24 September 2015

New Nukes

The UK government and its Chancellor George Osborne are grossly misleading the public over the relative costs of renewable energy and nuclear power, writes Oliver Tickell. Osborne’s claim that nuclear is the ‘cheapest low carbon technology’ is the very reverse of the truth. He and his nuclear plans must be stopped. Take that figure of £80 per MWh for the bids to build onshore wind farms in the UK earlier this year. It’s actually a whole lot higher than it should be. In Germany, wind farms are being built for between £36 and £79 per MWh, although the UK is much windier, providing – in principle – much cheaper power. So why does it cost more here? Because the UK’s unfavourable policy environment is putting off investors and forcing them to seek higher returns. As far as solar power is concerned, the UK’s Solar Trade Association believes that UK solar generation can be fully cost competitive with fossil fuels, with no subsidy at all, by 2020. As for offshore wind, BVG estimate that prices will drop to about 73% of current levels by 2025. Offshore wind prices in the last CFD auction in February were between £114 and £120 per MWh. And 73% of that means prices of £83.22 to £87.60 by 2025 – considerably less than Hinkley C’s £96.24.

Ecologist 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

Hinkley

The owner of the Hinkley Point nuclear power station has defended its plan to build a new plant at the Somerset site. In an interview with the BBC, Vincent de Rivaz, chief executive of France’s EDF Energy, said the project was not too expensive. He said power from the plant would cut customer bills by at least 10%. The project has come under fire for both its £24.5bn cost and the fact it will not start generating power by 2023 as planned. Another controversial issue is a government guarantee that EDF will receive, which is worth twice the current wholesale price for power- £92 per megawatt hour.

BBC 24th Sept 2015 read more »

The £2 billion government guarantee for the financing of the Hinkley C nuclear plant has sparked a mixed reaction. The Western Daily Press reported yesterday that Chancellor George Osborne announced the initiative from China, where he is on an official visit. Deputy Leader of Somerset County Council, David Hall, yesterday said it was very positive news for the county and the country. But Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for the South West, said: “Wheeling out the Tory spin machine shows the government’s desperation. Numerous deadlines for signing this flawed deal have now been missed with French companies facing technological delays and Chinese companies facing financial difficulties. “It is astonishing that the government will go begging the Chinese for money in the middle of a stock market crisis while neglecting our incredible renewable resources in the South West. The Navitus off-shore wind development in Dorset alone would have secured enough energy to power 700,000 homes. There is clearly an ideological pro nuclear, anti-renewables obsession at the heart of government.”

Western Daily Press 22nd Sept 2015 read more »

Delays and cost overruns at two nuclear reactors under construction in France and Finland have made potential investors wary of joining a consortium led by France’s EDF for a similar project in Britain, EDF’s chief executive said. The French utility plans to build two European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) at Hinkley Point with two Chinese partners, but it has been unable to find other investors for the 16 billion pound ($25 billion) project. “For third parties observing the announcements of delays and cost overruns for the EPRs under construction, it is difficult to commit,” Jean-Bernard Levy told French financial daily Les Echos.

Reuters 22nd Sept 2015 read more »

FT 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

Independent 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

EDF is working on an improved design for its nuclear reactor that is easier and cheaper to build, but it will not be ready in time to be used at Hinkley Point or Sizewell, according to the company’s chief executive. Jean-Bernard Levy said that the French state-controlled energy giant was working on plans for a revised design for its 1.65 gigawatt European Pressurised Reactor. He said in an interview with Les Echoes, the French financial newspaper, that the new model would be ready within four to five years, making it possible “to order one or two that could replace existing reactors seven to eight years later”. Mr Levy’s comments, which follow a string of problems and delays with earlier EPR projects in Finland and Flamanville, in France, raise the prospect that the existing reactor design, earmarked for use at Hinkley Point in Somerset and Si zewell in Suffolk, may be the last of its kind.

Times 24th Sept 2015 read more »

The head of EDF Energy has outlined the benefits of Chinese investment in the UK’s nuclear industry. His comments came the day after the UK government announced up to £2 billion ($3 billion) in support for the planned Hinkley Point C nuclear power plant. In an article published in British newspaper The Daily Telegraph on 22 September, EDF Energy CEO Vincent de Rivaz welcomed the announcement the previous day by Chancellor George Osborne during a trip to China that the UK would offer the guarantee. This is seen as an incentive to encourage China General Nuclear (CGN) and China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to invest in the UK’s nuclear industry.

