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NCE Live News Updates: Thursday 17 October: No deal for Hinkley; Royal Academy warns of power cut risk

No deal over Hinkley puts renewed focus on power cut threat; TfL boosts graduate intake; biggest coastal defence scheme gets go-ahead.

5pm: So with no deal on Hinkley, worth noting the Royal Academy of Engineering’s view on Britain’s energy woes.

It warned this morning that the capacity margin of the GB electricity system could continue to fall over the next five years as old generating plants close, presenting an increasing risk of power cuts.

In a report published today, “GB electricity capacity margin”, produced for the Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology (CST), an Academy working group concluded that although tlhe electricity supply is expected to be sufficient to cover predicted levels of demand over the next five to 10 years, it is likely to stretch the system close to its limits. The winter of 2014/15 was a particular concern, it said, with the chances of power outages increased if several adverse events (low wind, cold weather, unplanned plant outages) were to happen at the same time.

The report makes five immediate recommendations to avoid a blackout scenario by 2020:

  • Undertake interim measures to maintain capacity in the period before the Electricity Market Reform (EMR) takes effect
  • Resolve the EMR process as quickly as possible
  • Resolve uncertainties regarding the carbon price floor
  • Work together with industry to foster a constructive dialogue with the public on energy policy
  • Develop a holistic energy system strategy - EMR is focused on electricity generation but this is only one part of a complex and interconnected system.

Up to 2015, interim measures will be needed to prevent the further withdrawal and mothballing of gas-fired plant, and to bring forward more demand-side response, both of which could be critical to maintaining an adequate capacity margin.

From 2016 to the end of the decade, it will be essential to attract new investment to maintain a secure electricity supply. Vital for this will be the completion of the pending EMR and clarifying its details to allow long-term planning, said the Academy.

4.30pm: No deal on Hinkley

“Negotiations remain on-going between government and EdF Group on the potential terms of an investment contract for Hinkley Point C – with an agreement yet to be finalised.”

That is the latest from the Department for Energy and Climate Change. So no agreement on strike price yet then - time to stock up on candles?

1.30pm: Good news for graduates as Transport for London boosts intake

Transport for London (TfL) and Crossrail have welcomed 140 new graduate trainees into their organisations. The graduate trainees will work in areas including engineering, project management, transport planning, commercial, information management, finance and marketing roles. Applications for the 2014 schemes have now opened and a similar number of graduates are expected to be recruited.

1pm: £36M Clacton and Holland-on-Sea coastal defence scheme gets go ahead

The £36M Clacton and Holland-on-Sea coastal protection scheme, to be designed by Mott MacDonald, has been given the go ahead by the Environment Agency. It is the second largest sea defence project in the country and will cover a 5km stretch from Clacton Pier to Holland Haven, protecting nearly 3,000 homes for the next 100 years.
Acting on behalf of Tendring District Council, Mott MacDonald wrote the project appraisal report that secured the £36M funding. This includes matched partnership funding from Tendring District Council and Essex County Council, as well as other contributors.

The consultancy is now providing detailed design of the scheme which includes 24 rock fishtail groyne structures and nearly 900,000m3 of beach recharge.
The consultancy is also undertaking numerical modelling for the wave conditions and sediment movement and will be responsible for gaining planning consent, licence approvals and stakeholder engagement.


12.35pm: No news yet on Hinkley, but plenty of other developments out there:

In Birmingham the first new Midland Metro CAF Urbos 3 tram has been unveiled.

The tram was unwrapped by Birmingham City Council leader Sir Albert Bore.

“The delivery of the first tram is a real milestone because Metro has a key role to play in the on-going development of our transport network so that it can underpin economic growth right across the West Midlands,” he said.

 “Work is already underway on the city centre extension but we are now planning to take the Metro on further to Centenary Square as well as extending it through Wolverhampton city centre to the railway station,” said Bore.

11am: Government plans to widen parts of the A14 could lead to breaches of EU pollution limits, according to the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT).

The CBT has warned that the £1.5bn scheme would worsen air pollution in the area to above EU legal limits.

Campaign for Better Transport’s roads and sustainable transport campaigner Sian Berry said: “The Government’s plans for the A14 will seriously worsen air pollution for people living along the route and risks breaching legal limits, whilst only providing a temporary improvement in congestion. It would be far more cost effective and sensible to look at ways of reducing traffic levels to help solve congestion more permanently and sustainably without breaking the law and damaging public health.”

The areas around Brampton, Bar Hill and Girton are of most concern, where roads have been closed in recent years due to levels of nitrogen dioxide going above the legal limit of 40mg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre). Campaigners believe construction work and the increase in road use would make the problem worse.

8am: Big day for new nuclear with deal expected

Chancellor George Osborne is today expected to announce a funding deal has been struck to allow construction of a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point to proceed.

Osborne is expected announce that Chinese General Nuclear Power Corporation is to take a stake in the EdF project and that a “strike price”, guaranteeing EdF a set price for the energy produced, has been agreed.

But there are also reports that reactor designer Arreva is also planning to take a stake in the project, which could delay the announcement.

Bloomberg said that the Areva and EdF boards would meet next week to approve the deal.

EdF is planning to build to two Areva-designed EPR reactors estimated at £14bn.

On Sunday, energy minister Ed Davey said Britain was “extremely close” to sealing a deal with EdF, adding there would also be Chinese involvement.

Follow developments here

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