25 April 2016

Hinkley

The decision on whether to go ahead with the £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power project has been delayed again, after France’s economy minister said the country’s energy giant EDF may not give it the green light until September. Emmanuel Macron’s comments come a week after he said EDF would deliver its verdict on Hinkley Point, which is set to meet 7% of the UK’s energy needs, in “the coming week or month”. EDF said just days ago that it was expecting to make a final decision in the summer, having previously promised to do so by the time of its annual general meeting on 12 May. The fresh delay raises the prospect that even if the project does go ahead, it will not meet its scheduled completion date of 2025, already eight years later than originally planned. The fresh delay is likely to fuel criticism of the project from organisations such as Greenpeace, which last week said the project was an “utter mess”.

Guardian 24th April 2016 read more »

BBC 24th April 2016 read more »

Independent 24th April 2016 read more »

Press & Journal 24th April 2016 read more »

MPs on the commons energy and climate change select committee have already vowed to recall EDF Energy chief executive Vincent de Rivaz to explain any delay to a decision beyond mid-May, the timescale he indicated when giving evidence last month. Angus MacNeil MP, the committee chairman, said: “All we see from EDF is them kicking the can down the road. According to some of the experts, by the 2030s between storage and renewables there will be no need for nuclear anyway, so if EDF kick the can far enough down the road they’ll have maybe served a purpose.” He said he personally doubted whether Hinkley would ever get built. “It’s always two-to-six months away. It’s jam tomorrow with EDF.”

Telegraph 24th April 2016 read more »

Emmanuel Macron said the £18bn project would still go ahead, but the decision “could be confirmed next September”. Union and shareholder groups hostile to Hinkley said over the weekend they were going to use the latest delay on the EDF final investment decision to push for further concessions – either pushing back the board sign-off by several years or securing an overhaul of the project. Jean-Claude Mailly, general secretary of the FO union, which has a seat on the EDF board, said he would be pressing for a delay of “at least three years” because despite the French government’s support the problems with Hinkley “were not settled”. Norbert Tangy, general secretary of EDF Actionnariat Salarie, the body representing employee shareholders, said Hinkley was “losing support” within the company, and as a result “it is likely the programme will not go forward this year”. Mr Tangy added he would be meeting lawmakers and government officials next week. The shareholder body wants to hold off on any decisions until a French nuclear power plant at Flamanville, which uses the same technology as that proposed for Hinkley, is up and running. It is due to be online in 2018.

FT 24th April 2016 read more »

In a bid to quell rumours that French energy giant EDF would stall indefinitely a project to build two nuclear reactors in the UK, French Economy Minister Emmanuel Macron said Sunday that the green light would be given in September. In an interview with Sunday paper Le Journal du Dimanche, Macron said French President François Hollande had “confirmed France’s engagement” in the project and that the “final decision will be given in September”. Asked if the decision would be delayed beyond the summer – the deal was signed by David Cameron in October, 2015 and a final green light was expected on May 12 – Macron insisted it was in everyone’s interest to get the much-delayed project rolling as soon as possible. On Friday, the French government announced that it would inject three billion euros into the energy provider, as part of a four-billion-euro capital increase. France’s powerful unions, which have representatives on EDF’s board, are not convinced that the capital injection is enough to quell fears over the Hinkley project. Jean-Claude Mailly, head of the Force Ouvrière union, told France 3 TV on Sunday that EDF’s position was still too weak and that Macron was rushing the company into commitments it could not honour. “For financial as well as technical reasons, we need three years and not three months,” he said. “Emmanuel Macron is trying to rush this through much too quickly, and the consequences could be disastrous.” EDF’s leadership has been more upbeat. In a statement released Friday, the company insisted: “Confirmation of the significant recapitalisation of EDF agreed by the board makes it possible for EDF to proceed with its strategic investment programme – including Hinkley Point C.” Not everyone in the French government is convinced that the Hinkley Point project is a viable proposition for state-owned EDF. Jean-Vincent Placé, a Green Party lawmaker who is junior minister for state reform, told Europe1 radio the project was “strategic dead-end” for EDF.

France24 24th April 2016 read more »

Independent renewable energy supplier Ecotricity and Greenpeace have written to the UK and French governments and EDF Energy to warn that any further state aid for Hinkley Point nuclear power station could be illegal. The letter makes clear that both Ecotricity and Greenpeace would be prepared to challenge further state funding in the courts. The Hinkley Point project has been rumbling on for a number of years, despite the support of the UK, French and Chinese governments. The UK government has given EDF the maximum amount of subsidy allowed under state aid rules, offering the company a 35 year subsidy at twice the market price and an export guarantee for Hinkley.

Scottish Energy News 25th April 2016 read more »

Moorside

Absent from the Stage 2 public consultation on Moorside, starting on 14th May, will be detailed plans of the exact location and extent of the sub-seabed cooling tunnels and associated marine facilities because the offshore geotechnical survey designed specifically to pinpoint these vital components of the Moorside project will only start in early May and is unlikely to be completed by the end of the consultation on 30th July. In its 22nd April letter to NuGen’s CEO Tom Samson, CORE has described the absence of cooling system data for the three projected Westinghouse AP1000 reactors as wholly unacceptable in effectively disenfranchising consultees and thereby reducing the credibility of the consultation process. The failure to provide the data must also undermine the validity of the Development Consent Order (DCO) application expected to be made by NuGen next year – an application to the Secretary of State (for the Department of Energy & Climate Change) that will be underpinned by consultation responses designed to ‘help to shape the Moorside project’

CORE 24th April 2016 read more »

Many of you will have seen the article in the Guardian and other national papers on the “fury over Lake District Pylons” quite a few of us have commented on the Guardian website about it, and have written about the superficial focus on the pylons on the blog and in letters to the press time and again. One thing people can do is to lobby Friends of the Lake District about their superficial focus on the pylons when the only way to actually stop the pylons is to put their weight behind the campaign already supported by over 9000 people to stop the far greater threat to health and the environment.

