The European Commission will almost certainly find that EDF Energy’s funding mechanism for the construction of the Hinkley Point C nuclear unit in the UK is illegal state aid, an Austrian law professor told Platts. Franz Leidenmuhler, who specializes in EU state aid cases and European competition law, said in an email that he believed “a rejection is nearly unavoidable. The Statement of the Commission in its first findings of December 18, 2013 is too clear. I do not think that some conditions could change that clear result.” The new Hinkley unit will be built based on a funding model in which the UK government guarantees a floor price for future power sales. This floor price, known as a “strike price,” is the reference price below which EDF would receive UK government financial support and above which EDF would pay back money, effectively a guaranteed price for the power. Leidenmuhler indicated he believed EDF’s funding mechanism for Hinkley Point C did not meet these criteria to be granted an exemption for state aid. However, George Borovas, an energy lawyer at Shearman and Sterling in Tokyo, said in an email to Platts that he believed some form of negotiation was likely take place before the EC formally rejected EDF’s proposals. “While the Commission has expressed substantial criticisms and concerns, it would be unusual for a project of this nature to be prohibited outright on State aid grounds,” he said. Borovas said that “instead, there will likely be a negotiation between the UK and the EU, resulting in a settlement of some sort, on issues such as the period of the CfD and the level of the strike price.” The issue of a potential precedent being set was a point emphasized indirectly by Leidenmuhler in his presentation, when he cited the recent decision by the Czech government not to offer aid guarantees for the construction of a new nuclear unit at Temelin that would be similar to the guarantees offered by the UK government for Hinkley Point C.
Platts 8th May 2014 read more »
According to the Westminster-based think tank, CentreForum, the private financing behind the project will cost British consumers £12.4bn more over 35 years than government backed procurement. The think tank said the lack of government investment will result in an additional bill of at least £15 a year per UK household “for a generation, while the taxpayer underwrites double digit returns to French and Chinese nationalised industry”. The report made eight recommendations, which included, setting a new nuclear strike price by auction and building long-term infrastructure to support nuclear growth such as laboratories and research centres.
Construction News 8th May 2014 read more »
On Wednesday 30 April, Martin Pearson, station director at Dungeness B power station, talked to the Dungeness Site Stakeholder Group (SSG) about the progress of the flooding defence works. The SSG is a group of local residents, councillors and other stakeholders who have an interest in the activities on the site. They meet regularly to keep up-to-date and ask questions of the experts in the room which include people from both nuclear sites, regulators and others. Mr Pearson described the improvement works already completed and outlined what to expect next, rounding it off with a tour of the flooding defence works at Dungeness B.
EDF Energy 7th May 2014 read more »
Maldon District Council hopes to spend more than £50,000 in Burnham and the Dengie to boost tourism and trade. The council has applied for the grant, which will be spent purely on the Dengie communities, to mitigate the loss of jobs from Bradwell Power Station, which is currently undergoing decommissioning.
Chelmsford Weekly News 7th May 2014 read more »
Letter Tim Knowles: Everyone should welcome the progress being made by Toshiba and GDF Suez in moving forward the programme to build new reactors at Moorside, Sellafield. If things go to plan several thousand jobs will be created through the construction phase ending around 2024, with around 1,000 permanent operational posts lasting the 50-plus year life of the power station. It is expected that the benefit to local people, businesses and our area’s infrastructure will be very significant and we must plan and work to ensure the best outcomes for our communities. Sadly, our experience in recent years regarding the assurances given about what benefits the post BNFL/BNG regime at Sellafield would bring to that site and to Copeland’s communities and businesses has not been what were promised and hoped for. Many people are rightly frustrated that although around £1,800m is being spent every year on the operations at Sellafield, Copeland not only continues to have major areas of deprivation, but the impacts of current Government spending cuts are forcing the closure of key community facilities and services.
