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Sizewell B nuclear plant ammonia leak closes part of beach

A beach near a nuclear power station had to be closed to the public after a “small amount of ammonia leaked”, an energy firm said.

EDF Energy said the leak from a storage tank at Sizewell B in Suffolk on Friday afternoon was “immediately contained”.

But part of the beach was cordoned off “as a precaution” because ammonia fumes could have a “strong smell”.

A spokeswoman said: “There is no risk to public health and no-one was hurt as a result of this incident.”

She said the power station remained switched off for planned maintenance and refuelling.

The beach has reopened.

EDF Energy said ammonia was used on the site to control pH levels.

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Delivering Energy Data Taskforce recommendations

We are delivering

Following the recent publication of the Energy Data Taskforce (EDTF) report, Ofgem, in collaboration with BEIS and Innovate UK, is deciding on the specific and immediate steps that the sector needs to take to keep the momentum from the EDTF going and realise the vision of a modern, digitised energy system. Ofgem is also learning whether the findings are applicable to other energy data.

Don’t stop your work

We know many organisations are already working to progress the energy market’s data agenda. Our message to you is: please don’t stop. Keep working on your projects to deliver consumer benefits. Though, we do suggest that you reflect on the EDTF report and its data vision. Ask yourselves, whether there are opportunities for your work to better align itself to the EDTF principles and recommendations and so help realise that vision. Even if you consider the data you work with to be outside the scope of the EDTF definition of Energy System Data (see page 7 of the report), do still ask yourselves, “Can these recommendations and ways of working also be of benefit to consumers for my work?”

Work with us

Over the coming weeks we will be contacting energy data users to see how they believe the desired outcomes from the EDTF recommendations can be achieved and to learn what their organisations are already doing to improve their data processes and meeting the data needs of their stakeholders. Don’t wait for us to contact you. If you have specific suggestions for how the EDTF vision is best realised, get in touch with us and share your action plan. Please contact us at OfgemDataServices@ofgem.gov.uk. Help us understand:

  1. What do you think the priority next steps should be?
  2. What data projects you are working on that the EDTF report did not include.
  3. What early benefits can be achieved?
  4. How applicable do you think the EDTF recommendations are to other energy data and to data beyond the energy market?

We look forward to hearing from you!

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EDF Energy bids to shift gear in EV infrastructure with NEoT Capital deal

EDF Energy has signed a partnership with investment firm NEoT Capital to accelerate its deployment of EV charging infrastructure in the UK.

The deal will see EDF become NEoT’s preferred partner for EV charging infrastructure, providing engineering, procurement, construction and management services, while NEoT will take on the mantle of becoming EDF’s preferred provider of financing for EVs, batteries and related infrastructure.

The duo pointed towards a “limited” investment by businesses into electric fleets, with few businesses able to finance the kind of energy systems necessary to support EVs, including battery storage and vehicle-to-grid systems.

EDF recently launched a nationwide advertising zeroing in on its proposition in electric vehicles, and the two companies said they intend to trigger “more meaningful” investment into EVs by providing their business customers with an end-to-end solution.

Energy suppliers in the UK are racing into the EV space in their droves, with end-to-end packages incorporating financing, vehicle ownership, charging infrastructure and clean power supply proving popular.

The likes of ScottishPowerDrax and Centrica have launched special purpose, end-to-end EV product offerings in recent times, while Volkswagen launched its own clean energy supplier – Elli – in Germany earlier this year to secure its position in the EV power supply market.

Beatrice Bigois, managing director for customers at EDF Energy, said: “To accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles, we need to find innovative ways to finance the required investments. This strategic partnership with NEoT Capital will help us make electric mobility a reality for our customers.”

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Innovate UK and ENGIE launch £4m energy innovation competition

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has joined forces with ENGIE to discover and fund innovative projects that can speed up the development of solutions to decarbonise, digitise and decentralise energy and help achieve a sustainable energy transition.

A £4m competition will link government grants from Innovate UK, awarded alongside and simultaneously with private sector investment from ENGIE.

It’s the first time an Innovate UK programme has private funding from overseas.

