Mass delusion is an unrecognised malign force in politics. Shared accepted wisdom is often a harbinger of future catastrophes. Almost every time all major Parties agree on any project, they are wrong. Faith in the value of drugs-prohibition is evidence-free and prejudice rich. Three Prime Ministers and their Parties were bewitched by the blandishments of Kids Company. The Pied Power of nuclear power has enchanted and deceived with impossibilist promises. But the consensus of the gullible is breaking down. Boris Johnson spotted that the nuclear Emperor has no clothes. He said the mega-subsidy of taxpayers £2 billion (perhaps rising to £10bn) is an “extraordinary amount of money to spend”. Treasury officials are becoming twitchy and nauseous at the prospect that they are incubating a looming financial cataclysm. The magnitude of the future scandal could rival those of the Groundnuts scheme and the South Sea Bubble. The financial deal has an incredible history. All the sensible investors fled years ago. Centrica abandoned a £200 million investment. The near bankrupt EDF has no choice. They hope that their €30 billion debt could be reduced by this desperate gamble. The Chinese’s long-term plan is to use their designs in all future UK reactors, including Bradwell, to establish world dominance for their nuclear technology.
Paul Flynn 4th Dec 2015 read more »
Even before Storm Desmond had finished wreaking havoc in Cumbria and Scotland, the nuclear industry took it upon itself to transport a cargo of plutonium fuel from Dounreay, Caithness to Sellafield on a rail network already highly compromised by extensive flooding, landslide and signalling failures. The first of a series of consignments of so-called ‘exotic fuels’ – consisting of unirradiated plutonium fuel from Dounreay’s Prototype Fast Reactor (PFR) – arrived at Sellafield on Monday 7th December, hauled by the NDA’s wholly owned subsidiary Direct Rail Services and under high levels of security. For the transport to have completed its 400 mile journey at Sellafield on 7th December, departure from the northern tip of mainland Scotland must have begun the previous day, the 6th December. On that day, few in Cumbria and Scotland – particularly around the Carlisle and Border areas – will have been in any doubt as to the full extent of the mayhem and destruction inflicted on those areas by the storm. This included a crippling of mainline and minor rail systems which had drawn the warning from Network Rail’s Route Managing Director – on 6th December – that “the unprecedented amount of rainfall and high winds have taken a significant toll on the railway… North of Carlisle station, we have to wait for eight feet of water to recede before we can carry out extensive safety checks and repairs – including rebuilding a host of complex electrical and signalling equipment which is currently underwater. We have a lot of work to do to ensure the railway is safe and able to be used’. CORE’s spokesman Martin Forwood said today: “It beggars belief that the decision to risk the plutonium fuel transport was taken despite the widely trailed storm evidence and rail warnings. We condemn the perverse decision as being dangerously irresponsible and as a blatant breach of the stringent safety and security rules required for such transports. Those responsible have shown a level of incompetence that verges on criminal and should be weeded out so that public and rail safety is not similarly endangered again. If any public confidence at all in such transports is to be salvaged, answers on the decision making must be given and lessons learned”.
CORE 12th Dec 2015 read more »
Nuclear vs Solar
The main justification for the devastating cuts being proposed to support for small to medium scale clean renewable energy is to save consumers money. Cuts that will cost thousands of jobs, countless community owned energy projects and the UK’s place as a global leader on climate action. We know renewable energy has a lot of benefits – it brings people together and generates clean power. But just how does it stack up when we put money into the equation? We dug into the numbers on the cost of solar and the cost of Britain’s latest bit of energy tech: Hinkley Point C.
Keep Fits 17th Sept 2015 read more »
Nukes vs Climate
Delegates to the big climate-change conference near Paris this week focused on a plan that would limit global average temperature increases to 2-degrees centigrade by the end of this century. Despite pleas from some of the world’s leading climate scientists, including former NASA climatologist James Hansen, delegates have not fully embraced the potential of nuclear energy to meet that potential. Today, nuclear plants produce two-thirds of the electricity worldwide that does not produce the greenhouse gas emissions that the conference sought to diminish — no CO², no methane. Many of the same environmentalists who ardently advocate greenhouse gas reductions also oppose nuclear power for other reasons, including water usage, the high-damage potential of nuclear accidents and, most importantly, radioactive waste disposal.
