23 January 2016

EDF

Unions are to hold an urgent meeting with EDF Energy executives amid speculation that the company wants to cut more than 2,000 jobs in Britain. Concern among staff escalated yesterday after reports in France that EDF, the state-run giant that owns EDF Energy, is planning 6,000 redundancies worldwide. There are fears that the company is intending to cut up to 2,500 jobs in retail operations in Britain over the next few years through natural attrition. Eamon O’Hearn Large, national officer for the GMB union, said: “A number of employees have expressed concern about the figures being bandied around and we are extremely concerned and seeking urgent clarification.” Les Echos, the financial daily, said that the company wanted to reduce its worldwide workforce from 160,000 to 154,000 by 2019, mainly affecting EDF Energy, the British division that boasts six million customers and 15,000 employees. EDF, which is building the next generation of Britain’s nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset, said on Thursday that it would trim 5 per cent of its 67,000 posts in France by 2018 by not replacing workers who retired or left. The reports come as EDF plans to modernise its ageing nuclear power stations in France. The original cost estimate was €55 billion, but that was cut to €51 this week. The company is also engaged in tense talks over its plans to buy the reactor unit of Areva, the crisis-torn state-run French nuclear company, for about €2 billion. Critics fear that the deal will saddle EDF with Areva’s widely criticised new EPR reactors. One, at Olkiluoto in Finland, was supposed to be completed in 2009, but will not come on stream until 2018, at the earliest. A second, in France, was meant to be operational in 2012 at an overall construction cost of €3.3 billion. It will now enter service in 2018 at a cost of €10.5 billion — assuming that all goes to plan. David Cameron has ordered the same model for Britain.

Times 23rd Jan 2016 read more »

A new report reveals the most praised and criticised global brands when it comes to campaigns waged against them by non-governmental organisations (NGOs). An annual report compiled by SIGWATCH, a private research firm, showed that Shell, Monsanto – a US multinational agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology firm – and the World Bank were the most heavily criticized by NGOs. Volkswagen – thanks to the ‘dieselgate’ scandal; Adani, an Indian multinational conglomerate dealing in resources and energy; along with French energy company, EDF, joined the global 20 most criticised corporations for the first time.

Business Tech 21st Jan 2016 read more »

Hinkley

WITH the final investment decision on Hinkley rumoured to be just around the corner, one of the most affected parishes is celebrating after getting the green light for a £2.4m project to improve their village hall. Stogursey Victory Hall will see new and improved sports facilities for the village, after West Somerset Council approved £400,000 of Hinkley CIM funding to go on the project at their full council meeting on Wednesday, January 20. The parish is likely to feel the effect of Hinkley Point C more than any other as every HGV going in and out of the construction site will drive through the parish, with around 1 in 6 people in Stogursey expected to part of the Hinkley workforce, plus they will be affected by the construction itself, which has been given permission to work 24 hours a day.

Bridgwater Mercury 22nd Jan 2016 read more »

Plutonium

Two armed ships set off from the northwest of England this week to sail round the world to Japan on a secretive and controversial mission to collect a consignment of plutonium and transport it to the US. The cargo of plutonium, once the most sought-after and valuable substance in the world, is one of a number of ever-growing stockpiles that are becoming an increasing financial and security embarrassment to the countries that own them. So far, there is no commercially viable use for this toxic metal, and there is increasing fear that plutonium could fall into the hands of terrorists, or that governments could be tempted to use it to join the nuclear arms race. All the plans to use plutonium for peaceful purposes in fast breeder and commercial reactors have so far failed to keep pace with the amounts of this highly-dangerous radioactive metal being produced by the countries that run nuclear power stations.

Climate News Network 22nd Jan 2016 read more »

Sellafield

The UK’s Sellafield Ltd plans to make efficiency savings to be able to work within its £2 billion ($2.85 billion) budget for the next financial year as the site “enters the most crucial period in its modern history”. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) secured the sum for Sellafield Ltd as part of the government’s Spending Review, announced in November last year. From April 1, the NDA is to take ownership of Sellafield Ltd, as part of reforms to management of the site. The budget announcement was made in the NDA’s draft business plan, which was published on 5 January. It marks an increase in Sellafield’s £1.9 billion budget for the current financial year and “underlines the NDA’s commitment to securing progress in the site’s clean-up program”, Sellafield Ltd said yesterday. However, the company said it “has made clear that further efficiency savings will be required in order to deliver the scope of work planned for 2016/17”.

