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Our Future – Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Our Future – Efficiency and Renewable Energy

The development and operating of more renewable energy electricity is the most focused part of the decarbonizing our electricity grids.

Mr. Porter, who writes the Economic Scene column for The New York Times, characterizes renewable energy commitments in several countries as ambitious infatuations that have led to a glut requiring adjustments to grid operations. He thinks grid operators mindlessly attach more renewable energy generation to the grid as in some kind of blindfolded pin-the-tail game.

To be sure, electric grids in which a significant fraction of energy comes from renewable sources will require operational management changes. For the vast majority of electricity systems in the world, the current level of renewable energy market penetration is so low that leading countries and states will surely have addressed integration issues before they ever become a real problem.

Mr. Porter’s real agenda is revealed when he observes that nuclear and coal power are having a hard time competing on economic terms in today’s competitive energy markets. Renewable energy generation is contributing to revealing the uneconomic nature of plants that devour huge amounts of coal, and for coal and nuclear plants that devour huge amounts of capital investment.

The major threat to nuclear and coal profitability is economic forces primarily related to competition from natural gas and nuclear power’s inability to compete in energy markets without huge subsidies from taxpayers and captive electric monopoly customers.

Mr. Porter further argues that grid operations and generation choices should be built around the rigid operational requirements of nuclear and coal plants. Unable to respond effectively to dynamic market and demand conditions, these plants lumber around the energy marketplace like the poorly-adaptive dinosaurs that they are. Mr. Porter would hobble the new nimble, lean mammals on the energy scene to preserve central station power plant hegemony.

Mr. Porter completely ignores the vast range of distributed energy resources available to shape load, reduce peak demand, and substitute for central station power plants. Resources like distributed generation from solar, wind, biomass, and high efficiency combined heat and power offer energy services with superior total economics to many central station options.

Energy management, efficiency, and demand response—tailoring demand to minimize costs against the time-value of energy—all offer energy services at far less cost than keeping uneconomic plants running.

Animating markets for clean distributed energy resources, including a lot of renewable energy generation, is the real objective of the New York Reforming the Energy Vision process, and the imperative for grid managers and policy makers everywhere.

New nuclear generation is even less economic than old; only socialist economies are building nuclear plants today. It may be that temporary support mechanisms to keep zero-emissions nuclear power plants running are a good idea while the utility industry is transformed away from the old dumb, one-way electron factories that Mr. Porter wants to preserve.

Backsliding on carbon emissions reductions cannot be allowed. Nothing should be taken from the resources needed to develop a truly clean energy future just to keep decrepit nuclear plants running. Striking the right balance on these critical goals is a challenge of energy policy today; still all roads must point to a renewable energy future.

Markets have served notice that things have to change and that nuclear power fails to compete; the planet is telling us to decarbonize. Renewable energy supported by efficient use of energy is the only future we can truly afford.


An electrical grid is an interconnected network for delivering electricity from suppliers to consumers. It consists of generating stations that produce electrical power, high-voltage transmission lines that carry power from distant sources to demand centers, and distribution lines that connect individual customers.

Renewable energy is generally defined as energy that is collected from resources which are naturally replenished on a human timescale, such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, waves, and geothermal heat. Renewable energy often provides energy in four important areas: electricity generation, air and water heating/cooling, transportation, and rural (off-grid) energy services.

Posted in Green Energy, Nuclear Energy, Renewable Energy, Sustainable Energy0 Comments

Trinity engineer raising €10m for new nuclear power technology

Trinity engineer raising €10m for new nuclear power technology

A Trinity College engineering graduate is raising €10m to develop a nuclear power technology, that he and his partners claim could produce electricity more safely. It would also do so more cheaply than a new coal-fired power station or the latest nuclear one that Britain plans to build at a cost of up to €32bn, they say.

Founder of Energy Process Developments Rory O’Sullivan, 29, who has begun talking to a number of prospective Irish investors about the project, has partnered with British Moltex Energy founders environmentalist John Durham and scientist Dr Ian Scott, an entrepreneur and former chief scientist at consumer goods giant Unilever.

