21 February 2012

New Nukes

Centrica is seeking clarification from the Government on key financing and cost issues before making decisions about whether to continue its nuclear power partnership with EDF and build four new nuclear plants in Britain at an estimated cost of £20bn. The British Gas parent wants more details about how the Government’s electricity market reforms will affect the programme and is pressing for further guidance on the fiscal framework and the complex contracts for differences. It is also in detailed talks with its French partner and consortium leader about the total costs of the first station, Hinkley Point C in Somerset where contracts worth £250m have already been let to British companies. Centrica which has a 20pc share of the partnership is expected to provide more details of the outstanding issues with the release of full year financial figures this week. Hinkley still needs planning approval and clearance for the reactor technology and a decision to go ahead is not expected before the end of the year.

Telegraph 20th Feb 2012 more >>

New nukes depend on subsidies; and Huhne’s plan was to give ’em a guaranteed inflated electricity price via a combination of feed-in tariffs and contracts-for-difference, but at an as-yet unknown strike price. When is the UK government going to show the dog the rabbit? Centrica management, the Telegraph says, “might need to reassure the City that its nuclear ambitions remain on track to create expected returns”. What happens if Sarkozy loses to the (anti-nuke) Socialists? Soes EDF have the necessary credit rating (being essentially an arm of the down-rated French state) ?

Capitalist at Work 20th Feb 2012 more >>

Renewable energy has a role in reducing carbon emissions, but the greenest solution may yet be nuclear. Nuclear energy, received Scottish wisdom as purveyed by First Minister Alex Salmond tells us, is unsafe, unreliable, and yesterday’s technology. But what if nuclear reactors were designed that could not melt down, produced little waste, or even consumed existing waste as fuel? If they were economic, might they not become a highly desirable technology of the future?

Scotsman 21st Feb 2012 more >>

Dounreay

EXPERTS have discovered the most significant radioactive particle yet on a public beach two miles west of Dounreay. Dounreay clean-up contractor DSRL has informed the Scottish Environment Protection Agency of additional tests being carried out on a particle recovered during routine monitoring of a beach near the redundant nuclear site. The particle was detected at the water’s edge at Sandside, where more than 200 particles have been found in the last 15 years. Provisional checks carried out on the beach indicated the particle had a higher than normal beta dose rate. A spokesman for DSRL said it was the first time a particle classed as significant – the highest classification in terms of radioactivity – had been found on the beach, although many had been found on the seabed and foreshore at Dounreay as well as on the site itself. Any particle with radioactivity above one million Becquerel (Bq) units is classed as significant.

Herald 21st Feb 2012 more >>

Scotsman 21st Feb 2012 more >>

Radwaste

Adopted Position of Above Derwent Parish Council by unanimous resolution 15th February 2012. We believe that “West Cumbria” should now withdraw from the MRWS process because: We have no confidence in the Right of Withdrawal; We are convinced by the argument that nowhere in Cumbria has suitable geology; We believe that it is a waste of time and money to continue the process in Cumbria when there are other, more promising, areas in England.

Radiation Free Lakeland 20th Feb 2012 more >>

Hinkley

Power giant EDF has begun court action to remove protesters who have set up camp on land earmarked for the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear power station. The company served papers on activists occupying farmland on Saturday.

Western Daily Press 20th Feb 2012 more >>

It would be an accident waiting to happen if Electricité de France (EdF) were allowed to extend the life of their ageing fleet of advanced gas-cooled reactor (AGR) nuclear power stations. EdF announced their intention on the 16th February in what looks like a desperate move to keep their nuclear power generation going in the UK as investors shy away from new nuclear build that is increasingly looking like a white elephant. Among the numerous risks facing investors is that trends in the energy market suggest there will be no market for nuclear power. And potentially by 2020, customers could buy their electricity more cheaply from booming photovoltaic technology in Italy or other cheaper renewable sources across Europe rather than be constrained to buy from UK/French nuclear energy providers.

Stop Hinkley 20th Feb 2012 more >>

EDF Energy has signed a £100m+ contract with a Kier BAM joint venture for site preparation works at Hinkley Point C nuclear power station.

Construction Index 20th Feb 2012 more >>

Construction News 20th Feb 2012 more >>

City AM 21st Feb 2012 more >>

Sizewell

Sizewell Camp 20th – 22nd February 2012.

Transition Bungay 20th Feb 2012 more >>

Nuclear Police

FEARS have been raised that the policing of power stations could be compromised by a proposed Government shake-up. The Defence Police Federation warns that a Government proposal to merge the UK’s two nuclear police forces would not only be costly and messy, but could create a conflict of interest between protecting Britain’s weapons and its power stations. The Ministry of Defence and the Department of Energy and Climate Change have launched a study into whether amalgamating MoD police, which looks after nuclear bomb bases and other military sites, and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary, which has responsibility for nuclear power plants, would be viable.

