OECD: leading countries spend $200 billion a year subsidising fossil-fuelsRich western countries and the world's leading developing nations are spending between $160 and $200 billion a year subsidising fossil-fuels, according to a report from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The Paris-based think-tank said its 34 members plus six of the biggest emerging economies - China, India, Brazil, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa - had spent between $141 and $177 billion to support the consumption and production of coal, oil and gas over the 2010-2014 period. Support for oil amounted to 82% of the total, while the gas industry received 10% and coal 8%. Meanwhile, some of the world's most prominent companies - Johnson & Johnson, Walmart, Nike, Goldman Sachs, Starbucks, Procter & Gamble - have set a long-term target of powering their operations entirely with renewable energy, a sign that the divestment movement has spread globally.
Le Monde, International New York Times | 2015, September 22nd
E.ON ditches nuclear spin-off planGermany's largest utility has dropped its plans to spin the country's nuclear power plants off into a separate corporation, caving in to political pressure to retain liability for billions of euros of decommissioning costs when the stations go offline. The Group had planned to restructure by transferring its nuclear power plants, energy trading, and oil and gas activities into a separate unit called Uniper. Now the company is left with the task of coming up with €16.6 billion in provisions,needed to fund the decommissioning of its nuclear plants. E.ON CEO Johannes Teyssen also warned the company would post a massive net loss for 2015.
Die Welt | 2015, September 11th
French Minister casts doubt on Fessenheim closureFrance's Environment and Energy Minister Ségolène Royal cast doubt on the planned 2017 closure of the Fessenheim nuclear power plant,drawing anger from environmental groups and ecologist politicians and concerns from neighbouring Germany. Mrs Royal explicitly linked the closure of the 37-year-old Fessenheim plant nearby to the opening of the EPR nuclear reactor in Flamanville in the northwest, now planned for the end of 2018. "When Flamanville opens,Fessenheim will have to close," Mrs Royal said. A few hours after her initial comments, she tweeted that "the closure of Fessenheim is not postponed, but must be organised within the framework of the new [energy transition] law," adding that the issue was not controversial. A governmental source also backtracked on Mrs Royal's statement, saying that the ruling Socialists still planned to close the plant by the end of President Francois Hollande's five year term - or 2017.
Les Echos | 2015, September 09th
Chinese nuclear reactor in Essex set for approvalThe British government is close to finalising a deal that will allow Chinese state owned companies China General Nuclear Power Group and China National Nuclear Corporation to build and operate a nuclear reactor in Essex. David Cameron is poised to sign a deal granting China permission to build a prototype nuclear reactor in Essex as part of a civil nuclear pact between Britain, France and China. The move is in return for Beijing's investment in Hinkley Point. The deal is set to be signed during a state visit from China in October.
The Times | 2015, September 05th
Financial liability of German nuclear operators to be extended through lawThe German government is pressing ahead with its plans to close a legal loophole to prevent utility companies from evading a €40 billion payment to fund the country's nuclear exit. The Federal government has prepared a draft law to change current corporate laws saying that German energy companies are only liable for spun-off companies for five years. The move deals a major blow to the country's biggest utility E.ON, which has announced plans to spin-off its ailing power plants.
Berliner Zeitung | 2015, September 03rd
Krummel nuclear plant to be dismantledSwedish operator Vattenfall submitted an application to the German Energy Ministry to dismantle the Krummel nuclear power plant, located in the Northern State of Schleswig-Holstein, near Hamburg. Local authorities express relief as the plant has been considered for years by anti-nuclear activists as Germany's most dangerous power plant. Jointly owned by Vattenfall and E.ON-Meiler, the plant has suffered from a never-ending series of breakdowns and incidents, including a fire in 2007, which probably contributed significantly to tarnish the image of nuclear power among Germans. Dismantling is planned to start in 2019, once the site is cleared from all nuclear components, and could last 15 to 20 years.
Die Welt | 2015, August 26th
Sendai 1 ramp-up postponed due to pump problemIn Japan, the ramp-up of power output at Sendai 1 has been halted by a problem with a pump in the plant's secondary cooling system, operator Kyushu Electric Power said. Kyushu Electric last week began the restart of the Sendai plant, the first of Japan's reactors to begin operation under new safety standards introduced in the wake of the Fukushima accident in 2011. But the utility said that seawater has entered one of the pumps in the secondary cooling system. Engineers and regulators have warned that the utility may encounter equipment problems as the Sendai No. 1 reactor has been idled for more than four years.
