22 December 2015

Nukes vs Climate

Peter Bradford: In the 15th year of the era formerly known as “the nuclear renaissance,” not a single molecule of carbon dioxide emission has been avoided by a renaissance reactor built in the United States or in Europe. Unless the 40-year-old Watts Bar 2 reactor scheduled to operate in Tennessee early in 2016 is called “renaissance,” this situation will not change for several more years. Climate change, so urgent and so seemingly intractable, has become the last refuge of nuclear charlatans throughout the Western world. From well-meaning ideologues and editorial writers claiming that the unknowable is theirs to state with certainty, to paid advocates more skilled in pleasing and persuading government officials than furthering consumer and environmental well-being, prophetic arguments have swollen from a stream to a river and now merge with the Seine in Paris, threatening to submerge the world under a layer of nonsense rising as inexorably as the seas themselves. James Hansen, perhaps the most visible of the climate scientists who advocate heavy reliance on breeder or other innovative reactor designs without paying any attention to their track record of long and costly failure, has become ever more reminiscent of Groucho Marx leaping from a paramour’s bed to confront a disbelieving husband with: “Who are you going to believe, me or your eyes?” The op-ed that Hansen and three other scientists signed from Paris says that by building 115 reactors per year from now until 2050, we could eliminate fossil fuels from the electric sector. What these four nuclear horsemen don’t mention is that, using the cost of Britain’s proposed Hinkley station as a proxy (even though breeders and their attendant reprocessing facilities would surely cost more), this commitment would cost some $2 trillion per year, or $70 trillion altogether. Making assumptions about renewables and efficiency plus electrical storage capacity that are more plausible than Hansen’s assumptions about an immediate reversal in the fortunes of breeder reactors, equivalent carbon reductions can be achieved at much lower cost and in less time, leaving money over for continuing research and development, even nuclear R&D.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 17th Dec 2015 read more »

Amory Lovins: Advocates insist that sustaining and expanding nuclear power is essential for climate protection. Yet intractably, inexorably, the global nuclear enterprise continues its slow-motion decline for lack of a business case. Nuclear power produced 9 percent less electricity in 2014 than at its 2006 peak. Its share of global electricity generation peaked at 17.6 percent in 1996, fell to 10.8 percent in 2014, and will keep falling (says the IAEA) as retirements soon outpace additions: Power reactors average 29 years old. Other challenges aside, nuclear power of any kind is so many decades behind in cost and scaling that it can never catch up. Climate imperatives only reinforce the need to invest judi¬ciously, not indiscriminately. It’s time to stop diverting more taxpayer billions to the well-intentioned but commercially failed nuclear dream (the decoded meaning of “keeping nuclear power on the table”), and to do what works, makes sense, and makes money. Just follow the first rule of holes: When you’re in one, stop digging.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 18th Dec 2015 read more »

You would think after convening in Paris for a week that the world’s leaders could have reached some sort of consensus about whether nuclear would be part of the climate future. But the issue now seems as murky as ever. Since the accord amounted to little more than an agreement to agree, it is not surprising that there were no lightning bolts carving out a clear path for nuclear. Each of the countries is free to choose its own route to lowering carbon emissions and it appears now that the situation will be the same as before COP21 (the 21st meeting of the Conference of Parties) – some will go with nuclear, some won’t.

Real Clear Energy 21st Dec 2015 read more »

Just east of the Homestead-Miami Speedway, off Florida’s Biscayne Bay, two nuclear reactors churn out enough electricity to power nearly a million homes. The Turkey Point plant is licensed to continue doing so until at least 2032. At some point after that, if you believe the direst government projections, a good part of the low-lying site could be underwater. So could at least 13 other U.S. nuclear plants, as the world’s seas continue to rise. The industry is now reevaluating its flood risks, and hatched a strategy it calls FLEX, where key backup equipment is stationed at multiple locations so it can be shuttled to a distressed plant. This way, instead of defining a theoretical crisis—a storm surge of a certain height, a hurricane by category—ahead of time, says Jim Riley of the industry’s Nuclear Energy Institute, “we’re saying, give us the event and we’ll deploy the equipment.” Some think more needs to be done, faster. “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been slow to implement those Fukushima lessons learned,” says Matthew McKinzie, nuclear program director at the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council. “Nuclear safety is a work in progress.”

