26 April 2014

Chernobyl

The 28th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine will be marked on 26 April as the country goes through yet another convulsion – though this time not a nuclear one. A $2.1bn (£1.2bn) project aimed at building a contamination shield around the site of the worst nuclear disaster in history, which is just 130km (80 miles) from Kiev, could be delayed another two years because of the increasing tensions between Ukraine and Russia. Originally, the plan was to construct a contamination shield, which would last 100 years, around Chernobyl by 2015. This is now expected to be delayed until 2017, putting locals at further risk of radiation poisoning. To mark the 28th and possibly most turbulent anniversary of the nuclear accident, IBTimes UK looks at the facts behind the disaster and its repercussions.The disaster killed 31 people almost immediately – almost all of them reactor staff and emergency workers. Between 30 and 50 emergency workers died shortly afterwards from acute radiation. Exactly how many people suffered from radiation poisoning, and to what extent, is not known. A 2005 report by WHO said that up to 4,000 people were expected to die from radiation exposure. Exact figures of those who became sick or died are difficult to ascertain because of Soviet secrecy at the time of the disaster. WHO estimated there have been approximately 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer – mostly in children – caused by the contamination. Nine children have died. Even children born after 1986 have been affected. A 200% increase in birth defects and a 250% increase in birth deformities have been reported.

IB Times 26th April 2014 read more »

Ukrainians have been marking the 28th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the world’s worst nuclear accident. At around 1.26 am, the exact time of the blast, people gathered at a memorial in the capital Kyiv to remember victims. Among those attending were families who had lost loved ones and ex-employees. “This is a day of remembrance for the victims,” said Yuriy Cherkashun, 70, a former worker at the plant. “We were workers at the Chernobyl nuclear plant reactor unit. This is our memory. All the names of the victims written here…we knew them. We worked together. This is our memory, a very difficult memory.” At least 30 people were killed immediately but some put the eventual death toll from radiation exposure at tens or even hundreds of thousands.

Euro News 26th April 2014 read more »

Energy Policy

There’s “no requirement” for the UK to put up any more onshore wind turbines after 2020, according to energy minister Michael Fallon. But evidence from a government advisor suggests capping onshore windfarms will make it a lot more difficult and expensive to hit our climate targets. The government has encouraged UK onshore wind as part of its attempts to meet a European Union (EU) renewable energy target. It requires the UK to source 15 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2020. To hit the target, the government believes it needs about 13 gigawatts (GW) of onshore wind online by 2020. The country already has nearly 7GW of onshore wind in place, and there’s a lot in the pipeline. Figures from the Department for Energy and Climate Change suggest that once wind projects under construction or granted planning permission are taken into account, the UK will have 11 to 13 GW of onshore wind power by 2020. The CCC says if the country’s going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with its targets under the act, the power sector must be emit virtually no greenhouse gases by 2030. This means onshore wind capacity must keep rising to 25 GW by 2030, it suggests. Onshore wind is a well developed technology, and it’s relatively cheap compared to other low-carbon power sources. Experts from the Royal Academy of Engineering recently estimated replacing a single onshore wind turbine with an offshore wind turbine would cost £300,000 in government subsidies, for example. The government expects the cost of offshore wind to come down in the 2020s – but not enough to overtake onshore wind. Overall, investing in 10 GW of onshore wind in the 2020s rather than other less-developed clean technologies could save the economy two to three billion pounds, the CCC predicts. Or to put it another way – failing to invest in 10 GW of onshore wind could cost the country two to three billion pounds in the 2020s.

Carbon Brief 24th April 2014 read more »

Nuclear Security

The greatest dangers to nuclear facilities are sabotage and theft from insiders, according to political scientist Scott Sagan. Analysis of past incidents can help boost safeguards at these sites.

Stanford 24th April 2014 read more »

Hinkley

The government is wrong to insist Hinkley Point C is not being subsidised, a cross-party group of MPs has told the European Commission. In a submission to Brussels’ probe into the UK’s new nuclear support plans, the Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) said the government’s line “makes no sense”. Committee chair Joan Walley highlighted the findings of a parliamentary inquiry into energy subsidies, which rubbished the government’s claim to be providing no public subsidy for Hinkley Point. “It is already clear that new nuclear is being subsidised,” she wrote. The letter, dated 18 March and addressed to competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia, piles further pressure on the UK government to defend the deal struck with EDF Energy. Incentives to build Hinkley Point C include a guaranteed “strike price” of £92.50/MWh for power generated.