Les Echos | 2015, August 24th
Europe has 3,000 offshore wind turbines installedThe offshore wind market has gained further momentum in the first six months of the year, with a cumulated total of over 3,000 turbines installed in Europe. In the first-half of 2015, 584 new turbines, or 2,350 MW, have been connected to the grid, in what is the largest increase ever in the sector. As of mid-2015, the capacity of offshore wind turbines in Europe surpassed 10,000 MW, even though the pipeline of projects seems to suggest a significant slowdown for the next months. Meanwhile, France has launched a call for projects in floating offshore wind power, opened until April 2016. The process will allow for the allocation of four small farms, three of which will be located in the Mediterranean Sea.
Les Echos | 2015, August 19th
Third of Britain suitable for nuclear waste siteAt least 30% of the UK could have suitable geology for the construction of a £12-billion nuclear dump, experts from the British Geological Survey have suggested, as they prepare for a new review to find areas where Britain's radioactive waste could be buried safely. Ministers have been searching for a permanent burial site for Britain's nuclear waste for decades but were forced to restart the process after Cumbria - the only area to have expressed an interest in hosting the dump - pulled out in 2013.
The Daily Telegraph | 2015, August 18th
London makes shale gas a national priorityThe British government plans to fast-track the permit process for shale oil and gas exploration to ensure the industry can gain traction. The government thus calls on local councils to decide on shale permits within 16 weeks of an application. Otherwise, Communities Secretary Greg Clark may take over planning decisions from local councils. He may also consider appeals on failed applications, the government said. With the new proposals, David Cameron's administration said it was making clear that shale is a "national priority," considered as a cheap and abundant energy source.
Le Figaro, The Guardian 3rd ed. | 2015, August 14th
Germany needs larger nuclear waste repositoryAccording to an official plan unveiled by Federal Environment Minister Barbara Hendrick, a much larger nuclear waste repository is now needed in Germany for the final disposal of highly radioactive waste. Indeed, the repository will not only have to store highly radioactive nuclear waste but also enable the additional storage of 300,000 cubic meters of low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste. Hence, the federal government now favours a larger repository: "we are looking for a deposit throughout Germany," Mrs Hendricks added.
Berliner Zeitung | 2015, August 13th
Japan restarts Sendai 1Japan has restarted its first nuclear reactor under new safety rules following the 2011 Fukushima accident. After passing new, stringent safety tests, Kyushu Electric Power has been greenlighted to restart the number one reactor at its Sendai plant. This first restart has a strong symbolic significance, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is planning to boost the country's nuclear power output to between 20 and 22% of the domestic mix by 2030. However, there is still strong public unease about a return to nuclear power. According to a survey, 57% of the Japanese population is opposed to the nuclear renaissance. The government's main rationale behind the restart is economic. Indeed, since the shutdown of its nuclear fleet, Japan, deprived of natural resources, has been forced to rely heavily on fossil-fuels, which resulted in a significant increase of its energy bill but also in a surge of its greenhouse gases emissions.
Les Echos, L'Opinion, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung | 2015, August 11th
French government to push nuclear waste repository projectThe Constitutional Council of France ruled against an amendment to the Macron law greenlighting the Cigeo project of a deep geological repository for nuclear waste, planned in the French city of Bure (Lorraine). The top authority explained that the provision devoted to the controversial Cigeo project had no relevant link whatsoever with the Macron law as a whole. Taking into account the decision of the council, the French government announced that it will introduce a specific draft law early in 2016 to rekindle the project.
Berliner Zeitung | 2015, August 07th
Spain debates its nuclear waste projectSpain is witnessing a heated political debate about the planned Villar de Canas nuclear waste repository project. While the conservative Spanish government is in favour of the project, the new regional government of Castilla-La Mancha has moved to block it. Spain urgently needs a storage facility for about 7 thousand tonnes of nuclear waste, currently stored in pools at domestic nuclear plants or in France or the Netherlands, which has already generated costs of €20 million. Besides, Paris announced it will increase its storage prices next year. Meanwhile, some experts criticise the Villar de Cañas project, saying the selected area is seismically unstable and the porous limestone ground not ideal for such a purpose.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung | 2015, August 04th
Barack Obama unveils Clean Power PlanUS President Barack Obama announced an ambitious plan to drastically reduce carbon pollution from US power plants in an effort to address global climate change. Mr Obama's final proposal requires US States, over the next 15 years, to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 32% compared to 2005 levels. The plan also includes an incentive programme for States to get a head start on meeting standards on early deployment of renewable energy. In addition, the president's plan encourages States to create rudimentary market-based emissions programmes in which companies can buy and sell pollution credits. All told, Mr Obama's Clean Power Plan targets a major boost in renewable energies, which should account for 28% of the capacity by 2030, from 13% in 2014. The US administration wants to discourage the building of coal-fired plants, in favour of new nuclear plants and renewable energies.
