The project to build Britain’s first nuclear reactor in a generation has been delayed until months after the general election because its Chinese backers have demanded that the French government protect them if it goes bust. EDF Energy, the French state-backed company leading the project in Somerset, originally promised to give the go-ahead by July last year, but now it is expected to wait until this September or October. The Chinese have serious concerns about Hinkley Point’s European pressurised reactor design from Areva, the loss-making (and also state-backed) French group. The Chinese companies are refusing to invest unless the French government promises to bail out Areva, if necessary, and cover their share of any cost overruns. Projects to build the same Areva-designed reactors at Flamanville in France and Olkiluoto in Finland have been delayed by at least five years and are more than three times over budget. Chinese concerns that Hinkley Point could suffer the same fate have been heightened by repeated delays to build a pair of EPR reactors in China. The French government is expected to bow to the latest demand from CGN and CNNC because Hinkley Point cannot go ahead without the Chinese. However, working out a financial agreement for Areva will complicate negotiations and push back a final investment decision. It also presents EDF Energy with the dilemma of whether to risk pressing ahead with construction this summer, as planned, before the project is sanctioned. EDF has given in to demands for Chinese manufacturers to be given a big slice of the contracts for the project. The Chinese are also demanding that EDF hands over another site, at Bradwell in Essex, where they can build a reactor to their own design, which is likely to be granted. The concessions to China highlight the weak negotiating position of EDF and Areva, dubbed “Team France” by bankers. Complex negotiations involving British ministers, their opposite numbers in Paris, EDF Energy and the Chinese have been complicated still further by a legal challenge brought by Austria against Hinkley Point, it has also emerged. Austria is challenging the decision by the European Union to approve a £17.6 billion subsidy, agreed by the British government to fund the project, a move that could take at least five years. EDF Energy, which reports its annual results next week, is seeking assurances from the government that if Austria wins the case and the project has to be abandoned halfway through, the company will receive compensation for the money invested up to that point.
Times 7th Feb 2015 read more »
No money for nuclear power: Stop Brussels. Electricité de France (EdF), the French energy group, intends to build one of the largest nuclear power stations in the world at Hinkley Point, United Kingdom. However, this project would be commercially viable only on the basis of massive subsidies granted by the British government, which would clearly violate EU competition law. The past EU Commission has approved these nuclear subsidies at its last but one session. This scandalous decision has the potential to trigger an avalanche of new nuclear power projects across Europe. The Austrian government is determined to take this case to the European Court of Justice, and EWS has lodged a formal complaint directly with the EU Commission. Sign the petition.
EWS (accessed) 8th Feb 2015 read more »
EDF Energy will not now be carrying out its next round of consultation on the proposed Sizewell C nuclear power station until after the General Election. It will mean a two-and-a-half year gap between the initial consultation on the project and the second stage, which is expected to reveal much firmer details of issues such as road improvements, worker accommodation and park-and-ride sites. There has been frustration at the delay and concern over the worry and uncertainty it is causing many people living in the area, but it has given campaigners more time to press their concerns and build up their cases on various issues.
East Anglian Daily Times 5th Feb 2015 read more »
Full backing was given to a multi-billion pound nuclear power station by the shadow Secretary of State for Energy during her visit to Anglesey.Caroline Flint, on the last day of a short trip to North Wales, visited the proposed Wylfa Newydd site near Cemaes with fellow Labour MP, Albert Owen. Wylfa’s current plant – the world’s last operating Magnox nuclear power station – was granted an extra year of life in 2014 and will continue operating until December 2015. With the aim of generating electricity by the early 2020’s, it’s hoped that the Wylfa Newydd plant will bring 1,000 permanent jobs with another 8,500 during the initial construction phase.
Daily Post 5th Feb 2015 read more »
Work has begun to dismantle Dungeness A power station which has been in operation for 40 years. Dungeness A on the Kent coast stopped producing electricity in December 2006. The nuclear fuel was removed six years later and taken to Sellafield for reprocessing. The site will not be completely cleared until 2097, when the reactors are safe enough to remove.
BBC 4th Feb 2015 read more »
Learning from the late Bob Crow: “I’ll make my position absolutely clear to my unions, I would ban all nuclear power altogether, it’s not safe“. He goes on to say that “if we really want to talk about environmental friendly energy“, that it should be compulsory for every house built in Britain to have solar panels, that the use of hot rock (geothermal) and tidal should be examined.
