27 October 2016

Hinkley

A damning news report in the Times reveals that the company building Britain’s first nuclear power station for 21 years has been ordered to shut down five reactors in France for emergency tests. This is on top of seven that are already closed because of safety concerns. Theresa May recently gave the go-ahead for a partnership project between the French energy firm EDF and China’s General Nuclear to construct two European pressurised reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset. The controversial move will supposedly cost a cool £18bn, but as the ongoing troubles with EDF reactors in France indicate, the real cost is likely to be much higher. Under the watch of EDF, fuel prices look set to rise still further. In the short term, this is because the UK imports French electricity during periods of high demand (usually in December and January). With twelve French reactors now closed for inspection, and with 80% of French electricity being produced through nuclear power, France is now faced with massive fuel shortages. Yesterday, French power prices reached their highest in four years. This crisis will undoubtedly have knock-on effects in the UK.

Evolve Politics 20th Oct 2016 read more »

Nuclear vs Climate

CO2 Smoke Screen: New Nukes Make Global Warming Worse uncovers the ludicrously small impact that nuclear power has on saving the Earth from CO2 emissions in contrast to the promises of the atomic power industry. Well received by fellow experts in the field and filmed by award winning cinematographer Martin Duckworth, the CO2 Smoke Screen is the culmination of one year’s worth of research and hard work by the Fairewinds Crew, Fairewinds science advisors, and a group of amazing interns from the University of Vermont (UVM).

Fairewinds 19th Oct 2016 read more »

Trawsfynydd

AN ANTI-NUCLEAR group which spent decades campaigning against radioactive materials in mid Wales has reformed. Cymdeithas Atal Dinistr Niwclear Oesol (Cadno), a society battling against potential nuclear disaster, was highly active in the latter stages of the last century with a keen interest with Trawsfynydd Power Station. A statement sent out regarding Cadno’s “reactivation” read: As a result of the government’s recent invitation to interested parties to express an interest in developing further nuclear reactors (SMR’s) with a possible test site at Trawsfynydd, Cadno has been reactivated to oppose such development”. Proposals regarding a SMR at Trawsfynydd have been received positively by many politicians in Dwyfor and Meirionnydd, such as MP Liz Saville Roberts and Gwynedd Council leader Dyfed Edwards, but the potential threat of nuclear catastrophe has also raised concern within local communities. Cadno are opposed to any nuclear development at Trawsfynydd in any shape of form.

Cambrian News 26th Oct 2016 read more »

Nuclear Transport

The national association of British local authorities which campaigns against both civil and military uses of nuclear power has demanded that the British government pay for an emergency tug to cover the Western Isles after the area narrowly escaped an environmental disaster when a N. Sea oil platform ran aground on the Isle of Lewis last month. There is no locally-based, dedicated emergency towing vessel to cover the Western Isles and when the 17,000 tonne Transocean Winner oil rig ran aground on Lewis it took 18 hours for the nearest tug to be scrambled to the islands – far too late to stop the rig running aground despite having been despatched more than nine hours before the rig towlines broke free. As reported 48 hour ago in Scottish Energy News – the British Government had asked BP five years ago to pay for an emergency tug for the Western Isles. BP refused the government’s request, saying it had no operations in the area and did not use the Minch / Western Isles sea lanes. But the association of Nuclear-Free Local Authorities – whose members include more than 50 councils in Scotland, England and Wales – is most concerned about public safety should a vessel carrying deadly radioactive waste from Dounreay – shipped from Scrabster to Barrow in Furness via the Western Isles sea route – similarly run aground.

Scottish Energy News 26th Oct 2016 read more »

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) and KIMO International (an international local authority organisation working to protect and enhance the marine environment) are astounded to read that the UK Government attempted to encourage the oil company BP to pay for a second Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) in Scotland, rather than pay for its maintenance itself – a service it has duly cut.

NFLA 26th Oct 2016 read more »

Sellafield Ltd, International Nuclear Services and its subsidiary Pacific Nuclear Transport Limited have successfully completed the sixth shipment in a programme to repatriate highly active waste to Japan from the UK. The programme is called the Vitrified Residue Returns (VRR), a key component of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s strategy to clean up the Sellafield site, fulfil contracts with overseas customers and deliver UK Government policy. The vessel, Pacific Grebe, arrived in Japan on 20 October 2016, having travelled via the Panama Canal. The 132 canisters of waste, contained in five transport flasks, were unloaded at the port of Mutsu-Ogawara, from where they were transported by road to Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd’s storage facility at Rokkasho-Mura. Each transport flask will undergo a series of tests prior to the canisters being removed to be placed in storage.

