The UK government’s energy strategy is experiencing what the man who made Manchester United the dominant force in European football – kids, ask your parents – once called “squeaky bum time”. Injury time has been extended again and again, but the point at which the whistle blows and EDF will be finally forced to make a decision on whether to build the Hinkley Point C nuclear project is looming. The future of the shaky edifice that is the UK’s current decarbonisation could yet rest on the result. Officially, the position remains the same as it has been ever since it was confirmed in October that China General Nuclear Power Corporation would take a stake in the project and stump up a third of the costs. EDF has said it will make a final investment decision once it has secured “finalisation of long form documentation based on Head of Terms agreed today; finalisation by EDF of its financing plan; approval by the boards of EDF and CGN; [and] clearance by merger control and other governmental authorities in China and Europe”. All the recent speculation the project is in trouble is just that, speculation – or so the official line goes. In reality, the conflicting signals surrounding the project confirm it is anything but a happy ship. EDF may have told contractors on the project to get to work, fuelling hopes a positive decision will come this month. But the public opposition from EDF unions, the departure of Hinkley Point’s project director, and the reports of further delays to a decision that has now been delayed more often than a train out of London Bridge, paint a very different picture. As the Guardian’s Nils Pratley observed last week, the likelihood remains the deal will go ahead. The government’s energy strategy is hugely dependent on the project going ahead and the loss of face that would result from scrapping it at this late stage would be so all-encompassing that Ministers and executives will strain every sinew to get a positive result. Do not be surprised if the Treasury greases the wheels of the deal still further to secure something it can call a victory. With CCS and onshore wind out the picture, the energy storage market still embryonic, and the government showing zero appetite for a comprehensive energy efficiency programme, the UK’s medium term decarbonisation strategy appears to rest on ministers’ willingness to make an already generous nuclear deal even more attractive to a company that is having a visible wobble about its appetite for the project. And all without any semblance of the Plan B that would both strengthen its negotiating hand and ultimately reduce the cost of meeting the UK’s carbon targets and energy security goals.
Business Green 4th Feb 2016 read more »
THE main man leading the £18 billion Hinkley Point C nuclear power station project has quit, a week after EDF delayed the final decision on whether or not to build it
Cheddar Valley Gazette 4th Feb 2016 read more »
SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie has called on the British Government to abandon its plans to construct Hinkley Point Nuclear Plant sooner rather than later. Speaking to Newry Times, Ritchie said, “I have learned that there is a condition attached to the Treasury Loan Guarantee which stipulates that Britain could withdraw financial support for the controversial £18bn nuclear power station at Hinkley if the plant being built by France’s EDF is not running by 2020. “There have been rising concerns surrounding the EDF’s ability to fund this project, and hearing the news of continuous problems at the French site will only lengthen the time taken to complete the project,” she insisted.
Newry Times 4th Feb 2016 read more »
Residents could be given only eight weeks to respond to the next stage of the consultation on Sizewell C when more details are expected to be revealed about the project.
Ipswich Star 4th Feb 2016 read more »
It is 20 years since I moved into a shared house, the only English native in a community drawn from France, Spain, Italy and Germany. There were two things my German friend, Marco, could not fathom about Britain. Rainer Baake is the minister responsible for planning Germany’s future energy provision. The key things he is now working on are efficiency, storage of electricity and “digitising” the grid, along with other energy uses such as transport, building and “industrial heat”.There are two clear winners, and they are wind and solar. We have learned how to produce electricity with wind and large-scale solar at the same cost level as new coal or gas generators. I am confident we can succeed and that we will have a superior energy system. “It is not a question about costs, because these new technologies produce at the same costs as the last ones. And, I should point out, they are much cheaper than nuclear.”
Norwich Evening News 4th Feb 2016 read more »
Most people associate the word “nuclear” with two things — weapons and meltdowns, neither of which are good news. Despite the extensive progress atomic energy researchers have made in designing safer reactors, nuclear accidents still occur — most recently in 2011 at Fukushima after a magnitude 9.0 earthquake off the coast of Japan. The cleanup process and 40-year plan to decommission the plant has involved giant underground walls of ice and the non-stop construction of enormous steel storage tanks full of radioactive water that no one really knows what to do with. So why aren’t our power plants getting safer? That, in a nutshell, is why nuclear energy isn’t getting any safer — because extending the lifetime of an existing plant is a far easier sell to the public than building a new one. But it’s not the whole story. Because to appreciate whether it’s important that nuclear energy isn’t getting safer, we need to talk about how safe it is to begin with.
