At first glance, it seems an almost inexplicable paradox. A right-wing British government has invited companies controlled by the Chinese Communist Party – and in one case, the Chinese military – into the heart of the UK’s strategically vital energy infrastructure. The nuclear deal between Britain and China goes against the advice of the security services, the military and the US government. So to explain this paradox, we must look carefully at another major deal in the British government’s flirtation with President Xi Jinping: the inter-penetration of the two countries’ financial services. Whatever one’s political persuasion, it is hard not to conclude that there are material interests in place that encourage government policy towards the expansion of opportunities for financial speculation. This is now so much the case, it seems, that it is allowed to override some of the Conservative Party’s most deeply held ideological positions. Let’s assume that new investment in nuclear power is essential – and that’s a very big assumption indeed. The government must explain why less risky (strategically and geo-politically) alternatives to Chinese involvement, such as investment by Japanese or US companies, were not seriously pursued. Difficulties in obtaining the investment from British banks and the stock market might have had something to do with it. But ultimately the decision to involve Chinese companies – initially with EDF at Hinkley Point and then on their own at Bradwell and Sizewell – only makes sense if it is seen as part of a quid pro quo for the previously announced financial services deal.
Business Insider 6th Nov 2015 read more »
The Conversation 5th Nov 2015 read more »
Hinkley Point C and Trident – the link between the Tories’ two mad nuclear policies. Gordon Morgan explores the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant deal between the UK and China, and finds on almost every score – cost, safety, consumer price, design, legality – the deal is an irrational one, which leaves just one possible rational kernel – that it is connected to the Tories other mad nuclear policy; Trident renewal. FOR a Government avowedly committed to “balancing the books”, supporting business and maintaining national security, the Tories have a knack for indulging in policies which undermine all three of these goals. Trident renewal is the most bizarre of these policies. Real cuts to defence spending have been made resulting in equipment and personnel shortages and death and injury to UK troops. Why then persist in spending £160 billion on something which has no defence utility, can never be used and is probably illegal under the non-proliferation treaties the UK has signed? But now George Osborne’s energy policy, and particularly the announcement of the deal with China over nuclear reactors, is matching Trident in the bizarre stakes, committing up to £45 billion of taxpayers cash to an unnecessary project. In one stroke he has divided the Tory party, antagonised huge sectors of UK business and financial institutions, guaranteed that consumer electricity prices will rise not fall in future, breached EU rules on state aid and is arguably placing England’s energy security and safety from nuclear contamination in the hands of a foreign power.
Common Space 4th Nov 2015 read more »
Westinghouse Electric Company has signed a support contract that will help protect against the risk of equipment obsolescence by keeping specialist nuclear equipment operational at the Sizewell B nuclear power station potentially for the next four decades. EDF Energy has awarded Westinghouse a long-term contract to maintain the high-integrity control system and the primary protection system at the plant on the Suffolk coast. This new support program will enable EDF Energy to keep these systems operational through the end of the power station’s life, including during decommissioning, potentially for the next 45 years.
Westinhouse 4th Nov2015 read more »
Energy Business Review 5th Nov 2015 read more »
French utility EDF is reviewing the strategy of its high-voltage grid business an asset that analysts have long believed may be partially sold to fund investment in nuclear power. EDF needs 55 billion euros ($60 billion) to upgrade its ageing nuclear plants, plans to invest 18 billion pounds to build two plants in Hinkley Point, Britain and spend several billion euros to buy Areva’s reactor business. EDF Chief Executive Jean-Bernard Levy has also outlined a strategy to invest in renewable energy and expand in emerging markets, but with EDF’s balance sheet stretched and few non-core assets left to sell, a partial sale of grid company RTE is one of its few options for raising cash quickly.
Reuters 5th Nov 2015 read more »
Greg Butler et al: We read with interest Professor Gerry Thomas’s Health risks from nuclear accidents – fact or fiction? in Ingenia 63. The Opinion makes a good case for a re-evaluation of what the risks from nuclear energy actually mean for existing and future operations. These thoughts are offered about the consequences of the UK’s current approach. In common with all industrial activities, the nuclear industry seeks to keep risks to the public well below 1 in 10,000 per annum for the public, and drives towards the broadly acceptable level of 1 in a million. Using the accepted calculations, this equates to a dose of 16.7 microsieverts per annum, but this has been ‘rounded down’ to 10 microsieverts. Despite, as Professor Thomas says, it being hard to show a categorical link between radiation and health below 100 millisieverts – UK policy and regulation measures seek to keep doses some 10,000 times lower.
Ingenia Online September 2015 read more »
Routinely armed Civil Nuclear Constabulary gets green light for ambitious training centre plans.