Whitehaven News 8th May 2014 read more »
Letter Green Party: Your report that Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) is being considered in disused mines ignores one key piece of information. It is now well understood that in order to prevent economically catastrophic climate change, we need to leave 80 per cent of fossil fuels in the ground. The Cumbrian coast is blessed with an abundance of energy, in terms of wind and wave power, and at this time of year solar power can be produced very efficiently in the UK. Your article also points out that geothermal researchers have been looking at a more sustainable way of heating water by piping it deep underground, a technology that has already been tried and tested in Sweden. This is something we can look forward to, unlike UGC.
Whitehaven News 8th May 2014 read more »
To say that CoRWM’s recent public meeting in Workington was dissappointing would be a truly masterful piece of understatement! Having now considered the “answers” the public were given by CoRWM (Committee on Radioactive Waste Management) during the meeting in Workington on 30th April, Cumbria Trust Director John Wilson has sent the following letter to the members of the committee.
Cumbria Trust 9th May 2014 read more »
Does the UK already have enough renewable energy? According to anti-wind group the Renewable Energy Foundation there are already enough renewable energy projects built, under construction or given consent to meet our targets. That means there are many more applications causing needless anxiety for homeowners when they could be scrapped. Conservative energy minister Michael Fallon has been leading his party’s charge against onshore wind turbines and is likely to welcome these conclusions. There are only two problems with the REF report. It makes impossibly optimistic assumptions about renewable build rates. And it assumes the UK can start breaking its own laws after 2020. REF assumes that 35GW of renewable electricity capacity will be built by 2020. DECC data shows that at least 10 per cent of consented onshore wind turbines and 20 per cent offshore never get built, according to trade body Renewable UK economics policy officer Alex Coulton. Recent changes to policy, not least the Conservative’s now officially anti-wind stance, make it likely that an increasing number of consented projects will fall by the wayside in future. REF’s report seems to assume there is no need to build more renewables once the EU 2020 target has been met. It is true that there is currently no EU target for renewables in 2030. The UK has been one of the major opponents of such a target. But other targets still apply, not least the UK’s legally binding Climate Change Act that requires an 80% cut in carbon emissions by 2050. This law could be scrapped. For now, though, it is still supported by all the major political parties. There a a number of ways to reach the binding 80% carbon reduction. All of them involve a substantial increase in renewable electricity capacity beyond 2020, according to the government’s Committee on Climate Change.
Carbon Brief 8th May 2014 read more »
Britain is drawing up plans with the US and other European countries to “disarm” the threat of President Vladimir Putin using Russian gas and oil supplies as “a weapon” against Ukraine and its Eastern European neighbours. Under the G7 proposals, support would be given to build several new liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals across Europe, while the US would lift restrictions on the export of shale gas. At the same time, the EU will invest in new pipelines to move gas from West to East and increase supply routes from North Africa. Japan is also understood to be prepared to re-start some of its nuclear plants that were mothballed in the wake of the Fukushima disaster. Japan is now one of the largest importers of LNG, which has pushed up prices to record levels.
Independent 9th May 2014 read more »
Letter: Alex Salmond, Scotland’s first minister, has long been a thorn in the side of the Labour Party. On the one hand he said he would take back some of Scotland’s nuclear waste stored at Sellafield, but on the other hand – and more significantly – he failed to elaborate on what he would do with it or where he would put it. It is well known that Mr Salmond is against nuclear power. This is very worrying in itself for the thousands who work at Sellafield and for those of us West Cumbrians who are supporters of nuclear power and the Sellafield plant. Make no mistake, if there was to be a “yes” vote for Scottish independence it could prove to be very lucrative for Mr Salmond but I believe it would be a step in the wrong direction, a backward step. If it goes through, what will he do next? Rebuild Hadrian’s Wall?
