To explain their desperation to commit an estimated £76 billion of public money to the Hinkley C nuclear project, writes Paul Dorfman, the Treasury and its Chancellor, George Osborne, claim there are other benefits that justify this vast expenditure. So what exactly are they? And do the claims survive critical examination? Osbornes ‘big arguments’ for Hinkley just don’t stack up. It won’t make a timely contribution to UK security of supply or decarbonisation, and won’t contribute to affordability, price stability and least-cost for the UK energy consumer. The development of diverse, sustainable and affordable low carbon energy is a growing economic sector with huge potential for job creation in the UK. To limit this diversity for political face-saving reasons through inflexible and costly support of nuclear power, at the expense of other, more flexible, safe, productive, cost-effective and affordable technologies seems, at the very least, unwise.
Ecologist 6th Oct 2015 read more »
EDF has been hit with the news that the two Chinese companies planning to invest in Hinkley Point have limited the size of the stake they are willing to acquire to 30%, it was reported over the weekend. The percentage sits at the very bottom end of the slice the Chinese companies had been expected to take. According to the Times, China General Nuclear Corp and China National Nuclear Corp are looking to take a combined 30% stake or less in the nuclear power station project.
IFA Magazine 5th Oct 2015 read more »
Eric Adams, nuclear business development director at WSP Parsons Brinckerhoff, looks at the continuing delays and question marks around the £24bn project.
Construction Manager 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Doug Parr: To tackle the long term ‘trilemma’ of energy policy means decarbonising (initially) the power sector whilst keeping the lights on at as low a cost as is reasonably possible. There are essentially three things current UK government is keen on using to deliver this: nuclear, fracking, and carbon capture and storage (CCS). There are also a few things it doesn’t like including renewable energy and efficiency regulations. As we’ve seen recently George Osborne (who is essentially running Government) is very keen on getting new nuclear power built, making up dubious claims about its benefits, even going so far as potentially throwing piles of taxpayer cash at them to do so. The real costs of nuclear haven’t changed for 50 years so it’s not going anywhere. The particular object of Mr Osborne’s largesse (on behalf the UK taxpayer’s) is the proposed plant at Hinkley Point, which would use a reactor known as the EPR. This reactor is so bad even vocal supporters of nuclear power have called for the plan to be scrapped, and has been described by a University of Cambridge nuclear engineer as ‘unconstructable’. So the first of government’s chosen technologies is a bit of a basket case. And the political embarrassment of pulling back out to the top bananas of UK government could well mean two generations of UK taxpayers will end up saddled with a monumental white elephant and a pile of nuclear waste that no one knows what to do with.
Energy Desk 5th Oct 2015 read more »
The Nuclear Industry Association has welcomed the Chancellor’s announcement to set up an independent, all-party, National Infrastructure Commission. Led by cross bench peer, Lord Adonis, the Commission will offer analysis on the UK’s long-term infrastructure needs, with energy already outlined as a key sector. Welcoming the announcement, Keith Parker, Chief Executive, Nuclear Industry Association said: “Large scale projects are often affected by the political life cycle and an all-party commission should eradicate this issue and provide certainty for both the public and investors. “New energy infrastructure has already been outlined as one of the Commission’s first tasks and renewing our nuclear fleet will be critical to ensure the lights stay on. Nuclear currently generates 20% of the UK’s electricity but all but one of these stations are set to close in the next decade. “If Parliament is serious about decarbonising the UK’s electricity sector at the lowest possible cost it must continue its support for the current 16GW nuclear new build programme. Hinkley Point C alone will generate 7% of the UK’s electricity at a stable cost whilst avoiding 10 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. “The Commission must also push ahead with plans for a Geological Disposal Facility to safely house the country’s nuclear waste.”
