French-based energy company Électricité de France (EDF) has been given the go-ahead by the U.K. government to build a new nuclear plant, Hinkley Point C. S&P’s Director of Utilities, Pierre Georges, discusses why EDF’s credit rating has consequently been downgraded from ‘A’ to ‘A-’. Following the recent announcement that energy giant EDF will begin a new £18 billion nuclear project – Hinkley Point C, in Somerset – we see increased execution and contingency risks for the company. This highly complex and expensive project will hamper EDF’s already large number of investments at a time when the company is generating a weak cash flow. At the same time, the announcement comes at a time when EDF continues to face high execution risks relating to another nuclear build in Normandy, France. The company is also suffering from an increasing reliance on revenue derived from unregulated activities (following a partial liberalisation of the French energy market) which make energy prices less predictable. Because of these risks, we are lowering our ratings on EDF to ‘A-’ from ‘A’.
Energy Voice 7th Oct 2016 read more »
There were unconfirmed reports at the weekend that the firm has revised its plans for high-voltage power lines that will carry electricity from the new nuclear power plant that is to be built at Moorside, near Sellafield. Plans for the 160ft high pylons across the western Lake District triggered a furious response from opponents – including the celebrated UK based American author Bill Bryson, who has said such a superb landscape should be cherished. Martin Forwood, from Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment (Core), said the entire Moorside project was ill-conceived from the outset. He said: “It seems a nonsense. If they do erect these pylons, inside or outside the National Park, it will be because of Moorside. If this project did not happen there would be no need for pylons. “Renewable energy sources would produce more electricity and more jobs over the next 30 to 50 years than Moorside. “We all know from previous National Grid open days that underground cables are significantly more expensive. So why doesn’t the developer pay for it but the entire project is unnecessary.”
Carlisle News & Star 5th Oct 2016 read more »
The Economic Affairs Committee takes its third evidence session for its inquiry into ‘The Economics of UK Energy Policy’. The Committee is exploring the present mix of policy interventions and subsidies in the energy market. The core question which it is seeking to answer is: “What are the failures, if any, in the energy market and what measures are needed to correct them?”
Parliament 6th Oct 2016 read more »
Philip Johnstone asks what we can learn from the UK’s failure to develop a viable nuclear reprocessing industry. China has one the most ambitious nuclear programmes in the world. Over the next five years, it plans to build 40 nuclear power plants at a time when most western countries are winding down their nuclear programmes. The strategy involves building commercial reprocessing facilities to store and process hazardous waste, a by-product of nuclear energy. Recent plans to build a reprocessing plant in Lianyungang, in Jiangsu province, were stalled after thousands of locals took to the streets in opposition to the proposed Sino-French facility, prompted by environmental and health concerns. The delay offers an opportunity to pause and asses the experiences of other nations that have pursued a reprocessing strategy. The United Kingdom’s experience suggests that reprocessing is dangerous, not as green as proponents claim and economically unsound. The history of the UK’s longstanding commercial reprocessing activities offers a cautionary tale regarding the pitfalls, which will impact British national policy for decades to come.
China Dialogue 6th Oct 2016 read more »
EU legislation must be updated to end the “special status” that nuclear energy enjoys to the detriment of other energy sources, Green MEP Jávor Benedek has said. Speaking at the annual European Nuclear Energy Forum (ENEF) meeting in Bratislava this week, Benedek said that the current interpretation of the Euratom treaty favours investment in the nuclear industry above other forms of energy generation. Benedek told delegates that the Euratom treaty is outdated and leads to discrimination in favour of nuclear by EU policymakers. He said the Commission uses Euratom article 2c – which requires EU institutions to assist investment in nuclear – as the basis for authorising state aid schemes to the sector. “The Commission does this almost automatically, which is completely different to other energy sectors,” he added. This special status for nuclear, exempting it from European competition [rules], cannot be a common European objective in the future. […] The Commission needs to apply and interpret existing rules according to the needs and conditions of the 21st century,” Benedek added.
ENDS 5th Oct 2016 read more »
‘Fast breeder’ reactors are promoted by nuclear enthusiasts as the clean, green energy technology of the future, writes Jim Green. But all the evidence tells us they are a catastrophic failure: complex, expensive, unreliable and accident-prone. Is Japan’s decision to abandon its Monju reactor the latest nail in the coffin of a dead technology? Or the final stake through its rotten heart?
Ecologist 6th Oct 2016 read more »
HURRICANE Matthew could potentially cause nuclear devastation if the two power plants along Florida’s eastern coast are hit.
Express 7th Oct 2016 read more »
Last year saw the largest annual increase in renewable heat output in Scotland since measurement began in 2008 – up by over 1,100 GWh in a single year. In 2015, the proportion of non-electrical heat demand generated in Scotland from renewable sources is expected to be at least 5.3% – up from 3.8% in 2014, and a continuation of year-on-year increases since 2008-09. The majority of the increase in output has come from large commercial sites installing biomass and combined heat and power systems and from installations supported by the non-domestic Renewable Heat Incentive.
