The United Kingdom’s plans to build heavily subsidised nuclear power stations have come under withering attack from a coalition of Members of Parliament, academics, energy industry experts and environmental groups. Evidence has poured into the European Commission, which is investigating whether the deal with the giant French nuclear company EDF breaks EU competition rules. The evidence from many objectors, whose submissions had to be made by today, claims that if the contract goes through it will wreck Europe’s chance of building up renewable energies to avert the worst impacts of climate change. They say renewables will have to compete in an unfair market where one generator, nuclear, is guaranteed to be able to sell all its electricity at a stable price and with a built-in profit until 2058.
Climate News Network 7th April 2014 read more »
The U.K. is already receiving substantial criticism from across Europe about its plan to subsidize the cost of proposed Areva EPR reactors at Hinkley Point–subsidized to a level that may well be rejected by the European Union. A Greenpeace UK analysis of the initial European Commission examination of the Hinkley Point subsidies, with a link to the full examination, is available here. Now, the UK government is pushing another type of reactor it wants to see built at Wylfa in Anglesey and Oldbury in Gloucestershire. That reactor is the Hitachi Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR). In an article for The Ecologist, author Mark Hackett points out that there are only four of these reactors in existence–all in Japan (and all currently closed).
Green World 7th April 2014 read more »
Vladimir Putin’s land grab in Crimea has shocked the west into rethinking security strategy on the continent. Michael McFaul, former US ambassador to Moscow, has rightly argued in the New York Times that Putin has made a strategic pivot, and has abandoned reform and partnership with the west for a campaign to consolidate autocratic power at home and erect an alternative to western liberal democracy for the nations in its “near abroad”. The European Union, while taking a back seat to Nato on security strategy, must lead on a transatlantic alignment on energy and climate security that includes US as well as European shale gas as a bridge leading to a renewables-based economy. Until now the United States has been a laggard in international climate talks, and its domestic energy policies have propped up corrupt and authoritarian regimes around the world. This must change.
Guardian 7th April 2014 read more »
Since the start of the latest Ukraine-Russia crisis the rhetoric of energy security has re-emerged as strongly as ever. What seems most evident this time around is the degree to which energy companies are deploying the energy supply security card in order to appeal for more state and political support for new capacity. The nuclear industry, never shy about letting a good energy crisis go to waste, has been active across Europe in using fear of Russia and the energy weapon to make the case for more European nuclear energy. In the UK Cuadrilla, ably assisted by William Hague and Michael Fallon, have argued that the UK should reduce reliance on gas imports by fracking for shale gas. It is worth noting the kind of language that is used in such appeals. Cuadrilla’s statement suggests that Britain may declare a ‘state of emergency’ if the Ukraine crisis worsens and in this instance Cuadrilla will ride to our rescue by producing shale within 4 years. This is strongly worded stuff – bordering on war-like discourse – and assumes home-grown energy supply solves the crisis for the UK. We need to think of how to offer different solutions for the UK at times of genuinely perceived crisis. One answer is to reframe the debate to emphasise energy efficiency and demand side response as a direct alternative to the same old calls for more commitment to supply capacity. Greater efficiency and reduced and/or more flexible demand are surely more sustainable responses to fears about imports from Russia, unstable transport and associated price impacts than greater investment in supplies that prolong everyone’s dependency on non-renewable resources.
IGov 7th April 2014 read more »
Letter: If the supply of Russian gas was to be interrupted within three months, most of the EU could make it. On the average summer day, the 28 members of the EU receive about 250m cubic metres (mmcm) of gas from Russia. This is less than the spare production capacity of Norway, Algeria, Libya and the Netherlands. Storage gas could fill the supply gap until Dutch, Norwegian and North African gas reached European customers.
FT 7th April 2014 read more »
The European Union is close to freezing plans to complete the $50bn (£30bn) South Stream gas pipeline through the Black Sea from Russia, the first serious EU action to punish the Kremlin for the seizure of Crimea. Key details emerged in a leaked briefing by the European Commission’s chief, Jose Manuel Barroso, to Bulgarian politicians, warning the country not to stand in the way of the EU’s tough new line on the project, or attempt to undercut a unified EU response over Ukraine. “We are telling Bulgaria to be very careful,” he said, according to reports in Bulgaria’s press.
Telegraph 7th April 2014 read more »
Letter Donald Miller: Hunterston and Torness were built because they offered the lowest-cost electricity and there is little doubt that the same is true for nuclear today. The price agreed by the UK Government with EDF for the nuclear station at Hinckley is £92/MWhr, which tallies with the quoted cost for the similar station now under construction in France. As such there is no element of subsidy, even though this is the first of a kind for the UK and the overall cost to the consumer is well below the total costs of wind or (should it ever materialise) tidal energy.
Herald 8th April 2014 read more »
You would almost think that the Government’s, especially the Conservative’s, succession of energy policy announcements over the past 10 months were almost designed to boost the ‘Yes’ campaign in the Scottish Referendum on independence. More support for the policy that the Scottish Government does not like (new nuclear power) and less support for the policy they want (renewables). What timing as well!