World Nuclear News 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

This week, winning friends and influencing people, the Chancellor has offered to underwrite Chinese investment in “our” nuclear power industry. Specifically, he has put up a £2 billion loan guarantee for any investor in China prepared to risk money on the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station project. The intervention is designed to help the EDF company – which happens to be French – to raise the backing needed to get a troubled enterprise up and running. This is only the latest episode in a bizarre story. For one thing, the £2bn is not the first piece of state aid. Overall, the government has now “guaranteed” around £16bn of the project’s £25bn cost. It has certainly guaranteed EDF an eye-watering price for the electricity generated (if any) and a profit to match. With wholesale electricity prices at £44 per megawatt hour, the French firm has been promised £89.50. Annual profits, come the day, are therefore estimated at around £5bn. Why is the Government doing this? No benefit will be derived by British investors, whether friends to the Tory Party or otherwise. No value to the consumer can be identified, especially since any electricity produced by Hinkley Point C will count as the most expensive on the planet. No decent argument for an energy “mix”, with nuclear playing its part, can be advanced: even friends of the industry accept that there are better, cheaper power station designs available. By any reasonable standard, the EDF project in Somerset is a white elephant even before it comes on stream. It is supposed to meet seven per cent of the UK’s energy needs by 2023, yet the French are still struggling to find backers. The reactor is supposed to represent a new age in nuclear power in these islands, but EDF’s sister plant at Flamanville on the Cherbourg Peninsula is £5 billion over budget and over five years behind schedule. Choices over energy conservation and loss from buildings, for one example, are still not being taken seriously in Britain. But a government putting up £2bn for a troubled nuclear plant while cutting subsidies for renewables and genuflecting to China represents the worst of all possible worlds. It has no energy policy worth the name.

Herald 24th Sept 2015 read more »

Bradwell

For China, the prize on offer in the UK is not the investment in Hinkley Point or Sizewell B but a controlling stake at Bradwell in Essex. This could be the first Chinese-designed nuclear power plant in the West, a massive breakthrough for China in promoting global exports of its nuclear technology. So far its customers have been confined to countries like Pakistan, Romania and Argentina with the developed world opting for American, Japanese and French technology. But the Energy Secretary, Amber Rudd, has said that China will be part of building the next generation of UK nuclear power stations and that having Chinese design up and running in the UK would give other countries confidence on safety.

BBC 21st Sept 2015 read more »

There are two e-Petitions to sign against a new Chinese nuclear power station at Bradwell and against extension of discharges into the Blackwater from fuel element debris (FED) dissolution from 12 months to 24

BANNG 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

Dounreay

A range of unusual devices have been designed and built by Dounreay’s in-house design team over the years. Probing the depths of a former nuclear reactor with remotely controlled equipment isn’t a simple process and requires some ingenious thinking. A Dounreay senior design engineer, who has worked on site since before PFR was built, is now part of the PFR design team responsible for safely dismantling the reactor. Together they have donned their thinking caps and pondered the unique challenges they face.

DSRL 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

Aldermaston

Reading Nuclear Awareness Group asked why the atomic bomb factory had not been prosecuted by the regulator. A Reading environmental group has hit out at the Government’s nuclear safety watchdog for refusing to say why it has not prosecuted the Aldermaston atomic bomb factory. In June, the Reading-based Nuclear Awareness Group wrote to the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) – the organisation responsible for controlling safety at nuclear sites – with a request under the Freedom of Information Act. It wanted a copy of the report into ONR’s investigation into a failure by the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) to comply with a legally binding instruction to treat 1,000 drums of radioactive waste and an explanation of the decision not to prosecute AWE over the failure. ONR has provided the group with a copy of 24 page investigation report – from which 16 pages have been completely blacked out to hide information which the regulator does not wish to release.

Get Reading 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

Radhealth

Translated into French Ian Fairlie’s article: Summing the Health Effects of the Fukushima Nuclear Disaster: New emerging evidence from Fukushima shows that nuclear disasters and their aftermaths can kill thousands of people due to necessary evacuations. Between 2011 and 2014, about 2,000 Japanese people, including many old people, died from ill-heath and suicides connected with the evacuations.

Netoyen.info 22nd Sept 2015 read more »

Energy Policy

The political mishandling of EDF’s Hinkley Point C nuclear deal could scupper the cross-party support for nuclear power and politicise all future project plans, a former shadow energy minister has warned . Former Labour MP Tom Greatrex has warned that by pushing forward plans for the project in the face of increasingly vocal concerns the government might scupper the cross-party support which has underpinned the UK’s nuclear ambitions so far. “Many, on an objective analysis, see nuclear as a necessary part of our generation mix as the UK seeks to decarbonise. Yet through intentional antagonism and short term political posturing on other technologies, the Chancellor risks creating a new totemic energy issue for his opponents to rally around,” Greatrex said. “That could prove to be a very expensive political error on his part.”

Utility Week 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

Politics

The government is cutting the UK’s green energy sector “off at the knees”, according to Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, who today used his first keynote conference speech to pledge the party would fight the government’s plans “every inch of the way”. In a wide-ranging speech, Farron accused the government of dismantling the work of Lib Dem ministers in the coalition government to support green policy at “breathtaking speed”. “Driven by dogma and an obsession with short-term cuts, [the government] are cutting off at the knees a sector which grew at more than seven per cent a year from 2010 to 2013, compared with less than two per cent for the UK economy as a whole,” he said. “When Al Gore, John Gummer and the boss of the CBI all warn you you’re doing the wrong thing – which is what happened yesterday – that chance are, you’re on the wrong track,” he added.

