Today French state owned company EDF made the long awaited ‘final investment decision’ with its Chinese state owned partners to spend over £21 billion building Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset. 10pm Update: From BBC News: “Contracts were to be signed on Friday. But Business Secretary Greg Clark has said the government will “consider carefully” before backing it. According to reports, EDF’s chief executive Vincent de Rivaz has cancelled a trip to the UK on Friday following Mr Clark’s comments.”
Dr. Nina Skorupska CBE, Chief Executive of the Renewable Energy Association commented: “This decision defies logic, the energy world has fundamentally changed in the decade since the decision on new nuclear was made and the fundamentals of this project no longer stack up. In those ten years, nuclear costs have rocketed, whilst the price of renewables have dropped spectacularly and from a standing start now produce 25% of the UKs generation.
“Technologies such as solar, onshore wind and biomass are already cheaper than nuclear, are quicker to deploy and has none of the construction or economic risk. Assuming that EPR technology can ever be made to work and does deliver in 2026, it will be obsolete well before it’s opened. We are seeing grid-scale battery storage already being deployed commercially in the UK this year, coupled with smarter grids and technology driving up efficiencies.
“The pace of technological change in the last decade has simply left this project behind, a relic from another time. In another ten years it will look preposterous, and then we are stuck with the extraordinary costs for another 35.”
Also responding to the news Good Energy chief executive Juliet Davenport OBE said: “Giving the go ahead to Hinkley C is a bad move. It will take at least a decade to build and leave our grandchildren an inheritance of high energy costs, hazardous waste, environmental damage, and a plant that needs complex and costly decommissioning. No wonder only 36% of the British public support nuclear, compared to a whopping 76% for renewables. The same future generations that will blame us for Hinkley, could instead thank us for a legacy of investment in renewables. The transition to renewables is inevitable and brimming with economic opportunity – the UK should embrace it and move forward with a clean, green energy plan.”
ClientEarth Director of Programmes Karla Hill said: “This deal is less than visionary and centralises the UK’s power production even more when the government should be creating a decentralised energy system for the future. What is more, state support for this project is the subject of two ongoing legal cases. We need strong, positive policies on renewables and energy efficiency, rather than relying on big, centralised and heavily subsidised projects like Hinkley.”
Richard Black, director of the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU) said: “What’s really striking about Hinkley is that EDF and the French government aren’t just betting the farm on this project, they’re effectively betting the entire hillside, the river at the bottom and the next few hillsides as well. With similar reactors in France and Finland seriously over time and over budget, France needs a Hinkley success if it’s to persuade anyone in the West that it’s still a serious player in the global nuclear industry. So it’s a risk worth taking for France; but is it for Britain? In a world moving towards cheaper, flexible, decentralised power systems, investing in eye-wateringly expensive always-on ‘baseload’ power plants increasingly looks like a 20th century solution for a 21st century problem.”
Hugo Chandler, director at New Resource Partners, agreed that it wasn’t clear that the project would be ‘good for the UK’. “This may be good for confidence post the referendum, and good for jobs, and it’s something of a relief to know one way or the other, but it is still not clear that it’s good for the UK. The fact is that Hinkley C’s electricity will be very expensive, as will management of its waste, and we still don’t have a long-term solution for that,” he said.
“When Hinkley C finally does come online it will indeed produce low-carbon electricity, but not as cheaply as offshore wind. And it will need to generate around the clock to justify the cost of building it. Then if more reactors follow, we will have a fleet of inflexible behemoths that do not fit well into a market with lots of variable wind power. We need more flexibility, not less. If Hinkley C takes as long to build as Olkiluoto 3 in Finland, also an EPR and 9 years late, it may be born into a system that has outgrown nuclear power altogether.”
John Sauven Greenpeace Executive Director said: “Every time EDF has tried to build a reactor like Hinkley, it has failed. There isn’t a shred of evidence that Hinkley can be built on time or on budget. And if it hits the same problems as its predecessors, it can’t be relied on to keep the lights on in the UK. There is no way that Hinkley can deliver power by 2025 which is already 8 years later than originally promised. And it is costing many more billions in subsidies than initially thought.
“The UK government doesn’t have to sign the contract with French and Chinese state owned companies. The government should make the sensible and pragmatic decision to quit while we’re still ahead. We need a clean break from Osborne’s pet projects.
“The new government should have the vision to come up with a serious plan to boost our energy infrastructure that will keep the lights on and the costs and carbon emissions down. This isn’t going to be delivered by outdated nuclear technology and handing over the keys to our energy system to companies associated with the Chinese military.”
Tony Ward, Head of Power & Utilities at EY, comments: “Today’s announcement by EdF’s board is a major vote of confidence in the UK’s energy market, and in the vital role that new nuclear will play in delivering the UK’s low carbon aspirations. The decision to proceed with Hinkley is also a major fillip in terms of long-term highly skilled employment, supply chain opportunities, and economic improvement in the local West Country region.
“Investment decisions in major, nationally significant, infrastructure projects are rightly taken only after due care, scrutiny and challenge. In the case of Hinkley, its scale has also required the drawing together and commitment of EdF’s Chinese partners, and negotiation of appropriate support from the UK Government.