Dave Toke’s Blog 7th April 2014 read more »
AN INDEPENDENT Scotland would demand a major say in UK energy policy, according to a new Scottish Government report which warns the risk of power blackouts is “the highest for a generation”. The detailed study, published today, argues that Scottish-generated renewable energy could help keep the lights on and prices down across the UK in the event of a Yes vote. But it says an independent Scotland would require “a far greater degree of oversight” of a continuing UK-wide energy market because current Coalition Government policies risk causing power shortages. The paper – released as a key North Sea employer, engineering giant AMEC, became the latest company to voice concerns about a Yes vote – reignited the row over whether independence would help or hinder the country’s growing green power industry.
Herald 7th April 2014 read more »
WESTMINSTER is failing in its duty to guarantee security of energy supply for consumers, with higher bills likely as a result, a Scottish Government report has warned. The report suggests the UK is facing the highest risk of black-out in a generation, citing an Ofgem warning that spare generating capacity could fall as low as 2% in the future. The paper criticises what it says is a failure by the UK Government to prioritise security of supply as the margin between electricity supply and demand gets tighter. In Scotland it says the equivalent gap is 20%. It suggested that “plentiful” Scottish electricity generation can help keep the lights on and bills down across the UK but Energy Minister Fergus Ewing said Westminster subsidies for new nuclear generation “dwarf” those being offered to the wind, wave and tidal technologies that make up Scotland’s renewables sector. E nergy Minister Fergus Ewing said: “Having only 2% reserve energy in the system is extraordinarily risky and could result in big bill price hikes. “The laws of supply and demand and the cost of bringing more expensive power plants onto the grid to meet peak demand will drive up household energy bills the closer the UK gets to having no spare generation capacity. “Today’s substantial new paper from the Scottish Government shows that Scotland can help the UK keep the lights on and the bills down. Scotland exports electricity to England and Wales every year – in 2012 a quarter of the electricity generated here helped keep lights on across the rest of the UK.
Scotsman 7th April 2014 read more »
A UK Government minister has warned that “going green will be far more expensive” in an independent Scotland, and could see consumers hit with increases in their energy bills to fund the renewables industry. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc), the Whitehall deperatment headed by Ed Davey, is due to publish the latest in the Scotland Analysis series of reports on the effects of separation. It will argue that Scotland is able to invest heavily in renewable energy because the costs are shared across the “broad shoulders of the UK”. It receives 28 per cent of the UK’s support for generators, but accounts for only 10 per cent of electricity sales.
Times 8th April 2014 read more »
The common wisdom, that limited uranium supplies will prevent a substantial increase in nuclear energy, is incorrect. We have plenty of uranium, enough for the next 10,000 years. But uranium supplies are governed by the same market forces as any other commodity, and projections only include what is cost-effective today. Like natural gas, unconventional sources of uranium abound.
Forbes 7th April 2014 read more »
Award-winning Middlesbrough company Hertel is growing its presence in the nuclear sector with a two-year contract from CapenHurst Nuclear Services (CNS). The maintenance and construction services firm will remove asbestos from sites occupied by CNS, which is a centre of excellence for the management of nuclear materials, decommissioning and recycling near Chester.
Middlesbrough Gazette 7th April 2014 read more »
Gas and electricity supplier Good Energy has seen a sharp increase in profits, as dissatisfied big six customers switch to its services. The Wiltshire-based firm, which generates all its electricity from renewables, said customer numbers rose 32% in 2013, helping it more than double pre-tax profits to £3.3m. The listed company remains a minnow in comparison with the big six, which control 95% of the UK’s energy market. But it has been boosted by record numbers of new customers as the government encourages consumers to switch providers in a bid to break the stranglehold of the largest firms.
Guardian 7th April 2014 read more »
US – Nuclear Safety
Owners of at least two dozen nuclear reactors across the United States, including the operator of Indian Point 2, in Buchanan, N.Y., have told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they cannot show that their reactors would withstand the most severe earthquake that revised estimates say they might face, according to industry experts. As a result, the reactors’ owners will be required to undertake extensive analyses of their structures and components. Those are generally sturdier than assumed in licensing documents, but owners of some plants may be forced to make physical changes, and are likely to spend about $5 million each just for the analysis.
New York Times 5th April 2014 read more »
US – Opinion
A couple of recent independent polls–from household names like Gallup and Harris–show clearly that nuclear power is at the bottom of the public’s preference for electricity generation; right down there with coal. At the top? Solar and wind power, of course. The numbers are strong: the Harris poll, released March 20, 2014, finds that Americans believe solar (68%) and wind (57%) are the best energy sources for the environment. At the bottom was nuclear power, at 8%. Asked a different way, the public said coal was the worst source for the environment (53%) with nuclear coming in second-worst at 40%.The Gallup poll, released April 2, 2014, though asking different questions, came up with similar preferences. By a margin of 67-32%, Americans support spending more money on developing solar and wind power. And by a margin of 51-47%, we oppose “expanding the use of nuclear energy.” Gallup said this latter number has remained relatively constant since 2001, save for a brief pro-nuclear bump in 2006 at the dawn of the now-failed nuclear “renaissance.”
