Toshiba

Westinghouse, Toshiba’s struggling nuclear subsidiary, has hired specialist lawyers to advise on the merits of the US company filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, according to two people familiar with the appointment. However, Toshiba’s lenders are deeply divided about whether Westinghouse should pursue this option, partly because of fears that it could rapidly expose the Japanese conglomerate to new costs and cause serious reputational damage. The appointment by Westinghouse of bankruptcy experts from Weil, Gotshal & Manges, the US law firm, comes as Toshiba — which is grappling with the worst crisis in its history — strives to meet a deadline of next Tuesday to release audited results for the third quarter of 2016.

FT 9th March 2017 read more »

TOSHIBA has repeated that it is “not aware” of any plans for its American nuclear division to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. This comes following new reports saying Westinghouse Electric – part of the Japanese giant which is due to produce the three reactors which would power the proposed Cumbrian nuclear new build at Moorside, near Sellafield – has called in specialist bankruptcy lawyers.

Carlisle News and Star 9th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 10 March 2017

Moorside

Plans for a new power station are at the “core” of Copeland’s growth plans, a high-profile nuclear conference has heard. Mike Starkie, Copeland’s mayor, said the borough council gives a “warm welcome in principle” to the proposed three-reactor Moorside plant, on land next to Sellafield. He added: “It will provide a significant investment in the borough and lead to many jobs, both temporary during construction and permanently through the operation of the power station and the supporting supply chain.”

Whitehaven News 10th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 10 March 2017

EDF

French utility EDF (EDF.PA) is considering building a new gas-fired power station in the northeast of England, close to some of its existing plants, the company’s British arm said. To avoid a potential supply gap, Britain needs to invest in new generation to replace aging coal and nuclear plants set to close in the 2020s. “EDF Energy is examining the possibility of constructing a small gas-fired power station … on land adjacent to the existing power stations at West Burton in Nottinghamshire,” a spokeswoman for EDF Energy said via email late on Tuesday.

Reuters 8th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 10 March 2017

SMRs

The government is right to avoid rushing into a “quick and early decision” on small modular reactors (SMRs), a senior figure at the Energy Technologies Institute has said. Slow progress on a competition to find a best value SMR design for the UK shows that the “evidence is being properly examined”. “It is taking some time but the decision on whether you should intervene and how you should intervene is not an easy one,” said Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) nuclear strategy manager Mike Middleton at an event in London. He said ministers were right to take the time to “properly examine the evidence and what the opportunities are, as well as the potential risks, rather than take a quick and early decision.” Giving evidence to a House of Lords science and technology committee last week, energy and industry minister Jesse Norman said that the competition’s timetable had been “disturbed” but that the government was hopeful it could get it “back on track soon”. He would not be drawn on when the results of the competition will be revealed.

Utility Week 9th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 10 March 2017

Energy Costs

Offshore windfarms are set to become a cheaper source of electricity than the Hinkley Point nuclear power plant and are also on track to undercut coal-fired power stations. The Government, which has been trying to support offshore in the hope of turning the UK into a world-leader in the sector, plans to hold an auction next month in which generators will bid for a guaranteed price for their electricity, with the lowest offer declared the winner. This means that if the market price for electricity falls below that level after the turbines are built, the taxpayer will step in to make up the difference. The planned nuclear plant at Hinkley Point in Somerset has been given a guaranteed price of £92.50 per megawatt-hour (mwh) for 35 years – a generous deal that was required to reassure investors they would see a return on the hefty upfront costs of the plant. Offshore wind in Europe cost about £190/mwh in 2012, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, but this figure has nearly halved in the last five years to just over £100/mwh. And now the industry is now predicting the UK will see offshore wind become cheaper than some of the more traditional sources of power generation. While the Government has an official policy against onshore wind, it has sought to promote the more expensive offshore turbines, partly because of the chance to establish a new industry in the UK based on the expertise developed by the North Sea oil and gas industry. It appears this may be starting to pay off years earlier than anyone expected. Keith Anderson, chief corporate officer of Scottish Power, one of the main players in the wind industry, told The Independent that he was confident the April auction would see an offshore wind generator bid below the ‘strike price’ given to Hinkley Point. And Dong Energy, the Danish wind power giant, went even further. Henrik Poulsen, the firm’s chief executive officer, told Bloomberg that offshore wind could already compete with coal, depending on the conditions. “If you have a sufficiently large site with the right wind speeds, then I do believe you can build offshore wind at least at the same price as new build coal in many places around the world including the US,” he said.

Independent 9th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 10 March 2017

Politics

John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has promised that Labour would bring an end to nuclear power and nuclear weapons in the first 100 days of a Labour government. Speaking at a Labour meeting in July 2012, Mr McDonnell said: “From the Left now […] we should now be mapping out not in manifesto form but in a manual form the first 100 days of a Labour government going into power. “The issues around energy, you immediately announce no more nuclear power. On foreign policy, you immediately say we are coming out of Afghanistan now, we’re scrapping nuclear weapons. We would have built up popular support for those policies.

Telegraph 9th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 10 March 2017

Brexatom

The UK’s stated intention to leave the European Atomic Energy Community (EURATOM) – revealed last month in explanatory notes to the government’s bill authorising Brexit – understandably raised a few eyebrows. And with 543 readers responding to our poll on the topic it’s clearly an emotive issue for many in the engineering community.