NIA 5th Oct 2015 read more »
George Osborne’s silence over nuclear power in his conference speech yesterday speaks volumes, writes Jeffrey Henderson. Fresh from his trip to China to put together deals worth tens of billions with state-owned Chinese corporations to get Hinkley C and Bradwell nuclear plants built, he had nothing to say on the matter. Is it because too many serious questions remain unanswered?
Ecologist 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Renowned award-winning international documentary film maker Pradeep Indulkar was in the Forest of Dean as guest of STAND (Severnside Together Against Nuclear Development) to show and talk about his latest film, High Power and Jaitapur Live. The large audience at the Watney hall, Lydney, heard Pradeep introduce his two award winning films and explain how he came to make them, and were able to discuss the issues raised in the films with him afterwards. Pradeep was a qualified nuclear engineer who was so alarmed by what he saw happening in the nuclear industry that he became an anti-nuclear activist. Barbara French of STAND said: “It is also very relevant to The Forest of Dean and Chepstow area as the large new nuclear power station at Oldbury on Severn, close to The Forest of Dean and Chepstow, proposed by a Japanese consortium, while of a different design, is still relatively untested.
Gloucester Citizen 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Suffolk County Council’s cabinet is set to discuss proposals to set aside up to £450,000 to develop a by-pass for the A12 between Wickham Market and Saxmundham – taking the road away from the villages of Marlesford, Little Glemham, Stratford St Andrew and Farnham. A further £50,000 is likely to come from Suffolk Coastal Council. The money will be spent on preparing a case to central government for the scheme to be designated by the government as a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP) which would free up finance through the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership. By setting aside the development money now, the county is hoping that full finance for the road can be agreed before any construction work starts on the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station.
East Anglian Daily Times 6th Oct 2015 read more »
CAMPAIGNERS took over the River Blackwater last weekend for a peaceful beach protest and flotilla against Chinese plans to build a new nuclear power station at Bradwell-on-sea. Over 300 protesters travelled to a beach on the river in West Mersea from all over Essex to voice their disapproval of plans by French firm EDF to sell rights to build a new nuclear power station to Chinese state-owned companies. Galvanised under the Facebook group, FAB (Fight Against Bradwell) the action group feels the plans could damage the area, designated a Marine Conservation Zone, forever. West Mersea Town Councillor Sophie Weaver, a bookkeeper from the island, helped to organise the protest.
Essex Chronicle 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Moldovan police working with the FBI are reported to have stopped four attempts by smugglers to sell nuclear material to extremists in the Middle East over the past five years. The most recent case was in February when undercover agents were offered a large amount of radioactive caesium, the Associated Press reports. Investigators say much of the material is believed to come from Russia. They say some gangs have alleged links to Russia’s intelligence services. Police and judicial authorities in Moldova shared information with AP to highlight how dangerous the nuclear black market has become, the news agency says. They say the deterioration in relations between Russia and the West has made it more difficult to know whether smugglers are succeeding in selling radioactive material originating from Russia abroad.
BBC 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Gangs of smugglers have tried to sell highly-radioactive material to Islamic State militants, an investigation has found.
Sky News 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Independent 7th Oct 2015 read more »
FBI has foiled four plots by gangs to sell nuclear material to ISIS: Authorities working with federal agency stop criminals with Russian connections selling to terrorists.
Daily Mail 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Criminal gangs with Russian links are operating a thriving black market in nuclear materials in eastern Europe, often with the explicit intent of connecting sellers to Middle Eastern extremist groups including Islamic State. Authorities working with the FBI have interrupted four attempts by gangs to sell radioactive material in Moldova. The latest known case came in February, when a smuggler offered enough radioactive cesium to contaminate several city blocks, specifically seeking an Islamic State buyer.
Telegraph 7th Oct 2015 read more »
A “lack of executive-level awareness of the risks” as well as “the trend to digitisation” mean that personnel are not aware of the degree to which nuclear plants are vulnerable to cyber attack, says a new report from policy think tank Chatham House. The report says that due to underestimating their vulnerability, plants are not adequately prepared to face potential attacks and are often reactive rather than proactive in their approach to cyber security.
