An extra £50m will be made available over the next two years towards the £1.6bn project to clean up and shut down the Dounreay nuclear site. The UK government has announced the additional funding. Dounreay near Thurso on the north Caithness coast was the centre of the UK fast breeder reactor research programme from 1954 until 1994. Work to decommission the complex and demolish almost 200 buildings is to be completed by 2025. Parts of the 136-acre (55ha) site will be used to store tonnes of low-level radioactive material. The UK government said funding has been made possible from savings elsewhere in the UK’s nuclear estate.
BBC 26th June 2014 read more »
Spurred into action by an EU directive, and after decades of apparent inactivity, EU members are finally tackling the vexed issue of how to deal with nuclear waste. The favoured solutions involve stocking the ultra-toxic material deep underground and it is those that we turn the spotlight on in this edition of Reporter, produced by Hans Von der Brelie. We visit two sites where work is already underway and at which billions of euros have literally been poured into holes in the ground. At the ANDRA facility in eastern France work has begun on entombing the country’s 80,000 cubic metres of waste in a layer of clay half a kilometre below the ground where, it is argued, it will be safe for all time. Back on the surface local villagers are very concerned, their own research having fuelled their fears. We look at both sides of the argument. In Finland they take a slightly different approach; drilling deep into the bedrock to bury the waste.
Euronews (video) 27th June 2014 read more »
Sweden’s nuclear regulator proposes to almost double the fees paid by utilities in 2015 into the country’s nuclear waste fund. The increase follows a recalculation of decommissioning and waste disposal costs. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM) assesses the amount Sweden’s nuclear generators pay into the fund every three years. It bases its assessment partly on estimates from the Swedish spent fuel management company Svensk Karnbranslehantering AB (SKB). According to SKB’s latest cost calculations, total decommissioning and waste disposal costs are about SEK 136 billion ($20 billion). SKB says that some SEK 50 billion ($7.4 billion) has already paid into the waste fund. However, SSM said SKB may have underestimated the cost of decommissioning and disposal from Sweden’s nuclear power industry by at least SEK 11 billion ($1.6 billion). It said its own estimate is based on an analysis of future cost trends by the National Institute of Economic Research (NIER). SSM’s estimate takes into account the low return anticipated for the waste fund and cost increases reported by SKB.
World Nuclear News 27th June 2014 read more »
Economic Times 27th June 2014 read more »
In a daring action during a summit of Europe’s most powerful political leaders in Brussels, activists have blamed Europe’s largest energy companies for fuelling the EU’s dependence on energy imports. Draft EU plans on energy would play into the hands of energy companies by prolonging Europe’s reliance on expensive, polluting and unreliable foreign energy from suppliers like Russia.
Greenpeace 27th June 2014 read more »
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) failed to protect consumers when it agreed eight early renewable energy contracts without any price competition, according to a report by the National Audit Office (NAO).
Utility Week 27th June 2014 read more »
The government is paying over the odds for eight low carbon energy projects, according to spending watchdog the National Audit Office (NAO). It says the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has awarded unnecessarily generous subsidies in its haste to confirm the plans. The NAO’s report led to a spate of headlines claiming renewable energy projects were receiving “too much” funding from the government. So what’s going on? The government is introducing a new subsidy scheme for low carbon energy starting in April 2015, known as contracts for difference (CfDs). DECC decided to award early contracts to some projects to ensure there wasn’t a gap in investment during the transition between the old scheme and the start of the CfDs. It’s the early contracts that the NAO’s criticises.
Carbon Brief 27th June 2014 read more »
Small modular nuclear reactors were touted to be the savior of the U.S. nuclear industry a few years back, the newest technology to give a needed shot in the arm to an industry that stood stagnant for decades in terms of developing new nuclear projects. Fast forward to today. Babcock & Wilcox’s (B&W) Generation mPower division, the first company to receive cost-sharing funds from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop its 180-MW mPower SMR, has cut 200 from its workforce, slashed spending from $60 to $80 million per year to less than $15 million, and restructured its management. B&W is currently trying to sell up to 70 percent of the business (B&W plans to keep a 20 percent share and Bechtel will still own 10 percent), but it doesn’t seem that anyone is taking the bait. As of November 2013, B&W has already invested more than $360 million in the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Clinch River site in Tennessee, which is to be home to two mPower SMRs. Westinghouse, which was once considered a shoo-in to win the second round of DOE funding, was not only passed over for consideration, but eventually decided to pass up the opportunity to develop its 225-MW SMR in exchange for focusing on its booming global AP1000 market. NuScale Power LLC appears to be the only company staying in the race. The company just completed negotiations with the DOE for its cost-sharing program, and is opening a regional operations center in Charlotte. What happened to the tall hopes for the small reactor? While the DOE and many companies wanted to be the first to get this innovative and groundbreaking technology to market, the issue is that there isn’t a market in the U.S. for SMRs.
