Britain should cancel its nuclear white elephant and spend the billions on making renewables work. Scrapping the deal would be the right decision. Regardless of security worries about China, which are probably overblown, the Hinkley plan looks extraordinarily bad value for money. What’s more, as renewable sources of energy become more attractive, the days of big, “baseload” projects like Hinkley are numbered. Britain should pull out of the deal, and other countries should learn from its misadventure. In the past six years Britain’s government has reduced the projected cost of producing electricity from onshore wind in 2025 by one-third, and of solar power by nearly two-thirds (see chart). Because nobody knows how the next few decades will unfold, now is not the time to lock in a price. One of the few certainties is that Hinkley is not the sort of power station that any rich country will want for much longer. Nuclear energy has a future, but big, always-on projects like Hinkley, which would aim to satisfy 7% of Britain’s energy needs, do not fit the bill. As renewables generate a growing share of countries’ power, the demand will be for sources of energy that can cover intermittent shortfalls (for instance, when the wind stops blowing or the sun goes in).
Economist 6th Aug 2016 read more »
The biggest offshore windfarm developer in Britain has said the country can meet its future energy commitments without the £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear project. Henrik Poulsen, chief executive of Dong Energy, said wind turbines could be built on time and on budget, giving the UK a reliable source of power if combined with output from new biomass or gas-fired plants. Poulsen said offshore wind farms could already produce power at below €100 (£85) per MWh. Many others in the industry believe it will be down to €80 by the mid-2020s.
Guardian 4th Aug 2016 read more »
Dong Energy is ready to offer the U.K. more offshore wind power should Prime Minister Theresa May scrap construction of a nuclear plant. “We would further be able to further accelerate and expand the build out of offshore wind should there be such a need,” Dong’s Chief Executive Officer Henrik Poulsen said Thursday in a phone call with reporters. “Of course, that’s entirely leaving those decisions to the U.K. government.” “If the Brits cancel Hinkley and need more offshore wind power it’ll certainly be something we can help with,” said Poulsen in a separate phone interview Thursday. “We just want to make the point that if they want to accelerate the build-out of offshore wind energy we’re at their disposal.”
Bloomberg 4th Aug 2016 read more »
Jonathon Porritt: On Friday last week, within a few hours of Greg Clark (Secretary of State at the new Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy) announcing that the UK Government would be reviewing the whole Hinkley Point situation, the Times came out with a thoroughly damning indictment of the Hinkley Point project. Going way beyond its usual sceptical hostility, it invited its readers to compare the already redundant, Incomprehensively costly technology of Hinkley Point with the next generation of low-carbon energy breakthroughs – including Artificial Photosynthesis. I’m trying now to think through this critical review process from Greg Clark’s point of view, from what little I know of him as a conscientious, focussed politician of the kind that we’ve seen far too little of since 2010. And I would imagine that the officials already charged with oversight of the review will be looking at three big areas: Technology – the worst possible nuclear option: the EPR; security of supply and against external threats and affordability.
Jonathon Porritt 4th Aug 2016 read more »
You probably know Chinese state-owned companies are involved in the Hinkley Point C project – they have a 33.5 per cent stake in it. But did you know that MI5 and MI6 have been warning the government about China’s involvement for months? It’s one of the reasons why Theresa May is currently reviewing the project despite it being finally rubber-stamped by EDF’s board last week. The overriding concerns? National security and links to the Chinese military and Chinese Communist Party. In fairness, experts like Professor Jeffrey Henderson, professor of international development at Bristol University, have been warning us – and the government – for months too and, as he says, those concerns are pretty obvious, even to the casual observer.
Somerset Live 3rd Aug 2016 read more »
In conversations with Motherboard, researchers and those who work on on critical infrastructure were divided over whether Chinese financing of Hinkley Point is a legitimate concern or not. “I think it presents an opportunity to either collect intelligence or worse still to have some form of virtual control,” Alan Woodward, visiting professor at the University of Surrey’s Department of Computer Science, told Motherboard in a Twitter message. This worry is echoed by Robert Lee, a former US Air Force cyber warfare operations officer and CEO of Dragos Security. He suggested that a Chinese, state-run company’s involvement in the project offers the country’s intelligence services too good an opportunity to turn down. “When we look at nuclear environments around the world, anything dealing with the field of nuclear energy tends to be a top priority in intelligence services,” Lee told Motherboard in a phone call. “If you are giving access to state-owned companies to those operations, it would almost be a disservice of Chinese intelligence operations not to take advantage of that.”
Motherboard 4th Aug 2016 read more »
How to avoid nuclear fallout and become equal partners with China.
Telegraph 4th Aug 2016 read more »
The U.K. government said it won’t have to pay compensation to Electricite de France SA if Prime Minister Theresa May decides to abandon the Hinkley Point C nuclear project because there isn’t a signed contract for what would be the nation’s first new nuclear plant in decades. EDF’s press office in Paris declined to comment. Newspaper The Times reported Monday that France was preparing to demand 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) in compensation if the U.K. pulled out of the project.
