth. While that was dismissed in some quarters as nothing more than a soundbite, it nevertheless showed a laudable ambition for what the sector could achieve. But with wind farms enjoying a considerable amount of focus – not to mention government subsidies – tidal energy has gone relatively unnoticed. That could be about to change, however, with the news that a Scottish firm has become the first in the world to deliver electricity to the National Grid using a tidal turbine system. Nova Innovation installed its first turbine at its Shetland Islands project in March, before installing its second earlier this month. The firm said its project in the Bluemull Sound represented major progress in using tidal energy as a long-term source of predictable renewable power. Scotland has some of the most powerful tides in Europe, which must now be exploited to become a key component of our energy mix. Progress is likely to be slow – the dream of Scotland becoming a fully renewable nation may yet be some way off – but it is important that Scotland stays at the forefront of what will be the next sigificant front in the development of renewable energy. And it will also take major investment, which must be given incentives b y the Scottish Government. Once that is in place, there is no reason why Scotland cannot one day be to tidal energy what Saudi Arabia is to oil.
Scotsman 30th Aug 2016 read more »
In a second world-first for Scottish energy in as many days, the world’s most powerful tidal turbine, is due to begin testing in Orkney. At 63m in length, the Scotrenewables Tidal Power SR2000 turbine is longer than the Scott Monument in Edinburgh is tall and is capable of generating 2MW of power – enough to meet the needs of approximately 2,000 homes over the course of a year. It has been hailed as a potential “game changer” by Scottish Energy Minister Paul Wheelhouse.
Scottish Energy News 30th Aug 2016 read more »
Hydrogen made from renewable electricity is already fuelling vehicles at affordable prices, writes DAVID THORPE. But now the ‘green’ fuel is set to go from niche to mainstream – powering not just cars, trucks and buses, but storing surplus renewable energy on sunny and windy days, then to be burnt in gas turbines or fuel cells to supply the grid with reliable power on demand.
Ecologist 26th August 2016 read more »
The National Grid has announced the winners of its “Enhanced Frequency Response” (EFR) tender – resulting in £200 million in reduced costs. More than 35 electricity-storage providers – including major players – put in bids for the tender with only eight contracts awarded to the winning bidders, who are: – EDF Energy (West Burton Power); Vattenfall; Low Carbon Storage Investment Co Ltd, which won 2 contracts; E.ON UK CHP; EPNED; Battery Energy Storage Services 4 Ltd; South East Grid Storage One Ltd.
Scottish Energy News 30th Aug 2016 read more »
Grid-scale energy storage will move closer to commercial reality on Friday when the U.K.’s grid operator offers contracts to companies to help balance the network, a key measure needed to help balance increasing supply from renewables. National Grid Plc will announce the winners of a bidding round for as much as 200 MW of storage capacity, which is about the size of a small power plant. It’s likely to be the storage industry’s biggest award this year in a global market expected to install $5.1 billion of equipment in 2020, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Storage plays a key role in the greening of utilities’ networks by allowing grid managers to handle higher volumes of intermittent power from the wind and sun.
Renewable Energy World 25th Aug 2016 read more »