25 October 2014, Saturday

IN THE NEWS

To cooperate in building research reactor

Vietnam FlagIn Brief

Lightbridge and Vietnam Atomic Energy Institute (VINATOM) have signed an agreement for comprehensive consulting support on development of a nuclear research reactor. This agreement, between the US nuclear energy company and VINATOM, is seen as another important step towards improving the strategic relationship between Vietnam and the US.

The comprehensive nuclear cooperation between the US and Vietnam involves 24 specific activities, including consulting services related to the construction and safe operation of Vietnam’s Atomic Energy Research Centre, with a nuclear research reactor. It also includes design review and selection of nuclear research reactors, site selection, and nuclear security protocols.

The agreement is among the first commercial transactions between the two nations facilitated by the recent US-Vietnam nuclear cooperation agreement under Section 123 of the US Atomic Energy Act. The 123 agreement, which entered into force on 3 October, establishes terms for commercial nuclear trade, and research and technology exchanges.

Work under the five-year agreement between Lightbridge and VINATOM will support Vietnam’s nuclear science and technology centre, a planned US$500 million facility. The agreement also stipulates support for nuclear quality assurance, research reactor fuel selection, control room operations, safeguards, control and accounting of nuclear material and related training programmes.

Vietnam’s plans call for construction of four nuclear reactors at two sites beginning later in this decade, and two additional proposed reactors. The nuclear energy market in Vietnam is estimated to be worth US$10 billion, and is expected to grow to US$50 billion by 2030, according to US Department of Commerce estimates. The second largest nuclear power market in Southeast Asia after China, Vietnam intends to produce more than 10% of its national power from nuclear by 2030.

Koeberg NPP in South Africa

Plans to build 9600 MWe nuclear capacity

Koeberg NPP in South Africa

Koeberg NPP in South Africa

In Brief

South Africa is ready to sign framework agreements with China and Japan on building nuclear power plants (NPPs), said Department of Energy in a statement. An intergovernmental agreement with China is expected to be signed during the first week of November and the one with Japan at a later stage. Pretoria has recently signed similar pacts with Russia and France, and the country already has agreements in place with the US and South Korea.

State-owned nuclear energy company Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) describes the signing of the intergovernmental agreements as an important step towards implementation of the nuclear new build plan. The programme would help in developing skills, create sustainable jobs and contribute to economic growth for the country, said Necsa.

South Africa currently has one NPP, comprising two operating reactors, at Koeberg and has been involved with nuclear research activities since the 1940s. To meet its growing electricity needs to drive economic growth and reducing carbon emissions, the country’s 2010 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) sets out a roadmap for a sustainable energy mix including an expansion in nuclear capacity as well as an increase in renewable energy (RE).

Concurrently with the conclusion of the agreements, the department is planning to hold workshops with all vendor countries to provide them a platform to “showcase and demonstrate” their capabilities and how they would contribute in developing South Africa’s nuclear programme towards an additional 9600 MWe of nuclear capacity. The first of the series of workshops will be held with Russia this month.

Turks and Caicos Islands

To work with Carbon War Room’s Ten Island Challenge

Turks and Caicos Islands

Turks and Caicos Islands

In Brief

The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) signed a MoU on 16 October with the Carbon War Room – a global non-profit organisation – t0 strengthen their commitment to advancing renewable energy (RE). Caribbean Premier Rufus Ewing, and Justin Locke, Director of Carbon War Room’s Operations, inked the deal that will allow the two to work together to reduce the islands’ dependence on fossil fuels through increased RE production and improved energy efficiency.

The Carbon War Room’s Ten Island Challenge provides the government with the platform to define and realise its own vision of a clean economy. In order to achieve this vision, the Carbon War Room, the non-profit organisation founded by Sir Richard Branson and the Rocky Mountain Institute, will provide a range of technical, project management, communications, and business advisory support services.

The Ten Island Challenge works to accelerate the transition of Caribbean island economies from a heavy dependence on fossil fuels to renewable resources. The islands have some of the highest electricity prices in the world, draining their economies and slowing development. Despite an abundance of sun and wind, the Caribbean islands have exploited relatively low levels of renewables to date.