Power Enginnering 25th June 2014 read more »
The global arsenal of nuclear warheads stands currently at 16,300, a drop of just under 1,000 from 2013, a Sweden-based peace research institute reported on Monday. Israel’s arsenal stands at 80 warheads, the institute said, the same number it reported in 2013. The number of operational weapons at present is approximately 4,000, according to the annual data released by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. But the number jumps to 16,300 when warheads that are in storage or ready to be dismantled are included.
Haaretz 17th June 2014 read more »
The regional power utilities told their shareholders at annual meetings Thursday they will try to reactivate their idled nuclear reactors to improve business and rejected all proposals calling for a nuclear phaseout. At the shareholders’ meeting of Kansai Electric Power Co., Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto urged the utility to pull out of nuclear power generation altogether, suggesting that the city might sell off shares the city holds in the utility if it does not lend its ear to the proposal. The city is the utility’s top shareholder, with a stake of about 9 percent.
Japan Times 26th June 2014 read more »
Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s delayed application for safety screenings of two reactors means Japan will be without nuclear energy this summer for the first time since the Fukushima nuclear accident started in March 2011. The utility on June 24 submitted additional documents to the Nuclear Regulation Authority for its application to restart the idled reactors at the Sendai nuclear power plant in Kagoshima Prefecture. The NRA will announce the results of the screening, possibly in early July. It will then gather opinions on the results over 30 days and reach a final decision on whether to allow Kyushu Electric to restart the two reactors at the Sendai plant. However, the utility must also obtain NRA approval for other items, such as facility designs and emergency procedures for accidents, under stricter safety standards. The NRA will likely complete all the necessary screening processes at the Sendai plant in August at the earliest. But it will take one or two months to inspect the nuclear plant before its operations can resume. That means Kyushu Electric will be able to restart its reactors in September at the earliest, even if it meets other conditions, such as obtaining consent from local governments.
Asahi Shimbun 25th June 2014 read more »
It has often been pointed out that TEPCO has been badly managed for years and that it caused the triple meltdown of its reactors at Fukushima Daiichi. So, I attended the 90th Annual General Meeting of TEPCO to see if management has improved in the three plus years since the disaster. Sadly they haven’t. About 2,100 shareholders attended TEPCO’s annual general meeting. They saw on the stage 20 management men, all in black suits, no women. Greenpeace Japan went to the meeting with a clear theme in mind. We held a peaceful protest at the venue with banners that read: TEPCO: PAY VICTIMS, NO RESTART. But the men in black suits are so pitiful they don’t deserve to be in business.
Greenpeace 27th June 2014 read more »
The question of the day is: will the nation’s largest nuclear power utility, Exelon, survive? That’s a question that wouldn’t even have been asked a few years ago; Exelon was riding high. But with its stock price down 60% since July 2008, with 55% of its electricity coming from aging and increasingly uncompetitive nuclear reactors, it’s now a valid question, one that Crain’s Chicago Business has been doing an excellent job in covering, especially over the past week. It’s an important question: Exelon’s future will be, perhaps, the future of nuclear power in the U.S. At the least, its fate certainly will have a magnified impact on that future, and on the ability of other heavily nuclear utilities to navigate the new utility era they suddenly find themselves in. But to make a real attempt to answer the question requires a little more background and perspective.
Green World 27th June 2014 read more »
Controlled nuclear fission has been started in Russia’s newest fast breeder reactor in the Urals, heralding a closed nuclear fuel cycle and a future without nuclear waste. Russia is the only country that operates fast neutron reactors industrially. The next generation BN-800 breeder reactor (880 megawatts) assembled at Russia’s Beloyarskaya nuclear power plant has been put in the so-called critical state on Friday, a week after all necessary nuclear fuel was loaded into the active zone. The press service of Rosenergoatom, the electric energy generation branch of Russia’s nuclear monopoly, Rosatom, has confirmed to the RIA news agency that nuclear reaction in the BN-800 reactor has been initiated.
