Letter Mark Hackett: Vincent de Rivaz managed to find a day six months ago when there was low wind and solar generation in Germany to justify the “baseload” need for nuclear power. What about the many days when nuclear power in the UK was out of action? Some nuclear stations have had to stop generating because of too much seaweed and jellyfish around their sites, so it is reasonable to question their intermittency. There are many types of renewable energy and using a variety could reduce this problem. Battery storage for renewables during periods of intermittency is just coming into use across the world. It should also be noted that offshore wind power being generated in Denmark is now considerably cheaper than the new nuclear power proposed for Hinkley Point, as the costs of renewables generally continue to come down — at a time when nuclear costs are soaring.
Sunday Times 5th July 2015 read more »
Despite the fact that there are not many opportunities to construct new nuclear plants in Western Europe, the Rosatom France head said his company can offer its European partners reliable and efficient solutions. “In Western Europe – if we are talking about new builds, I don’t see much opportunities in terms of new builds in Western Europe and you can count in one’s fingers the new builds in Western Europe – in Finland, in Hungary an in the UK, most probably.” The focus is Czech Republic, Hungary, the Balkans, Southeast Europe and Central Europe, he said. However, regarding new builds, Rosatom expects a lot of growth from emerging markets. “That’s why Europe is very important for us because we would like to go there to participate in growth in the territory of emerging markets together with the European companies. We’re looking for partnerships in order to deliver to the consumer our technical solution to be very specific. As an example, in our new builds we are going to use the Alstrom turbine. That’s a very critical part of a nuclear power station and it’s very important to have reliable partners in order to deliver to the customer a very good product. That’s about international cooperation as far as international Rosatom projects are concerned. We need partners and we believe that these partners are in Europe,” the Paris-based Rosatom executive said. “Secondly, there are certain activities in terms of lifetime extension and we believe that experience we gained in Russia can be quite relevant and quite important in order to improve the performance and safety of nuclear power stations in Europe and we offer our competences to our customers. That’s a market that exists and it’s very important to be there,” Rozhdestvin said.
New Europe 3rd July 2015 read more »
Main Routes for Radionuclide Transport & Accumulation in Terrestrial Ecosystems . This is based on the Institute for Terrestrial Ecology’s 1990s paper “Radioactivity and Wildlife”. This wasn’t taught at the Cumbrian School I went to, that was in the 70s. Fat chance of it being taught in schools now, even though we know the seepage from Sellafield to the surrounding groundwater includes plutonium and caesium.
Radiation Free Lakeland 5th July 2015 read more »
New Reactor Types
Nearly 50 American and Canadian tech companies, including heavy hitters like Bill Gates, have invested over a billion dollars in next-generation nuclear technologies in the last 10 years, according to the think tank Third Way. Despite declining public trust in nukes, especially since the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown in Japan in March 2011, proponents argue that nuclear is key — some say the key — to providing reliable energy while at the same time helping to rid the world of fossil fuels. But critics of nuclear power say this rosy picture does not match the realities of the industry, and that the technologies are too far from being scaled up commercially to meet the urgency of lowering emissions. What’s more, they say, the money behind the current push for more advanced reactors is paltry compared to the costs associated with developing, licensing, and constructing even a single nuclear plant.
Vice 3rd July 2015 read more »
John Kerry announced on Sunday that every foreign minister involved in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear ambitions would return to Vienna, but stressed how “difficult issues” stood in the way of agreement. After eight days of talks in Austria’s capital, the US secretary of state said the immense diplomatic effort to resolve the confrontation over Iran’s nuclear programme could still “go either way”.
Telegraph 5th July 2015 read more »
Guardian 5th July 2015 read more »
On the side of one of Tehran’s traffic-clogged freeways, among giant murals portraying the heroes and martyrs of the Iranian revolution, a lurid billboard warns that the “nuclear issue is just an excuse” for America, Israel, Britain and other hostile powers to try to undermine the Islamic Republic’s independence and sovereignty. “If we give way on that, they will come up with many other excuses,” the text in Farsi reads. Now that the marathon nuclear negotiations are finally approaching their end in Vienna on Tuesday, many Iranians still heed this suspicious message. Few, however, doubt that a deal will be done and sanctions will be eased, and that it will mark a new era in relations with the US and with the west, 36 years after Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the shah and shook the Middle East. Many hope and believe that Iran’s economy, and perhaps its complex political system, will be deeply marked by the change.
Guardian 5th July 2015 read more »
Renewable energy is all go in China, as set out in its climate pledge this week, writes John Mathews, with huge growth planned for wind and solar. The one big loser – coal exporters who can expect falling sales volumes in coming years.
