The outgoing U.K. energy minister said a 24.5 billion-pound ($37 billion) plan to build nuclear reactors in southwest England is being delayed by commercial issues involving the project’s main French and Chinese investors. “The reason it’s dragging on isn’t to do with the U.K. government,” Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey said in an interview in his Kingston & Surbiton constituency in southwest London. “It’s commercial reasons. The French have got to get their Chinese backers.”
Bloomberg 4th May 2015 read more »
Safety checks following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in March 2011, when a 10 metre-high sea wall was overtopped by a tsunami, have shown that nuclear plants are at greater risk of catastrophic flooding as a result of climate change. All nuclear plants need large quantities of water for cooling so all must be built close to the sea, large rivers or lakes. This makes them vulnerable to sea level rise, storm surges and to the possible collapse of large dams upstream from poor construction, floodwater or seismic activity. Since nuclear plants are designed to operate for as long as 60 years and need around a further century to decommission, accelerating sea level rise and more intense rainfall may present serious problems.
Climate News Network 5th May 2015 read more »
Crisis for Areva’s La Hague plant as clients shun nuclear. Areva’s nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in La Hague needs to cut costs as its international customers disappear following the Fukushima disaster, and its sole remaining big customer, fellow state-owned French utility EDF, pressures it to cut prices. One of the world’s biggest nuclear waste storage facilities, La Hague’s four pools hold the equivalent of about 50 reactor cores under four metres of water. Protected by 1.5 metre thick anti-radiation concrete walls, employees in space suits cut up spent nuclear fuel rods, extract uranium and about one percent of plutonium, and melt the remaining waste into glass for eventual deep storage.
Reuters 6th May 2015 read more »
A NUCLEAR research programme based at the University of Huddersfield has received £678,000 to investigate solutions to engineering challenges in the nuclear reactors of the future.The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) has granted the money towards the cost of a three-year, £856,000 project. Problems can be caused by atoms which are displaced and the accumulation of gases in the materials used for the construction of nuclear reactors. It is possible that the material can in effect repair itself.
Business Desk 6th May 2015 read more »
Three industry bodies within the nuclear industry are collaborating to close the skill and knowledge gap facing the sector by encouraging students to become nuclear professionals.
Utility Week 5th May 2015 read more »
There is a £200 billion “carbon bombshell” lurking at the heart of Labour’s election manifesto according to today’s Daily Telegraph. Its promise to decarbonise the power sector by 2030 could “wreak havoc with the UK’s finances”, according to a second article in the same paper. The stories centre on Labour’s manifesto promise to set a decarbonisation target for UK electricity, in line with the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC). Labour would mandate a reduction from the 450 grammes of carbon dioxide emitted per megawatt hour of electricity generated today, to between 50 and 100 grammes in 2030. The Telegraph analysis rests on a series of shaky assumptions. More significantly, however, it is flawed because it ignores the cost of the alternatives. Carbon Brief takes you through the details. The Telegraph says wholesale electricity prices will rise from around £40 per megawatt hour today to £55 in 2030. The paper does not explain how it arrived at this figure. DECC’s central projection is £73, which would make top-up subsidies for low-carbon energy sources relatively cheaper. National Grid scenarios cover a range of £50 to £100 per megawatt hour in 2030. Future prices are highly uncertain. The Telegraph then assumes, without offering any justification, that half of the UK’s zero-carbon power in 2030 would be nuclear, up from 19% last year. It estimates the cost as the same as for building a new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point C in Somerset. The government says new nuclear plants will become cheaper through the 2020s, though nuclear has a poor record on cost.
Carbon Brief 5th May 2015 read more »
Energy Policy – Scotland
A NEW centre focusing on energy policy has been formally launched at Strathclyde University’s Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC). The Centre for Energy Policy (CEP) has been created with the aim of “challenging and informing policy analysis and decision-making” in Scotland and around the world. It is hoped the CEP will link the expertise available at the university to the design and development of policy. CEP director Professor Karen Turner said: “The centre will look to broaden the discussion about the future of energy policy in Scotland, not just focusing on electricity and renewables but also considering the longer-term issues, such as transport and heating.