Members of the Carbon War Room, a global non-profit organisation, hope to get ten Caribbean countries to reduce their dependency on fossil fuels. The organisation focuses on solutions that can be realised using proven technologies under current policy frameworks. The other countries that have committed to the challenge are Aruba, St Lucia, St Kitts, The British Virgin Islands and San Andres Province, Colombia.

In 2013, Branson committed his home of Necker Island, British Virgin Islands to serve as a ‘demo’ island in the challenge and, in February of this year, US energy company NRG Energy was awarded the contract to transition the island to renewables.

President Obama and Prime Minister Modi

Shows India’s flexibility on nuclear liability issue

India-US push for nuclear deal implementation

President Obama and Prime Minister Modi

In Brief

Private nuclear firms from India and the US will for the first time take part in diplomatic talks on the controversial liability law, signaling New Delhi’s new flexibility on resolving a dispute critical to the operationalisation of the Indo-US Civil Nuclear Agreement. The decision on the issue was taken during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to Washington, said senior officials from both countries.

The inclusion of Indian manufacturers in the talks with the US indicates a significant departure from previous India’s stance, in that its is indicating that its liability law may need amending, because it affects not just foreign suppliers but domestic firms, too. The government has so far refused to even consider tweaking India’s laws, fearing political opposition.

Indian and foreign firms involved in manufacturing nuclear reactors and components have been critical of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage (CLND) Act, 2010, which is seen as being far more stringent on suppliers than any other international nuclear safety law. Nuclear suppliers from the US, France and Russia, have all raised their concerns over the liability provisions, which effectively expose them to unlimited damages in the event of an accident.

The expert panel to be set up this month will include officials from the ministry of external affairs, the state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and private Indian firms, like Larsen and Toubro (L&T). The US side will be represented by officials from the state department, the Department of Energy, and Westinghouse and General Electric – the two US firms tipped to build nuclear plants in India.

Any move by the Modi government to agree to amend the controversial liability law will however require Parliament’s approval – seen as an uphill task. Opposition parties are likely to depict any such move as the Indian government’s wilting under foreign pressure. However, the formulations by an “expert group” will appear bipartisan, raising their political acceptability, and could be a way forward, said an expert.

Masdar and Etisalat sign MoU

To provide smarter clean energy solutions for telecom company

signing

Masdar and Etisalat sign MoU

In Brief

In the UAE, Masdar and Etisalat have signed a MoU to collaborate on renewable energy (RE) and efficiency solutions. The two-year MoU between RE specialist, Masdar, and Etisalat, the region’s leading telecommunication service provider, was signed on the sidelines of GITEX Technology Week 2014.

The MoU outlines key areas of collaboration, including the identification and analysis of RE solutions, the opportunity to audit telecommunications networks, advise on energy optimisation projects and lead workshops about the value of sustainable practices. The collaboration will help Etisalat to integrate sustainable energy solutions into its operations.

Located in Abu Dhabi’s fastest growing corridor, Masdar has played a leading role in advancing sustainable energy solutions through research, education and investment in support of the UAE’s efforts towards energy diversification. Its collaboration with Etisalat underlines the growing commitment by UAE companies towards climate control and implementing cleaner, more sustainable operations.

Masdar said it will work closely with Etisalat to identify smarter, cleaner energy solutions that will deliver long-term business benefits and increase the Emirates’ economic resilience, as well as provide a sustainability model for the global telecommunications industry.

Backed by the government of Abu Dhabi, Masdar is dedicated to the Emirate’s long-term vision for the future of energy. The company is advancing the development, commercialisation and deployment of clean energy technologies and solutions and is helping in the transition from today’s fossil-fuel economy to the energy economy of the future.

Renewable Energy

Germany’s EEG surcharge begins to drop

Monday, 20 October 2014

Will see a modest decline in electricity prices

Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy

In Brief

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has reduced Germany’s EEG Surcharge, which was originally added to electricity bills in 2000 to support subsidies provided to developers of renewable energy (RE) as part of “Energiewende.” The controversial surcharge, which had been added to consumers’ electricity bills to achieve energy transformation has fallen for the first time in 14 years.

