27 February 2016

Hinkley

DOES the government need a ‘Plan B’ for Hinkley C? The Green Party’s MEP for the South West Dr Molly Scott Cato certainly thinks so. Following news last week that French energy firm EDF reported a 68 per cent fall in profits and is planning to extend the life of four of its other UK nuclear power stations, Dr Scott Cato thinks now is the time to focus on renewables. The Final Investment Decision had been expected this month but there is still no word from EDF. Dr Scott Cato believes the nation should invest in renewables as an alternative to nuclear, and has commissioned a report over the viability of producing 100 per cent of the region’s energy this way.

Somerset County Gazette 25th Feb 2016 read more »

A cloud of uncertainty has descended overt the Hinkley C project after EDF failed to announce the Final Investment Date this month. A board meeting of the French firm gave no word on signing off the decision leaving Somerset firms in a state of limbo. Mike Murphy of Highbridge’s Chamber of Commerce said that combined with the doubts over the outcome of the referendum it was influencing business in the area.

Burnham & Highbridge Weekly News 26th Feb 2016 read more »

Areva

Areva reported a €2bn net loss for the full year as the French nuclear group took further writedowns on its long-delayed reactor project in Finland as well as impairments related to restructuring and weak market conditions. The company, which is 87 per cent owned by the French state, is in the middle of negotiating a government-backed rescue package that will see it raise €5bn in the markets. It is also selling a majority stake in its reactor making division Areva NP, valued at €2.5bn, to rival French nuclear group EDF.

FT 26th Feb 2016 read more »

French nuclear technology company Areva has announced a €2.0 billion ($2.2 billion) net loss for 2015 due to additional provisions for the delayed completion of the Olkiluoto 3 EPR as well as impairments for restructuring and weak market conditions.

World Nuclear News 26th Feb 2016 read more »

Energy Supplies

The UK’s mainstream media – and parts of government – still don’t seem to have got the message that the times are changing. Over the past few weeks the national papers have been full of fears that Britain would be unable to “keep the lights on” after the news broke of early shutdowns of coal-fired units – a headline that has been in almost continuous circulation since the 1970s. Meanwhile, ministers’ fixation with new gas investment, which again prompted warnings this week that it is likely to prove incompatible with carbon targets, risks burdening the UK with yet more 20th century infrastructure at a time when renewables, energy storage, and smart grids are re-defining what a modern power grid can deliver. It’s no longer business-as-usual in the world of energy. Now’s the time to prepare your business for a low-carbon energy revolution and all the disruption and opportunity that entails – it’s coming sooner than you think.

Business Green 26th Feb 2016 read more »

Britain faces nearly three months of electricity shortages next winter, as the nation dips into a deficit with the looming closure of five of its biggest coal-fired power stations next month. Provisional forecasts made for the winter of 2016, released by National Grid, show the UK will fall into a power deficit in late November which will drag on for 11 weeks until the Spring of 2017, when warmer weather curtails overall demand. Without urgent action to address the shortfall, experts have warned the crunch could lead to rolling blackouts for industrial users of electricity and, under exceptional circumstances, for ordinary domestic users. Experts say it is impossible to say if emergency measures adopted by National Grid, such as ordering industrial users to switch off their electricity during peak hours or calling on emergency supplies including from small-scale diesel generators, would be sufficient to prevent wider disruption, including to ordinary households.

Times 27th Feb 2016 read more »

New Reactor Types

A greatly expanded role for nuclear energy will be needed if the world is to have any chance of avoiding the worst consequences of climate change. Some of us have also concluded that without significant advances in nuclear reactor and fuel cycle technologies — advances yielding cost reductions, shorter cycle times, a greater focus on passive safety, and other improvements — nuclear is unlikely to play that role. A three phase plan for innovation of nuclear technologies; First – extend the operational lifetime of the existing fleet. Innovation focuses on cost control and efficient operation. It covers the current era to the end of the 2030s; Second – build a new, expanded fleet, primarily of large and small light-water reactors, and bring to commercial deployment advanced nuclear technologies for use in power generation, but also desalinization, process heat, and production of fuels for the transportation sector. It begins in the 2030s and extends to the end of this century; Third – develop a second generation of advanced nuclear technologies in the post 2050 timeframe to broaden their use globally

