Tagged: Energy

Paris climate change agreement very positive for nuclear power


The major emphasis of the COP21 process has been on producing a global, binding agreement to cut carbon emissions. At the Paris meeting there was clear international agreement that reducing carbon dioxide emissions was a global priority built on a groundswell of public opinion in many countries, albeit with a range of different timelines involved. It was agreed to aim for a temperature increase below 2°C and with the aim of moving to 1.5 degrees, which suggests that governments will have to introduce additional mitigation actions to move more rapidly to low-carbon technologies, especially in electricity generation. The main and widely recognised implication (which fuelled some extravagant hype stigmatising coal) is that more use must be made of low- or zero-carbon energy sources, including nuclear power.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) described it as “nothing less than a historic milestone for the global energy sector” that would “speed up the transformation of the energy sector by accelerating investments in cleaner technologies and energy efficiency”. With wide support, a clean energy innovation fund is being set up to develop cleaner, more affordable and more reliable energy sources. Whatever the advances in electricity storage associated with intermittent renewables, there is now more clearly an inexorable logic for low-cost continuous reliable supply from expanded nuclear power. The IEA had already made it plain that achieving the 2°C goal would require a significant contribution from nuclear energy.

Agneta Rising, Director General of the World Nuclear Association said: “We welcome the commitments that governments have made, and the nuclear industry stands ready to help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.  This agreement should lead to a more positive outlook for nuclear investments, as nuclear is an important part of the response to climate change in countries across the world. What governments need to do now is convert the global agreement they have reached in Paris into national policies, including a progressive decarbonisation of the electricity generation sector. We have proposed that there should be 1000 GWe of nuclear new build by 2050 as part of a balanced low-carbon future energy mix. To achieve this, we need to see the introduction of energy markets with level playing fields which recognise the value of low carbon and reliable generation. We need to see the adoption of harmonised nuclear regulatory processes internationally. We also need to ensure that actions do not lead to clean nuclear power plants being closed prematurely and replaced with more polluting alternatives. Ongoing investment is also needed to help develop the next generation of nuclear technology, along with a clear and achievable pathway for deployment”.

Ahead of COP21, 188 nations had submitted their individual climate action plans, including how much they were intending to cut emissions. There is a wide range of targets in these Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs), from ambitious cuts by 2030 to almost doubling emissions by 2030, according to individual national circumstances.  Collectively the INDCs are projected to result in a global temperature rise above pre-industrial levels of 2.7°C, which is considered insufficient constraint.  National targets are not binding, there are no defined sanctions for failing to meet them, and they need verification anyway as well as five-yearly reviews ratcheting up the good intentions.  The EU October 2014 commitment to reduction targets was conditional upon other countries’ binding commitments, so may be in doubt. The US commitment is in doubt for political reasons. For China and India, the first and third largest sources of CO2, reducing poverty is a higher priority than reducing CO2 emissions.
Source: World Nuclear Association


Engineers Defend Nuclear Fusion Spend

Committee of MPs tells nuclear fusion scientists predicting commercial viability of fusion of being in ‘cloud cuckoo land

Inside the JET fusion reactor at Culham

Scientists and engineers from the nuclear fusion research community have rallied against an attack from a member of the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee that accused them of being in “cloud cuckoo land”.

Speaking at a meeting at the House of Lords earlier this week, Lord Peston slammed Professor Steven Cowley, head of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy, for asserting that fusion research would produce “a commercially sustainable outcome” within the next 40 to 80 years.

He said: “You’re talking about cloud cuckoo land. I’m talking to all of you. What you’ve done is invent a marvellous system, where all the scientists in this area waste an enormous amount of public money worldwide, on a self-sustaining system with no likely outcome worth anything.”

“It’s not even obvious that fission plants are commercially viable. You are talking about things that are not even a million miles close to being built. “

The Lords Science and Technology Committee has been tasked with investigating the value of public funding for nuclear fusion research, pegged at £174.7 million this year. The UK is also contributing to the development and construction of the next generation of fusion tokomak, Iter, in the south of France. Iter is budgeted to cost a total of at least £13 billion and is planned to be completed by 2021.

Cowley, who is also the chief executive of the UK Atomic Energy Authority and a Professor of Physics at Imperial College London, admitted that if a more sustainable source of electricity were invented by 2040, research for nuclear fusion energy would be redundant.

He said: “If we were not making progress, we should not invest in fusion. At the moment we have transitional decarbonising technologies – nuclear fission and carbon capture and storage. By the end of the century we will need technologies to replace them.”

Nuclear fusion research represents 14% of the Research Council’s total spend on energy related research. Dr Sharon Ellis, deputy director of Research Councils UK, which is responsible for investing public money in research to advance knowledge and generate new ideas, said: “Without particular evidence, there is no reason to stop funding fusion research. As it stands, we are getting advances in material and robotics and backwards investment. The balance sheet is positive.”

Dr David Kingham, chief executive of Tokomak Energy, which is developing smaller, 100MW modular tokomaks that use high-temperature superconducting magnets, said: “Tokomaks are the way forward but there needs to be more diversity in the approach. The European roadmap is too linear – innovation doesn’t work like that. There is a risk that slow progress at Iter will delay progress as a whole.”

Source: Institute of Mechanical Engineers

Sir Ian’s Wood Foundation donates £3m to university’s Oil and Gas Institute

The Wood Foundation – set up by local oil magnate Sir Ian Wood – has donated £4.5 million to Robert Gordon University to ensure it becomes a global centre of excellence in oil and gas and remote healthcare.

