22 June 2013

Nuclear Subsidies

The EU could delay access to the new contracts for difference (CfD) subsidy mechanism for clean energy in the UK beyond the April 2014 target launch date, ICIS has learned. The CfDs will let companies sell low-carbon generation on the wholesale market at a set strike price, as part of the UK’s forthcoming electricity market reform. However, the European Commission has to approve the CfD model before it can come into force, as it constitutes state aid. The Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) has said this approval could take about 18 months, and the process has not yet begun. This adds to the uncertainty surrounding the CfD structure, which industry sources say are undermining investor confidence. Jonathan Brearley, DECC’s director of the electricity market reform, told ICIS he was unsure of the approval timelines. “It is my current understanding that the process will take less than that [18 months to two years] for renewables [excluding nuclear generation].” Brearley added that aid to renewables such as onshore and offshore wind are likely to be approved faster than nuclear and carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology. “I’ve heard varying reports on how long the CfD for nuclear would take to be reviewed by the Commission – from between one-and-a-half to five years,” a lawyer specialised in energy said. Years of delay may not impact new nuclear plants, such as EDF’s 3.2GW Hinkley Point C project, however, since they take about a decade to build. “As long as EDF has the confidence that the CfD will be approved by the Commission, a delay of several years would not matter much since Hinkley Point C will not start generating energy until 2024,” UBS utilities analyst Stephen Hunt told ICIS. “This is a pressing issue for low carbon generators other than nuclear.”

ICIS 21st June 2013 read more »

Alan Simpson’s submission to the Environmental Audit Committee: The overarching conclusion of this submission is that Britain gets poor value from the elaborate web of energy market subsidies it operates; subsidising the past rather than the future, old technologies rather than new, the unsustainable rather than the sustainable, and a closed cartel in preference to a more open energy democracy. The current subsidy framework acts as a roadblock to market transformation, rather than a pathway to it.

Alan Simpson (accessed) 22nd June 2013 read more »

Radwaste

Letter Bill Hamilton NDA: As a public body, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has a duty to deliver value for money. Moreover, all nuclear site operators have a regulatory requirement to optimise site operations. There is no proposal to “dump” radioactive waste at Bradwell or at any other NDA-owned site. Our first decommissioning priority is hazard reduction, which includes the safe, secure and environmentally responsible interim storage of intermediate level waste (ILW) until geological disposal becomes available. Currently, the plan is to build an interim storage facility at each Magnox reactor site to store the ILW from that site. A number of interim stores have already been constructed, with several more stores planned. In the interests of value for money to the taxpayer, we are exploring whether there is a business case for reducing the number of new stores that need to be built. There could also be environmental benefits from building fewer stores. The option of storing ILW from a small number of other sites at Bradwell, which already has an ILW store, is one of a number of options under consideration. Our intention to explore the potential benefits of building fewer interim storage facilities was first made public in our strategy published in 2011, on which we engaged widely and consulted publicly. We are engaging openly and transparently with stakeholders on the options under consideration and will consult on our preferred option(s) at the appropriate time. Furthermore, any decision that requires a change to existing storage plans will require consultation and local planning permission.

Guardian 21st June 2013 read more »

The issue of nuclear waste is nothing if not divisive, and the stakes couldn’t be higher. “One percent of this problem would still be a huge problem,” said activist and author Ace Hoffman. “Nuclear power has failed humanity and continues to do so. There is no such thing as clean nuclear power and never will be. It is physically impossible to make this process safe and clean.”

Tech World 21st June 2013 read more »

Sellafield

The consortium running Sellafield has put a new man in charge of a number of its key nuclear activities. Ian Hudson, who lives in Whitehaven, has been appointed general manager for Nuclear Management Partners (NMP). One of his main roles will be to spearhead NMP’s commitments to deliver economic benefits for west Cumbria.

Cumberland News 21st June 2013 read more »

US

A storage tank holding radioactive waste at a decommissioned nuclear weapons site in Washington state may be leaking but poses no immediate threat to public safety, state and federal officials said on Friday.The underground tank is one of 28 double-walled containers into which waste from older, single-shell tanks was pumped during a decades-long cleanup at Hanford Nuclear Reservation, according to Lori Gamache, a U.S. Energy Department spokeswoman.In October, officials determined waste was leaking in the primary tank but had not breached its outer shell. Then on Thursday, workers found increased radioactivity levels in pumps used to remove water and sediment from the tank’s “leak detection pit,” Gamache said.

