A Korean nuclear company that has been rocked by a domestic safety scandal is close to becoming a major investor in the UK – a development that could hit public confidence in the country’s much-vaunted nuclear renaissance. Korea Electric Power, or Kepco, is in talks to join the NuGen consortium, which has an option to build a reactor near Sellafield in Cumbria. Last month, Korean authorities said that after a five-month investigation, it had ascertained that 277 of 22,000 documents related to safety tests on parts at 20 reactors had been faked. They said they had indicted 100 people, including senior executives at state-run energy companies, on corruption charges. These included a former chief executive at Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) and a vice-president of Kepco. The scandal has cast a pall over South Korea’s international ambitions for its nuclear industry. The country aims to become the world’s third-largest exporter of nuclear technology by 2030 and sell 80 reactors worldwide over the next 20 years. A key milestone came in 2009, when it unexpectedly won a $20bn deal to sell nuclear plants to Abu Dhabi.
FT 19th Nov 2013 read more »
Westinghouse Electric Co. is expected to seal a deal to take over Iberdrola 50% stake in the U.K. nuclear consortium NuGeneration Ltd. by late January or early February, a person familiar with the situation said. A deal is vital to resurrect a NuGen project to build a large nuclear-power station in Northern England that has recently foundered as Spanish utility Iberdrola is focuses on debt reduction. The company is restructuring its assets at a time the European economic crisis has weakened electricity demand and has made financing big projects more difficult. The survival of the plan to construct a power station with 3.6-gigawatts of capacity in West Cumbria is important for the United Kingdom’s government, which has made building new nuclear projects a priority to help meet greenhouse-gas emission-reduction targets and as aging coal plants and old nuclear reactors are set to be decommissioned over the next decade. To start, NuGen will likely need to ask the U.K. government for an extension on its option on the land where it wants to build the new power station as it is unlikely to meet a deadline to submit a planning application for it before the end of 2014, according to people in the industry. Westinghouse also needs to get its AP1000 nuclear reactor licensed for use in the U.K., and that process could take several years.
Wall Street Journal 19th Nov 2013 read more »
The Hitachi owned company Horizon Nuclear Power has opted to build fewer nuclear reactors at a proposed nuclear plant in Wales. This means capacity will be 1.3GW lower than it might otherwise have been. Hitachi bought the firm from RWE npower and E.ON last year and said at the time it planned to build two to three Advanced Boiling Water Reactors (ABWR) at each of the plants proposed by Horizon at Wylfa in Anglesey and Oldbury in Gloucestershire. Horizon has now announced only two of the three 1.3GW reactors will be built at the Wylfa site. In a statement the firm said: “Designs are being worked up for two ABWR units as part of a single power station.”
Energy Live News 20th Nov 2013 read more »
Construction News 19th Nov 2013 read more »
Carbon Floor Price
The UK’s carbon price floor is an unpopular policy. Green campaigners say it’s a Treasury money-spinner with little effect on emissions, while industry says it’s disadvantaging UK companies in the global market. So why is the measure so universally disliked, and what would happen if the government cuts it? Despite its unpopularity, however, the policy is likely to be tenacious. The government may consider relaxing it slightly, but is unlikely to cut it. Why? Because other measures depend on it, and it brings cash into Treasury coffers. When David Cameron looks at the ‘green’ policy measures on his list, he’s likely to factor that into his calculations.
