Tagged: DECC

£13 million to develop safe and smart nuclear technologies

NDA contributes to joint funding initiative awarding UK companies and consortia a total of £13 million to help develop innovative technologies for current and next generation nuclear power stations.

Breakthroughs to be funded include novel construction and manufacturing techniques, remote monitoring and sensors to reduce the need for people to enter radioactive areas – and an ocean-imaging system to stop jellyfish blocking cooling water intakes!

The money comes as part of a joint initiative between Innovate UK (the new name for the Technology Strategy Board), the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to stimulate innovation in the UK’s civil nuclear power sector.

With most of the money funding 15 collaborative R&D projects, and a further 26 smaller-scale feasibility studies also benefiting, the three organisations’ aim is to develop a strong, innovative and sustainable supply chain to serve both national and global markets.

Over the coming decades, the nuclear industry is set for a major expansion. Around £930bn investment is planned globally to build new reactors, with international procurement of around £25bn a year to 2025. In the UK, agreement is now in place to construct the first nuclear power station since 1995, with more likely to follow.

Meanwhile, the decommissioning market is also set to expand, with up to 145 mostly European reactors expected to reach the end of their lives in the next 15 years, and an estimated global market worth £50 billion annually.

For UK businesses in the area of nuclear engineering and its associated technologies, innovation in this area could deliver direct benefits to the UK worth up to £14bn by 2050.

Members of successful consortia include universities of Bristol, Manchester, Strathclyde, Sheffield, East Anglia and York – with participating companies coming from such varied locations as Glasgow, Southampton, Nottingham, Stoke-on-Trent, Sheffield, Coventry, Lowestoft, Dorking, Swindon, Ascot and Torrington.

“These proposals, and the consortia behind them, will help our civil nuclear industry set new standards in safe and smart operation,’ said Innovate UK Chief Executive Iain Gray. ‘All the innovations you see here will either help the UK consolidate areas where we are world-leaders or help us move towards that position in others.

‘It marks a significant step forward for civil nuclear operations which are smarter and safer than ever before, and it’s a great commercial opportunity for UK plc and its businesses.”

NDA Head of Technology, Prof Melanie Brownridge, added:

“Our R&D strategy is very focused on developing innovative technologies that support our clean-up mission. Joint funding initiatives such as this greatly increase the investment potential across the whole nuclear sector and also, importantly, bring research partners together collaboratively in the drive for progress and creative scientific thinking. I was very pleased with the quality and level of response from the nuclear decommissioning supply chain.”

The competition awards build on the findings and recommendations of a number of recent reports on the UK’s civil nuclear sector, including the Government’s Nuclear Industrial Strategy. They also demonstrate sustained innovation funding in this area following an earlier collaborative initiative in 2012, which was worth around £18 million to more than 30 projects.

Source: NDA


Cheap African solar energy could power UK homes in 2018

An impression of what a large-scale concentrated solar power facility might look like in the Tunisian desert
Investors are seeking funding from the UK government for an ambitious plan to import solar energy generated in North Africa.

Under the scheme, up to 2.5 million UK homes could be powered by Tunisian sunshine by 2018.

The company involved says they have already spent 10 million euros developing the site.

A number of overseas energy producers are competing to bring green energy to the UK from 2017.

The TuNur project aims to bring two gigawatts of solar power to the UK from Tunisia if the company wins a contract for difference (CFD) from the British government.

Under new rules published by the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) in the Summer, the government will allow developers of renewable energy projects that are not based in the UK to bid for contracts that guarantee subsidies to supply power.

The plan involves focussing the rays of the Sun on a central tower

TuNur, which is a partnership between British renewables investor Low Carbon, developer Nur Energie, and Tunisian investors, says it has already spent 10 million euros developing the site in the southern area of the country.

The company has gathered three years of solar data from the location, which it says has been independently verified.

Legislation has also been passed in the Tunisian parliament to facilitate the export of the energy, and an agreement has been reached with the Italian network operator to connect a dedicated undersea cable to a substation near Rome.

“This is not a back-of-the-envelope fantasy,” Kevin Sara, chief executive of TuNur told BBC News.

“We are working with some of the largest engineering firms in the world. This is a serious project. Yes, it is risky like any big energy project is risky.

“But there is nothing new about moving energy from North Africa to Europe.”

The company argues that existing gas pipelines from Algeria that run through Tunisia have operated without a glitch through the turbulence that has followed on from the Arab Spring.

Their plans involve using concentrated solar power (CSP) technology. This allows the developers to store some of the energy generated so that the supply is “dispatchable”. It can be switched on or off on demand.

The company involved says its electricity supplies will be secure, and 20% cheaper than home-grown sources, such as offshore wind.