The Oil & Gas Institute, which will receive £3.1 million of the donation, aims to become a world-class centre of excellence in oil and gas, building on the thinking, creativity, experience and facilities which have been built up through more than 40 years’ experience with North Sea oil and gas.

Prof Ferdinand von Prondzynski and Sir Ian Wood
Prof Ferdinand von Prondzynski and Sir Ian Wood

This follows the announcement of the foundation’s £500,000 donation to the university’s Oil and Gas Institute in 2013.The university will match fund the donation with a major investment of its own and seek further support from other donors.

The Institute will develop four distinct knowledge centres in drilling, operations, decommissioning and business excellence. These will be led by industry experts and academics who will work closely with industry on the research and education required to maximise recovery of the world’s hydrocarbon resources and to make decommissioning commercially and environmentally effective.

Sir Ian Wood said: “RGU is renowned for its strengths in oil and gas and remote healthcare, both of which play a vital role in our local economy. The Wood Foundation is pleased to be able to support the University in its quest to build globally recognised centres of excellence through the development of international research, bespoke industry solutions, collaborative research and Masters levels’ programmes.

“By attracting industry experts and internationally renowned academics to lead the teaching, consulting and research programmes, the Oil & Gas Institute will be able to provide a valuable resource for the industry world-wide.

“More importantly, it will help secure Aberdeen’s future as an international oil and gas hub long after our own resources have been depleted.”

Professor Ferdinand von Prondzynski, Principal of RGU, said: “We are extremely grateful for the huge generosity of The Wood Foundation. Sir Ian’s leadership in the oil and gas industry is universally recognised, most recently in the response to the Wood Review on maximising recovery in the UKCS.

“It is hugely significant to RGU to have his support as we develop our ambitious plans for the Institute and create investment and continuing prosperity in the North-East of Scotland.”

The initial donation of £500,000 by the Wood Foundation allowed RGU to establish the Oil & Gas Institute and appoint its first director, Paul de Leeuw, who said: “The knowledge centres, which will be led by industry experts recruited from the sector, will provide the overall direction for RGU’s oil and gas teaching and research programmes.

“With the UK Continental Shelf decommissioning market growing rapidly in the next few years we see this as a key area for RGU to build its capability in terms of both teaching and research.

“Alongside the knowledge centres the Institute will recruit teams of leading academics to pursue market-orientated world class research making it a significant player and employer in the sector.”

The Wood Foundation was set up in 2007 to invest both money and expertise in making a lasting difference to people and communities in Africa and Scotland by helping them to help themselves.

Source: Scottish Energy News

EDF Energy to press on with Hinkley nuclear reactor project

Chief executive says construction of UK’s first reactor in 20 years should begin early next year despite financial pressures
Hinkley Point nuclear power station
Artist’s impression of EDF’s Hinkley Point C station. Photograph: EDF/PA  

EDF Energy expects to give the go ahead before spring for construction of the UK’s first new nuclear reactor for 20 years, despite financial problems at its partner Areva and a warning on the difficulty of such projects.

The comments from Vincent de Rivaz, EDF chief executive, came at a nuclear conference where senior industry figures raised fears of a skills and supply chain crunch at the £25bn Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset.

De Rivaz admitted that delays at its Flamanville plant in France were a setback, but insisted they would not impact financially on the British project, which is using the same European pressurised reactor (EPR) technology.

“We should be under no illusion that building new nuclear plants has never been easy,” he told the Nuclear Industries Association (NIA). “We take the construction risk for Hinkley Point C – not the customers. Let us be clear, the cost of Hinkley Point C has not increased by one penny as a result of the delays at Flamanville.”

The EDF executive said volatile oil prices, uncertainty over Russian energy supplies and high hopes for a binding new climate change agreement to restrict carbon emissions underlined the need for new nuclear plants.

De Rivaz said legal and other work needed to be completed before EDF could give the final investment decision on Hinkley Point, but he remained confident that a positive decision could be made in the first quarter of 2015. He said discussions with potential new and existing foreign shareholders to the project were continuing.

Asked about the problems at Areva, designer of the EPR and shareholder in the Hinkley project, De Rivaz said the French government, which owned the majority of shares in the business, had agreed to support it as a going concern.

Read the full article here http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/dec/04/edf-energy-nuclear-reactor-hinkley

Source: Guardian

Rolls Royce sells energy arm to Siemens for £785m

Rolls-Royce sells energy arm to Siemens for £785m

Copyright: Rolls-Royce

Rolls-Royce has signed an agreement to sell its energy production arm to Siemens for £785 million.

The British engineering firm will also receive a further £200 million for a 25-year licensing agreement once the transaction for the gas turbine and compressor business has been completed.

John Rishton, CEO of Rolls-Royce said: “This agreement will give the Energy business greater opportunities as part of a much larger energy company and allows Rolls-Royce to concentrate on the areas of business where we can add most value.”

Read the full article here http://www.energylivenews.com/2014/05/08/rolls-royce-sells-energy-arm-to-siemens-for-785m/?utm_source=feedly&utm_reader=feedly&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rolls-royce-sells-energy-arm-to-siemens-for-785m

Source: Energy Live News

Nuclear News Round Up (14th – 17th Apr 14)

Nuclear News Round Up (7th – 11th Apr 14)