Mining Awareness 2nd Feb 2015 read more »
From Scientific American: The International Energy Agency and the Nuclear Energy Agency suggest in a report released Thursday that nuclear will have such a significant role to play in climate strategy that nuclear power generation capacity will have to double by 2050 in order for the world to meet the international 2°C (3.6°F) warming goal. You’d expect that from NEA, but the IEA? That’s something. The SciAm story give a good rundown of the report, but obviously, nothing beats the report itself. After noting the slowdown following the Fukushima Daiichi accident, the report notes, as we have done, that global progress continues apace.
NEI Nuclear Notes 6th Feb 2015 read more »
In theory, the “all of the above” energy policy has a certain amount of appeal: why should government pick winners and losers? Why not–since no one knows the future–as a matter of policy pursue all energy sources? One obvious issue is the availability of sufficient resources to effectively support all energy sources. But there is a much more fundamental problem that makes “all of the above” a PR tagline, not a real energy policy: some energy sources are simply incompatible with others. Specifically, as we’ve pointed out in these pages many times, the 20th century “baseload” power approach of electricity generation and distribution–reliant on large nuclear and coal plants–does not work in a 21st century energy system based on clean, distributed generation, energy efficiency, and a smart grid.
Green World 6th Feb 2015 read more »
A HALT was called on all decommissioning work at the Dounreay nuclear plant in Caithness to allow the completion of a safety review. The surprise shutdown followed an internal investigation into a sodium fire at the site four months ago. The embargo, which applied to everything but safety work, was implemented at lunchtime on Wednesday by site licence company Dounreay Site Restoration Limited (DSRL). However, a DSRL spokeswoman said yesterday: “Work to dismantle the experimental nuclear plant at Dounreay is restarting after a site-wide pause. “Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd stopped work temporarily while staff checked their working practices against procedures designed to protect people and the environment from harm. “The site-wide pause and revalidation exercise is an integral part of a long-term safety improvement programme launched recently following a downturn in safety performance.”
Scotsman 6th Feb 2015 read more »
Cumbria Trust letter to the Environmental Audit Committee: Following your work on the “Environmental Risks of Fracking” might I suggest you turn your attention to the potentially even greater environmental risks that could result from the present Government’s (and quite possibly future governments’) policy for the disposal of the UK’s present and undeterminable quantities of additional stocks of new nuclear waste. As yet it remains unclear whether some highly radioactive materials, such as plutonium, should be classified as being part of this waste. Regrettably in its search for a site the Government is sticking with a policy based on voluntarism rather than geological safety. Superficially the recent White Paper “Implementing Geological Disposal” suggests that a National Geological Survey is to be carried out but, at the end of the day, volunteer communities will be sought. There is great suspicion in Cumbria that no such willing communities will be found other than in Copeland, where the district council and many of the local population are dependent upon Sellafield. The Government has blatantly paved the way in the White Paper, by effectively excluding the previous obstacle (the County Council) from the decision making process, to enable it to deal solely with this small impoverished local district council.
Cumbria Trust 7th Feb 2015 read more »
South Australia will hold a royal commission to investigate the state’s possible role in the production of nuclear power. Premier Jay Weatherill said South Australians should be given the opportunity to consider the practical, financial and ethical issues raised by a deeper involvement in the nuclear industries. “We are home to one of the largest uranium deposits in the world and after more than 25 years of uranium production, it is now time to engage in a mature and robust conversation about South Australia’s future role in the nuclear industry,” he said on Sunday.
Guardian 8th Feb 2015 read more »
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is planning to spend £4.2 billion on replacing the Trident nuclear weapons system before the UK parliament has given it the go-ahead, according to a report from the government’s National Audit Office (NAO). The money is being spent on designing new submarines, reactors and missile compartments ahead of a long-promised decision on Trident replacement by MPs in 2016, after this year’s UK general election. Previous reports have suggested that around £2bn or £3bn would be incurred before the decision was taken. Opposition politicians and campaigners have condemned the MoD for pre-empting a democratic decision on whether or not the UK should continue to rely on weapons of mass destruction. The MoD says it has always been transparent about the costs “whilst protecting our commercial position”.
Herald 8th Feb 2015 read more »
At last the Armageddon nightmare which is the existence of nuclear arsenals is exploding into the UK’s political consciousness. At last the magical word ‘deterrent’ which is supposed to automatically kill dissent is being examined and unmasked as the delusion by which the paranoid silence that still small voice, the voice which says it is a crime against humanity to prepare to incinerate a large part of the world’s population and risk triggering a global nuclear war. It started with the Scottish Independence movement and now the abhorrence of these vile instruments of genocide is manifesting in Wales. In England the reckless imperial posture in the Westminster bubble has not yet been overthrown.