The Engineer 7th Feb 2017 read more »

Posted: 10 March 2017

Energy Policy

A UK renewables industry leader called for rival energy technologies across the energy sector to work more closely with each other and speak with one voice to maximise job and business opportunities. Forward thinking, innovation and collaboration of different technologies – offshore and onshore oil & gas, renewables and nuclear – to speak with one over-arching energy voice is already happening in eastern England – , setting an example to the often-polarised national industries, an audience of supply chain companies was told. Hugh McNeal, Chief Executive, Renewable UK, said the energy industry needed to represent itself as one sector containing different technologies. His audience included national leaders representing offshore oil & gas, nuclear, renewables and onshore oil & gas from all corners of the UK. He said: “In a post-Brexit world, we can’t afford to focus inwards and focus on the value of different technologies. “We have to focus on supporting you to grow all of your businesses,” he told supply chain companies at the biggest all-energy event in the east of England.

Scottish Energy News 10th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 10 March 2017

Fukushima

Six years after the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, engineers remain vexed by a key question: What damage did the massive earthquake cause at the atomic plant before it was hit by the subsequent tsunami? The answer matters because of the potential implications for the earthquake safety standards of other nuclear reactors in Japan, which sits on the seismically unstable Ring of Fire around the Pacific. The area accounts for about 90% of the planet’s earthquakes, with Japan being shaken by 10% of them, according to the US Geological Survey. Just three out of Japan’s 42 usable reactors are running at present, as operators seek to clear regulatory, safety and legal hurdles and overcome community opposition following the Fukushima calamity. Despite the obstacles, Japan still aims to derive between 20% and 22% of its power from nuclear sources by 2030. Shaun Burnie, a nuclear specialist with Greenpeace Germany, called for a fundamental overhaul of the way the regulator reviews earthquake risks. He praised the engineers who had “spoken out” about the potential pre-tsunami damage at Fukushima Daiichi, saying they were right to demand further investigation. “That is something the nuclear industry is determined to avoid as the ramifications, if proven, would be catastrophic for the future operation of reactors in Japan – but also have major implications worldwide,” he said in an interview.

Asia Times 8th March 2017 read more »

Six years after the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, which spawned a massive tsunami causing the reactor meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the reconstruction of affected areas is still far from complete. In particular, some 80,000 people are still living as evacuees from Fukushima Prefecture, where the crippled nuclear plant is located. There are no signs of regeneration in the devastated local communities around the plant. Meanwhile, the damages from the nuclear disaster and the costs of cleaning up the mess keep ballooning.

Asahi Shimbun 9th March 2017 read more »

The ongoing scourge of Japan’s Fukushima — radiation — is now roaming the disaster-hit area on four legs. Hundreds of radioactive wild boars moved into deserted towns after the nuclear crisis. Now they scour the empty streets and overgrown backyards of the Namie town for food, an unexpected nuisance for those returning home six years after the meltdown. Namie and another town, Tomioka, are within the 20 kilometer exclusion zone from the Fukushima plant and set to partly reopen for nuclear refugees this month. But the boars have been known to attack people.

Voice of America 9th March 2017 read more »

These incredibly unusual photographs of the terrifying mammals were taken in the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant, whose reactors went into meltdown after it was struck by an earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. There have been many obvious dangers faced by Japan in the wake of the disaster, but one of the most unexpected has also proved to be one of the most fascinating.

Mirror 9th March 2017 read more »

The Sun 9th March 2017 read more »

Express 9th March 2017 read more »

Thousands of people who fled after the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant six years ago have been told they must return to their homes or lose housing subsidies, despite lingering concerns over radiation in their former neighbourhoods. The instruction, condemned by campaigners as a violation of the evacuees’ right to live in a safe environment, will affect an estimated 27,000 people who were not living inside the mandatory evacuation zone imposed after Fukushima became the scene of the worst nuclear accident in Japanese history. Many of the people who left their homes of their own volition after the triple meltdown are mothers and their young children, who experts say face greater risks to their health from prolong ed exposure to relatively low levels of radiation. The voluntary evacuations have forced families to live apart, while parents struggle to earn enough money to fund their new accommodation and keep up mortgage payments on their abandoned homes. Residents who were not living in the mandatory evacuation zone when they fled have been campaigning to retain housing subsidies, in a challenge to the authorities’ attempts to convince more evacuees that some neighbourhoods have been properly decontaminated. Campaigners have called on the government to declare Fukushima neighbourhoods unfit for human habitation unless atmospheric radiation is brought to below one millisievert (mSv) a year, the maximum public exposure limit recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection. While 1 mSv a year remains the government’s long-term target, it is encouraging people to return to areas where radiation levels are below 20 mSv a year, an annual exposure limit that, internationally, applies to nuclear power plant workers.

Guardian 10th March 2017 read more »

Remember Fukushima – events in London.

Remember Fukushima (accessed) 10th March 2017 read more »

They want you to think the Fukushima nuclear disaster is over. But it’s still with us.

Greenpeace 10th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 10 March 2017

100% Renewables

There is not much in the way of evidence to back up the central claim, that a 100% renewable energy mandate is indeed “a bad idea”. The primary argument is that the choice to mandate 100% renewable energy by 2045 “may” shut off other potential low-carbon pathways which may emerge in the next 28 years. These pathways might be new nuclear technologies, as well also fossil fuel plants with carbon capture and storage (CCS), both of which are not yet commercialized and may never be.

Energy, Media and Society 10th March 2017 read more »

Posted: 10 March 2017