Nuclear Futures

Dave Toke: Why are renewables suddenly trouncing nuclear energy? If recent trends continue for another two years, the global share of electricity from renewables excluding hydropower will overtake nuclear for the first time. Even 20 years ago, this nuclear decline would have greatly surprised many people – particularly now that reducing carbon emissions is at the top of the political agenda. On one level this is a story about changes in relative costs. The costs of solar and wind have plunged while nuclear has become almost astoundingly expensive. But this raises the question of why this came about. As I argue in my new book, Low Carbon Politics, it helps to dip into cultural theory.

New Statesman 30th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 May 2018

Energy Policy – Scotland

Scotland has published its draft climate change strategy, which has a headline target of cutting greenhouse gas emissions 90% by 2050 and achieving a 100% reduction “as soon as possible”. The strategy outlines plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds by 2030 as a milestone on the way to the ambitious 2050 goal, which has been hailed by the UK Committee on Climate Change as “at the limit of feasibility”. It additionally notes that Scotland will not use carbon offsetting to achieve its new aims, which are an increase on the current emissions target of 80% by 2050. Measures to reach the new target include reopening a specialised climate change fund for applications in the next two years and establishing an advisory panel. “Our 90% target will be tougher even than the 100% goal set by a handful of other countries, because our legislation will set more demanding, legally-binding, annual targets covering every sector of our economy,” environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham said. “The fight against climate change is a moral responsibility but Scotland’s academic and engineering expertise, coupled with our outstanding natural resources, mean it is also an economic opportunity.” However, the fact that the strategy has not set a date for the net-zero goal has left several environmental groups unsatisfied. Stop Climate Chaos Scotland’s chair, Tom Ballantine, and Greens MSP Mark Ruskell both dubbed the 90% goal “hugely disappointing”, with Scottish Renewables’ chief executive, Claire Mack, also urging Scottish Parliament to set a date.

Edie 29th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 May 2018

PLEX

Aarhus Committee: Netherlands “failed to comply” with Aarhus Convention by refusing to organise a public consultation on the 20y lifetime extension of old nuclear plant Borssele Important implications for Doel1/2 and Tihange1 in Belgium.

Jan Van de Putte (Greenpeace) on Twitter 25th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 May 2018

ONR

The UK’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) has provided an update on its compliance with the Regulators’ Code, which came into effect in April 2014 and aims to provide a framework for how regulators should engage with those they regulate. ONR published a review of its compliance with the Code in 2015 and has since carried out a further self-assessment exercise on progress against the actions from that initial review. “In the UK, we have a goal-setting framework for regulation of the nuclear sector which places accountability clearly on duty holders to achieve the high standards of safety and security required,” ONR said. “Reflecting on our experience of regulating in accordance with the Code we generally found, as in 2015, that our regulatory framework allows us to regulate according to the high standards expected while also operating in accordance with the Code. However, we are not complacent and following this self-assessment exercise we have identified further improvements that we can make to better align our activity with themes in the Code, while also supporting our broader desire to continuously improve.”

World Nuclear News 29th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 May 2018

Brexit

Prime Minister Theresa May conceded on 21 May that a post-Brexit Britain was willing to pay to “fully associate” with Euratom, Europe’s nuclear agency. The details of the arrangement, similar to many that surround the controversial exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, still have to be ironed out. And among those watching the negotiations with mounting concern are scientists at the Joint European Torus (JET) near Oxford, UK, who currently benefit greatly from Britain’s membership of the agency. The hundreds of researchers at JET receive annual funding of around €60 million (US$70 million), because Britain is part of Euratom. As it stands, that funding will cease at the end of this year.

Nature 29th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 May 2018

Uranium

It has been a tough few years for one-time high-flying uranium miner Cameco Corp.. Over the last five years, its value has plummeted by 38% after nuclear power fell into disfavour after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, which caused the price of uranium to collapse. Since then, uranium has remained caught in a protracted slump, despite claims by industry insiders and analysts that it is poised to rebound because of a combination of growing demand and emerging supply constraints. Nonetheless, despite these claims, there has been no sign of a sustained rally, and an upturn in the fortunes of the radioactive metal may never occur. This is because the outlook for uranium is not as bright as claimed, and there is every indication that nuclear power will remain in disfavour. That will continue to weight on Cameco’s market value.