Russia Today 27th June 2014 read more »
Renewables – offshore wind
Offshore wind energy increased the most last year for any renewable energy resource available on the British grid, the government said Thursday. Offshore wind capacity increased by 52 percent and onshore wind by 40 percent. Combined, wind energy generated 28,4343 gigawatt hours of electricity for the British grid last year. Total wind energy represented 53 percent of the renewable electricity generated in 2013.
UPI 26th June 2014 read more »
Savers are being offered returns of up to 9% a year – or four times the best available rates on cash Isas – by lending their money to build wind and solar energy projects across the UK. Promoters claim the schemes offer a steady and predictable income, although they are not without risk. A primary school in Leominster, Herefordshire, is raising money to place solar panels on its roof – with the lure of extraordinary tax breaks. A renewable energy co-operative building wind turbines in Derbyshire and Yorkshire has a scheme expected to give its investors 7.3% a year. In Teesside, local farms and businesses will be powered by turbines promising returns of up to 7.5% a year, while near Liskeard in Cornwall a single wind turbine is claiming that returns should be around 9% a year. Most of the schemes allow savers to invest small sums – from £50 upwards – and some give tax breaks worth 50% off your income tax liability, plus no capital gains or inheritance tax.
Guardian 28th June 2014 read more »
Intelligent Energy, a green power company originally formed by academics from Loughborough University, unveiled plans on Friday to float on the London Stock Exchange, with an expected value of £600m. The fuel cell developer hopes to take advantage of investor interest in new listings to raise at least £40m of new money to expand its work offering power systems for everything from iPhones to Suzuki motorbikes. Fuel cell technology was first used in spacecraft of the 1960s and 70s but has been miniaturised and made more capacious and cheaper by companies such as Intelligent Energy, which is also pioneering it in London black cabs.
Guardian 28th June 2014 read more »
Most of us know that to cut our energy bills we should turn things like televisions and computer monitors off at the wall rather than leaving them in standby mode, which consumes power even when they’re not being used. But smaller gadgets and appliances quietly running in the background could be pushing your energy bills up much faster than you realised. The worst culprit in most homes is in fact a wireless router, which costs £21.92 a year on average while on standby, according to Ecotricity.
Telegraph 27th June 2014 read more »
This week’s micro power news.
Microgen Scotland 27th June 2014 read more »
Fracking in national parks should be permitted because the visual impact can be limited when the process is “done properly”, the outgoing chairman of the Environment Agency has declared. Chris Smith, who is due to step down from the post next month, waded into the debate over fracking by dismissing the claims of those campaigning against the impact of the controversial drilling at particular sites. “Provided it is done carefully and properly regulated, those fears are definitely exaggerated,” Smith said in an interview with the Times. He went on to reject the arguments of other anti-fracking campaigners who want to see greater emphasis placed on developing renewable energy sources rather than another fossil fuel. “I don’t agree with that analysis because we aren’t yet ready to see 100% of our energy requirements being produced from renewables,” he said.
Guardian 28th June 2014 read more »
Times 28th June 2014 read more »
Shale energy in Scotland will be “no game-changer”, industry sources have warned, ahead of the publication of a report mapping potential fracking targets north of the border. The British Geological Survey has conducted a survey of shale resources across the central belt of Scotland, between Glasgow and Edinburgh, the findings of which are expected to be published as soon as next week. Sources suggested the report would show relatively modest quantities of shale oil and gas – far less than are believed to lie beneath the Bowland basin of northern England. “It’s not going to be a game-changer,” said one. Alex Salmond’s SNP has primarily pushed for renewable energy in Scotland and has been far more cautious than the Westminster government about the prospects for shale. It has indicated it will introduce tighter regulations for shale drilling, while Mr Salmond has said: “As we are a country with enough oil to meet our demand many times over, it is perfectly reasonable for us to proceed carefully on the undoubted opportunities for shale gas in Scotland.”
Telegraph 27th June 2014 read more »