Police Oracle 5th Nov 2015 read more »
The UK press has been full of stories implying that wind power is to blame for the National Grid having to call in expensive demand shedding measures recently to keep the lights on. What they will not tell you is how often wind power saves the UK consumer large amounts of money because the National Grid does not have to buy in expensive reserves of power. Also they do not tell you that wind power in fact has quite a substantial contribution to effective firm power station capacity. It is all very well repeating over and over again that the wind sometimes doesn’t blow very strongly, but that doesn’t tell you how to keep the lights on. Put simply, the chances of there being challenges to keeping enough electricity generation to meet demand at any point in time depends on a combination of factors being present; not just there being not much wind, but also that there are unexpected failures in power stations, unexpected high demand and unavailability of other power or demand side reduction options at any given time. Usually wind power will be slaving away saving the the need to buy in more reserves of power or demand side management during those winter days and nights when our electricity system is challenged. But we don’t hear about this. It would be as ludicrous to dismiss wind power’s contribution to providing firm capacity as it would to insist that a particular power station can be guaranteed to be online all of the time. Indeed, a difference is that low wind power production may be usually more predictable than power stations going offline through breakdowns. In fact, buried deep inside regulatory reports there is official recognition that wind power does have substantial equivalent firm capacity. As can be seen in OFGEM’s electricity capacity assessments. OFGEM defines:’Equivalent Firm Capacity of wind (EFC): the average contribution of wind power to the de-rated margin. It is the quantity of firm capacity (ie always available) required to replace the wind generation in the system to give the same level of security of supply’ In fact OFGEM’s models indicate that the ‘wind equivalent firm capacity factor’ varies in its models from 14.8 per cent to some 25.9 per cent depending on the scenarios modeled for a range of years. Now that is quite substantial (ie a mean of around 20 per cent). According to the UKWED database there are currently around 13.5 GWe of wind power installed in the UK. Hence, in effect, averaging out the mean of the models assessments of equivalent firm capacity provided by wind, wind power adds the equivalent of 2.7 GWe of firm capacity to UK generating capacity. That, by the way, is rather more than the equivalent of around two and a half Sizewell B nuclear power stations.
Dave Toke’s Blog 5th November 2015 read more »
National Grid spent millions of pounds seeking to prevent power shortages on Wednesday after using all but one of its “safety nets”. The electricity transmission firm revealed it was forced to call on a range of measures when power reserves ran low, including buying power at short notice and asking industrial users to turn down their usage. National Grid spent at least £2.5m after issuing a notice of inadequate system margin (NISM) on Wednesday afternoon asking power companies to provide more electricity. It paid the owner of Severn power station, Calon, about £2,500 per megawatt hour to provide an extra 500MW for two hours. On a normal day the typical cost for immediate power would be closer to £60 per megawatt hour.
Guardian 5th Nov 2015 read more »
Electricity imported from Ireland helped the UK to stave off the threat of power shortages on Wednesday night, according to experts, who warned that Britain may face a series of similar incidents this winter. National Grid imported 200 megawatts of power from Ireland for about six hours from midday on Wednesday, paying Irish generators €390 (£276) per megawatt hour — about seven times the wholesale price. The imports helped to improve the cushion of spare capacity and formed part of a package of emergency measures undertaken by National Grid after plummeting output from Britain’s wind farms forced it to issue its first emergency request for extra power in three years.
Times 6th Nov 2015 read more »
Argentina and China have concluded negotiations on the technical and commercial contracts for the $6 billion construction of Argentina’s fourth nuclear power plant, Kallanish Energy learns. In July 2014, China and Argentina signed an agreement towards construction of a third pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) at the Atucha plant in Argentina. Through the agreement, China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) is to assist Nucleoeléctrica Argentina SA (NASA) by providing goods and services under long-term financing. That agreement was ratified this past February. The accord provides for NASA to be designer, architect-engineer, builder and operator of the new reactor.
Kallanish Energy 6th Nov 2015 read more »
Nuclear power has hit the headlines again. The South Australian royal commission into the nuclear fuel cycle has rebooted the conversation around international spent fuel dumping at the same time the new chief scientist has thrown nuclear into the mix as part of the solution to climate change. The question of whether to “value add” our uranium exports with an enrichment and fuel fabrication industry is being considered from the prime minister’s office on down.
Guardian 6th Nov 2015 read more »
Austria’s largest state said Thursday that 100 percent of its electricity is now generated using renewable sources of energy. “We have invested heavily to boost energy efficiency and to expand renewables,” said Erwin Proell, premier of 1.65m-strong Lower Austria. “Since 2002 we have invested 2.8 billion euros ($3bn) in eco-electricity, from solar parks to renewing (hydroelectric) stations on the Danube,” Proell told a news conference. The state in northeastern Austria now gets 63% of its electricity from hydroelectric power, 26% from wind energy, nine percent from biomass and two percent from solar. In Austria as a whole, which voted against nuclear power in a 1978 referendum, 75% comes from renewables and the rest from fossil fuels.
Guardian 6th Nov 2015 read more »
The US Government has reiterated its support for the UK’s nuclear arsenal amid Labour’s growing support for its abolition. The UK Government is preparing to replace its nuclear submarine fleet, based at Faslane on the Clyde, with new vessels to be jointly developed with the US Government to carry the US-manufactured Trident D5 missile. The Scottish Parliament voted overwhelmingly to call for the renewal of Trident to be scrapped on Tuesday, following Scottish Labour’s decision to reverse its historic pro-nuclear stance.