Under this extensive energy transformation programme, Germany has invested more in renewable power generation than any other European country. In 2012, renewable sources generated 22% of Germany’s total electric power supply. With the current rate of growth, Germany will exceed its 35% renewable power target by 2020.

Germany’s EEG Surcharge has been providing the subsidies needed to drive its ambitious deployment of renewables. In 2012, RE developers in Germany received US$18 billion totalling 0.5% of the German GDP in subsidies, compared to only US$2.56 billion in France and the UK – less than 0.1% of their GDPs, according to industry estimates. Over the past five years, the subsidies have resulted in power bills in Germany becoming the second-highest in the EU.

After a nearly 50% increase in the EEG surcharge between 2012 and 2013, the government has tried to stabilise the costs of expanding wind, solar and biomass. Now, there will be a very modest decline in the surcharge – from about US$0.8 per kWh to about US$0.78 per kWh – to electricity bills in 2015. Germany urgently needs to lower energy costs to increase the competitiveness of its industry.

Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station (Photo: Richard Baker)

F4N programme to help 300 SMEs across the country

Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station (Photo: Richard Baker)

Hinkley Point Nuclear Power Station (Photo: Richard Baker)

In Brief

The Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) has announced it will collaborate with the Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) to help Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) manufacturers in the South West access the UK’s fast-developing US$97 billion nuclear new build programme. The move follows the European Commission’s go ahead for the new nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

In total, more than 300 SMEs across the country are set to benefit from specialist support as MAS and the Nuclear AMRC launch the “Fit For Nuclear (F4N)” programme. The initiative allows companies to assess their capabilities against industry standards, implement new processes, secure necessary accreditations and provide supplier matching opportunities. It also offers participating SMEs to seek matching funding for business improvement or R&D projects.

EDF Energy, along with Areva, which is set to build the 3300 MWe nuclear power plant (NPP), is lending its support to the F4N initiative. The new US$28 billion nuclear plant at Hinkley Point C will comprise two European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) of 1650 MWe capacity each. The plant is expected to be online in 2023 but orders for the bulk of plant and services are expected to start from next year.

To date, around 150 nuclear SMEs have completed the online F4N assessment, with the majority receiving ongoing support and development from the Nuclear AMRC. Funding from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund Sharing programme and bringing in MAS have opened the initiative to another 300 SMEs, with the focus on engaging the wider manufacturing supply chain, including instrumentation and control, electrical and other sub-contractors.

The UK is set to build 16 GWe of nuclear power capacity by 2030 to meet its energy requirement due to the retirement of old coal-fired and nuclear plants. This offers great potential for advanced manufacturing SMEs in the region to develop business in the nuclear energy sector. Following approval for Hinkley Point C, nuclear SMEs can expect opportunities to increase in new build, as well as in decommissioning and existing plant maintenance.

Will help in optimising energy mix

 In Brief

transmissionIn a new study titled “MIXOPTIM: A tool for the evaluation and the optimisation of the electricity mix in a territory,” published in The European Journal Plus (EPJ Plus), French scientists report having developed an open source simulation method to calculate the actual cost of relying on a combination of electricity-generating sources.

The team, led by Bernard Bonin from the Atomic Energy Research Centre (CEA) at Saclay, France, demonstrates that energy cost is not directly proportional to the demand level. This method, though recognised by its creator as being still rudimentary, can be adapted to account for the public’s interest and not solely economic performance, when optimising the energy mix.

The authors consider wind, solar, hydro, nuclear, coal and gas as potential energy sources. In their model, the energy demand and availability are cast as random variables. The authors simulate the behaviour of the mix for a large number of tests of such variables, using so-called Monte-Carlo simulations. As renewable energies are still only available intermittently and cannot be stored easily, most countries aim to combine several energy sources.