How we get to Next 4th Feb 2016 read more »
Today the Office for Nuclear Regulation has published details of all ‘nuclear reportable events’ in the UK between April 1 2001 and March 31, 2015. These are deviations to safety standards, however small, which are highlighted so that they can be prioritised and addressed. The vast majority of events reported relating to EDF Energy are very minor and have no impact on safety. EDF Energy believes that its level of reporting reflects a healthy culture of openness and a commitment to improvement. The number of events with safety implications has fallen since EDF Energy took over the running of the stations in 2009. This is the result of our increasing investment, and a focus on safety and operational performance.
EDF Energy 4th Feb 2016 read more »
The police force responsible for guarding the UK’s nuclear weapons bases and other key military facilities is so overstretched that current staffing levels are “not sustainable” without risking security, according to an official report. The Ministry of Defence Police (MDP), whose 2,700 officers play a crucial role in protecting the UK’s defence infrastructure at more than 120 military sites around the UK, is reliant on officers working “excessive overtime” to maintain security, it warned.
Independent 4th Feb 2016 read more »
The recent accounting scandal at Toshiba, which saw profit-padding to the tune of $1.2 billion over a seven year period, according to Bloomberg, has forced the conglomerate, in its own words, to undergo “bold” structural reform. This has seen the shedding of both jobs and business divisions over the past year, and the revision of FY financial forecasts. A new focus for the conglomerate will be in the energy and storage businesses, says Toshiba in its latest earnings report, out today. It adds that on the back of the restructuring, a group-wide net loss of around JPY 710 billion ($6 billion) can be expected for the FY 2015, instead of JPY 550 billion.
Renew Economy 5th Feb 2016 read more »
Levy Control Framework
The National Audit Office (NAO) has confirmed that a review of the Levy Control Framework and how effectively it has met its objectives is currently underway. The government spending auditor confirmed the investigation earlier this week, noting on its website that the review will update its work from 2013 on the subject and is due to be published before the summer. This is particularly timely considering that energy secretary Amber Rudd is expected to legislate for the Committee on Climate Change’s fifth carbon budget – including the highly anticipated extension of the LCF framework beyond 2021 – by that date. Last month a spokesperson for the NAO told Solar Power Portal that the LCF was once again “on its radar”, following repeated calls from select committee chairman Angus Macneil for additional information on the subject. Central to the review is to uncover the reasons behind changes in forecast expenditure and how the Department of Energy and Climate Change governs and reports arrangements within the framework.
Solar Power Portal 4th Feb 2016 read more »
Swedish utility Vattenfall has announced a loss of SEK19.8 billion ($2.4 billion) in 2015, its third consecutive annual loss. It attributed this partly to continued low electricity prices and unprofitable Swedish nuclear power reactors.
World Nuclear News 4th Feb 2016 read more »
Germany’s Minister for the Environment, Barbara Hendricks, has conducted talks with the Belgian government on extending the lifespan of its two nuclear power stations. They agreed to strengthen cooperation on nuclear safety. EurActiv Germany reports. However, this is not enough for the people of the German city of Aachen, which lies on the border with both Belgium and Netherlands. The threat of a possible nuclear incident at the aging Tihange facility, located only 60 kilometres from the city, has prompted the Aachen city region to launch legal proceedings. EurActiv Germany spoke with Claus Mayr about the rising tensions.