Utility Week 25th April 2014 read more »

Sellafield

One of the UK’s top 10 nuclear safety risks has been significantly reduced after a project at Sellafield was completed four years early. The work involved removing plutonium-contaminated filters from a building deemed no longer fit-for-purpose, repackaging them and placing them in a more modern store. The filters had been removed from facilities during the 1970s and 1980s and placed into storage. The project is part of a wider programme to remove plutonium-contaminated across the site. It was completed in February, four years ahead of schedule, saving £7m on the original estimate.

Cumberland News 25th April 2014 read more »

Hartlepool

IMPROVEMENTS to flood defences have been made at Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station. The measures were undertaken by power station operator EDF to protect the site from extreme weather. The company said the improvements to a flood barrier at the plant were “arguably unnecessary” but wanted to ensure its resilience against the worst weather it could envisage. Details of the work have come to light after it emerged the French company shut one of two reactors at Dungeness power station, on the Kent coast, for five months.

Hartlepool Mail 25th April 2014 read more »

Radwaste – WIPP

Broken roof bolts directly above WIPP nuclear waste were reported the day before radiation event — Cracks seen in nearby wall — “Heaving of bottom” may have taken place below broken bolts.

Cumbria Trust 25th April 2014 read more »

MoX

In September 2000, the U.S. and Russia signed an agreement under which each side would turn 34 tons of weapons-grade plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel, or MOX, that could be combined with uranium for use in commercial reactors. Almost seven years after construction began, the US MOX plant is now 60 percent built. But it’s looking increasingly likely that it won’t ever be completed. Though the government has successfully converted weapons-grade uranium into nuclear fuel for commercial reactors, doing the same with plutonium is proving to be much more complicated. The MOX plant in South Carolina requires 85 miles of pipe, 23,000 instruments, and 3.6 million linear feet of power cables.

Bloomberg 24th April 2014 read more »

Uranium

It’s been well over a year since the uranium market truly started gaining some much-needed attention, and many have high hopes for a “uranium renaissance.” Unfortunately, the phrase “uranium renaissance” has been uttered so often that it has begun to feel like a bad joke. The worst part is that the market looks to be the punch line, with spot prices sinking even further than their $34-per-pound resistance point.

Uranium Investing News 24th April 2014 read more »

US

As we’ve warned several times over the past few weeks, the nuclear industry is not taking the threat of more reactor shutdowns lying down–not simply because many of their reactors can’t compete against renewables and gas anymore. With the recent formation of the front group Nuclear Matters, which exists only to defend operating reactors and appears to be funded solely by Exelon; in numerous and clearly coordinated op-eds placed in key media outlets in Exelon and Entergy’s service areas; in an increasing number of public appearances by top executives from nuclear and fossil fuel-dominated utilities; and in an unknown number of backroom lobbying visits, the nuclear industry is waging a full-press campaign to hang on to its aging dinosaurs as long as possible.

Green World 25th April 2014 read more »

Korea

Barack Obama has warned North Korea that the United States “will not hesitate to use our military might” to defend allies, condemning the actions of “a pariah state that would rather starve its people than feed their hopes and dreams” and characterising the 38th parallel dividing the two Koreas as “freedom’s frontier”.

Guardian 26th April 2014 read more »

Telegraph 25th April 2014 read more »

Weapons Convoy

A COUNCILLOR has warned that nuclear convoys travelling over the Erskine Bridge could endanger the lives of people in Renfrewshire. SNP man Brian Lawson, who represents the Paisley and Ralston areas, expressed fears over catastrophic consequences if lines of trucks are allowed to keep travelling along the M8.

The Gazette 25th April 2014 read more »

Local Authority Action

A £7m boost to support Bristol as European Green Capital 2015 has been announced by the government. Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said the money would “enable Bristol to fulfil its potential”. The money will support a range of projects including an annual award for the best new clean technology and a series of summits on climate change. Bristol is the first UK city to be named as European Green Capital since the award was launched in 2008. Mr Alexander said the money would help to “generate millions of pounds of new green investment”.

