Tag Archive | "Nuclear power"

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.

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Toshiba involvement in new technology for nuclear power

Toshiba, in conjunction with Ibiden, has produced a new manufacturing technology for reactor core applications in nuclear power plants.

The technology reactor core material using silicon carbide (SiC) has been used by Toshiba and Ibiden to create a prototype fuel assembly cover.

The two companies have been working together with Nuclear Fuel Industries and Professor Yutaka Kagawa of the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology (RCAST) of the University of Tokyo, and Professor Takashi Goto of the Institute for Materials Research of Tohoku University in Japan.

In addition to being applied to the production of fuel cladding tubes, the new manufacturing technology can also be used to create specially shaped items such as thin-wall, long cylinders.

Toshiba and Ibiden will test the new fuel assembly cover, for data collection and verification purposes, in 2016 in a research reactor.

The firms aim to put the cover to practical use by around 2025 as a replacement part for operating nuclear power plants, Toshiba said.

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Need for UK nuclear stressed by climate campaigners

The need to bring online a new fleet of nuclear power stations in the UK was stressed yesterday at an energy conference in London.

Speaking at UK Energy 2014, organised by The Economist, power company bosses and climate change campaigners backed Britain’s drive to build eight new reactors, starting with EDF’s Hinkley Point C.

EDF is poised to make a final investment decision on Hinkley, which will be the first new nuclear power station built in Britain in 20 years. The final – and biggest hurdle – for the scheme to clear is an EU investigation into whether the government’s contracts-for-difference agreement with EDF complies with state aid rules.

Vincent De Rivaz (pictured right), chief executive of EDF Energy, once again stressed that he believed this would be the case, and added that “it is the right of any Member State to decide their energy mix”.

He also said the need for Hinkley Point C – and the security of supply he believes it would bring – was underlined by events in Russia and Ukraine.

“We need in the UK to not be over-dependent on gas coming from some countries.”

Talking about the role that power companies have to play in shaping Britain’s energy future, De Rivaz said: “The UK cannot do without investment by the big operators.” He added that the major players “have a role to play in energy research and development to make sure that the UK stays competitive in the global market”.

On shale gas, he said that “we have a duty to know” the potential shale market in the UK and added that at EDF “our policy is diversity” and he hoped that shale gas would be part of the company’s future portfolio.

The need for nuclear was backed-up by Stephen Tindale, associate fellow at the Centre for European Reform and also co-founder of Climate Answers.

“I spent 20 years campaigning against nuclear and then realised I was wrong: it’s low carbon. It’s a price worth paying to have a new generation of nuclear in the UK.”

And Lord Deben (pictured right), chairman of the Committee on Climate Change, said: “If you think that there is no place for nuclear power [in the energy mix], then you don’t understand how important the climate change situation is.”

He said the UK needed to have a portfolio of power generation that includedonshore and offshore wind, gas, nuclear “and no coal”.

Steve Holliday, chief executive of National Grid, used his speech to back the UK government’s overhaul of its energy system under its Electricity Market Reform (EMR) process.

“EMR is the right intervention at the right time,” he said, but warned that the current global energy market had lost sight of key goals.

“The energy market does not value low carbon,” he said. We need to create a mechanism where gas plants can compete with hydro.”

But he predicted: “There will not be a level playing field for all types of energy generation for a long time. When will we reach the panacea of letting technology grow without subsidy? A long time after I’ve retired I think.”

Basil Scarsella, chief executive of UK Power Networks, said that 20 years ago “the UK led the world in reforming the energy industry… and the UK is again leading the world on energy policy”.

He said the industry was going through “transformative change: how electricity is used, generated and traded is going to change in the future” and the UK – with the package of EMR introduced by the government – was well placed to adapt to these changes.

“Political stability and regulatory certainty are attracting investors – there is no fear of the lights going out to deter investors.”

John Lynch, head of EMEA power, utilities and renewables at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, said that the UK “is still one of the best places to invest in energy”.

But Tom Delay, chief executive of the Carbon Trust, disagreed: “The UK is going backwards in terms of its attractiveness to investors.”

He said: “We are ignoring some inconvenient truths: the reality is that energy technologies take 30 years to mature and energy efficiency technology takes a lot of upfront capital.”

And he stated that “deregulated markets do not deliver what is politically desirable”.

Katja Hall, deputy director general of the CBI (Confederation of British Industry), was concerned that “just as policy was beginning to solidify, it is being shaken by political rhetoric”.

In the afternoon, delegates heard from both Energy Secretary Ed Davey and his Shadow Cabinet counterpart Caroline Flint (pictured). Davey said that the government had “designed EMR to encourage foreign investment” and Flint stressed that is Labour was to win next year’s general election it would continue the programme of contracts for difference and capacity auctions – and also set a 2030 decarbonisation target, something not yet done by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition.

Flint also said that the UK energy market was “neither as competitive nor as transparent as it could be” and said that a price freeze on energy tariffs promised by Labour if it did win the election would “draw a line in the sand” to make energy costs transparent.

But Tim Yeo, chairman of the UK government’s Energy and Climate Change Committee, said that “it is misleading for any politician to say that they can control energy prices – because they can’t”.

On the dominance of the ‘big six’, he said that “trust will never be restored while we have vertically-integrated businesses”.

And he added that building new power stations was “a 20th century solution”, adding that the real answer the the UK’s energy issues in the 21st century was demand side response.

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