Les Echos, Liberation | 2015, August 04th
France's future will be greenerFrance's National Assembly officially adopted the government's so-called energy transition law. The text sets in stone the pledge made by François Hollande to reduce the part of nuclear power in the domestic mix to 50% by 2025 (from 75% today). It also imposes a cap of 63.2 GW on nuclear power, meaning that EDF cannot start new reactors without closing existing ones. Accompanying the reduced nuclear contribution, France will have to raise the proportion of renewable energy to 23% of total consumption by 2020 and 32% by 2030 when renewables have to make up 40% of power output. France will also have to lower carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 compared with 1990. The law stipulates lowering energy consumption by a fifth by 2030 and by half by 2050 as well as reducing 'primary' fossil-fuel consumption by 30% in 2030 compared with 2012. French MPs have also included the target of increasing four times the carbon tax or CCE (Contribution Climat-Energie) between 2016 and 2030.
Handelsblatt, Suddeutsche Zeitung, Le Monde | 2015, July 23rd
UK: government announces cut in renewable subsidiesThe British government announced plans to curb the costs of subsidies for renewable forms of energy like solar power, arguing that the industry could survive without the support. Representatives of Britain's solar industry expressed dismay and environmental groups saw the move as a setback for the countryss efforts to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions. The government also said it was acting to decrease the costs for consumers, who pay for the renewables through taxes in their energy bills. The government says that its projections show the cost of subsidies exceeding the target of £7.6 billion it has set for 2020 by about £1.5 billion. The plans need parliamentary approval, which is expected under the Tory majority, and would take effect in April.
International New York Times | 2015, July 23rd
How Europe's energy giants are facing the crisisEurope's main utilities have managed to resist the crisis, through cost-cutting measures and asset disposal plans. Sales revenues were down 2.6% in 2013 and 5.6% in 2014. The response to such environment was strong, with major cuts in spending and costs. RWE, for instance, plans to save €2 billion by 2017, or twice what it anticipated in its previous plan. Utilities have also mothballed or closed down unprofitable plants. Furthermore, the companies decided on asset disposal plans, in order to reduce debt. The strategy proved successful, limiting the impact on the gross operating margin. However, as all utilities have cut investments, the European Commission said that €2,000 billion would be necessary over the next 10 years to finance grids, interconnections and the energy transition. Some companies have called on new investors such as pension funds or insurance companies.
Les Echos | 2015, July 20th
Will Bavaria accept nuclear waste?German Environment minister Barbara Hendricks wants to impose temporary storage of highly radioactive nuclear waste in Bavaria, if necessary without the consent of Bavaria's Minister-President Horst Seehofer. "Bavaria has taken advantage of nuclear energy for decades, more than any other federal state. I expect that it takes responsibility," Mrs Hendricks said. Contrary to other federal regions such as Baden-Württemberg, Hessen or Schleswig-Holstein that already gave their approval, Mr Seehofer has rejected the federal decision and accuses Ms Hendricks of speeding up the process and thus violating coalition agreements on the energy transition.
Die Welt | 2015, June 23rd
Atomexpo: Russia announces agreementsA number of agreements between Rosatom and several countries have been announced on the occasion of the Atomexpo Forum in Moscow. The international event gathered more than 1,000 players of the industry, coming from 40 countries. Tunisia and Indonesia signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Russia on cooperation in the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Ghana, Vietnam and Argentina have also signed framework agreements. In an effort to gain further market shares abroad, Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Rosatom signed an agreement to coordinate efforts and "create favourable conditions" for the implementation of strategic business projects overseas.
Le Monde Eco & Entreprise | 2015, June 06th
Britain's nuclear plants must work on looksAs the UK is set for a complete overhaul of its energy infrastructure in the next decade, the new nuclear power stations and other energy infrastructure projects must be designed to look beautiful to garner essential public support, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary said. With so much costly construction planned, it is crucial to make sure the public is on side - by making the projects visually inspiring, Amber Rudd said.