Cambridge-educated Dr Scott made a breakthrough in establishing that because of its design and how it works. By containing molten salt nuclear fuel in tubes, rather than hazardously pumping it around pipes, valves and heat exchangers outside a reactor, his stable salt reactor method, which keeps the fuel locked up in closed tubes, is far safer.

It also avoids the requirement for as much highly specialised, expensive and failsafe systems for cooling, containment and safety control, which raise new nuclear costs to levels that leave electricity billpayers and governments on the hook for tens of billions.

Rory O’Sullivan explained :

“We aim to win a slice of £250m funding the UK government has made available and have also established partners in Asia to develop the technology there. But we need further investment now to ensure we can take the lead internationally. Today’s clean power technologies will not reduce global energy poverty at today’s costs. Drastic cost reductions are required to implement clean power on a mammoth scale.”

Nuclear power is currently illegal here, but he added that the Moltex design could be used here in modular units that each generate about 150MW of power, which would be enough for about 45,000 homes, potentially within the next 10 years.

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EDF moves ahead with potential construction of six nuclear plants at Jaitapur, India

EDF moves ahead with potential construction of six nuclear plants at Jaitapur, India

French utility EDF said it had signed a preliminary deal with Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) for the construction of six EPR nuclear reactors at Jaitapur, in the west of India.

Each of the reactors to be deployed at the site will have 1650MW of energy output, which will lend the Jaitapur project a 10GW clean power generation capacity.

The project has been long-delayed, and is now being taken over by EDF from French state-controlled group Areva. Preliminary technical studies are currently being carried out at the site as a part of Areva’s pre-engineering studies contract with NPCIL that was signed last year.

EDF will be continuing Areva’s work in co-ordination with NPCIL at the site for securing certification from the Indian safety authorities for the new reactors.

The firm will also evaluate the economic and financial conditions and the technical specifications of the project under supervision of the country’s nuclear regulator Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).

According to French President François Hollande, cited by Reuters, the agreement for construction of the six reactors is likely to be finalised within a year. Construction works for the project have been scheduled for early 2017.

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Board of EDF delays vote to proceed with Hinkley Point nuclear facility

Board of EDF delays vote to proceed with Hinkley Point nuclear facility

French energy utility giant EDF is looking out for investors to finance its proposed €33bn (including funding costs) Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant in Somerset, UK.

The French state-owned energy group, which is grappling with debts of €37 billion and plunging wholesale electricity prices, delayed a key board meeting last Wednesday under growing pressure from French energy unions to abandon the project because of the huge costs and financial risks involved.

According to the French newspaper Les Echos, the French giant is seeking help from the country’s government to find another state entity, which would be acquiring 10% stake initially allocated for Areva, scrapped since losses prompted the company to divest its nuclear unit to EDF.

The transaction is likely to be completed this year and will turn EDF to be the majority owner (66.5%) in the nuclear power project.The remaining 33.5% stakes are being held by Chinese partner CGN.

Expected to start commercial operations in 2025, the Hinkley Point C project will house two EPR reactors that can produce enough power to meet 7% of the country’s needs.

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Schneider Electric named preferred bidder for Hinkley Point C contract

Schneider Electric named preferred bidder for Hinkley Point C contract

Schneider Electric, U.K. & Ireland, has been chosen as the preferred bidder for a contract to supply its medium-voltage PIX switchgear range for the £24.5bn (€33bn)Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in the UK, EDF Energy said last week.

Final contract terms for the nuclear power project had been agreed with a number of suppliers including Areva, Alstom, Bouygues TP/Laing O’Rourke and BAM Nuttal/Kier Infrastructure.

Schneider’s UK operations will be responsible for the design, engineering and deployment of the equipment, which is expected to ensure safe operations and reliable energy management at the site.

The firm’s operations in France will be assisting the UK team for the project.

While Areva is to deliver nuclear steam supply system, instrumentation and control for the power facility, Alstom France will be supplying the turbines and Alstom UK is to deliver the services during operations.

EDF has selected Bouygues TP/Laing O’Rourke for the main civil works of the project and BAM Nuttal/Kier Infrastructure for the earthworks at the site.

Hinkley Point C commercial director Ken Owen commented :

“Schneider UK & Ireland is the latest addition to the industrial partnership that will build Hinkley Point C.”