Deserting Desertec

Desertec was a German initiative to develop a large-scale solar project in North Africa, enough to provide 15% of Europe’s energy by 2050. Backed by multiple partners, the idea required funding of up to 400bn euros, which proved to be a struggle. In recent days, most of the original shareholders decided to quit.

“We were an associate member for several years and we withdrew about the same times as Siemens and Bosch, as they weren’t really going anywhere,” said TuNur’s Kevin Sara.

“Everyone was pushing them in different directions; there was management turmoil; they weren’t helping us or our cause.

“We have a singular project, which we are trying to realise. They were an industrial consortium that was trying to develop an idea.”

“We are able to deliver dispatchable, low-carbon electricity to the UK more cheaply than offshore wind and more cheaply than nuclear – all we’re asking for is the chance. Allocate us 2GW and let’s see what we can do with it,” Mr Sara said.

The government, while set to open the bidding process for energy projects outside the EU, is not rushing to embrace the Tunisian idea.

“In order to reduce costs for British consumers, any future non-UK project would need to compete on cost effectiveness with projects in the UK before being allocated a contract for difference,” a Decc spokesperson told BBC News.

“This means that British consumers get the best deal, no matter where the electricity is generated.”

And the government is clear that if the Tunisian project did go ahead, the energy would have to be exclusively for use in the UK.

“We expect that all electricity generated by any non-UK projects will be used in the UK,” the spokesperson said.

The plan involves building an undersea cable to Italy to connect to the European grid

The UK solar industry is also keen to pour some cold water on the African approach.

It argues that many British-based developers have been hurt by government cutbacks of an existing subsidy called the Renewables Obligation.

The added confusion caused by foreign bidders for future contracts is unwelcome, according to Seb Berry from Solarcentury.

“The very last thing we need is the additional medium-term uncertainty that would be created in the early years of the next Parliament from any decision to push on with opening up the CFD scheme and Levy Control Framework budget to foreign projects.”

In 2013, the Irish government signed a memorandum of understanding with the UK to facilitate the export of wind energy.

But in the face of stiff opposition from locals, angry about the prospect of thousands of wind turbines on the flat lands of the Irish midlands, the government in Dublin dropped the plan.

Another project that has been mooted is a connection from Iceland that would see hydro-electric power imported by an undersea cable over 1,000km in length.

However, there is no agreement at present on who might pay for this connection according to Bjorgvin Sigurdsson, from Landsvirkjun, the National Power Company of Iceland.

“We are looking into the feasibility of such a cable, but no decision has been made yet – but it looks as if it could be a viable option for Iceland and the UK,” he told BBC News.

“We expect to spend another two to three years before we can make a final investment decision,” he added.

“It could only be operational by 2024.”

Source: BBC News

UK government paves way for Chinese nuclear plant

UK government paves way for Chinese nuclear plant

The UK and China signed two agreements 17 June enabling Chinese companies not only to invest in nuclear power plant projects but also to build Chinese-design nuclear reactors in the UK, the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said.

The agreements were signed during China Premier Li Keqiang’s official visit to the UK between 16 and 19 June.

Cameron and Li, June 2014 460x286

Cameron welcomes Li to Downing Street

Li and British Prime Minister David Cameron signed a civil nuclear agreement, which DECC said “paves the way” for Chinese companies to invest in Hinkley Point C – EDF Energy’s project to build two 1.6 GW EPR at Hinkley Point on the northern Somerset coast.

In a joint statement, Li and Cameron said China and the UK “stand ready to work together to ensure the success of Hinkley Point as soon as possible.”

DECC and EDF Group, EDF Energy’s parent company, announced last October they had agreed the main commercial terms of an investment contract for Hinkley Point C, allowing the state-owned French company to secure partners to finance the project. The share of equity is expected to be divided between EDF with 45-50%, China General Nuclear (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) with 30-40%, Areva with 10%, and “interested parties” with up to 15%.

DECC said the joint civil nuclear agreement signed yesterday also aims at “better cooperation in the wider nuclear fuel supply chain cycle by working together to develop and export innovative solutions in areas such as waste treatment and decommissioning which could be worth hundreds of millions of pounds to British companies over several years.”

The agreement builds on a memorandum of understanding the UK signed with China last October, which set out a framework of cooperation in civil nuclear energy, DECC said.

The second and separate agreement is a four-way memorandum of understanding between DECC, CNNC, China Atomic Energy Authority, and International Nuclear Services – the commercial arm of the UK’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. DECC said this “landmark agreement” would enable Chinese companies to own and operate a Chinese-designed nuclear power plant in the UK, provided they meet UK regulatory requirements.