National Geographic 16th Dec 2015 read more »

Dounreay

A secret plan to ship nuclear weapons-grade uranium from Dounreay to the US has been condemned by a Highland anti-nuclear campaigner. According to the Sunday Herald, the UK Government is preparing to transport 5kg of enriched uranium by sea to the US government’s nuclear power complex at Savannah River in South Carolina. The uranium is contained in five research reactor fuel assemblies that were airlifted in emergency out of the former Soviet republic of Georgia in 1998 to prevent them being stolen and made into nuclear bombs.

Press and Journal 21st Dec 2015 read more »

National Nuclear Laboratory

The Department of Energy and Climate Change today announced the appointment of Sir Andrew Mathews as chair of the National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) with effect from January 2016. He succeeds Richard Maudslay CBE. Sir Andrew has been a Non-Executive Director of the NNL since June 2014. He is a nuclear engineer whose career in the Royal Navy included posts as Chief of Materiel (Fleet) and Director General Nuclear and Submarines.

DECC 21st Dec 2015 read more »

Radhealth

Whereas, Sellafield Nuclear site, in the UK, apparently paid someone to kill deer stuck in the Sellafield fence, the Savannah River Nuclear site in South Carolina has people pay to hunt (and presumably eat) radioactive deer. In so doing, they are actually cleaning up the nuclear site, as radiation leaves with the deer carcasses, and much is held in the bones and antlers. “Hunts will be conducted on Wednesdays and Saturdays starting in November and lasting through December… If you are selected, the hunt fee is $130.00 per person.” The Savannah River Site tests deer for Cesium 137, only, before the hunters leave the site.

Mining Awareness 21st Dec 2015 read more »

Toshiba

Toshiba Corp. forecast a record ¥550 billion loss for the current fiscal year following an accounting scandal and is now planning 7,800 job cuts and restructuring businesses that include televisions, personal computers and home appliances. The figure would eclipse the firm’s largest net loss to date of ¥398.8 billion posted in the year through March 2009 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Toshiba is narrowing the scope of its business lines after filing false financial statements, partly to conceal the waning performance of its personal computer operations, a mainstay within the electronics and power equipment maker’s consumer brands. The company said Monday it is pruning its TV and PC businesses to sharpen its focus on energy and memory and will keep selling off property and investments.

Japan Times 21st Dec 2015 read more »

Fukushima

Fukushima radiation just off the North American coast is higher now than it has ever been, and government scientists and mainstream press are scrambling to cover-up and downplay the ever-increasing deadly threat that looms for millions of Americans. Following the March 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, reactors have sprayed immeasurable amounts of radioactive material into the air, most of which settled into the Pacific Ocean. A study by the American Geophysical Union has found that radiation levels from Alaska to California have increased and continue to increase since they were last taken.

Intellihub 20th Dec 2015 read more »

The Japanese government is planning to launch a business plan to re-use decontaminated soil from Fukushima Prefecture as construction material. The Environment Ministry disclosed the draft plan on Monday. The 2011 nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi power plant tainted soil in the region with radioactive substances. Decontaminated soil will be kept in intermediate storage facilities within Fukushima Prefecture. It will be transferred outside the prefecture within 30 years for final disposal. The government needs to secure enough space to accommodate 22 million cubic meters of the decontaminated soil. An Environmental Ministry panel of experts has been discussing ways to reduce the amount of decontaminated soil. The panel is proposing that a project be set up to test existing technology that removes radioactive substances in soil. The soil in turn will be used as construction material for building roads and sea walls.

Fukushima is still happening 21st Dec 2015 read more »

Japan

Japanese cities are entering the renewable-energy business, the latest phase in a shake-up of the nation’s power sector in the aftermath of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis. So far, about 14 cities have formed companies to generate clean energy from local resources and sell it to area businesses and homes. With full deregulation of the nation’s electricity markets set to begin next year, the government aims to have 1,000 such city-operated companies up and running by 2021 in a direct challenge to regional power monopolies.

Wall St Journal 20th Dec 2015 read more »

Germany

A recent editorial at Reuters charged that German nuclear policy is uncoordinated, particularly because the cost of nuclear waste disposal is still unclear. In reality, Merkel’s 2011 phase-out was a return to a former plan only briefly abandoned. And Germany’s phase-out budget looks pretty good internationally. In “Exit now, pay later: Germany’s rushed farewell to nuclear power,” the Reuters authors argue that Germany has decided to shut down its nuclear reactors without knowing how to finance reactor decommissioning and final waste disposal. The analysis is correct, as the numerous quotes by German energy experts show. But is it different anywhere else? The next day, Reuters published a different report showing that the German phase-out fund should contain 4.7 billion euros per reactor, compared to 3.3 billion in the UK – and “just 1.2 billion in France.” The German provisions could thus fall a third short and still be in line with the UK – and three quarters short to be at the French level. Maybe Germany is the only one of those three countries that has somewhat realistic provisions.