“We should recognise that the UK’s electricity system is changing rapidly, especially in the transition to a more distributed, diverse mix for our power generation. However the robustness and reliability of the system as a whole will still demand large-scale base-load power. Today’s announcement is the start of a process to replace some of the existing low carbon nuclear capacity that the UK has already closed, and more that will close in the years to come.
“Much preparatory work has already been done, with many contractors and partners in place. The challenge now shifts from getting the project structured to that of delivering to time and cost.”
Dr Jenifer Baxter, Head of Energy and Environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “Confirmation that Hinkley Point C will go ahead does not provide the UK with an answer to the management of power generation, potential generation gap and the need to balance the grid.
“Given the UK is facing a 40-55% supply gap by 2025, the UK Government must put in place clear guidance for developing near and long term sustainable power generation that meets the needs of UK carbon targets, creates a good mix of low emission technologies and develops skills and economic growth in the sector.
“The UK Government must now have a flexible vision of our nuclear future due to the potential opportunities that could be offered through innovation and demonstration projects. The experience of those involved in developing Hinkley Point C should be used to get the most out of other developments in the nuclear sector, such as small modular reactors. This will build up a bank of shared experience, best practice and opportunities for learning.
“Further ahead, it is vital is for there to be more investment into the management of the whole nuclear life-cycle. We need more thorough research and development into methods for recycling and maximising the energy returns from nuclear waste ― including the growing stockpile at Sellafield.”
A Good Look At How Homes Will Become More Energy Efficient Soon
Everyone always talks about ways they can save energy at home, but the tactics are old school. They’re only tweaking the way they do things at the moment. Sealing holes in your home isn’t exactly the next scientific breakthrough we’ve been waiting for.
There is some good news because technology is progressing quickly. Some tactics might not be brand new, but they’re becoming more popular. Here are a few things you should expect to see in homes all around the country within a few years.
1. The Rise Of Smart Windows
When you look at a window right now it’s just a pane of glass. In the future they’ll be controlled by microprocessors and sensors. They’ll change depending on the specific weather conditions directly outside.
If the sun disappears the shade will automatically adjust to let in more light. The exact opposite will happen when it’s sunny. These energy efficient windows will save everyone a huge amount of money.
2. A Better Way To Cool Roofs
If you wanted to cool a roof down today you would coat it with a material full of specialized pigments. This would allow roofs to deflect the sun and they’d absorb less heat in the process too.
Soon we’ll see the same thing being done, but it will be four times more effective. Roofs will never get too hot again. Anyone with a large roof is going to see a sharp decrease in their energy bills.
3. Low-E Windows Taking Over
It’s a mystery why these aren’t already extremely popular, but things are starting to change. Read low-E window replacement reviews and you’ll see everyone loves them because they’re extremely effective.
They’ll keep heat outside in summer or inside in winter. People don’t even have to buy new windows to enjoy the technology. All they’ll need is a low-E film to place over their current ones.
4. Magnets Will Cool Fridges
Refrigerators haven’t changed much in a very long time. They’re still using a vapor compression process that wastes energy while harming the environment. It won’t be long until they’ll be cooled using magnets instead.
The magnetocaloric effect is going to revolutionize cold food storage. The fluid these fridges are going to use will be water-based, which means the environment can rest easy and energy bills will drop.
5. Improving Our Current LEDs
Everyone who spent a lot of money on energy must have been very happy when LEDs became mainstream. Incandescent light bulbs belong in museums today because the new tech cut costs by up to 85 percent.
That doesn’t mean someone isn’t always trying to improve on an already great invention. The amount of lumens LEDs produce per watt isn’t great, but we’ve already found a way to increase it by 25 percent.
Maybe Homes Will Look Different Too
Do you think we’ll come up with new styles of homes that will take off? Surely it’s not out of the question. Everything inside homes seems to be changing for the better with each passing year. It’s going to continue doing so thanks to amazing inventors.
ShutterStock – Stock photo ID: 613912244
IEMA Urge Government’s Industrial Strategy Skills Overhaul To Adopt A “Long View Approach”
IEMA, in response to the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, have welcomed the focus on technical skills and education to boost “competence and capability” of tomorrow’s workforce.
Policy experts at the world’s leading professional association of Environment and Sustainability professionals has today welcomed Prime Minister Teresa May’s confirmation that an overhaul of technical education and skills will form a central part of the Plan for Britain – but warns the strategy must be one for the long term.
Martin Baxter, Chief Policy Advisor at IEMA said this morning that the approach and predicted investment in building a stronger technical skills portfolio to boost the UK’s productivity and economic resilience is positive, and presents an opportunity to drive the UK’s skills profile and commitment to sustainability outside of the EU.
Commenting on the launch of the Government’s Industrial Strategy Green Paper, Baxter said today:
“Government must use the Industrial Strategy as an opportunity to accelerate the UK’s transition to a low-carbon, resource efficient economy – one that is flexible and agile and which gives a progressive outlook for the UK’s future outside the EU.
We welcome the focus on skills and education, as it is vital that tomorrow’s workforce has the competence and capability to innovate and compete globally in high-value manufacturing and leading technology.
There is a real opportunity with the Industrial Strategy, and forthcoming 25 year Environment Plan and Carbon Emissions Reduction Plan, to set long-term economic and environmental outcomes which set the conditions to unlock investment, enhance natural capital and provide employment and export opportunities for UK business.
We will ensure that the Environment and Sustainability profession makes a positive contribution in responding to the Green Paper.”