Ecologist 3rd July 2015 read more »
When it comes to Trident, the British military are “split on this issue as never before”. That was the conclusion of a report by the Nuclear Education Trust and Nuclear Information Service that was published at the end of June. So why the difference in views?
The Conversation 6th July 2015 read more »
Michael Meacher: The recent announcement by China that it will bring to the Paris summit this December a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 60 % by 2050 is a sign of how sentiment is finally shifting even at the highest levels, though of course it does have to be actually delivered. But this is not an isolated straw in the wind. In 2013, for the first time, more new renewable capacity was built than fossil fuel-burning capacity, and future projections show that this excess wind and solar capacity over oil, gas and coal will steadily grow. Indeed, according to the International Energy Agency estimates based on current trends, renewables could supply half of the world’s electricity needs by 2050, with solar energy alone representing more than a quarter of that amount. There are further promising signs too. Although some huge centralised solar plants have been built, the biggest increase has been in distributed power – solar systems fixed to the roofs of buildings and homes – which now accounts for about 60% of total global solar capacity. Yet Osborne, with his unfailing knack of adopting the wrong policy (such as using austerity rather than growth to cut the budget deficit) has opted for what he likes to call a ‘shale revolution’, focused largely on hydraulic fracturing to tap 1.3 tn cubic feet of natural gas in large swathes of north-west England around the Bowland beauty spot. There has never been a proper assessment of the risks in the UK based on actual US experience. In particular, no attention has been given to the fact that a dozen trains loaded with volatile crude oil from the Bakken shale have gone off the rails, creating towering explosions, including the most notorious bomb-train incident in 2013 which killed 42 people and vaporised a large section of the nearby town.
Michael Meacher 5th July 2015 read more »
The US wind and solar power industries face a fall in investment in 2017 after tax credits expire, their trade body has warned as it appeals to politicians for more financial support. Plunging costs for wind and solar power have made them increasingly competitive against fossil fuels, but the American Council on Renewable Energy argues that the fall in the price of natural gas caused by the US shale boom means they still need additional tax breaks. Investment in both wind and solar power continues to grow and is expected to increase into next year, but is set to drop sharply in 2017, according to forecasts from Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
FT 5th July 2015 read more »
Renewables – tidal
This is a bold renewable energy project that will lead the world and stand the test of time. Predictable and renewable electricity for the next 120 years: why wouldn’t you do it? Plans to build the worlds first tidal lagoon power plant in Swansea Bay have now been granted development consent . At a time when the UK is struggling to rewire its electricity market to introduce more security, less carbon and less cost, here is a blueprint for an infrastructure solution that ticks each box and that will endure.
Telegraph 2nd July 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
Varun Sivaram, Samuel Stranks, and Henry Snaith have written an article for Scientific American about the wonders of perovskite solar cells, which are capable of stunning achievements in the laboratory. Sivaram says, ” [M]any of us believe this is the field’s biggest breakthrough since the original invention of the solar cell sixty years ago.” Why is that? According to Vox, “In the future, solar power won’t just come from bulky blue panels on rooftops. The solar panels of tomorrow will be transparent, lightweight, flexible, and ultra-efficient. We’ll be able to coat shingles or skylights or windows with them — and it’ll all be as cheap as putting up wallpaper.” One principal advantage they have over conventional solar technology is that they can be engineered to react to many different wavelengths of light. That lets them convert more of the sunlight that strikes them into electricity.
Renew Economy 6th July 2015 read more »
Renewables – onshore wind
WINDFARMS last month produced enough electricity to power more than 1.7 million homes in Scotland – representing a 120 per cent year on year increase. Environmental groups expressed surprise that turbines north of the Border provided 620,144MWh of electricity to the National Grid, because output generally falls during summer. The charity WWF said the latest figures show the turbines had generated the equivalent of 33 per cent of the country’s entire electricity needs for the month of June.
Herald 6th June 2015 read more »
Energy Voice 6th July 2015 read more »
Scotsman 6th July 2015 read more »
THE Scottish Government insisted “outstanding” new figures for wind power output shows the strength of Scotland’s renewable energy sector and repeated calls for its progress not to be put at risk by the “reckless” actions of the Tories. Figures published by WWF Scotland for June 2015 show that output from wind energy alone in Scotland increased by 120 per cent based on figures from the previous year – supplying enough energy for 70 per cent of Scottish households and 33 per cent of the country’s entire electricity needs for the month. SNP MSP Mike MacKenzie has lodged a motion in the Scottish Parliament condemning the UK Government’s cut to the subsidy for onshore wind energy paid through the Renewables Obligation which has now achieved cross-party support.