ENGIE, a French energy and services company, will work with Innovate UK to make joint investments and the competition’s aim is to allow organisations to form investment partnerships at an early stage.

To do this, ENGIE and Innovate UK are bringing together Innovate UK’s expertise in identifying promising innovations and using funding to materially change their risk profiles as well as ENGIE’s expertise in the commercial sector.

Ian Meikle, director of clean growth and infrastructure at Innovate UK, said: ‘We are seeking the very best of British ideas in clean growth innovation.

‘By teaming up with ENGIE we can multiply our funding and do even more to grow the industries, businesses and jobs of tomorrow by bringing in the private sector at an earlier stage through this investment accelerator programme.”

Nicola Lovett, CEO of ENGIE UK & Ireland, added: ‘We are delighted to be working with both Innovate UK and ENGIE’s Paris-based New Ventures team to directly assist innovative UK companies in the clean growth sector – in areas such as renewables, energy services and e-mobility.

‘This initiative also supports our own ambition to be a leader in making zero-carbon transition possible for businesses and local authorities.’

The first round of the competition closes on August 14.

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UK becomes first major economy to pass net zero emissions law

The UK today became the first major economy in the world to pass laws to end its contribution to global warming by 2050.

The target will require the UK to bring all greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, compared with the previous target of at least 80% reduction from 1990 levels.

The UK has already reduced emissions by 42% while growing the economy by 72% and has put clean growth at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy. This could see the number of “green collar jobs” grow to 2 million and the value of exports from the low carbon economy grow to £170 billion a year by 2030.

Energy and Clean Growth Minister Chris Skidmore said:

The UK kick-started the Industrial Revolution, which was responsible for economic growth across the globe but also for increasing emissions.

Today we’re leading the world yet again in becoming the first major economy to pass new laws to reduce emissions to net zero by 2050 while remaining committed to growing the economy – putting clean growth at the heart of our modern Industrial Strategy.

We’re pioneering the way for other countries to follow in our footsteps driving prosperity by seizing the economic opportunities of becoming a greener economy.

The UK’s 2050 net zero target — one of the most ambitious in the world — was recommended by the Committee on Climate Change, the UK’s independent climate advisory body. Net zero means any emissions would be balanced by schemes to offset an equivalent amount of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere, such as planting trees or using technology like carbon capture and storage

The government is hosting Green GB Week on 4 November to encourage all corners of the country and sectors of society to play their part in meeting these ambitious targets.

For more information about what the government is doing to tackle climate change, please visit the Green GB Week website.

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Lords debates reduction in UK’s greenhouse gas emissions

Members of the Lords discussed regulations on reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, on Wednesday 26 June.

This Statutory Instrument (SI) is made under the draft affirmative procedure, meaning it needs to be approved by both Houses of Parliament before it can be made (signed into law) and brought into effect as law. Draft affirmative SIs can be stopped if either House votes against the government’s motion calling for the SI to be approved.

Motion to regret

Lord Grantchester (Labour), proposed a regret motion to the regulations on the grounds that:

  • the government have given little detail of how the emissions target will be met
  • they have made a substantial change in policy without the full and proper scrutiny that such a change deserves and;
  • they have not introduced regulations under section 30 of Climate Change Act 2008, to include greenhouse gases from (a) international aviation, or (b) international shipping, as part of the emissions target.

Following the debate on the floor of the House, the regret motion was put to a vote. 155 members were in favour, with 116 against, and so the regret motion was agreed to.

This regret motion cannot stop the regulations, but provides the opportunity for the House to put its concerns on record.

Lords scrutiny

The House of Lords Secondary Legislation Scrutiny Committee(SLSC) examines every SI and publishes reports, drawing members’ attention to any areas of concern.

The SLSC reported on the Climate Change Act 2008 (2050 Target Amendment) Order 2019 in their 53rd Report.

Further information

 

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New York Approves Its Own Green Deal as Trump Turns ‘Blind Eye’

New York State’s version of the Green New Deal is heading to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is expected to sign it into law.

The legislation, approved early Thursday by the state Assembly and Wednesday by the Senate, will set the most aggressive clean-energy targets in the country, calling for huge additions of solar power and massive wind farms off the coast.