World Nuclear News 22nd Jan 2016 read more »

Prolferation

Back in 2010, US President Barack Obama launched the Nuclear Security Summit process, a series of high-level global meetings aimed at locking down or eliminating loose nuclear materials. Many of the 47 countries that attended made and fulfilled pledges to reduce their stockpiles, but there was no universal measuring stick to evaluate where they stood or how they progressed. In 2012, the Nuclear Threat Initiative helped fill that gap when it came out with the first Nuclear Security Index. For the first time, the world had a baseline assessment of nuclear materials security in 176 countries. Last week the Nuclear Threat Initiative published its third Index, which contains both sobering news and useful tools for the nonproliferation community as it prepares for the fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit at the end of March. After the index was released, Bulletin contributing editor Elisabeth Eaves interviewed former US Senator Sam Nunn, who is co-chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and perhaps most famous as co-architect of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, which for more than two decades provided assistance to former Soviet states to help secure and destroy old weapons of mass destruction.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 21st Jan 2016 read more »

Nuclear facilities across the world have little or no real security to help protect themselves against cyberattacks, according to new analysis. The third edition of the Nuclear Threat Initiative’s (NIT) Nuclear Security Index found that close to half the countries assessed by the organization do not have a single requirement in place to protect their nuclear facilities from such attacks. Worryingly, only nine of the 24 countries with ‘weapons-usable nuclear materials’ achieved the maximum score for cybersecurity, suggesting that many have underestimated the seriousness of this growing threat. China, Argentina, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, Italy, Belgium and Iran were just a few of the countries found to be lacking in adequate levels of security.

We Live Security 21st Jan 2016 read more »

Energy Policy

Lord Bourne has openly contradicted the party line often put forward by the Department of Energy and Climate Change that subsidies paid to renewable technologies leads to fuel poverty. Speaking to the Energy and Climate Change (ECC) select committee yesterday, the parliamentary under secretary of state claimed he did not see a link between the two issues. “I don’t see there being a connection there to be honest. I think fuel poverty is linked to poor housing very often and the out of work, whether unemployed or at home due to disability or illness. I think there’s much more of a causal link there,” he said. This is in direct opposition to statements made by energy minister Andrea Leadsom during the second reading of the Energy Bill that took place in the House of Commons last night. During the session, the energy secretary said: “[The opposition] need to understand that the more we subsidise technologies, the more we add to fuel poverty.”

Solar Portal 20th Jan 2016 read more »

The energy policy black hole created by the conservatives clearly has an insatiable appetite, consuming all manner of energy related policies – FiTS, Green Deal, Roc’s, Zero Carbon homes, chunks of ECO (the remainder of which is perilously close to the edge). The key thing about a black hole is that nothing gets out – all of these policies have gone for good.

Plymouth Energy Community 22nd Jan 2016 read more »

A recent presentation by the BDI (the Voice of German Industry) put forward a simple, but powerful, message in support of the German Energiewende. It argues that German industry has managed to improve its energy intensity (total primary energy supply divided by units of GDP, slide 2); described the energiewende targets from 2010-2050 (slide 3); set out what it thinks the global market potential is for products necessary to meet the energiewende’s targets, and what percentage of that global market Germany hopes to capture (slide 4, see below); and how Germany’s economy-wide adjusted, composite energy intensity metric has improved energy intensity primarily through efficiency not through economy wide structural change (slide 5, based on IEA data). When comparing this situation to GB, two key points become raised. Firstly, despite the BDI having its own preferences for energy policy in Germany – which includes, for example, opposition to ‘smart retirement’ for coal power plants – it has a very clear story for how German industry can benefit from the energiewende. Secondly, it seems to me that it is much easier for the BDI to be a co-ordinated ‘Voice of Industry’ whilst also being part of the momentum forward of Germany’s energy policy than say the CBI – the British equivalent – and GB energy policy.