For a given energy mix, the cost presents a minimum as a function of the installed power. This means that if it is too large, the fixed costs dominate the total and become overwhelming. In contrast, if it is too small, expensive energy sources need to be frequently solicited. The MIXOPTIM cost evaluation method is applied to the multi-criteria optimisation of the mix according to three selected criteria – economy, environment and supply security.

The ongoing debate about energy in Europe has created the need for tools providing a performance estimate of the various energy options under consideration. The simulation tested on the basis of energy mix in France, using 2011 data, shows that an optimal mix is 2.4 times the average demand in this territory. This mix contains a large amount of nuclear power and a small amount of wind and solar.

Covers peaceful use of nuclear energy and waste management

handshakeIn Brief

India and Finland on 15 October signed a number of agreements, including one for the peaceful use of nuclear energy as well as management of radioactive waste from atomic power plants as President Pranab Mukherjee began his two-day visit to the key Scandinavian country. Mukherjee had a one-to-one meeting with his Finnish counterpart, Sauli Niinisto, which was followed by delegation-level talks.

The pact between the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) of India and the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland for nuclear cooperation was signed by Indian ambassador to Finland, Ashok Kumar, and director general of Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority of Finland Petteri Tiippana in the presence of Mukherjee and Niinisto.

The agreement between India and Finland will ensure cooperation in the field of nuclear and radiation safety regulation; exchange of information and personnel related to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and radiation related to nuclear facilities; nuclear safety, including radioactive waste management; safety related issues; and research. It will also cover emergency preparedness and radioactive waste management associated with the operation of civil nuclear plants.

Noting that India and Norway have a rewarding trade partnership, including oil exploration and scientific research, Mukherjee said that both the sides are keen to expand the scope of their collaborative efforts in earth sciences, biotechnology, clean energy, fishing and health care. India and Finland also agreed to double the trade from the existing US$1.5 billion to US$3 billion in the next three years.

Utility-scale Solar PV Plant

Funds to be used for two solar power projects at Ouarzazate

Morocco to build utility-scale solar plant

Utility-scale Solar PV Plant

In Brief

The World Bank announced 15 October that it has given a US$519 million loan for Morocco to partly finance two solar power plants, with a combined capacity of up to 350 MWe, the second phase of the 500 MWe Ouarzazate project. The World Bank is providing US$400 million directly, while its Clean Technology Fund (CTF) will grant US$119 million.

The cost to build the two utility-scale Morocco solar power plants is estimated at US$2.2 billion. German state-owned bank KFW would be the largest lender for the two projects, as it has granted Morocco US$824 million. The African Development Bank, the European Commission and European Investment Bank are financing the remaining amount.

The authorities said consortiums led by Spain’s Abengoa, GDF’s International Power and ACWA Power of Saudi Arabia had been shortlisted for the 200 MWe Noor II tender. The three groups are also prequalified for the 100 MWe Noor III tender, along with another consortium led by Electricite de France (EDF).

Moroccan Solar Energy Agency Masen has selected parabolic mirror technology for the 200 MWe concentrated solar plant at an estimated cost of US$1.3 billion, while the 100 MWe plant, expected to cost US$900 million, will be built as a solar power tower. Results of tenders for construction of the two Morocco Solar plants near the southern city of Ouarzazate are expected in the next few days, sources said.

Morocco is spending heavily to subsidise power production. It currently imports power from Spain, with demand growing by around 7% per year. The government has set a target to produce 2 GWe of solar power by 2020, which is equivalent to about 38% of Morocco’s current installed generation capacity. ACWA Power is already building the first 160 MWe plant in the Ouarzazate area.

Large-scale Solar Plant, California

Need to broaden role to include financing and licensing

Large-scale Solar Plant, California

Large-scale Solar Plant, California

In Brief

Companies dealing with engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) will need to adapt to the new economic realities of the renewable energy (RE) industry or face jaded returns, according to a new report titled “The Evolving Landscape for EPCs in US Renewables,” published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) and commissioned by CohnReznick.