Scottish Energy News 7th Oct 2016 read more »
This week’s micropower news. Includes news of Havering London Borough Council’s solar ambitions and Exeter Community Energy’s latest project.
Microgen Scotland 6th Oct 2016 read more »
The last 18 months have been a major set-back in the British policy landscape affecting carbon emissions from buildings: the trajectory to zero carbon new build has been paused; Government support for Green Deal finance was withdrawn with no alternative mechanisms in place to encourage and enable investment by able-to-pay households; government announced that funding from the Energy Company Obligation will be reduced again; and a review of business energy taxes has led to proposals for a new tax structure but, as yet, no coherent supporting framework to encourage energy efficiency action.
SPRU 6th Oct 2016 read more »
Exeter City Council (ECC) announces the start on site at Vaughan Road, Whipton, of 26 new one, and two-bedroom social housing apartments for people over the age of 60 in housing need. Being built by multi-award winning builders C G Fry & Son, the scheme includes one wheelchair accessible unit, which will be let to someone with this specific need. Planning consent was granted on 16 May 2016, following a period of consultation with the local residents and Ward Councillors, and completion is expected in September 2017. Designed and built to the low energy Passivhaus Standard, means that the apartments will naturally have a very consistent and comfortable temperature and indoor air quality. Heating bills will be about 10% of those in a ‘standard’ property, thus helping to lift the tenants out of any potential fuel poverty issues. The designs have also been modelled to mitigate any future climate change using Exeter University’s Prometheus weather data up to 2080.
Gen King PR 6th Oct 2016 read more »
Scottish ministers have banned the use of a technique to extract methane by burning underground coal beds, after expert advice said it posed too many risks to the climate and environment. Paul Wheelhouse, the Scottish environment minister, said he was asking ministers in London to revoke six licences to find test sites for the technique, known as underground coal gasification (UGC), in central and south-west Scotland. He said an expert report from Prof Campbell Gemmell, former chief executive of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, had found it was unproven, under-regulated and too risky to be approved.
Guardian 6th Oct 2016 read more »
Sajid Javid has overturned Lancashire council’s rejection of a fracking site, paving the way for shale company Cuadrilla to drill in the county next year and provoking outrage from local groups, environmentalists and politicians. The council cited visual impact and noise when it turned down the company’s two planning applications to frack on the Fylde last year, but a month later Cuadrilla submitted an appeal.
Guardian 6th Oct 2016 read more »
Fracking beneath UK homes is set to take place for the first time next year after the Government overruled local councillors and approved Cuadrilla’s plans to explore for shale gas in Lancashire. In a landmark decision, Sajid Javid, the communities secretary, gave consent to Cuadrilla’s plans to drill and frack four horizontal wells at its Preston New Road site between Blackpool and Preston, in line with planning inspectors’ recommendations. In a major fillip for the industry, he also handed the company a fresh chance to secure approval for four further wells at a second site nearby, Roseacre, despite planning inspectors recommending the plans be rejected.
Telegraph 6th Oct 2016 read more »
Spot the difference. Fracking, which is climate-polluting and unproven in the UK, gets “all-out” government backing, with ministers steamrolling over local opposition. Onshore windfarms, proven to be low-cost and low-carbon, get undermined by the government, with local opposition given power to block applications. The decision by the communities secretary, Sajid Javid, to overturn Lancashire council’s rejection of Cuadrilla’s plan to drill four fracking wells in the county is, therefore, nothing short of hypocrisy. It is a vital win for the nascent UK shale gas industry. But these are merely the opening skirmishes. To really know if fracking can provide significant gas for the UK, hundreds – if not thousands – of wells need to be drilled. Given the hand-to-hand combat that accompanies even single wells at the moment, the frackers still have an uphill struggle.
Guardian 6th Oct 2016 read more »
Britain’s shale gas industry has won a significant victory after the government overturned local council objections to a fracking scheme in Lancashire, clearing the way for the first exploration since an earthquake halted drilling five years ago.
FT 6th Oct 2016 read more »
Though the sitting tenant at 10 Downing Street has changed since the remarks were first uttered by David Cameron, the Conservative Government under Theresa May has demonstrated this week that it is still “going all out for shale”. Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has overturned a ban on fracking in Lancashire imposed by councillors after objections to plans to drill the area for shale gas were launched by 18,000 local people. Fracking – particularly against the wishes of the people – is not the answer to the question of how we power our nation. The era of fossil fuel is now behind us. Even if the gas extracted through fracking is cleaner than coal, oil and North Sea gas, it is not a clean energy source. Rather than fighting legal challenges and overturning the thoughtful decisions of councillors, government investment should be channelled into new, green energy projects that neither risk damaging our natural environment nor require a £10,000 bribe, as mooted by the Government to convince the electorate to swallow the its controversial decision with a smile.
Independent 6th Oct 2016 read more »
As revolutions go, it has certainly got off to a slow start. But more than three years since the Government vowed to unleash an energy revolution by exploiting shale gas from the rocks deep beneath the north of England, it now looks as though Britain is finally on the verge of getting fracking.
Telegraph 6th Oct 2016 read more »