Citizens Voice 12th Dec 2015 read more »
100 good reasons against Nuclear Power. Nuclear power undermines all efforts undertaken to reshape our energy supply system. Nuclear power ties up capital, blocks power lines and prevents the decentralised expansion of renewables. Above all, however, it generates billions of profits and a great degree of influence for exactly those groups of companies that have been obstructing renewable energies and energy saving efforts for decades.
Elektrizitätswerke Schönau (accessed) 12th Dec 2015 read more »
Even a successful fiction writer would be unlikely to attempt to pull off an absurd conceit whereby the self-styled “greenest-ever” government hands out subsidies to the most heavily polluting companies just as it prepares to approve a global climate change treaty. And yet last week British ministers did just that as a scheme developed under their electricity market reform programme gave £170m to energy companies so that they could build new diesel generators to run for 15 years. To make matters worse, some of these diesel farms are owned by companies specifically set up by wealthy investors to take advantage of tax breaks through the Enterprise Investment Scheme. And these projects are all submitted on a one-by-one basis so that each falls under a 20 megawatt power threshold – above which they would not be allowed to operate, as they would break EU rules on pollution.
Observer 13th Dec 2015 read more »
Shares in Centrica, the owner of British Gas, have fallen 25pc so far this year after it was forced to reduce customers’ energy bills and cut the dividend by 30pc. And the worst may not yet be over as oil prices continue to fall and interest rates begin to rise.
Telegraph 12th Dec 2015 read more »
US – new reactors
Plant Vogtle’s Price Tag Climbs to $21 Billion as Commission Experts Predict Further Delays and Cost Increases for Southern Company’s Proposed Reactors.
Clean Energy 11th Dec 2015 read more »
As the Paris climate summit kicked off two weeks ago, venture capitalist Peter Thiel penned a scathing op-ed for the New York Times, decrying the plight of nuclear power in the U.S. He cited a stagnant regulatory environment unable to adapt to innovative new reactor designs, and continued public hysteria over safety and radioactive waste disposal, as the primary culprits holding us back from a bright nuclear-powered future. Thiel makes some valid points. But what’s really killing nuclear power in this country is garden-variety economics: in the emerging energy market of the 21st century, nuclear just can’t compete — particularly with ultra-cheap natural gas. It matters because natural gas plants emit greenhouse gases, while nuclear plants do not. The International Energy Agency has estimated that we need to double global nuclear capacity by 2050 to meet the 2 degree Celsius cap on global warming set by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Other countries are stepping up — there are 437 nuclear reactors in operation worldwide, and some 66 reactors being built — but the U.S. is closing more old plants than it is building new ones. And renewable energy sources, while growing rapidly, won’t be able to fill the gap on their own.
Gizmodo 12th Dec 2015 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
The number of bags of waste from decontamination efforts around the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant reached a little under 9.16 million as of the end of September according to Fukushima Prefecture and the Environment Ministry. The 1-cubic-meter bags are found at some 114,700 interim storage or decontamination sites across the prefecture. In the town of Tomioka — covered by a nuclear disaster evacuation order — mounds of bags have grown so tall that they obscure the power shovels used to move and stack the waste, the black balls covering every sliver of landscape.
Mainichi 10th Dec 2015 read more »
Civic groups and atomic bomb survivors on Saturday criticized the Japanese government for agreeing with India to work toward sealing a civil nuclear cooperation pact, fearing the move might lead India to divert the technology to weapons production. Some 150 civic group members and others gathered in front of the prime minister’s office in Tokyo, holding banners such as “We cannot create peace with nuclear” and protesting, “We oppose the Japan-India nuclear deal.”