In Depth

Hinkley Point C NPP

Hinkley Point revives European nuclear debate

Thursday, 16 October 2014

European Commission decision to boost nuclear market

Hinkley Point C NPP

Hinkley Point C NPP

In Brief

After the approval by the European Commission (EC) of the Hinkley Point C nuclear power project in the UK, the role of atomic energy has come back into focus in political debates in Europe. The 3200 MWe plant will provide 7% of the UK’s total electricity supply. The competition commissioner last week announced that the British government help for the project did not constitute illegal state aid.

In Depth

Insight

Study reveals full details of EU energy sector

In Briefeuro_logo

A study by the European Commission published on 13 October that covers the first full details on energy costs and subsidies for the 28 member countries across the different power generation technologies says that solar and onshore wind energy have been the recipients of the largest share of public subsidies in the energy sector.

The data indicate that in 2012, the total value of state subsidies in energy in the member countries has been between US$150-175 billion. The report reveals that the largest amounts of current public support in 2012 went to renewables, in particular to solar, which received US$18.6 billion. Offshore wind received US$12.8 billion, followed by biomass US$10.5 billion and hydropower US$6.6 billion.

Among conventional power generation technologies, coal received the largest amount in current subsidies in 2012, with US$12.8 billion, followed by nuclear US$8.85 billion and natural gas about US$6.6 billion. The data specifying support across technologies, however, do not reflect the free allocation of emission certificates nor tax support for energy consumption.

A breakdown of the state aid by countries and per-unit of primary energy demand based on data collected from government sources by independent consultants reveals that Denmark, Germany, Sweden and the UK are the countries with the highest degree of state intervention, while Croatia, Finland and Poland have the lowest levels.

The report is significant in that it was able to put an end to an ideological dispute about which energy sectors attracted the most state subsidies. The recent go-ahead by the European Commission competition commissioner to the Hinkley Point C nuclear power reactors in the UK was the first-ever state aid case for construction of a new nuclear power plant.

Indian PHWRs

India-Canada nuclear cooperation moves ahead

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Covers upgrade of Indian PHWRs and uranium supply

Indian PHWRs based on Canadian CANDU technology

Indian PHWRs

In Brief

Canada and India signed a nuclear cooperation agreement in New Delhi for joint R&D in the field of nuclear energy, with the focus on uprating the capacity of Indian Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR) based on the CANDU model. The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) wants to upgrade PHWRs from their current capacity of 200 MWe to 750 MWe.

External Affairs Minister, Sushma Swaraj, and her Canadian counterpart, John Baird, who chaired the India-Canada second strategic dialogue on 14 October, expressed satisfaction over commercial discussions between DAE of India and Cameco Corporation of Canada for sourcing uranium from the North American country for commercial nuclear plants in India.

The two ministers also agreed for joint research and development (R&D) in the field of nuclear energy. Meanwhile, Baird conveyed Canada’s support for India’s membership for the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG). The two sides are currently negotiating commercial contracts for the supply of uranium for Indian nuclear reactors. They also agreed to jointly hold a Nuclear Security Workshop.

Nuclear cooperation between India and Canada started in 1964, with Canada building the first Indian PHWR, in 1972. Canada stopped nuclear trade with India following a nuclear test in 1974. India and Canada again signed a civil nuclear agreement in 2010. This was followed by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission and the DAE of India in 2013 finalising an arrangement to allow Canadian companies to export uranium and other nuclear items to India.

Utility-Scale Solar Power Plant

Needs to simplify framework for renewables’ growth

Utility-Scale Solar Power Plant

Utility-Scale Solar Power Plant

In Brief

In an attempt to meet its growing energy needs, Egypt has announced its plan to expand the capacity of new and renewable energy (RE), particularly solar power. Despite the enormous potential, the country has not been able to attract the level of investment required to expand in solar energy, especially in view of a continuing deficit in the state budget.

In Depth

Wind Farm

Sets a renewable energy target of 20% by 2025

El Arrayan Wind Farm

Wind Farm

In Brief

Chile is emerging as one of the world’s leading renewable energy (RE) market because of  its current reliance on expensive fossil fuel imports, its energy-intensive mining operations and its supportive government. The country’s President, Michelle Bachelet, has approved 76 RE projects just since she took office on 11 March.