Bloomberg 3rd Aug 2016 read more »
Mike Grubb: The UK government is entirely right to review Hinkley Point. The fundamental economic problem is that it offers last century’s answer to this century’s energy system, and the misfit is now inescapable. I was a member of the Climate Change Committee which in 2008 recommended that the government develop capability for a new generation of nuclear stations. At that time, Hinkley’s two precursor reactors — widely hailed developments from older designs — had been initiated with promises of costs far lower than the big renewable energy options. Neither of those precursors is yet operating and in the years since our recommendation the price of Hinkley has risen by 50 per cent while the price of major renewables (including offshore wind) has almost halved. The economic balance has thus reversed. Moreover it was projected that a new nuclear fleet could have many years of operating to provide baseload electricity 24/7. But the dramatic expansion in renewables makes it implausible that the UK will need any such baseload power by the time Hinkley Point could come on stream, let alone for the subsequent 35 years of its fixed-price contract. Already by the mid-2020s, there will be periods in which renewables output can meet electricity demand, and Hinkley Point (because of its bigger subsidy) would simply displace cheaper plants — wind or solar, and indeed any subsequent nuclear. The need will be for flexible plants that can economically vary their output and hence balance the system. That could include gas, biomass, and storage among others. If EDF believes that Hinkley Point can be viable in such a role the contract could be restructured accordingly. But for a new government not to review a 35-year contract committing an estimated £30bn of subsidy, given all that has changed, would surely be a gross dereliction of duty.
FT 4th Aug 2016 read more »
The SNP has called on Theresa May to ‘re-set’ UK government energy policy to bring about greater investment in renewable technology after a leading professor suggested that the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power project was ‘last century’s answer to this century’s energy needs’. Michael Grubb, Professor of International Energy and Climate Change Policy at University College London and former member of the UK Climate Change Committee, made the argument in a letter in the Financial Times.
Scottish Energy News 4th Aug 2016 read more »
What’s missing is a fresh discussion on what to do instead of large projects like Hinkley. This requires a challenge to the mindset that’s led the UK to paint itself into a corner. There’s long been a culture of big is better when the UK considers energy – find the next big gas field or build another big power station and the problem is sorted. Locally produced solar and wind energy is now more common. We have all seen how prices for panels and turbines have tumbled with forecasts that costs for solar and onshore wind will fall a further 41% and 60% respectively by 2040. That’s great news but the space for such distributed supplies will become an issue at some point. The big is better culture goes hand-in-hand with a focus on the supply side. Addressing Britain’s energy shortages traditionally meant finding new gas fields or building more power plants, but we’re now seeing a shift in investment to the consumption side with more focus on efficient cars, buildings or industrial processes. Across the world, 32% of energy sector investment in 2015 went on efficiency measures that reduce demand – up from just 17% the previous year.
Scottish Energy News 5th Aug 2016 read more »
Molly Scott-Cato: If a week is a long time in politics, let’s hope several weeks is enough time for an energy revolution. For a country that likes to pride itself on its industrial innovation, the UK has fallen years if not decades behind developments in energy strategy. During interviews I was repeatedly asked about the question of baseload and told that renewables cannot provide this. Readers of BusinessGreen are probably well aware that this tedious refrain is used by those who would hold back the rapid deployment of renewable energy systems and demonstrates a failure to understand how energy policy is developing. National grid boss, Steve Holliday, said last year that the concept of baseload is outdated.
Business Green 4th Aug 2016 read more »
Nuclear engineering and climate change experts from Imperial College London have outlined the benefits of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant project in Somerset, England. They have joined the public debate on EDF Energy’s project, after new British Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet announced last week that it wants to review the deal and decide in early autumn whether to commit its support.
World Nuclear News 4th Aug 2016 read more »
Greg Clark, the newly appointed Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, has received a report compiled by members of Together Against Sizewell C (TASC), a Leiston-based organisation opposed to the construction of another nuclear plant at Sizewell in Suffolk, which clearly and unequivocally demonstrates that the nuclear component of the energy policy being pursued by the government is unnecessary. The report argues that the data upon which the original policy was based has changed so fundamentally over the last few years that a review of the National Policy statement as expressed in EN1 is obligatory under Section 6 of the 2008 Planning Act. All government targets can be met without the nuclear component and TASC urges the Secretary of State to re-examine the policy and amend it to remove controversial, costly, dangerous and politically toxic nuclear power from the mix.
TASC 29th July 2016 read more »
The developers behind Wylfa Newydd nuclear power station will give Anglesey residents the chance of a ‘rollercoaster’ ride around the planned nuclear plant. The virtual reality ride gives players the chance to compete against each other and collect prize tokens as the rollercoaster whirls them around a realistic 3D rendering of the power station. It will be available to play at the Anglesey show next week.
