29 April 2014

Magnox

The bidders who lost out on a £7bn deal to decommission Britain’s oldest nuclear power plants have mounted a legal challenge, raising further questions over the way the government awards large and sensitive public-sector contracts. Energy Solutions, a Salt Lake City-based company, is taking the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to court after losing the 14-year contract to engineering company Babcock and Texas-based Fluor. The deal is one of the largest government contracts ever put out to tender and involves cleaning 12 of Britain’s 25 nuclear sites, including Sizewell, Hinkley and Dungeness. Energy Solutions declined to comment but a spokesperson said the legal action spoke for itself. The move to try to force the NDA to reverse its decision will raise concerns of a repeat of the West Coast main line rail franchising debacle two years ago. Energy Solutions alleges that the assessments done by the NDA, the government-funded body responsible for making the decision, were incorrect and came to the wrong conclusion. The claim is thought to be worth hundreds of millions of pounds. CH2M Hill, which competed in a second consortium including Serco and Areva, is also considering mounting a legal challenge. Rolls-Royce, which competed in a third consortium involving Amec and Atkins, is also weighing action. A Rolls-Royce spokesman said it was “taking time to consider and review its options.”

FT 28th April 2014 read more »

The £7 billion contract to decommission Britain’s first generation of nuclear power plants was thrown into disarray last night by a legal challenge. The American incumbent on the contract to wind down the 12 Magnox nuclear sites is suing the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority for awarding the 14-year contract to a joint venture that includes Babcock, the FTSE 100-listed engineering group. The move by Energy Solutions will cast the September handover for the contract into doubt and raises the spectre of the botched awarding of the West Coast Main Line contract to FirstGroup in 2012.

Times 29th April 2014 read more »

Berkeley

Magnox has announced that the Berkeley nuclear site in the UK has reached a milestone this month when the first package of intermediate level waste was placed inside its newly constructed interim storage facility (ISF). The intermediate level waste was produced at the site during its operations and is safely stored inside a self-shielded cast iron container. According to Magnox, the ISF is with a footprint the size of a football pitch and can hold around 850 packages of nuclear waste. Berkeley decommissioning programme is under way and each box of waste that is retrieved and stored in the ISF is a step closer to care and maintenance, which is expected in 2021.

Energy Business Review 28th April 2014 read more »

NDA

NDA has updated its plan that gives details of the opportunities stakeholders have to input into strategic decision making. The purpose of the plan is to show our proposed engagement for all of our strategic themes (Nuclear Materials, Spent Fuels, Integrated Waste Management, Site Restoration and Critical Enablers) as well as general activities, during the course of the Financial Years 2014/15 and 2015/16. Our plan highlights where our stakeholders will be informed, consulted and/or given a chance to engage in the development and implementation of our Strategy. In addition it highlights future publication of key supporting documents, milestones and events.

NDA 23rd April 2014 read more »

Nuclear Research

The world’s largest machining centre of its kind available for collaborative research is being installed at the Nuclear AMRC by T W Ward CNC Machinery (Ward CNC), the UK and Ireland distributor for Soraluce of Spain.

Automation 28th April 2014 read more »

ONR

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) is the UK’s independent nuclear regulatory body and is responsible for ensuring five key purposes: nuclear safety, nuclear security, nuclear site health and safety, nuclear safeguards and transport of radioactive material. It was established in April 2011 as a non-statutory agency of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and prior to 1 April 2014 the ONR fulfilled its nuclear regulatory function on behalf of the HSE under a number of distinct agreements, without strictly having responsibility for them. From 1 April 2014, however, the ONR will operate as an independent body corporate (pursuant to part 3 of the Energy Act 2013).

Lawyer 28th April 2014 read more »

Politics

What are the Tories thinking? I ask not as an incredulous environmental campaigner or green investor, even if the angry rhetorical questions being asked as to how the Conservatives can countenance blocking one of the UK’s cheapest forms of domestic clean energy at a time when an increasingly hostile foreign power is using energy supplies as a weapon are entirely justified. No, my question is not rhetorical. What are the Tories thinking? Or, more specifically, what is the Conservative strategy for decarbonisation post-2015? The Tories have evidently done the electoral maths and decided a strategy of all out attack towards onshore wind farms accompanied by barely concealed hostility towards other green issues could prove a winner. It is now up to voters to prove whether these calculations are accurate or not (encouragingly the response by Labour and the Lib Dem’s to the latest Tory attack on wind farms suggests they are equally convinced there are votes in publicly supporting renewable energy). If the Tories want to make a virtual moratorium on new onshore wind farms and the creation of a giant shale gas industry the central planks of their energy strategy then they also need to explain how this approach fits into a long term decarbonisation strategy for the rest of this decade and beyond.