National 6th May 2015 read more »
Scotsman 6th May 2015 read more »
Tom Burke: A YouGov poll published last week found that 40% of voters wanted to hear more about the environment. They also wanted to hear more about education, pensions, foreign affairs and Europe. They have been disappointed. It is too easy to blame this silence on the politicians. Political debate in Britain has largely been reduced to a hermetic conversation between party leaders no-one listens to anymore and editors who confuse news with entertainment. But environmentalists must also take some of the blame. The environmental community in Britain is vast. It has 4.5 million members, 13% of the population. This is 10 times as many supporters as all the political parties combined, even counting the 100,000 members who have just signed up to the SNP and the Greens. Add the National Trust’s 4 million members and a quarter of Britain’s population belong to this community. But it has consistently punched below its weight. We have been voluble and voluminous in arguing for the things we care about – biodiversity, carbon emissions, ecosystems, toxic chemicals. We have asked consumers, corporations and governments to do more to protect them. A lot of the time we have sounded as remote from the realities of everyday life as the politicians. It is now time for us to ask a different question. What can the environment do for Britain? We have to make our understanding of environmental realities work for Britain’s prosperity and security. We have to sound like we can connect that understanding to the world of rising bills and static wages; of over-stretched public services and declining industries; of falling confidence in government and growing insecurity of income, housing, savings.
Guardian 5th May 2015 read more »
US – radwaste
After 18 months of delay to address the worries of state officials, the Department of Energy said Monday night it will ship potent uranium waste from a federal laboratory in Tennessee for disposal in Nevada. Officials did not give a time-line for when the shipments will begin from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to the Area 5 landfill at the Nevada National Security Site, 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas. It’s unlikely the Department of Energy office that transports nuclear weapons and special nuclear material will make the shipping schedule public.
Las Vegas Review Journal 4th May 2015 read more »
Major civil construction work has been completed for an underground dry used fuel storage facility at Ameren’s Callaway nuclear power plant in Missouri. The first canisters containing used fuel are scheduled to be put in place in July, Holtec International said.
World Nuclear News 5th May 2015 read more »
Areva has received a contract to supply used fuel storage modules for the Nine Mile Point nuclear power station, which is located in Scriba, New York, US.
Energy Business Review 5th May 2015 read more »
US – MOX
The same group that last year filed a FOIA for a cost analysis study of the Savannah River Site’s MOX program is advocating for the release of another study that prices the program at $20 billion more. SRS Watch – a group that monitors various site-related activities, filed a Freedom of Information Act requesting the release of a study that states the lifecycle cost of the nation’s plutonium disposition program is $51 billion. The study was conducted by Aerospace Corp., a California nonprofit corporation that operates a federally funded research and development center. The study has yet to surface, and the National Nuclear Security Administration has reported it could be months before it is because Aerospace is working on a version of the report that has no distribution restrictions.
Aiken Standard 4th May 2015 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
The fourth anniversary of the multiple meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi no. 1 power plant passed in relative quiet, but events there have hardly become less troubling. The good news first: TEPCO and its contractors have now completed the move of all spent and fresh fuel from the high and wide-open secondary containment of reactor Unit 4 to a safer ground-level location. They performed the work on time and almost without incident, despite the fears of many nuclear scientists and policymakers. Removal of molten fuel debris in Units 1, 2, and 3 will be more challenging, but Japan’s extensive experience with robotics should be helpful there, says Dr. Dale Klein, former chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and now chair of TEPCO’s Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee.Late in February, a fresh leak developed near a gutter that pours rain and groundwater to a bay adjacent to the Japan nuclear facility. It generated a contamination level reportedly between 50 and 70 times higher than the regular readings. Plant personnel blocked the gutter. Ditch water around tanks at the plant showed a relatively high level of radioactivity several weeks later. This water may have spilled into the sea. In March, 750 tons of strontium 90-contaminated water is said to have seeped from the tank area into the ground. A couple of days ago, technicians found a tiny leak under a storage tank measuring 70 millisieverts per hour of beta ray-emitting radioactivity.
Clean Technica 5th May 2015 read more »
Organised by the Energy Research Institute at Chulalongkorn University, the Ministry of Energy and the British Embassy Bangkok, this event was part of a project to help inform strategies for future energy reform in Thailand . As part of the event Matthew Lockwood from the the IGov team gave two presentations to share lessons from our research on renewable policies and governance issues within Denmark, Germany and the UK; as well as some of the barriers and opportunities of a more decentralised, demand focussed electricity system.
