23 May 2013

New Nukes

Fallon hails Horizon’s boost to nuclear investment and jobs in the UK. Michael Fallon meets Hitachi and Horizon, who are planning to invest £20 billion in new nuclear plants at Wylfa in Anglesey and Oldbury in Gloucestershire. Speaking ahead of the visit, Michael Fallon said: “Nuclear in the UK is about more than just one project. Three ventures – including the Horizon project I’m visiting – are making serious progress. “Momentum is building, and when companies across the globe are thinking nuclear, I want them to think Britain.“I want to be clear that we are firmly committed to ensuring that new nuclear goes ahead in this country. Nuclear already provides around a fifth of our electricity, so it is vital for our energy security now, and in future. “While new build is hugely important, UK nuclear is also about developing and exporting our world-leading decommissioning expertise, and boosting the domestic supply-chain, creating new skilled jobs across the country.

DECC 23rd May 2013 read more »

While a deal between the government and EDF over a pricing structure for nuclear-generated power remains elusive, the minister in charge has today reaffirmed his commitment to a major nuclear construction programme. French company EDF is all ready to start construction at Hinkley Point C in Somerset but has been unable to agree a crucial ‘contract for difference’ with the government. Without this, EDF does not know if its business case stands up and so everything has been put on hold and staff have been laid off However, Michael Fallon, the minister responsible for both energy and construction, has said that the government remains “firmly committed to ensuring that new nuclear goes ahead in this country”. And if a deal cannot be done with the French, then there is always the Japanese.

Construction Index 23rd May 2013 read more »

Horizon

THE future of nuclear power in Britain will be discussed in Gloucester today. Horizon Nuclear Power, which is based at Barnwood, is hosting a special conference at Kingsholm Stadium. Michael Fallon, the government minister for energy, will be attending. Horizon Nuclear Power is bringing forward plans to develop a new generation of nuclear power stations and has two proposed sites – Wylfa, on the Isle of Anglesey and Oldbury, in South Gloucestershire.

Gloucestershire Citizen 23rd May 2013 read more »

Horizon boss says he has “not ruled out” Japanese rather than UK firms for Wylfa power station. Building and civils work on Horizon’s £10bn Wylfa nuclear power project could go to Japanese contractors rather than UK firms, Horizon’s boss has said. Speaking to Building, Alan Raymant, Horizon chief operating officer, said he had “not ruled out” using Japanese contractors on the planned nuclear new build job in Wylfa, Anglesey. But he pledged that 60% of the £10bn budget for the power plant would go to the UK supply chain. He said: “There’s no point allocating work to a UK company if they don’t know how to do it. But, vice versa, there’s no point giving it to a Japanese company because they’ve done it in the past when it can be done over here.” Horizon’s public consultation on the Wylfa project will start towards the middle of 2014 and excavation works could start as early as 2015. The firm estimates construction of the nuclear plant itself will start in 2019 with work on the major associated development starting a year earlier in 2018.

Building 23rd May 2013 read more »

Energy Policy

Britain, under pressure to build new power stations, could save as much as 100 billion pounds ($150 billion) through 2050 by spending on wind, nuclear and carbon capture rather than gas, the government’s climate adviser said. Investing in low-carbon power is a “low-regrets strategy with potentially significant benefits,” a report from the Committee on Climate Change shows. “This could result in cost savings of 25 billion pounds to 45 billion pounds relative to a focus on investment in gas-fired generation,” or more than double that with higher gas and carbon prices, the group said.

Bloomberg 23rd May 2013 read more »

British households will save £45bn, or £1,600 apiece, if the government hitches its electricity supply to low-carbon sources such as wind and nuclear rather than gas, a parliamentary advisory committee has estimated. Overturning the general consensus that green electricity is more expensive than gas-generated power, the committee finds that while “decarbonising” the energy supply will cost more in the next few years, the expense will quickly become negligible and will start paying handsome dividends after 2030. This makes it essential for the government to stimulate tens of billions of pounds of investment in low-carbon energy by voting through a proposed amendment to the Energy Bill that would make the UK’s electricity supply almost entirely green by 2030, insists David Kennedy, of report author the Climate Change Committee (CCC).

Independent 23rd May 2013 read more »

Investing in new renewable power generation, rather than a “dash for gas”, will be the lower-cost option for keeping the lights on while cutting greenhouse gas emissions, the government’s climate change watchdog has said. The sooner the UK makes large investments in low-carbon generation – including offshore and onshore wind, nuclear power and energy from waste – the cheaper it will be, according to David Kennedy, chief executive of the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), the statutory body that advises ministers on meeting emissions targets. The conclusions are likely to be controversial, as many MPs on the right of the Tory party have been clamouring for an end to onshore windfarms and reductions in renewable subsidies. They would prefer to see a new “dash for gas” that would require the UK to massively expand shale gas drilling and import tens of billions of pounds worth of fuel each year as North Sea reserves run down. They point to lower gas prices in the US that have resulted from the aggressive pursuit of shale resources.

