Britain’s nuclear watchdog was made to wait more than a fortnight for key files from energy giant EDF confirming that components recently revealed to be suspect had not been used in one of Britain’s largest nuclear power stations. Emails released under the Freedom of Information Act show that in early May, France’s EDF Group initially rebuffed requests from the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to hand over files about a foundry in France that made specialist parts for EDF’s reactors. The request followed a shock announcement by the foundry’s owner, Areva, on 2 May that quality control reports could have been falsified. The email trail shows the ONR was still making requests for a components list on 18 May, 16 days after the safety fears were first aired. Dr David Lowry of the Institute for Resource and Security Studies, who obtained the emails, said they raised questions about the regulator’s powers. “ONR has run into so many difficulties in obtaining safety documentation from the French nuclear industry. How will it obtain key documents from the notoriously secretive Chinese nuclear industry, if they get permission to build their own reactors at Bradwell, on the Blackwater Estuary in Essex?” The watchdog said EDF had informally advised it that none of the components in Sizewell B posed a safety risk. But, without access to the files, it had to rely on the French firm’s assurances.
Guardian 6th Aug 2016 read more »
The architect of Britain’s nuclear strategy under Margaret Thatcher has called for the Government to cut the controversial Hinkley Point nuclear plan in half to save cash – and placate France and China. Former Energy Secretary Lord Howell said the current scheme was ‘impossible’ and privately many in the industry favoured going ahead on a much smaller scale. Howell, father-in-law of former Chancellor George Osborne who championed Hinkley Point, added: ‘This is a project built on technology that hasn’t yet worked. It is also a project designed in an age when oil was $110 a barrel – and it’s now less than half that.’ He said technology had advanced around the world on building smaller reactors at a fraction of the cost –‘£1billion for a reactor instead of £20billion.’
Daily Mail 6th Aug 2016 read more »
Electricite de France SA won a ruling avoiding the temporary suspension of its decision to go ahead with an 18-billion pound ($23.7 billion) project to build Britain’s first nuclear power plant in more than 20 years. Judge Marie-Helene Poinseaux said Friday there is no urgency for an interim ruling pending a final decision on Sept. 22. EDF’s main labor unions sought to have the board’s decision overturned as they want the project to be delayed to reduce financial pressure and construction risks. They want it pushed back by about three years to give the company time to complete the construction of similar reactors in France and China, which are over-budget and years behind schedule.
Bloomberg 5th Aug 2016 read more »
A Paris court on Friday confirmed the EDF board’s investment decision on the Hinkley Point nuclear newbuild project in Britain, an EDF Works Council official told Reuters. The French state-controlled utility’s Works Council had asked the Paris court to annul the board’s vote, arguing that it had not received the necessary documents from management to give a non-binding preliminary advice to the company. “The Works Council takes note of the court’s unfavorable decision,” the official said. He added that the court’s decision did not invalidate a separate Works Council lawsuit asking the court to oblige EDF management to release confidential documents relating to Hinkley Point. A hearing in that case is set for Sept 22.
Daily Mail 5th Aug 2016 read more »
EDF Chairman and CEO Jean-Bernard Levy had no prior knowledge of Britain’s decision to review the Hinkley Point nuclear project and will sue a French union for suggesting otherwise, the French utility said. In a statement late on Friday, EDF said Levy would take legal action against the Sud Energie union for alleging he had lied to reporters by saying he had not known before the board meeting that Britain would conduct a fresh review.
Reuters 6th Aug 2016 read more »
Mrs May hit the Hinkley Point nuclear power deal pause button, a hugely expensive project which would be a lousy deal for taxpayers. If we really do need Chinese investment, put it into small and medium scale infrastructure projects, into education and business development so regions like the North East can flourish. I felt Mr Osborne’s Northern Powerhouse concept sounded a bit too grandiose and gimmicky. It needn’t be the only game in town surely. I want solid projects; if, for example, we linked with Scotland in developing renewable energy production we could, literally, be the UK’s powerhouse. The Hinkley saga exemplifies the failings of decades of British industrial policy. The lack of a long-term strategy is replicated across most sectors of the economy – biotech, transport, energy production as well as advanced manufacturing.