Radiation Free Lakeland 24th April 2016 read more »

New Nuclear

Thirty years ago, the errors led to carnage. And 30 years on, the suffering still goes on. Chernobyl went on fire and the world wept but our leaders are still building nuclear power stations. Just over the Irish Sea, only a seagull’s commuter flight from our east coast, nuclear power is seen by some as an accident waiting to happen. As many see it, radiation pays no respect to the borders between nations. And we all put up with the clear and present danger to the health of our people and the fellow citizens of the planet. We need to revive the spirit of Carnsore.

Irish Independent 25th April 2016 read more »

Nuclear Accidents

THE catastrophic horror of Chernobyl still lingers 30 years after the disaster – but what would happen if one the UK’s nuclear power stations blew up? It will be 30 years since the disaster in Ukraine on Tuesday and its affects are still felt today. Thankfully emergency scenarios at nuclear power stations globally have been few and far between since April 26, 1986. Maps put together by the Keep Wales Nuclear Free organisation reveals the stark reality of a nuclear power station accident in the UK. The group applied the data from the accident to each of the nine of the active power stations in the country, revealing the fallout zones and the emergency resettlement areas. For the UK, it would be a disaster of epic proportions due to its dense population. The sobering reality of a reactor meltdown in the UK and in other parts of the world is why anti-nuclear campaign groups exist. Roy Pumfrey, spokesman for the Stop Hinkley organisation in Somerset, said a Chernobyl-style explosion at one of the UK’s plants would be “catastrophic”. He told Daily Star Online: “A lot depends on how severe the accident it, and which way the wind is blowing. “Hinkley Point is in an isolated position but it is just across the Bristol Channel and major towns and cities in south Wales are not very far. Great number of people in other areas would be affected. “Our estimates is that a severe incident would affect around three million people. “What we know is that the Chernobyl incident affected the whole of western Europe. “This would have the potential to be catastrophic. It would put a huge strain on resources to deal with. “The affected areas in Chernobyl are just as dangerous as they were 30 years ago. “It’ll be a disaster like nothing we have experienced before.” Mr Pumfrey said the threat of a terrorist attack at a major power station is a huge concern. It comes as Brussels bombers Ibrahim and Khalid el-Bakroui spied on the home of a nuclear power chief in Belgium and may have been planning to attack a plant. Mr Pumfrey added: “There is a risk. It doesn’t have to be flying a jet into a power station. “Terrorism is becoming increasingly sophisticated. “A risk of a cyber attack where a hacker could be able to gain control of operation systems without leaving home or their desk to wreak havoc will be very hard to deal with. “We expect that’s the bigger risk than a direct attack.”

Daily Star 24th April 2016 read more »

Chernobyl

It was the worst nuclear disaster in history spewing thousands of tons of radioactive waste into the atmosphere and prompting the evacuation of more than 100,000 people. But thirty years after its reactor number four exploded in a pillar of radioactive smoke, the abandoned wasteland around the Chernobyl nuclear power station is one of the most important habitats for scientists studying native wildlife in Europe. “Thirty years ago, two things happened at once. The whole area was contaminated with radiation, and the human population vanished,” said professor Mike Wood, a Salford University naturalist, as he pushed plastic sampling sticks into a patch of irradiated earth. “That gives us a unique opportunity to compare the impacts of both.”

Telegraph 24th April 2016 read more »

Jan Haverkamp and Iryna Holovko: Thirty years on from Chernobyl, nuclear energy still accounts for more than half of Ukraine’s electricity. With vested interests dominating Ukraine’s energy market, what are the chances for a post-nuclear Ukraine?

Open Democracy 25th April 2016 read more »

How the Chernobyl disaster unfolded 30 years ago.

Daily Post 24th April 2016 read more »

‘The people feel forgotten’ – Revisiting Chernobyl 30 years on from the disaster.

ITV 24th April 2016 read more »

Haunting images reveal city 30 years after it was abandoned by 50,000 people because of Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

Mirror 24th April 2016 read more »

Russia

In Russia, the space for environmental activism and advocacy is changing under increasing state pressure. An interview with one of Russia’s leading ecological organisations about the prospects for anti-nuclear activism today.

Open Democracy 25th April 2016 read more »

Energy Storage

This is the context in which to judge the hype around lithium. The price of lithium will rise as demand for electric vehicles and the batteries that power them increases. But there is a limit. We do not yet know how much extra lithium can be produced. The competition for known existing resources suggests there are serious constraints. If that is so lithium will become more expensive to the point at which its cost becomes a barrier and a constraint on electric vehicle sales. That in turn can only hasten the process of substitution – the development of materials that can displace lithium in batteries. Markets always have ceilings set by the ability and willingness of consumers to pay what is being asked, and by ever advancing technology. Petrol is a prime example of a product that keeps selling in vast quantities because it is readily available and its price is not too high. At the moment lithium is one of the very few commodities for which there is an increase in price. The existing owners are no doubt dining out on the increased economic rents they are collecting. They should enjoy the good times while they last.

FT 25th April 2016 read more »

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Published: 25 April 2016