Business Reporter 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Channel Web 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Jeremy Leggett: The Conservative leadership once advocated powering 21st-century Britain with a green industrial revolution based on the smart, internet-linked, decentralised technologies being invested in by Silicon Valley, China, and others. Now, unified in majority government, they seem intent on the reverse: exploiting shale gas, building new nuclear facilities, and actively undermining clean-energy competition. It is the new Labour leader who offers the vision of a renewable-powered UK economy today, one maximally efficient and optimally wired, allowing avoidance of both shale and new nuclear. Which vision should the business community be backing? As a pioneer in the renewables industries, my view might be discountable. Less so, I submit, the evidence in balance sheets, or the concerns of the Bank of England. Nearly a year of low oil prices has been a disaster for drillers of oil and gas in American shale. Their costs of production are mostly far above sales prices, notwithstanding innovative improvements in the cost-efficiency of fracking. They have only been able to keep going because of Wall Street’s willingness to shovel mountains of debt in their direction: nearly a quarter of a trillion dollars of it to date, mostly junk rated. Eight drillers have already gone bankrupt and it can be expected many more will not survive the review by banks of credit lines coming up in October. Analysts speak of imminent carnage.The US shale boom is heading for bust. There is a whiff of subprime in the spectacle. Meanwhile, the case for nuclear is beset with economic and safety problems. The size of the cheques the chancellor is prepared to write for outsourcing new nuclear to French and now Chinese interests has already landed one court case from Europe on his desk. Austria is aghast at both the inexplicable enormity of the subsidies and the UK retreat from EU renewables targets. With the Paris climate summit looming, it is far from alone. More legal challenges can be expected on the Treasury doormat. On top of this, a dire safety flaw has emerged in the French reactor that is the intended forerunner of new British nuclear stations. High carbon content discovered in the pressure vessel steel, weakening it beyond regulatory acceptability, is a problem so potent that it poses an existential threat to the project, and potentially to the industry itself. The French have yet to reveal either the cause of the fault or the additional cost to a project already billions over budget and years behind schedule. UBS calculates that within five years homes fully powered by a solar roof, a battery bank, and an electric vehicle will offer consumers a 7% annual rate of return on an investment paying back fully in six to eight years without a subsidy in sight. Meanwhile, both the nuclear and shale industries openly admit they cannot add to UK electricity supply for at least 10 years, and will require multiple billions in giveaways to have a chance of limping to that point.
Guardian 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Small Modular Reactors
Small modular reactors (SMR) are an opportunity for the UK’s nuclear sector. That’s according to NuScale Power which stated the SMR market could be worth £400 million by 2035. SMRs are built at a facility and then ‘dropped into place’ in a power plant. This means they can be placed in remote locations without the need for lots of expensive building infrastructure. They are also more flexible in that they do not necessarily need to be hooked into a large power grid. These things also make SMRs a smaller-risk venture for companies investing in nuclear. Investing in the technology could potentially benefit the UK’s supply chain, creating jobs and wealth. Initial deployment of the technology is estimated start in 2023 in the US.
Energy Live News 6th Oct 2015 read more »
US nuclear technology company NuScale is aiming to deploy its small modular reactor (SMR) technology in the UK, and is looking for partners which will enable it to have units in service by the middle of the next decade. Working with a five-year cost-sharing award of $217million from the US Department of Energy, the company is aiming to have its first 50MW reactor unit in service in 2023, with a prospective customer in Idaho. NuScale already has UK links. It is majority owned by the process contractor Fluor, which is active in the UK; it has worked with the National Nuclear Laboratory on fuel design; and it has worked on skill issues with Rolls-Royce, which builds and maintains the Royal Navy’s submarine reactors. In order to obtain authorisation to deploy SMR in the UK, NuScale needs a prospective reactor purchaser and an identified site: these are prerequisites for the HSE’s Generic Design Assessment certification process, which takes around three years to complete. Currently two reactor designs have GDA approval: Areva’s EPR and Westinghouse’s AP1000; Hitachi’s advanced boiling water reactor (ABWR) is in the middle of the process.
