The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

South Africa’s govt and nuclear power utility Eskom undermine renewable energy development

Nuclear and coal lobbies threaten to scupper renewables in South Africa The Conversation,  Hartmut Winkler
Professor of Physics, University of Johannesburg June 27, 2017 South African power utility Eskom recently repeated that it will not conclude supply contracts with the developers of new renewable energy power stations. These developers were selected under a programme to facilitate private sector involvement in the building of medium-sized renewable energy power stations.

The programme has won plaudits for its success in facilitating the establishment of multiple solar and wind farms in record time. But Eskom is once again stalling.

The power utility’s stand threatens the viability of the entire renewable energy sector in the country. It’s hostility also defies logic given that the whole world is embracing renewable energy as key to a clean energy future and combating climate change.

So what lies behind the opposition?

The answer lies in the fact that two powerful lobbies are at work in South Africa. One is pro-coal, the other pro-nuclear. This has made the success of the renewable energy projects a target for attacks from interested parties in both. Disrupting the renewable energy sector would ensure that the coal sector remains dominant. And that, over time, it is gradually displaced by nuclear.

The lobby groups attached to coal and nuclear appear to have had powerful allies on the state utility’s board. There is mounting evidence that they have been furthering the interests of a group linked to the Gupta family. It in turn has been accused of capturing state entities to further its own ends, as well as those of President Jacob Zuma, his family and allies.

t has also been widely argued that the massively expensive proposed nuclear build is being driven by the same interest groups.

The battle over renewables is therefore closely linked to a wider political confrontation over control of key aspects of the South African economy.

Eskom’s flawed argument

The renewables dispute centres on the state utility’s refusal to endorse 1121 MW of new renewable energy….

The Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has been disingenuous in citing cost as a reason to stop the last phase of renewables. The higher costs she recently quoted were presumably those associated with the first round of renewable energy projects. These contracts were concluded in 2012 and prices for renewables have come down considerably since.

For its part Eskom has pointed to the oversupply of electricity as the reason for its objection. But elsewhere it has trumpeted the need for more nuclear power. It can’t have it both ways.

Powerful forces at play

Until two years ago Eskom was seen as a neutral player committed to effectively provide electric power in the best interests of the country. It threw its weight behind previous power procurement plans.

But that all changed in 2015 after Brian Molefe was appointed CEO.

Molefe and his successor Matshela Koko are both linked to the controversial Gupta family. Their names featured in the Public Protector’s State of Capture report as well as in a bulk leak of emails which implicated the Guptas and other leading figures in the state capture network.

Molefe and Koko played a pivotal role in helping the Guptas purchase a coal mine – the Optimum mine – and to secure a lucrative coal supply contract with Eskom. Both are also strongly pro-nuclear. They have also gone on record to argue that renewable energy is too expensive……

June 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, renewable, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Russia’s nuclear goliath Rosatom now branching into renewable energy export projects

For nuke biggies, answer’s blowing in the wind Despite a relatively robust position in its nuclear business, Russia’s state atomic energy corporation Rosatom is pushing the envelope by revving up renewable projects in sectors such as wind energy and small hydro. by Anil Sasi June 28, 2017, Little less than a decade ago, nuclear shills could get away by scoffing at renewables, given the promise at that time of a nascent ‘nuclear renaissance’. In the intervening years, while the script has changed overwhelmingly in favour of green energy, the nuclear-versus-renewables debate too has progressively veered off from an ‘either-or’ debate to a more overlapping narrative.

Russia’s state atomic energy corporation Rosatom figures among a handful of nuclear utilities to have bucked the broader downturn in the atomic power business, with eight reactor units in Russia and 36 nuclear reactors in various stages of planning and construction across more than a dozen countries — the largest shelf of projects globally. Creditable, considering the fate of some of its peers — Toshiba has recently pulled its US nuclear subsidiary Westinghouse out of the nuclear construction business while French utility Areva’s continues to struggle with accumulated losses of Euro 10 billion on its books. Despite the relatively robust position in its mainstay nuclear business, Rosatom is now pushing the envelope by revving up renewable projects in sectors such as wind energy and small hydro. Experts suggest that even for other major utilities invested entirely in the nuclear value chain, a move to diversify some of the sectoral risks could make sense.