Although the Chinese, US, and Japanese renewables markets are far bigger, Chile is seen as the market with the highest level of activity in the world. It is a country with few indigenous energy resources, yet it has a sound economy and a stable political environment.

Currently, almost all of the RE development in Chile is solar and wind, but the country also possesses considerable potential for geothermal energy development. At present, between around 5% and 6% of Chile’s energy comes from renewables, up from around 3.2% in 2011. As of the end of July 2013, Chile had an installed RE capacity of 1035 MWe, although at that time only 3.5 MWe of that was attributable to grid-connected solar power, making up about 0.2% of the total energy mix.

Although an earlier target had been set to achieve just 10% by 2020, the Chilean senate in September 2013 voted unanimously on revised RE production targets to produce 20% of the nation’s energy from renewable sources by 2025. That will work out to 6500 MWe of capacity from projects including solar farms and small hydroelectric dams, up from about 1000 MWe now.

Encased Nuclear Waste

Get US$800,000 DoE award for waste disposal research

Nuclear Waste in Casks

Encased Nuclear Waste

In Brief

A research team from Clemson University was awarded a US$800,000 grant by the US Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) Nuclear Energy University Programme to pursue work on disposal and storage options for nuclear waste. The researchers will use naturally occurring minerals to develop crystalline ceramic, which will last for millions of years, according to a Clemson news release.

The three-year project aims to study these naturally occurring, naturally stable minerals and design crystal structures that imitate them to incorporate waste elements needed to be stored, said Kyle Brinkman, a Clemson associate professor of materials science and engineering, who is heading the team.

The research could help enlarge waste management options, lower storage and disposal costs and help policymakers in deciding whether to recycle spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from commercial power plants. Current US policy is to not recycle SNF.

While some components of used fuel can be reprocessed, the crystalline ceramic would encase the leftover, unusable material. The ceramic would then be put into a container and buried in an over 1500-m deep repository in a stable rock formation. The material could be more stable than glass, which is used by several countries to isolate high-level commercial and military waste.

The project also strengthens ties between Clemson and the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL), which is an applied research and development organisation at the US DoE’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina, already has a strong national reputation in nuclear research and has developed a specialty in finding the safest ways to generate nuclear energy and dispose of the waste.

Renewable Energy - wind and solar

Will clarify land acquisition regulations for wind and solar plants

Renewable Energy - wind and solar

Renewable Energy – wind and solar

In Brief

The US has set new federal rules that will help in clarifying regulatory requirements for renewable energy developers for setting up solar and wind power projects on public lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The rules, proposed by the BLM, were published in the 30 September Federal Register.

The proposal, initiated in 2011, aims to identify the most suitable sites for renewable energy expansion and to establish a competitive process, and terms and conditions for developments. If approved, this could lead to a rush by developers seeking the best sites for solar and wind power, according to industry experts.

The BLM manages more Federal land than any other agency – about 245 million surface acres as well as 700 million sub-surface acres of mineral estate. It is the major owner of federal land in the Northwest, where it manages 16 million acres of land in Washington and Oregon, nearly 25 million acres of so-called mineral estates, and 38 Wild and Scenic rivers, totalling some 3200 km.

As these lands are increasingly utilised to develop renewable energy, the US is able to lessen its dependence on imported oil. Meanwhile, opportunities arise for creating new jobs to support local communities. Public lands also provide sites for the new, modern transmission facilities needed to deliver electricity generated from renewable sources to consumers.

Offshore Wind Turbines

Will add 2284 MWe clean-energy capacity

Offshore Wind Turbines

Offshore Wind Turbines

In Brief

The Scottish government has accorded planning consents to four new wind farms, totalling a 2284 MWe capacity, that will collectively generate enough clean energy for around 1.4 million homes. With this, all commercial-scale Scottish offshore wind projects now have consents, and have the potential to generate up to 4150 MWe of electricity – enough to power up to 3 million homes.