In October, EDF and the China General Nuclear Power Corp. (CGN) had completed a strategic investment agreement to facilitate the Hinkley Point construction and operations. Following the deal, CGN holds a 33.5% stake in the project with the rest being owned by EDF.

The French giant had said that approximately 7 percent of the U.K.’s anticipated electricity demand would be met by the Hinkley Point C facility.

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Russia to build 4,800MW nuclear power plant in Egypt

Russia to build 4,800MW nuclear power plant in Egypt

Moscow and Cairo signed an agreement on Thursday for Russia to build a nuclear power plant in Egypt, with Russia extending a loan to Egypt to cover the cost of construction.

A spokesman for Russia’s state-owned nuclear firm Rosatom said the plant, Egypt’s first, would be built at Dabaa in the north of the country and was expected to be completed by 2022.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, speaking on state TV, gave few details but said the project would involve the building of a ‘third-generation’ plant with four reactors of 1,200MW each, which “will make Egypt regional technological leader and the region’s only country with NPP 3+ Gen technology”.

Rosatom said that the intergovernmental agreement specifies about future nuclear fuel supply, terms on operation, maintenance and repair of NPP units, treatment of spent nuclear fuel, and training of personnel.

The company, however, did not reveal further details on the terms of the agreement, but Sisi said the loan from Russia would be paid off over 35 years through the production of electricity from the plant.

Egypt has been considering a nuclear plant at Dabaa on and off since the 1980s, but Cairo froze its nuclear plans after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. It only announced in 2006, under former President Hosni Mubarak, that it intended to revive them. Mubarak was then overthrown in a revolution in 2011.

Sisi, who came to power in 2014, said in February that he had signed a memorandum of understanding to go ahead with the nuclear project. He has also talked this week of building solar and wind energy facilities in the coming three years to generate around 4,300 megawatts of power.

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Through EDF, China Takes Stake in U.K. Nuclear Plant

Through EDF, China Takes Stake in U.K. Nuclear Plant

EDF Energy has reached an agreement with China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) for a nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point, Somerset coast.

It was confirmed yesterday at a news conference by Prime Minister David Cameron and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who is in the middle of a four-day visit in England.

The mainly state-owned EDF said the final cost would be £18bn (€24.5bn). State-owned CGN will pay £6bn (€8.2bn) for one third of it (33.5% stake).

The companies also announced preliminary agreements to work together on two more nuclear power stations: Sizewell C in Suffolk and Bradwell in Essex. The latter has attracted particular criticism because it will give primary ownership of the project to CGN – and use Chinese technology.

While they have reached Strategic Investment Agreements for all three plants, only Hinkley has a target date. The plant was originally scheduled to open in 2017 but has been hit by a a series of delays. On Wednesday EDF said it would be constructed by 2025 although the subsidy agreement with the British government contains a clause allowing the plant to be completed no later than 2033.

BBC business editor Kamal Ahmed says the final investment decision, which should largely be a formality, by EDF and CGN will now be taken in the next few weeks.

The Hinkley Point project has come under fire over its cost and the delays to investment decisions and the timetable for building.

The government has also been criticised for guaranteeing a price of £92.50 per megawatt hour of electricity – more than twice the current cost (£40). – for the electricity Hinkley produces, which could mean higher bills for consumers. Even George Osborne’s father-in-law, former energy minister Lord Howell, has described the project as “one of the worst deals ever” for British consumers and industry.

The government said that 25,000 jobs will be created and enough energy to power six million homes, which is about 7% of the UK’s energy.

Posted in Business, Nuclear Energy0 Comments

Engie collaborates with Mitsubishi to develop new technology for energy sector

Engie collaborates with Mitsubishi to develop new technology for energy sector

French electric utility ENGIE and Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to collaborate on the energy value chain and technology.

The agreement includes development of technologies and solutions such as conventional and nuclear power plants, renewable energy technologies, and innovative services designed to increase energy-efficiency, optimise the use of resources and reduce CO2 emissions.

The companies will also develop technologies that will reduce emissions of electrical systems globally and increase process efficiency.

Also to be explored are the development of efficient gas turbines, along with a combination of electricity, heat and hydrogen, fuel cells, monitoring systems and the advancement of nuclear-related businesses delivering reliable carbon-free base-load electricity.

