Energy Policy – Scotland

Brian Wilson: The announcement of a publicly-owned Scottish Energy Company to take on the fat-cats and send prices tumbling served its immediate, and perhaps only, purpose – i.e. it had last October’s SNP conference whooping and cheering. Now, in the cooler light of day, the Scottish Government has fed £315,000 into the ample coffers of EY to tell them what less expensive sources of information could have advised many months ago – that this is a lot more “challenging” than it sounds. The word “challenging” crops up a lot in the EY report. It is a real “Yes, Minister” turn of phrase which translates roughly as: “This is really not a good idea but that is not what we are being paid to tell you. So just be careful and don’t blame us”. As work by Strathclyde University’s Energy Policy Centre has shown, energy efficiency measures are likely to be more effective in fighting fuel poverty than cheaper tariffs, particularly when many who could benefit from existing competition options resolutely decline to do so. You don’t need a Scottish Energy Company to do more about fuel poverty. The EY report offers a few potential “retreat options”. These include the Scottish Government piggy-backing on an existing supplier but branding it as the Scottish Energy Company – the so-called “white label” approach, which would inevitably be seen by competitors as an unfair advantage to the anointed partner. So does all of this mean that nothing should be done? Of course not; it’s just that by going for the headline about a “publicly-owned Scottish Energy Company” the Scottish Government is approaching the issue from the wrong direction and, as it happens, one which ignores the distinctively Scottish aspects of the market.

Energy Voice 30th April 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2018

Nuclear Convoys

The Scottish Government will this week face calls to hold a review into concerns over nuclear weapons “convoys” travelling through towns and cities in Scotland. The Greens have said the SNP government, which opposes nuclear weapons, is responsible for community safety and emergency planning and cannot dismiss the issue as being reserved to Westminster. MSPs are preparing to debate the issue at Holyrood on Wednesday, where Green MSP Mark Ruskell will call for a review. Up to eight times a year, a convoy of heavy trucks containing weapon materials and nuclear warheads travels between the Aldermaston and Burghfield atomic weapon plants in Berkshire to the Royal Navy base at Coulport on Loch Long where the UK’s nuclear weapons are stored. These trucks will often be carrying weapons materials for maintenance or replacement. But a Freedom of Information request by Green MSPs last year found that none of the relevant local authorities the trucks pass through has conducted risk assessments in relation to the convoys.

Scotsman 30th April 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2018


Letter Ian Fairlie: Thomas Jones digs up Carol Barton’s research article from 2001, in which she relayed her findings that, between 1972 and 1996, the risk of child leukaemia within ten kilometres of Aldermaston and Burghfield was double the rate for the UK as a whole (LRB, 5 April). Barton was then a consultant haematologist at the Royal Berkshire Hospital. ‘Until the cause of cancer is fully understood, and what the part of radiation in the process could be,’ she wrote, ‘no firm measures can be taken to redress the balance.’ Research has moved on since then. More than sixty epidemiological studies worldwide have examined the incidence of cancer in children near nuclear power plants (NPPs): most indicate increases in leukaemia. These include the landmark 2008 KiKK study commissioned by the German government, which found relative risks of 1.6 in total cancers and 2.2 in leukaemias among infants living within five kilometres of all German NPPs. A number of hypotheses have been proposed to explain these findings. One is that the increased cancers arise from the exposure of pregnant women near NPPs to radiation. However, any theory has to account for the greater than a thousand-fold discrepancy between official estimates of radiation doses from nuclear emissions and the observed increases in cancer risk. It may be that radiation exposures from spikes in NPP radionuclide emissions are significantly larger than the averages recorded in official estimates. In addition, the risks to embryos and foetuses from radiation exposure are much greater than to adults, and the blood-forming tissues in embryos and foetuses are even more radiosensitive.