Business Green 28th April 2014 read more »

Seven Things UKIP Think About Renewable Energy That Are Wrong (and also stupid).

Trillion Fund 28th April 2014 read more »

Green party leader Natalie Bennett has attacked EU election frontrunner Ukip, saying Nigel Farage has stamped policy out of the party’s platform. With polling showing Ukip looking increasingly likely to take first place in the election in May, Bennett said Farage’s party was without substance and were benefiting from a general disengagement with politics. Speaking at the Green party’s campaign launch in London today, Bennett said: “As far as I can work out, Nigel Farage has entirely written it off so that Ukip has no policies at all. It seems to stand for getting out of the EU and stopping immigration and other than that he seems to have said, right, we have no policies.”

Guardian 28th April 2014 read more »

Monbiot

A website called Arrest Monbiot has been set up due to my ‘nuclear crimes against humanity’ – so I’m turning myself in. I will use the money, if they agree to send it to me, to help finance research into the development of integral fast reactors, which could (an estimate endorsed by a government chief scientist suggests) transform our nuclear waste pile into enough energy to power the UK for 500 years, without carbon emissions, thus solving three problems (nuclear waste, our future energy supply, and most of our contribution to global warming), all at once.

Guardian 28th April 2014 read more »

Chernobyl

In the normal world, it’s what you’d call a bad investment: Spending $2 billion to build the largest moveable structure ever—and knowing that it won’t work for longer than 100 years. But in Chernobyl, it’s the best available option for protecting a whole continent from the worst nuclear disaster in history.

Gizmodo 26th April 2014 read more »

New York Times 27th April 2014 read more »

On Saturday, April 26, 1986, reactor number four at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine exploded, with plumes of highly radioactive material released into the atmosphere, 60 per cent of which fell on neighbouring Belarus. More than 350,000 people were moved away, whole towns such as Pripyat are now devoid of human life due to the lingering lethal levels of radiation. Cancers started sprouting and birth defects and deformities became much more commonplace with thyroid cancer in particular linked to the iodine fallout. In the ten years before the Chernobyl accident, just seven children contracted thyroid cancer in Belarus. Within four years of the accident this level had risen by 30 times, and the World Health Organisation predicts that around 50,000 children aged between nought and four-years-old at the time of the explosion will contract the disease at some point.

Northern Echo 29th April 2014 read more »

Nuclear Weapons

This joint paper by Reaching Critical Will and Article 36 explores the development of a legal framework for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons.

Reaching Critical Will 28th April 2014 read more »

On a really miserable day outside the Scottish Parliament, a sturdy band of around 50 mostly older anti-nuclear campaigners gathered along with myself and a number of other well-wishers and, with the rain bouncing up to their knees, they headed off up the Royal Mile on a six-day march to the gates of Faslane naval base. I next met up with them in George Square in Glasgow where a couple of thousand gathered for a march round the city centre and back for a rally addressed by a platform of all-women speakers. Among them was the Deputy First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon. To resounding cheers Ms Sturgeon reiterated the words of Alex Salmond a few days earlier that under no circumstances will the Scottish government’s commitment to have Trident nuclear weapons and all nuclear-powered submarines removed from Scotland be part of a horse-trading deal over the continued use of sterling, or indeed for any other shoddy deal.

Morning Star 29th April 2014 read more »

Germany – Energiewende

The Böll Foundation’s Brussels office has published a study investigating the cost of a transition to renewable electricity. Craig Morris says the study impressively shows that individual renewable technologies are the best option, but he wonders if more attention should have been paid to overall system costs – for instance, storage. Entitled “Renewables: the only path to a secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy system by 2030,” the study points out that these externalities will continue to make nuclear and fossil fuel more expensive than renewables. It also points out the need to compare new renewables with the cost of new fossil and nuclear capacity, not the old plants we now have. They will largely not be in operation in 2050, by the time the transition has to be accomplished at the latest; furthermore, prices on wholesale markets represent only fuel and O&M costs, not total facility costs. German wholesale prices are headed south and seem poised to remain consistently below the four cents per kilowatt-hour that German utilities say they need to be profitable with their old units.