Motley Fool 28th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 May 2018

Fukushima

When Kazumi Kusano stood in the CRIIRAD radiological laboratory in Valence, France listening to lab director, Bruno Chareyron, describe just how radioactive the soil sample taken from a school playground back home in Japan really was, she could not fight back the tears. “This qualifies as radioactive waste,” Chareyron told them. “The children are playing in a school playground that is very contaminated. The lowest reading is 300,000 bequerels per square meter. That is an extremely high level.” (CRIIRAD is the Commission for Independent Research and Information about Radiation, an independent research laboratory and NGO). Kazumi, a Japanese mother and Fukushima evacuee who prefers not to use her real name, was in France with two other mothers, Mami Kurumada and Akiko Morimatsu — all of whom also brought their children — as part of an educational speaking tour. Morimatsu was also invited to testify before the UN Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, to launch an appeal for the rights of nuclear refugees.

Beyond Nuclear 28th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 May 2018

US

A heated row broke out between US Senators during an Appropriations Committee debate on whether to use a site in southeast New Mexico to temporarily store the nation’s nuclear waste, pending a permanent repository site being found. Lindsey Graham, Senator from South Carolina, tried to block funding for a nuclear waste interim storage programme in retaliation for the Energy Department’s decision to shut the MOX facility at South Carolina’s Savannah River Site. He was supported by New Mexico Senator Tim Udall, but they were lone voices in the debate Pushing through the proposal for a temporary store Senator Diane Feinstein noted that since the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste permanent storage facility in Nevada was politically dead, funding for temporary waste storage was needed instead.

GDF Watch 28th May 2018 read more »

Over the past two decades, southeastern New Mexico has embraced an industry many other communities throughout the country have rejected. Following more than 20 years of proposals, studies and battles, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) opened near Carlsbad in 1999 to store nuclear weapons waste underground. Then, in 2010, a uranium enrichment plant opened in Eunice. And boosters have floated other ideas, including a nuclear waste reprocessing plant. Most recently, a group of local politicians and businessmen invited a private company to store high-level waste from commercial nuclear power plants on a thousand acres between Carlsbad and Hobbs.

NM Political Report 29th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 May 2018

Turkey

Putin happy to sponsor Ankara’s nuclear ambition. For seven years, huge earthmoving vehicles have been excavating, clearing and flattening an expanse of land that is the size of about 1,500 football pitches on an arid stretch of Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. It is testament to how long nuclear reactors take to build that it was only last month that the first concrete was poured into the foundations at Akkuyu in the southern province of Mersin. It will be, if all goes to plan, Turkey’s first atomic power plant. The moment was marked by a ceremony watched via video from Ankara by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, reflecting the strategic importance of a project that will deepen energy ties between their countries. Akkuyu is being built by Rosatom, the Russian state-owned nuclear company, at the cost of $20bn for four 1,200 megawatt reactors designed to meet 10 per cent of Turkish electricity needs. Mr Putin said: “We have an ambitious task — to launch the first nuclear power unit in 2023, timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of Turkey.” For Rosatom, Akkuyu is a showcase for Russian nuclear technology as it vies for orders with rival developers in emerging markets. Demand for reactors has slowed since the Fukushima disaster and many countries are turning to renewable power as the cost of wind and solar falls. That makes Turkey a test of nuclear’s ability to remain competitive.

FT 30th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 May 2018

France

Russia’s Rosatom and the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) have signed a strategic document on partnership in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The agreement was signed on 24 May by Rosatom Director General Alexy Likhachov and CEA Chairman François Jacq in the presence of the Russian and French presidents, Vladimir Putin and Emmanuel Macron, during the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum.

World Nuclear News 29th May 2018 read more »

Posted: 30 May 2018