Engineer 6th Oct 2015 read more »
The site of the world’s worst nuclear accident is now a haven for wildlife due to the enforced absence of humans, a new study has shown. Some 116,000 people fled Chernobyl, located on the border of Ukraine and Belarus, after a nuclear reactor exploded on 26 April 1986. A further 220,000 were resettled when a 4,200 square kilometre exclusion zone was put in place around the site of the disaster.
The Week 6th Oct 2015 read more »
News Medical 6th Oct 2015 read more »
It is time to review and improve the functioning of nuclear export controls by introducing a risk-based approach and by providing guidance that will help small companies especially understand and deliver on their obligations, writes Sandro Zero. A little over 10 years ago the United Nations Security Council resolved to enhance international cooperation in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons technology and other types of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) through illicit trafficking along supply chains. That resolution (1540, adopted in 2004) called on governments to maintain appropriate and effective export controls and to work with industry to prevent illicit trafficking. The resolution also acknowledged that preventing proliferation should not hamper international cooperation for peaceful purposes, but the complexity of the regulations makes it difficult for exporters to comply and distorts trade in nuclear components and materials and in the transfer of technology.
World Nuclear News 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Foratom, the body that represents the nuclear industry in Europe, says that it welcomes the intention of the European Commission to publish an ‘Illustrative Programme for Nuclear Energy’ (PINC) by the end of the year. The commission is mandated by the Euratom Treaty to periodically issue a new PINC to indicate targets and programmes for nuclear production and the corresponding investment required. Since the publication of the latest PINC in 2007, the situation for nuclear power has changed considerably both within the EU and globally, says Foratom.
EU Reporter 6th Oct 2015 read more »
IN THE spirit of the new politics of honesty that Jeremy Cobyn is trying to usher into the Labour Party, I won’t claim the position on Trident that emerged from the Labour Party conference was not a setback. Perhaps some of us thought that if we could get Jeremy elected then anything was possible. This included a rapid shift on Labour’s pro-renewal position on Trident, a position that leans heavily on trade union concerns about jobs and deep-seated assumptions about Britain’s role in the world that have infected the Labour Party for a long time. Just how deep-seated this is can be seen in the imperialism of Clement Attlee’s government. For all the social and economic advances it made, we should not forget its role in developing Britain’s nuclear capacity. In the event, support for a debate on Trident was just 0.16 per cent of the trade union vote while support among constituency Labour parties was scarcely better at 7.1 per cent.
Morning Star 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Conservative Defence Secretary Michael Fallon made a typical red-meat rant to the swivel-eyed Tory faithful“representatives” at the 2015 Conservative conference in Manchester on 4 October. Having played the Tories-are-the true-patriots card for starters, he turned to Labour’s equivocation over Trident (leader against; most MPs for).
David Lowry 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Renewables – wind
The wind energy sector drove £1.25bn of investment into the UK economy last year, and employed 30,500 people, according to a new industry report that calls for the government to provide clarity over its future renewable energy policy. A new state of the industry report produced by RenewableUK today shows that more than 2GW of new wind power capacity was installed in the period from July 2014 to June 2015, taking the country’s total capacity above 13GW.
Business Green 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Edie 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Herald 7th Oct 2015 read more »
It is a confusing time for the UK’s wind energy industry. In the midst of deep cuts to renewable energy support and no clear replacement plan in sight, developers are rushing to complete projects in the short term, while struggling not to succumb to pessimism about their longer term prospects. RenewableUK’s latest State of the Industry report, released today, documents the confusing land scape the trade association’s members are currently facing – a contradictory outlook illustrated by the way nearly the same number of companies are expecting to hire new employees over the next 18 months, 29 per cent, as the proportion who are expecting to make redundancies, 31 per cent.
