27 June 2013

Nuclear Police

Police officers with the elite force that guards Britain’s nuclear power stations have been caught drunk, using drugs, misusing firearms and also accused of sexual harassment and assault. The offences by officers with the Civil Nuclear Constabulary (CNC), released under the Freedom of Information Act, have raised concerns about the safety of the UK’s nuclear plants and radioactive material. Such is the array of serious misdemeanours by the CNC officers– who are funded directly by the energy companies – that it raises grave concerns about the safety of the UK’S nuclear power plants. Paul Flynn MP said: “The UK sent 441 of our soldiers to die in Afghanistan to protect us from alleged terrorist threats to the UK, Nuclear installation are the prime nightmare targets that could create mass devastation. This evidence suggests sacrifices abroad but woefully weak protection standards at home.” Robin Oakley, Campaigns Director for Greenpeace UK, said: “This deeply worrying catalogue of misdemeanours is a reminder that nuclear reactors will always be vulnerable to human mistakes and irresponsibility. If the people supposed to protect us from probably the highest level of nuclear risk don’t take safety seriously, what confidence can we have in the rest of the nuclear industry’s operations?”

Independent 26th June 2013 read more »

Radhealth

The United Nations has come under criticism from medical experts and members of civil society for what these critics consider inaccurate statements about the effects of lingering radioactivity on local populations. Scientists and doctors met with top U.N. officials last week to discuss the effects of radioactivity in Japan and Ukraine, and the U.N. has enlisted several of its agencies, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the U.N. Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), to address the matter. In May, UNSCEAR stated that radiation exposure following the 2011 Fukushima-Daichii nuclear disaster in Japan poses “no immediate health risks” and that long-term health risks are “unlikely”. “I think it’s ridiculous,” said Helen Caldicott, an Australian doctor and dissident, in response to the UNSCEAR report. “There have been health effects. A lot of people have experienced acute radiation illness, including bleeding noses, hair loss, nausea and diarrhoea,” she told IPS. The UNSCEAR report followed a February WHO report, which also predicted low health risks and normal cancer rates in Japan after the Fukushima disaster, even while noting that long-term studies are still needed. WHO warned instead of resulting psychosocial damage to the population. Asked why UNSCEAR and WHO released such statements if they were medically inaccurate, Caldicott referred to a 1959 WHO-IAEA agreement that gives the IAEA – an organisation that promotes nuclear power – oversight when researching nuclear accidents.

IPS 26th June 2013 read more »

Radwaste

Plans to use Hinkley Point as a storage facility for nuclear waste from other parts of the country is set to be debated by West Somerset Council later. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) may use the Hinkley Point A reactor to store waste from the former Dungeness power station in Kent. West Somerset Council will gather views from all councillors before submitting its final response to the NDA. The NDA will make the final decision once all views are gathered.

BBC 26th June 2013 read more »

Energy Subsidies

The Government’s claims that similar support is being made available to all electricity generators under Electricity Market Reform is false since better terms are likely to be offered to nuclear developers compared to developers of renewable energy. In particular the Government is likely to award contracts giving nuclear power developers premium price support (subsidies) for much longer periods compared to contracts to be offered to renewable energy developers. Indeed if the demands posed by EDF are met not only will nuclear power developers be given premium price (subsidy) support for more than twice as long as renewable energy developers, but they will also be paid considerably more in ‘headline’ strike prices than onshore wind and they will also be offered loan guarantees which will not be available to renewable energy developers. A Government offer of loan guarantees, whether initially agreed as ‘partial’ or complete, as suggested by the DECC Select Committee, will lead to a blank cheque for nuclear which will crowd out funds for renewables which are much more cost-competitive in practice.

Dave Toke’s Blog 26th June 2013 read more »

More submissions, including the Association for Conservation of Energy, now available on the Environment Audit Committee’s website. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click “View All”.