Whitehaven News 8th May 2014 read more »
Roof insulation may not be deadly, but it is Europe’s unused secret weapon against Russia. An experiment with two identical houses in Hungary laid bare the threat to Gazprom, which supplies 30 per cent of Europe’s gas. One house was left uninsulated and consumed 1,848 cubic metres of gas from September to February. The German company Knauf Insulation fitted the other with its highest grade materials and almost halved consumption to 982 cu m. With buildings accounting for 40 per cent of Europe’s energy consumption, Tony Robson, Knauf’s chief executive, argues that the crisis in Ukraine adds a geostrategic motive for putting energy efficiency targets at the heart of the EU’s environmental policy. In January, Brussels proposed landmark targets that will shape energy policy until 2030 and the 28 member states have until October to finalise the package. The most important target proposed by the commission was that, by 2030, countries should reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 40 per cent from 1990 levels. The commission hailed this as an ambitious objective; heavy industry lobbies and some members, including Poland, are seeking to dilute it by October. Many companies say the target is badly structured. Focusing on one overarching, binding target for reducing emissions represents a very different approach from the targets set for 2020, when Brussels put stronger emphasis on specific goals for renewables usage, energy efficiency and emissions from transport. Those second-tier targets have all been sidelined in the 2030 proposals.
FT 8th May 2014 read more »
A change in priorities is needed at Germany’s Federal Office for Radiation Protection in an effort to resolve outstanding questions about the storage and disposal of radioactive waste in Germany, German Atomic Forum president Ralf Güldner has said. In a speech at the opening of the Annual Meeting on Nuclear Technology in Frankfurt today, Mr Güldner said a “robust consensus” needs to be found on the development of the Schacht Konrad nationwide repository for low-level and intermediate-level radioactive waste, and a deep geologic repository. In June 2013, Germany’s Bundestag agreed to allow a commission of experts to launch a search for a new nuclear waste disposal site. The law ended radioactive transports to Gorleben for the time being. German parliamentarians must approve a final repository for nuclear waste by 2031 at the latest.
Nucnet 6th May 2014 read more »
Renewables – marine energy
There have been a couple of very good reasons to be optimistic about the continuing development of marine energy in the past month. I was particularly encouraged to see an excellent report on the bright future of wave and tidal energy published by the UK Energy Research Centre and the Energy Technologies Institute at the end of last month. Their new marine energy roadmap addressed the key issue of cost cutting, identifying no less than 40 specific issues to be tackled, such as ways to ensure that economies of scale kick in as fast as possible by getting arrays into the water, and ensuring that the maintenance of devices is carried out efficiently.
Business Green 8th May 2014 read more »
In our new report, Promoting Highly Efficient Energy Appliances, we show the potential for the government to instantly cut houshold bills by encouraging people to buy the most efficient appliances. Currently appliances and lighting account for a quarter of the UK’s energy consumption and over 40% of household energy bills. Cutting energy use not only helps households reduce bills, it is also a highly cost-effective way for government to meet carbon targets. As energy prices continue to soar, we are calling on the government to urgently introduce financial incentives to enable consumers to immediately slash bills by boosting uptake of energy efficient appliances.
Global Action Plan 8th May 2014 read more »
With a quarter of carbon dioxide emissions in the UK coming from the residential sector, there’s a need to find new ways to help households reduce energy use. While some of this is related to building condition and type, much is related to the way people use energy. In the last two years we have been working to tackle this issue in Wiltshire homes, and meanwhile provide a social benefit. The project, Achieve, began life in Frankfurt five years ago to address the combined issues of high fuel costs and rising unemployment. In Germany if you’re unemployed the state covers your energy bills, so an idea was born to tackle both issues at once. Achieve trains and supports the unemployed to provide energy advice directly to vulnerable consumers – often their peers – in their homes, resulting in saved energy, changed behaviours and meanwhile helping people reintegrate into the job market. At Severn Wye Energy Agency, an independent charity and not-for-profit that promotes sustainable energy, we spotted the potential and with European funding partnered with Wiltshire Council to run a series of training programmes. The programmes provide advice to residents struggling to pay energy bills and, meanwhile, the local unemployed to gain valuable new skills. To date we’ve trained seven advisers, helped more than 200 families and, as a consortium, reached over 1,700 homes in France, Bulgaria, Slovenia and Germany.