Energy Transition 28th April 2014 read more »

Taiwan

Shelving plans to build Taiwan’s fourth nuclear power project and replacing it with gas-fired capacity would hike the cost of power generation by 14%, Taiwan’s vice economics minister, Duh Tyzz-jiun, said on Monday.

Gas to Power Journal 28th April 2014 read more »

The Government of Taiwan reportedly said it would stop construction work at its fourth nuclear plant as local opposition continues to increase. Reports claim the government agreed that after the safety inspection process has been completed for reactor one, it wouldn’t go into operation but would be sealed off while construction on the second reactor would be halted immediately. The decision comes as thousands of protestors were believed to have gathered in Taipei over the weekend, urging the Government to abandon nuclear energy.

Energy Live News 28th April 2014 read more »

Community Energy

Ovo Energy has today launched a pioneering package of services designed to disrupt the UK’s largely centralised energy industry by making it easier for communities to generate and use their own power. The independent energy supplier, which has grown rapidly in recent years by targeting customers who are dissatisfied with the “Big Six” energy incumbents, said its new Ovo Communities division would aim to support up to 200 new independent community-led energy generators by the end of the decade.

Business Green 28th April 2014 read more »

One of Britain’s fastest growing independent energy suppliers is on Monday offering to act as a co-ordinator and technology partner to local communities in a move it believes could bring up to 500 new power providers onstream by 2020.

Guardian 28th April 2014 read more »

Renewables – Wave Power

Researchers have long contended that power from ocean waves could make a major energy contribution. But a host of challenges have stymied efforts, reports Yale Environment 360. In spite of the hurdles steady technical progress will lead to substantial amounts of grid-connected wave power by 2035. “In the course of 10 years we have gone from having zero wave energy technologies that are even remotely viable to having several in the water, and on the cusp of commercial viability,” Busch said. “We’re making some really good progress.”

Guardian 28th April 2014 read more »

Renewables – solar

Solar farm developers seeking to cover hundreds of fields with panels have won the backing of the two biggest conservation groups. The National Trust and RSPB said solar farms can be better for wildlife than traditional farming and have lent their support to new guidance being issued by the industry.

Times 29th April 2014 read more »

Energy Efficiency

Last week my association submitted its formal response to the government’s formal consultation on reducing the Energy Company Obligation’s (ECO) carbon reduction target for 2015 from delivering savings of 20.9 MtCO2 to 14 MtCO2. This is the consultation that seeks to rubber-stamp the “Green Crap” cuts to the ECO, as pledged in the run-up to last year’s Autumn Statement, which are intended to cut £30 to £35 off the average energy bill. We, and many others, have consistently argued that cutting Britain’s only national energy efficiency programme – designed to reduce household energy bills and carbon emissions in the long term – to achieve a modest one-off energy bill reduction is perverse. But our detailed analysis finds that the energy savings cuts amount to more: they equate to a reduction of nearly £42 per household, yet energy suppliers are handing back only about £32.50, on average, to each household. This represents an aggregate windfall to energy companies of £245m this financial year. Which right now is going straight into increasing their already substantial profits.

Business Green 28th April 2014 read more »

NIA calls on DECC to work with industry to scale back ECO cuts as another report claims cuts are excessive.

National Insulation Association 28th April 2014 read more »

Fossil Fuels

Ed Davey has given his clearest indication to date that he believes the UK’s nascent shale gas industry can play a key role in a low carbon energy mix, insisting that strong regulations should help ensure the sector delivers significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. Writing exclusively for BusinessGreen, the Energy and Climate Change Secretary reiterated his calls for the creation of a diverse low carbon energy mix that can meet the government’s three key objectives of energy affordability, energy security, and decarbonisation.

Business Green 28th April 2014 read more »

Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Davey says shale gas exploration will not compromise investment in renewables and can have a limited impact on the environment if done in the right way.

Business Green 28th April 2014 read more »

A fuel buried under the deep ocean bed off Britain and Ireland could provide a plentiful supply of energy but will be difficult to exploit, an expert said. The gas – known as fire ice – is locked away in the form of ice crystals under the Atlantic where the floor changes from shallow waters to deep sea. But poor weather, the great distance from shore and technical challenges could make it hard to mine methane hydrate profitably.

Guardian 28th April 2014 read more »

Share

Published: 29 April 2014