The National 6th July 2015 read more »
The innovators: how smaller batteries give more power to UK solar households. London startup tailors smaller, cheaper battery for UK households to use more of their own generated solar energy. The offices of Powervault are a far cry from Tesla’s showpiece Californian stage. The similarity lies in the product – the Powervault battery, which stores energy from domestic solar panels. The Powervault unit is about the size of a washing machine and weighs about 150kg (330lbs). Inside are batteries, chargers and electronics. A charger takes the energy from the solar panels and transforms it into energy which is then stored in the batteries and discharged around the home when needed. The unit stores 2 to 4 kilowatt hours, enough energy to watch television for 14 or 28 hours or wash two to four full loads in the washing machine. Priced between £2,000 and £2,800 per unit, it is cheaper than rivals, says Warren, and it has been reduced in size to tailor it for the British home’s energy needs.“The main purpose is to reduce people’s electricity bills, to charge up during the day when it’s sunny, discharge it in the evening when people are using power. If you made the battery bigger, you could store the energy for longer but the problem with that is it would cost a lot more. What we have tried to do is size the unit so it is just right for a British house.”
Guardian 5th July 2015 read more »
Climate Change Committee
The CCC started on a positive note – “first the good news” you could call it – confirming that the UK is on track to meet the second and third carbon budgets, and in 2014 emissions decreased eight per cent compared to the previous year. The Committee also shines a light on the UK’s achievements adding new renewable electricity generating capacity in 2014, including wind. This UK effort means that renewables accounted for nearly half of all new power generation capacity built in 2014. The message is clear: clean energy is delivering. So far so good – but then come the caveats. The CCC expresses concern about underlying progress and about whether momentum can be sustained through the 2020s. It is concerned that progress in renewable heat deployment is slow and targets are not being met. And it warns that “significant action is required in the new Parliament in order to meet the fourth carbon budget and to stay on track to the 2050 target”. The main danger identified by the CCC is the vacuum at the heart of the government’s energy policy: “The key risk to future progress is the current uncertainty over the long-term policy framework. Many existing policies or associated funding for the transition to a low-carbon economy are due to end by 2020. There is a need for these to be extended as soon as possible.” In other words: act now – you should have sorted this out already. So the Committee came up with some very timely recommendations, including urging government to set a carbon objective for the power sector in the 2020s and extend funding under the Levy Control Framework to 2025 with rolling annual updates, so that industry can have the confidence to invest in projects with 10-year lead-in times. Long-term visibility is vital – particularly for the offshore wind industry. This was specifically recognised by the CCC in a report they commissioned and published alongside their main annual assessment, which shows the cost of offshore wind energy will drop dramatically by the end of the decade, with further significant cost reductions in the 2020s.
Business Green 6th July 2015 read more »
The future of coal has come under scrutiny from a perhaps unlikely source – the head of the organisation representing wealthy nations that relied on coal for 32% of electricity generation last year. Angel Gurría, secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said the scale of new investments in “unabated” coal-fired electricity generation − where greenhouse gases are emitted directly to the atmosphere − posed the most urgent threat to the Earth’s climate.
Climate News Network 5th July 2015 read more »
Guardian 3rd July 2015 read more »
The fracking industry must be compelled to provide far more detailed information to regulators if the public is to be accurately informed of any risks to the environment, advocacy groups say. A report by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) last month found that hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas can lead, and has led, to the contamination of drinking water. It was the first time the federal government had admitted such a link. The study, based on “data sources available to the agency”, found levels of any contamination to be small compared to the number of wells across the country, the EPA said. But Gretchen Goldman, a lead analyst at the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union for Concerned Scientists, told the Guardian that the EPA’s study – which is now open for comment – was nothing “more than a literature review” and called for the industry to be required to divulge greater data.
Guardian 5th July 2015 read more »
Fracking sites should be separated by six mile “buffer zones” to prevent the industrialisation of the countryside, the Conservative MP for a crucial shale gas constituency has said. Kevin Hollinrake is the newly-elected MP for Thirsk and Malton in North Yorkshire, where gas company Third Energy is applying for planning permission to carry out fracking. The site has become increasingly significant to the Government’s hopes of developing a shale gas industry after last week’s decision by councillors in Lancashire to throw out plans by another firm, Cuadrilla. If Third Energy gains permission to frack at the site in Kirby Misperton – where it has already drilled a well – it is now likely to be the first location that the controversial process takes place in the UK since 2011.
Telegraph 5th July 2015 read more »