“As Washington turns a blind eye and rolls back decades of environmental protections, New York turns to a future of net zero emissions,” Cuomo said in a statement heralding the bill’s passage.

The measure codifies New York’s goal of getting all of its electricity from emission-free sources by 2040, putting the state ahead of all others that have set clean-energy standards — even progressive California, which has targeted 100% clean power by 2045. It also calls for an 85% reduction in economy-wide emissions from 1990 levels by 2050. In promoting the plan during a recent radio program, Cuomo called it “the most aggressive in the country.”

“It’s definitely the most progressive bill that we’ve seen anywhere,’’ Miles Farmer, a senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in an interview.

Exactly how New York will pull off such an ambitious plan remains to be seen. Utility executives across the U.S. have warned that a 100% green grid is impossible using current technologies.

The bill would boost the amount of solar power in New York to 6 gigawatts by 2025 from about 1.7 gigawatts currently. It also calls for 9 gigawatts of offshore wind power by 2035. None of the state’s electricity currently comes from offshore wind.

Comparing New York’s plan to those of other states “is beside the point,” said Ethan Zindler, head of Americas research for BloombergNEF. “The question is can it be done and will there be follow through?”

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Renewables offer UK ‘nuclear gap’ insurance

Increasing renewable energy capacity would provide an insurance policy against a possible ‘nuclear gap’ in the UK’s low-carbon power pipeline caused by early closure of ageing reactors, according to a new report by the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit.

The report – ‘Cracks in the System’ – examines the effects of the UK’s existing nuclear power stations closing earlier than government expects.

It concluded that expanding renewable energy capacity would fill the gap more cheaply than expanding gas generation.

Expansion could either be through increasing the development of offshore wind or via a combination of on- and offshore wind and solar, the report said.

Accelerating renewables rollout in this way alongside enhanced power system flexibility such as storage would be a ‘no-regrets’ option,” ECIU said.

ECIU head of analysis and the report author Jonathan Marshall said: “Although government has reduced forecasts for the amount of nuclear capacity Britain needs in recent years, no assessment has yet considered the potential impact of the early closure of the country’s ageing fleet of reactors.

“If this happens it is unlikely that the lights will go out, but it could make hitting our carbon targets more challenging.

“Ministers need to decide how to prepare for this potential clean power gap therefore, and soon; accelerating renewables deployment is probably the best no-regrets short-term option, with consideration given to how to support new nuclear projects over the longer term.”

ECIU added that recent decisions by Hitachi and Toshiba to halt new nuclear projects at Wylfa in Wales and Moorside in Cumbria, respectively, have created a shortfall between official projections of nuclear generating capacity and what the market appears set to deliver.

The ECIU analysis considers this alongside the prospect of further shortfalls – prospects raised by the discovery of cracking in the graphite bricks around the core of nuclear reactors such as that which has closed Hunterston B Power Station in Ayrshire.

If cracks affect Britain’s other advanced gas-cooled reactors, these plants may be forced into decommissioning early, the report said.

The impact of such early closures could have important implications for the UK’s carbon targets, said ECIU director Richard Black.

“Britain is already off-track on meeting the Fourth and Fifth Carbon Budgets, covering the periods 2023-27 and 2028-32 respectively, and the loss of another chunk of low-carbon power would make meeting these targets even more difficult,” Black said.

He added: “Cleaning up the power sector has done the bulk of the heavy lifting in Britain’s recent decarbonisation and, if the government does sign a target for net zero emissions by 2050 into law, it will have to do more.

“With that in mind, it would be economically pragmatic to accelerate decarbonisation in the near-term by building up capacity in low-cost renewables and flexibility mechanisms.

“If it turns out they’re not needed, all ministers will have done is to accelerate decarbonisation which they say they need to do anyway; so this really is a no-regrets pathway. But it’s one where decisions are needed soon.”

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Chernobyl 2.0 fears as nuclear expert warns against re-opening cracked UK reactor

Nuclear experts have warned against re-opening a 43-year-old Scottish nuclear reactor riddled with cracks over fears of a meltdown.