Energy Transition 21st Dec 2015 read more »

US

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is preparing guidance documents on licence renewal applications to extend reactor operating lives beyond 60 years. The regulator has also approved its sixth licence renewal for a dry cask storage facility for used fuel, at the Prairie Island plant.

World Nuclear News 21st Dec 2015 read more »

The US Department of Energy is launching a consent-based process to site spent fuel storage and disposal facilities, as well as a separate repository for defense high-level waste, and expects to be in the second phase of that process by the end of next year, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in an interview Friday. This will mark a revamping of the country’s approach to managing and disposing utility spent fuel. DOE efforts to deal with utility spent fuel have been in limbo since 2010, when the department dismantled the high-level waste repository project at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, in part because of the state’s opposition to that proposed disposal facility.

Platts 21st Dec 2015 read more »

Cumbria Trust 22nd Dec 2015 read more »

Russia

An emergency stop of the second power unit of Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant took place on Friday, December 18, at 13:50. The reason for the stop and cooling of the reactor was a sudden leak of radioactive steam from a faulty pipe in one of the rooms of the turbine shop. Both the turbines that serve the reactor were stopped. During the cooling-down step, the reactor steam was ejected through the pipe into the environment. A south-southeast wind of 5 meters per second (not typical for this area) blew the radioactive steam toward the Gulf of Finland, in the direction of Vyborg – Zelenogorsk. The radiation background in the center of Sosnovy Bor, 5 km from the emergency unit, at 17:00 was measured by Green World and was 20 μR/hr (typical background level). Thus, the five millionth city of St. Petersburg, located 40 km east of the Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant was fortunate this time. According to some sources, the radiation level rose a few times higher than the background radiation only in the NPP area.

Green World 20th Dec 2015 read more »

Renewables

The House of Lords EU Committee publishes its report into EU energy governance and states that the EU-wide binding 2030 renewables targets will not be delivered unless it is backed-up by a monitoring and enforcement mechanism that acts as a guarantor for the agreement, and ensures that Member States share the effort equitably.

Parliament 18th Dec 2015 read more »

100% Renewables

From Silicon Valley to the East Bay to the Central Coast, a “people’s power” movement is sweeping through California that will give local residents a choice to ditch PG&E and buy cleaner — and possibly cheaper — energy from the cities and counties where they live. To its proponents, the idea is a no-brainer. But to its critics, it’s just a lot of hype — a feel-good solution that will lead to unstable prices, empty promises and — at least for the time being — no additional green energy. Overseen by a team of energy experts and a board of elected officials, new community-run utilities are buying power from the grid, procuring a higher percentage of renewable energy — think solar and wind, as well as methane from dairy cows — than PG&E, while aiming for a price around or even below the giant utility’s rates. The new power systems also are charged with developing more local renewable energy.

Mercury News 29th Nov 2015 read more »

Demand Side Management

Tempus Energy has today announced it has raised £3.78m through its latest funding round, taking the total amount secured this year by the demand management technology specialist to just short of £5m. The latest funding was secured from high net worth individuals and existing shareholders and came as the company also announced that John Coomber, former CEO of the Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC) and former group CEO of Swiss Reinsurance, is to join the Tempus Energy board. Tempus Energy is one of a number of companies targeting the expanding market for demand management technologies. It makes use of algorithms, a smart trading platform, advances in smart controls, internet of things technologies, energy storage and smart meters to help customers harness flexible thermal load in their own assets and building management systems to slash their electricity bills.

Business Green 21st Dec 2015 read more »

Green Investment Bank

The Westminster Parliament’s green watchdog has warned the Government that its proposed privatisation of the Edinburgh-based UK Green Investment Bank must not go ahead unless it ensures that the Bank’s guiding renewable energy objectives are protected and strengthened. MPs on the Environmental Audit Committee have criticised the Government for taking the decision to privatise GIB without due transparency, publication of relevant evidence, consultation, or proper consideration of alternatives.

Scottish Energy News 22nd Dec 2015 read more »

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Published: 22 December 2015