Business Green 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Scotland is taking the lead in deploying onshore wind in the UK – while England lags behind and is therefore missing out on some of the economic benefits that the onshore wind industry brings. However, England is racing ahead in the UK offshore wind sector. The latest annual report from Renewables UK also shows that more than 60% of UK onshore wind projects are now installed and operational in Scotland, and that Scottish onshore wind is now generating a higher annual turnover (£211 million) for the UK overall than England, Wales and Northern Ireland combined, as the total UK onshore wind turnover from capital spend in 2014/15 was £402 million.
Scottish Energy News 6th Oct 2015 read more »
RenewableUK’s latest annual report “Wind Energy in the UK” shows that Scotland is taking the lead in deploying onshore wind, while England is lagging behind and is therefore missing out on some of the economic benefits that the onshore wind industry brings. However, England is racing ahead in the offshore wind sector.
Blue and Green Tomorrow 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Scotsman 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
A project to generate green energy has finally come to fruition, with the last solar panels being installed and the final cables laid on the housing estate where it will help address fuel poverty.The project which boasts of being London’s biggest community-owned energy scheme, has been delivered by Hackney Energy, a partnership forged between Hackney Council and Repower London, a not-for-profit social enterprise which works with local authorities and communities to develop locally owned energy infrastructure.
Hackney Gazette 6th Oct 2015 read more »
A charitable project that has installed more than 1,000 solar panels on schools in England and Wales will close next summer if government proposals to cut support for renewable energy go ahead. Campaigners said on Wednesday that the “solar schools” project run by environmental charity 10:10 would become unsustainable under government proposals to dramatically cut the feed-in tariff for householders and communities who install solar panels on rooftops. Michael Gove took to a school rooftop in Barnes last year as then education secretary, promoting solar panels as a “sensible choice” for schools that could financially benefit them and engage pupils in environmental issues. The Department for Education said it would promote solar on schools. Amy Cameron, campaign manager at 10:10, described the planned 87% cut to the solar incentive scheme as “nonsensical”. “The messages coming out of the government don’t make sense. One of the key aims of the feed-in tariff was supposed to be around public engagement and nowhere is this more true than in schools. Schools say that is has opened the doors to educate both pupils and adults about energy and climate change,” she told the Guardian.
Guardian 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Renewables – marine
Scottish Energy Minister Fergus Ewing and his counterparts from France, Belgium and the Republic of Ireland, are due to hold a Ministerial summit later this month at the Ocean Energy Europe conference. The biggest ocean renewable energy event this year, it being held on 20-21 October in Dublin with the support of the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland (SEAI). Ewing is due to meet with Alex White, Minister for Energy and Natural Resources, Republic of Ireland, Ségolène Royal, France’s Minister for Sustainable Development and Energy and Bart Tommelein, Belgium’s Secretary of State for the North Sea. The conference sessions will consider finance, technology, cost-reductions and collaboration.
Scottish Energy News 7th Oct 2015 read more »
Fergus Ewing announces Scotland has met its community energy target while Scottish Greens describe figure as “a drop in the ocean” Scotland has met its target of moving more renewable energy capacity into community ownership – five years ahead of schedule. Appearing at Holyrood’s Community Energy Conference in Perth, Energy Minister Fergus Ewing announced an estimated 508 megawatts (MW) of community and locally owned capacity is now operational in Scotland, five years before the 2020 target. Anne Schiffer, energy campaigner for Friends of the Earth Scotland, said it was “fantastic news” in the context of “the UK Government’s sustained and ideological attack on renewable energy”. Patrick Harvie described the figure as “a drop in the ocean compared with what we could have”. The Scottish Green party co-convener highlighted that 508 MWs makes up just three per cent of renewables ownership in Scotland. Germany has 65 per cent in local or community hands. Ewing said community energy represents an opportunity to empower people to make the most of their own local resources.