Energy Post 22nd Feb 2016 read more »

PLEX

David Lochbaum: Following the March 1979 reactor core meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) established a safety policy that sought to limit the chance of another meltdown to no more than once every 10,000 years of reactor operation—reasonably remote odds for a reactor licensed to operate for 40 years. But since that safety goal was established, the NRC has extended the operating licenses of more than three quarters of the US fleet of 100 reactors by 20 years and is contemplating extending the licenses for an additional 20 years. The new license process, called Subsequent License Renewal, would extend operations from 60 years to 80 years. Although some reactors in unregulated markets have retired early because they can’t compete economically with cheap natural gas, reactors in regulated markets face a very different set of economic circumstances and may be kept in service well past their originally planned retirement dates. The chance of one reactor experiencing a meltdown among a fleet of 100 reactors operating within the NRC’s safety goal for 40 years is nearly one in three (32.97 percent), or slightly higher than the risk from taking two turns on a six-chamber revolver during Russian roulette. The chance of a meltdown from that fleet operating for 60 years rises to 45.12 percent, or slightly higher than taking three Russian roulette turns. And the meltdown risk from the fleet operating for 80 years is 55.07 percent, or roughly the risk from taking four and one-half Russian roulette turns.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 24th Feb 2016 read more »

R&D

“We need a massive amount of research into thousands of new ideas – even ones that might sound a little crazy – if we want to get to zero emissions by the end of this century,” he said. “New ways to make solar and wind power available to everyone around the clock could be one solution. Some of the crazier inventions I’m excited about are a possible way to use solar energy to produce fuel, much like plants use sunlight to make food for themselves, and batteries the size of swimming pools with huge storage capacity. “Many of these ideas won’t work, but that’s okay. Each dead end will teach us something useful and keep us moving forward. As Thomas Edison famously said, ‘I have not failed 10,000 times. I’ve successfully found 10,000 ways that will not work’.”

Guardian 24th Feb 2016 read more »

Proliferation

The fourth and almost certainly final Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) will take place from March 31 to April 1, 2016 in Washington, DC. Washington hosted the first such meeting of heads of states and government in 2010, followed by summits in Seoul (2012) and the Hague (2014). Though the NSS process is about to end, the struggle to prevent nuclear terrorism is not, and at present there is no vehicle with which to carry these efforts forward in a concerted manner. The NSS process has led to significant achievements in securing nuclear materials worldwide, but much more remains to be done. As terrorist threats persist, nuclear and radioactive materials in numerous countries are still vulnerable, and the international nuclear security architecture continues to be fragmented and predominantly based on nonbinding measures. Although the last summit cannot conclusively resolve nuclear security problems, it presents leaders with an opportunity to chart a new direction of cooperation that would comprehensively address underlying challenges and ensure NSS’s enduring legacy.

Council of Councils 24th Feb 2016 read more »

Fukushima

Haunting Fukushima images taken by Chernobyl filmmaker 5 years after nuclear disaster

Mirror 26th Feb 2016 read more »

Belgium

The Greens/EFA group in the European Parliament today (14 January) presented the third study in a series on the Belgian nuclear reactors Doel 3 and Tihange 2, which was commissioned from materials scientist Dr. Ilse Tweer. The study presents new information on flaws in the reactor pressure vessels and underlines that continued operation of the reactors would be irresponsible. Commenting on the study, Greens/EFA Co-President Rebecca Harms said: “Operating these two reactors, which contain thousands of cracks, is irresponsible. This study comes to the clear conclusion that there is no evidence how and when these cracks appeared in the reactor pressure vessels nor if they have changed whilst the reactor was in operation or how they might do so in the future. There is simply no evidence to support the claim by Electrabel that the flaws are ‘most likely’ hydrogen flakes, introduced during the manufacture of the steel and unchanged since then. The only way to determine this would be by destroying the pressure vessel

EU Reporter 14th Feb 2016 read more »

France

A series of measurements of the thickness of the steel walls of some of the evaporators at Areva’s La Hague reprocessing plant in northern France has indicated faster than expected corrosion. The country’s nuclear regulator, the Autorité de Sûreté Nucléaire (ASN), said it will monitor Areva’s work to minimize future corrosion of these evaporators.

