24 March 2013

Nuclear Subsidies

French energy giant EDF is this week set to clinch a £90 billion deal with the Government for providing the first new nuclear plant in Britain in 20 years. The contract is likely to prompt fury, as the figure will guarantee EDF a huge income at a price likely to be nearly twice the market cost of electricity. ‘EDF has the Government over a barrel because it’s the only horse in the race. Britain is effectively negotiating over how much to pay the French government over the next few decades,’ said a source. Any deal on the strike price is expected to last for 35 years, though EDF had been holding out for 40 years. This has led to accusations from MPs that, combined with a strike price at the top end of expectations of £97 per MWh, it would see EDF make £90 billion over the life of the contract. Davey said last week he did not recognise these figures from MPs. The Government may be able to reduce the strike price with a suggested deal to compensate EDF for any cost over-runs on building.

This is Money 23rd March 2013 read more »

Plutonium

An event at Chatham House organised by Princeton University’s International Panel on Fissile Materials: Britain will soon have over 140 tonnes of separated plutonium from its nuclear power stations in secure facilities at Sellafield in Cumbria. The British government is currently investigating what to do with it. The problem is that its “preferred option” is to make the plutonium into mixed oxide fuel (MOX) and burn it in reactors. This is precisely the solution that it has been trying and spectacularly failing to do at Sellafield for the last two decades. The Sellafield MOX plant was closed down in 2011 after repeatedly failing to meet any of its production targets by large margins. Yet ministers will soon be considering whether to try something similar again. Most of those gathered in Chatham House, under its well known non-attribution rule, thought this was madness. They were also sceptical of the other plutonium-burning ideas being reviewed by the government’s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, like GE Hitachi’s Prism reactor, or the Canadian Candu reactor. They preferred to talk about keeping the plutonium in storage, or immobilising it and putting down deep boreholes. That way, maybe, the British government can avoid repeating exactly the same mistakes as before.

RobEdwards 23rd March 2013 read more »

Dungeness

A decision on whether to develop a major airport in Lydd, less than three miles from the Dungeness nuclear power station, is said to be imminent, while residents are battling to prevent more wind farms being built near the marsh. But this is more than a dispute between the inhabitants of a remote, wild and beautiful region, and the metropolis.

Observer 24th March 2013 read more »

Nuclear Police

Officers specially trained in nuclear materials are searching the house where Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky was found dead. The exiled businessman, who last year lost a multibillion-pound High Court fight with Chelsea Football Club owner Roman Abramovich, was found dead at his home in Berkshire yesterday. Police have cordoned off the 67-year-old’s home while police, including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) trained officers, conduct a number of searches as a precaution, Thames Valley Police said.

Huffington Post 24th March 2013 read more »

Mirror 24th March 2013 read more »

Belfast Telegraph 24th March 2013 read more »

Telegraph 24th March 2013 read more »

Sunday Times 24th March 2013 read more »

Scotland

The Scottish government says a new poll shows the public is in favour of wind power, despite the Conservative Party citing thousands of objections as evidence of widespread opposition. The YouGov poll suggests that a majority of supporters of every party – including Tories – support wind power. But anti-wind farm campaigners arranged a protest at the SNP conference. More than 44,000 objections to wind farm applications in the past five years showed public alarm, they said.

BBC 24th March 2013 read more »

Cumbria

Surplus heat from Workington businesses such as Iggesund could soon be pumped to thousands of homes in the area. Britain’s Energy Coast is considering plans which could see a “distributed heat system” around six north Workington employers, believed to include Iggesund paperboard mill, warming as many as 30,000 homes. The idea is relatively commonplace in parts of Europe such as Norway and Poland where insulated pipes bring heat to residential homes from factories or large scale central boilers.

In Cumbria 20th March 2013 read more »

Energy Supplies

Will the lights go out? It is extremely unlikely. As the Department of Energy and Climate change have argued there are multiple sources of gas for the UK to draw on. But that gas will come at a price and the Office of Budget responsibility have forecast gas prices to rise by around 7% this year.

Energy Desk 22nd March 2013 read more »

TWO giant gas tanker ships have been diverted to Britain to top up the country’s gas reserves which have been depleted by the long winter. The Zarga and the Mekaines each carry enough gas to supply Britain’s gas needs for up to 12 hours. The ships, coming from Qatar, are understood to be carrying gas for the spot market, meaning they deliver wherever the price is highest. This is currently the UK, where a hard winter has seen gas reserves depleted to about 10% of capacity — enough to supply the country for just 1½ days. The Mekaines, with 266,000 cubic metres of liquefied natural gas, should dock at the Isle of Grain today while the Zarga, carrying a similar amount, will reach Milford Haven tomorrow. Britain gets most of its gas from the North Sea and Norway, or from Europe via pipelines. Stored gas is used as a backup, so low reserves do not imply an imminent threat of rationing. However, it does increase the risk of shortages and pushes prices up. Last week they surged from 100p a therm (100 cubic feet) to 150p, an all-time high. The 2012 average was 55-60p a therm.