Rolls-Royce, the British engineering company, announced separately that it had signed identical memoranda of understanding with Chinese nuclear reactor vendors State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation and China General Nuclear Power Co. The memoranda will “explore possible collaboration in areas such as engineering support, provision of components and systems, supply chain management and instrumentation & control technology,” Rolls-Royce said.

Source: World Nuclear News


UK proposes land access rule change to speed up fracking

UK proposes land access rule change to speed up fracking

Copyright: Thinkstock

The Government has proposed new rules regarding rights to land access and raised payments for communities that host fracking sites in a bid to speed up shale exploration.

It suggests that shale oil and gas companies are granted access to land below 300 metres from the surface and they pay a voluntary amount of £20,000 per well to people living above the land.

The payments would be on top of the existing compensation system, under which communities are to be given £100,000 when a test well is fracked – and a further 1% of revenues if shale gas or oil is discovered.

Currently, companies must negotiate rights of access with every landowner living above underground drilling, even though the works take place far beneath the surface – up to 5,000 feet.

DECC has launched a consultation today on its proposals, which comes as a new study by the British Geological Survey (BGS) estimates there are between 2.2 billion and 8.6 billion barrels of shale oil in southern England.

Energy Minister Michael Fallon said Britain needs “more home-grown energy”, adding: “Shale development will bring jobs and business opportunities. We are keen for shale and geothermal exploration to go ahead while protecting residents through the robust regulation that is in place.

Read more here http://www.energylivenews.com/2014/05/23/uk-proposes-land-access-rule-change-to-speed-up-fracking/?utm_source=feedly&utm_reader=feedly&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=uk-proposes-land-access-rule-change-to-speed-up-fracking

Source: Energy Live News

Where next for the UK nuclear industry?

Where next for the UK nuclear industry?

Nuclear power is the most controversial source of energy, but government claims an expansion of the sector is essential.

Hinkley Point nuclear plant<br />

Prime minister David Cameron sets out his plans for the future of UK nuclear power at Hinkley Point B in Somerset. Photograph: Tim Ireland/PA

Few subjects are as polarising as nuclear power. Supporters claim a new generation of nuclear plants is the most effective means of helping to reduce the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050, while filling the ‘energy gap’ that will result from the decommissioning of old fossil fuel and nuclear power facilities in the 2020s.

But opponents believe it is an expensive folly, replete with ethical and environmental effects that have repercussions for generations to come, siphoning money and attention away from renewables.

The debate took on another dimension in 2011, when the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami led to the meltdown of three of the Fukushima nuclear power plant’s reactors. In response, Germany cancelled its nuclear programme, embarking on the ‘energiewende’ (energy shift), which aims to produce 60% of Germany’s power through renewable sources by 2050. By contrast, the UK is proposing to build a new generation of nuclear power plants, starting with Hinkley Point C.

“A new generation of nuclear power stations, alongside renewables and fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage, is a key part of our future low carbon energy mix,” a DECC spokesperson told the Guardian, “and will contribute to the UK’s vision of providing safe, reliable and low carbon energy for the future. Nuclear is expected to be one of the cheapest sources of low carbon electricity in the future.”

Peter Haslam, public policy advisor for the Nuclear Industry Association,said that while nuclear isn’t “the only way of meeting the energy gap… (we) need to do something if we’re going to keep the lights on. We’re going to have to replace our existing high-carbon capacity with low-carbon generation.”

Hinkley Point C will be the first nuclear power station in the UK since Sizewell B, which started generating electricity in 1995. Along with 11 other new nuclear power stations the government hopes to see built, this would transform what has for some time been a legacy industry into one that would provide 16 GWe of new nuclear capacity by 2030.

Hinkley Point C is projected to provide electricity for 6m homes, meeting approximately 7% of the UK’s demand when running at full capacity. But the proposals are controversial, not least due to the cost involved.

All new nuclear builds involve high capital expenditures. However, many opponents of the Hinkley plan claim the £92.5/MWh strike price, the loan guarantee promised by the Treasury, liability issuance provided to EDF by the Government, and other financial measures actually amount to subsidies by another name – transferring liability onto British electricity customers and taxpayers for at least 35 years.

“There are two other other consortia who might build nuclear reactors at other sites in the future, but they haven’t been involved in the strike price negotiations,” said Dr David Lowry, an independent research policy consultant specialising in nuclear. “The result of that is that EDF had a monopoly over the government as to whether or not the government would agree to take the strike price or not.”

The strike price for offshore wind is higher, pegged at £155/MWh, but Lowry claims this must be balanced by the fact that contracts only last 15 years.