Environmental Audit Committee 26th June 2013 read more »

Spending Review

Energy and transport will be the focus as the government reveals later how £100bn will be spent on infrastructure projects across the UK. Nuclear and new sources of energy, and roads and railways, will be a big part of a raft of projects for 2015-20. But it is unclear how soon projects will start construction and Labour says investment is needed much quicker.The nuclear sector has long complained of a lack of government backing for new power stations – in particular agreeing a price for the electricity they will produce – so the government will try to show that commitment by promising money for the industry.

BBC 27th June 2013 read more »

Danny Alexander will on Thursday unveil plans to invest £100bn in Britain’s roads, railways and energy plants as the coalition tries to prove to sceptical investors that the coalition is serious about rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. Energy market reform will form the main plank of Thursday’s announcement, with Ed Davey expected to reveal draft strike prices for wind power, proposals to speed up exploratory drilling for shale gas and an update on nuclear power. On renewables, the energy secretary is expected to announce draft strike prices for the long-term wind farm contracts to be agreed with power plant developers under a new system of renewable energy support. The government is also expected to outline new guarantees for Hinkley Point, which has been a crucial factor in the negotiations on a strike price for EDF Energy’s planned new nuclear power station in Somerset. The Treasury has effectively agreed to guarantee some of the cost of the project, which is expected to have a price tag of around £14bn. That would reduce its impact on EDF’s balance sheet and allow for a lower “strike price” for the electricity generated at Hinkley.

FT 26th June 2013 read more »

One source familiar with the Treasury’s infrastructure programme said: “You should expect new projects as well as existing ones. The focus will be road and rail but energy will also feature strongly.” Ministers are in talks with France’s EDF over the “strike price” – the price consumers are committed to pay for up to 40 years – for electricity f rom Hinkley Point C, the first new nuclear plant in a generation. While a deal is not expected on the strike price in time for Mr Alexander’s announcement, Mr Osborne hinted yesterday that the Government is prepared to use its £40bn infrastructure guarantee scheme to help build new nuclear plants. “We provide guarantees for new nuclear,” he said.

Telegraph 26th June 2013 read more »

The Government will open the door to multi-billion pound investment in off-shore renewable energy supplies as part of plans to boost major infrastructure projects in the UK. Ed Davey, the Energy Secretary, is expected to announce the price subsidy that the Government will pay to electricity suppliers who agree to invest in green energy generation over the next five years.Last night Whitehall sources said that the Treasury had agreed to pay a substantial premium for green energy projects which, they claimed, would unlock billions of pounds worth of private investment in new wind, wave and tidal generation projects. But at the same time the Conservative Energy Minister Michael Fallon will release details on the latest projections for shale gas in the UK from the British Geological Survey.

Independent 26th June 2013 read more »

THE Chancellor yesterday signalled changes to the planning regime and tax breaks to help push forward with controversial fracking for shale gas. In the Spending Review, George Osborne said the government would “make the tax and planning changes which will put Britain at the forefront of exploiting shale gas”. Mr Osborne also promised to provide the certainty investors needed to pour £100 billion of investment into the UK’s energy infrastructure, in the wake of concerns the government was putting out mixed signals over future energy policy.

Scotsman 27th June 2013 read more »

Chancellor George Osborne has today confirmed the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) and Defra will face steep spending cuts for 2015/16 as part of the latest spending review.

Business Green 26th June 2013 read more »

Energy Policy

Will the UK stick to legally binding targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 per cent by the middle of the century? The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) is warning that without effective government policies, the UK will start exceeding its planned carbon budgets before the end of the decade.

Carbon Brief 26th June 2013 read more »

Hinkley & Hunterston

Lake Acquisitions Limited is pleased to announce that following EDF Energy Nuclear Generation’s technical modifications and consequential adjustments to plant parameters and having completed the necessary approval processes and discussions with external stakeholders, all four units at Hinkley Point B and Hunterston B are now running at approximately 80% load. As previously announced, due to boiler temperature restrictions, the four units had been running at approximately 70% load since 2008.

