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August 2018 Navartis News Round-Up for the Power and Utilities Industry

Posted by: James Turner
Industry News

Report suggests mini nuclear plants should be subsidised

A government-commissioned review has concluded that mini nuclear plants should receive subsidies that are currently only available to the offshore wind industry in the hope of encouraging the growth of new methods of power generation.
The independent report, which was compiled by the Expert Finance Working Group on Small Reactors, concluded that the government should seek to establish an “advanced manufacturing supply chain initiative” - similar to that used in offshore wind - to usher in a new era of manufacturing capability. The report also identified the potential for British manufacturing and exports; this has been echoed by Rolls-Royce, who wish to build Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) as part of a consortium, and believe the export market could be worth £400 billion. The report estimates SMRs could be deployed by 2030, and a number of major companies have expressed an interest in involvement in this process.
The current government energy minister, Richard Harrington, has said the government will consider the report’s findings. Read the full story click here.


SSE merger with Npower passes competitions check

SSE’s household energy business merger with Npower has received provisional approval from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).
The CMA initially launched an enquiry into how the merger would impact UK households in May of 2018, with a particular focus on how the merger would influence standard variable tariffs (SVTs) for homeowners. The CMA have since found that the merger - which would make the combined businesses the second largest energy supplier in the industry - would not harm UK householders, as SSE and Npower do not currently compete with one another on SVT prices. This analysis, combined with the fact that Ofgem’s price cap will offer further protection to SVT customers, led to the CMA providing provisional approval for the merger.
SSE sought the merger in an effort to provide cost savings and a boost in scale after experiencing many years of declining customer numbers. The approval will thus come as a great relief to the company, and there is hope that the merger can be concluded before the end of the financial year. Read the full story click here. 


Geothermal coal mines suggested as key to clean heat

The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the British Geological Survey (BGS) are considering the possibility of utilising disused coal mines in an effort to produce “clean heat”.
Together, the organisations intend to build a geothermal research observatory, with the express intention of studying whether warm water in old mines could be used to heat local buildings. It is also hoped that a field site, complete with bore holes at various depths, could be used to research the geology and underground water systems of the proposed sites. At present, the NERC and BGS have had two proposed locations approved; one by Glasgow City Council, and one by South Lanarkshire Council.
The two approved sites will receive around £31m of funding, with an initial experimentation phase set to last for around 15 years. The hope is that for the duration of the scheme, the national science community will be able to research and collect data from borehole sensors. The data obtained will be available freely accessible online to the public, government agencies, the academic community, regulators, and industry. The analysis of this data could help to determine whether disused mines are a suitable alternative to conventional methods of heat generation. Read the full story click here.
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