Sellafield Ltd 24th Oct 2016 read more »

Radioactive Waste

Radioactive Waste Management (RWM) has brought together a wide range of stakeholders including government, regulators, industry and academics to consider progress and next steps for permanently disposing of the UK’s most radioactive waste.

RWM 13th Oct 2016 read more »

Cybersecurity

A fairly large number of critical infrastructure organisations have been found relying on unsecured pagers for communication between employees, which security experts believe could potentially expose them to hack and espionage. According to a study, employees at nuclear plants, chemical and electricity plants, chip makers and others still use unsecured wireless pagers, in part, to communicate about various industrial control systems. The information that plant employees communicate over pagers include names, contact details of staff, diagnostic details of plants and other such sensitive information, which according to security researchers, can be targeted by malicious hackers.

IB Times 26th Oct 2016 read more »

Companies

French energy group Engie plans to double its renewable electricity generation capacity in France as it seeks to boost its share of the power market with the offer of renewable power only and weekend discounts. The gas and power supplier, whose 3 million electricity customers in France represent a market share of just under 10 percent, said on Wednesday it aims to win 1 million new customers in the coming year with an offer to supply electricity from renewable sources only for new customers.

Reuters 26th Oct 2016 read more »

The biggest windfarm operator in the UK is considering selling its oil and gas business, four decades after it was set up to manage Denmark’s North Sea oilfields. Dong Energy, which is majority owned by the Danish government, said it had appointed JP Morgan to perform a strategy review that could result in the sale of the oil and gas business. Offloading oil assets would result in the company, whose initials stand for Danish Oil and Natural Gas, focus on wind power instead, completing its transformation from fossil fuels to renewables.

Guardian 26th Oct 2016 read more »

Times 27th Oct 2016 read more »

China

China may scale down plans for nuclear power because of slowing demand for electricity and construction setbacks, writes Steve Thomas For China’s nuclear industry, 2016 has been a frustrating year. So far, construction has started on only one new plant, and its target of bringing 58 gigawatts of nuclear capacity in service by 2020 seems impossible to meet. At present, China has 19.3 gigawatts of nuclear supply under construction and a further 31.4 gigawatts already in service. Given that new plants take five years or more to build, the country faces a shortfall of more than seven gigawatts on its target. All the plants started between 2008 and 2010 are online except for six imported reactors. These include four AP1000 reactors designed by Westinghouse, based in the USA but owned by Toshiba of Japan; and two European Pressurised Reactors (EPR), developed by Areva, a French multinational group specialising in nuclear power. The plants are not expected to be completed before 2017 and all will be at least three years late, an unprecedented delay in China’s nuclear history. It would be surprising if China was not disillusioned with its suppliers and their technologies. The EPR and AP1000 reactors have been problematic to build. The two EPRs are 3-4 years late although there is little available information detailing why. Meanwhile, EPR plants in Finland and France, which should have been completed in 2009 and 2012, respectively, will not be online before 2018. There are no obvious problems that account for the majority of the delays at any of the sites, just a series of quality and planning issues that suggest the complexity of the design makes it difficult to build. The four AP1000s are also running 3-4 years late. They are being built by China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Company (SNPTC), which has not built reactors before. There is some publicly available information about the problems suffered in China with the AP1000s, including continual design changes by Westinghouse. The reactor coolant pumps and the squib valves, which are essential to prevent accidents, have been particularly problematic, for example. Still, China is expected to be the first country to complete construction of AP1000 and EPR designs, a scenario it did not expect or want. The government is required to develop and demonstrate test procedures for bringing the plants into service, which could take up to a year. These test procedures are developed by vendors and generally standardised although national safety regulators must approve them and can add specific requirements.