The Russian nuclear major has started by rolling out wind farm projects in its home market of Russia, with plans to take wind projects to the international market in the due course “after accumulating enough experience on the domestic market”, First Deputy Director of Rosatom Corp, Kirill Komarov told reporters on the sidelines of the Atomexpo 2017 conference in Moscow last week. “We plan to develop renewable energy sources in all parts of the world and not only in Russia, but we’ll start doing it after we accumulate enough expertise here,” he said.

A licensing agreement with the Dutch company Lagerwey for the transfer of technology involved in manufacturing component parts of the windfarms is a step in that direction, with Saudi Arabia likely to be one of Rosatom’s first international markets for wind. The group has also initiated preliminary talks with the Indian government and private companies to expand its presence in India beyond the nuclear sector to the new area of mini hydro power projects, with units ranging from 0.5 to 2 megawatts, an official said. The discussions are being done through Ganz Engineering and Energetics Machinery, a 100 per cent Hungarian subsidiary of Rosatom’s engineering division Atomenergomash.

Areva too has tried its hand at renewables, with a portfolio of four energies: wind energy, bioenergy, solar power and hydrogen power. The French company offers turnkey solutions to meet both short — and long — term requirements for clients to bridge the energy demand in standard and peak consumption periods.

Rosatom’s Komarov has exuded confidence that Russian utility is in a good position for bagging contracts for construction renewable energy facilities abroad. “On the whole, we think our chances for working abroad are fair enough because whatever country we come to, we settle firmly there,” he said at the three-day expo held in the Russian capital last week. At a series of bidding rounds held during the last two years, Rosatom has bagged bids for construction of wind farms in Russia with the overall output capacity of almost 1,000 MWs.

Rosatom considers wind energy projects to be one of the most promising of their non-nuclear growth projects, with estimates suggesting that the it expects the wind energy market in Russia to reach a turnover of about 200 billion Rubles a year ($3.3 billion) by 2024. In July 2016, Rosatom announced that the company plans to build three wind farms in Russia with a total capacity of 610 MW. This amounts to about 17 per cent of the total wind power capacity planned to be commissioned in Russia until 2024.

Among the pacts signed at the expo, Rosatom’s international branch initialled an agreement to cooperate with Saudi Al-Yamama Group on potential projects in the construction of wind farms in Saudi Arabia.In markets such as India, where Rosatom is already involved in building the Kudankulam nuclear power project, the Corporation is betting on a specialised technology for mini hydro projects. Rosatom is already in preliminary talks with the Indian government and private companies to expand its presence in India beyond the nuclear sector to the new area of mini hydro power projects, with units ranging from 0.5 to 2 MW.

The discussions are being done through Ganz Engineering and Energetics Machinery, a 100 per cent Hungarian subsidiary of the Rosatom’s engineering division Atomenergomash. “We consider this as another opportunity for cooperation between Rosatom and India, and our office in India is working in this direction. We are discussing, the issues both with the government, and private bodies,” Rusatom International Network president Alexander Merten told journalists on the sidelines of the Atomexpo.

Rusatom International Network is involved in marketing and business development of a number of Rosatom projects abroad. The small hydro-power plants are pre-fabricated, and assembled in the factory and then supplied to the customer, with the cost of these projects pegged at approximately 1 million euro per megawatt (around Rs 7.1 crore per MW, varying with topography). A pilot installation of the mini hydel plants is currently on in Georgia, with discussions also underway with Turkey and the Middle East countries.

(The writer’s trip to Atomexpo was sponsored by Rosatom)

June 28, 2017 Posted by | renewable, Russia | Leave a comment

Wind and solar power does not make the U.S. electricity grid less stable

‘Bring on more renewables,’ U.S. regulator says as grid study looms, Reuters,  By Timothy Gardner | WASHINGTON, 26 June 17, 

Wind and solar power does not make the U.S. electricity grid less stable, an outgoing federal regulator said on Tuesday, as the Trump administration readies a study that will examine whether renewable energy has had a harmful effect.

