29 May 2013

New Nukes

The deal to build Britain’s nuclear power stations could be delayed until the autumn as EDF sounds out external investors to back the £14billion project. The French-backed utility giant is in talks with ministers over the price it can charge – called the ‘strike price’ – for the energy from the two reactors it wants to build at Hinkley Point in Somerset. Even if, as is widely expected, the Government reaches a deal soon, EDF still has to secure the financial backing of another party before it can begin construction. It is understood to be talking to a Chinese nuclear group as well as other potential backers, but any investor cannot start the lengthy process of due diligence until the ‘strike price’ figure is agreed. EDF has been forced to look for outside help after British Gas owner Centrica pulled its 20 per cent holding in the venture in February.

This is Money 29th May 2013 read more »

Energy Bill

Benj Sykes is the UK manager for wind power at Dong Energy: We have a clear strategy for cutting the cost of offshore wind to £85 per megawatt hour for projects we will be sanctioning in 2020 – a cost reduction of up to 40 per cent compared with today and a challenging target that we will meet by building bigger wind farms, using more powerful turbines, and continuing to make renewable technologies competitive with traditional energy sources. In order to deliver these cost reductions, we need to capture economies of scale, and that can only be achieved by developing a strong pipeline of projects within a clear and stable policy framework.

Independent 29th May 2013 read more »

Radhealth

Online fashion retailer Asos recalled a batch of metal-studded leather belts after they were found to be radioactive. The company launched the recall in January after US border officials discovered traces of Cobalt-60 – a radioactive isotope more commonly used in radiotherapy. Asos sold just under 50 of the contaminated belts across 14 countries. Asos commissioned an external report, called Project Purple Flower, to look into the contamination, according to the Guardian. The report said: “Unfortunately, this incident is quite a common occurrence.”

FT 28th May 2013 read more »

Dungeness

Controversial plans for a major extension to an airport which sits next to one of Britain’s most important nature reserves – as well as a nuclear power station – are to be challenged in court, it was announced today. The RSPB will appeal the outcome of a public inquiry, as well as the government’s decision to give permission for the plans to go ahead, in the High Court. And a local campaign group has said it has also launched a High Court challenge in a bid to have the decision quashed and force the government back to the drawing board.

Independent 28th May 2013 read more »

Torness

A reactor at a nuclear power station has reopened after an upsurge in seaweed forced bosses to shut it down. Managers at Torness plant in East Lothian closed its two reactors last week amid fears that seaweed in the Forth Estuary could clog the station’s cooling water intake system.

Irish Independent 28th May 2013 read more »

Morning Star 28th May 2013 read more »

Paisley Daily Express 28th May 2013 read more »

Belfast Telegraph 28th May 2013 read more »

STV 28th May 2013 read more »

Scotsman 28th May 2013 read more »

BBC 28th May 2013 read more »

Dundee Courier 29th May 2013 read more »

Oldbury

A Government minister has met executives behind the project to build a new nuclear power station in South Gloucestershire. Michael Fallon, Business and Energy Minister, met managers from Hitachi and Horizon, companies which plan to invest £20 billion in new nuclear plants in Oldbury and North Wales. Mr Fallon said: “Nuclear in the UK is about more than just one project. “Three ventures – including the Horizon project I visited – are making serious progress.

Bristol Post 29th May 2013 read more »

Aldermaston

The company which operates the factories where the UK’s nuclear weapons are manufactured has been fined £200,000 for breaches of safety laws following a fire in which a member of staff was injured. AWE plc, which operates the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), pleaded guilty at Reading Crown Court to failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees following a charge under section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974.

NIS 28th May 2013 read more »

Sellafield

Letter: Cumbria Wildlife Trust has just held a sand sculpture competition at St Bees. This beach, near Sellafield, is where 41 hot radioactive particles were recovered last year, including plutonium. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s response to this increase has been to ask for reduced monitoring and reduced retrieval of radioactive particles. In other words, if you don’t look, you don’t find.

Radiation Free Lakeland 28th May 2013 read more »

Opinion Polls

More than a third (43%) of the British public said they would support Government subsidy for the construction of new nuclear power plants in the UK. That is in comparison to only 28% who said they would not, according to a new poll of more than 2,000 people. It also revealed almost half (46%) of those questioned support the construction of new nuclear power stations in the country while 29% said they do not.