BBC 25th April 2014 read more »

Scotland – renewables

Most political matters in Scotland are being framed by the independence debate. The decision on September 18 could make a very big difference when it comes to Scotland’s future on so many issues. Whichever way the vote goes, I’m hopeful that Scotland will continue to lead when it comes to driving the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon future. The wind will still blow and the tides will still turn and Scotland will continue to have abundant renewable energy resources, with some of the best potential for wind and marine energy in the world. The country remains committed, on a cross-party basis, to taking world-leading action on tackling climate change and reducing carbon emissions. By 2020 Scotland aims to reduce emissions by 42% relative to 1990, and to generate the equivalent of 100% of its electricity consumption from renewables. This commitment was demonstrated in the latest figures in a progress report from the Committee on Climate Change, showing a 9.9% annual reduction in Scotland’s carbon emissions. This compares favourably to the UK as a whole, where the reduction is 6.9%. What has been achieved represents good progress but Scotland’s ambitions are set very high and meeting them will not be easy.

Herald 26th April 2014 read more »

Renewables – solar

In my first guest blog for SPP, I lamented the ridiculous politicking over wind and questioned its implications for solar. I looked forward to a time when the market rather than politics determined deployment levels. But for now the industry has to deal with the transition from ROCs to Contracts for Difference (CfDs). This is the third iteration of UK government support for renewables. For solar it will almost certainly be the last before it’s able to compete on equal terms with other generation forms. On average each support regime lasts just over ten years, before being superseded by the next. The Non Fossil Fuel Obligation was the first, introduced in 1990. It was replaced by the Renewables Obligation in 2002. CfDs will take over in 2017, with a couple of years overlap beforehand.

Solar Portal 25th April 2014 read more »

Renewables – wind

The latest announcements make grim reading for anyone looking for any kind of stability in energy policy. It’s a real rollercoaster: one day you’re up, the next day they’re trying their best to choke you. For example, there was good news on Wednesday when the government announced financial support for eight offshore wind and biomass projects, and released its April 2014 Energy Investment Report (EIR) showing that £14bn has been invested, with the Lib Dem energy secretary Ed Davey saying that “the energy sector in the UK has an exciting and bright future”. What a difference a day makes. On Thursday the Conservative energy minister Michael Fallon chose the front page of the Telegraph and Radio 4’s Today programme to announce that a future Tory government would end subsidies to onshore wind and introduce draconian planning laws to block new schemes.

Guardian 25th Aprl 2014 read more »

Renewables – marine energy

RenewableUK commented on the release of a new marine energy roadmap from the UK Energy Research Centre and the Energy Technologies Institute. The report, which focusses on cost-cutting, identifies forty technology and deployment issues faced by the wave and tidal energy sector in the UK, and lays out how to tackle these to ensure the sector is able to reduce costs. The roadmap lays out a target for the industry to halve its levelised costs by the end of the decade, and for costs to fall by up to six times by 2050. RenewableUK’s Wave and Tidal Development Manager, Dee Nunn said:“The marine energy industry has huge potential for the UK – it’s paramount that we transform our world-leading research in this area into commercialised delivery. With large scale deployment of these technologies, economies of scale will kick in which will enable the sector to achieve the cost reductions it is committed to in the long term. However, as the next step towards wave and tidal energy becoming cost competitive with other renewable technologies, it’s crucial that government provides the right support to get the first arrays in the water. The learning from these is vital to help us to reduce costs.

Renewable UK 25th April 2014 read more »

Energy Efficiency

The Government’s troubled Green Deal programme is to be investigated by Parliament’s spending watchdog after ministers were accused of going on a “breathtaking spending spree” in an attempt to make it a success. In the last 12 months alone the Department of Energy and Climate has ploughed more than £36 million into the scheme that incentivises homeowners to install energy-efficient improvements.But the latest figures reveal that just 445 households signed up to the scheme in February – a significant fall on the month before.

Independent 25th April 2014 read more »

Fossil Fuels

It’s not surprising that a survey of energy professionals attending the 2014 North American Prospect Expo overwhelmingly identified “U.S. energy independence” as the trend most likely to gain momentum this year. Like any number of politicians and pundits, these experts are riding high on the shale boom — that catch-all colloquialism for the rise of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling that have unleashed a torrent of hydrocarbons from previously inaccessible layers of rock. But this optimism belies an increasingly important question: How long will it all last? Clearly, neither shale oil production, which even Tinker concedes is likely to peak just five or six years from now, nor shale gas will escort the U.S. into the era of energy independence. Getting there requires a much more deliberate diversification of the nation’s energy portfolio, along with far more aggressive efforts to increase efficiency and eliminate energy waste — steps that, by the way, are also critical in addressing that other nagging issue, global warming.

Bloomberg 22nd April 2014 read more »

Microgeneration

This week’s Micro Power News.

Microgen Scotland 25th April 2014 read more »

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Published: 26 April 2014