Colette Honorable, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said at a conference that renewables have different attributes than base load power, which includes coal and nuclear energy, and that those difference need to be overcome.

But Honorable stressed that record amounts of wind and solar power had been generated recently without harming the grid.

“Do I recognize we have to be attendant to supporting the different ways in which renewables work? Yes,” said Honorable, who was appointed by former president Barack Obama, a Democrat, and who will step down on Friday.

“I don’t see any problems with reliability, and I say bring on more renewables,” said Honorable, whose remarks generated warm applause at a conference of the Energy Department’s Energy Information Administration arm.

President Donald Trump, a Republican, has embarked on a program to dismantle Obama’s clean-energy policies as renewable power generation hits records.

In February, wind briefly powered more than 50 percent of electricity demand in the 14-state Southwest Power Pool, for the first time on any North American grid.

In March, wind and solar accounted for more than 10 percent of U.S. electricity generation for the first time…..

June 28, 2017 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

June 2017 Britain sets a new renewable energy record

Content Coms 22nd June 2017, It’s official; this month – June 2017 – the UK set a new renewable
energy record as wind and solar power surged. The Telegraph broke the news,
saying the blustery start to summer has helped the renewable energy
industry to its highest ever output, as wind turbines and solar panels
helped to meet more than half of the UK’s electricity demand.

It’s a telling reminder you don’t necessarily need the blinding sun of recent
days for panels to do their work. Revolutions take place quietly most of
the time.

Either way, the news is a truly astonishing result, and coupled
with last year’s confirmations that the world as a whole has decoupled
growth from carbon emissions, looks set to truly confound sceptics of
renewable and low carbon technologies.

And of course, it makes yet more of a mockery of President Trump’s fossil-based repudiation of Paris. His
idiocy now stands proven by the truth of what renewables can do, powering
over half of one of the world’s important economies; the UK. In fact,
soon we will be calling oil the energy alternative, and renewables the

June 24, 2017 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Contrary to his boast, President Trump was NOT the first to suggest a solar wall

Times 23rd June 2017, President Trump laid claim to an idea that could help his promised wall
along the Mexico border to turn a profit: solar panels. “I will give you an
idea that nobody has heard about yet. The southern border: lots of sun,
lots of heat. We are thinking about building a wall as a solar wall. So it
creates energy. And pays for itself,” he told a campaign-style rally in
Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

The scheme would lower the cost to Mexico too, he said,
adding: “Pretty good imagination, right? My idea!” Mr Trump has discussed
the scheme in private meetings with legislators but floated it publicly for
the first time on Wednesday.

Contrary to his claim, however, others had
already raised the idea. Designs for the wall submitted to the US
government in April by Thomas Gleason, a Las Vegas businessman, had solar
panels powering lig hting, sensors and border patrol stations. The
Department of Homeland Security has been inviting companies to submit
plans, although Congress still has not allocated the funds needed to build
the wall.

June 24, 2017 Posted by | decentralised, USA | Leave a comment

Community energy initiative in UK

Utility Week 19th June 2017, Mongoose Energy has launched a new crowdfunding platform to secure
financing for community energy projects. The company hopes the platform
will widen the pool of potential investors, bring down the cost of capital
and enable greater innovation in funding. “More people want a bigger say
in where their power comes from, where their investments go, and in
improving their own communities,” said former energy secretary and
chairman of Mongoose Energy, Sir Ed Davey. “Launching our own
crowdfunding platform means we can dispatch better energy, better financial
returns and better social dividends to UK community investors.” Mongoose
Crowd will offer people the first ever opportunity to invest up to £20,000
per year in community energy schemes via the Innovative Finance ISA (IFISA)
for peer-to-peer lending which the government launched in April last year.