Dissident Voice 6th Feb 2015 read more »
There’s a growing chance that the UK’s 2015 General Election could bring about the end of its Trident nuclear ‘deterrent’, writes Jonathan Woodrow Martin, as its renewal looks likely to be central question in the formation of a Labour-SNP coalition government.
Ecologist 7th Feb 2015 read more »
Joint statement issued by the People’s Republic of China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.
FCO 6th Feb 2015 read more »
Solar has now moved so far down the cost curve that if you live in Queensland, you can buy a 6kW rooftop solar PV system for $7,800 ($4,000 with the RET subsidy). Ignoring subsidies now and then, such a large system would have cost $54,000 five years ago. This system will supply you with electricity at a fraction of the price you currently pay to your electricity retailer. At a global level, the dramatically positive positions of solar and wind on their respective cost curves mean that the $310bn invested in clean energy last year paid for almost twice the clean electricity capacity compared with three years ago. India has recently announced plans for a $100bn expansion of solar power by 2022. Not $1bn or $10bn, but $100bn – enough for almost 100,000 MW of clean energy (which would be more than 10% of India’s total generation capacity). Forward-thinking banks have been investing on this rising tide. In 2007 Citigroup set an investment target of US$50bn over 10 years in alternative energy, clean technology and other carbon-emission reduction activities, which it has already exceeded. US$11bn of climate-themed bonds were issued in 2013, $35bn in 2014 with $100bn estimated for 2015. Climate bonds include financing for a wide range of emissions reducing activities from rail lines to forestry to water recycling.
Guardian 5th Feb 2015 read more »
Renewables – wave
THE beleaguered marine energy sector in Scotland was dealt a fresh blow yesterday, after plans for a generation project off the Shetland Islands came to an end. Swedish utility Vattenfall said liquidators had been appointed to Aegir Wave Power, its joint venture with failed Edinburgh wave power firm Pelamis. Vattenfall said the decision to wind up the business – which didn’t have any employees – came after a six-month review of its ocean energy interests and as it looks to focus investment in wind energy. Its existing Scottish projects include the Clashindarroch wind farm near Huntly, Aberdeenshire, which began producing power last month. But Vattenfall stressed it continued to believe Europe’s wave-energy sector had “long-term strategic potential despite its current challenges” and said its research and development team in Stockholm would maintain a “watching brief” on the sec tor. Bjorn Bolund, who is responsible for ocean energy in Vattenfall’s research and development team, said the firm had “high hopes for wave power off Shetland” when it established Aegir with Pelamis in 2009. “Unfortunately, the wave sector has not developed as planned,” he said.
Scotsman 7th Feb 2015 read more »
Renewables – Tidal
Project to generate electricity from tides in Swansea Bay set to announce builder of huge turbines A project to build a lagoon in Swansea Bay that will provide green energy for 100,000 homes will this week announce the winner of a Â£300m contract to build its power-generating turbines. The Â£1bn scheme to build a six mile causeway enclosing a lagoon will use 16 huge underwater turbines that will generate power from the rising and falling tides. Tidal Lagoon Power, the company behind the project – pictured above in a computer generated image – is expected to reveal which of three international engineering groups – France’s Alstom, Germany’s Voith or a joint venture between Austria’s Andritz and the American giant GE – has won the tender. However, whoever wins, the project should deliver an almost Â£200m boost to the UK engineering sector with Tidal Lagoon aiming to ensure t hat 65pc of capital expenditure on the project is in Britain.
Telegraph 7th Feb 2015 read more »
Renewables – solar
One of the world’s largest activist hedge funds has made a bet worth nearly £100m on Britain’s solar power industry, The Sunday Telegraph can disclose. Elliott Capital Advisors, the UK arm of the American hedge fund, has put money into half a dozen unnamed projects capable of generating about 85 megawatts – making it one of the largest privately-held solar power operators in the country.
Telegraph 7th Feb 2015 read more »
The UK needs to move from an economy based on fossil fuels, towards one based on renewable energy; from a market dominated by a handful of suppliers, to one where thousands of communities meet their energy needs locally.
Community Energy England 4th Feb 2015 read more »
Finally, stumbling over the line six weeks or so before pre-election purdah puts everything into mothballs, the regulations requiring landlords, by 2018,to ensure their rented properties exceed a very basic test of energy-worthiness before they can be rented out have been laid before Parliament. Now lest that first sentence sound a bit churlish, let’s be clear: hooray. The regulations themselves are sound. OK it’s only energy efficiency band ‘E’(the bands go from G – meaning your house, energy efficiency-wise, is more like a gazebo than a property, to A – which envisages homes that are so efficient they don’t use much energy at all to heat and power, and may anyway create their own energy to do so) so it’s not that far up the scale. But since private rented homes are among the least energy efficient properties as a group it represents a real step forward for tenants warmth and property efficiency across the country. And the penalties for non-compliance are proportionate to the cost of actually doing something – i.e. more than it is likely to cost landlords to do up their homes to conform (which as the Association for the Conservation of Energy and others have shown is, in most cases, a pretty modest sum – perhaps £1500 or so).