Guardian 23rd May 2013 read more »

Bradwell

Fears have been raised that Bradwell is set to become a “nuclear dumping ground” as waste from other power stations could now destined for the Dengie peninsula. Money-saving proposals have been put forward for Bradwell power station (pictured) to store nuclear waste from both Sizewell and Dungeness power stations. A storage facility for intermediate level waste at Bradwell is nearing completion and has cost as much as £12million.

Chelmsford Weekly News 22nd May 2013 read more »

Dounreay

The decommissioning of the Dounreay complex in Caithness has reached another milestone during the ongoing work to make its nuclear legacy safer. Some of the plant’s most dangerous liquid wastes have been set into cement making their storage easier and more stable. It is almost 20 years since nuclear power was last generated at Dounreay and decommissioning of the plant has been underway for almost a decade. Knowns as Materials Test Reactor Raffinates, they were produced in the 1950s and 70s and until now have been stored in shielded tanks in a concrete vault. A new disposal site is currently under construction next to Dounreay – six vaults will hold 170,000 tonnes of low-level waste. It is estimated the Dounreay site will be razed to the ground by 2025, with a series of radioactive waste stores set inside a high security compound – the legacy of this pioneering nuclear complex remaining in the region for generations to come.

STV 22nd May 2013 read more »

Among the most demanding and potentially hazardous aspects of decommissioning liquid metal cooled reactors is dealing with the coolant. This substance is commonly sodium or the sodium-potassium alloy NaK, which can react with water to release hydrogen and large quantities of heat, providing not only an explosive gas mixture but also a source of ignition. The products of combustion are also toxic and can cause severe caustic and thermal burns on skin contact, as well as being hazardous to ingest or inhale. The considerable challenges involved in treating this type of coolant in reactor decommissioning programmes will be encountered at various stages. At the defuelling phase, for example, the assembly will be covered by a residual film of sodium that has to be removed before storing the elements in the pond. Every component extracted from the reactor will also be covered by a film of sodium and can sometimes retain larger amounts of the metal that are best removed before dismantling the components.

Power Engineering 22nd May 2013 read more »

Aldermaston

A NUCLEAR weapons company will be punished after a fireball erupted in the face of a Basingstoke man. Ashley Emery, 29, was mixing chemicals in a bucket for the manufacture of explosives when the explosion happened in a building at the Atomic Weapons Establishment, in Aldermaston, leaving him with burns on his left arm and face. The fire on August 3, 2010, took five hours to control and led to the evacuation of staff and nearby residents, some of whom were put up in hotels in Aldermaston and Basingstoke.

Basingstoke Gazette 23rd May 2013 read more »

Sellafield

CFM spent 13 hours broadcasting from the Sellafield nuclear site yesterday, raising money for the station’s Cash for Kids Give us a Break appeal. THe aim was to raise money to build a respite care centre for local disabled children. As part of their support for the appeal, Sellafield Ltd welcomed hosts Robbie Dee, Pete Moss and Stu Smith to present their shows live from 6am until 7pm. The CFM news team were also based on site to bring listeners stories from around the site.

Radio Today 22nd May 2013 read more »

Radwaste – Scotland

North Coast SNP councillor Alan Hill has accused Labour member Alex Gallagher of ‘gutter politics’ on claims about a nuclear dumping site at Hunterston. In a letter to the ‘News’ Mr Hill wrote: “During last year’s council election campaign, Alex Gallagher claimed that the SNP “has plans for a single storage facility for all the nuclear waste in southern Scotland. Hunterston is a prime candidate and high on the SNP’s list.” He went on to claim that the SNP intended “to make Hunterston the repository for nuclear waste imported from elsewhere.” Given that neither statement is true, it simply beggars belief that he would attempt to recycle the same nonsense in the paper again last week. It is also amazing that he is trying to claim that the article that Dr John Large wrote in the Express is “saying more or less” what he said in his leaflet. Well, Alex, I’ve read the article you refer to and in my opinion yet again you are guilty, in the words of Winston Churchill of a “terminological inexactitude”! In the article referred to, Dr Large is raising an argument in favour of the deep storage of nuclear waste, something to which the SNP is opposed. Now, I have no idea, frankly, whether Alex Gallagher supports the building of a deep storage facility for nuclear waste at Hunterston or not, but the point is that this issue has nothing whatsoever to do with the patent nonsense that was contained in his leaflet last year. The SNP, in fact, believes in a near surface, near site approach to the storage of waste precisely in order to minimise the dangerous transportation of waste in the first place. Now how does that square with the claim that SNP plans “to make Hunterston the repository for nuclear waste imported from elsewhere”?