Carbon Brief 19th Nov 2013 read more »
According to the Office of Budget Responsibility, during 2013/14 the Climate Change Levy (CCL) and the new Carbon Floor Price together will raise £1.5bn for the Treasury. The Carbon Reduction Commitment – originally an imaginative trading scheme, now just a revenue raiser – levies some £0.74m. And receipts from the EU emissions trading scheme (EU:ETS) add a further £0.7bn. These green taxes will net the Treasury £3bn this year. Additionally, total VAT tax take from residential sector fuel is now up at £2bn a year, compared with just £1bn ten years ago. Even the latest announced price hike nets the Treasury an extra £180m from VAT. All this completely dwarfs the amounts which the Big Six energy companies are told to raise, amounts that – with the exception of the smart meter programme – were around at similar rates last year too. In contrast, it is the green taxes on the productive part of the economy that are soaring. To quote the latest figures from HM Revenue and Customs, the introduction of the carbon floor price in April is pushing up the combined tax receipts from it and the CCL by a whopping 93.6 per cent since last year. And the carbon floor price is set to rise astronomically. By 2015/16 it is set to be up around £2bn a year. Which, to cite its bitter opponents, the Engineering Employers Federation, means that at the current EU:ETS price trajectory, this UK policy intervention will ensure that UK electricity consumers will be paying more than six times as much per tonne of CO2 as our European competitors. Even so, a wide range of energy intensive companies are being compensated by the Treasury: there are separate compensation schemes for EU ETS and the CCL discount (the only compensation linked to efficiency out of these three), running into hundreds of millions of pounds. What do households get in compensation for these taxes that increase the costs of the goods they buy? Nothing. The Prime Minister is seeking to alter policies that cause problems for householders. The answer is staring him in the face. Don’t mess around with the Energy Company Obligation. Instead recycle much of these energy tax revenues into household energy efficiency, starting with the worst off, to reduce people’s bills sustainably and permanently.
ACE 19th Nov 2013 read more »
PIONEERING technology could reduce the volume of nuclear waste by 90 per cent – meaning fewer journeys to transport radioactive material to and from Sellafield. A team of experts from Sheffield University have this week published news of a unique technique which encases radioactive plutonium in glass rather than concrete. The discovery has been described as a “game changer” for future nuclear storage in the UK by study leader Professor Neil Hyatt of the university’s department of materials, science and engineering. He said: “If we can reduce the volume of waste that eventually needs to be stored and buried underground, we can reduce the costs considerably. At the same time, our process can stabilise the plutonium in a more corrosion-resistant material.” The overall volume of plutonium-contaminated waste from across the UK, around 31,000 metres cubed, is thought to be enough to fill the clock tower of Big Ben several times over but Prof Hyett claims the new method could reduce this to the equivalent of one clock tower.
NW Evening Mail 19th Nov 2013 read more »
Radiation & Health
A new study finds that radioactive Iodine from Fukushima has caused a significant increase in hypothyroidism among babies in California, 5,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean. A new study of the effects of tiny quantities of radioactive fallout from Fukushima on the health of babies born in California shows a significant excess of hypothyroidism caused by the radioactive contamination travelling 5,000 miles across the Pacific. The article will be published next week in the peer-reviewed journal Open Journal of Pediatrics. Joe Mangano and Janette Sherman of the Radiation and Public Health Project in New York, and Christopher Busby, guest researcher at Jacobs University, Bremen, examined congenital hypothyroidism (CH) rates in newborns using data obtained from the State of California over the period of the Fukushima explosions.
Ecologist 19th Nov 2013 read more »
Atkins, the UK engineering group, has snapped up a nuclear safety and design consultancy firm based in the US. Nuclear Safety Associates (NSA), which employs 130 people, will come under the Atkins umbrella once the US government approves the deal. No financial terms were disclosed. The acquisition is part of Atkins bid to corner the energy consultancy market. It said the deal would allow NSA to “expand its well established project and client base”.