The MoU was announced after a meeting between French and Japanese Prime Ministers in Tokyo on 5 October.

The agreement builds on their long-term relationship as worldwide purchaser-suppliers, and partnerships.

MHI CEO Shunichi Miyanaga said: “The on-going systemic change of the energy sector and the need to drastically reduce greenhouse gases emissions call for shorter innovation cycles and a holistic view of the energy value chain: I’m convinced that closer cooperation between technology suppliers and utilities, as reflected in this MoU, will contribute to shorter times to market and a better response to the customer needs while using the energy resources with maximum efficiency.”

ENGIE CEO Gérard Mestrallet said: “The concluded cooperation agreement reflects our mutual commitment to provide the most up-to-date solutions for the energy sector across the globe, and will serve as a stepping stone to pave the way to explore new opportunities for cooperation leveraging our technical expertise and past experience of working together.”

They companies have already completed installation and commissioning of several projects worldwide.

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Energy statistics galore in the new EU energy pocketbook

Energy statistics galore in the new EU energy pocketbook

The EU accounted for only 5.8% of the world’s energy production in 2013, compared to China with 19.2% and the US with 13.8%, according to the EU’s latest statistical energy pocketbook. Meanwhile, the EU consumed 12% of the world’s total energy, China accounted for 22.4% of energy consumption and the US 16.1%.

The latest statistics reveal that, in 2013, Ireland, Cyprus, Luxembourg and Malta were the most fuel import dependent EU countries with over 80% of their energy imported. Denmark, Estonia and Romania were the least import dependent with less than 20% of their energy imported.

Other figures show that in 2013 the EU imported 39% of its natural gas from Russia, 29.5% from Norway and 12.8% from Algeria. For crude oil, 33.5% came from Russia, 11.7% from Norway, 8.6% from Saudi Arabia and 8.1% from Nigeria. Overall in 2013, the EU’s import dependency for all energy products was at 53.2%, rising to 65.3% for natural gas alone and 64.6% for hard coal.

In 2013, the renewable energy share in gross final energy consumption reached 15% for the whole of the EU, and the primary energy intensity – a measure of energy efficiency calculated as units of energy per unit of GDP in 2010 – decreased by about 15.6% from 2005 levels.

The 2015 statistical pocketbook covers a whole range of energy statistical data and indicators including energy intensity, carbon intensity, renewable energy shares, energy efficiency, employment and EU country profiles.

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UK nuclear power plants are not prepared for a cyber attack, says report

UK nuclear power plants are not prepared for a cyber attack, says report

UK nuclear power facilities are vulnerable to ‘serious cyber attack’, according to a report published by Chatham House.

In the report titled ‘Cyber Security at Civil Nuclear Facilities – Understanding the Risks,’ the research institute indicated that the out-dated infrastructure control systems used in nuclear facilities are insecure by design.

Additionally, the country’s dependency on digital systems and commercial software increases the risks.
Chatham House has prepared the report following a 18-month long study of cyber defences in worldwide power plants.

The report stated: “There is a pervading myth that nuclear facilities are ‘air gapped’, or completely isolated from the public internet, and that this protects them from cyber attack.

“Yet not only can air gaps be breached with nothing more than a flash drive, but the commercial benefits of internet connectivity mean that nuclear facilities may now have virtual private networks and other connections installed, sometimes undocumented or forgotten by contractors and other legitimate third-party operators.”

While conducting the study, researchers also found evidence of virtual networks and other links to the public internet on nuclear infrastructure networks. While some has been forgotten, many were only known to those in control.

Search engines looking for critical infrastructure had already indexed links that made those easier for hacking into networks and control systems.

Nuclear Industry Association chief executive Keith Parker was quoted by the BBC as saying: “Security, including cyber security, is an absolute priority for power station operators.”

“All of Britain’s power stations are designed with safety in mind and are stress-tested to withstand a vast range of potential incidents.

“Power station operators work closely with national agencies such as the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure and other intelligence agencies to always be aware of emerging threats.”

The report recommended: “The cybersecurity threat requires an organisational response by the civil nuclear sector, which includes, by necessity, knowledgeable leadership at the highest levels, and dynamic contributions by management, staff and the wider community of stakeholders, including members of the security and safety communities.”

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