Alan Whitehead MP 6th Feb 2015 read more »
Homeowners could soon save hundreds of pounds on their heating bills thanks to a new generation of boilers and radiators powered by the heat from computers. One of the biggest headaches in computing is the cost of stopping the machines from overheating. As much as half the electricity used to run computers goes into keeping them cool, wasting large amounts of heat – and money – in the process. Many of the most complicated digital tasks, such as rendering 3D animation, are currently outsourced through cloud computing to data centres, banks of processors that consume 34 coal-fired power stations’ worth of energy in the US alone. A handful of start-ups are now trying to undercut the data giants by scattering computers around homes and harnessing their heat, splitting the profits with householders.
Times 7th Feb 2015 read more »
AN engineer has devised a unique system to convert the power of the wind directly into heat in an invention which could rid the roads of frost in the winter and allow certain crops to be grown for 365 days a year. Andrew Mackay, 63, said his new method – which converts the kinetic energy in the wind – could solve many local energy problems in Scotland through the medium of renewable heat. He believes one of the systems could heat up to 250 acres of farmland while it could also generate electricity, giving farmers a “new and lucrative” income stream by allowing them to sell electricity to the national grid.
Herald 7th Feb 2015 read more »
Rules on how buildings should be constructed so as to save energy are set to be strengthened in European member states, if plans under way from the European commission reach completion. The current directive on the energy performance of buildings, which sets certain standards for construction and refurbishment to ensure good insulation and the use of adequate materials and design, will be overhauled under the proposals, outlined in a leaked discussion document dated 30 January 2015 and seen by the Guardian. Strengthening the regulations is intended to increase energy efficiency within the EU, with a view to meeting stringent new energy targets set for 2030. The proposals for new legislation on energy efficiency would be brought forward this October, but it could take years for any changes in directives to be enforced, giving construction companies time to adjust.
Guardian 6th Feb 2015 read more »
Residents of a flood- hit street hope Scottish Government ministers do not allow plans to drill for methane near their homes to go ahead. According to SNP Councillor Stephen Bird, householders in Letham Terrace, Letham, have experienced high levels of flooding for a number of years and they fear proposals by Dart Energy Ltd, now owned by IGas, to extract coalbed methane from land near Airth could see waste rolling down their streets.
Falkirk Herald 3rd Feb 2015 read more »
Fracking may have narrowly survived last week’s attempt in Parliament to impose a nationwide moratorium on it, but it has lost an awful lot of ground – literally as well as figuratively. Over the last ten days or so both Scotland and Wales have declared moratoria of their own, while it is becoming increasingly clear that amendments that ministers had to make to the Infrastructure Bill in order to get it through the House of Commons have severely restricted its scope in England. As a result, some experts believe, its prospects are now “bleak”.
Telegraph 6th Feb 2015 read more »
New York’s ban on fracking hasn’t been enough to completely shield the state from its public health and environmental risks, a prominent state environment group charged on Friday. In a report titled “License to Dump,” the group Environmental Advocates of New York (EANY) accused seven state landfills of accepting potentially hazardous waste from Pennsylvania’s fracked oil and gas wells. Using information obtained from the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the group said at least 460,000 tons of solid drilling waste — which can contain heavy metals, chemicals, and naturally occurring radioactive material — have been dumped in those landfills since 2010.
Climate Progress 6th Feb 2015 read more »
Pressure is mounting on investors to pull the billions of pounds they pour into fossil fuel firms because of dangers to human health and the environment. In a new report, doctors are calling for investments in coal, oil and gas companies to be withdrawn. They blame the industry for air pollution that is killing over 2,000 people a year in Scotland. According to campaigners, over 180 institutions around the world, including city councils, universities and churches, have committed to ending Â£30 billion of fossil fuel investments. Protests are planned this week in Scotland and other countries to help persuade more investors to join them. Last week the Norwegian government’s Â£556 billion pension fund disclosed that it had withdrawn investments from 114 coal, tar sands and other companies because of environmental concerns. Founded on revenues from North Sea oil and ga s, it is the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world.
Herald 8th Feb 2015 read more »