Sunday Times 24th March 2013 read more »

Energy Costs

Ofgem, the energy regulator, will this week press ahead with reforms, backed by David Cameron, to make the market “simpler, clearer and fairer” with measures to slash the number of tariffs on offer and encourage switching. The watchdog has received criticism from suppliers for the plans, set out in October, but has said final proposals, due within days, will be largely unchanged. Mr Cameron vowed last year to force energy companies to “give the lowest tariff to their customers”. He has since changed that pledge into backing Ofgem’s plans, which include making suppliers give customers “personalised information on the cheapest tariff they offer for them”.

Telegraph 23rd March 2013 read more »

Europe

The European Commission wants European Union (EU) member states to release more detailed information about their decommissioning programs to help it monitor their compliance with a 2011 directive. The Commission published a detailed report for the European Parliament and Council on 8 March, assessing member states’ performance regarding decommissioning of nuclear installations, used reactor fuel and radioactive waste. The Commission said information offered was “still not sufficiently detailed” and this was particularly important given a mandatory directive was now in force: “The national programs should provide a detailed cost estimate of all waste management steps up to disposal, including the associated activities, such as research and development.”

World Nuclear News 21st March 2013 read more »

Japan

The power outage that shut down spent nuclear fuel cooling systems and other facilities for 29 hours last week at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant underlines the fact that conditions there remain precarious two years after the massive quake and tsunami on March 11, 2011, triggered triple meltdowns. It also shows that Tepco failed to learn important lessons from the catastrophe at the plant — that all-out efforts must be made to prevent power outages that disrupt cooling functions at the plant. This incident will deepen people’s distrust of Tepco.

Japan Times 24th March 2013 read more »

Trident

THE SNP conference yesterday underlined the party’s opposition to nuclear weapons when it voted for an unequivocal ban on them to be included in the written constitution of an independent Scotland. An amendment stating that the “housing, basing and possession” of such weapons should not be allowed in Scotland and should be included in its constitution was overwhelmingly supported by delegates.

Scotland on Sunday 24th March 2013 read more »

Kate Hudson: Austerity is having disastrous consequences, here in Britain and across Europe. Cyprus is only the latest example. But Chancellor George Osborne is still following the same disastrous policies. This week’s Budget came as no surprise – yet another £2.5 billion in cuts. He’s digging us even further into an economic hole and ordinary people are paying the price. The virulence of the government’s economic attacks knows no bounds – Atos, workfare, the bedroom tax, punitive policies against the most vulnerable in society. Yet at the same time the government spends £3bn a year on nuclear weapons and plans to spend over £100bn on building and maintaining a replacement for Trident, Britain’s nuclear weapons system.

Morning Star 22nd March 2013 read more »

The anti-nuclear weapons rally at Faslane nuclear base in Scotland will not go ahead today (Saturday 23 March 2013), due to snow, ice and dangerous conditions in the area. The annual Easter Witness for Peace 2013 was to take place at the gate of the Trident base from 12 noon.

Ekklesia 23rd March 2013 read more »

Renewables

RenewableUK is celebrating the fact that for the first time, wind energy in the UK generated over 5 gigawatts of electricity consistently over a 24 hour period, with the period starting on Thursday 21st March 2013 at 9:30pm and continuing for the rest of Friday 22nd March 2013. This means that for this 24 hour period wind was generating enough to power the equivalent of nearly 4 out of every 10 UK homes and consistently over 10% of GB’s overall electricity needs.

Renewable UK 23rd March 2013 read more »

Leaders of Scotland’s renewable energy sector have hit out at last week’s Budget, claiming that the Chancellor’s encouragement of fossil fuels threatened to deter future investment in “deprioritsed” green energy. Lack of commitment to wind power in Budget sparks fears that investment in renewables could dry up. Niall Stuart, chief executive of industry body Scottish Renewables, said that Budget tax breaks to the nascent shale gas industry suggested a repetition of the UK’s notorious failure to support an earlier pioneering generation of wind energy, which resulted in manufacturing jobs benefits being reaped by European rivals.

Herald 24th March 2013 read more »

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Published: 24 March 2013