Hunterston B nuclear power plant was shut down last year after it was found that Reactor 3 had almost 400 cracks in it – exceeding the operational limit.

EDF, which own the plant in Ardrossan, Ayrshire, are pushing to return the reactor to service at the end of June and July and want to extend the operational limit of crack allowed from 350 to 700.

However, the plans to reopen the plant have sparked fears it could lead to a nuclear meltdown similar to the 1986 Chernoybl disaster .

Experts have warned that in the very worst case the hot graphite core could become exposed to air and ignite leading to radioactive contamination and evacuation of a large area of Scotland’s central belt – including Glasgow and Edinburgh.

According to Dr Ian Fairlie, an independent consultant on radioactivity in the environment, and Dr David Toke, Reader in Energy Policy at the University of Aberdeen, the two reactors definitely should not be restarted.

Speaking about the cracks in the barrels, they warned: “This is a serious matter because if an untoward incident were to occur – for example an earth tremor, gas excursion, steam surge, sudden outage, or sudden depressurisation, the barrels could become dislodged and/or misaligned.

“These events could in turn lead to large emissions of radioactive gases.

“Further, if hot spots were to occur and if nuclear fuel were to react with the graphite moderator they could lead to explosions inside the reactor core.

“In the very worst case the hot graphite core could become exposed to air and ignite leading to radioactive contamination of large areas of central Scotland, including the metropolitan areas of Glasgow and Edinburgh.”

A planned inspection of the graphite bricks that make up the core of reactor three in March last year uncovered new “keyway root cracks”.

Around 370 hairline fractures were found, which the BBC reports equates to about one in every 10 bricks in the reactor core.

EDF Energy said these have now grown to an average of 2mm wide.

The operational limit was 350 cracks but the inspection found this had been exceeded.

Cracks to the graphite blocks is known to occur but legislation is in place to ensure they do not threaten the structural integrity of the reactor.

EDF is now hoping to prove it is safe to use and would stand up to the most stringent tests and wants the ONR to increase the upper operational limit to 700  cracks.

The reactors have been closed since October 2018, but EDF Energy said yesterday it was confident its Hunterston B nuclear plant would eventually reopen.

Station Director Colin Weir said: “Nuclear safety is our overriding priority and reactor three has been off for the year so that we can do further inspections.

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EDF Energy expects UK nuclear plant where cracks found will reopen

LONDON (Reuters) – EDF Energy said on Friday it was confident its Hunterston B nuclear plant in Scotland would eventually reopen, having been offline since last year after cracks were discovered in the reactor’s graphite core.

The plant, which is more than 40 years old, can generate enough electricity to power more than 1.7 million homes, and is one of Britain’s eight nuclear plants which provide around 20 percent of the country’s electricity.

“Hunterston B will operate until 2023,” said a spokeswoman for EDF Energy, the British arm of French utility EDF.

The two Hunterston reactors have suffered several restart delays and are currently scheduled to return to service at the end of June and July.

EDF Energy said a 100 million pound, 5-year research process had been undertaken into issues surrounding the lifetime of its plants.

“Market rules mean we would immediately have to announce if this extensive research had altered our expectations about the closure of our power stations,” the spokeswoman said.

She was responding to a report by the Energy & Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), a non-profit organisation, published on Friday, which said Britain’s climate target could be in jeopardy if the plant does not re-open and if the six other nuclear plants in Britain, with the same Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor (AGR) design, were also forced to close early.

“If this happens it is unlikely that the lights will go out, but it could make hitting our carbon targets more challenging,” said Jonathan Marshall author of the ECIU report.

The ECIU report said the government should launch fresh support for new renewable projects, to ensure any gap in nuclear generation is filled by low-carbon sources instead of gas plants.

EDF Energy said the scenario outlined in the report was unrealistic.

“The extensive work we have carried out at Hunterston B has given us a greater understanding of how graphite ages and for that reason we don’t expect other AGRs to have to undergo the same lengthy outages,” she said.

The ultimate decision on reopening Hunterston lies with Britain’s Office for Nuclear Regulation which must be satisfied the reactors would be safe even in an extreme and unlikely earthquake scenario.