China Dialogue 26th Oct 2016 read more »

France

A major irregularity was detected during the remounting of a steam generator on EDF’s 900 MW Gravelines 5 nuclear reactor, a top EDF official told parliament on Tuesday. EDF Vice President for Nuclear and Thermal Dominique Miniere said that following questions over irregularities at Areva’s Creusot plant which have led to several investigations, EDF decided to reexamine the manufacturing and control file on the steam generator that was about to remounted on Gravelines 5 reactor during the summer following a scheduled maintenance. “The reexamination showed a major irregularity whose origins were unacceptable,” Miniere said. He added that as the generator was not mounted, the reactor was still on halt while EDF is waiting for the first of a series of new series steam generators that were ordered for another reactor but will be used in Gravelines. The Gravelines 5 reactor has been halted since April. 9 and was expected to restart production on March 31, 2017. Miniere did not give a new time schedule.

Reuters 25th Oct 2016 read more »

[Google Translated] Benjamin Dessus and Bernard Laponche: Recent weeks have been full of discoveries about the real state of the French nuclear fleet. We already knew that the tank of the Flamanville EPR reactor exhibited defects that may prohibit its use: too high concentrations of carbon in the lid and the bottom of the tank which, weakening steel, were likely to lead to breakage of the tank in the event of thermal shock. This obviously crucial issue for the future of the Flamanville EPR is under investigation by the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) which will make its diagnosis and prescriptions in March. But in recent weeks, we also learned that this manufacturing defect also affected 18 reactors currently in operation at the tank or steam generator. ASN asked the provisional closure of those reactors in order to diagnose the severity of the situation and the ban meant restarting the steam generator of a reactor at Fessenheim. In question, the forge of Creusot, Areva of property, but also a Japanese company that might not have sent to France its best products. This is obviously a disaster on many levels. First, nearly a third of the nuclear fleet is found stopped at the approach of winter, more than 20% of the total capacity of French production. It is a real headache for EDF. It is not worth going to look beyond the government’s decision to abandon its solemn commitment to establish a floor price of CO2 applied to coal plants. This would obviously be detrimental to the national company already weakened financially that hastily restarted coal plants that still has. Then the discovery of defects on such important equipment as tanks, steam generators and pressurizers is even more serious than these defects are formally excluded assumptions different accident scenarios. These materials are indeed supposed to obey a principle “break preclusion”. The discovery of these manufacturing defects therefore questions the architecture and the very philosophy of the calculations that lead to probabilities display serious or major accidents. What do indeed these calculations if it is discovered serious and irreparable defects on the most critical and supposedly perfect material? Areva may have quietly falsified certificates of conformity requisMais there are even more serious. ASN, concerned about this spate of discoveries launched an investigation to Areva to check parts of hundreds of compliance with the required specifications. And then another surprise, the discovery of hundreds of “barred cases” in which Areva could have quietly falsified certificates of compliance required. A practice he seems common of which was hard-pressed to imagine whether from an isolated initiative. Anomalies and falsifications on hardware supposed perfect: everything is there. In the words of Jacques Repussard in 2011, then director general of the Institute of Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN), “You have to imagine the unimaginable.” With half of the French nuclear fleet situation deteriorated nuclear safety, we are there and it is very serious. Before these “discoveries”, the president of the nuclear safety authority said: “A major nuclear accident can not be excluded anywhere.” In the current situation, it is less and less excluded in France. The parallel with the German dieselgate obvious. Non respected technical standards on critical materials for safety, of falsified certificates in bulk to get the green light from the authorities, everything is there, but with a more decisive factor: it is not as in Germany under the direction of a multinational dictatorial boss that “nucléogate” occurs, it is in quasi-nationalized companies under the aegis of the elite of the great French technical body that boast of their devotion to the country and their honesty . And this, it seems, with total impunity for leaders.

AlterEcoPlus 25th Oct 2016 read more »

US

A drive 30 minutes north of Omaha, Neb., leads to the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant. It’s full of new equipment. There’s a white concrete box building that’s still under construction. It’s licensed until 2033. But the plant is closing Monday. Nuclear power is expensive, especially when compared to some of the alternatives, so the U.S. nuclear power industry is shrinking. As more plants go offline, industry leaders are forced to reckon with what critics call a “broken system” for taking plants out of service and storing radioactive waste.

NPR 24th Oct 2016 read more »

Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) permanently shut down the Fort Calhoun-1 nuclear plant yesterday, ending the 482-MW reactor’s 43-years of commercial operation, according to information on the public power district’s website.