Japan Times 12th Dec 2015 read more »
We cannot afford to be unconcerned about China’s moves to accelerate construction of nuclear power plants. Is the safety of these facilities ensured? According to the World Nuclear Association, 30 nuclear reactors are currently operating in China. Japan has 43, but as the restart of the nation’s idled reactors is lagging, China is effectively fourth on the list of nations with the most nuclear power plants — behind the United States, France and Russia. The administration of Chinese President Xi Jinping is planning to further increase the number of nuclear power plants to cope with the nation’s serious air pollution, which stems from coal-fired power generation, and increasing energy demand. According to local media reports, Beijing will build six to eight nuclear reactors annually in the next five years. By 2030, the number is set to reach 110, surpassing the 99 in the United States. One major concern is that information about nuclear power plants in China is extremely limited.
Japan News 12th Dec 2015 read more »
Renewables & Grids
The company responsible for more than one-third of Germany’s electricity grid says there is no issue absorbing high levels of variable renewable energy such as wind and solar, and grids could absorb up to 70 per cent penetration without the need for storage. Boris Schucht, the CEO of 50 Hertz, which operates the main transmission lines in the north and east of Germany – and which is 40 per cent owned by Australia’s Industry Funds Management – says the industry’s views of renewable energy integration has evolved rapidly in the past decade.
Clean Technica 11th Dec 2015 read more »
Green Investment Bank
Controversial plans to privatise the government’s Green Investment Bank (GIB) have run into serious trouble in parliament amid fears among MPs and peers that the sale will strip it of any legal requirement to back exclusively green projects and promote a low-carbon economy. Key figures in government have admitted that the sell-off has become hugely problematic, because ministers have been told the switch to the private sector has to include rule changes that will release the privatised bank from any duty to invest solely in green businesses or causes. Ministers, and officials at the GIB – which is often cited by David Cameron as evidence of his commitment to green causes – have even been forced to admit under questioning by MPs that a privatised bank would “technically” be free to invest in projects such as fracking.
Guardian 13th Dec 2015 read more »
Governments have signalled an end to the fossil fuel era, committing for the first time to a universal agreement to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to avoid the most dangerous effects of climate change. After 20 years of fraught meetings, including the past two weeks spent in an exhibition hall on the outskirts of Paris, negotiators from nearly 200 countries signed on to a legal agreement on Saturday evening that set ambitious goals to limit temperature rises and to hold governments to account for reaching those targets.
Guardian 12th Dec 2015 read more »
A historic, legally binding climate deal that aims to hold global temperatures to a maximum rise of 1.5C, staving off the worst effects of catastrophic global warming, has been secured. Economist Lord Stern added: “This is a historic moment, not just for us but for our children, our grandchildren and future generations. The Paris agreement is a turning point in the world’s fight against unmanaged climate change which threatens prosperity. It creates enormous opportunities as countries begin to accelerate along the path towards low-carbon economic growth.” Economist Lord Stern added: “This is a historic moment, not just for us but for our children, our grandchildren and future generations. The Paris agreement is a turning point in the world’s fight against unmanaged climate change which threatens prosperity. It creates enormous opportunities as countries begin to accelerate along the path towards low-carbon economic growth.” Kumi Naidoo, Greenpeace international director, added: “The deal puts the fossil fuel industry on the wrong side of history. But emission targets are not big enough. The nations that cause this problem have promised too little help to those people who are already losing their lives and livelihoods.”
Observer 13th Dec 2015 read more »
Independent 12th Dec 2015 read more »
THE world last night agreed a historic climate deal aimed at driving greenhouse gas emissions down from the current 46bn tons a year to almost zero within the next 50 years. If fulfilled, it would see 195 signatory countries weaning themselves off fossil fuels completely within just a few decades and switching to a mix of nuclear power and renewables, especially solar and wind power. While supporters of the agreement celebrated, a leading critic denounced it as “cynical posturing”. Amber Rudd, the energy and climate change secretary, after emerging from the heavily guarded conference centre in Paris, said: “This deal will ensure all countries are held to account for their climate commitments and gives a clear signal to business to invest in the low carbon transition.” David Nussbaum, chief executive of WWF-UK, praised Rudd’s role in the talks but said it was hard to reconcile it with UK government decisions to slash funding for renewables, scrap building standards designed to make homes more energy-efficient and reduce support for low-carbon vehicles.