Press and Journal 5th Nov 2015 read more »
The world could soon be generating all its electricity from renewable sources, writes Dave Elliott, by harnessing diverse technologies for generation, grid balancing and energy storage. Add to that the use of power surpluses to make fuels, and it could even be feasible to make all our energy – not just electricity – renewable. A clean green future beckons. Some renewables are now cheaper than conventional sources, even when the cost of providing backup to deal with their variability is included. Can variability really be dealt with and at low cost? Actually we already do it. Grid systems already cope with quite large variations in supply and demand, mainly by ramping the output of some power plants up and down. With renewables on the grid, they will have to do that a bit more often, reducing the cost and carbon savings from not using fossil fuel very slightly. We don’t have to build new plants for this extra back up – they already exist. As they age, new, better, ones will have to be built, for example flexible gas turbines using low net carbon biogas as a fuel, produced from farm and home wastes.
Ecologist 5th Nov 2015 read more »
The CEO of green utility Good Energy has called UK government cuts to renewable energy subsidies “a hatchet job” enacted without appreciation for the positive impact renewables were having on wholesale energy prices. In an interview with Energydesk, Juliet Davenport explained that the Conservative Party’s policy on wind and solar is “not logical” and that they were “terrified by the figures people from the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) were showing them”.
Energydesk 5th Nov 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
Two stunning auction results in India and Chile in the last week have underscored the extraordinary gains that large-scale solar has made against its fossil fuel competitors. In both countries, solar is now clearly the cheapest option compared to new coal-fired power stations. In Chile, where the auction was open to all technologies, fossil fuel projects did not win a single megawatt of capacity. And the auction produced the lowest ever price for unsubsidised solar – US6.5c/kWh. In India, US firm SunEdison won the entire 500MW of solar capacity on auction in the state of Andhra Pradesh, quoting a record low tariff for India of INR 4.63/kWh (US7.1c/kWh). Again, this was unsubsidised. And again, it beats new coal generation, particularly generation using imported coal.
Renew Economy 6th Nov 2015 read more »
Efforts by local communities to install their own solar panels and wind turbines will be decimated by Treasury changes to tax relief, more than 100 green energy groups have warned. In a letter to the chancellor, George Osborne, the groups claim that a move to axe tax relief for so-called “community energy” projects will be the “final nail in the coffin” for their prospects. Community energy groups, which have previously installed solar on schools, community halls and even breweries across the UK, have already been affected by the threat of a 87% cut in solar power incentives. But last week the Treasury said it would be removing various forms of tax relief – Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) and Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS) tax relief and Social Investment Tax relief (SITR) – for investors in community energy. Currently an investor putting £1,000 into a solar project can get £300 back from the government as a one-off payment under SITR, but that will no longer be the case. The change was included as part of the finance bill, and sources say it was announced without consulting the Department of Energy and Climate Change, which has previously promised a revolution in community energy.
Guardian 5th Nov 2015 read more »
People in Britain would most like to see energy subsidies spent on schemes that reduce energy waste, according to the results of a new poll today aimed at encouraging the government to reveal the results of its energy policy reset. More than 79 per cent of people support subsidies for measures that cut energy waste by insulating homes, according to the results of a new poll by ComRes commissioned by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU).
Business Green 5th Nov 2015 read more »
A groundbreaking project to give thousands of sub-standard homesa dramatic green makeover has finally won EU approval, but only after a massive downgrading of its ambition. The Energiesprong project had hoped to provide a wave of 10-day makeovers for over 100,000 British housing association and council homes, installing wraparound insulating facades, solar panels and Ikea kitchens. But to get an initial €3.6m (£2.6m) of EU support, the group had to scale back their ambitions and now plans just 5,000 retrofits in the UK, and the same number in France. In the Netherlands, Energiesprong is already delivering on a contract to renovate 110,000 prefab homes built in the 1960s and 70s. This is being paid for by the estimated €6bn of energy bill savings it will bring tenants, and under-written by government guarantees over a 40-year period.
Guardian 5th Nov 2015 read more »
Developing the regulation of energy efficiency of private sector housing (REEPS): modelling improvements to the target stock.This document presents the main findings from the 2014-2015 research project into improving the energy efficiency of the private sector dwelling stock in Scotland, undertaken by Ipsos MORI Scotland and Alembic Research. The research was commissioned by the Scottish Government’s Communities Analytical Services Division. The research identified the least cost methods of improving the energy performance of the poorest ranked dwellings in terms of their energy efficiency, i.e. those dwellings falling into the Bandings of E, F and G on the A to G SAP rating scale used to rate the energy performance of dwellings in Scotland.
Scottish Government 5th Nov 2015 read more »
The smart meter roll-out has reached millions of homes so far, with a projected total cost of £11billion. But the average saving per household stands at just £26 per year, British Gas has admitted. This is around 2pc of the average bill. Although official estimates suggests savings will mount over time, critics will seize on British Gas’s early-stage data as evidence that the overall benefit of the scheme could be lower than anticipated. The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) puts the cost per household of installing smart meters at £214.50. This gets passed indirectly on to consumers, along with other network costs.
Telegraph 5th Nov 2015 read more »