London Review of Books 26th April 2018 read more »

See London Review of Books 5th April 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2018


Dozens of elite gun cops tasked with protecting Britain’s nuclear weapons at Faslane and other military sites are too unfit to carry firearms, it emerged yesterday. A shocking report into the Ministry of Defence Police reveals “concern” at the growing number who have been sidelined. The crisis has emerged after tougher fitness tests equal to those taken by other armed officers were introduced. Some MoD police – whose jobs include guarding the nuclear submarine fleet at Faslane, SAS headquarters in Hereford and GCHQ’s Cheltenham base – have failed the new tests. Others have simply refused to take part, the Mail on Sunday reported.

Daily Record 30th April 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2018

Floating Nuclear

Russia’s ‘floating Chernobyl’ nuclear power plant heads out to sea. The twin reactors have left their home port of St. Petersburg for a long, slow journey to Siberia. Environmentalists have slammed the mobile maritime reactors, saying an accident could damage parts of the Arctic.

Deutsche Welle 28th April 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2018


Wild board in Europe, parts of the former Soviet Union and Japan are too radioactive to be safe for human consumption. That sounds like good news for the boars. But only partly so. The boars are radioactively contaminated due to fallout from the April 26, 1986 Chernobyl, Ukraine nuclear power plant explosion. They were vulnerable because they love mushrooms and truffles. These fungi absorbed the cesium-137 fallout released by the Chernobyl nuclear explosion. Because they lack stems and roots, mushrooms and other fungi use absorption to obtain nutrition from the atmosphere through their surface cells. As a result, they are prone to absorbing radioactive substances such as cesium-137 and other radionuclides.

Beyond Nuclear 29th April 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2018


Wind power companies flock to Taiwan’s breezy shores. Taipei set to choose winners of $60bn worth of contracts for offshore turbines.

Nikkei Asian Review 28th April 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2018


A few months ago French environment minister Nicolas Hulot took the trip of almost 100m to the top of a wind turbine funded partly by a co-operative of poultry farmers. Back on the ground, he found the right analogy to tell his audience why the country needs plenty more of the same. “Energy is like eggs,” said the television personality chosen by President Emmanuel Macron to lead France’s energy transition, during the trip to the village of Juillé, 200km from Paris. “You cannot put all the eggs in the same basket.” Projects such as Juillé’s are meant to correct the fact that, for many years, France has done almost exactly that with nuclear power, which generates almost three-quarters of its energy. Nuclear has given France some of Europe’s cheapest energy – but the dependence on an ageing nuclear fleet now poses tough questions about how the country makes a belated transition towards renewable sources of power. Mr Macron has made the shift a centrepiece of his presidency and the government will outline this year how it intends to cut the use of nuclear power. It promises to involve costly changes for consumers and for state-owned energy companies, while any opposition from energy unions would weigh on a government already embroiled in numerous fights with vested interests, from farmers to railway workers.

FT 30th April 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2018


The 13th plan of 2015 plans to increase the power of the Chinese nuclear fleet to 58 GW by 2020. For this it should put into operation 6 to 8 plants per year, alarmed the China Nuclear Energy Association. Beijing is struggling to keep the distance, while this year five new reactors should enter service in the country and a score is under construction. But this pace is insufficient to meet the target, according to a recent report from the China Nuclear Energy Association (CNEA), which does not depend on the Chinese government. To succeed in following its roadmap, six to eight reactors would need to be commissioned each year. That’s almost double what’s the rule now. “What seems difficult to achieve”, alarmed the experts of the CNEA.

Les Echos 29th April 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2018


All work with special nuclear materials was put on hold at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s plutonium facility in March following two violations of safety requirements meant to prevent a nuclear chain reaction, according to a federal report released Friday. The site, which handles some of the laboratory’s most sensitive nuclear missions — including production of plutonium pits, the grapefruit-sized plutonium metal shells used to trigger nuclear warheads — has been plagued for years with recurring safety issues.

Sante Fe New Mexican 25th April 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 April 2018