Euractiv 3rd Feb 2016 read more »
US – radhealth
Since 1991 the annual number of newly documented cases of thyroid cancer in the United States has skyrocketed from 12,400 to 62,450. It’s now the seventh most common type of cancer. Relatively little attention is paid to the butterfly-shaped thyroid gland that wraps around the throat. Many don’t even know what the gland does. But this small organ (and the hormone it produces) is crucial to physical and mental development, especially early in life. Cancer of the thyroid also gets little attention, perhaps because it is treatable, with long-term survival rates more than 90 percent. Still, the obvious question is what is causing this epidemic, and what can be done to address it? Recently, there has been a debate in medical journals, with several authors claiming that the increase in thyroid cancer is the result of doctors doing a better job of detecting the disease at an earlier stage. A team of Italian researchers who published a paper last January split the difference, citing increased rates and better diagnosis. But as rates of all stages of thyroid cancer are soaring, better detection is probably a small factor. So, what are the causes? Today, one of the main sources of human exposure to radioactive iodine is nuclear power reactors. Not only from accidents like the ones at Chernobyl and Fukushima, but from the routine operation of reactors. To create electricity, these plants use the same process to split uranium atoms that is used in atomic bombs. In that process, waste products, including I-131, are produced in large amounts and must be contained to prevent exposure to workers and local residents. Some of this waste inevitably leaks from reactors and finds its way into plants and the bodies of humans and other animals. The highest rates of thyroid cancer in the United States, according to federal statistics, are found in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and New York, states with the densest concentration of reactors in the nation. In a study conducted in 2009, one of this article’s authors (Janette Sherman) found the highest rates of thyroid cancer occurring within 90-mile radiuses of the 16 nuclear power plants (13 still operating) in those states.
Washington Spectator 4th Feb 2016 read more »
America’s first new nuclear power plant to be built in decades may end up costing $200 million more than budgeted for in 2015, Kallanish Energy understands. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported Tennessee Valley Authority directors voted in January to add $200 million more to the budget for the Unit 2 reactor at the Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in Tennessee, raising the completion budget to $4.7 billion since work was revived on the reactor in 2007. Watts Bar spokesman Mike Skaggs told the paper the cost rose in part because of delays in completion, extra flood controls and emergency equipment required to prevent an accident like what happened at Fukushima, Japan. The price for the new TVA plant is still below the expense of reactors being built at Plant Vogtle in Georgia, which are projected to top $10 billion.
Kallanish Energy 5th Feb 2016 read more »
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has approved the expenditure of a further $200 million on the completion of Watts Bar 2, which would bring final spending on the project to a total of up to $4.7 billion.
World Nuclear News 4th Feb 2016 read more »
India ratified an international convention on nuclear energy accident liability, the government said on Thursday, the final piece in its efforts to address the concerns of foreign nuclear suppliers and draw them into a market worth billions of dollars.
Reuters 4th Feb 2016 read more »
Morocco’s king will switch on the first phase of a concentrated solar power plant on Thursday that will become the world’s largest when completed. The power station on the edge of the Saharan desert will be the size of the country’s capital city by the time it is finished in 2018, and provide electricity for 1.1 million people.
Guardian 4th Feb 2016 read more »
Putting nuclear missile submarines in the ocean without their lethal payloads would leave Britain vulnerable to attack, according to former Royal Navy boss Lord West of Spithead.
Russia Today 4th Feb 2016 read more »
The Wendelstein 7-X – the world’s largest stellarator-type fusion device – started scientific operation yesterday with the production of its first hydrogen plasma, the actual investigation object.
World Nuclear News 4th Feb 2016 read more »
Global installation figures are rolling in for wind and PV, and they look fantastic. The future is also bright: the forecast is for further growth. Single countries used to dominate these markets, but increasingly everyone is building. In fact, developing countries now invest more in renewables than the developed world does. Craig Morris takes a look. In Europe, the leader for PV is once again the UK, which increased its installations from around 2.5 GW in 2014 to 3.3 GW last year. The country, which now has nearly 8 GW of PV installed, aims to have a whopping 22 GW by the end of this decade. To do so, it will need to install around 2.4 GW annually for the next five years. In contrast, Germany – formerly the global leader – fell below 1.5 GW of new capacity installed last year.