Reuters 21st June 2013 read more »

Japan

Have you ever tried to dodge your responsibility for something? Maybe in a small way, many of us do. But I doubt you dodge responsibility the way the nuclear industry does or the way Japanese Prime Minister Abe does. In Tokyo yesterday, Greenpeace Japan held a news conference to talk about PM Abe and the blinkers he wears about nuclear power. The room was packed. More than 100 attended, including 27 journalists from TV, a newspaper, a wire service and online news, and four members of the Diet. They were interested in what we had to say about PM Abe’s sales tour in recent months, shaking hands over empty nuclear promises. Turkey, India, Poland and United Arab Emirates have all been his targets. The crowd at the news conference heard about the problems with nuclear plans in Turkey from campaigner Aslihan Tumer and about the situation in India from campaigner Karuna Raina. The two answered questions for more than five hours. From Aslihan they learned about the anti-nuclear movement in Turkey. She also talked about the death of the so-called nuclear renaissance since the Fukushima disaster and the emergence of renewable energy. For example, in 2012 enough new renewables were built to produce the equivalent energy of 20 nuclear plants. Without the risks.

Greenpeace 21st June 2013 read more »

Fukushima Crisis Update 18th to 20th June. TEPCO said this week that it has discovered high levels of radioactive strontium-90 and tritium in a well located just 27 meters from the Pacific Ocean, and was forced to admit that it sat on the information for nearly a month before revealing the news to the public.

Greenpeace 21st June 2013 read more »

Around 360 litres of radioactive water was found leaking at the Fukushima nuclear plant (pictured) in Japan. Owner Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said it had suspended operations at the desalination unit earlier today after the leak was detected. The affected unit removes salt from contaminated seawater used to cool reactors after radioactive materials have been filtered out.

Energy Live News 21st June 2013 read more »

Japanese diplomat Akio Matsumura (photo, left) has written an introduction to essays by Dr. Gordon Edwards (President of Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility), and Dr. Helen Caldicott (Founding President of Beyond Nuclear), about the management — or lack thereof — of the radioactively contaminated cooling water and groundwater, that has come to be the most demanding and dangerous issue that Tepco has faced since 2011 at the devastated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan. Gordon explains how the water — a whopping 800 tons per day, which then Tepco has to store and prevent from leaking into the environment — becomes radioactively contaminated in the first place. Tepco has resorted to vast “tank farms” of surface storage tanks, especially after underground storage tanks were discovered to be leaking in April. However, the surface storage tanks have now also been discovered to be leaking, as well. Besides that, Tepco has sought to simply release 100 tons of radioactively contaminated water per day into the Pacific, for lack of storage space — a move that local fishermen, trying to re-establish some semblance of a livelihood, despite the widespread radioactive contamination of seafood, are fiercely resisting.

Beyond Nuclear 19th June 2013 read more »

Trident

Letter from Labour MPs and others: Many people would prioritise spending on health or education, on infrastructure, job creation or supporting the vulnerable rather than on replacing Britain’s Trident nuclear weapons. Others would argue that spending over £100bn on a cold war weapons system – rather than maintaining our troops or combating cyber warfare – is detrimental to the national interest. Many of us see that there is no strategic, economic or moral case for nuclear weapons, but others who think otherwise. It remains a controversial debate (Cheers in the sun as Obama promises nuclear cuts, 20 June). A decision on the replacement of Trident is due to be taken in 2016. If the Labour party is to form the next government, now is the time to debate it, in an open fashion, to arrive at an informed policy – leaving aside past prejudices – in Britain’s best interests. For Labour to regain trust in its ability to govern openly and transparently, it must show it is confident enough in its own processes to have it. This year’s Labour party conference is the time to debate this crucial issue.

Guardian 21st June 2013 read more »

Fossil Fuels

A new report out last week from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) has doubled estimates of “technically recoverable” oil and gas resources available globally. The report says that shale-based resources potentially increase the world’s total oil supplies by 11 per cent. This can only: “… provide a temporary reprieve from having to deal with the real problems: fossil fuels are finite, and production of new fossil fuel resources tends to be increasingly expensive and environmentally damaging.”

Guardian 21st June 2013 read more »

Geoffrey Lean: Here’s a rare thing: a sensible ministerial decision on planning and energy. Yesterday it was announced that granting planning permission for shale gas exploitation would remain with local councils rather than, as expected, being seized by central government. Perhaps counter-intuitively, this increases the chance that fracking will be publicly accepted.

Telegraph 21st June 2013 read more »

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Published: 22 June 2013