Daily Post 4th Aug 2016 read more »
Sizewell C won’t get built for decades after Theresa May’s decision. As someone who has come to believe in nuclear power as a vital part of a carbon-free energy mix, it gives me no pleasure to say this, but I don’t think Sizewell C will be built in the next 30 years, writes Paul Geater. It smells to me like the government U-turn of the early 1990s which left Sizewell B as the only new generation nuclear plant in the country after cost increases forced ministers to pull the plug on other reactors. I cannot imagine that Mrs May’s government will be happy to follow up George Osborne’s offer that the Chinese could build a new power plant at Bradwell – and I cannot see anyone else bankrolling an expensive new Sizewell C station.
Ipswich Star 4th Aug 2016 read more »
Permission has been granted for addtional work areas at Sizewell A as part of the ongoing work to decommission the old nuclear power station. Defuelling is complete and owner Magnox’s main focus at the site, which stopped generating electricity a decade ago, is currently the cooling ponds. Preparations are taking place for physical decommissioning work of the ponds to begin later this year. The Waste Programme team has also started to be established at the site and its first object is connected with engineering work with its initial task to retrieve fuel element debris from the vaults. This is expected to begin next year.
East Anglian Daily Times 4th Aug 2016 read more »
Japan’s nuclear regulator admits it is unable to do its job, approves Mihama 3 safety anyway Tokyo, 3 August 2016 – Today, the Nuclear Regulatory Authority approved the safety assessment of the Mihama 3 reactor, despite admitting on the 20th of July that the agency is both understaffed for its safety assessment tasks and made public statements about seismic risks without understanding the facts.
Greenpeace 3rd Aug 2016 read more »
Half of existing nuclear power plants are no longer profitable. The New York Times and others have tried to blame renewable energy for this, but the admittedly astounding price drops of renewables aren’t the primary cause of the industry’s woes — cheap fracked gas is.
The point of blaming renewables, which currently receive significant government subsidies, is apparently to argue that existing nukes deserve some sort of additional subsidy to keep running — beyond the staggering $100+ billion in subsidies the nuclear industry has received over the decades. But a major reason solar and wind energy receive federal subsidies — which are being phased out over the next few years — is because they are emerging technologies whose prices are still rapidly coming down the learning curve, whereas nuclear is an incumbent technology with a negative learning curve. The renewable red herring aside, existing nukes can make a reasonable case for a modest subsidy on the basis of climate change — though only because they are often replaced by carbon-spewing gas plants. That said, the “$7.6 billion bailout” New York state just decided to give its nuclear plants appears to be way too large, as we’ll see.
Climate Progress 4th Aug 2016 read more »
New York has approved a massive $7.6 billion subsidy to keep four ageing upstate plants open on the false promise that they provide ‘clean and renewable energy’, writes Karl Grossman. Campaigners for genuine clean energy fear that other pro-nuclear states may follow NY Governor Cuomo’s dubious lead.
Ecologist 3rd Aug 2016 read more »
A STATE-BASED Royal Commission unleashed a plan with massive national implications when it recommended, in May, that South Australia should move to import, store and bury around a third of the globe’s high level radioactive waste ‘as soon as possible’. The Royal Commission, initiated by Premier Jay Weatherill in 2015 and presided over by former governor and self-proclaimed state salesman Kevin Scarce, has unsurprisingly generated column inches, congratulations and critics. With its pro-nuclear terms of reference and advisory panel, and its often oblique process, the exercise has been a case study in issue management. Radioactive waste may be hot but a well-funded series of rolling roadshows, a citizens’ jury, and a social media initiative are all part of a state campaign working to make the topic tepid and the “conversation” constrained.
Independent Australia 1st Aug 2016 read more »
Brendon Energy continues to install new renewable electricity power stations as part of our local contribution to the fight against climate change. Two new roof mounted solar arrays have been successfully installed on two local schools – Somerset Bridge Primary School in Bridgwater andCourt Fields School in Wellington.These 30kW and 40 kW schemes will help to reduce the school electricity bills and will also generate income for local community funds.
Brendon Energy 4th Aug 2016 read more »
Net zero energy (NZE) buildings—those that are responsible for the production of as much (or more) clean energy as they use annually—have been gaining momentum around the world. And now, there are even net zero energy districts being contemplated, like Fort Collins’s Fort ZED, Arizona State University, and UC Davis’s West Village. However, there still remains an industry-wide perception that net zero energy is too expensive, or comes at a much higher incremental cost over business as usual. Master developers of NZE districts face the challenge of driving exceptional energy performance without deterring prospective parcel developers or incurring exorbitant development costs themselves. Prospective parcel developers may fear that stringent performance requirements will require higher upfront capital costs or that achieving ultra-low energy buildings will not be cost-effective in the long run, compared to business as usual. Prospective tenants of NZE developments may fear that additional construction costs will get passed through to them in the form of higher rents, or that the ongoing cost of procuring renewable energy may be higher than conventional energy bills.
Renew Economy 5th Aug 2016 read more »