More than 100 politicians, industry experts and green energy campaigners are calling on the European Commission to reject public support for new nuclear power plants. There is “no valid justification for subsidising nuclear power,” they argue in an open letter to Joaquin Almunia, EU Commissioner for Competition. “It diverts resources from other options that are better and cheaper.” The coalition urges Almunia to investigate concerns with the support package proposed for EDF Energy’s Hinkley Point C. Labour MP Martin Caton tops the list of signatories, followed by Plaid Cymru MEP Jill Evans and Green MP Caroline Lucas. Dale Vince, founder of renewable energy supplier Ecotricity and Andrew Warren, director of the Association for the Conservation of Energy have also endorsed the message. The open letter follows reports the Commission may be reluctant to give State Aid approval to theUKgovernment’s deal with EDF for Hinkley Point C. The first new nuclear plant in a generation, Hinkley is to get an inflation-linked “strike price” of £92.50/MWh for 35 years and a £10 billion loan guarantee. There is understood to be scepticism within the Commission of the need for such significant levels of support for what is a mature and controversial technology. Recently updated State Aid guidelines set no specific advice on support for nuclear, leaving the Hinkley deal subject to interpretation of existing rules.
Utility Week 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
The mega-deal between the British Government, Chinese investors and the French energy firm EDF to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point could once again be in doubt after the European Union stepped in to question the project. EU regulators appear likely to open a formal investigation into the question of whether the deal, which sees the Government guarantee a price for the electricity EDF will get paid from Hinkley Point, breaks EU rules on competition.
Western Daily Press 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
Burnham-on-sea 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
BBC 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
European regulators said on Monday that they expected to conduct a full inquiry into a deal to build Britain’s first nuclear power station since 1995, threatening delays that could undermine investment plans for the 16 billion pound project. The concern in Brussels is that the terms of the contract might involve British government subsidies that violate European competition rules. At issue is whether the rates the government has guaranteed to the power plant’s operators for 35 years will distort the market for electricity in the European Union.
New York Times 2nd Dec 2013 read more »
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander will today announce that the coalition Government will sign an agreement with Hitachi and Horizon to support the financing of the development of Wylfa’s new nuclear power station through a UK guarantee. The deal is subject to final due diligence and ministerial approval but will be seen as the latest vote of confidence in plans to ensure the Anglesey power station remains a focal point of the UK’s nuclear industry. In a further bid to ensure the country’s lights stay on and the economy continues to grow, the Government will pledge to confirm strike prices for renewable energy so providers now how much they will receive for electricity generated in the future.
Wales Online 4th Dec 2013 read more »
A new nuclear power station will get the green light today as ministers unveil £25 billion of new spending on major infrastructure projects. Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander will announce that ministers have signed a memorandum of understanding with Japanese firm Hitachi to build the new plant at Wylfa on the Welsh island of Anglesey.
Daily Mail 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
Billions of pounds of taxpayers’ cash is on the line to kick-start a second nuclear power station. Chancellor George Osborne will give a £10 billion guarantee to Japanese giant Hitachi to build it at Wylfa, Anglesey, North Wales. It follows criticism over the deal ministers struck with French firm EDF to build the first new nuclear power station in 20 years at Hinkley Point, Somerset.
Mirror 4th Dec 2013 read more »
Telegraph 4th Dec 2013 read more »
Independent 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
Part of Dungeness nuclear power station has shut down because of an equipment fault. EDF said the Dungeness B reactor 21 shut down because of an issue on a turbine condenser. The energy firm said staff on site at the plant in Kent were working on a repair to return the unit power. National Grid data showed the 550-megawatt reactor stopped sending power to the system and it shut down at 03:50 GMT, EDF said.
BBC 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
SELLAFIELD executives are set to face MPs over the soaring cost of decommissioning the nuclear site – which is estimated to exceed £70bn. According to The Guardian, sources close to Sellafield say operators are convinced they are still “not at the top” of the cost curve. It had been hoped spending would be capped at £70bn – eight times the cost of staging the London Olympics last year. Executives are set to face a grilling from the public accounts committee, chaired by MP Margaret Hodges, which is investigating the cost of decommissioning and claims of inefficiency by Nuclear Management Partners, the consortium contracted with decommissioning the site.