Renew Economy 5th Feb 2016 read more »
Renewables – solar
Swindon Council is considering a new community solar project that would offer residents a 6% return on any investment for the next 20 years. The Council will meet next Wednesday (10 February) to vote on the Swindon Community Solar Farm project, which would be the first of its kind in the UK to allow residents to invest directly in council solar bonds. The proposed 5MW farm would cost £4.8m to construct, with £3m coming from the council’s investment, and the remaining £1.8m from community investors. Investors and the council would reap 35% of the profits, with 65% going towards local community initiatives. The solar farm would generate enough electricity to supply the equivalent of 1,200 typical homes and save around 2000 tonnes of carbon dioxide a year. Swindon has an aim to install 200MW of renewable capacity by 2020, enough to meet the equivalent energy requirements of every home in the borough. A total of 140MW has already been built or is being planned.
Edie 4th Feb 2016 read more »
Installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in your home is a better investment than depositing cash in the bank. According to Stephen Munday, Managing Director of Clean Energy Installations, householders can achieve a 10% return on the outlay in the form of reduced energy costs. This more than four times the return many savings accounts offer in annual interest on cash deposits. Munday said: “Even allowing for the fact the government has slashed its Feed-in Tariffs – the financial incentives for investing in renewable energy – people are still seeing their energy bills drop by an average of £550 every year.”
Scottish Energy News 5th Feb 2016 read more »
The Association for the Conservation of Energy (ACE) has criticised the government’s plans to exclude solar from the lower rate of VAT assigned to energy-saving measures (ESMs) as part of its response to an EU court ruling. The European Court of Justice ruled early last year that the current rate of 5% violates the EU’s VAT Directive, insisting that the full 20% be paid on all ESMs. In response, HM Revenue and Customs released a consultation in December outlining proposals to keep the tax relief on all measures, with the exception of power generators such as solar panels, wind turbines and water turbines. Its reason was that these technologies could not be considered to ‘renovate’ a property, which serves as a condition of qualifying for the lower rate of VAT. However, in its response to the consultation, ACE claims there are “reasonable and substantial grounds to consider solar thermal and solar PV in certain cases”, such as when integrated solar panels are used as a roofing material. The response also draws attention to the use of solar thermal systems as an integral part of a property’s heating system. With other technologies providing heating services – such as heat pumps, biomass boilers and micro-CHP – being considered as renovation solutions, ACE questions why solar thermal has been excluded on this basis.
Solar Portal 4th Jan 2016 read more »
Renewable – offshore wind
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) welcomes the final investment decision from Dong Energy that will see the development of the world’s largest offshore wind energy facility off the Yorkshire coast. It will provide electricity for over 1 million homes. It comes in stark contrast to the ninth postponement of the Hinkley Point C final investment decision by EDF. It convinces NFLA that UK Government policy should be focused on developing realisable renewable energy projects rather than the financial and safety risks inherent in new nuclear build.
NFLA 4th Feb 2016 read more »
Renewables – hydro
Green Highland Renewables is set to begin work on a hydropower scheme at Loch Eilde Mor, in the hills above Kinlochleven, the Scottish hydropower developer announced this week. Work on the £13.6m project, which is funded by the hydroelectric specialist’s owners, Ancala Renewables, will start later this month, the company said. It added that the 2MW scheme would see £10,000 of funding provided to a new Kinlochleven Community Trust.
Business Green 4th Feb 2016 read more »
A new report by the Association for the Conservation of Energy has shone a spotlight on the energy performance of homes in the Wells constituency – the first in a series of local area briefings. The report, which has been welcomed by local MP James Heappey and by Warmer Improved Somerset Homes (WISH), a local front-line scheme delivering warmer homes, shows how tens of thousands of local residents have benefited in recent years from proper insulation and efficient boilers, making their homes more affordable to heat and safer to live in. But the report also highlights that residents in Mid-Somerset have seen half as many improvements per household from recent schemes when compared to the national average. It goes on to identify the huge untapped potential for delivering to the remaining residents the benefits their neighbours have seen.
ACE January 2016 read more »
The Leap Manifesto, along with a list of its original signatories, can be read in 10 languages here. To find out about leap year activities visit leapyear2016.org. On Friday 5 February, Naomi Klein is co-hosting a leap year-themed Google hangout with Bill McKibben of 350.org, Asad Rehman of Friends of the Earth and others.
Guardian 4th Feb 2016 read more »