Newcastle Chronicle 5th Aug 2016 read more »
While the government has postponed approval for the project, experts say fears over China’s involvement in Hinkley Point is overblown, and the huge cost of the plant’s public subsidy remains the biggest threat to its future. “Are we really saying as a country that we are so distrustful of our future relations with the Chinese that we think it’s a real possibility” they could pull the plug on a nuclear plant, Barry Gardiner, the opposition Labour Party’s spokesman on energy, said Thursday in a phone interview. The government needs to “take a critical look at what is really wrong with this contract, which is that the public is being asked to pay 30 billion pounds of subsidy.” Bernard Jenkin, the Conservative member of parliament for Harwich and North Essex, near the proposed Bradwell plant, last year urged the government to assess the security implications of a Chinese designed, owned and operated technology. It could be a “Trojan horse” used to threaten the U.K at a time of critical disagreement or conflict, he said. He wasn’t immediately available for comment on Friday. There is potentially more cause for concern about Bradwell, said Yeo and Grimston. However both doubted the Chinese company would have any motivation to switch off the plant.
Bloomberg 5th Aug 2016 read more »
Letter Greg Willkinson: In his autumn statement last year, George Osborne flagged up the prospect of a tidal lagoon power project in Swansea Bay, only to put it out for review when the price of oil and gas came down. The modest Swansea Bay venture is set to pilot a fleet of bigger enclosures with two-way turbine arrays to harness an exceptional tidal range, extending from Welsh and British coasts across the Channel to France. The technology of lagoon-wall dykes and low-speed turbines is relatively simple. Lagoons carry no heavy overhang of radioactive waste and decommissioning. They are most unlikely to blow up and in case of major breakdown the damage would not be insupportable.
Observer 7th Aug 2016 read more »
Letter David Barnard: Your editorial says: “But renewables cannot provide the stable excess capacity needed to deal with short-term surges in demand.” But surely that is exactly what hydroelectric power can do very quickly. Pumped storage systems such as exist in Wales and Scotland, and tidal lagoons such as are proposed in the Severn Estuary, provide turn-of-the-tap electricity. We just need to get on with building them.
Observer 7th Aug 2016 read more »
Letter Liz Fowler: Theresa May is fully justified in giving careful consideration to the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station project (“Axeing Hinkley may cost £2.5bn”, News, and “If we stop Hinkley we have to go hard for growth”, Editorial, last week). Despite the eye-watering sums involved, it will provide only 7% of our electricity needs and those costs are more than likely to spiral. If a fraction of that money were spent on incentives to put solar panels on all industrial buildings, warehouses and office blocks, the power would be where it is needed. In addition, research into efficient methods of electricity storage would be money well spent.
Times 7th Aug 2016 read more »
Letter Marion Judd If Hinkley Point C goes ahead, individuals and businesses with sufficient means to install solar panels or other renewable technologies will do so to offset the increased costs of electricity. This will leave the poor and disadvantaged even more so.
Times 7th Aug 2016 read more »
THE NEWS HIT headlines last week that a massive new power plant was soon to be built at Hinkley Point in England, just 250km from the coast of Ireland. Hinkley Point C was given the final investment approval by French energy giant EDF, which would be building the plant in conjunction with the Chinese. Ireland has a history with not being the biggest fan of UK nuclear power plants and projects. The government and anti-nuclear activists were long-engaged in a battle with the UK over the Sellafield nuclear site, located on the Cumbrian coast 180km from Ireland’s coast.
(Irish) Journal 6th Aug 2016 read more »
A CAMPAIGN group has renewed calls for plans for a new power station to be abandoned after it was decided a project in Somerset should face review. The Blackwater Against New Nuclear Group (BANNG) is fighting against plans for a Chinese-backed nuclear power station.