NW Evening Mail 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
Britain’s nuclear bomb factory “played down” a fire that could have caused “numerous fatalities”, according to an internal investigation by the government’s Health and Safety Executive (HSE). AWE, the private consortium that runs nuclear weapons plants at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire for the Ministry of Defence, was guilty of a “disturbing” catalogue of safety blunders in the handling of explosives, the HSE said. “The failings of AWE were comprehensive and basic,” it concluded. HSE has released the report of its 10-month investigation into the fire at Aldermaston on 3 August 2010 under freedom of information law. AWE’s actions “fell far below the standard expected in an explosives manufacturing company,” it said.
RobEdwards 2nd Dec 2013 read more »
MYSTERY surrounds a major theft from a redundant nuclear submarine, which sparked security fears over Rosyth Dockyard. After a Ministry of Defence statement, MP Thomas Docherty said he remained “baffled” over how the incident was not detected and was also concerned about security for the nearby aircraft carriers construction site. HMS Churchill was targeted by thieves with 56 lead blocks – each weighing 15kg – being stolen. Mr Docherty contacted the MoD looking for answers after being told of the incident – revealed through Freedom of Information – by the Press when we ran a story in our 7th November issue.
Dunfermline Press 4th Dec 2013 read more »
The deactivated Berkeley power station has been selected as the preferred site to store nuclear waste from the decommissioned Oldbury power plant. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) has recommended the site be used as an interim Intermediate Level Waste (ILW) storage facility. Waste would be transported by road from Oldbury to Berkeley in secure containers from 2017. A consultation into the plan has begun and it could be approved in March. An NDA spokesman said a total of 100 lorries would transport ILW in “safe, heavily protected boxes” between the two sites over a six-year period.
BBC 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
An anti-nuclear group from Cumbria is protesting in London today. Radiation Free Lakeland is opposed to the idea of an underground nuclear waste store being built in the county. They are planning to demonstrate outside the Department of Energy and Climate Change.
ITV 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
NW Evening Mail 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
When Ofgem head Andrew Wright identified a “deep mistrust of anything the energy companies do or say” last week, the chief executive of Britain’s gas and electricity regulator wasn’t exaggerating. After four years of inflation-busting price hikes that have increased their average profit per household more than ten-fold, the popularity of the “big six” appears to have sunk to an all-time low. So much so, that 68 per cent of the population wants to see the big energy companies renationalised, according to a poll by YouGov last month. Returning the energy sector to state ownership may be a comforting thought after those bill hikes increased the average big six profit per household from £8 in 2009 to £105 now, leaving ever-larger numbers of people struggling – and in millions of cases failing – to heat their homes.
Independent 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
Canada – new reactors
The government of Ontario has kept nuclear at the centre of its updated long-term energy program, with major refurbishments planned for the Bruce and Darlington power stations. However, it has decided to defer the construction of new nuclear capacity.
World Nuclear News 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
Fukushima crisis update 26th November to 2nd December.
Greenpeace 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
The tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima Daiichi power plant has led to the toughest nuclear cleanup ever. Radioactive water is still poisoning the sea – and it could take 40 years to fix the mess. Is Japan up to the challenge? Carefully, gently, one-by-one. The removal of nuclear fuel rod assemblies from a badly damaged building at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant is finally under way. Months in the planning, the job is risky, complex, and crucial. Here begins the first major step in the toughest decommissioning project ever attempted. To fully decommission Fukushima Daiichi might take 40 years and no one expects a cakewalk. Independent researchers point to the litany of mishaps that has blighted the cleanup. They doubt the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) is up to the task, and want a global team of experts to take over. Even high-level advisers signed up by Tepco describe the decommissioning project as an “unprecedented” challenge. At stake is Tepco’s reputation, the health and livelihoods of local communities, and the future direction of the industry worldwide.
Guardian 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
Since June of this year, six children who were minors at the time of the Fukushima disaster have been diagnosed with thyroid cancer, which is an unusually high rate, especially when paired with a suspected 10 additional cases. 44 cases in total have been diagnosed since the start of the Fukushima Daiichi disaster, though the overall baseline rate of thyroid cancer in Japanese children remains at one to two in a million. Japanese government officials claim that this uptick in diagnoses cannot be attributed to the Fukushima disaster, arguing that while radiation does build up in the thyroid gland and can cause a cancer risk, it takes several years to manifest. They’re pointing to data from the Chernobyl disaster, where cancer rates didn’t begin to radically spike for approximately five years, to suggest that these cases are unrelated to the nuclear event. This, of course, raises the question of what could be causing the artificially high thyroid cancer rate if it’s not Fukushima.
