News

Sellafield

Highly dangerous plutonium canisters are “decaying faster than anticipated” at the Sellafield nuclear plant and present an “intolerable risk” if they started to leak, the spending watchdog has warned. Government scientists have now agreed to spend an extra £1billion to make them safe by wrapping them in packaging, the National Audit Office said today. Britain has the largest amount of civil plutonium – a bi-product of nuclear fuel reprocessing – in the world, around 40 per cent of the global total. Most of the plutonium is stored at Sellafield in Cumbria, where it is managed by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The problems have occurred because some of the plutonium canisters are judged to be “unsuitable” for storage in a new facility which only opened in 2012, the NAO said. Staff are now racing against the clock to build a new £1.5billion facility – and are having to make contingency plans for the next two years while the new depot is constructed. The NAO report – titled ‘Progress with reducing risk at Sellafield’ – said: “Some canisters that have already been transferred into modern storage will have to be repackaged through the SRP [the residue store retreatment plant] facility to ensure they do not degrade.” The report adds: “A leak from any package would lead to an ‘intolerable’ risk as defined by the Office for Nuclear Regulation. “The NDA has therefore decided to place the canisters more at risk in extra layers of packaging until SRP is operational. It has not yet submitted a new business case to support these contingency arrangements.” Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace UK, said: “In some ways it is fortunate that this failure was detected whilst the plutonium was still accessible, and the cost of patching the canisters is only £1billion. If an inaccessible deep waste dump were to fail in a similar way, who knows what the full cost might be?”

Telegraph 19th June 2018 read more »

Decommissioning the nuclear site at Sellafield faces continued delays and an overspend of up to £913 million, according to an official report. The National Audit Office (NAO) said the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) had improved its performance in delivering major projects at the site in Cumbria. But work is still predicted to be late and to cost more than originally expected, said the spending watchdog. The NDA’s nine major projects were expected to cost an additional 60% of their budget at the design stage in 2015, but this has been reduced to 29%, said the NAO. While this was a substantial improvement, it was still a forecast overspend of £913 million. The NAO reported that three projects were cancelled when £586 million had already been spent on them after the NDA said it had found a better way of delivering the work. It said Sellafield Limited has achieved £470 million in efficiency savings, but added that neither the NDA nor the company knows their make-up and admit that a proportion does not represent genuine efficiency savings. “The strategic decisions the NDA takes around prioritising activity at Sellafield could be profoundly changed and improved by a better, more evidence-based assessment of these constraints. “The NAO has found that the role of the NDA is unclear and this could put at risk the progress we are now seeing at Sellafield,” the report said. “The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy’s governance of the NDA is complex and not working as well as it should to support improvements at Sellafield.

Herald 20th June 2018 read more »

A government watchdog has criticised the body overseeing the Sellafield clean-up. It has recommended a review into the role of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, because it is “unclear” what it does. The report praised it for improving its performance in delivering major projects, as most delivered their work to schedule and to budget in 2017-18. But it said the NDA could not demonstrate how its current work led to progress against the long-term decommissioning “mission”. The report also identified an expected £913 million overspend and delays in clean-up projects at the West Cumbrian nuclear complex.

Carlisle News & Star 20th June 2018 read more »

£900m Sellafield decom overspend warning from National Audit Office.

Energy Voice 20th June 2018 read more »

New Civil Engineer 20th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 20 June 2018

Wylfa

Hitachi to examine British nuclear power plant project “cautiously”. Hitachi Ltd. said Wednesday it will examine options “cautiously” over its planned 3 trillion yen ($27 billion) project to build two nuclear reactors in Britain. “Hitachi is a private company so we want to address the plan in terms of economic rationality…We don’t want to trouble our shareholders,” Hitachi President Toshiaki Higashihara told a general shareholders’ meeting in Tokyo. Mitsuaki Nishiyama, Hitachi’s chief financial officer, said one option was for the company to lower its stake in its Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd. unit to lessen the impact of the wholly owned unit’s business on the Hitachi group. Horizon oversees the project to build two advanced boiling water reactors on the Isle of Anglesey in Wales. As the company continues talks with the British government, Hitachi hopes to make a final decision on whether to go ahead with the project within 2019. “Before starting construction of the nuclear reactors, we will solicit investments (from public and private entities) so that Hitachi’s stake in Horizon Nuclear Power will be lowered to below 50 percent,” Nishiyama said. For some Hitachi shareholders, the nuclear power plant project remains a concern. “The nuclear business is my only concern,” one shareholder said at the meeting, adding that he was concerned Hitachi may follow Toshiba Corp. in exiting the overseas nuclear power business.