Energy Live News 28th May 2013 read more »

Tim Fox, head of energy and environment at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, said: “For years now, the Government has been reluctant to offer nuclear power developers an overt subsidy, partly out of fear of the public backlash. These poll results show that these fears could be unwarranted. “The future of the UK new nuclear build programme is currently on a knife-edge. Without an agreed guaranteed commercially attractive long-term price for the electricity from new nuclear plants, and a suitable source of investment finance, there can be no progress on building new UK reactors.

Express & Star 28th May 2013 read more »

Independent 28th May 2013 read more »

Engineer 28th May 2013 read more »

US

While everyone these days seems to decry government spending, few people seem to realize that spending on nuclear energy programs is increasing. Two noteworthy examples of nuclear pork that impact the Southeast are small modular reactors (SMRs) and plutonium bomb fuel, or mixed-oxide fuel (MOX). SMRs have recently earned a line item of over $450 million from the Department of Energy (DOE), given to companies designing these experimental reactors. This taxpayer boondoggle earned DOE the “Golden Fleece” award this year from Taxpayers for Common Sense. The first proposal is for SMRs designed by Babcock & Wilcox at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s long-abandoned, failed Clinch River breeder reactor site in Tennessee. Plutonium bomb fuel or MOX is one of the many places that the nuclear energy and weapons complex intersect. The program was proposed as a way to “de-weaponize” surplus plutonium from retired nuclear bombs. While this may sound like a noble cause, plans to create experimental fuel for nuclear reactors from this weapons-grade plutonium are ill-conceived, dangerous and very expensive.

Clean Energy 28th May 2013 read more »

Czech Republic

A project costed in billions of euros to expand a Czech nuclear plant has been undermined by the effects on energy prices of the shale gas revolution in North America, and is splitting the government. A fall in energy prices, driven largely by the huge expansion of shale gas in North America, has thrown the economics of the Temelin expansion project into controversy. The International Energy Agency said this month that the shale-oil and gas revolution in North America is a shock for global energy markets.

Phys.org 28th May 2013 read more »

The Czech prime minister assured his Russian counterpart on May 27 that the process for choosing the winner of the country’s nuclear tender would be fair and transparent. Yet a growing split in the cabinet, a continuing stand-off with France’s Areva after it was ejected from the tender, and now sources saying CEZ is asking the remaining bidders to finance the €8bn-12bn nuclear expansion, have all cast further doubt on the project.

FT 28th May 2013 read more »

South Korea

Last year, the Seoul government closed two nuclear reactors because “thousands of substandard parts” for them “had been supplied with fake warranties for over 10 years.” The scandal saw engineers and suppliers sent to prison. So, logically speaking, rigorous safety checks must have been put in place since then to prevent a repeat incident, right? Wrong. Two more nuclear reactors in South Korea were shutdown on Tuesday and the scheduled start of two others was delayed. Why? Because an anonymous whistleblower revealed that “control cables had been supplied to [the] four reactors with faked certificates even though the part had failed to pass a safety test.”

Greenpeace 28th May 2013 read more »

South Korea said on Tuesday that it was turning off two nuclear power reactors and delaying the scheduled start of operations at another two after its inspectors discovered that the reactors used components whose safety certificates had been fabricated.

New York Times 28th May 2013 read more »

Energy Live News 28th May 2013 read more »

Japan

More than two years into the triple-meltdown crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 power plant, workers continue to wage a desperate battle to keep the stricken reactors cool while trying to contain the 400 tons of radioactive water produced by the process each day.

Japan Times 21st May 2013 read more »

Japan pledged better safety practices for its troubled nuclear industry today following an accident at a government research facility that exposed 33 people to excess radiation. Education Minister Hakubun Shimomura, whose agency oversees such research, said that the government would tighten oversight. The latest accident happened at the Hadron Experimental Facility in Tokaimura, where at least two previous radiation accidents have occurred. Mr Shimomura said it was “crucial” for a nuclear research facilities “to give top priority to safety measures.