June 21, 2017 Posted by | decentralised, UK | Leave a comment

Scotland’s National Academy inquiring into Scotland’s energy future

Scottish Energy News 16th June 2017, The Royal Society of Edinburgh – Scotland’s National Academy – has set up a
new Inquiry Committee to look at Scotland’s Energy Future. The inquiry
aims to contribute to the important debate around Scotland’s energy
supply, demand and use, as well as moral and environmental

It will also look to inform the policy- and decision-making at a Scottish, UK and international levels in relation to
resources needed at acceptable financial, moral and environmental costs.The
committee, which is expected to sit for around 18 months, will consider how
Scotland can meet the future energy demand and how to ensure that the
energy used is secure, affordable and environmentally justifiable. It will
also examine all areas of the debate around Scotland’s energy future in
the context of its commitment to combat global climate change and the
environmental imperative to reduce carbon emissions.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | ENERGY, UK | Leave a comment

Solar power speeding the death of coal-fired power

Solar Power Will Kill Coal Faster Than You Think [excellent graphs]  Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s outlook shows renewables will be cheaper almost everywhere in just a few years. by  Jess Shankleman  and  Hayley Warren June 15, 2017, Solar power, once so costly it only made economic sense in spaceships, is becoming cheap enough that it will push coal and even natural-gas plants out of business faster than previously forecast.

That’s the conclusion of a Bloomberg New Energy Finance outlook for how fuel and electricity markets will evolve by 2040. The research group estimated solar already rivals the cost of new coal power plants in Germany and the U.S. and by 2021 will do so in quick-growing markets such as China and India.

The scenario suggests green energy is taking root more quickly than most experts anticipate. It would mean that global carbon dioxide pollution from fossil fuels may decline after 2026, a contrast with the International Energy Agency’s central forecast, which sees emissions rising steadily for decades to come.

“Costs of new energy technologies are falling in a way that it’s more a matter of when than if,” said Seb Henbest, a researcher at BNEF in London and lead author of the report.

The report also found that through 2040:

  • China and India represent the biggest markets for new power generation, drawing $4 trillion, or about 39 percent all investment in the industry.
  • The cost of offshore wind farms, until recently the most expensive mainstream renewable technology, will slide 71 percent, making turbines based at sea another competitive form of generation.
  • At least $239 billion will be invested in lithium-ion batteries, making energy storage devices a practical way to keep homes and power grids supplied efficiently and spreading the use of electric cars.
  • Natural gas will reap $804 billion, bringing 16 percent more generation capacity and making the fuel central to balancing a grid that’s increasingly dependent on power flowing from intermittent sources, like wind and solar.
  • BNEF’s conclusions about renewables and their impact on fossil fuels are most dramatic. Electricity from photovoltaic panels costs almost a quarter of what it did in 2009 and is likely to fall another 66 percent by 2040. Onshore wind, which has dropped 30 percent in price in the past eight years, will fall another 47 percent by the end of BNEF’s forecast horizon.That means even in places like China and India, which are rapidly installing coal plants, solar will start providing cheaper electricity as soon as the early 2020s.

    “These tipping points are all happening earlier and we just can’t deny that this technology is getting cheaper than we previously thought,” said Henbest.

  • Coal will be the biggest victim, with 369 gigawatts of projects standing to be cancelled, according to BNEF. That’s about the entire generation capacity of Germany and Brazil combined.Capacity of coal will plunge even in the U.S., where President Donald Trump is seeking to stimulate fossil fuels. BNEF expects the nation’s coal-power capacity in 2040 will be about half of what it is now after older plants come offline and are replaced by cheaper and less-polluting sources such as gas and renewables.

    In Europe, capacity will fall by 87 percent as environmental laws boost the cost of burning fossil fuels. BNEF expects the world’s hunger for coal to abate starting around 2026 as governments work to reduce emissions in step with promises under the Paris Agreement on climate change.