City AM 20th Nov 2013 read more »
Money AM 19th Nov 2013 read more »
Nuclear vs Climate
The lack of progress at United Nations talks to agree a deal to tackle global warming is calling into question the insistence of many environmental groups that low-carbon nuclear power can never be the answer. Japan dismayed many at the 195-nation conference last week by saying it would fail to reach its greenhouse gas emissions targets for 2020 after the 2011 Fukushima disaster because it is replacing nuclear power with the fossil fuels gas and oil. In Europe, more coal is being burnt due to cheap U.S. exports displaced by the U.S. shale gas boom. The continent’s biggest economy, Germany, is also phasing out its nuclear plants by 2022. Most environmental groups advocate scaling up renewable energy such as wind and solar power but do not support nuclear due to safety issues, cost, and the time it takes to build. But some experts say their stance is too narrow, making it harder to agree an effective deal in 2015 to cut greenhouse gases and keep temperature rises within safe limits of 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit). “If you are thinking seriously about holding climate change to no more than 2 degrees you can’t afford to rule out any of the low-carbon technologies,” said Nicholas Stern, chair of the Grantham Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics. “You need to be investing in all of them – including nuclear,” he told Reuters.
Reuters 19th Nov 2013 read more »
Japan – Fukushima
The man in charge of Japan’s crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has warned that the meltdown of the plant in 2011 contains important lessons for the British government and its plans to build new nuclear power stations. Naomi Hirose, president of the company that runs Fukushima, Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), said the triple meltdown following the earthquake and tsunami in Japan was a “warning to the world” and that Britain’s nuclear industry must be “prepared for the worst”. Speaking to the Guardian, he said that despite what the nuclear industry and the public wanted to believe, nuclear power was not 100 per cent safe.
Telegraph 19th Nov 2013 read more »
Guardian 19th Nov 2013 read more »
Fukushima Crisis Update 15th to 18th November. Work to remove over 1,500 nuclear fuel assemblies from a storage pool from the Fukushima Daiichi’s reactor #4 building began this week. The plant’s operator TEPCO announced that the first day’s work had been “safety completed”. According to TEPCO, workers took just under three and a half hours to lower the container for the assemblies into the storage pool and load four fuel assemblies into it. Once there are 22 assemblies inside the container (or cask) it will be moved to another common fuel storage pool and the assemblies unloaded.
Greenpeace 19th Nov 2013 read more »
SIR PAUL McCARTNEY showed his support for victims of Japan’s 2011 nuclear disaster by inviting a group of those affected to his concert in Tokyo on Monday night.
Express 19th Nov 2013 read more »
WENN 19th Nov 2013 read more »
Contact Music 19th Nov 2013 read more »
US – nuclear security
Bungling nuclear worker-turned-armed-robber jailed after he was caught stealing getaway vehicle while disguised as an old woman in plot inspired by Affleck movie. A former nuclear plant employee in Chicago was the mastermind of a wild scheme involving an armoured car heist, car theft, money laundering and smuggling guns and steroids.
Daily Mail 18th Nov 2013 read more »
Czech Republic – new reactors
A new Czech government is in the final stages of being formed, but its make-up will probably mean further delays at the very least for the state utility CEZ’s costly nuclear tender. On the biggest energy issue, CEZ’s controversial project to double the capacity at the Temelin nuclear power plant at an estimated cost of €8bn-12bn, the new government is likely to stick to the line that it should be completed, but that further delays to choosing a winner are inevitable. Currently, the Russian-Czech consortium of Atomstroyexport, Skoda JS and Gidropress is fighting it out with the Japanese-US firm Westinghouse for the contract, after France’s Areva was turfed out of the tender under controversial circumstances in October 2012.
Business News Europe 19th Nov 2013 http://www.bne.eu/story5532
Iran – nuclear talks
Barack Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry might this week be forgiven for feeling a little like Geoffrey Howe in 1990, who famously described his European diplomacy as “rather like sending your opening batsmen to the crease, only for them to find that their bats have been broken before the game by the team captain”.In diplomatic terms, the matches rarely come bigger than this. Today, officials from Iran will reconvene in Geneva after a two-week break with counterparts from the six countries to negotiate what might be the most important breakthrough in the nuclear dispute for a decade. An agreement is tantalisingly close. But, in some quarters, the atmosphere is hysterical. Israeli and American politicians warn that the US is on the verge of “another Munich”. Others think that the US and Iran will strike a grand bargain – leaving traditional US allies, such as Israel and the Arab monarchies, discarded. The biggest risk to diplomacy is that the US Congress proceed with its threat to impose yet more sanctions on Iran. The team captain would be breaking Kerry’s bat in the middle of a fine over.