The four proposed projects are Neart na Gaoithe, led by Mainstream Renewable Power Ltd and situated 15 km off the coast of Fife; Inch Cape Offshore Ltd, a JV formed between Repsol Nuevas Energias UK and EDP Renewables UK, 150 km off the Angus Coast; and projects Alpha and Bravo, located 27 km and 38 km, respectively, from the Angus coastline, led by a JV of Seagreen Wind Energy, Fluor and SSE Renewables.

The Crown Estate has invested up to a US$160 million in a programme aimed to accelerate development and attract investors for offshore wind. Earlier this year, the Beatrice and MORL offshore wind projects, in the Moray Firth, got the go-ahead for projects totalling 1866 MWe in production. Also, earlier this summer, the lease for the UK’s first offshore demonstration of two-bladed turbines on the seabed at Methil was granted.

The planning consents for the new projectrs give a massive boost to Scotland’s emerging offshore wind industry. However, promoters of the projects will need to know whether developers can access a Contract for Difference (CFD) – the new support mechanism for nuclear, renewables and carbon capture and storage (CCS) – before they finalise their investments.

Jacob Zuma

Nuclear deal with Russia creating media speculation

Jacob Zuma

Jacob Zuma

In Brief

President Jacob Zuma has granted Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson authority to sign a nuclear cooperation agreement for peaceful uses of nuclear energy between the government of the Republic of South Africa and the government of the French Republic, a presidential spokesperson said on 10 October.

On 22 September, the department and Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation, Rosatom, confirmed in a statement that South Africa and Russia had signed a deal for the construction of up to eight nuclear power reactors. On 26 September, media reported that Zuma took control of a US$90 billion nuclear deal with Russia for the supply of nuclear reactors to South Africa.

However, earlier this month, the government said there had been no agreement signed with Russia for the construction of nuclear reactors, and that South Africa was still looking at different options to facilitate atomic power development. Media speculated that Zuma reportedly negotiated directly with Russian president Vladimir Putin and instructed Joemat-Pettersson to sign the nuclear deal.

Opposition lawmakers are suspicious about a multibillion-dollar nuclear deal with Russia, saying the agreement could give Moscow the power to veto South African trade with other nuclear providers. But the office of the president in a written media statement denied there was anything improper in the nuclear energy programme. It also denied that Russia would have a monopoly on nuclear energy deals with South Africa.

Obama with Indian PM, Modi

India ready to join NSG

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Entry backed formally by the US

Obama supports India's NSG bid

Obama with Indian PM, Modi

In Brief

The US has formally announced support last week for India’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), allowing it full trade of civilian nuclear technology. A non-signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), India has worked toward NSG membership since the organisation ended a decades-long embargo on trade with the country in 2008.

India reached an export agreement with Canada last year, and it announced a uranium export agreement with Australia last month. It is now negotiating a technology agreement with Japan. The governments of the US and India announced the setting up of a “contact group” on civilian nuclear cooperation to pursue the potential construction of Westinghouse and GE Hitachi reactors.

Additionally, the White House said it supports India’s phased entry into the NSG, as well as the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Wassenaar Arrangement and the Australia Group. The statement said President Barack Obama “affirmed that India meets MTCR requirements and is ready for membership in the NSG.” He supported India’s early application and eventual membership in all four regimes.

Francois Hollande pledges to reduce nuclear energy share

To reduce nuclear share to 50 % from 75% by 2025

Francois Hollande pledges to reduce nuclear energy share

Francois Hollande pledges to reduce nuclear energy share

In Brief

Lawmakers in France voted 10 October in favour of reducing the share of nuclear energy in the nation’s electricity mix to 50% in 2025. Currently, France generates 75% of its total energy from nuclear sources. The nuclear energy share in the US, in comparison, is about 19%. In Japan, the share of nuclear energy was 33% before the Fukushima nuclear disaster happened in 2011.

France invested heavily in nuclear energy in the 1960s and 1970s and has been a market leader in waste reprocessing and other nuclear fuel-cycle technologies. France currently has 58 nuclear power reactors operated by Electricite de France (EDF), with a total capacity of over 63 GWe. About 17% of France’s electricity comes from reprocessed nuclear fuel.