Nuclear Free Local Authorities chair, Councillor Mark Hackett, said investing in nuclear is the wrong approach, “particularly in the light of the Fukushima disaster. The gargantuan cost of £16bn dwarfs previous energy projects, and is likely to make it the most expensive to build reactor in history. It could also choke off the nascent renewable energy revolution in the UK, turning off investors in offshore wind and solar at a time when such industries are rapidly taking off elsewhere in Europe”.

In addition, the coalition agreement promised that new nuclear sites would not receive state financial aid. The European Commission has doubts that the estimated £17.6 bn in financial aid for the Hinkley deal can be justified.

Many environmentalists have expressed concerns over how the nuclear waste from these new reactors will be dealt with. Cumbria recently rejected government plans for an underground nuclear waste disposal facility, and the costs of cleaning up the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing site in the region have rocketed past £70bn.

“That site is so polluted and so nasty, and they just don’t know what to do with it,” claimed Catherine Mitchell, professor of energy policy at the University of Exeter, “so every time a new government comes in they just keep it going, they don’t deal with it.”

However, Haslam counters that any new build plant operators “will have to, by law, put aside funds as the stations move through their lives to ensure that there is a fund there in place at the end of their lifetime to provide for the decommissioning”.

Supporters of the new build programme believe it will provide a springboard for UK business to compete in a global nuclear energy market. New fast breeder reactors could also help address many environmental concerns, turning the UK’s stockpile of nuclear waste into nuclear fuel. But the technology is still some way off being demonstrated at scale and will require international collaboration to develop.

Given the UK’s long nuclear heritage, there is a considerable skills base in the country that the nuclear industry could to draw upon in future too. “Globally, we’ve still got a very good reputation in the nuclear sector because we’ve had 60 years of running successful and safe nuclear power generation,” said Derek Allen, lead technologist, for energy generation and supply at the Technology Strategy Board, which also invests in innovations for renewables and other forms of energy.

Many people still believe the UK is heading down the wrong electricity track, and should emulate Germany and Denmark and invest much more heavily in renewable sources of electricity. The potential for smart meters, increased energy efficiency measures, carbon capture technologies, distributed grids and community energy projects could change the way we consume electricity – and put the nuclear industry out of step with reality. “The whole energy system is changing,” added Mitchell, “and that’s really one of the big issues for nuclear power.”

This feature is part of the Guardian’s Big Energy Debate series.Click here to find out more about this project and our partners

 Source: Guardian

UK wind energy output grew 38% last year


UK wind energy output grew 38% last year

Copyright: Thinkstock

The amount of electricity produced by wind grew by more than a third last year, according to DECC.

Provisional energy statistics for 2013 show wind farms met 7.7% of demand last year, up from 5.5% in 2012 – a 38% rise year-on-year.

Overall low carbon generation accounted for 32.7% of supply – up from 29.4% in 2012. Bioenergy rose by 52%, with its share growing to 2.8% while hydropower was down by 13.2%. Nuclear output remained broadly unchanged, accounting for around 65% of the UK’s low carbon generation.

Maria McCaffery, Chief Executive of RenewableUK said: “It’s great to see the way wind power has grown in just one year. Each unit of wind power production means that we’re having to import less foreign fuel – especially gas which is eye-wateringly expensive. There has been a steady decline of UK production of traditional energy sources so we need to make sure there is something replacing that – and wind is increasingly playing that role.”

Read more here http://www.energylivenews.com/2014/02/27/uk-wind-energy-output-grew-38-last-year/?utm_source=feedly&utm_reader=feedly&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=uk-wind-energy-output-grew-38-last-year

Source: Energy Live News

Workers plead with MPs to save Eggborough power plant

Workers plead with MPs to save Eggborough power plant

Hundreds of workers at the Eggborough power station (pictured) have joined forces to call on their local MPs to help save the plant and 800 jobs.

The 2,000MW facility has been working to covert from coal to biomass for over two years – which was due to start last month – but is expected to shut down one of the units this September. That’s because it failed to win funding from the Government as part of the new Contracts for Difference (CfD) support scheme as a result of a change in the selection criteria.

DECC ranked 10 renewable projects to get fast-track support starting this year but the Eggborough power plant conversion was excluded from the list. In a letter to local MPs, Eggborough workers said: “We at Eggborough are very proud to have ‘kept the lights on’ for the last 40 years and we wish to continue to help meet the needs of the UK and avert ‘capacity crunch’ and blackout fears. Please look into this matter and let us know if there is anything you can do to help.”

Read  more here http://www.energylivenews.com/2014/02/13/workers-plead-with-mps-to-save-eggborough-power-plant/

Source: Energy Live News

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