IGov 5th May 2015 read more »
The British naval base in Faslane, Scotland, is home to four Vanguard submarines – and the source of a fierce debate that illustrates the sticky political issues presented by the rise of the Scottish National Party in this year’s general election. While it may be hard for most Americans to imagine, those four submarines, equipped with ballistic missiles, are the sum total of the UK’s atomic arsenal. While the US has ICBMs, bombers and submarines of their own, the British nuclear deterrent is solely contained in the dark, sleek vessels that slip in and out of Faslane.
BBC 5th May 2015 read more »
A survey conducted in Bath has shown strong opposition to the Trident nuclear weapons system. The UK’s submarine weapons system is due for renewal soon, which could cost an estimated £100billion to replace. A poll was conducted every Saturday in April the centre of Bath, which found 96 per cent of people who responded do not want to see it replaced with a new nuclear weapons system. It was carried out by the Bath Stop War Coalition group.
Bath Chronicle 5th May 2015 read more »
GLASGOW is expected to get a £4.6 million boost to its economy as what organisers claim is the UK’s biggest renewable energy conference opens in the city today. All-Energy 2015 is one of the largest conferences being held in the city this year and will attract around 7,000 delegates from all over the world. The two-day event at the SECC will feature conference sessions and trade exhibitions covering areas ranging from offshore wind power to developing sustainable cities. There will be 450 exhibiting companies from 20 countries while there is a programme featuring 440 speakers across today and tomorrow during debates, discussions and knowledge-sharing sessions.
Herald 6th May 2015 read more »
Jobs in the renewables sector are growing more than seven times faster than the national average – according to new figures published by the UK’s largest renewables association. In the UK as a whole, employment in renewable energy increased by 9% across all sectors, bringing the total number working in the industry to 112,026. In comparison, the Office for National Statistics reported average growth of 1.2% during the same period. Scotland, London, North West England, and the East Midlands saw particularly large increases in a number of renewable energy sectors. The highest performing sector this year was in biomass heating, where employment increased by an average of nearly a fifth (19%) across the UK.
Scottish Energy News 7th May 2015 read more »
Business Green 1st May 2015 read more »
IEEE Spectrum has published John Bernhardt’s and my article on the Energy Transition in Denmark, Spain and Portugal, the nations I consider to be leaders for the transition to renewables in the electricity sector. This article was inspired by conversations around my critique of Vaclav Smil’s book “Energy Transitions”. One of my critiques of Smil is that he did not look at nations where the actual transition to renewables was happening, so to correct this I looked at the leading nations in Western Europe, which is the leading region for this transition. And whereas Smil spoke of a “necessary slowness” (a claim I debunked in my review), my co-author and I instead show that the transition to renewable energy is a choice. At times, the speed in these three nations has been quite rapid. If it’s slow, this is because the political will is lacking.
Energy Media Society 5th May 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
Scottish homes with solar panels saw 100% of their energy needs met by the sun during a bright April. The data, supplied by WeatherEnergy, should encourage more Scottish homes and businesses to embrace solar power, said WWF Scotland. For homes fitted with solar hot water panels, there was also enough sunshine in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness to generate an estimated 100% of an average households hot water needs, and 99% for homes in Aberdeen. WWF Scotland director Lang Banks said: “With these sorts of figures, every home or business with a south-facing roof should seriously consider switching on to the full potential of solar power. Similarly, there is no reason why Scotland should not be home to commercial-scale solar farms.”
Edie 5th May 2015 read more »
Reports in Scottish media, quoting statistics from WWF-Scotland and English-based WeatherEnergy, suggest that houses with solar panels installed received enough electricity to meet 100% of their needs. The data, provided by WeatherEnergy, analysts aiming at interpreting UK weather into daily renewable energy production figures, and publicized by WWF-Scotland, proves that homes fitted with solar PV panels were able to rely entirely on solar energy throughout April. In fact, according to the monthly figures for April provided by WeatherEnergy, the average percentage of household electricity demand provided by PV is astonishing (see the full list at the bottom of this page). In the country’s capital of Edinburgh, solar energy provided 132% of electricity for those residents with rooftop solar. In Glasgow, the country’s largest city, 123% was generated by rooftop solar houses; and in the country’s third largest city, Aberdeen, it was at 129%.