Holyrood 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Statnett is planning to build an interconnector between Norway and the UK together with British energy company National Grid. The NSN interconnector will link the Nordic and British markets, providing benefits on both sides of the cable. When the winds blow in the UK and wind power production is high, Norway will be able to import power from the British to a lower price than in the Norwegian market and conserve the water in Norway’s many hydropower reservoirs. When there is little wind and a greater need for power in the UK, the situation will be the other way around. The British then can import Norwegian hydropower to a lower price then in the British market and through this secure the power supply. National Grid and Statnett reach an agreement to construct an interconnector between UK and Norway. The 1400 MW subsea electricity cable will connect the two countries’ electricity markets directly for the first time.
Statnett 13th May 2015 read more »
Greenpeace says it’s exploring funding options to buy Vattenfall AB’s lignite operations in Germany as it seeks to prevent others from running the coal mines and power plants. The environmental group wants to start discussions with Vattenfall after the Swedish state-owned utility put the assets up for sale, Annika Jacobson, head of Greenpeace in Sweden, said in an e-mailed statement on Tuesday.
Bloomberg 6th Oct 2015 read more »
Amber Rudd is reportedly preparing to announce a firm date for the closure of all coal power stations before the start of the UN climate summit in Paris next month. According to The Times today, ministers are drawing up plans to bring Britain’s era of coal-fired stations to a end by 2023, with an announcement expected before the start of the Paris climate summit on November 30. The newspaper reported Britain’s last remaining 10 coal-fired power stations would either be forced to convert to a more sustainable fuel such as woodchip, install carbon capture and storage (CCS) equipment by 2023, or close down. However, a DECC spokesman refused to confirm the accuracy of the dates to BusinessGreen. He said coal power stations will continue to close over the next few years, but did not to provide alternative dates for the final phase-out.
Business Green 6th Oct 2015 read more »
A backbench SNP MP in Holyrood is today (7 Oct) hosting a briefing for MSPs in Edinburgh by a former UK Foreign Office diplomat and anti-fracking campaigner. Colin Beattie, the MSP for the former mining area of Midlothian, has invited ex-diplomat John Ashton, CBE, to share his recent experiences from the front line of the intensifying struggle over fracking in England at a Parliamentary reception. Ashton, first trained and worked briefly as a physicist, then spent 30 years as a British diplomat. From 2006-12 he was the Special Representative for Climate Change for three successive UK foreign secretaries. He is due to explain why, since leaving Government in 2012, he has become a vocal critic of the effort to commercialise fracking in England and why he has come to see opposition to unconventional hydrocarbon extraction as crucial for the UK’s response to climate change.
Scottish Energy News 7th Oct 2015 read more »
COMMUNITY activists have accused Nicola Sturgeon of snubbing their campaign against burning coal underneath the Firth of Forth. It comes as the First Minister faces growing pressure from within the SNP to take a tougher stance against controversial gas extraction techniques. The campaign group Our Forth, which was set up to oppose an unconventional form of gas extraction known as underground coal gasification (UCG), invited the First Minister to meet with them at a large-scale protest on Sunday and has been attempting to hand over a petition signed by 8,000 people to her in person for weeks.
Herald 7th Oct 2015 read more »
An invitation to Nicola Sturgeon to attend a demonstration on Saturday by advocates against underground coal gasification in the Forth (UCG) is truly throwing down the gauntlet. The anti-fracking groups behind this event – Hands Over Our Forth (HOOF) and SMAUG (SNP-Members-Against-Unconventional-Oil-and-Gas) – are keen for Sturgeon to join them so that she can hear their views on what they consider to be a highly risky method of extraction. UCG is a process by which underground coal seams are flushed with oxygen, and then set alight, and gas piped to the mainland. As the Herald has reported, potential side effects include contamination of water supplies, which endangers the food chain, from farms to fishing. All this, before one also considers the impact on the country’s already lacklustre record on reducing carbon emissions.
Herald 7th Oct 2015 read more »