Morning Star 28th May 2013 read more »

Mexico

With Latin American countries still turned off to nuclear power two years after Japan’s monumental Fukushima meltdowns dispersed radioactive fallout across the ocean to them, events inside a similar facility in Mexico have fueled mounting skepticism over the potential for developing the energy technology. Fissures, leaks, shutdowns, government secrecy, a failed upgrade, alleged bid-rigging and contract fraud at Mexico’s lone atomic power station, the state-run Laguna Verde Nuclear Plant, were vetted during the 9th Regional Congress on Radiation Protection and Safety held in Rio de Janeiro in April. The audience of Latin American experts eager to share the information at the professional association forum starred scientists from Argentina and Brazil, which also have nuclear power plants, as well as from Venezuela, Chile and Cuba, which had made tentative moves toward establishing atomic energy stations before the Fukushima catastrophe stymied aspirations. The irregularities at Laguna Verde came to light thanks to a courageous group of anonymous high-level employees inside the power plant and to the public information requests by their spokesperson, Mexico’s National Autonomous University Physics Professor Bernardo Salas Mar, a former plant employee and valiant whistleblower.

RINF 28th May 2013 read more »

UAE

The oil-rich UAE began construction on Tuesday of a second nuclear power plant, one of four reactors aimed at cutting carbon dioxide emissions by some 12 million tonnes a year in 2020. Mohammad Al Hammadi, Chief Executive Officer of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC) said the selected site of the UAE peaceful nuclear energy programme is located in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi.

Middle East Online 28th May 2013 read more »

Trident

Labour is “unconvinced” that a scaled-back replacement of Trident would protect national security and save tens of billions of pounds, party sources have made clear. It follows reports that a long-awaited review will suggest significant savings can be made by ending the practise of keeping the UK’s nuclear deterrent constantly at sea. Labour’s cool response suggests Liberal Democrats face an uphill battle to convince the party to join in opposing a like-for-like replacement, the Conservative’s preferred option.

Herald 29th May 2013 read more »

David Cameron plans to push ahead with a £20billion like-for-like replacement of Trident nuclear weapons. A long-awaited Government review, to be published in July, has been looking at cheaper alternative to the current set up. But it has reportedly found that today’s around-the-clock at sea nuclear deterrent, carried on submarines, is the best option.

Mirror 28th May 2013 read more »

Next month will see the publication of the very long-awaited report into the alternatives to replacing the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system. This report was commissioned soon after the coalition came to power, with the two parties failing to agree a joint position on the British deterrent. It reveals: There is no cheaper alternative to replacing Trident. The upfront costs of any airborne, land-based or even utility sub-based system are simply too high. 2) The only way to save money on Trident is to scale it back. You can do that mainly by reducing the number of boats from four to three, or even to two. 3) Reducing the number of boats to three would save very little money. Reducing it to two could save close to £1bn in annual crew and maintenance costs, but would mean abandoning round-the-clock patrols.

FT 28th May 2013 read more »

Renewables

Preparations are under way to create a tidal lagoon off the Westcountry coast which could produce enough renewable electricity to power 100,000 homes. Sea bed investigation work is about to begin in the Bristol Channel and detailed plans could be submitted for approval in the autumn, with generation starting as early as 2017. Tavistock-born Mark Shorrock, chief executive of Tidal Lagoon Power Ltd, is behind the scheme, which is said to be the world’s first purpose-built tidal energy lagoon. The £650 million project at Swansea bay aims to be the first of a network of lagoons around the UK coastline. It would harness the huge tidal range of the channel, the second highest in the world, using ebb and flood tides to produce 240 MW of green electricty.

Western Morning News 28th May 2013 read more »

EDF Energy Renewables has submitted a planning application for a new wind farm to be established on land at Bullington Cross, to the west of Basingstoke and south of Whitchurch in Hampshire. Comprising of 14 turbines at 126.5 metres high, the site has a capacity of 28MW, capable of powering around 13,000 homes energy use and could contribute to the offsetting the annual release of 26,000 tonnes of Carbon Dioxide. Hampshire Energy Group supports the Bullington Cross Wind Farm, on the basis of 10% local ownership, which would be formed as a co-operative that benefits the Hampshire community. HEG are in final negotiations with EDF Energy Renewables to ensure that will be the case.

Hampshire Energy Group (accessed) 29th May 2013 read more »

As the EU is about to join the US in its crazy decision to impose tariffs on solar pv panels imported from China now is the time to add our voices against what the EU Commission is doing. The Commission, acting upon the pressure from a small groups of solar panel makers who are isolated from the rest of the EU solar industry, is about to impose punitive import tariffs on Chinese solar panels. This action runs directly counter to the EU supposed high priority of supplying 20 per cent of its energy from renewables by 2020.