Clean Technica 5th May 2015 read more »
H&V News 5th May 2015 read more »
PV Magazine 4th May 2015 read more »
Renewables – wind
Spectrum Energy Systems will today (6 May) officially launch its first British-built 250kW wind turbine in Glasgow at the All Energy expo. An established supplier and installer of new and remanufactured wind turbines in the range of 10-850kW from world-class manufacturers, Spectrum Energy Systems is making a move into manufacturing following an exclusive agreement with Pioneer Wincon, one of the leading wind turbine manufacturers in India.
Scottish Energy News 6th May 2015 read more »
Renewables – tidal
The Beacon Museum is hosting an exhibition examining the potential of building linked tidal gateways across the six main estuaries of the North West Coast. North West Energy Squared Ltd has constructed a 3D model to demonstrate how a tidal gateway could work across all six of the estuaries in the north west of England. These include Solway Firth, Duddon Estuary, Morecambe Bay, Ribble Estuary, Mersey Estuary and the Dee Estuary. The project has the potential to: Generate enough renewable power to supply 5 million homes per year; Create 20,000 jobs in the construction phase and on a permanent basis; Provide flood control and sea defence with positive environmental impacts; Have significant socio-economic benefits throughout NW England
Cafs 1st May 2015 read more »
Now the fossil fuel companies – from fuel suppliers such as coal miners to coal-burning electric power utilities – will be on the defensive, fighting the new normal of cheaper renewable supplies and storage. Instead of asking “can we have our own energy system?” communities will be asking “why can’t we have it?” The Tesla Energy system launched last week is comprehensive, with global ramifications. The Powerwall system offering 10 kWh is targeted at domestic users. It is complemented by a commercial system termed the Powerpack offering 100 kWh storage, and a stack of 100 such units to form a 10 megawatt hour storage unit that can be used at the scale of small electricity grids. Whole communities could build micro-grid power supply systems around such a 10 MWh energy storage system, fed by renewable energy generation (wind power or rooftop solar power), at costs that just became super-competitive.
Renew Economy 6th May 2015 read more »
Storage frees us from the need to match electricity generation and supply to demand on a “real-time” basis. This is a game-changer. But it still costs money, incurs energy losses and has environmental impacts. So practical and economic strategies will involve several elements, which complement each other.
Renew Economy 6th May 2015 read more »
Last week, Elon Musk and his Tesla corporation changed the world. Or so you might think from reading the press coverage about Musk’s long-expected announcement that the gigafactory Tesla is building in Nevada will produce batteries not only for Tesla automobiles, but to use as storage for renewable energy–especially rooftop solar–as well. Jeff McMahon at Forbes took the most provocative approach; his piece was titled Did Tesla Just Kill Nuclear Power? We reposted McMahon’s piece on Facebook and Twitter–with the added comment: “Yes. And fossil fuels too.” And it quickly became the most popular item we’ve ever posted–as of this morning more than 172,000 people have seen it on their Facebook pages; more than 12,500 have read the article directly from our Facebook and Twitter links. More than 300,000 overall have read it–we suspect that’s far higher than a typical Forbes’ online post. Clearly, Tesla has tapped into something.
Green World 5th May 2015 read more »
A Greenpeace advert saying fracking will not cut energy prices was misleading because David Cameron argues otherwise, the UK advertising watchdog has ruled. Labour peer David Lipsey complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about the advert, which ran in the Guardian in January and claimed “experts agree – [fracking] won’t cut our energy bills”. The ASA asked Greenpeace to provide proof of a consensus among experts. In response the environment group sent 22 quotes from experts, including leading climate change economist Nicholas Stern, UK secretary of state for energy Ed Davey, director of the UK Energy Research Centre professor Jim Watson and three representatives from the fracking industry – including John Browne, the former chairman of shale gas company Cuadrilla.
Guardian 6th May 2015 read more »
Independent 6th May 2015 read more »
Telegraph 6th May 2015 read more »