23 October 2016

New Nuclear

The UK has laid out a welcome mat for any nuclear operators in the world who want to showcase their latest designs in Britain − the one exception being the Russian state company Rosatom. With many nuclear companies no longer able to build new stations in their own countries – France and Japan, for example – because of public and political opposition, the UK government is inviting them to construct their newest models in England and Wales. So the French company EDF, Japan’s Hitachi, the US-based Westinghouse, and the state-owned China Nuclear Power Corporation are all anxious to find somewhere that will allow them a chance to show off what they’ve come up with. If all their new-build plans go ahead, the UK will have 12 new nuclear reactors of four different designs at six different sites. This open-door policy is a lifeline for an industry that elsewhere in the democratic world is fading away. Apart from South Korea, which has a thriving home-grown nuclear industry, only in nations such as China and Russia − where the government can ride roughshod over local objections − is the nuclear industry still expanding. All of the nuclear companies involved in new build in the UK say they want to launch their most recent versions there as a prelude to selling them to the rest of the world.

Climate News Network 23rd Oct 2016 read more »


In July 2016 the UK government announced a ‘review’ of project to build the ‘Hinkley C’ nuclear power plant. In September 2016 they then announced the go ahead for the project. I was, like many other people, interested in the details of the review but unfortunately it has not been made public. I therefore sent a Freedom of Information Request to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. In response they have said that they that they are not providing the information within the usual 20 working days’under the ‘exemptions which apply to the information that you have requested are s35 formulation of government policy and s43 commercial interests‘. This does not mean that they will not release but they have to reach a decision on whether it is in the public interest to do so. They will get back to me by the 17 November 2016.

Peter Lux 23rd Oct 2016 read more »


An investigation has been completed after a piece of radioactive graphite – approximately the size of a 10p piece – was found outwith the nuclear licensed area of Hunterston earlier this year. The small piece of low level radioactive graphite was found in an individual’s toolbox, although within Hunterston A, between January and April. The matter was reported immediately, and a probe was subsequently launched, and Magnox have pointed out that the incident represented no danger to the public. The Hunterston site stakeholders group chairman Rita Holmes has asked questions about how the graphite piece got into the toolbox, and why tool kits are allowed outwith contaminated areas. There are many radiation and contamination controlled areas on the site – in areas where there is significant repeated work the tools would remain in the controlled area. Magnox also pointed out that there are a lot of areas where only a small amount of work requires to be done, and it would be very costly to leave tools in each of these areas as a vast amount of tools would be required.

Largs & Millport News 22nd Oct 2016 read more »


TWENTY Dounreay workers were made redundant on Friday as site operators continue to squeeze their outside labour force. The affected staff all work with contracted firms on the site. It was reported 10 from GDES, seven from Nuvia and three from Morson have received four weeks’ notice. No staff from DSRL have been affected by the redundancies. A spokeswoman at Dounreay confirmed: “Companies in the decommissioning operatives framework agreement have been informed that the resource required will reduce by around 15 per cent.

John O Groat Journal 21st Oct 2016 read more »

Energy Policy

Britain has an extraordinarily reliable power system. The lights flicker so rarely that it is easy to forget that the power system is actually a finely tuned and, in some ways, fragile machine, which breaks if electricity demand and supply are not in balance. Perturbations, such as the up-tick in demand after the FA Cup final, or the sudden outage of a coal plant, must be steadied within seconds. Renewables are winning the race to provide the cheapest kilowatt hour of power, making flexibility increasingly important as more variable forms of power join the grid. And it’s not just renewables: a board member of the California system operator recently noted that nuclear is becoming a challenge for the grid because it is so inflexible. There is no single solution to the flexibility challenge, but there are better and worse options. Traditional options are mostly too polluting for the long run, but the new generation of zero carbon flexibility technologies, like battery storage, aren’t yet cheap enough or capable enough to solve the problem on their own. Instead of solving the problem, policy is reinforcing it. The capacity mechanism, in particular, is very inefficient. It was set up to award contracts to the cheapest source of capacity, but it doesn’t ask power stations to be able to ramp up and down quickly or to be available at very short notice. Most fundamentally, it does nothing to encourage the low carbon flexibility necessary to decarbonise both the UK and the world. Instead, the cult of big solutions has taken over. The government has raised the amount of capacity it will buy in an attempt to procure new large gas plants (CCGTs). But because it hasn’t changed the auction rules, many more cheap and dirty diesels are likely to be purchased before the auction buys a single CCGT. A recent estimate suggests December’s auction could spend £800 million on diesels alone.

Green Alliance 18th Oct 2016 read more »

Energy Storage

As one of Britain’s foremost authorities on batteries, Greenwood is trying to crack a problem that is baffling the global car industry: how to pack more juice into batteries, while making them lighter, more affordable and, most crucially, safe. If the electric car really is going to become the standard mode of personal transport, batteries have to improve significantly. Amid this uncertainty, Tesla — the Silicon Valley company that makes only electric vehicles — has arguably taken the lead. “Our batteries are 70%-80% better than Tesla’s in terms of energy density per litre,” said Greenwood. He is the professor in charge of research into advanced propulsion systems at Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG), the university’s industry-funded research centre, which has tentacles stretching from cars to construction, and from steel to cybersecurity.

Times 23rd Oct 2016 read more »


WARM tributes from across the political divide have been paid to John Ainslie, the veteran co-ordinator of the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (SCND), who died on Friday after a long battle with cancer. The SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, Greens, socialists, trade unionists, journalists and fellow campaigners were among the many who hailed him as a quiet and unassuming legend of the peace movement. Ainslie, who joined SCND as a full-time worker in 1992, has been a hugely influential figure in nuclear policy. His numerous expert reports and his detailed grasp of nuclear technology won him respect and admiration from peers around the world, and he was often quoted in the Sunday Herald and elsewhere.

Herald 23rd Oct 2016 read more »

The news from earlier this week that Ken Wiwa, the son of the Nigerian activist and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, has died at the young age of forty seven, is a devastating shock to anyone who knew him.

Oil Change International 21st Oct 2016 read more »


Published: 23 October 2016