The Independent | 2015, June 06th
German nuclear fuel tax deemed legal by top EU courtThe European Court of Justice has ruled that a German tax on nuclear fuel is legal. The ruling is a setback for the country's energy groups, including E.ON, RWE and EnBW, which were arguing the tax was illegal. The groups, which have already paid €5 billion under the scheme, were hoping to get reimbursed. Germany's utilities are now pinning their hopes on a related lawsuit filed with the Constitutional Court, which ruling is expected in the second half of the year.
Die Welt | 2015, June 05th
Oil majors turn to gas, urge for carbon pricingOil majors such as Shell, Chevron, BP, Total and Exxon Mobil are massively investing in the gas sector, hoping that the future agreement that could be reached at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference will accelerate the transition from coal to gas. Meanwhile, Europe's top oil and gas companies urged governments around the world to introduce a pricing system for carbon emissions. In a joint statement published by 5 European dailies, the chief executives of BG Group, BP, Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil and France's Total said carbon pricing "would reduce uncertainty and encourage the most cost-effective ways of reducing carbon emissions widely".
Le Figaro, Le Monde Eco & Entreprise | 2015, June 01st
German electricity supply safe even after nuclear phase-outGermany's electricity supply will be safe even after the last nuclear plant has been switched off in 2022, but decommissioning costs may be significantly higher than estimated, a study by economic think-tank DIW said. Germany is currently producing far more power than it needs and DIW does not expect the situation to change even with the nuclear phase-out. Meanwhile, Germany's CO2 emissions should decrease progressively, as renewables grow in importance. On the other hand, the issue of the decommissioning and the management of nuclear waste remains to be solved, with costs still unpredictable. Provisions set aside by German could prove insufficient.
Berliner Zeitung | 2015, May 29th
Japan's NRA grants final approval to Sendai 1 & 2Japan's Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) gave Kyushu Electric Power Company its final regulatory approval necessary for restarting units 1 and 2 of its Sendai nuclear power plant. According to the country's nuclear watchdog, the two units are compliant with the stricter safety regulations adopted after the Fukushima accident. Kyushu has already obtained approval from the prefectural government and that of Satsuma-Sendai City for the restart of both reactors. The utility plans to restart Sendai 1 in July or August, while Sendai 2 could resume activity later in September. They thus look set to be the first Japanese reactors to be restarted.
Les Echos | 2015, May 28th
Saudi Arabia to switch to solarSaudi Arabia's Oil Minister said the country will switch its energy focus to solar power as the nation envisages an end to fossil fuels, possibly around 2040-2050. 'In Saudi Arabia, we recognise that eventually, one of these days, we are not going to need fossil fuels, I don't know when, in 2040, 2050', Ali Al-Naimi told the Business & Climate conference in Paris. He added that Saudi Arabia intended to become a world leader in solar energy. The kingdom is contemplating the eventual exhaustion of its oil resources, as its own energy consumption has exploded. Saudi Arabia could follow the example set by neighbouring emirate Abu Dhabi, which is currently building its first nuclear reactor while massively investing in the development of solar power.
Le Figaro | 2015, May 23rd
The World Bank Advocates for "Zero Carbon"According to the World Bank's experts, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to zero - a prerequisite for not exceeding 2 degrees of warming by 2100 - is technically and financially possible. The new electrical capacities installed from renewable energy exceeded all those from fossil energy last year. The World Bank wants to accelerate this movement and to complement it with other policies, namely by implementing a new tax or by submitting to the rules of a trading market to emit carbon.
Les Echos | 2015, May 12th
Negotiations of the Paris Climate AgreementLast week, the representatives of 45 countries met in Paris to negotiate the elements of the future Paris climate agreement, a preparatory work with a view to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP21) that will take place in Paris from 30 November to 11 December. The 194 participating countries are trying to reach an agreement on measures to keep the rise in global temperature under 2°C by 2100.
Le Figaro | 2015, May 12th
IEA says Innovation will be Crucial for EnergyThe International Energy Agency published a report dedicated to technological innovation in the energy sector. Innovation is the key to fight against global warming. The action of emerging countries could be crucial, as their energy consumption is the fastest-growing and they can make a "technological leap" more easily.
Le Monde, Les Echos | 2015, May 05th
New battery to revolutionize energy sectorTesla has launched a battery that can store energy and that will possibly be used in houses and companies. The device, which will be sold $ 3,000, will offer a bigger autonomy.
Le Monde, The Wall Street Journal Europe | 2015, May 03rd