World Nuclear News 26th Feb 2016 read more »

US – Hanford

The two most highly contaminated pieces of processing equipment have been removed from the former Plutonium Finishing Plant at the US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hanford site in preparation for the plant’s demolition later this year. Work began to remove the two large glove boxes in June 2015. Nearly 4 metres in height, the glove boxes were too large and too heavily contaminated to remove from the building in one piece. The boxes were therefore cut into smaller pieces that have since been packaged for eventual permanent disposal. Workers cutting the glove boxes into pieces worked from the top down, and wore protective suits and breathed supplied air during the cutting operations.

World Nuclear News 26th Feb 2016 read more »

South Africa

While Chinese companies have been involved in Africa’s energy industry for years, particularly in hydro-electricity and fossil fuel extraction, the rise of China’s involvement in the continent’s renewable energy sector is relatively recent and an area ripe for further research. New research, which aims to better understand China’s investment in South Africa’s renewable energy sector, will help provide some answers. Lucy Baker, from the Science Policy Research Unit at the University of Sussex and Wei Shen, from the Institute of Development Studies, have received a fellowship to better understand the drivers and obstacles to the expansion of Chinese renewable energy activities in South Africa.

SPRU 26th Feb 2016 read more »

Trident

TRIDENT whistleblower William McNeilly warned last night that the nuclear weapons system was a “risk to the people and a risk to the land.” The former nuclear submariner spoke out in an interview with Russia Today before the huge Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) protest today against Tory plans to renew Trident at a cost of £167 billion. Mr McNeilly said that Trident had “huge” disadvantages and argued that rather than acting as a deterrent, the nuclear submarines “create a target” for extremists. He said it was “an attraction to the people who were radicalised to carry out an attack on our homeland that could bring the UK to its knees.”

Morning Star 27th Feb 2016 read more »

While British MPs discuss whether or not to continue with the Trident nuclear weapons system, Royal Navy engineer-turned-whistleblower William McNeilly has opened up about the various security loopholes in the system, pointing out that they make it very easy for anyone to access nuclear weapons.

IB Times 27th Feb 2016 read more »

Kate Hudson: Trident protest: People have died from cuts, but we can afford £183bn on nuclear weapons?

IB Times 27th Feb 2016 read more »

Why is it so important to the US that Britain renew its nuclear weapons of mass destruction? The main purpose of Trident, writes Oliver Tickell, is to allow the UK to join American nuclear attacks, adding ‘legitimacy’ to them and so lowering the threshold for nuclear war – even if it guarantees our own destruction.

Ecologist 26th Feb 2016 read more »

Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Trident members of his shadow Cabinet are “professional posers” who are playing student politics while sipping lattes in Islington, one of Britain’s biggest unions has warned ahead of Labour leader’s CND address. Gary Smith, GMB’s Scottish secretary, said the Labour leader wants workers to lose their jobs with little concern for the consequences and vowed to fight hard against Mr Corbyn over Trident. The Labour leader is on a collision course with his own MPs and two of the biggest trade unions in the country – significant financial backers of his party – because he wants to scrap the nuclear deterrent.

Telegraph 26th Feb 2016 read more »

Renewables – solar

‘Smart wallpaper’ which absorbs light and heat to help power homes could be available in the next few years after scientists invented ultra-thin flexible solar panels. Engineers at the University of Surrey have borrowed the design of moth eyes to create paper-like panels which soak up even dim light with 90 per cent efficiency.

Telegraph 26th Feb 2016 read more »

Microgeneration

This week’s Micro Power News; Now a million solar homes; solar plans in Barnsley, Redditch, Swindon; Scottish 20 point solar plan;

Microgen Scotland. 26th Feb 2016 read more »

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Published: 27 February 2016