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Nuclear: Hinkley is happening

The nuclear power plant planned for Hinkley Point, Somerset took a giant leap towards happening yesterday, with a deal between the French and Chinese state-owned energy companies finalised and construction set to start in the coming weeks.

We have broken down the deal — including the cost to UK consumers, how much EDF and CGN will get in subsidies, how much they’ll get in profits, what the risks are, and what the energy alternatives are.

In the latest twist in the tale, EDF’s Flamanville nuclear reactor (which is the same type as Hinkley will be) announced that morning its opening will be delayed by three years.

At the moment there is no EPR nuclear reactor running anywhere in the world.

The FT reports that China views Hinkley as just the beginning, with UK nuclear plants at Sizewell and Bradwell next on the list, and international ambitions beyond that.

According to Bloomberg, the Hinkley deal is a big deal to China’s nuclear reactor export industry, the marquee signing following deals agreed with Argentina and Kenya in the last year.

An in-depth piece by The Guardian looks at the reaction of locals to the prospect of Hinkley, with some pleased by the promise of jobs and others protesting it and demanding renewables projects like wind and solar.

Analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance said the UK could get six times the generation capacity if it instead invested the Hinkley money in onshore wind turbines, though in all fairness there’s not really enough land.

But the point is that the deal is a pretty poor from a financial perspective, with the Solar Trade Association saying the other day that solar would need half the money to provide the same power capacity as Hinkley.

UK: Lords and Commons battle over green subsidies

The House of Lords last night rejected Tory plans to end onshore wind energy subsidies, and the government responded by accusing it of violating the Salisbury convention which holds that it will not oppose legislation proposed in party manifestos, reports The Telegraph.

The Climate Change Committee came out and said something about the cost of renewable energy, with the Guardian leading on ‘Wind and solar likely to match gas on cost by 2020‘ and the Times running with ‘Green energy bills to double by 2020‘. Pick your poison, I guess.

Meanwhile former Energy Secretary Ed Davey has attacked the current government’s energy policy, calling the rollback of renewables support ‘a tragedy’, reports Business Green.

Poland: Voters want renewables, but will likely elect anti-green party

According to a new opinion poll from Poland, voters are overwhelmingly in favour of more renewable energy as opposed to nuclear or coal.  

We’ve also written up a handy guide of everything you need to know about renewables in Poland.

With the Polish election only days away, it looks as though the very right wing Law and Justice party will win — but it might not get an absolute majority.

That’s the same party that has suggested it would halt the spread of windfarms, and even mess with a potential global climate deal at the Paris COP.

Climate change: 2015 will be the hottest year on record

The IEA says the UN climate pledges made throughout the year ahead of the Paris COP will cause a dramatic slowdown in energy emissions by 2030, reports the Carbon Brief.

The EU, however, is emitting way more greenhouse gases than it says it is, with an analysis by Climate Central pointing out the loophole in the continental renewables rules that allows dirty biomass.

Apparently wood-burning accounts for nearly half of Europe’s renewables.

Meanwhile, this year – and excuse me if you’ve heard this before – is set to be the hottest on record, reports the New York Times.

In other news

China: Apple has announced plans to develop more solar energy projects in China, and said it will ‘green’ its suppliers, reports Reuters.

Australia: Coal giant Rio Tinto looks certain to extend the life of the controversial Mount Thorley Warlworth open-cut mine, says the Sydney Morning Herald.