In addition to placing heavy reliance on nuclear energy domestically, France is the world’s largest net exporter of electricity due to its very low cost of generation, and earns over US$4 billion per year revenue from this. France has been very active in developing advanced nuclear technologies, and its fuel products and services are a major export. French company, Areva, is already exporting Generation III European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) technology to overseas markets.

However, many plants are ageing and public pressure has mounted to expand renewable energy (RE), especially after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. President Francois Hollande in 2012 pledged during his election campaign to reduce the proportion of nuclear power in the energy mix. This led to a new wide ‘national debate on energy transition,’ which ran eight months to July 2013.

But plenty of space exists for concurrent growth

In Brieftransmission

Renewable Energy (RE) has been capturing a larger portion of the total global energy infrastructure, while the share of nuclear power has been actually shrinking, says a new Vital Signs report from Worldwatch Institute. Much of this reversal is due to the fact that renewables have been attracting far greater investment owing to advantages ranging from development costs, to safety, to operating costs.

In Depth

Insight

ACT Aurora Control Technologies gets boost

Friday, 10 October 2014

Selected for inclusion in NREL’s Industry Growth Forum

In Briefconference

ACT Aurora Control Technologies Corporation has been selected for presentation at the US Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Industry Growth Forum, the premier clean energy investment event in the US. The selection significantly raises the company’s visibility in one of the world’s largest clean technology and investment and commercial markets.

Aurora’s presentation at the NREL Industry Growth Forum October 28-29 in Denver, Colorado, highlighting the company’s team, market and its innovative inline measurement and control technology for solar photovoltaic (PV) wafer and cell manufacturers will be given by Gordon Deans, President and CEO of Aurora.

The NREL Forum attracts applicants throughout the US and internationally. It is designed to maximise the exposure of innovative clean technology companies to venture capital, corporate investors, and strategic partners. This years’ selection panel was comprised of nearly 100 professional investors and businesses who selected the companies invited to present. Since 2003, the presenting clean-technology companies have collectively raised over US$5 billion in growth financing.

ACT, headquartered in North Vancouver, Canada, develops, manufactures and markets inline measurement systems for the PV industry. The company’s inline, real-time measurement and control products help PV cell producers with means to lower manufacturing costs and increase profitability.

Hinkley Point NPP

Hinkley Point NPP gets final nod from EC

Friday, 10 October 2014

UK agrees to modify terms of financing

Hinkley Point NPP

Hinkley Point NPP

In Brief

The European Commission has given the final go-ahead for the US$28 billion nuclear power project to be built at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, southeast England. The first nuclear power station to be  built in a generation will provide 7% of total electricity, and will power six million homes. It will create 25,000 new jobs during the construction phase and will staff 900 people during its 60 years of operation.

Despite fierce opposition from environmental groups and the prospect of a legal challenge  by Austria, the commission approved revised plans to subsidise and operate the plant, which will be built by French energy company EDF Energy. The UK agreed to significantly modify the terms of the project financing, which will achieve savings for taxpayers.

The 3200 MWe Hinkley nuclear plant will be built using two of the Areva designed 1600 MWe European Pressurised Reactors (EPR). The UK government has guaranteed a “strike price” to be paid to EDF for 35 years at around US$151 per MWh – twice the current market rate. The first reactor will start generating electricity in 2023.

The decision indicates that the European Commission agrees with the terms of the EDF deal and that modifications in the terms of financing will bring significant savings for UK taxpayers. The Department of Energy stated that Hinkley Point C represented the start of investment in a new fleet of NPPs replacing old, polluting power plants, which could reduce household bills by around US$153 in 2030.

EDF and the UK government have already agreed on the key commercial terms of the contract and the company is currently requesting permission from the department of energy and climate change for nuclear site licenses, as well as the approval of the EPR design by the UK nuclear regulator. Further steps require the conclusion of agreements with strategic investors and partners, in addition to approval of the waste transfer contract arrangements by the European Commission.

IN THE ARCHIVE