Business Green 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

Guernsey

GUERNSEY will get regular updates about the nuclear facilities at Flamanville and La Hague as part of a new memorandum of understanding.

Guernsey Press 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

China

The China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) said on Wednesday that it is choosing a site for a Sino-France nuclear power project featuring mass nuclear fuel recycling. The construction by the CNNC and the France-based Areva is expected to start in 2020 and finish in 2030. Nuclear recycling refers reprocessing materials which has already been used and recovering unused uranium and plutonium. The project will reprocess 800 tonnes of materials from domestic nuclear power stations. The project will also store the spent fuel, manage nuclear power station discharges and solidify liquid waste via vitrification to make safe, clean nuclear power. It is estimated that spent fuel produced by China’s pressurized water reactors will add up to 23,500 tonnes by 2030.

Xinhuanet 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

US

It’s the kind of stuff you’d want to keep strict tabs on. Yet in July, the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, dispatched more uranium to a private company in the US than it meant to, it now admits. This was caused by human error, says Steven Wyatt of the National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages the Y-12 site. “Personnel mistakenly placed more material into containers than intended,” he says. Contractors at the unnamed firm reported the overgenerous delivery, prompting Y-12 – a nuclear weapons facility – to take action. “All material shipped… was recovered by a Y-12 team and returned to the Oak Ridge site safely,” says Wyatt.

New Scientist 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

Fusion

The ITER project is one the public should be fully engaged with. Not only do we need to scrutinize it as it is a major project that has all the hallmarks of allowing costs to run away due to the lack of clear controls and managing so many different representative nations; but we also need to encourage our politicians to resource it in a way that gets it completed faster. I only hope that we do demonstrate commercially viable fusion in the next decade as it will allow mankind to help overcome the technical difficulties of supporting a population expected to be around 8.5 billion with fresh water, food and housing. However, it will need a different, more energized approached by our politicians to make this happen; if we achieve the goal, that certainly would be a giant leap for mankind.

Herald 24th Sept 2015 read more »

Nuclear Weapons

In a move that prompted fears of a return to a nuclear arms race in Europe, Moscow has announced that it could be forced to take “countermeasures” to a strengthened US nuclear threat in Germany by stationing ballistic missiles in Kaliningrad.

Independent 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

Telegraph 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

Trident

Jeremy Corbyn will defy Labour MPs and make scrapping Britain’s nuclear deterrent official party policy if delegates vote for the change next week. The new Labour leader revealed the controversial policy would be put to delegates at the party’s conference in Brighton. It comes despite Mr Corbyn appointing a host shadow ministers committed to renewing the Trident nuclear weapons system in a Commons vote next year.

Daily Mail 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

Renewables – Scotland

The Scottish Government has announced it will retain a grandfathering guarantee for key policies supporting investment in solar farms, despite Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) proposals to end the protection in England and Wales. The move, which is designed to boost solar investor confidence in Scotland, could create an imbalance across the UK if DECC proposals to reform the Renewables Obligation (RO) scheme go ahead in England and Wales, with developers able to take advantage of a more supportive policy regime in Scotland. The Scottish Government also said this week it will not hold a ‘banding review’ of the RO prior to the closure of the scheme, creating another point of difference with Westminster proposals to reform the scheme.

Business Green 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

Scottish Energy News 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

A senior manager at a firm which has developed two renewable energy projects in South Lanarkshire has condemned as ‘perverse’ the cuts in offshore wind-energy subsidies announced by the UK-govt. Speaking at an event in the Scottish Parliament Colin Anderson, Development Director, Banks Renewables – which is based in Durham – said that the future of the renewable energy industry “is highly uncertain at the present time due to the negative policies towards onshore wind being implemented by the current UK Government.

Scottish Energy News 24th Sept 2015 read more »

Energy Efficiency

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd should replicate the government’s successful Help to Buy scheme with a new policy to drive uptake of home energy efficiency measures such as insulation, a new report claims today. Research by think tank Respublica suggests a new “Help to Improve” scheme among a range of measures it believes the government should implement to replace the Green Deal loan scheme, which was shelved earlier this year. Through the proposed scheme, banks and building societies would offer loans to homeowners that would then be guaranteed by the government. Writing for BusinessGreen, Richard Sagar, senior policy and projects officer for ResPublica, said a similar scheme had been running successfully in Germany for the past 15 years. The research shows that a national scheme to make homes more energy efficient would provide net benefits of £8.7bn to the UK, which is comparable to the benefits of High Speed Rail phase one or Crossrail. More than 50 businesses and individuals including Kingfisher, Co-operative Energy, and Willmott Dixon have backed the research, and have today written to the Chancellor calling for him to create a new energy efficiency national infrastructure programme.

Business Green 23rd Sept 2015 read more »

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Published: 24 September 2015