Chelmsford Weekly News 20th Feb 2012 more >>

UK/France

The UK Prime Minister David Cameron has signed a joint framework agreement with French President Nicolas Sarkozy to collaborate in the development of civil nuclear energy projects. The deal in line with UK government’s commitment to nuclear energy as it plans to build a diversified energy mix. The two governments will work together with the International Atomic Energy Agency to establish a joint framework for cooperation and exchanging good practices on civil nuclear security. The framework is expected to strengthen international capability to react to nuclear emergencies.

Energy Business Review 20th Feb 2012 more >>

Britain and France have signed a landmark deal to cooperate on civil nuclear energy. New agreements cover cooperation on civil nuclear security, research and development and nuclear education and training.

Nuclear Engineering International 20th Feb 2012 more >>

Uranium

FANS of the cock-up theory of events got a boost this week when Areva, a French nuclear-energy one-stop shop, said there had been no fraud in its disastrous purchase of UraMin, a Canadian start-up firm with mining assets in Namibia, the Central African Republic and South Africa, in 2007 for $2.5 billion. The acquisition had simply been badly managed, it said, leading Areva to overpay. Last December the company took a €1.46 billion ($2 billion) charge against the acquisition, resulting in a huge operating loss for 2011. Others suspect a plot.

Economist 18th Feb 2012 more >>

Germany

Solar photovoltaics are bringing down the cost of electricity in Germany, and electricity exports to France have been increasing!

Oil Price 20th Feb 2012 more >>

Spain

Spanish nuclear regulator CSN is supporting the continued use of the 466MW Santa Maria de Garona nuclear power plant until 2019. CSN’s evaluation clears the way for owner Nuclenor to extend its operating licence beyond July 2013. Nuclenor must apply for the extension to Spain’s industry ministry by 6 September this year to give CSN time to carry out a technical appraisal before Garona’s current licence expires. Garona renewed its operating licence and requested a 10-year extension in 2009. The Spanish government granted a four-year licence, with the condition that the plant upheld safety standards. Nuclenor is a 50:50 joint venture between Spanish utilities Endesa and Iberdrola.

Argus media 21st Feb 2012 more >>

Japan

Kansai Electric Power Co. said Friday it will suspend its only remaining active reactor — the No. 3 reactor at the Takahama nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture — for a regular checkup early Tuesday, leaving only two of Japan’s 54 commercial reactors online.

Mainichi 18th Feb 2012 more >>

On Monday, Japan closed another nuclear reactor, bringing its total number of nuclear reactors to just two out of an original 54 in operation before the devastating March 2011 earthquake and tsunami. The two nuclear reactors, according to Bloomberg News data, operate with a capacity of 2,268 megawatts, or 4.6 per cent of the total.

IB Times 21st Feb 2012 more >>

Tepco, the operator of the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, has opened up the site to journalists for the second time, weeks ahead of the anniversary of the March 11 disaster. (Video)

Telegraph 20th Feb 2012 more >>

The manager of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan has conceded that it will be very difficult to remove the facility’s melted nuclear fuel, but dismissed fears that one of the damaged reactors had started overheating again. “Our main challenge is to now remove the nuclear fuel from the reactors,” Takeshi Takahashi told visiting journalists on Monday. “Technically it’s a very difficult problem, but we want to take it step by step.” Fears rose this month that fuel in the No 2 reactor was heating up again, prompting the plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) to inject more cooling water along with boric acid, which is used to prevent a nuclear chain reaction. Asked repeatedly to explain the dramatic rise in temperature, Takahashi said the cause had been traced to a faulty thermometer, one of three inside the unit.

Guardian 20th Feb 2012 more >>

A year since the Fukushima nuclear plant was destroyed, the fight to prevent disaster goes on. In an exclusive dispatch from the reactors, David McNeill becomes the first European journalist to revisit Japan’s ground zero.

Independent 21st Feb 2012 more >>

China

In a bid to avert experiencing the same fate of its fellow Asian neighbor, China’s National Energy Administration (NEA) on Monday announced it has started a series of 13 research and development projects aimed to improve emergency response mechanisms in cases of “extreme disasters” related to nuclear power plants failure.

IB Times 21st Jan 2012 more >>

Korea

Three South Koreans have been arrested for rigging share prices by spreading false rumours about a nuclear accident in North Korea, police said Tuesday. The three, including a 19-year-old college student, were accused of spreading groundless claims on January 6 that a reactor in the North had exploded, leaking dangerous levels of radioactivity. They allegedly sent such rumours to market analysts and brokers through online messaging services, sending share prices falling more than two percent at one point.