  • “Beyond the term of a president, Donald Trump can’t change the structure of the global energy sector single-handedly,” said Henbest.All told, the growth of zero-emission energy technologies means the industry will tackle pollution faster than generally accepted. While that will slow the pace of global warming, another $5.3 trillion of investment would be needed to bring enough generation capacity to keep temperature increases by the end of the century to a manageable 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit), the report said.

    The data suggest wind and solar are quickly becoming major sources of electricity, brushing aside perceptions that they’re too expensive to rival traditional fuels.

    By 2040, wind and solar will make up almost half of the world’s installed generation capacity, up from just 12 percent now, and account for 34 percent of all the power generated, compared with 5 percent at the moment, BNEF concluded.

June 16, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

India joins the renewable energy revolution, accelerates targets

Two days after President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris climate accord, Modi and Macron pledged to achieve emissions reductions beyond their nations’ commitments.

June 16, 2017 Posted by | India, renewable | Leave a comment

Energy-efficient solar panel cleaning robot

Energy-efficient cleaning robot, Science Daily 

June 14, 2017
State-of-the-art solar cells are efficient — but are even more so when they are kept clean. A cleaning robot enables solar panels to deliver at full capacity.

State-of-the-art solar cells are efficient — but are even more so when they are kept clean. A cleaning robot developed by Norwegian researchers enables solar panels to deliver at full capacity……

June 16, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, renewable | Leave a comment

Renewable energy news- the latest

Mindful of water scarcity, cost, and pollution, Tamil Nadu turns to sun and wind power.
A momentous shift to cleaner generating technologies that conserve water.
Solar Material for Producing Clean Hydrogen Fuel
A new material has been created based on gold and black phosphorus to produce clean hydrogen fuel using the full spectrum …

New Technology Will Enable Properties to Share Solar Energy
New technology will enable properties to share solar energy and will mean low energy bills for …

Clean energy stored in electric vehicles to power buildings
Stored energy from electric vehicles (EVs) can be used to power large buildings — creating new possibilities for the future of smart, renewable energy — thanks to ground-breaking battery research from WMG at the University of Warwick.

Making hydrogen fuel from humid air
One of the biggest hurdles to the widespread use of hydrogen fuel is making hydrogen efficiently and cleanly. Now researchers report in the journal ACS Nano a new way to do just that. They incorporated a photocatalyst in a moisture-absorbing, semiconducting paint that can produce hydrogen from water in the air when exposed to sunlight.

New technology will enable properties to share solar energy
Dr. Mahmoud Dhimish’s research will mean low energy bills for consumers

Solar paint offers endless energy from water vapor
Compound catalyses splitting of water atoms
If Tesla takes EV charging off-grid, we need to rethink energy
Tosh Szatow
Given Tesla is saying almost all of its charging stations will go off-grid, is it time to revisit out assumptions about the energy market?

June 16, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, renewable | Leave a comment

Smart Energy – UK

Scottish Energy News 15th June 2017, The UK electricity supply industry – which includes Scottish Power and
Perth-based utility SSE as grid operators – have formally set out for the
first time how the role of local electricity networks will change as the UK
‘smart’ energy grid becomes a reality.

A ‘smart’ grid will give British households, businesses and communities the ability to take
advantage of a new range of energy technologies and services to take
control of their energy and lower their costs – including renewable
generation, energy storage and BPVs (battery-powered cars).SSE has led the
way in demonstrating the benefits of a distributed system operator
transition through the Northern Isles New Energy Solutions (NINES) project
in Shetland.

“The NINES project was the first time active network management was deployed at scale in the UK. The headline result was that NINES enabled a 200% increase in renewable energy alongside a significant reduction in diesel generation, which is traditionally used to meet fluctuations in supply and demand.”

June 16, 2017 Posted by | ENERGY, UK | Leave a comment

Steep fall in global use of coal

Times 14th June 2017, Global coal usage fell steeply for the second year running in 2016, in what
BP hailed as a “decisive break from the past”.Spencer Dale, the oil giant’s
chief economist, highlighted the “stark” reversal in fortunes of the fuel
source, which has been driven by declines in China and the US, as arguably
the most striking feature in its annual statistical review of world energy,
published yesterday.