Largs & Millport Weekly News 22nd May 2013 read more »

Nuclear Transport

HAMBURG narrowly escaped a major disaster during a vessel blaze inside the port earlier this month, the Hansestadt’s opposition Green Party has warned. A parliamentary inquiry by the party revealed that the ACL con-ro vessel Atlantic Cartier had 8.9 tonnes of uranium hexafluoride aboard when it caught fire on 1 May. The substance is a volatile radioactive and toxic compound used in the production of nuclear fuels. Its release could have led to widespread contamination of the port and posed a major risk to the public, with tens of thousands of Christians gathering in Hamburg for Protestant Church day, the study pointed out. Firefighters took 16 hours to douse the Atlantic Cartier fire, with a shortage of extinguishing agent in the region hampering their efforts. “It is outrageous that the Senate didn’t inform the public about this hazardous cargo,”

Fairplay24 22nd May 2013 read more »

Energy Prices

SSE has warned that consumers should brace themselves for further increases in energy bills, as the London-listed energy group reported a jump in full-year pre-tax profit and bolstered its dividend.

FT 22nd May 2013 read more »

Best known for its brands of Southern Electric, Scottish Hydro and Swalec, SSE has long been one of those Marmite companies — loved by investors for high-yielding dividends and a strongly performing share price, hated by those who regard the big power companies as profiteers in a deregulated market. Both sides had something to seize on yesterday.

Times 23rd May 2013 read more »

Ireland

IRELAND’S food would be heavily contaminated in the event of a very severe accident at one of the proposed nuclear power stations in the UK. But a report by the Radiological Protection Institute of Ireland (RPII) found that even in the worst case scenario, health effects on people in this country would be limited. The RPII has examined the potential radiological impact on Ireland of new nuclear power stations that may be built at up to eight sites in the UK before 2025, of which five are on the Irish Sea.

Herald.ie 22nd May 2013 read more »

Iran

Iran is pressing ahead with the construction of a research reactor that Western experts say could eventually produce plutonium for a nuclear weapon if Tehran decides to make one, a U.N. report showed on Wednesday.In another development likely to worry the United States and its allies, the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had added to its capacity to refine uranium, which can also provide the fissile core of a bomb if enriched to a high level.

Reuters 22nd May 2013 read more »

Middle East Online 22nd May 2013 read more »

While the presidential election campaign gets underway in Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency has produced its latest quaterly report on the country’s nuclear programme, which does so much to shape the backdrop to Iranian politics – and not in a good way. The IAEA Safeguards Report has been leaked, as tradition dictates, and is available online here courtesy of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS). The most important single indicator that tells us how close to a conflict we might be, shows there is still breathing room for talks when the elections are over. The report says that Iran’s stockpile of 20% enriched (a half-way house between low enriched uranium for nuclear power stations and weapons grade stuff for bombs) is now 182kg, which is up 15kg from the last report three months ago but still well below the 240-250kg that would be enough to make an initial warhead, if the Iranians decided to go for making nuclear weapons. That threshhold is where Binyamin Netanyahu lay down Israel red lines before the UN General Assembly last September. The Iranians have made a total of 324kg of this medium enriched uranium, but continues to process much of what it makes into oxide fuel, which is less of a proliferation concern, so it is not counted as being part of the critical stockpile. The rest of the report, however, makes clear that there is plenty more to worry about. It goes into particular detail about the heavy water reactor under construction in Arak. That has not been in the spotlight much until now because the uranium enrichment programme has been seen as a far more direct route to making a nuclear weapon. It still is. The Arak heavy water reactor, when operational, could produce plutonium if the spent uranium fuel was reprocessed, and plutonium can be used to make smaller, even more powerful nuclear warheads than weapons-grade uranium.

Guardian 22nd May 2013 read more »

India

Japan and India are set to resume official negotiations on a nuclear energy agreement, which were suspended after the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011, sources said.

Asahi 20th May 2013 read more »

Renewables

Can renewables power post-nuclear Germany? Germany turning away from nuclear power is not a panicky reaction that endangers the country’s security of supply, more an important and well-integrated part of her transformation to use renewables exclusively. Which is not to say that the Energiewende is without problems. Rising electricity bills and the costs of expanding many thousands of miles of transmission lines threaten to strain public acceptance. Rampant nimbyism and ecological and economic trade-offs have to be addressed; any plan for large offshore-wind farms that promise to provide efficient, renewable energy inevitably leads to conflicts with environmentalists. Maintaining the power grid’s stability in a renewable-based system remains a challenge. But there is nothing to suggest that turning off nuclear power will jeopardise Germany’s clean energy vision. And where Germany leads, others may follow.