Kyodo News 20th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 20 June 2018

Hinkley

For a young Dr Sarah Williamson FREng, summer holidays were spent doing useful tasks on one of her father’s building sites. Today, she leads a team of engineers at Hinkley Point C nuclear power station in Somerset, one of the UK’s largest construction sites. As Construction Technical Director for the main civil engineering work, she is pioneering the implementation of ‘digital engineering’ in construction. She talked to Michael Kenward OBE about her vision for the future of civil engineering in the UK.

Ingenia 19th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 20 June 2018

Brexit

Euratom Exit Factsheets.

BEIS 18th June 2018 read more »

A Brexit “fog” is shrouding the energy sector with uncertainty, as concerns rise among industry employees over the potential impacts on workforce availability, domestic policy stagnation, and the UK’s future relationship with the EU’s single energy market. That’s the headline finding from the latest Energy Barometer, an annual survey of more than 400 energy professionals across the country, released today by professional membership body the Energy Institute.

Business Green 19th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 20 June 2018

Cybersecurity

MPs are concerned hackers could threaten UK’s nuclear capabilities, according to a new study. In 2017, the UK was hit by a cyber-attack on the NHS and another that interfered with parliamentary emails. And a year on, a survey of politicians has revealed that two thirds of MPs believe such threats are among the biggest cyber security risks facing the UK. A YouGov survey of 100 MPs, published ahead of a Commons meeting on cyber security, revealed 62 per cent believe the risk to critical national infrastructure is serious. Forty-two per cent of Tory MPs questioned said that one of the most serious threats the country faces is the potential for hackers to compromise the country’s nuclear capabilities.

London Evening Standard 19th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 20 June 2018

New Nuclear

The British government’s plan for a fleet of new nuclear power stations took a major step forward earlier this month with the announcement that it could take a direct stake in the planned project at Wylfa in Wales, marking a historic shift in policy. But the news about Wylfa comes on the heels of controversy over Hinkley Point C – a massively expensive project that EDF has failed to deliver elsewhere in the world – and Toshiba’s aborted nuclear plant at Moorside. If problems like this continue, and these large plants fail to arrive on time, then the UK’s decarbonisation targets, not to mention its energy security, could be significantly undermined. (Video includes interview with Bridget Woodman)

Unearthered 20th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 20 June 2018

Energy Transition

Dr Jeremy Leggett: When the G7 leaders agreed to push for a phase out of fossil fuels in June 2015, few suspected they could take the rest of the world with them. But at the Paris climate summit six months later every independent nation on the planet agreed to join them. The cynics argued that their Paris Agreement would never come into force, but in November 2016 it did. Now, all the 197 signatories of the treaty are taking action, with more than 1,500 climate laws & policies in place. These are not yet in sum enough to hit the Paris target, but governments have built a ratchet – a mechanism for racking up targets in the years ahead – into their agreement. A complete system change in world energy ought to be redolent with investment opportunity. And around the world, the beginnings of that system change are beginning to become clear. Some snapshots. The International Renewable Energy Agency reports that renewable electricity prices will be consistently undercutting fossil fuel electricity by 2020. Solar energy was the biggest single sector for new global power capacity additions in 2016 and 2017. In 2017, global solar capacity grew faster than all fossil fuels and nuclear combined for the first time. All China’s new power demand in 2015 was met with wind and solar. Fully 43% cities are now 100% renewable powered, and hundreds more are zeroed in on that target. 122 giant companies with “RE 100” targets have already procured renewable electricity on such a scale that, were they a nation, they would be a bigger consumer than Poland, and 24th in the world. One of them, Google, reached 100% renewables on 4th April 2018, despite the demand created by a host of energy-guzzling data centres. Apple joined them on 10th April. In America, the first coal plant has been shut down to be replaced by solar simply because the cost of building new solar is lower than the cost of continuing to operate coal. More than 10 million people now work in renewables for the first time, 3.4 million in solar.