Green World 7th April 2014 read more »
Japan – energy supplies
Data suggesting that less than one third of Japan’s nuclear reactors will be restarted has driven speculation that the country may be forced to develop more gas-fired power plant projects. Over two thirds of Japan’s nuclear reactors are likely to not pass stringent seismological, political, economic, and logistical checks, according to analysts.
Gas to Power Journal 8th April 2014 read more »
The Hindu nationalist opposition party tipped to win India’s election has sparked concern with a manifesto which, though largely devoted to economic development, sets out uncompromising hardline positions on contentious issues and raises the prospect of a revision of the country’s policy on use of its nuclear weapons. It is the prospect of a revision of India’s nuclear doctrine, whose central principle is that New Delhi would not be first to use atomic weapons in a conflict, that has worried many in the region and beyond. Party sources involved in drafting the document told Reuters the “no first use” policy introduced would be reconsidered. The policy was introduced after India, then under a BJP government, conducted a series of nuclear tests in 1998. Pakistan, India’s neighbour responded within weeks with nuclear tests of its own.
Guardian 7th April 2014 read more »
More South Australians support the use of nuclear energy than oppose it, according to a new public opinion poll. The majority of respondents also expressed support for uranium mining in the state. The poll – conducted by market research company ReachTel on behalf of the South Australian Chamber of Mines and Energy (Sacome) – questioned 1216 randomly-selected South Australians on their attitudes towards uranium mining and nuclear energy. Some 48% of respondents said they supported the use of nuclear energy, while 33% were opposed to it. The remaining 19% were undecided.
World Nuclear News 7th April 2014 read more »
The “Hiroshima Report” said that North Korea, which conducted its third nuclear test last February, scored negative points in nuclear arms reduction and nuclear security and zero in the field of nonproliferation. The five major nuclear powers of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States, meanwhile, were also slow in making progress on disarmament, according to the report, the second of its kind. The Hiroshima government began compiling the report last year, when it graded the arms reduction efforts of 19 nations.
Japan Times 7th April 2014 read more »
UK adults who have grown up after the Cold War are more likely than older people to oppose the use of nuclear weapons as part of a country’s defence system, according to research. Voters aged 18-35 in the UK are more likely to oppose the like-for-like renewal of Trident – Britain’s nuclear weapons system – than their older peers, the survey carried out by ComRes on behalf of WMD Awareness found. The findings come just two years before the Government is due to decide whether to renew the fleet of submarines that will carry the UK’s nuclear weapons.
Milngavie Herald 8th April 2014 read more »
Yorkshire Post 8th April 2014 read more »
Guardian 8th April 2014 read more »
Renewables – solar
THE Government chose an Oldbury solar panel factory to launch the first solar strategy of any EU country. Sunsolar, Houghton Street, was given £5 million Government grant to build a £10 million factory to build solar panels last year creating over 500 jobs by 2018. Solar Trade Association executives joined Minister for Energy and Climate Change, Greg Barker, at the announcement on Friday.
Halesowen News 7th April 2014 read more »
An upcoming UN report suggests that unproven technologies to suck carbon out of the air might be a fix for climate change, according to a leaked draft obtained by the Guardian. Scientists and government officials gather in Berlin this week ahead of Sunday’s publication of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s third part of its series of blockbuster climate change reports, which deals with policies addressing the emissions that drive global warming. But environmentalists criticised the report’s inclusion of a controversial new technique that would involve burning biomass – trees, plant waste, or woodchips – to generate electricity, and then capturing the released carbon, pumping it into geological reservoirs underground.
Guardian 7th April 2014 read more »
A British environmental organisation that has reviewed the draft of a forthcoming UN IPCC report on mitigating climate change has questioned many of the document’s recommendations as deeply flawed. Dr Rachel Smolker, co-director of Biofuelwatch, said that the report’s embrace of “largely untested” and “very risky” technologies like bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration (BECCS), will “exacerbate” climate change, agricultural problems, water scarcity, soil erosion and energy challenges, “rather than improving them.”
Guardian 7th April 2014 read more »
In an article in this weekend’s paper, the Mail on Sunday accuses the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) of ‘sexing up’ its findings in the short ‘summary for policymakers’ that accompanies its latest report. But the IPCC responded this morning, saying the Mail on Sunday “misleads the reader by distorting the carefully balanced language of the document”. In an effort to help policymakers and the public engage with its mammoth scientific reports, the IPCC produces a summary – the Summary for Policymakers (SPM). It tries to present the report’s overall conclusions in a shorter and more accessible format. The Mail on Sunday has done a comparison between the SPM, and quotes it claims come from the full IPCC report. The article says the SPM puts an “alarmist spin” on the findings, but the IPCC has today rejected that charge in a statement. We look at what the report has to say, and the Mail on Sunday’s troubling presentation of the evidence.
Carbon Brief 7th April 2014 read more »