Sunday Times 13th Dec 2015 read more »
A final agreement adopted at the world climate summit in Paris last night heralds the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era, according to experts, investors and environmentalists. Lauded as a historic breakthrough by political leaders, the 31-page Paris Agreement was endorsed by a long and emotional standing ovation by representatives of 195 countries after two weeks of late-night negotiations, and 20 years of international diplomacy. According to Lang Banks, the director of WWF Scotland in Paris as an observer, the fossil fuel industry was “now living on borrowed time”. He said: “If governments are to stay true to keeping global temperature rises well below 2°C, then greater amounts of fossil fuels will need to remain in the ground.” He called on the Scottish Government to start meeting its targets to cut climate pollution. “Next week’s budget provides an opportunity for the Scottish Government to set out meaningful policies, such as a clear, long term plan for improving energy efficiency,” he said.
Herald 13th Dec 2015 read more »
Don’t be fooled by Foreign Minister Fabius and President Hollande’s grand speeches about seizing once in a lifetime opportunities to change the world. The deal signed today in Paris does a sum total of nothing to prevent not just 2 degrees warming, but runaway, planetary emergency style climate change. The much-publicised reference to 1.5 degrees warming is just that – a reference, not an obligation to keep below a level of warming that voices from the global south say might, just might mean they have a chance to stay alive. When measured against the People’s Test on Climate, the Accord de Paris fails on every point. But if this is where you stop reading and switch over to the iPlayer to numb the pain – don’t! What the Paris Climate talks have done is not just about the deal signed here today. When the COP21 circus came to town so did an incredibly vibrant, energetic, solutions-focused hoard of people who are already leading the way to solve this crisis we face. All over Paris creative demonstrations of people power have been taking place despite the state of emergency. The three peaceful actions that took place across the city today are a case in point: activists had to re-think everything after the horrific terrorist attacks last month. With no time to spare, we didn’t only re-think them, we made them even more empowering and impactful.
FoE Scotland 12th Dec 2015 read more »
As the Paris climate change conference closed, Dr Richard Dixon, Director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “Despite the hype and the extra day of negotiations, the Paris climate talks have failed to deliver a deal that urgently tackles the climate crisis and the needs of those most vulnerable to its impacts. With bullying tactics and throwing in some piecemeal pledges, rich countries have pushed through an Agreement that spells bad news for people and the planet. “By delaying critical action to cut greenhouse gas emissions and failing to put sufficient finance on the table leaders have effectively signed a death warrant for millions of the poorest people around the world.”
FoE Scotland 12th Dec 2015 read more »
Analysis of the Climate Deal.
Carbon Brief 12th Dec 2015 read more »
The Paris agreement on climate change refers to limiting temperature rises to 1.5C above the pre-industrial average, and includes a “ratchet mechanism” of five-yearly reviews of progress, commencing in 2019. Together, this powerful combination could lead to full decarbonisation by the middle of the century. The depth of the agreement beyond national politics is also important. Bill Gates committed to the largest green innovation fund ever, mayors of 1,000 cities committed to 100 per cent renewable energy by 2050, and the talk in business circles was all about opportunity, rather than cost. Beginning in 2016, leaders will have to begin to live up to their pledges. If we are to limit temperature rise to 1.5C, delay by even a single year will be costly. The world is already at 1C, and the carbon budget (the amount of atmospheric carbon we can emit before reaching 1.5C) is half what is allowable under a limit of 2C. In a very short time we will be out of carbon budget to stay below 1.5C, so regardless of how fast we limit fossil fuels, we will need to invest in third-way technologies to capture CO2 from the atmosphere. A world committed to a 1.5C limit will need to phase out the burning of coal before 2030, and to have decarbonised transport systems before 2050. This represents an enormous opportunity for clean energy technologies. Wind and solar will need to increase rates of implementation several times over, and the deployment of electric vehicles, along with alternative fuels for aviation and shipping, will need to accelerate sharply.
Independent 12th Dec 2015 read more »