AFP 21st Feb 2012 more >>

Turkey

Much of Europe may be moving towards cleaner power but in Turkey the story is somewhat different. EUAS, the country’s state-owned electricity company, was due in early February to sign a memorandum of understanding with two South Korean groups on a USD 2 billion coal fired power plant. It is also moving ahead with plans for 2 nuclear plants. That contrasts strongly with European figures – 71% of new power generating capacity in the European Union last year came from renewable energy sources.

Modern Power Systems 20th Feb 2012 more >>

Bahrain

Bahrain has abandoned its plans to adopt nuclear power as an alternative power source, according to the country’s Energy Minister Dr Abdulhussain Mirza. The Kingdom had been exploring nuclear energy as an alternative power source, but scrapped the idea following an explosion that crippled Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant last year, Dr Mirza told the Shura Council yesterday.

Trade Arabia 21st Feb 2012 more >>

Iran

UN nuclear inspectors have arrived in Tehran for the second time in a month to discuss Iran’s nuclear programme.

BBC 20th Feb 2012 more >>

Yorkshire Post 20th Feb 2012 more >>

Scotsman 21st Feb 2012 more >>

Independent 21st Feb 2012 more >>

“This is a make-or-break situation,” said Mark Hibbs, an expert on nuclear proliferation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “The Iranians have to understand the language of the IAEA report will be critical to the views of the P5+1 powers and the non-aligned countries. If it says Iran did not co-operate, Iran will be isolated in the boardroom. It will be much more difficult for Russia and China to veto further sanctions.”

Guardian 20th Feb 2012 more >>

UN inspectors have been barred from visiting nuclear sites after arriving in Iran to get answers on the country’s disputed nuclear ambitions.

Metro 20th Feb 2012 more >>

The inspectors want to meet Iranian nuclear scientists and visit the Parchin military complex – a conventional weapons development facility outside Tehran. IAEA inspectors visited the site in 2005, but only saw one of four areas of potential interest within the grounds.

Morning Star 20th Feb 2012 more >>

Iran has announced it will hold military exercises to boost protection of its nuclear sites. A military statement said drills would be held in southern Iran to counter “all possible threats, especially to public, important and nuclear centres”.

BBC 20th Feb 2012 more >>

Telegraph 20th Feb 2012 more >>

THE Middle East will descend into an arms race if Iran is allowed to develop nuclear weapons, MPs were warned last night. Speaking in a Commons debate, Foreign Secretary William Hague said that if the Tehran regime managed to construct a viable weapon, its neighbours would be forced to build their own nuclear warheads too. With Israel believed to be considering using its nuclear arsenal to prevent Iran arming, there were already concerns that the situation in one of the most volatile regions in the world could spiral out of control.

Scotsman 21st Feb 2012 more >>

Letter from Kate Hudson: Wise words indeed from John Mueller. Aggressive counter-proliferation policies come with a massive human cost – you only need to look at Iraq to see the consequences. And the lessons are clear: current escalation of tension over Iran’s nuclear programme must not take us there again. All the indications are that an attack on Iran would start a protracted war which would be ruinous for the region and have significant economic and resource consequences for the wider world. It would be good to see the nuclear weapons states getting off their soapboxes about Iran, reflecting on the consequences of their own nuclear weapons possession, and taking some serious diplomatic steps to resolve the actual nuclear problems of the region. This year sees a major UN conference to secure a WMD-free zone in the Middle East. Backing from the US and UK to bring all parties to the table – including nuclear-armed Israel – would be a major step forward for the region.

Guardian 20th Feb 2012 more >>

Nuclear Weapons

While the “international community” is focused on ensuring Iran doesn’t get its hands on a nuclear weapon, today’s chart of the day looks at just how well-armed some of its members are.

The Staggers 20th Feb 2012 more >>

Renewables

Scotland moved a step closer to a greener future last week following government approval of the nation’s first near shore commercial wave power array, which will power more than 1,000 homes. Consent has been given for two new Oyster devices to be added to an existing installation to create the commercial array. Meanwhile, Siemens has taken a majority stake in ocean energy firm Marine Current Turbines. Scotland’s first near shore commercial wave power array, which will power more than 1,000 homes, has been approved by Energy Minister Fergus Ewing. Two new Oyster wave energy converters will be added to an existing device at the European Marine Energy Centre (EMEC) at Billia Croo, Orkney, to allow operators Aquamarine Power to test the devices as an array. Each of the machines has a capacity of 800 Kilowatts, bringing the total capacity of the array to 2.4MW.Although the mac hines are demonstrators, the array will be the first near shore wave array in Scotland to be connected to the National Grid, and will supply enough electricity to power more than 1,000 homes.

Renewable Energy Magazine 21st Feb 2012 more >>

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Published: 21 February 2012
Last updated: 18 October 2012