Wall St Journal 26th June 2013 read more »

Sizewell

An MP has agreed to submit a Parliamentary question on behalf of a Suffolk-based anti-nuclear campaigner concerned about the condition of the pressure vessel “heart” of the Sizewell B reactor. Charles Barnett, who lives in Dunwich and is chairman of the Shut Down Sizewell Campaign, has turned to Paul Flynn, MP for Newport West, after being dissatisfied with the response to a similar request to Suffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey. Mr Barnett requested that, in light of cracks found in the pressure vessels of two Belgian nuclear reactors last year, Dr Coffey ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether an up-to-date risk assessment of the Sizewell B vessel had been made and what further action for public safety he deemed necessary.

East Anglian Daily Times 25th June 2013 read more »

Interconnection

The UK needs interconnection with Europe to secure its short-term and long-term energy security. More widely, greater energy market integration is needed to boost Europe’s competitiveness and improve levels of energy security across the continent. This report argues that a single, interconnected energy market in Europe will reduce energy prices for consumers and business and help accommodate an expansion of renewable energy. However, the construction of electricity connections between countries is not keeping pace with policy ambitions. This should be a focus as negotiations begin towards agreeing an EU 2030 climate and energy package. However, these negotiations will take place in a very different political climate, with much of Europe wracked by austerity and unsettled by a growing undercurrent of scepticism about both Europe and climate change science.

IPPR 24th June 2013 read more »

US

The Energy Department is moving toward abandoning a half-built factory that has cost $3.7 billion so far and was intended to make reactor fuel out of plutonium from retired nuclear bombs — part of an agreement with Russia to shrink the world’s supply of nuclear bomb fuel after the cold war. The department’s estimate of the cost to complete the plant, at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C., has jumped to $7.7 billion from $4.9 billion. The Obama administration is seeking to reduce the construction budget for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1, and has proposed allocating no money at all in subsequent years. If the plant were to be abandoned, the government would owe its contractors a cancellation fee that is likely to run into the tens of millions of dollars, according to experts, although details are not public. Other countries, including France, have successfully made reactor fuel out of plutonium for years, which was one reason that policy makers in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush liked the idea. But officials now acknowledge that they did not have an accurate idea of the cost.

New York Times 25th June 2013 read more »

France

In the wake of the Japanese accident, EDF was given six years by nuclear regulator Autorite de Surete Nucleaire to complete about 10 billion euros ($13 billion) of measures to boost safety while France debates scaling back its reliance on atomic energy. EDF operates the 58 nuclear reactors in France, which depends on atomic energy for about three quarters of its power production, the highest proportion in the world. The drill yesterday worked under the scenario that all of the plant’s power and cooling systems had failed, putting its four 900-megawatt reactors at risk of a meltdown similar to what happened in Fukushima.

Bloomberg 26th June 2013 read more »

Japan

Shareholders angry at the utility company behind Japan’s nuclear catastrophe peppered executives with questions Wednesday about leaking radioactive water and demanded a phase-out of atomic power. Fifteen such motions from shareholders, including those demanding that Tokyo Electric Power Co. start supporting alternative energy and require executives to donate their pay to victims of the March 2011 nuclear disaster, were defeated at an annual shareholders’ meeting.

Fox News 26th June 2013 read more »

A vessel under armed guard and loaded with reprocessed nuclear fuel from France arrived at a Japanese port on Thursday, the first such shipment since the Fukushima disaster as utilities lobby to restart their atomic reactors. The cargo of mixed oxide (MOX), a blend of plutonium and uranium, arrived at the Takahama nuclear plant on the western coast of central Japan in early morning, an AFP journalist said.

Bangkok Post 27th June 2013 read more »

Expatica 27th June 2013 read more »

The Tokyo Electric Power Company’s decommissioned Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, damaged in the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami, is still under investigation. Progress has been slow due to lethal radiation preventing workers from accessing the site, and a lack of industrial robots ready to tackle the job. Now Honda and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) have unveiled a High-Access Survey robot that began work inside the reactor building last week.