Independent 20th Nov 2013 read more »
Iran and Western powers appear to be inching closer to a historic preliminary deal to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions as they prepare to resume negotiations in Geneva.
Sky News 20th Nov 2013 read more »
Telegraph 20th Nov 2013 read more »
China’s president told his Iranian counterpart to “seize the opportunity” to improve relations with world powers, as diplomats head to Geneva hoping to clinch a preliminary deal to ease a nuclear dispute between Tehran and the West.
Reuters 20th Nov 2013 read more »
Differences between Iran and the west that have so far prevented a historic nuclear deal appear to have narrowed considerably as negotiators gather for a new round of talks in Geneva on Wednesday.
Guardian 19th Nov 2013 read more »
Renewables – Offshore Wind
Soon after the announcement in 2009 that 32GW of offshore wind would be deployed “by the early 2020s”, and a few years after that the government revealed its own expectations had slid to 18GW, although the industry was insistent that its ambitions still reached beyond that. Then this year with the unveiling of the strike prices in the Energy Bill, we saw the government was now looking at somewhere between 8GW and 16GW. Last week, another government document revealed DECC was predicting the lower end of that range, showing 8.01GW of offshore wind by 2020, rising to 8.41GW if gas prices are high and falling to 7.81GW if they are low. Given that we already have 3.6GW in the water, these levels essentially require relatively limited expansion over the next six years, particularly when set against the original goals. Industry insiders have warned government that the proposed strike prices demand virtually unachievably fast cost reductions. While the initial £155/MWh in 2014/15 would be sufficient to secure investment, many fear the steep 10 per cent degression in the years that follow may be too much too fast. One source told BusinessGreen that if the planned levels were confirmed it would “kill the industry dead”. With the strike prices to be confirmed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) in the next few weeks, developers are likely to be ramping up the pressure on government to relax the degression levels. But, given the restrictions of the Levy Control Framework (LCF) and demand from the Treasury for further spending cuts, it remains to be seen whether any such change will come.
Business Green 18th Nov 2013 read more »
Energy Efficiency – Green Deal
More than 1,000 households have begun to install Green Deal measures, according to the latest government figures. The Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) said 1,173 households had committed to install measures under the scheme – such as solar panels and insulation – at the end of October, compared to 954 the previous month. But only 219 of these households had measures installed. Some 360 properties had quotes accepted on work and 594 properties had installations “pending”. DECC said 101,851 Green Deal assessments had been carried out, up from 85,177 at the end of September.
Daily Telegraph 19th Nov 2013 read more »
Energy Efficiency – ECO
SUPERGLASS chief executive Alex McLeod has written to Prime Minister David Cameron to demand changes to the energy company obligation (Eco), one of the UK government’s flagship energy-efficiency schemes. The boss of the Stirling-based insulation maker has called for Eco to be altered so that it encourages households to install low-cost loft and cavity-wall insulation rather than more expensive energy efficiency measures, such as replacing boilers. McLeod expects the coalition to unveil a review of its environmental levies as part of Chancellor George Osborne’s autumn statement on 5 December.
Scotsman 20th Nov 2013 read more »
Herald 20th Nov 2013 read more »
Proposals for a huge new opencast coal mine in Midlothian have been given the go-ahead. The plans will see 10 million tonnes of coal excavated over 10 years at the 500-acre Cauldhall site near Penicuik. Nine councillors voted in favour of the mine, which planning officers recommended be approved because it is in the national interest.
BBC 19th Nov 2013 read more »
Scotsman 20th Nov 2013 read more »
Herald 20th Nov 2013 read more »