Fund Forum 365 18th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 20 June 2018

US

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Nuclear Energy has awarded nearly USD64 million to 89 projects for nuclear energy research, facility access and crosscutting technology and infrastructure development. The funds will be provided to DOE national laboratories, industry and 39 US universities in 29 states.

World Nuclear News 19th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 20 June 2018

US – radwaste

Michael Shellenberger: Everybody wants to do something about nuclear waste. Nuclear plant operators and most House members want to bury it in Nevada. A bipartisan group of senators wants states to compete for it. And Bill Gates and other entrepreneurs want to reuse it as fuel in next generation reactors. Almost everybody is wrong to do so. Nuclear waste has never been a real problem. In fact, it’s the best solution to the environmental impacts from energy production. Consider: Every year, the lives of seven million people are cut short by waste products in the form of air pollution from burning biomass and fossil fuels; No nation in the world has a serious plan to prevent toxic solar panel and wind turbine waste from entering the global electronic waste stream; No way of making electricity other than nuclear power safely manages and pays for any its waste. In other words, nuclear power’s waste by-products aren‘t a mark against the technology, they are its key selling point.

Forbes 19th June 2018 read more »

Friends of the Earth and 30+ other environmental and citizens groups in the US have jointly called for a science and consent-based approach to finding a GDF site, saying: “The primacy of geologic disposal as the solution for nuclear waste is consistent with more than 50 years of scientific consensus … No other solutions are technically, economically or ethically viable over the long term for the environment and human society.”

Posted: 20 June 2018

Renewables – solar

UK solar power growth halves for second year running. Labour says figures show government’s commitment to green energy is ‘nothing but an empty PR move’. New solar power installations halved in the UK last year for the second year in a row, as the fallout of government subsidy cuts continued to shake the sector. Labour said the figures showed the government’s commitment to green energy was “nothing but an empty PR move”. The UK numbers were so poor that they caused overall EU solar growth to flatline at a time when record amounts of new solar were added globally. Europe’s solar trade body said the UK had the slowest growth of the world’s top 20 solar markets, the lowest prospect for growth among its European peers in coming years and the worst political outlook. James Watson, the chief executive of SolarPowerEurope, said: “Solar power has been voted the most popular energy source in the UK, it is therefore sad to see the UK government not take advantage of the huge potential of solar.” New solar capacity in the UK declined to 0.95GW last year, down from 1.97GW in 2016 and 4.1GW in 2015. The fall was so steep that the UK acted as a drag on the EU as a whole. “Even though 21 of the 28 EU markets showed growth, this wasn’t enough to compensate for the British losses,” the trade body said in a new report. By 2022, SolarPowerEurope forecasts the UK will add just 2.1GW of solar, while Germany will add 20GW, France 11.7GW and Spain 8.8GW.

Guardian 19th June 2018 read more »

Edie 19th June 2018 read more »

In response to the rate of solar installation in the UK halving for the second year in a row, Kate Blagojevic, Head of Energy at Greenpeace UK, said: “Just as they did with onshore wind power, the government has once again identified a clean energy technology destined to dominate the twenty first century, and are doing everything in their power to prevent the UK from benefiting. In both cases they have successfully crushed young, growing industries with rapidly shrinking costs, and redirected their political and financial support to nuclear, an old, shrinking industry with rapidly growing costs. Blocking some of the most promising technologies and subsidising the biggest failures is about as far as you can get from an economically rational energy policy, and that’s what Britain needs now.”

Greenpeace 19th June 2018 read more »

Posted: 20 June 2018