Dave Toke’s Green Energy Blog 28th May 2013 read more »

Seeking to discuss a brewing fight over solar panels, on Sunday China’s ministry of commerce requested a meeting at short notice with Karel De Gucht, the EU trade commissioner. To judge by its brevity and acrimonious tone, the following day’s gathering appears to have been less an effort at peace talks than an opportunity for the Chinese to savour a victory at close range. By the time Mr De Gucht’s visitors arrived in his office, it had become clear that Beijing had rallied a majority of the EU’s member states against the commissioner’s proposal to impose provisional duties on Chinese-made solar products for dumping, or selling goods below cost. In the final counting, 18 of the EU’s 27 member states opposed Mr De Gucht, according to people familiar with the case. Chief among them was Germany, the EU’s largest economy and home to the solar manufacturer that spearheaded the commission’s biggest ever trade investigation.

FT 29th May 2013 read more »

As offshore construction gets underway at DONG Energy and ScottishPower Renewables’ West of Duddon Sands offshore wind farm in Liverpool Bay, BusinessGreen explores how the emerging market is boosting coastal economies.

Business Green 28th May 2013 read more »

A SCOTTISH council has unveiled ambitious plans to turn a derelict landfill site into a giant solar power farm. Aberdeen City Council and the Aberdeen Renewable Energy Group (AREG) are seeking an initial £500,000 in lottery funding to develop proposals to transform the former landfill site at Ness Farm, near Nigg Bay, into a multimillion pound solar energy complex.

Scotsman 29th May 2013 read more »

Energy Efficiency

The number of households insulating their homes has dramatically fallen this year, threatening to torpedo the Government’s energy efficiency drive and push utility bills even higher. According to industry figures obtained by The Times, cavity wall insulation was fitted in 1,138 homes last month, compared with almost 40,000 in April last year. About 47,000 installations need to be carried out each month until the end of the decade to meet targets to reduce energy consumption and cap household bills. Cavity wall insulation is regarded as the cheapest and most effective mass-scale energy efficiency measure available to households. The slump underlines the lack of consumer interest in the Government’s Green Deal programme, which ministers have billed as the biggest home improvement programme since the Second World War.

Times 29th May 2013 read more »

Installations of cavity wall insulation have collapsed under the Green Deal, falling a staggering 97% in April compared to last year, Building can reveal. Figures collected by the Cavity Insulation Guarantee Agency, which monitors installations and guarantees issued, seen by Building, show only 1,138 installations were completed last month, down from 49,650 in April 2012. Installations had averaged 40,000 a month throughout 2012 under the previous government insulation programmes the Carbon Emissions Reduction Target (CERT) and the Community Energy Savings Scheme (CESP). But these ended on 31 December 2012 and were replaced by the Green Deal and the Energy Company Obligation. In the first four months of 2013 cavity wall installations averaged 11,000 a month – a fall of 73% on the 2013 monthly average – with April’s figure of 1,138 representing a new low.

Building 28th May 2013 read more »

MSPs are to be asked to replace stamp duty on house purchases with a system that has financial incentives to benefit energy efficient homes. Labour’s Malcolm Chisholm, who is proposing the measure, said it would not cost taxpayers anything overall. The Scottish government is formulating its own proposals for when it takes control of the tax.

BBC 29th May 2013 read more »

Biomass

Swamp forests in the US are being felled to help keep the lights on in the UK. Is this really the best way to combat climate change? Environmentalists are trying to block the expansion of a transatlantic trade bringing American wood to burn in European power stations.

The trade is driven by EU rules promoting renewable energy to combat climate change. Many millions of tonnes of wood pellets will soon be shipped annually to help keep the lights on in the UK. Other EU nations may follow. Critics say subsidising wood burning wastes money, does nothing to tackle climate change in the short term, and is wrecking some of the finest forests in the US.

BBC 28th May 2013 read more »

Shale Gas

A new shale gas frontier has opened up in Lincolnshire after an AIM-quoted explorer raised the region’s official estimate of resources to 16 trillion cubic feet. If all the gas is recovered, it would be equivalent to 12 years’ worth of North Sea production.

Times 29th May 2013 read more »

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Published: 29 May 2013
Last updated: 1 June 2013