Guardian 9th May 2014 read more »
With its power plants ageing, and Russia increasingly belligerent, Britain has little choice but to drill for gas. We are running out of time – indeed may already have done so – to avert a crisis in energy supply.
Independent 7th May 2014 read more »
The Government is being urged to remain focused on the task of moving the UK to an efficient and low-carbon energy system following the release of a new report from the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee about the potential of using more shale gas. Nick Molho, head of climate and energy policy at WWF-UK, believes the Lords has overlooked the many serious analysts who have said that shale gas in the UK is unlikely to have much impact on either gas prices or the UK’s rising exposure to gas imports. Commenting on today’s report, Friends of the Earth climate and energy campaigner Tony Bosworth added: “Shale gas regulation in the UK to date has been a catalogue of errors and oversights as thinly-stretched regulators have struggled to deal with fracking firms with eyes on bumper profits. “Today’s report recognises that the regulations aren’t working – but calling for the Government to ‘simplify’ regulations and speed up the process will not reassure local communities and a public unconvinced by this risky technology.
Edie 8th May 2014 read more »
If you want a cheap, low-carbon power supply then shale gas is the answer according to Lord MacGregor, chairman of the House of Lords economic affairs committee. His committee has published a report saying the UK should get fracking – right away. But MacGregor’s assertion that domestic shale gas is clean and green depends on the way fracking is carried out in the UK, on what the gas replaces and on how long we continue to use it for. The UK really is still dependent on coal. It provided 40.7 per cent of electricity supplied in 2013. Renewables remain more expensive than unabated coal or gas, though onshore wind is cheaper than nuclear. And new nuclear capacity is not expected before 2023 at the earliest. Yes, Lord MacGregor, shale gas can help the UK towards its carbon targets. If fugitive emissions are avoided. If shale displaces imported LNG or coal rather than renewables. And if gas power stations in the 2030s and beyond fit carbon capture and storage. That’s a lot of ifs.
Carbon Brief 8th May 2014 read more »
Letters from various: “Frack we must” – editorial, 8 May. No we must not. Those opposed to fracking have been demonised by politicians and industry because they threaten the development of a lucrative industry with a limited life that will generate huge profits for a few. Your editorial on fracking contains several unstated value judgements. First you assume that a transition to a truly green energy system is unachievable (untrue), second that shale gas is less polluting than coal (not true in the US), and third that energy security trumps climate change as the major determinant of policy (unbelievably short-sighted).
Independent 8th May 2014 read more »
David Lowry: Peers on the Lords Economic Affairs committee seem to have overlooked key evidence in their desire to cheer-lead for a massive fracking frenzy across the country. The shale-gas revolution in America, which they admire, has peaked, and costs are rising rapidly to extract remaining reserves. On 27 February the authoritative Bloomberg business news service reported that independent shale gas producers “will spend $1.50 drilling this year for every dollar they get back”.
Independent 8th May 2014 read more »
The White House this week celebrated the US energy boom, highlighting how America had become the world’s largest natural gas producer, extracted more oil than it imported in the past six months, and generated new jobs and economic growth. For a president trying to cement his credentials as an environmental champion, the paean to fossil fuels appeared incongruous. But the so-called shale energy revolution and its environmental risks are putting President Barack Obama in a difficult spot, torn between the need to strengthen the US economy and his desire to leave a green legacy. The president has not been shy about claiming credit for the economic benefits of the energy boom, one of the brightest spots in a still fragile US economy. But as he steers a narrow course between competing interests on a range of issues – greenhouse gas emissions, regulatory waivers, energy exports, drilling on federal land – independent analysts say he has done little to help the shale boom, but little to hinder it either.
FT 8th May 2014 read more »