Care2 2nd Dec 2013 read more »
Japan – Tokai
Stockpiles of unprocessed plutonium solutions and liquid waste at a nuclear reprocessing facility in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, could boil and spew radioactive substances or cause hydrogen explosions if safety devices were to fail, the Nuclear Regulation Authority says. The assessment of the Tokai Reprocessing Plant of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, where 3.5 cubic meters of solutions containing plutonium and the 430 cubic meters of high-level radioactive liquid waste are stored, was part of a Dec. 2 report issued by the NRA. The reprocessing plant extracts plutonium from spent nuclear fuel for use in plutonium-uranium mixed-oxide fuel for consumption in the Monju prototype fast breeder reactor and other facilities.
Asahi Shimbun 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
Iran – nuclear agreement
The limited agreement reached in Geneva about Iran’s nuclear programme provides two very powerful lessons. The first is that, after the agreement to remove chemical weapons from Syria, this is another example of the benefits of using diplomacy rather than military action as a tool for successful foreign policy. Further evidence that, after the disastrous Iraq and Afghanistan adventures, there is another way – the legal, diplomatic way – to deal with international disputes and tensions. And that while it isn’t easy or simple, it is by far the preferable approach. The second is that we should be much more careful what we wish for in future, because it was the West’s own cynical, expansive foreign policy that got us here in the first place. It was the United States of course who launched a nuclear program with Iran in 1957, when the Shah and his American Friends spoke and acted in unison. That unqualified support for Iran’s ‘nuclear power program’ continued right up to 1979 when the Shah lost power in the Islamic revolution.
Huffington Post 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
Iran – nuclear security
The Israeli and Saudi Arabian governments are working to create a new, even more destructive variant of the notorious Stuxnet malware, according to local Iranian news outlet Farsnews. Farsnews reported that an unnamed source with links inside the Saudi Arabian secret service confirmed the news, warning the two nations plan to use it to further disrupt Iran’s nuclear power program.
V3 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
The government is to make big changes to the way it subsidises renewable energy, the BBC has learned. Ministers will announce that they will cut support for onshore wind and solar energy, but give more backing to offshore wind power. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander described the shift in subsidy as “a rebalancing” and said overall spending would not change. But Labour said “chopping and changing” pricing was bad for business. The set prices for onshore wind power and solar energy will be cut from 2015, while those for offshore wind power will be increased. The final figures will be announced in a written ministerial statement later. One Conservative source said he expected “quite a dramatic cut” in prices for onshore wind in 2015 and beyond. Another spoke of the “beginning of the end for mature renewables”. One source said: “We are in a very good place. If we didn’t curtail onshore a bit, we would have so much onshore that the constraint wouldn’t be financial but political. Ditto solar. “So constraining solar and onshore makes good value for money sense, it lets us move quicker than expected to market forces, and enables us to ensure that the one renewable technology that can go to scale in the 2020s – offshore wind – gets the early support that an immature technology needs.”
BBC 4th Dec 2013 read more »
The Liberal Democrat cabinet minister will also set out levels of subsidy to support new wind and solar schemes through the coalition’s “contracts for difference” programme. More mature, established technologies such as onshore wind will receive lower rates than offshore wind projects. Onshore wind was expected to receive a guaranteed price of £100 per megawatt hour for 15 years from 2014 but this is now set to be lower after tough lobbying by Tory MPs opposed to wind farms. Mr Alexander will say the government is examining ways to bring private investment into the Green Investment Bank, a state lender, to improve its ability to lend to renewables companies.
FT 4th Dec 2013 read more »
Onshore wind farms will have their subsidies cut in favour of an increase in support for offshore wind power. Ministers will announce big changes to the how subsidies are allocated to renewable energy with support cut for onshore wind and solar energy. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has described the shift in the subsidies as “a rebalancing” and said overall spending would not change. The prices that the Government will pay for the energy produced from in onshore wind and solar power will be cut from 2015 while the price paid for energy from offshore wind farms is set to be increased.
