24 June 2013

NDA

The public body charged with overseeing the dismantling of Britain’s network of atomic power and research stations will reveal on Monday that its estimates for the lifetime cost of the programme has risen by billions of pounds. Despite this, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) will say in its annual report that it is getting to grips with the clean-up problem because the rate of cost growth is slowing year-on-year. Yet the soaring costs will alarm industry critics at a time when the government is trying to encourage construction of a new generation of atomic power plants while plans to construct a permanent home for high-level radioactive waste are stalled. In the NDA’s 2011 annual report the provisional cost of dealing with the UK’s nuclear legacy was put at £53bn, compared with a 2010 figure of £49bn. The new number in the 2012 set of accounts is expected to be around £55bn. But under previous accounting methods, the figure historically used has risen to well over £80bn with some predicting the final bill could exceed £100bn.

Guardian 23rd June 2013 read more »

New Nukes

The chancellor, George Osborne, will face renewed pressure this week from opposition politicians and business leaders to turn his rhetoric into reality and reverse the sharpest fall in new orders for infrastructure since 1987.The dearth of new projects has frustrated business leaders. Steve Holliday, head of National Grid, Britain’s biggest energy supplier, warned last month that the UK risked falling behind in national competitiveness if it didn’t deliver on infrastructure, a view echoed more recently by the CBI. EDF Energy and the government have been scouring the globe looking for the investment needed to get the French group’s £14bn Hinkley Point nuclear power station project started – the first nuclear reactor in Britain for decades. China had been seen as the most likely white knight. But the Chinese also favour existing projects as shown by China Investment Fund’s decision to buy a 9 per cent stake in Thames Water last year.

FT 23rd June 2013 read more »

Energy Costs

Household energy consumers could be forced to pay hundreds of millions of pounds to “fund rail electrification by the back door”, power network firms have claimed. The companies are at odds with Network Rail over who should pay for their electricity cables to be rerouted to make way for the work to upgrade Britain’s train lines. The government is pushing ahead with a multi-billion pound programme to switch Britain from diesel to electric trains, which are faster, greener, quieter and can carry more passengers. The bulk of the costs will be borne by the general taxpayer and power network companies say this should also be the case for the work to their cables, which is needed to ensure they are a safe distance away from Network Rail’s gantry systems that provide power to trains. But the companies fear Network Rail is expecting them to pay for the work and claim this would lead to bill-payers in some regions picking up a disproportionate share of the costs.

Telegraph 24th June 2013 read more »

Low Level Waste

KEEKLE HEAD Public Inquiry starts this tues County Offices in Kendal – be there for 9am to join Demo and for 10 am to register to speak at the inquiry. If you cannot get to the Inquiry to speak please write to the Inspector asking him to uphold the County Council’s refusal.

Radiation Free Lakeland 23rd June 2013 read more »

Protest

A Greenpeace executive purportedly once said that when it started targeting brands in its campaigns, it was like discovering gun powder. We await the first explosion. Robert Blood is managing director of Sigwatch, an international consultancy based in London that tracks NGO and activist campaigns. Based on Sigwatch campaign activist tracking data, this ranking relates to criticism during the 12 months to April 2013. All the listed power companies were strongly criticised over their investments in gas-fired power (instead of more renewables) – with Centrica singled out by Greenpeace on this score. They were also blamed for exposing consumers to high gas prices. EDF’s position at the top of the table is mainly due to being the target of the No Dash for Gas protest at West Burton, compounded by heavy criticism from the wider UK activist community for threatening to sue the protestors for civil damages, and for being the focus of anti-nuclear campaigning over Hinkley C. We suspect that it is also a target of choice for being French (some groups like to play the “foreign” card). EDF is also a long-standing target for Greenpeace .

Utility Week 14th June 2013 read more »

Radhealth

A new review shows the conventional radiation risk model cannot be used to predict health effects of radioactivity inside the body. On May 22 InTech published a review of evidence that DNA damage caused by inhaling and ingesting man-made radioactivity is having serious health effects. This is the first time such a wide-ranging review of the genetic mechanisms of harm from nuclear discharges has been published in the scientific literature. The review, by Professor Chris Busby, is entitled “Aspects of DNA damage from internal radiation exposures”

Intech 22nd May 2013 read more »

Nuclear Subsidy

Ministers might balk at the word “subsidy”, but by offering new nuclear operators a guaranteed price – the so-called “strike price” – which the consumer will be forced to pay for nuclear power under the Contract for Difference system, the Government is effectively locking us all into subsidising nuclear power for decades to come.

Spinwatch 24th June 2013 read more »

Japan

Japan’s nuclear utilities face shareholders this week promising restarts of idled plants as soon as next month after costly safety upgrades, plans that look wildly optimistic given they are yet to secure either regulatory or local approval.A glaring example is the Hamaoka nuclear plant, once dubbed the world’s most dangerous for its location near a major earthquake fault zone. Operator Chubu Electric Power Co’s $1.5 billion upgrade is unlikely to convince opponents galvanized by ongoing problems from the Fukushima meltdown.Chubu says it may apply to reboot reactors before March 2015, but others are much more ambitious as they try to cut back on imports of replacement fuels that have added billions to their costs, with firms saying they expect to restart seven reactors by the end of July.