Nucnet 25th Oct 2016 read more »

Bulgaria

Work to upgrade unit 5 of the Kozloduy nuclear plant in Bulgaria has been completed, extending its operations by 30 years to 2047, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and Bulgaria’s Energy Ministry both announced yesterday. Meanwhile, Bulgaria today committed itself to fast-tracking payment of the debt it incurred to Russian companies for scrapping the Belene nuclear power plant project. The Kozloduy site is home to two operating Russian-designed VVER-1000 pressurised water reactors, Kozloduy 5 and 6, as well as four shut-down VVER-440s. Units 5 and 6 provide around one-third of Bulgaria’s electricity. Unit 5’s operating licence expires this month and that of unit 6 in October 2019. The government enlisted a consortium of Rosatom subsidiaries Rosenergoatom and Rusatom Service, and France’s EDF last year to carry out the work on unit 5. In January this year, Rusatom Services and Bulgaria’s Risk Engineering Ltd signed a contract to extend the operating period of unit 6 to 60 years.

World Nuclear News 26th Oct 2016 read more »

Disarmament

Boris Johnson has been urged to back a United Nations initiative to restart efforts to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Groups including Greenpeace UK, CND, and Quakers in Britain wrote to the Foreign Secretary to ask him to back tomorrow’s UN general assembly motion on multilateral disarmament. In August this year a UN working group recommended the setting up of a “a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination”.

Independent 26th Oct 2016 read more »

Renewables

The UK has fallen behind Morocco to become the 14th most attractive country for renewable energy investment, according to top accountancy firm EY – who blame the EU referendum result and Tory energy policies for the decline. Commenting, SNP MSP Gillian Martin (Aberdeenshire East), said: “This is just the latest evidence that the Tories’ hard-headed and ideological opposition to green energy is undermining an industry with huge potential in Scotland – and Theresa May’s determination to pursue a hard-right Tory Brexit is making things worse.

Scottish Energy News 27th Oct 2016 read more »

Renewable energy capacity is growing more rapidly than expected, says the International Energy Agency (IEA), overtaking coal for the first time. The IEA also says it has “significantly increased” its forecasts for the growth of renewable capacity over the next five years. Yet its forecasts continue to show future growth slowing down. Carbon Brief looks at the latest IEA renewable forecasts and how they have changed.

Carbon Brief 26th Oct 2016 read more »

Renewables – tidal

Tidal power developer Atlantis Resources has completed a major milestone in the development of its ‘base-load scale’ underwater power station in the Pentland Firth. All four tidal turbine support structures have now been successfully installed at its MeyGen project off Caithness using the Neptune jack up vessel owned by Geosea. When completed, the 398MW MeyGen tidal power ‘station’ is expected to generate clean electricity enough to power 175,000 Scots households.

Scottish Energy News 27th Oct 2016 read more »

Space technology developed by the world’s biggest defence contractor is being used to help produce renewable energy from tidal turbines. Lockheed Martin, the US manufacturer of fighter jets, combat ships and satellites, is soon to test a tidal generator in the Pentland Firth in Scotland in partnership with Atlantis Resources, a renewable energy company based in Singapore. Testing of the AR1500 generator, which is scheduled to begin this year, comes as the Pentagon tries to boost its energy security by buying clean energy from domestic companies. The US military aims to have as much as 3 gigawatts of renewable capacity before 2025. At present, it is second only to Google, which runs several power-hungry data centres across the world, in buying renewable energy. American defence companies are trying to jump on the bandwagon by drawing from their military, aviation and space hardware to develop emissions-free energy technology.

Times 27th Oct 2016 read more »

Renewable Heat

The Solar Trade Association (STA) and the Energy Saving Trust are among a group of 21 organisations that have penned a letter to the minister of state for energy and intellectual property Baroness Neville-Rolfe, calling on her to retain solar thermal within the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI).

Edie 26th Oct 2016 read more »

Scottish Energy News 27th Oct 2016 read more »

Business Green 26th Oct 2016 read more »

Transport

The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced plans to increase the convenience and availability of electric vehicle (EV) chargepoints, as part of an overarching ambition to make nearly all new cars and vans zero-emission by 2040. The roll-out of charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure will be supported by the Modern Transport Bill, which is subject to public consultation in the upcoming month. Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: “We are committed to making transport cleaner and giving even more drivers the option of using a low emission vehicle as we strive to improve air quality across the country.

Edie 26th Oct 2016 read more »

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Published: 27 October 2016