Telegraph 4th Dec 2013 read more »
Community Energy – local authorities
Enthusiasm for community wellbeing is fuelling a counter-revolution in locally generated energy, in both Britain and Ireland, partly to address rising levels of fuel poverty affecting an estimated 3.5m UK families. Some talk boldly of “re-municipalising energy”, with an eye on Hamburg, Germany’s second city. Recently, in a referendum there, voters backed a council plan to take control of the local power grid. Here, authorities from Labour-controlled Southampton to Conservative-run Woking, in Surrey, are finding it cheaper to provide heat and light for their own buildings. A string of others are considering local power schemes. Currently, mainly council houses and public buildings are powered locally, along with some shops and offices – rather than entire cities – although Southampton’s municipal plant, run with a private company, provides electricity for the city’s huge port, as well as for council buildings. Hot water was originally tapped from a deep geothermal well for a district heating scheme 25 years ago, and this was followed by a combined heat and power plant. But the city hopes soon to provide heat and light for 1,500 council houses as part of a £30m district heating and insulation scheme triggered by authorities once again being allowed to take direct control of council house funding. More than 5,000 houses could follow. Similarly in Woking, council buildings, offices and flats are powered by energy from a company owned by the local council. The company, Thameswey, also generates power from a much larger local plant for much of central Milton Keynes, in Buckinghamshire. Thameswey opened its first combined heat and power scheme in 2001 to supply electricity and heating to civic offices, and surrounding business, in Woking town centre. The initial £7m funding was borrowed on Thameswey’s behalf by Woking council, which then lent it back to the company at 2% above the going interest rate. Currently it has 1.3 miles of heating pipes and electricity wires in the town (with a further 2.5 miles in central Milton Keynes). The scheme will soon expand to serve a new, £150m shopping and leisure centre, with 300 flats.
Guardian 4th Dec 2013 read more »
London is set for the largest-ever single investment to modernise its street lighting in a move that should reduce energy consumption by 40 per cent. Around 35,000 of the capital’s 52,000 street lights will be replaced by energy-efficient LEDs by 2016, while a new system will also be introduced to remotely manage and control lighting levels in line with traffic flows and road usage.
Business Green 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
Energy companies lobbied the government to cut ‘green levies’ from bills, and yesterday they got their wish. But now the government has announced it will be reforming a number of energy efficiency schemes, do the ‘big six’ stand to profit? The Times this morning reported that the policy rollback could mean companies reap the rewards of selling energy that would not be needed if energy companies were made to stick to their efficiency targets. The news is likely to be poorly received by consumers and politicians who have lambasted the industry for making what some see as excessive profits in recent months. The government says the changes aren’t a sop to the big six, however. It maintains that the policy changes will save as much energy as the previous package. We take a close look at the numbers. So if the government keeps to its word, the policy changes won’t affect emissions or energy use, and energy companies shouldn’t see their profits boosted. But if ACE is right, and the government fails to meet its new energy efficiency commitments, energy companies could stand to make money from failing to improve the efficiency of the UK’s old, leaky housing stock – albeit possibly not as much as ACE makes out. Nonetheless, news that the companies lobbied government to relax the ECO scheme – and could stand to profit – is unlikely to go down well with the public, especially as bills continue to rise.
Carbon Brief 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
British Gas has been criticised for lobbying to reduce plans for insulating some of the UK’s coldest homes. The firm persuaded ministers to lower their ambition by two-thirds after it failed to meet existing mandatory targets for solid-wall insulation. Rival firms say British Gas’s lobbying has put up to 10,000 jobs at risk and may jeopardise the fledgling solid-wall insulation industry.
BBC 3rd Dec 2013 read more »
Last week’s Micro Power News.
MicrogenScotland 29th Nov 2013 read more »
Climate – Local Authorities
European governments might have national targets to meet the demands of climate change. Many European cities, however, may not be in the mood. Diana Reckien of Columbia University in the US and 11 European colleagues report in the journal Climatic Change that one in three cities have no plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and seven out of 10 cities have no formal plans to adapt to climate change.
Climate Change Network 4th Dec 2013 read more »