Maldon and Burnham Standard 5th Aug 2016 read more »
A new book which analyses energy and environmental law and policy features contributions by two Sussex Energy Group researchers on the importance of moving beyond technical understandings of energy to the importance of considering factors such as governance, competing interests and competing ideologies or world views when examining global energy policies. Benjamin Sovacool, Professor of Energy Policy at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) and Director of the Centre on Innovation and Energy Demand, and Philip Johnstone, a Research Fellow at SPRU both have written chapters in Delivering Energy Law and Policy in the EU and the US. Benajamin Sovacool’s chapter explains that contentions over energy technologies are due to different or competing worldviews or ‘frames’ of how energy is conceptualized, rather than the facts. Individuals who hold the ‘technical optimist frame’ believe, for example, that almost any problem can be fixed with technology. In contrast the ‘environmental preservationist’ frame prioritises the protection of the environment above and beyond energy delivery. A chapter by Philip Johnstone, a Research Fellow at SPRU, focusses on the UK delivery of nuclear power in the context of Europe. Research often focusses on the relative merits of nuclear with regards to carbon profile or economics, but, Johnstone asks, how feasible is the actual delivery of nuclear once wider governance factors are taken into account? The UK has done nearly everything that it can in the context of a ‘liberalised’ energy market to promote new nuclear, including a broad political consensus in favour of new nuclear, reforms to licensing arrangements, new institutions created to facilitate nuclear power, increased investment in nuclear skills, reforms to the planning system and generous economic incentives for nuclear investment. Despite this, says Johnstone, UK nuclear new build has not materialised, start up dates (which formed part of the justificatory basis for unique planning decisions taken to speed up nuclear) have been extended, and costs have soared.
SPRU 26th July 2016 read more »
THE UK’s £31 billion programme to replace Trident submarines is in major doubt, according to a high-level government spending watchdog. A report by the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) to the Treasury and Cabinet Office has warned that the plan to build four new nuclear weapons submarines for the Clyde is in danger because of a number of “major risks in key areas”. This is despite the overwhelming vote in the House of Commons last month in favour of replacing Trident. The plan was opposed by every Scottish MP, except for the lone Tory, David Mundell.
Sunday Herald 7th Aug 2016 read more »
Letter Penny Kent: Why am I hearing about small community efforts to install solar panels in emails from organisations like Friends of the Earth and 10:10 and not on TV or in the papers? Why is it that the decision of the Saudi government to move to renewables was not trumpeted by the media, but had to be searched out online? Why is it that the efforts of organisations like Ethex are not being publicised and praised, giving more people the knowledge they need in order to invest in community renewable energy projects? Above all, why is it that the appalling and shameful lack of action of the Conservative government on reaching the Paris goals is not being more frequently and urgently challenged in the media?
Guardian 5th Aug 2016 read more »
Community energy initiatives offer people the ability to generate and use power in ways which directly support their communities. Jenny Howard Coles explains the opportunities and challenges that citizens in Plymouth are facing as they seek to help local people take back control of how they buy, use and generate energy.
RSA 4th Aug 2016 read more »
A little bit of history has been made in the North West of England as we’re very pleased to say that the first commercial installs of the Flow boiler have now been completed. The installs went smoothly and the Flow boiler is now doing what it does best – heating homes and generating electricity at the same time.
Flow Energy 13th April 2016 read more »
The first of a network of mini power stations designed to feed steel plants with renewable energy, has been commissioned. Liberty Steel and Simec have created the first of 14 stations which will be located next to industrial sites across the country.The first installation, a plant driven by biofuel, was inaugurated at Liberty’s site in Newport, south Wales. The move is part of a so-called Greensteel strategy by the GFG Alliance, a collaboration of several businesses owned by Sanjeev Gupta of Liberty House and his father PK Gupta of Simec. Simec chief executive, Jay Hambro, said: “On a cold, still winter’s day, when neither solar nor wind power could be operational, Simec’s peaking plants can provide on-demand power to UK industry as required.”Greensteel is an exciting new blueprint for British industry and clean energy is right at the heart of that plan.
Belfast Telegraph 26th July 2016 read more »
Families affected by fracking to get share of money earned under new Theresa May plan.
Telegraph 7th July 2016 read more »
Leading climate scientists have warned that the Earth is perilously close to breaking through a 1.5C upper limit for global warming, only eight months after the target was set. The decision to try to limit warming to 1.5C, measured in relation to pre-industrial temperatures, was the headline outcome of the Paris climate negotiations last December. The talks were hailed as a major success by scientists and campaigners, who claimed that, by setting the target, desertification, heatwaves, widespread flooding and other global warming impacts could be avoided. However, figures – based on Met Office data – prepared by meteorologist Ed Hawkins of Reading University show that average global temperatures were already more than 1C above pre-industrial levels for every month except one over the past year and peaked at +1.38C in February and March. Keeping within the 1.5C limit will be extremely difficult, say scientists, given these rises.
Observer 7th Aug 2016 read more »