Gizmag 26th June 2013 read more »

Renewables

Renewable energy will provide more of the world’s electricity than gas-fired power plants by 2016, the International Energy Agency has said, as sources such as hydro, wind and solar power grow rapidly in emerging economies, especially China. The IEA, a think-tank backed by rich countries’ governments, said it had raised its forecast for growth in renewable energy from last year’s estimate and now expects renewables to provide about 24 per cent of the world’s electricity in three years, just ahead of gas and roughly twice as much as nuclear power.

FT 26th June 2013 read more »

Energy Efficiency

Five months after the launch of the government’s flagship energy efficiency programme, energy suppliers are still struggling with the IT systems and legal arrangements they need to offer households insulation and other improvements under the “green deal”. Of the so-called “Big Six”, only British Gas has fully launched a national green deal programme. Under the green deal, homeowners can take out loans to pay for energy efficiency measures, such as solid wall insulation, paying them off through additions to electricity bills over up to 25 years. RWE npower told the Guardian that getting the IT systems in place to cope with the additions to bills had proved more complex than first thought, for many suppliers. EDF said it was “registering interest” from customers, but was not yet in a position to offer a deal while it performed further checks on its systems. Scottish and Southern Energy said: “We have had the processing systems for the green deal in place since the scheme launched. However, we are still finalising our own green deal offer and expect to launch it in the autumn.” Other companies did not reply to requests for comment.

Guardian 27th June 2013 read more »

Energy efficiency needs to be at the heart of UK energy policy if the country is going to meet the ambitious targets the Government has set for carbon reduction Angela Knight said in a letter to climate change minister Greg Barker today. She highlighted the need to get new Government energy efficiency schemes working well and set out the key challenges which Energy UK’s recent series of Green Deal and ECO roadshows identified.

Energy-UK 26th June 2013 read more »

Business Green 27th June 2013 read more »

Green Investment Bank

Forth Energy’s proposed biomass plant at Grangemouth could be the first Scottish investment for the Green Investment Bank (GIB). The £465 million combined heat and power (CHP) project was approved by the Scottish Government this month amid criticism from environmental campaigners that it will cause pollution and involve transportation of woodchips from around the world. Rob Cormie, GIB operations director, said the bank’s broad project pipeline “includes an awful lot of Scottish deals” some of which could come to fruition over the next 12 months. Energy efficiency in public sector estates, such as NHS Scotland, and support for the government’s Green Deal on energy saving at home were also on the list.

Herald 27th June 2013 read more »

Fossil Fuels

UK shale gas reserves may be far greater than previously thought, a report for the government says. The British Geological Survey was asked to estimate how much gas is trapped in rocks beneath Lancashire and Yorkshire. It said there could be 1,300 trillion cubic feet at one site alone, but it is unclear how much could be extracted. Ministers are set to announce financial benefits for communities where fracking – the controversial extraction technique – takes place.

BBC 27th June 2013 read more »

The Government will officially confirm Britain’s arrival as a shale gas heavyweight today. The latest estimates from the British Geological Survey will show that the country’s energy needs could be met for more than a decade from shale gas deposits in the North West alone.

Times 27th June 2013 read more »

Guardian 27th June 2013 read more »

What would it mean to extract 10% of UK’s shale gas?

Greenpeace 27th June 2013 read more »

Fusion

Over the past 50 years or so tens of billions of dollars have been spent on nuclear fusion research, yet just as some projects are beginning to get into their stride doubts are growing and funding is under threat; especially from the US. After failing to achieve break-even last year, the fusion reactor being developed at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s National Ignition Facility (NIF), is now under threat of having its funding cut, and congress is also reconsidering the contribution that it had promised to the international ITER fusion project in France.

Oil Price 26th June 2013 read more »

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Published: 27 June 2013