New Economy 23rd May 2013 read more »

Ed Davey, the UK energy secretary, has warned that Scotland could lose billions of pounds in subsidies for renewable energy projects if it voted for independence, putting its green energy revolution at risk. Davey told a renewable energy conference in Aberdeen that more than one-third of the UK’s subsidies for wind, wave and tidal projects – currently £1.4bn a year – was spent in Scotland. That was worth £530m, even though only 9% of all UK electricity sales were in Scotland. The energy secretary said that there had been pledges of £13bn worth of investment, and 9,143 jobs, announced in Scottish renewables since 2010, with a further £16.5bn of promised investment in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. UK-wide investment in renewables would rise to £7.6bn a year by 2020, he said. Asking whether an independent Scotland could ever afford supporting that type of investment with just 10% of the market to fund it, the cabinet minister said: “At present Scottish renewables benefit from the ability to spread investment costs across the whole of the UK consumer base. [I] believe Scottish renewables have flourished precisely because Scotland is part of the United Kingdom. Our collective energy system has underpinned the success seen to date.”

Guardian 22nd May 2013 read more »

Ministers have approved plans for the world’s largest commercial wave farm. Full consent has been given for a 40MW farm off the north-west coast of Lewis – enough to power nearly 30,000 homes. Wave energy firm Aquamarine Power said it would begin installing its Oyster devices in the next few years, once grid infrastructure is put in place. Energy giant SSE said last week it would not be able to commission work on a Western Isles subsea electricity cable before 2017. Aquamarine said it planned “ultimately” to deploy between 40 and 50 devices along the coast at Lag na Greine, near Fivepenny Borve. The project will be carried out by Aquamarine subsidiary Lewis Wave Power Limited. Last year, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) gave planning permission for an onshore hydroelectric power plant which will be connected to the Oyster farm. But last week SSE said it would not be able to commission work on an interconnector, which would transmit power generated by renewable projects on the Western Isles to customers on the mainland, before 2017.

BBC 22nd May 2013 read more »

Herald 23rd May 2013 read more »

Times 23rd May 2013 read more »

Live Science 22nd May 2013 read more »

Press & Journal 23rd May 2013 read more »

Scotsman 23rd May 2013 read more »

Scotland could be on the verge of a wave and tidal energy revolution, according to business advisers Grant Thornton. As the All Energy Conference and Exhibition, one of the world’s largest energy conventions, gets under way in Aberdeen today, Grant Thornton has said it believes the sector can be transformed from today’s “cottage industry”. It says vast capacity in the sector, combined with rapidly increased investment and political will, could combine to make Scotland a global powerhouse in wave and tidal energy. Scotland has about 25% of Europe’s tidal stream resource. But the firm also warns that the industry needs to make significant financial returns within the next decade for investment to continue.

Herald 23rd May 2013 read more »

Scottish Renewables: THE renewables industry often talks about Scotland’s marine energy sector as “world-leading” and it is announcements like this from Aquamarine Power that help prove the point. With ultimately up to 50 devices known as “Oysters” deployed, this 40-megawatt project off the coast of Lewis has the auspicious title of being the largest consented wave array in the world. Once built, it could generate enough electricity to power around 30,000 homes – that’s more than double the number of households in the Western Isles.

Scotsman 23rd May 2013 read more »

ABERDEEN City Council today announced ambitious plans to develop Europe’s oil capital as a centre of excellence in the creation of new hydrogen technologies. As part of the drive Councillor Barney Crockett, the leader of the city council, launched the authority’s new hydrogen strategy framework aimed at helping diversify the city’s existing energy expertise.

Scotsman 23rd May 2013 read more »

Energy Efficiency

Parliament’s Energy and Climate Change (ECC) committee has told the government to get a move on with monitoring the success of its core energy efficiency policies in a new report, out today. The ECC committee is concerned the government hasn’t worked out what a successful energy efficiency rollout would look like, let alone how to assess whether it meets those criteria.

Carbon Brief 22nd May 2013 read more »

Guardian 22nd May 2013 read more »

Householders would foot the bill for supermarkets to turn down fridges at night and for councils to fit low-wattage street lights under government plans to encourage energy efficiency. The Government included the “negawatts not megawatts” plan in its controversial energy Bill yesterday. Companies that make energy-efficient air-conditioning units for offices, furnaces for factories or housing insulation, for example, will be able to take part in “capacity auctions”. As power station developers bid to build capacity, measured in megawatts, energy-saving companies could also bid with measures to remove the need for that capacity.

The Times 22nd May 2013 read more »

Fossil Fuels

Responding to the Institute of Directors report “Getting shale gas working”, Leila Deen, Greenpeace Energy Campaigner, said: “Paid for by fracking company Cuadrilla, this report’s wildly optimistic forecast for job creation depends on a level of shale development that no respected analyst believes to be economically or geologically feasible.

Greenpeace 22nd May 2013 read more »

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Published: 23 May 2013