Britain recorded a 52.5 per cent drop in consumption
as coal power plants were forced out of the energy mix. That took UK coal
consumption back to levels not seen in almost two centuries, since the
industrial revolution.

Coal usage worldwide grew steadily from 2009 to
2013, driven by rising energy demand in Asia. Just four years ago it still
accounted for the largest share of growth in global energy consumption.
After plateauing in 2014, however, coal has declined steeply over the past
two years, falling by 1.7 per cent in 2016.

June 14, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, ENERGY | 1 Comment

UK’s coal power to a large extent replaced by wind, solar and energy efficiency

Renew Economy 13th June 2017, Wind, solar and energy efficiency have replaced the vast majority of power
previously provided by the UK’s coal fleet, a new analysis shows.

Since the start of the coalition government in 2010, coal’s role in the
generation mix has fallen to historic lows, culminating in the country’s
first coal-free day since the 19th century earlier this year.

But the gap has not been plugged by natural gas, the UK’s now primary source of
electricity. Renewables and energy efficiency have together covered nearly
85% of the power the UK no longer gets from its coal plants.

June 14, 2017 Posted by | renewable, UK | Leave a comment

Transition from centralised power to distributed energy by 2018

Big switch: Distributed energy to overtake centralised power by 2018 By Giles Parkinson on 13 June 2017  [good graphs]

Energy storage has reached a tipping point, so much so that around 320GW of new large scale power plants that might have been planned in the 10 years to 2023 will now no longer be needed.

According to a new report from Deutsche Bank, the growth of distributed energy – locally provided renewables such as rooftop solar and battery storage – will soon outstrip new centralised generation capacity additions across the world.

In fact, it could happen as early as 2018, marking a fundamental shift in the nature of the world’s energy systems, recognising that the old centralised model will be quickly replaced by a system based around localised energy production and storage.

Deutsche Bank estimates that the market for stationary energy storage – used in electricity grids – will rise six fold in the next five years, from 1GW and $4 billion, or 40GW or $25 billion by 2022. Note the big fall in spending per GW as the price of storage plunges.

“This increased penetration of distributed generation should drive the need for intelligent distribution networks comprised of nanogrids, microgrids and virtual power plants (VPPs),” the Deutsche analysts write.

 To put the 320GW into context, it is more than six times the installed capacity in Australia’s electricity grid, and about 14 times the size of its coal fleet. It represents the once-anticipated new build of coal fired power stations in India, that many say will no longer happen.

The shift in emphasis from centralised to distributed energy has long been predicted, although it is given scant attention in the latest Finkel Review. Some analysis, such as that by the CSIRO, predict that half of all generation will come from consumers by 2050.

Deutsche Bank says the global shift is likely to be accelerated by moves to reduce the scope of solar feed in tariffs, encouraging yet more consumers to add battery storage.

“Regulatory environment will likely be a critical driver of storage adoption rates and contrary to consensus views, detrimental solar policies could potentially act as a significant growth catalyst for storage sector.” (Meaning low feed in tariffs will encourage more people into storage).

It notes that in several European countries, the difference in the price of feed-in-tariffs and price paid for electricity from the price of power consumed from the grid is significantly wide. It didn’t mention Australia, but that is also significant difference.

This shift is being accompanied by big cost reductions in battery storage, particularly in the cost of lithium ion cells.

It  lithium-ion cell costs have already plunged from $US900/kWh in 2010 to $US225/kWh in 2015 – a similar trajectory to solar, and are tipped to fall to $US150/kWh by 2020. Tesla/Panasonic li-ion costs are already below $US200/kWh for cells and around $US225/kWh for the entire battery pack.

In says that in California, for example, combining a solar-panel system with a commercial-scale battery installation (500kWh) can deliver a 20 per cent return on investment with state subsidies, and still 12 per cent without subsidies, from peak shifting alone.


June 14, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decentralised | Leave a comment