Reuters 23rd June 2013 read more »

Tokyo Electric Power Co. executives spent dozens of meetings fretting about the utility’s future as hundreds of younger employees quit over salary cuts after the Fukushima No. 1 reactor meltdowns, according to minutes obtained by Bloomberg News. “The company could quickly deteriorate” as workers leave at “a rapidly accelerating rate,” an unidentified executive said at an Oct. 4 meeting last year of the government-backed fund designed to bail out Tepco, which faces an estimated ¥11 trillion in cleanup costs from the nuclear crisis.

Japan Times 19th June 2013 read more »

US

Pandora’s Promise, a film recently released in the US, seeks to win new allies for the cause of nuclear power on the grounds that it helps fight the threat of global warming caused by burning fossil fuels. It is a timely argument as President Barack Obama prepares for a statement on the climate on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the US nuclear industry has lost friends where it really matters: among regulators, executives and investors. This month the US utility Edison International gave up on trying to reopen its San Onofre nuclear plant in southern California because the cost of meeting regulators’ requirements would have been prohibitive. Two other US reactors are also being retired this year: Crystal River in Florida, which like San Onofre needed costly repairs, and Kewaunee in Wisconsin, which closed because power prices in its region were too low. Behind those three decisions lies the US shale revolution, which has sent gas and electricity prices tumbling. It has been clear for a while that cheap gas made building new reactors unattractive. Now it appears that even existing plants may not be commercially viable.

FT 23rd June 2013 read more »

Thorium

A small Canadian energy company may soon be about to install thorium-fuelled nuclear reactors in Indonesia and Chile, in order to generate energy for the grid, or desalination plants.

Oil Price 23rd June 2013 read more »

Renewables

Energy minister Greg Barker is touting a target for solar PV double what the network can handle, according to National Grid analysis. Last week, Barker told investors at global conference Intersolar, in Germany, that Britain has “the potential to deploy a staggering total of 20GW by 2020”. Getting to that level from the current installed capacity of 2.5GW would involve large solar arrays on brownfield land as well as roof-mounted panels, he said. National Grid has previously warned that building more than 10GW would make it “significantly more challenging” to manage the network in its current form. It could require constraint payments to shut off solar in the sunniest periods.

Utility Week 24th May 2013 read more »

Businesses which rely on continuing public subsidies or particular formulations of public policy always carry added risk. The reality is that public policy changes. For a brief period there is full-hearted support, often driven by a crisis or a sense of looming danger. But the attention span of electorates and policy makers is short. Something else happens, another crisis looms and a new priority takes precedence. The news last week that Siemens is to close its solar business is just one of many indications that for the renewables sector times have changed. Built up on a tide of public and political support for action on climate change, the industry is now seeing the tide going out. Competitiveness is the watchword of the moment. Recession and unemployment are the crises which require attention. Mr Cameron, once the greenest of politicians (remember the huskies) has still to deliver his first speec h on climate change as Prime Minister.

FT 24th May 2013 read more »

Energy Efficiency

The government’s much-vaunted green deal has been branded a failure by critics after it emerged that fewer than ten UK households have taken out the loans offered by the scheme to improve their energy efficiency. More than 20,000 households have been assessed by green deal representatives since the scheme kicked off in January, but the number who have finalised loans for boilers, insulation and other energy-saving measures so far is thought to be as low as three.The government is expected to say on Thursday that the number has risen to the “ball park” of 200 as around that number of households which have agreed but not finalised loans come out of the obligatory 14-day “cooling off” period, when they must decide whether to proceed or pull out.

Independent 23rd June 2013 read more »

With Europe’s hard-fought over Energy Efficiency Directive (EED) coming into force next year, advocates are pushing for the EU to come forward with a target for 2030, and adopt proposals to dramatically cut energy use in Europe’s building stock by 2050. Campaigners are urging policymakers to act now and tackle the huge potential for energy savings in Europe’s building stock, which currently accounts for 40% of Europe’s final energy demand. In the European Parliament, energy efficiency advocates are pushing for an ambitious 80% reduction in the consumption of energy in buildings by 2050, compared to 2010 levels. The own-initiative report on the European Commission’s Energy Roadmap 2050 was adopted by Parliament on 14 March 2013, after a vote in the industry committee on 24 January. The EED, approved by parliament in September 2012 after it became clear that the EU was not on track to meet its non-binding 20% energy savings target for 2020, does contain an obligation on member states to draw up a roadmap to make the entire buildings sector more energy efficient by 2050, but does not set a clear objective for the amount of energy to be reduced. The EED also contains a binding measure for member states to renovate 3% of “centrally-owned and occupied” building stock per annum over the 2014-2020 period (starting with buildings with a useful area of 500m², extending to 250m² in July 2015).

Euractiv 24th June 2013 read more »

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Published: 24 June 2013