IGov 22nd Jan 2016 read more »

Energy Policy – Scotland

Despite the agreement falling far short of what is needed, campaigners left Paris with new energy to push harder for the just transition to a zero-carbon economy. The inadequacy of the outcome was predictable bit popular pressure did influence the result. Friends of the Earth Scotland immediately launched its new campaign for a Fossil Free Scotland, raising the bar for campaigners and the government in Scotland. The campaign opposes dirty energy, promotes clean energy and works to get billions of public pension money out of the likes of BP and Shell and into socially-useful projects here in Scotland. With Scotland’s elections coming up, many are already demanding concrete proposals in party manifestos to move towards a zero-carbon future. The time is right for thinking practically about moving away from employment which relies on fossil fuels and opportunities to create climate jobs. So far the Scottish Government hasn’t had the courage to do that. But with support building within the labour movement and civil society, Scotland could maybe show the way forward.

Scottish Left Review January 2015 read more »

Radwaste – US

New Mexico and the U.S. Department of Energy inked $74 million in settlements over dozens of permit violations stemming from a radiation leak that forced the closure of the nation’s only underground nuclear waste repository. The settlements are the largest ever negotiated between a state and the Energy Department and come after months of negotiations. The agreements were first outlined last spring, but their signing was delayed by disagreements over some of the details. The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in southern New Mexico has been closed since February 2014, when a container of waste burst and released radiation in the underground facility. Twenty-two workers were exposed, and monitors at the surface recorded low levels of radiological contamination, but officials said nearby communities were not at risk. Investigators determined that the container had been improperly packed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, and experts have said the incident could have been avoided.

Fox News 22nd Jan 2016 read more »

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister, Adel Al-Jubeir, has refused to answer questions about reports Riyadh was attempting to buy nuclear weapons from Pakistan, but said the Kingdom would do “whatever it takes” to protect itself. When asked about nuclear cooperation with Pakistan, he told CNN on Tuesday: “I am not going to get into details of discussions we have with foreign governments, and certainly not allied governments. I’m sure you understand.” “Saudi Arabia is committed to two things. I always say two things we do not negotiate over: our faith and our security.” He added: “Saudi Arabia will do whatever it takes in order to protect our nation and our people from any harm. And I will leave it at that.”

Independent 22nd Jan 2016 read more »

Trident

A NUCLEAR deterrent onboard submarines due to be built in Barrow has never been needed more than in today’s less predictable, more dangerous world, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said.

NW Evening Mail 22nd Jan 2016 read more »

Renewables

Britain’s motorways should be lined with wind turbines because they are already unattractive and very few people live alongside them, according to Baroness Brown, the UK’s green energy ambassador. Wind farms built along the 2,300-mile motorway network would generate less local opposition than those constructed in unspoiled rural areas, predicted Baroness Brown, an independent peer in the House of Lords.

Independent 22nd Jan 2016 read more »

Microgeneration

Micro Power News.

Microgen Scotland 22nd Jan 2016 read more »

Fossil Fuels

The head of one of Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning groups has accused the SNP of “rigging” its spring conference agenda by excluding a motion calling for a complete ban on unconventional gas and fracking. Commenting on the omission of the motion put forward by at least 20 SNP party branches, Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, said: “It is disgraceful that the SNP have rigged the agenda of the spring conference to avoid a debate that would embarrass the leadership.

Scotsman 23rd Jan 2016 read more »

Herald 23rd Jan 2016 read more »

CCS

The UK government’s decision to scrap support for carbon capture and storage jeopardises its entire climate policy. What is more, it thwarts Brussels’ strategy to develop the clean technology in Europe. That was the message from industry experts to lawmakers at a parliamentary committee hearing in London on Wednesday. “There is a strategic risk for the UK in not developing capability in this area,” warned Luke Warren, head of the CCS Association.

Guardian 22nd Jan 2016 read more »

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Published: 23 January 2016